If it Fits it Ships… Right? USPS Releases Internal Memo Fighting Their Own Policy

If a customer has manipulated or reconstructed a Priority Mail Flat Rate envelope, the item should be weighed and zoned accordingly. The package can be accepted, but must be priced at a regular Priority Mail price — not the flat-rate charge.

A lot of people are being told off at the Post office the last few days since an internal memo began circulating in the United State’s Post Service decrying abuse of the flat rate envelopes.

The hilarious memo begins by warning its readers of the incredible dangers of what it calls “Priority Mail Pouches”: “Beware of ‘Priority Mail Pouches'” The memo itself reads the following:

“USPS is reminding employees to watch out for customers improperly turning Priority Flat Rate envelopes into pouches to increase their capacity.

Some customers are using social media to demonstrate hw they enlarge flat-rate envelopes to take advantage of the expanded capacity while paying a lower price. However, postal regulations prohibit customers from reconfiguring Priority Mail Flat Rate packages.

According to the Domestic Mail Manual, tape may be used on the flaps and seams to reinforce the container; “provided the design of the container is not enlarged by opening the sides and the container is not reconstructed in any way.”

If a customer has manipulated or reconstructed a Priority Mail Flat Rate envelope, the item should be weighed and zoned accordingly. The package can be accepted, but must be priced at a regular Priority Mail price — not the flat-rate charge.

It’s an interesting memo in light of the company’s “if it fits it ships” campaign. It makes the message a bit of an absurd one. Moreover, it mangles its own language citing postage regulation which prohibits enlarging the conatiner by “opening the sides” and prohibiting reconstruction of the package in any way. The memo says that the rules ban manipulating the package (which I can only imagine means filling it up, which it doesn’t. Moreover, the memo seems to claim that the volume of the package itself is prone to manipulation through stuffage… which it isn’t.

But I think the real story here is how hilarity of USPS designing a campaign around the idea of challenging their users to stuff packages full of things, then getting angry when a few random bloggers test the limits of that claim. And before you get in a huff about the fact that it’s just the flat rate boxes that it discusses in its campaign, consider at the end of the commercial it says that these flat rate prices included in the “if it fits it ships” program start at $4.95. That is (was) the price of the flat rate envelope.

Bloggers test the limits, USPS falls right into the trap and puts the kabosh on everything. Why? Well, I assume it’s because the United States Postal Service has a very skewed understanding of why they are losing money and running into such a huge deficit problem. They have adopted a blame the customer approach. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told that the post office is going bankrupt because of customers who do things like bring in too many packages close to the end of the day. But who can blame them? If it’s the pensions that are killing the organization, then the only solution to the problem is 1) increase revenues so much that you exceed the deficit caused by the liability or 2) cut off the cancer and get rid of the system (or cut it down to something manageably reasonable at the very least). The deficit is so incredible at this point that number one is a bit of an impossibility. Number two, on the other hand, is never going to happen since everyone capable of making the decision to cut the pension is a stakeholder in that decision. So the only other thing they can do is blame customers for what’s going on.

Now there are a lot of ways that the post office could get closer to being profitable. Like they could invest in a technological, logistics structure that mirrors many of the features UPS offers. They could offer corporate accounts that auto-charge customers the extra postage if they are over or under on a package instead of sending it back to the origin or forcing customers to pay on the backend, they could replace a lot of their employees with machines, they could have a better API to build software products into, and more. Even so, I doubt they could generate enough business to surpass their obligations. That said, instead of making their own offerings better, they have become the center-point of information warning old people about money-taking scams and protecting their ability to send first-class packages (a business that is fast-disappearing).

It’s a bit of a sad mess, but when I see memos like the one above go out I realize what dire straights the post office finds itself in. Last year, they ran a commercial warning people about the terrible travails of email. USPS letters can’t be hacked, not like your computer, said the post office vaunting their inconvenient alternative to instantaneous communication. In this new rash of rulemaking, however, it seems that the USPS shows its true colors as it bumbles an opportunity to actually gain some great press. “Oh my God, Bloggers are writing about us. What should we do?” For another company, like UPS, if they had challenged users to stuff packages full of goods and ship them, the stunts these bloggers are pulling (sending ridiculously heavy things through the tiny packages) would have been the media opportunity of a lifetime. A story like that reads to me like a genius marketing campaign come up with by the great minds at a firm like TBWA or Wieden Kennedy. What’s the post office’s response? “Please stop shipping your packages through the mail. It’s very inconvenient for us.”

For those interested (and I apologize for the meandering nature of this post… but it’s how I write), I don’t have the numbers behind it, but I would assume that flat rate shipping weights are fairly standard. If you were to chart them out, I would be willing to bet that it looks like a normal distribution. Most packages would weigh something like 2 pounds, a few would weigh between 1 oz and two pounds, and a similar number would weigh between 2 pounds 1 oz and 5 pounds. I’d venture a guess that the entire postal system sees no more than 10 packages per day shipped in a flat rate envelope that weigh more than 25 pounds. I don’t know for sure, but I’d bet that a 25 pound package is many orders of magnitude removed from even one standard deviation from the mean. That might represent 1 in 100000 flat rate packages… I don’t know for sure, but I’m sure that the post office has those numbers. What that means is they have begun a nationwide campaign in discourteousness simply because they do not like that some bloggers tried to test their limits and shipped what might have amounted to double the entire number of outlier packages within the system. Their response is to piss on everyone’s packages, ignore their own rules, and make customers embarrass themselves by arguing how stupid this all is. It makes me a bit scared as a business owner, and makes me wonder if the motto “if it fits, it ships,” wouldn’t be more accurately modified to simply, “if it ships…”

Dear Government, You’ve Ruined US

Dear Government,

You’ve ruined us.

There is a generational divide here. My father’s generation is concerned about the national debt. They think that texting and Facebook-ing are ruining the lives of the up-and-coming. My generation, however, we see the world very differently. I think it’s a perspective that the older generation doesn’t realize we have.

For the first time in history, we have been raised with every inch of information available to humanity at our fingertips. Those who came before us were lauded for their ability to educate themselves by sitting in the libraries owned by their rich fathers. You see it in some of our national icons like Nathanael Greene who learned his war strategies by reading. But now, we have Wikipedia, Quora, forums of all sorts. To that end, my father would and his contemporaries might say something snarky like, “where did you learn that? Wikipedia?” They just don’t get it. To us, information has become a sacred cow. We share; we read; we learn. Our generation is truly the most educated and compassionate generation that has ever existed because we have grown up under the most democratizing tool that humanity has ever seen. It’s not voting, it’s not even organized. It’s the internet. And if you’re older, you don’t get it… you can’t get it.

You see? The reason our generation is obsessed with completely different social levers than any previous generation is because we have a weirdly holistic view of society. It is the internet that has shown us how the drug war hurts black kids in the inner-city, why we don’t think that gay marriage is going to usher in the downfall of society, and it is the internet that has shown us the duplicity of a system wherein we are told that police are good people with good intentions in spite of the fact that the word of a police officer is often shown to be just as reliable as the criminals they arrest, or that the drugs we learned about in DARE aren’t actually all equally as dangerous. It is the internet that has given us the power to mobilize against great social evils, and to learn about alternative solutions to giant social problems. It is the internet that has shown us how often the government lies and cheats and steals.

The problems plaguing this country are not the massive debt we’ve accumulated. Sure, that’s a pretty bad problem, but when the government controls the supply of money, the solution to the debt crisis is surprisingly manageable. The real problems are the ones that cheat us of our sacred cow, that cheapen it, that make it less accessible, that make less democratic the most democratizing tool ever created.

What happens when the world realizes that as a result of the US’ controlling the internet, nothing they do is secret anymore? What happens? The effects are obvious. Companies stop trusting US companies with their data. Corporations move out of the United States. They move to places like China or Singapore. We lose the moral high-ground to such a degree that corporations will think it better to put their servers in the hands of totalitarian regimes rather than putting them on US soil. What does that say about us? What have we become?

The more egregious bit of it, though, is not just that the government is screwing with our privacy. It’s the extent to which everyone has been complicit. The supreme court established a secret court wherein the rights of citizens aren’t even defended – only the arguments by the government are heard. They approved the NSA’s actions. Key members of the Senate not only call the whistleblower who revealed all of this a traitor, violating all standards of civility and decency with regard to how we believe justice is administered, but they are complicit in the giant deception. The NSA is part of the executive, which indirectly makes the Whitehouse complicit. But that would be less infuriating if it weren’t for the fact that the Whitehouse is more than tacitly complicit, but fully approving of the NSA actions.

And while me and my contemporaries are up in arms, the men and women who are a bit older, think that we youngsters simply do not understand why it’s important for government to have these mechanisms of protection available to them. People like me, we’re “libertarians” we’re “anarchists” we haven’t gained the wisdom contrived by Cold War era politics. We are lucky to have lived in a relatively peaceful, stable world. I hear such peculiar arguments as, “I have nothing to hide, they can look at whatever they want,” or “you must balance safety with security and I hasn’t quite decided where the line is.” It is this inanity that makes me sad for those who came before us. The idea that we must be coddled to some degree sickens me. It is an acknowledgement that we, as citizens, have a responsibility to willfully deny much of what is before our eyes. All these things, they are conspiracies. If I had told you that every conversation you have is recorded by the government way back in the ancient age of 2011, you would have told me to put my tin foil hat away. Why was it a conspiracy? Because it was considered to be so ridiculously absurd that you’d have to be a crazy infowars reader (at a minimum) to even think it had any credibility. How do we go from being a people who call the very idea of the government’s intrusion to such an extent a conspiracy to a people who start making excuses like, “I’m an open book with nothing to hide?”

The answer is simple. And it’s the other arm of deceit. While every branch of government failed to protect us, the media, for the most part, has gone straight to work as the mouthpiece of those who instrumented this incredible Constitutional coup. The only mistake the government made in all of this is that they made enemies in the media when they started targeting journalists like James Rosen and Sharyl Attkisson. But for the most part, the media has not reported on the grave miscarriage of privacy that has occurred as they regularly entertain debate about whether this snooping is necessary. It’s not! There isn’t a debate to be had here. The government is overstepping its bounds, and opinions to the contrary ought to be drummed out and silenced by the incredible united voice of Americans who think that privacy and the internet are not to be screwed with. We may not have the wisdom of the Cold War, but we sure as hell understand that some peeping Tom looking through our windows as we have sex with our wives is as invasive as Tom from the NSA, FBI, or CIA doing it. And what of the argument, “we simply collect the data, we don’t look at it without a warrant.” Fine! I’ll extend the argument. It is as invasive for a peeping Tom to watch me have sex with my wife as it is for a robot to sit at my window and record it for some as of yet unseen, possible eventuality. In fact, the latter is more deprave because my private action is recorded forever and ever no matter what. And while I have never given myself to spiritual fixations, I find myself empathizing with the understanding that images taken without my consent, audio taken without my consent, the meta data of my life taken without my consent is somehow taking with it a bit of my spirit.

And then there’s the matter of data security. If the NSA is collecting all this data and putting it on servers, if the NSA is tapping the phones of other government’s highest ranking officials, if the NSA is bypassing the security of other nations most secure servers, if so-called low-ranking analysts like Mr. Snowden have access to every person’s meta records, then how the hell is it that the NSA thinks it can keep its own data store secure? What if Mr. Snowden cared less about his own country and more about his own pockets. He could have sold what he had access to for millions, possibly billions to almost any country in the world. All it takes is one less scrupulous analyst. But we don’t have those right? Every analyst working for the government with clearance is a patriot… right?

The truth is, if you are a human being and you have “nothing to hide” or “nothing to be embarrassed about” then you’re a liar. Nothing to hide doesn’t mean nothing that isn’t yours and yours alone. Exchanging sexy texts with your wife isn’t a crime nor is it something that you shouldn’t do. But why should the NSA have access to it? The conversations you have with your friends about how you’re depressed and lonely right now are yours and yours alone. The call you make to your neighbor to tell them that you need help because your about to commit suicide, that isn’t for the NSA. That’s yours. And it’s yours to hide. And it’s for you and your neighbor alone to know about.

We are private people, and our privacy is integral to our identities. And that’s the problem. Despite my father thinking that social media has destroyed my ability to be a private person, there is a lot that I keep private. What the government is doing is not only a violation of my Constitutional rights, it is a violation of my dignity and personhood. So yes, government, what you’re doing is evil. It is wrong, and it is ruinous. We are no better than every totalitarian regime we fought against. And now, I wonder what was worth fighting for? Because there isn’t anything left worth saving.

Why Snowden and the NSA’s Dragnet Should Matter to You

I’ve become sickened by the Conservative pundit’s response to the Snowden revelations. Percolating the opinions of Limbaugh listeners and Hannity hearers, the consensus has seemingly shifted from, “this is a heinous breach of our 4th amendment rights” to “I have nothing to hide, so it doesn’t affect me,” or the more frustrating, “there are privacy compromises we must make when considering our safety and the safety of our country.” I think the conviction associated with either of these conclusions makes it difficult to argue the counterfactual. Neither of these are reasonable opinions, but they hit that sweetspot in the hearts and minds of their adopters. Touting one of these opinions makes a person able to argue their reasonableness, their ability to seek out the middle-road. They are arguments dripping with all the pretensions of moderation.

But there is another side that you must consider in these revelations. We are not simply handing over the keys to our privacy; we are not simply letting the government subpoena the contents of our mind; we are giving away the farm. We have ensured the demise of the United States, and your every word of support is complicit in bringing a blight upon the economy of the United States. Before you get skeptical, this is going to be particularly applicable to ye ol’ Reaganomics types.

The traditional way that the United States has avoided the mires of depressions, or recessions, or whatever the official word is for what we have just been through, is to eventually grow out of it. As jobs return, as interest rates decrease, whatever the incentive that is laid out is, the economy slowly but surely returns. Under Clinton, the rise of the internet and the tech industry at large turned what could have been some years of mediocre economic gains into boomtown era exponential growth. And during the last 10 years, the biggest drivers of our economic uprise have been tech geeks. You want innovation? You want efficiency? Silicon Valley has been where we look. The creation of these Highfalutin engineering jobs that have brought on a new wave of content creation, and (what I would argue) a world that should look a lot more appealing to Marxists who argue that we should all strive to have ownership over our means of production, the US has positioned itself to drive the world into a new era of efficiency and growth and production.

Sure, the economic outlook looks a lot different than it used to, and economists are making the prediction that jobs will be few and far between as they are taken over by robots. History has continued to prove this sort of flaccid Luddism to be nothing more than pedantic narrow-mindedness. One doesn’t need a degree to be able to predict that even if it were true, the human need to feel productive would drive large swoths of the economically productive to begin to do things like art, jewelry making, and other lost arts of the middle ages.

But what you must realize is that this meeting of the minds, this world where Conservatism leads to the Marxist dream, where everyone might have a shot at owning their work and being captain of their life, is not going to happen any time soon. The work that we have done in the last 15 years has all been lost. You just wait. The great migration is coming. Tech companies will begin to leave the US for greener, less intrusive pastors. They will opt to put their servers in places we have perceived as being more totalitarian (like Singapore) or freedoms havens (like Hong Kong). They will do it because the mantra that has been the Siren’s song of the US, the freedom we have claimed is the right of every human being is not only called into question anymore, but is utterly laughable. The world will no longer trust our oversight of humanity’s most powerful creation and tool of collaboration, the internet. Silicon Valley is about to go the way of Detroit, and the US’s technical innovators will slowly disappear into the global ether. This is what they call brain drain, and thanks to the NSA, secret FISA courts, and every government official that has been complicit in their ability to steal our privacy without regard for what we have believed are our fundamental rights, we have written our fate. Like a young man riddled with the agony of an early cancer-death, the US is bound for the premature tagging of the her toe, and we have begun our incredible descent down the stairs of a lost decade or more.

Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist… And other Lessons from the Zimmerman/Martin Trial

I think it’s an important lesson from the now-famous, Tony award winning show Avenue Q. We’re all a little bit racist.

But let’s talk a little bit about racism.

There is the conflation of racism with the word prejudice. Prejudice means to pre-judge. It’s something that we all do. We all look at situations, and pre-judge them. We look at people and we pre-judge them. What’s wrong with that? To be honest, that’s not such a bad thing. We’ve decided as a society that when you do pre-judge people based on the color of their skin that it’s racist. Fine. We can take the power out of verbiage by applying it to something as innocuous as pre-judgment. I’ll agree to call that racism. And we can have all the academic discussion you want about what racism really is: whether it has to do with power dynamics, whether black people can actually be racist, or whether racism actually has more to do with the condition and disposition of a person’s heart.

But I would, for the purposes of this article, like to see if I can get you on board with the idea of there being two kinds of racism, and only two that we really care about as a society. The first is the racism of prejudice. This racism is innocuous. It is why black kids sit at the same table at lunch and why white kids cross the street to avoid being mugged. It’s not ideal, but it’s a reality and it’s not that bad. The second kind of racism is what happens after that. It’s the kind of hate that persists in spite of your prejudice being proven incorrect. This is the harmful kind of racism. This is hate; it’s racism that causes cops to beat or kill black kids like in the Bart shooting. It’s this kind of racism that causes blacks to huddle in corners and tell whites that they are the devil. It is the kind of racism that transcends individuality. It says that even now, after I have gotten to know you, and even after you have disprove every prejudice I have, I still hate who you are because of what you represent.

So that brings me to the some lessons we are learning from the Zimmerman trial.

Here’s the thing, if you listened to the trial, what you would have seen was testimony after testimony about what kind of person George Zimmerman is. Apparently, he’s a soft-spoken civic minded, loving husband, who is regarded as completely honest and hard working by every person who has ever come into contact with him. He seems like the kind of person who would never hurt a fly.

Trayvon Martin, on the other hand, was a 17 year old who, the evidence indicates, jumped onto Mr. Zimmerman and began pummeling him “ground and pound” style for more than 40 seconds.

It’s awful that this 17 year old boy was killed. That’s never good and I’m sure everyone wishes that it had been avoided. But now that we know a little bit about the character of these two individuals let’s take a step back and think about this.

So here we go:

Within the model I articulated above, it might be reasonable to assume out of the gate that this was indeed about a white man who hated and was biased against black people. Now that the evidence is out, however, it’s pretty clear that it wasn’t. Mr. Zimmerman seems to be the farthest thing from a racist. So fine, prejudge. Accuse Mr. Zimmerman of racism. Accuse him of a heartless murder. But once you learn the facts, you must be honest. If you are not honest, you are discredible. Those screaming for Mr. Zimmerman’s head despite the evidence of his innocence are no different than the lynchers of the pre-civil rights era. They desire the destruction of another man’s life because they can’t give up their prejudice even in the face of evidence. And that’s why the second kind of racism is the kind that is so evil.

All day long I’ve been hearing interviews on NPR with black parents claiming that they are afraid for the lives of their children. The assertion is that there are thousands of Zimmerman-like vigilantes roaming gated communities everywhere in America. This is a reasonably ludicrous idea. Whether you like Zimmerman or not, you have to agree that he is never going to make that mistake again. As a decent human being, he seems incredibly affected by his taking of Trayvon Martin’s life. There isn’t an army of white vigilantes walking around with pistols trying to kill your kid. That’s an unreasonable fear. Moreover, what if I were to say that about black people. Let me say, “I don’t let my kid ride through black neighborhoods because black people are violent and will probably beat my kid up.” How offended are you right now? Good, you should be. At least this part is just prejudice. Again, the racism comes when you get to know the people in those neighborhoods and you still hate them because they’re black in spite of their character.

Let’s be honest here, Trayvon Martin wasn’t exactly your paragon of morality. If the account that is supported very strongly by the evidence is what happened, then the kid was a bit of a thug. He was practically an adult, and he attacked a guy. Say what you will, maybe you’re right… Zimmerman didn’t need to follow him. My guess is that even Zimmerman regrets his decision to follow Martin. If his character is of the sort that those who testified in court indicated, there is no way in the world that he wanted to kill black children. It’s a completely irrelevant point.

What this whole thing comes down to is being honest enough to admit you’re wrong. If you want to lose credibility with anyone who is reasonable, continue to pretend like Trayvon Martin was a great, upstanding kid, and George Zimmerman was a Arian Nation, gun-wielding black hater. The instant you fail to admit you’re wrong, you become ridiculous.

And finally, stop being so selfish, this trial wasn’t about you and your people. This trial, this event, was about one guy’s decisions that lead to the death of another person. Interjecting race, interjecting hate, interjecting your personal biases into this situation is heinous. Petitioning the FBI or the Department of Justice to go after ONE man because he killed a kid of a race you care about particularly is evil. You want justice for Trayvon? Then accept the “Not Guilty” verdict. In America Justice is dolled out by a jury of our peers. When they spoke the words “not guilty” those words were justice for Trayvon and justice for Zimmerman. If you disagree, then wait for your God to dole out the justice you think Mr. Zimmerman deserves.

When you look at the history of blacks in America, you see a history of evil disgusting treatment by whites. Modern-day African Americans are oppressed by all sorts of laws having to do with the drug war, bad social welfare programs, bad and oppressive laws, overly zealous cops that are enforcing laws that they probably don’t believe in themselves and other nonesuch. These are the ways in which the system actually oppresses blacks today. When you look at how the NAACP promoted its issues in the past, you see people like Rosa Parks. Look at her history, she was a kind woman, very involved in the civil rights matters. Martin was no Rosa Parks. He was no Martin Luther King. This was absolutely not a Matthew Shepherd type situation or anything comparable to the lynchings in 1960s Mississippi. Do not use this as some sort of troupe of oppression and racial inequality, it is not an example of that, and saying that it is diminishes the evil of racism, it makes light of what blacks have been through in this country, and it utterly ignores the the reality of modernday oppression within poor, inner-city African American communities.

BREAKING: IT’S OFFICIAL, THE NSA HEARS WHAT YOU SAY

For the last week, the administration has been denying that the NSA grabbed the actual content of phone calls and mined nothing more than meta data. But finally, today, it was admitted by members of Congress after a closed-door meeting with NSA officials.

This is going to get ugly. There is the potential of an international crisis here.

How you ask?

Very simple, if you look at the leaked slides you too will see that the goal of PRISM isn’t just to monitor domestic communications. Rather, the assertion under which the NSA is operating is that global communications, almost all of them, are at one time or another routed through the United States. What this means is that while the government was spying on its own people, which is a huge problem with regard to her people and their trust, but the government was also spying on every single country’s citizens. Most communications–public, private, top secret–were intercepted surreptitiously.

But it’s even more insidious than all that. While the government tried to smear Snowden for his claim that he could, from his desk, tap any American who had a personal email, it was admitted that the entire database was in fact available to analysts.

The deeper this goes, the more credible this leaker is getting and the less credible the government and her officials are getting. My prediction: this week impeachment talk starts. We will then realize how shrewd Obama was in his pick for Vice President. Because it seems to me that the only person, at this very moment, that America would want to be in charge of our safety and security less than Barack Obama is the incomparable sitting Vice President, Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr.

Well done Mr. President… well done.

NSA? Take Security Into Your Own Hands

So the scandal of the last week is confusing to me. There has been evidence for years that the NSA was tracking everything we do. Everyone who has said anything about it publicly has been ridiculed and called a conspiracist, but it’s not like this is news to anyone who has actually looked into it. The evidence is strong, and has never really been disputable. And my guess is that it’s mostly legal. When it comes down to it, in the wake of 9/11, many of us gave the government permission to lessen our freedoms thinking that we were getting a fair bit more security.

Now, you can call me a pointy-headed tin-foil hat wearing kind of guy for thinking that this was going on before the current onslaught of headlines about the issue has invaded the front page of every newspaper, but I would say that me and my kind are a bit more vindicated at the moment than are we shown to be conspiracists. And to be honest, the notion that it is going on bothers me far less than it seems to bother the average American.

Why?

Simple: as consumers, there are some really simple ways to keep from being watched, and to keep your data from prying eyes, even those of the government. So, don’t fret. Just do what I did and encrypt.

The history of encryption is really awesome. Modern encryption is so secure that the FBI even complains that it keeps them from monitoring their targets. Apple’s iMessage, for example, was the focus of such complaints just a few months ago as a result of its encryption. Consumer encryption is every bit as secure as what is available to the government, and with modern computers, it would take like 200 years to decrypt…. Ok, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but the 256 bit encryption that is available to consumers nowadays was met with an incredible amount of government pushback. The only reason it’s even available to consumers is because the government couldn’t stop it in the end.

So how do you encrypt your stuff? Simple. Here are four simple ways to make your life a bit more secure and add a bit of plausible deniability to your activities.

1) Get a MAC or be on Linux
Windows computers get viruses. Key-stroke recording, and all the other stuff that comes along with those weird programs are nearly impossible to protect against. MACs are just more secure.

2) Encrypt a partition on your harddrive
Don’t know what that means? Doesn’t matter. Use a program called TrueCrypt, and use it just alike a file on your computer. What goes in there will be for your eyes only. I believe it uses 256 bit encryption. But the beauty of this stuff is that you don’t need to know or understand the technical details. You just gotta put them on your computer and make it secure.

3) Use the darknet
It’s not as weird as it sounds. The darknet is just the internet, but your browsing is encrypted. That’s all. You basically browse through other computers, which makes things a bit slower, but it keeps you out of trouble if you accidentally access the deepest recesses of the internet. All you hae to do is use a compatible browser like Chrome or Firefox, and then download TOR. There are other things you can do with TOR (like buy drugs anonymously using BitCoins on Silkroad) but that’s just for weird people, and most of that stuff is not something you should do unless you want to end up in pound-me-in-the-ass prison. Remember, all these tools are anonymous, until they’re not. Like, for example, if you do something somewhere that identifies you as you (like log into a google account while browsing during a TOR session), your other activity can also be tracked. So it’s better not to do anything illegal. I do it because I like my privacy, and this is a way to pretty much secure it. But ain’t nothing foolproof, especially when human error is involved.

4) Don’t password your internet
Just open up your router to the world. I don’t get why everyone passwords their internet at home. If you’re a stay-at-home mom, and you download a music album and you are caught, you’re going to go to court, and you will be asked to pay liek $10,000 per song or some ridiculous other amount. Don’t believe me? It’s happened before. It’s much harder to prove that YOU did something (even something accidental) if you just open up your router to the world. On the other hand, if your internet is password protected, even if the password is insecure, it becomes a bit harder to argue that you weren’t the culprit when something goes wrong.

The Hilarity of Media Smugness

After a week of constantly mis-reporting events during the Boston marathon Bombing, the media has taken the mature position and turned the mirror on itself, looking self-critically at its own moral obligations to report what is true and accurate…

NOT!

Since the capture of the second subject, I have seen more articles than I can count discussing the dangers of internet rumors, speaking specifically of the participation Redditors and their role in misidentifying suspects [1][2], etc.

Now, we can discuss the incredible rabbit hole of internet sleuthery, especially in the face of a bunch of people just having done it to no avail. But let’s look at the actual fallout. No one was hurt, some people were mis-identified, and they were very quickly cleared.

Look at how it works when the FBI declares who the suspects are. In the Atlanta bombing, the FBI came out, announced a suspect, and then began a manhunt for a man who was not guilty. His life was ruined, the media took the FBI’s accusation with an air of credibility that forced them to throw out all scruples. The same thing happened with regard to the suspects themselves in this case. No one questioned whether the FBI had the right guys. They probably had exactly the right guys, but even after Atlanta, or multiple times proving their incompetencies, no one questioned it. These men haven’t been to trial, they haven’t been declared guilty. If it had turned out that the two men the FBI told us were the bombers had not been, their lives would actually have been ruined. They would have risked life and limb trying to not get arrested.

At least in the case of internet sleuths, everything was regarded as speculation. The media can report whatever they want. Reddit, 4Chan and the like are not responsible for the irresponsible reporting of news agencies like CNN, the New York Post, FOX, NBC or anywhere else. Reddit is a public forum where anyone can post. People posting on Reddit do not have the obligation to be correct. It’s probably a better idea to post accurate facts rather than inaccurate speculation. But it’s the media’s job to sort through the hype and decide what to and what not to report.

So go ahead, try to impose some rules on the vigilante Reddit detectives. Maybe the media will be better at regulating 16 and 17 year olds who are most skilled at putting funny phrases written in Impact font on cute pictures of cats than they are at regulating themselves. Way to go Atlantic writers, way to go CNN, NBC, and everyone else pointing the finger at Redditors. Maybe you should look at your own kind for a while.

I leave you with a video of Wolf Blitzer playing celebrity jeopardy.

Did Reddit and 4Chan Solve the Mystery of the Boston Bomber?

Filled with the rantings of 16 year olds and un-jobbed college graduates, these internet forums have become the haunting grounds of thousands of people with more time on their hands than they know what to do with. In the past few years they have put together their collective brains and solved many a mystery like extrapolating license plates numbers from hit and runs and have been responsible for turning in a guy who claimed to have killed his sister’s abusive boyfriend. So I guess we shouldn’t be surprised when these time-ridden internet anons turn their super sleuthing toward solving a terroristic crime like the Boston bombing.

While looking through these pictures might be confusing at first, for those who take a bit of time to really engage with them, you will be compelled, and probably come to the same conclusion that many across the internet are coming: the often ridiculed members of the internet subculture known as Reddit and 4Chan may have done what the FBI only deigned to do, solve one of the biggest international crimes within about 24 hours of the event.

Now, we can’t be certain that they have the right guy, but the evidence is compelling, despite the fact that some of the online detectives have put forth some crazy conspiracies about how this is a plot by the US government to push for more gun control and such. That aside, if the internet has figured out who the criminals are, then it sounds like we owe Reddit and 4Chan a very real thank you!

BREAKING: MARINE MARRIAGE SCAM PAYS $31,200 IN YEARLY SALARY BUMP

Hope Hodge of Marine Times, seems to have uncovered a bit of juicy news that illustrates another incredible consequence of the governments insistence on social engineering. But this time, instead of giant credits being given to tax payers for electrical cars (much of which resulted in the purchasing of brand new golf carts) this time it’s marines taking advantage of the benefits given to them when they get married. The story is behind a paywall and most of you, I imagine, don’t subscribe to this well-respected, but largely unknown publication. So I’ll give you a little insight into what is in her 2500 word story.

She outlines the story of Lance Corp. Donald A. Mitchem. Mitchem who got married for to an illegal from Ghana in exchange for a few thousand dollars, a significant bump in pay, and his dignity. After their courthouse wedding, they went to their separate cars, and drove off, never to see one another again. Romantic right?

How much do Marines make when they get married?

Well, their base pay increase is between aroudn $1100 per month and $2,000 per month depending on where they are stationed. They are (or at least Mitchem was) eligible for a $350 stipend earmarked for food and such, and since the marriage was a sham and Mitchem did not live near his beautiful wife, he was given $250 in exchange for the hardship that the separation caused. That brings the total to somewhere between a $1700 and $2600 bump in pay EACH MONTH. That’s right, taxpayers are paying marines who are working the system between 20,400 and 31,200 each year in extra take-home pay.

Isn’t it great when government creates incentives?