The Internet is a wonderful place. Our connectivity, with each other, with strangers, with literally the world, is an amazing thing to behold.
Just today I came across a post on the site Open Culture letting people know about The Metropolitan Museum of Art making 422 Art Books available not only to read, but for download. That’s amazing enough (I spent an hour looking around), but then you see the links at the bottom of the page . . .
The eBooks . . . Aesop, Thomas Aquinas, Aristotle, Asimov . . . Bradbury, Calvino, Clark, Dumas, Feynman, Hume, Kant, Russell, Santayana, Twain . . .
True, Project Guttenberg has many of the same texts, but this isn’t a competition; both sites add amazing access to a wealth of material, but do so in different ways.
As I click on links, each link takes me to a post with more links . . . and then, I notice the sidebar. I don’t normally look at sidebars as they are typically filled with junk.
The Hemingway link leads me to Seven Tips from Ernest Hemingway on How to Write Fiction. I’m not a big fan, but . . . the man speaks to my writing habits; I could do worse.
I don’t swear much but . . . holy shit! You need to register (for free) to read the stuff, but once you do . . . I can’t explain; if you like comics, go there.
BUT, not just books . . . free movies, free documentaries (some of the WW II features were very interesting), links to free courses in all sorts of disciplines, free language lessons, free music, free audio books, free music.
All of it bad for where I’m at right now . . . I’m about to embark on a self-imposed blackout of the internet for the month of April. That’s right. No Facebook (which I don’t do much), no Twitter (which I do even less), no blog (writing mine or reading other people’s – which is something I do a lot). I’ll still do e-mail, but nothing that’s not house, family, or friends related.
The point is that while I recognize the Internet is the embodiment of “waste of time”, it is also a veritable fountain of knowledge and learning. And the above site is just one place; start adding in all the museums, all the universities . . . one would need multiple lifetimes.
Or, one could just use this lifetime to take selfies and follow this or that undergarmentless celebrity. Sadly, the majority of people opt for the latter.
Holy Crap on a Cracker:
The internet is a scary place. Details of ourselves, of our lives, our habits, our wants, our likes and dislikes, and all manner of data that not that long ago would have been jealously guarded under the now-outdated concept of “privacy” is freely available to both our friends . . . and our enemies.
Today, as I was working out, I listened to an interview with Marc Goodman. If you want to shit your pants (or panties), buy his book. I am reading it now, having bought it right after listening to the interview.
If you want the shorter version, click on any of the links at his site. Or, just watch this TED talk:
If you don’t mind the idea of crime and drug cartels with larger R&D budget than the people given the task to fight them, then you’ll sleep well. If the idea your car can be hacked does not bother you, then you’ll sleep well.
If the idea of drones controlled not by hobbyist, but by criminals does not bother you, then don’t worry about it.
. . . criminals are not bothered by local, state, or federal laws (assuming such laws exist — for many things, we’re heading into uncharted territory) and they are looking at the internet as a bonanza; a veritable field of easy pickings. I’m not referring to Nigerian e-mails telling you they’ll give you a few million dollars if you give them your bank account (which, incredibly, some people still do).
I’m talking about bad guys hacking your biometrics (fingerprints and retinal scans), hacking your electronic signatures, and stealing you blind. And that’s just the ones who want to steal from you. Some may want to harm you. They can find out where you live, your travel patterns, know when you are home, know where you go . . . scary stuff.
Once can, of course, be careful . . . except that there are companies out there who aggregate information from thousands of sources to create a profile for you, me, your family, and possibly your dog.
Sounds incredible? I have a King Soopers, Safeway, library, AAA, and a few other cards . . . all for my convenience and all with my personal information. Maybe not all the same information and not all complete, but cross-referenced with credit card data, health records, public records (i.e. the title for your home), and these companies can put together a whole lot of information on you, and sell it to anyone with $20.
Ah, you say, but all that data is protected.
Really? Have you not been reading the news? Plus, you know, I’m pretty sure King Soopers and Safeway are not spending billions on security . . . like governments, who still get hacked.
I don’t trust my phone . . . I don’t do anything financial on it. I don’t trust my computer . . . There are no passwords stored in my computer. They are written down and memorized. I don’t “remember sites”; I enter my password each time I log on, and if available, I use two-steps verification (I get a code on my phone that’s only good for a minute – without it, I can’t log on). I change my passwords at least once a year.
I don’t trust any of the ‘convenient’ technology available to me . . . but Comcast, my cable company, keeps sending me offers to get a security system for my house, all controlled from my smartphone. Here’s an interesting article . . . and then read this one.
Tell me again why I want internet access on the security for my house? I can buy into the system’s ability to call out (which it does) to a monitoring station, but I don’t want the ability for someone to remotely ‘service’ the system or for me to remotely “look” into my house while I’m traveling . . . or when I’m home (read THIS and then read THIS).
I like OnStar’s ability to remotely unlock my car, and even turn on the engine . . . but they can also turn it off. That, I’m not happy about.
People talk of computer-driven cars as if it’s a good thing. I don’t see it as such. For that matter, airplanes live and die, literally, on their computers. That does not make me all that comfortable.
The movie sucked beyond belief, and I have managed to erase most of it from my memory . . . but I always remember this:
Hacks need not be carried out by sophisticated programmers with years of training. A pissed off employer can wreck a lot of damage with very little effort. They can steal and sell information, they can purposefully corrupt data . . . in short, they can be assholes.
The world is full of assholes and the wonderfulness that is the internet leverages their power. Rather than make the lives of a few people miserable, assholes – especially elected ones – can now make the lives of millions miserable.
Capitol One just issued me a new card because of the Home Depot data breach . . . Not a big deal.
What if it were my fingerprints that were stolen? Who would give me new fingerprints?
So, sure, go ahead and upload the selfie of you and your son and daughter, of your nifty car, your expensive television, your new golf clubs, the gun you bought, the vacation you are planning to take.
Here’s the Catch-22 . . . the above describes our concern with what criminals do. Surely, we want our governments to have the tools to fight them bad guys who would do you harm. We want the local cops to have those same powers so that they can keep us safe. Greater powers, even.
Why would anyone object to empowering governments and give them the tools to keep us safe?
. . . because sometimes, all too often, in fact, people in power get ideas; ideas that are not always good for everyone. Governments abuse power, people abuse power, and anytime you hand someone power over you, they are very reluctant of letting it go, of allowing oversight, of working within the rules.
Governments do many wonderful things, but they have also been shown to lie to our face, to abuse the very power we grant them, to arbitrarily apply rules to some even as they exclude others and/or themselves from those same rules.
Point me to a politician that has gotten poorer while in office. Show me a politician that lives no better than those he purportedly serves. I am sure there are a few; they are the ones who have not cut deal, taken bribes, compromised their ethics and any ideals they said they had. They are the ones without any power to affect change, they are the ones we don’t re-elect into office.
So . . . which criminal class do you trust with your virtual life? Which criminal class do you want controlling your life?
. . . sleep well.
Bonus Holy Crap:
While perusing my many archives, I came across audio files of some of Col. R. G. Ingersoll’s public lectures. Not his voice, obviously, but someone reading Ingersoll’s speeches.
I can’t find the original site for the recordings (the orator captured the tone and power of the words perfectly) and so I can’t ask if I may make them available here, but I did find this:
And for them who would rather read:
And for them who like YouTube:
Regardless of your beliefs, you owe it to your reasoning abilities to listen to these words, or read these words, and see if your beliefs stand unshaken.
. . . then again, reason is seldom the trait of believers, this despite having been given the ability for such.
No picture for this post . . . this post is only for people who read it to the end.
That’s it. This post has ended . . . except for the stuff below.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ o o o o o o ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Astute persons might have noticed these doodles, and correctly surmised they hold some significance for me, and perhaps for humanity at large.
If you click on the doodle, and nothing happens, this is the link it’s supposed to go to: https://disperser.wordpress.com/2011/12/26/palm-vx-and-i/.
Note: if you are not reading this blog post at Disperser.Wordpress.com, know that it has been copied without permission, and likely is being used by someone with nefarious intention, like attracting you to a malware-infested website. Could be they also torture small mammals.
Please, if you are considering bestowing me recognition beyond commenting below, refrain from doing so. I will decline blogger-to-blogger awards. I appreciate the intent behind it, but I prefer a comment thanking me for turning you away from a life of crime, religion, or making you a better person in some other way. That would mean something to me.
If you wish to know more, please read below.
Note: to those who may click on “like”, or rate the post; if you do not hear from me, know that I am sincerely appreciative, and I thank you for noticing what I do.
. . . my FP ward . . . chieken shit.