IF IT WASN’T ABOUT SLAVERY, WHAT WAS IT ABOUT? – Marilyn Armstrong

I have been a-wandering in a strange, alternative universe called Facebook. It’s a place where anyone’s opinion is as good as anyone else’s.

At some point yesterday evening I stumbled into a heated exchange about the Civil War. That it was about ‘states rights,’ not slavery. I was surprised no one was denying that slavery existed at all since anyone’s opinion is as good as anyone else’s.

Flag on the harbor

confederate flag

At some point, someone said: “In this country majority rules, so if most of the people in a state want to fly the Confederate flag, they can. It’s IN THE CONSTITUTION.”  

No, it isn’t.

Along the way, someone else suggested the losers of a war don’t typically get to fly their flag. Because they lost.

The south lost the war, a point often overlooked in these discussions. I think they should get over it, but I clearly don’t understand the issue.

I asked if the majority in a state favored slavery, would that be okay too? Most of the combatants in this discussion said yes, which proved my fundamental point. That I was trying to have a conversation with a bunch of morons.

No, it isn’t in the Constitution. There’s nothing at all about flags in the Constitution. Not a word. Nothing guaranteeing rights pertaining to flags. As far as the other stuff goes, the Constitution is not designed to protect the rights of the majority. Quite the opposite. Its intent is to protect the rights of minorities because otherwise, you have tyranny.

Sorry. I digressed.

This brought a flurry of rebuttals and name-calling, brought to a head when someone offered a golden nugget.

“The Confederate flag was a battle flag and had nothing to do with slavery. In fact, the Civil War had nothing to do with slavery. It was about taxes.”

Although I know arguing with idiots is a waste of perfectly good time I could productively use playing mindless games, I had to say something. There is so much historical evidence proving that the Civil War was about slavery and nothing but slavery.

United States Slave Trade

The Civil War was predestined and the framers of the Constitution knew it. Our founding fathers made a deal with the devil to allow slavery. If they had not, there would never have been the United States. The Constitution would not have passed. It might well never have been written at all although these days, I’m not entirely sure it matters anymore.

Slavery was the burning issue during the constitutional convention in 1788 and it tore the country apart two-generations later. They knew it would. The guys who wrote the Constitution may have wimped out, but they knew their “solution” was just a band-aid. They knew the issue would come to war and blood and death. It was that kind of issue.

To declare otherwise is sheer ignorance. There are lots of aspects of history that can be argued, but this is not one of them. There is so much evidence in the form of diaries and writings — not to mention correspondence between famous guys like Jefferson, Adams, and Washington.

Sometimes, I think Americans must be the happiest people on earth because we are certainly the most ignorant. Since we all know that ignorance is bliss, we live in universal bliss.

constitution_1_of_4_630

My statement was quickly swallowed by passionate southerners declaring I was an out-of-control left-wing lying Yankee liberal socialist commie. I retreated to a stupid pop-the-bubble game and the battle went on without me.

Why do I bother?

WRITHE AND WRING YOUR HANDS – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Writhe

Even though it isn’t Earth Day today, I have come to feel that every day is Earth Day, at least as long as we are allowed to live on the earth. All of this happened because I follow Bizarro and a number of other cartoonists on Facebook.

Earth’s day in court

It’s really about the only thing I do follow on Facebook since they stopped posting the scores of the currently playing teams I follow. That, at least, used to get me to go over and look to see who was winning or losing whatever they were doing — football, baseball, basketball. You know. Whatever is currently in season.

These days, having to look at Facebook for any reason makes me writhe nervously and twitch uncontrollably. These are the people who got me hacked. Whenever I am on their site, I’m convinced something evil is happening, if not to me, then to someone I know. But there’s still stuff there I can’t find elsewhere, so I swallow hard, breathe heavily, and go.

Facebook is beginning to remind me of Charter, our well-hated cable network. We don’t have a choice about using Charter because whoever runs our town (I literally don’t know and it’s better if I don’t know) made a deal that only Charter can ply its wares in Uxbridge. Thus we do not have Fios, for example. We can get Dish, but the trees don’t agree. Too many tall trees. Many too many.

FIOS isn’t allowed to run their wires down our road. Meanwhile, Charter is having problems, so we get dozens of little “off air” glitches that last anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes. Some knock us off the air entirely. After which I need to reboot the router, modem, TV, telephone, and both computers. They always glitch exactly when Garry or I am about to place an order for dog biscuits or Gingko Biloba or a book I’ve been hemming and hawing about ordering for months.

Speaking of sports …

Suddenly, you get the all too familiar “can’t reach that page” and you realize the computer is down. I look at Garry. His computer is also down. I don’t bother to check the telephone because I’m sure it’s not working either.

The more we depend on ISP services, the more they run our world. To have your world run by Trump is bad enough, but to have it run by Charter Communications is demeaning.

I spend a lot of time writhing and twitching. Life in 2019 is uncomfortable in all kinds of ways.

We are all human beans

Today, I had reason to check out Bizarro because he’s going to have a live feed on Facebook tomorrow and if I can figure out how to make it run, I’m going to tune in.

I’m not big with “live on Facebook” stuff mainly because I really don’t know how it works. I can usually make it work — eventually — but I haven’t put much mental energy into figuring it out. By the time I get myself hooked up, the event is over. I’m not sure why, but I swear everything is far more complicated than it used to be.

I remember you used to find the page and click it and you were “on.” Now, there’s a link and a code and usually, one of those “I’m not a robot” thingies that despite not being a robot, I can’t read. So by the time I dope out what kind of robot I’m not, it’s finished. I’ve missed it. I will try to get there early, but no promises.

I’m not a robot. Really. I’m not. I swear it. Or if I am, no one told me.

NO CONSPIRACIES IN THIS HOUSE – Marilyn Armstrong

After many years of not watching “The X Files,” Garry and I ran out of stuff to watch. So … we decided to try watching X Files.

Now, maybe a dozen episodes in, I have some thoughts on conspiracies and secrets.

x-files poster


Has anyone ever confided a secret to you? And you realized at that exact moment, it ceased being a secret.

Have you ever told someone something you wished you hadn’t said? Or realized that what you said should have stayed in your head and never crossed your lips?

Sincerely wished you hadn’t said anything then asked them to please, please, never repeat it? And you absolutely knew everyone was going to know about it before lunch?

top secret 2

So how did the whole “secret” thing work out for you?

Now. Imagine a secret so secret that the entire military-industrial complex including all the important politicians of the world — the basic whos-who of world power — had to keep THIS secret or the world might end.

What secret?

That aliens are here and have always been here? That we are hiding spaceships in dark caverns in the desert and mountains? That every individual in touch with this secret — and you have to figure there were a lot of them, even counting them one at a time — was mandated to retain the secret for their entire lives and never tell anyone.

Figure that’s going to work? Whatever the secret was supposed to be, it would be in every newspaper and on every television station — not to mention every social medium — before lunch. Before morning break.

It would be a multi-part television serial by the weekend … and these days … forgotten by Christmas.

That’s my point.

Not that aliens might be here — now or in the past — but that a secret of such magnitude could or would be kept for a single day, much less for decades. This could not, would not, will not ever happen in this world.

Certainly not anywhere with Internet.

Which is pretty much everywhere.

HATE, ANGER AND SOCIAL MEDIA

A Firestorm of Misinformation, Rich Paschall

There are always items in the news that bring out the social media commentators. There’s the economy, some collusion, and Supreme Court appointments. There are Trade tariffs and Trade Agreements. There is religious freedom and freedom of speech. It is that Freedom of Speech thing that lets the haters and misinformed run rampant on the internet.

© 2007 Nuno Pinheiro & David Vignoni & David Miller & Johann Ollivier Lapeyre & Kenneth Wimer & Riccardo Iaconelli / KDE / LGPL 3 with permission.

© 2007 Nuno Pinheiro & David Vignoni & David Miller & Johann Ollivier Lapeyre & Kenneth Wimer & Riccardo Iaconelli / KDE / LGPL 3 with permission.

In the social media world, it looks like a lot of people have time to create graphics with so-called information and historical quotes (internet memes). Some are very artistically created with nice pictures of a president or other important historical person in the background. If you are on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter enough, you may think some of these historical figures are speaking out of both sides of their mouths. One of my favorite internet memes states “The problem with quotes found on the internet is that they are often not true. – Abraham Lincoln.”

Many of the quotes are easily disputed. I like to type the first phrase of an internet quote or meme into Google search to see what I get. Sometimes I immediately get proof the quote is false. Sometimes I find the quote is true, but it was said by someone else. It seems popular to attribute interesting political and social quotes to George Carlin, even if someone else said it. Do we think a quote is more believable if a more famous person said it? The George Carlin website actually has a section devoted to “Bogus Carlin Quotes.

I have often seen a quote attributed to former President Jimmy Carter. It says “If you don’t want your tax dollars to help the poor, then stop saying you want a country based on Christian Values, because you don’t.” While it seems like something Carter may have said post-presidency, he did not say it. Yet, it is frequently re-quoted all across the internet. Many sites will use it to drive home their point by indicating what this thoughtful and highly regarded human being has to say.

It was actually said by comedian John Fugelsang (Snopes.com here).  I guess if the quote comes from a comedian rather than a former president, it is harder to beat people over the head with it.

In addition to a simple Google search for the quote or alleged fact, you can go to websites dedicated to debunking internet stories.

The most popular is Snopes.com. It calls itself “the definitive Internet reference source for urban legends, folklore, myths, rumors, and misinformation.” It has to work extra hard to keep up with the mountains of internet crap published daily. Still, I usually find out whether some really convenient quote to prove a point is actually true or false. Usually they are false.

AARP.org has published a helpful list to identify fake news. Seniors are often the victims of internet scams. Just about everyone can use the links they provide to verify whether a story is true or not.

Fake news?

Despite easy access to the truth, haters choose to believe whatever is posted on the internet if it can be twisted to support their position. Then they can take the misinformation and share it with their friends, who in turn do the same. I like to post an article or link into a comment under these false memes, but it does not seem to matter. Comments continue to be made after mine in support of the lie, as if posting the true story meant nothing. It is infuriating, to say the least. Wanting to believe the lie seems to be a sign of the times

The anger and hate behind the false stories and memes was out in full force recently due to some “hot button” topics in the news. The Kavanaugh hearings brought us bad conduct by the nominee and various senators, which in turn brought out bad memes and fake stories about people on all sides. Dr. Ford was brave enough to step forward despite the media mayhem, but got hammered in the never important social media realm. The occupant of the White House helped the lies along with some outrageous lies of his own.

The tit for tat trade war with China involving tariffs by 45 has been hard on business. As a result corporations, China, the White House and even farmers are being blasted by one concern or another. International business is complicated and can not be clarified by some internet meme or someone’s right or left-wing blog post.

Vice President Pence brought out haters on both sides of the aisle when he chose to speak to an anti-LGBT group recently. His boss spoke there the previous year.

Any criticism of 45 or his minions will likely earn you a response concerning President Obama, the Clintons, illegal aliens or “the gays.” It does not seem to matter if the hateful response has anything to do with the original comment. We considered this “what about Obama?” type response recently in “Extra topical.”

Connected to social media

The bad part of social media is the ease in which hate, anger and lies are spread. Impressionable people can find support for their misguided thoughts, and feel they have backing for whatever hate or heinous acts they perpetrate. While we all support the idea of Freedom of Speech, it is safe to say our founding fathers had no idea how quickly lies could become accepted as truth, especially lies by the President of the United States.

And all of this happens in an era where the truth is so easy to find. If you are interested in truth.

See also: “George Didn’t Say That!” GeorgeCarlin.net/bogus.html
“Pence is first VP to speak at anti-gay group’s Values Voter Summit,” nbcnews.com
“Fake News Alert,” aarp.org
“Trump’s lying, mocking, despicable verbal mugging of Christine Blasey Ford,” E. J. Dionne, Jr., The Washington Post, October 3, 2018
“Extra Topical,” “What About Obama? Huh?” SERENDIPITY, July 15, 2018

DIVIDED WE FALL – Rich Paschall

Then join hand in hand, brave Americans all, 
By uniting we stand, by dividing we fall; 
In so righteous a cause let us hope to succeed, 
For heaven approves of each generous deed.

-John Dickinson, The Liberty Song, 1768

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Throughout the history of this country, the concept that we stand together has been expressed in song, in writing, and at the podium in speech.  It was the rallying cry of the Revolution and the days following 9/11.  It was spoken during the Civil War and the armed conflicts since.  It was the thought of trade unions fighting for better working conditions.  We may never have all stood together, but we were never divided at critical times in history.  Until now, that is.

From the opening of his campaign until the present day, the leader of our country has worked hard to divide Americans with an “Us versus them” attitude.  He speaks it, he tweets it, he lies about it.

In the opening salvo, he started by trying to assert that many of our neighbors who came from other countries were the enemy.  Of Mexico he stated: “They are not our friend, believe me. But they’re killing us economically. The U.S. has become a dumping ground for everybody else’s problems.”  You likely know the most egregious things he said about Mexico.  Let’s consider another statement.

Dividing us from other friends, 45 went on to say: “It’s coming from more than Mexico. It’s coming from all over South and Latin America, and it’s coming probably— probably— from the Middle East. But we don’t know. Because we have no protection and we have no competence, we don’t know what’s happening.”  This was stated despite a strict immigration policy under President Obama.  Ask anyone who entered (or was deported) at that time.

Also at the time of his announcement, China and Japan were particularly criticised, along with the leaders of our own country.  It is not unusual to criticize the other party during a campaign, but consider carefully the deals the country made during the Obama presidency and the comments made by Trump, the candidate.  There is campaign rhetoric, and then there are falsehoods and divisions.  The announcement of candidacy is filled with quotes that are not attributed to specific people and many statistics that raise questions of accuracy.  Did he portray us correctly?

After a campaign of insults and hateful comments, 45 has spent a great deal of time on his twitter account blasting out hateful and divisive comments among people here and abroad.  How do we feel about this?  Early in the year the Quinnipiac University National Poll found that the Tweeter in Chief is dividing the nation.  While polls results show that the majority of Republicans do not feel this way, Americans by 64 to 31 per cent feel that 45 is actually doing more to divide the country.

Worse yet, many are unsure if the man is actually stable. “President Donald Trump can’t seem to improve his approval rating, perhaps because of the troubling fact that half of the voters we spoke to think he is mentally unstable,” said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll.  But apparently, some of those voters are willing to stand by him anyway.

He tried to change the narrative on the NFL anthem controversy, perhaps because he could not get an NFL franchise years ago.  The NFL commissioner and the NFL Players Association fired back. “Divisive comments like these demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL, our great game and all of our players,” commissioner, Roger Goodell, said.  NFLPA executive director, DeMaurice Smith, indicated that they would not back down.

NFL QB Tom Brady, believed to be a Republican, responded “I believe in bringing people together and respect and love and trust. I just want to support my teammates.”

Last year in September, the New York Times’ Peter Baker provided this news analysis, “Never in modern times has an occupant of the Oval Office seemed to reject so thoroughly the nostrum that a president’s duty is to bring the country together.”  Isn’t it troubling that our leader has so many negative things to say?

Baker also noted, “In his brief career as president and a candidate for president, Mr. Trump has attacked virtually every major institution in American life: Congress, the courts, Democrats, Republicans, the news media, the Justice Department, Hollywood, the military, NATO, the intelligence agencies, the cast of “Hamilton,” the cast of “Saturday Night Live,” the pope and now professional sports. ”  Is this presidential?

While the tweeter is in a rage, outside forces are also trying to undermine American life.  Fake social media accounts have reportedly planted fake stories and memes meant to drive a wedge between parts of our society.  Apparently it has been working.  If you have been a regular user of facebook or twitter you know exactly what the problem is.  As these fake stories pop up, unwitting supporters retweet, reblog and share these items on their news feed.  Do you think foreign influences are behind this?

isys6621.com

Social media believes we are under cyber attack. Google, the parent of YouTube and other media platforms, deleted Iranian accounts.  Facebook and others have removed Russian accounts.  These accounts were there to influence opinion and perhaps even divide Americans through fake stories.  Was there collusion by 45 and/or his minions to help spread lies posted by Russians?  Time will reveal the answer.

With full-blown propaganda wars in play, some started by and perpetuated by our leader, our enemies must be rejoicing.  They see the unraveling of the American fabric, aided by our own leader, allowing them to advance to a stronger position in the world.  If they can divide us and turn American against American, with Trump’s help, then our foes will watch as we stumble and fall in the eyes of the world.

Sources: “The Liberty Song,”  en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Liberty_Song
“History of the Motto,” Smithsonian Museum of American History 
Here’s Donald Trump’s Presidential Announcement Speech,” Time, June 16, 2015
Quinnipiac University National Poll, January 17, 2018
“Roger Goodell, NFLPA angrily denounce Trump’s ‘divisive comments’,” NBCSPORTS.COM, September, 23, 2017
“Tom Brady: I Disagree With Trump’s ‘Divisive’ Comments,” thedailybeast.com
“A Divider, Not a Uniter, Trump Widens the Breach,” The New York Times, September 24, 2017
“Not just Russians: Google follows Facebook to remove
Iranian accounts,” Financial Times, http://www.ft.com
“President Trump has made 4,229 false or misleading claims in 558 days,” The Washington Post, August 1, 2018

Click on the source links above for further information on the above statements.

COMMOTION, CHAOS, HACKING, AND HOW MUCH DO I HATE FACEBOOK? Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Commotion


It started, though I didn’t know it, when Facebook released my personal data to Cambridge Analytica. Eventually, they sold the data to who-knows-who in the hacking world and two credit cards and a money-account got hacked.

I thought this had been sorted out. Police reports. Lots of emails. Far too many conversations on telephones with fraud investigators and a complete reinstallation of my operating system because, not content with stealing my money, they also destroyed my computer.

Lucky there were other computers in the house.

Yesterday, I got a note saying that Synchrony Bank decided I must have “given away my account information.” I couldn’t prove that the hackers were hackers. And, after all, they had my name, address and phone number (thank you, Facebook!), so it must be my fault.

But those transactions never occurred. They were canceled so the “recipients” never actually got anything, but according to their computer, these transactions — or at least one of them — did end up on the bank’s computer. Walmart, whose card it was and PayPal, the paymaster in this all agree there was no transaction, but Synchrony Bank, who owns the computer, is sure it did. I’ve talked to various Wal-Mart divisions (and there are many) and I have paperwork from PayPal (also Synchrony Bank), all of which agree the transactions didn’t happen, but Synchrony wants me to pay for a transaction that never happened and apparently, the release of my name and other personal information by sleazeball Zuckerstump doesn’t count.

You’d think these guys would actually talk to each other.

First, the released my data to Cambridge Analytica. That led to having my identity stolen and my computer hacked. How many new ways can they find to become worthless?

I’m at the end of my wits. This commotion has gone on intermittently since last May. I’m tired and frustrated beyond belief. Just about ready to swallow a handful of tranquilizers and sleep for the rest of my life.

Commotion? You want to know about commotion?

If we weren’t so poor, I’m pretty sure I could have my lawyer call their lawyer and it would be fixed in a split second. We don’t have a lawyer on tap … or the money to get one. So on and on it goes.

Commotion, yeah. Also chaos and a certain amount of misery.

FACEBOOK AND WORDPRESS – A NOTIFICATION YOU SHOULD READ

First the released my data to Cambridge Analytica. That led to having my identity stolen and my computer hacked. How many new ways can they find to become worthless?

FROM WORDPRESS:

You have probably gotten the same message via email, but in case you missed it or deleted it without reading it, you might want to read it. Many of us use Facebook for publicizing our blogs. This will stop the day after tomorrow. You can return to what I used to do: copy and paste your link into Facebook, especially if you have a fair number of followers on Facebook as I do. I already disconnected it from Publicize. I’ll probably manually post pieces as I see fit. I guess we will all have to make our own choices about this.

We wanted to update you about an upcoming change Facebook is introducing to their platform, and which affects how you may share posts from your website to your Facebook account.

Starting August 1, 2018, third-party tools can no longer share posts automatically to Facebook Profiles. This includes Publicize, the WordPress.​com tool that connects your site to major social media platforms (like Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook).

Will this affect your ability to share content on Facebook? It depends. If you’ve connected a Facebook Profile to your site, then yes: Publicize will no longer be able to share your posts to Facebook. On the other hand, nothing will change if you keep a Facebook Page connected to your site — all your content should still appear directly on Facebook via Publicize. (Not sure what the difference is between a Page and a Profile? Here’s Facebook’s explanation.) You can review and change your social sharing settings by heading to My Site(s) → Sharing on WordPress.com.

If you’ve previously connected a Facebook Profile to your WordPress.​com site and still want your Facebook followers to see your posts, you have two options. First, you could go the manual route: once you publish a new post, copy its URL and share the link in a new Facebook post. The other option is to convert your Facebook Profile to a Page. This might not be the right solution for everyone, but it’s something to consider if your website focuses on your business, organization, or brand.

While Facebook says it is introducing this change to improve their platform and prevent the misuse of personal profiles, we believe that eliminating cross-posting from WordPress is another step back in Facebook’s support of the open web, especially since it affects people’s ability to interact with their network (unless they’re willing to pay for visibility) We know that this might cause a disruption in the way you and your Facebook followers interact, and if you’d like to share your concerns with Facebook, we urge you to head to their Help Community to speak out.

Yours,

Love The WordPress.​com Team

HOW DID THAT HACK HAPPEN? – Marilyn Armstrong

A friend asked me how a hack could happen.

You can find plenty of information about this in the news almost every night. Multiple attempts by many governments to locate these guys and take them down are always underway. The problem is, there are a lot of them. Many are funded by the Russians and for all know, other hostile governments.

Does everyone think these guys hacked our election, then quit hacking?

They’ve hacked (that I know of): Equifax, Bank of America, Adobe, Lands End, Amazon, Facebook … and probably a lot more than that, but these I know about because they have all been in touch with me to warn me.

Forget about the dozens of television series that deal with this issue. If you read a newspaper or watch the news, the information is not exactly secret. The busting of these hacker rings has been major news for at least three years and probably longer, so if you’ve missed it … you should catch up. Hackers thrive on people who don’t understand what’s going on. That’s why they pick on the elderly so often.

Essentially, it all happened in one afternoon. Anyone whose identity has been stolen can understand how quickly your financial life can fall apart. Fortunately, that didn’t happen to me. I lost no money, although I had to spend $90 on a new router. I also spent a lot of time rebuilding my computer, but since I did it myself, it didn’t cost me anything.

Should credit card companies be more on the alert? Absolutely. They are pretty sharp even now. Far more alert than our so-called government who seem collectively helpless to fix this. I think they don’t want to fix it, but what do I know, right?

Anyone can call Experion, Equifax, or TransUnion and ask that they put your credit on alert. You can do this automatically on the phone and you only have to call one company who will alert the other two. If one of you has been hacked or think you might be in danger, you don’t have to wait until they have hacked your accounts before you deal with it.

Once you’ve set up an alert, all credit companies must contact you directly before granting credit in your name or changing your address, telephone number, email address, or password. I can’t even count the number of people who’ve been hacked on Facebook — had their accounts stolen. I think someone stole my Twitter account, but since I never used it, I didn’t know about it for weeks.

If you think you are safe because nothing like this has ever happened to you, you are naïve. It can — does — happen to everyone. Anyone. Young. Old. Retired. Poor. Rich. It hurts more when you are poor, but it won’t stop the hackers. If you’ve got any money, they’ll take it and leave you with nothing.

These are not people with a conscience or a sense of right and wrong. They don’t care what happens to you. They do not care if they kill you in the process, either.

So, here’s the timeline:

1.  Facebook gave my personal data to Cambridge Analytica. For a fee, I’m sure. I know this because Facebook told me they did it. They didn’t seem upset about and felt I shouldn’t be either. Right.

2.  Cambridge Analytica sold my data to hackers, most of whom are supported by the Russians.

3.  They got more information by hacking my home router. This had already happened in Europe, but no one mentioned it on our news, so we didn’t know. By the time they did mention it, it was 24 hours too late for me.

4.  They pretended to be a different company and had sufficient data to make me think they might be real. When they demanded money to protect my computer, I instantly knew they were hackers.

5.  They attempted to take money from a bank who controlled 3 credit separate cards, two of which I knew about. I stopped the transfers and they never got anything. The final one I only discovered today, but again, I’m covered, so no loss to me.

6.  They locked my computer and demanded $1000 to “protect” it. Talk about a mobster move! Not a snowball’s chance in hell. There’s no guarantee if you give them money they will release your computer anyway and I’ll bet they don’t. Not exactly trustworthy guys.

7.  To get my computer back, I had to rebuild it. From scratch. Which was not so bad — boring but not difficult. Because I back up my files, I was able to restore everything. In all, I lost one document, but I can live with it.

8.  I had to buy a new router with a protective patch.

Does this mean they can’t get me — or you — again? Of course not. These hackers are gigantic organizations heavily funded by Russian money. if they can hack Equifax, they can bypass my protection on a whim. And the places they operate are glad to have them. They hire people. They are a big business.

At the bottom of my personal mess is Facebook. They casually took my personal data and sold it to hackers.

It’s so simple …

Facebook made this happen. Our government helped them by refusing to go after the hackers. If you think Trump is a good guy, remember he and his team have protected these guys from the get-go. They have allowed the hacking, encouraged it, and supported it. I wouldn’t be surprised if they are also getting paid off.

You could be next. They may already have your number.

NOTORIOUS HACKERS – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Notorious

The day after I got hacked, it hit the TV headlines. Every network news station had the information at the top of the hour: REBOOT YOUR ROUTER. Apparently, millions of home users had already been whacked in Europe. Now The Notorious Gang was here, hacking home routers and stealing credit card information.

It turns out they are the same Russian-funded group connected to Cambridge Analytica — Steve Bannon’s babies — and of course, you-know-who, the guy who occupies the White House. And it all started with Facebook. The social media site I only use as PR for my blog.

Speaking of notorious, these thieves have been known to rake in billions of dollars in a single day, probably mostly from people like me who really can’t afford it.

I didn’t even know that this particular card had been hacked and only found out when the card wouldn’t go through because it kept saying the address was wrong. I finally called the company and the address they had was nothing to do with mine.

I’d like to say I have no idea how they manage to hack our cards, but it isn’t that difficult. I’m no hacker, but I understand the rudiments — and that three-digit code on the back of your card? You realize that any routine number-running mini-application could track it down in about 2 seconds. Maybe less.

I still have to look it up, but thieves — NOTORIOUS hackers — don’t bother. They just push a key. A program runs. They find the number and are charging thousands of dollars to your accounts a minute later.

I’ve gotten everything back, though I have a lot of closed accounts at the moment. My credit score took a hit too. Fraud apparently makes credit companies wary of extending credit. Who can blame them?

What a pity they didn’t announce the notorious router hacking crew until the day AFTER they hacked me. What a pity that Facebook gave out my personal information to hackers, no doubt for a fee.

How notorious does something need to be before we notice it’s happening to us? Apparently pretty damned notorious!

SIX THOUSAND SPAM MESSAGES IN AN HOUR – Marilyn Armstrong

Although this hasn’t affected WordPress, my email has been walloped by more than six thousand spam messages in the last hour. About 5,000 were caught by the Google’s spam catcher. I took care of the rest AND changed my password.

For safety’s sake — for me and everyone — I deleted pretty much everything I had in my inbox, trash, and “sent” sections, then rebooted.

I was hit like this once before, but it was on WordPress. This seems to be limited to Gmail. They don’t have my password —  I just changed it again and even I don’t remember it without looking it up — but whoever is doing this is being extremely annoying. I don’t want to change email unless I must. So many things are attached to this email, it would be a real hassle. If I have no choice, I’ll do it.

And Facebook assured me it wasn’t going to be a real problem. They wrote me and TOLD me that. Liars.

Meanwhile, as far as I can tell, there’s no threat to anyone but me.

Just letting you know. I was one of the people hit by Facebook and Cambridge Analytica and their televised apologies just aren’t working for me these days. I’m pretty sure that’s where all of this is coming from, though I can’t figure out what in the world they hope to gain from it. It’s annoying, but unless I was dumb enough to actually open any of these, they remain harmless.

We also installed a new router. To the degree that any home user can be protected, we are. I have to assume these guys think if they just keep swamping me with emails, sooner or later, I’ll open something.

I won’t. I promise.

THROWBACK THURSDAY – Rich Paschall

Keeping Old Memories Alive, Rich Paschall

Let’s face it, there are a lot of annoying things about social media.  Even worse than the fake news and memes being spread, making us dumber by the day, is the proliferation of new games, rituals, groups, pages, chats, instasomethings, broadcast thyself and say nothing.

You Tube channels (I have 2), Google +, Twitter and twitpic and tweetchat, YouNow, Ustream and the list for You is growing.  You can write it, sing it, chat it, pin it, post it, paste it, repost and reblog it.  The glut of personal pages and activities is beyond gluttonous.

Among the millions of pages and posts lies some golden moments if only you can find them.  Sometimes it is like finding a needle in a haystack, but sometimes a needle is found.  Perhaps you put the golden needle there yourself, hoping others will find it.  If you look hard enough, you may find gold too.

I have used Facebook, WordPress and YouTube to uncover new (or not so new) and interesting talent. In some ways, it has replaced some of my television watching, although I have uncovered more crap online than can ever make it through to broadcast television.

If you have been following along on Sundays, you will notice that I have pointed out some of the good young talent online.  There are some young people doing good as I pointed out when I asked if it was A Screwed Up World? I also mentioned up and coming talent here and on Sunday Night Blog. Recently, I profiled Tom Law in Laying Down The Musical Law, Steve Grand in All-American Boy and my You Tube favorites in Singers on Demand  So you can tell I am not completely down on the social media world.

One practice that has grown up on several social sites in recent years did not interest me at first.  In fact, I thought it a rather self-indulgent way of posting your old photos for people who really did not care on a medium that is so overburden with posts few would notice anyway. This now common activity is called Throwback Thursday.  Have you taken part?

The idea behind Throwback Thursday is that you post an old photo, video, or article from the past, and tag it with #tbt. Thus you will have made some sort of contribution to remembering something important or historical. It’s an interesting idea that has, of course, produced a lot of junk. Seriously, I do not need to see your video of you and your precious cat from 2003. It may bring tears to your eyes, but that doesn’t make it an historic document.

After this practice had gone by for a few years, I began to see the worth hidden in hashtag TBT. Items of merit were coming to light of social, historical and even personal value.  Now I gladly participate.

I still love cake

My personal photos of my charming self at a young age may be of no value in the social media world, but I have many friends and relatives on Facebook. I don’t see them often, so they may be of interest to those who knew me at nine.

We are sharing old memories through weekly postings. I’ve been amazed by the relics some folks have uncovered. Perhaps you’ve been lucky enough to see old photos and videos that bring a smile to your face.

The Pajama Game is the game we’re in!

A few years ago I started a Facebook group for former students of Mrs. Laurette Kittler. She is a retired high school drama teacher whose instruction and guidance touched the lives of generations of students. I was proud to include myself in those who could celebrate this teacher’s work. I thought maybe, over time, I would find 100 students.

The group has close to 340 members, some of whom have been posting pictures and bringing smiles to everyone.  While many members of the group haven’t seen each other for decades, they’ve been putting up pictures others may have not seen since the 60’s, 70’s or 80’s.  Maybe they never saw them at all.  Now there are thousands of pictures.

When the formation of this group led to a “dinner and drinks” outing, I casually mentioned that among the many pictures I have and I have seen, I have no pictures from my Senior Class play.  I could have purchased them from the high school at the time, but I let it pass. It was my big regret.

During the week that followed, pictures showed up on Facebook, including one of me front and just left of center in a picture I do not think I ever saw.

South Pacific

Throwback Thursday has become a favorite activity. Sometimes I post a picture then look for items from others which will remind me of my high school days, my family and my youth. Nothing brings the past to life like seeing it. This is the value of #tbt.

My departed mother took a camera to many events in her life. In the 70’s and 80’s there is no telling how many rolls of 110 and 126 film she went through. Some months after she was gone, I sent many hundreds of pictures to my brother. I have thousands remaining.

Nowadays, I have a use for these photographs, on #tbt.

CAMBRIDGE ANALYTICA AND ME – Marilyn Armstrong

I got a letter — a note more accurately  — from Facebook telling me that I was one of the people whose material was released to Cambridge Analytica. I do very little on Facebook except post my blogs from WordPress, so I figured they didn’t know anything about me that everyone else in the world didn’t already know.

What I failed to consider was that my posts include a lot more information and a lot of people who, in theory, they could track. I have absolutely no way to know what was or has been done with the information.

Check out this New York Times Article and draw your own conclusions. I don’t know what to think.


Who collected all that data?

Cambridge Analytica, a political data firm hired by President Trump’s 2016 election campaign, gained access to private information on more than 50 million Facebook users. The firm offered tools that could identify the personalities of American voters and influence their behavior.

Cambridge has been largely funded by Robert Mercer, the wealthy Republican donor, and Stephen K. Bannon, a former adviser to the president who became an early board member and gave the firm its name. It has pitched its services to potential clients ranging from MasterCard and the New York Yankees to the Joint Chiefs of Staff.


But for the past few days, I’ve had more suggestions that this “thing” going on with WordPress is some kind of takeover of our posts, trying to push to the surface material someone somewhere wants to see and push away stuff they don’t like, we being “that something” they don’t like.

I’m not a conspiracy theorist. I have never believed in conspiracies if there was any simpler explanation possible — and there always has been a simpler explanation. I do not believe the Russians have taken over WordPress. Or, at least I don’t think I believe it. I’m pretty sure I don’t believe it.

Maybe it’s the Republican Party or a pathological group of right-wing southern Christians. Possibly, it’s the DNC because we never sent them the $3 they needed to keep Trump from being elected. I mean … seriously … how many times did they tell me that ALL they needed was $3. I didn’t send them the $3 any of the thousands of times they asked me. Is this some kind of progressive punishment for failing The Party?

We are watching “Reilly, Ace of Spies” on Acorn. This epic miniseries tells the true story of Sidney Reilly, the legendary super-spy, played by Sam Neill makes James Bond look like a wimp. What makes this so … bizarre … is that it’s the real thing.

There was this guy, Sidney Reilly — original name Sigmund Rosenblum, (born March 24, 1874, Odessa, Ukraine) — died Nov. 25, 1925, probably by direct order of Stalin.  He played with the rise and fall of governments the way I used to play Scrabble. He made a lot of 7-letter words and across the triple word score, too.

Maybe it’s his fault.

Nah. It has got to be the Russians. Cambridge Analytica has all my information and is out to get us. It won’t give up until we’re buried.

Garry says if I keep saying this, he is going to believe it. The truth is, if I keep saying it, there’s a chance I might believe it too.

That is the scariest thing of all.

I DON’T BELIEVE IN CONSPIRACIES

After many years of not watching “The X Files,” Garry and I ran out of stuff to watch. So … we decided to try watching X Files. Now, maybe a dozen episodes in, I have some thoughts on conspiracies and secrets.

x-files poster


Has anyone ever confided a secret to you? And you realized at that exact moment, it ceased being a secret.

Have you ever told someone something, realized you shouldn’t have said anything? Sincerely wished you hadn’t said it and asked them to please, please, never repeat it? And absolutely knew that everyone was going to know before lunch?

top secret 2

How did that work out for you?

Now. Imagine that the entire military-industrial complex including all of the important politicians of the world — the basic who’s-who of power in the world — had to keep THE secret.

What secret? That aliens are here and have been forever? That we are secreting spaceships in dark caverns in the desert? And that every single one of them was mandated to retain that secret for their entire lives and never tell anyone.

Figure that’s going to work? Whatever the secret was supposed to be, it would be in every newspaper and on every television station — not to mention every social media network — long before lunch. It would be a multi-part television series before the weekend … and these days … utterly forgotten before Christmas.

That’s my point. Not that aliens might be here — now or in the past — but that a secret of such magnitude could or would be kept for a single day, much less decades. This could not, would not, will not ever happen in this world. Certainly not anywhere there is an Internet and computers.

Which is pretty much everywhere.

THE MYTH OF PRIVACY

Who really thinks they have any privacy remaining?

What a shock it has been, discovering Facebook misused our personal data. Who could have imagined such a thing! Not.

All those cute little games on Facebook were a way for a sleazy political group to gather personal information about us and try to twist us to their goals. Like we didn’t already know that.

I also know people on the internet with blogs who think they are anonymous. They are anonymous from me, but that’s because I’m not interested enough to search for their real data. But — anyone who wants to know can find out anything they want about me or you or pretty much anyone. That’s reality.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Do you believe you are really hiding from anyone who is actively seeking your personal information? Because I can assure you, the only person you are fooling is you.

I stopped worrying about privacy when I began using the Internet. I was working in tech and I knew that everything you ever put out there stays out there. Forever. That was the end of whatever remained of our privacy — and there wasn’t much, even then.

Yet, the myth remains that we have privacy left to lose. Some folks believe we can trust our phone company, our devices, our ISPs, our government, and our postal system to keep their noses out of our private lives. This hasn’t been true probably ever, but certainly since before I was born.

Every form we’ve filled out in the past 15 years is on a computer that can be hacked — and for all we know, already has been hacked. Or is being hacked as I write this.

Everything is out there. It can be gathered by those who make money grabbing it. Meanwhile, the FBI, CIA and postal system were invading our mail and telephone calls when Eisenhower was president.

As long as there have been governments, they’ve been spying on citizens. Their own citizens and any others they can find. These days, I’m sure everyone is spying on us. Advertisers, political hackers, our government, our ISP. Our bank. Every company that sells a product you bought or might buy someday is watching you.

Each advertisement you click, any product you buy, every time you use that “discount” card for your groceries or gasoline or whatever, your personal data goes into a file. A data mining file. Which is for sale. Anyone can buy it.

Facebook is a tiny piece of a huge pie and we are the slices.

Should we worry about being careful what we say and to whom you say it?

Maybe. Or maybe not. It may not matter what we do or say. The amount of information being gathered by everyone about all of us is monumental. Gazillions of pages and lines of data.

The good news? There’s no way on earth they can sort through all of that information. The bad news? They have all that information.

I’m sure, by the way, that nothing that happened on Facebook or anywhere on social media changed my vote or could change my vote. I  bet they didn’t change yours either. We don’t get our information from Facebook memes or Twitter tweets.

No one can fix your vote if you think for yourself.

FACEBOOK – THEN, NOW AND SOME KIND OF FUTURE

The first time I accessed Facebook was early 2011, a year before the 2012 Presidential election went into a full-tilt boogie. I had never been on a social media site though I’d heard of MySpace. My impression was it was where 12-year-olds went to pretend they were 16. (I was right.)

Initially, was surprised by Facebook. It was easy to use. I could connect with almost anyone. Anywhere. That warm fuzzy feeling evaporated faster than morning mist on the river. Facebook was very soon the most angry place on earth.

Everyone is pissed off about something, frequently for no logical reason. So much of the stuff on it is based on opinions which are based on rumor and some kind of bizarre obsession — nonsense or just plain scary.

Facts? We don’t need no stinking facts! This is Facebook! MY opinion is as good as anyone else’s (no, it isn’t). It seemed as if everyone was posting angry diatribes. From the left, right, middle and far ends of the universe, everyone had something to shout about. Whoa, I thought to myself. This could get ugly (I was right … it did).

Then I discovered games. I connected with kids (now grandparents) with whom I went to grade school or college. People I wanted to reconnect with. Then, with people I had hoped to never to hear from. The good, the bad and the wholly unattractive, all in one basket. Whoopee.

I began backing away as fast as I could. The games were cool, or some of them were. But the percentage of enraged people, illiterates, the mentally unbalanced, the lunatic fringe — all posting whatever was on their minds (perhaps “minds” is too strong a word) was too much for me. The temperature on Facebook was permanently in the red zone.

I continued to play games, which is why so many friends are those with whom I connected because we were playing the same game. The remaining 5% are real live people, some of whom I actually know. Personally. Among these, some prefer communicating via Facebook rather than email, telephone, or in person. To each his/her/their own. Who am I to judge? (Okay, I think it’s weird, but I try not to judge.) (I don’t succeed.)

In the beginning, I got upset when Facebook made blatantly exploitive changes to their site. Then I remembered: I don’t have to go there. I don’t need to post there. If Facebook vanished tomorrow, my world would not crumble.

By then, I’d found WordPress and begun blogging. The more into blogging I got, the less reason I had to visit Facebook … unless I was in the mood for a game. And of course, there is the convenience of using Facebook to publicize my blog. I may not like it, but lots of others do.

The thing is, you can’t completely avoid Facebook. Whether or not you post on it, so many places do — builders and electricians and plumbers and all of that kind of stuff — if you are going to find a local worker, that’s where you’ll end up looking. And that’s where you’ll get recommendations, too.

Facebook is the elephant in the room, the itch you can’t scratch.

The elephant in my (living) room

Moreover, a surprising (to me) number of authors and artists choose Facebook in preference to having their own website. Is it because Facebook offers wide open access and effortless connectivity? It is less demanding than a website. Since almost everyone already has Facebook access, so no one has to forge a new alliance.

Maybe that’s it.

For me, the open access of Facebook is a reason to avoid it. I want a modicum of control over who does what on my site. Others feel differently. Or as Mom used to say: “For everyone, there’s someone.” In this case, something.

Facebook is the something many people choose. It will never be my first choice, but freedom is one of my core values.  And, it’s the American way — or used to be. In the old days. When we lived in the real America.

WHERE DOES WATER COME FROM?

I am having a conversation on Facebook involving a kid drinking water from a dipper, presumably drinking well water. The question was whether anyone had ever had water from a well.

Many people commented that yeah, they had well water, but they used glasses. Like regular people.

I said: “We have a well.” They were unimpressed. Because apparently only city water is “safe” and wells are dangerous. Everyone has city water these days unless they live in the really super deep rural wherever. Total boonies.

Really? Seriously?

Finally, I pointed out if you don’t have a well, then your town has wells. and you get your water from their wells. And pay them to pump it into your pipes. No one uses an old wooden bucket to get water from a well unless you don’t have electricity. Most places have electricity and everyone uses an electric pump, just like the city, but not as big.

So, to sum it up: Water that comes from your well is just like getting it from the city, but closer. Also, it is better water and typically, free of chemicals.


Marilyn Armstrong In the 1950s you got free glasses with your laundry detergent, so EVERYONE had glasses. If there was a dipper, it was so you could put the water into another container — like, say a pitcher? And by the way, a lot of people have wells for water. I’m just 65 miles outside Boston and everyone around here has a well. If you don’t have a well, then your TOWN has wells, so you get your water from THEIR wells. Seriously, where does everyone think water comes from?


Eventually, I pointed out that we aren’t all that rural. We’re just an hour or so outside Boston and everyone out here has a well. Which is typical of most states in New England. We have an aquifer, so when you need water, you dig a really deep hole and when you find water, install a well pump and hook it to the pipes … and voilà! Water!

That was when I asked them if they understood where water comes from.

We have an artesian well.

Do they think when you hook up to “city water,” that water magically appears through some mystical city apparatus? Do they not understand you are getting water from wells or reservoirs, but no one is “making it”? City water is water. Pumped by the city, from wells or reservoirs. After which, they put chemicals in it and send you a bill. A big bill.

I know the people in our town who get “city water” (you have to actually live in town to get “city water”) pay a bundle for it. And the water is pretty bad.

I keep hearing how daring it is to drink “raw” water. RAW water? What other kind do you drink? You mean … if it isn’t full of chlorine, you shouldn’t drink it? You know, when you buy bottled water? It comes from a well. Like ours. Sometimes, not as good as ours.

Fresh water tastes good. Our water is delicious. Ice cold because our well is deep. Clear as crystal and free of chemicals.


(But … isn’t that … dangerous?)


I haven’t heard a lot about people in the country with wells getting sick from their water. It’s cities where the water is bad.

This was one of the funniest conversations I’ve ever had on Facebook. You all know where your water comes from … right? Just checking.