Category Archives: Sometimes It is What It Is

Is Alexa Spying On Me?

It’s a question we here at Common Sense Conspiracy get a lot these days.  All of these cool AI-driven devices are becoming popular, and naturally, people start to wonder just what else they might be up to.

Devices that include Amazon’s Alexa are ultra-convenient because all you have to do is just say her name (or the name you assign to her) out loud, and then she is ready to fulfill your every command.  The obvious problem there is that this must mean that Alexa is listening all of the time, or this kind of functionality would not be possible.  So, is Alexa spying on you in her downtime?  Collecting data to sell you more Amazon products?  Worse, sending information to the government?  Let’s have a look at the scenarios.

What’s In It For Alexa?

For starters, let’s look at this conspiracy theory from the way we approach a lot of these.  What’s in it for Alexa and Amazon to listen in to what is going on at your house 24/7?

Well, that’s an easy one.  Remember, the Internet and companies like Amazon revolve around advertising and trying to figure out what you want to buy before you even know what you want to buy.  Your conversations open up this portal for them.  While Amazon will try to tell you that Alexa is only listening for the keyword that activates her and that’s all, it’s mighty hard to believe that a company that thrives on mining the Internet to find out what you are looking for would take a pass on that treasure trove of information.

While the CSC certainly cannot prove this is the case, it is our opinion that Amazon probably at least uses Alexa’s listening capabilities to at least capture keywords for future advertising.  There are plenty of stories of people getting emails or seeing Google ads for items that they had never actually searched for, but only mentioned to their spouse in their homes.  This would be a textbook example of how Alexa could benefit Amazon’s quest to sell you more stuff all the time.

But Isn’t There Privacy Laws About Stuff Like This?

Sure, there are laws, but when you first get your pretty little Echo or whatever device you have in your home that uses Alexa, you probably breeze through a huge Terms and Conditions document where you agree to all sorts of things before you ever use the device the first time.  No one reads these things, right?  No one that uses the device, but the lawyers for Amazon… you can bet they know that terms and conditions document backwards and forwards.  That is why when something comes up they haven’t thought about yet, they quickly make an addendum and you have to agree to the terms again.

Now, we’re not advocating that you read over the terms and conditions on all this stuff because you would literally spend your entire life reading terms and conditions.  However, it doesn’t take a hardcore lawyer to know that you are probably giving up some rights and privacy by agreeing to those terms.

What’s In It For the Government?

Well, this is an easy one, isn’t it?  Is the government using Alexa to listen in on you?  Tracking terrorists?  Tracking the next mass shooter?

Let’s start with number one here.  They certainly would love to use Alexa’s listening app.  There’s no question this would be a great asset to the government in a hundred different ways.  However, a lot of times we see a clash between private companies and the government on things like this.  Remember Apple’s much-publicized dispute with the FBI about cracking into phones?

Amazon probably isn’t real enthusiastic about having to work with the government all the time handing over information.  However, the way our legal system works, if the government ever has a good enough reason, they could require Amazon to hand over that information.  If they have access to it, a judge could force them to give it to the government.

There are already multiple cases going on in the United States where data from Alexa is being sought in criminal proceedings.  It is still being fought out in the court system, but at the end of the day, sooner or later it’s going to come to a head.

The only way Amazon could avoid being involved in cases like this is to simply not allow Alexa to listen.  This is the only way to be 100% safe.

So What Are You Telling Me Here?

Yes, we know.  We just gave some answers that went around in a circle.  It’s true.  No one on the outside can be 100% certain whether Alexa is really listening to more than she should.  We have outlined the reasons here that it would be beneficial to Amazon if she did, and we have outlined the reasons why it would not be beneficial.

The bottom line is that if you are paranoid about this, you have all the power in your hands.  Get those devices out of your home.  Remember though that they have implanted themselves in our day to day life so well that your life is going to be difficult.  Every smartphone has some Alexa-like entity.  Smart TVs have functionality like this built into the units.  If you stream anything, whatever device you use probably has something like this as well.  These days, even your toaster oven might be listening in on your conversations.

You can eliminate the chance of them listening, but you are going to put up with doing away with a lot of modern conveniences in the meantime.  Whether it’s worth it or not is completely up to you.

The Truth About Making Money Online — Wealthy Affiliate is a Gamechanger

No this may not be exactly about conspiracies.  Well, maybe.  Everyday, all of the time, we see people falling for terrible scams on the Internet revolving around making money online.  There’s no shame for the victims here.  Everyone is looking to make a few extra bucks, and the online world is very inviting.  No commute.  The promise of easy money is alluring.  Common Sense Conspiracy is a blog at heart, and while we were not created to make money, we do employ some ads around to try to pay the bills.  Hosting a website costs money, and sometimes it’s not cheap (especially if you start having some real traffic).  So, we understand, and many of us here have also sought ways to make money from the comfort of our own home.  The conspiracy here is that there is no conspiracy.  The truth is you can make money online, but it’s not going to be easy.  It’s going to be hard.

But What About <insert company>?

Truth be told, there are reputable companies where you can make money online, especially if writing is one of your talents.  Unfortunately, there are so many scams and promises of easy glory out there, that it can be next to impossible to actually find those opportunities that are legitimate.

Without being ultra-discouraging, we think there are a couple of things that you can count on as signs that a company is legitimate.  First, they are not advertising quick riches for little effort.  Legit companies will tell you that this is going to be a drag, and you have to be in it for the long game.  Common Sense Conspiracy didn’t see any real traffic for many months after its inception, and it didn’t see any real money for its efforts for years.  This doesn’t happen fast, and it isn’t going to be life-changing money.  Real legit online opportunities are probably going to be supplemental income, like a part-time job but without the hassle of having to go somewhere.  You might invest quite a few hours with little return for literally years.  The reputable companies will tell you this up front.  The bottom line is that if you are reading about an online money-making opportunity and they act like it’s easy, it’s probably not the real deal.  And you know how we at Common Sense Conspiracy feel about BS.

So What are the Real Opportunities?

The most common, reputable ways to make money online are either by providing a service for money (no dark web drug selling, either… we said reputable) or by providing an opinion.  That’s about it, unless you have created a physical product that you are pushing.  In that case, you have all the logistics of production and shipping and all that stuff.  We aren’t going there, although it is very possible to start such a business online.  We are going the route where you don’t have a physical product, but you are selling either entertainment, advice, or an opinion about a product.

Writing an entertaining blog may get you some subscribers and a little ad revenue, but it would take multitudes of traffic to make a real change in your bank account.  The CSC has received over 3 million visitors in its time and still doesn’t really make that much money.  Blogging is a good way to engage with others and maybe blow off some steam, but it’s really difficult to make real money that way.  That’s why affiliate marketing is all the rage these days.

Affiliate Marketing 101 — Wealthy Affiliate

At first glance, Wealthy Affiliate does look like some click bait.  They are promising that you can make money through affiliate marketing and they will help you do it.  That’s all they really promise, and if you look a little deeper into it, you’ll find that nowhere do they ever imply that it will be easy.

Kyle, one of the founders of Wealthy Affiliate, even wrote a very detailed article explaining to the newbies that it may take as much as six months to just see organic traffic on your site, much less see conversions and profits.  Some take longer, and some can do it sooner.  Some of that is luck of the draw, but it’s mostly getting what you put in.

Wealthy Affiliate’s training program takes you from square one of getting an idea for a niche-related website and then designing said website.  From there, it teaches you about SEO, how to attract traffic, and how to eventually use all of this positivity to make money through affiliate programs.  The most beautiful part is that Wealthy Affiliate lets you try all this on in the fitting room 100% free of charge.   That’s right.  A guest account is free and requires only an email.  No credit cards or subscription BS.  We like the sound of that.

So, What’s the Catch?

There is always a catch.  We at the CSC would never claim otherwise.  The catch here is that the premiere part of the Wealthy Affiliate service costs some real money.  At $49 a month, it’s not cheap.  They do offer an introductory month at $19.  There is also huge savings if you go yearly instead.  We recommend starting with a free account for sure, but we will warn you.  This ultra-supportive community is infectious, and you will find yourself wanting to plunk down your hard-earned money to give this thing a try.  Should you?  Well, that’s the question isn’t it.

Wealthy Affiliate makes no bones about the work it’s going to take to get your online business in affiliate marketing off the ground.  This is not a short-term thing.  You are looking long game here, and if you’re not, then you are just chasing the shiny gold that the sites we talked about above are hawking.  This is about putting in the work, day in and day out for maybe years before you really see the fruits of your labor.  That may not sound encouraging or exciting, but it’s real.  The real world works that way, and unfortunately, even the online world still exists in the real world.

So What Does $49 Get Me?

This is the part that really put us here at Common Sense Conspiracy feeling like we could willfully advocate this product without compromising our morals.  The $49 a month fee seems a little steep, but it includes hosting for your websites.  We can tell you that if you wanted to start five or even ten websites, you would pay a whole lot more than $49 a month to host all of them with decent bandwidth.  Honestly, this almost makes it worth the monthly subscription alone, even if the rest of the site was rubbish.

It’s not rubbish though.  These people are super-supportive, and everyone seems to be on the same page.  The whole community revolves around helping each other reach goals, and the infrastructure encourages this as well.  The only caveat here is to not get so lost in the community that you forget to do your work on your business.

On top of the very attractive website hosting deal, you get tons of training videos, articles, and live webinars.  You also have access to their community for everything from templates for creating keyword-rich SEO-driven content to actually getting real live comments from people through their SiteComments system.

Is Wealthy Affiliate Worth It?

Worth what?  It’s free to try it out.  It’s definitely worth that.  Give it a look and take your time.  Maybe now is not the time for you to get into something like this, but keep it in mind somewhere down the road.  This community makes the work seem fun and engaging even if you are working two jobs and struggling to find the time.  That’s what really stands out here is the community and the resources.

We failed to mention that WA also includes a lite subscription to Jaaxy, an unbelievable keyword tool that will help you immensely in your quest to find keywords that don’t have so much competition.  This really can kickstart your website by becoming an authority on the right words that will help search engines like Google really start to steer people your way.  We advocate it because it works.  On a slow news day, Common Sense Conspiracy often uses Jaaxy to find out what people are looking for.  We want to help, and finding out what is popular on the search engines can point you in the right direction to providing a quality product that people will enjoy.

Give Wealthy Affiliate a try.  It may not be for you, or more importantly, it may not be something that you can find the time to give it the attention that it demands.  This is work.  Make no mistake.   But the possibility of passive income stream can really light your fire.

Common Sense Conspiracy doesn’t make a practice of advocating products like this.  Our history backs this up.  The bottom line is that this is a legitimate life-changing product, and we wanted to share it with our readers.

Khashoggi Crisis Highlights Years of Conspiracy Theories About Saudi Arabia

The apparent murder of the 59-year-old journalist (and harsh critic of the policies of Saudi Arabia) Khashoggi has caused quite a stir this past couple of weeks.  Now, President Donald Trump is calling this a cover-up.  The United States is proclaiming that those responsible will be punished, and it is openly questioning the official account of things by the Saudis, which is that the journalist was murdered in a Saudi Arabia consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.

Saudi Arabia is a longtime ally of the United States in an area of the world not known for allies of the United States.

Further clouding the situation is a slowly revealed narrative that shows that this was no chance happening, but a premeditated plot to savagely murder a person.  The motive, most believe, is just to silence someone who frequently and provocatively spoke out against the Saudi Arabian government.  Now, a fragile dance is going on between Donald Trump and the Saudi prince as they try to look tough on the international scene while attempting to preserve an alliance that has stood the test of time.  Yet, America’s relationship with Saudi Arabia is frequently the target of conspiracy theories.  Let’s have a look.

Saudi Arabia and 9/11

On September 11, 2001, we all know what happened.  It would lead to the wars in Afghanistan and eventually Iraq.  Yet, Saudis were proven to be a major part of the plot, not just in terms of being on the planes, but in terms of the Saudi Arabian government financing parts of the operation.  It is well known in conspiracy circles that the Saudi prince and a collection of other notable Saudi figures were actually with President Bush just mere hours before the attacks happened.

Conspiracy theories about the Saudis involvement in 9/11 are all over the place, and there is not a lot to discredit them.  As a matter of fact, multiple news outlets publicly reported that Saudi Arabia had been proven to have financed a “dry run” before 9/11.  The concept was that Saudi Arabia footed the bill to allow a couple of nationals to try to test out their theories on how to get around American airline security protocols.  This led to the real deal on September 11 that would change the world and kill thousands.

Saudi Arabia and The Oil War

No doubt the abundance of oil Saudi Arabia is sitting on is a big reason America plays nice.

Oil is the most valuable resource on Earth today, and the Saudis have unbelievable stockpiles of it.  It has long been suspected that this is one of the only reasons that the United States continues to play nice with Saudi Arabia despite numerous acts of hostility believe to be perpetrated by the oil-rich country.   It has also long been suspected that Saudi Arabia squeezes the United States at times by arbitrarily raising or lowering the cost of crude oil.

Saudi Arabia was virtually untouched by the wars on Iraq and Afghanistan, and has enjoyed even more wealth and success through its relationship with the United States, especially in the wake of more drama for Iran.  Most American Presidents give the Saudis a really big pass because of oil, and 9/11 was probably the most sensational example of this.

Will This Alliance Survive Khashoggi?

It’s the question on everyone’s mind.  Will Donald Trump cross the line and say something that sparks an end to the alliance that has been so fruitful for both parties over the years?  And was Saudi Arabia really an ally to the United States in the first place?

Happier times for Trump and the Saudi prince.

The answer is only by necessity and by getting something out of it.  There is no question that Saudi Arabia is not supportive of the United States any more than any other Muslim country in the Middle East.  However, the Saudi family of royalty forged this friendship over the years because of mutual benefit.  It has protected the ruling family as other regimes in the same area of the world have fallen.  Many of those were at least in part because of the United States.  From the Muslim perspective, Saudi Arabia made friends with America, the bully, and then used its economic prosperity to influence it.

Ultimately, it is unlikely that much will come of this.  Much like Donald Trump’s spirited exchanges with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un, this will probably be a war of words with no real direction.  If there’s one thing that Trump understands, it’s money, and he will not jeopardize the fruitful economic situation that an alliance with Saudi Arabia offers.  Despite his insistence that America is involved in bad trade deals all over the world, even Trump will find little wrong with the economic ties to Saudi Arabia.  He certainly won’t be willing to give up the cash and the alliance over one journalist.

This will blow over, and if anything, it may very well strengthen the ties between the Saudi Arabia royal family and the United States.  The worst repercussions to be felt right now, as usual, will fall on the common man.  Expect some jerking around of crude oil prices as the war of words continues.  In the end, though, the anti-Trump media in America is probably going to make a much bigger deal of this than anyone else.  This may very well become the Democratic Party’s “Benghazi” battle cry over the coming midterms and eventual 2020 Presidential Election.  Investigations will be performed, but little will be found.  In the end, Khashoggi is gone, and the world will march on.  The conspiracy world will too.

Conspiracy Definition — You Have to Start Somewhere

Most of our loyal readers can spot a conspiracy when they see one, but not everyone out there is as comfortable with the label. That’s why we are going to take a quick moment here to talk about the definition of a conspiracy. However, we are not talking dictionary definitions here. We are talking about what it means in the real world.

The conspiracy definition according to Merriam-Webster is simple. It’s a plot against something. Maybe unlawful. Maybe not. Some other sources quote a conspiracy as having to have a certain number of people involved, even going as far as to say that any plot between two people is a conspiracy. These definitions are true enough if you are getting technical, but we at Common Sense Conspiracy realize that the average person looking for the definition of a conspiracy on Google is probably not looking for these textbook definitions. They want insight into just what this magical word really means.

Around here, a conspiracy usually means a powerful entity trying to pull the wool over the eyes of a less powerful entity for its own advancement or advancement of its agenda. The most classic example of that would be your standard government conspiracy. Cover-ups are included. Think about the gun control debate. There are many in conspiracy circles that believe the gun control debate is really about the government finding a way to convince citizens to give up their weapons without a fight. It can get really deep from there, but that is the general concept behind that conspiracy theory. A lot of others revolve around the government trying to control things or give up other civil liberties. If it’s not that, then it’s the government trying to hide something that it believes will either cause hysteria or give the people more reason to stand their ground.

Government conspiracies are almost synonymous with conspiracy theories, but that is hardly the only type. Business is another realm where we often hear this term being tossed around. Then there are religious conspiracies a-plenty. However, at their roots, all of these types of conspiracies follow our general definition above. All conspiracies are going to probably involve a higher power trying to hold a lower power down for whatever reason.

So, we don’t know if we really cleared up anything, but it was worth taking a moment and a post to try to clear this up and help people out there that want a better picture of just what the “C-word” really means. They are all around, that’s for sure, and Common Sense Conspiracy will continue to shed light on them when it can.

Facebook, Spotify, and YouTube Ban Alex Jones — Instantly Quadrupling His Clout

No one here at Common Sense Conspiracy is a big fan of Alex Jones, but we have to sit back and say that he really got the last laugh on this one. The mainstream media, which incidentally now peddles more conspiracy theories than anyone out there, is claiming a massive victory now that Apple, Facebook, YouTube, and Spotify all decided, in what has to be a coordinated effort, to ban everything from InfoWars and Alex Jones on the same day. And it isn’t like there was some Roseanne-like Tweet that they are all reacting to. Apparently this has been something on these private companies’ minds for a long time and today is the day they decided to act. Like no one wanted to look like a follower so they all did it at the same time to make it look like they were a coalition against evil instead of dominoes falling. And yet, as is so often the case, they have completely misunderstood what they are dealing with.

Alex Jones peddles conspiracy theories. One of the reasons we at the CSC are not big fans is because he makes a lot of people look bad because he will advocate a conspiracy theory just for shock value, not because he really believes it. After all, this is the same guy that once declared himself “an entertainer” while under oath. Above all, Alex Jones exists to make money and advance his empire, and he won’t hesitate to push forward rubbish with no factual evidence if it will get him another soundbite. However, these companies are doing just the opposite of what they are intending. They are only going to make Jones’ platform bigger.

For a guy that peddles conspiracy theories of all types, no matter how ridiculous, and still has managed to create an internet conglomerate that is highly successful, this will only add to his legend. It’s like anything else in the world. It’s more taboo now, so everyone will seek it out. Jones will cash in on how he has been censored and shunned by the media, and he will also suggest that this is a huge indicator that he is credible. After all, if he was full of nonsense, why would they be so desperate to shut him up? Why would they turn down advertising dollars and customers unless they felt this was something they had to do?

Jones will survive this and come out the other side counting more money. He will find another way to distribute his meanderings to the masses, and he will become an even more widespread cult phenomenon because of this. Congratulations, big, bad media companies. You lose again, you only helped build what you wanted to destroy, and most importantly, once again demonstrated a complete break in the understanding of your customers.

Alex Jones may peddle trash, but it’s hard to argue with the fact that he played this one like a genius.

Royal Wedding 2018 — Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Not Immune to Illuminati and Reptilian Conspiracy Theories

It’s a beautiful and lavish affair that only comes around every so often…a Royal Wedding. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s whirlwind romance has captured the hearts of people worldwide, and now it has culminated in their wedding which attracted plenty of stars and powerful people. So, with this kind of audience on hand, there has to be some conspiracy theories, right? You don’t say. Common Sense Conspiracy has you covered.

The British Royal Family has always been a conspiracy playground. The death of Princess Diana is to Britain what JFK is to America. Also, there is a long-standing if not unusual theory that the Queen and perhaps others are actually reptilians. We’ve never been really hot on that theory but there’s plenty of videos and analysis out there of her “shapeshifting” in front of thousands of live viewers and millions back home. There is also plenty of Illuminati theories around Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. It wasn’t but just a couple of months ago that Prince Harry was being accused of making Illuminati hand gestures in a picture with American First Lady Melania Trump.

While there is a bit of a hangover because of the time difference, you can bet some videos of the wedding itself and Illuminati symbology are right around the corner. We will continue to update you as more theories are suggested, but for now, we leave you with some videos explaining some of what we discussed here. Did you notice something fishy at the wedding itself? Let’s talk about it in the comments below.

Lawyers and Hush Money — Trump Situation a Reminder That Washington Knows Nothing About the Life of the Common Man

Rudy Giuliani recently made national headlines when he joined President Donald Trump’s legal team.  It shouldn’t have been that surprising.  They are obviously friends and Giuliani did much to help Trump during his campaign.  His specific task this time:  help defend Trump in the media in the middle of a number of crises.  He didn’t waste any time, either.  He was making the rounds on the talkshow circuit, putting his expert spin on any and all things Trump.  What really got the talking heads excited was when he opened up about the Donald’s Stormy Daniels situation with a little more earnest.

Happier times than these.

Yes, Trump denied even knowing who she was.  Yes, he said repeatedly he had no idea Michael Cohen, his attorney, paid her money to keep quiet.  Now, Rudy tells the world that not only did Trump know about it, but he reimbursed Cohen’s $130,000.  But Rudy had a defense for all this.  It basically boiled down to this:  you don’t understand what it’s like to be rich.

Wealthy people pay “hush money” all the time, and they do it for a lot more than what Trump indirectly paid to shut up a washed-up porn star.  It’s something us common folk would never understand.  We don’t ever get in those situations and if we did, we don’t have the cold hard cash to buy our way out of them.  For wealthy people, Giuliani said, paying hush money was as normal as stopping by a Starbucks for a mocha.  Everybody does it.

It doesn’t have to mean your guilty either.  See, for normal people that don’t live in Washington, the idea of hush money indicates guilt.  After all, someone that is innocent would never pony up the funds to make someone just go away.  But in politics and even in big business, it happens all the time.  Companies decide to pay someone they know is in the wrong because of the uncertainty of fighting it out in court or even worse, being convicted in the court of public opinion.  That’s because we live in a world where just saying someone did something can have just as profound an effect on their life as them actually doing it.

Are we defending Donald Trump here?  Absolutely not.  Even the most over-the-top Trump supporter probably knows deep down inside somewhere that Trump probably did have that relationship with Stormy, and he probably did hush her up with big bucks because it was true.  Our point was just that it doesn’t matter whether he did it or not.  He still had to pay the money.  He was in the middle of a Presidential campaign that originated as an absolute joke, but about the time Stormy came throwing her business card around and threatening to tell her story was that magical moment when those around Donald Trump all of a sudden thought for just a second “Hey, we just might could win this thing.”

The truth is that Stormy is back because she got screwed (financially, not literally…well, maybe).  Think about it.  When Donald Trump was just a knucklehead running for President that no one thought in a million years could win, that $130,000 was good money to shut up and go away.  The truth is, Stormy and her people had no idea that the Trumpster was actually going to win the whole enchilada.  All of a sudden that $130,000 became a paltry sum when set against the backdrop of the presidency.  Stormy should have asked for more, and that’s why she’s back.  She was underpaid big time.

So, you see, we don’t understand.  Ordinary American citizens will never pay hush money for anything.  If they do, it will be like giving their kid twenty bucks so they don’t tell Mom they ate the last of the ice cream, not paying off porn stars for silence.  But in Washington and amongst the rich and elite, it’s just the cost of doing business.

Donald Trump may be an outsider to the establishment in our government, but he still is part of the elite club, and they couldn’t be more out of touch with what it’s like to be an average American in America.