Category: Illinois

Facebook is evil, or How your driver’s license betrays you at the grocery store

Recently there was a lot of hoopla about how Facebook is evil for the permissions they require in their new messaging application. That was idiotic in the grand scheme since the main Facebook application requires the same permissions and that any similar program (Snapchat, Vine, WhatsApp, etc.) will require the same permissions to send and receive messages, make calls or videos and more. The only reason I can figure this was such a viral hit is that it is from Facebook and that they are busting messaging out into its own application.

From a corporate standpoint this move is brilliant and a can’t-lose proposition. This will make their application a stand alone messaging platform so that even if you don’t keep the main program on your phone this little guy can serve as your messaging service. They can then directly compete with WhatsApp, Snapchat, and other messaging programs that have become quite popular recently. Even if this doesn’t take off or compete as well as they would like it to, they can fold it back into the main application and nothing is lost from their standpoint. Brilliant.

Recently we moved much closer to the metro area (STL) and when we bought a bottle of wine at Target they asked for my driver’s license. That’s not so unusual even though I’m obviously over 21. Stores in our rural home would often do the same thing to comply with store policy or as a spot check. What made it weird was when the cashier didn’t even look at my license but instead scanned the barcode on the back. I then realized that barcode must contain my date of birth to prove I wasn’t a fake old man with a kid in a suit. From that point it stuck in my head to find out what information those barcodes contain, but I never took the time to look it up until tonight (delayed posts are wonderful).

I have to say that my eyes are now open. There are three barcodes on an Illinois license – license number, ‘document number’, and the mystery barcode that looks like a 3D barcode with a bunch of tiny dots in a strip. The last barcode was the one Target was interested in scanning and now I understand why. That barcode contains everything that the front of your license shows. Name, address, weight, height, license number, date of birth, county of residence, date issued, date expired, and even if you’re an organ donor.

So what? Well, mostly nothing because all of that same information is in human-readable form on the front of your license. What makes this captured information especially tasty to corporations and marketers is that they now know your name, address, age, and all of the rest so that they can market to you and learn what you buy. Maybe you think you will foil their system and only buy booze in the transaction so they don’t know all of your other information. Nice plan, but when you first checked out with your debit card and/or credit card without wondering what information they took your information is now linked to that card or cards. Since most people only use one to three cards on average they can now track everything you ever buy and how often you visit. Even better if your household has a couple of people in it they can cross-check the addresses and learn your family unit, how many kids you have, how much your pets eat and more.

Look, I am not stupid enough to think that we can avoid any form of tracking, marketing, etc. but that doesn’t mean I have to lay back and take it. To that end they won’t be scanning my license any longer and I’ll be asking my bank for a new debit card. They can have the information I want to give them when they ask and I decide to give it. until then they don’t need my details nor should they be selling my information to marketers. You do realize they sell and trade all of our information, right? Again, I know it happens, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

At the very least I want to stay out of these data warehouses because they are an information thief’s wet dream. Everyone gets up in arms about a messaging application that does nothing new, but they don’t pay attention to the thievery right in front of them.

In case you’re wondering, anyone can read this information using a free app. Go get it and check for yourself. PDF417 on Google Play.

Of Snow and Idiots

Yes, I’m well aware that many people believe they can drive well during inclement weather and all the other people can’t or are idiots. I’m also well aware that many people now operate four-wheel drive and/or all-wheel drive vehicles. Still, please bear with me as I rant a little.

Four-wheel drive is not a miracle cure for driving on snow. Yes you will likely have better traction and are more likely to keep moving, but it doesn’t help you stop. I repeat – four-wheel drive does not help you stop. When you’re cruising along at 50mph or so and pass me, your tires are just as likely to slip as mine in compacted snow and ice.

Which brings me to my second point – compacted, partially-thawed, re-frozen snow is now ice. When you are driving your big wheel that you bought because all the other soccer moms or doctors were buying one on ice you have (virtually) no better driving ability than me. Yes you stand a better chance of traction if one of the four wheels is not on ice, but otherwise we’re on the same ground.

All of this being said I would like to remind all of you that go sliding into intersections (cars included) that you’re dipshits and need to slow the hell down. If you’re heading to a real job they’ll understand. If you’re heading to a McJob – why hurry? Is the ensuing accident, expenses, and being late anyway worth the risk? Probably not. People can wait a minute or two for fries or to check out at the grocery and you should have left earlier.

I say all of this after a day of watching ABS kick in on most vehicles coming to a stop at traffic signals and stop signs. Most of the time I was already slowed down (from 30 or so) to watch them slide into the intersection because I knew they were going too fast. The Excursion that almost plowed me last night took 3 car lengths to stop and then tried to pass me as I turned into Schnucks. He/she was/is a twat.

Make a Difference in Election 2012

My friends in Illinois,

Obama has won Illinois. Neither he nor Romney spent any money here because of the lopsided polls. Chicago, East STL, Peoria, and others have decided for you. I tell you this not because I support Obama, but to appeal to your logic.

A vote for Romney is pointless in this election. You may be doing it to spite the D or whatever, but it won’t actually do anything. What I ask you to consider is voting for Gary Johnson – a Libertarian. Why? A number of reasons, but I will attempt to keep this a reasonable post. Libertarians believe in liberty. More specifically they believe in personal choice. What people do, so long as it does not harm others, is your own business. (my interpretation)

Gary Johnson is polling at 4% when included alongside the D and R candidates. With your help he could reach the magical 5% number that the D and R established to get federal money (yup, you fund the candidates like it or not) and most importantly ballot access. Ballot access means that the Libertarian party will be allowed special privileges like the D and R instead of having to fight, get petitions with signatures, and be denied the ability to participate in debates. This also means that the D and R might have to take a stand on issues instead of mostly agreeing without taking a definitive stand.

In the end, I don’t know that my plea will make a difference, but I am hoping that you will make a difference. This election cycle goes to the D in Illinois. However you can use the vote you might have cast in spite, out of tradition, or whatever reason you had and use it to allow another party to have a say in politics and provoke some change. I ask you to cast a vote for a truly different candidate and spur our political system to what it can be – greatness.

Sincerely,
Me

 

 

So tired of motorcyclists

First off – yes there are responsible motorized bike riders out there, and good for them. This is not about them. This is about the self-righteous jerks who think that because they choose to ride an unstable, unprotected, overpowered (some) vehicle with little precautions for personal safety that they have the right to offend everyone else and claim persecution.

I’m tired of motorcycle riders bitching about how they have to pay closer attention to controlling their motorized bike. Yes, you do. There are only two wheels instead of four. It’s a bike with a motor. You choose to ride it, buck up and take responsibility.

Some riders bitch about how they are more at risk for injury than those of us in regular vehicles. Yes, you are completely unprotected. You chose to ride a vehicle with no surrounding frame nor safety devices. Own your choice or change it.

On the excessive powered motors – I don’t really have a complaint. Do what you want, but be able to handle it responsibly.

In Illinois motorcycle riders are not required to wear helmets. Cool. I don’t think you should HAVE to do much of anything you don’t want to do. However, please understand that I have much less pity for you if you are wearing cloth shorts, a tank top, and sunglasses. Enjoy your bike, but realize you are taking 0.0 effort to protect yourself. Quit whining.

Loud pipes save lives my ass. Loud pipes are an extension of your penis. Generally I cannot hear the penis-extenders until a bike is beside me or splitting a lane to pass and squeeze one car space ahead to cause an accident. This is a bullshit chant to justify annoying everyone who doesn’t find the exhaust cackle thrilling. If loud pipes saved lives we should all be driving with glass packs or straight pipes.

Start SEEING motorcycles is a tired load of horse shit. I look out for all vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians, and deer when I’m driving. I know some people don’t, but there are also dumbass motorcyclists splitting lanes and weaving in and out of traffic. I witness this at least a few times per month, and often a few times per week. The mantra was cute when it started, but now it comes off as a whine that motorcyclists use to shift blame for their choices onto those who don’t ride motorized bikes.

End rant.

Also, ladies – we know it’s a rolling vibrator, you can quit pretending it’s not.

Home Rule Revocation – It Begins

So, there was a petition turned in to the City Clerk this past Tuesday to put the question of whether Mount Vernon, IL should revoke Home Rule according to the Register-News. In that article I noticed something that struck me as peculiar:

The petition was presented to the City Clerk’s office Tuesday. Mayor Mary Jane Chesley said the petition will be reviewed by the city council to make sure it met all legal requirements before it will can put on the ballot for a vote by Mt. Vernon residents.

Now, I may be very mistaken, but I believe that the City Clerk certifies the petition, not the City Council.

However, I have been wrong before, and likely will be again. To that end I sent the following email to Mayor Chesley and all of City Council:

Mayor and Council,

I was reading about the guy who submitted the ‘revoke home rule’ petition and something caught my eye. As I understand it, the question should go on the ballot when certified by the city clerk. Why is council reviewing it?

If it’s just a cursory review I understand, but the city clerk is the one who certifies the petition.

I’d appreciate your help in understanding.

Please know I am not associated with this guy, nor do I know him to my knowledge. I am only trying to gain a correct perspective in this matter and would appreciate your guidance.

Thank you for your time!

I am anxious for their reply as I really would like to know if my understanding is correct about how this process works. Whether or not the petition works, governmental bureaucratic red-tape intrigues me.