She Said She Wouldn’t – But She Did!

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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cartoon hacking government websites

I wrote a post on July 3rd posing the question “Are government bureaucrats capable of looking after data they collect about us?” (if you want to read it click here.)

The question was, of course, rhetorical, because we all know that the stupid bureaucrats the government employs aren’t capable of looking after anything.

The figure I quoted in that post, about the number of people whose data had been hacked, was 18 million which was a lot higher than the first government admission that 4.5 million records had been hacked. Now however the figure is well in excess of 21 million. It probably won’t stop there.

opm director Katherine Archuleta

The Office of Personnel Management was responsible for losing the confidential information and there have been calls from both Republicans and Democrats for the chief bureaucrat of the OPM, Ms Katherine Archuleta, to do the decent thing and resign.

But as we also know there is no decency in stupid bureaucrats, only self-delusion and arrogance. They are too dumb to do their jobs and too stupid to realize it.

Thus for as long as she could, Archuleta clung on in there, rejecting bipartisan calls for her to resign. She said she had no plans to step down. Worse than that she said she was “committed to continuing her work for the agency”.

I read that to mean more incompetence, more lies and more denial, and more trying to cling on to a position which she is clearly not fit to hold. For example she pig-headedly refused to shut down servers identified by the US Inspector General as unsafe.

Despite all the evidence to the contrary, the White House, headed by another incompetent, President Barack Obama, continued to express confidence in the leadership of Ms Archuleta.

However, as the size of the security gaff became greater and greater so did the pressure on chief bureaucrat Archuleta. As the numbers of missing records continued to climb almost daily, the result was inevitable.

Although Archuleta continued to say she had “no intention of resigning and would stay on to sort out the mess” – she handed in her resignation. The President – who supported her and who had complete confidence in her – accepted it immediately.

It was either that or be fired. Everyone knew it but her.

The announcement came along with further emerging details about the pathetic level of security within the OPM. Many of its servers are apparently so antiquated they can’t run encryption and modern security software. Two-factor authentication is almost unheard of and seldom used. In fact things are so bad that the agency isn’t even sure how many computer networks it has!!!

One incompetent bureaucrat down.

Hopefully many more to follow.

opm data loss

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Thinking Caps On Please – It’s Quiz Day!

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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July is almost a week old and we haven’t had a quiz.

But we are about to rectify that right now.

Another twenty questions to wrap your brain around.

As usual, if you get stuck, you can find the answers waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay down below, but please NO cheating!

Enjoy and good luck.

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Quiz 9

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Q.  1.  What is the world’s biggest island?

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Q.  2.  In a speech on 5 March 1946 what did Winston Churchill say had descended over Europe?

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Q.  3.  What city is known as ‘The Pearl of the Adriatic’ ?

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Q.  4.  What is the official diameter of the center circle on a soccer pitch?

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Q.  5. What does the term ‘SAS’ refer to in terms of British Army Regiments?

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Q.  6.  What famous American painter and illustrator’s best-known works include the ‘Willie Gillis’ series, ‘Rosie the Riveter’, ‘The Problem We All Live With’, ‘Saying Grace’, and the ‘Four Freedoms’ series?

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Q.  7.  Where were the 2014 Winter Olympics held?

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Q.  8. Where will the 2016 Summer Olympics be held?

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Q.  9. Whose first novel was titled ‘Carrie’ ?

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Q. 10.  What was the name given to the prosperous peasants in Russia who were violently repressed by Stalin?

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Q. 11.  The famous ‘Stella Artois’ beer was originally brewed in which country?

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Q. 12.  After World War Two (WWII) ended into how many sectors was the city of Berlin divided? (A point for the correct answer and bonus points if you can correctly name the countries in charge of the sectors.)

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Q. 13.  What is the common name of the small piece of data sent from a website and stored in a user’s web browser?

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Q. 14.  In the well-known saying, what do ‘birds of a feather’ do?

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Q. 15.  What fruit is a cross between a grapefruit, tangerine and orange?

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Q. 16.  What is the name for the Eskimo people of Canada?

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Q. 17.  We all know to our cost about the recent ‘financial crisis’, but in what year was the infamous ‘Wall Street Crash’ ?

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Q. 18.  What are the two movies for which Jack Nicholson received the Best Actor Oscar?

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Q. 19.  What is ‘blood sausage’ better known as in places like the United Kingdom, Ireland, New Zealand and the Canadian provinces of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador?

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Q. 20.  Who was ‘The Country Girl’ who after ‘High Noon’ went on to ‘Dial M for Murder’ and ‘To Catch a Thief’ before entering ‘High Society’ ?

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ANSWERS

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Q.  1.  What is the world’s biggest island?

A.  1.  Greenland.

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Q.  2.  In a speech on 5 March 1946 what did Winston Churchill say had descended over Europe?

A.  2.  An Iron Curtain.

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Q.  3.  What city is known as ‘The Pearl of the Adriatic’ ?

 A.  3.  Dubrovnik, Croatia.

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Q.  4.  What is the official diameter of the center circle on a soccer pitch?

A.  4.  20 yards (18.3 metres).

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Q.  5. What does the term ‘SAS’ refer to in terms of British Army Regiments.

A.  5.  Special Air Service.

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Q.  6.  What famous American painter and illustrator’s best-known works include the ‘Willie Gillis’ series, ‘Rosie the Riveter’, ‘The Problem We All Live With’, ‘Saying Grace’, and the ‘Four Freedoms’ series

A.  6.  Norman Rockwell.

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Q.  7.  Where were the 2014 Winter Olympics held?

A.  7.  In Sochi, Russia.

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Q.  8. Where will the 2016 Summer Olympics be held?

A.  8.  The 2016 Summer Olympics, commonly known as Rio 2016, will be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

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Q.  9. Whose first novel was titled ‘Carrie’ ?

A.  9.  Stephen King.

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Q. 10.  What was the name given to the prosperous peasants in Russia who were violently repressed by Stalin?

A. 10.  Kulaks.

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Q. 11.  The famous ‘Stella Artois’ beer was originally brewed in which country?

A. 11.  Belgium.

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Q. 12.  After World War Two (WWII) ended into how many sectors was the city of Berlin divided? (A point for the correct answer and bonus points if you can correctly name the countries in charge of the sectors.)

A. 12.  There were four sectors, American, British, French and Soviet.

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Q. 13.  What is the common name of the small piece of data sent from a website and stored in a user’s web browser?

A. 13.  It is called a ‘cookie’.

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Q. 14.  In the well known saying, what do ‘birds of a feather’ do?

A. 14.  They ‘flock together’.

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Q. 15.  What fruit is a cross between a grapefruit, tangerine and orange?

A. 15.  The ‘Ugli fruit’.

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Q. 16.  What is the name for the Eskimo people of Canada?

A. 16.  They are known as ‘Iniut’.

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Q. 17.  We all know to our cost about the recent ‘financial crisis’, but in what year was the infamous ‘Wall Street Crash’ ?

A. 17.  1929.

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Q. 18.  What are the two movies for which Jack Nicholson received the Best Actor Oscar?

A. 18.  They were ‘One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest’ and ‘As Good As It Gets’.

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Q. 19.  What is ‘blood sausage’ better known as in places like the United Kingdom, Ireland, New Zealand and the Canadian provinces of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador?

A. 19.  It is better known as ‘Black Pudding’.

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Q. 20.  Who was ‘The Country Girl’ who after ‘High Noon’ went on to ‘Dial M for Murder’ and ‘To Catch a Thief’ before entering ‘High Society’ ?

A. 20.  Grace Kelly.

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Were YOU Part Of The Secret Facebook Experiment?

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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subliminal advertising

Many years ago subliminal advertising was banned by law because it manipulated how people thought – brainwashed them to a degree. Since then the practice has been frowned upon, but, with the popularity of social media, are some people, particularly in some government agencies, trying to secretly manipulate us again?

In January 2012, Facebook ran a secret experiment on 689,000 of its users.

The purpose of that experiment was to see if the company could change those peoples’ moods by altering their news feeds.

The scary thing is that it worked.

The study found that by manipulating the News Feeds displayed to 689,003 Facebook users, it could affect the content which those users posted to Facebook. More negative News Feeds led to more negative status messages, and more positive News Feeds led to more positive statuses.

This means, as the report on the experiment stated, “that emotional states can be transferred to others via emotional contagion, leading people to experience the same emotions without their awareness.” To put it another way, it is the manipulation of the herd, or zombie, mentality.

Facebook-apologizes-for-manipulating-emotions

Such mass manipulation is only possible now with the immediacy and vast scale of social networks such as Facebook. Now, because of the numbers of people involved, even minor manipulations in how they think can have far reaching consequences.

One of the groups funding the experiment was the US Army which flags up big question marks over their motives and over Facebook’s place as an independent commercial operation.

The fact that government agencies are experimenting as to how they can influence people online has been known for some time, but you have to search for the evidence because they never tell you what they are up to.

The mass surveillance that whistleblower Edward Snowden highlighted is only the first step in a more sinister process. The big question everyone should be asking is, once the government and its agencies have gathered all of that information on us, what are they going to use it for? There must be some end goal. You can be sure that just leaving terrabytes of data languishing in remote computer server farms is not it.

The most obvious use of that information is to manipulate people, which is essentially what the Facebook experiment tells us. Only the moronically naïve or dumb would think otherwise.

In the commercial online world where everyone is used to free services paid for by advertising, information can be used to manipulate consumers into becoming indirect paying customers by simply turning their private information into cash. The more personal, detailed and intimate the data on you is, the more valuable it is to the company collecting and selling it, either directly, or indirectly via targeted advertising especially for you. Yes, what you see when you go to a Google search page is not what I see!

Secret Facebook Experiment

In the world of government control, some of their spy agencies will collect information just for the bureaucratic hell of it. Don’t believe that the NSA, that Snowden highlighted, is the only government data-thief. It may well be the biggest and best funded, but there are many others busy snooping away. And not just in the USA, but in Britain, China, Russia, and many other powerful countries too.

These groups will justify their unwanted intrusions into our private lives by hanging a ‘national security’ sign on it, it’s the excuse they always use. To an extent that is true at the moment since they use information collected by these snooping techniques to smear the reputations of what are deemed to be ‘enemies of the state’. They used to do much the same via planted news reports and information given to friendly newspaper journalists to disseminate. At the moment ‘enemies of the state’ are terrorist groups, particularly Islamic terrorists like ISIS. But in the future, who knows?

Increasingly government agencies will use the manipulation of social media to influence the general population and thereby bring about outcomes that suit their needs.

George Orwell had the right idea about what would happen. His only problem was that he chose the wrong title for his book. By 1984 technology had not caught up with the aspirations of those who wish to exert such control.

Now it is almost here.

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Many Happy Returns Webby!

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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World-Wide-Web

The World Wide Web, created by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, turned 25 years old this year, 2014.

There has never been anything like it before, certainly not as regards the impact it has made on society and the way we live our lives. Many of those changes are good, many are not so good and a few are downright annoying.

Here’s my take on some of them.

To concentrate on the good parts first, the one thing the www has done, for those who can use it effectively, is to give access to information that was previously only available to the elite few who managed to claw their way into the lofty heights of academia, or who worked in places where information was readily available. Now the same information is accessible at the touch of a button to anyone and everyone with a smart phone, tablet or computer.

Another benefit, in my view anyway, is that is has sent a massive wake-up call to telephone providers world wide, many of whom were fast asleep, content to rake in healthy profits from antiquated systems. No longer do we have to settle for slow and temperamental data transfer lines. Nowadays, particularly in the last few years, people are demanding systems that can cope with download streams in the gigabyte range. If you are old enough to remember the first modems you will know you wasted too much of your life trying to download at 12Kb/sec., sometimes less.

Freedom is also a welcome by-product of the World Wide Web.

The freedom to work in any country in the world, from virtually any country in the world is one big plus – it is for me anyhow. Another one I particularly like is the freedom to watch TV programs that I like, when I like, no longer tied to the schedules of some brainless bean-counter working for a broadcasting company. And the freedom to have your say on things as and when the mood takes you – they call that blogging don’t you know! – is also a great advantage to the ordinary person.

www words

As is the freedom to disseminate information across the globe instantly, as Mr Snowden ably demonstrated, although I would hazard a guess that the powers that be would not agree with me on that one.

Indeed, this is the one aspect of the www that really bothers big brother.

China for example is one country where access is controlled by the state. Coincidentally this year also marks the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, you’ll find articles about that if you do a search, but probably not in China. They get away with it because they are not a democracy and do not pretend to be one.

In other countries, like the good old Land Of The (Not So) Free (Anymore)), the powers still like to con their people into believing that they are living in a democratic nation and that the people have the power to vote for this or that. But think for a moment, when was the last time you got to vote on whether to start a war, or whether to give $billions of your money to the greedy banksters to pay themselves huge bonuses and gamble away the rest?

It is because they need to keep the pretence of democracy going, that they do not yet have the confidence to start overtly censoring the internet. But they do all they can to snoop on what people are reading, or writing, or looking at.

This is where the freedom the www and associated technology provides can also be a negative, when it is used by governments to surveil us and record every piece of data they can. If they were doing this selectively and targeting terrorists and criminals no one would be too worried. But they are doing it to all of us, guilty and innocent alike.

big brother is watching

They are also doing everything they can think of to impose taxes on internet commerce – of course they have to coz they’re stoney broke.

The www has revolutionized business practices and created all sorts of new commerce opportunities, Amazon perhaps being the best example of a company that has gone from nothing to a multi-billion dollar business in just a few years.

Communication and social interaction are also areas where the www has liberated the ordinary person – first with email and more recently with social media. In the near future expect to see social media expanding to become much more than individual platforms such as Facebook or Twitter. We are already seeing many new applications that are allowing people to communicate more widely, more easily and more often.

social media

Another negative is that the World Wide Web has unwittingly facilitated the proliferation of pornography and violence, and is teaching a generation of morons all the wrong things. Things that will ensure they become a burden on society, not an asset.

And it has also opened a whole new environment in which criminals can operate. Millions of dollars are being stolen every day through scams, confidence tricks and outright theft.

You could say (and I frequently do) that people dumb enough to fall for these scams deserve all they get, or all they lose, is perhaps a better way of putting it. You know, the idiots who believe they really have won a lottery they didn’t buy a ticket for, or who think that Dr Umbungo Watanga from Nigeria is being truthful when he tells them that someone they never heard of has left them $25 million and all they need to do is send all their personal details and a few thousand dollars to unlock the fortune that awaits them. There really is one born every minute it seems!

All that said, and twenty-five years on, the www is still in its infancy. We have come a long way in the past 25 years, but we have really only scratched the surface as regards what the web has the potential to do to further improve our daily lives.

Where the vision to develop the www will come from in anyone’s guess. The only thing we know for sure is that the initiative won’t come from governments or their bureaucratic servants, simply because the people we elect to those positions do not have the required intelligence.

So its up to you. If you have any great ideas you want to share, send me an email.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee
Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the man who created the World Wide Web.

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More Facts – And That’s A Fact!

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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Welcome to another selection of random facts and the chance to prepare yourself for questions that you may never be asked.

Enjoy.

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did you know4

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While in Alcatraz, Al Capone was inmate 85.

Alcatraz

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The airport scene at the end of classic movie “Casablanca”

was produced using a cardboard model of a plane

and little people actors in the background!!

casablanca5

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Donkeys kill more people than plane crashes.

donkey-kick

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The White House has 32 bathrooms,

and 6 levels to accommodate all the people

who live in, work in, and visit the White House.

There are also 412 doors, 147 windows,

28 fireplaces, 7 staircases, and 3 elevators.

white house

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Hummingbirds are the only animals that can fly backwards.

hummingbird

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In the great fire of London in 1666 half of London was burnt down

but only 6 people were injured.

Great Fire Of London

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Women blink nearly twice as much as men.

woman eye

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Each year there is one ton of cement poured

for each man woman and child in the world.

pouring concrete

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The most common name in Italy is Mario Rossi.

Mario Rossi

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Fingernails grow nearly 4 times faster than toenails!

fingernails

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Rugby, North Dakota is the geographical center of North America.

Rugby, North Dakota

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Butte County, South Dakota is the geographical center of the U.S.

Geographic-Center-of-the-US-Speafish-SD

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No matter where you stand in Michigan,

you are never more than 85 miles from a Great Lake.

michigan map

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The number “four” is considered unlucky in Japan

because it is pronounced the same as “death”.

4

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Sylvia Miles had the shortest performance

ever nominated for an Oscar with “Midnight Cowboy.”

Her entire role lasted only six minutes.

Sylvia-Miles

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You’re more likely to get stung by a bee

on a windy day than in any other weather.

CARTOON_Bee-full

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The world’s deepest hole is the Sakhali I oil well in Russia

(part owned by Exxon Mobil) which is 12.345 Km. deep (7.67 miles).

Previously to this the Al Shaheen oil well (12.29km or 7.64 miles)

dug in Qatar was the deepest oil well.

kola2

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Spain leads the world in cork production

wine-cork

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A jail in Brazil allows its inmates to pedal exercise bikes

to power lights in a nearby town in exchange for reduced sentences.

bike charger

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The Boston University Bridge

(on Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts)

is the only place in the world where a boat can sail under a train

driving under a car driving under an airplane.

Boston University Bridge

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