Skip to main content

THE NSA, METADATA AND OVERSTOCK.COM

Quite a while ago, I bought a titanium ring from overstock.com. You can guess one of the unintended consequences. Everywhere I went on the interweb, ads from overstock.com popped up. I bought a ring once. I'll buy a ring again, won't I? Google will make it easy for me.

I don't live on the interweb but I shop and I communicate with friends there. I have, in other words, surrendered segments of my privacy for convenience sake. Harsh words but they are accurate. Google knows more about me than anyone except my wife and, to be honest, there are things that Google knows about me that my wife doesn't.

It won't be long before face recognition software will scan me when I enter a store. Coupons that are tailored to my shopping history will be sent to my phone. There will be no bothersome lines at cash registers. My phone will be the equivalent of an EZ Pass.  I'll just walk with my purchases past a certain line on the floor and my bank account will be debited on the spot.

The retailer will have me in his/her database. The wholesaler will. The manufacturer will. My bank will use my purchase for its own nefarious purposes. And so on...

I can avoid the interweb ads for titanium rings fairly easily. Ad blocking software has kept pace. But what do I do about the metadata? Go off the grid? That's much harder than it sounds. Cathey thought that she was a relative unknown until I searched her...on the interweb. To REALLY get off the grid you REALLY have to work hard. So what's the Risk/Benefit Analysis?

I've done no reporting. But when you think about it, what are the odds that I'm going to make just the right phone call or email to just the right address using just the right key words in just the right order to raise a flag? Pretty long odds, I would wager. One must take into account the odd security-cleared Peeping Tom who, in a moment of pure ennui, decides that my communications might make for an interesting diversion. But again, long odds.

Yes, I know. It's the principle of the thing. Slippery slope. Fascism.

Nah, I don't buy it. Our politicians are already bought and paid for. Being true fascists would be too much like work.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

CHÉ OLIVE / LE ZINC, CREISSAN: RESTAURANT REVIEW

No, it's not Chez Olive. It is indeed Ché complete with red star and black beret. I have no idea why and I wasn't about to ask. The French are the French and not to be analyzed too closely when it comes to politics, especially these days.

Creissan is the next town over from our village of Quarante. We pass through it often and Ché Olive is right there on the main road at the entrance to town. (One of the signs still says Le Zinc. Olive says he prefers Ché Olive though.) Olive opened it a couple of years ago after leaving the Bar 40, Quarante's basic local watering hole that's undergone a bit of a renaissance lately. We hadn't heard much about Ché Olive from our usual sources for dining recommendations. So we just kept passing by. For reasons not central to this review, we decided to stop in for lunch on a mid-week in late December.

The bar is cozy, the restaurant open and bright and modern. Newly renovated and perhaps a bit sterile. We were the first…

CHRISTMAS WALK TO VIEW OF THE PYRENEES: 2018

Cathey said that it was OK for me to take my usual Tuesday morning walk on Christmas Day. I could help set the table and perform other minor tasks necessary for a satisfactory Christmas dinner with friends after I returned. So off I went. Temperature 40℉ at the start near sunup. 50℉ at the finish a couple of hours later. No wind. Blue skies. This was the winter that I came to France for.

The walk can't really be called scenic. Just through the vines until you get to the headland opposite the village. But the closer that you get to the top, you begin to see the Pyrenees peeking through. And at the top, it's a 360° panorama.







FRENCH VISA AND HEALTH INSURANCE FOR AMERICANS

The most expensive item in an American family's budget may be health insurance. But many Americans have no understanding of the true cost of their insurance because it's included in their employment package. Folks simply don't think about how much their employer may be reducing their salaries when factoring in insurance costs.

Before I retired, my employer paid for my health insurance but I had to pay to insure my wife. The cost, taken out of my every paycheck, came to about $6,000 annually. And even with insurance, there were co-pays and other out of pocket expenses. We were reasonably healthy (and still are, knock wood), but we each take a few common prescription medications - for blood pressure and cholesterol and the like, nothing exotic or costly. Even so, with regular visits to the doctor, periodic lab work, the drugs, and the occasional illness or injury, we normally spent an additional several thousand dollars annually in the States over and above the cost of the i…