Archive for June, 2012

Please Burglarize Me!

Posted: June 10, 2012 in Money, People

unlocked door

Think back to grade school or middle school for a minute. Do you remember the “Kick Me!” prank? You know, the one where you tried to subtly affix a sign to the back of a friend that said “Kick Me!” and had an arrow pointing to the unsuspecting person’s rear end?

The joke seldom, if ever, worked, but it was fun nonetheless. We all had a laugh trying to “get” someone with it.

Those days are long gone now. I’m much older and that kind of juvenile behavior is less appreciated by my contemporaries.

Instead, many people prefer to place signs on their own backs. Ok, I’m speaking metaphorically when I say that but it is almost that bad.

A Wealth of Information

The internet can be a truly wonderful thing. In just a few minutes, you can find a wealth of information about most any given topic. Need to remove a stuck wheel? It’s only a few clicks away. Want to catch up on the latest political news or find a reputable mechanic in your town? The right keywords in your favorite search engine will provide what you need nearly instantly. You can even see and talk with Grandma who lives half-way around the world?

But there is a insidious and dangerous trend creeping into our lives through the internet. Giving away too much information.

Who Wants My Social Security Number?

Community sites such as FaceBook, Google+, and LinkedIn, among others, ask for quite a bit of personal information. They want to know where you went to high school, where you’ve worked, and your religious and political leanings. They want know your kids’ names, your socio-economic background, and who your friends are.

This is not new. FaceBook’s prying into our personal lives and sharing that with advertisers has made the mainstream media’s news for years now. The same is true for Google’s tendency to sift through our emails and collect our search terms so they can proffer more targeted ads and sell our “aggregated” information.

We freely give this information away so that we can better “connect” with old friends and make new acquaintances.

But I’ve become more and more aware of this over the past year.

Hey Look Everybody! I’m Not Home

I'm not home, come on inI’m fortunately that my job doesn’t require me to live out of a suitcase. Sure I occasionally travel for work, but for the most part I get to stay home with my family. That’s nice. I used to travel regularly but I’ve gotten that out of my system and these days I much prefer to say home.

I do, however, attend several conferences each year. It’s a good opportunity to learn information in my given field and to catch up with friends from around the nation and world. I do enjoy that.

Often conference attendees will twitter to coordinate activities. “Anyone up for dinner at Toucan Sam’s tonight after the conference?” or “I’m singing Karaoke with Bill and Sheila at Milli Vanilli’s on 3rd Ave.” There is a lot of banter back and forth among friends and we get to keep up with the groups’ activities.

I used to do that. But these days, I tend to just read rather than post. I no longer tweet about my location or plans. I don’t use FourSquare or use the “check-in” feature on FaceBook. I’m more conscience of the information that I make available to the world.

Why? Let me ask you this. Would you answer your cellphone and tell a complete stranger that you wouldn’t be home for the next three days? No? Well how about this? Would you place a sign in your front yard that said your kids were home alone for the evening? Of course not.

That’s what you’re doing when you share information with the world using the internet.

Get Rid of the Kick Me Sign

When you provide personal information to social networking sites, you are in fact, giving away a great deal of information. It’s not hard for someone to infer quite a bit about you from the information you provide. They may want to steal your identity or come pay visit to you unexpectedly.

When you tell the world that you are half-way across the country for a conference that lasts all week, you are inviting every thief to your home. Or worse, that your wife and kids are home without you.

I love catching up with friends at conferences and I like sharing my experiences with those who care. But I love my family more, much more. So I’ve taken the “Kick Me” sign off of my own back and I no longer share private and privileged information with the world.
Radio host from Austin rallies demonstrators with full-throated denunciation of the global elite.
Protesters at the Bilderberg conference

Protesters at the annual Bilderberg conference, which has been held at the Westfields Marriott hotel in Chantilly, Virginia. Photograph: Rex Features

As the demonstrations targeting the Bilderberg conference of international leaders in Chantilly, Virginia, drew to a close on Sunday, dozens of protesters gathered around one man, hoping for a picture or an autograph.

“Alex, what’s next?” one protester repeatedly yelled.

“God bless you, Alex,” said a number of others, as they stood outside a service entrance to a heavily guarded Marriott.

The object of their adoration was Alex Jones, an Austin, Texas-based radio host and counter-culture icon. A stout man with close-cropped hair, Jones was dressed in denim, his temples soaked with sweat.

Throughout the morning black sedans and SUVs would leave the property amid jeers from the crowd. The passengers, the demonstrators believed, were members of an international elite intent on establishing a “new world order”.

Police had confined the protesters to patches of grass on either side of the entrance, and at one point prevented anyone from crossing one side to the other. Then Jones arrived.

“Get ’em, Alex,” said one woman, as Jones made a beeline for the police. Surrounded by his media crew – who live-streamed every moment with their cell phones – Jones spoke to the officers. Moments later he managed to cross the street, with dozens of his supporters behind him.

The protesters saw the achievement as a victory, cheering, chanting and pumping their fists in the air.

Jones quickly took control of the situation, using his unmistakable voice– amplified by a megaphone – to launch into a full-throated denunciation of the global elite, the erosion of rights and liberty, and the establishment of federal “reeducation camps”.

“The best bullhorner there is,” one protester said of Jones’s oratory skills. When Jones began describing how he likes to use multiple megaphones end to end, a demonstrator called him “the people’s L-Rad”, a reference to a sonic weapon police departments sometimes use against protesters.

Without Jones’s radio show and website it is difficult to estimate how many demonstrators would have turned out to protest against the off-the-record Bilderberg meeting over the past three days. T-shirts bearing the name of his programme and references to his work were staple elements throughout the rally. Demonstrators would repeat a tag line from his show: “What’s the answer to 1984? 1776!”

“Alex has been, more than anyone by far, instrumental in waking people up to what’s going on in the world today; the Bilderbergs, the destruction of our constitution and our rights, mass poisoning, mass vaccinations,” said John Kopel. “He’s done it all.”

“Even if you don’t like his style, what he’s done for the freedom movement in America is immense,” Kopel said. “That’s why I’m here. I look at his website every day. He’s an inspiration.”

“He’s incredible,” said Carmine Diiorio, who travelled from Baltimore to protest at Bilderberg. Diiorio carried an elaborate hand-drawn sign that his 15-year-old daughter made.

The sign caught Jones’s eye. As the radio host approached to get a closer look, Diiorio yelled, “Death to the new world order, Alex!” Jones delighted in the artwork, had his crew take photos, and later signed it.

“He’s only one person but it really gives you a testament of what one person can achieve,” Diiorio said.

Jones is not without his critics, who say he uses his influence to promote paranoia and conspiracy theories, based on incomplete or self-serving research. His focus on secret societies with ties to devil worship and mass eugenics programs, controversial 9/11 theories and the power of the Illuminati, have been ridiculed and dismissed by figures on both sides of the political aisle as well as journalists and independent observers.

With respect to this year’s Bilderberg protests – the most well-attended ever, by most accounts – Jones said his show was “central to kicking it off”.

With a network of supporters that often relies on Jones for their news, the radio host says he does face challenges.

“You do get off balance when you’re trying to talk to sources, get reports out, take photos, shoot video, sign autographs. It’s like a balancing act,” Jones said. “It does tend to fracture the thought process. Very stressful.”