Mary Beth Writes

We watched the Nova special about Jeff Bezos and Amazon this week.  Boy, there’s a way to be depressed at our old white men elected officials who are totally NOT up to the challenges of the society in which we live.

 Len sat next to Bezos at a business event in 1997. They talked about my frugality newsletter. Apparently his wealth didn’t rub off on Len and our frugality didn’t rub off on him.

The documentary illustrated and explained how Bezos made most of his incredible wealth.  The most innovative thing he and his team did was gather, save, store, and then sell back to others – information about us.

He and his team were among the first to track what we bought, when we bought it, where we were when we bought it. They invented computer programs to record our shopping patterns and purchases.  Then when other businesses wanted to sell more toothpaste or washing machines or action figures or dog food – those companies would pay Amazon to buy our information.

You’ve noticed it yourself. Ask about heart attack symptoms, suddenly you are getting ads and coupons for statins and supplements. Look at underwear on Amazon, suddenly Facebook is telling the world that you like a certain brand of bra. 

We all know this. It’s our privacy - collected, collated, bought and sold - that is making millionaires into billionaires.

Yet how do we live our lives without using the internet? It’s possible, but I don’t want to live without access to information or the convenience to order in two minutes items that would take me two hours to shop for. 

And then I thought - what if we OVERLOAD the algorithm? What if we start spinning what’s real and what’s true with what’s ridiculous?

Usually I use as my search engine “Duck Duck Go.”  It’s free. Download it from apps; use it when you want to look up anything. Duck Duck Go doesn’t store info. The ads one receives while perusing the internet via Duck Duck Go will pertain to whatever you are looking up RIGHT THEN. 

But, as we all know, Google comes built into our phones.  Google, like Amazon, like Facebook, DOES save all our searches … that is how they figure out what we are interested in and how to sell that info to others.

So instead of hiding away from Google – I am now looking up wacky things on Google several times per day. Flights to Hong Kong. Size 13, triple wide Stiletto heels. Sock monkeys.

Am I going to Hong Kong? Nope.  Are my feet that big and will I ever wear a high-heeled shoe again? Nope. But now that info is out there in the algorithms.  Everyday, for a minute here or there, I am looking up things I am not seriously interested in. 

This morning Len was ordering toothbrush heads when he called from the other room, “Why are we buying a $500 security system and a sock monkey?”  

Our lives and our privacy have been put up for sale. They are ways to make that invasion collapse with fierce whimsicality.

You do your part and I will do mine.

 

…..

Len and I talked. This is what he wrote:

If you use the browser "Chrome," you know that everything you do on the Internet is saved to your computer, and, in addition, websites that you visit are able to recognize you, so they know if you are a new visitor or whether you've visited them before. 

 You can disable this part of Chrome, that is, you can keep Chrome from saving information about you in cookies.  It also keeps websites from knowing who you are when you visit.  It's called "Incognito Window," and it's easy to turn on or off.  It doesn't delete any of the information that you've already saved to your computer or screw up anything else about your computer and it's simple to use.

 1) Open Chrome.  It doesn't matter what page you're on (you can be on the Google page or Mary Beth's home page or anywhere).

2) On a PC, hit "Ctrl-Shift-n" (That's the control key, at the lower left, either shift key, and the lower-case letter "n").  Mac: Press ⌘ + Shift + n.

3) The black screen that opens is the incognito window.  Anything you enter won't be saved to your computer and the website won't know who you are.

 Note:  If you go to a site, like Facebook, that requires a login, it won't work unless you manually enter that login (in which case, the website will then know who you are).  But Google will work and most websites will work.

Comments

It makes my head ache ——- jeez
Leonard's picture

Facebook quizzes are an even more insidious way of letting big companies steal our private information. It's what was behind much of the 2016 skullduggery, and it's continuing today. There is a good article about it from the ACLU here: https://www.aclu.org/blog/national-security/quiz-what-do-facebook-quizzes-know-about-you

lov'n your subversive side; )

Thanks for the information about overloading Google. I plan to search extensively for Russian brides, underwater gas lines and perhaps land for sale in the Ukraine. Great idea.
Mary Beth's picture

Laughed out loud! Also laughed this afternoon when FB showed me ads for sock monkeys. It's working....

I looked up bras for Macaws, The elephant in the room. and How to milk e grasshopper... I'm going to enjoy doing this every so often and I don't use Amazon because I'm still willing to take the time to physically shop... I watched that program also and the insanity of it all freaked me out,..
Mary Beth's picture

Milk a grasshopper --- with a low stool...

Viva the resistance! :D Patricia/Fl

This artist used salt -- and knowing that you're not supposed to cross a dotted line with a solid line next to it (like a no-passing zone) -- to trap robots. https://vimeo.com/208642358
Mary Beth's picture

This is weird and funny!

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A-Z Barbara

Barbara 1/26/2023

A-Z means I’m writing short takes on random topics and I’m going in alphabetical order. I love this quote: “Study hard what interests you the most in the most undisciplined, irreverent and original manner possible.”

That’s the spirit I’m pursuing: Undisciplined, irreverent, and original.

A-Z, Alaska

1/25/2023 

I’ve never been to Alaska. I’m sure I’d love it but going there is not a big dream for either Len or me.

However, this. When our son was around 12 he developed a crush on all things Alaskan. Kid who lives in a ranch house on a Midwestern cul-de-sac wants to get lost in tundra and mountains with moose and wolves. Yup.

At first he just talked, dreamed, read books, and watched shows about Alaska. Then, at 14 he got a part-time job as a janitor at a vet clinic and he kept that job until he went to college. It was a good fit for a kid not drawn to homework.

A to Z

1/25/2023

I am not exactly depressed, but I can whip up a pretty good glum at almost any moment. There have been about three sunny days since Thanksgiving, and four colds, and I’m feeling it. How about you?

We can’t even properly whine. Not with the Atmospheric Rivers of Doom in California, and tornadoes in the south. And all the other glum and hateful news.

Sara Kurtz & Healthcare by Zip Code? Really?

1/22/2023 

Many of you have been very generous in the past. Please think about making a donation to the GoFundMe account of Sara Kurtz. Donate here. 

Who is Sara? She’s a friend of my niece Susan.

Len Explains Fusion Energy

The photo is of Lisa Meitner. The BFF of one of our kids is (quite likely) a great grand niece of this amazing woman. 

...

MB: Len occasionally explains very complicated science things to me or our kids in such a way that we actually understand it. One of our kids asked him what the big deal was about fusion. Len wrote this and I thought some of you might like to read it.

Long live curious people and long live nerds. 

 

Almost. Two Years Later

1/6/2023 

 I remember where I was two years ago this afternoon. Do you?

I was writing. I knew I had another hour to just work by myself and I was happy about that. I love no interruptions.

Len was downstairs. I heard him turn on the TV. We NEVER watch TV during the day so it was weird when he called up to me, “You should come down here. Something’s happening.”

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