beware the Internets

More and more the Internets can turn into a nightmare.  Granted, it’s like being hit by a car.  For the most part, everybody goes online and it’s just fine, you get to see happy cat videos.  But if you get your identity stolen or your bank accounts drained (while your circumstances are rare) it’s an absolute nightmare that can temporarily ruin your life.

I’ve personally known folks who had their data ripped which resulted in ruined bank accounts, they couldn’t use a credit card, buy a car, do their taxes, etc, etc, etc.  It’s a nightmare folks.  You could see the daily stress on their faces.

When the Washington Post isn’t busy shaming itself and mortgaging its remaining credibility by banging on the incessant defeat Trump at any cost bandwagon (regardless of impartiality or honor) they still do some no kidding real hardcore journalism.

I don’t normally do this here, but you dear blog reader need to read everything that Geoffrey A. Fowler writes for the Post.  He knows the Internets, he knows how to get into the face of questionable Internets companies, and he knows privacy values.  You can find his latest piece on browser extensions here.  I don’t use browser extensions for these very reasons, but apparently millions of people do.  If you personally do, stop, please get away while you can.

Be sure to click on his author name too and read some of his other Post pieces.  You can then indulge in the true mess of the Internets where you (the customer) are basically just a doomed farm animal as bad people make money off of spying on you without your knowledge or consent.

There might be a reckoning, eventually, for all of this.  I say might because asking Congress to accomplish anything useful is like asking a rabid panther to walk your dog safely.  But there might be movement, witness Facebook’s disastrous introduction of its evil Bond villain digital currency recently.

But, until then, it’s truly the Wild West out there folks.  You can’t arm yourself with a revolver, so you’ve got to do it with knowledge.  Learn.  Protect yourself.  Beware the Internets.

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break the cycle – revisited

Okay, first off here’s a picture of a happy emu to set the proper discussion mood.

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Of note, never approach an emu, they’re insane.  If you look between the lines, this happy emu smile is also the same form of smile an evil billionaire gets when they mash the “fire 2,384 employees” red button.  But for the purposes of this post, I’m going with the emu is happy and having a good day dammit [shakes fist at sky].

Per our prior post, I essentially checked out of the news for one solid week.  I only read the print edition of the Economist and got their morning Espresso updates.  So if somebody had nuked somebody else I’d have found out eventually.  I also managed to avoid seeing even one frame of television news which was especially awesome, though because the news is on everywhere this took some careful footwork.

Observations:

1) I did not miss reading the news or politics, pretty much at all.

2) I discovered that when online to check e-mail at home or at work, that muscle memory was compelling me to check the news several times a day without even thinking about it.  I had to stop myself in the moment of typing, it was weird and unsettling.  Eventually I got it to stop.

3) Originally, the idea was I needed to read then news every day to stay informed.  This is the idea of my Dad reading the print newspaper cover to cover every single morning.  It was a man’s responsibility to stay informed about the world.

4) This has now crossed over into the Internets world where the quest for knowledge has now been overcome by the emotional side that folks ascribe to politics and the second-to-second melee that is the social media world.  Additionally, even the most professional of news sites also contain a not unsubstantial amount of straight clickbait in order to increase revenues.  I don’t want this, and I don’t need this.

Conclusion:

a) I’m going to transition to the newspaper format in getting my news.  I will read my online news once in the morning and be done with it.  I won’t logon for the rest of the day.  If I giant mutant blue whale starts assaulting a major city, somebody will just have to text me and let me know and then I’ll login.

b) I think this will be a good balance, a return to the traditional balance of news my family had growing up with paper newspapers.  Get your news in the morning, process it, and then get on with your normal day, your life, without the distractions or the noise of the planet.

c) After all, the news and politics is just information.  For the most part I can’t do a damn thing about any of it.  I’ve got my own life with my own problems and my own responsibilities.  That’s where more of my focus belongs.

selective morality, reality, and values are the best morality, reality, and values

all corporations that lose our data to hackers are evil and greedy vs. giving the audio data in your own home free of charge of a corporation via a live bug is hip

your dog demands the most pristine of kibble vs. will eat garbage wood off the grass and pout when you don’t allow this

cigarettes are so awful they need to be banned from Netflix vs. marijuana is perfectly cool to smoke and is beneficial to your health

magic mushrooms are also beneficial and will soon be legal in multiple jurisdictions vs. soda with sugar is horrible for you and requires severe regulation

plastic straws are wasteful and worthy of a ban vs. drinking an extra tall latte out of a one use disposal and non-recyclable coffee cup is trendy

squirrels hoard all the nuts and acorns because they need them to live vs. squirrels hoard guns and explosives because they need them for the forthcoming purge

Weinstein is a depraved sexual deviant who should be erased from the planet vs. Jackson’s music is still awesome and regularly played at festivals

your boss is angry that you’re late with your assigned task vs. your boss is never own time with any assistance you’ve ever required from them

the detention centers used by Trump’s goons are abhorrent vs. the exact same detention centers used by Obama’s goons were not abhorrent

labeling the opposite side as racist instead of thinking things through vs. labeling the opposite side as racist instead of thinking things through

alcohol is the cause and solution to all of life’s problem vs. alcohol is so tasty

gasoline powered cars crush the planet’s health and are on their way out vs. charging electric cars from coal fired power plants

gasoline pumps want your money vs. gasoline pumps require the selection of 11 different options before allowing you to pay them money for gas

animal kept in captivity is immoral and the zoo will soon be banned vs. dressing up your dog/cat in a furry X-Mas costume is a sign of sophistication

everybody in the workforce requires $15 an hour vs. advocating for such issues at rallies arrived courtesy of Uber driver making half that amount

manufacturing jobs needs to come back to America vs. establishing tariffs and trade policies so abstract as to require the bailout of soybean farmers

our future alien masters promise us bliss and saving ourselves from each other vs. will blanket 1/3 of the planet in fusion fire to introduce their benevolent, wise rule

chronic obesity problem that will bankrupt the health system by 2049 vs. electric bikes and scooters are so much fun and avoid the need to walk or pedal anywhere

wave of the punk future where virtual coin will set the human free vs. coin mill farm corporations with enough size and electricity to power a medium sized nation

religion is the source of all evil mind control and should be banned from any public sphere vs. 1.3 billion likes on Instagram for the latest celebrity selfie

machines will be our masters, artificial intelligence is so error free cars will drive themselves vs. have you ever tried using [insert any software program here] without errors

innocent until proven guilty vs. they publish a mug shot online before anybody’s been found guilty and the federal justice system convicts at a stasi-like 99% rate

the magical meth elf promised you happy times if you burned down a shopping mall vs. all you got instead was a felony arrest warrant and the elf never showed up again

natural gluten is evil is requires expungement from the diet vs. generating artificial fake meat in a lab is wholesome

blogging is a healthy experience that allows the author to get things of their chest in a safe environment that informs others vs. blogging is a narcissistic act that only informs the reader that the author is somebody who needs help, and maybe a puppy/kitty or two

 

 

REAL ID = real stupid

A few weeks ago me Ma hands me this partially threatening letter from the Giant Octopus (in government form) instructing her to update her driver’s license to REAL ID standards or they’d unleash three wild rabid crocodiles into her basement. I had no idea what this thing was. But whatever, I made her an appointment and we worked out all the documentation requirements. But now people from my office are taking off from work to get this ID update done. I guess eventually I have to do this too? I guess? So we did some research to get the backstory of this dumbest of ideas.

In 2005, Congress (that institution that never works) passed a law mandating enhanced requirements for government issued identification. This was done in response to the September 11th attacks. I guess the idea was to prevent the use of fraudulent identifications. The federal government was really after the States who issued poor quality or easy to forge driver’s licenses. For example, in Alabama they use old crop husks and in Oregon they use congealed kombucha base. Both of these are now unacceptable.

So what do you need a REAL ID to do? Well, according to the Department of Homeland Security (that institution that never works) it’s required for: “The purposes covered by the Act are: accessing Federal facilities, entering nuclear power plants, and, boarding federally regulated commercial aircraft.”

If you need to get on a federal facility they’ll give you their own specific ID for it. So unless you’re Homer Simpson the only real reason you need the REAL ID is to get on an airplane. That’s it.

Oh my! Where do we start?

1) Act passed in 2005 but not required to complete before 2020; 15 year introduction cycle (or three times longer than World War II).

2) In 14 years since Act has passed not one commercial airliner has been brought down or nuclear power plant infiltrated due to a forged identification thus bringing into question the entire relevance of the Act.

3) REAL ID is required to board a plane, but not required to board a train, bus, autogyro, get into a sports stadium, library, school, Valhalla, or any other place with 743% less security than airplanes and airports.

4) Assumption that technology developed and implemented by government will somehow produce 300 million REAL IDs that cannot be (at least easily) forged. Because surely an evil bad guy who really means it will find it baffling to forge an ID also produced by the genius wizards of your local MVA.

5) Despite bullets (1) through (4) above, the wheels of the bureaucracy have continued to turn for 14 years without nary a thought of perhaps: “maybe we don’t/shouldn’t really need to do this”.

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behold! the definition of futility

break the cycle

Reality has gotten to the point that you can’t even watch a soccer game without folks breaking out rusty switchblades to advocate for their chosen religion / side (oh, ehm, I mean political beliefs, yes, yes, right). Politics is everywhere now. Both ‘sides’ have made it so. It’s nonstop. It’s in sneakers, shaving equipment, sports, your family’s dinner table, the zoo, medicine, public transport, your haunted dreams, and under your very own bed, where it waits for you. Remember that monster hidden under your bed when you were a kid? Now said monster has nightmares that politics is under its bed at night.

I’m, so, very, over, it. This spin cycle helps no one, benefits no part of society: except those who want your money, or just your eyes, and specifically those whose lives are so shallow that they would rather engage in this political maelstrom than say help the homeless, or their neighbor, or something useful like that.

I’m done.

1) Here’s a happy picture of a mommy dolphin and it’s little one. Awww, just look at how happy they are. And look! The little baby dolphin is spraying a happy infant sized amount of water out it’s blowhole. Awww!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

2) I’m not going to read the news for one week. I read the print edition of the Economist and get their morning Expresso update, and that’ll be it. Nothing else. Not one bit. I will avert my eyes from stupid televisions in public places that put up the dumb news. I will report to you dear reader how this feels after one week.

That is all. Please carry on.

nature reminds West Coast of approaching nightmare

Lost amidst yesterday’s revelry, fireworks, beer, my dog’s inability to detail with percussive sounds, political mayhem, massive blatant disregard for local laws dealing with the employment of explosives by the citizenry, and so on, was the news that California endured it’s largest earthquake in 20 years.

A relatively mild 6.4 on the American scale yielded minor damage but the usual television mayhem as C grade news organizations tried to hitch viewers by showing helicopters following police cars around open desert communities like they were after the ghost of some 1849 horse thief.

In case most folks forgot, because I know I did, the entire West Coast has nature’s handgun held to its temple.  20 years!?  That’s how long it’s been since California has seen anything approaching a reasonable earthquake.  In geologic times this is less than a fraction of a heartbeat, but it’s quite a long time for us.

But these are not things to be ignored.  A good chunk of the West Coast is built on glass.  The supposed ‘big one’ might never happen, but if it does, oh man that’d be quite the mess.  A full scale cascadia subduction zone quake with the accompanying tsunami would make the 2011 Japanese tsunami look like a wave in a kiddy pool.

I wonder how much planning has been done in California, Oregon, and Washington lately to deal with these eventualities?  Or has all that institutional knowledge been lost after 20 years of not caring at all about it.  Not sure.  I hope folks are still thinking about it and planning.  Yesterday’s earthquake had only one minute’s warning.

When the nightmare of nature calls, there are only seconds to answer.  So after 20 years, maybe a thought or two needs to occur in case the nightmare actually comes.  It’s way more important than some tweet, or celebrity outfit, or whatever.  Here’s hoping the West Coast takes yesterday as a needed wakeup call.

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