Hackers seem to be very interesting people. I say this based on what I read since as far as I know, I have no hacking acquantiances. But as our society becomes ever more dependent on the internet, there will be more of these cybercrooks or Robin Hoods, depending on one’s point of view. Or it may depend on whether or not one has been victimized by their talents. For that is one thing on which we can agree. They are quite talented.
Anyone who is a fan of NCIS is quite familiar with Timothy McGee, aka “probie” and his talents at hacking into systems as complex as the Pentagon and CIA. Watching the show I marvel at his skill and how Gibbs can employ it to his advantage in solving a crime. But at the same I have often wondered if there are actually people out there doing what McGee does or at least trying to do it?
After reading an online article today, I fear that the answer is yes. It appears that online marketer Epsilon has been hacked and its online systems somewhat compromised. Who is Epsilon and why should I be concerned about them being hacked? It might be the fact that among their clients are such names as Citigroup, College Board, Capitol One, Walgreens and Verizon Communications, names with which many of us are familiar.
Epsilon is a unit of Alliance Data Systems, Inc and as an online marketer sends more than 40 billion ( that’s billion with a “b” ) emails annually composed of ads or offers. But, don’t worry. Some of the companies affected are telling their customers that no sensitive info was released ( at least so far) and as for Epsilon, they are fully co-operating in the investigation. But that cannot confirm which companies have been affected or how many people or what kind of data. Feeling warm and fuzzy yet? Or maybe wanting to scale back on your online activity? Maybe I need to check my email to see if perhaps there is a company on the list with which I have had contact. McGee, I need help!
By the way, would you like to have Jessica Simon’s job right now? She just happens to the spokesperson for Epsilon. Gonna be a busy person for a while.
Several years ago there was an episode of NCIS where then Director Shepard( Lauren Holly) made a clandestine trip to Moscow in search of information that would either clear her father or help her in capturing ” la grenouille” . During that time she went off the grid as was bluntly called to her attention by good ole Leroy Jethro Gibbs ( Mark Harmon) , once she returned to Washington.
For my purposes, the key element in that scene was the grid to which Gibbs referred. In this case it was not the electric power grid that is somewhat well publicized, but a different kind of grid. Holly’s character was the head of an armed federal agency and as such could not become incommunicado. And in our story she did that very thing.
I was reminded of that upon seeing a segment of the Today Show that dealt with the death of the telephone. The part that I saw interviewed at least two people in the know about such things, one of them from Wired magazine, who opined that the telephone was dead and it was about time. His feelings are most definitely shared by outsidethebeltway.com writer James Joyner. He wrote an article on July 31, 2010 expressing how annoying and terribly intrusive a telephone call actually is. And he made this point that really ties in to the point I am trying to make. The current generation hardly ever makes phone calls because they are in constant lightweight contact, defined as texting, instant messaging , tweeting, etc.
So, its it a good or necessary thing to be in constant contact. to be always on the grid, so to speak? The majority of us do not need to be always available via a tweet or Facebook or hundreds or thousand of daily text messages. I share Mr Joyner’syner that this is,generally speaking, lightweight communication. Surely a part of my inclination is that I am from a generation that has not always been totally wired, but I think/hope it is more than that.
My wife and I have shared many times with one another in a phone call the words that” I just wanted to hear your voice” . We do text, but for us, it will never be an adequate substitute for the voice of the one person who means more to you than any other.
Perhaps, Mr Bell’s invention is on the way out. But from my perspective, I hope that it takes the long way.
This coming Wednesday night, the president will deliver his first State of the Union address. Two quick thoughts and then some depth. Once again, I will be thankful for cable television that will allow other viewing options. Secondly, it will not be televised on Tuesday, so NCIS will not be preëmpted.( Gibbs would not stand for it, I guess.)
I really thought that as many speeches and television appearances as he has made that the President must have delivered the State of the Union address already. Thought it must been on Leno or Letterman, guess not.
According to David Axelrod, his political guru, we should expect a feisty, combative tone. The President will not scale back his agenda, but rather expand it further. ( That is a scary thought.) Get this, he plans to call for bi-partisan commission to tackle the budget deficit. THat take chutzpah, does it not? Axelrod also noted that people have fallen behind economically for a decade now and they are growing increasingly frustrated. Stop the presses. If one goes back a decade, who was president? Why, Bill Clinton, of course. throw in a couple of years of a Democrat controlled Congress and you have what, a shared responsibility, it would seem.
The speech the President delivered in Ohio may have been a bit of a preview. His main focus seemed was jobs and all he would do to create them. Guess he wants to a jobs president. That mirrors a recent statement made by our governor here in North Carolina. Bev Perdue says she intends to be known as the jobs governor. Hope that works out better this year than last, cause she is certainly has thrown a pile of incentive money out there and with less than stellar results. The December unemployment rate in NC was 11.2%. There are only 7 states with higher rates. Hard to be known as the jobs governor with those numbers.
Gotta wonder whether Perdue or Obama will earn that jobs title. Right now, I think would bet ( if I were a betting fellow) on neither.
Last night was I think, the first NCIS Christmas episode. The show provided its typical quality hour of entertainment, with an interesting mix of storylines There was the return of Gibbs’ father, McGee performing Christmas magic ( Admiral Nicholas Whitebeard was a great line ) and Tony and Ziva winning a great bar fight. But my main interest lay in another area entirely.
The central plot line was solving the murder of a marine who had converted to Islam. As it turned out, he was killed by his brother who felt he had shamed the family by converting to the Islamic faith. A sorta sidebar to this was that the deceased’s father had left the military to become a minister and was not so thrilled with his son’s conversion. The other member of our mixture was a Nay Muslim chaplain.
To me , the show presented the two Muslim characters and thus the religion in quite a favorable light. The father, from a more traditional faith, not so much. It just got me to thinking how in this country we seem to work very hard to accomodate other faiths, particularly the Islamic faith. In contrast, those countries with a Muslim majority don’t seem to be so accommodating to those of the Christian faith. Think of Libya, Sudan, Iran etc.
It just made me think how sometimes television can be used to frame a point of view or encourage one in subtle ways. I’m not saying we should not be accommodating but it seems at times that we overdo things. And, as much as I hate to disagree with Gibbs, I don’t think that Christians and Muslims are on the same page when it comes to God.
Today is birthday #234 for the U S Marine Corps, one of the more unique branches of our military. And, furthermore, NCIS viewers will recognize it as the birthday of our favorite marine gunnery sergeant, Leroy Jethro Gibbs. The jarheads as they are known by some, began their storied history on November 10,1775 before there was an official United States.
Captain Samuel Nicholas formed the first 2 battalions of this elite fighting force that is today known for many things. One is the motto, never leave a man behind. Another is the unique emblem of the globe , trident and anchor. This signifies land, air and sea; any way necessary, the Marines are there.
I remember as a kid hearing the Marine Corps hymn and being fascinated by the Halls of Montezuma and the shores of Tripoli without even knowing what they meant. The more I learned the better it got. Just one thing about that. The shores of Tripoli refer to the first Barbary War of the very early 19th century and our young nation’s first battle with pirates. Marines under the leadership of Lt Presley O’Bannon stormed ashore at Derne,Tripoli( now Libya) in the first battle fought by American troops on foreign soil. Interestingly, the sword used by Marines today is modeled on one given to Lt O’Bannon by the rightful heir to the throne of Tripoli.
They aren’t the largest branch of our Armed Forces although they may be the most colorful, opinion of course. So, on the day before Veterans Day, we respectfully say Semper Fi to marines everywhere.
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