Wednesday, January 8, 2020

A Tale of Two Louies

My blogging compatriot George Tannenbaum writes, quite derisively, about the new surveillance economy. He takes issue with big corporations mining his personal data, packaging his personal data and then selling his personal data.

I say, "have at it."

I've got nothing to hide. If Amazon or Google wants to know about my preference for medium roasted coffee, I'm all for it. Light roasted coffee doesn't do anything for me. And the dark roasted stuff has me running for the Pepcid AC.

Similarly, if they want to know about my heartburn medicine preferences, I like Pepcid AC over the ineffective Tums or the foul tasting Gaviscon. Even worse than the taste is the gummy paste like substance it creates in your mouth after chewing. I think I'd rather suck on a tube of bathroom caulk than go near the Gaviscon.

The point is -- wait was the point? -- oh yeah, I don't mind these big data companies knowing what's on my mind. Or even what's running through my blood.

Last year, I did the 23andme spit in the tube test. The initial results were rather predictable. But now the testing is proving quite fascinating.

About a month and a half ago I got a message, out of the blue, and from far across the blue waters of the North Atlantic, from a young woman in London. She shares my mother's maiden name. And DNA suggests we are third cousins.

I don't have a large, or particularly functional, family so the connection was quite pleasant. Even more interesting is the fact that she has been assembling her family tree and suspects we might be connected via my father's Russian/Jewish side. Apart from Mark Knopfler and myself, there just aren't many people running around the planet with the Scottish/Jewish/Eastern European DNA cocktail.

As if that weren't enough, I also got an email, this time more local, from a woman who is my second cousin. We chatted back and forth and found out we both come from the same great grandfather, Abraham Siegel, a tailor from Bialystock in Poland. He was married to Sarah, a first cousin (ewww), in a marriage arranged by a matchmaker.

I'm literally living in a spin off from Fiddler on the Roof.

But here's the funniest (at least to me) part of the story. Abraham and Sarah had 7 children. When they fled the Cossacks, hopped on a rickety boat, ate jars of creamed herring for days on end and landed on Ellis Island, they spoke little or no English. They weren't thrown in wire cages, like today's refugees. But they were given English sounding names.

So when the Irish intake officer was tasked with assigning my grandfather and his older brother, originally Lazar and Labner, Officer McGuillicuddy (who had no doubt been drinking) simply called them Big Louie and Little Louie.

I love that story.

Call me crazy, but if that's the price I have to pay for the big tech companies to mine my data, and know about my excessively sweaty big fat feet, my preference for Beefy T undershirts, and my voracious consumption of news, so be it, I'm more than willing to pony up the 1's and the 0's.

1 comment:

Berk said...

Chengdu is the startup lab in China where your DNA was likely sent. That's not disconcerting at all. I'll make you a tin foil hat so the surveillance satellite with your name on it won't see you.