Take Your Head Out of My Shopping Cart

So this was funny today at Harris Teeter. 


I’m checking out on the express line with a few things. 


First some tofu.


The lady at the cash register goes:

Hmm.  Healthy!


Then some Meal Mart Buffalo Style Chicken Wings.


Again, the lady at the cash register comments:

Have you tried that?  Is it good?  It looks good!


Politely, I replied:

Yes, they are really good.


At the same time I was feeing smart-alecy, like what the heck, should I open the package on the conveyer belt and let you taste one–right here, right now.   


Sure privacy is a big issue when it comes to technology, social media, and all sorts of surveillance these days


But even when one simply goes to the grocery store–there is the very basic privacy about what one is buying. 


Yes, I see people looking into my cart, with eyebrows raised eyeing my goodies.  I can hear them thinking:

What is he buying?  Is it marked Kosher? (Uh, actually it is!]  That doesn’t seem like a balanced diet!


Another time, the checkout person asked me when I was buying a bunch of something:

Oh, are you having a party? What’s the occasion?


While I appreciate the good-natured banter and people being friendly, it seems more than weird in a way to be discussing what I’m buying, why, and for whom.  


Not quite Big Brother, but maybe that’s the leftover small town feel in our lonely urban and high-tech living.  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

A Social System that Inspires Pride and Shame

This story continues to fascinate me. 


China’s social credit system started in 2015. 


China scores individuals based on public data (social media, financial, insurance, health, shopping, dating, and more), and they have people that act as “information collectors” (i.e. neighborhood watchers) who record what their neighbors are doing–good and bad. 


Each individual starts with a 1,000 points. 


If you do good things in Chinese society–helping people, cleaning up, being honest–you get points added. 


If you do bad things in China–fight with people, make a mess, be dishonest–you get points deducted. 


Fail below 1,000 points and you are in trouble–and can get blacklisted!


A good score is something to be proud of and a bad score is something that shames people to hopefully change for the better. 


But more than that, your social score has tangible social impacts–it can determine your ability to get into certain schools, obtain better jobs, homes, loans/mortgages, high-speed internet, and even high-speed train tickets/airplane flights. 


While maybe well intentioned, certainly, this has the very real potential to become a surveillance state and the embodiment of “Big Brother”!


On one hand, it seems like a great thing to drive people and society to be better. Isn’t that what we do with recognizing and rewarding good behavior and with our laws and justice system in punishing bad behavior?


Yet, to me this type of all-encompassing social credit system risks too much from a freedom and privacy perspective. Should the government and all your neighbors be privy to your most intimate doings and dealings?  And should people be controlled to such an extent that literally everything you do is monitored and measured and counted for/against you?


It seems to me that the price of sacrificing your very personal liberty is too high to make in order to push people towards positive social goals.


Guiding people is one thing, and rewarding outstanding acts and punishing horrific ones is understandable, but getting into people’s knickers is another. 


This type of social credit system really borders on social control and moves us towards a very disturbing, dystopian future. 😉

How Do You Lock A Tree

So this is one of the craziest things in Washington, D.C. 


There is a tree with a lock on it. 


Yes, with a Master Lock on it. 

Hidden in plain site. 


It has letters and numbers or symbols on each button. 


Have you ever seen anything like that before?


Uh, what do you think that is:


– A lock to prevent the tree from being stolen?


– A Maxwell Smart (shoe) phone?


– A surveillance device in the tree bark or along the limbs?


– A secret compartment?


Hmm, is there something locked in the tree?


What could it be?  😉


(Source Photo: Dannielle Blumenthal)

Weaponizing Your Privacy

So this was the funniest War of the Roses on the Kane Show that I ever heard. 


They use the Alexa personal assistant from Amazon (voiceover) to call the cheater. 


In this skit, we really see the potential power of these home computing devices. 


Alexa hears and knows everything that goes on in the house (including the cheating).


Alexa confronts the cheater and calls him a few descript names for his infidelity.


Alexa punishes the cheater by going online to purchase items with his credit card. 


Alexa betrays him by calling his girlfriend and telling her about the cheating. 


Cheating aside, maybe this is a great lesson how we should all be considering our privacy in our homes and on our persons before we install Alexa, Siri, Cortana, the Google Assistant or any other personal or home surveillance systems. 


With all the bad actors out there and people that want to steal everything from your money, identity, secrets, and maybe even your wife–these devices are a direct line into your personal life.


This is called weaponizing your privacy!


Tell me, do you really believe that no one is listening or watching you?  😉

Reading Your Emails

Surveillance.jpeg

So you know you typically get a message when you log on your computer at work that there is “no expectation of privacy.”


Meaning…you’re on the corporate network and so remember that you can be monitored. 


Well we all read that warning and sort of know it by heart.


But do you really think that someone is watching you.


Well be assured that they are!


Talking to one of my colleagues and friends recently and this is what happened.


He had to fire one of his senior guys. 


And I asked him why?


He said:

“Because he was dead wood.”


I asked what he meant as this was a senior person in the organization that was being let go.


So he said:

“Well I read the last few days of his emails on his account and he was doing absolutely nothing!”


And I was like hmm, that’s amazing that you actually go into his account and read his stuff.


Yeah, I know it’s not really his employees–the guy is at work–but still it’s his email account that he uses, seriously.


So it’s not just some corporate spooks sitting in the bowls of the building in a darkened security operations center behind a lot of cool looking screens monitoring your accounts for suspicious activity.


It’s your management too that can logon and see and read your stuff, whenever.


So this guy that was fired wasn’t just dead wood, he was actually dead meat. 


“Smile you’re on camera” in more ways then one.


So if you decide to write some juicy emails today or save some salacious files on “your” computer or on the network, the expectation surely is that they are being read–you can take that to your privacy bank. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Watch A Terrorist In His Evil Action

This is an incredible disturbing video from today’s terror attack in Israel.


A Palestinian terrorist is caught on surveillance camera committing his vile deed. 


The terrorist in the brown t-shirt comes down the grocery store aisle.


But he is not there shopping for groceries. 


Rather, the terrorist is stalking his prey–an innocent Jewish man working in the store stocking shelves for customers. 


The terrorist at first takes a pass by the man checking things out. 


Then he suddenly circles back pulling a deadly knife from his waist and starts viciously stabbing and beating the Jewish worker. 


The mortally wounded victim desperately tries to fend off the terrorist attacker as he comes again and again at him.


Fortunately, others nearby chased the terrorist who was apprehended by police, while the victim remains in critical condition in the hospital fighting for his life. 


Unfortunately, this is daily life in the Holy Land, where bombings, shootings, stabbings, vehicular rammings, Molotov cocktails and rocks are used to kill Jews in their one homeland, Israel.


From Paris and London to New York, Orlando, Jerusalem, and all over the world, terrorists continue to plot and murder innocents. 


Yet, how often do we make excuses for them–it’s not their fault, it’s just a minority, they’re brainwashed, if only we gave in to their demands, etc. etc. etc. 


But does anything really seem to make a difference–more people, more land, more palaces and oil wealth, more respect, more morally corrupt votes at the UN, more, more, more…and still the global radical terrorism and human rights abuses continue.


What happens when one day the terrorist attack becomes one employing true weapons of mass destruction–will anyone really be surprised? 


We pray to G-d for peace and security for your people and for evil to be utterly destroyed. 


Oh L-rd, how long will you let these murderous, vile terrorists attack your children…how long before justice is done. 😉

Gorgeous Border Wall

Border Wall.jpeg

Hey, I’m not for erecting walls when there is no need for them.


Who instead doesn’t love to build bridges–full of peace and brotherhood, definitely. 


But after 9/11 and the ongoing, endless wave of global terrorism and serious threats that we are confronting (including from WMD), let’s face it…we need secure borders.


This is called common sense security, and it’s been highly regarded and employed throughout history and all around the world. 


That doesn’t mean that good people don’t come in…only that we have a thoughtful and effective way to work to filter the bad people out. 


Anyway, it seems that the bake-off of border wall prototypes has yielded this brilliant design.


If it’s truly rugged and includes intelligent border security mechanisms such as sensors, surveillance cameras, biometrics, and so on, then this could be an awesome looking and functional option.


Time to stop the bickering and time to start moving forward with security. 😉


(Source Photo: here with attribution to True Pundit)