Friday, October 28, 2011

Privacy Is An Illusion - "Intrusion Marketing"

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If you are not living "off the grid," and you conduct any type of commerce or communication using your computer (laptop, notebook, doesn't matter) any of your credit cards, debit cards, mobile devices, automotive GPS navigation system or anything else that operates electrically, magnetically or through any combination of both, your personal information (all of it, from purchasing patterns, to tastes and preferences, to medical history, to relationships, to your daily driving habits, and a myriad of other miniscule details, which, if assembled, give an incredibly comprehensive picture of you) is 1) compromised; 2) being monitored, analyzed, stored, compared and used to 'profile' you as a consumer, a victim or the target of an investigation; and, 3) available for access or sale to innumerable parties without your knowledge or consent.

The use of this information cannot be controlled by law. Technology is invariably several steps ahead of legislation and law enforcement. You might say that Technology is the new artillery. A computer worm or virus can immobilize the entire command and control center of a military operation.

In the interests of technological efficiency, social media sharing, data gathering for market research, expediting the transmission of records, and automating otherwise labor-intensive processes, you are being observed. Your electronic fingerprints, footprints and photographs are everywhere.

Using a combination of satellite technology (i.e., with Google Earth, you can see where I'm standing in my yard and the sun's gleam off of my bald spot, too!), GPS, RFID, electronic tagging and labeling, keystroke logging, telephonic number punching, information-gathering bots and cookies, security cameras, coupon redemptions and electronic card swipes, your personal information, virtually all of it (including your utilities services providers, monthly bills, amounts spent on various categories of commodities).

As this information is processed, you will be categorized and targeted -- if you've bought certain types of things, or exhibit certain consumer patterns, or even made computer information searches about particular subjects -- you should be fully aware that you are giving up information even as you try to find or research information.

Credit card companies are selling your consumer expending information (where you've gone, what you bought, how much you spent, and more) to various marketing companies. Facebook, Google and other communications platforms and social media companies use this information to "filter" the screens you see and the results you find when you go to your favorite sites, pages or search engines to correspond to what they think will be of greatest consumer or ideological interest to you personally.

It is as if your computer were studying you so thoroughly that it was learning to anticipate your every thought and move. It is as if there were a roomful of intelligence analysts on the other side of your computer screen or mobile device watching you.

This is quite frightening, especially as more and more data-gathering technologies and systems become better integrated and interconnected to speed up processing and analysis time. Following is an article excerpt. You might wish to read it and then hit the "BACK" button on your browser to return to this page:

 From BigThink's Daily IdeaFeed:

Targeted Web Ads Tied to Your Credit Card Buys
Pay for a fast food lunch with your credit card then see weight loss ads next time you're online. That kind of outcome is likely under moves Visa and Mastercard are studying.

You cannot avoid this intrusion, nor can you avoid this "filtration" of what is "selected" for you to see. But you can anticipate it, and have some fun with it by varying your routines; your routes; the stores where you purchase things; the types of things that you purchase and the timing of those purchases -- and especially (you may even laugh) randomizing the sites you view and the subjects you research.

Understand that in taking command of your limited privacy, you can always feed the data aggregators misleading information. If you research important things, break up the time spent on those sites with, for example, time spent (while you're away from your device for a while) on sites which are of either no interest whatsoever to you (randomizing with irrelevant data), or by countering your time investment with something that is the ideological opposite of what you are truly interested in (neutralizing with opposing data).

If you know that you are being observed, and you cannot escape the intrusions which technology has made virtually unavoidable, then put on a show. Feed these voracious data-miners misinformation. This is perhaps the last game left to play (actually an old espionage trick to find "leaks" in security) which can make your profile less about who you are (privately), and more about what you'd like them to think (publicly).

Any good interrogator, prosecutor, soldier or illusionist knows the value of misdirection, or of sensory confusion. It is a low-technology gambit to do a bit (unfortunately not enough) of gaming an increasingly abusive high-technology environment.

Don't worry. I won't tell anybody that you've read this article. It doesn't matter though. They'll already know.

Douglas E. Castle []

by Douglas E Castle

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Why Unorganized Movements Don't Work - The "Neverlution"

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Social expression, whether in the form of approval or protest, is a Human dynamic which is either effective or destructive. If a group of persons (myself among them) want to change the way "Wall Street" (to use that geographical designation as the personification of greed, much as so many Americans regard Washington, DC as the epitome of corruption, and Hollywood as the land of the irresponsible, overindulged botoxed and endlessly de-toxing rich) is conducting matters concerning every aspect of the economy, they have gotten only one thing right -- a vague idea of the otherwise faceless enemy.

The "Occupy Wall Street" (or "Take Back Wall Street") movement and growing protests have only a few things going for them, and a great many more things working against them. This excess of organizational liabilities over organizational assets is why I believe this "Woodstock"-like study in sleep deprivation is doomed to failure.  Some philosophical protesters are actually calling this movement (more like a multi-geographical block party in search of any theme) a "horizontally-organized resistance movement." I cannot help but picture people lying down in the street as tanks march over them...

In brief:

1) The protesters have identified a categorical party -- an adversary with a name, whom they genuinely distrust, dislike and resent with increasing vitriol;

2) They (the masses) are (by loitering, littering and making a great deal of noise without a clear signal) physically out in the open and at the very gates of the felonious fiscal fatheads who have monopolized the money supply, the capital markets, and the unraveling of an economy. Righteous indignation, channeled and expressed properly (which they are least here) funneled into a course of action (rather like a strategic plan with a defined goal in mind, which is conspicuously absent in this Neverlution) can be powerful, if there is an objective (or a threat) and a plan of action understood and supported by its grassroots citizen military.

Yet, the only things that our neverlutionaries would seem to have in common [and again, I don't disagree with their tremendous hurt and outrage] is anger, frustration, a desire for some instant character change (I'm thinking of Ebenezer Scrooge, out of Dickens' novel  or of George Bailey, in "It's a Wonderful Life," Frank Capra's poignant masterpiece), and greater fiduciary responsibility paired with more generosity.

Our protesters are just complaining (except in Florida, where they are whining) and blocking the flow of traffic -- they are failing to recognize the need for movement leadership, a precise goal (or list of demands) to present to the some decisionmaking individuals in the Wall Street inside community who could actually be responsive, and a serious threat of consequences for non-compliance.

The sad truth is that our noble protesters lack a simple goal, a plan, the tools (perhaps threats) to prosecute the war, and a semblance of true organization, command and control. They are like kidnappers who have committed the act, but haven't figured out what they should ask for, how they can arrange to receive it, and what action that they can take in the event that the kidnap victim's loved ones are noncompliant;

3) No matter how great the movement gets in terms of involved protesters and geographical locus, nothing will happen with out a stated, realistic objective, a plan, leadership, and a viable threat.

If this movement fails, or just eventually results in a diffused death by boredom and attrition, or a resignation to impotence and surrender (without the first salvo even having been fired over the bow) it will ultimately encourage the smirking moneymeisters of the capital markets, banking and investment sectors to go even further with their abuses. It will strengthen an adversary's resolve. That would be a sad ending for what was started with the best of intentions.

An acquaintance of mine (a monetary mercenary), said to me, smiling, "Occupy Wall Street? Fine. I'll work from home. I've got my laptop and my phone."

Will one of our protesters put forth an agenda, promulgate it, and (if he or she is worthy and capable) take command? Don't lose this opportunity to achieve something memorable, and long overdue. In a year, don't be the punchline of a bunch of quick-churned jokes amongst Wall Steet's cognoscenti. Take off the tie-dyed shirts and put on the cleats.

Douglas E Castle []

by Douglas E Castle

Saturday, October 08, 2011

"Happy Medium" - A Myth Debunked.

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by Douglas E Castle

There is a popular myth about people reaching a "happy medium." The underlying idea is that two people, each starting with his or her own respective objective or position in mind (if you'd like, picture an employee re-negotiating his salary with his employer; the employee would like a $30,000.00 annual increase - and the employer would like to give the employee a meager $10,000.00 annual increase), can reach a "settling" point through the negotiating process where each will have sacrificed something in order to meet the other 'halfway,' or somewhere in between their initial unstated objectives. This is, in fact, inconsistent with behavioral psychology and the dynamics of arriving at a settlement.

In negotiations like these, the parties anticipate a give-and-take scenario, so they generally begin by stating exaggerated positions, each knowing in advance that the other will likely compromise to some extent. The conventional wisdom is to ask for more than what you'd like. Aim high. This will be perceived by the other party as either a veiled threat, or as an opening ruse. If you'd like to learn about this initial posturing, just go to your local used car dealer and begin a discussion about a car which you "are just curious about." That experience, pun notwithstanding, will be your crash course.

Because people are inter-reactive, a static "happy medium" can not ever truly be reached. The notion of satisfaction is a relative and highly subjective one. It is also a shifting dynamic. If I 'won' an increase from my boss for $10,000.00 and was satisfied yesterday, I'll become dissatisfied today if I learn that he gave my colleague (a stronger negotiator than myself) a $12,000.00 raise.

Ironically, if the person with whom I'm negotiating concedes to my demands too readily, I will have "settler's remorse." Immediately after my request is granted, I will begin to feel as if I should have asked for more, and that I had undersold myself. A victory which is too easily won is somehow always suspicious.

The truth is that a "happy medium" is always temporary. Every negotiation, like every relationship, is ongoing, with an ever-shifting "happy medium." Human Beings generally want to better themselves, and discontent is seldom far away.

As my college roommate (a truly wise fellow) once said, "If you want to get a happy medium, just pay her a giant bonus after she comes out of her trance and the seance is ended."

Douglas E Castle []

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Ask For What You Want - And Get It.

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by Douglas E Castle

Taking Command requires a great number of skills, each of which must be practiced and field-tested. But the objective of command is to attain an get what you want. If you've clearly visualized your objective, and have sufficient discipline to maintain your focus on it, the task remaining is to get there. And there are many ways to accomplish that mission. Every so often, I see command from a completely different perspective, which I am compelled to share with my readers. The more perspectives you study, the better you'll be at selecting the ones which are in accord with your personal style.

The following written piece which comes to us courtesy of Sandra (Levitin) Morgan, Kalon Women's Founder and Publisher, truly struck me as excellent. Morgan's growing readership audience is primarily women over the age of 40, but her market faces the same fundamental challenge as any other market: Getting what you want. Her article title caught my eye (it was direct and audacious), and I couldn't help but read the content. It speaks to the issues of focus, persuasion and tenacity as well as several other key skills needed to obtain command and control, but not in the traditional military sense.

Incidentally, while I am not a woman entering my prime, I am, Sandra, a man who knows when he is getting excellent advice. You can subscribe to the magazine if you meet the target demographic - I obtained my subscription by cleverly camouflaging my identity.

The article, written by Karen Keller, Ph.D, appeared in the October, 2011 issue of the publication. My outline of her article follows:

1) Recognize what you want. Be certain that it is something good for you, your growth, your gain, your happiness, the furtherance of your objectives. Half-hearted wishes are not powerful desires or intentions.

2) Ask in an optimistic way. Clearly state the benefits to the other person as well as those for yourself. Undisguised selfishness and one-sided bargains never, ever work.

3) Ask the right person. If you are not speaking directly with the individual who has the authority to deliver what you are requesting, you are wasting time playing your practiced Stradivarius for an audience of bartenders (a terrible but memorable metaphor). Get to a decision maker who can give you what you are asking for.

4) Expect to get what you ask for. Believe in yourself, your worthiness and your request. Visualize success. Anticipate a "Yes!" You are not a beggar -- you are a negotiator and a deal-maker.

5) Don't stop asking. If you don't get what you want, continue to ask. If you give up and walk away, you are, in a way, sending a message that your request was either unrealistic, or unimportant. Persistence is a virtue. Persistence adds validation. When I was a university professor, I would tell my students that part of getting what you ask for sometimes involves wearing the other person down.

Part of getting what you want is, plainly put, keeping at it.

Douglas E Castle

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Taking Command - Recon Mission SitRep

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Apologies, dear readers and respected colleagues!

We are currently in the process of re-constructing our blog templates in order to improve your reading, learning and interactive experience at each site. We should be able to resume a normalized, more frequent posting schedule by Wednesday evening, 5th October.

Thank you in advance for reading me. And more than this, thank you for your encouragement, support, responsiveness, constructive feedback and loyalty. Your patience is deeply appreciated.

Faithfully and with respect,
Douglas E Castle

p.s. If you would like something quite interesting to read in the meantime, I would be delighted if you would have a look at, and let me know your thoughts.

I would also appreciate your feedback on my most recent post (today) on a blog which has been too-long neglected and is now being reconstructed and re-activated. Visit The blog title is quite misleading (and more than a bit ironic), as you'll notice. - DC


by Douglas E Castle


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