Sunday, 14 June 2015

Civilization and the GPS

Last Thursday, I left on aI s four-hour drive from central Germany to Leiden, Netherlands.  For six years now.....I've been a dedicated GPS guy.  I haven't been lost since 2008.  I've got a fairly new GPS.....eighteen months old.  When I bought came with a update deal for one year.  So around December of last year.....I did the last big update of the system.

So I'm driving along about two-and-a-half hours into this trip.....when I start to look down at my amazing little gadget which is feeding me eight significant factors every second or two (location, speed, course direction, kilometers left, kilometers since start, the route ahead, etc).  There's something now occurring of a unique nature.....the red road ahead and land features are rapidly disappearing.....I've got about a kilometer in front of me with some road left, then NOTHING.

I'm kinda freaking.  Nothing.

Sure enough.....forty seconds pass and I'm in uncharted territory.  It makes no sense.  I've got full connectivity, full power, and a European map (not a Germany-only) map loaded.

I start to look at the autobahn area and's all brand new.  New blacktop, new signs, new landscape, new trees planted, etc.  All of this....probably since January.

I figure maybe.....after five miles of this.....we will come to the old road area and it'll all come out great.

Well.....this took roughly twelve miles.....before suddenly terrain appeared and a road appeared on the GPS.  Data starts to flow.  My nerves start to return to normal.

You see.....I've been through a massive change in life.  For roughly fifty years of my life.....I readily accepted being lost on an occasional basis and it was just part of life.  With the GPS revolution.....I follow my remaining time left....etc.  I know where I'm at.....throughout a four-hour trip to the Netherlands.  I can't imagine not having this capability at my disposal.

Returning from the Netherlands?'s safe to assume.....I didn't take the same route.

As for updating my GPS?  I'm agreeable to doing the update.....but the old side of me.....hating to spend money on peeved. I will have to throw 40-odd Euro into some stupid GPS update, and I may have to do it yearly.

The Clearance Story

If you hold a security clearance.....every five years....this 'dimwit' security guy will appear in front of you (doesn't matter if you work for the Pentagon, State Department, Homeland Security, FBI or whoever).....and he'll hand you a disk and demand you spend roughly two hours filling in various questions so they can investigate your background.  They want your addresses, travels, financial information, mortgage information, potential mental health issues, family background, etc.  

The 'dimwit' will take this digital form, and incorporate it into their massive database.  The last time I did this (2009).....I asked the 'dimwit' exactly do you protect this?  In the old was in paper form and went into a folder.  The 'dimwit' simply said it was protected and I had nothing to worry about.  I just looked at him, the floppy involved, and knew the guy had no idea what he was talking about.  

Well....this past week....the DC crowd came to admit that the Chinese cracked their stupid firewall, and got all the files.....apparently all of the present, future, and past employees (that kinda includes me).

The 'dimwit' crowd?  They are a bit shocked.  They can't explain how this all occurred but an investigation is underway.

No one will talk numbers.....but if they took everything.....there's probably over two million folders of a personal nature involved.  

Hostility and anger?  From what I've read.....there's some senators fairly peeved, and government unions want a 'bill' fixed up......a permanent and everlasting financial check service to protect all present, future and past employees with a clearance, and a one-million-dollar liability insurance for each individual.  

What will the Chinese do with the info?

Every time that some State Department or CIA guy makes it tough for China.....the Chinese will pull the guy's folder, and hand the personal info to some Chinese connection in Las Vegas.  He'll find "Barney" who will take the info and sell it to a ID-theft guy in Dallas.  This Dallas guy will use the ID and info to charge tens of thousands on this CIA guy's account.  Six months down the line.....the poor CIA guy will wake up.....and try to get the cops or FBI to hunt down his ID thief.  With present behavior.....nothing much will happen until the CIA guy hires a P-I and does his own work.  The CIA security department?  They will freeze this CIA employee and suspend his clearance.....possibly for six to twelve months. His value?  After a year.....he'll give up on the CIA as a career and find something new to do.  He's finished with them.

So, start figuring three-hundred such guys a year.  The Chinese aren't stupid....they will start selling their data to the Russians and French.  Eventually.....a whole generation of CIA employees will leave and things will have to be restarted with some new crew.

The damage done?  Worth billions.

All of this......tied back to the security 'dimwits' who kept telling people that they could hold their private information secure.  

The White/Black Gal

Over the weekend, I've tried to read through and make sense out of this Spokane, Washington gal.....Rachel Dolezal.....the NAACP chapter president in Spokane.....who was born white into a Montana family apparently and they had adopted several black kids as part of the family.  Rachel at some point, went off to college and studied black studies.....getting a degree in the area of expertise, and then married a black guy for a couple of years.  For five or six years.....she's cut off her family and mostly pretended for the most be completely black (frizzy hair, dark tan, etc).  Most folks in Spokane thought she was black, so it's come to them as a bit of a shock.....she's a white gal pretending to be black.

I don't see a big deal with this myself.  We have folks who pretend to be religious and they aren't.  We have folks who pretend to be Republicans and they aren't.  We have folks who pretend to have college degrees and they don't have such degrees.  We have folks who pretend to have morals and certainly lack them.  We have folks who claim to be such-and-such.....but aren't who they claim to be.  We have quarterbacks who pretend to be qualified or capable.....signing mega contracts......then fumble around through a season and demonstrate they aren't quarterbacks.  We have news journalists who pretend to know something.....but don't know much of anything.  We have bankers who know just about everything except banking.  We have mechanics who say they can do a simple brake-job, but can't do the simplest of brake-jobs.  And we have think-tank idiots who appear on CNN, but barely can speak to the topic they were brought chat about.

Course, being the head NAACP person.....means you get a free ticket to the national meeting (wherever they hold the meeting), and you can just imagine this gal flying in, and shaking hands with a hundred black VIPs and they each have some irritation that she's not supposed to be there.  Folks will stand around in the hallway.....gossiping on how they can 'fix' this or prevent this from happening in the future.  It'll consume half the off-camera action for whole weekend.

As for the family angle?  I'm guessing that she just likes being noted as "black" and it's part of some simple gimmick to get noticed.  Heck.....there might be a couple thousand folks looking at this.....buying some frizzy hair stuff.....getting a tan, and showing up at their office HR shop to note their properly ethnic status change.  Personally.....none of this should matter.  But for some odd reason, we've made it matter, which is odd, if you ask me.  If I were her parents.....I'd just send her a note and say that we've made the change too.....becoming Mexican or Hispanic and include some picture of everyone in some Mexican-style clothing.