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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Advent Light Post 12-4-2020

Like likes like.

I received this (above) lovely photo from Susan W of an old-fashioned city lamp seen through trees at night.

It made me recall the pix Karen P sent of her son and daughter-in-law at their wedding a few years ago. They lit and sailed paper lanterns propelled by small candles which (hopefully) flickered out when they flew high enough.

Which of course, reminded me of the paper lanterns at my kids’ wedding.

I don’t walk around noticing spheres and globes, but the image is just unusual enough to bring similar images to mind.

Advent Light Post 12/3/2020

The photo is Karen P's mom, Joan, who has been in quarantine in an assisted living residence since March. Her birthday party was a few months before all this began. Light for hope. Hope for light.

...

Yesterday I wrote “I liked figuring out the best way to position my stance in order to frame whatever it was I wanted to focus on.”

Point of View. 

Advent Light Post 12/2/2020

Len has been taking photos since he was a college newspaper reporter/photographer; (University of Chicago and University of Calgary). He has photos that he took from Willis (it was Sears then) Tower while it was under construction. Len had a journalist pass so he called to see if he could “do a story” and they didn’t ask if he was 20 yet, so he got the gig. When (if) he finds those photos, I will put some here.

As long as I have known him, Len has owned a camera. I think we are now on #3. He brought to our marriage the tripod that he still uses.

Advent Light Post 12/1/2020

(The photo is of headlights making a dotted line on the cemetery fence.) 

...

Oh that morning! Len drove us like crazy across Chicago to the hospital where we would birth our first child.  It was a very clear, very cold December morning, kind of like what’s outside my window right now. 

That same evening I was wheelchaired back out of that hospital. When the lobby doors slid open, the world had become night and the driveway vapor lights lit a blizzard of whirling snow.

It was a completely different world. Yes it was.

Advent Light Post 11/30/2020

Today is Len’s birthday and to celebrate being born on the last day of November in the upper Midwest, he is out on his bike right now. It’s spitting snow, there are 20-30mph winds, and the real-feel temp is 20. He has on both pairs of his bicycling pants. He also has a slice of pumpkin raisin Bundt cake (hmmm, I wonder who baked that) in his bike’s little trunk. 

Happy Birthday to the kind of guy who, when a girl invites him to attend the Sunday school class she teaches - comes to that Sunday school class. A rare man, indeed. 

Advent Light 11/28/2020

Tomorrow, Sunday, is the first Sunday of Advent. 

So first of all, like I said before, I’m preaching. I think you can listen to the whole service starting at 9:30AM, if you go to https://www.uniteduuc.org/ .  There is usually a link there that you have to click, when you click it, it says something about YouTube, so click that link, too. Otherwise, by Monday (maybe earlier, I don’t know who does this or when) it will show up on YouTube at United Unitarian Universalist, Waukesha, and my name.

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