Category Archives: Internet

The Best Course is Discourse

Keeping it real

Not being fake or influenced. Being true to yourself and your values, more importantly, being true to internal values that most people acknowledge and respect.

brain waves

Must engage brain!

I was confronted this morning by a family member offline about some things I said online.

The “backroom” conversation was triggered from remarks I made about their post on a social media platform. It had to do with the originator suggesting how difficult to remain a “centrist” in the milieu of ideas coming from polarized speech and media.

Rather than revisit all which was said in those pubic and private conversations, I continue to believe that discourse is necessary, in order to make headway and to understand what other people think. This person didn’t share that opinion, and not only deleted what I said, they blocked me from further comments.

Allow me to kick the can down the block a little further, if you’re a registered user of WordPress, your opinion is invited.

When two ideas about any given topic are presented, and they are opposite, logic dictates the following possibilities.

  • They’re both wrong. This means neither opinion is correct and either they discuss it until they understand the fallacy, or they agree to disagree. Those are the best case scenarios.
  • One is right and the other is wrong. This doesn’t mean one is completely right, and the other is completely wrong, it seldom is that clear. Once again, they discuss it until they understand the fallacy, or they agree to disagree.
  • They switch sides, choosing to think as the other one did before, but realizing they have come to a better understanding and decided their original opinion was wrong.

OK, that last one is highly unlikely. What often occurs now, there’s a desire to shut down, censor, delegitimize the other person or group’s argument. This is accomplished like it just it did with me, or banning people from social media.

Here’s the train wreck that’s coming, and we’ve seen it before throughout history. When there’s no longer a platform for discourse, then tempers flare. The outcome is seldom pretty. I’m not advocating anything “unpretty”, but the observations are all too obvious, repeated on the streets around the world, as well as throughout social media.

We sometimes applaud people who are absolutists. We even elevate them to levels of leadership, but there’s also a toxic side to this, ‘my way or the highway type of group think.’ It seldom advances anything of value.

I’ll illustrate this point through a hot topic, (yes puns are allowed), climate change or global warming. Once those words are said, people take sides, but perhaps if you’re not closed-minded, you might want to watch this opinion segment on a Joe Rogan podcast. It frames the climate change argument and solution with scientific precision. There’s something here for everyone to learn.

I’ll preface the video with this; any topic deemed so sacred that it can’t be questioned, needs further examination. This control from authority or power must be questionable or it wouldn’t need this level of authority to suppress.

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National Entertainment – Political Soap Opera Lie

☆ The National Blatant – News Entertainment – Political Soap Opera Lie ☆

I know it’s easy to criticize, but when I see or read a story that repeats fiction & drama, packages it as fact on a massive scale, I just have to comment.

I’m referring to this ongoing FBI investigation into Russian collusion with the Trump campaign. Let me begin by stating the obvious, Donald Trump won the election in 2016 by a simple, well known strategy. He ran a campaign without assumptions on which states “were in the bag”, by visiting those who were supposedly going to vote Democrat. This included among others, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida. His campaign managers knew full well that the key to victory is to win at least 270 votes in the electoral college.

The key to debunking this false story, is to understand how the electoral college vote works. I’m going to quote from an NPR article written 2 November 2016.

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
“To win the presidency, you don’t have to win the majority of the popular vote. You have to win the majority of electoral votes — that is, 270 of them.”

“In most states, a candidate wins electoral votes by winning the most voters.

“So. Win a state by just one vote, and you win all of its electoral votes (unless you live in Nebraska or Maine, which divvy up their votes a little differently).”
☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

The key is still to win the popular vote. That’s the beginning and ending of this whole national mythical “boogie man”, story. The inherent protection, and incredibly simple, yet intelligent method to select our leadership, is a representative voting system which prevents just a handful of densely populated urban areas as representative of the entire country. It’s possible to gain 270 electoral votes through 11 of the most populated states, such as California, Texas, New York, Florida, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, Georgia, North Carolina, New Jersey, for example, but in reality, that’s not how the 2016 election finished.

Hillary Clinton won the popular vote in some of the most densely populated urban areas such as, New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago, Seattle, etc. What she didn’t gain though, were the most states and the majority of the electoral vote. There are 540 votes possible, and Clinton won just 232 while Trump won 306 of the electoral vote. Her overall popular vote was higher, but not the electoral college vote. These facts are key to understand just how much fabrication, or unfounded anxiety, there is in the repeated false narrative, “The Russians Hacked Our Election”.

No they didn’t, and if you follow the rest of my explanation, you should be able to see for yourself, the media and the “Intelligence Community”, are weaving a tale.

Forbes_2016_Electoral_College_map_a

Most people who complain about the electoral college, either don’t understand why it’s such a good system, or refuse to believe it even after it’s explained. It also makes it vastly more difficult to affect the outcome of the election by outside electronic “hacked” alterations.

Since there isn’t a single, nationwide, homogeneous voting system, an outside bad actor, can’t alter the outcome of the election. An outside perpetrator may be able to get into a less than secure, local database, but actual voting tallies are performed at precinct levels and differ widely in methods from other localities, even in the same state. Recall the election when George Bush & Al Gore ran against each other, and there was a big dust up over the punch ballots being used in certain counties in Florida. That system wasn’t even state wide, so “hanging chads”, were unique and paper ballots had to be reviewed. That’s just not a system, as flawed as it is, which could have had a rogue state, or spy agency, come in and electronically alter the outcome.

Why is this so important to know? It’s because once you know this information, and take enough time to think about these basic facts, then the repeated news stories, and all the Mueller, Trump drama, can be seen for what it really is, and that’s political Kabuki theater.

CBS 60 Minutes just did a story on the 2016 election hacking, spy-craft. I encourage you to go to the 60 Minutes Web page and watch the video or go to YouTube to understand what I’m saying a little better. I also probably know more about computer networks, and how they function than the average person, since I’ve worked as an IT professional for many years. I’ve also done large scale communications programming, although that’s not a current skill set.

Here’s a summary of the basic 60 Minutes story.

☆ Some Russian cyber-techs infiltrate Illinois state voting records. After about 3 weeks, their outside network activities intensify. Illinois election records IT personnel take note of how much they’re being slammed from outside network traffic. They inform the FBI, and their IT super techs help investigate the penetration. They agree with the Illinois IT team, you’ve been hacked. Meanwhile, at an unknown point in the time-line, Illinois voting records IT personnel manage to stop the breach. Still, they’re pretty sure their voter database information has been obtained by an outside organization.

* The facts behind the Illinois database access; the hackers extracted personal information on roughly 90,000 registered voters, and none of the information was expunged or altered.

The FBI compares their collected network data, to the patterns (signatures or fingerprints which they like to call it, but that’s not a technical description), to other states voting records IT management, and at least 20 other states are likely to have been penetrated. In addition to that, the Democrat National Committee data records have been hacked. Understandably, because if you know anything about network spy-craft, your weakest links are usually the same everywhere. The biggest, most important users, are often those with the patterns sought out by hackers. They’re not IT disciplined, they don’t like to follow rules, and they seldom use strong, secure passwords. This isn’t always the way ‘hackers’ get in, but it’s a common recurring problem, and even the lead IT person can only politely suggest that the head honchos follow their rules.

We saw that huge security problem play out on national TV, when Hillary Clinton faced a Congressional committee and insisted she was justified in using her own private servers. No matter which side of the issue you found yourself on in that past extravaganza, it’s a prime example of how arrogance and power always win over any technical support opposition. Public or private, any tech person, if they want to keep their job, will go along with their bosses requests, no matter how impactful those decisions are on security.

So, we know there were multiple breeches performed by clever outsiders. The information they gave us through the media outlets are, John Podesta, Hillary Clinton, and Huma Abedin, emails revealed the Democrats in power, and under the influence of the Clinton campaign undermined the campaign of Bernie Sanders in the Democrat primary runoff. This was later confirmed by Former DNC Chair Donna Brazile in her Tell-All Book.

And we know that some of Donald Trump key people conducted meetings with influential Russians, to see if there was any dirt they could dish on Hillary Clinton and her campaign.

Overall conclusion’s by the 60 Minutes story? Russian hackers broke into some of our voter record databases and emails (NEWS FLASH: they’ve been doing that to large US Corporations for a couple of decades – including our banks). Even 60 minutes, and the people they interviewed were careful enough with the facts to not make the false claim, that success in breaching voting records changes the actual vote, in November. What they did claim was, “it undermines the integrity and the confidence Americans might have in our Democratic system.”

And here’s the final point I wish to make. That’s a far stretch, our politicians have been successful in undermining our country and election process for decades. Can anyone recall, Watergate? If you wish to remain ignorant on how votes are cast, collected, and counted; then you’re going to believe that somehow the Russians set the fox loose into the chicken coop, and rousted all the chickens, making them (this implies you), to change your vote for Trump. I’m quite certain you didn’t decide to change your mind on who to vote for because those rascally Russians have your name, home address, and phone number.

In case you want to know something more, the IP address they revealed in the 60 Minutes story can be traced to the following. No, they didn’t give you this info, but I found it out of curiosity.

registered person: Vilko Damianov
address: 4000, Bulgaria, Plovdiv, 2 Lyuben Karavelov, unit 5.

☆ Don’t be an unwitting pawn ☆

I just found this related information on “Hacking the Vote”.

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Business Comes & Goes, So Does a Culture

There were days when we would go downtown to shop. It wasn’t like going to the grocery or hardware store. No, this was something special, and we would dress for the occasion.  Mother would take her dress gloves out of the drawer, and along with her dress and high heels, she would take out a hat from a box. I would wear dress slacks, shiny shoes, and a sport coat. There were times when I too would wear a hat.

We rode the bus from uptown to downtown, and we weren’t all that out of place in the way we dressed. Most of the other people riding would be dressed in what we might now refer to as business casual.

Minneapolis_downtown_Powers_dept_store_1950sUpon arriving downtown, we might walk down the street and look in various store windows to see what was on display. Most of them of course were pitching their current sales, but there was competition among the variety of retailers as to who might have the most attractive window display.

Minneapolis_Emporium_diner_1950s

Emporium tea room 1940-50s Minneapolis

Eventually we would enter a store, either through double doors which we would pull open, or by entering a revolving door which you or someone else would push to rotate your part of the large glass triangle, until you could enter the store. What awaited your eyes were a couple of things. Usually a store greeter, but not the disinterested couch potatoes who might greet you at Walmart. No, these would be smartly dressed people that knew how to smile. The other thing immediately noticed were the row upon row, of neatly arranged aisles with well placed merchandise on shelves, in displays, or on mannequins. As you made your way to the center of the store, there would be several elevators. Each elevator had a person inside the elevator who would open up the doors, or gate and doors for you to enter. They would then close the doors after everyone that could or wanted to get on. You then would tell them your floor, and they would make the selection for you. Each of these ‘operators’, wore some type of uniform, some with hats, most also wore gloves.

Sears_Tower_1988_1All that changed quickly as the suburbs began to erect large enclosed shopping malls. There were of course what we call strip malls. Stores that shared a large common parking lot and each retailer store were aligned side by side. That didn’t nearly have the impact of the enclosed shopping mall. Once they were constructed, many of the downtown stores simple opened their store in the new mall. This took a big toll on downtown retailers. They typically paid higher rates for taxes, most didn’t have convenient parking. They relied on nearby parking decks and lots, or those like us, who took city transportation. The downtown retailers didn’t maintain their greeters, elevator operators. Even their display windows became less interesting, a far simpler asthetic became the norm.

Those times seem strange to people unfamiliar with that era. Most downtowns have morphed into high rise condominiums, or permanent apartments. Either that or they were torn down as if part of a failed social experiment.

All that has changed again. Many shopping malls are skeletons of what they once were. Some malls have closed entirely. All this due to the evolution brought on by the Internet. The Amazon shopping model has become the new norm. First it was mail order. The big retailers like Sears, JC Penny adapted well. Then the Internet became a ready made 24/7 sales facility. Display windows are now the Internet tabs to click and expand. People still shop, the delivery times are quick and you might not even get out of your night clothes. Social interaction is minimized.

New_York_Lord_Taylor_store_closing

Oldest department store company in the US is disappearing entirely from Fifth Avenue after 104 years

The New York Post just came out with a lament on how much the retail store front is disappearing, and how it’s changing the character of the city.

Chicago_Sears_stores_closing_1

Sears closed last store in Chicago Illinois

The Chicago Tribune opines over the loss of the last Chicago Sears store. The once mighty retail giant, headquartered in Chicago is gone. There building tower still stands, but was sold off years before.

It’s fundamentally changing business, but furthermore, it’s removing us from personal interaction and social restraint. If social media is the replacement for the way friends might meet at the mall, or take day trips downtown, it’s a poor substitute.

Along with the loss of social skills comes another challenge, the need for fewer people. Just like the elevator operators, greeters and floor persons, all will disappear when picking and delivery become fully automated.

Retail has indeed changed, and so too has the culture.