February 10, 2010

Pheeding the Phishies

Buon giorno. I'm getting irritated. Not only do I get a marked increase in spam, but I'm getting people sending me viruses and phishing attempts. I learned long ago (and I think most of my readers know this by now) that your online company will not ask for your account number, social security number, bank account number, password or other personal information. (Also note that you should not give that kind of information over the telephone to someone who calls you and asks for it.) But at least I can share my experiences with the world and, hopefully, save someone from grief.

When you get hit with something, you can contact the company yourself if you think there may be a legitimate question on their part. More likely, it's a spoof (phishing) attempt. Report them. Go to the site of the company itself, find the address that most of those companies give you, and then turn in the scumbags.

Here is a cute thing that I got from "PayPal". Or so it claims:

They try to scare you into working fast. But...where's my name? This is "PayPal member", and that's my first warning. And no, looking at the "from" field in the e-mail is not an indicator, because those are easily faked; if I wanted to, I could send you e-mail from "Satan@Hell.com" and it would appear real until someone checked the headers of the e-mail.

After checking with PayPal's site and forwarding it to them, I wanted to have some fun. I have clicked on these things before (including a "request for information" from a company where I did not even have a credit card), and filled in junk. Don't do this at home, though. I have excellent security on my system, capice? My next protection kicked in:

Well, well, well! Firefox leaps into the fray, being my Bill O'Reilly ("looking out for you"). OK, playtime's over. My protection spoiled my pointless bit of fun, I was going to pheed the phishies some phalse information.

Anyway, I know I'm rambling. Just remember, kids, don't give out personal information to your "bank" or other "financial institution". It's probably not them at all, capice?

Check out what PayPal itself says about phishing and spoof mails, and their advice on protecting yourself. 

February 9, 2010

Does "Minimalist Government" Exist?

The thoughts just keep on rolling! But I think this will be the last one on "Minimalist" philosophies for a while because I have some other things to talk to you about.

Let me remind you that I am still working through these things. As far as I can figure it, a Minimalist is the ultimate clutter reducer. Leo Babauta describes it this way: “Minimalism isn’t about having or doing nothing – it’s about making room in your life for the things you love doing most. In this way, by getting rid of all the clutter in our lives – physical clutter and commitments – we are freeing ourselves, so that we can focus on what truly matters, and not all the extra crap people tend to do and have for no good reason”. You can read some more interesting discussions on that here, here and here. Note: Use your right-click and "Open in New Tab" feature on Firefox so you don't get lost and forget to finish this article that started you off.

As I said before, Leo takes things further than I am willing to go. But these philosophies fit quite well with Buddhism and Christianity because both discourage fondness for (and clinging to) possessions. Minimalism seems to be a state of mind. That means it will have an effect on just about every aspect of your life.

Is there such a thing as Minimalist government? Frankly, the terms create an oxymoron. By its nature today, government is big, bulky, cumbersome and pervasive. Minimalism could conceivably lead its practitioner to anarchy, where there is no government and everyone does what is right in their own minds. That would lead to chaos and violence, so anarchy is right out.

Leftism, or liberalism, in the USA is only slightly better than anarchy. But liberal government keeps getting bigger and more invasive, eventually collapsing under its own weight. It seems to me that an honest Minimalist would want to shun liberalism. The "green" movement, with its pseudo-religious chant of "reduce your carbon footprint" is liberalism in action, creating more government involvement and intrusion in our lives. You want to live "green", fine. But don't force the rest of us to buy into any of your philosophies with unnecessary laws.

Also, vegetarians are, in my experience, usually liberals as well. Hey, if you do not want to eat meat or any animal products at all ("vegans"), that's up to you. That's your choice. It's not my choice. By the way, did you notice that some of your teeth care called "canine"? Yep, your teeth are made for eating meat. That means you have no right to pretend to be morally superior to those of us who use our teeth in the way that they were designed. So, I don't want you telling me what I can eat, and I do not want the government making more and more laws to force me to act in a manner that is "green" enough, capice?

Bluntly, an intellectually and emotionally honest Minimalist would become a Conservative. We want to conserve the Constitution of the United States. We want to help people, but do not want to create reliance on the government. We want less government. Less is better. And that fits quite well in with a Minimalist philosophy.

Addendum: Jim DeMint reportedly said on February 18, 2010, ""Reducing the size and scope of the fed government is the only way to truly cut spending."

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