I Might be Cynical

It’s going to be sunny but cold.

For those of you who are bracing for an earth-shattering announcement, remain calm. I am still an optimist, and I still search long and hard for the bright side in all things and most people. The cynic in me is growing, but that’s in reaction to then trends I’ve observed over time. Don’t worry, I will not speak of, nor am I going to introduce statistical analysis supported by charts and graphs – it’s Monday and I still recall the wounds inflicted upon me for speaking of math/maths on Mondays.

No, these are casual observations, the kind most of you have made. I’m just collecting them and annotating them here as a means to vent. If necessary, I’ll blame several readers. That seems to be the trend today – take bad news and twist it to be someone’s fault. That’s the first trend that’s causing me to be cynical.

You see, I’m one of those people who, when faced with larger than life concerns like the economy, illnesses that might become epidemics that might become pandemics, etc. I look for facts. Some of you are old enough to remember facts. For you younger folks, facts were indisputable, undeniable proven and accepted truths. Really, we used to have such things. There weren’t your facts and my facts, they were just the facts. As Walter Cronkite used to say, “That’s the way it is.”

Would that this were still the case in all media.

Some of you stirred these feelings in me with your reaction to the carved-in-stone motto of the Dallas Morning News. Imagine, presenting facts on all sides of an argument so that intelligent people could decide for themselves. These days, if we’re presenting facts, we only present the ones that we hope will bring you to our side. And, if you’ll forgive me the mathematical reference, the our-side vs. your-side is binary. Yea or nay. No middle ground. No wavelengths between the endpoints on the spectrum.

I know, I’m drifting toward math and science terms – I’m sorry – sometimes I can’t help myself.

To keep this from turning toward the political, I’m also cynical about business, technology, healthcare, state and local government and our education system.

If you think back to my January WATWB post, you might recall that I wrote about new laws that might help diminish the number of robo-calls we receive. While I remain optimistic that we might be able to solve this problem, I have to recognize that the entities demanding a solution and those tasked with solving the problem, are the same entities that created the problem. They would include (at least in the US) the federal government, the telecommunication industry and the coneheads at various technology companies.

The federal government broke up the monopoly that was AT&T

The federal government smashed the pieces of AT&T (Baby Bells) into smaller pieces and required the Baby Bells to accommodate the “competitive local exchange carriers” CLECs. Among the accommodations was the requirement to put through every call.

Meanwhile the coneheads were inventing myriad ways of placing phone calls for free or nearly so and part of that process allows people using their technology to “spoof” the originating number.

So, despite the fact that your phone company has always been able to know that the number being passed along to your caller-ID is not the number the call is coming from – they had to put it through.

By the way, if you’re not ready to be cynical, neither iteration of robo-call laws apply to political candidates.

The last thing I’ll bring up today where it’s wise to be cynical, is the so-called Internet-based service industry. There are many ways in which these services abuse the historic seller-buyer relationship, but the ones that make me cynical are the ones that are aimed at amassing huge amounts of data about us. These include, but are certainly not limited to:

Smartphone apps and the phones themselves that track location data when it isn’t necessary to the function of the app.

Discount travel sites that seek to know when, how, why, to where and for how long we will travel.

Search engines, news aggregating apps, streaming TV services and smart-TVs themselves that collect the wide range of subjects we are interested in. Note, unless you’ve told it not to, your smart TV sends an image of what you’re watching to its mothership every few seconds.

Not the latest example of this, but one that is making its wanna-be presence known more and more often lately, are the apps, add-ons and websites that will check Amazon (or anybody else’s) prices for the thing you’re about to buy and alert you to better deals. How cool is that? Oh, wait, that means this “free” app knows everything I am thinking about buying. What do you think they do with that data? Even if that’s a rhetorical question, you know I’m going to answer – they package that data about you and they sell it – and there are lots of buyers, including agencies within the federal government. If you want to be scared educated about this vast industry, read this article.

As another TV personality was famous for saying “Let’s be careful out there!”


100 comments

  1. I know you intended this to be a serious post, but I was seriously laughing out loud and it’s not even 6 am. Your opening commentary about ‘facts’ was priceless. This was a great way to start a day, even if the topic both annoys and scares me.

    As I often say to my husband, aka Mr Science: Don’t confuse me with the facts :D

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I get that “don’t start with the science” comment often. I’m glad you found this entertaining. We can’t fix these things, at least we can recognize them and laugh. Thanks Joanne.

      Like

  2. You and I really are kindred spirits. The #1 fact that we need to accept is that we don’t have news reported anymore. We have entertainment channels that hire actors to read scripts that produce ratings which result in a boatload of money for the people who own the channels. If you want facts, you have to dig for them yourself. We have personal experience with the Ma Bell fiasco, and I’ll stop right there. It’s quite comforting to know that as a woman, if I take a ride share that they can track me right to my house and beyond. Not. A friend told me what she thought was a funny anecdote about how her husband was looking something up on his phone only to have Alexa give him the answer. Hmm, not for me. I think the old saying ‘buyer beware, proceed at own risk’ is applicable to our use of technology, and we shouldn’t forget it. I do thank you for the factual reminders and for the ‘be safe out there’ reference because that show was one of my favorites. Looks like Maddie will get a walk in today so that makes for a good start to the week. :-)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Judy. I might be the last traveler hailing a cab at the airport, but I’m OK with that. And, if I think the price might be lower at Target, I can check Target on my own. We give up so much data about ourselves, it’s time to fight back. “Buyer Beware” and “if it sounds too good to be true…” should be uppermost in our thoughts. Maddie will get a walk today, maybe without her vest.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. An ad for an ad remover sums up the world we live in today. Ironic, without knowing the meaning of the word.
    And yes… I’m old enough to miss facts, as well as news reporters who actually reported the news.

    Liked by 2 people

        1. At-a-girl. My best friend and I talk about things we’ve read of heard, and it’s like we live on two different planets. We both appreciate facts, so we go back and check things out. It’s amazing how often our news is incomplete. I avoid the “analysts” like the virus. I don’t care if I like what they say, I want the facts. I can form my own opinion.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. My bio states clearly that I am charmingly cynical. Thus I’m right there with you, brother. I am a person who knows all about facts, logic, and that good old chestnut, morality. I hate the way in which the internet and the smart phones have morphed from harmless to weirdly threatening. I see it happening in front of my eyes, and find myself less inclined to use either because of it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “Charmingly cynical” I like that. I love technology. I made my living supporting, advancing and relying on technology, but I don’t trust technology. Even if the intentions are good, which they often are not, the underlying data is skewed and the algorithms are flawed.

      I use my devices for communication. I search for facts, and I form my own opinions. When I look at the data some of these apps want, I shake my head and delete them.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Me too. I’ll delete anything I think is hinky. I’m not as well versed as you in how techie things work, but I trust my intuition when I see things that don’t make sense. People included.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Dan, I am a cynic, period. I feel sorry for the lemmings who follow the talking heads, but unfortunately for those of us who appreciate FACTS, they are the same people who control the political divide that will eventually result in complete chaos. A few book titles come to mind; Atlas Shrugged, The Anthem, Hunger Games… Yep, I’m a cynic.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve been thinking about rereading “1984” but I’m worried it might make me too depressed. Facts are an endangered species in this world, Suzanne. I hope you have a good source for yours.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Would love to read your list of reputable sources, and/or those of your readers. I dig in a variety of places, and avoid ‘opinion’ pieces unless that is specifically what I am looking for. Like your wife, I instinctively know when something doesn’t ring true.

        Like

        1. I glean a lot of information from tech sites. Sites that are reporting on the way systems work, advances in technology (and how they will be used). Technology touches so many things these days, that a lot of non-technical subjects are included. For other things, I try to get several sources. It’s hard. I used to like to balance a national source against a local source, but with cutbacks, a lot of local reporting is just a copy of a national source.

          Liked by 1 person

  6. I have no apps on my phone b/c they direct me to the Apple store or the Google store. I do not have a Google account and don’t feel the need to have one. You know what? I function quite nicely without apps and Google, but I am not naïve enough to think that because I am not on Google that no one’s watching. It’s creepy as hell, Dan. Scary, too.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Stand-up and much of the comedy you watch on TV has descended into Clapture. People who clap and laugh, not because something is funny, but because it resonates with their prejudices.

    The same thing has happened to news.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I like that. Well, I don’t like the fact that it’s true, but I like the way you put it. It’s actually quite scary and it explains why links I get titled “you’ll love this” or “this is so funny” rarely are worth following. Thanks Greg.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Always nice to see a cynic out there who is as cynical as me. I often ponder the idea of going off the grid. Then it hits me that it would be difficult to communicate with no grid. So it makes me happy when I read a post like this and know I’m not alone. Thanks, Dan. Your photo tour took in a big bunch of territory. Was that all on a walk?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Off the grid or on the grid – uninformed vs ill-informed. I’m not sure if it would be any better, John. I think being a cynic might be a requirement.

      The photos are from both ends of a riverside street directly across from our town. Only the shots from the park (south end) were taken while walking. There is no parking and no defined trails on the north end.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. There is no privacy anymore. Some people think it’s cool to let everyone know when you’re going on vacation or where you’re eating or shopping or whatever. But it’s dangerous. I don’t want everyone to know my business but because I use a smartphone, people know my business if I don’t take extra precautions. It’s scary how easy it is for predators to know everything about you. And yes, I am getting pretty darned cynical here lately for the same reasons you described. Money sits on the throne of the universe and we’re just lowly pawns in the game of life. See? I told you I’m getting cynical.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You might be cynical, Sandi, but that doesn’t mean you’re wrong. The war on privacy is all about money. There’s big money in selling what people know about you and me, and everyone else. It’s sad.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Today’s post is a lollapaloozer!!! I try hard, really I do, to continue being an optimist, but I find myself slipping to the cynical side more and more. The only Apps I have are the ones that appeared after an update. I don’t use any of them!

    How I long for newsmen like Walter Cronkite again. I trusted him because I knew I could. I hate the analysts who just want to cram “their” opinions down our throats and throw a lot of BS “facts” into the mix. Nothing in the media is straightforward or even cut and dried anymore. Too much time devoted to all these ‘news’ shows anyway. Too much air time to fill up just so these so-called reporters can get to hear themselves talk.

    All this “spying” on us from every direction is really frightening. Most people have nothing they need to keep hidden, but it’s damn scary the way we’re constantly being tracked in our private and personal lives. Boy! Don’t hear “private and personal” any more!

    Hope you and Maddie have a chance to walk today. Great photo gallery, especially the sunset.

    Happy Monday Dan. Hope it’s followed by a pleasant week.
    🐾Ginger 🐾

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Ginger. Private and personal, yeah, those are endangered qualities.

      Maddie and I went for a nice walk, no est required for Maddie an d we extended it beyond our “short walk” landmarks. If the rain stays away, we might get to sit outside later.

      I’m not sure where to turn for news like Walter brought us. I don’t think it exists anymore. Everything is a panel or an expert or a jousting match between annoying gasbags. The only thing we know for sure is that they will look nice. Whether they’re in the studio or standing in driving rain “reporting” on a hurricane.

      The permissions that the apps and websites want is out of control. Almost none of them need to know my location, but they all want to know my location. I only agree to that for things like Maps. Even the shopping apps are useless. I go to one of three different Home Depots depending on the time of day (traffic) and where else I’m going. I don’t need for them to “determine” the closest store for me. When the day comes that I can’t figure that out, I’ll stop doing home improvement projects.

      Like

  11. LOVE the motto of the Dallas Morning News…if only all news and media outlets would whole-heartedly subscribe to this, instead of sensationalism, half-truths and outright lies that we see in so many instances. Wouldn’t that be awesome, Dan?

    500 bonus points for holding your Monday mathing self back. I know it hurt and I hope you didn’t strain a muscle.

    I liked a photo on Instagram this morning that led to a vendor selling these really cute tennis shoes with a cat face on them. Totally adorable! So, I fully expect to see them on my Facebook feed, along with other advertisement for cat shoes. Of course, the reason the photo came up in the first place is because the entire world knows I’m a cat lady and I still haven’t figured out why… ;-p

    Happy Monday!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the bonus points, Mary. It was hard. I had numbers, statistics and two amazing diagrams. I opened an email this morning from a tool vendor. I clicked on an item by mistake while trying to scroll. I took Maddie for a walk. When we got back, I had another email asking if I needed that item for a project because they could ship it overnight for free. “NO, it’s just that your stupid email has so many links in it, it’s impossible to avoid clicking on something!”

      Cute cat face sneakers? I could see you buying those ;-)

      Your explanation of what we actually get from the news is pretty accurate. I wish it wasn’t so.

      I hope this is the start of a great week.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Take a deep breath , Dan , and forge ahead . And I don’t think that you mentioned the Corona virus —- nice going ! I remember facts , too . It seems my father had the real facts and there always seemed to be something flawed with mine . And my bosses seemed to have the real facts , too . Weird ! I don’t think you mentioned the word compromise either , although you made implications ; that’s a thing of the past . That’s a fact .

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Compromise? I’ve heard that compromising is a sign of weakness, Dan. Can’t have that. My worst boss ever didn’t like facts. I remember explaining how a program that gave results he didn’t like was actually correct. I proved it. He said “just fix it.”

      I posted a comment on Tight Skirt (still listening to John Lee Hooker) but it disappeared and now I can’t even get the post to load. I hope I didn’t break it.

      Like

  13. Cynicism is healthy … things are truly crazy. I’m sure once more is known about this new flu then things will calm down. I wish I could be as confident about the future of this country – and the world.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks – I still enjoy being near a river. I’m about 11 miles upstream of the park where I took so many pictures, but I like this view, too. To me, a river will always have a calming influence on my day.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I love hiking trails along rivers….parks along rivers, etc. I use to get my fix visiting my Dad’s home in Cedar Rapids… heavily wooded right above the river. I hear you….there is something very calming about rivers!!

        Liked by 1 person

  14. I think of myself as very analytical (and the several personality tests I’ve taken seem to agree) and pretty cynical. What bothers me is that I bet those whose “facts” come from a single, slanted source, think they are cynical and fact-based too. Critical thinking has become a lost art. I don’t understand why people eagerly invite listening devices into their homes (via Google, Amazon, etc.). Call me paranoid but, as Joseph Heller wrote in Catch-22: “Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t after you.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t think you’re paranoid, Janis, and I don’t think the so-called benefit this technology brings us is worth the loss of privacy. Voice technology is easy, but it moves the choice to the vendor in a lot of cases. The more features like this we have and use, the more information we’re giving someone about ourselves and the less thinking we’re doing. Not just critical thinking (a lost art for sure) but thinking in general. I know I’ve talked about this topic before, but it’s getting worse and we’re helping it get their (ell, not you and not me, but…)

      Liked by 1 person

  15. So true, Dan. News organizations more and more present only one side of the argument. It’s like they don’t feel their viewers (or readers) are incapable of making up our own minds. Ugh!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If you want the facts, Laurie, you have to work at it. Even newspapers so often just print an article they picked up from a larger paper or the AP, even on close-to-local news.

      Like

  16. Ditto, Dan. About a week ago, while we were watching tv of an evening, I mentioned to hubby that I might actually like to get the room darkening curtain he suggested awhile back. Lo and behold, the next time I opened my mail, there was an ad from Bed, Bath and Voyeur with notice about a…wait for it…drumroll….sale on Room Darkening curtains! Who’s not listening? 🧐😞

    Liked by 2 people

  17. “While I remain optimistic that we might be able to solve this problem, I have to recognize that the entities demanding a solution and those tasked with solving the problem, are the same entities that created the problem.”

    This touched me deeply because I have thought about it for a long, long time. How the creators of a problem are the same ones tasked with solving it.

    Sometimes I can’t help being cynical. I think people whose lives involve critical thinking and analysis of data (sometimes complex data) with a view of finding solutions to present problems . . . such as your field and mine . . . I think such people tend to be cynical more often than not.

    Thank you for the tag. I appreciate it. Those towers are always amazing. The Physics behind them is awe-inspiring.

    What Cheryl has said is really scary!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Peter. We are just beginning to see some employees within technology companies starting to question what their company is doing with their work. It’s a start. It may be too late snd the numbers are small, but it’s a start.

      Cheryl’s comment is scary. “Experts” would have us believe that it’s coincidence. I don’t accept that.

      I’m glad you like that photo.

      Liked by 2 people

  18. Hi Dan – lots of interesting thoughts here … horrifying ones too. The phrase ‘because it resonates with their prejudices’ really does apply too often: do people think now-a-days. Taking surveys captures our details … I try not to do them – and really should get my phone fixed up – while everyone’s scared of being out and about. I don’t use apps – and always pop into a shop if I need help, or someone in a park … and not admit there’s a phone in my bag!!! And what Cheryl said is frightening … oh well a new day dawns – I just try and be sensible – but not easy once you’re in the net world … cheers and enjoy the walks – love the photos – very clear blue … Hilary

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Hilary. Some of these things are scary. I do use quite a few apps, but I give them as little permission as I can. Right now, the main use of that data is in advertising, but I worry about how much they have collected. A little here and a little there, but the buying and selling in the background is what we don’t normally think about. Our government buys that to track immigrants. That’s the only thing they’ve admitting to using if for. Now, the big new thing is facial recognition. You almost can’t avoid that.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi Dan – my sister-in-law years ago … said they’re watching you if you use google … not sure how much use I am to them! Don’t – answer no need. H

        Liked by 1 person

  19. I’m happy to hear the mill was repurposed to make apartments and they’re all rented, and that there still a place here that makes tea bag paper…that’s my drink of choice, and that Trestle bridge is a favorite.

    All the other stuff you touched on is deep for me to think about this early in the morning and only a few sips into my morning’s first cuppa. 😀☕

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is why I mix photos in with my posts. Deborah. You never know when I’m likely to go down a rabbit hole. The developer did a really nice job converting the old mill. I think they’re still working on one section, but the ones that are complete have been renting very well. The town, state and AMTRAK have all agreed to move our train station directly across from this, trying to recapture a bit of the downtown lost to Urban Renewal in the 60s.

      Like

  20. I think I’ve always been cynical, but only about individual circumstances. Lately, like you, my cynical views have grown, probably more than yours. I don’t seem to be able to trust much of anything anymore. Still, I refuse to jump ship.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. I have to admit, I’m not as optimistic as I used to be and it’s more work. Good thing we have dogs (like Maddie) to get us out of the house and out of our own heads now and then.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I feel the same way. The drifting was bit by bit, which seemed like nothing at the time. I remember the first time I watched a new show, 60 Minutes. I think that was the beginning of the erosion. Oh dear, now I sound cynical, too. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  22. Did you delete the ad remover ad? It doesn’t display to me in the gallery even though the caption remains. Can you describe it or give a slogan or anything from it? By the way, I’ve been using a (free) ad remover for a while now (on Chrome). I love it! No ad breaks when watching YouTube videos or anywhere else, for that matter. And I agree with you on the matter of news. It’s broken.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The ad-remover ad was one of the ones Google puts at the top of your gmail inbox. I’m not sure I included the link for it, I didn’t mean to. Ad removers are great, but a lot of places detect them and refuse to load. I just ignore the ads as best I can.

      Like

  23. Life on the sunny side seems to make people think we’re daft, like we don’t see the bad things, like we’re incapable of cynicism — but it’s not like that at all. Unless we can solve a problem, it’s a better use of time and energy to focus on GOOD — doing more good, pointing out good — Ugh. Anyway, I have opened the article you’ve suggested, but I think I’ll wait until I feel poorly to read it. I’m not in the mood for being scared to bits and would rather hover over your photos, which never fail to make me smile and well, smiling is good.

    Like

      1. I read it and I feel icky. Also, while I originally put Uber on my phone, I removed it after one use and made The Mister put it on his. Something about being a woman made me feel vulnerable and even ickier than the article.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I warned you. It is unfortunate that women have to be extra careful, but I think they do. I backed away from Uber when they were caught tracking people before arrival and after getting to the destination. They used the location tracking to determine if people were more “upscale” than the addresses would indicate so they could charge them more for the same ride. They stopped doing that, but I don’t trust them.

          Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.