In the 21st century, anyone in America, without awareness and knowledge of computers, is as vulnerable as a “babe in the woods.” The information age has vaulted into predominance of American’s attention without the benefit of requisite education, warnings, and orientation. And this extends to all the people who, together, run our government.
Unfortunately, computers have become easy to use too quickly, and recklessly; it is like giving a hammer to a baby. Americans can send and receive emails, visit on Skype, download free “stuff,” shop til their fingers or credit cards give out, bare their most intimate and inane secrets and weaknesses, seek love, watch videos, etc.
Americans are as ignorant about “hacking,” as they are about “fracking.” “Hacking” sounds like chopping away at something like wood, or meat. The concepts of computer hacking are not too different, except computer hackers are trying to log in to computer networks by trying to identify an administrative user account; otherwise they test countless combinations of usernames and passwords. They are burglars trying to steal valuable information, such as Ms Clinton-related emails, or damage, or hijack your system for ransom. They look for anyone who has access to everything interesting and “hack” their account.
Hackers count on users being careless and simple in choosing their log in credentials. Sometimes users use their home computers or laptops to connect to their work computers. That means a “hacker” can find out how to connect to other network computers through your computer using your credentials.
How do they get into your system? Through the internet, mostly through email links or attachments, otherwise they use multiple login attempts. Sometimes, seemingly innocent emails or downloads can install software that gives a hacker the keys to everything on your computer, including your identity information, accounts, and financial information.
So, we take steps to protect ourselves with anti-virus, and anti-malware programs. These programs learn and have access to every intimate detail about your computer and its connections to the internet. They are supposed to detect, deter, and destroy any harmful files that come your way. But wait; what if this software is turned against you?
How asleep at the switch, clueless, and careless can we be? Millions of Americans have blithely installed Russian software on our own computers, supposedly, to protect us from malicious intrusions, and we are surprised when we are violated? Really? This software holds the keys to access everything on any computer that uses it, and any computer that connects to it or its networks.
We could have, should have looked beyond the advertising, (even ads on public radio,) and no cost downloads to the company that offers it; but we have not. Even if you uninstalled the software, did it really remove every trace of itself? Or, could it have left some tiny, hidden, latent elements designed to give itself a “back door” to your computer? How would you know?
Anti-virus and anti-malware software is supposed to guard our computers from harm; it has access to everything on our computers and everything from other computers that communicate with; email, surfing, contacts, documents, programs, firewalls, passwords, yes, everything. It is supposed to identify and neutralize threats from people and programs that seek to ransom, destroy, and steal our most valuable, sensitive information. How carefully have we researched the sources of the programs and data we have on our computers?
Did you know that Kaspersky Labs, renowned for its anti-virus/malware powers, is owned by Russians and headquartered in Moscow? Check out this link. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaspersky_Lab
I wonder, how many Democrats, Republicans, Independents, Greens have Kaspersky software on their computers? I wonder how many other programs we might have downloaded that could be secret agents for our enemies?
America is an idea; a concept; an agreement; a contract; not a structure; not separate from its citizens; not invincible; not divine. America is the sum of us; e pluribus unum; one nation; under God; a work in progress.
Now, our unity is deeply wounded; the cut is painful; we blame each other; we separate; we abandon trust; we lose our faith; we suffer; we fear; we lash out; we seek redemption; we want to be healed.
Staying together as a nation is hard; we are attacked; we are blamed; we question our beliefs; we question our leaders; we question ourselves; we become angry; we defend ourselves from each other.
Our children watch us; they trust us; they copy us; they love us; they grow up; they have love; they have work; they have families; they have children; they have the life you gave them; they inherited the America of today; they do not know what to do.
Too much everything intoxicates Americans; too much abundance; too much safety; too much power; too much food; too much information; too much ignorance; too much entertainment; too much violence; too much vulgarity; too much separation; too much taking; too much hurting; too much lust; too much abandoning; too much hate; too much racism; too much chemistry; too much addiction; too much medication; too much advertising; too much preaching; too much teaching; too much attitude; too much Satan; too much to handle.
Not enough truth demeans and degrades Americans; not enough knowledge; not enough love; not enough wisdom; not enough peace; not enough grace; not enough nature; not enough helping; not enough learning; not enough vocabulary; not enough strength; not enough compassion; not enough praying; not enough intimacy; not enough sharing; not enough family; not enough courage; not enough community; not enough contact; not enough respect; not enough God; not enough to thrive.
Some wounds are slow to heal; some feuds are hard to end; but America is ours to mend.
Political parties beware: the 2016 presidential election could stimulate American fact-checking and critical thinking – or not. Why? Could It be, we are awake and paying attention? Could it be, we just want to be “right?” Could it be, “We’re as mad as hell, and we’re not going to take this anymore.”?
In 2016, American information media reflect our mindsets.
- We have boundless channels of 24/7 content battling for “eyes,” and “market share.”
- We are so numb, it takes lurid, “mind bites” of “shocking facts” to get our attention.
- Our jaded, fickle brains are addicted to “breaking news and “editorial reporting.”
Then comes the election. How do we decide? The battle lines are drawn. The news media have abandoned objective balance in the fray.
It is natural for people with strong political bias to seek news sources that support their current views, and to ignore, avoid, or distain sources that reflect contrary, or impartial thinking.
Lord knows, we have enough choices (e.g. newspapers, magazines, radio, television, internet, social media). Which do we choose: “bread and circuses,” or brains? Do we swallow our favorite- flavored propaganda, or chew on the tough, tasteless truth?
Seven questions we can ask about what we call “news:”
- Which sources provide complete, unbiased information and analysis?
- Which sources provide incomplete, biased information and editorials?
- Can we discern where information stops and persuasion starts?
- Did we get all the information we need to understand?
- Do we know enough to understand the context and importance of the information?
- Do we have enough sources to verify or complete the information?
- Do we care?
Few of the major news organizations remain credibly neutral or balanced. Here are 10 news sources accepted as trustworthy by people across the political spectrum.
- The Wall Street Journal
- The Economist
- Google News
- The Guardian
- Associated Press
- USA Today
Here is an informative graphic from showing the political positions of the various major news outlets.
Good thinking everyone.
Interesting; both candidates for President are set for life, no matter who wins. Aside from political ambitions, what other consequences can we think of? Speaking engagements, books, endorsements; contributions to “selected” organizations, trust, foundations?
I think that is why Trump keeps upping the ante. He is probably just as surprised as the pundits that he is the Republican candidate for president. He is geared to parlay events that favor him into big wins. But what if he does not want to win? Could he be testing the limits of our national appetite for trash talk?
And, what about his campaign team? In mid-August, Donald shrugs off the RNC “sheeps clothing” and resumes his “Wolf of Pennsylvania Avenue” regime. An experienced manager tries to get him to smooth public dismay, and assume RNC campaign strategies; Trump demotes him and resumes fraying the tightrope to the White House.
Back to the show without protagonists; it must be amusing and frightening to watch our silliness. All our military power, all our amazing creativity, dimmed by this imbroglio.
Timid, cowering politicians, showing everyone we have no cohesion, no clear direction, no acceptable answers to quell the “masses” who intuit the vacuum of power in our country. Since 9/11 we have been “dazed and confused;” what should we do, whom should we trust; whom should we fear?
Flaying with “Shock and Awe;” useless, ignorant “boots on the ground” in places rich in resources, but impoverished in modernity. We have shown our naiveté by superimposing our values and culture on 7th century tribal people. Iraq was not even a country before Churchill drew a line around three feuding ethnic groups and assigned a titular government. Afghanistan is the graveyard of many invading armies.
Donald Rumsfeld’s endorsement of Donald Trump is emblematic; the man who almost single-handedly emasculated Americas military, feebly blesses a novice in military affairs. Sad, sad, sad.
I always thought of America in superlatives; strong, honest, forthright, steadfast, resourceful, courageous, and blessed come to mind. Our moral infrastructure is in such disrepair, that we cannot stand for anything as a nation. We have such weak bonds with each other, that we waste our energy and resources on things of little consequence in the world. We blame each other for problems no one could create or solve. We are frustrated with the impotence of government to do what it cannot.
- Are we still recovering from the shock of a homeland attack?
- Have our imaginations and fortitude been diverted to virtual reality?
- Are we happy that we chose two weak candidates for President?
- Are we that detached from reality?
- Do we think this is just another show on TV?
- Is our decline that obvious to the rest of the world?
- Are Russia and China taking advantage of our frazzled reticence?
- Where are the serious leaders we need?
We need citizens to accept individual responsibility and to participate in the things that matter – the true threats and vital problems; not bathrooms and weddings.
As in the TV series House of Cards, the voters are not in charge of anything. If we remain the audience for a reality TV Show, it should be called Decline. You are never fired; in fact, you are stuck in a job you cannot afford to lose. We could wake up like Gregor Samsa in Kafka’s Metamorphosis; no control over, and less understanding of what is happening to us.
Saul Alinsky was an important personal mentor to Hillary; his books are modern, grass roots, activist versions of Machiavelli’s The Prince, and Karl Marx’s Manifesto of the Communist Party. Listen to the rhetoric of semi-incumbent,Hillary Clinton, and parse out the words that are not in Rules for Radicals. She does not have any answers that were not available to another Alinsky apostle, Barack Obama; how can anyone believe she can do what he could not? Not that Trump has any silver bullets either; but voting does not have to be rational; and so it is not.
Kizr Khan waved the Constitution on TV, but he must not have read the powers of the Congress, the President, and the Supreme Court. Had he read and understood Articles I, II, and III, he would know that all these sweeping promises candidates make are not within the powers vested in the Presidency. If they could have, they would have. Obama has stretched every possible executive power; what can any president do without Congress and the rest of the nation? Read the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
But I digress. Just think; what if what Donald Trump never intended to become President. It has cost Donald Trump virtually nothing to become a famous world figure and a national icon. He definitely, upset the powers-that-be in the RNC. He awakened an army of citizens who have suffered too long from economic and government impoverishment. Even if the presidency goes to the second most unpopular, and widely distrusted candidate, both she and Trump are set for life.
During Hillary Clinton’s acceptance speech, I liked the improvements in her speaking voice. I shake my head when I read that her supporters lecture us to be more politically correct; you cannot order us to, “stop not liking her delivery, you men do the same thing and get accepted.” Listeners cannot escape their visceral responses. I say, “Stop telling us how we should respond.”
Our culture has conditioned us to hear and respond to voices since we were babies. We did not choose our responses; we grew them based on the events that accompanied the speaking. We are sensitive to tones, overtones, undertones, volume, brittleness, rhythm, pace, inflections in both high-pitched and low-pitched voices. We have all been soothed and yelled at by both men and women. We know it when we hear it. Watch how babies respond to voices; that is our nature.
Before microphones, people speaking to large groups or singing had to amplify their voices, a kind of practiced yelling. Preachers in churches, actors on stages, singers of opera, and teachers in classrooms had to speak/sing loudly to be heard.
The advent of microphones made this unnecessary. Radio and television stations discovered which kinds of speaking voices are soothing, grating, jarring, preaching, threatening, etc. They just do not hire people who do not speak successfully to their audiences.
No amount of chiding, “people should not let shrill voices bother them, they should just hear the message,” will change our automatic responses. The speaker must accommodate the listener, not the other way around. That is what voice coaches do.
What I noticed, during Hillary’s speech, was how many times she caught herself when she started to elevate her voice for emphasis, and lowered it into a more powerful, conversational range. There is no need for yelling with today’s microphones.
The finest example at the convention was Michelle Obama’s amazing speech. Replay it to experience the smoothest, clearest, most comfortable, conversational speaking I have ever heard. She made it easy to hear her very strong points without yelling, grating, or preaching.
So, let the critics of the voice critics relent; no one will take you seriously; no one will cheer if their ears are not happy.
Fear and distrust of “Muslims” feeds on horrific events like a cutthroat murder of a poor 85-year-old priest giving mass today in Saint-Etienne-Du-Rouvray, France. What can Muslims do about ISIS besides decry, denounce, and deny involvement? I do not have the answers either.
To complicate matters, Islamic sects attack other Muslims they believe are not “true believers.” In addition, turmoil, fragmentation, propaganda, and disenchantment, can divert young minds from seeing other people as human beings if they represent “The Enemy,” “The Satan,” or any name they regard as worthy of killing.
Some of the greatest scientific, mathematical, and poetic minds in the history of humanity came from the Middle East. I do not believe that the Muslim community lacks the abilities or resources to thwart such despicable members of their faith. I believe that we lack trust and cooperation with each other.
Would it be “profiling” for predominately Muslim communities to join together and purposely organize to identify these murderers in their midst? No one knows the signs and subtle indicators of violence on any streets better than the people who live there.
We already have analogous problems in predominately black neighborhoods – no one talks because they are afraid of reprisals. I am not sure that is the problem in the Muslim community, but something is in the way of finding and stopping these monsters.
Please, do not leave this problem on the doorsteps of condolences and denial; it does not matter what you believe, or how you practice your beliefs, join us to stop this madness.