Posted in Technology, United States

2012 – The Sequel to 1984

Every weekday morning I wake up to the radio.  There’s a minute long spot from “America’s Godess, Kim Komando,” (http://www.komando.com) and, though I don’t normally listen carefully to what she says – I’m usually not awake enough for that – a couple of days ago one comment in particular caused me to wake up rather suddenly.  It was a spot about Google.  And, I think I knew this, at least subconsciously, but she spelled it out.  Google is right now in the process of collating every piece of data about you that they can (http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2012/jan/25/google-merge-user-data-privacy?newsfeed=true).  Every search, every contact, every time you use any of Google’s apps, they’ll be collecting your information.  When all is said and done, they can know more about you than you yourself know.  Have you received a Youtube link recently from a friend?  Did you click on the link?  Was it dumb, funny, tasteless?  Google now has it associated with you.  Did another (computer challenged) friend ask you to do a search for information pertaining to 9/11?  You’re now associated with 9/11.  See how easy that is?  Do you have a blog?  Every word in it is now added to the database.  Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, World of Warcraft, Star Trek Online.  Ever use Google Maps/Earth?  Shop online?  You can’t escape.

I have friends that claim that if you have nothing to hide then why be concerned about it?  First off, there has never been anybody that innocent.  Even Jesus was considered a criminal by the Hebrew authorities.  Everything that you do in the course of the day can be construed as right or wrong in someone else’s eyes.

The newer browsers have “privacy modes,” where, in theory, your digital footprints aren’t recorded.  Have you tried it – do you know for certain that no data is being shared?  It may not be leaving cookies on your PC, but that doesn’t mean that your surfing data isn’t being retained by the servers that you’re accessing.  Essentially, every time you go online you’re leaving a little bit of information behind.

What can Google do with all this information?  Right now they want to use it to target ads to you, but it seems to me that they can be targeted by our own Government, because Google’s information will be consolidated, collated, and coordinated.  Most of the stuff that Google has was voluntarily added by you and me, and is readily available for anyone to see online.  Would our own government even need “due process” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fourteenth_Amendment_to_the_United_States_Constitution) to request it?  Depends on how foolishly we’ve been at guarding our privacy. The more details about your private life that you share, the less private it becomes.  It seems that this generation has a problem grasping that simple concept.

Today, our society seems to think that it’s NATURAL to share every moment of our lives with friends, family, and, oddly enough, the World At Large.  We Tweet what we had for dinner, or broke up with-what’s-his-name who we wouldn’t remember in a year anyway.  We get drunk and add unwise videos on Youtube, or complain about our jobs on Facebook.  You are your own worst enemy. When you put something – anything on the web, not only will it be there forever and ever, the likelihood that it will be seen by someone that you didn’t wish to share it with, grows daily.  So, that party that you attended where everyone got so drunk, that you wanted to share with those friends that didn’t go?  Yeah – well, Uncle Billy saw it on your Facebook page, and forwarded it to Grandma.

There are enough stories out there about people not being hired because the prospective employer performed a simple Google search to see if anything derogatory popped up.  So, if you are disgruntled about your current job you might want to reconsider airing your grievances on the social site of your choice.  Most employers also won’t hire you if they see a video of you dancing nude to “American Pie,” or showing off the latest tattoo/piercing/shaving of your genitalia, unless they’re in that business, and like what they see.

Whatever happened to Myspace?  Sorry – just a random thought…

Setting aside the employment issues, keep in mind that computers were built for a single purpose:  to store and manipulate data.  What is data?  That’s anything that you enter into a computer, and it doesn’t matter what type of data it is anymore.  And, since the internet is essentially gazillions of personal computers and servers, including yours and mine, all manipulating data, whether playing a game, using Skype, or checking your email.  In a sense, all of those computers are acting as one massive computer – storing and manipulating data.  All the data is collected in one place (which we’ll call “The Internet”), and anybody can gain access to it.  If you think that any data that you put online is “private,” think again.  No matter how password-protected or encrypted something is, somebody who really wants the data can get it.  The only way to keep private information “private” is to keep it off the ‘web.

I’m a bit surprised that Google came out with this announcement, because I’m sure that others have been collecting data on you and me for years.  When you signed up with Amazon you gave certain pieces of information to them: your name, shipping address, credit card details, etc.  When you signed up for Facebook or Classmates, you gave more information: schools you attended, career information, current home, place of birth, all kinds of personal data that Amazon wouldn’t have.  By the time you’re done filling out forms at AOL, Sears, ebay, or any of a million other websites, there’s so much information out there that anybody can find out anything they want about you.  You don’t need to say a word on Facebook.  Here’s a test – “google” your own username.  You may not just find yourself scattered all over the web, you may also find that some of the data that you thought was private is available to anybody else who also decided to “google” your username.

Now, for those of you you haven’t read “1984,” by George Orwell, and all of you really should, or re-read it if the last time was in High School, 1984 was a book about a guy living a miserably drab life, completely controlled by “Big Brother.”  Everybody was under constant surveillance, and everybody was programmed to be like everyone else.  Since Big Brother had control over the media, even wars could change, and BB would rewrite history to reflect the changes, and mankind would remain clueless.  Everything that you did, everything that you saw, everything that you felt, was being recorded as evidence against you.  If you did not pour out your love for Big Brother, then you would probably be tortured and brain-washed, until you did pour out your love for Big Brother…  And, only THEN would you be shot.

So, how does Orwell’s book compare to today?  Well, we don’t yet have two way TV’s that stay on all day, so Homeland Security can keep an eye on us.  We don’t really need to.  Homeland Security has all it needs based on what we VOLUNTARILY submit online.  Plus, almost every street corner and stop light now have cameras mounted, as do almost every store and bank.  We are ALWAYS under surveillance, and the only thing that keeps us safe is the fact that there are 300,000,000 of us, and singling out a chosen few is enough of a task.  We are stalks of hay in a field of haystacks, and as long as we don’t stick out then we should all be safe.  Just like Big Brother wants.

Posted in Society, United States

What Is Wrong With You People?

Over the past month or so the “Occupy Wall Street” events have been front and center in the media.  Just the fact that the liberal media is reporting these things with something close to compassion made me suspicious.

Understand this – I’m a fairly conservative individual; not staunchly conservative (like Rush Limbaugh), and maybe even a little more of a Libertarian leaning than I’d care to admit.  I believe that everyone in the US decides how to live their own life.  None of us should be relying on the Government for handouts, yet we have Government-funded Retirement and Medical (Social Security & Medicare), and if the current administration gets their way, Medicare will become Over The Top, Super Duper Medicare On Steroids.

In my humble opinion, the Social Security Administration should not exist.  This is the largest Ponzi scheme  in history (http://tiny.cc/4bz4m).  We’ve been paying into this since the 1930’s, and it now pays out more than it takes in (http://tiny.cc/fl9hn).  When there were 10 – 20 taxpayers paying in to Social Security and fewer living to ripe old ages it was affordable.  Now, thanks to longer lifespans and a smaller labor pool in comparison it’s no longer affordable.  Consequently, those that will be paying in for the next 30 years will receive the least in benefits.  By doing the math you can see that the SSA will be broke, sooner or later.  If the gov’t decides to continue it so that those who pay in to SSA today don’t get screwed when it becomes their turn to collect, that money has to come from somewhere or someone – and we are the somewhere or someone.  That means more taxes, and more taxes, until our employed population once again outweighs – by 10 to 1 or better – those who collect Social Security.  In the meantime, we’ve become a generation of people with their collective Hands Out.

So, what has this to do with “Occupy Wall Street,” and the ever-growing movement in the US?  First, keep in mind that “Occupy Wall Street” didn’t even get its start in the United States.  It came from Canada!! (http://tiny.cc/hs1dv), from the Adbusters Media Foundation (http://tiny.cc/40ts2), an organization against consumerism (http://tiny.cc/jxvor).  Consuming is what America does best,  and, looking at myself and other Americans, perhaps more than we should.  This is why we have Starbucks, McDonalds, Best Buy, Wal-Mart, Sears, and every auto dealership in the world available just a short distance from even the most remote town in the US.  It is the dollars that we spend that allows McD’s to advertise on their storefronts that “Billions Have Been Served.”  Every individual – even the homeless – have cellphones, PCs, televisions, and microwave ovens.  Every individual at driving age has a car.  We spend, even when we don’t have the money.  We spend, and when we max out the plastic, we get more plastic.  So, I can sort of understand part of the Adbusters philosophy, but, like many activists, I think they go too far.

You have to understand that sometimes when people stand up against the “System” that they do that because they see others doing it and figure that it must be right.  During the civil rights and anti-Vietnam protests in the ’60s there may have been real justification, and a feeling of right and wrong.  Segregation was “wrong.”  The Vietnam war was “wrong.”  Of course, you can’t have a protest without someone else having an opposing view.  Today, the “System” being protested is Capitalism.  Since FDR brought us “The New Deal” in a failed attempt to govern the US  out of the Great Depression, we’ve continued sliding down the slope where we become dependent on the government for more and more, and ourselves less and less.  It wasn’t until we had to manufacture ships, planes, and weapons like crazy, because we found ourselves at war in the Pacific, as well as the Atlantic, that the Depression died. We Consumed.  Jobs were created to meet the demands, people found themselves employed, and able to buy STUFF that they couldn’t buy since 1933.  People started having money to go to moviehouses, to see the newest moviestars, and to watch reels of How the Battle Was Going.  We bought houses and cars, radios, clothing, food.  We were worried about Our Boys Overseas, but not about how are we going to able to feed the family tonight…  Government didn’t get us out of the Depression – World War II did that.  Government can’t get us out this economic downturn that we’re having now – in fact, the more the current administration attempts, the more it backfires.  Do we need a war?  A big one?  One where we get to make Lots Of STUFF, need to hire Lots Of People, Recruit Lots More into The Service?  Restart the Draft?  We wouldn’t want a Big War, involving nukes or anything like that – we just want something tidy that the Americans could rally around, become gainfully employed, and get patriotic again.  Desert Storm did it, so did 9/11.  Too bad that the “War on Terror” didn’t give us specific targets.  We had to create them (Hussein & bin Laden).

War is Good for Business (http://tiny.cc/m5iia).  Rule 34 of the Rules of Acquisition.

So, we’re in economic doldrums.  The employment rate is hovering just below 10% nationwide, and we’re frustrated.  The richest 1% of the population is richer than ever, while the 99% remaining aren’t.  It isn’t that the 99% are worse off; some are, some aren’t, but they’re disgruntled, so spake the media.  Here comes Adbusters, swooping down from the North, like a Canada goose migrating for the winter.  They stir up trouble, claiming that Life Isn’t Fair, and that those Rich Bastages $houldn’t Be $o Rich, and They $hould $hare $ome Of That Wealth.  And, frustrated Americans With Their Hands Out to the US Government, say, “Yeah, you’re right.  Let’s have a sit-in, just like our parents did in the 60’s.”  So they did, and it spread, and of course, violence broke out.  And there’ll be more, because the media will focus on it.  Quiet demonstrations do not get media attention.  Loud, boisterous ones, with rocks, broken car windows, Fire, Explosions, Tear Gas!  That’s what will make the news, and sheeple being sheeple, the violence in Oakland will beget violence in L.A., and there will be competition between media sources to find The Next Hot Spot, and on and on.  This will stop when the media either gets bored with the subject, or Something Bigger comes along.  Either way, the Occupy movement will wither and die.  People will go back to work instead of trying to make trouble at Citibank.  They’ll earn money.  They’ll consume, and become, once again, The Good Little Capitalists that they always have been.

Capitalists are Not Evil (http://tiny.cc/b5wj3).  My bank teller makes $20,000 a year.  She’s a Capitalist, so am I, so is Bill Gates, so was Steve Jobs.  If my teller had to pay 10% on her income taxes last year then that would have been $2,000.  Bill Gates’ annual salary is about $8,000,000, and a 10% tax would cost him almost a million dollars ($800,000. http://tiny.cc/ttnsa).  Whether or not he paid that much in income tax I don’t know, but I don’t believe that he should pay a higher percentage of his income than my teller.  Defending him, though, is ironic, because he is one of Those Ungodly Rich Who Wants Higher Taxes Taken From those who make more than $200,000 a year (http://tiny.cc/xodr1).

If we, as a nation, expect that the wealthy should put a higher percentage of their wages into the pot, so to speak, then we are talking about redistributing the wealth.  Now, if I were rich, and simply because I was rich, expected to donate gargantuan sums of cash to government services, I’d tell the US Government to go jump in the lake.  It’s my money – I earned it (or inherited it, or one it in the lottery).  However I got it I Went Out And Got It. I did not stand around With My Hand Out.  Anybody who thinks that the Government should demand more from the Rich to Give back to society is a socialist.

Socialists are Not Evil either (http://tiny.cc/av6ob).  Russia, North China, North Korea, North Vietnam are all examples of the Socialist ideology (http://tiny.cc/1msbb).  Many of them are adopting Free Market (aka Capitalistic) tendencies now, though.  Do we really want to be like them?  Look at Greece.  Their Government has paid so much out to the people in social services (healthcare, social security, etc) that the country as a whole, Has Their Hand Out (http://tiny.cc/aocmr).

So, going back to the Subject Of This Piece, “What Is Wrong With You People?  Those of you involved in the “Occupy Wall Street” movement and its off-shoots,  believe that Capitalism is Evil, that Wall Street is a symbol of Evil Capitalism, and that Evil Capitalists should share their wealth.  If you don’t believe that, and are part of the “Occupy Wall Street” movement then you’re just one of The Sheeple attending a Cause for the Cause’s sake.

Posted in Events, Society, United States

Avoid NYC Skyscrapers – They Fall Down

It’s now been 10 years since 9/11…

OK, Class, Can you tell me how many buildings fell at the World Trade Center, on the 11th of September 2001?  Two? No, try again.  Three?  Yes – Three.  Two were hit by rather large aircraft, and one… was not.  This was not a workshed attached to one of the two Towers (with a capital “T”).  This was a 47 story monster; half the size of the two Towers, on the next block,  and … it … just … fell; collapsed upon itself, just like the Towers had earlier in the day.

This tower (with a small “t”) was known as WTC Building 7 (7 WTC), and it was the 3rd largest building on the World Trade Center complex.  It contained a bunch of financial facilities, Federal offices including the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Department Of Defense (DOD), Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and New York’s Office of Emergency Management.  It was developed by Larry Silverstein, who also developed the new WTC 7.  Given the relative ease of the first WTC collapse, one may wonder if Larry Silverstein was really the right choice to build the new building.  I’m sure he was.  The chances of something like that happening again are astronomical – that another skyscraper could collapse like that one did.  It’s never happened before – well, except for those other two in the same vicinity, on the same day, but they were hit by aircraft, so they have an excuse – and should never happen again.

Let’s take a “building inventory” of the World Trade Center:

Building 1 – (aka 1 WTC or the North Tower) – 110 floors, tallest building in the world from 1971 – 1973, shared with 2 WTC.  Collapsed at 10:28 A.M., apparent result of a terrorist attack.  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Trade_Center)

Building 2 – (aka 2 WTC or the South Tower) – 110 floors, tallest building in the world from 1971 – 1973, shared with 1 WTC.  Collapsed at 9:59 A.M., apparent result of a terrorist attack.  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Trade_Center)

Building 3 – (aka 3 WTC or the Marriot Hotel) – 22 floors, destroyed when 1WTC and 2 WTC fell on it.  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/3_WTC)

Building 4 – (aka 4 WTC) – 9 floors, destroyed when 2 WTC fell on it. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/4_WTC)

Building 5 – (aka 5 WTC) – 9 floors, damaged beyond repair from debris and fire.  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/5_WTC)

Building 6 – (aka 6 WTC) – 8 floors, destroyed when 1 WTC fell on it.  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/6_WTC)

Building 7 – (aka 7 WTC) – 47 floors, collapsed approximately 7 hours, 20 minutes after the 2 WTC collapse.  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/7_WTC)

What caused the 7 WTC collapse?  “Official” reports indicate that debris and fire caused it (http://wtc.nist.gov/NCSTAR1/NCSTAR1-9index.htm), while “conspiracy nuts” say that it looked more like a “controlled demolition” (http://www.wtc7.net/). Not being a specialist in this field, but, having seen videos of other buildings collapse, I have to side with the nuts.  Take a look at these Youtube vids of controlled demo of other buildings (http://www.youtube.com/user/TheLoizeauxGroupLLC).  Especially interesting is the Kingdome in Seattle and the Ocean Tower, because they look cool.  Las Vegas does this sort of thing fairly often (http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=las+vegas+demolition&aq=f).

In fact, I’m actually going to say it:  ALL 3 buildings look like they were the result of “controlled demolition.”  In fact, when I watched it on TV 10 years ago, that was the first thought in my mind, (“Why, that looks just like a controlled demolition”).

In this day & age, with computer simulations of everything under the sun (and more), has there ever been a simulation of the events that occurred on 9/11?  I’m sure there has, and the sims have probably been “tweaked” to demonstrate the point of the presenter, instead of showing the bare physics of the events.

Perhaps it seems too incredible to think of a scenario where 4 (count ‘em, 4) jumbo jets are stolen out from under the collective noses of the FAA, the US Navy, the US Air Force, and the Executive Branch of the US (i.e., President Bush), and all diverted to very visible targets in New York City and Washington DC (2 for each location).  Then, when needed the most, our own Home Defense Network took a nap!  Three of those planes hit their marks, and we’re to believe that a handful of rowdy passengers brought the fourth one down short of its target, something that the MOST ADVANCED MILITARY FORCE IN THE WORLD failed to do.  That’s going to require some more study.  In fact, there’s a lot about 9/11 that’s going to require more study.

If you’ve made it this far, I have a question:  what is “pulling?” (http://www.wtc7.net/pullit.html).  If it’s what I suspect then I have to wonder if all buildings developed by Larry Silverstein have built-in “self destructs.” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aHtJW0NxEjI).  If not, and if pulling is what I suspect, then some company pre-wired explosives, at the very least, in 6 WTC and 7 WTC.  Silverstein not only knew about it, but, apparently ordered it!  Don’t forget – this guy is also the developer for the new World Trade Center.  Does it have locations for explosives in the blueprints?

So, the next thought is, WHO WOULD RIG A BUILDING WITH EXPLOSIVES IF THEY WEREN’T INTENDING TO DEMOLISH IT?  Also, then, were the other Towers also rigged?  Could the happenstance of 2 jumbo jets slamming into those Towers have set off a chain reaction that set off the planted explosives, which brought the buildings down?  Following this path you start wandering into areas of logistical planning, and you’re forced to wonder just exactly what really did happen, and who was really responsible.  That’s for another time…