Beware the Stingray (land-dwelling version)

Beware the Stingray (land version)

Beautiful animal, isn’t it? But there’s another kind of Stingray that lives on land and it’s its “ears” that provide its dangerous sting. Oh, and the land version, made by secretive government contractor Harris Corporation, runs on batteries and is probably much more of a threat to you than the flesh-and-blood version — one of them could be onto you right now. It’s such a threat to your privacy that the Federal Government is trying very hard to keep its very existence secret, and you should at least know about it. Click on the image for more info.

Loss of freedom is a one-way trip, and what you can do about it

ImageA thought to consider: No government ever willingly gave up any kind of surveillance powers. Once in Big Brother’s hands, Big Brother never gives up an effective tool. The time to safeguard your freedom and privacy is before government starts using it, not after.

I say this as someone who grew up under a then-new Communist regime and saw how liberties disappeared as Communism grew. But in that respect there is nothing exclusively unique about Communism; we’ve seen the squeezing and trampling of our freedoms and privacy happening in the United States too. It’s become considerably worse under the Obama regime, but it certainly didn’t start with Obama.

Think about this and act — act vociferously — before it’s too late. It’s the very least we owe our children and future generations, to leave to them the freedoms we once had, and at the present rate, judging by what has been happening to our freedoms and privacy the last few years, we’re not doing a very good job of it.

So what can you do about it? Here and here are good places to join the fight on the national and global level, another on a more personal level to defend your own personal privacy. And to help learn and keep up with the latest, security guru Bruce Schneier’s blog is a great start.

Seven new ways you’re being watched

In the race between individual privacy vs. government use of technology, Big Brother technology is winning. The vast majority of people, even us “professional paranoids” who make it our interest to keep up and to warn others of the threats to their persons and privacy, can’t keep up with all the new ways being invented and put to use to keep tabs on even the most minor — though in some ways most invasive and therefore dangerous — ways to pry into and record what we do. say, and even think.

Here is a list and brief explanations of seven new ways by which you are being watched, tracked, and recorded by police. And in these cases that means even your local police; it doesn’t necessarily mean the big entities like the NSA. (The NSA & ilk in many cases already have even more effective means to do things like this.)

Believe me, the time to fight for your freedom, rights, and privacy is now, not later. And a good place to start is by joining with others trying to uncover what’s happening.

Bending your mind… with color?

We all know that color can affect how we feel and react: Cheery colors in a room, of an attractive object, of a glorious sunset — all can have a marked effect on mood and feeling.

But what if the effect goes much deeper? What if exposure to a given color can have effects on you as strong as any physical effect, such as making you physically weaker or stronger? What if exposure to colored lights, objects, or surroundings be used (perhaps by others) to weaken or control you? That would be freaky, scary, potentially deviously manipulative to the point of being dangerous.

And yet serious evidence is mounting that human exposure to color can have deep and irresistible effects on our behavior, judgment, and even physical abilities. Red can affect sexual attraction, while being in a pink room can make you physically weaker, or at least less aggressive. These are not tenets of pop psychology, but based on objective evidence and measurement — the effects are real, some of them so well established that “drunk-tank pink” (RGB=255,145,175 or #ff91af, for those who want to play with HTML RGB colors) is used in thousands of jail cells worldwide, with the authorities reporting remarkable results in de-fusing the offenders.

But what can be used also be abused? Can the powerful effects of color be used to surreptitiously control or manipulate? Could color exposure be used to affect business negotiations, the behavior of children, the decisions of a judge or jury? One cannot but wonder — and scheme?

No doubt some will, and probably already do. How are you being (unknowingly) affected?

Savvy paranoia indeed. Yes, indeed. But no need to worry, just be happy. Happy, happy, happy.

On privacy: Something positive for a change

One of the most insidious aspects of the privacy overreach by government agencies is that law enforcement agents, acting without any kind of court order, would order routinely order the data providers not to tell you that your data was being collected by the cops. But now some of the big data providers, such as Google and Apple, are starting to push back and the result is good for you and me. More info.

MiniVan Yo’, angels in Australia, a jet pack you can buy, golf to a nuclear bomb, more

  • Swaggerin' in the Wagon

    Swagger Wagon: Toyota scores a hit, yo’.

  • Can beer and wine help avoid dementia? Well, in fact, yes. Can too much beer and wine hasten dementia? Well, yes, there’s that too. But not enough is bad too. See the video at the link.
  • Repeat after me: I am an Obama Scholar.”
  • Cooking is chemistry: A chemist explains what really happens when you cook asparagus and how you can use an apple to ripen an avocado.
  • Wanna buy a jet pack? Now you can. Bring your American Express Black card. (Don’t know what an American Express Black card is? It’s real, but see this.) That said, I’m not happy about these new jet packs.Jet packs are cool James Bond-grade stuff, but the price of these new ones disturbs me, and not just because I can’t afford one. At $250K each, these new ones seem to be no different — no better and no cheaper — than the originals a half century ago. I would think that with modern technology and materials it should be possible to build jet packs both better and cheaper than what was being built when Eisenhower was President. Is this the best we can do?
  • Angels in Australia: A retired couple in Australia have saved more than 160 lives with nothing more than a cup of tea and a smile.
  • “Gee, look what came up in the fish net.”: Taiwanese Navy loses a live torpedo, is offering a reward to anyone who finds it.
  • Nice golf course, nuclear bomb included: Before you laugh at Taiwan losing a torpedo, consider another interesting incident: The U.S. Air Force loss of two large nuclear bombs over (actually under) North Carolina in 1961. Few Americans have ever heard about this, and even fewer realize that both bombs were accidentally armed at the time of release, one was found snagged in a tree and within inches of the required ground contact to detonate, while the other is still in the ground near Goldsboro, NC, deep below a swamp that makes the ground so unstable that the bomb cannot be recovered. So it’s still there, under the swamp, within sight of a local golf course.And that’s not the only one: The U.S. has accidentally dropped or lost nuclear bombs on at least eight separate instances. See this listing (excerpted from the Congressional Record of the 102nd Congress) for more info, this list of all types of nuclear accidents, and this compilation of accounts of such events from 1946 to 2004. Now stop whining and quit worrying about it. I mean, what’s the worst that could happen?

Why be paranoid? This is why.

You copy an email to somebody you don’t know well, or an email to you is copied to someone you don’t know. Perhaps someone who doesn’t like you much, or dislikes something you said.

Next thing you know that person, using nothing more than your email header or address, is able to learn all about you — where you live, what you drive, your marital details, your life’s embarrassments, what you do, who your kids are, their names, where they go to school, what they look like, who your friends are, your pet’s names, your hobbies, where you went on vacation last year, you private proclivities, your Social Security number, and much more.

Here’s how it’s done. And this is the easy stuff, the stuff you can do for free in a few minutes. There are much more powerful tools than what this article shows.

Note what happened in that article: Some guy (the author) got an email he didn’t want from a fellow named Steve Nicholas. So, in a fit of spite and with a bit of specialty knowledge, he outed Mr. Nicholas’ most private details all over the Internet. If the writer had had more of a motive than to make an example of the hapless Nicholas  — if he’d had true nefarious intent — he could have done much more: steal his bank accounts, steal his identity, destroy his reputation, set him up and get him busted for child porn. That last one is a doozie and it’s remarkably easy to do with just a bit of info.

Want to know why I’m paranoid? That’s why I’m paranoid. And why you should be too.

Does that stuff really happen? “You betcha.” [Is that trademarked now?] Happens all the time to both the mighty (Google execs, Sarah Palin) and the lowly (the now-infamous Mr. Nicholas).

The Professional Paranoid’s Rule #1: Safe computing means paranoid computing. Believe it.

So: What to do? Besides common sense and all the usual tips (shred your trash, don’t divulge passwords, etc.) there are two things that are very seldom mentioned, are cheap or free, and either of which would have completely prevented what happened to Mr. Nicholas. I’ll post those in a future blog.

Satire too good to miss

No matter what one’s politics, brilliant satire is a thing of beauty, a graceful epee that scores points without wounding. So much of what passes for satire today is no more than cruel verbal thuggery. So it’s a breath of fresh air, a treat of brilliance, to see true satire and parody as stylishly and elegantly done as is the work of Politizoid — see links below to some of their work on YouTube.

Money for Nothing

Guantanamo Idol

Politizoid definitely leans right, but whether one takes their side or not, it’s hard not to see the artistry and elegance. And it’s dang real ROFLMAOPMP material, too. 🙂

There’s lots more on YouTube from Politizoid, if you get hooked and need to gorge on 20 more. 🙂

Fastest object ever?

Simple question: What is the fastest man-made object ever? The stock answer the last few years has been “the Voyager 1 spacecraft,” which after a few gravity slings on its way out of the Solar System has now reached a speed over 35000 miles per hour, or about 1.5 times Earth’s escape velocity. But nope, that’s not it.

Hint: It’s not a plane, a bullet, a rocket, or even a spacecraft, though it was ground-launched.

Would you believe something like an extra-large manhole cover? A steel disk four feet wide and four inches thick that for a brief period on a balmy summer night in 1957 it’s estimated by scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory to have reached six times Earth’s escape velocity. That’s 150 000 miles per hous, four times faster than poky Voyager 1.

Here’s the story on this, including links to ample official documentation.

Tell me what you think. My mind still reels every time I think about this amazing — absolutely, utterly amazing — series of events and what a magical time it must have been in 1957 to be free to do things like that. What a time, what a country.