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Posts Tagged → Internet

The spy on my trusty old laptop

Microsoft Windows may be the industry standard for personal computers, but with the advent of the much-hated Windows 10 operating system, the company has sought to join the data spying craze afflicting nearly every digital user.

This forced spyware is driving users batty.

Who wants to click the “YES – SPY ON ME” Windows 10 install button? Not many people. At least not people who value their privacy.

One of the reasons cell phone users are going back to flip phones is because they are tired of being spied on by the various software companies that run the “smart phones” like iPhone.

Likewise, I am joining the growing number of non-Internet-connected PC users.

A personal computer is a valuable tool, an effective tool, and between the spreadsheet and writing software on it, it does a lot for my life and business. However, once connected to the Internet, that same PC becomes a spy turned back on the connected user.  Some of the hacking involves using the PC’s camera to surreptitiously watch the user. For that reason a small piece of sticky note pad paper covers the never-used camera on my PC.

Now I have a cheap PC for Internet use, a PC with nothing on it but basic software. And then another PC with my data and files.

I found a way to stop Windows 10 from installing, and it’s actually easy to do. I highly recommend it. Reports over the past year about Windows 10 are not flattering. It is designed simply to turn your PC into a spy, to pick apart and report on not only your online habits, but your personal software uses and writing content.

And Microsoft is allowed to spy on you because you hit the YES – SPY ON ME install button.

Garden as metaphor, Part 3…or 4

Can anyone think of a better metaphor for life as a human than a garden?

All the planning, selecting, planting, nurturing, stoking, prodding, coaxing, frustration, re-planting, and finally, after all the work and with some luck, the harvesting of fresh food…this is all just like the bigger things in our lives.

Lately it has been difficult to ignore some generational changes afoot that simply cannot bode well for our nation, now or in the future.

Where debate historically involved logic, facts, and reasoning, a great deal of what is represented as debate is simple ridicule, mockery, dismissiveness.

Few things demonstrate the weakness of an argument more than the use of ridicule and mockery, or name-calling. Yet the Internet is full of this waste of time. Because of my own passion for and involvement in tough policy issues, I am really interested to hear separate points of view from people, and spirited debate, give-and-take, is part of that process. This process is what makes Western Civilization so unique and so precious.

Dismissiveness assumes all will be well, no matter what, irrespective of actions or behaviors across the landscape.

In my observation, the younger generations are much more inclined to forgo logic and facts, and are more inclined to leap into name calling and ridicule in their online debates. This just cannot bode well for American democracy, which is based on the use of logic, reason, and facts. How our citizens expect to hold on to their Constitutional rights and liberties, and yet allow debate to be dominated by juvenile behavior is not wild speculation. Already we have witnessed the erosion of individual liberties at the hands of judges who don’t care what the US Constitution says, or what their particular state constitution says; their basis for decisions making is purely personal, or political.

So go grow a garden, fellow citizens. Tending even a small garden helps us work physical and mental muscles that atrophy easily. It builds small but important personal traits that are needed on a much bigger scale. Tending, cultivating, and nurturing all build basic skills necessary for us to function well as individuals and for our civilization to succeed on the whole.

The alternative – relying on everyone else for everything else we need, and ridiculing the rest – is a recipe for disaster.

Japanese swords — caveat emptor

Taking breathers from political screeds may be rare here, but this is an oddball necessity. One cannot see bloodthirsty fakery and sit silently.

To wit: A lot of guys collect old militaria. Swords, bayonets, guns, helmets, etc. Cool stuff. Inspiring. Evocative of sacrifice and bravery.

Most of this rusty old junk is tough to fake, and even more to the point, pointless to fake, as the rip-off scheme costs more than the item is worth.

Except in the world of old Japanese swords.

The iconic katana and wakizashi have been sought after for decades as both extremely appealing for a red-blooded man to look at, and as artwork; refined craftsmanship that’ll easily cut off an arm. What normal guy wouldn’t be attracted to such art?!

For the past ten years or a bit more, a certain well known, popular, big auction site on the internet has been filled with many obviously faked Japanese swords and daggers. There were and still are some for sale in the past week and presently, hawked as “gendaito” in shingunto mounts. These would be valuable hand-made art blades holstered in relatively rudimentary war-time (WWII) scabbards that saw service in the field. If they were actually old and authentic.

But these are not authentic, historic blades. They were made recently and are being sold as old.

So sad to see such obviously faked signatures, and faked blades, set into authentic WWII mounts and carriers, with blazingly brand-new shirasaya! It’s an obviously winning combination, as buyers pay thousands of dollars for something worth a few hundred at most.

C’mon guys. Use your heads. Do your research. How many gendaito blades really made it out, after WWII? So many that individual sellers seem to constantly, endlessly pull them out like white rabbits from black hats?

Alarm bells not going off?

If your hearts weren’t telling you Yes, your eyes would be telling you “FAKE!”

Run. Run away fast from these too-good-to-be-true bargains with new handles, purposeful minor scuffs, and signatures so clearly punched in by a modern Chinaman, not a Nipon-To maker sitting cross legged eighty years ago.

If nothing else, demand NHTK papers with each sword. Or consider your investment wasted. Sorry to say.

This Public Service Announcement has been brought to you by a fellow dude.

What if concerned citizens blocked the FCC vote tomorrow?

What if concerned citizens went to the FCC headquarters and blocked the five members from meeting there and holding a quorum?

What if the American citizenry decided that they had had enough of Obama’s lawlessness, and they determined the only way to keep the FCC from taking over the Internet was to #OccupyFCC?

What happens when the FCC takes over the Internet, the FEC begins regulating what is posted on the Internet, and the government continues to dispense “waivers” to its regulations like it has with ObamaCare, except that in the case of the Internet the establishment legacy media are allowed to continue on in their partisan way, and everyone else must obey or be severely punished?

Will armed citizens storm the FCC building and take it over, or destroy the hard drives controlling the Internet, to get their freedom back?

These are dangerous times indeed.  A lawless takeover of America is rapidly occurring on many fronts, with government coercion and control behind all of it.  Americans in the past have not responded well to this sort of power grab.  And by bringing in a tidal wave of illegal aliens to vote themselves more of our hard-earned tax money, well, that is the recipe for war.  In fact, there are historic precedents for this throughout human history, where alien nations used surreptitious control from behind the throne to take over a competing nation they could not vanquish through warfare.

Obama did not love the America he became president of in 2008, there is no question about that.  He is seeking to fundamentally transform America into something else, completely deviating from its founding principles, the principles that made our nation great and a beacon of freedom and hope.

To be fair, Obama is being aided by the weakest group of elected officials in our nation’s history.  The Republicans in Congress are obsessed with their own personal power and prestige, their long careers, not with staying true to our Constitution, or to good government, or freedom of speech.

To quote many of my good friends, this situation is “unsustainable.”

The end of the Internet as metaphor

As intriguing as the thought of artificial intelligence may be, the truth is always so much more prosaic and humble.

The last frontier and the only real outpost of true free speech, the Internet was never broken, it needed no fixing.  And yet the Obama administration, through the FCC and FEC,  is planning on regulating it like a utility and then regulating its content.

If you have a website, like this blog, you will have to apply for a license, just like a radio or TV station.  Imagine some government bureaucrat not liking the message of smaller, more accountable government on this or similar websites, and then not issuing the necessary license to have it in the first place.  Your free speech, my free speech, is shut off, shut down, by the very government that is supposed to guarantee the First Amendment.

That is the FCC role.

And then if I write things that are supportive of one candidate over another, it’ll count as an in-kind contribution to that candidate’s campaign.  Imagine an army of government bureaucrats monitoring free speech on the Internet, and writing down and tabulating what people say and write on their blogs as campaign contributions.

That is the FEC proposal, and it is none too supportive of free speech, either.

And mind you, the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, CNN, NPR, MSNBC and other establishment and legacy media will all get passes.  They can continue to be active arms of one particular political party, and their writings, their endorsements, will not count as in-kind campaign contributions.

While all this government interference and control in our private lives seems insane to the normal freedom-loving American, it is, in fact, what is happening right now.  “Net neutrality” sounds, well, neutral, and it is anything but that.

Tempting as it is to say “And then add this to the IRS political suppression and NSA spying scandals…,” the truth is that few people seem to care, no matter what Obama does.  Americans are willingly giving up their freedoms, their control of government, their tax money, their security, to a man who clearly does not like America as it has been founded and run since 1776.

Apparently, government control of Internet content and our individual personal lives fits into that general malaise.  Sad.

What is even sadder is that so many people so much want one particular party to have complete control that they will do all of this, plus grant amnesty to illegal aliens to overrun the established voters who built the nation.  None of this is sustainable.  No nation can withstand this.

 

Obama formally seeks to control the Internet, alter the biggest Free Speech forum on the planet

Acting through the Federal Communications Commission, the Obama administration has issued a proposed rule that will dramatically change the Internet and everyone’s experience on it.

Seeking absolute control of the one information source not controlled by the Left, Obama’s FCC now seeks to tax internet use and establish 322 pages of rules and regulations.

The Federal Elections Commission is also pursuing regulation of political speech on the Internet, like this blog.  Can you imagine? It is totalitarian behavior.

If there is one defining characteristic of the Internet now, it’s that it is a free place, a frontier, a free market, open to as many people as could possibly participate. Surely the utopians among us will be dissatisfied but it’s an incredible feature of modern life.

The Internet needs no regulations. No one will benefit from these regulations, except the Left, because the Net has allowed millions of political activists to circumvent the establishment media, which is 100% in the pocket of and an arm of one liberal political party.

By regulating the Internet, the FCC will determine what is political speech, and whether or not that violates some rule.

Can you imagine putting government bureaucrats in charge of your free speech rights?

No, neither can I, but it’s the Left’s dream to control all communications so their message of forced peace and equality at any cost will find fewer opponents.

We have a state senator here in central PA who campaigned with his name below the Obama name on yard signs. It will be very interesting to hear what this senator has to say about this, because as a member of the Left he stands to benefit from it, but as a representative of the people, he must advocate for their interests, especially their Constitutional rights.

 

Tests of America’s endurance; we shall overcome

Barack Hussein Obama declared a law singlehandedly last night.

Not that it’s legal or constitutional for any president to impose so much change on American citizens by himself.

American checks and balances of power between the three branches of government require debate and approvals across the board to achieve law or the effects of law.

But we have just witnessed our first rogue, imperial president, whose disgust with everything about America means he has no time or respect for its laws, history, and Constitution.

Obama’s unilateral “amnesty” for millions of illegal aliens is a test of our nation’s endurance, just as we have experienced in the past. Say, the Civil War…….

We have overcome all of those tests and we shall overcome this test, too.

America’s dalliance with this false messiah Obama has resulted in an unprecedented assault on individual rights. Using the IRS and other federal agencies to aggressively “investigate” opponents of the Obama Administration has opened the flood gates among the citizens. Sure, a bunch of innocent citizens will go to jail to satisfy this one man’s hunger for power, but the citizenry increasingly takes notice.

Yes, Obama is making an effort to take over the internet, and thereby suppress citizen dissent in that space. He may very well try another unilateral “executive action” that assumes the bureaucracy will go along with him.

“Tyrants beware!” was a common motto among our founding citizenry. That tyrant, King George, also was arrogant and also believed that the iron fist of armed government coercion would put down the rebellion.

This tyrant, Obama, is well down that old path. What disturbs me is that so many Americans would rather see our democracy fail, or be sorely tested, than to be honest about Obama’s failure. What does that say about our neighbors and friends, upon whom we rely for so much and yet who would see the nation descend into chaos and rebellion.

Answers are tough to come by on this stuff. The questions alone are terrifying.

My take on tonight’s Corbett – Wolf Debate, and Tom Brokaw’s Plea for Control of Our Lives

Like a few thousand other attendees at the Pennsylvania Chamber of Commerce dinner tonight, I sat in the audience and watched Governor Tom Corbett and Democrat nominee Tom Wolf debate each other, with reporter Dennis Owens moderating.  Dennis was outstanding.  I also stayed for the Tom Brokaw speech afterwards.

Here are the highlights as I see them:

1) Corbett beat Wolf hands-down, in substance, poise, accuracy, and humility.  And damned if I am not still surprised.  Given how insipid the Corbett campaign has been to date, I expected the worst performance from him tonight.  That did not materialize.

2) While overall the debate was Dull vs Duller, and neither man was exciting or inspiring, the amazing fact is that Tom Corbett found his voice tonight.  Tom Wolf talked in circles, kept stating that he is a businessman (six, seven times), mis-spoke (“the vast majority of married Pennsylvanians file separate tax reports”), spoke in vague generalities bordering on fluffy clouds and flying unicorns, and addressed none of the substantive issues pegged by moderator Dennis Owens or by Corbett.

3) Wolf seemed to play it safe, venturing nothing new, nothing specific.  He did not even respond the to the Delaware Loophole questions posed to him.  He simply ignored them.  If he persists in this evasiveness, Corbett can catch up and beat him.  Voters can now see it, and it ain’t pretty.  Corbett may be The Most Boring Man in the World, but Wolf looked completely unprepared to be governor.

4) Wolf’s “I’ll-know-it-when-I-see-it” response to policy and finance questions is not acceptable for a candidate to run a state government.

5) Corbett actually ate some humble pie, admitting that he is not a good communicator.  Understatement, yes, but he is not a guy who likes to admit he’s wrong.  So that was big.  Again, expectations for Corbett were super low, and he started out looking and sounding defeated.  But even he recognized that he was beating Wolf, and his performance picked up as the debate went on.

Brokaw:

1) Ancient establishment reporter Tom Brokaw has a great voice, and lots of stage presence.  He’s good looking for a guy that old.  He wrote a book about The Greatest Generation, so he must be a pretty great guy.  That is the marketing, anyhow.  His ideas run the gamut from standard liberal to downright contradictory and mutually-exclusive confused, to pathetic control freak.

2) Although Brokaw started talking about the Tea Party, and he complimented its members for getting involved in the political process (which he said is necessary), he never said or recognized the American Constitution as core to tea party’s goals, values, principles, or guiding role. So although he talked about it, it didn’t seem evident that he understands or has thought about the Tea Party much.

3) Brokaw said “I leave it to you determine if the Tea Party is good for America. I’m just a reporter, I just report the facts. You have to come to your own conclusions.”  As if he was not passing judgment on the Tea Party.  Yet, he asked the question and obviously thinks the Tea Party is bad for America; that is his hint.  Given that Brokaw is a liberal at war with America, this is a big cue to conservative activists: Keep it up, the liberal media establishment is scared of you.

4) He called for “filtration” and a “filter” of the internet, and talked about the “simple people” who manage his Montana ranch and get news from the Internet, which he disavowed and sees as unworthy.  This is the kind of intellectual region where Brokaw makes no sense.  On the one hand, the big establishment media is all over the Internet, so if people get their news from the Internet, and not TV chatterheads or fishwrap newspapers, then there’s no real problem with the Internet as a news source.  What Brokaw seemed to be challenged by is the fact that Breitbart and citizen reporters (think Watchdogwire, or my own blog) are circumventing the establishment media.  He does not understand or care that the ‘simple’ masses are hungry for unfiltered news, for real news, for facts and not liberal agenda.  How his imagined filters jibe, square, or conflict with the First Amendment was not mentioned; I am unsure it even occurred to Brokaw that purposefully filtering information is censorship.  But he is a guy who believes in sixty years of past liberal censorship, so I guess he has to stay consistent today.

5) Brokaw implied that the establishment media are the source of accurate information and “big ideas,” and that alternative news and opinion sources are not.  He said he doesn’t believe what he reads on the internet.  He is clearly bothered there’s now no difference between establishment media and bloggers and citizen reporters in terms of equal accessibility. He’s having a tough time letting go of controlling the message Americans receive, which is really his objection: Liberal media elites are losing the propaganda war because they no longer have a choke hold on the information flow; ergo, the Internet is full of bad information.

An indication of just how undeveloped his thinking is: Richard Nixon, Richard Nixon, Richard Nixon…for Liberals, Nixon was the High Priest of Done Bad in Government.  It does not seem to occur to Brokaw that Nixon’s crimes pale in comparison to the lawless tyranny Obama has inflicted upon American citizens. E.g. NSA spying and IRS crushing of political dissent.

6) On the other hand, he’s into high tech and the future of technology.  Very impressed by Google staff and all of the “big minds” gathered at tech conventions.  Brokaw doesn’t reconcile his adulation with his view of information flow on the net.  I am guessing here that he’d be OK if Google ran all the news on the Internet, because Google is made of liberals who share his political agenda.  “Good” liberals and “bad” conservatives is what he is after.

7) Annoyingly, Brokaw dropped names all over the place, as if to impress us with how important he is: Jon Stewart, the NFL commissioner, et al. “I was emailing with ____ _____, and he says ‘Tom..’.” “My books.” “I’m on the board of…..” This seemed self-conscious and actually undermined his standing, because truly great people never look at themselves this way.  They simply Are Great.

8) Finally, he called for a new form of foreign service corps, some hybrid of the Peace Corps, Americorps, and the military.  It was terribly confused, but it was also the kind of Big Idea he admires others for having, so evidently he must have one, too, even of it makes no practical sense.

Social Media Giants have a political agenda; establish your own

If the Internet and related social media are supposed to increase democracy and free speech, consider that YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter all repeatedly demonstrate a shared political agenda by censoring and obliterating political, social, and religious views contrary to those held by the owners of these media giants.

Twitter blocked tweets that include istandwithphil.com, an online support effort for the Duck Dynasty guy railroaded by anti-Christian bigots. Never mind that istandwithphil.com says only that a person stands with Phil, and supports his right to free speech without being punished. Nothing too volatile there. Unless you are opposed to what Phil stands for: Traditional Christianity, traditional Judaism, the Bible.

Facebook is notorious for instantly eradicating Facebook pages of conservative commentators, reporters, and politicians. Arab reporter Abu Toameh reports unseemly facts about the Palestinian Authority that the mainstream media does not want people to know. Violence and corruption as political tools, crushing of dissent, etc., all not of interest to Facebook’s owner, so – Bing – the pages disappear.

YouTube is once again blocking Palestinian Media Watch from airing the English translation of an official Palestinian Authority video in Arabic. YouTube claims that this video foments violence and prejudice. But YouTube is allowing the actual official PA video to stay up on its YouTube channel…as if promoting violence and racism is OK in Arabic, but it’s not OK when it is translated into English so Westerners can see for themselves how evil the PA is.

And don’t get started on the political assignations of Google, infamous for their constant manipulation of facts, data, and news, which Google’s owners purposefully skew in order to bury facts they do not like and to promote ideas they support.

Which is to say, first, do not trust social media sources to champion or protect your free speech rights. Social media sources like YouTube, Twitter, Google, and Facebook are largely owned and run by political Leftists who take every opportunity to crush dissent and hide information not supportive of their political views or their favored politicians (Obama). The sooner you recognize that, the more effective you will be.

Second, don’t just complain about this obvious favoritism and manipulation; do something about it. What can citizens with ideas different than the owners of social media firms do? Start their own channels, their own websites, their own information feeds. For that matter, citizens can start their own TV shows (support Glenn Beck’s TV show), start their own theatre companies, their own humor shows (wouldn’t it be fun to watch real actors parody SNL actors Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin?), or their own faux news shows (an alternative to Jon Stewart). Heck, you can hand out your own printed newsletter in your neighborhood, and take to task whatever propaganda has been lately emitted by your local news establishment.

The point is, citizens do not have to take this manipulation lying down. It is just one more facet in the war for America. Recognize the battlefield you are on, and fight to win.

You vs. Machine

Since the days of the Luddites, Human versus Machine has been a persistent theme, with the human being the “good” side, and the machine wearing the black hat. It’s easy to see why.

This theme has been fully developed by Hollywood, with movies such as 2001: A Space Odyssey, the Terminator series, and plenty of other sci-fi fiction, with future dystopias where humans battle cruel robots and machines that are either under their own control or under some robotic impulse, either way sparing the humans no quarter.

Truth is often the father of fiction, and this week we have seen three real-life Human vs. Machine stories that are much more compelling than the fake thrillers on screen. One is local, one is regional, and one is national.

First up is the local story, where Harrisburg mayoral candidate Nevin Mindlin argued his court appeal this Wednesday in front of a three-judge panel. A former Republican, the hyper-qualified Mindlin is now an Independent. He was removed from the ballot by a bizarre last-second technical objection by his opponent’s friends, after a hearing in a heavily politicized Dauphin County courtroom. See, Mindlin represents a threat to the combined and congruent interests of both the Democratic Party establishment machine and the Republican Party establishment machine, both of which fed in a bipartisan parasitic manner off of the body of Harrisburg City. Mindlin is completely independent of party bosses, and he will run the city (to the extent he can) in a way that is fairest for the Taxpayer. The establishments of both major parties have much to lose if Mindlin wins, because he will demand a criminal investigation into the debt shenanigans that destroyed the city, as opposed to Eric Papenfuse, who will simply look the other way and let the problems slip into the past, while the taxpayers are saddled with yet more unjustified losses. It is Man vs. machine, or really, vs. machines.

Regionally, the Mid-West has been a political toss-up, with one-time Republican Colorado becoming more liberal as Californians flee their home disaster and seek to bring the same bad ideas to an innocent, rural wonderland. This week we saw the recall of two defiantly arrogant state senators who had led the charge for insane gun laws. These laws do zero to effect crime and do everything to hamper lawful gun ownership, the kind Americans have enjoyed since the very beginning of the nation. The fact that both state senators were Democrats and the fact that their opponents did not include the Republican Party, but rather were an assembly of pissed-off citizens makes this a true-life Human vs. Machine contest. The local citizens who led the recall effort faced down and beat the Michael Bloomberg anti-gun machine, the Democratic Party machine, and several other political machines.

Naturally, the mainstream media has said very little if anything about this incredible feat. Naturally they haven’t, because to inform the voters out there that their future might really be in their hands, then their favored political party might lose power. So they hush it up. Recall that the failed effort to recall Wisconsin’s governor and several allied state senators was reported heavily every day for months and months, until it in fact failed. And then the mainstream media quickly slunk away and said “Never mind, folks.”

Finally, one Human vs. Machine story is still playing out in front of us on the national stage. That is the effort to define who is a journalist and what is journalism. No kidding.

With traditional and mainstream media sources dying left and right, this effort to exclude citizen journalists and artificially buoy up the legacy media is really just an effort to retain an old power that is quickly slipping through away, but which the Democrats need.

The advent of Internet media, blogs, and email have greatly leveled the playing field between citizen, voter, and political machine. At one time the only place where a voter could get news was from the news media, which is heavily invested in liberal and Leftist values (witness the 100th major media personality to leave the mainstream media and join the 0bama administration, this week, going from “satellite” duty to “in-house” role). Now, voters can get all kinds of reporting and information, without subjecting themselves to the heavy filtering and manipulation of the mainstream media, as best represented by CBS, NPR, ABC, NBC, the New York Times, Washington Post, LA Times, etc. This threat to one of the most important sources of power and control has one political party scrambling. And so is no surprise that US Senator Dianne Feinstein of California is now leading the charge to make only the failing legacy media be defined as “real” journalism, and the new media, with citizen reporters like me, as somehow unfit and thus, not “real” journalists.

Never mind that any website is pretty much the same website as the New York Times, except that with many others (like here) you get no advertisements. Never mind that journalism school is really just an advocacy training system, teaching young liberals how to go out and spread their Gospel of Leftism and liberalism.

I mean, really, how much training does it really take to make calls, knock on doors, interview people, look up facts, and then write about them? Journalism school should be about one semester long.

So now we see the Human vs. Machine playing out with us citizens fighting to maintain our right to free speech, our right to be heard like anyone else, our right to have our desktop printing presses be just as valued as someone else’s larger printing press. And the machine we are battling is a national political party.

As usual, I sign off by asking you dear readers to do something practical about this problem. Do something to support the little guy, like help Nevin Mindlin by going door-to-door for him in Harrisburg City. Donate ten bucks to your favorite gun rights group. And write an op-ed or a comment on some website, as a symbol of your own independent thinking, free of the hatchet jobs of political parties or the mainstream media.