I have a friend who is a “conspiracy theorist.” No, he’s not a nut; he just likes pulling my chain with outré theories. He has proposed everything from ancient astronauts to the existence of a creator god who is also a personal savior.
His latest, however, trumps (pun intended) everything. He’s decided that (1) Trump (the one in the White House) is an alien; (2) Harvey and Irma are some god’s punishment or test of the human race; and (3) these are signs of the “end times.”
Oh, and (4) all these things play together nicely, somehow.
I cannot comment on (1) (that Trump is an alien) except to say that he’s definitely not my idea of a president. Remember when “gravitas” was considered important? What ever became of that? No, Trump lacks gravitas. In fact, sometimes it seems that he’s taken gravitas into negative territory.
Harvey and Irma. There’s a lot of crap on the internet. You knew that. There are no gatekeepers on the internet, and we are responsible for understanding and assessing all that we read.
I won’t call it fake news, even though some of it is what that is. $3500 fares on a major airline? In your dreams. The person who posted that is one of the reasons the rest of us Primates are called stupid. Post an anecdote and get the state’s attorney general involved. Weatherpersons are wrong and shouldn’t be paid? Another of those cretins who thinks they know the cost of everything (but, as the adage goes, know the value of nothing). It’s been shown that if the TV weather persons simply said, “Tomorrow’s weather will be a lot like today’s,” they would be correct more than 50% of the time… unlike their usual attempts to spin the information from the National Weather Service—which is where they all get their raw data. Meteorologists? It’s like calling me a doctor because I know how to access the internet’s medical sites.
Yeah, I know some of them have degrees in meteorology, and some really know what they’re talking about. However, most of them appear to be slaves of the networks, which are fighting for ratings. The worse the meteorologists say things will be, the higher the ratings, and the higher the advertising revenues. Did you know that “meteors” were once defined as anything that appeared in the heavens, from clouds to comets? Just saying, you know.
I find it disappointing that the Christian fundamentalist preacher who ordered Irma, in the name of his god, to return to the Caribbean, failed in that attempt. I also wondered what he had against the peoples of the ravaged Caribbean islands who would face the brunt of his curse.
It was interesting to see that an ugly haint, known as a right-wing political pundit, claimed that Harvey was her god’s punishment of Houston for electing a lesbian mayor. That was almost as ludicrous as the mega-church preacher of the ‘my god wants me to have a mansion and G5 jet” persuasion who claimed that Harvey was his god’s test of the people of Houston. I guess we can assume that the 70+ people who have already died failed that test. To bad we don’t know exactly why they failed. Nor do they include the thousands who are devastated by the storm, the hundreds who will die from cancer after exposure to toxic chemicals that got into the water that soaked into their drywall, and on and on. You should be able to complete this picture.
A news story I saw last night showed Trump at Camp David meeting with his cabinet about Irma. Apparently he started the meeting with prayer. Ummm. That didn’t work for the Xtian Fundamentalist preacher who ordered Irma, in his god’s name, to “turn back.” I just don’t understand. If you believe your god can stop (or mitigate) a storm, you must (if you are a rational person) believe he (or she) also caused the storm. But, why would he?
Of course you know that an infamous (and ugly as sin, initials AC) political pundit and author said that Harvey was her god's punishment of Houston for having elected a lesbian mayor. Of course, this mayor wasn't in office when the storm struck. What? Her god couldn't gin up a storm earlier? He (or she) forgot?
Joel Osteen, he of the "Jesus wants me to have a mansion and a G5 jet" said Harvey was his god testing the people of Texas. I guess it's safe to say the 60+ people who have already died so far failed that test, as did the thousands who are displaced, and the hundreds who will contract cancer from the toxic chemicals that got into the water and then into the drywall of their waterlogged homes, and the thousand who will suffer stress as a result of the storm. Looks like Joel's god got this one right... with all the testing that has happened and will continue to happen for years... he (or she) got a lot of bang for his (or her) buck.
Of course, it goes without saying that god (some god) is testing the people of the Caribbean islands, Florida, parts of Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, etc. with Irma. I'm not sure what this god is doing with Irma's little brother, Jose, who is likely to spin around and flake out some 700-800 miles due west of Miami. Perhaps god (he or she) decided Jose wasn't needed. Why, then, didn’t he (or she) simply cancel that storm? Inquiring minds want to know. (Maybe Trump can turn Jose into a divine border wall, but only if he prays enough.)
I think it is just as logical to say that Harvey and Irma are some god's punishment of this nation for having elected Trump.
When it rains, it pours. I learned today not only that Irma was projected to sweep over me next week as a tropical storm, but also that millions of “customers” of Equifax had their personal information, which might include names, addresses, social security numbers, and drivers license numbers compromised by a hack or flaw of Equifax data bases.
Naturally, I’m not happy.
First, I’m not a customer of Equifax, although their web site says my personal information may be included in the breach.
No, I’m not a customer. Creditors, insurance companies, lenders, credit card issuers, leaseprs, have colluded with Equifax and the other national credit monitoring services to collect, without my permission, information about me and my finances. That information is then offered for sale to anyone who wants to buy it. Usually, that’s limited to insurance companies, banks, and other lenders.
I’ve never needed a credit report or a credit rating. I’ve used the same bank for some 35 years… three home loans, checking account, two credit cards. When I recently asked for an auto loan, my bank had all the information it needed to make that decision—and give me a loan with a 0.01% APR. Yeah, I’m a good guy.
So why do I need Equifax? I don’t. They, and others including Experian and Trans-Union, need me and they need information about me. Information they don’t have any right to have
That’s right. They don’t have any right to that information, and we as consumers should demand that they do not collect or store that information. Not that it would do any good for us to do so.
I don’t believe that the Revelation of St. John the Devine is truth… it’s an apocryphal and a little frightening myth… but the idea of the “Mark of the Beast” offers a lesson. What might be that mark? A tattoo of “666” on our foreheads? A death camp number tattooed on our arm by Nazis, the models for today’s right-wing haters? IMHO, we are already bearing that mark, and it exists on the internet in the form of records of our every moment, records that will outlive us perhaps until the end of civilization.
How many of us have been compromised? Depends on whom to which you listen. More important, what is the source of that compromise?
One report says 143 million records. On the other hand, most of that information has already been made public (although for a fee) by people who offer such. There are many more examples of information about us, collected, and then turned into a profit-making opportunity by modern vultures.
It’s safe to say that we all have been compromised not only by the Experian experience, but also by hacks that have penetrated other credit reporting agencies as well as a hack that exposed something over 200 million records collected by a contractor of the Republican party. Yeah, remember that? Or has it slipped from contemporary memory (yours, to be sure) by time and more “important” things?
The wonderful thing about this is that Professor Pangloss is reveling in his pleasure. You do remember him, don’t you? If not, consider reading “Candide.” If you haven’t, and still have access to Amazon, consider buying a copy.
I understand that Equifax is offering “free credit monitoring.” What does that mean? Not a damn thing. What, then, can you do?
Freeze your credit. Contact Experian and others and demand they freeze your credit.
Very important: Change your passwords for all money accounts (bank credit cards, autopays, and similar). Use different passwords for each account.
Do not link credit cards to your phone. “Auto pay,” and “touch pay” and other fancy things are cool and they are convenient, but they are also traps. If you can’t pay by cash or use a credit card, don’t plan to pay.
Do not use debit cards. If a credit card is compromised, you have legal protection. If a debit card is compromised, you have no protection. That’s right: someone cannot only empty your bank account, they can also overdraw your account, and you have absolutely no legal protection. If you have a debit card, lock it up (better, shred it).
Keep your car’s gas tank at least half full all the time… it’s smart whether there is a storm or not.
Make a “bug-out bag” with clothes, bottled water, certified copies of important papers, and a list of meds and other things including DME (durable medical equipment), diapers and other things you will need.
Believe it! Listen to your government…
The GA Goobernor ‘s pronouncement will certainly benefit hotel and motels, restaurants, and others. There’s always that underlying concern. But for the most part, they’re going to be overly-concerned for your safety. Listen to them.
In the end, it’s better to react (which is happening) than to plan. It is better to react than to over-react.
Our Georgia Goobenor has invited us to pray to the imaginary friend he pretends (or truly) to believe in. What does he expect the result to be? His god is going to save us from a storm his god caused? Is there any better definition of irony?
For a longer exposition, please see “Holy Fire,” my novel that can be ordered from Amason.com from the home page of this web site.
Registered Curmudgeon, scientist, skeptic, humanist, and writer.