CSotD: Prisoners of Our Own Accord. Camry. Whatever.

First Dog on the Moon has the delightful ability to make me laugh but also send me scurrying to the Googles, and this is an excellent example.

First Dog is the conscience of the world, so militant about climate change as to be annoying but, then again, not wrong. He brings up the important issue of what a cartoonist in far-flung Tasmania can possibly do to change anything which raises the issue of how anyone who sees what’s going on can possibly just sit there quietly watching, no matter where they’ve been flung.

And on the topic of cars, and of cars spying on their owners, he’s right. Dammit.

In fact, Joy of Tech had a cartoon about this last month, but the accusation was so vague and off-the-wall that I didn’t follow up on it. I’m used to the idea that if I look up “popcorn maker” on Google that I’ll be inundated with ads for popcorn makers online for the next two weeks and I don’t believe that Alexa is eavesdropping when I have not addressed her.

But First Dog was specific enough to ping my recollection of Joy of Tech and, more to the point, send me off to look it up for myself and jumping jesus on a pogo stick here’s a report from the Mozilla Foundation that will enlighten you and frighten you and make you never want to trust your car again.

It’s such bad news that they wrote even more about it.

And headlined their main story “It’s Official: Cars Are the Worst Product Category We Have Ever Reviewed for Privacy.”

It’s also not exactly news. Not only is Google News full of current articles about the Mozilla Foundation’s report, but The Washington Post had an article on the topic four years ago.

That article includes a video in which they take apart the entertainment console of a 2017 Chevy, fish out the computer and see how much it has been tracking and reporting about the owner. I’ve disabled the paywall so you can read the article, but I can’t disable the spyware and, apparently, neither can you.

Not that it can’t be done, mind you: That Mozilla report notes

In other words, if your car is reporting data on who you are, where you go, what you do including your sex life and so forth, selling it to marketers and turning it over to the government without a warrant, it’s your own damn fault for living in the United States (or Australia) instead of in Europe.

I don’t have a lot of expectations of privacy and wasn’t all that surprised, back in the day, to find that the feds were opening our mail and tapping our phones, though at least they limited it to people who were suspected of being radical or Black or something.

And I continue to believe that the more they collect, the harder it is for them to sort through it all, which was true even when J. Edgar had his boys out gathering it the old fashioned ways.

But my name isn’t Winston and I don’t believe that 2+2=5 and I also don’t believe that, if the folks in the EU can work to straighten this out, we couldn’t do the same here if we were a little less loyal and a little more easily pissed off.

Meanwhile, I’m with Bill Bramhall on the core issue of the UAW’s strike, and don’t ask me to swallow the anti-union rhetoric we’ve been inundated with for the past several decades.

I remember UAW President Walter Reuther, who literally stood with Martin Luther King Jr. at the March on Washington, and the days when the autoworkers favored social justice as well as decent pay.

And if Europe offers greater online privacy, it also appears to offer a better match between CEO compensation and worker productivity.

Thank god that’s the only industry in which … oh, wait a minute …

Another of those annoying muckrakers from the Antipodes, Fiona Katauskas, doesn’t so much justify shoplifting as she attacks price rises that go from consumer’s pockets into corporate bank accounts.

The Aussies are currently dealing with 7.8% inflation, roughly double our current rate (Thanks, Joe!), as well as the issue of having fewer grocery chains, making for less competition in pricing, though mergers and acquisitions may distort the number of grocers we’re really dealing with here.

But the Jean Valjean parallels are universal, and while the smash-and-grab organized theft rings are a completely separate issue, the matter of small scale shoplifting may well, as Katauskas suggests, be the result of high inflation and predatory pricing.

If nothing else, it’s a result of people getting the impression that nobody gives a damn about them and that the world is full of faceless, heartless corporations. If that’s a false impression, then correct it.

Consumers may indeed overestimate grocery profits, but give us a break. We’re doing what we can to get by.

I note, BTW, that “Shoplifting” is not one of the strategies that Feedback Group poll asked about, but I doubt they’d have gotten a frank response anyway.

Polls mostly seem to tell us what people are hearing. As Mike Luckovich says, what they think can be manipulated by dishonest reporting, and Fox seems to have learned little from Dominion’s butt-kicking.

But even if Fox weren’t deliberately slanting their coverage, there’s enough enumeracy and journalistic incompetence about economic issues that reporting on those issues is often superficial, if not off-base.

My advice to aspiring journalists has always been to major in something else so you can write about something you actually understand. I hope a couple of them have listened, but it doesn’t seem to have made much of a dent on coverage.

Pat Bagley’s cartoon cracked me up because a looming election brings out idiotic diner stories in which the reporter talks to half a dozen people at a diner and declares them a cross-section of New Hampshire or Iowa or wherever.

Or, worse, they go to a rally and ask people who traveled 200 miles to see the candidate if they like the candidate. I’ve seen stories where reporters went to St. Peter’s Square and asked people there if they like the Pope. Same deal.

I trust their reporting less than I trust my car, and I don’t trust my car at all anymore.

3 thoughts on “CSotD: Prisoners of Our Own Accord. Camry. Whatever.

  1. When you sign to buy a new car, you are agreeing to their datatheft policy.
    The minute you pair your phone with the car to make calls while driving, the car scrapes ALL your personal data off the phone and phones it home. It is not paranoid to say all these tech surveillance/spyware companies that people ‘trust’ are selling their private data and profiting off it. The sheople are being shorn and then bragging about their new haircut.
    We stand with the unions. The unions (in theory and often in practice) are the only way to level the playing field between workers and abusive corporate ceo thugs.

  2. “First Dog is the conscience of the world, so militant about climate change as to be annoying”.

    Wow. Yes, drawing cartoons about climate change is annoying, but you know what is even more annoying?


    Right. Got that off my chest. Thanks.

    Alex Hallatt, creator of “Arctic Circle”, a cartoon that deals with climate change a heck of a lot and has been doing so since 2007. SIXTEEN YEARS!!! When on earth are we going to DO something about this??? Has the fossil fuel industry influenced the narrative so much that half of Americans (and we know which half) think that all these floods, droughts, unprecedented wildfires, heat domes, loss of Arctic AND Antarctic ice, polar vortices and Great Barrier Reef bleaching are NORMAL?????

    Yeah, they do. WTF.

    I know it was a glib comment and that you are one of the good guys, Mike, but the way the FF industry have influenced even this side of the conversation is insidious and dangerous. We should be beyond discussion of whether CC is a threat and much further down the road of what we are doing about it. I don’t have kids but I’m terrified for the ones I know, because it’s getting ugly now and it’s going to get worse, fast. Time is running out. Let’s keep talking, because talking about CC and what we can all do about it are our last hope.

    Okay, so maybe I haven’t got it off my chest. But I’ll keep trying and I hope First Dog does too.

    1. Annoying is one of a political cartoonist’s best tools. He wields it well. I’m in awe of the Aussie cartoonists on the issue of climate change. They’re all wonderfully annoying!

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