Steve's Views Rotating Header Image

Is YouTube Clueless?

What’s up with this thing where YouTube shows a number of video’s for your browsing and then pulls a new sample before you get to watch what you see?

Typically I see some that I want to follow up on so I start with the first and then when I return they have decided that I now want to see something different!

These decisions, and the types are not operating intelligently, more like A.I. and very artificial indeed and that goes for whomever decided on the algorithm they use. What I would prefer a lot more is that you leave the selections there, let me scroll sideways and down in search for what I like. And when I get to the bottom show an option to give me a new batch.

Same goes for ads. If I follow up on any one thing, let’s say I’m looking for a plug, I read about it and maybe I buy one. But that does not mean I’m now focused on plugs. Quite the opposite, I’m now done with plugs and moving on. But nope I clearly want to see plugs for a good while now.

Mix it up!

OK, that does not really apply to me anymore as I’m filtering ads out from my network at the border.

Why have leaders, or not?

It seems that there is confusion on what a leader is, or what makes a leader in the first place. We have over and over witnessed a failure to elect leaders, both in local friends to follow and all the way through the top job in the country at our own expense.

It is also visible through various misinformation campaigns created by various players in the local and world scenes that are having success in creating diversion and upsets that is threatening ours and others nations.

In this information rich environment where anyone can say anything from anywhere in the world, it is a big challenge to identify who is on what side of things and what their goal is. There are a few traps that we fall into but before diving into those I want to talk about leading and leadership.

For someone to be a good leader, and one could qualify that to mean who can help improving everyones living conditions and not bring about the opposite. Or, thanks to his/her actions we are surviving better and things keep improving. Happiness is within everyones reach.

A leader must have integrity, must have the family, group, company, councilman/woman, and every other level up through to the US president, have in their interest to forward the survival according to their sphere of influence. Must act unselfishly, and never sell out their responsibility to some vested interest that only think of themselves. Which means causes more harm than help and assistance.

I’m saying that regardless of your sphere of influence you need to also evaluate that with everyone in mind. Otherwise you may easily find yourself up against everyone else who are united and your actions could cause sever loss to your sphere of influence. As in the case of criminal acts where justice catches up.

So, how do you recognize a leader and indeed, separate out the ones that only speaks the speak but does not walk the walk? With all the noise from all the media outlets and everyone having an opinion however unqualified to promote it, how to tell them apart?

There is a saying Look, don’t listen. You need to observe what someone is doing and the results of those actions. You may need to look into their history and see what are the effects of their actions over long time?

You need to be able to evaluate these things to have any chance to make a decision which will increase your happiness, after all the purpose of life is in very plain sight. What do people seek, indeed the constitution guarantee? The pursuit of happiness.

Only a small percentage are in such a bad state that they have given up on surviving and are focused on complete failure – death. Most everyone else are seeking happiness. Starting already with the baby who repeats noises that makes you smile and laugh. Or the joy of having unselfishly helped someone through something.

To the degree your life is not filled with smiles and laughter to that degree you are not actually winning. Winning is not measured by money or power, indeed few people who gain these in quantity are privately happy.

When the pursuit of some goal, of a leader, does not include those around him/her, then that person is not a leader but someone just looking out for themselves. This does not mean you cannot look out for yourself, we all need to, but when a leader is not acting in the interest in those who depend on him/her then that person is not acting as a leader.

Being a leader sometimes includes making decisions that are not immediately appreciated by all, especially when most of us have our own goals and desires that may not always have others best interest in mind. The harder things are, the less we tend to think of anyone but ourselves. This is normal, but not actually the optimum way, and I’m being very gentle in my description.

We live on a planet that is buzzing around in space, and instead of seeking to find agreements and common goals we are sidestepped with misinformation that turn us against each other.

The USA became the super power thanks to the united actions of the whole nation. The single largest contributor to the survival of many other countries who depends on her. Yes, we have also through people pretending to be leaders gotten into wars and caused a lot of damage around the world.

But that which made America so great is almost broken in half. In a matter of a few years the US is not united but split into fighting with each other.

You have to ask yourself who benefits from this?

Regardless of any insight you may or may not have this is the bottom line, are we as a nation stronger or weaker? Where have we been going from election to election? Are we as a country getting happier or more upset on a daily basis?

As people we are, well, people. And people makes mistakes, that too is normal. What you do after the mistake is more telling and more important. A leader have no problems with transparency and will acknowledge the mistake and take corrective measures.

If this all seems a but much for you, a bit too hard to deal with – I sympathize.

But you still need to know that the only way out of this is to be part of the bigger group in some capacity, that means at a minimum taking some time to get familiar with who are those that claims to be a leader and who is not. That cannot be done by listening to any one source on the political spectrum but as many as possible.

Don’t be too hasty to make your decision. There are usually so many factors involved in these peoples lives that it boggles the mind. Discovering them is a very tough job.

Know that there are many many special interest groups in this and other countries that have their own agenda and are NOT working to make America the best it can be. These players often have huge budgets and plenty of people to create good and false impressions of people. You could ask yourself who are most threatened by a united USA?

Congress today are going through a change whereby many are not really standing for anything in particular but are simply pushing whatever line, say and do anything they think will get them what they want. All at the expense of the greater good. Not how a leader behaves.

Also, remember this: you get the government you deserve!

If you don’t participate then you cannot complain.

One more thing. This is the US of A where the political balance ALWAYS swings back and forth from side to side. It’s never “over”. Take your win or loss and prepare to educate more people about your vision of a great country and what makes it so. Never result in violence or overthrow of the government.

If you pursue some activity that is illegal at least ensure that you actually can accomplish the goal and not end up in prison because you, yourself, did not ensure you knew what the legal outcome could be.

Try to set the good example that you want others to follow. Take responsibility of mistakes and try to not repeat them. 🙂

And please, get over the basic facts that all humans are humans regardless of skin color etc. If you are white then know that soon you will not be the majority, and if you are not caucasian see how wrong people can be about skin color and try not to make the same mistake.

Someone living deep in a jungle are no doubt surviving easier and are happier than most people in the concrete jungle. People are pursuing happiness to their best of their abilities all around the world. They are likely to have drastically different views than you do, and frankly from a purely survival viewpoint, since we are sharing this planet, it is in our interest to find solutions that works for all and not limited to the few. Doing otherwise will not work out in the long run.

Get educated and lose the insecurity and join the new civilization. 🙂 Because it is coming as surely as any has in the past. Change is the only constant.

How to be easily fooled

Making your own observations and conclusions is ideal especially when you understand the subject.

When you don’t know you try to pick some source to help you navigate life’s options and challenges. The trick lies within selecting the right source, or sources, to trust.

The most common sources are friends and media.

With friends one get to learn over time what their background is in and how good their observational skills are. With strangers it is obviously harder as one simply does not know what their motivations and indeed what kind of vested interests they might have.

Many unexpected things can and are influencing people in ways that is, well unexpected. I’m not picking on these people but one interesting example are scientists. As a graduating scientist you obviously want to have an income and pursue some direction.

This often means receiving funding in your chosen direction. What if you discover that your funding source is tightly connected with someone with some product line which you have an issue with as far as what your research is indicating. That is what you call a conflict of interest.

How you handle it is a challenge to your integrity.

Do you choose money and work or keeping your integrity? Is there a path where you can keep both?

Never mind if you are researching a subject with, to you, hidden factors? For example, if you are testing the value of vitamins but only do the research using “vitamins” produced with chemical means, rather than naturally occurring ones?

Its easy to see that what you don’t know/understand can affect you.

The more all-round education and experience that you have the better off you are. But is that the only way to tell if your source of information is reliable? Fortunately not.

When it comes to businesses they can easily have hidden agendas and relationships that drives them in some way or another. Large companies are often trading on the stock market. As such they have to disclose a lot of information about their affiliations and intentions. Failure to do so can land them in jail so can be a pretty good source.

When it comes to reporters they, like anyone else, have interests, beliefs and financial motivations. They in turn have editors with their motivations, which in turn have other bosses with their motivations. Therefor it becomes vital to do thorough research before making life changing decisions based on what is reported somewhere.

One way is to never only rely on the view of one side but to gather multiple views.

If you listen/read what kind of things any one reporter is reporting on you can get an idea of what type of reporting the person does, and then to try to find your own source to verify they truth of his or her reporting. Are they using a lot of generalities, only giving negative reports, tend to describe things with their own views or are they simply reporting the facts?

Reporters are supposed to report and share observations, or in short, facts. Then leave it up to you to decide what it means. Often we find reporters becoming actors, adding drama to their report.

One of my favorites is from Florida during a storm where the reporter is leaning into the wind while holding down his hat, clearly having a hard time standing straight. However, an old couple is seen passing behind him some 20 feet back, having a casual stroll without any wind.

When it comes to collecting the all important paycheck that keeps us fed and housed, we sometimes make decisions that comes back to bite us. Once you start violating your own integrity it becomes easier and easier to do it. Having done it one tends to come up with a reason why it was OK in the first place, a justifier.

However the price you pay will result in lost self respect, lost happiness, bad luck, missed opportunities for improvements (real improvements), loss of real friends that actually care for you and eventually your freedom. And if you don’t stop this trend you will make others stop you.

We are basically good, but can make mistakes. How do we deal with the mistakes is the real test of character. What will it take for you to sell yourself out?

The road back to happiness is possible.

Anyway, back to being fooled. Nobody can fool us as ourselves. We know exactly how to fool ourselves. (We also know exactly how to punish ourselves.) Therefore it becomes really really important to be able to evaluate information.

There is this one saving grace which is that we are basically good.

This means that the clear majority of people are trying to do the right thing. They like helping others, and may indeed feel it is what makes them valuable.

The news cycle depends on having as much drama as possible, or dragged out for as long as possible, may it be for or against what any source stands for. That immediately means their vested interest is in saying things that keeps your eye balls on them, and their advertisers who pay their salaries.

Read that last paragraph a couple of times and really see how that could end up affecting your life.

If you have any one national media source as your trusted source of news then you have been fooled, the only question is how much? The truth may or may not lie somewhere in the middle, if reported on at all!

Many really important things that affects the average citizen is not reported in by any national network.

But if I run around suggesting that someone is guilty of something then sooner or later a lot of people are going to simply buy that as facts. Because they don’t do any evaluation of the source or the data, simply accept it as fact. Their emotions have been stirred up by something that if true would probably be nasty.

And emotions have very little to do with facts, when mixed together.

Ask yourself what is the most upsetting thing you get out of your news?

Chances are the news are not based on the real situation but painted to highlight or purely fabricate some view that gets your attention and if possible, keeps you there. Some reporters have been legally classified as entertainers, not reporters in court.

The biggest subjects in most people’s lives, according to news outlets, is money, sex, politics, celebrities and crime. If you are making life decisions based on news rather than your own observations around you, you better ensure you have collect it from multiple opposing sources.

Where does happiness hide?

Watching history, primarily late 1800’s and the first half of 1900’s, during which time Europeans had a lot of turmoil, including two world wars, it becomes obvious that political unrest led to devastation to millions of people and numerous countries.

Knowing what the conditions were that lead to all this death, destruction and misery could be of interest to hopefully prevent them from occurring again.

A few background factors; poor leadership that is not for the people will cause problems with counter survival conditions. When people suffer they will eventually revolt in some fashion starting with making fun of those doing well and eventually evolve into violent revolt.

When people have the idea that “leadership” is all about themselves and against the people it sets the scene for revolt. What kind of person will be supporting this? 

When lies are spread that paints that picture it will attract those who feel they don’t have anything to lose.

Who then would gain from spreading such lies?

If you look at how some thieves promote the idea that nobody actually owns anything. They win if their crimes are actually not a crime. Similarly I’ve watched gang members express that they are only taking what was their birth right but what never received. Righting a wrong. Those kinds of illusions are there to lessen their crimes.

This usually comes from people with extreme views and usually narrow ideas based on partial actual understanding of life and the situation at hand who simply want to push their own agenda and will happily burn, maim and kill anything perceived to be in their way.

See Lenin, Stalin and Hitler to name some well known figures, who in turn killed for their idea of a “pure” society but in reality were simply causing more death and destruction than what had preceded them.

Now we see Putin executing the invasion of Ukraine as the solution to some situation where the death toll looks like it has exceeded 100,000 just on the Russian side.

As a quick reflection on the policies of warring countries; look at countries such as Japan, South Korea, Germany and how they are doing. Now look at countries after Russia’s involvement. The difference is the value of human life that each country places. Russia happily sends the masses, especially the poor masses, to fight their wars and cares more about saving equipment than soldiers.

Whereas the US places real value on people and sees equipment as expendable.

In the case of the Russian Federation it is a collection of some 20+ republics with their own language, legislature, constitution and with some level of autonomy. It is to some degree similar to the states in the US.

The US has a constitution that protects its people and limits government intrusion into our lives.

The Russian Federation also has a constitution but has had a dictator at the helm for 100’s of years and their constitution reflects this.

Unless you have done your homework you may not realize how it is that Russia, supposedly the 2nd most powerful military in the world, did not simply take over Ukraine in a matter of days, and are now losing the war they started.

Something about free will and being in charge of your own destiny or rather the removal of those (slavery) and suppressing freedoms will not be part of a winning formula.

When a condition exists where most anything of value is only available to the few, the masses will not cooperate in an optimum way. When food is not readily available, work does not exist or allow for a proper income, when you see the people who are supposed to be leaders live well and grow fat, when people disappear who express their unhappiness – this is when a country stops functioning.

The whole purpose of a true group is to have a higher survival potential as a team than as individuals. When individuals of different skills, abilities and interests join towards a common goal the impossible becomes achievable. They put aside differences as they recognize the value of the team.

They may promote solutions supporting individual interests but they don’t force their own over the good of the group. For people who have not lived under life and death suppression it’s not easy to fully understand what it does to a people. Not unlike, though on a smaller level, the beaten wife who does not leave her terrorizing husband. 

One may not understand why in the world she stays but if you listen to her she is saying nobody else would have her. Her husband beat it into her that nobody would want her because she’s so useless. Many have a hard time understanding this, never mind a whole country that is living under suppression.

In Russia you have a federation where pretty much all of the power lies in Moscow and total control lies with Putin who can overrule any decision set by the (rest of the) government.

This type of rule has pretty much been the case going back to the first the Grand Duke and later Tsar (king) in the mid 1500’s until present.

Lenin’s solution was to overthrow the government with force (1922) and he used Stalin to rob the bank to finance the operation. After he died in 1924 by the 1930’s Stalin had taken power and continued ruling with even more violence. More people died under his rule than from Hitler’s and on top of it they were his fellow countrymen. (But in the west Hitler is more known as Russia is to a large degree a mystery by design.)

These centuries of rule in Russia have built a nation of people where many are barely scraping by. Living with minimal education and options. Where speaking up is a sure way of not being seen again. Neighbors would falsely report you as an enemy of the state because you had something he or she wanted and with you gone… 

If you were to live under the threat of death or at least prison hanging over you and your family and friends then you will not volunteer doing something that supports that condition. You will end up ignoring something that is failing rather than speaking up or fixing it yourself.

As most others who are starving with an uncertain future, if you see an opportunity to put aside something that can help your family you are more than likely going to cheat and steal. (In Russia it is something literally everyone is well aware of and probably did.)

Russia is vast, it covers 11 time zones and has some 145 million citizens.

Imagine that 99% of them not only feel oppressed but have their civil liberties severely limited. You don’t end up with a scenario of people wanting to support their government.

Where people from Putin down to the maintenance guy of Russian military vehicles and equipment does whatever they can for personal gain. And if you are, for example, a general then you control vast amounts of money and people.

Surely nobody would mind if you put a lot of the military budget into your pocket and built yourself the castle you surely deserve after having worked your way up to that position by any means, including marrying your daughters off to the right families.

Communication is the key to any military success but when your comm gear is barely working and when it is sending communication in the clear because it costs too much to encrypt it, you are giving away all the operational directives to the enemy as soon as you transmit.

And if you are the maintenance guy surely nobody would notice if you sold off the gas supply, and instead of buying oil to maintain the tanks and save yourself from slaving away maintaining them you simply shared the profit with your superior (with each trying to get the upper hand of the other, all the way up to Putin).

Where you as a soldier are poorly trained, have few hopes of a future, with broken equipment and end up being sent off for a military drill (supposedly in Russia) but in reality to war in Ukraine for some, to you, unknown reason.

The military manual on how to conduct war is still the same as it was during WWII and relies on simply sending floods of victims (sorry soldiers) towards the enemy in hope to slow the enemy down and, I guess, drive them into apathy. Which it really does not.

Russia had some 20,000 tanks before the war. As a comparison the US has something like 6,500+ tanks. Remember the maintenance guys above? They did not bother caring for all that steel in the form of tanks that needed ongoing maintenance to not rust away. That added with severe losses in Ukraine and lack of western spare parts they are down to maybe having some estimated 160 operational tanks today.

Electronics have always been inferior in Russia. Partly because of money not being spent where it was needed and partly due to an American spy who, when arriving in the Soviet Union, convinced the leadership to build him a city where he would teach electronics and lead Russian electronics development.

He got his city which must have been great for him. However the combination of Russian slave workers (sorry, willing citizens) and his know-how, Russia’s electronics has always been inferior. (One could say that he made up for his treason to the US by forever crippling electronics in Russia.)

The answer to the Russian military’s losses comes down to key failure in communication, not maintained equipment and lack of purpose and morale. To make things worse supplies are constantly cut off and food is more scarce than ammunition.

The new conscripts that are being sent to Ukraine are forced to fight Putin’s war to “rescue” Ukraine from the nonexistent Nazi threat. They only receive a few days worth of training.

Each US soldier receives approx $1M in training. The Russian have plastic helmets and rusty weapons and eat what they can scrunch up. They are often seen stealing washing machines and the like from Ukraine homes.

Behind the Russian front line is another line. That line is there to shoot anyone retreating from the front line. Who in turn have another line behind them.

The conscripts are often seen drinking into a stupor and getting into fights on the way to the front. This is a normal “solution” in Russia, drink to get away from the conditions they are in. Much like American soldiers in Vietnam getting high even though the Vietcong could attack at any moment and they would be too out of it to defend themselves.

Ukraine’s soldiers are rotated away from the front on a regular basis. Each earns $1,000/month and an extra $3,000 if at the front. The Russian soldier is promised good pay but unlike the Ukraine counterpart does not actually receive any money.

The Ukrainian soldier is considered valuable and is not sent into battle unless they can win. (Though being patriotic surely makes many take more chances, for example the rapid advance tactic that has been deployed which have been very successful due to the enemy’s poor disposition.)

Meanwhile Putin has removed himself from everyone else, he as every dictator knows there’s a bullet with his name on it. To reach him you have to check into a special hotel where you are in isolation for two weeks and only then you can enter the building Putin is in.

You will find yourself at the end of a 20′ table with him at the other end. He can’t afford to trust many people.

OK, enough about Putin. The whole point here was to share how it looks like living in a Russian dictatorship. Which is not unique, look at the American journalist, born in United Arab Emirates, who had been outspoken against the royal family in the UAE, who entered the UAE embassy only to be tortured to death and smuggled out in pieces.

The US constitution allows for anyone to speak out against our government. It is the protected speech we value so highly here.

The inner workings of things such as the government is commonly not well understood. There are so many details of it that we generally hold other things more interesting and rely on the government to do their thing, and for others to let us know about important things.

That which is hidden can hurt you, is a truth that is demonstrated on a daily basis. To the degree you are ignorant about the actual workings of things to that degree you can be hurt.

Imagine growing up on some distant farm and only knowing about things on the farm. No knowledge about any government or rules other than the practical life lessons learned on the farm.

Now imagine you walk (ride) into a city after a long trip, and you are immediately locked up and your horse taken for dropping manure. Let’s say it is illegal in some politically important square.

You inquire who the idiot is that made that law and that he is the one that should be locked up! Imagine that being the Red Square in Moscow and in front of the police you suggest Putin should be locked up. [I made up the horse manure law just to make the point.]

In the US you are not particularly concerned about criticizing the President, but in a dictatorship you and your family could see the gallows. When China executes a person a bill is sent to the family for the bullet.

Be very very careful about what you wish for. As we have seen, the US political experiment of democracy is only as strong as the supporters of it.

As a teenager I was able to travel Europe including visiting one of the camps generally known as Auschwitz. I stood in the gas chamber room, saw the scratches on the tile of people trying to get out, I looked into the dual ovens outside the room where they burned the remains.

I saw the collection of glasses, hair, and personal belongings that had been collected by the Nazis behind large glass partitions. I saw the walls lined with pictures of smiling prisoners that intended to present a different reality of the quality of life in the camp.

If you were looking for hell where the devil resided that would certainly do. Unfortunately Nazis, Russians and dictators are not the only ones who come up with such solutions as killing, maiming, suppressing others as a so called solution.

Mankind seems to have learned that when everything else fails force is the answer. An individual at that point does not have their entire mental capacity available to him/her. They have reached some level of overwhelm and feel so backed up against the wall they can’t properly evaluate solutions that are actually long term pro-survival solutions.

Most people have experienced the feeling of futility of some situation we were in. The world around us continuously creates the impression that what wins the day is force. We feel forced into some corner and are not able to take an exterior view and make an evaluation of all the facts and likely outcomes of actions we are contemplating. Instead we lash out!

So reaching out with force is understandable. However rarely is it the ideal win/win solution. For one we tend to not understand the details of what troubles us, may that be understanding the law, other people, or what drives and motivates them. Often not even ourselves.

One of the most valuable things in life is compassion. How much compassion do you have when you are in the mindset of being the judge, jury and executioner?

How easy and fast do you jump into that mindset?

The speed is partly determined by how freely you can look at all sides and all the facts. If you are fast and in an emotional state, it might be because you are not actually able to make proper evaluations. Evaluations which might come back and haunt you, even if you don’t see how they relate. All because of hasty decisions to be the judge, jury and executioner.

It has been said that man cannot serve justice fairly.

It has also been said that you should treat others the way you want to be treated. Give the benefit of doubt and apply compassion.

I have been in the situation of staring down the blade of a big knife held by a large cop killer in a tight place with just the two of us. He walked away unharmed, as did I. 🙂

I knew something he did not and I was able to handle the situation without any force by simply using my knowledge of ethics and justice. Turned out he was on the run and was seeking shelter. Instead he found compassion and hope, and found that even he had some value and raised the idea that he had the possibility of being valuable again.

I never saw, or read about him again but I’m certain that he never forgot me and what he took with him from our talk.

Criminal reform is possible, but it is based on each person gaining their self respect back. Not by pushing their failures. Sure, they have to make amends, but will they bother when they are constantly reminded of how bad they are? You serve your time and that’s how you pay your debt, except in most places you are not allowed to vote again, and forever have that record. A sure sign or society does not know how to “recover” a criminal.

What have we learned here?

There are those who will saw off the branch they are sitting on, with complete ignorance that they too are on the branch. Maybe they are so far gone they are “going down” and intend to take everyone with them.

Sometimes when your actions lead to so much suffering, or violations of your integrity, that in your ignorance you decide you need to stop yourself even if that means causing so much damage that you get others to help take you down.

For many who make mistakes they feel they have reached a point where they cannot “afford” to be wrong once more so they publicly hold on to how right they are, in spite of being aware they are wrong as it would be too much of a blow to be seen as wrong again. They will take being right to their grave.

When you have pursued some direction for so long that it would be a blow to you to acknowledge that it was the wrong direction. You can often tell if you are there as you are not having as much luck as you once had. You have more things go wrong and you are simply not happy. Life has more unhappiness than happiness.

This is not the moment to dig in deeper but to stop and look around and approach life from a different angle or direction. At some point in the past you made one or more decisions which led to where you are. It might be at a time of great duress. Maybe confusion and uncertainty, but you were not “at the top of the world” when you made that decision.

Look around at who and what you have in your life. What is influencing you the most on a subject you are honestly not well versed in. This lack of full insight is a good area to find things that affect your life in some unexpected way.

A good friend of mine said that insecurity exists in the absence of knowledge. Without proper knowledge it’s a crap shot as to if you will make the better choice. Confusion does not lead to certainty and prosperity.

Backing away from an area means you lack understanding. Blindly following others advice is a good way of making bad decisions.

In areas where it is hard to identify facts your only options are to educate yourself as much as possible and to find wide and varied views from different sides to see what is being said. Usually the truth is somewhere in the middle but rarely at any extreme side.

In public relations it is a well known point that if you repeat something often enough people will believe it. In some areas millions of dollars are being spent to push some version of reality as the actual reality towards some end that may or may not be in the public’s interest but more likely only benefits an individual or small group.

A trained eye can spot these but for most it is simply accepted and used as the truth from there on. We have seen enough lies and misleading statements that we know there are unjust things going on, we simply don’t know how deep it is.

The answer is simple, ask yourself if it is bringing happiness to your life? Happiness is overcoming problems. Solutions solve things whereas lies “sticks” and does not resolve things.

Voting is by some seen as a waste of time as they are only one. By supporting non voting you are simply getting the kind of government you deserve. You are telling the government you don’t care – go ahead and do whatever you want. By voting we send the message that we are looking, maybe we even get our candidate to win.

It looks like most don’t know how the government works and are happily accepting them as the why for any and all wrong in the world without any thought because Everything is their responsibility. Maybe forgetting their own responsibility by not only educating themselves and doing their civil duty by voting.

In the end ask yourself are you actually honestly happy? Maybe a closer evaluation of where you are at and how you got here is in order.

Steve Szmidt

Lies, Death and Misery

At least in the West we have some interesting ideas about Death. When someone’s body dies we have the idea that misery needs to follow. The funeral and reception is where we dress in our best black, avoid smiling at all cost and end up in debt if the family member did not have death insurance. Then the probate comes and takes half of any assets.

What’s wrong with this picture?

At the end of a lifetime one should have lived a full life, helped a lot of people and garnered many friends. People should be happy that you lived! Your life should be celebrated with a colorful, cheerful and exuberant party!

The state should not come in and claim more of what has already been taxed. And since people who are generally well off are not willing to help those less well off, I understand that in order to have roads utilities etc. these functions in society needs to be funded.

This touches upon one of the worst things in our society, selfishness.

I don’t know when people started to be so selfish, so unwilling to help. But I can imagine that when we agree to be temporary taxed to pay for a war (The United States War Revenue Act of 1917) where the 2% tax bracket for people earning less than $20K was lowered to 2K while the top income bracket was raised from 15% to 67%, did not really motivate people to work harder, and when the war was over the temporary tax did not prove to be so temporary after all.

As a result churches who used to help those less fortunate from the collections by the congregation, received less and less and ended up no longer able to contribute. When income tax hurt families so much that both parents had to get a job. Where children started growing up under someone else than their parents, who frankly may not have the same amount of willingness to care and appreciation for others children.

Labor laws forbade children to work which created delinquency and crime. About the only good to come out of it was getting them out of the mines which was the problem the law supposedly tried to solve. Of course simply saying using poor families children (or any other children) in mines is illegal was too simple.

This cycle of individualism, not feeling able to care for anyone else than yourself, type of ideas grow and fester in a society where media is doing all it can to scare people into buying their exaggerated bad news. Where the front page (or web page) is trying to scare us into buying their news. Which today is an online ad driven enterprise not motivated to help but to make money, because money is seen as scarce and everyone needs to grab as much as they can.

Compare that with native tribes in various parts of the world where happiness comes from helping others, from being part of a group that cares and nurtures each other, where that group spirit is so high that being kicked out is practically a death sentence because of shame and lack of belonging.

The idea that you need to keep up with the “Jones’s” is a good example of materialism being adopted as the indication of your value. The more you have the more valuable you must be. We value people for amassing large amounts of money, which certainly is a good feat, but is not as important as helping others, in creating and contributing to an environment where all win.

It is still commonly recognized that a team does better in life than individuals. Yet we seem to forget that so easily.

Maybe those who lead are not so good at being leaders as they too are focused on self.

Society is validating the wrong things keeping the cycle going. Which so far has been a downward spiral more than a circle.

Maybe I’m more fortunate in that I’m pretty good at telling when a person is doing things that are unselfish or selfish. Where what they say is not what they do. Maybe I’m just one of those few who are more willing to observe the actual actions of people, can see when people around that person are good helpful people and not exhibiting criminal traits.

It seems that so many are happily buying the most outlandish lies that are so obviously false that a 5 year old can see it but adults fail to do so.

Something happens in our society to people’s ability to be there and simply observe. To be willing to see what they are looking at. To realize that this person who said things you wanted to hear are not doing the things we hoped to see. Maybe it’s too much of a let down to accept the truth of the reality?

I look at a persons environment and ask questions such as; are their children happy children, are the people they keep around continuing setting the kind of examples you expect someone of high values to set? Sometimes the truth is really simple and right in front of your nose!

This next sentence will be hard to take. It’s not that hard to assume a little bit more responsibility for self rather than blaming others.

When you blame others you give them power over yourself. You have said they have more control over me than I do, at least in that situation. Which certainly can be true. Point being that that is not a happy situation, at least for you. Not one that will improve conditions.

If you look hard enough you can find one small point where you can assert a bit more control over your own life. It does not have to be an all out grab of full control over all areas of your life. Which might not be so desirable anyway. It’s nice to have friends that can express their own ideas. A society filled with people who each have areas they like to be, do and have in.

Anyway, life can fall to a point where one have all but given up on any possibility to be happy. This is where those still alive start thinking of overthrowing whoever is controlling their area. Could be a sibling, parents, extended family, local leaders, and the federal government.

So where do you start?

A gradient approach is the easiest and most likely to give you a win.

Riots start because the injustice has been too large. Unfortunately the riots rarely attack the real source of their suffering and just increase the amount of misery. Being able to identify the real source of the troubles in society becomes all important if you want to improve it.

Your immediate environment is bound to offer opportunities where you can make things better, even if nobody else notices – you notice! Do something nice to someone, especially if they don’t expect it. If this is entirely foreign to you then you simply need to do it more often. At some point, maybe sooner than later, you will have some unexpected luck coming your way. It all depends how deep you have buried yourself in using blame to explain your life.

Thing is that one can ALWAYS decide to change and if it makes life better than its a good thing. Ignore that potential of it meaning that you must have been wrong for all that time. Ignore it!

Look around and find things that you can admire. Could actually be how beautifully bad things are. How perfectly bad everything is. Admire it!

Once you are able to admire it you can step “outside” and look at life from a different perspective. When you can look at all the crazy things and admire them then you can get free of them. By the way, admire does not mean agree! You would be a fool to agree.

No, admiration is like a secret power that can tear down any wall or injustice. If you can add persistence in spite of whatever odds to admiration then you have a winning combination!

From that newly gained viewpoint You can find and create opportunities to overcome lies, misery and even death as death is only a physical thing. Which is a different story. Point being there is a lot more to life, happiness in life, than society leads you to believe.

Is Peaceful Political Justice Possible?

Peace, something which statistically has been hard to accomplish for any duration. Let’s look at it from a different viewpoint – what drives war from a democratic government viewpoint, comparing with dictator driven, and all the way down to the individual.

My last blog talked about the bully and how his/her insecurity is resulting in well, bullying and physical attacks. Some groups of people have adopted the viewpoint that the individual is nothing, maybe from thinking he’s too weak, and the group is everything.

It’s pretty clear that a group of people can generally survive better as a team, sharing duties and being able to accomplish more together. Just the simple increase from one to two people makes many tasks so much easier and certainly allows for it to be more interesting or pleasant.

If we scan to the war Vladimir Putin started and see how the Russians military is suffering as of this writing, you can see that one immediate problem is their supply chain. It is very visible, and easily attacked. We can look at US and China navy’s and see their supply problems are equally challenging.

This gave me a thought, what if we stop wars the way they are being fought. Because until man can be cleared from his pathetically irrational behavior to solve his problems, we are stuck with them for now. What we need is a solution which does not look on an individual country but on all countries.

The primary barrier appears to be something very basic – communication. The ability to communicate towards a solution where everyone wins. And though wars do create apparent benefits they are not long lived. They are not sustainable.

Why do we have individual countries, areas such as states within the US, for example, where different policies apply.

I believe the basic of that is related to wanting to survive well. In an apartment building some might make enough noise to keep others from sleeping. One party feels that loud music is how to loose stress from the daily grind, while another prefers to just sleep.

One might feel that cows are sacred animals, while others don’t eat during some parts of the year, while others cannot allow a drawing of their spiritual leader. Those are examples of attempts to increase their survival potential.

We are all of us just trying survive the best we know how.

Most people unfortunately appears to be completely and utterly without any practical knowledge of what is or is not pro-survival. When someone steps up and says something often or loudly enough, it will convince some that this is a way to improve their living conditions. To increase their survival potential or identify some injustice being committed.

Too often they lead to what I call unusual solutions, they are not good, standard (and workable) solutions that takes everyone into account. They cause NEW problems for others. For a solution to be good it must be MORE beneficial for ALL than destructive.

Of course who today think of anyone but themselves?

Life is being seen and promoted as something difficult and hard to understand – and nothing could be further from the truth!

But hang on here! If it is so easy why do so many have such a hard time?!?

Yes, why indeed?

What does it take for a person, a family, a group, the city, county, state, country and planet to flourish and prosper? Why are there such disparities (difference in quality) between them?

I’m sorry to say it first comes down to personal integrity. Because if you don’t have it you will not only loose sight and forget what that is but you will hold yourself back as you have lost your self respect.

Then caring and having compassion for your fellow man (as in mankind). Because if you don’t care and are not able to be compassionate then not only will the person you are supposedly helping notice that your help is not sincere, your help will not be very helpful.

Next comes a tolerance to operate even if there’s a lot of confusion. You have to be able to deal with those random particles or you will get confused yourself and take wrong actions.

Now you will need to have some understanding and be able to acquire knowledge even though you might have an innate (built-in) knowledge already, you need to be open and willing to learn, to observe others and the environment. Without proper observations you are not operating with the current situation and the outcome will be random.

These points are not trying to say that you should stop helping or anything, these are guidelines for how to do it more successfully.

Lastly, if you can look on any person, regardless of who they are or what they have done, and be WILLING to give them care and compassion, now you can look beyond their deeds, their crimes and shortcomings and evaluate what a proper path would look like for them. For it is not correct to blindly do nice things for someone actively engaged in some criminal activity. But they do need our help.

They must first stop and come clean if they are to have any chance. They have to come to realize the errors of their way, to see what the urge was to commit their crime, what problem it supposedly solved. Only then will they be able to come up the conditions.

OK, so we need to be able to rehabilitate people. This in essence means getting them their self respect back. Which only they can give to themselves. We can accept them, but they need to say “I’m once again standing tall and able to face the world, their group, their family and feel not good but great about it. Because this will be a great burden lifted off their shoulders.

Once we can give this priceless gift to ourselves and each other we can truly move towards peace everywhere.

That adventure starts with maybe a small group that is successful. Others who notices and inquire how come they are doing so well. Then others adopting their methods and policies, repeating over and over until whole nations can walk tall.

When people see something that is working well, something that is not what we today call political, but something that helps them, then we will be well on our way. Politics have a bad reputation because people are not taking part.

When people are not taking some active role, especially voting, then you are telling the elected that you don’t care. Even if you only have one vote. It is not about if your vote will change the outcome it is you telling the elected that you better pay attention or you will be voted out next election.

Of course if enough people feel the same way then you help making a change.

Today with societies being well established and not easily changed, it will take a big disaster for people to not only wanting to change things but to agree how. The politicians role is to work things out in such a way that as many as possible get the best possible improvements.

And yes, it does require more integrity than less in the involved.

If you don’t vote you know they don’t care what you think.

Let’s circle back to wars. Neighbors might conduct some limited war against each other, generally it does not get too out of control with the military called in to stop the unrest. States certainly made war as in our civil war. Countries have been and are conducting war, whatever they call it.

These wars are started by individuals.

Individuals, in the case of countries, where they have the power to call men to war against others. But why are they even calling for war? Something is obviously wrong, at least in their mind. Look at Putin, his motivations might be to be the big ruler that made Russia great again as in days when they indeed controlled much more land than presently.

How about the probably more than 100,000 men, women, children and animals that have been killed and injured during this war. That is a horrific number, mostly caused by one single person.

Russia due to their climate have a harder time to growing food than many other countries. One solution has been to conquer neighboring countries and take food from them. With the fall of Soviet Union a number of these countries managed to leave Russia.

Russia has been made up by over a dozen different countries and is now called the Russian Federation. Putin has done a decent job of moving Russia forward but began implementing a number of changes to laws which once again prohibits disagreeing with the government (around 2005 I think).

Before this Russians enjoyed a high level of freedom similar to ours.

Unfortunately, due to centuries of hardship Russia is a very corrupt country. The corruption is on every level, and each level take “their” cut. In the end financing is not reaching where it is supposed to. The corruption is a direct result of living conditions so bad you have to cheat the system to stay alive.

This is one of the fundamental flaws in their “system” which stopped them from being able to simply walk in and conquer Ukraine’s capitol Kiev. The volunteer soldiers were supposed to earn money, even good money, but are not getting paid. Unable to send money back to their families. Why?

Each level taking “their” cut. In the end nothing is left for the guy actually doing the work. This has eaten its way into every part of the Russian society.

If you were to take my suggestions for having more success in life and apply that to the Russian situation, you can see it is an uphill battle. [Now I do understand there are underground Russians sabotaging Putins war efforts by blowing up supply trains (Russia is primarily using trains for their military supply lines) and other efforts to bankrupt the war and ultimately bring a stop to Putting one way or another.

Civil unrest comes from the people not being able to survive.

In Russia many top oligarchs (the richest business people) have suddenly had incidents such as fallen out of the 6th floor window in a hospital, being blown up when their car exploded and so on. What they had in common was not agreeing with the war as this is being very costly for them and so they speak up.

The Russian government did not even tell the Russian soldiers where they were going or why.

This should give some indications, and just touching the surface, as to how things can go here if our democracy fails.

Whatever you think is wrong with anything here in the US, it cannot be compared to how it is now in mother Russia. If you are any kind of free thinker you would be concerned about some nosy busybody reporting you for something, probably not true, which you would suffer for whether real or imagined.

Imagine not having freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures, speech, religion and so on. Where at anytime they might come for you and you had little recourse. Imagine how it would be to live with a constant worry, or fear, of someone reporting you for anything.

This is one of the great things with our Constitution, the land of the free! If you have never lived outside that freedom on a daily basis it is not obvious what that does to you mentally and physically. You reach a point where you no longer care. You can’t afford to care to keep some semblance of life. Your life is built on one loss after another.

This is actually what is at play with the attack on Congress. It might seem like a horrible injustice if an election is stolen from you, but compared to a dictatorship it is NOTHING.

And it is possible that the democrats had an election stolen just a few cycles ago in Florida. It was settled legally. No violence. And our social experiment rolled on to see another day.

Once you seize control illegally, very few people who are willing to be violent, and my guess is none, are fully aware of where that road leads to. I bet none has lived in Russia or under any other long term dictatorship. The common dull look in their eyes, not daring to get excited should it too be removed.

Imagine being a child under parents that think you are a problem and a bad slave. No love, no care, no affection. Not allowed to do anything really, just expected to be silent and invisible. Beaten regularly and told how lucky you are. If you survive mentally you are planning your escape. Do you think a country can be the country of the free, of We the People, under anything but a republic?

The Right to Post and Not Socialize

The world is a moving target. New ideas comes up all the time, some are great in forwarding our survival potential while others are not offering much and can even be counter survival.

We’ve recently seen how some were forced to socialize with fellow employees after work or get fired while others feel they have the freedom of speech threatened if they can’t express whatever they want wherever they are. I’m going to express my views on the above and how it’s easy for me to make the right decision.

I start with looking at the intention behind a communication. Some people manages to make you feel uneasy using words that does not necessarily sound, well, bad. This is where I ask myself and often the person – What was the intention with that communication?

That tends to instantly make it obvious to me that the other person is indeed trying to squash my survival potential. Or, it might just show the the amount of insecurity the other person is suffering from.

When someone lack understanding of a subject or person(s) they may resort to attacking others to cover up their own insecurity. Bullies are prime examples of this. If they did not feel insecure there would little reason to belittle others. The instinct is to shift attention away from themselves so nobody notices. And if people, especially kids, were not so quick in making fun of others the world would have fewer bullies.

Children are typically not very educated and lack answers to a lot of things, so it’s not all that surprising that they ridicule each others. When I grew up one learned to grow a “thick skin” and not take things so personally. Why take to heart things people say that are clearly not me?

Have you noticed how friends and family can hurt you more than strangers? You have many more agreements and often depend on them and any disagreement is a larger threat to your survival than a what a stranger says who don’t know you from a hole in the wall.

These days there is definitely a generation of people coming into adulthood who grew up with little tolerance of anything not absolutely clean and socially perfect. And though these are not bad things in and of themselves, they tend to come with a limited ability to deal with things that are different, or could have a single bacteria. In other words low tolerance.

Wanting a perfect world might be a perfectly valid goal – but should not come at the expense of not being able to deal with anything out of the ordinary. I call this having a lowered survival potential.

A high survival potential means being able to deal with a large variety of things. Have little to do with what you desire or want. Simply, can you handle what is going on in your environment?

One should be able to sit back and view the world from three feet behind it and simply observe.

Free from social ideas and pressures one has a vantage point to observe things that might not be clear when being in the middle of it. This is a simple yet very powerful ability to assume. From here one can make decisions that benefits more than it hurts (if it hurts at all).

Having a good understanding of people you can see what is going on and come up with a way to improve the condition they are in without getting bent out of shape because they said, for example, mean things.

I grew up intensely interested in people and what makes them tick.

In fact I spent my years up to 18 studying them to learn as much as I could about people. After having satisfied that I decided to observe myself in different situations and how I handle life. With that I arrived at a very stable place where nobody could easily shake my certainty. I discovered that I had a much higher survival potential than most. (I was able to make decisions that had a high level of success and it brought me a lot of happiness.) Unfortunately I also became arrogant which was not helpful.

It was not until I realized that compassion was something that helped others at a level much higher than just my own survival. I really should have learned that lesson sooner but I was happily “coasting” through life and livingness with few cares.

Fortunately I arrived at realizing that my happiness depended on others happiness and that to be able to help others you had to be able to equally carry a big stick and have a lot of compassion for your fellow man. (Yes, I know that this is not politically correct and I should say person. But in my eyes mankind means all people not just men. And certainly mankind would not survive (biologically) as a species with only men, or women for that matter.)

OK, looking at being compassionate, the ability to look at people with love and a desire for them to succeed and win in spite of. That clearly does not mean help a person committing crime or other actions that lowers people ability to survive. So where is the line, the line that separates pro-survival and counter-survival?

In actuality it is rather simple – does that action help or hinders the greatest number?

For example, if someone is about to blow up a building with people in it and the only way you can prevent that from happening is to kill the person about to do so, that is pro-survival. Sitting back and while in disbelief and horror and simply let him do so would be counter-survival. Taking the risk of personal injury while attempting to stop him is your decision. But doing so could be something you would do because of personal integrity.

Personal integrity is a key ingredient in having a happy life.

Many have lost track of what that means, often because no or few examples was present while you grew up. Life can be a jungle, where life can appear to have little value. We do have an innate (built-in) sense of integrity. There are things we would not do, or always do. Defending mom, for example, is a common always-do. These are the things that makes up each of our’s integrity. Thing that makes us feel good or bad about ourselves when dropping all the social attitudes and honestly look ourselves in the mirror.

If there has been enough violations of our own integrity we might find ourselves in situations we don’t really want, bad luck might be increasing. Right and wrong might be not clear due to having collected too many justifications in an attempt to not feel bad about wrong decision and not knowing how to correct those decisions. I consider luck being closely related to how I feel about myself and my personal integrity.

OK, let’s look at the right of free speech.

If you have your own or are visiting someone else forum there are typically rules of what is acceptable and not. In other words the owner can dictate what goes and does not go on their forum. Free speech is not a universal thing you have and can do as you please.

Free speech is the First Amendment in our Constitution and relates to what the government can silence or not. Not what others can enforce in their home or forum. In other words you can cry foul play if it is the government that tries to stop you from expressing something.

In a public place you have the right of free speech and you can seek help, and protection, by the government to be able to publicly express yourself in a public place or forum.

The First Amendment struggles with where to draw the line. For me it once again is a simple call – does the expression suggest or motivate people to commit legal and ethical crimes? Back to the greatest number of pro-survival or counter-survival acts.

The US is a country founded on laws. Laws that is intended to be pro-survival to ensure the people in the country survives. However sometimes they are out of date, out of touch and even plainly wrong.

One can commit crimes to try to correct the laws but that is ultimately not resulting in an increase in survival, even if it appears to do so in the short term.

Our laws are governed by the Supreme Court. Their job is to be the legal back stop, to ensure that when a law is applied it is applied fairly and justly. The Supreme Court adjust its view as the popular view changes. They are however usually many years behind.

When we dislike or even hate what others think there is a great possibility that we are not relying on our own observations but what someone else says is so. In other words we often rely on “knowledge” from others. Knowledge that might not be so much like free speech like but colored by someones personal gain.

How does one make one’s own observations when it seems too difficult or entirely impossible and out of reach?

Clearly in that situation one can’t.

In that situation one has to get good at evaluating the source of the information. Do they have personal observations or in their turn relies on someone else? If you read it or hear it in the news what is the actual observed evaluation you have done of what they say? Are they mostly forwarding bad news, speak in generalities with few or no specifics?

I do my own investigation of the type of articles a reporter writes. What is the language and the intention in their message? Is it promoting pro or counter survival actions and views?

Again, here it is important to see if it is legal to follow their suggestions?

Some people (and reporters) tend to hide their intention behind a message that promotes something that might be good for some but is destructive to others, and also have a tendency to not offer a legal solution, one that could result in jail time, physical damage and even death.

Having evaluated the above points one then looks over the balance of the various points to see where do they fall? When adding them up you must brush aside personal views and simply evaluating it from greatest good for the greatest number, which includes legal options.

Look at it this way. If you go around violating the law you are promoting not following the law, which is why often laws are enforced in a way as to set an example. Unfortunate for the person in question, even bad luck, but without following our laws we will not have a country of the free.

Laws are broken down into civil and criminal law. Which breaks further down into levels of severity.

Traffic law is usually a violation of civil law but when the violation is sever enough becomes criminal.

Running your car into a group of protesters that you feel are a threat to your survival might seem like the thing to do but ask yourself this question, does it violate any law, and in this case criminal law? The person doing so might think it was the right thing to do because of the perceived vile nature of the demonstrators.

However a quick evaluation show that the demonstrators were actually exercising their First Amendment. Hitting people with your car is not a protected action but falls under criminal law (murder or attempted murder). Looking at both the short and long term potential solution to whatever problem that person thought he was solving that action did not make any difference other than get him sent to prison.

Therefor it is a good practice to evaluate the action, and to do so more thoroughly the greater the liability involved.

For example, regardless of what you think of any political party, having an armed insurrection and storm a sitting Congress, even if the sitting president says so, is filled with huge liability with next to no positive potential outcome.

It might be considered a fun activity, lots of challenges and excitment. You might feel you have the opportunity to be part of 1776 part 2 and have your name in the history books.

It is however full of really real liabilities. In 1776 we fought an invading force trying to remove our independence. If you have looked at all at US history you can see how political things swing back and forth and does not go over the edge in either direction.

Inciting a violent overthrow of the government is not the American way. That happens in countries where people don’t have a strong constitution such as ours. They do it because their living conditions are so poor their only hope of actual survival is to force a new government into place.

Unfortunately for those countries, it never ends up with a fair government by the people for the people. Look at Russia, several countries South of the border, throughout history people in these countries have very low survival potentials. Something I hope the US will never sink to.

If you support illegal actions you never end up with in a long-term increase in survival potential.

The excitement of a successful coup is quickly squashed when the new dictator grab the reins. Russia has never had anything but a dictator in office, except for a short period which resulted in the end of the Soviet Union and brought democracy to the public. Putin ended that over a number of years but slowly installing new laws that limited, for example, free speech. Now it carries 15 years to speak up against him.

The way to happiness does not come from or is accomplished through illegal and violent actions but from caring for your fellow man, from showing him compassion and support, from increased education about people and certainly from knowing the laws of the land and how to successfully operate within it.

Remember, lies persist and truth solves problems.

Online Security, is it really needed?

What value does security have anyway? Misapplied it can become a great stop, a barrier to get anything done.

This includes information that you don’t want to be publicly available to anyone, it does not matter if they are specifically interested in it or simply stumbles upon it. That includes information which could be used against you, sometimes in ways you never considered. It does not have to be something illegal, simply embarrassing, or more commonly have a financial value.

Security the art of applying an optimum balance between functional and inaccessible.

The harder it is to make and retain resources, such as money, to care for yourself and your family, the more common it becomes that people come up with what is known as Unusual Solutions.

Examples of unusual solutions are robbing banks, old ladies, becoming a drug dealer, online theft and sabotage for profit, just to mention a few.

With technology running ahead of common knowledge it starts to become a mystery that only the few can understand and master. I think it’s safe to say that computer technology has pretty much always been ahead of common knowledge. Typically we have young people reaching to master this mystery and become its master. Their curiosity can put them on a path of criminal activities without the balance of personal ethics and integrity.

The more you learn about computers the more you realize things you can do with it. One thing that has always been very popular is being able to communicate between computers. Some of you remember modems. A device used to connect a computer with another computer. Huge progress!

Then we got networks where one computer can reach many, which eventually resulted in the internet. Now we have huge portions of the world able to reach anyone across the world.

That opened the door for even more exciting opportunities, which for some, meant seeing how many computers they could get into, just for fun. Some people were more oriented towards destruction and would laugh gleefully (I imagined) at wrecking havoc on someone else computer.

At some point some individuals got the idea that some people would pay to cause or prevent damage. Which of course grew to groups, political parties, and governments in different countries. Today it is so prevalent that most computers are likely to be “touched” by someone else who does not have your best at the forefront of their mind. What they can do depends on how your computer is set up and your activities.

Fortunately individuals, groups etc. exist who wish to prevent the damage being caused.

However, ultimately it is up to you, the individual with a computer connected to the internet, to take some positive action towards maintaining some security. The more you don’t know the more it can hurt you. You can pass the need for knowledge onto someone who knows more than you and that you have a reason to trust.

Statistically it is safe to say that it is better to find someone you have a reason to trust than waiting for someone to approach you. Trusting one, any one, that you chose to give good advice is better than not doing anything to stay safe, or at least safer.

For many this whole subject is a big black mass of not knowing. But you can do something about it using common sense. You can establish, by yourself, some basic policies that will be better than ignoring it all. Just don’t fall into the group of deniers that think that because they don’t have anything of value on their computer they will not become a victim.

For example, you probably lock your car which is a simple policy that you probably do every time you use it without even thinking. A computer is harder to keep secure but still there are simple things you can do. The first is to ensure you have a password which is not obvious which means it is not the birthdate of someone in your family, in fact it should not be any birthdate. That is not enough (or different) characters, rather it’s better to let your computer generate a password for you. Today it should probably be at least 10 long and contain a mix of lower and uppercase letters, numbers and if allowed some symbols.

Then ensure each have a unique username (if possible) and password for each online login you have. Often people loose security from using the same login across different locations. (Your password manager easily keeps track of them for you.) When one organization is hacked your data can be part of it. These lists of logins are then spread across the internet with people who loves to make it work for them

The most basic datum should be that if you put any information (data) on a networked computer then it can end up in someone else hands. If you think with that and accept the possibility then you are less likely to suffer too much.

Email is a very popular and unfortunately effective tool to get you to open the door for them to get into your computer, which includes making you go to your bank and giving them your money on some pretense that has but one purpose – to steal from you. This is called social engineering, they pretend to be someone else in some imaginary situation where you feel sorry for them being in that imaginary situation and then give them your money (sometimes even thinking it’s their money you are returning).

There are security updates coming out somewhen frequently, these should be applied when they come out. Any online tool are in a direct position to cause great harm to your computer and whatever you have on it or access to. Thus ensuring they are kept up to date is of outmost importance.

General bug fixes are good as well. Unfortunately some companies creates new problems when they fix the old one. Unless you really need that fix, wait for one or more fixes before applying it which allows time for them to solving it properly.

Another security issue is using software running on their servers, for example, online accounting, or whatever service offered that is running on their servers (I’m not including running your website).

For one you have no physical control of your information, if they go down you will too. Someone else is in charge of looking after your information, at whatever pay grade and motivation that you will never know. Imagine hiring someone to work for you where you don’t know when they are there, what they are actually doing, from whatever country or organization with whatever motivations?

It can be as simple as something goes wrong anywhere between you and them and you cannot access your company information. It could be someone digging a trench and accidentally cuts off the network cabling below ground. They could be under attack and brought down since they are hosting many other companies and maybe one of them is a target. In the end you have no control.

Such a company might be a life saver when you don’t know enough to have these computer functionality in your own operation, if so, ensure to have a definitive plan to get it in-house and maintain full backups of YOUR data, even if it is on their servers.

Avarice, which is defined as extreme greed, have put many in the “poor house” from having lost all their savings through some scam. Even plain greed makes people go for that quick buck. This is often a case where the person believes they cannot make enough money and will happily be fooled into thinking the fast buck will be their ticket to permanent happiness.

When I receive a call from some stranger, even if I know the company they claim to work for, I never accept the “good fortune” they are presenting me with. If it was legitimate I would also receive an email and a physical letter proclaiming my good fortune. AND that is not enough to convince me I’ve won something. I would have to have enrolled in that something AND if it comes through an email it would know my name and other details AND have proper grammar AND be professional sounding, then I would still be on my guard and NEVER make ANY payments to release my funds, boat or whatever they claim. They would also have a number I could compare to a publicly posted number.

In other words I NEVER believe it to be real unless I could use some different method to verify their claim that is not coming from them.

If it is a phone call the easiest way to call their bluff is to ask for their name and a call back number. If given a number I then search the internet for that number with the word scam. Usually someone else have been targeted and it has been noted online.

Any legitimate organization that would have a reason to give you ANYTHING, would be easily accessible and 99% well known.

Regardless of how someone else could possibly determine if you have, or don’t have, anything of value to them without breaking into your computer, there IS something you have of value which is a computer connected to the internet. Any computer is valuable even if it is empty as a tool for someone else to use to wreck more havoc on the internet.

Of course if your computer is an office computer of some organization, that organization might very well be a target for nefarious activities. There better be someone who understands computer security or it’s just a matter of time.

A little example from years past. A country deemed untrustworthy of harnessing nuclear power was approaching some level of being operational that another country decided to put a roadblock there.

The challenge was the lab was not on the internet and could not be broken into remotely. They solved it by ensuring some computer code was inserted into a printer being sold to that government, specifically that nuclear lab. When they connected that printer to their internal network the code sprang into action and established connections to other devices, devices which were then sabotaged in way that was not obvious but delayed their progress towards having the bomb.

Spend a little time towards at least understanding the concepts of computers. A computer is a tool, a stupid tool without any real intelligence. Any perceived intelligence is programmed into it, without that programming it is a door stop, with great potential but still a doorstop. It can only follow exact instruction one after the other. It is programmed to make logical decisions that again is programmed into it.

Most of the times computer terms comes from terms used in daily life. If you look at the plain English definition you can usually figure it out. Take “network” you have heard of networking, getting together with a group of people to maybe promote each others products and services, or home made cookies. For a computer it is also networking by connecting a communication cable called a network cable. That cable in turn connects to one or more devices which ends up creating a connection to the physical wiring across the world known as the internet.

You have the intelligence to do networking a lot easier for you not requiring special shared programming amongst all the computers and having a radio (for WiFi) and/or a cable to connect it to others. Computers follow protocols, much the same as we have protocols in how we address each other. The difference is that a computer will fail if the protocol is not followed EXACTLY.

Though everything a computer does is based on human principles, after all, humans built it. 🙂

VPNs, safe and unsafe use

I’m following a security investigator (Brian Krebs) who is one of the very top ones in the biz. He recently posted an article on VPN services and one in particular named 911. It occurred to me that others might not realize the liability these VPN services poses and who might be behind them and you might want to warn your loved ones in turn. A comment and definition on VPNs and some additional warnings and workarounds by me at the bottom.

Brian Krebs wraps up his article with these words (link below):

Beware of “free” or super low-cost VPN services. Proper VPN services are not cheap to operate, so the revenue for the service has to come from somewhere. And there are countless “free” VPN services that are anything but, as we’ve seen with 911.

In general, the rule of thumb for transacting online is that if you’re not the paying customer, then you and/or your devices are probably the product that’s being sold to others. Many free VPN services will enlist users as VPN nodes for others to use, and some even offset costs by collecting and reselling data from their users.

All VPN providers claim to prioritize the privacy of their users, but many then go on to collect and store all manner of personal and financial data from those customers. Others are fairly opaque about their data collection and retention policies.

My comments, examples and workarounds on the security of VPNs

Virtual Private Network is a name given to a design which allows for traffic to travel between two network points and be encrypted.

By encrypting the content of the connection points, the communication can travel “safely” between the two points. (I say “safely” because there are a number of details which makes it safe or not.) 

(And it is a moving target, moving as decrypting encrypted communication is constantly getting better and better as computers get faster and faster and holes in encryption methods are found.)

It is all in the design. How is it designed? There are many many encryption methods, few are actually considered secure. 

It is an everyday thing whereby someone is delivering something they claim to be completely secure and they express how they go out of their way to be secure. 

Then you (a cryptologist) look into the implementation of some encryption method and discover that what they are using is out of date, or maybe never even was secure. 

Typically the “secure” tunnel is between your device and the service provider, and then they establish another connection between them and the other party. Meanwhile in the middle they have the communication entirely without encryption to do or not do whatever they decide.

To be secure the minimum requirement is that the tunnel runs between the two end points and is encrypted when passing through the service provider. For example, between my cell phone and yours. There is NO valid reason to be anything else but would be considered at best a poor design, at worst incompetent or with criminal intent.

Then we come to use a VPN, how is it being used.

Let’s say you have an office or home office, and you are on the road and like to be able to access your data at the office. You get a VPN service or some set up whereby you now have a VPN in place.

You leave on your trip and as you arrive at some location you now want to safely reach your data at the office. (In this example we are going to go with you having an actual secure connection.) 

If either device on either end also has internet access for browsing in particular, or with a cell phone where you have installed various handy apps, if anyone of those apps or locations you browse are hacked or include malware (code with evil intent), the perpetrator will now have a nice and secure connection into your home office. 

In other words if your remote device is hacked – then you are allowing hackers through the VPN into your office network with the same access as you have. (And there are many way of increasing access to administrator once someone has any user access.) 

The safest approach with using the internet is to be OK with anything that you put on it might end up available to all. (Including the ramifications if that happens.)

If you were to check applications you will find that they commonly ask for permissions far beyond what it needs. I never install those. 

For example a calculator that wants access to your contacts! Or your network. What valid reason would a calculator have accessing those?

Who puts a bunch of efforts in to designing, writing and releasing a program with no exchange? Many programmers do, from just being helpful and liking that others are using their creation. But also, many criminal intent can be traced to using the Free model to spread their malware.

(Stranger – Danger!)

What is more convenient, the feature the apps provides or getting dragged in to some criminal activity unwittingly, or discovering you owe a ton of money for a bank loan you never took? These are real ramifications, at best a bunch of wasted time and effort to sort out.

Hackers learn from what other hackers have done are getting more and more sophisticated, so much so that anyone from a teenager in his room to organized crime to country espionage is thriving. Mostly because people are ignorant about security and have low confront and misunderstoods of course.

For example Chinese law Requires Chinese to spy for them if asked…

Russian law enforcement have an unwritten rule not to go after Russian hackers as long as they don’t attack Russians… (One way they determine if you are Russian is by looking to see what languages your computer supports.)

If you find an app that looks to be the cat’s meow then do some research, not just how many are using it as that has nothing really to do with how secure it is, but search the terms [name of app] and the words “security issue”. 

That will generally tell a big tale. While you do so observe who are saying they are good or bad, many have single posters that never posts anywhere else because they are fake reviewers. Of course look at the domain name to see where it comes from.

For example someone suggested I contact them on WhatsApp. It immediately revealed that:
1) security researches recommended against it and, 
2) it comes from Facebook, 
3) WhatsApp out of the box want your contact list. 

Meanwhile Signal is an ideal option where it truly is safe encryption between the endpoints.

As our world has grown into a digital co-existing world where there is a tremendous amount of attention placed on it by Every Imaginable Player with whatever intent.


Should Police Help People?

I just watched a YouTube video of a woman with two children around 4-6 years old get fatally shot by a police officer, in a small city in Nevada.

The officer acted as he’s been trained which is why this became a fatal shooting. The woman was clearly not operating with the current scene but as if there were dangers lurking behind any person. Many would call her crazy.

There were two officers on the scene and she had a knife in her hand yelling to the police to not touch her children. A 911 caller had reported that she was afraid that something was going to happen to her children.

The complete failure and reason this turned deadly was due to the training of officers to basically treat anything dangerous as if it was a military assault. Which is very effective if the people you deal who are mentally there.

If you want to calm down a situation the last thing you do with an irate person is to oppose their view. The best thing to do is to play along with them and try to understand what demon/situation they feel they are dealing with. You can only calm them down when they feel understood. Opposing them, yelling and acting threatening is not very workable. This is true to anyone upset.

The first thing you want to do is to get in communication, this means thoughts are being exchanged with understanding, without force, threats or demands. Simply act is if you care about them and try to understand their problem/situation.

Once the person feels someone else is on their side they can then start calming down. Be a ‘safe person’, don’t seem to threaten them but be their ally. It is surprisingly simple and easy to do if you have any compassion for others.

Imagine one of your family members being the other person and treat them with the same love and respect, you will be surprised how easy it beome to defuse situations.

I’ve never failed to handle any person with the above, and I’ve talked down gang members, a cop killer, run of the mill nut cases who were really unhappy and ‘charged’ up. One threatened me with a knife in close quarters outside my apartment door demanding access. I relaxed, leaned to one side of the door frame on one leg and said ‘One one condition, that you owe me an apology when you see that that person is not here.’ as perfectly calm and friendly completely ignoring the threat (knife yielded by a much bigger person than me).

He turned out to be a cop killer on the run. He was taken back by my smile and total lack of displaying any indication of being in danger. In fact he did not dare passing next to me, I had to step away from the door before he stepped in, only to realize this was not the place. He tried to pay me off but I insisted on the apology, which he could not easily fathom. He had screwed up and he knew his word had never meant anything, so the idea that he would just say sorry was utterly unreal to him. It took a couple of minutes before he finally did, but he did say sorry and melted like butter when I said OK, thanks! At that point he told me his life history as if in a confession.

But you see what I did, I handled the situation with complete calm and care. His problem was my problem, and we solved it together. Threatening and putting him in a defensive mode would not have worked out well. Sure I could have just shot him but on principle I only use force if needed and that was not it. (Though many would say if any situation was that this was it. And that would just demonstrate their inability to handle it gently. You can take it to the bank that this guy never forgot me, and being treated well in spite of.)

Another time a woman whom our office security could not handle was in our reception interrupting things. I told security to leave us and got in communication with her. She was on about aliens and spirits and what not in some garbled version. I simply demonstrated an interest in her and her situation, and acknowledged everything she said. I suggested we get away from these other people (the staff in the office) so we can talk uninterruptedly, which she liked, and walked her outside. Spent a few minutes with her and she ended up walking away looking happy.

The whole ‘trick’ is to honestly care about others and wanting to understand them and help solving their problem. Caring is a secret weapon that can solve so many situations. Yelling to people is a method of force. It is not being in very good communication but more out of communication. So if you want to get others to do or not do something it makes a big difference if you are duplicating each other and have a good understanding.

In another situation a woman was really upset and yelling on the phone about the alleged problem some employee of ours had caused. I got the call transferred to me and I asked her what happened? Hearing her loud upset and accusations I simply acknowledged her really good. I said

‘WOW! That’s HORRIBLE!!’ she immediately stopped, was quiet for a few seconds and said Thank You!

So that’s another ingredient, proper acknowledgment. That is the sign that you have understood what they said. If someone says ‘And then the truck rolled over the baby!’ You would not calmly say OK.

You see a drunk and disorderly, how do you handle it?

Be a friend, care and try to understand them, then give a proper acknowledgment. A little over acknowledgment might be needed if their attention to the the environment is lowered, drunk or upset for example. But always in a friendly tone.

If you don’t want to shoot and kill some mother in front of her young children that’s how you do it. Police Academy are you listening? Your officers are dealing with any number of threatening situations each day. Meanwhile society is anything but pleased with the amount of police shootings. Demand that your officers are able to communicate with strangers in a friendly voice, and not oppose everyone as the immediate go to solution. It does not instill respect as it simply shows an incompetence in dealing with people. Your officers should not only drill all the other things they do but drill handling people in various stages of upset and ‘out of it’.

Manners is one of those thing kids used to learn at an early age. And if the adults set a good example themselves then the kids usually saw that it works.

The officer that drew his service weapon on a young girl needs to train in how to handle kids and probably people in general.

A police office is not a soldier. He may feel it when citizens shoot at him, but something has gone wrong long before those bullets come his way.

Groups get along and win when manners are applied from the beginning. When you treat people with respect above all, people feel safe and are less prone to pull a weapon on you. When equality rules the day and compassion is in use, society becomes a good place to be in and you will want to be part of it.

The Declaration of Human Rights is what should govern the day. All talk about how some people are less, or not people, is only made by people who are basically insecure. If a four year old tries to make fun of you I suspect you would not feel threatened. I simply agree and laugh along. In fact if anyone is making fun of you the best response is to simply agree and laugh along. You will not remain a target of ridicule for long.

It has long been proven scientifically that all the human races are human and are no more nor any less than anyone else. Individuals are different and a small number have a problem in dealing with things.

They may be and often are different in some way. That should make life more interesting, getting to know and understand someone from some other background than your own.

If you are in a group which is not treating you with sincere respect then you might not be in the right group. Same goes for work, if you cannot win there then maybe you should not be there? Why slave somewhere where you cannot be happy and winning?

Force yourself to smile in front of a mirror and see if you can keep that frown. Wish upon others that which you want for yourself.