I know how busy you all are, so thank you for taking the time to let us know about the security breach that compromised the personal information of 140+ million of your customers.
I thought, “Wow! So many customers! That is a really popular company! I’m honored to be one of them!”
Thank goodness you waited all that time between discovering the hacking on July 29 and when you shared with us on September 7. That allowed time for…
Equifax Chief Financial Officer John Gamble to sell shares worth nearly $950,000 on August 1…
Joseph Loughran, Equifax’s president for U.S. information solutions, to sell shares worth about $685,000 on August 1…
And Rodolfo Ploder, president of workforce solutions, to sell stock for just more than $250,000 on August 2…
Before your stock tanked.
Well, I don’t mean “tanked,” exactly, your shares are only down 27%, and anyway, who really understands the stock market?
And besides, telling us back in July would have just given me all that extra time to worry about it, and as everyone knows, worry leads to stress and that’s bad for my health.
As long as I’m writing, I wanted to compliment you on your business model. According to award-winning financial columnist Liz Weston, we have no right to stop Equifax and the other two credit bureaus from collecting information about us. We also can’t prevent you from selling that information or keeping it in inadequately secured databases.
You NAILED it!
Speaking of getting nailed, not long after your announcement, my Visa credit card was hacked, and then nine days later, my husband’s Visa card was hacked. This has provided us with yet another shared interest, and married couples can’t have too many of those.
I do hope Richard F. Smith, your chairman and CEO, gets a chance to read this because I have to compliment him on the statement he issued on September 12. He called the cybersecurity breach “the most humbling moment in our 118-year history” which was
sweet, but equally important, not once did Rich promise, “This will never happen again.” Good strategy!
And who can blame Rich for just announcing his retirement, when he has $18.4 million in retirement benefits and could get millions of dollars more, including lifetime health coverage, according to a regulatory filing?
Retire, big bucks – good strategy!
Lifetime health coverage – good strategy!
Oh – gotta run, I just got a text…wow, my new Visa credit card was just hacked…
I wrote this after our beloved mother died on September 26, 25 years ago. I offer it now, to honor her memory.
A woman’s purse is a thing of mystery to a man. This I’ve always known. What I didn’t know was how sacred the privacy of a purse was – until Dad asked me to go through Mom’s purse, shortly before she died. By then, I’d been with Mom at her hospital bed, and later, her nursing home bed. I’d helped my intensely private mother to bathe, to the toilet, onto a bedpan. I’d thought all the barriers were down – until I opened my Mother’s purse.
A purse is a homemaker’s office-on-her arm, and Mom’s was well-organized. It had three sections plus a zipper pocket; a place for everything and everything in its place. Mom kept her purse much the way she kept her home: in order, but not stiflingly so. So, even while I was aware of invading Mom’s privacy, I also felt right at home in my Mother’s purse.
There was a small envelope labeled “Iron Money.” Mom had received an iron as a gift, discovered it was defective and returned it. Committed to buying a new iron, Mom’s unique financial code dictated that the replacement be bought not with just any cash, but with the very same bills she’d received as a refund.
Makes perfect sense to me.
There was another envelope, unlabeled, containing a crisp $20 bill. That was Mom’s emergency stash. “Never go out without money,” was one of Mom’s dictums. “Never go outside with wet hair,” was another. I’m afraid I often failed to comply with the latter, but I never go out without money. I inherited Mom’s overactive imagination, and that stash is the shield against cars that go clunk in the night.
Or possibly – funds for a bargain at a garage sale. How Mom loved sales!
Sales – and shopping. Some of Mom’s best times were spent walking the mall. Armed with a battery of credit cards – and she had them all – the walking was her exercise, the looking her recreation and the buying, which happened only occasionally, was almost incidental. Mom never abused those credit cards. She was a child of the Great Depression and being frugal was ingrained in her, a trait I have not inherited, but one I try to emulate (with questionable success).
I was puzzled by the two books of matches until Dad explained that Mom carried them for him. That was typical of Mom. For years she’d been after Dad – albeit gently – to quit smoking. Her love was balanced enough to urge him to give up the habit, but to provide him with matches if he needed them. Some might suggest that if Mom truly loved Dad she wouldn’t have offered the means for him to light up, but I disagree. Mom’s love was accepting, not controlling. An outlook I’ve had many reasons to be grateful for.
A neat, blue cosmetic bag contained hand lotion, nail cream, half a dozen lipsticks, and blusher (which Mom called “rouge”). I was glad that, at 73, Mom still cared enough about her appearance to wear makeup, though I often wondered, over the years, how it felt to apply blusher to her left cheek. Mom had a scar that reached from eye to chin, from mouth to temple, the result of a childhood accident. She rarely referred to it, though she did tell me once that kids in school called her “Scarface.” What a burden to live with – though she never showed any bitterness about it. Or about anything, that I can recall. Even at the end, knowing the brain cancer was killing her, Mom could still smile and say, “I’ve had a good life.”
Car keys, house keys, and two keys on a ring we have yet to discover a use for. Maybe Mom was carrying them around in hopes of encountering the doors they opened? An address book with that oh-so-familiar and beloved handwriting. And a small plastic card that listed 15% and 20% tips.
How Mom enjoyed going out to eat – though it was a luxury my folks had been able to afford only in recent years. Mom often teased Dad, “You got to retire – don’t I?” and for the slightest reason, or for no reason at all except that she didn’t feel like cooking (which is the best reason I can think of), Mom was ready to Go Out. At our lunches together, in those last months, she often insisted it was “her treat” and was scrupulous about leaving the appropriate tip. She’d carefully study the bill, refer to her tip table, count out the exact amount of money and then look at me, a little self-consciously. “Did I do it right?” she’d ask. You did it right, Mom. As always.
There were various cards for pleasure – the library, video rentals – and other cards with a more serious intent: insurance, Social Security, voter registration. And a serious card that gave Mom great pleasure: her ATM card. Mom thought automatic teller machines were a wonderful invention. “You just put in the card and out comes money!” she’d marvel. Of course, she was kidding. Kidding my Dad was one of her favorite pastimes. That, and loving him. And the five children that love had created.
I suppose Mom had one cough drop in her purse for the same reason she had one piece of candy: You never know when you might have a cough – or a craving. Expected items: driver’s license, pictures of grandchildren, pens, sunglasses. Then one item that surprised me, but probably shouldn’t have – The Frequent Communicants Prayer Book. I’m sure Mom used it, though I never saw her do so; she was low-key about her faith. Steadfast – from the day she converted to Catholicism just prior to marrying Dad – but low-key. I know she regretted the Church and I parting company all those years ago. I suspect she snuck a few prayers in, now and then, for my return to The Fold. But she respected my right to make my own decisions and never tried to impose her beliefs on me. Tolerant. My Mom was so tolerant. How else could she have lived with the six of us?
In the back of the prayer book were memorial cards from three funerals: her Father’s in 1982, her younger sister’s in 1985, and her Mother’s in 1987. Mom’s Mother lived until the age of 93, an age Mom and the rest of us blithely assumed she would also attain. I’m angry that I was robbed of those extra 20 years with Mom. At the end, Mom expressed surprise, but no anger. “What good would that do?” she’d ask me. You were right, Mom. As always.
So, this was my Mother’s purse. No great mysteries here; no great revelations, either. In fact, it was a very ordinary purse. That belonged to a very extraordinary woman.
To get the above image from my library’s website – and this was a real stretch for me – I did a screen print, then I scanned it, saved it, opened it in Picture Manager, cropped it, saved it, then added the red arrow in Paint and saved it again.
I was exhausted.
So when it comes to high-tech talk, I need help. I need someone to translate for me.
Maybe the eight-year-old who lives next door.
When the library’s website with the above image appeared on my computer screen, I cringed. I was sure this was yet more complicated high-tech talk with which I was unfamiliar:
“Because we are changing things, you may find areas that are broken or act funny.”
It can’t be the obvious – there must be some secret meaning here. To aid me in discerning it, I went online to look for high-tech talk that might explain “funny.”
I found the Jargon Generator at shinytoylabs.com and lots of high-tech talk, including:
The RAM pixel is down, program the optical spyware so we can generate the SMTP port!
They’re inside the malware, use the ethernet SQL system to synthesize their microchip!
You can’t reboot the transmitter without quantifying the neural ADP form factor!
These were funny, but they didn’t help me figure out the secret meaning of “funny.”
Then I found netlingo.com and fifty – fifty! – high-tech terms, alphabetized, no less. Surely I’ll find “funny” on a list that offers…
Cluster funk: When a multitude of things go wrong on a computer system, at the same time, because of one action. It can also refer to a room full of smelly programmers, as in, “You don’t want to go back there; there’s a major cluster funk going on.”
Ohnosecond: The fraction of time it takes to realize you’ve just goofed; for example, right after you hit the Send button on an email and realize you forgot to include the attachment.
Zen Mail: E-mail messages that arrive with no text in the message body.
Again, funny, but no “funny.”
Ready to tear out my hair, as a last resort, I went to a dictionary. Surely an online (high-tech) dictionary would tell me the meaning of a (high-tech) term like “funny”? I found:
Funny (fuhn-ee), adjective:
Providing fun; causing amusement or laughter; amusing; comical.
Attempting to amuse; facetious.
Warranting suspicion; deceitful; underhanded.
Funny, but not helpful.
Guess it’s time to ask that eight-year-old next door.
The Beatles’ famous hit Yesterday was first released in 1965.
And yes, I realize that was not only in the last century, but the last millennium.
According to Wikipedia – that source of all information, accurate and otherwise – the song has been analyzed, marginalized, lionized, and trivialized. It’s also been recorded by more than 2,000 people, some of them decent singers.
Musicologist Alan Pollack described the scoring
of The Beatles’ version as “truly inspired,” citing it as an example of “[Lennon and McCartney’s] flair for creating stylistic hybrids,” then going on to praise the “ironic tension drawn between the schmaltzy content of what is played by the quartet and the restrained, spare nature of the medium in which it is played.”
Because the song has been recorded so many times over so many years – as recently as May 2017 – you’ve no doubt heard it, even if you weren’t born in the last century. Or millennium. Perhaps the Motown version by The Supremes in the elevator. Or the country version by Tammy Wynette in your dentist’s office. Or that 2017 version by Guy Lee, piped into the bathroom late at night at the bar where you were hoping to get lucky.
In fact the widespread playing of Yesterday so saturated my brain that I found myself actually thinking about the lyrics, which is something most people don’t do with most songs from the 60s. And one lyric in particular really started to bother me:
Oh, yesterday came suddenly.
What does this mean?
By definition, “yesterday” means “time in the immediate past,” the key word being “past.” Yesterday is over. It’s history. And history is immutable. It can’t “came” or “come” or “go” or do anything but be in the past, not “suddenly” or slowly or in any other way.
So how could yesterday “came” suddenly?
If Lennon and McCartney had written “It changed yesterday, so suddenly,” that would make more sense. His troubles had “seemed so far away” but she went away and everything changed and now his troubles are “here to stay.”
“Yesterday came suddenly” just plain doesn’t make sense.
Come on, you know it doesn’t. No matter how big a Beatles fan you are.
So flummoxed was I over the meaningless meaning of “yesterday came suddenly” that I was overwhelmed with an urge to write my own lyrics in response. Here, without further ado…
Question: How does giving military equipment, paid for with our tax dollars, to local law enforcement “save taxpayer money?
Answer: Darned if I know.
Yet on 8/27/17, saving “taxpayer money” is exactly what Attorney General Jeff Sessions stated will happen once local law enforcement again starts acquiring “excess military equipment.” Also known as “castoff equipment and “assets that would otherwise be scrapped.”
There are also various euphemisms that describe this process:
CBS News online talked about “law enforcement’s ability to acquire” and also used the word “transfer.”
The Chicago Tribune online included the phrase “restore the flow of surplus military equipment.”
NPR online corrected an NPR radio story which apparently indicated that “police departments again will be able to purchase” and instead called them “military transfers.”
The San Diego Union-Tribune quoted documents obtained by The Associated Press which used the word “repurpose.”
CNN online referred to a program “that provides local law enforcement agencies…”
All of this is another way of saying “give,” which Sessions was careful not to say.
Give surplus military equipment, paid for by us taxpayers, to local law enforcement.
Now, wiser heads than mine have debated, and will continue to debate, the wisdom of giving military equipment to our police departments.
I’ll leave the debate to those wiser heads. I have different issues:
Why do we have “excess military equipment”?
Which bozos are over-ordering this stuff?
Why, if not given to police departments, will it “otherwise be scrapped?” Aren’t we currently fighting wars in several locations?
What kinds of equipment and what did it cost us taxpayers?
The answers to some of these are easy to find. On a government website – the Defense Logistics Agency’s (DLA) Law Enforcement Support Office (LESO) – I learned about something called the 1033 Program which originated from the National Defense Authorization Act of Fiscal Year 1997:
“Since its inception, the program has transferred more than $6 billion worth of property.”
Now, I had trouble visualizing just how much $6 billion is, until I found this:
The length of 1,000,000,000 (one billion) one dollar bills laid end-to-end measures 96,900 miles. This would extend around the earth almost 4 times.
Multiply that one billion by six = extend around the earth almost 24 times. That’s a big bunch of bucks.
The DLA’s LESO website goes on to assure us,
“No equipment is purchased for distribution. All items were excess which had been turned in by military units or had been held as part of reserve stocks until no longer needed.”
“Held as part of reserve stocks” means, of course – unused.
This equipment – called “Controlled Equipment” – includes:
Manned Aircraft, fixed or rotary wing
Command and Control Vehicles
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles
Wheeled Armored Vehicles
Wheeled Tactical Vehicles
Specialized Firearms and Ammunition Under .50 Cal (excluded firearms and ammunition for service-issued weapons)
Seriously? The military has all this stuff just lying around?
Seriously. It does.
Bottom line: Our government has transferred/repurposed/restored the flow of/provided/given $6+ billion of your and my tax dollars in military equipment to local law enforcement.
Darned if I know why no one from the DLA or the LESO or any other federal government acronym didn’t contact me beforehand about this. Hey – I’m not fussy; an email, a text, even a Tweet would have been appreciated. Such as,
And look – I did it in less than 140 characters!
Well, perhaps the folks at the DLA and LESO were too busy putting together their brochure, which features some of the “Controlled Equipment” available – here’s just one page:
Isn’t this great? Can’t you just see the caption for this one?
Here’s an idea: Rather than transferring/repurposing/restoring the flow of/providing/giving this stuff, how about if we get that money back by selling it on eBay? For instance, a bullet-proof vest, also known in the military as a Modular Tactical Vest (MTV) and its lightweight alternative, the Scalable Plate Carrier (SPC). Those things never go out of style.
Here’s a nice Eagle Industries SPC, originally $1,199, but their low price: just $749. Of course we know the bozo buyers paid WAY more than that:
But look! On eBay I can sell an Eagle Industries SPC for $480!
So if our government sold just…um…12,500,000 at $480 each, we’d get back that $6 billion!
Heads up, Jeff Sessions! That’s how you “save taxpayer money”! The money could come back to us taxpayers as a tax credit and – instant tax reform!
No. On August 29 the President signed an Executive Order to transfer/repurpose/ restore the flow of/provide/give surplus military gear to local police departments.
And as for question #2 above, Which bozos are over-ordering this stuff?
Short version: Three skunks out of a possible four.
Back in the 90s there was a TV sitcom called Seinfeld. It became iconic, famous for being “a show about nothing.” I’m going to rephrase that slogan for John Grisham’s Camino Island:
A Book About Nothing.
In an earlier book review I noted that, since I was having issues with a New York Times best seller, rated at 4.5 stars on Amazon, that perhaps the problem with was me, not the book.
I’ll have to take that notion to the next level with Camino Island. I didn’t like it, but 375,462,509 Amazon reviewers (OK, I’m exaggerating a bit) give it four stars. And it’s been on the NY Times best seller list for many weeks. Maybe years.
In fact, because the author is John Grisham, Camino Island was on the NY Times best seller list before it was published. No, wait – before he even wrote it.
So here’s my issue: It’s half a book. A chunk of it is missing.
I’m wondering if someone out there who read a different Grisham book and realized their version was also missing a chunk – could you send your version to me? So I can read the whole story?
Camino Island has no plot. No what-will-happen-next? tension. And – sorry, Mr. Grisham – no blockbuster movie potential. Unless someone hires a highly skilled screenplay writer and says, “Put some mystery into this. And excitement. And, oh, yeah – a plot.”
Here’s what that unfortunate screenwriter has to work with:
Valuable manuscripts stolen by five guys – successful.
Four of the five guys caught, one killed – not successful.
Valuable manuscripts returned to owner.
And how about our female protagonist, writer Mercer Mann? She, the book’s cover description promises, “learns far too much, and there’s trouble in paradise as only John Grisham can deliver it,” Actually, she:
Experiences writer’s block, loses her job, moves to Camino Island.
Leaves Camino Island, gets a new job, starts writing again.
For $28.95 plus tax. You Canadian readers, $38 plus tax.
But maybe I’m jumping the gun here. Maybe Grisham, as we speak, is at work on Camino Island Too. Or Son of Camino Island. Or Revenge of Camino Island.