Facebook & Privacy *an addendum

Yesterday I posted about my approach to Facebook in light of all the recent uproar over the lack of privacy and Facebook’s seeming desire to make its information more public and make it more difficult to change or understand the privacy settings.  My approach is simple.  I will just assume that every single piece of information on the site is public, just as this blog or Twitter.  (Just for the record, so you will not all think I am incapable of original thought, I wrote the bulk of yesterday’s post before reading this post by Ed Stetzer or hearing yesterday’s TWIT) Facebook?Today is an addendum to that post.  It includes a few thoughts about privacy.  I have noticed over the last few years that there are two distinct ways of looking at privacy.  I have also noticed that the line of demarcation for these two views is somewhere around 1973.  If you were born prior to 1973 you most likely think, “Why would anyone want to share info about themselves?  The world is full of people out to get you and you have to protect yourself.”  If you were born post 1973 you most likely think “Why not share all that info?”

Although I think it is wise to be careful, I’m definitely in the latter category.


Because nobody really wants to stalk me, or you.

And if they do really want to stalk you they will find some way with or without Facebook.  I believe we all have a natural tendency to think people are looking at us all the time.  We are naturally narcissistic.  In reality, only the people who care, will be interested in what you post.  Advertisers want to sell you stuff. (Which is why my Facebook ads are all for fishing and church-functions.)  Otherwise you are only sharing info with friends because strangers don’t care.  43% of identity theft is from people who know the victim, so it’s not like you are protecting yourself by leaving Facebook.  Your uncle is more likely to take out a credit card in your name than a stranger that learned about you from Facebook.

I guess that is really only one thought about privacy and Facebook.  Feel free to tell me in the comments why I am wrong and how dangerous it is.

Book Review: Confessions of an Economic Hitman

While on the road on my vacation I listened to the unabridged version of Confessions of an Economic Hitman by John Perkins.  I chose it because I remember all the times John C. Dvorak recommended it on TWIT.  Here is my review. Confessions of an Economic Hit Man is the autobiography of John Perkins.  It tells of how he spent the 1970s and 80s as a self-proclaimed "Economic Hitman".  He recounts what led him to his position and then his years of service to the Main consulting company in Boston.  He contends that his position for these many years was to go into third-world countries (only if they have natural resources to exploit) and recommend them for large loans from the world bank for infrastructure improvements.  The condition on the loans is that American companies (especially those contracted by Main) be hired to do the work.  In this way, the countries become indebted to the U.S. even though all the money has gone into the hands of American companies.  This system, he contends, makes the few in power of these countries rich, further impoverishes the rest of the populace and enslaves the nation to the American “corporatocracy”.  This tale of corruption was disturbing though not entirely shocking.  The shocking part is his claim that he knew full-well what he was guilty of yet he continued to do it for years.

Confessions of an Economic Hit Man was very interesting.  It never dragged along, and considering the nature of the subject it could have been very boring.  However. it was entertaining throughout.

It seemed credible as well.  Although it definitely has the feel of a book that could be made up.  The best way to describe it would be that it seems over-embellished in many parts.  (Is over-embellished redundant?)

It gave insight into the financial doings of the world bank and large corporations.  There is nothing in the book that would be a complete shock to any American.  It is just the audacity with which Perkins claims these corporations are willing to exploit developing nations.

Though it was interesting and even insightful, Confessions suffers from some major shortcomings.

I will go into first-person on this review to discuss the first criticism.  At one point, Perkins makes an attack on Nate Saint and the missionary organization he was affiliated with.  This attack was unfair, unsubstantiated and honestly tainted the way I listened to the rest of the book.  Read Through Gates of Splendor for the real story of Nate Saint and his companions.  That is a book I could not give a higher recommendation to.

A second criticism of Confessions is that it was lacking a moral.  Perkins more or less blamed his own self-admitted muted conscience on his upbringing.  He said that it twisted him, and that love of money allowed him to take the job.  However, he really never says that what he did was openly wrong or immoral. Though if pressed, he would probably admit that he was wrong.

A third criticism is that the book toward the end became a polemic against the Republican Party and oil companies.  He praised the Carter administration, then accused Reagan of being concerned mostly about the interests of the “corporatocracy”.  The harshest criticism was saved for George H.W. Bush whom he claimed was a leader in the corruption.  He even attacks George W. Bush, but interestingly enough makes no mention whatsoever of the Clinton administration.  This sort of gives away his agenda.

The final and most severe criticism is that Perkins offered absolutely no solutions.  He claims that the world is corrupt at this very deep level but doesn’t seem to think it fixable.  In fact, he says he sold his startup energy company to Ashland Oil.  Ultimately the book projects a sense of hopelessness.

In conclusion, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man is very interesting and it does stir up thoughts about the morality of corporations and the concerns of people in developing countries, maybe even thoughts about how to save the world.  But it suffers from some major shortcomings that make it a book I cannot recommend.

Suggestion please

I have literally tens of readers, and some of you are a very helpful and literate bunch.  So help me out. I'm taking a trip soon and I'll be in my car for 11 hours or so.  I need some audio books, and I am thinking of joining for a trial.  I'll get one free book, Plus it helps out the TWIT network which I listen to like 3 hours a week and have only ever donated a few dollars.

Here's where you come in.  I only get one free book, so I need a suggestion of what it should be.  I like history, politics, comedy, and sci-fi.

(I know the cumberland county library has audiobooks to download, but never what I want, and I think audible books have a bookmarking feature, which is awesome.  cause it means I can listen to something else if I desire, without resetting a 10 hour book.)

I'm strongly considering The Areas of my Expertise by John Hodgeman

Also, Les Miserables by Victor Hugo just because it seems like one of those books i should have read a very long time ago