Watching You

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Today's questions of security are quite complex reflecting the complex global community in which we live. Confounding this issue of security is the addition of our online security as well. In our modern times in fact people are more likely to become a victim of a crime over the internet than one in their own community.
Today there are three groups that wish to attack you online. The first is motivated by money, online criminals making fortunes with banking Trojans or collecting passwords from infected computers. The second group is motivated by protest and opinion, like Anonyms. The third is governments and nation states, motivated by control and suppression of their own citizens. This third group is by far the biggest and most effective. Western representative democracies lead, allow, enable, and exact such action.
I will elaborate. In the 1980 in Communist East Germany the government required people to register sheets of paper so they could track texts. If they did not like something someone wrote they were able to track where that idea came from quite easily. Back then the Western world could not understand how governments could do such a thing. Now our printers track our papers with a series of almost invisible yellow dots that do the exact same thing and no one notices, let alone cares.
Allow me to make a modern connection. A company called Diginotar, which no longer exists because it declared bankruptcy because it was hacked, provides certificates to service providers like Gmail and others. If a website that has HTTPS:// at the beginning of the URL it signifies that the provider has a certificate and offers encrypted services. Websites with these foreign certificates are popular in totalitarian states like Iran because they are "safe" (or rather safer) from monitoring and attacks from the local government. That is unless rouge certificates are issued from government hackers which was exactly what happened with Diginotar.
The Arab Spring is also subjected to governmental monitoring and attacks. In the riots of April of 2011, looters raided Egypt's Secret Police headquarters and found amongst other things a binder titled "FINFISHER" and within it there were notes from a company based in Germany that have sold the Egyptian government tools for intercepting, on a very large scale, all the communication of its citizens. The company sold these tools for around $280,000 Euros. Totalitarian governments use these tools but so do Western governments. In fact western governments are supplying totalitarian governments with these tools today.
Recently in Germany the Staats Trojan was found, which was used by government officials to investigate their own citizens. If a person is in a criminal investigation obviously the phone and internet can be tapped. However with something like the Staats Trojan they can also infect your computer which enables them to monitor EVERYTHING, discussions, histories, monitor your desktop, as well as collect your passwords.
In our own back yard we are more willing volunteers. Google and Facebook have become the corporate extension of our government's information gathering agencies. Both Google and Facebook openly gather and profile information on its users. In fact information has become their bottom line; hence they have become publicly traded information gathering machines. U.S. intelligent agencies have varying degrees of access to the information Google and Facebook collect and use it in courts against citizens as well as monitoring terrorists, terrorist being a malleable word.
Think deeply on this. Most people say, "Well that sounds bad but I'm a law abiding citizen... why should I worry? I have nothing to hide."
In the video we watched on Monday it said it was a wise move for IBM and Coke to do business with the fascist Third Reich because they were safe and controlled, which equates to a steady profit stream. It is not a question of privacy vs. security. Privacy is implied, it is not up for discussion. It is rather a question of freedom and control. While we might trust our government now, any rights we give away will be very hard to get back. Should we blindly trust our future government?

Super Bowl Ads

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I found it interesting that a few people posted noticing a theme in the super bowl ads last night. Most people just mindlessly watch, and laugh at the ads that are crude, simple, impossible but never really stop to analyze them, and think of what we are consciously and subconsciously being exposed to. Especially when the audience is so large as the one in the United States who watch the super bowl. In one of my other classes this morning, we watched a super bowl ad that associated sexuality of an exotic woman with a new foreign car that was coming out, thus making people associate the positive feeling of arousal with this type of car. This is a classic example of a commonly used marketing tactic in the United States. Sex sells, right? This directly ties with "The Ad and the Ego" video we watched in class, and the example they used of the fish paying attention to the water they are in. In class we talked about what that might mean, and I disagreed with the couple ideas that were presented in class. I thought it meant that we are the fish, and the water is just our environment in general. We need to pay attention to our environment in many ways, like what we are exposed to on a daily basis through ads, along with countless other harmful things that come our way. Although most of the super bowl ads were harmless and meant to be funny, it is interesting to stop and take a look at what is really going on in front of us, and what tactics are they using at the same time to influence us into buying/using their product/service. It is all for a larger agenda than what we can directly see. Another product of our capitalist society.

Halftime in America

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I have to admit that I am NOT a football fan. I never have been and am pretty sure I never will be. Unfortunately, quite a few of my fiends are fanatics about it. So, naturally I agreed to watch the Super Bowl with them because it meant a lot to them. In reality, I was excited to watch the commercials because I wanted to analyze them. It makes me unbelievable sad to think about how much money our culture spends on advertising when we could be putting that money into things that really need attention like feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, and many other things. However, since I can't do anything to change that fact that we do spend all this money on advertising, I decided I could at least learn from them in a way. I wanted to see what our society deems worthy of spend millions of dollars on to make us think we need it or want it. I figured if I pay attention and analyze what we put so much value in, then I would be better prepared to influence or change things in the future.

So, as i was watching the commercials, I noticed how all of them were for insignificant things. Almost all of them that I saw were for different types of cars. In my opinion, if there is one thing in this country we need to depend on less its the car industries. So naturally, I was very upset by this. Others included commercials for Taco Johns and other food places. I even saw a trailer for a new movie. This amazed me! Some people spent millions of dollars to have a trailer for their movie played and it hasn't even been released yet so they don't even know if they will get their money back! That is a huge investment and risk. The thing that makes me angry is that we spend that kind of money on entertainment that no body even know if they like yet. What happens if the movie does horribly and makes no money?

Despite all the horrible, petty commercials, there was one that I really appreciated. It almost brought a tear to my eye when I saw it. Here is a web address for it:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/06/super-bowl-commercials-2012-clint-eastwood-chrysler_n_1255352.html

This commercial impressed me. I like it so much because even though it is a car commercial, it is being used to relay a message instead of force the product on you. In fact, until the end they only hint at what the commercial is selling. It uses to great analogues. the first one is between the football game and America. How our economy right now is just like the halftime of the game and how we need to make a comeback. The second is relating America with the car industry in Detroit. How Detroit's car industry is making a comeback and how America is strong and will also make a comeback.

I honestly can't describe how much I love this commercial and how it gives me hope. Even though it is for a car industry, which is the biggest problem in this country in my opinion, you can't really tell it is for a car industry until the end. Even then, it still is an awesome commercial in my opinion because it voices that we ARE in trouble in our society and we need to change and make a comeback. The reason this commercial gave me hope is because MILLIONS of people saw it! So millions of people were sitting in their comfy homes with their big TVs and their snakes and when this commercial came on, got a big wake-up call that we really are in trouble and not in a perfect world and economy.

I wanted to pick out my favorite lines from the commercial and quote them here. However, there are far too many. So, I decided to just write two and hope that they inspire you to watch the commercial using the link I provided if I haven't inspired you with my words already.

Quotes:
"People are out at work and they're hurting. And they're all wondering what they're gonna do to make a comeback. And we're all scared because this isn't a game."

"It seems we've lost our heart at times. The fog of division, discord and blame makes it hard to see what lies ahead. But after those trials we all rallied around what was right and acted as one."

The Greatest Day in America

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In the Visa commercials leading up to the Superbowl, they called it "the greatest day in America", which is in a way true. Our culture is so consumed by advertisements that a great number of people watch the Superbowl for the sole reason of seeing the commercials. Companies plan their game day commercials all year long, and pay millions of dollars for their 30 second slot. I watched the Superbowl, and tried to pay attention to all of the commercials.
Two years ago, there was a very noticeable theme in the Superbowl commercials that played on gender roles and women. I wrote a paper about it for a Gender and Society class at my previous college. A lot of the commercials used the idea of women needing to stay home, be a good wife, be sexy, and all the other aspects of being the perfect woman. The commercial that stuck out the most to me and most people that I talked to about it was a tire commercial. A married couple were driving in the husband's shiny sports car when they were stopped on the road and threatened. The husband had the choice of keeping his car and tires or keeping his life, but he misheard and thought the choice was between his car/tires and his wife. He immediately shoved his wife to the ground and drove off in his car, because his car was worth so much more.
This year, many people that I know said that they were underwhelmed with the commercials played during the Superbowl. The greatest difference that I noticed in commercials was the focus and theme of them. After talking to people and watching Facebook status updates, the most influential commercial of the 2012 Superbowl was the commercial with Clint Eastwood, promoting Dodge, Chrysler, Jeep and Ram vehicles. This commercial used Detroit as an example of what hard work and determination can bring, and that our entire country must use Detroit as a role model and follow their lead. Detroit came back from the brink of complete loss and rebuilt their economy.
I was impressed with this drastic shift in what people liked from commercials, especially on a day when commercials are in the spotlight. The Superbowl is a great day, filled with our favorite examples of athleticism and sexuality, but the day that we care more about progress and building our country up, creating jobs, and restoring stability, is really the greatest day in America.

Ads the Cultural Normal

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I have been doing a lot of thinking over the past week since watching "The Ad and the Ego." And the more I think about it, the angrier I get. It really got me thinking and noticing a lot of things I previously had either ignored, or just not noticed.

I personally have multiple friends who have struggled with eating disorders. In our current society, we have an epidemic of eating disorders. Girls (some boys as well) who from a very young age believe they are not good enough, that they don't look good enough. And this comes from everything they see in the media around them. What is really healthy, looks wrong to them. And this carries over into adulthood for many people. I have personally seen this image of "beauty" destroy people.

"The Ad and the Ego" talks about how advertising's only goal is to sell you stuff. And how do they do this? By making you feel not good enough of course. Even when they are not directly saying you need to fix something, they are basically saying, you have to have whatever they are selling to be happy or feel better. They want you to feel bad about yourself, not just mentally and emotionally, but physically as well.

Every society has had a standard of beauty. It seems to be human nature. And there really is nothing wrong with that. It is just the way it is. But our society has a standard of beauty based on nothing deeper than to make you feel bad about yourself so you will buy more things.

Standards of beauty should be based on what is healthy. We need to help young girls realize that there are many different ways to be beautiful. Instead, we just continue to advertise products and make everyone feel bad about themselves. Advertising tries to crush you and wants you to think you aren't happy. You have to have the latest thing. You have to have the newest beauty implements. You have to have the latest weight loss drug. You can't be happy without them. Nothing in your life will go right without them. Your love life will fail, you won't be able to do your job, your parents will stop loving you.

I just wonder, who first thought this was a good idea? Why did they think it was okay to do this to people?

Free Tibet

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Cnn.com recently reported that three Tibetans set themselves on fire in protest of the Chinese rule over Tibet. The Tibetans have always protested the Chinese rule of their land, usually with peaceful protests but in recent years it has escalated to these self-immolations. "The unrest has been fueled in part by reports of a spring of self-immolations by Tibetans over the past year amid anger and despair over Chinese rule" (Cnn.com). Tibet was a peaceful country ruled by the Dalai Lama until in 1950 when the Chinese invaded Tibet took control of the country and forced the Dalai Lama to flee the country. Ever since then Tibet has been a country of unrest. "The Chinese authorities have also introduced policies by which the unique culture, language, and natural resources of Tibet are being systematically and irrevocably eroded" (freetibet.org). The Chinese government does not have the interest of the Tibetan people at heart they just want to use to Tibet's resources to gain wealth. There is a great deal of human right violations that are going on in Tibet, torture on political prisoners, restrictions on religious practice and cultural traditions, lack of freedom of information. These violations need to be stop and that is the Free Tibet Campaign was started. Free Tibet is about trying to get the Chinese government to leave Tibet and let the Tibetans run their own country but Free Tibet realizes that making the Chinese government leave is a long process, so they also focus on trying to help the people get the human rights they deserve. There are many ways that people can help the Free Tibet Campaign, they can donate money, purchase merchandise from their online store, contact their Chinese embassy and tell them to take actions to stop the killing in Tibet, sign a petition to save political prisoners, or people could take part in the Urgent Action Campaign.
I think that freeing Tibet from Chinese rule is an important issue that more people should be aware of. The general public knows that Africa is serious unrest happening within its borders but not many people know about Tibet and all thought Tibet does not have the atrocities as Africa does it is still a country that needs help. Tibet has the ability to be a country that could reduce its unrest if only the Chinese government would give up its power over Tibet. Tibet has a political figure that is willing and ready to take over once the Chinese are gone and the people of Tibet actually want that political figure to take over. It would be a relatively easy transition from Chinese rule back to the Dalai Lama rule. They only thing that is stopping Tibet from being a place that does not have unrest is the Chinese and if the world powers decided it was a cause worth fighting for they could force the Chinese out of Tibet, but sadly Tibet has no oil so it is up to people around the world to convince their countries to take action. People need to force their government to see that Tibet, like Africa, is an issue that people are concerned about. Tibet is a country that has hope and could have a bright future it just needs your support, whether it be talking to other about the Free Tibet Campaign, or buying a Free Tibet sticker. Every little bit counts.

If you want further information on the Free Tibet Campaign visit freetibet.org

As yes. The super bowl. Yet another has come to pass with a new array of advertisements. Frankly, I don't particularly enjoy the super bowl. Football (American) is probably my least favorite of mass publicized sports, and I am less than satisfied with the absurd commercials which adorn the screen every ten minutes. However, this year I found myself unable to ignore the event and amused (and angered) myself with analyzing the 2012 bowl commercials. My criticism of advertisements and commercial garbage is nothing new, but our recent discussion in class had made me even more critical. Of the vast array of commercials shown this year, most were for vehicles. And of these, one in particular made me very angry:

http://www.superbowlcommercials2012.net/2012/02/fiat-500-abarth-seduction-2012-super.html

Entitled here as "FIAT 500 Abarth Seduction" this commercial portrays a very "sexy" women who entices and seduces a man on the street. Just as he leans in to steal a kiss, the camera zooms out, and it is revealed the women is, in fact, a very sleek and fancy car.
"You'll never forget the first time you see one."
Watch it. Really.

Here's what makes me upset: They are selling a car using a woman's body. Just as Jean Kilbourne mentions in her series of films "Killing Us Softly," the first step in justifying harm or violence against someone is dehumanizing them. Turing them into an object, and in this case- an object to be sold.

This commercial also aids in selling our society the ideals of the perfect women: tall, slender, and beautiful.

In conjunction with this, I would also like to highlight a particular Go Daddy.co:

http://www.superbowlcommercials2012.net/2012/01/2012-go-daddy-girls-paint-hot-model.html

In this commercial, two women decked out in Go Daddy.co garb, paint advertisements on the body of another women who is wearing nothing more than undergarments. Her body is literally being turned into an advertisement. A thing. The paintings are sayings such as "get noticed" and "hot." Unfortunately, the commercial featured on the super bowl site is not in its entirety. The full version allows you to view the entire woman's body and the complete array of slogans which adorn it. I personally find this commercial disgusting and am uncomfortable with the fact that a woman's body is being as an object to sell commodities... as well as the image of "perfection."

I find it particularly terrifying that a large percentage of persons tune in for the super bowl solely for the purpose of the commercials. What a success for capitalism; our commercialized society. We tune in to be bombarded with ideals and values under the guise of entertainment, but end up paying a price.

Since I've been having issues with my blog posting, this is pretty much experimental at this point. I've decided to talk about advertising and consumerism.

I would like to say at the outset I find advertising and the business of to be extremely interesting. I am a big fan of AMC's Mad Men and one of the reasons it is so good is to see the process of the coming up with ads that will appeal to everyone. The main character Don Draper is this guru of human emotion. Everything he says blows people away, and all his ideas are simple but are in then ed worth millions to the company he works. The staff of this show works extremely hard to make it authentic, realistic, and as historically accurate as possible.

I have a lot of respect for people who can do this as quite honestly I am willing to bet there are many people out there who underestimate the power of advertisement. It is so powerful it can shape culture. The video in class we saw showed us commercials from the 90s and it was obvious. The topics of the commercials were dated and din't really speak to us. The commercials we have now are of our era and appeal to us. The ad men are always ahead and of us and making keen observances of culture and people all to get us to consume.

I am just in awe of this profession and a little fearful as well.

In light of the recent Super Bowl and the victory of my favorite player Eli Manning, I became inspired to write my blog about the costs of a 30 second slot for a commercial during the game. Sourced from The Wall Street Journal, "$0.03: The average cost per viewer for thirty second of ad time during the Super Bowl. The average advertiser during the Super Bowl will pay about $3.5 million for one thirty second commercial, that works out to about three cents per viewer. Is it worth it?"

It's kind of funny how they ask if it's worth it. In the grand scheme of things, is it worth it for a mega corporation to spend more money on a thirty second commercial than most countries make in an entire year? Looking at it holistically, no. I don't think it's worth it to spend that much money on anything, unless it's being spent on good humanitarian causes. Even then, it's hard to even imagine that much money physically existing, and then instantly vanishing in thirty seconds. Yeah, it's just something I thought would be interesting to think about. It seems to be the opposite of sustainability.

Source:
http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2012/02/04/number-of-the-week-super-bowl-ads-cost-3-cents-per-viewer/