Heartbleed vs. Proportion

I gave-out my online passwords.

At tax time, in the Washington Post, I made an anti-panic comment concerning the virtual world’s Heartbleed ‘bug’.  The American media has been raging-on over what a devastating cyber effect the notorious bugger will have on Internet security.  Consumers, they say, should change their passwords, clean their machines, check their oft-used sites for Heartbleed proofing, beware of criminally cloned sites with fake genuine security certificates and prepare for slow-motion web service…is this panic prevention? or panic propagation?

Apparently, two-thirds of the WWW is infected by this—this…well, it really isn’t a bug.  A bug is a mistake or operational conflict inadvertently coded into a program.  Heartbleed? no, there’s nothing inadvertent about Heartbleed.

Out of multiple cloud servers, system administrators can’t purge it fast enough—or, perhaps, effectively enough—to satisfy the pundits.  The popular outcry has railed against inept security, derelict administrators and the malicious jealousy of all those terrorist types who hate us for our profitable hard work, world leadership and ‘freedoms’.  The tension temperature has risen.

Now, can you say, ‘disproportionate’?
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It Could Happen

It Could Happen

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It’s a powerful picture, isn’t it?

Grayscale: Hospital emergency-room, a Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan lies in his white Klansmen robe and white connical hat on a gurney.  He's bleeding from the abdomin.  Five members of an all black medical staff--nurses and doctors surgical grab--are hurriedly and intently attending to him--apparently, to save his life.

Presumably, this hospital is somewhere in the Deep South.  Considering that cross burning is an after dark activity, this must be the night shift.  An all black emergency-room medical staff works feverishly to save the life of a KKK Wizard.

Around the web, this image has been described as, ‘literally the most moving picture of mercy’.  It’s made the news.  It’s irony has been noted and tumbl’d at least a few thousand notes.

This scene has raised the questions , ‘Did his point of view change’? and would whites ‘have let a black man’ die?

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Affective Discombobulation

Affective Discombobulation

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Face of woman threatened by man from behind with hand over her mouth.

Original Sin

“She is alive today,” I said to her brother, “for only one reason…”

He swallowed a bit of his beer and nodded.

“Murder is illegal.”

“Yeah, sure,” he replied, “there’s that.”

“It’s this trapped, future-ruined, absolute ‘No Exit’ Hell feeling.”

“Yeah, hah—I had that,” he said, “My ex-? there was a time when I could’ve beaten her to death.”

“And no ‘blunt object’ either, no knife, no rope, no gun.”

“Just your bare freaking hands.”

“Exactly, while you’re head-exploded shaking and breathing spit,” I replied, “but you know—prison.”

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Prolonged Triggering

Prolonged Triggering

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Black and white sign outside of Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, CT; Vistors Welcome

It was God awful—it is.

Irreparable devastation consumed Sandy Hook elementary school.  Inconsolable heartbreak seized Newtown, America.  Minding their first grade fat-pencil business, there were half-a-dozen women and 20, six and seven year old, children.

A crazed gunman slaughtered them.

He use a paramilitary semi-automatic rifle—a machine gun.  He wore a bullet-proof vest.  He shot-off over 100 rounds of exploding ammunition.

This young man gone insane? he lived with his mother.  They were together in her kitchen only minutes prior to the bloody siege he laid upon that school.  At domestically close range, he shot four .22 caliber bullets—into her face.

The first, of course, knocked her to the floor.

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Accelerated Decrepitude

Accelerated Decrepitude

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Black and white, 1950s American family of four, sipping Coke, sitting in the livingroom gathered around the small black and white television.

WWII, this is what it was about.

Our incandescent light bulbs, after they’d burned out? we used to bring ‘em to the post office.  The clerk took that dead black bulb and handed us back a brand new one, snug in its GE carton.  100% free of charge.

Really, this was normal life.

Needing gas, we’d pull the car to the pump and a man would jog out of the station wearing a cap and uniform.  He’d smile, ask how much? set the pump and get the fuel  flowing.  Then he’d raise the hood, check the oil, grab a squeegee, dunk it in fluid and clean the windshield.

The filling stations and food stores gave-out green stamps which we pasted into collection books and for which we’d receive cookware, dinner plates or even a bag of groceries.  Drinking glasses, kitchen towels or utensils came-out the middle of laundry detergent.  Cereal box-tops were mail-order currency good for children’s toys.

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Cruise Control

Cruise Control

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Book cover, 'The Myth of the Paperless Office', by Abigail J. Sellen and Richard H.R. Harper.

Got paper?

Hey what about that ‘paperless office’?  Is your office paperless?  Are you old enough to remember that big computer promise? it was going to save the forests.
Does the computer really kick-out more original work than did the typewriter?  Do journalists have more free time?  Are secretaries going-home early?  Did MS Office streamline your work load? double your out-put? halve your man-hours?
How about the grocery store check-out?  Who remembers when fast fingered cashiers had one hand flying over the register while the other slid groceries into the bag-boy’s grasp?  Did that bar-code beep, beep, beep actually speed things up?
Do you miss getting letters?  Did you ever even write any?  Do your friends and relatives keep contact by email?  Was your Christmas card haul, this year, anything like the days of yore?
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The Bathos of Their Age

The Bathos of Their Age

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New York Times, Hook art for Christy Wampole's op-ed, 'How to Live without Irony'; color drawing, depicts male and female college students, hipsters; dressed in light green tee-shirts with big red hearts on the front and a photo of Justin Beber inside; cap, 1960's black glasses, scarf, tattoos, psychedelic book-bag, skinny jeans, Chucky Ds.

The Ethos of Our Age?

On Saturday, Nov. 17th, 2012 at 3:24 p.m. EST, The Stone, a Simon Critchley moderated series in the Opinionator ‘exclusive online commentary’ of The Opinion Pages in the New York Times, featured an op-ed, How to Live without Irony by Christy Wampole—an Assistant Professor, in her mid-thirties, with the Department of French and Italian at Princeton University.  The piece focused on the nostalgia decorated ironic posturing of the largely student populated Hipster set within America’s Millennial generation.  It made an ‘aversion to risk’ case for introspection of the superficial and subsequent adoption of a more authentic interactive mode.

Her opinion garnered 745 comments.  It prompted over 200 emails inside 24 hours.  It gleaned a radio show interview.

Wampole employed the phrases, ‘cultural numbness’, ‘collective misstep’ and ‘existential malaise’.  This Stanford educated slacker referred to the hipsters as living in a ‘brainlessly compliant’ ‘ironic clique’.  She accused our youngest adults of investing ‘in sham social capital without ever paying back one sincere dime’.

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Tightening the Screws

Tightening the Screws

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2004 - New York Post: front page; photo of G.W. Bush with headline: Bush Knew - refering to 9/11 attack.

God bless you Captain Hindsight.

The pre-9/11 Intelligence memos? those indicating an impending terrorist attack on unspecified U.S. targets? worthless.  The Captain Hindsight suggestions that an effective response could have prevented the catastrophe? delusional fantasies.  What response? how? round-up the Muslims, stick ‘em in Manzanar and start-in on the waterboarding?

So what if airport strip-searches had been immediately implemented? if box-cutters were hurriedly outlawed? heck-bent to die, the terrorists martyrs would have simply used a syringe, faked anthrax or fashioned newspaper shivs.

History couldn’t have been altered.

Terrorists tune-in to security chinks.  Air-tight safeguards are impossible.  Water-tight attempts at it usurp that liberty essential to a land of the free, a home of the brave.

Our post-9/11 security binge ignores this reality.

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Regime Change

Regime Change

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X-ray: human skull, left side of, jaw, teeth, crainum and convoluted brain are visible in whitish-blue light against black background.

Human weakness…it’s cognitive.

There is a human weakness in being alive right now.  That weakness is cognitive.  It spans the decision sequence from information perception to interpretation through analyses, conclusion and action.

This weakness is a type of bias.  It is a ‘here and now’ effect which might best be described as a ‘Present Bias’.  Being present in the here and now, quite naturally, directs thinking’s focal emphasis to present states or circumstances—and limits, by degrees, consideration of past events and future probabilities.

In fact, the further back in the past or forward in the future an issue reaches, the less we apply sufficient thought to that issue then.  This, of course, is the human weakness in critical thinking which too often allows us to repeat historical mistakes, tamper with ‘well enough’ or imbue a particular issue with undue importance.  Common to each of these present bias scenarios is that they lack sufficient scope and essential information, and thereby facilitate immature action.

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The New Normal

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Cartoon, Gentleman and lady sitting in a passenger space craft, wearing breathing masks as, out the portal window, the earth is destroyed.

The New Normal

Ignorant is the new Enlightened.

Impoverished is the new poor.

Rich is the new Well-To-Do.

Socialists are the new Democrats.

Democrats are the new Republicans.

Republicans are the new Fascists.

Security is the new Liberty.

Black is the new white.

The Black-Market is the new Foreign Trade.

Selling-Out is the new American Way.

Manufacturing sold-out American labor.  Globalization sold-out co-operation.  Industry sold-out the environment.

China is the new America.

Nixon sold-out the Gold standard.  Reagan sold-out economics.  Bush sold-out the Constitution.

Obama is the new Truman.

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A Lot of Work to Do

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So, the boob-tube political pundits were wrong.  The 2012 general election was not about the economy.  Voters did not opt for the big Bain business experience.

Photo of the Capitol Building: left-side, photo of Obama inset and looking right; right-side, photo of Romney inset and looking left.

Really—it just isn’t about the economy.

They did not jump on the ‘job creators’ band-wagon.  Exception was not taken to the nearly stagnant unemployment rate.  It’s ok that recovery is slow.

Thank you Bill Clinton.

Instead, the results of this election clearly show citizen concern with social issues.  It wasn’t about the ‘audacity of hope’ or ‘change we can believe in’.  Reality, realists and realism won, yes—‘We have a lot of work to do’.

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Hypodermic Missiles

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Afghan farmers working the poppy fields.

Workin’ that cash crop.

Afghanistan is killing us.

Our war there, against ‘terror’, has allowed Afghani farmers to grow opium.  Prior to the Nov., 2001 invasion, The Taliban—using medieval measures—had nearly destroyed the opium trade.  Now, however, Afghanistan exports 90% of this world's heroin.1

Globally, at a market value of $65 billion annually, 15 million people use illicit opiates.2  Each year, Afghan opium derived heroin kills 100,000 people world-wide.3  Opium then, is both a significant cash crop and biological weapon.

The Bush administration followed a blanket policy of destroying poppy fields.  In fact, that administration wanted to increase the efficiency of crop destruction via the aerial spraying of defoliation agents.  However, Afghan President Hamid Karzai blocked this strategy citing his half-brother Wali's ‘environmental concerns’.4

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Evangelical Terrorists

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A large group of Evangelical Christians, gathered at a football stadium, raise their arms and hands to God--they swoon.

Evangelicals—doin’ their thing…

American Evangelicals? one out of twenty-five of their babies is born homosexual.  In a typically devout Heartland community of 10,000? 250 of them are gay.  This is double the rate at which they are producing red-heads.

In terms of ostracization, Evangelicals attack the gay of their own at a higher rate than the Third Reich Germans attacked the Jewish.  This is proof-positive of some serious cannibal-esque discrimination.  It shows that comparisons of Evangelical actions to Hitler-generated behavior are at least as easy to draw as those to Jesus.

If the Neo-Nazis, White Supremacists, KKK or New Black Panthers had infiltrated the political mainstream as vote, wallet and representation completely as cultist and quasi-Christians with fundamentalist dispositions, the National Guard would be called-out to police political gatherings.  In many predominately Anglo-American regions, persons of LGBT persuasion both exist within and readily out-number major racial and religious minorities—Africans, Hispanics, Muslims and Jews.  Given this, why aren’t Evangelicals on the U.S. list of Terrorist Organizations?

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Let Freedom Reign: The Terrorists Won

Bust of Benjamin Franklin, next to which is a quote: Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.

Words of Wisdom

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They have us now, the terrorists, right where they wanted us.  Terrified.  Is there a bigger shame? really, than having lost that War on Terror.

Know that billionaire Osama bin Laden didn’t finance the development and execution of a terrorist attack on U.S. soil because he was an unhinged Muslim fundamentalist with a taste for American blood.  Those suicidal hijackers didn’t martyr themselves for a shot at bedding eighty virgins in seventh heaven.  Rather, these extremists were driven by a purpose much greater than destroying a few iconic U.S. buildings while leaving a mass of corpses in their barbaric wake.

Their intention was to rip the secure heart out of American life.  Their goal was to show us that bloody heart in their 3rd world hands so that we would suddenly realize our 1st world mortality.  Their aim was ‘shock and awe’, to strike unmitigated fear into America’s imperialistic circulatory systems—society, democracy and capitalism.

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Chinese Terracotta Army

Terracotta Army

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Blogging is like renting.  It’s a missed investment.  Might as well toss hard-earned currency to a lord of the land who holds no stock in your trade.

That timestamp is an expiration date.  Ideas serve sentences in solitary confinement.  Only memes go viral.

Need a metaphor for pissing in the ocean?

Pundits are paid to absorb bandwidth.  Inbound anchors, traffic and interactivity rank.  Comments are character assassination.

Narrow minds are decorated with names, dates and places.  One’s two cents are pennies laid upon that subject’s closed eyes.  Any present emotional impetus is a future logical hindrance.

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Holy FCC Lucy

Mary Ann and Ginger tie Gillian to a tree.

Gilligan, Mary Ann & Ginger

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Do you know what it is? the absolute worst freakin’ thing about American television?  I know, I know, the commercials—right?  Suckered-in by ten to twelve minutes of show, then gut-punched by a cycle of three minute commercial breaks and one to three minutes of program until the time dedicated to those inane max-volume advertisements actually surpasses the time they’re showing show.

This Harrison Bergeron state of affairs bombards a viewer’s mind so constantly and with such stinging pure-hype buckshot, that scriptwriters can’t even consider putting a serious, sophisticated or savvy idea on air.  So we get autopsy entertainment, Jersey Shore, The Kardashian’s, Glee and spokes models who strut all T&A into a drama, introduce themselves as brain surgeons, rocket scientists or litigation experts and move-on to a Happy Hour speed-dating scene at Ally McBeal’s favorite piano bar.  Ultimately, commercials convince programming directors that we Neilson citizens love Two and a Half Men so much that replacing their stoner star Sheen with the egotistical nimrod from That Contrived ’70s Show is mission critical and that the boring little dweeb deserves an Emmy.

Time to make the donuts.
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Faking It: The Executive Climate Change Deniers

A power plant with four smoke stacks emits large amounts of billowing greenhouse gases.

A power plant on Earth spews greenhouse gases.

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Industry executives? they know.  The highly paid business, technology, operations and financial directors at manufacturing companies and multinational corporations, they know that human facilitated climate change is real.  These laissez-faire conservatives, these pro-capital extremists? they’re feigning disbelief. No, unfortunately, there exists no hard evidence.

Polygraphs are voluntary and DNA doesn’t encode deception.  Don’t imagine however, that a million dollar bonus is a reward for a job well done.  It’s hush money.  Corporate executives keep more secrets and spin more allegations than black-market racketeers.

No CEO sends-out a memo, ‘Sure it’s obvious, so deny, deny, deny’.

Non-Disclosure agreements are signed and boardrooms aren’t bugged.  Caribbean cruises aren’t uncommon and golden parachutes are provided.  The CFO’s ex-wife wants half and silence lubricates negotiations.

The fat-cats know.  They deny for position and profit.  They disbelieve to enforce the status quo.
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As If Normal…

Green road sign in the wooded country-side: Leaving Normal

Entering where?

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I was born in the Spring of 1961.  So?  So what?

So I was among that initial group of people who do not remember where they were when JFK was shot.  My peers and I came into awareness so late in the baby-boom that, around 1980, we were dubbed the Mary Tyler Moore generation.  We believed that we were going to make it after all.

We grew-up watching, I watched, news clips of explosive rocket strikes, evacuation helicopters, burning villages and pinned-down troops fighting the spread of communism in Vietnam.  Evening after evening, Walter Cronkite gave me the body-count.  I saw the peacenik hippy protests, coverage of the Kent State shootings, the highly flammable rioting in Detroit, film of RFK’s last moment on earth, MLK’s funeral and reruns of that man’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech.

In my house, given a choice between the Brady Bunch, Partridge Family or a PBS documentary on Hitler’s Germany, my father had us watching the holocaust.  I saw specials on endangered species, toxic and hazardous waste, air pollution, the mercury fouling Lake Erie, our rapidly dwindling fossil fuels and the bright ideas scientists had to overcome these mistakes—harnessing the sun, cold fusion, eco-friendly materials and organic farming.  I just knew that, not just in spite of our ignorant past, but because of it, our future looked bright.
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