Please be very careful with promoted posts on Facebook

For “promoted post,” read “advertisement.”

I’m using as an example one that showed up in my newsfeed yesterday, from a company which calls itself “wewinns.”

They are offering a complete date set of Morgan silver dollars for $199.99 (reduced from $699.99!)

Beautiful, right? The Morgan really is a gorgeous piece, especially in uncirculated condition. Notice the first description:

Morgan Silver Dollars are an excellent way to own a piece of history, while concurrently investing in the physical precious metal silver.  Morgan Silver Dollars are composed of 90% silver and 10% copper.  They weigh 26.73 grams.  This equates to approximately .7734 Troy ounces of silver and approximately .1 ounce of copper per coin. Uncirculated collectible coins.

Next, we have coin highlights:

Coin Highlights:

Arrives inside of a protective plastic slab courtesy of the NGC or PCGS!

Struck from 1878 to 1904!
• Contains .77344 Troy oz of actual silver content.
• Bears a face value of $1 (USD) backed by the federal government.
Issued a Grade of Mint State 66 by the Professional Coin Grading Service or Numismatic Guaranty Corporation.
• Obverse features the effigy of Liberty.
• Reverse includes the American bald eagle.

When I was a kid, collecting coins was much less complex. Coin grades were:

  • Cull
  • Fair (F)
  • Good (G)
  • Very Good (VG)
  • Fine (F)
  • Very Fine (VF)
  • Extra Fine (XF)
  • Almost Uncirculated (AU)
  • Uncirculated (Unc)
  • Brilliant Uncirculated (BU)
  • Proof (P)

“Cull” was a damaged coin with no value, and “Proof” – as today – are specially-created strikes for collector. In between, coins were graded largely based on the subjective opinions of countless coin dealers.

Now, things are a lot more complicated, but a lot more formalized. The PCGS that this advertisement invokes has a very detailed designation and a numerical grading system by which coins are qualified. According to their website, MS66 is defined as “Well struck with a few marks or hairlines not in focal areas.” In other words, a pretty, uncirculated coin.

The next statement from the “wewinns” website reiterates the condition of the coins you will supposedly get:

Each of the Morgan Silver Dollar Coins offered by us in this product listing is available to you in Mint State 66 condition from either the PCGS or NGC. Coins in Mint State 66 condition are five grades below the perfect grade of 70 on the Sheldon numeric scale. A coin with an MS66 certification has minimal, but apparent, detracting marks or hairlines.

Following more generic information about Morgan dollars, the sales website goes on to say:

In this product listing, we guarantee you a Mint State 66 condition Morgan Silver Dollar.

Now things get interesting. After some more description of the beauty and rarity of the Morgan dollars, we see this:

Each Morgan Silver Dollar is presented in circulated condition with most major design details visible, and is protected in an archival crystal-clear case that allows for easy and safe viewing of both sides.

“Most major design details visible.” To me, that sounds like an F-12: “About half of detail now worn flat. All lettering remains visible.”

But then in the next bit, we go right back to the shiny new coins you thing you’ll be getting:

Year: 1878 to 1921
Grade: Choice BU
Strike Type: Business
Denomination: $1.00
Mint Location: “S” – San Francisco
Metal Content: 0.7734 troy oz
Purity: .900
Manufacturer: US Mint
Thickness: 3.1 mm
Diameter: 38.1 mm

I have no idea what “Strike type: business” means, unless it just implies general circulation coins and not a proof.

I was curious enough to click the “Contact Us” link on the bottom of the page:

Email:[support@wewinns.com]
Phone: +86 181 2462 2758

Is anyone suprised that country code 86 is China? My email to the support staff read as follows:

I am interested in your offer, but I am confused.
Your ad says the following things:
“Uncirculated collectible coins.”
“Issued a Grade of Mint State 66 by the Professional Coin Grading Service or Numismatic Guaranty Corporation.”
“Each of the Morgan Silver Dollar Coins offered by us in this product listing is available to you in Mint State 66 condition from either the PCGS or NGC.”
“In this product listing, we guarantee you a Mint State 66 condition Morgan Silver Dollar.”
“Each Morgan Silver Dollar is presented in circulated condition with most major design details visible.”
“Grade: Choice BU”
So, are these coins that you are offering uncirculated, with a grade of 66, or are they circulated and in generally poor condition? You are aware, are you not, that a full set of Morgan dollars in grade 66 typically sells for over $125,000?
I look forward to your speedy response.

But I will be surprised if there is any response at all. If you get anything at all from this outfit, I’m pretty safe in thinking it will be a collection of very poor-quality coins, and that their website will be gone – only to resurface the next day with a different name.

Now I won’t go so far as to say that every advertisement promoted by Facebook is painfully deceptive or outright dishonestly false… but in my experience, a vast preponderance of them are just that, and a large percentage of them come from China. And Facebook continues to happily take their advertising dollars, and countless people are defrauded by unscrupulous enterprises.

It is worth noticing that the current PCGS quoted price for a complete date set of Morgan dollars in MS-66 condition is $165,605.00, and a complete date set in F-12 condition (Fair) is quoted at $1,272.00… so heaven only knows what you might get if you drop $200.00 into this Chinese bank account.

Be very careful with these ads. Discuss this with vulnerable loved ones, particularly the elderly who might be more susceptible to greasy advertising techniques like this.

Edit: Another, very similar ad page is found at
https://www.silver-ccoins.com/products/1878-1921-morgan-dollar-silver-coin-lx-1, and it uses almost identical wording, with a lot of additional promotional fluff added. The company behind this one is Vankin Co. Ltd. in London. Beware.

Edit 2: This report focuses on an individual who was conned into buying counterfeit silver dollars (made of steel); the report ends by indicating that these bogus dollars were likely mass-produced in China. One more red flag that this particular deal and ones like it should be run away from at great speed.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Once Upon a Time, A Long Time Ago… it was Great to be a White Male in America

I grew up in New York City in the ’50s. So when a friend of mine posted this, and I watched it, I was naturally struck with feelings of nostalgia for times and events in my life that are now gone forever.

But along with the nostalgia and wistfulness was an overpowering awareness that I was watching the documentary of a reality that only existed for some Americans. The stark contrast, totally ignored in this yearning little video, is well represented in this image from Life Magazine:

Those happy folks in the back, smiling in their car… those are the people we see in the video. The ones in the front, waiting in a bread line, were not even visible anywhere.

It was great to be white in the ’50s.

You grow up in that environment, and you grow up a racist, and a sexist, even though there may not be a malicious bone in your body. Racism and sexism were in the blood and bones and DNA of society, and you were bombarded with blatant or subconscious reminders that women’s place was in the kitchen (barefoot, pregnant, and with no vote)¹, and black lives didn’t only not matter, they were totally invisible.

See Dad and Jim play. Watch Mom and Mary wash the dishes. And enjoy it.

This one was relatively subtle. There was much, much worse out there.

With a history like that, anyone born in the ’50s or even the ’60s is going to have these attitudes driven deep into their psyches, and they are devilishly hard to expurgate completely. That’s why a person who wants to have a positive effect on the world around them needs to pay attention to the advice below (which applies to any “-ism,” not just racism) and practice it on a daily basis. Not unlike alcoholics in recovery who realize and understand that they are never really “cured,” these ways of thinking will surface at a moment’s notice given half a chance.

The Old Wolf has spoken.


Footnotes

¹ Things have improved, at least on the surface – but sexism in American society is still a very real phenomenon, particularly in the workplace. Advertising agencies, still embarrassingly aware that sex sells almost more than anything, still pump out sexist ads, although in the #MeToo era, some companies are issuing mea culpas (but only when they get caught out).

As for racism? Sometimes I wonder if we’ve made any progress at all since Selma. Some of the things I’m seeing now in terms of voter suppression in Georgia and other GOP states recalls a very dark stage of American history, as outlined brilliantly by Heather Cox Richardson.

Please be very careful ordering from Facebook ads

My wife passed me this item to look at – and it looks like a really good idea. We have a small flock of chickens so we don’t worry about composting much, but there are things like potato peelings and bones and such that the girls (and Pongo¹) won’t eat, so it would be nice to have something to reduce these scraps to something usable.

Amazing price, given that the most popular composter on Amazon runs for about $400.00.

I mean, who could turn down an offer like that?

Just for fun, I put one in my cart to see what shipping for a 22-lb (10kg) item would cost from California.

Any guesses?

$4.95.

Ok, with anything else discounted, this whole deal would fall into the “Too good to be true” category. So let’s do just a bit more research. Going to Scamadvisor.com, we find this summary:

Add this to a 1% trust score overall, and that’s more red flags than Tootle was confronted with when he jumped the tracks to play with the butterflies.

From “Tootle” – a Little Golden Book

Notice that the original ad claimed that there were only 65 left in stock. When I checked earlier this morning, it was down to 34. Now, it’s not beyond possibility that they got a new shipment within the last few hours, but the odds are better that these numbers are randomly generated to give the appearance of desirability and scarcity.

I suspect people who order this will never receive anything, or will be shipped cheap slum² that functions poorly and breaks quickly. Whatever the case,

“The bitterness of poor quality lasts long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.”

Source: Unknown. Attributed to Benjamin Franklin or Aldo Gucci without verification.

Who knows, I might be passing up on the deal of a lifetime, but this is not something I’m going to gamble $35.00 on.

For what it’s worth, a large percentage of ads that appear on your Facebook wall are put there by spurious companies for spurious merchandise. Stolen artwork and intellectual property are high on the list; teeshirt companies that pop up, sell stuff with Peanuts™ or Calvin and Hobbes™ or something else that’s not licensed, promoted by photoshopped images of Carl Sagan or Bill Nye or Neil deGrasse Tyson, vanish into the mist before they can be prosecuted, and pop up the next week with a different name (and most of these outfits are, predictably, in China).

The takeaway here is Be Very Careful when ordering merchandise from an ad on Facebook.There are legitimate concerns out there, but far too many of these ads (which Facebook is more than happy to accept advertising dollars from) will burn you badly. Do your research (that doesn’t mean watch some sleazy YouTube video) and protect your loved ones.

The Old Wolf has spoken.


Footnotes:

¹

Pongo

² “Slum” is what carnival hucksters call the cheap trash that you win when you play their midway games. As opposed to the major prizes that are very difficult to get.

Those Medicare Ads

Sounds great, right? So you click the ad, and they want your age, your birthdate, your name, your zip code, and your phone number, which you happily provide.

But before being able to submit your information, you have to agree to their terms. Which are these:

By clicking ‘View My Results’, I expressly consent by electronic signature to receive marketing communication, including via calls using an automatic telephone dialing system and artificial or pre-recorded messages, emails, and text messages (SMS), from insurance companies or their agents, the owner of this website and its agents, representatives and affiliates, and partner companies to the phone number provided (including any wireless numbers). I understand that my consent to receive communications in this manner is not required as a condition of purchasing any goods or services, my telephone company may impose charges for these contacts, and I can revoke my consent at any time. If you are Medicare-eligible a representative may call you about a Medicare Advantage plan, Medicare Prescription Drug plan, Medicare Supplement plan or other Medicare plans. Not affiliated with the United States Government or the federal Medicare program.

By clicking ‘View My Results’, I further agree to receive SMS notifications from Assurance short code 71953. Message and data rates may apply. Message frequency varies. You may receive alerts until you choose to opt out of this service by texting “Stop” to 71953 or replying “Stop” to any of our messages. Text “Help” to 71953 for assistance. Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy and Do Not Sell My Personal Information

And those “partner companies” mentioned above? Here’s the list:

  • 1st Century
  • Accuquote
  • Adsparkx Digital
  • Advocator Group
  • Agentra Healthcare
  • AIG Direct
  • AIS
  • Aliera Healthcare
  • All Web Leads
  • Alliance
  • Allied Insurance Partners
  • Allstate
  • Alphatech Resource Holdings s.r.o
  • Alpine Digital Group, Inc.
  • American Adventure Insurance
  • American Income Life Insurance Company Family
  • American Insurance Company
  • American Insurance Organization, LLC
  • Americare
  • Ameriquote
  • AmeriSave
  • Angelic Marketing Group
  • Answer Financial
  • Apollo Interactive
  • Art Institute
  • Auto Insurance Guide
  • Avendia
  • Avenge Digital
  • Bantam Connect
  • Bayside
  • BE Marketing Solutions Inc.
  • Benefit Advisors
  • Black Optek
  • Blue Nile
  • Blue Summit
  • Bright Home Energy
  • BRXTN Digital Media
  • Caliber Home Loans
  • Capital Health Advisors Inc.
  • Cege Media
  • Choice Direct
  • Citizens Disability
  • Clean Energy Concepts
  • ClearLink
  • Click 2 Call Network
  • Commercial Insurance Center
  • CompareInsuranceQuotes
  • Connect Insurance Brands
  • Connect Plus
  • Contactability
  • Coverage One
  • CS Marketing
  • Debt.com
  • Digital Market Media, Inc.
  • Direct General
  • Disability Advisor
  • Discount Insurance Quotes
  • EasyMedicare.com, an affiliate of e-TeleQuote Insurance, Inc
  • easyMedicare.com, an affiliate of e-TeleQuote Insurance, Inc.
  • Efinancial
  • EPIQ
  • Esurance
  • EverQuote, Inc.
  • Excel Impact
  • Exclusive Digital Media
  • Finalexpenseassistant.com
  • First Family Life
  • FirstQuoteHealth.com
  • Florida Blue
  • Florida Plan Advisors
  • Fortegra
  • Freeway Insurance Services
  • Get Seen Media
  • Globe Life
  • Globe Life Insurance Company of New York
  • GoHealthInsurance
  • Goji
  • goMedigap
  • Green Home Advantage
  • Guidestar Marketing Group LLC
  • Guidetoinsure
  • Hannigan Insurance
  • Health Benefit Center
  • Health Benefits One
  • Health Center Marketing
  • Health Choice One
  • Health Insurance Innovations
  • Health Insurance Services
  • Health IQ
  • Health Plans of America
  • Health Solutions One
  • HealthCare, Inc.
  • Healthcareassistant.com
  • HealtheDeals
  • HealthMarkets
  • HealthPlanOne
  • HealthPlanOne, LLC
  • Heard and Smith
  • Heritage Life Insurance Company
  • Home Insurance King
  • Ideal Concepts
  • Inboxed LLC.
  • Independent Insurance Consultants
  • Innovate Financial Group
  • Innovation Direct Group
  • Inside Response
  • InsuraMatch
  • Insurance Care Direct
  • Insurance Quotes Now
  • Insurance Services
  • Insurance Solutions LLC
  • IPA Direct
  • iWebQuotes
  • Kanopy Insurance
  • Kelly Klee
  • Leadnomics
  • Legacy Insurance Solutions
  • Legends United Insurance Agency, Inc
  • Liberty Mutual
  • Liberty National Life Insurance Company
  • Lighthouse
  • Loan Depot
  • Mercury
  • Mercury Insurance
  • Momentum Solar
  • Morty Inc.
  • Moss
  • Mutual of Omaha
  • MVX Sales
  • My Health Advisors
  • National Disability
  • National General
  • National Income Life Insurance Company
  • National Plan Advisors
  • Nationwide
  • NetQuote
  • New Age Health
  • New American Funding
  • NextGen Leads, LLC
  • Nexus Enterprise Solutions
  • Open Market Quotes
  • Outlook Advisors
  • Palisades Media Group
  • Pay Per Call Market
  • Pay Per Call Transfers
  • PEMCO
  • PFP
  • Ping Leads
  • Platform Advertising
  • Plymouth Rock
  • Policy Scout
  • PolicyScout
  • Precursor Media
  • Premier Disability
  • Presidio Interactive
  • Priority Insurance
  • Progressive
  • Prudential
  • Purple Dog Marketing LLC
  • Q3MInsuranceSolutions
  • Quantum3media
  • Quicken Loans
  • Quote Engine
  • Quote Manager LLC
  • Quote Velocity
  • Quotehound
  • QuoteManage LLC
  • QuoteWizard
  • Rank Media Agency
  • Rayosun LLC
  • RCPT2
  • RevPoint
  • S.B. Fintech Ltd
  • Sales Data Pro
  • Selective Healthcare
  • SelectMyPolicy.com
  • SelectQuote
  • Senior Life
  • Senior Market Quotes
  • Smart Energy Direct
  • Smart Health Options, LLC
  • Smart Match Insurance Solutions
  • SolidQuote, LLC
  • Spring Health Plans
  • Spring Insurance Solutions
  • State Farm
  • ‘Stone Tapert
  • Stone Tapert Insurance Services
  • STRINGBIT inc.
  • Support First
  • Synergy Insurance Marketing
  • The Insurance Center
  • The Lead Company
  • The Zebra
  • Themedicareassistant.com
  • The-Solar-Project.com.
  • Tiburon Insurance
  • Tranzact
  • Travelers
  • TrueChoice Insurance Services
  • TrustedConsumer
  • Underground Elephant
  • United American Insurance Company
  • United Insurance Group Agency, Inc.
  • United Medicare Advisors
  • Velapoint
  • Vital One Health
  • ZQ Auto Insurance

In other words, you provide critical personal information to “updatedmedicareplans.com,” and they sell that information to over 208 other companies which may or may not have anything to do with Medicare coverage, and many of whom will sell that data onward to other marketing firms… and you agree to allow these companies to spam you with phone calls or text messages.

This is essentially the same business model used by “Lower My Bills,” and from where I sit it’s a bad deal. If you’re looking for improved Medicare Advantage plans, I suggest you call a reputable local insurance agent with whom you can deal in person, instead of opening yourself to a deluge of marketing calls, many of which will be spurious in nature.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Farticles and Advertorials are Old News

I’ve written often about affiliate marketers who use advertorials and farticles (advertisements designed to look like news articles) in their never-ending hunt for clicks and commissions. It’s an ongoing plague, but one that seems to have become an inextirpable part of the internet landscape.

As annoying as it is, this technique is not new. Here, an example from the Iowa City Daily Press from 16 May, 1905 (page 2). The snippet below is from a section of the paper entitled “News In Brief” and shows two advertisements shoehorned into the section dedicated to short news articles:

It just goes to show that historically, the journalistic drive to ethically bring the news to people has always been intermingled with a desire to earn as much revenue as possible, regardless of how it’s done.

In today’s world, the mad rush for clicks, eyeballs on ads, and sales conversions has turned the Internet into a wild west of unreliable or downright deceptive pages and advertisements, and it’s a true challenge to sift and sort the wheat from the tares. Teaching kids how to tell one from the other would be a valuable class in any high school or college.

The Old Wolf has spoken

Please do not patronize these knockoff companies.

I followed a link from Facebook to a CNN article about Roger Stone on my phone yesterday. Almost invariably when I follow links, despite the fact that I own a Pixel phone I’ll choose the option that says “Open in Samsung Internet” because that app includes an ad-blocker that makes my mobile browsing experience infinitely less annoying (no, I’m not a paid shill.) But this time I didn’t for some odd reason, and this is what I saw:

These shirts and many like them are advertised heavily on Facebook and other places. This particular article repeated the same advertisement four times – with the headers “Star Wars,” “Star Wars 2,” “Star Wars 3,” and “Star Wars 9.”

It seems that the way targeted advertising campaigns work is that the page owners – in this case, CNN – either have no control over or don’t care what ads get served up on their site, as long as they get paid for eyeballs and clicks. So whatever algorithm was being used here, it has been heavily skewed in favor of this one company.

Aside from being annoying in general, these web ads for teeshirts have a darker downside: almost all of them use stolen and unauthorized intellectual property. While I can’t say for certain, my bookie assures me it’s a sure bet that these are Chinese companies who change their store names on a daily basis, saturate the internet with ads for shirts of dubious quality using pirated IP, sell a mess of teeshirts and then vanish before they can be tracked down, only to appear the next day under a different name.

And of course, concerns like Facebook are happy to rake in their advertising dollars without a care in the world.

There are many legitimate shirt companies out there. They purchase artwork or license it from its creators. Woot! is one that my wife and I are shamefacedly addicted to, but there are any number to choose from. ¹

Don’t give these pirates your money. Stick with legitimate companies, preferably ones that manufacture their goods here in America.

The Old Wolf has spoken.


¹ Nope, not getting paid for this recommendation either.

One website: 542 Advertisers

I recently visited a website I had never been to before because I needed an image. Naturally, I was presented with the “We care about your privacy, accept cookies” dialog.

Image result for accept cookies

This website was different, however, in that it provided a list of every company they share your data with, with toggle switches to accept or reject, plus a link to each company’s privacy policy.

You can set consent preferences for each individual third-party company below. Expand each company list item to see what purposes they use data for to help make your choices. In some cases, companies may disclose that they use your data without asking for your consent, based on their legitimate interests. You can click on their privacy policies for more information and to opt out.

By interacting over time with that particular website, I would be sharing data about my activity with these companies:

A Million Ads Limited, A.Mob, Accelerize Inc., Accorp Sp. z o.o., Active Agent AG, Acuityads Inc., Ad Unity Ltd, ad6media, Adacado Technologies Inc. (DBA Adacado), ADARA MEDIA UNLIMITED, AdClear GmbH, AdColony, Inc., AddApptr GmbH, AdDefend GmbH, AdElement Media Solutions Pvt Ltd, Adello Group AG, Adelphic LLC, Adevinta Spain S.L.U., Adform A/S, Adhese, adhood.com, Adikteev / Emoteev, Adimo, ADITION technologies AG, Adkernel LLC, Adledge, Adloox SA, Adludio Ltd, ADMAN – Phaistos Networks, S.A., ADman Interactive SL, AdMaxim Inc., Admedo Ltd, admetrics GmbH, Admixer EU GmbH, Admotion SRL, Adnami Aps, Adobe Advertising Cloud, Adobe Audience Manager, Adprime Media Inc., ADRINO Sp. z o.o., adrule mobile GmbH, Adserve.zone / Artworx AS, Adsolutions BV, AdSpirit GmbH, adsquare GmbH, Adssets AB, AdsWizz Inc., Adtelligent Inc., AdTheorent, Inc, AdTiming Technology Company Limited, ADUX, advanced store GmbH, ADventori SAS, Adverline, ADYOULIKE SA, Aerserv LLC, Affectv Ltd, affilinet, Affle International, Alive & Kicking Global Limited, Alliance Gravity Data Media, Amobee, Inc., AntVoice, Apester Ltd, AppNexus Inc., Arcspire Limited, Arkeero, ARMIS SAS, Arrivalist Co., ATG Ad Tech Group GmbH, Audience Trading Platform Ltd., AudienceProject Aps, Audiens S.r.l., audio content & control GmbH, Automattic Inc., Avazu Inc., Avid Media Ltd, Avocet Systems Limited, Axel Springer Teaser Ad GmbH, Azerion Holding B.V., B2B Media Group EMEA GmbH, Bandsintown Amplified LLC, Bannerflow AB, Beachfront Media LLC, Beemray Oy, BeeswaxIO Corporation, BEINTOO SPA, BeOp, Better Banners A/S, Bidmanagement GmbH, bidstack ltd, BIDSWITCH GmbH, Bidtellect, Inc, BidTheatre AB, Bigabid Media Ltd, BILENDI SA, Bit Q Holdings Limited, BLIINK SAS, Blis Media Limited, Blue, Blue Billywig BV, Bmind a Sales Maker Company, S.L., Bombora Inc., Bounce Exchange, Inc, Brand Metrics Sweden AB, Browsi Mobile Ltd, Bucksense Inc, BusinessClick, Cablato Limited, Capitaldata, Captify Technologies Limited, Celtra, Inc., Centro, Inc., CerebroAd.com s.r.o., ChannelSight, Chargeads, CHEQ AI TECHNOLOGIES LTD., Clicksco Digital Limited, Clipcentric, Inc., Cloud Technologies S.A., Codewise Sp. z o.o. Sp. k, Collective Europe Ltd., Collective, Inc. dba Visto, Colpirio.com, Comcast International France SAS, Commanders Act, communicationAds GmbH & Co. KG, comScore, Inc., Confiant Inc., Connatix Native Exchange Inc., ConnectAd Realtime GmbH, Consumable, Inc., Contact Impact GmbH, Converge-Digital, Conversant Europe Ltd., Crimtan Holdings Limited, Criteo SA, Cuebiq Inc., Cxense ASA, Cybba, Inc., Cydersoft, Czech Publisher Exchange z.s.p.o., D-Edge, Dailymotion SA, Dataxu, Inc., DeepIntent, Inc., DEFINE MEDIA GMBH, Delta Projects AB, Demandbase, Inc., Densou Trading Desk ApS, Digilant Spain, SLU, Digital Control GmbH & Co. KG, Digital East GmbH, digitalAudience, DIGITEKA Technologies, Digitize New Media Ltd, DigiTrust / IAB Tech Lab, district m inc., DoubleVerify Inc.​, Dr. Banner, Drawbridge, Inc., dunnhumby Germany GmbH, Duplo Media AS, Duration Media, LLC., DynAdmic, Dynamic 1001 GmbH, EASYmedia GmbH, Effiliation, Emerse Sverige AB, emetriq GmbH, EMX Digital LLC, Etarget SE, Eulerian Technologies, Exactag GmbH, Exponential Interactive, Inc, Eyeota Ptd Ltd, Ezoic Inc., Fidzup, Fifty Technology Limited, Flashtalking, Inc., FlexOffers.com, LLC, Forensiq LLC, FORTVISION, Free Stream Media Corp. dba Samba TV, Fusio, Fyber, Gamned, Gamoshi LTD, GDMServices, Inc. d/b/a FiksuDSP, Gemius SA, Genius Sports Media Limited, Getintent USA, inc., GlobalWebIndex, Go.pl sp. z o.o., Goldbach Group AG, Golden Bees, Goodway Group, Inc., GP One GmbH, GRAPHINIUM, Greenhouse Group BV (with its trademark LemonPI), GroupM UK Limited, GumGum, Inc., Haensel AMS GmbH, Happydemics, hbfsTech, HIRO Media Ltd, Hivestack Inc., Hottraffic BV (DMA Institute), Hybrid Adtech GmbH, ID5 Technology SAS, IgnitionAi Ltd, IgnitionOne, Illuma Technology Limited, Impactify, Impression Desk Technologies Limited, Improve Digital International BV, Index Exchange, Inc., INFINIA MOBILE S.L., InMobi Pte Ltd, INNITY, Innovid Inc., Inskin Media LTD, Instinctive, Inc., Instreamatic inc., InsurAds Technologies SA., Integral Ad Science, Inc., Intent Media, Inc., Intercept Interactive Inc. dba Undertone, Internet BillBoard a.s., Intowow Innovation Ltd., INVIBES GROUP, iotec global Ltd., IPONWEB GmbH, Jaduda GmbH, Jampp LTD, Jivox Corporation, Join, Jointag S.r.l., Justpremium BV, Kairos Fire, Kayzen, Keymantics, Knorex Pte Ltd, Kochava Inc., Kubient, KUPONA GmbH, LBC France, Leadplace – Temelio, LeftsnRight, Inc. dba LIQWID, Leiki Ltd., LEMO MEDIA GROUP LIMITED, LifeStreet Corporation, Liftoff Mobile, Inc., Ligatus GmbH, Linicom, LiquidM Technology GmbH, Little Big Data sp.z.o.o., Liveintent Inc., LiveRamp, Inc., LKQD, a division of Nexstar Digital, LLC., Localsensor B.V., Location Sciences AI Ltd, LoopMe Ltd, LotaData, Inc., Lotame Solutions, Inc., Lucid Holdings, LLC, M32 Connect Inc, Madington, Madison Logic, Inc., MADVERTISE MEDIA, mainADV Srl, MAIRDUMONT NETLETIX GmbH&Co. KG, Marfeel Solutions S.L, Market Resource Partners LLC, Maximus Live LLC, Maytrics GmbH, mbr targeting GmbH, McCann Discipline LTD, Media.net Advertising FZ-LLC, MediaMath, Inc., mediarithmics SAS, Mediasmart Mobile S.L., Meetrics GmbH, MGID Inc., Mindlytix SAS, MiQ, Mirando GmbH & Co KG, MISSENA, mobalo GmbH, Mobfox US LLC, Mobile Journey B.V., Mobile Professionals BV, Mobilewalla, Inc., Mobsuccess, Mobusi Mobile Advertising S.L., My6sense Inc., Myntelligence Limited, N Technologies Inc., Nano Interactive GmbH, Nativo, Inc., Near Pte Ltd, Neodata Group srl, NEORY GmbH, Netsprint SA, NetSuccess, s.r.o., netzeffekt GmbH, NEURAL.ONE, Neustar on behalf of The Procter & Gamble Company, Neustar, Inc., News and Media Holding, a.s., NEXD, NextRoll, Inc., Nielsen Marketing Cloud, Norstat Danmark A/S, Noster Finance S.L., Notify, nugg.ad GmbH, numberly, Oath (EMEA) Limited, Ogury Ltd., On Device Research Limited, OneTag Ltd, Onfocus (Adagio), Online Solution Int Limited, Onnetwork Sp. z o.o., Ooyala Inc, OpenX, Opinary GmbH, Optomaton UG, Oracle, Oracle AddThis, Orion Semantics, ORTEC B.V., Otto (GmbH & Co KG), Outbrain UK Ltd, PaperG, Inc. dba Thunder Industries, Parsec Media Inc., Passendo ApS, Perform Media Services Ltd, Permodo GmbH, Permutive Ltd., Permutive Technologies, Inc., Pexi B.V., pilotx.tv, Pixalate, Inc., PIXIMEDIA SAS, Platform161, Playbuzz Ltd., PLAYGROUND XYZ EMEA LTD, plista GmbH, Pocketmath Pte Ltd, Polar Mobile Group Inc., PowerLinks Media Limited, Predicio, PREX Programmatic Exchange GmbH&Co KG, Programatica de publicidad S.L., Proxi.cloud Sp. z o.o., PROXISTORE, PUB OCEAN LIMITED, Publicis Media GmbH, Publishers Internationale Pty Ltd, PubMatic, Inc., PubNative GmbH, PulsePoint, Inc., Purch Group, Inc., PurposeLab, LLC, Qriously, Quantcast International Limited, Qwertize, R-Advertising, R-TARGET, Radio Net Media Limited, Rakuten Marketing LLC, Readpeak Oy, Realeyes OÜ, realzeit GmbH, ReigNN Platform Ltd., Relay42 Netherlands B.V., remerge GmbH, Research and Analysis of Media in Sweden AB, Research Now Group, Inc, Revcontent, LLC, Reveal Mobile, Inc, RevLifter Ltd, Rezonence Limited, RhythmOne, LLC, Rich Audience, RMSi Radio Marketing Service interactive GmbH, Rockabox Media Ltd, Rockerbox, Inc, RockYou, Inc., Roq.ad GmbH, RTB House S.A., RTK.IO, Inc, RUN, Inc., salesforce.com, inc., Samba TV UK Limited, Sanoma Media Finland, Scene Stealer Limited, Schibsted Norge AS, Schibsted Product and Tech UK, Seeding Alliance GmbH, Seedtag Advertising S.L, Seenthis AB, Sellpoints Inc., Semasio GmbH, Seznam.cz, a.s., ShareThis, Inc., Sharethrough, Inc, SheMedia, LLC, Shopalyst Inc, Shopstyle, ShowHeroes GmbH, Sift Media, Inc, Signal Digital Inc., Signals, Simplifi Holdings Inc., SINGLESPOT SAS, Sirdata, Sizmek, Skaze, Skimbit Ltd, SlimCut Media SAS, Smaato, Inc., Smadex SL, Smart Adserver, Smart Traffik, Smartclip Hispania SL, smartclip Holding AG, Smartme Analytics, Smartology Limited, SMARTSTREAM.TV GmbH, SmartyAds Inc., Smile Wanted Group, Snapsort Inc., operating as Sortable, Social Tokens Ltd., Sojern, Inc., Solocal, Somo Audience Corp, Sonobi, Inc, Soundcast, Sourcepoint Technologies, Inc., Sovrn Holdings Inc, Spolecznosci Sp. z o.o. Sp. k., Sportradar AG, Spot.IM Ltd., Spotad, SpotX, StackAdapt, StartApp Inc., Steel House, Inc., Ströer Mobile Performance GmbH, Ströer SSP GmbH, Sub2 Technologies Ltd, Sublime, SunMedia, Switch Concepts Limited, SYNC, TabMo SAS, Taboola Europe Limited, TACTIC™ Real-Time Marketing AS, Tapad, Inc., Tapjoy, Inc., TAPTAP Networks SL, TARGETSPOT BELGIUM SPRL, Teads, Tealium Inc, Teemo SA, Telaria, Inc, Telecoming S.A., Telefonica Investigación y Desarrollo S.A.U, Teroa S.A., The ADEX GmbH, The Kantar Group Limited, The MediaGrid Inc., The Ozone Project Limited, The Reach Group GmbH, The Rubicon Project, Inc., The Trade Desk, Think Clever Media, Thirdpresence Oy, Timehop, Inc., TimeOne, Totaljobs Group Ltd, Tradedoubler AB, Tradelab, SAS, TradeTracker, travel audience GmbH, TreSensa, Inc., Triapodi Ltd., Triboo Data Analytics, TripleLift, Inc., Triton Digital Canada Inc., TrueData Solutions, Inc., Tunnl BV, Turbo, twiago GmbH, UberMedia, Inc., ucfunnel Co., Ltd., Underdog Media LLC, Unruly Group Ltd, uppr GmbH, Uprival LLC, usemax advertisement (Emego GmbH), Vdopia DBA Chocolate Platform, Ve Global, VECTAURY, Venatus Media Limited, Vibrant Media Limited, video intelligence AG, Video Media Groep B.V., Video Reach, Vidoomy Media SL, ViewPay, Viralize SRL, Visarity Technologies GmbH, Vuble, WebAds B.V, Webedia, WebMediaRM, WEBORAMA, Welect GmbH, WhatRocks Inc., Whenever Media Ltd, White Ops, Inc., Widespace AB, Wizaly, X-Mode Social, Inc., xAd, Inc. dba GroundTruth, YellowHammer Media Group, Yieldlab AG, Yieldlove GmbH, Yieldmo, Inc., Yieldr UK, YOC AG, Yormedia Solutions Ltd, ZBO Media, Zemanta, Inc., zeotap GmbH, Zeta Global, Ziff Davis LLC, ZighZag

Most of these companies make their money by getting you to look at advertisements. Most of them will happily share your data with anyone who has two coppers to rub together. Many of these companies use your data without your permission, and many times if you share your location with one website, you’re sharing it with countless others.

The conclusion in today’s world is unavoidable. Even if we are paying for the service, we are essentially the product.

They know what we’re watching. They know what we like. They know where we are. We cannot escape.

The drums. The drums in the deep. They are coming…¹

The Old Wolf has Spoken


¹ This is a bit of sensationalistic hyperbole, in case you weren’t sure. Most people who use the Internet are aware that their browsing habits are being tracked so that companies can serve them ads that are more likely to generate sales. But the more I think about it, the more disturbing it does become; the concept of “privacy” on the web is essentially a non-entity. If you want privacy, get off the Internet altogether.

♫ You can’t get there, the road is under construction ♬

Mad Magazine™ was wonderful back in the ’50s and ’60s. I seem to recall that as I grew older, either my sense of humor changed – I started appreciating Harvard Lampoon’s work in the late ’60s – or the quality of the writing diminished.

At any rate, some of the early stuff was priceless, and still relevant to today’s challenges. One example that keeps surfacing in my mind every time I hit a detour is this gem, written by Tom Koch and illustrated by Bob Clarke.

Peeved at Obstructions
(Sung to the tune of “Eve of Destruction” Barry McGuire)

You save up all year long to take a nice vacation.
You make a lot of plans to drive across the nation.
You dream of all you’ll see with great anticipation.
You’ve only got a week to reach your destination,
But that seems like enough, you feel no consternation.
Then they tell you over and over and over again, my friend,
That you can’t get through; the road is under construction.

You’ve never been to Maine or Utah’s scenic section.
You call the auto club to help make your selection.
You pay to get your car a thorough trip inspection.
So you can drive afar and feel you’ve got protection.
Then, when you’re almost there, you seek a cop’s direction.
And he tells you over and over and over again, my friend,
That you must turn back; the road is under construction.

Vacation here at home, our president keeps sayin’.
Don’t spend your dough abroad, he fervently is praying.
So you head for New York do do your summer playing;
Or maybe to the west a travel plan you’re laying,
To see those snowy peaks and geysers wildly sprayin’.
But the signs warn over and over and over again, my friend,
That you can’t get there; the road is under construction.

The challenge is real. In preparation for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, UDOT undertook the I-15 corridor reconstruction project.

“The project involved the reconstruction of 16.2 miles of interstate mainline and the addition of new general purpose and high-occupancy-vehicle (HOV) lanes through the Salt Lake City metropolitan area. The project also included the construction or reconstruction of more than 130 bridges, the reconstruction of seven urban interchanges, and the reconstruction of three major junctions with other interstate routes, including I-80 and I-215.”

While the project was sorely needed and the end result was beneficial, for four years, the commute from outlying areas to Salt Lake City was a major pain in the patoot, with commuters searching out and jealously guarding favorable and secret bypass routes.

But wait, there’s more!

In 2009, UDOT undertook the I-15 Core reconstruction project, rebuilding 24 miles of I-15 from Point of the Mountain to Payson in just 35 months. The design-build strategy meant that the entire stretch was torn up at once, instead of doing a few miles at a time. The inconvenience was so significant that I was moved to memorialize the experience in video:

In retrospect, I really shoudn’t complain at all; nowadays our nation’s crumbling infrastructure could use a bit of help, and I think subsequent generations would appreciate our putting up with some inconvenience if it means that their bridges won’t collapse underneath them. But when you’re behind the wheel and trying to get to work (or to a vacation destination), the aggravation can certainly raise one’s blood pressure.

Bonus Section

Since I happened to be on the subject of MAD Magazine, another extract from the same article is precisely the reason our family threw out all our TVs over 20 years ago (the kids were absolutely devastated, but somehow they survived):

The TV Victim’s Lament
(Sung to the Tune of “Blowin’ in the Wind” by Bob Dylan)

How many times must a guy spray with Ban
Before he doesn’t offend?
And how many times must he gargle each day
Before he can talk to a friend?
How many tubes of shampoo must he buy
Before his dandruff will end?
The sponsors, my friend, will sell you all they can.
The sponsors will sell you all they can.

How many times must a man use Gillette
Before shaving won’t make him bleed?
And how many cartons of Kents must he smoke
Before the girls all pay him heed?
How many products must one person buy
Before he has all that he’ll need?
The sponsors, my friend, will sell you all they can.
The sponsors will sell you all they can.

How many times must a gal clean her sink
Before Ajax scours that stain,
And how many times must she rub in Ben-Gay
Before she can rub out the pain?
How many ads on TV must we watch
Before we are driven insane?
The sponsors, my friend, will sell you all they can.
The sponsors will sell you all they can.

Full disclosure: My mother single-handedly raised me on the income from commercial advertising, so I feel a bit sheepish about this, but the onslaught of advertising, much of which has now moved from the airwaves to the internet, still rubs me the wrong way.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

GoDaddy goes after affiliate marketers

I have often posted about snake oil vendors on the internet and the operation of scummy affiliate marketers that flood our inboxes and search results with come-ons for worthless products that hook vulnerable people into giving up credit card numbers and signing up for endless refills of overpriced trash.

After some brilliant internet sleuthing, GoDaddy just killed 15,000 spammy domains that hawk these products. The article is worth the read if you’re interested in protecting your loved ones from bogus marketing and scams.

It certainly won’t be the end of the problem, but it’s a good thing and I give them props for the effort.

Even if torpedoing 15,000 domains won’t put much of a dent in one of the most pervasive scourges of the web—as Miller-Osborn fully acknowledges—it at least shines a light on the problem. You can’t clear all the rats out of the sewer, but you can at least remind them that you’re there.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Really Not Important

Sandwiched between articles on “A New Reason for Dehorning” and “Brown Coal” in the Kansas City Sun of May 6, 1921, one finds this little bit of whimsy – perhaps the editor was desperate for something to fill two column inches on a really slow news day.

Whatever the case, the text reads:

Really Not Important

An investigator claims to have discovered in some dusty archives that back in the days when the pilgrims landed each person coming to America from England was required to bring with them eight bushels of corn meal, two bushels of oatmeal, two gallons of vinegar and a gallon each of oil and brandy.
In view of the fact that nothing of importance hinges on the truth or falsity of this statement, not much time need be consumed to ascertain whether this is truth or fiction.


I was pointed to this gem by the inimitable XKCD, which cites a grudging respect for the fact-checker of the Kansas City Sun that day.

The rest of the page is viewable as a free clip here; some of the articles are stolid and mundane, others exude a hint of humor – such as this ad for the Peerless Bowling and Billiard Parlors:

Of course, like the green-coffee extract hawkers of today, the copywriter may have been deadly serious in claiming that bowlers never get appendicitis.

Perusing old newspapers can be just as entertaining as Netflix.

The Old Wolf has spoken.