Are Government Bureaucrats Capable Of Looking After Data They Collect About Us?

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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Office of Personnel Management

If you’ve read any of the political posts on this blog you’ll already know the answer to the question posed in the title.

Staffed by stupid bureaucrats, the government isn’t capable of doing anything right, apart from trying to make all our lives miserable with needless and intrusive rules and regulations.

Proving the point, recently in the press there have been numerous stories about the personal data of an estimated 18 million current, former and prospective federal employees being the victim of what they call a ‘cyber breach’ at the Office of Personnel Management.

I say 18 million because that is what has currently been estimated by none other than FBI Director James Comey in a closed-door briefing to Senators recently. A far cry from the government’s lies that ‘only’ 4.2 million files were hacked. And that 18 million number is expected to grow, not get smaller – which I suppose makes the government’s lie even bigger.

The same hackers who accessed the Office of Personnel Management’s data are believed to have last year breached an OPM contractor, KeyPoint Government Solutions. When that OPM breach was discovered in April, investigators found that KeyPoint security credentials were used to breach the OPM system.

KeyPoint_Logo

Some investigators believe that after that intrusion last year, OPM bureaucrats should have blocked all access from KeyPoint, and that doing so could have prevented more serious damage.

But the bureaucrats refused to do anything – probably waiting for a sub-committee to write a 2,000 page report first!

It is believed that the Chinese government is behind this latest ‘cyber breach’, which is considered the worst ever against the U.S. government – so far, that is. The Chinese hackers are believed to have built their own backdoor access to the OPM system, armed with high-level system administrator access codes.

Naturally since it happened under his watch and the buck stops with him, President Obama has ordered his administration to answer all accusations of incompetence by minimizing the severity of breach.

But the OPM’s internal auditors told a House Oversight and Government Affairs Committee last week that key databases housing sensitive national security data, including applications for background checks, had not met federal security standards.

Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass

Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass., responded thus, “I wish that you [the OPM] were as strenuous and hardworking at keeping information out of the hands of hackers as are at keeping information out of the hands of Congress.”

If only!

So are the government bureaucrats capable of looking after the data they collect on us?

Of course they aren’t.

Looks as if all Snowden, the subject of Wednesday’s post (if you want to read it click here), is really guilty of, is doing the bureaucrat’s job more efficiently.

whistleblower techie

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Taking A Swipe At Skype

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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Skype_logo

No, it’s not me who is taking a swipe at Skype. I use Skype a lot for communicating with people. I find it particularly good for contacting friends in foreign lands, which you can do for free, but also for making paid telephone calls too.

I have been using it for over a decade, almost from it started, and long before it was bought by Microsoft. Although other flavors have arrived on the scene I stick with Skype.

It’s the comfort of familiarity, something I wish the nerds at WordPress would pay attention to instead of continually making smart-ass changes that no one has asked for or wants. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it guys!

But getting back to Skype, it has now become a victim of the snoopers – again!

This time it has been told it has to appear before a court in Belgium because it refused to hand over customer data following a request for assistance by the Federal Computer Crime Unit of the Federal Judicial Police (FCCU) in a ‘criminal investigation’.

Microsoft acquires Skype

Microsoft has been very sensitive to appearing to buckle under when requested to release information about its Skype users ever since it was alleged that it had changed the architecture of the communications software to make it more “wiretap friendly”, something which it has always denied.

Despite Microsoft releasing transparency reports stating that it had not handed over the content of any Skype conversations in response to regular law enforcement requests, privacy and security analysts remain unconvinced.

Unfortunately, as usually happens when the lawyers get to work, the fundamental importance of this case – which is government’s mania for trying to remove the right to privacy of its citizens – gets lost in spurious legal arguments.

cartoon lawyers

Now, instead of defending the right to privacy, the court’s time is being taken up with deciding whether or not a VoIP service like Skype should be treated as a telecoms operator in Belgium. If it is then it would have to comply with Belgian regulatory requirements for telecoms operators and release data to the snoopers.

I said earlier that the request by the Belgian snoopers is in regard to a ‘criminal investigation’ but the alleged crimes under investigation have not been specified, nor has the identity of the suspect or suspects.

It’s another one of those government catch-all phrases like ‘terrorist activity’ or ‘national security’ that are used as a cover for intrusions into people’s privacy whenever they feel like it.

government Snooping

The result of this Belgian case will be an interesting marker for future attacks on the privacy of Skype users. My guess is that if the snoopers win their case then Skype should brace itself for a multitude of similar requests from governments all over the world. If on the other hand the courts rules in favor of the privacy of Skype users then the government will simply put their hackers to work and try to get the information illegally as they have done and are doing.

So it’s another one of those ‘heads’ privacy loses and ‘tails’ the snoopers win.

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Lots Of Names In Today’s Quiz.

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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Yes, lots of names in today’s quiz, either as the answers or as part of the questions.

Some easy and some quite difficult, but you’ll have to have a bit of knowledge of various subjects to answer them all correctly.

And as usual, if you get stuck, you can find the answers waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay down below, but please NO cheating!

Enjoy and good luck.

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quiz 2

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 Q.  1:  In which city does the American football team the ’49ers’ play?

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Q.  2:  These two men had the same name, one was sentenced to death by hanging in the United States in 1859 and the other was a Ghillie who became close to Queen Victoria after the death of her husband Prince Albert –  what was their name?

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Q.  3:  And still on the subject of names, separated only by a vowel, what were the surnames of two famous painters born in Paris, France during the 19th Century who had a significant impact on the ‘impressionist’ movement? (There is usually a point for each correct answer in questions like this, but in this case if you get one right you’ll get them both right, so just one point up for grabs.)

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Q.  4:  What type of animal is an Ibex?

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Q.  5:  Who and what is ‘Tristan da Cunha’ ? (A point for each correct answer.)

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Q.  6:  Which treaty with Germany brought a formal end to the First World War?

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Q.  7:  What city is known as the ‘fashion capital of the world’ ?

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Q.  8:  ‘Entomology’ is the study of what?

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Q.  9:  In which organ of the body is insulin produced?

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Q. 10:  As well as skiing, which other sport takes place on a piste?

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Q. 11:  Who had himself crowned King of Scotland at Scone in 1306?

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Q. 12:  Who performed the first human heart transplant?

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Q. 13:  Who is the victim of ‘The Murder in the Cathedral’ in T S Eliot’s play of that name?

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Q. 14:  In the Crimean War, Roger Fenton was the first person to be accredited in what capacity?

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Q. 15:  What fictional character famously ‘tilted at windmills’ and who served as his ‘squire’ ?

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Q. 16:  Which chemical element, number 11 in the Periodic table, has the symbol ‘Na’ ?

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Q. 17:  What is the longest bone in the human body?

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Q. 18:  In which spacecraft did Yuri Gagarin become the first man in space?

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Q. 19:  In which country are two islands linked by the Seikan rail tunnel, the longest rail tunnel in the world? (Two bonus points are available if you can also correctly name the islands.)

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Q. 20:  ‘Professor Henry Higgins’ and ‘Eliza Doolittle’ central characters in which George Bernard Shaw play and which Hollywood musical?

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ANSWERS

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Q.  1:  In which city does the American football team the ’49ers’ play?

A.  1:  San Francisco.

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Q.  2:  These two men had the same name, one was sentenced to death by hanging in the United States in 1859 and the other was a Ghillie who became close to Queen Victoria after the death of her husband Prince Albert –  what was their name?

A.  2:  John Brown.

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Q.  3:  And still on the subject of names, separated only by a vowel, what were the surnames of two famous painters born in Paris, France during the 19th Century who had a significant impact on the ‘impressionist’ movement? (There is usually a point for each correct answer in questions like this, but in this case if you get one right you’ll get them both right, so just one point up for grabs.)

A.  3:  They are Édouard Manet (born 23 January 1832) and Oscar-Claude Monet (born 14 November 1840).

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Q.  4:  What type of animal is an Ibex?

A.  4:  A Mountain Goat.

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Q.  5:  Who and what is ‘Tristan da Cunha’ ? (A point for each correct answer.)

A.  5:  ‘Tristan da Cunha’ is the name of a famous Portuguese navigator and the name of an island in the South Atlantic that he first sighted it in 1506.

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Q.  6:  Which treaty with Germany brought a formal end to the First World War?

A.  6:  The Treaty of Versailles.

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Q.  7:  What city is known as the ‘fashion capital of the world’ ?

A.  7:  Milan.

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Q.  8:  ‘Entomology’ is the study of what?

A.  8:  Insects.

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Q.  9:  In which organ of the body is insulin produced?

A.  9:  The Pancreas.

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Q. 10:  As well as skiing, which other sport takes place on a piste?

A. 10:  Fencing.

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Q. 11:  Who had himself crowned King of Scotland at Scone in 1306?

A. 11:  Robert the Bruce. (Think back to the final scene in the movie Braveheart.)

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Q. 12:  Who performed the first human heart transplant?

A. 12:  Doctor Christian Barnard.

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Q. 13:  Who is the victim of ‘The Murder in the Cathedral’ in T S Eliot’s play of that name?

A. 13:  Thomas Beckett.

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Q. 14:  In the Crimean War, Roger Fenton was the first person to be accredited in what capacity?

A. 14:  War Photographer.

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Q. 15:  What fictional character famously ‘tilted at windmills’ and who served as his ‘squire’ ?

A. 15:  Don Quixote and his squire was Sancho Panza. (From the Spanish novel by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra.)

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Q. 16:  Which chemical element, number 11 in the Periodic table, has the symbol ‘Na’ ?

A. 16:  Sodium.

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Q. 17:  What is the longest bone in the human body?

A. 17:  The femur, or thighbone, either answer gets you the point.

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Q. 18:  In which spacecraft did Yuri Gagarin become the first man in space?

A. 18:  Vostok 1.

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Q. 19:  In which country are two islands linked by the Seikan rail tunnel, the longest rail tunnel in the world? (Two bonus points are available if you can also correctly name the islands.)

A. 19:  The country is Japan, and for your two bonus points the names of the islands are Honshu and Hokkaido.

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Q. 20:  ‘Professor Henry Higgins’ and ‘Eliza Doolittle’ central characters in which George Bernard Shaw play and which Hollywood musical?

A. 20:  The play is called ‘Pygmalion’ and the movie version ‘My Fair Lady’.

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Poor Oliver Buckworth!

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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Anyone who has traveled by air anywhere in the world since the 9/11 attacks has been the victim of the idiotic security measures at airports.

Belts off, shoes off, laptops out, body scan or grope – you know the drill. All useless and ineffective and there, like a lot of other stuff, to give the impression that the government is doing something when in reality it is doing nothing.

And as always the stupid rules are enforced by even stupider people.

So, who is poor Oliver Buckworth?

He’s a 28-year-old Melbourne-based interior designer, a threat to no one, and a victim of the security morons that infest air travel these days.

You see Oliver was on a flight in Australia, on a carrier called Tiger Airways. To pass the time he started doodling in a note pad he had with him.

The doodle said “In a land of melting ice-cream, sandy feet and fluffy bears, how could anybody be fearful of terrorism?” and along with it was a visual pun with the word “terrorismadeup” picked out in different colors to suggest that “terror is made up”. Being an interior designer he also drew a chandelier on the same page.

Now you are probably asking, what exactly was his crime?

Doodling with intent to do what?

Not taking the air travel security farce seriously enough?

Having a sense of humor?

Or just getting bored and passing the time with his note pad and pen?

A busybody passenger sitting near Buckworth reported his doodle to the airline staff, who, instead of telling the other passenger to wise up, took the whole thing seriously. Yes, they were as stupid as the busybody passenger.

Apparently Tiger Airways have a “zero tolerance” policy “towards inappropriate and antisocial behavior” which seemed to include Oliver’s doodle. He said he was writing a sentence about the absurdity of recent fear-mongering statements about the threat of possible terrorist attacks, but it was enough to have him thrown off the plane and handed over to the Australian Federal Police.

To be fair to the police, after doing a background check on Oliver they realized that the airline idiots hadn’t uncovered the next Osama Bin Laden and they didn’t take any further action.

But, choosing not to involve themselves with common sense, Tiger Airways banned him from using the airline again, not that he’d probably want to now anyway.

Well done Tiger Airways, you done Australia proud – I think not!

Here’s Oliver’s doodle, make up your own mind.

the Buckworth doodle

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A Cunning Plan – If You Are An Idiot, That is!

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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criminal mastermind not

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If you think you are a criminal mastermind it is usually a sure sign that you aren’t one. But stupid people are usually full of self-delusions – because of their stupidity.

And if you are a stupid thief, in your head you might have figured out that when you steal, for example, a TV from someone, the person most likely to need a replacement TV will be the person you stole it from.

Therefore, in stupid logic, what more cunning plan could you have than to break into a house, steal a lot of stuff and then sell it back to the victim of your crime. After all, you just know they need it.

Clever, eh?

Nope!

In normal, sensible logic, however, the scenario is somewhat different. Because anyone sensible will know right from the start that the person you stole the goods from will immediately recognize their own possessions and more than likely call the police.

Which is exactly what happened in the case of three teenage morons who snatched a video-game system and then tried to sell it back to their victim.

It happened in Denver and, according to the police, a woman returned home to discover her home had been burglarized, with the thieves apparently gaining entry through a window.

Among the items missing were a portable gaming system and a jacket.

The woman immediately called the cops.

But the robbery had unnerved her somewhat, so rather than waiting at her place, she arranged for officers to meet her in the parking lot of a nearby restaurant.

While waiting there, three teenage males sauntered up to her and asked her if she wanted to buy – you’re probably way ahead of me –  a portable gaming system, one that bore a remarkable resemblance to the one that had just been stolen from her place.

If that were not bad enough, one of the trio of teenage morons was wearing a jacket that looked a lot like hers.

As luck would have it, an off-duty cop was at a gas station next to the restaurant. He approached the trio of criminal masterminds and called for backup. Within moments they were placed into custody on suspicion of burglary.

You would hope that it would be a lesson to them but I think it’s safe to surmise that they are too stupid to learn.

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More Stuff You Maybe Didn’t Know

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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It’s fascinating fact day on the fasab blog.

Another random selection of stuff you maybe didn’t know and possibly didn’t know you didn’t know.

But now you will.

Enjoy.

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fact 01

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The fight scene on top of the train in Skyfall

was actually filmed on top of a real moving train

and Daniel Craig did not use a stunt double

skyfall-james-bond-train

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The last Woolly Mammoths lived at the same time

as the Egyptians were building the pyramids

wooly mammoth

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Because metal was scarce during World War II,

it wasn’t the acting but the Oscars given out that were wooden.

oscar

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Mexico City sinks about 10 inches a year

mexico-city-from-plane-1

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In 2001 Beaver College changed its name

to Arcadia in part because anti-porn filters

blocked access to the school’s website.

beaver college student

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On average, 100 people choke to death

on ball-point pens every year.

Sucking-on-pens

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Negative emotions such as anxiety and depression

can weaken your immune system.

Negative-Emotions
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“Entomophagy” is the name used to describe the fact that people eat insects,

a practice that has been going on for centuries throughout

Africa, Australia, Asia, the Middle East, and North, Central and South America,

because many bugs are both protein-rich and good sources of vitamins, minerals and fats.

eating insects

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One in fourteen women in America is a natural blonde.

Only one in sixteen men is.

dumb-blonde-joke

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Next Bugatti SuperVeyron will reach 60 mph in 1.8 seconds

at a maximum speed of 288 mph or 463 km/hr

2013-bugatti-veyron

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98% of all murders and rapes are by a

close family member or friend of the victim.

crime scene

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The H Bomb leaves no blood when it is used,

only a 20 km radius of radioactive ash.

h-bomb

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British People Are Drunk in 76% of Facebook Photos

Brits drunk on facebook

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Bats always turn left when exiting a cave.

bats

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Men grow ear hair as they get older, women don’t

hair ears

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An ant always falls over on its right side when intoxicated.

drunk_ant_test

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Bananas contain a natural chemical that can make a person happy.

This is the same chemical found in Prozac.

happy banana

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Boeing 747’s wing span is longer than the Wright brother’s first flight.

The Wright brother’s invented the airplane.

Boeing-747-8-Intercontinental

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Tigers have striped skin, not just striped fur.

tiger

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The United States sent 813 men, 27 helicopters and

nuclear capable bombers to cut down a tree in the Korean DMZ.

cutting down tree

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