Are you worried about how Facebook and Google use data they collect about you?

Are you worried about how Facebook and Google use data they collect about you?

That will seem like elementary school, compared to the new tie-up between two financial-data providers.  Be afraid, be VERY afraid.  You voluntarily sign up for a Facebook account, and you make a conscious decision to use Google products, like internet search, Gmail, and YouTube.  You can decline to use Facebook, and there are alternate search engines (I only use DuckDuckGo now).

But you, as a consumer, have NO say in how your bank, credit union, or credit card companies report your intimate financial data to the Big Three Credit Bureaus.  In fact, I’d hazard a guess that most Americans don’t even know that there are three, or what their names are.  I’d also hazard a guess that most people paid very little attention to the huge data-breach at one of those credit bureaus a couple of years ago.  Unbeknownst to most of the victims whose financial data were stolen, Equifax mostly notified big financial institutions, and did not suffer much reputational damage.  I read the Wall Street Journal religiously, so I was able to follow the story closely.  I’ll bet you didn’t.

Every time you apply for any kind of credit, from a department store, to an oil company or credit card company; to a bank for a mortgage or auto loan; those companies pull your “credit report” from one or all three of the big credit bureaus (Equifax, TransUnion, or Experian).  And do they ask you if you want them to pull your report?  Or do they tell you that your information is provided to the bureaus, and retrieved from them, without your knowledge or consent?  Of course they don’t.

Those three companies are the biggest repositories of data about you, that you have never heard of, and probably don’t pay much attention to.  Well, just recently, two companies, Equifax and Fair-Isaac (the company that invented the FICO score, which determines credit-worthiness), have teamed up to SELL CONSUMER DATA TO BANKS.  Yes, that is you that they are selling to banks.  And did they bother to ask you if you wanted them to sell you?  Nope.

Because you are not their customer.  You aren’t even the end user.  You are just the product.  Now, do you have any information about the security of all this data they are selling about you?  Are you aware of any protections they offer, for your valuable financial data?  Nope, because they don’t offer any.  In this age of constant exposure of you, your family, your friends, and your accounts on social media, most people don’t give any thought to the potential repercussions from cyber-thieves getting ahold of all this information about you.  After the big Equifax breach in 2017, the company offered free “credit-watch” services for awhile, but didn’t contact everyone whose data were stolen, and the worst effect they suffered was their CEO finally resigned, months later.  Personally, I am alarmed at the offhanded way these companies play fast and loose with your data, and make lots of money off of selling you to all their real customers.  Why should I have to go through all the conniptions to freeze my credit files, and all the effort to correct errors in a file I had NO say in at all?

So it might behoove you to get more informed about who has your data, and why.  Ask who determines your fitness to be granted credit, and how.  Ask what data your bank reports to the credit bureaus, and if you can see it.  Pull your own credit score from EACH of the big three at least once a year, and make them correct any errors you find.  Just keep your eyes open, and take care with your credit, because no one else will.

I believe Islam is Evil…

I believe Islam is Evil…

…but I find myself in sympathy with a particular group of Muslims, whose culture is facing extinction.  Over the last year, I have been reading in the Wall Street Journal about how China is closely observing all its people, placing cameras equipped with cutting-edge facial-recognition software, wherever the people are.  China is building a ubiquitous “social credit” system for ALL its people, where they are continually observed at every activity, work and play, and judged for worthiness.  Those deemed unworthy are denied jobs, the ability to travel, and other benefits of life.  This horrifies me.

But the group who has been feeling these effects the most are the Uighurs, a Muslim group that lives in Western China’s Xinjiang Province.  The Communist Han Chinese government deeply fears these Muslims, and thinks of them as terrorists.  So many Uighurs have been literally placed in concentration camps; removed from their homes and detained against their will.  Their mosques that haven’t been torn down, have been abandoned, and they are not permitted to communicate with friends or family outside (and even inside) China.  The malevolent Chinese Communists call these camps “vocational education centers“.  Ha!  Uighur neighborhoods are still and silent, and the people left there are afraid to worship, or venture very far from home.

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The Communist Chinese are pretty good at this sort of thing.  Remember the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s?  Where children turned in their parents to the authorities, and intellectuals were sent to collective farms in the countryside for “re-education”.  An entire generation of Chinese was subjected to stunted development.  And how about Tibet?  Since being conquered by China, it has become a shadow of its former self, its people subjugated, their culture denied.

All in all, the Chinese Uighurs have actually been pretty peaceful, and not nearly as bloodthirsty as their Arab co-religionists.  But the ChiComs can have NO hint of difference or rebellion inside their borders, so they ruthlessly destroy the millennium-old culture of its smaller ethnic groups.  Han Chinese move into and take over the homelands of the Uighur, leaving their cities nearly unrecognizable.

I still think that Islam is Evil, but what the Chinese are doing to their Muslim minority is purely criminal, and Evil in itself.  Many in the modern world think of China as the world’s biggest market for exports, or as an exotic vacation destination.  Knowing what I do about how China treats its own people, I would never, ever go to China, for any reason.  They should not get any Western tourist dollars, which just help perpetuate the evil.  They certainly won’t be getting any of my dollars.

Trudeau Cabinet Member Steps Down…What does this say about Liberals (and the Wall Street Journal)?

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is in the midst of a rather interesting scandal.  It involves a Cabinet member who was demoted, and charged that it was because she resisted political pressure from the Prime Minister’s office in a criminal case involving a big Quebec company.  That Cabinet member just happens to be female, and the only “Indigenous” member of Trudeau’s Administration (from a protected class, of course).

But it wasn’t the Indigenous cabinet member who stepped down, but a different female minister.  Her name is Jane Philpott.  This is what the Wall Street Journal had to say about Ms. Philpott:

The family physician had earned a reputation as a trusted hand in the nearly four-year-old Liberal government for helping settle Syrian refugees, crafting policies that legalized marijuana and doctor-assisted suicide, and improving indigenous services.

For some strange reason, that one sentence just jumped out at me while reading this article.  It’s a pretty matter-of-fact description of a Family Physician who has been involved in the legalization of a dangerous drug, and the legalization of Doctor-Assisted Suicide.  Don’t those two things sound like a doctor doing harm?  Personally, if I were a doctor, I would in no way be proud of either of those two accomplishments.  I was also taken aback at the Journal’s almost offhand way of listing what she has been doing in the Canadian government.  The article did not say so, but I’m betting that the good doctor has no qualms about performing abortions either.  Doctors participating in murder and suicide have become pretty commonplace in today’s society.  It’s a shame.

SoCal Interlude: Patterns

Over the weekend in California, my eye was caught by the many interesting patterns I saw in the hotel, and outside in nature.  Some were repeated, some not.  A guy at the hotel front desk told me that the carpet pattern in many places was the Golden Poppy, which is found in California.

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This pattern and variations was found in many places in the hotel.

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This one is on a high-back sofa in the lobby.

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Then, there was an interesting side table, with a marquetry top, and metal stand that worked very well together.  Pattern on pattern!

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Then, if you looked up, you could see the right-angled patterns of the windows and walls on higher floors.

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I was taken by the pattern on the elevator doors, too.  My readers will know that I am a fan of the Art Deco period, and this looked like a pattern from that period of design.

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Even the walls and ceilings carried eye-pleasing patterns.  The first one is the front of the front desk, and the second one was the ceiling in the restaurant.

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Nice lattice patterns-different execution of the same basic idea, and both very pleasing to the eye.

Speaking of eye-pleasing, this is what greeted guests stepping off the elevators behind the front desk.  I just loved the colors.

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And, finally, this very pretty mirror on the floor where the Hillsdale seminars were held.

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Patterns, patterns everywhere you looked.  Definitely not boring!

 

Snow-Capped

I got out this afternoon with the camera.  There are a lot of plants and structures that are snow-capped.

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That Japanese Maple in the back yard sure looks funny with its tiny asymmetrical cap.

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Our neighborhood has a surfeit of dentists.  The office has some nice landscaping, all capped with snow this week.

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These concrete structures are found at Silver Lake Park.  I have no idea what they are, but they look like raised mausoleums at a cemetery.  Capped with snow.

Pacific Northwest Snowstorm-Updated

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This is our back yard last Sunday.

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This is the parking lot at work Monday.

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This is right out my front door about a half-hour ago.  We love standing at our kitchen window and watching the birds at our two feeders (seed and suet).  The cat likes watching them, too.  We will get 4-6 inches this weekend, and I will post more pictures later.  I love snow!

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Kikyo watching out the second-floor bedroom window.

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Our backyard this morning!  The snow is so heavy, it knocked over both of our old Arborvitae that have been here since 2000 when my house was built.