The Definition of Insanity Is…

There’s a great clip from the game Far Cry 3 which explains the definition of insanity:

This isn’t a new definition, though the game’s villain definitely puts a colorful spin on it. The original quotation is commonly attributed to Albert Einstein, though it may be apocryphal. Nonetheless, the basic concept has been with us for quite some time.

Thing is, in the world of politics, this is almost exactly what we do. The same thing, over and over again, expecting the situation to change. Francis explains over at Liberty’s Torch:

We returned a group of legislators to Congress who could best be described as “pusillanimous time-servers.” There’s very little courage to be found among them; they cower at the lightest criticism from the press, to say nothing of the way they shrink from the barbs of their political opponents. Their highest ambition is to die in office; by their behavior we must conclude that they believe the best course toward that end is never to offend anyone. Was it really imaginable that they would follow any bold course, regardless of the topic or their supposed positions on it?

 

We consistently expect more honesty, candor, and respect for our rights from politicians than they provide in practice. We keep “throwing the rascals out” and electing a new set, “insanely assuming that they are better than the set turned out. And at each election we are, as they say in Motherland, done in.” (H. L. Mencken) How is it that we have not yet confronted the fatuity of our expectations?

 

The greatest need of our time is for realism about politics, governments, and the behavior thereof. Will it come? If so, from where – or whom?

Here we are, us Americans, doing the exact same thing, over and over again, expecting things to change. We say to ourselves, “no, no, no, no, this time, it’s gonna be different.” And it never is. Not really. Maybe Trump is a little different, as we’ve never tried electing someone like him into high office before. But even that may be a stretch, and he may turn out to be more of the same. Certainly the rest of our politicians have nothing new about them.

Where does that leave us, then?

Well, as the quote tells us in so many words, you have to try something new, something different. Donald Trump was a peaceful something different. If that doesn’t work out for us, the options on the table grow fewer. At that point, the non-Marxist must ask himself if there are any peaceful options remaining. It may be that there are none, because Marxists don’t respond to peace any more than militant Islamics respond to peace.

It may be that Marxists view peace as a weakness, and thus violence truly is all that remains to us should Trump fail. I don’t know. I’m just a regular guy on the Internet, whose opinions may or may not have value in this context. But one thing I do know is that doing the same thing over and over again… that is crazy.

Narcissism: The New Face of Evil

The last thing I expected logging in to Social Media today was a bunch of headlines about an “Easter Massacre.” What a mess. This site has the video the shooter livestreamed on Facebook, and it’s agonizing to watch. A poor 74 year-old man was just walking home, minding his own business, and a piece of human garbage randomly selected him to be shot in the head for no reason whatsoever.

Fortunately for the nonce, it would appear the shooter’s brag about killing thirteen others is probably bogus. Hopefully they find this guy and put him down.

This idea of livestreaming your criminal activities is just sick and intensely narcissistic. A few years ago, an IRS scammer who bilked millions bragged on Facebook that she could never be caught, being that she was so clever and all. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out how that ended up.

We have a peculiar brand of evil, here. It isn’t the intensely sociopathic, cold-blooded evil which we traditionally associate with acts like this. That kind of evil tends to want to hide itself. The sociopath often pretends to be a normal human being. No, these individuals are narcissists. They crave attention and recognition. Indeed, they crave it so badly, it overrides their empathy toward their fellow man. At that point, killing, stealing, assaulting — whatever — all becomes part of some grand effort to become popular even if that popularity is effectively negative.

These people would rather be hated by many, than loved by a few.

The disease is not limited to casual murderers killing old men on the streets, or tax scammers bilking people out of their tax return money. It can also be seen at a meta level in the recent Antifa protests and attacks at Berkeley. This is attention-seeking behavior, a desire to be seen in the headlines, to be famous, or infamous even. They will pepper spray women in the face for daring to have the temerity to wear a Trump hat.

But, like the child throwing a temper tantrum, it’s not merely about being angry that a candidate lost, or a particular political effort failed, it’s about wanting attention, it’s about everyone in the grocery store seeing the child throwing his arms around and screaming.

In other words, it is narcissism. It’s media coverage they crave, it’s even blog posts like this one, talking about how evil these people are. Some of my readers might be thinking something along the lines of: “well, if you believe this, Dystopic, why are you writing about it? Why not starve them of the attention they seek?”

Therein lies a conundrum. If I don’t discuss the issue, the media still will. They will sensationalize him, either as a monster, or maybe the product of the Capitalist White Supremacist CisHeteroPatriarchy, or something else equally inane. Whatever the angle, they will give him the attention he wants regardless of what I do. But at the same time, we must understand why people act this way and what they presume to get out of it.

I’m not sure what we can do about this attention-seeking brand of evil, save to be armed and ready every moment of the day. How much better, after all, would it have been to see this would-be murderer get shot by a concealed-carry holder on his own livestream? What if the old man simply blew him away and went on about his business? Maybe that’s all one can do about this.

Nonetheless, in the coming days, it is possible the media may try to make excuses for this man. Don’t forget the shocked and confused face of a 78 year old man, just walking home, in the moments before he was shot in the street. Narcissism or not, this was pure evil.

Selective Weaponizing of Empathy

Weaponized Empathy is a topic I keep bringing up here at The Declination. It is an insidious weapon, both pervasive and subtle. The weapon preys upon your better nature, twisting your better instincts in the service of another.

Guilt-tripping is the best way I can describe it. You are made to feel guilty and remorse for things you have not done. A white man might be made to feel guilty for slavery in the United States, despite having never owned slaves, nor having countenanced slavery in any form. He might be called a Nazi for being vaguely Right-of-center, despite his ancestors having participated in the liberation of Jews from Nazi Germany.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a fresh-off-the-boat Romanian immigrant. You’re white, so you’re privileged. Therefore, also, you are guilty. The Left tells us not to be prejudiced, that is to say to prejudge a person. Yet they ascribe guilt, a literal form of judgment, onto people they don’t know.

Then they say that you should feel guilty. Perhaps today you should feel guilty for being white, and tomorrow all men should feel guilty for having penises. And the day after, straight people should feel guilty for not being homosexual. And so on…

Guilt. I’m tired of it, folks. Pardon my French, but it’s all horseshit. Commensurate with Right-wing philosophy in general if you do the crime, you’re going to do the time. But the reverse is also true. If you haven’t done the crime, then you should not do the time.

In other words, I’m done with that sort of thing. I don’t care if folks on the Left think I’m some kind of cold-hearted, heretical bastard, a blasphemer of the religion of political correctness.

Whatever.

Most folks have heard about the attack in Sweden. If you haven’t, you’ve probably been living under a rock. Meanwhile, a Leftist Swedish rag talks about how cars ought to be banned in response to the attacks.

I wasn’t originally going to comment on the attack. After all, there are too many Islamic terror attacks these days for one blogger to ever hope to cover them all (and isn’t that a sad state of affairs?). But one thing compelled me to do so.

You see, like the picture of the Syrian boy who drowned, there is a horrifying picture floating around the Internet right now of an 11 year old girl who was, quite literally torn to pieces by the terror attack. Pieces of her are scattered all over the road, a leg here, a leg there, guts strewn all over the road.

I’m absolutely not going to post it on my blog, because my readers are likely to lose the contents of their stomachs if they see it. But I’ve seen it, and so have many others. You can probably find it for yourself with a little Google-fu. I did, however, verify the photo with local landmarks, and the position of the covered bodies in the photographs the press has released. So it’s not a fake (there have been weaponized fake pics floating around social media all too often lately).

It is, by an order of magnitude, a more powerful picture than the dead Syrian boy.

So why haven’t you seen even a semi-censored/pixelated version of this picture? Is it because it is too gruesome? Doubtful. Certainly if that were true, they could have at least posted an alternate angle.

No, the gruesome death of Ebba Akerlund doesn’t fit the pro-Islam, pro-migrant narrative. They could weaponize the photo, if they chose to, but they don’t want to. So why are pictures of Syrian children weaponized, and Swedish children not? It’s not rocket science, obviously.

This could have been worldwide news, at a level that would dwarf the dead Syrian boy, or the affair with United Airlines. But only a few outlets are even carrying her story at all.

It’s enough to make one sick, almost as sick as someone who saw the picture in question.

As for the media, I’d appreciate it if you stopped wasting my time, trying to sell Islam to the West like some kind of used car salesman decked out in 70s plaid, trying desperately to clear his lot of lemons. I’m not buying, okay?

Trump & Syria

Well, the reaction to Trump’s attack on Syria is, to say the least, rather mixed. Personally, I am somewhat disappointed. I don’t know about all of my readers, but I’m exhausted of Middle Eastern quagmires. Evan McMullin decided this was a good time to agree with Trump’s attack… and then bash Trump anyway. So doing what his opponents want doesn’t seem to have any effect on how much they hate him. If that was his goal, it failed miserably.

On the other hand, doom-and-gloom folks who say this is the end of Trump are off base, too. Drudge has something like 65% favorability for the attack on their recent poll last time I looked at it, and only 21% opposed (the remainder are uncertain). So folks on the right are still more or less behind him.

All that being said, I’d prefer if Trump concentrated on our domestic issues, especially illegal immigration. That, and keeping Syrian migrants out of the country, since those nations who have embraced mass numbers of migrants continue to suffer terror attacks from the same. Middle Eastern quagmires never end well. We’ve tried them time and time again, and the cost in blood and treasure isn’t worth it. To put it simply, it’s not our problem. And, quite frankly, I’m irritated at those who want to import these problems into my country.

All that being said, Francis has written a much better summary of where we are now that this has happened, and so I will more or less defer to him on this.

As I said on Twitter earlier, this is disappointing to me. I hoped to see better from Trump. However, I’ll let this one pass. There are many plausible explanations for why he did this, and not all of them are bad. That being said, I hope this is an aberration, and not the setting the tone for his administration. Otherwise I might be inclined to rethink my support for him going forward.

The Edgar Suit is Slipping Away

The esteemed Sarah Hoyt has written a great followup to Marxism: the Bug Wearing an Edgar Suit. As we know, the Left infiltrates institutions, guts them, and wears the skin of the destroyed institution, demanding the respect once due to the original. They then use this to destroy individuals who do not cooperate with the politically correct narrative. Marxists may be terrible economists, and inverted moralists, but they are quite good at playing political games. It may be the only real talent they have.

Unfortunately that talent is generally sufficient to launch them to the fore.

Sarah explains for us:

There was a time — listen to me, children — when the left had the power to utterly destroy anyone they chose to.

 

They would descend in a swarm, find some little thing you had said, take it out of context, then pound you with it until you no longer had a job, a marriage, any friends willing to admit to knowing you.

 

Actually it wasn’t even required that they take something you said and take it out of context.  They controlled all the gate keeping positions and a whisper campaign could go out — the equivalent of having your papers stamped PU for Politically Unreliable — and depending on how much money they could make off you, you’d either be turned out without references (so to put it) or, in my field, be kept in midlist durance vile.  (In other fields there are equivalents, where you do all the work, but never get anywhere with money, let alone power.)

 

This is partly how they GOT all the gatekeeping positions, and kept them, or in other words, how they gutted all the important institutions of our culture and then wore the institutions’ skin, demanding respect.

Most of us on the Right have dealt with this. The options were generally to hide your political views, and stuff yourself into the Conservative closet, or to suffer significant penalties to your career, your social life, and your income. The Left made Conservatism expensive in terms of social capital. However, as Sarah tells us, the Left had to spend vast amounts of capital themselves in order to achieve this. They had to take over academia, the media, entertainment, and infiltrate pretty much every sizable institution in the country. In simple terms, they needed a monopoly.

Because if a Right-winger had the ability to leave the places where the Left held sway, he could no longer be silenced.

The Edgar suit has been slipping away for quite some time now. In 2016, the media’s skin suit slipped off entirely. Their hatred of Trump was so great, and their love of Hillary so complete, that the skin suit cracked and fell apart. Everyone knows the media is partisan now. The fiction of an unbiased, impartial purveyor of news has fallen away forever. And here’s the kicker: all of this vast expenditure of social capital was insufficient to topple Donald Trump’s campaign. They put all their chips into the pot, and still couldn’t buy victory.

They continue to attack Rightists this way, and they enjoyed some success with Milo (though he avoided complete defeat, too), but increasingly, they require cooperation from the Right itself in order to destroy enemies. Treacherous, dishonest blowhards like Evan McMullin are solicited by the Left for cooperative action, because the Left lacks the ability to win these battles alone any longer.

And even that was insufficient to totally destroy their chosen target. They did some damage, but Milo was left standing.

Even if a Rightist may lose such a conflict, it behooves us to fight to the end, tooth-and-nail, because even a Leftist victory is Pyrrhic for them, now. Force them to spend ever-more absurd amounts of money and social capital. Bankrupt them on the social stage. Make victory so utterly expensive that even they are afraid to pay the price.

It’s like punching a bully in the nose. You may win the resulting fight, or you may lose, but rest assured, the bully will now have to add this to his mental calculus: if I attack this man, he’ll punch me in the face.

And, increasingly, we are winning these engagements, because the accumulated respect due to original institutions is fading. The skin suit is rotting. Edgar’s carcass is slipping away, revealing the alien cockroach festering underneath the maggot-infested sack of meat.

Every time the left pulls that lever for the outrage machine, they’re spending capital.  Every time they start a witch hunt, the skin suit slips a little and the respect we owed the gutted institution is lost.

 

It won’t be long till our only reaction to outrageous accusations is what it already is in Science Fiction outside their circles: point and make duck noises.

Sarah makes an excellent point here. Someday these fights won’t even be serious any longer. We will laugh at them. They will be outside, looking in. But make no mistake, even then we must remain vigilant. The Marxist is always looking for his way in, and the Marxist will always be with us. Its overly-simplistic moral relativism will always appeal to some, and will always be manipulated by those seeking it as a path to personal power. Call it whatever you will, but even the ancient Greeks understood it well enough:

Remember your Aristophanes:

Praxagora: I want all to have a share of everything and all property to be in common; there will no longer be either rich or poor; […] I shall begin by making land, money, everything that is private property, common to all. […]

 

Blepyrus: But who will till the soil?

 

Praxagora: The slaves.

The Police State – Now at Your Local Hotel

This bit of news can really set a man’s blood to boil: Widower staying with his own daughter, 13, is accused of being a PAEDOPHILE by Travelodge staff and interviewed by police all because he booked a double room.

The story is pretty simple, a British father who lost his wife to cancer years before took his 13 year old daughter on a short little vacation. He booked a room at the Travelodge, and went to check in, and the only type of room they had left was a double room, so he said he’d take it…

…then a whole dramatic escapade ensues where the Travelodge manager interrogates the customer, calls the police, and accuses the father of being a pedo. Police take the child away from her father, and interrogate her as to whether not he is her father.

It’s absurd that a meddling hotel manager would do this, of course, but at the same time consider the blindness the British authorities had toward the Rotherham rape cases. If the supposed perp is a Muslim or non-white, the practice is largely ignored out of fear that the authorities will be tarred as racist. If a British man takes his daughter on a vacation, he is subjected to ludicrous accusations with absolutely no evidence whatsoever behind them. Then both father and daughter are interrogated by the police.

This is rather like the absurdity of old grandmothers being subjected to random deep TSA screenings.

I’ve taken to calling this phenomenon Reverse Profiling, insofar as whatever the common sense profiling might suggest, the authorities must do the exact opposite. If, for instance, purple Martians were known to be more likely to commit random acts of terrorism, those same purple Martians must be let in without any screening whatsoever. And if old grandmothers were known to rarely, if ever, commit said acts, the book must be thrown at as many of them as possible.

The hotel chain, meanwhile, crafts lies to try and justify their actions:

Mr Darwell complained and says that the company are now falsely claiming that he tried to pay by cash in order to justify their suspicion.

‘They say I insisted on paying cash when I arrived but its rubbish. I had already paid by credit card before I even arrived,’ he added.

The increasing involvement of companies in policing and politics is starting to become quite worrisome to me. They are becoming a cog in demands of the State. And meanwhile, SJWs make demands that companies embrace political correctness, that is to say Leftism. We like in a bizarre world wherein Capitalism is, itself, being bent to the will of Leftism. It’s beyond crony Capitalism and into some kind of bizarre hybrid not entirely dissimilar from Chinese Market Communism, or whatever they are calling their system these days.

‘Our colleagues are trained based on current national guidelines from the NSPCC, the police and other agencies and in the past, hotel team actions have led to successful intervention to protect young people.

The government said to jump… and even in a blatant case of obvious misjudgment, they jumped. A decree comes down from on high that hotels should do (x), no matter how ridiculous or stupid it may be, and off they go.

I bet dollars to donuts that the hotel manager wouldn’t have said a damn thing if the father had been a Pakistani and his daughter had been in a burkha. And just who do you think the odds favor in cases of kiddy diddling? After all, Mohammed himself was okay with the practice, so long as they were older than 9.

Imagine, even, that the father had been, instead, a mother. Feminists would have crawled out of the woodwork to make this an instance of sexism, and proof of the evil Patriarchy. But they’ll be silent for this. No outrage, because deep down, most of them would probably think the man deserved it because he was male.

But let’s be honest, if it were a mother and her child, nobody would have batted an eyelash anyway. Only white men are evil, after all, didntcha know?

Debt: The Opiate of the Masses

Lately, debt has been on my mind. America has been addicted to it as long as I’ve been alive. Our government is in debt, companies are in debt, individuals are in debt… even my local CDD is in debt. Credit is a dangerous tool, one that is easily turned on the wielder. Thus the comparison to opioids. What may have a use in certain cases, especially emergencies, may become addictive and deadly if not managed properly.

Recently, I rejoined an ancient computer hardware forum, and some of the folks there were discussing credit. As is normal for me these days, I expressed my general aversion to debt, and extolled the wisdom of living with your means. The hostility this engendered was, perhaps, worse than if I had declared myself a worshiper of Lucifer. It was like I had personally run up to their homes and kicked their dogs. Or, perhaps more appropriate to the title of this post, as if I had suggest that the opium user should quit his habit.

A few of the forum denizens explained that it was better to buy expensive things on credit, if the interest rates were low, and then invest the cash at a presumably higher rate. And sure, playing the spread between interest rates is an old trick. But here’s the kicker: how many of them were actually doing this? I hear this excuse all the time from folks I know have little to no liquid assets. It’s a lot like the addict saying “I can quit any time I want.” They claim they can sell the car, or furniture, or whatever they bought on credit whenever they want, and that debt can have beneficial effects too.

If it truly worked this way in practice, there’d be a lot less bankruptcies and delinquencies, I think.

Perhaps some folks do play the spread between investment returns and low loan rates successfully, and there is nothing wrong with such a strategy, if well executed. But they are surely outnumbered by folks who use this as a quick excuse to load up on things they want, and can’t afford. It is the same with folks who claim they are using their credit cards for the points, or the rewards. Some people do this successfully (my in-laws play this game very well). But a hefty fraction use this to excuse their credit addiction, and wind up carrying balances, easily wiping out any gains from rewards or airline miles.

Another excuse is that credit cards are more secure than debit cards, for a variety of reasons. It’s easier to cancel a charge than to reverse a debit transaction, and the credit card puts an extra layer of defense between your savings and checking accounts (or wads of cash that can be mugged from you) on the one hand, and the merchant on the other. Again, there is truth to this. I actually employ such a strategy myself. I exclusively use a credit card for most medium-to-major purchases (and all online purchases), and have the full balance paid each month automatically, so balances are never carried and I don’t get charged interest. But how many folks actually do this, and how many use it as an enabling excuse?

Some quick statistics on credit usage:

The average household with credit card debt pays a total of $1,292 in credit card interest per year.

That’s $1,300 flushed down the toilet every year. The average balance held by folks who had credit card debt was $16,748.

The average auto loan balance, again for folks who have auto loans, was $28,948.

Probably worst of all is the average student loan balance of $49,905.

Finally we have mortgage debt, which averages at $176,222.

Now a lot of folks will balk at the mortgage debt figure, but the fact remains, as I’ve said before, that mortgage debt isn’t “good” either, at least not personal mortgages. In a business situation, the optics are a little better, as business is, in essence, always a game of calculated risk and reward. But this is a game that can screw over the individual very quickly. The worst case from a business perspective is that the business fails. If you don’t have personal liability for the business, well, it still sucks, but you’ll be okay.

Some folks may talk about the mortgage interest exemption, and the low rates of mortgages these days, and the fact that houses are just so damned expensive. These things are all true. And in my case, I still do have a mortgage (though it is much less than the average, at least). I regard this as a personal failure, however, and I would not recommend that others do it. Indeed, eliminating the mortgage is my highest financial priority. I picked up a considerable amount of extra work solely to pay this down as quickly as possible.  If my readers wonder why some days The Declination doesn’t get an update, there you have it. I’m probably pulling another 12-14 hour workday.

If I had it to do over again, I’d buy a travel trailer when I turned 18, park it on a piece of crappy land someplace, live on the cheap and stash my money for a decade. At the end of it, I’d have been able to buy a house, car, and anything I wanted in cash. And I absolutely mean that. The only reason I don’t now is that I have a family, and the place we are at is good for my family, and I’m pretty certain I can pay this off in a couple more years. Even then, this is no excuse. Getting a mortgage was a mistake, one I must mitigate as best I can.

Now, if you feel you can earn a better return on your money playing the spread between mortgage rates and investment returns, by all means, do so. But if you don’t have the liquid assets to pay it off at any time, it’s not a good idea.

Sometimes I suspect my grandfather’s generation, who lived during the Great Depression, was much wiser in this. They knew the dangers of debt, and the vagaries of banking. They didn’t trust the government or the banks, sometimes in almost comical fashion. One grandparent of mine was fond of stashing wads of cash in utterly bizarre places throughout the house, places no one would think to look. A family friend buried guns in a sealed box in the backyard, just in case the government ever decided to come for them. Another had stashes of gold he kept hidden. Folks from that era were far more suspicious and less trusting. And certainly, my grandparents were not fond of debt. Neither side of the family carried a mortgage, or ever financed a car.

We’ve come to the age when a smart man can rationalize away conventional wisdom in favor of his addictions. He can talk a good game, and tell himself it’s all okay, and what he is doing is supremely clever. But conventional wisdom survived some terrible times in history… and historically, spendthrifts often come to bad ends. And the rationalizations aren’t so different from the addict telling folks that he can handle his habit, and that he’s not really addicted. After all, he can quit any time he wants to, right?

Smart Homes. Dumb People.

Even though I work in technology, I often find it hard to understand the push to involve technology in everything. Recently, our refrigerator failed, for about the third time in a year. That means, of course, perusing for a replacement. These days, they have fridges with screens embedded in them, that connect to wifi and allow you to do things with the refrigerator. They come with embedded cameras, food management software telling you when you need to throw things out, or when things are approaching expiration dates.

Whatever.

Maybe some folks like that stuff, or feel the need to pay more for it. More than likely, it’s a keepin’ up with the Joneses thing. You go into a house, and it has all the latest fancy gadgets and whatzits, all covered in stainless steel. Or, perhaps, the new rage “black stainless” or “dark slate” stainless. It all seems rather silly.

However, with recent revelations surrounding the Alphabet Agencies and the strong possibility that they’ve been spying on American citizens, it is no longer merely silly.

It’s utterly stupid.

Even if the Alphabet Agencies are ultimately absolved of this charge, it is clear that backdoors have been built into devices for quite some time now. And you will find that it is not merely manufacturers, software companies, and the government that are using them.

Take a gander at this: Smart TV hack embeds attack code into broadcast signal—no access required

So-called Smart TVs are becoming a problem as well, as hackers can brick them, or turn microphones and cameras (should your smart TV come equipped with them) against you. The “Internet-of-Things” is proving to be a sieve.

The hacks underscore the risks of so-called “Internet of Things” devices, the vast majority of which are given network access and computing functionalities without being adequately secured. TVs and other Internet-connected appliances almost universally lack application sandboxing and other exploit mitigations that are a standard part of computer and mobile operating systems. Even worse, most devices run old versions of Linux and open source browsers that contain critical vulnerabilities. While patches are generally available on the Internet for the individual components, manufacturers rarely give customers a way to install them on the devices in a timely way.

Think about it. When is the last time most folks even bothered to update the apps on their phone? Now consider that there are refrigerators that would now need to be considered in security terms. Your average John Doe does not think to update his fridge, or worry overmuch about whether or not it is secure.

Take the Samsung Smartcam, which recently suffered a major security vulnerability. A casual buyer is likely to trust the Samsung brand.

Consider, also, The Fappening, when various celebrity cloud accounts were hacked, and the nudes distributed across the Internet.

Now we have the proliferation of devices like Alexa and Echo which are designed to listen to your commands and do things with that data. Are people going to be fastidious about checking on the security of their smart speakers?

Some of these devices, of course, automatically update themselves, and remain reasonably secure from casual hacking. But then you have to consider a different threat for those devices which are secure: the company selling you the device, or providing you the service.

Right now, there is a bill that passed Congress which supposedly allows ISPs to sell your data to the highest bidder. Here’s the catch, though, according to the EFF: these companies were already doing it.

The GOP tells us that this is a case of regulatory overreach, and they may actually be correct about this, because the existence of the regulatory regime has done little to nothing to stop this behavior from occurring. Although, I will say right away that the optics of this bill are very worrisome.

But whether or not the bill will have an effect, positive or negative, the fact remains that your service providers have already been caught selling this data, or using it in ways you didn’t expect. You can’t trust them.

Now, imagine they have your browsing history, they know how much food is in your fridge, what you watch on TV, who you call, and who you text… Go buy some more Pepsi, says the ad on your fridge, because we know you’re out.

This is a gold mine, for companies, for government, for Alphabet Agencies within the government (who may very well be at odds with the elected government), foreign governments (the Left likes to blabber about Russia, but I’d be more concerned about the Chinese), and for black hat hackers looking to screw you over.

Is all of that risk really worth your fridge telling you that 3-week old leftover Chinese takeout should go in the garbage? I’d argue not. Do a simple risk/reward calculation on this. It’s not worth it.

So what do you do? Here are few ideas:

1. Buy “Dumb” hardware. Dumb fridges, dumb TVs (or buy Smart TVs where the “smart” portion can be disabled – at the very least, don’t connect it to wifi).

2. If you must have Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Kodi, Plex, or anything similar on your TV, consider getting a separate device like a Fire Stick, or a Roku, or a “Compute Stick” from Intel. They are cheap, and if a hacker bricks it, at least you aren’t out a whole TV. Power it off when not in use. Occasionally clear it, reset it back to factory specs and reload your apps.

3. Clear your phones of pretty much everything extra installed by the manufacturer. If you’ve some technical skill, consider wiping the OS and installing from scratch. Cynogen used to be my preferred choice in the Android ecosytem. It’s gone, now, but Lineage was forked from it in the dim mists of Android history. Consider that. If you don’t have the skill (don’t even try it if you question this), just clear everything optional you can from the phone.

4. Use proxies for your Internet browsing. Tor is reasonably easy to use these days.

5. Make sure you carefully screen new applications and software for possible hidden monitoring. Companies like to bury this in their disclaimers. Usually you can find information on the software you want to use on the Internet.

6. Don’t buy any of those smart home systems and “smart speakers” like Echo or Alexa. That’s a disaster waiting to happen.

7. If you don’t have a very compelling reason to buy any “smart” device, don’t do it.

8. Make sure you use strong passwords, both on your accounts and on your wifi router.

This won’t stop every possible way someone with malicious intent could screw with you, but it will severely limit the damage, and, in the same way a car with a few anti-theft devices will deter casual thieves, so will this eliminate casual data theft, spying, and hacking.

The Internet of Things is a spaghetti strainer when it comes to security. It’s a mess. Best not to dive too deep into it, if you can avoid it. After all, three week-old Chinese food is generally pretty good about notifying you it’s gone bad all on its own.

Some Humor for the Day: A Power Supply Review

So the vendor kept notifying me that I should review my computer part purchases, which I did… except for the power supply. Because it’s a power supply. Really, who cares? The vendor, apparently. So I decided to give the vendor a review for the product (we’ll see if it passes the censors), but Hell, why not have a little fun, right? Be careful what you wish for…

RMx_850_01

Pros:
– It’s a power supply
– It works

Cons:
– It’s a power supply
– It didn’t come with a bevy of hot girls

Other Thoughts:
In my lifetime, I’ve reviewed a lot of tech products. And for some of them you might discuss the performance metrics, the compatibility issues, or even how much LED bling is plastered all over it — because, as everybody knows, the PC market desperately needed to turn into a close facsimile of the ricer community. Next, these folks will put chrome tips on their exhaust ports, and some enterprising wannabe Jedi will come along to deliver a proton torpedo straight up the…

…Well, you get the idea.

So what can I say about this power supply? The Corsair RMX850X works properly. It has modular cables, which are black, and that’s good, because we all know what system building was like during the days of IDE cables and power supply rat nests. What idiot thought up sticking random useless cables on every power supply they sold, anyway? And why did they have to come in multicolor, like Picasso smoking weed and throwing up all over the canvas? “What’s that a painting of, O master of incomprehensible art?” “Why, my young apprentice, some time in the distant future, engineers will make ratty looking contraptions called ‘power supplies’ that will look something like multicolored wire vomit.” “O Master… can I have some of that [expletive deleted] weed you’ve been smoking?”

But hey, you buy this power supply, and you don’t have to deal with it. The wiring is so black, it’s speaking Samuel L. Jackson to me. “I’m tired of these [expletive deleted] snakes on this [expletive deleted] plane!” That’s right, you buy yourself an RMX850X, and your PSU is Samuel L. Jackson.

Now, let me tell you what you get when you open the box. This power supply is so Samuel L. Jackson, it comes with fancy black bag with drawstring surrounding it. So you’ve got a perfect place to store your bling, and your cash if you ever take a job doing whatever Samuel L. Jackson was doing in Pulp Fiction. Not every power supply comes in a velvet bag, you know. And then you get some cables, which are nice if you actually plan to build a computer with it.

The voltages looked good. But unless you’re buying bargain basement stuff that even the Chinese outsource because it costs too much to make, you’ll get decent voltages. So that’s kind of expected these days. I guess there’s no real cons with the RMX850X, except that when you buy a Samuel L. Jackson power supply that comes in a velvet bag, inside a box *that* big, you kind of expect more. Like, if you opened that bag and a bevy of hot girls modeled your brand new PSU, delivered on a silver platter, with angels singing Pulp Fiction in the background like “Blessed is he, who in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother’s keeper and the finder of lost children. ”

But Corsair didn’t see fit to supply said hot bikini girls, for which I am mildly disappointed. For a moment, I thought I was going to get a cosmic experience, greater understanding of the universe, and some scantily clad supermodels begging to date me, because I was awesome enough to choose Corsair for my PSU business. And all I got was a working power supply in a fancy velvet bag.

But hey, it’s a good power supply.

See the Face of the Enemy

Tom Kratman has written more than a few pieces on the Progressive mindset, the sort of velvet-gloved tyranny they seek to impose on everyone else. But today’s column is a doozy. Observe:

A look through the enemy’s eyes, Part II

It ties in neatly with another piece I read this morning from the esteemed Daniel Greenfield: THE CIVIL WAR IS HERE.

For some time now, Leftists in California have made mouth noises about secession, though nothing has come out of that (nor do I expect it to). The reason is that Progressivism doesn’t desire peaceful coexistence. Progressives are unable to share power. Indeed, they are unable to share anything.

The notion that some folks of like mind might get together and form a country of their own is anathema to these people. They suffer no equals where power is concerned. It is all or nothing with them.

If you asked the average Southerner on the street what he thinks of California leaving the Union, he’d probably say something along the lines of “good riddance, the sooner they go, the better.”

Nothing is stopping Progressives in America from moving to Canada, or the European Union, or any place, really, that is more Leftist than America. Yet they stay. Why?

Daniel Greenfield explains for us:

This civil war is very different than the last one. There are no cannons or cavalry charges. The left doesn’t want to secede. It wants to rule. Political conflicts become civil wars when one side refuses to accept the existing authority. The left has rejected all forms of authority that it doesn’t control.

The Left wants to rule. It wants dominance across the entire world. They won’t leave the United States, nor secede their portion of the country from the rest, because they want absolute control over the entire Earth.

It’s about world domination, the old game of tyrants and would-be conquerors. It’s not about helping the poor, or the sick, or the disadvantaged. Just as World War I wasn’t about liberating the Serbs from Austria-Hungary.

It’s about defeating all opposing ideologies, and imposing a singular worldview on to every living human being. Naturally, the humans who fail to accept the program won’t be suffered to live.

Observer the glee Tom Kratman discovered in our enemy:

Another use is after the cops have drawn blood. Destruction of police vehicles via Molotov to the back seat and fuel intake is an effective way to escalate things. And watching police dance like a damned soul all aflame is still a beautiful thing.

Tom explains his own opinions on this man’s celebration of lighting people on fire:

“A beautiful thing” to burn someone alive, is it? I can see it being a necessary thing, in military terms, where necessary means little or nothing more than advantageous. But “beautiful” he says. And some people think it would be overreaction to shoot these people on sight. My ass.

Understand this clearly. To a Progressive of the Black Bloc persuasion, your violent, painful death is beautiful. Are you still concerned what they think of you? Does it still make you feel bad when one of these guys calls you a racist, or a sexist, or some other thing? They want to kill you.

Now, of course, the average garden-variety Leftist isn’t as overt as his Black Bloc ideological kin. And to be fair to him, he probably wouldn’t want to see you die, certainly not violently and painfully. But at the same time, he is willing to turn a blind eye to this violence, to make excuses for it, and to protect the guilty when they are caught.

But again, if he’s willing to allow this behavior, however tacitly and unofficially, does it matter what he thinks of you? Should you care about his opinion of you whatsoever?

Daniel Greenfield explains our choices:

The choices of this civil war are painfully clear.

We can have a system of government based around the Constitution with democratically elected representatives. Or we can have one based on the ideological principles of the left in which all laws and processes, including elections and the Constitution, are fig leaves for enforcing social justice.

But we cannot have both.

In other words, the options are to fight, or to embrace social justice in all particulars. Escape is no longer on the table. Secede isn’t on the table either. There is no where to run, and no legal recourse which the Left will respect.

The settling of our grievances has come to civil war. For now, the war is mostly a cold war, fought within the government itself, as Trump’s administration attracts the ire of almost every branch of the bureaucracy, media, and entertainment factions of the Progressive movement.

But don’t misunderstand, it is a war that could go hot at any moment. Best to be prepared.

If there is any optimism to be found here, you may see it in Tom Kratman’s piece, where he informs us that, in the end, our enemies may be making a serious error by pushing things this far. They have forgotten that wars are fought by human beings.

One is tempted to counter with, “What right have you, as an anarchist, to try to impose rules on my machine gun teams as they mow you down?” This whole section illustrates something I strongly advise the reader to look into in Lee Harris’ excellent book, Civilization and Its Enemies. The short version is that these people are, however dangerous, fundamentally unserious. They are not revolutionaries; they are unpublished and unpublishable playwrights, writing fantasy plays in their heads for themselves to star in, in which plays we lesser beings are reduced to the level of morally insignificant stage props.

They think of us as stage props, as their moral and intellectual inferiors, as dullards, rednecks, and uneducated hicks. They have more hubris than Napoleon taking on Russia. One suspects that their assault will fare just about as badly in the end. But either way, best to be ready for them nonetheless.

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