Friday, 19 April 2013

Google the Evil Face of Facebook.

I find advertising to be the scourge of a modern life. I've never understood how companies, big and small, are allowed to blatantly lie in an effort to farm our dollars and not be held accountable. From the ordinary on TV, radio and in films, to the billboards, spam and fliers plastered across every opportunity to reach an individual.

When I lived in other countries I marveled at the blatant lies of advertising. The German doctors on Polish television promising cures for the incurable, the large multinational pharmaceutical companies in Indonesia pushing 'whitening' skin cream and the blaggards in Russia selling devices that make fat literally drop off while you sit watching television and nosh on a bucket of chips.

Thank goodness I live in an advanced society that doesn't allow advertising to be conducted with such amoral codes of conduct.

Then I began to take note of the actors in white lab coats pushing scientific breakthroughs in beauty products - has anyone yet defined 'Hypoallergenic'? There are spruikers on television pushing products under the guise of finding us, the viewer, the best product on grounds of health, price and convenience and all that information is presented in a thirty second breaking news bulletin under headings like consumer watch or brand facts.

In friends we saw Joey, the human dildo, hired as the 'average person' who simply could not work the spout mechanism on a standard milk carton. Luckily for him there was a five dollar product that would solve this annoying problem and allow him to get his daily milk. How we laughed at the stupidity of it. But we still allow hundreds of like products to advertise in just this way.

Why more of these 'idiot' neighbours haven't ended their lives by misadventure in some sort of Darwinian cull is beyond me. They seem unable to do anything - like the woman who seems to have a complete mental breakdown because she can't match the lids to her Tupperware! These people fall off ladders, strangle themselves with hoses and burn their hands with spilled cooking fat. They need George Forman's grill pronto or they'll be in emergency faster than you can say - 'but wait, there's more'.

I remember seeing Minority Report and thinking what a scary advertising-centric world we were heading for. The smartphone has made that a reality and will soon be talking to us with displays we pass and teeing up messages designed especially for us. It will read our calls and search our conversations for key words to make a profile that determines what gets advertised to us and when. We will become human spam magnets with every word we utter and thought we divulge a trigger for that next great offer.

But no-one saw Facebook or Google coming.
They have us lining up to do all the dirty work of recording our lives for them. We like, record, watch and declare our every interest. It is the data collectors wet dream of personal information. These online juggernauts have put an end to those pesky clipboard people who try to catch your eye as you rush from A to B. They have taken the place of the recorded personal information at the checkout where any snippet of information tying you to your purchase would be used to direct other products at you down the track. It is the beginning of the end of those little boxes on forms that ask if you want whatever company is behind whatever you are signing, to send you further offers and marketing opportunities in the future. Now they no longer need to ask because you will volunteer to look without being prompted.

Facebook and Google have become the ultimate personal profilers. They see our likes and dislikes, they records the pages that make us click and those we ignore, they sift through our contacts and the things that made us act or stay passive. George Orwell envisaged Big Brother as a central amoral government hell bent on control of individuals in order to maintain their control over the masses. Oh so close! It's not the government that cares about everything we do, at least not the old form of government. It is the new form of capitalist government that cares - the multinational branded government. It is the boards of the international companies, the conglomerates, the mighty One Percent. They want to know everything you do, not to benefit you, but to benefit them by enticing more dollars from your pocket for all manner of things.

“Advertising is the art of convincing people to spend money they don’t have on something they don’t need.” (Will Rogers)

Recently I noticed a surprising number of my friends were liking large multinational corporations on Facebook: the huge supermarket and discount chain stores, financial giants, beauty and pharmaceutical companies. When I saw a particular friend or other had liked one of these corporate behemoths I would stare in wonder at how and why? Has my greener than green, tree loving Miranda really sold her soul to become a corporate spruiker? Suddenly my Facebook news feed is filled with such likes from friends. I would guesstimate a third of all posts are from friends, posting links designed to appeal directly to me with offers from some companies that eerily match exactly what I have been looking at recently online.

The tip off to this camouflaged advertising is, as a writer, I research many weird and wonderful things. To write this I have already searched at least three sites I have no personal desire to re-visit or act on by purchasing anything, but no doubt in the next few days my friends will 'like' a series of purchasing 'opportunities' on Facebook that relate directly to what I have looked up. And on Google the sidebar sponsored links will be full of all sorts of revealing and personal offers that relate to my age and things I have liked or sites I have visited in the last few days.

Do they really think I have a friend who would like a cordless impact drill so much they felt the need to shout about it to all and sundry?

I am being asked more and more to link or shout about my purchases when I make them. Pages want to know my views, my web explorations want to be linked and all of these, if I agree or press the wrong button, those actions will automatically list a product or site through my Facebook profile, creating an enticing portal for my friends to click and visit.

We have unwittingly become one of those annoying people with the clipboard trying to grab someone with offers they have no time to hear. I already receive too much spam from Youtube, Linkedin and Twitter about posts or updates that may interest me - they rarely do and the idea that my online activities are now generating more of the same for all I know is shocking.
Where will the restraint come from. What will be the comparative online 'do not call' register - a register that has tried to tackle that strange distant phone line that clicks at me around dinner time, where an oddly accented Filipino or Indian with access to a phone addresses me by name and follows an 'oh-so-polite' script, that promises me a very special offer that involves an upfront garuantee not to try and  sell me anything - and then they try and sell me everything.

Controls always follow well behind a developing technology or practice. It usually takes until the penis enlargement people get your direct mailing address before legislation is brought on, chiefly through annoyance of enough people to demand action.

I predict Facebook and Google will go the same way and we will have to endure endless postmortem committees set up to discuss, uncover and get to the bottom of why such an invasive personal affront was allowed unchecked for so long. Because who could ever have predicted that a young man given billions in his twenties, who modeled his fortune generating, fact finding beast on a design that rated hot chicks, could ever turn out to be amoral in his design of the ultimate capitalist money generating profiler. Winkle twins - want to weigh in here?

Facebook and Google now pervade and invade my everything, When I have that chilling health scare that makes me diagnose myself to a sure death online, I find my Google and Facebook ads only moments behind, offering therapies and counseling. It is the equivalent of the salesman turning up at the wake to sell a burial plot to the widow.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

The Tweet that made Anne Frank a Belieber.

Twitter is revealing just how hard it is to be a celebrity.

Imagine if everything you did and said was interpreted and used to highlight a cause or taken personally?

The comedian who tells a joke about cancer, or deafness, or being overweight and suddenly has an audience member heckle and scream of offence because they are personally affected by the issue; a family member died or suffered or they have battled through whatever is now the butt of the joke.

I am a master at upsetting my small circle of friends and family over things I say without enough thought. Imagine what it must be like to have every word you speak analysed and taken to heart by millions.

Being a celebrity is clearly hard work. The ones who master the art of not offending, of being supportive and gracious towards fans shine long and bright. The ones who fall foul are quickly cut off at the knees or allowed to wither and die as a fallen star.

Recently Justin Beiber visited Anne Frank's house and wrote in their visitor's book this: "Truly inspiring to be able to come here. Anne was a great girl. Hopefully she would have been a belieber."

This was tweeted by the Frank house - very cleverly - as it will no doubt attract huge publicity and thousands or visitors. Bieber has been pilloried for being egotistical and making a tragic event within the holocaust about him. 

The tweeted words don't have room to explain the curator of the Frank house had been talking to Bieber of how Anne was heavily influenced and into the pop culture of the day and would most likely have been one of his fans had they shared the same time together. That is why Beiber wrote what he wrote. Out of context he's a self absorbed narcissist.

In context, as a 19 year old, he may well have been flattered by the idea of one of the world's most remembered teens being a fan. Certainly no one has made much comment of the very thoughtful comments he wrote before the belieber reference.

Lady Gaga tweeted:  "Just killed back to back spin classes. Eating a salad dreaming of a cheeseburger #PopSingersDontEat #IWasBornThisWay."  

She was attacked for advocating severe dieting.

Gwyneth Paltrow was labelled a racist when she twittered the N word - only to later explain it was the title of a song. The furore realised their mistake,

Miley Cyrus infuriated fans over this: "You are all stardust. You couldn't be here if stars hadn't exploded... So forget Jesus. Stars died so you could live." 

Fans of Jesus tweet: "Miley, you are dead to us - Bitch!"

There are countless other 'Twitterstorm' contoversies. 

Some justified like Gilbert Gottfried tweeting that -"Japan is so advanced - they don't go to the beach the beach comes to them," before the waters of the tsunami had receeded.

Others are overblown and overhyped and perfectly illustrate how, as a celebrity being scrutinized, it is probably better, certainly easier to say nothing. Because saying anything will always offend someone. 

Twitter, that stupid short spray of ideas that was lampooned for it's modern irrelevance and inability to address any issue in enough depth to ever be important, turns out to be the most important social media tool going around. Why? Because it does two things well - it condenses ideas into the modern attention span and much like the log line of the pitch to a good film, allows people to grasp the idea being tweeted in 10 seconds or less. And two - it condenses complicated ideas into their bare bones - not allowing elaboration or spin - it just has room for the core idea - and often, as with both the radical left and radical right - be they from the media, politics or everyday life, that core idea is clouded in emotive, caressing rhetoric and backed up by massaged facts and figures to make that harmful, spiteful, self serving core idea seem plausible and less offensive. 

Not so the naked tweet.

To tweet is to live or die by your ideas and true beliefs without any spin or supporting propaganda. You cannot hide your central theme in misdirection in an attempt to make a hurtful or misinformed idea seem more palatable to the masses.

The pen may be mightier than the sword, but the tweet is proving to be instant death unless you know how to use it.

Scott Norton Taylor - Inner City - Ebook for Kindle, Epub Sony, Palm or online!

Reviews: From Amazon

5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome read May 27, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Amazon Verified Purchase
This book was so intriguing I hardly put it down. Wonderfully written it does not linger on any 
one event nor does it speed through scenes making it a poor read. The characters were well 
thought out and the inner turmoils they all face are far from dull.

5.0 out of 5 stars Spectacular April 5, 2013
By Jack
Format:Kindle Edition|Amazon Verified Purchase
The book was simply amazing it had action romance and just enough drama to make me happy 
one of the best books I have ever read

From Barnes and Noble - Nook Books:

Posted December 1, 2012

 Great read.

A story filled with with love, hate, violence, peace and so much more. 538 pages of wondering what will happen 
next. A FULL story from start to finish. Thanks to the author for sharing a great work with the readers.

Posted July 8, 2012
 Couldn't put it down...
For this to have been a free book, it was wonderful. The author keeps you on the edge of your seat. I couldn't 
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Posted April 20, 2012


Perfectly written with great detail it was thought provoking and asked the fundemental question of would you 
stick up for what you believed was right even if you would be killed for doing so.

Posted April 5, 2012

 This book is AWESOME! it keeps you wanting to read the entire ti

This book is AWESOME! it keeps you wanting to read the entire time. It tells of 2 worlds, and both are 
extremely unique. One of the best books I've ever read!

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Is Superannuation Super?

I've never been a big fan of Super. Not because it isn't important to plan for retirement, but because I don't trust a government imposed superannuation system.

It is brought in under the guise of good intentions. The government get to spruik their care and forward thinking for our future - what a good little government they are! It's all warm and fuzzy so far.

But the pressure being applied to make this happen comes from the financial district - the people who are going to get your money and the money of every other wage and salary earner through these funds and they get to invest these billions to make you more money! Yippeeee!

Unless they don't. Bummer. Nothing can be done about that. It was the perfect storm. A financial tsunami of events. In my life these one in a lifetime unforeseen tsunamis have occurred in 1987, 2000 and 2007. SWIM!

So your fund may sometimes lose you money, like recently when my super lost 20%. Again - bummer. But look on the bright side - think of how big the bonuses will be for the managers of the funds when they make that loss up!

A fund manager of billions gets a bonus every time the fund increases. So maybe he didn't make a bonus in 2008, maybe his bonus was down a little in 2009 - but he made up for it in 2011 and 12! He's currently adrift in bonus money. I made $5000+ on my fund last year. It's almost back to where it once was. True - I can't touch until I am 65 - but the guy managing it - he's literally drowning in money.

And who's to say the government won't change the laws and make what I have in my account less tomorrow or increase the tax I have to pay or move the due date to 70 instead of 65.

Don't get me wrong - I'm happy to have it, I just can't help feeling my hard earned money in my fund is making someone else a whole lot richer than it will ever make me.

So - here's an experiment. I got hit so hard by the last tsunami - and then lost my writing job - that I ran out of money and started selling assets.

It was tough to take and finally I said enough's enough. I went and grabbed a part time job over summer - a crappy job after hours serving in a bottle shop. I have since left the job after being shocked by the treatment of staff by the VERY large company - but...I was forced to open up a super account for my shitty $17 an hour job!

When I say forced - I have just recently opened up a self managed super account to manage my own fund and had I wanted the money to go into that account I could have spent the 10 hours chasing, copying, getting certified, mailing, emailing and filing all the paper work required - or just signed their one form and be on board their chosen fund. I signed.

I am now, after 3 months working for them, the proud owner of a super fund worth $113!

Wait - what just happened?
Ohhhhhhh - They've taken out money for Tax - $16.98
                                                 And Member Fee $13.50
                                                 And insurance premium $27
                                                 And member protection rebate $12.42 making a total deduction of $45.42

So I get $69.20 in my super account after working in a shitty job for three months. It's money I can't touch until I'm 65 - but somehow insurance, broker, fund and whatever protection rebate is - have all made money off of me today!

I sometimes feel cynical - then I examine something like this and think - it's really not me. This is just so wrong and goes against plain common sense. 

The sort of job I've just endured over Christmas - is usually worked by our kids as they study or those who are living on subsistence levels - and yet big rich hands are scooping up truckloads of cash out of their pockets - and we're talking millions of people it's being done to. Can any one say bend over and touch your ankles - because there's a super fund administrator inching up behind you. 

I will post as each account notice comes in and we'll see just how long it takes them to reduce my "retirement fund" to zero! 

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

The Web that Made the Spider Famous - David Thorne Review

Recently I found - again - David Thorne's Blog. I say again because years ago I was sent the spider email and I remember seeking out the original blog at the time. Wow! How things have changed for the author since that spider went viral.

I think we've all seen the 'Spider email' exchange and laughed hard - wishing secretly we'd had the gal to try something like that and annoy our bank, electricity company or mobile provider.

From: Jane Gilles
Date: Wednesday 8 Oct 2008 12.19pm
To: David Thorne
Subject: Overdue account

Dear David,
Our records indicate that your account is overdue by the amount of $233.95. If you have already made this payment please contact us within the next 7 days to confirm payment has been applied to your account and is no longer outstanding.
Yours sincerely, Jane Gilles
From: David Thorne
Date: Wednesday 8 Oct 2008 12.37pm
To: Jane Gilles
Subject: Re: Overdue account

Dear Jane,
I do not have any money so am sending you this drawing I did of a spider instead. I value the drawing at $233.95 so trust that this settles the matter.
Regards, David.

From: Jane Gilles
Date: Thursday 9 Oct 2008 10.07am
To: David Thorne
Subject: Overdue account

Dear David,
Thank you for contacting us. Unfortunately we are unable to accept drawings as payment and your account remains in arrears of $233.95. Please contact us within the next 7 days to confirm payment has been applied to your account and is no longer outstanding.
Yours sincerely, Jane Gilles
From: David Thorne
Date: Thursday 9 Oct 2008 10.32am
To: Jane Gilles
Subject: Re: Overdue account

Dear Jane,
Can I have my drawing of a spider back then please.
Regards, David.
From: Jane Gilles
Date: Thursday 9 Oct 2008 11.42am
To: David Thorne
Subject: Re: Re: Overdue account

Dear David,
You emailed the drawing to me. Do you want me to email it back to you?
Yours sincerely, Jane Gilles
From: David Thorne
Date: Thursday 9 Oct 2008 11.56am
To: Jane Gilles
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Overdue account

Dear Jane,
Yes please.
Regards, David.
From: Jane Gilles
Date: Thursday 9 Oct 2008 12.14pm
To: David Thorne
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Overdue account

Attached <spider.gif>

From: David Thorne
Date: Friday 10 Oct 2008 09.22am
To: Jane Gilles
Subject: Whose spider is that?

Dear Jane,
Are you sure this drawing of a spider is the one I sent you? This spider only has seven legs and I do not feel I would have made such an elementary mistake when I drew it.
Regards, David.
From: Jane Gilles
Date: Friday 10 Oct 2008 11.03am
To: David Thorne
Subject: Re: Whose spider is that?

Dear David,
Yes it is the same drawing. I copied and pasted it from the email you sent me on the 8th. David your account is still overdue by the amount of $233.95.
Please make this payment as soon as possible.
Yours sincerely, Jane Gilles
From: David Thorne
Date: Friday 10 Oct 2008 11.05am
To: Jane Gilles
Subject: Automated Out of Office Response

Thankyou for contacting me.
I am currently away on leave, traveling through time and will be returning last week.
Regards, David.
From: David Thorne
Date: Friday 10 Oct 2008 11.08am
To: Jane Gilles
Subject: Re: Re: Whose spider is that?

Hello, I am back and have read through your emails and accept that despite missing a leg, that drawing of a spider may indeed be the one I sent you. I realise with hindsight that it is possible you rejected the drawing of a spider due to this obvious limb ommission but did not point it out in an effort to avoid hurting my feelings. As such, I am sending you a revised drawing with the correct number of legs as full payment for any amount outstanding. I trust this will bring the matter to a conclusion.
Regards, David.

From: Jane Gilles
Date: Monday 13 Oct 2008 2.51pm
To: David Thorne
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Whose spider is that?

Dear David,
As I have stated, we do not accept drawings in lei of money for accounts outstanding. We accept cheque, bank cheque, money order or cash. Please make a payment this week to avoid incurring any additional fees.
Yours sincerely, Jane Gilles
From: David Thorne
Date: Monday 13 Oct 2008 3.17pm
To: Jane Gilles
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Whose spider is that?

I understand and will definitely make a payment this week if I remember. As you have not accepted my second drawing as payment, please return the drawing to me as soon as possible. It was silly of me to assume I could provide you with something of completely no value whatsoever, waste your time and then attach such a large amount to it.
Regards, David.
From: Jane Gilles
Date: Tuesday 14 Oct 2008 11.18am
To: David Thorne
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Whose spider is that?

Attached <spider2.gif>

This snowballed into a very popular blog and books deals. And that's how I came back to his blog - when I discovered his books - a very good read if anyone's looking to waste time and laugh and prejudge a human being purely on circumstantial evidence.

The Internet is a Playground - By David Thorne
I'll Go Home When it's Warm and has Chairs - By David Thorne

I came to feel I knew David through these emails and savage swipes at society. I know I don't, it's just that emails are personal and in a way it feels like he's letting you in to see who he really is by sharing what are supposed to be candid insights into the way he conducts himself when no one else is watching.

He seems angry. An 'old man who lives next door and won't throw the ball back' type of angry.

But then you read of his ongoing gripes with every day annoyances - you begin to like him because he's fighting the fight you meekly gave into when you paid that council fine for having your bin incorrectly presented for pick up. I also found myself saying - "No, that's gone too far, or is Bullying." As I laughed out loud at some outrageous email - and even felt lifted by his victory over bureaucratic red tape.

This is part of an hysterical and long exchange with Massanutten City Council
in the USA.

Also, as per your instructions to report bear sightings immediately, I have attached a photograph taken outside my premises a few minutes ago. I apologise for the quality but was fearful of getting too close due to the fact bears constrict and consume their prey whole, taking several days to fully digest. As I have a short attention span and would prefer a quick death such as removing my helmet in space, I request you send assistance immediately.
Regards, David.

David Thorne's humour is not new - it's Groucho Marx for a digital generation.

When you first google his web site - titles 27bslash6 - a reference to the apartment George Orwell lived in when he was writing 1984 - the brief description appropriately reads -

Go Away

This site contains none of your business. You do not have permission to access the content and if you do so you agree to waive all rights.

Groucho couldn't have said it any better and had the internet been a place to vent when he was around he would surely be using it.

As you read and sway between loving David's irreverent wit and his snarky side that clearly takes great pleasure in annoying the innocent, powerless or naive - See Missing Missy!!! - you will come across other items that are not on the front page or pushed loudly for all the haters to see. They just become more of, what I'm sure was a whirlwind on the back of 'the spider email' - of one man's outlet to vent that went incredibly public and has now, ironically, caught the author in his own web created persona. Hidden in there is an email from the father of a child with cancer. It's a simple email and thanks David for his book that made the man's daughter and him laugh when they most needed to laugh.

After reading so many exhanges from David Thorne and seeing the lengths he's willing to go to satisfy his own pleasure at simply being annoying and getting people back - I could imagine this is also David's own creation to shove it up those who have vented against his style of humour - but something deeper makes me feel it's real, I'd certainly like it to be real, so I'm going with that.

If you're a toilet reader and you're looking for something you can enjoy in solid three minute installments - maybe less if you're eating a healthy diet - then this is a must have.

A solid eight legs out of seven.