I can read your mind. (Everybody can)

A mind reader was working his magic in Brussels, and people were asked if they wanted to be on his television show. He then proceeded to tell them some of the most intimate secrets of their lives.

Yeah, that’s right. It was a scam with a higher purpose. You don’t need to go to a mind reader, because everything about you is on a computer somewhere. You give up a lot of information if you have a Facebook profile. But other things are accessible. Anyone with a Nexis connection can track down where you live (and where you’ve lived), your birth date and other goodies, like your social security number and your criminal record. Even a mediocre hacker can get your bank information.

When you carry your phone, you’re actually carrying a homing device that can tell people where you are at any given moment. There are apps that can show where and how you’re traveling. You have no secrets.

This post isn’t intended to make you feel paranoid. It’s just an acknowledgement of life in the digital world.

Now, this video was taken in Brussels. Since I used to live there, I thought I knew where it was in the city, but I had to make sure.

It’s across from the church in Place Ste. Catherine, not far from the Bourse. Why do I know that?

Because I went to Google Maps and pulled up this picture:

Now, go back to the video and pay attention at the 12 second mark.

Look familiar? That little bit of sleuthing took me about two minutes.

Here’s the thing though.

The European Union is far more strict about privacy matters than we are in the United States. When Google Maps was going through Europe taking street level photos, an official in Germany asked if they were collecting information on people. (Germans are pretty picky about having the state collect information on them. Think about their history.) Google said no. The official asked to check out the technology they were using.

It turns out Google was collecting information from people’s wireless connections throughout Europe. The Europeans went nuts.

We haven’t heard anything about it here, though. But if they collected data in Europe, you know they collected data here.

The point of this Belgian ad campaign can’t be understated. Everything about you is on the Internet. People are looking at your data, and you don’t know who they are or what they’re going to do with it. In fact, when you go to a web site, other Web sites are tracking you. Mozilla, which runs the Firefox browser, has an app called Collusion that will show you how other sites tracking your Internet behavior.

And there’s no turning back.

So here are a few tips on protecting your money:

  • Make sure your PC is sufficiently secured (for instance by installing an up-to-date version of a virus scanner)
  • If someone calls you up on behalf of your bank and asks you to provide personal data and/or to sign electronically, refrain from taking any action at all, for your bank will never ask you to provide this kind of information.
  • Put your electronic signature only for orders you expect or have initiated yourself.
  • In case of doubt, immediately abort the transaction and take contact with your bank, especially when the procedure for signing differs from the usual procedure. All banks have a help desk where you can find the answer to your questions about internet banking. Access to this help desk can be found on the bank’s website.
  • Check your statements of account at regular intervals.

And that’s my public-service announcement for the day.

Wake the F— Up!: a bedtime story

And now, a political announcement from Samuel L. Jackson


This is totally demented, but really well done.

For all you premeds taking notes, the diagnosis for Adelaide is Munchausen Syndrome. And the prognosis isn’t good.

People with Munchausen syndrome are rarely treated successfully. They are reluctant to seek treatment for the psychological problem and are generally unwilling to undergo psychiatric treatment.

The self-inflicted illnesses and injuries of people with Munchausen syndrome can cause serious consequences. These individuals often undergo several unnecessary surgeries throughout their lifetime.

(From Vimeo)

Legitimate rape: an update

Remember how the GOP establishment disavowed any knowledge of Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin after his “legitimate rape” logic? You know, it said it wouldn’t support him and wanted him out of the race because his abortion/rape stand was anathema to how the party was trying to present itself.

Well, this just in:

The National Republican Senatorial Committee has opened the door to getting back in the Missouri Senate race after weeks of insisting it was finished with Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.).

NRSC executive director Rob Jesmer on Wednesday said the committee would keep close tabs on the race, and hinted it might reverse its decision to abandon its nominee.

“There is no question that for Missourians who believe we need to stop the reckless Washington spending, rein-in the role of government in people’s lives, and finally focus on growing jobs in this country that Todd Akin is a far more preferable candidate than liberal Sen. Claire McCaskill,” he said in a statement. “As with every Republican Senate candidate, we hope Todd Akin wins in November and we will continue to monitor this race closely in the days ahead.”

And if that’s not enough:

Top conservatives announced their support for Missouri Republican Todd Akin’s embattled campaign for Senate, some reversing course after having earlier called for him to step down following his “legitimate rape” remarks.

Former presidential candidate Rick Santorum and South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint jointly gave their backing Wednesday after a final deadline passed for Akin to withdraw from the ballot. And Republican Sen. Roy Blunt, a party leader in the Senate, quietly dropped his previous opposition to Akin’s candidacy, and said he would support his fellow Missourian.

With Republicans struggling in their effort to pick up the four seats needed wrest control of the Senate this fall, some in the party have calculated that they must back Akin if they hope to win the majority. Missouri has represented perhaps their best opportunity to defeat an incumbent, Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill.

It’s still a close race, and Akin can win. And if he does, that opens the gates to eternal Tea Bagger crazy.
Meaning the chances of stopping “legitimate rape” from becoming the law of the land will dwindle in every subsequent election.

From Obamacare to Moochercare


Here’s Mitt Romney‘s solution to health care (From “60 Minutes“):

I think in a lot of places, going to the emergency room is how it’s done now. Not exactly working, either.


Undecided voters: The Family Guy


Lois on “The Family Guy” knows how to deal with undecided voters. But so does Mayor West, who was Batman in the 1960s.


Undecided voters

I’ve said that in this presidential elections, people who say they’re undecided are either liars or fools. Bill Maher goes with fools.