Scary Happenings on Your Internet and Electronics

A snippet from a reply from one of my Senators asking about the NSA…

“As you may know, under one of the programs, the NSA has for seven years collected on a daily basis information related to Americans’ telephone calls.  This information includes the telephone numbers called, along with the date, time, and duration of calls.  The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) – a special federal court created in 1978 to review the government’s applications for surveillance orders – has allowed the collection of this metadata under Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act.  Section 215 amended the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) of 1978 to allow the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to apply to the FISC for an order to collect a broad array of business records and other tangible things relevant to an authorized investigation.  Previously, the authority was limited to the collection of only records from certain businesses, such as hotels and car rental agencies, and the FBI had to provide facts tying the records to a specific person.”

A Russian group of programmers are planning to sell commercially a root kit that will capture and forward anyones banking information, if they can get the software on their computer. You can be the first in your neighborhood to have this software for about ~ $2,500.00 US.

Some companies who offered encrypted email are shutting down due to fear of government scrutiny. They don’t want to take the hit for illegal activity being tied to their product. They ‘claim’ a concern for their customers, and perhaps a little fear of government scrutiny around themselves too?

The Tor network bust of a few weeks ago that netted a hundred plus people receiving and transmitting child porn, upset large numbers of people who deal in things less than legal. It also upset people who were led to believe tor was the utlimate internet privacy tool.

The infamous Pirate Bay frustrated because some governments have blocked them, have created their own browser so individuals may bypass government restrictions and get on with what they want to do, rather than what is permissible.

NSA and Internet

NSA and others are logging your electronic life

Some Internet Service Providers have agreed to email you, or flash you a screen a message if they detect you downloading copyrighted information illegally. “In case you are not aware”, is the reason given. To determine if you are downloading copyrighted information all your internet usage will need to be monitored.

Certain Televisions can spy on you per one newsworthy article on a techie website. The software running the television is very vulnerable to being hacked over the net. If there happens to be a camera or microphone attached to the television, well, you may be streaming media (your personal life) to people you do not know. Imagine seeing yourself in a compromising situation that took place in your front room in a youtube video?

An East Coast couple had a visit by several men in suits and badges after some rather innocent web searching by family members after the Boston Bombing. It appears one can look up anything on the web, however they can’t do it in conjunction with other sensitive topics. Sort of like the ‘three strike’ rule in baseball. Too much curiosity wakes the cat.

Besides the obvious, “What’s next, are we going to have cameras and microphones in our living room spying on us?” Do we already? At least the Internet is already taking action. One of the things I love about technology is changes happen fast. No need to be reactive when you can be proactive.

Here is what a little casual browsing turned up today:

Mozilla corporation is working on an ad blocking browser. If I understand correctly is it is blocking advertising streamed with secure web pages, because of the security issue it opens up. The issue stems from insecure content being delivered on a secure connection. Lots of opportunity for bad things to happen.

Advertisers are in an uproar, claiming their web site material will now be ‘stolen’. Hmmm, how do you steal information posted freely on the web? Some websites are threatening to go subscription only.

I say, good luck making a living with that business model. If the ads didn’t dance across the page, or block all access to content, I don’t think we would be at this point.

Since there is legislation either in the works or passed making the sender of copyrighted materials a felony offense, Usenet has gone to encrypted postings. At least by those that have a clue.

Operating systems on a flash drive or CD are gaining even more attention. If you cannot trust your computer has not been compromised – an unprotected Windows XP machine lasts less than 20 minutes on the net before being taken over – systems on a removable cd or flash drive are the way to go. They are read only, and cannot unless you allow it store any information. This means there can be no root kit, virus, or malware cookie sending your bank account information home to Daddy.

Encrypted phone calls will make a splash on the scene soon, if you haven’t heard about it already. Encrypted messaging is already here for those that want it. Each of us will have to decide how badly we want to talk with someone. Enough to match their encryption methods, or not talk at all over electronic medium?

Electronic security has always been a game of catch up. No matter how fast any Government, service provider, or other group is, they will never be ahead of the curve when it comes to halting illegal activities on the internet. No matter how quick they are, the internet as a whole is quicker.

Some people are resorting to triple encryption, just because they can. An email message, text message, or document is processed through three different encryption programs. In other words they are encrypting a document that that was created, encrypted, encrypted again, and finally encrypted a third time using different encryption techniques. Lot of work to say get a carton of milk on the way home from work.

Other people are sending out texts and emails containing trigger words, and I can guess you know what those are. Emails that have no purpose other than to trigger the NSA’s software into action, especially if they are sent with light encryption

Which brings me to my main point. Is the internet in jeopardy of shutting down? Unless you are comfortable with every key stroke being logged, worrying about your bank accounts and your very private information being sent to another computer, having your browsing habits logged and analyzed, your friends and family watched,it may be.

Is the internet going to end up as a nameless, faceless place, where the only web traffic is encrypted, and the only web sites still up, talk about gardening, and cooking and other acceptable topics while the NSA studies each word in an article?

Will all your web travels and searches be logged and monitored? How about the privacy of your own computer, laptop or tablet? Will it keep your private matters private, or will it contain a backdoor where all your actions can and will be monitored?

These are real questions and real concerns. Let your officials know how you feel about all of this. Apathy and nameless fear got us this far. If left unchecked, the world of computers and the internet, may go the way of the home phone, boom box, and so many other things we thought would be around forever.

Where does state security and individual privacy divide? Should everyone be investigated around the clock because they might be something they are not advertising? Where is the line on personal privacy? Will it extend from the search for possible terrorist activity to tax fraud, income tax evasion, searching for any and all illegal activity?

In the mean time, maybe there is no need to worry about backing up your documents, perhaps the NSA already has a copies you can download under the, “Freedom of Information Act”? Write your representatives, and let them know how you feel about his. If you don’t tell them what you think, big business and the government will.

Martin & Zimmerman Who’s Standing Where?

I am still confused about how I feel with the Zimmerman, Martin Stand Your Ground ruling. I did not attend the hearing, and I need to trust the jury did the right thing, and made the right decision. Unfortunately, from what I understand of the events that took place and the bias of the law itself, the ruling does not sit well with me.

In my understanding:

Martin is walking down the street Zimmerman is in a vehicle driving down the street.

Zimmerman gets out of his vehicle and approaches Martin who stands his ground, literally.

Martin is shot by Zimmerman.

It does not seem to be any more clear than this. Everything that happened after Zimmerman got out of his vehicle does not matter to me. If Zimmerman never got out of his vehicle, there would not have been a shooting.

As for the Stand Your Ground defense. It seems to me that it was Martin who used his legal right to stand his ground against an aggressor, not the other way around. Zimmerman could have driven away.

If I was a young man of Martins age, I would not have ran. I would have stayed put as is my right. I feel if Zimmerman didn’t think he had the backup protection of pulling out his gun, and using it, he could have left his gun locked up in his vehicle.

Perhaps Zimmerman felt empowered by the thought of having his gun on his person if he decided he needed it. Martin felt empowered by his martial arts knowledge and previous fights.

Martin depended on his youth and his ability. It wasn’t Martin’s first rodeo, or at least I do not think it was. He was, I read taking, martial arts classes. Usually people who do, have a need to. A young man by himself is a target. Martin was young, he was strong, and I feel, he felt he could take care of himself if he needed to.

Here it is the way I see it. Martin is walking along, Zimmerman stops his vehicle, gets out and approaches Martin. Obviously it isn’t to ask directions or share a joke. Martin being a young man thinks if worse comes to worse, he will get his ass kicked, but he doubts it. At any rate he isn’t going to take any crap from this guy. He has every right to be where he is. Martin is shot, and dies.

Yet Zimmerman is allowed to use the Stand your Ground Defense. It sounds like Martin was expected to use the cower and run away defense because Martin was not in the courtroom to say He was Standing His Ground and reinforcing his right to be there on that street, whether he had family, friends, or business around there. He was free to go and do what he wanted, and walk down that street was what he wanted.

I know if it were me, instead of Martin, I too would have stood there. So would you if you feel that strongly about personal rights, and personal freedom. I would only get beat up once. I would live with myself every day thereafter for the rest of my life.

In my opinion, or it appears to me, Zimmerman, the older Man approached a much younger, stronger man and created a conflict that got out of hand, and Zimmerman panicked.

Instead of halting the provocation at any time before the conflict turned physical, Zimmerman perhaps steeled himself with the idea that he was in charge. Of course the fight was one sided. Here is a young strong man fighting with a older out of shape man, who is spending as much time trying to get his gun out of his pocket, as he is in trying to defend himself.

I didn’t watch the trial daily, and I may be wrong in what I think are the facts. What I think I do know however is, one man left his vehicle and approached another man when he should have stayed in his vehicle or driven away.

Who had the right to claim they were Standing Their Ground?

Paula Dean and the Diversity Myth

The whole world seems to be looking at Paula Dean. Paula Dean’s problem is she was taken to task for what she said in private. The world is full of Paula Dean’s. They are made up of people of every race and color. In Paula’s case, someone wanted to punish her for their own reasons, and Paula Dean allowed herself to be vulnerable using her private language.

Too many of us have two separate vocabularies. One language we use when we are around people we feel safe with, and a second language we use when we are in public and strangers can overhear us. An example is attending a minority viewpoint political rally. You know the one some of us would like to attend but won’t because we know deep down it’s wrong?

Pretend you are going to one. Make it whatever cause you personally would not feel comfortable going to because of what the rally members stand for. The rhetoric you will hear is public rhetoric. Words strung together to show the world they are really good people who’s beliefs are not quite main stream.

What is heard publicly is not the language and raw expression used among the inner circle of the trusted ones. That other language is course, and demeaning in every respect. If these splinter groups thought they could do it, you would hear what they really think, but it won’t happen in public.

One people, one race

We make the world go ’round because we are one people trying to enjoy our individual lives.

Some time ago, I was asked by a little boy as his parents looked on in horror, “…if I was a, ‘real white man’. The little boy said he had never seen one close up before and did was not sure if I was a ‘real white man’, or not. His parents were of course were beyond embarrassed. It was obvious they used two sets of language, their private language, and their public language. The little boy of course, was not old enough to know the difference, and crossed a line his parents would have rather avoided.

While the rest of the world is blasting away at Paula Dean because her private language has been made public, take the time to look a little closer to home. Do you use or do you allow people in your life to speak two languages? A private language and a public language?

Paula Dean is an old semi racist woman who was found out. That is what she was raised to believe, and that is how she will probably die. Her time on earth is limited, and she and those like her will fade away over the next years. You and your friends on the other hand are young. Every day influencing and reinforcing your inner circle of friends and family with language and thought each and every day.

We must drop our behind closed door language and start speaking with respect to those not like us publicly and privately. Whether they are different because of their skin color, sexual, religious, or personal beliefs, they are us. We are a floating little blue marble in a huge ocean of nothingness. Yet we continue to think there are other choices than getting along without accepting each other.

Differences between people is good for us. We get bored with ourselves. We can’t compare ourselves to ourselves, we need someone else. Other people help make life fun, and interesting. Of course we have to be fun and interesting ourselves and we can’t be fun until we drop the pretense of being a different better.

Anyone who has a public and private set of words they use is really a pretty boring person. They are a one trick pony and can not see past their own nose. Their conversation is rarely spontaneous and very controlled. They can’t fool anyone for long about who they really are. Don’t be one of those boring people.

Caterpillar Stands Tall, bad news BSA

This is the best news I have read in some time! I am glad Caterpillar inc has taken a public stand. Until Boy Scouts of America changes their thinking they will be operating without any financial help from one company which is not afraid to take a stand.

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) — Caterpillar Inc. is no longer giving money to the Boy Scouts because the organization discriminates against homosexuals, a spokeswoman for the Illinois-based heavy equipment manufacturer confirmed Thursday.

Thanks David Mercer, Associated Press, for getting this story out!

I can hardly wait for other companies to follow in these footsteps. It is well past the time we grow up. It is time the Boy Scouts of America and other discriminating organizations like them grow up too.

As a former Boy Scout myself, I find this otherwise excellent organization  lacking and concerned about issues that are not theirs to be concerned about. Does anyone really believe that until now, every  young man that joined Boy Scouts of America and prospered in the organization was a  ‘Straight’ All American Boy? We do live in the real world.

Every one has at least one family member or friend who is Gay. I am tired of seeing people who are different being treated as someone less than, when it makes no difference except between the ears of the person doing the perceiving what that difference is.

Homophobia is a baseless phobia based in fear. BSA and other groups should grow up and understand most differences between people are not contagious. Unless that is, this feared behavior is already present in the person doing the perceiving, hidden away from the reality of their everyday life.

Good call Cat!

Caterpillar no longer supports Boy Scouts of America

Caterpillar takes a social stand

Perception of Public Safety

I read you can no longer find a pressure cooker in the Boston area for sale. If this is not a case of over reaction, there has yet to be one. Modifying one of the old phrases from the NRA (I think), ‘Pressure cookers don’t kill people, people kill people.’

People who over react to situations need to realize that living is a risk. There is no legislating any of us are going to wake up tomorrow. There is no protecting ourselves from someone else is willing to risk everything to harm us.

Without going through the obvious facts of flu deaths each year, death from automobile accidents, falling off ladders, chairs, or down the stairs, there are so many ways to die each day it is mind boggling that so many of us make it through to the next day.

Where I grew up as a kid, we used to hunt and fish a lot. Hunting and fishing was a way of life. It put food on the table and stretched the family budget beyond the paychecks ability alone. People lived on fish and game. We also had some funny laws around hunting and fishing. Of course there were very creating ways around those laws. They were illegal, but the need to eat outweighed the legality for some people.

One law I found the funniest was hunting season for game birds. Generally one hunted game birds in the same areas others hunted deer. The only difference was the weapon used and the time of the year. First it was bird season, followed by a few weeks of no hunting, then came deer season.

During the bird hunting season, those that could not wait used illegal hard to detect methods to take deer. Some used their deer hunting rifles, and others used more creative approaches. Deer season did not apply to these people at all. They did what they wanted.

The Department of Fish and Game was sensitive during this two week no hunting period to any gun shots coming from the woods. People who were needing to eat, found creative way to take game boards with out a gun. They did what they wanted.

In the spring in the lakes and rivers, game fish schooled up to spawn. Fishing was illegal during this period, or it was illegal to fish for certain species of fish. For example, you could fish in the shallows of an area where the Bass were spawning for Northern Pike, but you could not fish for Bass because the season was not open yet. I have never seen species selective artificial lures, or live bait.

Snagging hooks were banned at all fishing waters. Yet most of the fisherman had at least one treble hook that would pass for a snagging hook in their tackle boxes. If you talked long enough or new each other well enough one learned of other ways to take fish other than legal methods.

If someone is determined, search the net for methods, or creative enough to come up with something new on their own, there are multiple ways to do almost anything. Self bans on pressure cookers in the Boston area, and probably most of America, does not make our streets safer. Each of us is still as likely to be killed each day by explosion as we were some months ago.

Legislating any activity or item does not ensure our safety. If someone wants to do something bad enough, they will find a way. Which brings me to my previous article on slingshots. Much to my surprise I discovered I was a law breaker as a kid growing up. On occasion I had my slingshot with me within city limits of a city where they were banned.

Today, I doubt there are any slingshots being carried by kids in that city. If kids are serious enough, they are carrying something more vicious than slingshots. Kids are probably carrying stolen guns hidden in their baggy clothes. If they do not have access to a gun, or can not afford one, and feel the need to protect themselves, they carry something else. Knives, baseball bats, or other hand weapons.

In a hurry or leaving?

We depend on each other for our safety

Look at the man in the picture. What is inside the black camera shoulder bag? How about the packages? Is that really an eye glass case in his top pocket? Is the bulge around his waste really belly fat? Why are his jeans and shirt a little baggy?

Do you know why people have their keys on the end of a lanyard? Maybe we should think about banning keys. Some do it because they see others do it. Others do it, because they have a perfectly legal, very serious weapon in their possession.

Does that dog owner have a pit bull because they love the breed, for personal protection, or is it a barely contained attack dog?

What about the person with that walking stick. Is there more to that walking sick or cane than meets the eye? It could be a gun, saber, or other weapon depending on the owners creativity and ability to disguise.

How about the driver of that car. Were they trying to hit you, or just not paying attention for an instant? We can only legislate individual safety so far. The rest is risk we have to accept as part of normal life.

Charity Has Limits

Homeless Horror is Human Being after all

From a distance of about 25 feet between two vehicles it was hard to decide whether her hair was a really bad dye job, or a really crappy wig. Her clothes were earth colored. And she looked scary like a very good Halloween Costume, only it wasn’t. A hesitant little girls voice emanated from where she stood. It was hard to believe it was her voice.

Mister… Mister, can you spare some change? I hate it when this happens. I feel like there is a neon sign above me, announcing to the world this guy is a sucker. Hit ’em up, he is good for some change. I am usually selective about who I give money too, but it always feels like every panhandler in the area closes in on me.

There was a real need in her voice, something I couldn’t quite know for sure, but it was there all the same. I heard a real need in her little girl voice. Sounding as if she really needed money, and was not out panhandling for her next fix.

As I stepped closer I looked at her as if I was looking at her for the first time. What I thought I was looking at was something else. This was a woman who was destroyed by whatever life she had led. I imagined alcohol in massive quantities. I had never seen anyone still breathing look so bad.

Begging is all that’s left

This woman could have been in a horror movie without additional make up. It was a terrible thought that went through my head as I walked closer. I thought, ‘…this woman could never prostitute herself. No man would ever have sex with her. Begging is all she has left. She is so ugly scary looking’.

Her facial skin looked like it was made out of cracked clay. A trip to the beauty salon that was stopped after the facial was applied. The yellow stuff cracked apart as it dried out. It was a sickly shade of yellow. As I walked closer, I could see her hair was real, dyed and thin, looking like it would break off if touched.

Not only was the skin on her face yellow, her hands were also yellow, as were the whites of her eyes. It wasn’t skin die from some job she had once upon a time. Even her pupils were a darker shade of yellow, only a little darker than the rest of her.

I thought her clothes were layered as some homeless people are want to do. From a few feet away I could see what I thought was layered clothing was distended stomach. My God this is was the most jaundiced person I had ever seen who was still walking. For that matter, I never have seen anyone look that bad even in the hospital.

“Can you spare some money? I need a little money.” That jarred me back to reality. It wasn’t a monster, it was a real person, a woman, probably younger than I am. She is real sick, maybe a few days from dying I though. She stepped back slightly, standing in between two packed vehicles.

Horror Film doesn’t pay for actors

If there was ever a horror movie where the main character did not know it was a movie, this was it. We were less than two feet apart, and it took all I could do to not show emotion on my face. She was hideous looking. In that instant, if she had grown claws and fangs, and launched herself at my throat I would not have been surprised. In fact I was prepared for it…too much Walking Dead.

At a loss for words

I could only imagine the hellish life this woman had lived. It took a lot to remind myself she was a human being. I wanted to say, “Get away from me, you look more like something from a horror show than a person!”

Instead I mumbled something about helping her out, and took out my wallet. I gave her some cash, and mumbled again that this money should get her going. My God she was a wreck. It took a lot not ask what the hell she had down to herself, and how many days did she have left before she fell over. I wanted to stare, I wanted to look away, and I wanted to ask.

I fail the screen test

What I heard instead in that trembling child’s voice was, “God bless you”. I could not get my brain and my voice working. Here before me stood this walking nightmare, and maybe that is being generous, giving to me God’s blessing. The best I managed was mumbling, “Thank you.” This was six days ago.

I see in my minds eye, people getting scared and walking, even running away, dragging their children to safety. More people scared than people willing to spare some change. I would like to think otherwise, but we have our limits, and she passed those limits with ease.

Back in the Day

In earlier times, she would have been killed for looking so hideous. Probably killed for being a witch like the young woman, Kepari Leniata in Papua, New Guinea a few weeks back. No one who would want her around. She would have been chased, kicked, and had garbage and fecal matter thrown at her. Today, few are going to help her. She would be a problem at any homeless shelter. No hospital spends money on homeless dying people if they do not have to.

I was thinking about her blessing of me today. Her blessing prompted me to write this out. I gave her some money I did not need, and she gave me something which is beyond value. Whether it was was a practiced phrase of a long time panhandler, or genuine, I will never know. I choose to think it was genuine.

My Prayer for her

Homeless get Bus to Heaven

Dead and Homeless Bussed to Heaven?

These last few days I wonder if I should have done more. We both knew in the moment there was nothing more I could do for her. She is on the last lap of her final race. She runs this lap alone. I offer up what for me passes for prayer – I pray her end is easy and peaceful. She wakes in a better place with people who love her surrounding her. May God bless her.

Hockey Sticks, Golf Clubs, Baseball Bats – TSA Ruling

Great news for Airline Passengers to fly without fear through domestic skies.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) declared each passenger on a domestic flight may soon carry on at least one the following for domestic flights:

  • 1 Hockey Stick 
  • 2 Golf CLubs
  • One small pen type knife with a small blade
  • Limited size baseball bats, less than 24 inches in length

Sounds like a protest uproar is being led by the Airlines. How about domestic Airline Passengers not in an uproar over terrorists bringing these items on board?

Think about this. If every domestic airline passenger brought one hockey stick or two golf clubs as carry on, what chance does any possible terrorist have?

A possible terrorist can wield one hockey stick. Say there are three or four terrorists. That is three or four combinations of hockey sticks or golf clubs.

Let’s pretend the flight has one hundred passengers, most being adults carrying their hockey stick or golf club to their seat.TSA Hockey Stick

I say bring it on!

No contest!

Round one, and any remaining rounds going to the now armed passengers.

Take advantage of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) ruling and protect yourself as you fly. We have guns at home, or on our person. We have mace in our purses or on our side. Some of us have golf clubs in our front seat next to us as we drive.

Get eighty plus percent of passengers on any given flight armed with a club of their choice, and I am confident there will be no trouble on any domestic flight.

 

 

 

Death by Vegetable

Be careful, your vegetables amy be killing you? Wow, I have heard some slanted news as I was a teenager in the late 1960’s when the Vietnam War was going strong. The media would report almost anything except the war news. War news would often only receive a brief one line mention right before commercial break.This media hype has all the stink of big money in the background making a big story about nothing. In the bigger picture death by vegetable poisoning is not even a blip on the radar screen.

Let’s look at some other sources and some other non vegetable facts. Here is the abstract from the Center For Disease Control’s findings which prompted the death by vegetable hype:

Each year, >9 million foodborne illnesses are estimated to be caused by major pathogens acquired in the United States. Preventing these illnesses is challenging because resources are limited and linking individual illnesses to a particular food is rarely possible except during an outbreak. We developed a method of attributing illnesses to food commodities that uses data from outbreaks associated with both simple and complex foods. Using data from outbreak-associated illnesses for 1998–2008, we estimated annual US foodborne illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths attributable to each of 17 food commodities. We attributed 46% of illnesses to produce and found that more deaths were attributed to poultry than to any other commodity. To the extent that these estimates reflect the commodities causing all foodborne illness, they indicate that efforts are particularly needed to prevent contamination of produce and poultry. Methods to incorporate data from other sources are needed to improve attribution estimates for some commodities and agents.

So a few hundred people died this year from food borne illness on vegetables. Let’s look at other health facts. Starting with the eating of red meat:

Per the Los Angeles Times, a pretty reputable news source, they had this to say back in March. It is also supported by the China Study.

All red meat is risky, a study finds

Eating any amount or type increased the chances of early death among adults tracked more than 20 years. …any amount and any type — appears to significantly increase the risk of premature death, according to a long-range study that examined the eating habits and health of more than 110,000 adults for more than 20 years.

For instance, adding just one 3-ounce serving of unprocessed red meat — picture a piece of steak no bigger than a deck of cards — to one’s daily diet was associated with a 13% greater chance of dying during the course of the study.

The London Telegraph ran this story this month:

The Department of Health was last night urged to review its guidance on red meat after a study found that eating almost half the daily recommended amount can significantly increase the risk of dying early from cancer and heart disease.

The Food Poisoning Bulletin wrote what foods were involved in 2012 food poisonings:

10 Largest Multi-State Food Poisoning Outbreaks Of 2012

Three of the foods: tuna, cheese and mangoes were imported.  Five of the food sources: cantaloupe, ground beef, spinach and spring mix, clover sprouts, and peanut butter, were produced domestically. (The specific food source for two of the outbreaks was not determined.)

Here comes the hype, led off by The Huffington Post:

Leafy Greens Leading Source Of Food Poisoning Illnesses, Study Shows

A big government study has fingered leafy greens like lettuce and spinach as the leading source of food poisoning, a perhaps uncomfortable conclusion for health officials who seem to not want us to eat our vegetables.

Now lets look at some other data presented as fact from the Center For Disease Control (CDC)

“Heart Disease Facts

  • About 600,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year–that’s 1 in every 4 deaths.1
  • Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. More than half of the deaths due to heart disease in 2009 were in men.1
  • Coronary heart disease is the most common type of heart disease, killing more than 385,000 people annually.1
  • Every year about 935,000 Americans have a heart attack. Of these, 610,000 are a first heart attack. 325,000 happen in people who have already had a heart attack.2
  • Coronary heart disease alone costs the United States $108.9 billion each year.3 This total includes the cost of health care services, medications, and lost productivity.”

Moving on to death by Drunk Driving. I found these numbers as reported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The figures are from 2010. The data compliments of The Century  Council.  I suppose these numbers are harder to come by than death by vegetable.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) 32,885 people died in traffic crashes in 2010 in the United States (latest figures available), including an estimated 10,228 people who died in drunk driving crashes, accounting for 31% of all traffic deaths last year.

On smoking, the CDC weighs in with these numbers:

In the United States, smoking is responsible for about one in five deaths annually (i.e., about 443,000 deaths per year, and an estimated 49,000 of these smoking-related deaths are the result of secondhand smoke exposure) (Worldwide there are over an estimated 5,000,000 smoking related deaths a year as reported by the CDC.)

There have been about 600,000 deaths by Heart Attack in America each year, helped along by eating red meat per the CDC data. The CDC also reports that there were about 443,000 smoking deaths. World wide the same source estimates more than 5 million people die each year from smoking. Let’s not forget the 32,000 that died from drunk driving,  We had less than 500 deaths by vegetable poisoning in 2012 verses over a million deaths from eating red meat, smoking, and drunk driving.

From a 2008 harris poll as noted on wikipedia:

…found that “approximately 0.5%, or 1 million [Americans] are vegans…

I haven’t heard any Vegetarians whining about vegetable deaths, what gives? They should be up in arms, writing every government official they can, shouldn’t they? Perhaps Vegetarians realize they could be accidentally killed before they leave their home in the morning, and certainly before they make it back home for the night.

Yet there was the media hype on several major web pages about a few hundred deaths brought about by contaminated fruits and vegetables. Would you like some raw broccoli to go with your red meat, wine, and after dinner cigar or cigarette?

Disclaimer: I eat red meat, I eat white meat, I occasionally eat fish. I also eat a large amount of vegetables to go with my meat. I have nothing against meat eating. I am more than familiar with smoking as a number of family members died from the same smoking related illness. I have yet to hear of anyone I know die from vegetable poisoning. And I thought politics was full of biased information.

I am never sure if the media is that desperate for Shock Value, or it is manipulation by big money somewhere to change the focus of the average American onto something that is not important in the long run.

America is in fiscal crisis.  The War in the Middle East is not slowing down. Floods have devastated major areas of our coastline. Global Warming has not gone away. Yet there is a rash of hyped up articles about something that does not really have a major impact on America in light of other things we take into our bodies.

Quick, look at that!

Oh, you missed it….

 

New Years Worthwhile Resolutions

We are rolling along up to that date again. The date almost everyone pretends is not looming before us, now a few days away. The day the rubber meets the road. The day we can no longer limp along with crummy habits we want to get rid of.

Here is how it works for most of us. We waver back and forth on what we think we can do without, verses what we know we should change. We do not want to give up the things we know we should because they are satisfying. The things we can give up easily are things we embarrass ourselves telling others we are thinking of giving up for the new year.

When starting ‘Something’ involves some amount of physical effort, pain, or other discomfort. It too usually fails after a short run in the sun.

The sad fact is most of our New Years resolutions are forgotten either by convenience or neglect a few months down the road. We end up with another plate of guilt from yet another failure.

I believe the reason we go through this cycle of putting off resolutions, making resolutions, and letting our resolve slide into the late winter sunset is because they do not mean anything. Give up sweets, so what? Go to the gym to get in shape, so what?

After a few months negative reinforcement rears its ugly head, and we respond with positive re-enforcement which is going back to those things we pretended we were done with.

How about this year doing something different? Something that makes you happy and adds enrichment to your life? Do this: Make resolutions that are not self centered and self directed. Make resolutions that make a real difference, not some vague abstract accomplishment, but something concrete.

Make a resolution to do something over the next year for someone else. Who that person(s) is (or are) is completely up to you. What you can do to make a real difference in their life is also up to you. As long as you make a resolution and stick to it, it does not matter.

Here are some simple ideas that are also free. Over the next year, I am going to:

1. Open and hold doors for people just because I can.

2. Thank people meaning it, when they use good manners, or show an act of kindness for others.

3. Spend 10 minutes a week picking up litter on the street around my home.

4. Make or bake something for a neighbor, the one you like the least.

5. Everyday, look for something that needs doing that you can do for someone else.

6. Find something special or unique that someone is wearing and compliment them on it. Jewelry, perfume, hair style, and good taste in clothing,  are things people enjoy being complimented on.

Moving on, if you have extra cash there are good ways to use it too.

1. Pick up the check for someone in a cafe or coffee shop who looks like times are tough for them. Talk to your waitress/waiter quietly and tell them you want to buy the meal for the him/her dressed in ____ . They do not have to know it was you.

2. Go through your home and collect worthwhile items you are not using and donate them to a thrift shop, or put them out on the curb.

3. Buy some flowers, and give them to a stranger who looks like they could use something nice in their day/life.

4. Send some money off in an envelope to someone you have never met at an address where you would not want to live. Include a note suggesting they can:  Give or resend your money to another, add to your money and resend it, or use your money for their own use if they really need to.

5. Go buy some food you would like to eat and bring it to a homeless shelter. A few packages of cookies if there are children, toiletries you use yourself. New socks, underwear, etc. are all very appreciated.

6. Plant some flowers or a rose bush this spring in an empty space in your neighborhood where people walk, and take care of the flowers/bush over the summer.

I know, if you change your ho-hum New Year resolution(s) to resolutions along the lines I have suggested, your world will become a more vibrant, fun,  and thankful place. You will start living in awareness and gratefulness, and you will be happier and more fulfilled than ever before.

Your life can be richer and have more meaning. You can make a New Years Resolution you will be proud of and easily keep. Or you can give up cookies and start exercising more. Which type of resolution sounds better? You might even make new friends, or land a better job along the way!

Guns, Mass Murder, and Suicide; Acceptable Fear

The question is not who kills people, the question is who kills people with what? If guns are banned, another method will be used to kill innocent strangers such as were used in the mass murder via Sarin Gas in the Japan Subway System a few years back, and Jim Jones using cyanide in Kool Aid a few years before that.

Guns are only one device used for killing people and not really that effective in accomplishing mass murder. What guns have going for them is availability and simplicity.

The bigger question we should ask ourselves about these repetitive mass murders is what is the price we are willing to pay for our right of freedom? What price is acceptable, allowing deranged people to kill other people, and the killing is tolerated because eliminating guns would further erode our already greatly reduced personal freedoms?

One the extreme side of protectionism there are people who value personal safety above all else. They would be perfectly happy allowing camera and microphone monitoring into their homes 24 x 7 if it would guarantee their safety. They eat right, exercise on a regular basis, and never do anything that would be considered a risky behavior by an average adult.

On the other side, we have Gang Bangers, Red Letter Motorcycle Clubs, Drug Dealers, Prostitutes,  and Extreme Sports risk takers. Their values are quite different than the first group, and personal safety is not their highest priority. Most of the people in this group with the exception of extreme sports people, will use violent behavior to protect their way of life. Lifestyle of freedom reigns supreme and will be protected over an individual or group.

Which group would we identify with, when our personal safety is at risk? Do we want to be safe. Do we want to live without fear. What price are we willing to pay? Is our personal safety worth everything or is complete freedom worth more?

Is taking away freedom to provide more safety the right thing to do? Is it correct to legislate which weapons are acceptable in America and which weapons are not? To a large extent this is already been decided. The average American does not legally own any weapon outside what would be considered a hunting or sporting weapon. I do not own legally or otherwise any weaponry typically associated with the military in a war type environment.

Everyday we pay other people to take total control their daily life. Individuals and businesses take over our individual safety needs. Our insurance agents, Bus and Taxi Cab Drivers, the local Police and Fire Department, our Doctor. They all take charge of our personal health and welfare. Our children are taken care of by their Teachers, and School Bus Drivers. Maybe a Family Member, Sitter, or Day Care Center takes responsibility for our children’s safety after school and before us.

Up until a century ago, it a given that an individual living on one end of America could not pack up a few belongings, and travel across country without facing a large amount of personal risk. This is still true today if one chose to hitch their way meandering across the country. It is not a normal part of a safe life style to wander about in any inner city. Travel into some other countries, and one is likely to disappear without a trace.

There is no answer to the mass killings we see today except to compare them to almost any time and anywhere before the 1900’s. A time when one undertook great personal risk to travel too far away from home. Far being as little as a few miles in some circumstances. In those days public protection afforded strangers today did not exist as we know it today.

More regulation or more gun control will not make us safer. Nor will restricting certain types of weapons, and sizes of ammunition clips. Safety can only be legislated so far. After that it is up to us individually. At present, the only thing that will halt mass murder in America is time.

Eventually we will be sickened by people being murdered to change our cultural mores, ethics, and thinking. We should not feel the need to have one or more assault rifles next to our bedside, and pistols under our pillows. We will not need the false comfort of having multiple weapons and thousands of rounds of ammunition about us. We will as a people grow tired of living in fear, and start living in life instead.

America is entrenched in groundless fear of fear itself. We are drenched in fear daily by the media, and indirectly by our own government. We fear our neighbors. We fear teen age boys who dress and act differently than we think they should. We fear strangers. We fear anyone who is not us. We fear murky, unnamed heads of unnamed states trying to impose their way of life on us by force. We fear those things we can not see. We fear the stranger in the black car, or the brown van. We fear dogs.

We fear the boogie man. We fear the Devil. We fear ourselves. Until we decide to tame and manage our totally irrational fear, mass killings and suicides will be a part of the network news. We live in the most peaceful and safe time the world has seen in our known history, and we still choose to cling to fear.

What for? Are we happier living in fear? Is fear the control method of our modern life? Do you enjoy being afraid?