TRACKSIDE - McTique II

by John D'Aloia

A previous TRACKSIDE described New Zealand government reform actions as reported by Maurice P. McTigue in an article entitled "Rolling Back Government" printed in the April 2004 Imprimis, published by Hillsdale College. Space limitations prevented relating other actions taken by McTigue and company.

The reformers believed that subsidies make people dependent, dependent people lose their ingenuity, and dependent people become more dependent. McTigue’s example was sheep farming. Lamb was selling for $12.50 per carcass on the market and the taxpayers were kicking in another $12.50 per. In a one-year period, the government pulled the plug on the subsidy. Sheep ranchers put their heads together and developed a product that, within four years, brought $30 per carcass. By 1999 the price was $115 per carcass. It was forecast that eliminating the subsidy would result in corporate farming eradicating family farms. The opposite happened - corporate farms declined and family farming expanded. Inside the beltway, are you listening?

The New Zealand educational system was failing. More and more money was poured into the system while achievements headed south. McTigue said "It cost us twice as much to get a poorer result than we did 20 years previously with much less money." They found that only 30 cents of every education dollar reached the classroom. (The educrats were well fed.) They eliminated all Boards of Education, and placed each of 4,500 schools under the control of a board of trustees elected by the parents of students at the school. They gave each school a bag of money based on the number of students with no strings attached to the bag. Private schools got the same bag of money, allowing parents to choose which schools got the money for their children. Within 18 months, the large achievement disparity between public and private schools evaporated as teachers were empowered to teach - and realized that without students in their classrooms, they would be without employment. Within three years, New Zealand students went from being 14 or 15 percent below their international peers to 14 or 15 percent above them in academic performance. In Topeka, are you listening?

Every one who has had an encounter of a close kind on a highway with a deer (my encounter was more than close), and farmers, will like the New Zealand approach to managing deer. For 120 years, New Zealand tried to eliminate deer, loosed on the land when they were imported by the English for hunting. The deer were an invasive species - keep that term in mind for it is another ecofascist power play. The reformers authorized farmers and ranchers to farm the deer if they could catch them and keep them behind eight-foot high fences. Voila! The government spent not one cent since on deer eradication and New Zealand has 40 percent of the world’s venison market. In Topeka, are you listening? I think not - many, many sessions ago, a Kansas citizen brought a somewhat similar idea to the dome and was scarcely given the time of day. Why? A private-market solution is a direct threat to the entrenched bureaucracy which exists on the concept that government owns the state’s wild animals. If private citizens can own and manage wild animals, rangers, wardens, and offices in Topeka are superfluous baggage.

I wish McTigue had a bit of influence in Topeka. Not only is Kansas the "High Tax Point on the Prairie", we are spending ourselves into the poor house. The Guv’s staff has estimated that the "short fall" (such a genteel term for spending what you don’t have) for FY2010 would be $188M increasing to $400M in FY2011. Caleb Stegal, in an article posted on Kansas Liberty.com on July 2nd,longed for the good old days when Kansas had a conservative Democrat for governor. He wrote: "[She] abhorred waste in government and the burden of taxation. She vetoed tax increases and used her line-item to strike bloated deficit spending. She balanced the budget and forced an "existing resources" budget through a recalcitrant state legislature which increased general fund spending by only one-half of one percent. (Pause and let that sink in, especially in light of our current GOP-controlled legislature which treats the mere mention of holding to 3% budget increases with the tantrums of a spoiled child.)"

If Kansas Republicans cannot summon up the will to establish a McTigue-like program to straighten things out, perhaps we can find another Governor Finney.


See you Trackside.



Reprinted from the Old Eponym site in honor of former Editor John D'Aloia 

Excerpts reprinted by permission from Imprimis, the national speech digest of Hillsdale College, www.hillsdale.edu. Subscriptions are free upon request.

Law Enforcement Reveals Cause of Southern California’s Skirball Fire

by Chris Agee

 

One of several wildfires that continue to devastate large portions of California was ignited by a fire used for cooking, authorities announced this week.

In a statement Tuesday, officials indicated the Skirball Fire, which broke out Wednesday morning near Bel-Air, was traced to a homeless encampment near the 405 Freeway where an illegal flame sparked the major blaze.  According to KTLA, the blaze had burned more than 422 acres and destroyed at least six structures.


KTLA @KTLA

BREAKING: @LAFD says #SkirballFire was caused by illegal cooking fire at hillside homeless encampment http://on.ktla.com/lkGFZ

8:44 PM - Dec 12, 2017

Skirball Fire Was Sparked by Illegal Cooking Flame at Hillside Encampment: LAFD


The Skirball Fire that destroyed six structures and burned 422 acres in the hills of Bel-Air was broke out because of an illegal cooking flame ignited at an area homeless encampment, officials said...

Reports indicated another dozen structures were damaged, though it is unclear how many of the damaged and destroyed buildings were homes.

No one was at the scene of the suspected origin when investigators arrived, and there have been no arrests associated with the fire as of the latest reports available.  Hundreds of locals were evacuated as the fire spread and a number of area schools were closed.

The Getty Center museum was also closed to the public, though its priceless works of art remained inside, according to CNN.  Ron Hartwig, a museum spokesperson, said that even in the path of a wildfire, the secure building is the safest location for its contents.  “The building was designed to be the best place to keep an art collection,” he said.

The Los Angeles Fire Department provided an update Tuesday confirming the Skirball Fire was 85 percent contained.  Dozens of firefighters remained on the scene and at three had sustained injuries related to the effort.  Given the arid, windy conditions across California over the past few weeks, other area fires have been much harder for firefighters to contain. 

None of the other five major fires that have been sparked across Southern California in recent days have identified origins.  The largest of those blazes, the Thomas Fire, has grown to engulf an area larger than New York City. 

It was about 20 percent contained as of the latest estimates available as winds in the region were expected to calm in coming days.  Santa Barbara County fire spokesperson Mike Eliason expressed tempered optimism, saying the situation is “bad, but it’s a better bad.”


Russiagate: Behind the Propaganda…

by Chris Campbell 

Americans are some of the most soulful, creative and brilliant humans on this planet. That’s why the machine needs to propagandize them so aggressively.”  – Caitlin Johnstone

There are a couple of idiots, the propagandists, calling for blood on TV.  And a couple others, the pawns, spilling it. Yes. The world is full of crazies. But crazy is not the absolute norm. Most just want to be left alone.

“Civilization,” historian Will Durant writes, “is a stream with banks. The stream is sometimes filled with from people stealing, shouting and doing the things historians usually record, while on the banks, unnoticed, people build homes, make love, raise children, sing songs, write poetry and even whittle statues. The story of civilization is the story of what happened on the banks. Historians are pessimists because they ignore the banks for the river.”


Propaganda 101


The propagandist, of course, supports such a lopsided perception.  The propagandist wants you (and the historian) to think the river represents the banks. History’s redheaded stepchildren, the “common” people, are to be seen but not heard. Crafted through careful planning and callous retrospect, indeed, but never defined by their own minds.  And, that’s what’s most insidious…

Propaganda doesn’t just aim, in real-time, to teach people how to feel about the “others.” It also aims to instruct individuals on how they should feel about themselves and their neighbors, too.


Using America as an example…


“Jaded Americans,” Caitlin Johnstone tweeted last week, “talk to me about how ignorant and awful their countrymen are, expecting me to agree, I guess. I don’t. Americans are some of the most soulful, creative and brilliant humans on this planet. That’s why the machine needs to propagandize them so aggressively.”

Johnstone, if you don’t know, is an Aussie journalist. (And one of a select few lefty writers I’ve grown to admire.)  And, today, never one to hold back, she has something to say about those who still swallow the “Russiagate” narrative, hook, line and sinker.


Read on.
 

People Believe In Russiagate Because They Lack Self-Awareness

By Caitlin Johnstone

 I recently watched a former Hillary Clinton aide trying to prove in front of his large social media audience that the Sanders supporter who was arguing with him was actually a Russian bot using an improvised Turing test.


Article continues Here



Beware - Web Spying Companies Recording all User Keystrokes

by Allen Williams


A few weeks ago, I decided to have a look at one of the web visitor data recording companies out there to see what kind of information they could collect.. Motherboard reports that a Princeton study revealed that over 400 companies (so far) record your every keystroke and them transmit it to a third party website.  

Typical companies providing this service are FullStory, SessionCam, SmartLookUserReplay, etc.  I opted to try SmartLook simply because the ’geniuses’ at Webnode provided a convenient widget to insert their tracking code.

It just isn’t enough today that American Intelligence agencies are spying on everyone with their Prism software, but they are partnering with major business and social media like the CIA’s 600 million contract with Amazon .com  for cloud access.  We already know that Facebook and until recently Twitter provide information to the CIA.  The bad news here is that all purchases through Amazon are retained on their cloud servers and the CIA will have access.  You can be certain that any cloud service that your application communicates with will be available to the intelligence services as well as a host of unknown third parties because the data is NOT encrypted.

It’s far better to get the ‘mark’ to provide personalized data on him or herself to the tracking recorder thinking that he’s browsing anonymously or at least ignored  but “…many of these companies have dashboards where clients can playback the recordings they collect.   Yandex, Hotjar, and Smartlook’s dashboards run non-encrypted HTTP pages, rather than much more secure, encrypted HTTPS pages.”  The biggest liability is that once the data is removed from your site all control is lost, virtually anyone could have access to this data and you’d never know.

I was curious to find out just what could be collected by SmartLook.  However, I was surprised to find that the actual service is quite haphazard.  Either SmartLook is developing their recording software ‘on the fly’ as the saying goes or you really don’t get much on the ‘free’ side.  But upgrading the service means you’re paying to have your readers spied on.

Fortunately, the SmartLook collected data is not totally accurate or reliable.  Primarily because the staff is not well organized, knowledgeable or well versed in English.  After adding their code to The Patriot’s header and getting nothing, I contacted SmartLook support where a woman named Sofie informed me by email that  “In one case Only in webnode premium you can add code directly to the HTML header of the whole website.  In webnode free, you need to install the code in all pages you wish to track.”   Anyone, who is remotely conscious or understands the language, knows that free websites don’t have custom registered URLs as we do, ergo, we are a premium user!   So this individual is likely responding with canned phrases from the company’s data forum without any understanding of what was conveyed because they can’t communicate beyond an elementary level in English.

In another case, two different users known to me personally, one residing in Kansas and the other in Ohio accessed our site but showed the same IP address in the data collection set.  Upon questioning one of the support staff as to how this could happen, I was told that “The only explanation is that it was the same person and the two different names appeared because you have wrong code settings.”  The company’s help link indicates that if you want to track a particular user, you have to type their email address directly into the tracking code and they give an example case. The SmarLook tracking code is ‘paste-in’ and Webnode provides the widget access so unless you can’t type an address within the two apostrophe markers, you can’t have wrong code settings unless either SmartLook or Webnode made them.  

Individual email identification is no better as I have seen a whole day of data collection of 6 or more people with the same email but different IP addresses. Guess the user has multiple identities so he or she switches every couple of hours throughout the day.  The responses I’ve received from their support staff are disingenuous and you can’t really trust their assessments.

After some dickering back and forth with their support personnel to get things working the way SmartLook advertised,  I indeed found that I could watch a visitor enter our site and view virtually everything he or she clicked on.  This kind of information can and will be abused down the road and It's already happening as "The CBS report suggests in no uncertain terms that the personal information pertaining to millions of Americans collected by one of the World’s largest ad agencies is sold to the CIA." 

Smartlook claimed their software only retained three days worth of data but that’s because I wasn’t paying them to collect it.  Data was collected from approximately Nov 3rd to Nov 24th obviously more than 3 days. There was no data collected beyond Nov 24th, 2017 by their system even though I still had their code installed on the site for several more days.  At first, I thought it was yet another glitch but when nothing more was recorded, I removed the code.  On Nov. 27th, all archived data subsequently disappeared from the SmartLook control panel or at least was interred somewhere where I couldn’t access it.  You can be reasonably certain that it’s still archived there even if I no longer have access to it.

UPDATE  12/12/17 Why Have you Stopped Using SmartLook?

Hi,

I have noticed you removed our code from your website. Can you tell me why did you stop using Smartlook? Just pick a letter:

A) Smartlook doesn't record my website properly
B) I don’t have time to watch the recordings / I find no added value in Smartlook
C) I just removed Smartlook temporarily - plan to use it again
D) I am missing feature X (please fill in)
E) Neither of those, let me tell you why...

I will be glad for any feedback, even if it's negative.


Best regards,


Vladimir Sandera
cofounder, optimist
Smartlook


I received this correspondence from one of the SmartLook co-founders in early December after removing their code from our header.  Why was this an issue? Could it be that they wanted me to leave the code installed to keep recording visitor data whether or not I chose to use it?


Update 1/24/2018

 “We're excited to tell you we're migrating all our data to more powerful cloud service (AWS)! Your account included. The process is time-intensive, but we're working hard to complete the migration by the end of next week.

While the long-term benefits will be great, we wanted to let you know you might experience a few bumps and minor interruptions along the way. (Might.)

The good news:

  • AWS provides us with more safety, stability, and speed
  • Your data will be better serviced and stored securely
  • Smartlook features will run faster
  • This migration is a lot of work, and we appreciate your patience during the next few days while we finish up”

Your Smartlook Team

Long term benefits for whom? This move simply presents more opportunities for data to be accessed by more persons unknown as it’s unlikely that Smarlook’s new AWS storage is any more secure than Yahoo who experienced a major hack. 

I recommend readers give serious consideration to a good AD blocker:  “If you want to block session replay scripts, popular ad-blocking tool AdBlock Plus will now protect you against all of the ones documented in the Princeton study.