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Suit Yourself™ International Magazine #27: Liberty

  

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Suit Yourself™ International Magazine #27: Liberty

 

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LIBERTY

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This is the 27th in our articles series and I hope this information is helpful!

All previous articles in the series can be found in our Library and in the Magazine Archives.  Upon request, reprint permission and an addendum of substantiating resources are available for all magazine articles. When requesting reprint permission or addenda, please include the issue date and full issue title. All magazine articles are copyright © Debra Spencer, Suit Yourself ™ International. All rights reserved. ISSN 2474-820X. 

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"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
-- Benjamin Franklin (1706 - 1790), Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759.

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Courage, Wisdom, Integrity and Honour are not to be measur'd by the Sphere assigned them to act in, but by the Trials they undergo, and the Vouchers they furnish: And if so manifested, need neither Robes, or Titles to set them off.
-- Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759. Introduction (pp. 1-5)

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Will Rogers performing lasso lariat rope tricks. 

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Everyone wonders why things are more difficult now that we have technology, when technology was supposed to make things easier. Nope. Technology was never interested in making things easier or more convenient;  it is designed to make money for corporations, not convenience for individuals. 

You may or may not realize that everything you do online is tracked; the data is collected, mined, and used, and it is not being used in your best interests, but rather to further some other body's agenda, You, and the intimate details about you, your actions, choices, purchases, emails, typing,  word choices, those with whom you interact and anyone you contact, all this information is actively being collected and used to further another party's agenda, under the umbrella that they know better than you do what's good for you and to persuade you to comply. While thinking you're making informed choices, your options have been pre-selected, prices altered, and alternatives hidden. 

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Will Rogers performing more lasso lariat rope tricks. 

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The United States has no regulation regarding online data collection, now commonly referred to as Artificial Intelligence, "AI" for short. There is no regulatory body guiding the safe development of this potentially omnipotent technology nor is there much awareness of AI or insight into the dangers. My involvement with AI began in the early 1970's; I'm ashamed to say this is one of my areas of expertise. Since I also have an online store, I felt morally compelled to write a bit about AI,  at least from the point of view of how it affects you when buying online.  

Belief is not required. Fraud is nothing new; however, in the past it mostly operated with somewhat less of a comprehensive understanding of the nature of humankind. The American Dream grows up greedy for gain without effort, wanting something for nothing. Artificial Intelligence is the perfect corporate tool.  

Corporations, for the most part, deal only in legal frauds; until Artificial Intelligence gave corporations a new tool for extending their reach, corporations were to be feared much less than enterprising individuals, who usually can succeed only by dipping into the deep resources of the pits of illegality.  

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Things aren't what they seem. Tom and Jerry; Faux Mouse Hole. 1940, William Hanna and Joseph Barbera.

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Corporate management and staff are individuals like us, with consciences and feelings, but they're only cells in a body; they're not the corporation. However, the corporation is not an individual but a composite entity for whom conscience and feeling have no point. Unlike an individual, its' sole reason for existence is to make a profit for the owners, who are never the people you meet when you deal with the corporation. No corporation is interested in your welfare; it's just hungry, all the time, insatiably.  The servants of any corporation with which you deal may have concern for you if that's their nature, and they'll be encouraged to simulate concern if that's good for business, but concern will never get in the way of business. I repeat: no corporation is interested in your welfare; don't expect it to be.

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The Food Chain: ostrich eats alligator. Terry Gilliam for Monty Python's Flying Circus.

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Before Artificial Intelligence, it was only necessary to be wary of corporations when you had to deal with them, and you could be fine. Not any more. Artificial Intelligence, and automation, is fast replacing all of the human individual staff and management cells of the corporate body, and unlike individuals, AI is a composite corporate entity for whom conscience and feeling have no significance. 

AI is "smart"; it has access to billions of people's personal data, at great depth, it is programmed to "make sense" from this, and to take actions on the results based on its' programming.  It subtly alters everything.  

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Artificial Intelligence Subtly Alters Everything. Les monstres issues du folkore japonais: Ni No Kuni.

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To exploit us, AI doesn't need to understand human nature. All AI does is carry out the agenda of the programmers creating it. AI operates by accumulating facts as actions, sorts these ("analyses"), and superimposes its' programmer's patterns. The programmers have taught the program to respond to, i.e. exploit, any situation wherein it perceives an opportunity to achieve the programmer's agenda. Where AI can't find an immediate way to exploit a situation, AI is programmed to create a way using the information at hand, and resources allocated to it.  This is what it is programmed to do.

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Corporate Appetite. Terry Gilliam for Monty Python's Flying Circus. 

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The real basis for AI began in the early 20th century, when Edward Bernays derived his world-changing advertising persuasion principles from his uncle Sigmund Fraud. The mechanics for AI was understood by the mid-20th century, by the time Alan Turing broke the Enigma code. There is an article in the February 2001 issue of Scientific American titled "The Science Of Persuasion" by Robert L. Cialdini; this has become a best seller and is available as a book. He's distilled the mass persuasion process into six essential principles that can be exploited by AI and the internet, to persuade people to behave as desired. The principles can be manipulated to further corporate, economic, and political objectives, none of which may be yours. For more details, read the book or article.

These principles are:
Reciprocation (mutual benefit - offering a free gift so by accepting it, you'll feel obligated), 
Consistency (people wish to appear consistent in their behavior), 
Social validation (others do it), 
Liking (friendly actions and beautiful people, whose names or charities have been changed to make them seem familiar), 
Authority (people believe authority as those who should know, so using faux authority credentials or using those with credentials to make slanted recommendations), 
and Scarcity (fear you might miss out).

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Obey! Never Trust Your Own Eyes. Believe What You Are Told.

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With AI as the laboratory, the Internet supplies AI with the perfect exploitation Petri dish. Remember, anything you read or hear from a commercial source (and this includes Google, Facebook, and any other corporation) is designed for a purpose that is not yours, and may well be more lie than truth.  Don't believe any of it; remember its' purpose. Corporate sponsorship is all-pervasive, often undisclosed, and never impartial.  Don't be paranoid, but remember they are all out to get you, and be careful. AI is smart, crafty, subtle, and with access to billions of people's personal data, it's getter smarter and better at persuading you all the time.   

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 Searching... You will never know what's missing.

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One cannot outsmart it, and at present, there is nothing to stop it; one can only try to avoid it. This of course depends on your giving credence to this threat. By accepting that the threat to your liberty is genuine, serious, and very real, and far more dangerous than you want to believe, you will begin to detect some of it, learn about it, and find ways to protect yourself.  By 'liberty' here I mean your rights and ability to think clearly, make your own informed decisions, and to act in your own best interests; to choose without your choices being controlled.  As the saying goes, DUCK!
 

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Unexpected Directions.  Sir Knight And The Snail.  Terry Gilliam for Monty Python's Flying Circus. 

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Corporations aren't the only problem, now that AI helps them make money off the amateur fraud from those enterprising individuals who used to succeed only by dipping into the deep resources of the pits of illegality.  

As things stand now, anyone can get in the online selling door without any expertise at all in what they're selling. Getting in the online selling door is not a sufficient condition to successfully sell online, but the internet will tell anyone who listens that it is.   In fact, once in the door, the casual 'want ad' seller is out of luck, because you can't actually play the selling game without serious investment capital, deep expertise, long range objectives, and long term commitments. As I said, corporations want to be fed.

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Anyone Can Get In The Door.  Juan Jijako, gare au poisson.

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The General Public is deeply convinced that selling online, or selling anything anywhere for that matter, is quick, easy, cheap, and that anyone can do it. Amateurs prove this, but rarely sell anything valuable at a price that it brings when sold by professionals.  Amateurs, being amateurs, don't notice the difference between their results and those of professionals; after all, their things sell. They jack up prices to make things seem valuable, while knowing very little about them.  Their things may sell, but for less and less often, and since they're usually selling commodities, their sales are subject to market fluctuations, marketplace coercion, and they have few repeat customers.  Amateur selling is more visible today than ever before and it's one reason the Public believes that selling requires absolutely no money, no skill, no expertise, and no class connections. Things just sell themselves, and anyone who sells for their living is one of these lower class amateurs, because after all, nothing's required to do it.  

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Distractions Keep You & Your Attention Busy, Away From What's Really Important. Daffy Duck and Bugs Bunny, 1937, Warner Brothers, Merrie Melodies and Looney Tunes.

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This is obviously ridiculous, yet the Public persists in believing the fallacy.  Every online selling site and service deliberately encourages, promotes, and perpetuates this fantasy, that selling online is cheap and easy; no entry requirements. Without exception, they use the classic Bait-And-Switch to lure the gullible. 

After all, everyone has stuff they don't want, can't use, or can't give away, and there may be no incentive or advantage to donate their stuff.  As long as the Public can be manipulated into remaining gullible, corporations see money growing on trees.

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Anyone Can Do It.  Harry Whittier Frees, photograph, circa 1910, The Yard Sale.

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To sell online, you're told all you need is a cell phone, or library access to the internet via a fairly recent big computer. Your cell phone provides the camera. You can buy expensive monthly subscriptions providing everything else.  These services have all the required expensive software, safe big server computers, protection certificates, online experts, and comprehensive FAQ revealing all the marketing and sales info you'll ever need to sell successfully to the public online. These services make their money primarily from suckers entering the game, not on serious Game players. Plenty of gullible new suckers are born every minute, and these companies do their utmost to keep 'em coming. In fact, basic requirements preclude most simple and poorer folk from playing the game at all, even if they can get their foot in the door. These sites make money regardless of whether or not the items sell.

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All You Need Is A Phone And Internet Access. Harry Whittier Frees, photograph, circa 1920, Telephone.

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This 'installed' public perception, of internet selling as 'lowest class', endures in the public's mind because it's not wrong. There are good reasons for the Public distrust of the internet, not the least is the tracking and procurement of personal data.  The problem is compounded by a general lack of reliable standards. Who would be trustworthy enough to establish the standards?  If medical research were more trustworthy, we would have better guidelines.

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If Medical Research Were More Trustworthy, We Would Have Better Guidelines. Tom and Jerry; Jerry eats the UhOh! cheese. 1940, William Hanna and Joseph Barbera.

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Many trades in the United States don't issue credentials, i.e. the Antiques trades and businesses, plus many crafts such as construction, welding, wood working and landscaping. University or trade degrees and / or membership in a trade organization is no indication of actual level of expertise or experience, and neither are resumes, reviews, and references.  Trade membership indicates primarily that the registered business is more likely than not to be legitimate, but it's no guarantee of legitimacy; it does indicate they can afford membership. Many groups, organizations, and online sites have closed memberships where only current members can sponsor new members. While this gives you some idea of the group as a whole, membership provides no actual information on individual members, or substantiation of any individual member's expertise, nor is that its' intention. 

Surreptitious background checks are often unreliable; trade references, reviews, and personal recommendations are highly subjective or spurious.  When choosing between two unfamiliar vendors who are otherwise equal, it's well established that any hint at all of previous familiarity, even via an ad seen in passing or via a recommendation, will sway your decision towards one and away from the other; the decision is not rational.  Read the books by Dan Ariely.  

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Information Can Be Spurious. The Pink Panther, Secret Agent. Created by DePatie-Freleng Enterprises; character designed by Hawley Pratt and Friz Freleng.

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The result is that even rational evaluation attempts of sites and sellers is based on using your own expertise, and unless you personally have the same or a higher level of expertise than they do, they have the advantage over you.  When you're at a disadvantage and know it, as is often the case,  you'll choose to conduct business with those who claim to offer you some protection of your interests, over those sites that do not.  Again, this is not a rational decision, because you may or may not have direct experience with how reliable these protections actually prove to be when you need them. Remember that no corporation is interested in your welfare; don't be fooled.

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When You're At A Disadvantage, Choices Appear Complicated. The Figure Eight Knot.

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Online marketplaces are autocracies, ostensibly as their solution to the challenge of verifying and monitoring billions of international sellers providing the commodities sold on these sites. However, it is Artificial Intelligence that makes these sites possible and profitable, and autocratic.  Sellers on these sites submit to autocratic procedures, regulations, policies, and rules, ostensibly to create a homogeneous and safe buyer environment.  Marketplaces value customers over sellers; their working principle is that sellers are replaceable and fungible. Various rules and regulations combine to challenge the participation by certain groups of people, without ever openly discriminating against them or openly excluding them. For example, a site may charge fees for listing photos of items for sale on their site, and simultaneously require such photographs to be either hosted on their servers (for a fee) or on a comparable server, while knowing full well that the expense of such a comparable server is not a viable alternative for many. Communications between buyers and sellers are tightly controlled, to ensure buyer loyalty remains with the site and not with the seller. As I said above, corporations, for the most part, deal only in legal frauds.  Many marketplaces actively encourage fraud by refusing to actively discourage it; doing so makes them more money, and the sellers are left with the loss. Every sale on these sites is controlled and influenced using AI. Sellers are sitting targets, and are lucky to clear any amount over their monthly amount due the site.

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Marketplace Sellers Must Comply.  Graveyard coercion. Terry Gilliam for Monty Python's Flying Circus.

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Autocratic enforcement works to a great extent with commodity sales, but ultimately fails to provide a safe platform for buying of one of a kind products, particularly those whose purchase requires the buyer to have extensive expertise or knowledge. This is why you find very little genuine European fine art and antique furniture over 100 years of age for sale online, even via the established auction houses' online sites. Superb photos, guarantees and 'free returns', while adequate for amateurs, cannot substitute for a knowledgable in-person exam. 

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Far away is close at hand in images of elsewhere. -- The Master of Paddington.

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Marketplaces conflate one of a kind product markets with the commodities markets, and this AI strategy works with the majority of buyers. It fails with knowledgable buyers, but unfortunately, knowledgable buyers are the minority.  The uneducated masses are easily persuaded, and vastly outnumber those who know. Marketplaces have been very successful at using AI to manipulate mass market buyers into valuing and paying for mass produced things at prices on a par with, and in some cases higher than, genuine rare one of a kind products; they've also simultaneously succeeding in devaluing, in the public's mind, the rarer, more intrinsically valuable items that are far more difficult to find and sell.  These AI-run marketplaces are increasingly taken as market authority to set prices elsewhere, yet they are patently false barometers. Their biased results and prices are the result of their own agenda and can't reflect an honest or efficient market; they spread their agenda in this way, by seeming to be an accurate authority.

It is increasingly difficult in this climate for knowledgeable buyers and educated genuine sellers to find one another and to conduct business.

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Investigate! Sherlock Holmes flies.  Terry Gilliam for Monty Python's Flying Circus.

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AN EXAMPLE

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Remember, question everything you read online, including this article. Everything you do online, on your cell phone, on your computer, absolutely everything you type, every button you select, every site you visit, every email you send, every phone call you make, every choice you make, every purchase you make, your bank balance, credit cards, outstanding debt, property value if you own property,  every search you do, every page you look at, how long you look, where you go next, every time you back up and correct your spelling, every field you fill in , every file you've typed, saved, and stored on your computer, tablet or phone, every gesture you make inside a browser, on your desktop of your computer, every swipe you make on your cell phone screen,  all this data is being collected, stored, sorted, and used in ways you never imagined to do things you never intended. 

The ads you see, the prices you see, the item choices you're given, the sites you're shown, and the data you're shown on those sites, all this is programmed by those sites based on everything you've done, are doing, and they're persuading you to do.

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Gotcha!

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To give you some idea of how all pervasive this is, I'll relate one personal example. Online research for most topics has become so inane that I rarely use this method anymore however it's use seemed reasonable in this instance.  We have a substantial amount of vintage cotton denim in storage in one of our warehouses and after reading a Wall Street Journal article about a strong revival of interest in it, I was curious about the current retail market for it.

To help you appreciate the result, I'll give you some background. I'm at best a perfunctory shopper. I eschew shopping of any kind, use the internet as little as possible to buy anything, and don't get store catalogs in the mail. I never give out personal information, over the internet or anywhere where I am not forced to give it. Using a list of approximately 100 online USA retailers for clothing and housewares, I went to each store's home page by typing the store name in the browser window. Once there, I typed the word 'denim' into their search engine on the home page, noted the results, and then left the home page. I then cleared the browser and started again with another store name. Of the 100 stores, 96 of them listed denim only as blue jeans,  2 stores had denim jackets in addition to blue jeans, 1 store offered upholstery in denim, and 1 store offered a denim duvet for the bed and a denim dog coat. In addition to clearing the browsers between visiting each store, I cleared the browsers when I was done.  I did nothing else on any of these sites, I didn't look at individual pages on any of these sites, nor have I ever shopped at any of these sites. I didn't remain on any site longer than 60 seconds.

Within 7 days of this, I received 24 postcards in the mail to my building's street address offering discounts on denim jeans , all stated the offer was only good if the purchase was made within the next week or two. The discounts ranged between 10% off and 40% off the online retail price.  All the postcards were send to the business street address, state and zip code. Clearly, these sites all derived my street address from knowing my IP address and from information they gained from my IP provider without my permissions.  In addition, I received by mail six different catalogs from six other sites, all bulk mailed to the street address. 

All this, just from VISITING a site's home page. 

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All this, just from VISITING a site's home page.  The Stateroom Scene in the Marx Brothers movie A Night At The Opera.

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Granted the retail clothing business is huffing and puffing these days, but this AI behaviour resembles an aggressive Big Bad Wolf, come to steal my Liberty soul after blowing down my building with postcards and catalogs, and I want nothing to do with any of this.  

I'm sorry, but you can't have my rights; I'm not done with using them.

When was the last time you actually read a site's Privacy Policy?

I now do my research offline.


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Research Offline.   Searching.....

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MY ADVICE

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Buy only from transactions you initiate, online or off, by entering a store, making a phone call, writing a letter, or filling in an order form, and give no excess information when you do. If you're making a phone call and there's any pause, your call is being tracked. 

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Don't Wait While You're Tracked; Hang Up.  Our Gang's General Spanky, produced by Hal Roach starring General George "Spanky" McFarland.

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Hang up on any unsolicited phone calls that you happen to answer, immediately, if not sooner. Technology was rude to call you unsolicited in the first place; hang up.   Never trust anyone on the phone, never buy anything unsolicited, and never give out any information to anyone who calls you. If you initiated the call, what you do is up to you.  

The internet encourages fraud.  Many sites are simply false shells, and in this economy, even sites for larger trusted physical stores often do not in fact have the items in stock that they're listing for sale.  My advice is to not to buy anything online that you can buy locally.  If you find a local chain has something listed online that you want, call and check stock availability. If it's in stock,  have it shipped to your local franchise and physically pick it up there.  Beware of being pressured to buy; anything needed and used by most people will be around for awhile. At the slightest sign of any problem, just drop the whole thing.    Remember that by being lazy, you're lack of support is killing local commerce, and by using the internet instead, you are, in fact, trading Liberty for Convenience, but it is far more convenient for some corporation, not for you, and this is no bargain. You are not 'saving trees' when you do your banking online!  No drug company is interested in your health, either. And beware of paying for gas with a credit card run through the 'vending machine' device that's also dispensing the gas; inflated charges are common with these so be sure to get a receipt and to verify that the receipt matches your credit card bill.

If a company cannot provide you with an address and phone number that can be located and verified, you do not know who you are dealing with! Any individual with whom you do business should be willing to meet personally with you and should have an address and phone number that can be located and verified.  Check with the Better Business Bureau or with someone who has dealt with them. Remember, any supplied referrals and references, especially those found online, can be spurious, and any information from a commercial source should not be trusted. Never divulge credit card number or other data, except possibly to known and trusted sites with secure communications.

As Will Rogers said, "It's not what you look at that matters; it's what you see."

Making informed choices is based on having accurate information with which to make those choices. If the information is not accurate, or not thorough, or you are never aware of information, choices, options, or opinions, and if what you see is changed by others so you only see what they intend you to to see, then you cannot make truly informed choices, and you are in fact not making any choices at all.  Others, whose agenda you don't know, are strongly influencing your choices for you, and making certain that you don't know it. 


IS CENSORSHIP WORKING?

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"The Liberty Bell is the most venerated object in the park, a national icon. It is not as beautiful as some other things that were in Independence Hall in those momentous days two hundred years ago, and it is irreparably damaged. Perhaps that is part of its almost mystical appeal. Like our democracy it is fragile and imperfect, but it has weathered threats, and it has endured." - Professor Constance M. Greiff, in her book tracing the history of Independence National Historical Park, page 14. 

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I sign our magazine articles "See Into The Invisible". Thanks for reading.

Best Wishes, 
Debra Spencer

All Content is © Debra Spencer, Suit Yourself™ International. Technical Library FAQ Index ISSN 2474-820X. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce in part or in whole without express written consent. Thank you.
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All Content is ©2019 Debra Spencer, Appanage™at www.suityourself.international Suit Yourself ™ International, 120 Pendleton Point, Islesboro Island, Maine, 04848, USA 44n31 68w91 Technical Library FAQ Index ISSN 2474-820X. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce in part or in whole without express written consent. Thank you.

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All Content is ©2019 Debra Spencer, Appanage™at www.suityourself.international Suit Yourself ™ International, 120 Pendleton Point, Islesboro Island, Maine, 04848, USA 44n31 68w91 Technical Library FAQ Index ISSN 2474-820X. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce in part or in whole without express written consent. Thank you.
Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm. ~ Winston Churchill