Category Archives: Security

Facebook Class Action Settlement

An odd Facebook-related post…

If you get an email regarding “Facebook Internet Tracking Litigation,” it is indeed “real.”

The social media company is undergoing a large class action case for its practices regarding third-party sites several years ago.

While any possible payout will be small, the number of litigants registered affects many of the variables involved.

It only takes a couple of minutes.

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Dear Eric:

The optimistic part of me hopes that justice has already been served to you on a hot plate.

One of your cases probably already unfolded this morning. I of course hope that the victim in that case is soberly acknowledging that some measure of appropriate response finally transpired.

The realistic part of me, the one who has read and heard so many stories about you, dampens my expectations.

Relying on the criminal justice system to protect people is at best foolish. It is an eternal after ~the~fact endeavor.

I know that karma does not really reach out and grasp the people who legitimately deserve a harsh measure.

I would hope that you would finally yield to the universe’s demand that you be held accountable.

To the women you made victim through no fault of their own, I offer my apology. Were the decision mine, liberal though I might be, legal proceedings would be the least of your worries.

I am hoping Justice prevailed. If not, there is no point in honoring our collective agreement to do no harm.

X

Anger’s Blossom

I’m reluctant to share this one. While my heart was in the right place, I felt a flare of righteous anger. That type of anger feels right at the moment but often sours with consequences. I am not a hero in this story.

About two weeks ago, I was driving about 35 mph in a way that made me feel alive. Music high, smiling. Not in a hurry.

Her green sedan pulled alongside me in the lane to my left.

She held her phone, crying.

Her black hair reached her shoulders.

She tossed her phone in the passenger seat.

And unexpectedly looked toward me.

Tears on her face.

She nodded and wiped her eyes with a sleeve.

I let off the gas, and she raced away.

Five minutes later, I pulled into the lot.

And saw the green sedan there.

Life reminds me there aren’t many coincidences.

As I parked, I noted she was next to the store.

Cigarette in hand, nervous.

I watched a man pull up and exit his truck angrily.

He hissed at her in a way I couldn’t hear.

She flinched and looked down to the ground. Because of my childhood, I saw the backstory written plain. I already knew what her private life was like. This wasn’t the first time, nor the tenth.

The man gesticulated and shook.

Without thinking, I walked toward them.

“How are you?” I asked her.

She looked at me in surprise.

The man interrupted, “Who are you?”

I replied, “I am the man just in time.”

“For what?” He hissed at me.

“To do what I need to.” The anger flared in me.

I prayed he’d move toward me.

I walked to his truck and opened the driver’s door. “Get the eff out of here, sir.” I smiled like a predator. I admit that it felt good. I’m not sure what that says about me.

The woman watched, fearful of what her man might do.

She should have feared what I might do.

A man in Canada filled my head, his volatile narcissism unchecked, his multiple victims attempting to regain normal lives in his wake. The law does nothing to aggressively meet the abuser’s behavior in kind, even though that is what is needed. Another man was using his long familiarity with control and emotional abuse to impoverish his fleeing wife. Both honestly deserve a measured dose of Southern Justice. This might be my surrogate, one to catch my vengeance. I hoped so. Waiting for ‘someone’ to help might lead to never. I’d felt the burn inflaming me for some time.

“Get home in ten or else,” he told the woman.

“She won’t be there in 10. Or 60. Go.”

He paced around me and pretended to lunge as he did. I didn’t flinch. Ninety percent of all aggression fails to materialize. Had the ten percent emerged, Bobby Dean laid in wait, anesthetized against anything except immobilizing pain. I wanted him to lunge and make contact. The law allows us to defend someone else. If it penalizes me for acting on impulse, that’s fair.

He got in the truck, slammed the door, and roared away. He put down his window momentarily and shouted the redneck equivalent of whatever angry, stupid people say. I laughed purposefully and ignored him.

The woman cried again.

“You know what you need to do,” I told her. “Today, before it’s too late. Do you have someone to go to?”

She nodded.

“Go there. And don’t go back to that. Do you need anything?”

“No,” she murmured.

“Go now in case he comes back.”

I didn’t enter the store.

I watched the black-haired woman get in her car and depart.

I saw a green car today and wondered if the woman was safe. And I wondered who the man’s next victim might be. That there will be is a certainty. I hope there’s a future me waiting for him. It’s evident that I will pull the curtain back and summon Bobby Dean.

My idle pacifist hands are anxious in an unexpected way.

Days later, I’m still thinking about how close I had to get to really hurting someone. And how the realization that the same Bobby Dean inside me was as guilty of the same misbehavior as the man was with his wife or girlfriend. He was a chronic abuser; ironically, I can channel that same energy to obliterate my doubts and step in on the other side of the situation.

There are no easy answers. But I do know that sometimes raw anger is appropriate. Sometimes it’s the only way. It’s not right, proper, or even intelligent. A lot of men need to spit blood to learn their lesson. And some men, men like me, ones who earned their abuse badges when younger, probably need to be more willing to violently be the one to administer a reminder.

PS I know that we’re supposed to call the police. But I also know that they constantly fail to protect people. The law exists to inhibit behavior, but it often does not remedy the need for immediacy. A few weeks after my surgery, I got a reminder of how precarious the idea of safety can be. The flare that lit inside me of me hasn’t abated. As I said, I’m not sure how I’m supposed to feel about this admission.

Love, X

Bird’s Butt View

I have my own version of the Weather Channel now.

I bought a nice Blink wireless camera. It allows me to watch the birds on my plant/bird feeder balcony hook, as well as the world outside.

When I initially set it up, I was surprised to see that Amazon had somehow sent me the feed from the backyard camera at my old house on Vanleer in Springdale.

Having the camera also opens up a world of creativity, too, such as “Skits On The Balcony,” or “Let’s Look At Humanity” documentaries. (With “People of Walmart” in mind.) I will try not to be intrusive with this. However, that’s the problem with this sort of technology. I’m confident that I’m going to wake up to find I have an hour of footage of the neighbor romping in the parking lot in his skivvies. A few days ago, I stood on the balcony getting cooked in the sun. A car drove in, and a young woman hopped out without a shirt. From somewhere in the car, someone hurled a shirt through the passenger window. The woman caught it and put it on almost one-handed. There’s a lot of inferences I can make with this anecdote, some lewd, some amusing. When she looked up and saw me on the balcony, I gave her my Forrest Gump wave and laughed.

As old as these apartments are, somehow I was surprised to find no security cameras, even in the laundry room from “Nightmare On Elm Street.” They can be installed cheaply and require no monitoring. The type I bought can be used with a USB drive, hidden anywhere – and checked only when a tenant decides to test a flamethrower from the balcony. (Note: this isn’t unlikely.)

Last week, after a long interval of no additional improvements, a small crew showed up with a Bobcat (not the nocturnal prowling kind) and erected the bones of a lateral fence in front of the dumpster. This will ensure that passersby don’t see it, whereas the residents will get an enclosed cauldron of trash and insects. It seems like a fair trade. That fence will also obscure a big portion of my view of the intersection there. That’s too bad, as there are a lot of fender-benders there. Everyone attempting to pull in here runs the risk of getting hit from behind due to the unequal alignment of the apartment driveway versus the opposing cross street. The fence partially quashes my money-making scheme to sell the footage to those unlucky souls engaged in an impromptu demolition derby.

Anyway.

I’m making a list of tomfoolery in which to engage with this camera.

Love, X

Security Camera Theater

Yesterday, I exited through the back door of my house to collect the trash blown loose from my villainous neighbors. I went house left to the front.

Note: I am using the term “house left” just like actors would when reading or hearing “stage left.” It’s a handy trick to distinguish which side of the house you’re talking about, mostly when gossiping about your neighbors. If you don’t gossip or speculate about your neighbors, chances are you’re not one of my people.

My Latinx neighbor was outside with another gentleman. A ladder was near the front of the garage. I peered up to see that they were installing security cameras. The neighbor tends to work at nights, leaving his wife nervously at home. I used to tease him that his encompassing fence managed to conceal potential intruders rather than thwart them. Additionally, when working, his lights often pointed annoyingly in my face or a random direction.

Now that I know he has installed cameras, I can’t get the idea out of my head of doing weird puppet or stick figure shows above the fenceline so that the rear-facing camera on the right side of his house will capture my imagination come to life. I laughed earlier this afternoon when I realized that I was Googling creative and bizarre characters to buy for just such an endeavor. The internet being what it is, there are a lot of websites for this sort of zaniness.

Now that it’s starting to take form, the urge to bring the idea to fruition is almost insurmountably overwhelming me.

The idea of my neighbor’s face reviewing his camera footage to discover that someone has staged a stick or puppet show above his fenceline brings me joy.

Two-Factor Authentication For Everyone

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If you don’t have two-factor authentication (2FA) turned on for social media (much less your financial accounts and email), I hope elves visit you in the night and pluck your nose hairs with tweezers. If you don’t know what 2FA is and you’re using the internet for anything, you’re probably not going to like me telling you that you’re almost certainly giving away all your entire identity. 2FA isn’t perfect – but it is the minimum standard for anything you value.

Gas Station Life Lesson

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As we learned in Princess Bride, “…Ha ha, you fool! You fell victim to one of the classic blunders! The most famous of which is ‘never get involved in a land war in Asia,’ but only slightly less well-known is this: ‘Never go in against a Sicilian when DEATH is on the line!’ ”

I’ve learned some lessons in my life, most of which require a refresher from time to time. It’s not my fault. I was educated here in Arkansas, suffered more than one head trauma, and accidentally watched an episode of “Survivor,” so stupidity comes naturally to me. If someone approaches you at the pumps of a gas station, scream “Help!” immediately and without regard to the person’s intentions. No matter what. No matter what they’re wearing or how they look. Nothing good will ever come from a gas pump walk-up.

While returning from New Orleans a few weeks ago, the gas pump rule once again came up. A fortyish gentleman approached. He wore clean coveralls and claimed he was a preacher raising money for blah-blah-blah. In his right hand, he had a wad of cash, which was confusing. I politely declined. He responded with a follow-up. Since I could tell he wasn’t going to listen to reason, I told him to please move along. He called me an asshole. For a second, I was convinced he was going to tear my arm off and beat me with it. The doubtful light in his eyes had turned dark as soon as the initial “No” came out of my mouth. Luckily for me, I had finished with the pump and got inside the car in one fluid motion and started driving forward without warning, even as my wife confusedly questioned what in blazes I was doing. In my defense, at least she was inside the car, unlike that time I left her in Mississippi. Crazy Coveralls Preacher lost interest in me; his shouts in my direction dwindled.

The only time I can move with such skill and concentration is if a bag of pork rinds is nearby or someone just announced ‘free pizza’ on the intercom.

So convinced was I of this gentleman’s internal violence that if I had a gun, I would have fired a warning round into the air. It’s better to be arrested in Louisiana for shooting clouds than it is to be beaten to death with one’s own arm. That should be on a t-shirt.

As I looped around to exit, I noted that Crazy Coveralls Preacher was walking fast toward an older white male standing next to his white cargo van. The door was open and the faux preacher invaded his personal space and essentially trapped the man from escape, or even the ability to throw a punch in his own defense. I almost stopped and intervened. The only thing that stopped me was that my wife had noted that I was genuinely alarmed, a condition I’m not prone to.

I’ve had issues with nutjobs in public places. As my friends know, I’ve had trouble BEING a nutjob in public places. This was the first time in a long time that it occurred to me that violence might result from the encounter. Keep in mind that I had just vacationed in New Orleans, so exposure to con-men and charlatans wasn’t an unknown experience – and that was at the front desk of the hotel.

Talking to other people and reading stories of violent surprises in public reminded me that nasty things do happen to people and I’m not referring to the 2016 election, either. We’re in open places, assuming that daylight, other people, and cameras will dissuade the demented folks from bothering us.

If you see me at the gas station screaming like the old man in “Invasion of the Body Snatchers,” I want you to drive your car into my vicinity as if you are re-creating scenes from the “Dukes of Hazzard.” I don’t care if you run me over in the process as long as you also run over whoever is trying to talk to me at the pumps.

You’ll get bonus points if the gas pumps explode and possibly a cut of the YouTube profits. I want to be cremated and I can think of no greater honor than by public explosion.

P.S. This also goes if you see someone is trying to sign me up for an MLM or a religion with an asterisk next to it on Wikipedia.
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“That’s Not His Name”

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“Good morning Officer Farva,” I jovially told the approaching security guard.

I won’t identify him by name, as his mustache alone would incriminate him. But that mustache – you know the cliché all too well, is one ripped from the upper lip of every stereotypical small-town cop. His short, cropped hair looks like it’s still mad at the owner for the haircut inflicted upon it. It is the sort of haircut that is intended to convey a Drill Sergeant’s seriousness but instead makes you wish you could weep for something so petty as another person’s hairstyle.

“That’s not my name,” he disapprovingly growled.

I don’t know what spirit of chicanery overcame me but I did something I never do: I started dancing rhythmically, much like Frankenstein might have when first electrocuted. I don’t dance like no one is watching – I dance like no one is paying me.

I also started chanting the lyrics to ‘That’s Not My Name’ by the Ting-Tings.

The look of incredulity on the security guard’s face can be best compared to that of a mechanic upon flinging open a customer’s hood and discovering a cadre of energetic squirrels powering the engine.

After a few seconds, I laughed and told him, “But your badge indicates that your name is Rod Farva.”

To my surprise, he looked down and folded his badge toward his gaze to read the name on it. He seemed both confused and relieved his actual name was in fact still on the badge.

I strutted away with a laugh as if I just won “Dancing With the Stars,” or, as would be more likely in my case, “Dancing With the Stares.”

“You are truly and irrevocably weird!” He said and then he laughed, begrudgingly, as humor is federally forbidden while on duty.
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PS: Rod Farva is the name of the annoying cop from “Super Troopers,” widely considered to be an actual documentary of how police behave.