Google This; Be Wary of the Machine

In this day and age of Facebook and Google we tend to easily lose ourselves in a barrage of endless information. Caught up in being part of what we regard as “the Pack” we tend to engage ourselves by participating in an electronic reality where it is dangerously easy to become lost in a morass of sometimes meaningless data. Not only can this become a predictable way to express our own identity it can also quash our sense of individual worth. Some of us end up believing that we need to emulate the people we see on reality television to succeed or even the boobs on you tube doing various and assorted ridiculous stunts to draw attention to themselves in hopes of creating a “viral video”. The younger generation seems particularly vulnerable and decidedly numb to this type of exploitation.  Unfortunately the very same tools which can bring about so much potential convenience are the very same ones that can bring about a bridge of no return.

Not only are we being exploited on reality television we are also being exploited by what has become to be known as “Big Data”. As the use of electronic devices become necessary for our very existence in this highly competitive and technologically oriented world it is nearly impossible to “go off the grid”. Thus we are exposed to being tracked and marketed in every sense. Every website we go to, every store we make a purchase at, the types of products we use are tracked even our movements in retail outlets are recorded for future use. Our friends are tracked as well, the products they use, our interests, their interests — all of this information becomes valuable marketing data which is bought and sold like so many sacks of potatoes. Our privacy is gone. Today as this article was updated from a previous post the New York Times reports that Google is under investigation for illegally gathering data by scanning email from people using its “free” Gmail services. This includes an estimated half billion people worldwide.

The time has truly come to fruition were the marketers can now predict our behavior to a frighteningly large degree. Why is this new method of marketing so frightening? Simply because we are now considered commodities — as opposed to being individuals with unique thoughts and needs — we have now become the property of “Big Data” and are under their control with customized advertising geared to tell us what we need before we even know it ourselves. The ancient Chinese proverb says: “May you live in interesting times”. Well indeed we are and let’s keep up our vigilance to not lose our identity or our children’s identity in a pile of “Big Data” sponsored by your friendly neighborhood Google and Facebook where we voluntarily “feed the machine”.

1871-Samuel_Clemens.jpg

“America’s Facebook generation shows a submission to standardization that I haven’t seen before. The American adventure has always been about people forgetting their former selves. Samuel Clemens became Mark Twain, Jack Kerouac went on the road. If they had a Facebook page they wouldn’t have been able to forget their former selves.” — Jaron Lanier

“All media exist to invest our lives with artificial perceptions and arbitrary values.” — Marshall McLuhan

Get off the cell phone and Drive! — Jake Shween

Have You Hugged Your Corporation Today?

This past week we were entirely shocked and literally gobsmacked to learn that huge corporations have been receiving huge tax breaks by hiding out in Ireland where they can avoid paying what they owe in United States taxes. This arrangement is perfectly legal and why shouldn’t it be? Corporations have feelings too. We wouldn’t want to hurt the “job creators” now would we? Imagine how sad and lifeless our great country would be without such loving corporate entities as Apple, Johnson & Johnson, Citigroup, Google and Facebook? We need to care for and nurture these conglomerates before they turn on us and fire us for biting their hand. How could we fornicate without Pfizer providing blue pills to keep Limbaugh’s dick hard whilst he wrestles his favorite prostitutes? What lube would we use without Johnson & Johnson? How would we know where to put it without Googling it? Thankfully too, we can record it on our I-Phone and post it to Facebook  and finance the entire operation through Citigroup!

Dear friends take care of these dear corporations that have been so good to us! Clearly there would be much less “Job Creation” without these paladins of corporate benevolence. How desperately we need to fawn over them when they appear in our civilized senate to testify as to their innocence and life sustaining benefits. What better way to bring the senate and house together than in a bipartisan round of corporate fellatio! It’s all good boys. It’s all legal! Corporate Democrats welcome to the party, come and share with the Grand Old Party! Let’s circle around and jerk to the beat! Never mind that the poor guy who cashes in his 401K early gets his ass shot off in taxes when he is trying to pay the rent! He never pays the greens fees at the club! He is just a nobody!

These are the glory days of corporate irresponsibility. We now have a government that seems to be nothing more than an arranged puppet show of bureaucracy. The strings are being pulled by a shadowy oligarchy couched in some sick dark corner of the District of Columbia. The good of the people has been replaced by the good of the corporation. The legislative branch is deep in it, just watch they way they drooled at the Apple CEO Mr. Cook. The judicial branch decided months ago that corporations are indeed entitled to rights, the same rights as an individual. Now the executive branch has sided with Monsanto and signed H.R. 933 which included the “Monsanto Protection Act” which means that food that has been genetically altered and may actually be quite dangerous and carcinogenic does not even have to be labeled to show this fact! Wow these are sad days indeed for the democracy imagined by our country’s founders! The illusion of profit being the ultimate goal must be replaced by real sustainability. Otherwise the outcome is bleak  and perhaps non-existent for future generations.

“True terror is to wake up one morning and realize that your high school class is running the country.” — Kurt Vonnegut

“I like people who shake other people up and make them feel uncomfortable.” — Jim Morrison

Get off the cell phone and Drive! — Jake Shween

The author expresses great sadness at the loss of Ray Manzarek. He was an invaluable member/founder of the Classic Rock Group The Doors. It was his music and genius that brought the mad and beautiful poetry of Jim Morrison to life. Ray we hope to see you when we “break on through to the other side”.

Keep Your Identity; Be Wary of the Machine

In this day and age of Facebook and Google we tend to easily lose ourselves in a barrage of endless information. Caught up in being part of what we regard as “the Pack” we tend to engage ourselves by participating in an electronic reality where it is dangerously easy to become lost in a morass of sometimes meaningless data. Not only can this become a sad way to express our own identity it can also quash our sense of individual worth. Some of us end up believing that we need to emulate the people we see on reality television to succeed or even the boobs on you tube doing various and assorted ridiculous stunts to draw attention to themselves in hopes of creating a “viral video”. The younger generation seems particularly vulnerable to this kind of exploitation.  Unfortunately the very same tools which can bring about so much potential good are the very same  ones that can bring about a devastating evil.

Not only are we being exploited on reality television we are also being exploited by what has become to be known as “Big Data”. As the use of electronic devices becomes necessary for our very existence in this highly competitive and technologically oriented world it is nearly impossible to “go off the grid”. Thus we are exposed to being tracked and marketed in every sense. Every website we go to, every store we make a purchase at, the types of products we use are tracked and recorded for future use. Our friends are tracked as well, the products they use, our interests, their interests — all of this information becomes valuable marketing data which is bought and sold like so many sacks of potatoes. Our privacy is gone.

The time has truly come to fruition were the marketers can now predict our behavior to a frighteningly large degree. Why is this new method of marketing so frightening? Simply because we are now considered commodities — as opposed to being individuals with unique thoughts and needs — we have now become the property of “Big Data” and are under their control with customized advertising geared to tell us what we need before we even know it ourselves. The ancient Chinese proverb says: “May you live in interesting times”. Well indeed we are and let’s keep up our vigilance to not lose our identity or our children’s identity in a pile of “Big Data” sponsored by your friendly neighborhood Google and Facebook where we voluntarily “feed the machine”.

1871-Samuel_Clemens.jpg

“America’s Facebook generation shows a submission to standardization that I haven’t seen before. The American adventure has always been about people forgetting their former selves. Samuel Clemens became Mark Twain, Jack Kerouac went on the road. If they had a Facebook page they wouldn’t have been able to forget their former selves.” — Jaron Lanier

“All media exist to invest our lives with artificial perceptions and arbitrary values.” — Marshall McLuhan

Get off the cell phone and Drive! — Jake Shween

Facebook Fiasco; Wall Street Strikes Again!

Once again Wall Street has proven it is quite alright to rip off the common investor. The old “hot dog on a string” routine has succeeded in ripping off thousands of small time investors while the big underwriters of the IPO for Facebook have walked off scot-free, for now! Morgan Stanley brilliantly decided to set the price for Facebook’s initial public offering at a lofty $38.00 per share. Now this decision is under question as Facebook shares closed at $32.00 per share on closing Wednesday. Well it seems like business as usual except for the fact that this was such a highly publicized IPO there may be a slight chance that an investigation may yield some form of stilted justice. What a field day for lawyers and regulators alike!

We anxiously await the legal morass and numerous loopholes that will most likely avail the public of little or no justice as usual. The lawyers are certain to make piles of money! Brace yourself for the ridiculous arguments that will proceed from such a clear cut case of the great American rip off. Imagine that! Bankers who are underwriters ripping off the public! As Yogi Berra would say: “It’s deja vu all over again!” How long can this obvious failure of our system of regulation continue? Will the Security and Exchange Commission show their compliance?  What will the fines, if any, be? A few million? What the heck another slap on the wrist to an industry that is rife with corruption. We like to think that China is corrupt and we are clean but please reserve that judgement. Let us see how this plays out. Nice to see it on such a grand scale! Bravo Facebook! Touche!

Thank goodness for the Occupy Wall Street movement. It is high time the American Public payed much closer attention to what goes on in the great world of finance. What will it take for true justice for the American Public? Will we ever really know how much insider trading and tip offs actually go on every single day? Alas, time will tell. Thankfully this has happened on such a grand scale maybe, just maybe the American Public will pay attention, particularly after our collective appetite has been whetted by the mortgage derivative disaster that threatened the banking system of the entire world. Beware of any politician who calls for less regulation! Their Superpacs are most likely being funded by faceless suspect entities with a vested interest in the great American rip off. The time has come for more people like Elizabeth Warren to enter politics. It’s time for honesty and integrity to become the new morality. This nation needs a healing.

“Be a terror to the butchers, that they may be fair in their weight; and keep hucksters and fraudulent dealers in awe, for the same reason.” — Cervantes

Get off the cell phone and Drive! — Jake Shween

The Shame of it All

In the past week various news sources have been reporting on the fact that certain employers have taken to asking potential hires for passwords to their Facebook and Twitter accounts. Once again as a society we move closer to the elimination of the individual and their respective rights to an amalgamation of persons dedicated to the sovereignty of any given corporation. The Founding Fathers would be disgusted as to this profane abuse of power. It quite literally flies in the face of the great thinkers who fought for freedom from King George and the tyranny of the monarchy. Consider the words of George Mason in the Virginia Declaration of Rights:

“That all men are by nature equally free and independent, and have certain inherent rights, of which, when they enter into a state of society, they cannot, by any compact, deprive or divest their posterity; namely, the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.”

In other words dear corporations. Do not tread on me! How dare any financial or corporate institution impinge on our right to privacy and liberty as expressed in the Bill of Rights. It seems that tragically our democracy is in the process of devolving into an institution that bows to some sort of lobbied beltway oligarchy. The rights of the individual to think freely are being called into question if they want to work for certain companies. What would it be like if we could see the hidden workings of the purported rulers of this new Metropolis? Would their Facebook and Twitter accounts help us decide if they were fit to have any say at all in our lives?

This Friday will see the release of the movie Hunger Games. It is a story set in a post apocalyptic world were teenagers representing certain districts fight to the death to the amusement of the despotic rulers and the masses. The winner of this barbaric contest wins food and prestige for their respective district. It makes one wonder if we are creating some bizarre self fulfilling prophecy. Is it the fate of humanity to one day live these mephistophelean nightmares?

“The corporate grip on opinion in the United States is one of the wonders of the Western world. No First World country has ever managed to eliminate so entirely from its media all objectivity – much less dissent.” — Gore Vidal

Get off the cell phone and Drive! — Jake Shween