Facebook, Google, and Amazon, Oh My!

 

I have a confession. I love Amazon, Google, and Facebook. I know they are supposed to annoy, perhaps even alarm, true-blue conservatives like me, with their monster presence on the web, their lefty owners, and their “spying” on us night and day. But I can’t help myself. I love ‘em.

In fact, I’m not overstating the case when I say that they have changed my life for the better. I kid you not. For the better. Oh, they haven’t cured my insomnia or improved my wife’s disposition — but better in most other ways.

FACEBOOK

Facebook’s owner, Mark Zuckerberg makes me a bit uneasy. He’s said a few mean things about Trump. But then who hasn’t? Yes, he went to Harvard, that wellspring of all things on the left. But I can’t fault him for that. He was a bright kid who probably drifted in, and then dropped out, without a whole lot of thought. Zuckerberg is actually a registered Independent and has donated money to a number of Republicans, including Orrin Hatch, Marco Rubio, and Paul Ryan.

If Zuckerberg were in my living room right now, I would thank him for inventing Facebook. Without Facebook, I never would have gotten together with my childhood friends, Harold and Red. I hadn’t seen them since high school when, out of the blue, Harold located me on Facebook. Then Harold, Red, and I got together in Las Vegas and had a big time drinking and reminiscing. We now meet once a year in Vegas.

Facebook is so large and ubiquitous that people go to Facebook to look for old friends.

On Facebook, I stay in touch with my son, my daughter, and even distant relatives. My daughter posts photos and videos of my grandkids playing roller hockey and climbing rock walls in the local Ninja gym. My kids and I go back and forth, in real time, about the grands’ joys and achievements. I find it hard to believe that anyone would choose not be on Facebook.

Oh, there are Facebook competitors like Instagram and Linkedin, but none is as well designed and has the reach of Facebook. If there were an equivalent social media site with Facebook’s reach but run by conservatives, I would be there. But since there isn’t, I’m a Facebook fanboy.

GOOGLE

When I first started out surfing the Web, I used a search engine called AltaVista. But when Google came along, AltaVista and other search engines found themselves trailing in its wake. In the best spirit of the free enterprise system, Google beat out the other search engines because it was better and thus left its competitors in disarray. That’s free enterprise’s creative destruction at its best.

It’s been the dream of humanity to have virtually all the world’s knowledge, literature, and art at one’s fingertips. Google made that dream a reality. Type Edgar Allen Poe into Google, and up pops, within seconds, a list of materials on Poe that would shame a card catalog. That list includes all of his works, hundreds of critical essays, and photographs of Poe himself. Tomorrow morning that list will have changed: In the middle of the night, while you were sleeping, Google crawled around the web mining more data on Poe. For a person like me, who grew up long before the Web, that is miraculous stuff.

I sometimes skip the dictionary and instead look up a single word on Google, particularly if it’s an unusual one. I even use it as a simple foreign language dictionary. Type “How do you say “grandmother” in German and you get back “die Grossmutter.”

I sometimes go to Google ten or so times when I write a post for Ricochet. For this post, I’ve already gone to Google four or five times, including one in which I asked the question, “What politicians has Zuckerberg donated to?” Before Google, it would have been laborious at best, maybe impossible, to find that information.

A few days back, I was curious about paintings by Grant Wood. I looked up Wood on Google, read his bio, and looked at a list of his works. Then I pressed on the “Images” button and browsed through hundreds of paintings by Wood. I was surprised how much I liked some of them. Before I looked at those images, my knowledge of Wood was American Gothic. Then I went to Amazon and typed in the Wood painting that caught my attention, Stone City, Iowa. I ordered a print of it for $8.99. It’ll be here in two days, free shipping. What a world!

AMAZON

Is there anything that Amazon doesn’t carry? I reuse the coffee capsules for my Nespresso coffee maker. To do that, I need small circular aluminum caps to seal the capsules. I go to Amazon and find three different brands, along with reviews of each. I buy a special low carb granola cereal on Amazon that I can’t get anywhere else. I found an absolutely wonderful treat dispenser/mic/camera for Bob the dog on Amazon. I’ve never seen it anywhere else.

At this moment I’m sitting in my daughter’s home in Olympia, Washington. She has a rather handsome crystal-looking skull on her shelf. Out of curiosity, I typed “skull” into Amazon’s search engine. Up pops, oh, maybe a hundred skull items, including a skull hairbrush, a pair of men’s underwear with a skull print where the crotch is (I was tempted by that one) and any number of life-sized anatomically correct skulls. Each comes with a lengthy description and numerous reviews. How can traditional stores compete with Amazon?

Now I even order clothes on Amazon. They will let you order five pieces of clothing in different sizes and colors. When they arrive, you try them on to see if they fit, Amazon provides a free package to send back what you don’t want, including all five if you wish. Amazon doesn’t charge you until they see what you’ve kept. In my last packet, I sent all five pair of trousers back, though one pair, the Lee Extreme Comfort Relaxed Fit trousers, were just a size too small. So I ordered a pair one size larger. They just arrived today. Perfect fit, as I knew they would be. Twenty-nine bucks, minus twenty bucks for use of their Visa card. (Guys, have you ever worn Lee Extreme Comfort Relaxed Fit trousers? With a wide and elastic waistband, they’re almost as comfortable as my sweat pants.)

Lots of companies pretend to put the customer first. Amazon actually does it. They will even tell you where you can buy a particular product for less than they sell it for. Who else does that?

Some people find it creepy, but I like the fact that Amazon not only keeps track of what items I buy but also what items I’ve looked at. If you don’t like this to happen, you can turn off the cookies that keep track of your purchases. But I like to see when I open up Amazon, “Items You’ve Viewed Recently” and “Buy It Again.” Handy.

Amazon has been a godsend for authors who are rejected by, or prefer not to be, published by a traditional book publisher. I have a friend back in Kentucky, a onetime colleague at the university I taught, who now writes fantasy and science fiction. His books really aren’t traditional publisher’s material, but he publishes his books through Amazon’s self-publishing services. As I say, my friend wouldn’t have been able to get his books out there as easily without Amazon. He’s sold a lot of his books. Amazon has made his retirement more interesting.

Yes, recently, Amazon has censored certain books, in particular, a few anti-vaccine books and a few white nationalists books, some “gay conversion therapy” books, and The Pedophile’s Guide to Love and Pleasure. But this is rare. Amazon publishes all kinds of controversial and even inflammatory books that you can’t find elsewhere, including The Anarchist Cookbook and a few books on how to kill people and get away with it.

I’m something of a First Amendment guy, but even I hesitate to fault Amazon for refusing to sell a book on the untraceable poisons to use to murder your office mate who drives you crazy with his snort/laugh. Or a book that argues for the slaughter of Jews.

Amazon is a private company, not the government, so they have the right to publish, or not publish, almost anything they want. I bought a book a while back, Final Exit, on how to kill yourself. (I like to be prepared.) Amazon carries about ten other how-to-kill-yourself books. I like the fact that these books are available through Amazon. I doubt if they are available in traditional bookstores.

Do I worry about the Big Three spying on me? Not at all. The fact is, I’m not worth spying on. I guess if I had some kind of vital information that the Ruskies wanted, I would worry. Neither does it bother me for these companies to track my preferences and buying habits. In fact, I like it. Yesterday, as I mentioned above, I was looking up skulls on Amazon. Later that day I was on Facebook, and up popped an Amazon ad for skulls. Amazon kept track of my searches and wanted to give me a second chance at a skull. It’s synergy, man.

So you see, I wasn’t exaggerating when I said that the Big Three have changed my life for the better: Facebook gets me in touch with old friends that I thought I’d left behind, Google puts the world’s art and literature at my fingertips, and Amazon is the best store the world has ever known.

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There are 37 comments.

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  1. Arahant Member

    KentForrester: …or improved my wife’s disposition…

    In other words, they haven’t improved you enough for that. 😜

    • #1
    • July 15, 2019, at 7:39 AM PDT
    • 9 likes
  2. Arahant Member

    KentForrester: I bought a book awhile back, Final Exit, on how to kill yourself. (I like to be prepared.)

    Was “Annoy Marie” on the list?

    • #2
    • July 15, 2019, at 7:49 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  3. KentForrester Coolidge
    KentForrester Post author

    Arahant (View Comment):

    KentForrester: I bought a book awhile back, Final Exit, on how to kill yourself. (I like to be prepared.)

    Was “Annoy Marie” on the list?

    No, but I already know how to do that. 

    • #3
    • July 15, 2019, at 7:53 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  4. Arahant Member

    https://duckduckgo.com/ can replace Google easily, and has a better privacy policy.

    Google’s original motto was, “Don’t be evil.” Somewhere along the way, they added, “Never mind.”

    The large numbers are indeed in the favor of Facebook. You can’t find everyone on https://mewe.com/

    The same could be said for Twitter. https://gab.ai/ is a shelter for those who have been kicked off Twitter, but the numbers are not there.

    Finally, Amazon has no real competition that I know of at the moment. We shall see where that leads in the long run.

    • #4
    • July 15, 2019, at 7:55 AM PDT
    • 10 likes
  5. She Thatcher
    She

    Arahant (View Comment):

    KentForrester: …or improved my wife’s disposition…

    In other words, they haven’t improved you enough for that. 😜

    Bravo! The bounteous Marie is applauding (I’m sure) from the wings. At least, I hope so.

    • #5
    • July 15, 2019, at 8:19 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  6. Aaron Miller Member

    KentForrester: Type “How do you say “grandmother” in German and you get back “die Grossmutter.” 

    Well, that was uncalled for!

    • #6
    • July 15, 2019, at 8:27 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  7. Arahant Member

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):

    KentForrester: Type “How do you say “grandmother” in German and you get back “die Grossmutter.”

    Well, that was uncalled for!

    Would you prefer die Oma?

    • #7
    • July 15, 2019, at 8:31 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  8. She Thatcher
    She

    It’s all what you make of it, with a large does of “be careful what you wish for.” No doubt Amazon has improved my life. I don’t do Facebook very much at all. And only my nasty right wing knitter self has a Twitter account.

    I lament the closure of many little mom and pop shops, but here’s a tale of two of them:

    1) My pal Nick owns an appliance store in Washington PA. When I need a large or medium-size appliance, or an outdoor grill, I buy from him. His prices are about the same as Amazon’s, it never takes him more than 48 hours to order it in if it’s not in stock, his guys assemble it, if assembly is required, and deliver it, and put it exactly where I want it in my house or on the patio.

    2) A few years ago I needed a through-the-wall ventilating fan. Found one on the web, manufactured by Panasonic. Called the local Panasonic gold, or diamond, or platinum, dealer (or whatever it was) and said, “can you get me one of these?” “Oh, yes,” they said. It’ll take about three weeks. We can only order from Panasonic when we have a full palette of stuff to order.” (Translation, I think, is probably something like: “We get free shipping on a palette full, but not on individual items.”) “Never mind,” I said.

    Ordered it from Amazon. Same price. Free shipping. It was in my driveway 48 hours later. I couldn’t help thinking that the fabulous Panasonic dealer could have ordered the darn thing from Amazon, up-charged me 20 bucks, I’d have been none the wiser, and I’d have been happy to pick it up, thinking that they’d taken good care of me, their customer.

    As I age (others here can tell me if I’m unique in this, @kentforrester, I’m looking at you) I find I have less and less patience with lackadaisical human service, and I’m happy to have the means and disposal at my fingertips just to avoid it completely. Yet, I’m happy to patronize the bricks and mortar places that are run by my neighbors and where the staff act like we’re part of a community. And the little local stores who can’t understand that and who are put out of business by their hubris and inattention, aren’t lamented much by me.

    • #8
    • July 15, 2019, at 8:32 AM PDT
    • 10 likes
  9. Arahant Member

    Or an umlaut on the u?

    • #9
    • July 15, 2019, at 8:32 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  10. Stad Thatcher

    I love Amazon, because it does a great job at instant gratification. Okay, two-day gratification.

    Facebook? Not on it.

    Google? The best search engine out there, but I switched to DuckDuckGo to limit ad tracking. I only use Google when I need better search results than the ones DDG provides.

    • #10
    • July 15, 2019, at 9:11 AM PDT
    • 7 likes
  11. KentForrester Coolidge
    KentForrester Post author

    She (View Comment):

    It’s all what you make of it, with a large does of “be careful what you wish for.” No doubt Amazon has improved my life. I don’t do Facebook very much at all. And only my nasty right wing knitter self has a Twitter account.

    I lament the closure of many little mom and pop shops, but here’s a tale of two of them:

    As I age (others here can tell me if I’m unique in this, @kentforrester, I’m looking at you) I find I have less and less patience with lackadaisical human service, and I’m happy to have the means and disposal at my fingertips just to avoid it completely. Yet, I’m happy to patronize the bricks and mortar places that are run by my neighbors and where the staff act like we’re part of a community. And the little local stores who can’t understand that and who are put out of business by their hubris and inattention, aren’t lamented much by me.

    She, I don’t live in a place where there are many mom and pop stores. I go to Ace Hardware, but that is a chain. I buy Bob stuff at Petco, but that too is a chain. We do our grocery shopping at Safeway, Winco, and sometimes Costco. The VA sends me some meds, so I have no need to go to a drugstore. For almost everything else, I buy from Amazon. 

    You are unique in the fact that you are aging. I buy an anti-aging pill from Amazon. One buck a pill once a week does the trick. 

    • #11
    • July 15, 2019, at 10:00 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  12. She Thatcher
    She

    KentForrester (View Comment):
    You are unique

    Flattery (of any sort) will get you everywhere.

    • #12
    • July 15, 2019, at 10:07 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  13. Aaron Miller Member

    Mom-and-pop stores would do better if they modeled themselves after Starbucks or Cracker Barrel. Amazon can offer lower prices, better convenience, and a review system includes dozens or even thousands of buyers. What Amazon can’t offer is a social experience, personal investment in customers, and local pride. 

    Starbucks was a social club before it became a social phenomenon. Lone stores can become local hangouts like that. But even a specialized or traditional shop needs to refresh the experience occasionally to keep people interested. 

    You know what big corporations can never do as well as local shops and eateries? Shape their own customer base. Policing an online community is hopeless. But a shopkeeper can kick out the jerks to cultivate a friendly environment. 

    • #13
    • July 15, 2019, at 10:58 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  14. Steven Seward Member

    Stad (View Comment):Google? The best search engine out there, but I switched to DuckDuckGo to limit ad tracking. I only use Google when I need better search results than the ones DDG provides.

    I have recently been experimenting with alternative search engines such as Bing, DuckDuckGo, and Gibiru, because these other engines do not track your behavior and read your e-mail like Google does. “Experts” consider Google to be the best search engine at the moment, but I really don’t see much difference between them and the others that I mentioned. One thing I have noticed is that Google skews its search results away from Conservative sources. When I want to look up a conservative-leaning article on a political or current event, I get the results much easier from Google’s competitors. The hits are not buried behind a sea of results from MSNBC, CNN, NPR and so on.

    Supposedly Gibiru is geared toward Conservatives, but I haven’t used it enough to give a review yet.

     

    • #14
    • July 15, 2019, at 11:37 AM PDT
    • 12 likes
  15. EODmom Coolidge

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):

    Mom-and-pop stores would do better if they modeled themselves after Starbucks or Cracker Barrel. Amazon can offer lower prices, better convenience, and a review system includes dozens or even thousands of buyers. What Amazon can’t offer is a social experience, personal investment in customers, and local pride.

     

    I agree and with @she as well. I LOVE going to my local Ace hardware franchise. I love hardware stores in general and in particular I know I’ll get good advice and information on any semi technical question I have about a product I’m looking for. I don’t get that at Amazon- and the people there are nice and remember me and can get most of what they don’t stock by the Thursday delivery. Mostly I don’t do emergency kind of stuff on my own. But the Home Depot in our area has the same levels of expertise in most depArtments because of the people working there in our area. They actually know stuff and know their products and care about what you’re doing. That wasn’t the case when we lived in Silicon Valley. Home Depot had to hire 20 year old non-English speaking know-nothing stock pushers. 

    As to the GoogleFacePlex – we know too much about the founders and their overall objectives to want to have anything to do with any of it. 

    • #15
    • July 15, 2019, at 12:20 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  16. Al French, sad sack Member

    KentForrester (View Comment):

    You are unique in the fact that you are aging. I buy an anti-aging pill from Amazon. One buck a pill once a week does the trick.

    Little blue ones?

    • #16
    • July 15, 2019, at 1:07 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  17. KentForrester Coolidge
    KentForrester Post author

    Al French, sad sack (View Comment):

    KentForrester (View Comment):

    You are unique in the fact that you are aging. I buy an anti-aging pill from Amazon. One buck a pill once a week does the trick.

    Little blue ones?

    At my age, BIG blue ones.

    • #17
    • July 15, 2019, at 1:13 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  18. Arahant Member

    KentForrester (View Comment):

    Al French, sad sack (View Comment):

    KentForrester (View Comment):

    You are unique in the fact that you are aging. I buy an anti-aging pill from Amazon. One buck a pill once a week does the trick.

    Little blue ones?

    At my age, BIG blue ones.

    Uh…Kent? Those are urinal cakes.

    • #18
    • July 15, 2019, at 1:29 PM PDT
    • 8 likes
  19. KentForrester Coolidge
    KentForrester Post author

    Arahant (View Comment):

    KentForrester (View Comment):

    Al French, sad sack (View Comment):

    KentForrester (View Comment):

    You are unique in the fact that you are aging. I buy an anti-aging pill from Amazon. One buck a pill once a week does the trick.

    Little blue ones?

    At my age, BIG blue ones.

    Uh…Kent? Those are urinal cakes.

    Whatever works. 

    • #19
    • July 15, 2019, at 1:35 PM PDT
    • 9 likes
  20. She Thatcher
    She

    EODmom (View Comment):

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):

    Mom-and-pop stores would do better if they modeled themselves after Starbucks or Cracker Barrel. Amazon can offer lower prices, better convenience, and a review system includes dozens or even thousands of buyers. What Amazon can’t offer is a social experience, personal investment in customers, and local pride.

     

    I agree and with @she as well. I LOVE going to my local Ace hardware franchise. I love hardware stores in general and in particular I know I’ll get good advice and information on any semi technical question I have about a product I’m looking for. I don’t get that at Amazon- and the people there are nice and remember me and can get most of what they don’t stock by the Thursday delivery. Mostly I don’t do emergency kind of stuff on my own. But the Home Depot in our area has the same levels of expertise in most depArtments because of the people working there in our area. They actually know stuff and know their products and care about what you’re doing. That wasn’t the case when we lived in Silicon Valley. Home Depot had to hire 20 year old non-English speaking know-nothing stock pushers.

    As to the GoogleFacePlex – we know too much about the founders and their overall objectives to want to have anything to do with any of it.

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):

    Mom-and-pop stores would do better if they modeled themselves after Starbucks or Cracker Barrel. Amazon can offer lower prices, better convenience, and a review system includes dozens or even thousands of buyers. What Amazon can’t offer is a social experience, personal investment in customers, and local pride.

    Starbucks was a social club before it became a social phenomenon. Lone stores can become local hangouts like that. But even a specialized or traditional shop needs to refresh the experience occasionally to keep people interested.

    You know what big corporations can never do as well as local shops and eateries? Shape their own customer base. Policing an online community is hopeless. But a shopkeeper can kick out the jerks to cultivate a friendly environment.

    Agree 100%.

    WRT the big box stores, I’ve got it pretty much sussed out, locally at least–Sidney at Lowes, or Chet at Home Depot for plumbing, Dave at Home Depot for electricals. But I can’t rely on the experience to be consistent throughout the staff (and unfortunately, West Washington Hardware has closed. Customer service is pretty simple. I’m gobsmacked that so many places don’t seem to understand how it works.

    • #20
    • July 15, 2019, at 2:34 PM PDT
    • Like
  21. TBA Coolidge
    TBA

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Or an umlaut on the u?

    Amazon Prime periods (.) on sale for 40% off the usual price; you can make all the umlats you want at a fraction of the usual price. 

    • #21
    • July 15, 2019, at 3:29 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  22. TBA Coolidge
    TBA

    KentForrester (View Comment):

    She, I don’t live in a place where there are many mom and pop stores. I go to Ace Hardware, but that is a chain. 

    Ace is actually a franchise, so a quasi-mom ‘n’ pop. 

    • #22
    • July 15, 2019, at 3:31 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  23. The Reticulator Member

    FB and Google are in the socialist category rather than free market capitalism. They lure you in with free stuff, then assert political and economic control. 

    • #23
    • July 15, 2019, at 4:09 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  24. Hoyacon Member

    Search engines are the proverbial dimes per dozen, but Google Earth is something good.

    • #24
    • July 15, 2019, at 5:20 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  25. The Reticulator Member

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    Search engines are the proverbial dimes per dozen, but Google Earth is something good.

    Even though it’s not the same thing from one day to the next.

    • #25
    • July 15, 2019, at 5:47 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  26. TBA Coolidge
    TBA

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    Search engines are the proverbial dimes per dozen, but Google Earth is something good.

    Even though it’s not the same thing from one day to the next.

    Well, no. There are so many Earths at the quantum level that it would be impossible. 

    • #26
    • July 15, 2019, at 5:51 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  27. JosePluma Thatcher

    KentForrester: Facebook competitors like Instagram and Linkedin, but none is as well designed and has the reach of Facebook. If there were an equivalent social media site with Facebook’s reach but run by conservatives, I would be there. But since there isn’t, I’m a Facebook fanboy.

    Yea, it’s too bad that there’s no place on the web where people like us can get together.

    • #27
    • July 15, 2019, at 6:40 PM PDT
    • 9 likes
  28. Hank Rhody-Badenphipps Esq Contributor

    KentForrester: The fact is, I’m not worth spying on.

    The problem with that is that the marginal cost to spy on you is even less. Now you, personally, that might not be worth caring about. I tend to worry that, aggregated over a whole society, it’s going to cause problems.

    • #28
    • July 15, 2019, at 8:34 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  29. GLDIII Temporarily Essential Thatcher

    KentForrester: At this moment I’m sitting in my daughter’s home in Olympia, Washington. She has a rather handsome crystal-looking skull on her shelf. Out of curiousity, I typed “skull” into Amazon’s search engine. Up pops, oh, maybe a hundred skull items,

    Kent where did you say she got that Crystal skull from?!!!!

    • #29
    • July 16, 2019, at 11:30 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  30. KentForrester Coolidge
    KentForrester Post author

    GLDIII Temporarily Essential (View Comment):

    KentForrester: At this moment I’m sitting in my daughter’s home in Olympia, Washington. She has a rather handsome crystal-looking skull on her shelf. Out of curiousity, I typed “skull” into Amazon’s search engine. Up pops, oh, maybe a hundred skull items,

    Kent where did you say she got that Crystal skull from?!!!!

    GLD, it is only a “crystal-looking” skull. Probably clear plastic. 

    • #30
    • July 16, 2019, at 11:49 AM PDT
    • 1 like
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