Skip to main content

From Reverie to Reality--for a Moment

I've enjoyed turning my mind toward the Advent season. But, at times our "brave new world" bounces up into my face like a hard-to-conrol rubber ball. So, there goes my mind!

We have a new restaurant in town. Nice location, healthy food, pleasant atmosphere. I purchased a meal there last week and was given a special customer card. With this card, I can have a free 12th meal after buying 11. I can also receive a coupon for a free side dish. All I have to do is register online on their national chain's Web page.

Once I register, they will know: my name, state and zip code, e-mail address, the number of people in my household, my birthday, and whether or not I'm a vegetarian. Not exactly the contents of an FBI file, but to earn the promised discounts, I need to swipe my card in their swiper machine every time I dine. Thinking about that, I had an epiphany (not of a religious sort).

If I register that card and use it at this restaurant, I will be tracked. Hunters track. I don't want to be hunted.

Behavioral tracking used by advertisers and search engines is another form of being hunted that makes me uneasy. In case you were not aware of it, some ENTITY (person, place or thing?) notes and records what you click. After a few clicks, IT will start showing you ads for businesses IT believes will interest you or are in close geographical proximity.

The FTC has proposed a solution for those of us who don't want to be surveilled. You can read a very good, brief article about the FTC's Do Not Track Initiative by Troy Wolverton (Click on Troy's name to read the article. This is a link, even though it's not showing up as one!) at the Merced Sun Star.

Briefly: The FTC wants consumers to have a way to opt-out of having their Web "behavior" tracked by advertisers. As reported by Jackie Jones in Response magazine:

"The FTC initiative promotes the use of the 'Advertising Option Icon,' a button consumers can click on to retrieve information on the company’s online behavioral advertising data collection. As use of the Advertising Option Icon expands, consumers will eventually have the opportunity to visit for additional information and to opt-out of some or all participating companies' online behavioral ads." (Currently, hosts 1800 Contacts.)

Guess who is against this initiative? The Direct Marketing Association. I lost my trust in the DMA when I sent them an Opt-Out notice on behalf of my late father. None of the direct-mail materials addressed to him have stopped coming. He died in 2006.

Yes, we're all busy, but we will pay later for what we don't pay attention to now. This is an important issue about something that can become both pervasive and insidious.

Although the bargain-hunter inside me is pouting, I've decided I don't want to be the one who is hunted in return. I'm passing on that free meal and side dish I'd be eligible for after my tracked and carded lunches. That is too small a price to be paid for the use of my good name.


Popular posts from this blog

Mil Cosas

Mil Lubroth was an American artist of Polish and Russian descent who came to settle in Madrid, where her chic, short name took on an extra meaning. In castellano, Mil means a thousand. Just right for an artist whose work could never be "pinned down," or categorized by any one theme or direction.

To experience Lubroth's work is akin to hearing a chorus of voices from Sheherazade's 1001 nights: it is to see and feel a thousand things united in one intriguing and beautiful visual journey. If you are anywhere near Madrid during October, invite yourself to a banquet of Mil's "mil cosas" atAnnta Gallery. The exhibit that opens October 5th is the first retrospective of Lubroth's work since her death in 2004.

Spanning 50 years, these works reveal an artist who was never less than mature and skilled in her work. There is no sign of awkward beginnings, improvement over time or deepening development. Here is Minerva, beginning her artistic trajectory fully f…

A Cat, a Dog, and Shakespeare: The Perfect Sunday Afternoon

One reason I keep paying a cable bill is to be able to watch Turner Classic Movies. I had just finished a batch of Sunday chores and was resting a moment on the couch, wedged between Chatterly the cat and Gypsy the dog (an Australian Kelpie), and saw that TCM was about to air Julius Caesar, directed by Joseph Mankiewicz, and produced in 1953. 

I read Julius Caesar for the first time when I was in sixth grade. It was a great time to read it, because it seemed fresh and real to me, even though some of the centuries-old English was challenging. 

The movie made me wish that Joseph Mankiewicz had directed more of Shakespeare's works for cinema. The balance the movie strikes is oh, so totally just right. It does not go so far into cinematic territory that we lose the work's theatricality, but travels far enough by camera that it provides a sense of seamless reality only a movie can create.  The casting was brilliant.  James Mason was at his best as Brutus, and he carries the film on h…

Booked on Sugar

Sometimes the television remote control finds the channel for Destiny. I believe I was indeed destined to see Marc Aronson'sand Marina Buddhos's presentation to students at the Brooklyn Public Library based on their recent book, SugarChanged the World. Their program certainly changed my world. While written for a youth audience, this is a book that adults will enjoy, and naturally, a great book for parents to share with their children.

I often wonder at the parallels between drug addiction and food addiction in our culture. I know I'm not alone in this. You can't miss the similarities:  "Betcha can't eat just one.  Crave the crunch. Do you dream in chocolate? Hershey chocolate is bliss."  And, as noted in my earlier posts on  Super Bowl ads, when you see a man "snorting" Dorito crumbs .... well, I rest my case.

I've also thought about how quickly we "judge" people with substance abuse problems while the US clearly suffers from foo…