How online advertisers read your mind



The Economist explains

How online advertisers read your mind

VOYAGERS on the internet are often met with a sense of déjà vu. They land on a website they might never have been to before, only to see advertisements that show them something familiar: a pair of shoes they have shopped for, for example, or a hotel they have looked up but did not book. Are advertisers psychic, or snooping?

Technology means advertisements can be targeted more accurately than ever before. As people spend more time online, they share more of their data with websites, e-mail services and social networks. Google has a big business delivering advertisements related to the topics people search for, and facilitating targeted ads on websites owned by others. Social networks like Facebook and Twitter track people’s movements around the web and enable advertisers to reach users with tailored advertisements. Thousands of other firms track where people shop, what they buy online and infer other information about them, such as their job and income. One way they do this is through “cookies”, tiny snippets of data stored in users’ web browsers that allow websites to identify those users (not by name, but by a unique identifier). Firms can then track what sort of articles people read, where they shop, their location and other details, and can build up profiles of consumers.

This allows advertisers to reach people they think are most likely to be interested in hearing from them—which explains web users’ frequent sense of dĂ©jĂ  vu. For example, advertisers can decide to show ads only to people who have shopped on a particular website before but left before clicking “buy”. In industry parlance, this is called “retargeting”. Advertisers know the cookie IDs of users who have come to their website, or can buy that information from another firm, and then advertise only to those users. Increasingly this is done via an automated auction process, called “real-time bidding”. The website where an advertising slot needs filling sends information about the user and the page where the ad would run to an ad “exchange”, where advertisers decide whether they want to bid on that particular ad space, usually offering more if it is a user who has shown interest in their product in the past. The entire process happens in a fraction of a second.

Clever though that is, online advertising technology is becoming even more sophisticated. In addition to being able to reach particular users, advertisers can modify their ad to make it even more relevant to them. For example, if a user has browsed a carmaker’s website and looked at a particular model, the advertiser might put a picture of that type of car in the ad. In the winter, a fashion retailer might show images of heavy coats to users in New York, but sandals to people browsing in Hawaii. Advertisers now have more control, too, about the time of day their ads appear and which sort of devices they want to send ads to. They can infer income, for example, from what sort of device or operating system a consumer has: people with Apple computers tend to be richer than those with PCs. Advertising is not exactly a science yet, but it is becoming more of one.

Dig deeper:
A special report on technology and the advertising business (September 2014)
Everything people do online is avidly followed by advertisers and third-party trackers (September 2014)
The rise of an electronic marketplace for online ads is reshaping the media business (September 2014)

“Dirty Boulevard”….the American Dream?


Pedro lives out of the Wilshire Hotel
he looks out a window without glass
The walls are made of cardboard, newspapers on his feet
his father beats him ‘cause he’s too tired to beg

He’s got 9 brothers and sisters
they’re brought up on their knees
it’s hard to run when a coat hanger beats you on the thighs
Pedro dreams of being older and killing the old man
but that’s a slim chance he’s going to the boulevard

He’s going to end up, on the dirty boulevard
he’s going out, to the dirty boulevard
He’s going down, to the dirty boulevard

This room cost 2,000 dollars a month
you can believe it man it’s true
somewhere a landlord’s laughing till he wets his pants
No one here dreams of being a doctor or a lawyer or anything
they dream of dealing on the dirty boulevard

Give me your hungry, your tired your poor I’ll piss on ‘em
that’s what the Statue of Bigotry says
Your poor huddled masses, let’s club ‘em to death
and get it over with and just dump ‘em on the boulevard

Get to end up, on the dirty boulevard
going out, to the dirty boulevard
He’s going down, on the dirty boulevard
going out

Outside it’s a bright night
there’s an opera at Lincoln Center
movie stars arrive by limousine
The klieg lights shoot up over the skyline of Manhattan
but the lights are out on the Mean Streets

A small kid stands by the Lincoln Tunnel
he’s selling plastic roses for a buck
The traffic’s backed up to 39th street
the TV whores are calling the cops out for a suck

And back at the Wilshire, Pedro sits there dreaming
he’s found a book on magic in a garbage can
He looks at the pictures and stares at the cracked ceiling
“At the count of 3” he says, “I hope I can disappear”

And fly fly away, from this dirty boulevard
I want to fly, from dirty boulevard
I want to fly, from dirty boulevard
I want to fly-fly-fly-fly, from dirty boulevard

I want to fly away
I want to fly
Fly, fly away
I want to fly
Fly-fly away (Fly a-)
fly-fly-fly (-way, ooohhh…)
Fly-fly away (I want to fly-fly away)
fly away (I want to fly, wow-woh, no, fly away)

This is England


This Is England
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This Is England is a 2006 British drama film written and directed by Shane Meadows. The story centres on young skinheads in England in 1983. The film illustrates how their subculture, which has its roots in 1960s West Indian culture, especially ska, soul, and reggae music,[4][5] became adopted by white nationalists, which led to divisions within the skinhead scene. The film’s title is a direct reference to a scene where the character Combo explains his nationalist views using the phrase “this is England” during his speech.

In 1983, 12-year-old schoolboy Shaun gets into a fight at school after a classmate, Harvey, makes an offensive joke about his father, who died in the Falklands War. On his way home, Shaun comes across a group of young skinheads led by Woody, who feels sympathy for Shaun and invites him to join the group, among them Milky who is the only black skinhead in the group, Lol is Woody’s girlfriend, Gadget, Smell, Pukey, Kes, Kelly (Lol’s younger sister), Trev, and Meggy. They accept Shaun as a member, and he finds a big brother in Woody, while developing a romance with Smell, an older girl who dresses in a new wave style.

Combo, an older skinhead, returns to the group after a prison sentence, accompanied by a knife-wielding mustachioed man called Banjo. A charismatic but unstable individual with sociopathic tendencies, Combo expresses English nationalist and racist views, and attempts to enforce his leadership over the other skinheads. This leads the group to split. Combo is impressed by and identifies with Shaun, who in turn sees Combo as a mentor figure.

Shaun stays in Combo’s group instead of the apolitical skinheads led by Woody. Shaun goes with Combo’s group to a white nationalist meeting. After Pukey expresses doubt over the group’s racist and nationalistic politics, Combo throws him out of the group and sends him back to Woody. The gang then engages in racist antagonism of, among others, shopkeeper Mr. Sandhu, an Indian man who had previously banned Shaun from his shop.

Combo becomes depressed after Lol, whom Combo has loved since having sex with her one night, years before, rejects him. To console himself, Combo buys cannabis from Milky. At a party with Shaun and the other members of Combo’s group, Combo and Milky bond while intoxicated. Combo invites Milky to tell him about himself. Milky describes his many relatives and comfortable family life to Combo who listens with increasing jealousy. When Milky invites him to a family dinner, Combo becomes enraged and beats Milky into a coma whilst Banjo holds Shaun down, who watches in horror. Ashamed and devastated by what he has done to Milky, Combo then turns hysterical, violently dragging the others out of the room and glassing Banjo in the face, covering Meggy in blood. Shaun returns, and he and Combo are shown crying and panicking whilst dragging Milky to a nearby hospital.

The film cuts forward to Shaun in his room brooding about the whole event, with his mother Cynthia (Jo Hartley) assuring Shaun that Milky will be alright. Shaun is then shown walking near the beach and throwing his Saint George Flag into the sea.

“This is England” (song by The Clash)

Written in late 1983, the song is about the state of England at the time.[2]

The song comprises a list of the problems in England during the early years of the Thatcher administration, addressing inner-city violence, urban alienation, life on council estates, high unemployment rate, England’s dying motorcycle industry, racism, nationalism, and police corruption—as well as two very common subject matters for mid-1980s left-wing songwriters: the Falklands War; and the consumerist, subservient mind-set of many English people at the time.

The song begins with the squeaky voice of a market hawker shouting, “four for a pound your face flannels; three for a pound your tea towels!” It is unclear whether it is the voice of a child or of an adult that has been sped-up to raise its pitch.

I hear a gang fire on a human factory farm
Are they howling out or doing somebody harm
On a catwalk jungle somebody grabbed my arm
A voice spoke so cold it matched the weapon in her palm

This is England
This knife of Sheffield steel
This is England
This is how we feel

Time on his hands freezing in those clothes
He won’t go for the carrot
They beat him by the pole
Some sunny day confronted by his soul
He’s out at sea, too far off, he can’t go home

This is England
What we’re supposed to die for
This is England
And we’re never gonna cry no more

Black shadow of the Vincent
Falls on a Triumph line
I got my motorcycle jacket
But I’m walking all the time
South Atlantic wind blows
Ice from a dying creed
I see no glory
When will we be free

This is England
We can chain you to the rail
This is England
We can kill you in a jail

Those British boots go kick Bengali in the head
Police sit watchin’
The newspapers been read
Who cares to protest
After the air attack of flares <<<<<
Out came the batons and
The the biggest one they send <<<<<

This is England
The land of illegal dances
This is England
Land of a thousand stances
This is England
This knife of Sheffield steel
This is England
This is how we feel
This is England
This is England

“The Book Thief”


The Book Thief

The Book Thief is narrated by Death, who tells us the story of Liesel Meminger. It’s January 1939, and Liesel, who is about ten-years-old, is traveling by train with her mother and her little brother Werner. Liesel and Werner are being taken to the small town of Molching, just outside of Munich, Germany, to live with foster parents Hans and Rosa Hubermann. Werner dies on the train of mysterious causes having to do with poverty, hunger, cold, and lack of medical treatment. Before Liesel arrives in Molching, she attends her brother’s burial in a snowy graveyard. She steals The Grave Digger’s Handbook from the cemetery after it falls from a young grave digger’s coat. The kicker is, Liesel can’t read.

Liesel is reluctant to enter the Hubermann house on Himmel Street, but is coaxed by her foster father, Hans, to whom she takes an immediate liking. She’s not sure about Rosa, though. Liesel begins school, but suffers because she doesn’t know how to read yet. She also meets Rudy Steiner, who is soon to be her best friend, not to mention her partner in book and food thievery.

One night, Hans finds The Grave Digger’s Handbook hidden in Liesel’s mattress after her usual nightmare of seeing her brother dying on the train. This is what inspires him to begin teaching her to read. When Liesel learns to write, she begins composing letters to her mother, but these letters go unanswered. Finally, we find out that her mother has disappeared.

Liesel becomes aware of what it really means to be living in Nazi Germany when a book burning is organized to celebrate Adolph Hitler’s birthday on April 20, 1940. She finds the mound of literature being burned fascinating yet disturbing. Now that she can read and write, she has come to see great value in books and words. When Liesel hears a Nazi spokesman calling for death to communists as well as Jews, a light bulb goes off. The only thing she knows about her father is that he was accused of being a communist. She realizes that Hitler is likely behind her father’s disappearance, her brother’s death, and her mother’s disappearance.

When Hans confirms her suspicions after the book burning, Hitler becomes Liesel’s sworn enemy. This is a dangerous conflict for a young girl in Nazi Germany. Hans warns her against voicing her anti-Hitler opinions in public. This conflict helps drive Liesel to steal her second book, The Shoulder Shrug, from the burning pile of books.

Turns out that Erik Vandenburg, a Jewish man, saved Hans’s life during World War I, giving up his own life in the process. After the war, Hans visited Erik’s widow and young son. Now, that son is 22 and is hiding from the Nazis. His name is Max, and Hans is his last hope for survival. Upon learning of his plight, Hans readily helps arrange for Max’s journey to Himmel Street. When the desperately starving and exhausted young man arrives, Hans and Rosa hide him in their home. At first, Liesel isn’t sure what to think of Max, but they soon make fast friends. Meanwhile, Max’s arrival and his suffering produce a change in Rosa, for the better. Liesel is amazed to see her courage and her softness.

Hiding a Jewish person in your home during World War II is one of the most brave and frightening things a German person could do. It means a constant state of paranoia for all involved. For Max, it means extreme guilt for putting the lives of those he’s come to love in danger. But, above all, it means friendship for the residents of the Hubermann home, and complicated friendship at that.

Liesel has also entered into a complicated almost-friendship with the mayor’s wife, Ilsa Hermann. Ilsa saw Liesel steal the The Shoulder Shrug. She also pays Rosa to do her laundry. When Liesel comes to Ilsa’s house on laundry visits, she invites Liesel into the library to read. When Ilsa has to stop using Rosa’s services, Liesel begins stealing books from her, though Ilsa doesn’t seem to mind.

Everything changes in October of 1942 when “The parade of Jews” (55.4) comes through Molching on the way to the nearby concentration camp Dachau . Hans feels compelled to offer one of the Jewish prisoners a piece of bread and is whipped along with the prisoner by a Nazi guard. Now Hans is desperately afraid the Nazis will search his house and find Max, so he sends Max away that very night. His house is never searched, and Hans berates himself constantly, waiting to be punished for his mistake.

One day, Liesel sees the Gestapo (Nazi secret police) on Himmel Street, and Hans thinks they are coming for him. In fact, they are coming for Rudy, who has recently shown himself to be a great student and athlete. The Gestapo wants to take Rudy to a special training school. His parents protest and essentially make a trade. Rudy stays home, but his father, Alex Steiner, is conscripted into the military and has to leave home. Around this time, Hans is also conscripted, as punishment for giving the Jewish man bread.

With Hans and Max gone, Liesel does her best to go on. She reads to the residents of Himmel Street in the bomb shelter during air raids, thieves with Rudy, and helps Rosa. One night, Rosa shows her the book Max left for her, a book written on painted-over pages of Adolph Hitler’s book Mein Kampf. It’s called The Word Shaker and includes a story by the same name.

In February 1943, just after Liesel’s fourteenth birthday, Liesel and Rosa get word that Hans is coming home. He broke his leg in a bus accident, and his sergeant is transferring him back to Munich.

In August of 1943, Liesel sees Max again. He’s marching through Molching to Dachau. She walks with him in the procession. Liesel learns that he was captured some six months earlier, about five months after he left the house on Himmel Street. The Nazi guards don’t take well to Liesel’s courageous display, and Liesel and Max are both whipped. Rudy stops Liesel from following Max any further and possibly saves her life.

Soon after, Liesel decides to give up books and Ilsa Herman’s library. Ilsa presents her with a blank book, and Liesel begins writing the story of her life, called The Book Thief. She writes in the basement, and she’s doing just this when Himmel Street is bombed. Everybody she loves dies while they sleep. In despair over their deaths, Liesel drops her book, but it’s picked up by Death. Since Liesel has nobody left, the police hold her, not sure what to do with her. Soon Ilsa Hermann arrives and takes her in for a time. Alex Steiner comes home soon after, and Liesel spends time with him.

As the novel comes to a close, we first learn that Liesel has died after living a long and happy life with a husband, kids, and grandkids. Then we learn Max survived the concentration camp, and he and Liesel reunited at the end of World War II. But, we don’t learn what happens to Max after that. The novel ends with Death giving Liesel back her book, The Book Thief, as he’s taking her soul away from her body.