To the three old guys arguing in Starbuck’s this morning

muppets-old-guys

I’m on a business trip this week and have made a habit of stopping at the local Starbucks for a coffee each morning before I head into the office.  Every morning the same group of 3 “old guys” (in reality they are probably only a few decades my senior) sets up shop in 3 of the corner chairs and starts to argue. It was hard to catch all the topics since they ranged so rapidly, but in a 15 minute span they touched on income inequality, gun control, taxing 529 plans and the state of the union speech more generally, the war in Iraq, ISIS, free college and the Patriots under inflating their footballs.  The “discussion” was loud, aimless and seemingly without end.

Based on how quickly they got into it, I would say they know each other pretty well and have been at this for a while.  And I have to wonder why?  They weren’t solving anything, they weren’t learning anything, they weren’t constructing any logical arguments.  It was just a stream of non-sequitors and ad-hominems.  Although I found it mildly entertaining, I am still wondering what they got out of it.  It seems to me that they are just practicing recreational bitterness.  While that may feel good at the time, I think it’s doing you more harm than good.

A valuable dialectic

Dialectic is often used in the Hegelian sense to drive people to a pre-determined synthesis.  I heard this on a podcast the other day and thought it was a really good explanation of a valuable form of dialectic.  From Tao Te Ching:

When the world knows beauty as beauty, ugliness arises
When it knows good as good, evil arises
Thus being and non-being produce each other
Difficult and easy bring about each other
Long and short reveal each other
High and low support each other
Music and voice harmonize each other
Front and back follow each other

I should be finished up with my initial survey of stoicism in a few weeks.  I may order a few books on Taoism to balance that out.

Stoic ponderings

I finished The Guns of August over the weekend (which, BTW, is a great book that actually spans July, August and September of 1914) and so was looking for something to bring with me to read on the plane and in the evenings this week when I was out of town on business.  I ended up grabbing one of the philosophy books I added to Mr library recently: The ancient art of stoic joy.

I’m only about 100 pages in, but so far so good. I was a fan of some of the principles of stoicism, before I had even actually heard of it as a philosphy from my reading of the 7 habits of highly effective people. The concept in that book of circle of influence vs circle of concern seems exactly the same as the stoic notion of only focusing on things you can control and  it wasting energy on things you can’t.

Stoicism has a lot more to offer than just that one idea though which is one reason I had picked up the book. One interesting practice promoted by the stoics is that of negative visualization. The idea is that you should spend a little time every so often imagining what would happen of your worst fears came true.  By doing this, the stoics believe that you will appreciate what you have and not be so affected by grief when you do experience a loss.

It strikes me that there is some value to negative visualization, but one of the illustrations given by the author got me thinking. He uses the example of how children approach the world with constant wonder. One reason for this is that they still haven’t figured out how the world works so everything is somewhat of a suprise and they have no expectations of whatever they are sewing ever happening again. To me, this seems like another example of one of the things that makes us just a little different from all the other animals getting the better of us. Just like our ability to group things that are similar together and different apart lead to great things like language and communication but also terrible things like collectivism and racism, our ability to be rational and build a mental model of how the world works helped us develop math and science, but also  lead us to loose the ability to take in every present moment with wonder.

When Androids build the roads who will be able to afford a car to drive on them?

Two articles showed up in my feed this week both dealing with the impact that automation is having and will have into the future on the workforce and humanity as a whole.  Almost everyone can point to a gadget in their house, car or workplace that automates something they would rather not do. From the lowly dish washer to the bossy vehicle GPS to the copier/sorter/stapler/expresso maker, there are plenty of examples of machines that have automated tasks that make us more productive.  But both of these articles ask the question: what happens when jobs that people want to do are automated?

The first article, from the NYT, is a wide ranging post covering everything from automatons in literature from ancient Greece to futuristic sex bots (seriously – read it!).  It appears, at first glance, to be rather “light”, but it concludes with a pretty important thought that is often left out of this discussion:

More to the point, how will we power that future? Every modern robotic form that exists, and every one still to come, depends on a supply of cheap energy. If the energy disappears, so will the robots. And, to a large degree, so will we, since the lifestyle we have built and come to depend on floats on a sea of electricity. Hephaestus’ bronze giant was powered by the ichor of the divine gods; we can’t use that, but we need to think up another energy source that’s both widely available and won’t end up killing us.

This is one of the constraints not often discussed in either the optimistic or the skeptic view of automation: we’ve been living on millions of years of stored sunlight for the last century and a bit – that can’t continue, so when that ride is over, where will we get the energy to power all of this automation?  Of course it’s true that automation can be used to be more energy efficient.  The long term question is can it be so efficient that it can run on current sunlight only?

The second article, from the Institute for the Future, is a dense review of a number of data points (all footnoted / sourced) that point to a future where automation reduced the overall number of good paying jobs available.  While the data and the analysis in this article is quite good, the story it relates at the end had the most impact on me (although I also quite like the story about the origin of the term Luddite – etymology is fascinating!):

This is where the economics get weird: It’s said that Henry Ford II once showed Walter Reuther, the leader of the United Automobile Workers, around a new automated car plant. “Walter, how are you going to get those robots to pay your union dues,” said Ford. Reuther quickly replied, “Henry, how are you going to get them to buy your cars?”  Many companies I’ve spoken to are focusing growth on emerging markets, in South and Central America and mostly Asia.  In many of these places, the middle class is actually growing. But as we’ve seen, in the long run, that’s not a sustainable strategy for anyone.

This is, in addition to the energy question, is another of the big long term questions: if we automate almost everyone out of a job, who will be left to buy the things that the automation is creating?  Reuther asked the question in the middle of the last century and there are still no good answers.

Here’s my take based on what you accept as being true:

  • If you believe that all human needs and desires can be fulfilled by automatically manufactured items, then the education path is the only viable escape.  There will always be “something” to do and the person that has the right skills (not necessarily always the most education) will get those positions.  Just make sure the skills you are learning actually line up with something the market will demand in the future (don’t get educated for “yesterday’s wars”) and avoid the debt trap that most post secondary education has turned into.
  • If you believe that there is more to life than mass produced (or even mass customized) everything, then another path opens up to you.  Become an artist, a designer, a farmer, a musician, a builder, or a carpenter.  While automation is a fairly recent trend, the value people place on locally produced items that have “soul” has persisted for millennia.  The slow movement and the eat local movement are scions of a reawakening of the need for connection as part of consumption.
  • If you go one step beyond the previous, and believe that its not consumption that should define us (I know, strange thought to most Western minds…and increasingly Eastern minds as well, sadly), then the swell of automation doesn’t really matter one way or the other since (so far) you can’t automate virtue.

The old Chinese curse, “May you live in interesting times,” comes to mind when I think about where automation will take our species in the next 100 years.  I suspect, that like every other “scary” technology before it, that automation is neither innately bad nor good – rather its what we decide to do with it that makes it so.

Update on our experiment in Home Education

As I mentioned previously, this fall my son made the courageous decision to pursue home education.  We’re 5 months in now so I thought that a mid term update was in order.  Overall I would rate the first “semester” as a success, but there are a few things we have changed for the second half of the year.

We started the year by putting together a daily calendar with time blocks allocated to the subjects of the day.  The idea was two fold: to provide some structure for the day and to provide documentation of what was covered should the county ever want to do an audit. It worked reasonably well, but we’re reaching back to his Montessori days to add a little more flexibility and take advantage of the spark of interest that happens now and again and that school bells always seem to ruin: contracts.  Each week my son creates a draft contract that is focused on what he’ll get done that week.  My wife and I review it, add (and sometimes remove) a few things and then we all sign it.  This should keep us all focused on results instead of watching the clock.  We just started back a few days ago, but so far this is a big win.  He still fills out the calendar to provide a record of what was done (in case of audit), but at the end of each day as a record keeping exercise instead of a guide for his day.

Another structural change is the work space.  We started last fall by building him a small office in his bed room.  That was OK, but over the Christmas break we setup a dedicated space next to my home office in the basement.  I think the dedicated space will help separate work and play a little better and let him ask simple quick questions as they come up when I’m working from home.

As far as curriculum, the independent reading program, the Intensive Writing Course, the Life of Fred Pre-Algebra course (finished Physics, moving on to Biology and Economics), the Ron Paul Curriculum, art (water colors mostly), and Rosetta Stone Latin will all continue.  We’ll also continue to supplement with Kahn Academy, Hardcore History and iTunes University.  And the blog and podcast will continue as well.  In terms of changes, the only thing that got dropped was Liberty Classroom.  He tried a few of the courses and for whatever reason just didn’t find them all that engaging.  The subscription lasts for another 7 months and I like the courses a lot, so I’ll be taking a few via download and viewing on some of the international travel that I have coming up.  In terms of additions, we ordered a critical thinking course last fall, but never got around to starting it so that will be something he’ll spend some time on in the next few months.  We’re also might try a week or two unit study around WWII and cryptography (inspired by our New Years Day viewing of the Imitation Game).  I’m also trying to get him to start a small business, even if its for a week or two – we’ll see how that goes.  As for his own extras, he wants to try his hand and computer animation (2D to start) so he’ll be sketching out a few videos he want to produce.

All in all I think he made a took a good decision for him.  He did take the entrance exam for the local private schools in December (at my request – he didn’t fight too hard ;-)) and we’ll get the results in a month or so.  While we all took the decision to pursue home education for what would have been his last year of middle school seriously, I think the stakes are a little more significant after this year.  Not necessarily for High School itself, but rather what lies beyond.  I know there are plenty of great stories about home schoolers auto-didacts doing all sorts of great things in college or skipping college and getting on with it and doing great things in life.  But the “burden of proof” gets a little higher to get into college or to get someone to give you a shot either as an employee or as a business.  While I don’t buy into the piece of paper you get on HS graduation day really meaning much of anything (and honestly it means less and less each passing year), there are still lots of colleges and employers that put a lot of (misplaced) faith in that.  As I heard it told a while back “at least it shows you can show up.”  Absent that, he needs to develop a way to document that he can at least “show up” (and hopefully a lot more) so he can take whatever steps he wants to next.  Figuring that out is what the next 5 months are all about.

War on _____

For a short time today after listening to the latest in Ukraine, Syria and Somalia,  I thought what we really needed to declare was a war on war. Then I realized that the war on poverty gave us more poor people.  And the war on drugs gave us more drugs. And the war on terror gave us more terror. So maybe we need a peace on war. Yeah, that might work.

Memberships

I’m thinking about dropping some cash on a few memberships in the new year.  Nope, not gym memberships – I have enough in my basement and at my Krav class to keep me close enough to something resembling in shape.  Instead, I am thinking about memberships to Platform53 and/or The Manufactory.

I heard about Platform53 a few months ago and thought about joining then, but was too busy.  I started working from home about 6 months ago and while I still maintain an office in the closest Siemens building, there is hardly anyone ever there (or at least that was the case 6 months ago when I made my decision to rebase to my home office), so I hardly ever go in unless I have scheduled meetings (which of course may be a self-fulfilling prophecy…).  Anyway, one thing I miss (both when I was in the office office and certainly since I have been in my home office) is the random discussions that can lead to a great new idea, a solution to a long term problem, or just a new bit of news that I wasn’t aware of.  Looking at the design of the space at Platform53 and list of people that are members there, I think a membership there might fill that void.

As for The Manufactory, I had toyed with the idea a few years ago of taking some courses at a local community college on the use of manufacturing tools – mills, lathes, CNC, etc.  Although I went as far as actually registering at the CC, I never actually signed up for a course – it was just too big of a time and money commitment for me at the time (and still).  Then there was the question of what would I do with my new found knowledge and no tools to use it on.  The Manufactory seems to solve both of these issues – they offer very basic “how to” classes on the machines in their shop (available to non members even) and then access to the shop itself so you can actually use that knowledge on your projects.  There are a few things I would like to know how to do and a few things I would like to get made.  There may also be some cool things I could tie in with my son’s homeschool curriculum here as well.  Even better, they offer simple day passes, which is where I will probably start, since they are a little bit of a hike for me and distance alone may make my trips there fewer and far between.

What are you thinking about joining / trying / doing in the new year?

Facebook – I divorce thee, I divorce thee, I divorce thee

I’ve on the 29th day of my self imposed separation from Facebook and I think I’m about ready to call it permanent.  What I suspected has been proven: it was subtracting more than it was adding.  I had worried that I would loose touch, both with “friends” and with “the news”.  While there are some true friends that I only have connection with through Facebook (leave a comment or drop me an email if you want to be able to continue to connect), the reality has been I have been more connected and much more mindful in the last month, not less.

Other tech has filled the void (Twitter and Feedly mainly) but  in a way that makes me feel much more in control of both the content I consume (no filtering) and my time.  I will be the first to admit that I was verging on “facebook addicted” (several times I woke up and the first thing I wanted to do was check my status/feed from over night) so my results may be atypical, but if you’ve ever wondered where all your time goes – give it a try.  You might be surprised.

As of now I don’t plan to delete my account, I’m just not going to use it anymore (other than for auto posted updates when I add a new blog entry).  It’s a step on the path to two of my longer term objectives: having more “slow conversation” and becoming more mindful.

Podcasts are a gateway drug

The gateway drug theory has reared its ugly head.  For me, the gateway drug of podcasts has lead to the much more serious (and time consuming) drug of reading.  I’ve always considered myself a “reader”, but in the past few months I’ve gone into overdrive.  My amazon wish list has over 800 items on it and at least 700 of them are books.  Even though I have continued to add things to it, its actually been getting shorter rather than longer for the first time in five years.  I won’t give full reviews here, but here are some quick thoughts on the books I have finished (mostly)  in the last few months:

How to read a book – This is one of those I wish I would have heard about years ago (high school would have been nice).  While the title is a little ironic (there are audio versions too – that’s slightly less ironic), this is a practical how to that gives a method for how to get the most out of everything you read.  One of the most interesting points is that not every book deserves a careful reading – some you can (and should) just skim.

The Great Conversation – this is the first volume in the set of “Great Books of the Western World” that I picked up this past fall via Craigslist.  The relatively short intro book (a long essay really) documents the thinking that went into assembling the set, provides a few approaches to reading the books in the set, and makes an argument as to why anyone would want to bother reading what is admittedly some difficult material (hint: its the key to understanding most everything about western culture, society, history, etc).  Subsequently I picked up volume 2 and 3 (the so-called Syntopicon) and read a few entries on “big ideas like truth and happiness.  This is another one that I wish I had found earlier, but the author put me at ease when he wrote that you have to be old to understand most of it anyway ;-).

Meditations (50% complete) – it took me a while to understand what I was reading, but now that I do, this is one that I go back to in between reading others, which is one reason I am only halfway through.  I’ve been a “fan” of very modern 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and most specifically the concept of Circle of Influence vs. Circle of Concern.  I should have known that there is nothing new under the sun and some ancient Greeks and Romans had this figured out more than 2000 years ago.

Brave New World – In the next few months, I think I need to add a some more fiction.  Looking back over the past few months this is the only fiction title on my list, and its more than 50 years old – not that there is an expiration date on good fiction.  But also not to say that this is good fiction. I read 1984 when I was 11 in 1984.  Not sure that I got it all at the time, but I’ve read the companion book now and I can see the allure of claiming that Huxley wasn’t writing fiction…he was telling the future.

Liberalism In The Classical Tradition – this was another short (and even better free courtesy of mises.org) that a fellow forum member pointed me to when I was questioning some of the confusing labeling – left, right, liberal, conservative, etc.  This was a quick read that gives a good explanation of the real differences between a classical liberal and todays liberal progressive.

Tragedy and Hope (33% complete) – this is a tough read – worth it so far, but tough.  Its nominally a history book, but in reality it attempts to create a common thread (and justification) to over a century of Anglo-American foreign and domestic policies.  I’m only a about a third of the way through (it is 1,300 pages) but already I have gained lots of interesting ideas including the concept that the varying rate of technology diffusion is a primary driver of history, that there are different forms of capitalism and a seemingly natural progression from one to the next, that the dark ages were the impetus for the development of classical liberalism in the west (it didn’t develop in Russia or the East since they have always had rulers = no dark ages), the differences between wealth and claims on wealth and a solid explanation of why global governments love war so much (it allows them to add money to the economy without the correlated increase in goods since what is made is destroyed in the war and not available for consumer purchase anyway).  Again, a dense / tough read and something that I need to be in the mood to take some notes before I crack it open.

A Century of War – I heard about this one on a podcast a few days before I was going to leave for a quick trip to Spain and read it in two days, most of it somewhere over the Atlantic.  It was another free one courtesy of mises.org and although the title claims that it covers Lincoln, Wilson and FDR, it really goes deep on the first and last and just skims over Wilson’s role in getting the US into WWI.  I’m in the “no single explanation”” for historical events camp, but this book added some interesting perspective to the events that lead to the US fighting “defensive” wars as far back as the 1860s.

The Torture Report – this came out the day I was in transit to Spain. Fortunately I had some long layovers, so I was able to track down the PDF link and add it to my reading list before my devices were in airplane mode.  Not much to say here other than reading this made me triply sad: sad that these things were done in my name, sad that the focus of the report is the effectiveness of torture – not its morality, and sad that not more people will take the time to read the report.

Rubicon – this one has been on my reading list for more than 2 year – ever since I listened to the Hardcore History multi-part series on the fall of the Roman Republic.  I saw a cheap copy in good shape on a recent trip to Half Price Books so of course I bought it.  I ripped through this one in about a week.  It was the first “narrative history” book that I have read, and I have to say that I am fan of the format.  Although the author specifically admonishes the reader to avoid drawing parallels between the ancient Roman and the modern American empires, it was really tough to do, especially when there are some that are so obvious.

Day of Deceit – I heard about this one on the same podcast that pointed me towards A Century of War and found it on the same trip to HPB that netted me a copy of Rubicon.  This was an interesting read, but one that was hard to follow at some points and repetitive in others.  While there is no smoking gun that FDR knew that Pearl Harbor would be attacked well in advance of it happening, there is an interesting “preponderance” of circumstantial evidence that the author has done a solid job of assembling into an important document.

Economics in one lesson – another free one from mises.org.  This is a rather straightforward view of economics and the author gives the main point away on the very first page.  A good read if you want to understand the basics of where the Austrian school of economics is coming from.

Propaganda – this one was interesting.  Very much a product of its time in both language and content, the author provides a basic overview of what propaganda is and how to facilitate it.  Obviously, the word propaganda didn’t have the negative connotations it has today when this book was written, but whatever you call it, this book made me feel a little ashamed about my chosen profession (marketing).  If this is what the leading marketers were taking advice from in the 50s and 60s, I’m glad that I “came of age” in the Cluetrain era.

There are a few more books on my desk from my last trip to HPB that I’ll be digging into next and my lovely and talented wife gave me a BN.com gift card that I spent yesterday so there are another 10 on their way to my house as I type this.  Now I just need to find some reading glasses…

Going dark – part 2

It seems the topic for this series of posts just keeps expanding – I guess I added too much yeast ;-).  What started as a single post had to be broken up into what I thought would need to be four to let me get the first one out, and now I’ve been stewing on this second one for a few weeks and there is at least one other part I have decided to break out into a later post to let this one actually be done.  The topic for that one will become clear below.

This second in the “going dark” series focuses on what I’m doing / thinking about doing to mute or mask the signals I give off to marketers and others that might be interested in what I am doing online in my “full featured” computing environments, namely the various desktop and laptops I use.

To rehash an important point from the previous post: my aim here is NOT to become invisible nor do I think that I do anything that would be of particular interest to anyone.  It is a matter of principle.  I feel that I need to exercise my right to privacy, even if I know I wont be completely successful in doing so.  Its through the exercise of our rights that we actually claim them.  By taking some of the steps in this post I am making it clear that I expect to have a certain level of privacy, and the courts have made clear than expectations are a big part of what is ruled as private vs. public.

I look at the precautions here for privacy the same way that I look at arming myself for personal protection: do I expect to be able to defeat all attacks because I have regularly keep and bear arms?  Of course not.  But I do expect that because I exercise that right, that it puts me down in the column of people that actually care that they have that right.  I have an expectation of being able to defend myself because I make preparations to do so.  Through what’s listed here, I am declaring that I have en expectation of privacy, with full knowledge that if someone really wants to know what I am up to they can find out without too much trouble.

With that out of the way, lets start the meat of this post from the point that actually create the possibility of privacy issues: the network itself.  This breaks down to two aspects: from the home to the rest of the net and the subnet within the home.

First, from the home to the series of tubes, I am likely stuck with cable for internet access, but I’m not sure that matters since every large scale provider logs all traffic and as Snowden showed us they have no problem sharing with the NSA.  The two viable routes around provider logging that I have been able to find are VPN (costs $) or Tor.  I still need to dig into this a bit deeper, but from what I can tell, the VPN based approach creates a dependency on your VPN provider to not keep logs or give access to anyone that might want logs.  There are some VPN providers with long and solid track records, but it still seems to be a single point of failure.  On the other hand, Tor (in addition to being free) is a distributed anonymizing network so there is no one single point of failure.  However there are rumors that there are exit nodes on the Tor network (the nodes that get to see what you are requesting and have some info on who you are – at least your IP address) have been compromised or have even been setup by different governmental agencies around the world.  This one is a toss up still.  I will probably start with Tor since its free and I can setup a spare raspberry pi I have sitting around to act as a basic anonymizing machine for all traffic that connects through it and look more seriously at VPN if I cant get that to do what I want or if in testing it proves to be less private than I expect.  If you are interested in this approach but don’t want to build your own Onion Pi to do it, the market will provide.

Within the home, I am currently using a combination of wired and wireless connections.  There are a few “dumb” switches for the wired connections, but everything comes together in an Apple Airport Express before connecting to the cable modem.  Even before this recent privacy awakening, I’ve been getting more things on the wired network, mainly for performance reasons.  Wireless has been getting faster, but its not really or at least not consistently 1 Gbps.  The jury is still out on the Airport, but if it stays in the scheme it will be relegated to second tier status, with the brains of the network being filled by a dedicated machine running IPfire.  As long as I can keep that machine from being compromised, it should give me excellent control.  As I get more comfortable with it, I will setup all four zones – adding orange (DMZ for servers) and blue (wireless) after I get the red (internet) and green (wired intranet) working together.  I just need to find a cheap desktop in the pile somewhere to get that up and running.  I will probably get another raspi and build one of these to test network security – just for the fun of it ;-)

With a few steps to secure the network, next I need to secure what I connect to the network.  There will (hopefully) be a later post about mobile and other devices, so as I said before this post is focused on full featured computing = desktop or laptops.

I regularly use two PCs every day from my home office: my personal Mac Book Pro from mid 2009 and a newly issued Surface Pro 3 for work.  I am certain without even checking that my work machine is laden with all sorts of monitoring software and that every site visited and email sent goes down in my “permanent record”.  I am OK with all of that since that machine and everything on it is their property – they have every right (and I am sure I agreed to such monitoring in some employment agreement somewhere) to watch what goes on there.

So that leaves the personal MBP to worry about, and I’m going to look at it from two aspects: the hardware and the software.  From a hardware perspective there are a few “privacy points” I could gain by switching to a different platform, but I would likely have to build a PC from parts to skip including things like a camera, wifi or built in microphones or speakers.  Not sure its worth it, but am keeping it out there as an option.  The more obvious, but more difficult, switch I need to make to increase privacy is on the software side.  While its true that OSX is “related to” Linux, that doesn’t necessarily make it secure.  In fact, the folks in Cupertino seem to use that to build in privacy compromises (another example here).  The downside to any move away from OSX is the applications and overall user experience.  Try as I might I just haven’t been able to find an overall experience that approaches OSX on another software platform, Linux or Windows.

So whats the plan for base hardware and OS?  I think I will take a page out of the NSAs book and run two machines, or at least two separate environments.  In the Peace Revolution Podcast that kicked this whole thing off, there is an interview where someone from the NSA first realizes something is terribly wrong when he sees some of the documents Snowden leaked on his public / non-classified PC – he should normally only see those on his work / classified PC.  It was a side comment, but it got me to thinking that might not be a bad approach: leave my Mac for desktop focused applications (iMovie, iPhoto, Adobe, etc) with perhaps even an intermittent network connection (only when needed) and run a separate environment in a dual boot setup or maybe even on separate hardware for network tasks – email, browsing, blogging, etc.  There are security and privacy specific Linux builds out there, but I will probably start with something a bit simpler.

By using TAILS for my regular network related tasks, I also relieve another major privacy hole from my current compute stack: Chrome.  I made the switch to Chrome about 18 months ago.  I was lured by the speed and stayed for the cross platform syncing and plugins.  The fact that Google gets to see everything I do on the internet all the time was a minor inconvenience at first, but one that is more important in light of my current goal of creating an expectation of privacy.

Which (at 1500 words and counting) brings me to the part of this post that I mentioned at the start will have to be its own post for another day: what sites I use in that non-Chrome browser.  It does no good to erect privacy fence between me and my ISP, potential hackers and government agencies, if I then go out immediately login in to my Google account.  I am trying a one month hiatus from Facebook, motivated by my newfound interest in privacy as well as a test to see what I loose by not being there – and more importantly, what I gain (this post will still send a ping there – its automatic – I wasn’t on the site and my hiatus is still in effect).  Its also an easy test since its just one site and a few apps – none of which are “mission critical”.  Google’s application set is another story: search, email, docs, authenticator, apps, google+ and probably 10 more I can’t think of right now.  No attempt to establish an expectation of privacy on the internet is complete without a complete divorce from Google.  And thats going to take some thinking…and another post.