- Well, at least you might have some recourse if Microsoft sneak-upgrades your computer to its Windows 10 malware.
- This one’s for you who live within the New Madrid fault zone — or anybody who’s a follower of megaquakes and their lore.
- Britain is a part of Europe and will remain so, says Boris Johnson, former mayor of London, prominent figure of the “Leave” campaign, and possible successor to David Cameron.
- One of the few relatively dispassionate looks at key issues behind the Brexit. It wasn’t all just “hate!” and “racism!” on one side and “we know what’s good for you” on the other.
- Sheesh. And here’s one more good reason to avoid political entanglements with the EU.
- The most gorgeous art deco buildings in Los Angeles. (H/T TSO)
- Emotions you never knew you had.
- OUCH! Ranking the pain of stinging insects. Rather colorfully, too.
Archive for the ‘Privacy and self ownership’ Category
I owe hat tips for several of these items, but I’ve fogotton to whomm I owe them all, so please accept much general hat tipping.
- Preferring to avoid negative campaigning is one thing. Libertarian candidates sucking up to Hillary on media demand is another.
- Don’t care about the Brexit that’s consuming the world’s media right now? Well, how ’bout a Texit — a Texas exit? (I’m amused at those “constitutional scholars” who say a U.S. state can’t secede from the union. The constitution neither said nor implied that; only overwhelming military force said that. Doesn’t take any scholar to see 600,000 dead people.)
- Following up on Friday’s Irish rebellion references, here are 50 things you didn’t know about the 1916 Easter Rising. With photos.
- Your computer. In your home. has no Fourth Amendment protection if feddies choose to hack it. Dumb decision!
- And biometrics march on.
- The lefties claim demographics will be on their side in the future. But what if the whole “blue model” of urban living is doomed by telecommuters?
- Wait. Brent Spiner and his Dr. Brackish Okun will be back in the remake of Independence Day? But didn’t we see him squished to death by an Evil Alien? No, it seems we saw no such thing.
- Humans are funny. It seems people want their driverless cars programmed to kill others, but paradoxically, not kill themselves in exactly the same situations.
- No-fly/no-buy equals no freedom, says Judge Napolitano.
- Another amazing sci-med story: surgeons save a baby whose brain was growing far outside his head
- This is your dog. This is your dog on magic mushrooms. Any questions?
Today’s earlier post actually began with me thinking about my new TracFones. Then it went off in its own direction, as these things tend to do.
I was disgruntled a month or so ago when TracFone cryptically failed-to-announce that my ancient 2G phones (EDC and backup) were about to become obsolete.
But I’m quite happy about it now. For one thing, once I had new phones in hand, the changeover was automated and easy — as few things are with TracFone. But beyond that, the phones are a pretty big leap past the old Motorola flip-phone whose numbers were getting worn into blurs despite my ardent phone-avoidance.
“If you’re living a normal life, you have nothing to worry about.”
That quote, which appears in this Atlantic article, seems on its surface a mere variation on the old untrue truism “If you’ve got nothing to hide you’ve got nothing to fear.”
Bad, but not news.
But as the headline and theme of the linked article clearly show, data gathering and selling is now truly beginning to affect every aspect of our lives. And is doing so in ways that are used to judge us as “fit” or “unfit” to function in society — ways that permit no appeal. Often it’s done in ways that permit no knowledge of what’s being done to us. Increasingly, the definition of “normal life” is being judged by secret data and proprietary algorithms.
- Yet another way cynical, opportunistic cops (and governments in general) quash our desires to be kind to our fellow man. Foul parasites. And apparently Canadian sneaks are no better than U.S. sneaks. (H/T JB)
- Ohhhhh gawwwwwwd. Not agaiiiiiin. First Sudafed goes behind the counter and gets your name into a police registry. Now over-the-counter diahhrea meds — yes, Immodium, of all things — get targeted as part of Dreaded Scourge of Opiod Abuse.
- It’s one thing to carry your heart on your sleeve. Entirely another to carry your heart on your back for over a year.
- Well, I wouldn’t v*te for Trump if somebody put a gun to my head. But even so, being a gay, Hispanic Trump supporter doesn’t merit having your nose broken by leftist thugs.
- People have called Windows 10 malware. But I figured that was figurative. Turns out that, given its recent, extremely deceptive sneak-install behavior, it actually is malware, by Microsoft’s own definition. MS’s vile sneakery has been confirmed by knowledgeable sources. Beware any pop-ups from MS!
- Fascinating. The FDA and Interpol want to abolish 4,402 international websites selling prescription drugs. This is based on confiscation of 797 parcels in a brief recent period. Think on it. What does that number tell you about the number of parcels that have gotten quietly and safely to customers all this time — customers who are apparently happy with their confidential, and money-saving purchases. People who will want to make similar purchases in the future. Um … good luck with that, bureaucops.
- And speaking of confidentiality (or lack thereof) in prescription drug purchasing … the DEA now wants warrantless access to your legal drug records. AND might hassle or arrest you for perfectly legal activity. (H/T to everybody who sent me this link; I already had it, which just goes to show you this is one to pay real serious attention to, even if you blow off everything else you see here today.)
- Remember the story in our last links post about cops having a new device to let them steal more money during traffic stops? Thought you might be interested in the Department of (Achtung!) Homeland Security’s more favorable take on it. (And what is it they say about the differences between theory and reality again …?) Alas, the courts, as usual, take the pro-gov line in such matters.
- I’m sorry that today’s links have contained so many downers and nothing in the area of nooz you can use. At least we can end on a note of good cheer, courtesy of MJR. Here’s another of those optimistic post-TSHTF flash stories: “Hills” by Joe Miles.
I was thinking this morning about risks — about the chances we take … or don’t take. Not so much risks like whether to shoot for that Xtreme skateboard move or play it safe. But the big, potentially life-changing risks.
Oh, sure, the skateboard move or the jump out of the plane or whatever can also be life-changing. It could squish your ribcage or your pelvis, not to mention your brain. Or it could tell you you have more courage than you knew, courage you could use for good in the rest of your life. But I’m thinking more of the risks where you realize at the time, “If I do this thing, my life will be on a different path.”
So today’s Friday Freedom Question asks What was the biggest risk that you didn’t take (but wish you had) and what was the biggest risk you did take that altered your life?
For me, the biggest risk I didn’t take (and now regret) was that I didn’t drop out of high school and leave home at the earliest opportunity. Sure, it could have ended up as a dead end or with the humiliation of crawling home to “I told you sos.” But looking back, I think it would have shown me I was actually a more courageous and visionary person. It might — who knows? — have led me to opportunities I’d have been confident enough to explore, once I knew I could survive beyond family and
It’s harder to pin down the biggest risk I did take because the things outside observers told me seemed risky to them never seemed risky to me: leaving a place I was secure and moving across the country to a place where I knew nobody and had no connections — because that place called to me; or quitting corporate communications to be a freedom writer. These seemed less like risky choices than inevitabilities to me (at least once I’d reached the decision-making moment). So it’s hard to say.
But what about you? What was the big risk you turned away from and now regret? What was the big risk you took and what were its results?
- Cops have a new machine that lets them grab money off your prepaid cards right at roadside. But it’s not about the money. Really it isn’t. Of course not! It’s about … um … erm, identity theft! Yeah, that’s what it’s really about. The cops aren’t just getting more bold and efficient about stealing from you. They’re protecting you! (H/T Fred in comments)
- Oopsie. Looks as if that gun “documentary” wasn’t the only one Couric and pals artfully edited to make their opponents look like dumbasses.
- Great news for people who love both the Web and privacy: WWW creator, Tim Berners-Lee, has joined an effort to reinvent the online world. (H/T JG)
- What is it that Yellowstone tourists don’t understand about “boiling water will reduce you to bones — real quick”? Not the first young guy who’s died this way.
- Unions have joined the effort to end mass incarceration and its hope-killing (and employment-killing) after-effects.
- Speaking of after-effects and just in case anyone needs to be reminded of what a dangerous person and what a whiny, lying, arrogant biotch Hillary has always been …
- Oh no. I knew that fellow gunblogger Northwest Freethinker (aka GayCynic) was very ill. But didn’t know he was gone. He saw to it that he departed in style, though.
- Speaking of style: Former sportswriter chronicles his own Alzheimers journey.
- Coming our way courtesy of central bankers: the next Lehman Brothers moment.
- Why cops shoot dogs. Do we even need to ask? (via Wendy and Brad’s place)
- And in bittersweet dog news: the last 911 search dog dies — but after a good, long life. (Tip o’ hat to LA)
So … after last week’s discussion about TracFone and whatever URGENT ACTION item it was doing such a lousy job explaining … problem solved.
Recap: All they were saying, without actually saying it, was that my 2G phones are about to become obsolete. The fact that they weren’t actually saying it, and the fact that any contact with TracFone other than buying and adding airtime is always painful threw me a bit.
But by Sunday, I had a nice little touchscreen 3G phone — $7! — that did everything my old phone did, but could also send and receive photos and had a virtual qwerty keyboard for texting. (This is why I turned down two kind offers for free phones; I really wanted that qwerty keyboard.) All set, thank you!
Not only that, but the process of transferring the old phone’s activation and minutes to the new was quick and easy. Five minutes on an automated call (no conversations with anybody in Mumbai). Two hours later … done.
Interestingly, I was also given the weekend’s use of a somewhat elderly Android smartphone: “Use it, play with it, break it if you like.” I’ve made calls and viewed photos on friends’ smartphones, but never cared to own one myself because they are such major wreckers of privacy.
But avoidance of smartphones puts me behind the curve when it comes to writing intelligently about them. So I was glad to mess around with one freely for a few days.
I hated a couple of major things, but loved a lot more.
Hated: The fact that Android — the “superior” phone OS that lives on something like four out of every five smartphones — is an even more naked Google Evil (TM) than I’d imagined. Fully half the phone’s functions seem designed to force the user onto Google, be identified, and give away any concept of personal privacy.
Appalling. First thing I did was hunt around and turn off geolocation and all the “helpful” report-to-Google functions. But I could see that without setting up a Google account and downloading apps, a person would be losing many of the advantages of having a smartphone.
Yet, oh my, the price of some of those supposed advantages! Even if there are workarounds. Who wants to spend their life engineering workarounds — and still never knowing how many other Google-designed or Google-approved data leaks you’re carrying around in your pocket?
Loved: The fact that, with a TracFone smartphone, airtime cards not only give “triple minutes” (as that 3G phone does), but in addition give triple number of texts and triple MBs of data. Wow. On my old 2G (double minutes) phone and the 3G phone, all texts and browser time come out of the “minutes” budget. So this is huge.
And there I sit with a backup phone that has well over 2,200 minutes on it … which would become 2,200 minutes, plus 2,200 texts, plus 2,200 MB of data if I picked up a $30 smartphone.
Oooooh, that’s gonna be hard to resist …
If this has happened to you — particularly if you managed to resolve the issue — I’d like to hear about it.
Got a text from Tracfone this morning: URGENT — Network changes in your area — ACTION REQUIRED — You MUST call … Blah blah.
I called and all I got was, “Press 1 if you already have your replacement phone. Press 2 if you need to purchase your replacement phone.” No other info. No option for reaching a human being (which wouldn’t help much, in any case, as I’ve never spoken with a Tracfone rep who could speak English, not to mention they probe for private info and can take hours at customer expense(!) to resolve problems).
Here’s all that TF has to say about the issue. Yeah. Big help.
Here’s what complaining customers have said about TF requiring replacement phones.
I presume TF is about to obsolete my phone. Actually, two phones. One of which I carry every day and is about to run out of minutes. And one of which is a backup only but has 2,200 precious minutes on it.
Not surprising if they’re going obsolete. I’ve had them since sometime in the mid-Jurassic. Still. COMMUNICATION, people!
If any of you dear Commentariat members know how to fix this with minimum fuss (and no damn snoopy smart phones), I’d love to know.
Oh, and if anybody is going to suggest I quit Tracfone and try some other privacy-respecting phone service, keep in mind that said service must operate here in the western edge of nowhere. NetZero doesn’t work here. I tried an AT&T GoPhone for a while, but it was a horrible rip-off, charging me substantially for a day of “use” any time the phone rang, even if I didn’t answer it. Oh, and the only local dealer of privacy phones just closed.
- Wow whotta way to go! And what a perfect song to be performing at the time. (H/T L.A.)
- Twelve ways to increase your anonymity and security online. Very geeky and hardcore, but very good. (H/T Shel in comments) And for the non-geeks: is there a path forward for those who want online security but quail at the thought of TOR or an offshore VPN?
- You ’60s and ’70s people — you Illuminatus! fans — want a blast from the past? This was obviously written a long time ago when Robert Anton Wilson was still alive, but the crazy life of Kerry Thornley is always worth a re-visit.
- Is F*c*b**k controlling the news its users see? Are there reporters naive enough to be thinking otherwise? This becomes more and more of a problem as billions turn to a narrower range of online sources for everything. FB: the new MSM.
- Of course, it could be worse. It could be Google.
- Ninth Circuit court — the previously infamous 9th Circuit — says there’s a Second Amendment right for gun stores, too. (Or rather, an individual right to be able to acquire guns.) And the WaPo, the always infamous WaPo, prints the recaps of both Eugene Volokh and David Kopel. Oh, the times they are a’ changin’ …
- So. Do you think the whole Obama in the girls’ bathroom thing will hold up in the courts? And isn’t it downright embarrassing, as well as tyrannical, that a president is involving himself in this (you’ll pardon the expression) sh*t?
- Historian asks if the myth of the Constitution could be made real.
- Gosh, it’s a good thing all the big issues like terrorism and border security have been solved. Otherwise, this would just be a wildly nutty act of mission creep by the DHS.
Deciding when and whether to give trust is one of those endless dilemmas of the freedom movement. Well, of life, too, of course. But the decision to trust — or not — becomes a lot more vital when you might be doing something Authoritah disapproves of.
On the Internet, you’ll find a lot of pat advice about how to bestow trust — or not. Tell people only what they need to know. Isolate suspected informers. Etc. I’ve written some of that advice myself and read more of it. Some of the advice is sound, some stupid.
Ahem, mine of course is always of the sound variety. But speaking of stupid …
- Be patient, citizens! That is an order! Your government is hard at work protecting you. (I do rather wonder what those TSA lines snaking up and down escalators look like. Or worse, feel like to stand in, especially if you’re stuck at the top or bottom where the stairs disappear. But not enough to want to go to an airport to see for myself.)
- Speaking of gummint “protection,” be glad you didn’t run into this employee of the Federal Protective Service.
- Whoo. gutsy woman!
- Militias going mainstream? So sez The Guardian with a surprising minimum of tsking about it.
- But not to worry. Plenty of tsking is still to be had in government schools. This time over a rather creative paper gun.
- We are shocked. Simply shocked. Facing minimum-wage hikes, Wendys is adding self-serve kiosks, with McDonalds not far behind. Yeah, kids; that minimum-wage that nobody thinks you’re worth is a real benefit, isn’t it?
- What? You mean Google Streetview spycars aren’t always tools of the gummint?
- I’m sure you’ll be shocked at this news about Hillary Clinton’s emails, too.
- But howzabout this news on those Hillary emails? Seems the Kremlin has a gigantic trove of them, grabbed off those insecure servers …
- After constantly squeaking through the courts, Obamacare has received the hoped-for blow … from a judge who immediately suspended her own ruling pending an inevitable administration review. Sigh.
- Kewl. Ten life hacks using carabiners. (And evertbody’s got carabiners around, right? They’re right up there with WD40, duct tape, hose clamps, and Goof Off for usefulness.) (H/T TSO)
- Weekend read: the Ukrainian hacker who became the FBI’s greatest asset — and biggest problem.