Yeah, This is Something the IRS Might Do

March 24, 2014

According to Forbes magazine, scammers are making unsolicited calls to taxpayers claiming to be IRS officials. Then the scammers threaten those who refuse to pay with arrest, deportation or loss of a business or driver’s license. So far, they’ve raked in over $1 million.

Only in a country where people believe the tax collectors would do something like this could someone be able to pull off this scam.


Using Tor

March 17, 2014

There has been plenty written about Edward Snowden and his purloined NSA documents. But don’t expect anything to change. Spying by government agencies is endemic. Despite protests to the contrary, congress, the three-letter agencies, and private outfits like Google, Facebook, and Amazon all have strong interests in tracking what you do on the internet.

And the private companies probably present a bigger threat to your privacy than does the government. NSA claims only to read ‘metadata’ from your phone calls and e-mails. Maybe. But Google, for example, already reads your gmail content. When certain key words turn up you can expect Google to push ads to your browser whenever they think they or one of their advertisers can sell you something. Amazon does the same thing when you search their catalog. Suddenly, when you navigate away from Amazon, targeted ads are showing up from companies you’ve never heard of, trying to sell you something you searched for on Amazon.

And they’re not just looking for sales opportunities. Every e-mail you write, every search you do, every web site you visit adds valuable information as to who you are, how old you are, how you vote, or whether you’re having an affair with the boss.

Take control and download the Tor browser. It isn’t perfect, but it will do a lot to protect your privacy. If you’re a regular Facebook or Twitter user, forget about Tor. You’re already giving up so much personal information that Tor won’t be able to do much for you.

Click here for the Tor Overview and a download link.

“The NSA can’t break Tor and it pisses them off.”
Bruce Schneier


Medicaid for Prisoners

March 13, 2014

In a little-noticed outcome of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, jails and prisons around the country are beginning to sign up inmates for health insurance under the law, taking advantage of the expansion of Medicaid that allows states to extend coverage to single and childless adults — a major part of the prison population… Health care experts estimate that up to 35 percent of those newly eligible for Medicaid under Mr. Obama’s health care law are people with histories of criminal justice system involvement, including jail and prison inmates and those on parole or probation.

New York Times

Of course, as state and local governments begin to transfer the $6.5 billion cost of prisoner health care to the federal government, you can expect to see a commensurate reduction in your state and local taxes.


Awww,..Poor Baby

March 12, 2014

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein has her panties in a bunch because the CIA may have been spying on the members of congress who were supposed to be investigating misdeeds by the CIA. She’s concerned that the CIA may have violated “principles embodied in the US Constitution.”

Poor baby. She was fine with the CIA, NSA, FBI et al spying on 300 million Americans, but on congress? She apparently thinks that congress is exempt from spying because it has managed to exempt itself from almost every other rule that applies to us ‘little people.

Dianne says, “there is no legitimate reason to allege … that Senate staff has committed a crime.’

Dianne, dear, there’s no reason to allege that any American has committed a crime and yet you were comfortable, even silent, about the spying abuses of our three-letter agencies until they landed in your own yard.

If you’ve done nothing wrong, what do you have to fear? That’s what we keep hearing from you and your fellow poltroons.

Suffer along with the rest of us, bitch.


The CIA Owns Congress

March 8, 2014

The Justice Department is investigating whether the CIA may have been spying on members of congress.

Make no mistake. The CIA, FBI, NSA, and other intelligence-gathering agencies of the US government own congress. Do you really think these organizations that already spy on every other American would exempt the 535 people who could do the most for them? They have the goods on every congressman and, if necessary, will conveniently leak stories about any elected official who gets in their way.

The United States government is irretrievably corrupt. This is not about cops taking $50 to suppress a speeding ticket. This is about an entire government that is selling Americans into slavery.


More Democrats

February 17, 2014

“Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. called Tuesday for the repeal of laws that prohibit millions of felons from voting, underscoring the Obama administration’s determination to elevate issues of criminal justice and race in the president’s second term and create a lasting civil rights legacy.

“In a speech at Georgetown University, Mr. Holder described today’s prohibitions — which in some cases bar those convicted from voting for life — as a vestige of the racist policies of the South after the Civil War, when states used the criminal justice system to keep blacks from fully participating in society.

“African-Americans represent more than a third of the estimated 5.8 million people who are prohibited from voting.”

New York Times

Holder has no power to actually make this happen. He’s just a front man for Obama.

This is the most cynical attempt, since blanket amnesty for illegal immigrants, to register as many new Democrats as possible.


Joining the 1%

February 16, 2014

This from the February 14, 2014 Wall Street Journal:

“Now that Comcast Corp. has sealed a deal to buy Time Warner Cable Inc. for $45.2 billion in stock, its top executives face a new challenge: clearing formidable regulatory hurdles.

“Comcast Chief Executive Brian Roberts has spent the past five years making friends with the Obama administration… Mr. Roberts sits on a presidential jobs council (that’s been a real success now, hasn’t it?), has hosted President Barack Obama and top presidential adviser Valerie Jarrett at his Martha’s Vineyard  home and has also golfed with the president.”

In other word the deal’s in the bag. The Justice Department, under the corruptible hand of Mr. Holder, will make appropriate noises of protest but, in the end, the merger will be approved. Five years after he leaves office, Obama will suddenly, mysteriously, find himself rich. No there won’t be a check from Comcast, but Obama will get book advances, outrageous speaking fees, and stock options that will clearly elevate him into the 1%. And you can bet a lot of that money will have come, by the most convoluted of routes, from Comcast.

Another rags to riches story just like our original Trailer Park Boy, Bill Clinton.  The difference between a Democrat and a Republican?: A Republican may be rich when he enters office but a Democrat is always rich when he leaves.


Only a Drunk Can Sing It

February 9, 2014

The highlight of the opening ceremonies of the Sochi Olympics was the Sretensky Monastery Choir singing the Russian national anthem. Yes, it was pre-recorded but, still, it was a magnificent performance of a beautiful and majestic anthem.

Meanwhile, the United States is stuck with one of the worst national anthems in the world. The melody, taken from The Anacreonitic Song is god-awful and almost impossible to sing. The tune comes from an 18th-century ‘musical society’ that probably functioned as an excuse for a drinking club. Only a drunk could manage the one-and-a-half octave range of To Anacreon from Heaven. That’s why no one in the crowd sings The Star-Spangled Banner. They can’t.

Even for professional singers, The Star-Spangled Banner often has to be re-keyed to match the specific vocal range of the performer.

So, Americans are forced to stand and listen, wondering whether to put their hands over their hearts or their ears, while some auto-tuned pop diva tries to embellish a crappy tune with her own special ‘style.’


Hacking an Air Conditioner for Fun and Profit

February 7, 2014

A while back we commented on the fatuous notion of the Internet of Things. The idea of the Internet of Things is that all sorts of devices around your house could be connected via the internet so they can “talk to each other.” We questioned what meaningful conversation your stove might have with your washer.

As it happens, the Internet of Things can also be dangerous. Remember the Target fiasco, in which hackers broke into Target’s customer account system and stole data on 40 million credit cards?

It turns out they did it through Target’s heating system. That’s right. They found weak security in the HVAC monitoring equipment and hacked into that. The HVAC monitoring system was connected to Target’s main data processing units and, voila!, they were into the customer account database.

Qualys, a cloud security firm, reports that that they found 55,000 HVAC systems connected to the Internet. In most cases, the systems contained basic security flaws that would allow hackers a way into companies’ corporate networks. Frequently, according to Qualys, the companies installing and monitoring these systems reused the same remote access passwords across multiple clients.

Think about this when you use Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter and then connect your appliances, home security system and, oh maybe, your bank account to the Internet of Things. The fun is just beginning.


Quick! Hire Some More Finns!

February 6, 2014

Two decades after the fall of the Soviet Union the Russians, whose central planning was responsible for perpetual shortages, crappy housing, and some of the worst food in the world are hosting the Winter Olympics in Sochi, one of the warmest places in Russia.

Sochi is one of the few places in Russia that does not get buried in snow so, at least to the Russian way of thinking, it was a natural site for the Winter Olympics. Perhaps because there’s no worry that a snowstorm will snarl traffic. No one is sure how the Russians persuaded the Olympic organizers to hold the event in the Russian Banana Belt but, rumor has it, large quantities of vodka were involved.

The Russians had a plan for ensuring that there would be snow in Sochi: Hire a Finn. They engaged the services of a Finnish company, Snow Secure Ltd., owned and operated by Mikko Martikainen. Over the past few years, Mr. Martikainen has been creating literal snow banks to save up what little snow falls in Sochi. He’s got the stuff stashed everywhere in insulated piles, ready to scatter on the ski slopes and snowboard pipes. Martikainen has guaranteed the Russians there will be plenty of snow and he’s ready to make more if need be. And he’ll probably pull it off. The Finns are like that.

Your room is ready, comrade.

Your room is ready, comrade.

Back in the glory days of the USSR, the Soviets would hire Finnish companies to build apartments and hotels for high-ranking officials and visiting dignitaries. Soviet-built accommodations had the nasty habit of collapsing around their occupants, either slowly or all at once.

They should have hired Finns to build the hotels in Sochi. With just days remaining before the opening ceremonies, at least three hotels are not yet finished and most of the others are, well, not yet finished.

Quick, Mr. Putin. There are only a few days left until the Games open. Hire some Finns. There’s still time for them to save your ass.


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