Archive for the ‘Privacy’ Category

Informed Delivery

Friday, April 14th, 2017

Back in 2001, a 94 year old woman died after being exposed to weaponized anthrax.

At the time, the government let out a little secret if you carefully read the accounts. Investigators discovered that the letter to the woman in Connecticut passed through the same sorting machine a few pieces after the letter sent to Congress. If that wasn’t already known to you, the USPS has long tracked every single piece of mail, not just persons suspected of criminal activity. The outside of an envelope has no expectation of privacy.

The USPS now proudly declares that they take and retain a photograph of every envelope they deliver (unless the postal workers deliberately discard the mail)

2,700 new pages of Medicare rules

Friday, October 14th, 2016

Just as Obamacare is imploding, the government has published 2,700 pages of new rules to micromanage doctors, physician assistants and nurse practioners.

Everyone knows that Medicare is in trouble – unlike Social Security, there is no trust fund of money set aside for the costs of old age. There are three primary sources of funding – the Medicare payroll tax, the General Fund and the enrollee premiums.

Cuba pays its general practioner doctors $75 a month, India $8k a year, Mexico $21k a year, UK National Health Service $75k, United States $161k

Talk about income inequality. If you are a primary care doctor, you have to be crazy to want socialized medicine. If you’re a psychiatrist, especially so.

The general idea of the plan is to pay doctors for the quality of their outcomes, which will mean chasing politically motivated metrics, which have little or anything to do with quality of life of the patient – more to do with the profitability of pharmaceutical companies

Why I’m a hermit

Saturday, November 28th, 2015

Well, part of the reason…

Yesterday, it was time to invoke my official Senior status at the buffet place. Stephanie introduced herself as my attendent or whatever the appropriate term is. After loading up on chicken noodle soup, there was a commotion maybe 20 feet away.

The place I visit is within walking distance of the LRV line and not really much housing nearby. The typical patrons (outside of lunch time) are black families and old white people, and some Hispanics and Asians – in other words, typical Charlotte people (excluding the snotty Millenial types who immigrated here from Seattle or Boston).

I wasn’t paying a lot of attention, but I did hear one of the staff asking a black gentleman “so, did you delete it from Facebook?”. There was anger in the air. What they had filmed and why they placed it on Facebook is a mystery. Vigilante camera “Justice” is all the rage these days.

Maybe 5 minutes later, a different woman came over and left her “card”. I asked where Stephanie was (she was probably surprised I paid attention). She told me Stephanie was “taking her break”. I’m pretty sure that was a lie and related to the incident.

Maybe 5 years ago, while standing in line at Wendy’s in CT, a young boy (probably 9 or 10 years old) was pointing his cell phone camera, clearly with the intent of taking my picture. What his intent was is hard to know, but I can’t think of a good outcome.

This genie of very inexpensive high resolution cameras is not going away. I see no obvious solution.

Encryption wars

Monday, November 23rd, 2015

Yesterday, I was listening to a replay of John Gibson as he was talking to Judge Nepalitano about terrorism and whether Apple and Google should be forced to put a back door into its phones and tablets. This was done in part because of the NSA revelations and partly because police started routinely demanding cell phones on traffic stops to search their contents on a fishing expedition or to gather a contact list – without a search warrant.

Of course, every terrorist incident that kills rich white Europeans will reopen the debate of “well, hypothetically the terrorists might have used a phone – you aren’t a terrorist supporter, are you? Why don’t you trust the police? If you have nothing to hide…”

The Judge is sticking to the 4th amendment. You don’t need physical possession of the device and the ability to open the apps to develop probable cause. People making phone calls and using SMS are logged by the phone company, which can be subpoenaed by presenting evidence you have developed independently – photos, witness statements, DNA, undercover surveillance – you know… “Police work”

Here is a random example I just bumped into!30-Columbia-Schools-iPads-confiscated-by-police/c24gc/564f46120cf26ffe7c1f3f75

In this story, police in Columbia Missouri confiscated 30 iPads owned by the School District on the suspicion that students might be having sexually explicit conversations and sending naked pictures to each other. The article doesn’t mention a judge signing a warrant. The 4th amendment requires probable cause and the specific items to be searched. Random fishing expeditions of every iPad is not allowed. The kidz use snapchat for sexting specifically because it leaves no evidence.

Because the iPads are owned by the school district and used at least part of the time on the school system internet connection, that might make the investigation easier. But if the iPads are running iOS 7+, the contents cannot be viewed without knowing the pass codes.

What do you think the rules should be?

$17,000 per Obamacare enrollee

Sunday, July 26th, 2015

One of the favorite mantras of socialists is that the profits earned by capitalist corporations is “waste” that doesn’t exist if government runs things itself.

Hawaii is terminating its Obamacare exchange.

Now that the Federal subsidies are winding down, Hawaii has spent $130 million to cover 8,200 people, which works out to $17,000 per person. The article doesn’t mention how many people have been added to Medicaid.

Now that the Supreme Court removed the carrot of allowing subsidies only to states that set up their own exchanges, the article predicts that many states will turn over control to the Federal exchange run by HHS.

Anthem (who runs Blue Cross for Federal employees and states without their own local BC/BS franchise) is taking over CIGNA, one of the largest private health insurers. Aetna, which already bought Coventry (the other national health insurer in the Federal exchange) is buying Humana Golden Rule was acquired by United HealthCare.

Pretty much all of the remaining health insurers are imploding. Employers are moving to self insurance or private pooling to stay out of the Obamacare net.

I told my M.D. niece that the Obamacare plan to destroy private insurance is right on track, and single payer is about two years away, and that doesn’t depend on who wins the elections. “Repeal and replace” will have no insurance business to return to. The only two remaining options will be Blue Cross or Medicare being the Federal single payer. If blue Cross declares bankruptcy, it is “game over”

If Medicare and Medicaid become the single payer, there will be nobody left for hospitals and doctors to “cost shift” to, and they will quickly collapse, requiring government taking over providing health services as well. Kaiser Permanente is waiting in the wings.

Cuba pays its doctors $75 a month and is busy training Americans to return to the United States to spread the revolution. It takes a long time to pay off the loans for a medical education making $75 a month. My niece is a Socialist and supports Bernie Sanders. I’m seriously thinking of supporting him, too.

What secret is worth $100k a month?

Friday, May 29th, 2015

Former Republican Speaker of the house Denny Hastert has been indicted by a Federal Grand Jury. He was caught in a net of his own making, and my sympathy for him is very limited.

I know I’m in a small minority, but I like Newt Gingrich. Newt (and Rush) led the 1994 uprising under the banner of The Contract With America and swept in a large crop of Freshman Republicans ready to really change government. One of the goals was making laws passed by Congress apply to Congress. The establishment pushed Newt out of being the Speaker after the 1998 election, even though the Republicans maintained control of the House, neutering Bill Clinton’s ambitions. Dennis Hastert replaced Newt.

Hastert has been indicted for “structured bank withdrawals” – he needed $100k a month in cash to pay off some unspecified person for some not yet disclosed reason. The Bank Secrecy Act of 1970 laid the foundation for requiring banks to report cash transactions of over $10,000 and making it illegal to make withdrawals of less than $10k to avoid the reporting by the bank.

In the post 9/11 era, the government needs to know everything about everything – lest an ISIS terrorist unleash Anthrax on Washington DC. The incentive of civil forfeiture for “suspicious” quantities of cash – to fight the war on drugs, of course makes possession of cash a presumptive indicator of criminal intent.

You really don’t think which brand of soap you buy at Walmart isn’t The government’s business, do you? A bar of soap and Shinola shoe polish could be used to make a fake gun to hijack an airplane, after all. The Department of Precrime needs as much information as Big Data can hold. We can never be too safe.

Charlotte to get Google Fiber

Wednesday, January 28th, 2015

If you had 1000 Mb/Second Internet access, how would you use it?

I don’t download copies of an entire human genome in my spare time, don’t need a copy of every YouTube video featuring a cat. The current top of the line 4k video requires 15 Mb/Second and realistically needs 50 Mb/Sec. I guess we’re laying the foundation for 100k TV or perhaps direct brain implants.

Now that the web server is not in my bedroom, I don’t begin to need even the 20 Mb/second I have. In Connecticut I was so disgusted with the Cable TV company that I was thrilled to replace it with reliable AT&T 1.5 Mb/sec DSL.

I’m confident the city will find the bandwidth useful to install TV cameras every 50 feet, more license plate readers, red light cameras, mandatory smart light bulbs and gunshot triangulators. You can’t be too safe.


Saturday, January 10th, 2015

Well, there are people who still have a functioning brain willing to resist peer pressure.

National Post – “we” are not Charlie hebdo

Rex Murphy is one brave man. He is willing to point out that the same people swooning at the opportunity to pledge solidarity with the publication in France are the folks trying to criminalize speech in the West that they disagree with.

Non-Privacy Policy

Thursday, January 8th, 2015

I despise Supermarkets that demand you use “frequent shopper” loyalty cards to get their bogus “discounts” – effectively a surcharge if you refuse to allow your purchases to be recorded into “big data” for whatever future purpose. I have started shopping regularly at a supermarket catering to Mexicans as I start to “hide in the shadows”

Bi-Lo was an iconic Southern supermarket chain. They also now own the even more iconic Winn Dixie chain (that no longer operates in North Carolina). About a year ago, Bi-Lo sold most of their Charlotte area stores to Publix, a Florida based chain that is definitely not a “Southern” chain, catering instead to the tastes of New Jersey snowbirds. Carvel Ice Cream and Nathan’s hot dogs have no history in Dixie.

I thought about visiting Bi-Lo again – the remaining stores are in the heart of Charlotte’s “black” neighborhoods. I noticed they are big on the “save with your card” ploy and the even more deceptive “buy one free, get one free” approach. Bacon at regular price is really $6.99 a pound?

So how much permission am I giving them to pass along my personally identified buying behavior to third parties.

Back when I ran, Google required that I have a privacy policy page. I wrote one saying (more or less) I don’t care who the hell you are or what you do, but Google is going to track the hell out of every breath you take, and they can do that because I’m taking money from them. Privacy on the Internet doesn’t exist. I’m sorry.

“Ring ring”
Hello Mr Stone. This is Vanessa, your good health counselor from the National Health Service. We just noticed you picked up a half gallon of whole milk about 30 seconds ago. Your doctor has already told you not to drink that. If you know what’s good for you, you’ll go back and get the skim milk. Just consider this a friendly warning. We’re only trying to help you. It’s for your own good. You don’t want us to have to get more forceful do you? I’m watching you on camera 37 right now. Are you going to comply?
Uhhh… Sure.
*ring ring*
This is Vanessa. I heard that. What we seem to have here is a failure to communicate.
Yes Boss. whatever you say Boss

Could never happen here?

We’re just here to help – let us in or we’ll kill you

Saturday, January 3rd, 2015

The connection here is WUUA-FM in Glen Spey, New York is an all Ukranian radio station that shares its licensee name with the office Stephen Demchuk quoted in the story. Another officer shot and killed the man who told the police he was fine and to just go away. His niece was outside the door and police refused to allow her to help calm him down.

This could be me some day.

The really outrageous thing in the story is the assertion by CNN that there is such a thing as an illegal alcohol level when you’re inside your own apartment.