Second variation of a theme

Received this one this morning. This time I left the alleged password in the body of the e-mail as I’ve never used that password anywhere. Either they’re just making up stuff now, or they’re mail merge software is failing such that they are getting passwords mixed up.

Hello!

This is important info for you!

Some months ago I hacked your computer and got full access to your account

On day of hack your account has password: coqui

So, you can change the pass, yes.. Or already changed… But my virus
intercepts it every time.

How I made it:
In the software of the router, through which you went online, was a vulnerability. I
used it…
If you interested you can read about it: CVE-2019-1670 – a vulnerability in the
web-based management interface of the Cisco routers.
I just hacked this router and placed my soft on it.
When you went online, my malware was installed on the OS of your device.

After that, I made a full backup of your computer (I have all your address book, history
of viewing sites, all files, phone numbers and addresses of all your contacts).

A month ago, I wanted to lock your system and ask for a not big amount of btc to
unlock.
But I looked at the web-pages that you regularly visit, and I was shocked by what I saw!!!
I’m talk you about sites for adults.

I want to say – you are a BIG pervert. Your fantasy is shifted far away from the
normal course!

And I got an idea….
I made a screenshot of the adult web-site where you have fun (do you understand what it
is about, huh?).
After that, I made a screenshot of your joys (using the camera of your device) and
glued them together.
Turned out amazing! You are so spectacular!

I’m know that you would not like to show these screenshots to your friends,
relatives or colleagues.
I think $697 is a very, very small amount for your secret.
Besides, I have been spying on you for so long, having spent a lot of time!

Pay ONLY in bitcoins!
My BTC wallet: 1H74aWH65TCqAWqnUFXFibhTqqxUJgvym2

You do not know how to use bitcoins?
Enter a query in any search sites: “how to replenish btc wallet”.
It’s extremely easy

For this payment I give you two days (48 hours).
As soon as this mail is opened, the timer will work.

After payment, my virus and dirty screenshots with your enjoys will be self-destruct
automatically.
If I do not receive from you the specified amount, then your device will be locked,
and all your contacts will receive a screenshots with your “enjoys”.

I hope you understand your situation.
– Do not try to find and destroy my soft! (All your data, files and screenshots is
already uploaded to a remote server)
– Do not try to contact me (you yourself will see that this is impossible, the
sender address is automatically generated)
– Various security services will not help you; formatting a disk or destroying a
device will not help, since your data is already on a remote server.

P.S. You are not my single victim. so, I guarantee you that I will not disturb you
again after payment!
This is the word of honor hacker
Do not hold evil! I just good do my job.
Good luck.

The vulnerability they cite is real. But if “Cisco Unified Intelligence Center” doesn’t sound familiar to you (I didn’t know it existed until looking up the vulnerability), then it doesn’t apply to you. Since I’m pretty sure you would know if you were actually using it.

Here’s a hint: it doesn’t run on any Cisco routers. Nor does it allow for what they claim. This is NIST’s description of the vulnerability:

A vulnerability in the web-based management interface of Cisco Unified Intelligence Center Software could allow an unauthenticated, remote attacker to conduct a cross-site scripting (XSS) attack against a user of the web interface of an affected system. The vulnerability is due to insufficient input validation of a user-supplied value. An attacker could exploit this vulnerability by convincing a user to click a specific link. A successful exploit could allow the attacker to submit arbitrary requests to the affected system via a web browser with the privileges of the user.

But scammers play on what people don’t know, which is… most everyone who uses a computer or cell phone.

These scams work by getting a list of e-mail addresses and just mass-sending the same e-mail to those addresses, worded with the intent of scaring someone into payment. So far, though, whenever I’ve looked up the Bitcoin addresses I’ve seen, I don’t think anyone has actually paid. So that’s good. Meaning those who receive these e-mails are guessing correctly that these e-mails are nothing but a scam with zero risk to ignoring them.

State Line Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram in Kansas City, MO

Recently I had routine service on my Jeep Compass at the dealer where I purchased it – State Line Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram in Kansas City, Missouri. It didn’t exactly go well. I sent this e-mail to them via their contact page.

Good day,

This morning I was in to have my 2018 Jeep Compass Latitude serviced. Oil change, tire rotation, and cabin air filter replacement. I was there for around 2-1/2 hours. Checking in at around 8:30am, and not leaving till 11am. For an oil change, tire rotation, and cabin air filter change… When checking in I was told it “shouldn’t be long”.

After I’d been there for well over an hour, nearly an hour and a half, one of the desk attendants told me they didn’t have the cabin air filter in stock, so had to acquire one from someplace nearby. Okay, fine. Except they should have told me as soon as they realized they didn’t have the air filter. After that update… almost nothing. I walked out into the service area at one point and overheard them talking about the Compass and how it should be done soon.

Needless to say, I was growing more impatient and angry as time passed.

Then came the actual check out at about 10:45am, paying for the cabin air filter service, and being told that my vehicle should be brought up front “shortly”. Only to be waiting *another* almost 15 minutes before [REDACTED] *finally* brought my vehicle out and I could actually leave. Another customer in the waiting area saw me check out and commented she thought I was done, and I could only respond with “so did I”. She actually left almost immediately after that exchange as they’d actually brought her vehicle out as she was checking out. Meanwhile mine had yet to be brought forward so I could leave.

To summarize, despite not being short-staffed, I was still there for nearly 2-1/2 hours for routine maintenance that was delayed due to not having the cabin air filter in stock, and not being told about that till, I presume, after they acquired one from someone else in town. And, making matters worse, I was still waiting for my vehicle to be finished and brought forward for nearly 15 minutes after I’d paid and, presumed at that point, would be able to actually leave.

This isn’t the first time I’ve had service take an inordinate amount of time. But the previous time that occurred, I was told up front they were unexpectedly short-staffed. And they comped me on the tire rotation for the inconvenience. This time, I was told they had plenty of staff, yet what should’ve been simple, routine service still took an amount of time that was, in the kindest terms, unacceptable.

Now I do want to point out that this was likely unusual. Typically when I have my vehicle serviced, I drop it off on a weekday morning and have my wife drive me back home, and I work from home during the day – one of the perks of my current employment. And then I pick it up some time in the afternoon. I typically avoid Saturdays since everyone brings their vehicle in on Saturday.

And a thought I had after sending this e-mail, regarding being told they didn’t have the air filter in stock, I should’ve been given the opportunity to not have the filter changed rather than waiting for them to get one, and then the inordinate amount of time I had to wait on top of that.

But given the numerous shortfalls of this service encounter, and the fact customers who checked in after me were leaving before me, I just had to write in about it.

As of this article going live, I have not received any kind of response.

About that Gillette ad

A couple months ago, Gillette got the bright idea to make an ad that allegedly portrayed much of their customer base as… toxic. I learned about the ad but haven’t seen it. Don’t really care to watch it either.

Marketing teams will make stupid messages. That’s been the way of it since the dawn of marketing. Just do a Google search for “worst marketing campaigns” (without quotes) and you’ll find lists others have compiled of various marketing campaigns through the years. The Gillette ad may be on a future list – depending on who compiles it. Now, count how many of those companies folded or suffered a serious financial setback as a result of those marketing campaigns. Hint: very few.

It is rare for marketing blunders to take down companies, or take them from profitable to not. And in cases where that does happen, it is to companies that were already on the rocks. It almost doesn’t happen to established, profitable brands.

Even the adage “get woke, go broke” has yet to hold true. I’ve yet to see a major brand adopting social justice messages and then folding or no longer being profitable as a result of that. As such I don’t buy the report from RedState that “Gillette is Feeling the Financial Burn” due to the ad. For one the headline doesn’t fit the content of their article:

But sales of grooming products, including Gillette, slipped 1%, continuing a long string of declines. Margins disappointed.

In other words, it was already on a downward slope before the ad.

Market Watch notes that this may be a grooming product problem overall due to the relaxation of workplaces and the emerging popularity of beards, as well as online brands such as Dollar Shave Club gaining larger footholds in the market.

Instead RedState and others outraged at the ad are hoping the Gillette brand is suffering from that marketing blunder. But there’s no evidence saying it is. That didn’t stop RedState from stating outright it is. And even if that is true, there likely never will be that kind of evidence, simply due to now marking works. Here’s a hint: no established brand ever has only one marketing campaign active at any given time.

Prior to the “toxic masculinity” ad, I thought it was only the social justice warriors hell bent on policing every message coming from every company. So I now stand corrected.

I largely ignore advertising and typically do not buy based on any advertising. I don’t really care about advertising or what a company says in their ads. I care more about the products.

As such, I have not joined the “boycott” of the Gillette brand. And won’t be. I have my reasons.

About 9 or so years ago, I started evaluating a LOT of shaving options after using an electric for quite a while and deciding that I was done with it. And I was done as well with trying to maintain a beard. I looked at various wet shaving options to find something that would work. I tried options from Bic, Schick, Gillette, and even purchased an Edwin Jagger safety razor to try with different blades – and yes, I ordered it direct from the United Kingdom.

After a lot of trial and error, over the course of… a couple years, with my skin just loving it the entire time, I settled on using “traditional” shaving cream and a Gillette Mach 3 Turbo. Specifically I use C.O. Bigelow, which is available readily at Bath & Body Works for $10 (buy 2 get 1 free), a badger shaving brush (recently acquired a silver tip brush), and a scuttle.

The razor I’m not about to give up merely because Gillette made a marketing blunder. I don’t let others dictate my purchase decisions.

And I’m not so small-minded that I’ll abandon a product or brand over one bad marketing campaign.

Another blackmail scam e-mail

Overnight this morning I received two blackmail scam e-mails. They were identical except for the Bitcoin address. And this time the text of the threat was embedded in an image instead of it being the body of the e-mail. The text of this one appears slightly different, but overall it’s still the same story. This time as well they didn’t spoof my e-mail address, but claimed to send the e-mails from a “hacked account” – it’s likely a domain they bought and set up just for this.

I ran the image through an OCR program to get the text without having to type it by hand:

You may not know me and you are probably wondering why you are getting this e mail, right?

I’m a hacker who cracked your devices a few months ago.

I sent you an email from a hacked account.

I setup a malware on the adult vids (porno) web-site and guess what, you visited this site to have fun (you know what I mean).

While you were watching videos, your intemet browser started out functioning as a RDP (Remote Control) having a keylogger which gave me accessibility to your screen and web cam.

after that, my software program obtained all of your contacts and files.

You entered a passwords on the websites you visited, and I intercepted it.

Of course you can will change it. or already changed it.

But it doesn’t matter. my malware updated it every time.

What did I do?

I created a double-screen video. 1st part shows the video you were watching (you’ve got a good taste haha . . .), and 2nd part shows the recording of your web cam.

Do not try to find and destroy my virus! (All your data is already uploaded to a remote server)

– Do not try to contact with me

– Various security services will not help you: formatting a disk or destroying a device will not help either, since your data is already on a remote server.

I guarantee you that I will not disturb you again after payment. as you are not my single victim. This is a hacker code of honor.

Don’t be mad at me, everyone has their own work.

exactly what should you do?

Well, in my opinion. $800 (USD)is a fair price for our little secret. You’ll make the payment by Bitcoin (Gf you do not know this. search “how to buy Bitcoin” in Google).

My Bitcoin wallet Address:

(It is cAsE sensitive. so copy and paste it, you can use Bitpay.com for QR code payment)
Important:

You have 48 hours in order to make the payment.

(I’ve a facebook pixel in this mail, and at this moment I know that you have read through this email message).

To track the reading of a message and the actions in it, I use the facebook pixel.

Thanks to them. (Everything that is used for the authorities can help us.)

If I do not get the Bitcoins. I will certainly send out your video recording to all of your contacts including relatives, coworkers, and so on. Having said that. if I receive the payment, I’ll destroy the video immidiately.

So no different from any of the other scam e-mails I’ve received. Again I received two of them this morning and they were identical except for the Bitcoin addresses.

Compulsory vaccination and libertarianism

With the ongoing measles concern in the United States, and compulsory vaccination orders being issued by city and municipal governments, libertarianism has come into the fray. And the old misconceptions of libertarianism along with it.

The chief misconception being the conflation of libertarianism with anarchism, or that libertarianism means you can’t ever force anyone to do anything.

So is compulsory vaccination incompatible with libertarianism? Yes and no. It depends heavily on nuance.

Back in the 1940s when the last pockets of smallpox were being eradicated in the United States, compulsory vaccination was part of the arsenal. For context, smallpox killed 1 in 3 of everyone who contracted it, and left another 1 in 3 horribly maimed. The smallpox vaccine protocol was developed and published back in 1798. I won’t go into details, but that protocol is the only reason smallpox is, today, “extinct in the wild”.

But given the history of smallpox and that it killed so, so many people, mandatory vaccination orders were issued whenever any outbreak occurred.

So how can I say that compulsory vaccination is compatible with libertarianism? It comes down to the misunderstanding that libertarianism means all force is bad. And that. is. not. true. Instead the person or government wanting to use force must justify that force before exercising it.

When there is an outbreak of a vaccine-preventable illness, compulsory vaccination becomes justifiable, depending on the illness in question and the risk that illness poses to a population not vaccinated against it. And for compulsory vaccination to be justifiable, the virus or bacteria in question typically must be very contagious and pose a high risk of great bodily harm or death.

Compulsory vaccination on a mass scale against influenza, for example, would be very, very difficult to justify. Influenza for most people is a few very bad days. Hospitals, however, are perfectly within their right to compel influenza vaccination among their staff, simply due to being around people for whom influenza poses a much greater health risk.

Measles is much different. So compulsory MMR/MMRV vaccination against measles is perfectly justifiable. To an extent.

During the smallpox outbreaks that were still occurring in the 1940s in the United States, the compulsory vaccination orders applied only to those areas where the outbreak occurred. The Federal government did not, nor did it have the power to compel vaccination on a nationwide scale, nor could any State government justify vaccination on a State-wide scale. And compulsory MMR/MMRV vaccination orders being issued today apply only to those places where the measles outbreaks are occurring.

And as measles outbreaks become more frequent across the United States, something I predicted nearly 10 years ago would happen, compulsory vaccination orders will become more frequent.

And there is nothing about them that is incompatible with libertarianism.

90% of those exposed to measles will contract it unless they have been successfully vaccinated against it. Measles isn’t something to scoff at either. Complications include

  • pneumonia
  • bronchitis
  • seizures
  • encephalitis (swelling of the brain)
  • corneal ulceration (which can lead to corneal scarring)
  • acute ear infections (otitis media) and hearing loss
  • immuno-suppression lasting for several weeks or months

Like with most viral diseases, supportive care is the only option once someone contracts it and symptoms present, which can take nearly two weeks from contraction. Meaning a person who contracts measles has a very miserable week to 10 days ahead of them. If they develop complications, it’s a very miserable hospital stay. In quarantine. The mortality rate used to be nearly 1 in 3 about 100 years ago, but better treatments of symptoms and control of complications have dropped the mortality rate to under 1% of those who contract it.

The virus can survive for a rather inordinate amount of time outside the human body as well. Measles is a very serious public health threat.

So compulsory vaccination is perfectly justifiable and compatible with libertarianism simply due to the risk to the public that measles poses. The greater harm that is abated through compulsory vaccination well offsets any harm to personal liberty.

A few problems to overcome

Build Log:

Two years passed since I last looked at Desert Sapphire.

I was supposed to do maintenance on it last year, but some badly timed food poisoning (when is it ever not badly timed?) on the day I arrived in Boulder City, Nevada, kept me from doing it. And the system’s owner never did anything with it for lack of knowledge. Meaning the system looked no less than disgusting when I got my hands on it to disassemble it.

Most coolants NEED to be cleaned out of a system every year, whether you’re using soft or hard tubing. And the previous coolant was Mayhem’s X1 Clear, mixed from the concentrate.

The owner also never properly kept the system free of dust and debris. He lives in a house with animals, but he kept the system near the floor. I wondered how the system was able to avoid massive thermal issues given the amount of dust and fur trapped between the fans and radiators. It was very, very bad. Never took pictures of it, though it would’ve been good having them as examples of now to NOT maintain a system.

Had I had the time, I would have individually flushed the blocks and radiators with a gallon of distilled water each before reassembling the loop. I did take the time to disassemble the CPU block, though, scrubbing it with dish soap – metal polish would’ve been better.

Before the overnight cleaning with Primochill System Reboot, I attempted to flush the system with distilled water. It was during the push flush that I discovered a couple fittings had developed leaks as well. Both of them were fittings on the pump and drain setup. That needed to be replaced, so I opted for a much simpler setup.

I bought that T-split from Home Depot for under $3 (plus tax). That with a length of tubing and a spare compression fitting I had formed the new drain with the Bitspower valve. I would’ve preferred finding a brass fitting, but the white plastic fitting was all I could find. Sure it doesn’t look the greatest, but it works, and is much, much less expensive compared to a two (2)male-to-male rotary fittings and a 3- or 4-way fitting to make the split for the drain. Brass would’ve looked better, but, again, they didn’t have it in stock.

For the overnight cleaning, I connected the pump directly to the GPU block, then bought the needed components the next evening to finish the assembly. To drain the loop, I had it spill out through the grate below it. I did not have the power supply installed at the time, so there was no danger – all pictures were taken of the final system before it was delivered back to the owner. I followed up by having the return from the radiator go into an empty jug for a distilled water rinse, doing my best to drain as much of the water out as possible – using the syringe to push air through the loop to displace the water.

Wow I really missed focus with that picture…

The rest of the loop looks about the same as before, following the same path. The only exception being the return from the front radiator to the reservoir. Note in one of the pictures above that I have a Swiftech SLI fitting between the pump and reservoir. This lowered the reservoir down such that I could have this type of direct return.

The system is otherwise back in operation and working as expected. Again given what I saw when I started working on it this last time around, I’m really surprised he wasn’t having any kind of thermal issues. But I also directed the owner on how to avoid that becoming an issue in the future. And he also said he wouldn’t have the chassis so close to the floor.

So this is likely to be the last iteration on this project depending on what the next year or two brings, and how well the owner keeps up on maintenance. This last visit was an opportunity to talk him through how to maintain the loop, and what he will need in the future – the plastic T-fitting will need to be replaced with the tubing.

I’ve enjoyed working this project as I’ve learned a lot over the last couple iterations maintaining it. And hopefully the owner will be able to maintain it on his own.

They’re powers, not obligations

Cass Sunstein: “Pelosi’s Stance on Impeachment Needs Some Explaining

The Constitution grants to the House of Representatives the “sole Power of Impeachment”. And later in Article II states that the President, Vice President, or any officer of the Executive Branch “shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors”.

In the history of the United States, only two Presidents have suffered impeachment and a third came pretty close – Andrew Johnson, Bill Clinton, and Richard Nixon, respectively.

One thing I feel a lot of people forget about the Constitution is simply that it grants powers and lays a framework for the Federal government. Granting that power, however, does not imply an obligation to exercise it – but when does a government ever refrain from exercising power it’s granted (and even power it isn’t legitimately granted)? There is very little of Congress’s enumerated powers that it is obligated by the Constitution to exercise. As an example, Congress was under no obligation to declare war against Japan following the Pearl Harbor attack. And Congress, conversely, could declare war on anyone absent any justification if it so desired.

Yet when it comes to impeachment, in particular impeaching President Trump (and previously with President Bush), suddenly this power becomes an obligation, merely because those wanting to see Trump impeached are declaring it such.

Recently Speaker Nancy Pelosi said this about impeaching President Trump:

I’m not for impeachment. This is news. I’m going to give you some news right now because I haven’t said this to any press person before. But since you asked, and I’ve been thinking about this: Impeachment is so divisive to the country that unless there’s something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan, I don’t think we should go down that path, because it divides the country. And he’s just not worth it.

Cass Sunstein, widely recognized as a constitutional expert, doesn’t seem to think the House of Representatives has any choice in the matter. That having the power to impeach the President means they have zero discretion and must act.

Yet when they must act is largely up to interpretation!

Under the Constitution, the grounds for impeachment are “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” Suppose that a president commits a clearly impeachable offense — by, say, committing treason or by using the apparatus of government to violate people’s rights and liberties. Suppose, too, that the president’s party remains intensely loyal to him, thinking, “True, he’s a jerk, but he’s our jerk.”

In those circumstances, the Constitution does not license members of the House of Representatives to refrain from impeachment, on the ground that it would not be “bipartisan” and would “divide the country.”

The Constitution absolutely and always licenses the House of Representatives to refrain from impeachment. They are POWERS, not obligations. And exercising power requires a degree of responsibility.

Let’s go back to the idea that Congress could declare war against any foreign power, for any reason or none. The Constitution doesn’t say Congress has the power to declare war only with sufficient justification. It says simply that Congress has the power to declare war. Full stop. Exercising that power is entirely up to Congress and their discretion.

In this light, it defies belief to think that the impeachment process is purely “political” — or that the House of Representatives may decline to proceed against a president who has engaged in treason, produced “the most extensive injustice,” or otherwise committed a clearly impeachable offense.

Except the impeachment process IS political since it is entrusted to a political branch rather than the Courts. In the two instances in which it has been exercised against a President, it occurred for political reasons, regardless of the evidence or justification behind the charges.

President Clinton demonstrably perjured himself, but his impeachment is continually misrepresented as having been about his affair with Monica Lewinsky. Despite the demonstrable perjury, though, that it was a Republican-led House that impeached him shows it was political. A Democrat-led House would not have considered impeachment.

Republicans in both instances of impeachment passed articles against a Democrat President. And a Democrat-led House pursued impeachment articles against Nixon. In no instance has a House of Representatives considered impeachment articles against a President with the same party.

So how is impeachment not political? Though I’ve said that impeachment is not to be used as a substitute for political or electoral failure, it is wielded by a political branch of the government, making it de facto political.

This is beyond true with Trump given that Democrats have been talking impeachment since before he was even inaugurated!

And to say the House of Representatives has zero discretion when it comes to impeaching a President goes against the very wording of the Constitution. Nowhere in the Constitution does it say the House has any obligation to impeach a President who has committed “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors”, only that they have the power to do so.

Power does not mean obligation.

Just as prosecutors are free to exercise discretion in whether and what charges are brought against a particular defendant, and generally won’t bring charges unless they feel they have a very high chance of securing a conviction. Since prosecutors know the same standard for bringing charges (“probable cause”) is not the same standard needed to convict (“beyond reasonable doubt”). So why bring charges without the evidence needed to convict? That is the prosecutor’s discretion.

So too the House has discretion in whether to let certain things a President does just go. That President Clinton perjured himself regarding an affair was not enough reason to see him removed from office. Borrowing Speaker Pelosi’s words, it was not “so compelling and overwhelming”, and it was far from “bipartisan”. And impeachment articles should really never have been brought against him since conviction was never going to happen. The impeachment and trial were colossal wastes of time.

And let’s go one step further: the Senate is not under any obligation to convene a trial on any impeachment articles the House passes. Again power does not mean, nor does it even imply, obligation.

It is hardly crazy to insist that if it isn’t clear whether the president has committed what the Constitution deems to be an impeachable act, the House is entitled to refrain from acting, at least when the nation is sharply divided along political lines.

You mean like it is currently? Yet your opinion piece implies the current Democrat-led House has an obligation to impeach Trump, and the Republican-led Senate has an obligation to try and convict him.

If a president has committed a clearly impeachable offense, the House of Representatives is obliged to impeach him — even if the process turns out to be “bipartisan” or “divisive.”

There’s one word missing from this sentence: provably. If a president has provably committed a clearly impeachable offense. But even then, again, the House is never under any obligation to impeach him. Just as no prosecutor is obligated to bring charges for any offense.

Power does not mean obligation. Indeed if there is any obligation the Constitution puts on the House of Representatives regarding impeaching a president, it is to decline to act where there is uncertainty.

The left and Democrats are so, so certain that Trump colluded with Russia to… convince tens of millions of voters to vote for him or refrain from voting for Clinton that they want to see him impeached. Because they desperately want to their belief to become reality. And Sunstein is no different in declaring the House has an obligation to impeach Trump and, by extension, that the Republican-led Senate has an obligation to try and convict him.

Yet no such obligation actually exists beyond mere assertion.

I’ve joked before that Trump merely being alive is an impeachable offense to Democrats. And now that the Mueller report has apparently not lived up to leftist expectations, I think we’re back to that particular standard again. Or they’re going to act like anti-vaxxers and keep peddling the “Trump colluded with Russia” narrative despite nothing concrete backing it up.

Conflicts of interest and personal agendas

Recently I’ve started listening to various YouTube channels that read out stories posted to Reddit. One story was classified as “pro-revenge”. And I found the original post in question, called “I got back at childhood bullies by destroying an entire town“. To note, the factual nature of the story has been called into question. But like another story regarding the “Trump Cup” phenomenon I looked at 2½ years ago, we can still discuss the story as a hypothetical case study. Go ahead and read the story to take in the full picture. I’ll do my best to summarize.

The OP (original poster) described a childhood in a very conservative Christian, “one smokestack” town. For the unfamiliar, that is a small town centered around one business or industry – mining or a manufacturing plant. Economically, they literally have all their eggs in one basket. There are a lot of towns like this peppered across the greater United States. Some are still thriving, or at least getting by, but others fell to the 2008 crash and 2009 recession. The one the Obama administration said lasted only 6 months, only because there was a tidal wave of government spending that inflated the GDP numbers and made the economy look better than it was actually doing.

OP is also a rape baby. So being conceived and born out of wedlock in a very Christian conservative town, his life growing up was hell. But he still managed to graduate with decent grades and escape the town in question, going to college and getting a decent job as an “analytical consultant”.

Part of his work involved downsizing evaluations – determining which locations get closed or who gets laid off or transferred. And he was pulled in to evaluate three plants to determine which would get shuttered and their operations transferred. One of those plants was in the town where he grew up.

If you know anything about business ethics, red flags should be going off. Unfortunately the ethical conflict is one many likely don’t readily see, given how many have readily applauded what is described. In short this is a massive conflict of interest.

Once the OP saw that his hometown is one of the plants he would be evaluating, he should’ve recused himself completely. He was being brought in to give an impartial evaluation. And his descriptions of his mindset and actions show he was unable to give an impartial evaluation. This statement in particular is telling:

Inside I was seething with hatred and enjoying this all. I really loved seeing their faces, seeing what they had become, because fuck it, I was going to take it all away from them.

And

My state of mind was something close to sexual arousal. I had never understood why people pursue positions of power, but yeah, now I understood.

Again he was unable to be impartial. And impartiality is part of a consultant’s fiduciary duty. Since they hire an outside consultant for an independent, impartial opinion. But instead of doing his fiduciary duty and recusing himself, he took it as an opportunity to carry out a personal agenda. Again, a massive conflict of interest that rendered him unable to be impartial.

I wrote a really scathing report, documenting every little flaw and mistake ever done in the town plant. I didn’t need to lie or fabricate – I simply took things that existed and polished them till they looked even worse than they were. The factory was shut down and in the following three years, the town died.

If the plant was as badly managed as described,

The religious community running the town ran the factory as well. The big shots in the community tended to be bosses in the factory. This meant that the factory wasn’t run that well; promotions were based on “holiness”, not on merit or skill.

a truly impartial auditor would’ve recognized the shortfalls and still recommended the plant be closed.

But what if he walked in and discovered the plant was productive and profitable (earning more than it cost to operate it, even if not by a significant margin), running like a clock and reasonably well-managed? Possibly even the best of the three plants being evaluated? Would OP still have recommended the place be closed? The above statements answer this clearly in the affirmative.

He first states that he didn’t need to lie or fabricate anything regarding the plant, but then admits to doing just that, “polishing” details till they “looked even worse” than what was truthful. Meaning he likely would have lied and fabricated statements about the plant to see the outcome he desired. His personal agenda became a conflict of interest by completely nullifying any ability to be impartial, and possibly introducing a willingness to commit fraud and defamation.

Conflicts of interest are taken very seriously in business, since it calls into question whether you can be impartial and seek the best outcome given a circumstance. And personal conflicts with other people can become conflicts of interest simply due to the risk your impartiality will be compromised.

Some conflicts of interest are quite obvious. Interviewing your high school bully for a position on your team. A salesperson approaching a prospect wherein a former significant other or someone else with whom they have “a history” has influence over the purchase decision. And of course the classic conflict of interest: an affair between a manager and a direct report or someone along the direct chain of command.

And once the conflict of interest has been identified, the parties involved have a duty to recuse themselves from the business interaction where possible. Such as when there is a merger and one a manager’s new direct reports is someone with whom their ex-husband had a fling or affair. Such was the case in a letter to the Ask A Manager blog (original is #1 here, update, and second update is #5 here), and the conflict of interest I don’t feel was taken seriously enough by the employing organization.

And in the above story, the conflict of interest is the OP’s history with the town and the people therein, including those running the plant. The OP clearly had no intention of being impartial, let alone the ability, and should not have been involved in the decision at all. And an impartial auditor arriving at the same decision doesn’t mean the conflict of interest wasn’t a factor in the OP’s decision.

Since the conflict of interest means we cannot know whether the plant was evaluated honestly and the proper decision made. We cannot know if the claims about how it was run are truthful. We cannot know because OP couldn’t be impartial. Once he saw his hometown on the list, he saw the opportunity to ruin those who wronged him, completely jettisoning any potential for impartiality to pursue a personal agenda.

Ultimately we cannot know if that plant was the one that needed to be closed because the OP couldn’t make an impartial decision. So he should not have been involved in the decision at all.

Variation on a theme

Another scam e-mail I received recently, this one being a variation on ones I’ve written about here before:

Hello,

As you may have noticed, I sent this email from your email account (if you didn’t see, check the from email id). In other words, I have full access to your email account.

I infected you with a malware a few months back when you visited an adult site, and since then, I have been observing your actions. The malware gave me full access and control over your system, meaning, I can see everything on your screen, turn on your camera or microphone, and you won’t even notice about it. I also have access to all your contacts.

Why your antivirus did not detect malware? It’s simple. My malware updates its signature every 10 minutes, and there is nothing your antivirus can do about it.

I made a video showing both you (through your webcam) and the video you were watching (on the screen) while satisfying yourself. With one click, I can send this video to all your contacts (email, social network, and messengers you use).

You can prevent me from doing this. To stop me, transfer $909 to my bitcoin address. If you do not know how to do this, Google – “Buy Bitcoin”.

My bitcoin address (BTC Wallet) is : 1FsEdzFk5iWdcZD3SyfetKcHShhcBsEQZx

After receiving the payment, I will delete the video, and you will never hear from me again. You have 48 hours to pay. Since I already have access to your system, I now know that you have read this email, so your countdown has begun.

Filing a complaint will not do any good because this email cannot be tracked. I have not made any mistakes.

If I find that you have shared this message with someone else, I will immediately send the video to all of your contacts.

Take care!

As I’ve mentioned previously, it’s stupidly easy to spoof an e-mail address. And that’s all that’s occurring in this instance, and every instance wherein this occurs. Because it’s effortless to do that. Hacking an e-mail account isn’t trivial. And it’s stupid easy to create a program or bot that blasts e-mails like the above out, similar to phishing and other spam and scam e-mails that are sent out all. the. time. Which, again, is what is happening here as well.

Well beyond unconstitutional

Recently a New York county decided to ban unvaccinated minors from public places in response to a measles outbreak. And it is so beyond unconstitutional it’s not even funny.

Local and county governments are subject to the same Bill of Rights as the Federal government via incorporation. So has said the Federal judiciary, including the Supreme Court of the United States, numerous times over.

So let’s say there is an unvaccinated child in a public place in this New York county. Beyond the parent or child (because, let’s face it, the most truthful people in the world are drunks and children) openly admitting such, what would constitute probable cause in this instance? What would constitute even reasonable suspicion to detain someone?

The government would also have to demonstrate the child is not vaccinated. There is no obvious physical indicator of a person being vaccinated or not against measles. This isn’t like with smallpox where the vaccine leaves an obvious scar or blister. So demonstrating the child is sero-negative to measles, meaning they have no antibodies against it, requires a blood test. And unless the parent voluntarily consents to the blood test for their child, which no parent in their right mind would do, the police would need to demonstrate probable cause to get a warrant, since the blood test is a search under the Fourth Amendment – see Birchfield v. North Dakota, 579 US ___ (2016).

And the parent refusing to consent cannot be used against them in any way. It is not automatic probable cause. The police would still need something else.

So given that blood tests are out of the question, again absent probable cause or voluntary consent, what about vaccine records? Should parents have to carry around their children’s vaccine records wherever they go in that county, to be produced upon demand of law enforcement? Under the Health and Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), No. Vaccine records, like all other records related to a person’s past medical history, are protected health information (PHI) under the HIPAA Privacy Rule. Meaning law enforcement cannot demand you produce them without a court order.

The county said they have no intention of actually arresting people, but instead using this as a wake-up call regarding the measles problem they’re having. Except the law being on the books is still the issue, since the county could, at any time the law is active, choose to start enforcing it, such as if they aren’t getting the results they expect from it.

And that is where the county will fast run into the Fourth Amendment.