Internet is Watching You – TEDTalk Tristan Harris (Video)

What if this was a dialogue between you and Google?
You: Hello! Is this Gordon’s Pizza?
Google: No sir, it’s Google’s Pizza.

Did I dial the wrong number?
Google: No sir, Google bought the pizza store.

Oh, alright – then I’d like to place an order please.
Google: Okay sir, do you want the usual?

The usual? You know what my usual is?
Google: According to the caller ID, the last 15 times you’ve ordered a 12-slice with double-cheese, sausage, and thick crust.

Okay – that’s what I want this time too.
Google: May I suggest that this time you order an 8-slice with ricotta, arugula, and tomato instead?

No, I hate vegetables.
Google: But your cholesterol is not good.

How do you know?
Google: Through the subscriber’s guide. We have the results of your blood tests for the last 7 years.

Maybe so, but I don’t want the pizza you suggest – I already take medicine for high cholesterol.
Google: But you haven’t taken the medicine regularly. 4 months ago you purchased from Drugsale Network a box of only 30 tablets.

I bought more from another drugstore.
Google: It’s not showing on your credit card, sir.

I paid in cash.
Google: But according to your bank statement, you did not withdraw that much cash.

I have another source of cash.
Google: This is not showing on your last tax form unless you got it from an undeclared income source.

WHAT THE HELL? ENOUGH! I’m sick of Google, Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp. I’m going to an island without the internet, where there’s no cell phone line, and no one to spy on me …
Google: I understand sir, but you’ll need to renew your passport … it expired 5 weeks ago.
– Author Unknown –

Who Collects Your Data?

Social media platforms come with a price tag. You have given the “Zuck’s” people full permission to collect almost anything from your cache of info. Why are we suddenly surprised that data was collected, sold, exchanged, and shared?
Don’t hold only Facebook responsible for collecting because every app you added to your phone is already doing the same thing. You scroll through after installation and agree to each little pop-up screen and then wonder why they can take your information without permission.
You gave it up willingly, and some was shared illegally, we all could take stock in being a little more cautious…
Don’t get me started about the folks who are angry about everyone knowing their business just before they yell to Alexa to play something from the Little River Band. Let that sink in for a few minutes.
She already knows where you are making reservation for dinner, and that you probably are wearing the new pants and shirt you purchased through Amazon.
– TC, Bangor Maine Police Department –

How a handful of tech companies control billions of minds every day

Limiting the Information Flow.

Those lists we keep seeing — like Google’s “autocomplete” search suggestions or the news feeds on Facebook — those determine what content we will see and what content we will never see — in other words, what content will be censored. That, as George Orwell warned and as Chinese officials know well, is how you control people: by limiting the information flow.
– Robert Epstein, Daily Caller – Google and Facebook Are the Problem –

Are You Gullible?

… the idea that a “targeted” bleat from a campaign basement to a functional adult will bring that person to vote a certain way can only lead to one of two conclusions: such a person should never go on the internet, or, should not be allowed to vote.
– Rex Murphy, Facebook Made Me Do It, Nationalpost –

They’re Watching You

Facebook: “The notion of being handed a multimedia pass to all your friends, wherever they might be, for free, holds immense appeal — even if “free” turns out to mean “we’re watching you and making money and maybe pulling some of your psychological chains to our own ends.”
– Ted Anthony, Facebook – Should You Leave it, Financial Post –

Auto-Refill

News feeds are purposely designed to auto-refill with reasons to keep you scrolling, and purposely eliminate any reason for you to pause, reconsider or leave.
It’s also why video and social media sites like Netflix, YouTube or Facebook autoplay the next video after a countdown instead of waiting for you to make a conscious choice (in case you won’t). A huge portion of traffic on these websites is driven by autoplaying the next thing.
– Tristan Harris, How Technology is Hijacking Your Mind, Thrive Global –

If We do Nothing

If we do nothing about Google and Facebook, we will get more of the same: more hyper-targeting, more algorithmic bias, less competition and the further erosion of collateral industries, like media. Enough is enough.
-Gabriel Weinberg, CEO and founder of DuckDuckGo, CNBC –

How to ‘Avoid’ GoogleThe Quippery

Yahoo and or Outlook email instead of G-Mail.
WordPress.com blogs instead of Blogger – (though frankly WordPress P*$$ me off a bit now that they are cancelling Photo Challenge.)
Firefox instead of Chrome.
DuckDuckGo instead of Google Search.
Dropbox instead of Google Drive.

What have you done to limit how much of your data is ‘mined’ by one company?

Great Horned Owl Family

Great Horned Owls have nested in a spruce tree in our front yard.

The first hint I had that it was a nest site was when I saw the adult owl land on a branch, then walk along the branch into the middle of the tree.

The first baby owl (owlet) ventured out of the nest and onto a branch on May 27. It spent most of the day sitting with the adult.

Every now and then the baby would launch into a flurry of activity…

…bobbing around and exercising its wings.

Checking out its talons…

By supper time, a second owlet emerged and sat on the branch next to the first one.

On the morning of May 28, all three babies had emerged from the nest and ‘branched’.

Owlet on the right: “This is how you do wing exercises.”
Owlet in the centre: “Duck!”
Owlet on the left: “Duck! I don’t see any ducks.”

Bedtime – the owlet on the right walked back to the nest.

The owlet on the left wanted to go back to the nest, but couldn’t get past the one on the right. Push, poke, butt – but the one on the right wouldn’t budge.

June 1 – Two of the owlets sitting in the rain.

The Feather Files
Name: Great Horned Owl
Species: Bubo virginianus
Date Seen: May 2018
Location: North of Airdrie Alberta, Canada

Size: 55 centimetres (22 inches) long. The female is considerably larger than the male, weighing about 2 kg to the male’s 1 to 1.5 kg. Their wingspan can reach 1.2 m.

Color: In Alberta, neck and back are speckled light brown, streaked and barred with black and white. The undersides are a light colour and heavily barred. The throat is white.

Habitat: It seldom moves far from its place of birth and can be found in most forested and semi-forested regions in North America. The Great Horned Owl does not migrate.

Nesting: They take possession of the previous year’s nest of some other raptor or that of a crow or magpie and lay one to five eggs in late winter. The eggs are incubated for about 30 to 37 days. Young owls are almost fully feathered and capable of short flights at eight weeks of age. In central Alberta (latitude 54°), average hatching dates range from mid-April to early May. The same nest is seldom used for more than one year – the young have usually destroyed the nest by the time they leave it.

Eyes and hearing: The owls have excellent night vision. Their eyes don’t move in their sockets, but they can swivel their heads more than 180 degrees. They have sensitive hearing.

Feathers: 8 days after birth, the downy plumage is replaced by immature plumage. Flight feathers in the wings and tail begin to appear.
– At 2 weeks, they have more than 50 percent of their juvenile plumage.
– At 3 weeks, ear-tufts show as small compact patches.
– At 11 weeks, the facial disc and white bib are well defined.
– At 21 weeks, they are a mottled buff colour.
– At 26 weeks, ear tufts are fully grown.

Feeding: The male brings all the food to the nest until the female finishes brooding the chicks. The female stays with the young and hunts only when food provided by the male is insufficient.

Leaving the nest: By day 40 (about 6 weeks of age) the young are able to climb well, can leave the nest and clamber out along a tree branch. This stage is known as branching.
– By day 45-49 (7 weeks) : The young are fully feathered and capable of flight. They are able to make three to four short flights a day.
– After leaving the nest, the fledglings stay together for several weeks and they may roost together in a nearby tree. The adults will probably roost away from the young, but continue to feed them if needed, even into September.

 

Utah – Balance Rock: WordPress.com Upsets the Balance

As of the end of this month (and 2,000 Daily Prompts, 380 Photo Challenges, 260 Community Pools, and 100 First Fridays later), we will no longer publish new posts, prompts, or challenges on this site.
– Ben Huberman, WordPress.com The Daily Post –

As you can see from the announcement above, WordPress Prompts and Photo Challenges will soon be a thing of the past. It isn’t the first time that WordPress has suddenly discontinued a feature that many bloggers faithfully use and enjoy.

I’ve been submitting photos to the Photo Challenges for almost 8 years. Polite words can’t express my disappointment that they have decided to terminate access to our community of photographers.

As a replacement, WordPress suggests that bloggers try this: post a photo (any topic you feel like) and tag it with ‘photo challenge’. Then, open your WordPress Reader and type ‘photo challenge’ in the search bar…  Really – you think that makes it a challenge? Nope –  it’s just a bunch of posts with photos.

WordPress, you remind me of this rock (Balance Rock) in Arches National Park in Utah. The disconnect between your head and our body is quite obvious. It isn’t good for the balance of either of us…

As for Photo Challenges, I’m using that tag on this photo. If this was a real photo challenge, what would you suggest as a theme?

Upside to Absent-mindedness

For some reason there is a malfunction, some disconnect, between my imaginary hello and, well, my actual hello… Just know this: if you have ever passed me in the hall and I appeared to ignore you, it actually wasn’t like that at all…
– Stuart McLean, The Vinyl Cafe Notebooks –

An imaginary hello. Yes, that describes the greeting I sometimes don’t give.

It’s caused (they say) by a condition called absent-mindedness (also spelled  absentmindedness or absent mindedness.) Often, I don’t even know that I’m being absent-minded. On other occasions, it is quite apparent: I search for my glasses and find them on the top of my head or I walk into a room but forget what I came there to do.

I don’t think it is something to be stressed about. On the whole, my memory usually runs fairly smoothly and  I’m fairly adept at focusing when I need to. I see the shift into absent-mindedness as something that sets me free to think in abstract or creative ways – (that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.)

What was your most interesting absent-minded experience?

Canadian Flag Pin and Bobbins

A simple photo of a Canadian Flag lapel pin and the bobbins from my sewing machine. Why? Good question that has no answer. I bought an old sewing machine at an estate sale in Arizona. The owner had recently died, so I couldn’t ask her why she had a Canadian flag lapel pin in the box of sewing supplies and bobbins!

Photo altered with an Edward Hopper filter in Topaz Studio.
Photo altered with a Fine Wine filter in Topaz Studio.
Photo altered with an Impasto filter in Topaz Studio.

Springtime Blooms – Arizona and Alberta

My Place in the World is in the Garden with my camera!

The best part about living part time in Arizona is that I get to experience spring twice! In April, when Alberta might still be experiencing snow storms, our Arizona home is at the height of spring blooming!

pink flowers Arizona
Olneya tesota – Ironwood tree

We have a large old Ironwood tree on our property. It is estimated that these trees can live for hundreds and hundreds of years. It sheds its leaves annually just before it blooms. The flowers are pea like (because it is a member of that family) and the entire tree becomes a dusky pink colour during full bloom.

white flowers Arizona
Carnegiea gigantea – Saguaro Cactus

The Ironwood often serves as a backdrop to the giant Saguaro cactus. The Saguaro can live for 150 to 200 years and it can grow 40 to 60 ft tall (12 to 18 meters). It is very slow growing and can be decades old before it sprouts arms or blooms.

yellow flowers Arizona
Opuntia – Prickly Pear Cactus

The Prickly Pear cactus is the ‘rat’ of the neighbourhood for the simple reason that the resident rodents live in holes under the prickly shelter of this plant. We have a large specimen that isn’t actually on our property, but it thinks it should be. We have to carefully ‘prune’ it off our property every few years.

white flowers Arizona
Trichocereus candicans – Argentine Giant

My favourite cactus is the Argentine Giant. It is a common enough looking cactus with multiple stems up to 24 inches (60 cm) tall. The wow factor is when it blooms. The white flowers can be 6 to 8 inches across (15 to 20 cm). The flowers come out at night, and only last about 24 hours.

A week after my Argentine Giant bloomed, I was back in Alberta where an extremely long and cold winter had finally ended. The last of the snow had just melted, and the earth quickly exploded with greenery.

blue white flower Alberta
Puschkinia libanotica – Striped Squill

The first flower to bloom was the Striped Squill, a starry pale blue and white flower that is only about 4 inches (10 cm) tall.

blue flower Alberta
Scilla siberica – Siberian Squill

Another squill, the Siberian Squill, mingles with the Striped ones. Neither Squill seem anxious to expand their territory much, but they might simply be unable to compete with the other residents in that location – the prolific Grape hyacinths (Muscari).

yellow flower Alberta
Forsythia Northern Gold

The only other flower blooming right now is a bush – the Forsythia Northern Gold. I’m expecting great things from this fast growing bush. In addition to spectacular early blooms, it should help a lot with the task of masking the silvery wall of The Car Guy’s new quonset metal garage.

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is Place in the World.

What blooms in your part of the world each spring?