Biased european media

I’ve been watching the CNN reports of the horrible terrorist attack in London, and I’m sad to say that I’m becoming disillusioned with the “spin” of the media.

Today they focused on an American who is missing in London, and it seemed like they were forgetting the 50+ British citizens who perished. Thankfully I can get the BBC, and I saw a whole new side to the terror, with interviews from King’s Cross (the main subway station where the most deaths occurred).

Many have noted the “liberal bias” in the American News media, but it’s most interesting to see the world from the eyes of a foreign national. I wish I’d been forced into learning a foreign language in school like the Europeans, as I basically “stuck” in English speaking countries because of communications problems.

USA public schools suck

Even my son, who had three-years of German classes, cannot even put a coherent German sentence together. When pressed, I discovered that his classes were all-about THEORY, sentence structure, etc., with no focus on actually SPEAKING GERMAN, the whole point.

When I visit Germany, I bring this “pocket electronic translator” doo-dad where you can choose a phrase in English and it “speaks it” in Deutsch. Cool right? When I use it the German’s say “Ist Gut, Ist Gut“, and then proceed to reply in German words that I cannot understand. . . .

I had great fun with it. I would type-in phrases like “Can you give me an enema, please?” and play it to German’s on the street, all while acting as-if I was asking for directions. . .

I’ve been saving-up for the “Berlitz Study Abroad” implosion courses where you live in a German home for a few weeks, and allegedly come-out with some sense of how to understand and speak German. Why can’t they teach some “real-world” skills in Colleges today?

Oh, I couldn’t get any valuable language classes for my kids either, like Greek or Latin. Even in College, I could only get them to take a “survey” class, taught by Prof. Steven Cerutti, the author of the bestselling “Cicero: Pro Archia Poeta Oratio” book (Do you like Greek puns?). But is it’s not a bad course, and it is one of the most popular classes on campus, and for very good reason.

Press Freedom Curtailed?

With all of the hoopla about Karl Rowe and the imprisonment of a confidential news source, what’s with all of this “Chicken Little” crap in the press? For God’s sake, we are talking about disclosing their identity of an undercover CIA agent!

Me, I think that disclosing a CIA agent should be punishable by death (many CIA agents are killed after their disclosure), but hey, I also thought that the military should have imprisoned Geraldo Rivera for treason for disclosing U.S. troop locations.

Check out this link, “Geraldo Betrayo”. . . Errr.. . . .

American Dad!

Speaking of Karl Rowe and the C.I.A., I just love the new FOX TV show “American Dad”. It’s is classic comedy, and clearly written by someone with insight far beyond the I.Q. of the target audience.

I’m betting that the writers of “American Dad!” have had teenage kid’s, as some of the wet-your-pants jokes could only have been done by the parents of teens:

“Dad, can you get a little MORE insane?”

Only a real Dad could have written that. For those of you who have not had the pleasure of viewing “American Dad!”, it’s the daily stories of a typical CIA agent who loves in suburbia with his wife, teenaged kids, and a live-in space alien named Roger (who sounds just like “whiney effeminate” Paul Lynde from the Hollywood Squares TV show of the 1970’s).

Really, just click here and listen to Roger talk. It’s Paul Lynde parody, no question.

Now, here’s my point. American Dad is targeted at teens, but it’s clearly written by some far more worldly, like a ”real” American Dad who remembers ole Paul Lynde, and his genius for hilarous snitty tirades:

See where I’m going? My generation is dictating “cool” to the teens! YeeHaw! For example, consider the scene in which American Dad! Has Karl Rowe doing a hilarious performance when Stan seeks to be elected Deacon of his “Episcopalian” church (get it? Understand why “Episcopalian” is funny? My kid’s don’t. . . )

Neither of my kids read much news (I try though, and mail then weekly copies of Newsweek, which they seldom read), and they had no idea who Karl Rowe is, nor why the scene was funny. . .

Whenever my own “worldly adults” (ages 19 and 20) diss me, I remind myself that the “cool” TV shows (and music) are written by folks my-age. . .

Off to Scuba School. . .

I’m the only person in my family who is not a certified scuba diver, and I always thought that I was immune to scuba diving because I have a ruptured eardrum from an accident:

Many advise that you should not scuba with a ruptured eardrum, but I got a special device that will hopefully keep my ear dry while I’m underwater. Conventional wisdom says that the risks of Barotitus can lead to permanent loss of hearing, plus it’s painful as hell to get water in your middle ear, believe me.

I did my first dive at Key Largo a few weeks back, and it was AWFUL! Because I’m pear-shaped, the weights would not stay around my waist, and because I’m so buoyant (read “fat”), that I needed 40 pounds of lead to sink! Plus, I have to wear a choking full-head rubber mask (to hold my earplug in-place), and it squeezes my head like crazy and makes me dizzy. It looks sorta like this, with a cut-out for my face:

Most of my friends and co-workers scuba dive like Robert Freeman, Harry Conway and John Garmany (who is a certified scuba instructor). I’m getting lots of pressure to join-in on the fun.

Diving in North Carolina is among the best in the world, and we are considered the top place in the world for wreck diving, with hundreds of wrecks off on Cape Hatteras.

“Bathed by the clear, warm waters of the Gulf Stream, the coast of North Carolina offers some of the best scuba and wreck diving in the United States.”

But it’s not just the ocean. Our local lakes are full of treasures too. Here is a German wreck from our local waters:

Me, I want to get those cool full face masks that let you talk underwater via a walkie-talkie, and they are only $1,500 each:

Of course, you have to buy two of them if you want to talk to anybody, so it gets pricey real-fast! Hopefully, I’ll survive the weekend and get-started in my quest to join my underwater friends and family. . .

From the Mailbag:

I’ve received several queries from folks wanting to get-in on my sale of several hundred tons of horse manure, and I’m thinking of featuring poo-mountain on eBay.

I’ll run the potential profit numbers and do a post next week. . .

Wi-Fi and marketing genius

With the epidemic of unsecured wireless networks being used as platforms for illegal attacks, and we see that lawyers and victims are fighting back. In many cases, the crooks simply set-up a portable wi-fi Starbucks and wait for the suckers to connect.

The bad guys them plant password sniffers on your laptop computer and sit-back while the PC e-mails all of your ssh passwords to an overseas address. It happens everyday, and victims and law enforcement are fighting-back:

  • Unauthorized access to a computer network becomes a felony – Even casual access to an unsecured wireless network in a hotel can destroy your career. You can be arrested on-the-spot, even if you have no criminal intent (other than stealing their bandwidth, of course). In Canada, it’s called Theft of Telecommunications.
  • Victims are suing hapless wi-fi homeowners – Hacking victims now have a cause-of-action against the owners of wireless networks that have been used as access points to commit crimes. If you manage a computer network, you are responsible, and your at-home wi-fi cannot serve as an open-relay for bad guys. It’s called “negligence”. . . . .

For the scary details, read my full article “Unauthorized Network access becomes a felony”.

The Accidental Felon

We are now seeing a backlash against those who tap-into unsecured wireless networks for evil purposes, and local police are now arresting those who tap-into unsecured wireless networks. This scares me because of “Barney Fife” police, quick to arrest people. Barney Fife is the epitomization of every over-zealous, rule-based small-town sheriff.

Don Knotts work on the Andy Griffith Show was a 1950’s TV hit that made Mayberry synonymous with the idyllic “small town anywhere”, and it made Andy Griffith and Don Knotts sex symbols. I kid you not, these guys attract beautiful women like files on poo. Also, it’s an inside-joke among North Carolinians that Andy Griffith chose real-world North Carolina clan names for his characters, using native names like “Pyle” and “Taylor” and “Crump”.

The threat of arrest aside, I would not want to be one of those goofs whose defense is that they did not know that connecting to an unsecured network was not a crime? Hey, why accidentally commit a felony? Ignorance of the law is no excuse, and it makes you look stupid, too. . . .

Going after negligent wi-fi administrators

This year I’ve been talking to the FBI Cybercrine agents and federal attorneys on a foreign “John Doe” subpoena, and we are hearing that even if the attacker used an unsecured wireless network (or an “open relay” by a negligent ISP), the victims can still collect damages from the hapless owners of the unsecured wireless network. That makes sense.

In most cases, your homeowner’s policy will cover damages up to $250,000, but a major attack could cause you to loose everything, including your house and life-savings. For me, it’s not worth the risk. Protect your wireless network with “real” security, and don’t just hop onto any unsecured wireless that your computer detects.

BTW, for the really paranoid, there are other unique Wi-fi intrusion detection tools that offer “practical mind protection for paranoids”, across the globe, like this one for only $12.95.

For more information on identifying paranoid schizophrenics on the web see my new book, ”Web Stalkers: Protect yourself from Internet Criminals and Psychopaths”. It’s only $19.95, and a great read too.

Marketing Genius in-action

On a related subject, this guy gets my award for marketing creativity, for innovation anyway. At you can get a variety of dog doo mailed anonymously to anyone you desire. I’m told that it’s a popular gift for ex-wives, bosses and mothers-in-law. Here is their top-10 list of gift recipients. Check it out:

Me, I like the “poo poo grande” special, and the ever-popular “Poo Poo platter”:

“World Famous Hand-Crafted Dog Poop Not fake dog doo ~ a work of art!”

You can get the t-shirt too, a great gift:

Pure genius, cleaning up the back yards and making a few bucks too. This fellow has been in business for many years, and I heard that he has had to get a 4th dog to keep-up with the demand. . . . Seriously, this guy has been featured in TIME magazine.

There’s no substitute for experience

I’m in the middle of the book “Freakonomics” written by two fellows from the Chicago School, and it brings back fond memories of my work as a Graduate Assistant, helping professors model the real-world by empirical research and spinning hundreds of data tapes. I love the apples-to-oranges analogy on the cover:

In a nutshell, Freakonomics is a study exposing “bad science”, namely, the pervasive pseudo scientists who postulate theories using artificial “proofs” while never bothering to look at the real-world to discover hidden causation.

The authors show how studying the real-world is the ONLY way to tease-out models of behavior, whether it’s a model for locating cheaters or the behavior of computer software. The book shows several wonderful examples of how real-world experimentation disclosed the hidden model and emphasizes the perils of ivory-tower research and making artificial universes.

This is supposed to be “the” Ivory Tower we all talk about.

The proof is in the data, stupid!

How soon we forget. Remember the old saying “The proof is in the pudding”? It derives from “the proof of the pudding is in the eating“. This is the ultimate statement about the truth of empiricism:

“the true value or quality of something can only be judged when it’s put to use. The meaning is often summed up as “results are what count.””

Let’s face it, there is no substitute for real-world sampling, and real scientists will tell you that “numbers don’t lie” and that “the proof is in the data”.

I’m constantly amazed at the dimwits who propagate the foolhardy notion that “experience” can somehow be derived by research, especially in the database software arena. I feel bad for people who are not allowed access to a real production computer, I really do, and it’s a real Catch-22 that most shops won’t take you unless you already have demonstrable, verifiable experience with real-world systems.

Let’s start requiring experience again

Many years ago I got a database certification and I had to get a signed affidavit from my boss verifying that I had more than 5 years of full-time experience. Good idea, right? Yes, a great idea for the certification to have value to the employer, but bad news for the company making money by selling certifications because it eliminated 75% of the possible profits from wannabees.

Today, this vendor refuses to require certifiable experience, I believe, because it lowers their profits. Sigh. . . More on certifications tomorrow. . . .

One terrorist is another mans patriot

If we recall the battle of Bunker Hill, the British commander (Gen. Howe) lost over 1,000 redcoats and he was appalled at our “dishonorable” fighting techniques. The minutemen refused to wear brightly-colored coats and line-up in formation for easy picking-off. Instead, we hid in trees and behind natural cover, killing redcoats from as far-away as 200 yards, using the latest rifled muskets (that’s quite a shot, even by today’s standards, if you consider the distance to the pin of a 200-yard golf hole). This sums-up how the Brits felt about us Revolutionary scallywags:

“Gage blamed the extremists for recent incidents of vandalism directed against internal revenue offices. The governor, who described the group’s organizers as “criminals,” issued an executive order authorizing the summary arrest of any individual who has interfered with the government’s efforts to secure law and order.”

American Terrorist Cells

Patriots like “John the Painter” conducted arson against British ships, and we ruthlessly hid-out and bombed the Brits from a safe distance, killing and destroying with free abandon.

It’s no wonder that King George sent 23,000 troops to quash these terrorists when they invaded New York City, a beach assault so large that it held the world-record until the Normandy invasion, 169 years later. It stunned Geo. Washington, who was forced to retreat to New Jersey, where he watched 2,000 of his men get captured at Harlem Hill, standing right at the current location of the toll booths on the Jersey side of the George Washington bridge (really, I study this stuff).

BTW, NYC is loaded with Revolutionary War battle sites, such as the intersection of Canal and Mott in Chinatown where Alexander Hamilton fought bravely. Today it’s honored by a historical marker, right next to Wan’s fish market and the phony Rolex dealers.

No mercy for those who give aid and comfort to the enemy

As you might expect, the British were appalled at our horrendous manners and refusal on honor the “code of warfare”. In an excellent article titled “Sons of Liberty – Patriots or Terrorists?” we see that our Revolutionary ancestors were indeed considered terrorists, and treated accordingly.
Just like today, the military rationalized extreme measures against the terrorist colonists, killing the wives and children of known terrorists, and suspending the rules of traditional warfare. Remember the heartbreaking scene in the Mel Gibson movie “The Patriot” where the British soldiers burn a church full of women and children? Scholars suggest that this scene was taken from 1944 the real-life massacre at Oradour sur Glane in France where the retreating Nazi’s forced all the French women and kids into a church and burned it to the ground.

Dehumaniizing the Terrorists

Our ancestors were considered to be terrorists by the loyalists, plain and simple, and every Revolutionary War soldier who signed his enlistment papers put his families’ lives on-the-line (there were eight Burleson’s who served in the American Revolution).

Just like Americans de-humanize Al Qaeda today, some folks use the label of “terrorist” to justify all sorts of offensive bigotry. Interestingly, the British leveraged on the “de-humanization” of those that they repressed, as noted in the shocking book “Paddy’s Lament”, a very provacative book.

In my travels to Ireland I discovered that many Irish believe that Queen Victoria permitted a holocaust (the great potatoe famine) that dwarfed the evil of Hitler, and they consider her to be one of the most reviled monsters of the 19th century. British cartoons of the day depicted the Irish as Chimp-like and sub-human: My older copy of Paddy’s Lament shows a British cartoon of the monkey-like Irishman, but it’s been removed from the cover by the publisher, because it was too offensive.

“Those unfamiliar with the history may be surprised to discover that the English for a long time (til today?) described and depicted the Irish in much the same ways in which they described and depicted Black Africans and West Indians: as strong, stupid, ruled by passions, and resembling chimpanzees.”

The price paid by American terrorists

It’s been over 200 years since the American Revolution, but many people need to be reminded about the price that the patriots paid at the hands of the British. The signers of the Declaration of Independence pledged it all:

“For the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of the Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other, our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.”

So, how did these rebellous American terrorists fare?

  • Five signers were captured by the British as traitors, and tortured before they died.
  • Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned. Two lost their sons in the Revolutionary Army, another had two sons captured. Nine of the 56 fought and died from wounds or the hardships of the Revolutionary War.
  • Carter Braxton of Virginia, a wealthy planter and trader, saw his ships swept from the seas by the British navy. He sold his home and properties to pay his debts, and died in rags.
  • Thomas McKeam was so hounded by the British that he was forced to move his family almost constantly. He served in the Congress without pay, and his family was kept in hiding. His possessions were taken from him, and poverty was his reward.
  • At the Battle of Yorktown, Thomas Nelson Jr., noted that the British General Cornwallis, had taken over the Nelson home for his headquarters. The owner quietly urged General George Washington to open fire, which was done. The home was destroyed, and Nelson died bankrupt.
  • Francis Lewis had his home and properties destroyed. The enemy jailed his wife, and she died within a few months.
  • John Hart was driven from his wife’s bedside as she was dying. Their 13 children fled for their lives. His fields and his grist mill were laid waste. For more than a year he lived in forests and caves, returning home after the war to find his wife dead, his children vanished. A few weeks later he died from exhaustion and a broken heart.

Honoring the Revolutionary soldiers

The 4th of July is special to any D.A.R or S.A.R. member, and we get a chance to honor our valliant ancestors. As I noted, there were eight Burleson’s who fought in the American Revolution (many with Puritan names like Fearnot Burleson), and my direct ancestor Aaron Burleson. Genealogist Thurmon Burleson spent years finding Aaron’s grave, hidden in the woods of North Carolina. My dedicated cousins J.D. Burleson and P.K. Burleson have greatly honore
d our family and he helped arrange a proper military headstone for our brave patriot:

Let’s remember why we celebrate the 4th of July and celebrate our freedom and the brave patriots who pledged their sacred honor to defend liberty.

The gold-mine of irresponsible blogging

Make sure to check-out today’s Doonesbury where Slackmeyer notes:

“Isn’t blogging basically for angry, semi-employed losers who are too untalented or too lazy to get a real job in journalism?”

I had to LOL when I read this, because after all the crapola about blogs and ”the blogsphere”, people are starting to recognize that nobody cares! Believe it or not, there are people who really believe that empowering gossipy old Aunt Sara with the right to publish her juicy tidbits is going to revolutionize the dissemination of information.

Oh please. . .

Enter the Litigators

The only people who like blogs are the attorneys. Lawyers tell me that the only benefit from blogs is the inevitable Libel lawsuits, usually by dullards who don’t understand the difference between free speech and defamation!

Thank God, Judges are not stupid, and I can guarantee that once a few multi-million dollar lawsuits are won by victims, that blogs will be prohibited by corporations and forums will require proof of identity (like Amazon’s “real person” comment feature) for all corporate forums. This, from the WANTED link below:

“The people who posted their vile and defamatory comments are probably one and the same person. Their names are of course fictitious. The lack of security on your Blog needs to be addressed immediately.”

Check-back here in 2008, and you will see that I’m right-on!

Smart publishers don’t allow blog comments

If you write in your blog you are a journalist, and if your blog accepts comments, you may be a publisher, and partially responsible for any defamation posted by commenter’s, even if they are anonymous!

Some people really believe that statements like this are protected under the First Amendment:

“In my opinion, I believe that John Doe is a crook, a tax cheat and a philatelist”

If your blog comments have a defamatory statements it is possible that you could be hailed into a foreign court. For example, Ontario Canada’s repressive libel laws have made it a Mecca for libel lawsuits.

Canadian libel law is so draconian that people come from all over the world to file libel suits in Ontario.

Blog litigation will improve the web

Personally, I strongly believe in responsible journalism and whenever I find someone who has been defamed I make sure that they know the phone number of one of my lawyer buds!

In an article titled “Libel – Can They Do That and Get Away With It?” we see that instant millionaires are being created by wealthy bloggers who don’t understand the limits of free speech:

“No matter how powerful the media seem to be, there are ways to get even if a story damages you unjustly. Sue. For libel, or invasion of privacy. The lawsuit might make you a millionaire.”

When you apply the centuries-old case law for publisher responsibility, judges are so outraged that many have no problem awarding the victim all of their court costs.

In this recent case, (where one expert performed “character assassination” against another expert), the plaintiff got $2,500,000 plus the court costs of $875,000. The 21st century “ambulance chasers” are savvy lawyers who troll for blog libelers with assets, contact their victims, and slam them with monster lawsuits!

Still sexy after all these years. . . .

When I settled down and got married (and gained 100 pounds), I thought that I would be relieved of the burden of being considered a sex symbol.

Back in my younger days when I was trim and athletic I used to drive the ladies crazy, and it really bothered me that women loved me just for my good looks.

I probably should have been more modest and not lifted-up my t-shirt:

Compounding my problem is I’ve become the poster-child for rednecks across the globe.

Sigh. . . I guess that it’s my cross-to-bear, but I just hope that folks can see-past my appearance and focus on my technical ability. . .

Don’t pee on my leg and tell me it’s raining

I just finished Judge Judy’s great book “Don’t pee on my leg and tell me it’s raining” and I highly recommend it. Judge Judy is refreshing, and like me, she has no qualms about speaking her mind and telling it like it really is.

I’ve also recently read “On Bullshit”, a runaway bestseller that I’m still trying to figure out. I’m calling Harry Frankfurt at Princeton next week to help solve the mystery about exactly how his academic treatise of a word-origin became a national bestseller.

Don’t get me wrong – I love books on word origins, and I’m financing a book “The Words of the Day” which, IMHO, is far more entertaining than “On Bullshit”.

Phony College Degrees

This one is a pet peeve, especially with the Internet Diploma Mills. For more information of this huge morality problem, see Janet’s book “Conducting the Programmer Job Interview”, and her super-good upcoming book “Win your Computer Dream Job

It’s a crime to use a fake degree in some professions (nursing, medicine, law and engineering), and I wish that the government would start recognizing computer professionals as licensable professionals.

Cyberlibel and Web Scum

As you might expect from someone who detests fraud, I have zero tolerance with people who falsely charge honest people with fraud or professional incompetance. It’s usually kids on the Internet, and many of the people wrongly assume that because they have limited assets (being “judgment proof”) that they can get-away with Libel because there is no money to be had.

I describe several cases in my co-authored book “Web Stalkers” where I encourage people to stand-up for the truth and enforce the existing laws against “John Doe’s” who invade people’s privacy and publish defamatory statements on the web.

In some jurisdictions libel is a criminal offense and these internet Moron’s falsely assume that the web is anonymous when they publish their false “facts”. In Australia, it appears that defamation and libel laws are so strict that they can become criminal offenses:

In South Australia, Victoria and the Northern Territory under common law any libel of sufficient seriousness can lead to criminal proceedings.

Cyberlibel has become a hot issue, and courts are awarding huge damages against those who knowingly publish false facts about other people under the false “cloak” of anonymity. Whenever I see someone who has been victimized, I e-mail them and remind them that they can get legal satisfaction, especially when the defamation is made by an employee of a large company, using company resources.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m a huge advocate of free speech and the First Amendment. There is a huge difference between a statement of opinion (protected) and a statement of fact. Check out the Internet declaration of Independence:

The trend started when Carol Burnett and Liberace sued for libel and won big money for publishers who are loose with the truth.

Journalists on the Web

People don’t realize that they become journalists when they publish a blog or post a web page. In one notable NC case, someone ruined a woman’s life with this hateful lie:

Smith claimed to have overheard Batzel say she was related to Nazi Gestapo head Heinrich Himmler. He said he concluded that the European paintings he saw in her home must be stolen goods, and shared this in an e-mail he sent to the editor of the Museum Security Network

Thankfully, Ms. Batsel had the guts to stand-up for her rights, paving the way for thousands of new Cyberlibel cases

“I know what free speech is, and I support it, but this is about invasion of privacy and my civil liberty. Every time I meet someone now, I have to say,

‘Hi, I’m not Himmler’s granddaughter.”

Mircosoft has also shown that it’s also great publicity when you go after the bad guys. Microsoft has spent a fortune tracking down hackers and Phishers, and the public loves it when the scum’s identities are publicly exposed. Frankly, I hope that Phishers like Jayson Harris feel humiliated after being exposed by Microsoft, and Microsoft has won some major Brownie-points from me for their agressive actions:

“In a successful use of the John Doe tactic, Microsoft filed a lawsuit in October 2003 in Seattle after a phishing scam targeted MSN customers.

Six months and two subpoenas later, the company tracked the scam back to 21-year-old Jayson Harris of Davenport, Iowa, according to Microsoft and documents from the company’s civil case against Harris.”

Now, I’ll probably never reach the level of candor of Judge Judy, or have the resources of Microsoft to chase-down evil-doers, but I applaud anyone with the Moxie to say “right-is-right” and take action against this rising tide of amoral filth.