What, Me Worry?
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Published Wednesday, April 25, 2018 @ 9:07 AM EDT
Apr 25 2018

You already have zero privacy- get over it.
-Scott McNealy

I'm probably an outlier here, but I can't get too worked up over the Facebook/Cambridge Analytics data privacy business.

Perhaps it comes from 30+ years of working with computers, but when I log onto a social media site, I really don't expect much in the way of privacy. That's why I don't put anything on Facebook that I don't want people (or companies) to know.

I also realize that by visiting these social media sites, my personal data is going to be monetized by the site. Remember the saying: "If you're not paying for the product, you are the product." (Some disagree.)

Some people are creeped out by the ads they see, which often include stuff they've viewed on other sites. Doesn't bother me... in fact, it's useful. I often go to a site to buy something, get interrupted or distracted, and forget about it. The ad jogs my memory and saves me the time of having to manually go back to the site. Often, the ad will be from a different seller who has a lower price.

I guess it can be reduced to one's sense of self-importance. Frankly, I don't think there's much about me on social media that's so secret or valuable that it must be protected. On commerce sites, I use strong passwords and two-step verification. On Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, I really don't care that much. To those who feel otherwise, I quote Fran Lebowitz: "Your life story would not make a good book. Don't even try."

Anyway, the real threat isn't Facebook, it's our own government. In the days after 9/11, the government started scanning everything. Everything. The Post Office has a photo of every piece of first class mail it handles. The NSA sees just about everything that travels across the net. Even science fiction couldn't keep up with reality:

And let's be honest... if the government really has some reason to single you out of the 324 million people in the United States, they would have no problem -especially under the present administration- fabricating incriminating information or, for that matter, just making you disappear. Donald Trump frightens me. Mark Zuckerberg, not so much.

Here's what I find disturbing:

A Google search for "Kevin G. Barkes" returns about 14,600 hits. I've been online since the late 1980s so, if anything, I'm somewhat under-referenced. A bit more vexing is what appears when you do an image search of me (see above). In case you're wondering, the photos appear to come from this website, and include L. Ron Hubbard, me, Joseph P. Kennedy, Immanuel Kant, Gary Busey, me, Bill Moyers, Grace Lee Boggs, and Michael Eisner. Since text containing "Kevin G. Barkes" appears on every page of this site, Google apparently grabs everything and files it under my name.

Fortunately, I have not been misidentified as Gary Busey.

Yet.


Categories: Facebook; Fran Lebowitz; Linked In; NSA; Peggy Noonan; Person of Interest; PRISM; The Daily KGB Report; The Machine; Twitter


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The cat is trying to kill us
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Published Tuesday, April 24, 2018 @ 8:55 AM EDT
Apr 24 2018


Pumpkin, aka Felis catus homicidus

A study a few years back reported that dogs and cats contribute to injuries that send an estimated 87,000 people to emergency rooms every year.

Most of the injuries are falls, and most are caused by dogs.

Not in my house.

Our two remaining dogs have never tripped me. The Sheltie is blind, rather large, and easy to avoid. The small, insane dog-like creature (Shih Tzu) is nimble and aware of her size, so she deftly stays out of our paths.

Ah, but Pumpkin, the 21-year-old black cat... we've decided she is intentionally trying to kill us both. On average, my and wife and I trip over her at least three times a day. She likes sleeping at the top of the cellar steps, especially at night when she's virtually invisible.

Trip over a dog, and the animal immediately presents a regretful expression. You can almost hear them say "I'm sorry."

Trip over my cat, and you get an emotionless stare. Her regret seems to stem from the fact we're still erect and undamaged.

I'm seriously considering having her wear a belled collar, something she hasn't done since she was a kitten.

Come to think of it, that would piss her off even more. Guess we're just going to have to fix our gazes downward as we navigate through the house. And pray my suspicion is unwarranted... that the furry little queen hasn't taken out rather large life insurance policies on my wife and me.


Categories: Cats; Dogs; KGB Family; The Daily KGB Report


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Mense Horribilis
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Published Monday, April 23, 2018 @ 12:50 AM EDT
Apr 23 2018

The last month has been probably the worst in my life. I've lost a cat, a dog, an ex-wife; learned of the untimely passing of three friends/acquaintences months after the fact; made multiple trips to clinics and hospitals for an upper respiratory issue that apparently isn't pneumonia but an unrelenting form of bronchitis; have broken out in hive-like eruptions an ER physician said was an allergy to doxycycline but obviously isn't, since it's three weeks later and they're still there; an inability to consult with my actual physician of 46 years, who injured his back and is in rehabilitation; and a family member with majot legal problems due not to infractions of the law but the petty vindictiveness of someone whom we had embraced and cared for in times of personal tragedy.

And, of course, there's the ongoing disintegration of our republic due to daily disclosures/exposes of Trump's malfeasant administration. It's reached the point that I've considering no longer watching The Rachel Maddow Show, despite the fact it's an island of sanity in the whirlpool of ceaseless daily derangement.

In times like this, I recall the sage advice of a psychiatrist who was treating me for depression in Philadelphia in 1983. "Don't make any decisions immediately, especially when you're tired and upset. Get a good night's sleep, sit down, and ask yourself: 'What is the responsible, adult thing to do?'

"Responsible adult" seems on the verge of becoming an oxymoron these days. But, in fact, the good doctor is still in practice 35 years later, so he must know what he's talking about. He also was a dead ringer for Michael Coldsmith-Briggs III, "Archangel" in the television series Airwolf, which is probably why I gave his counsel so much weight. And over the past 35 years, I've come to realize it was the only useful advice I've ever received from a mental health professional.

So, I'm resuming my full schedule and no longer cowering in fear of whatever calamity will next befall me.

And I'm definitely going to adjust the medication.


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Passages
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Published Monday, April 09, 2018 @ 11:34 AM EDT
Apr 09 2018

Pamela Barkes, 64, of Pittsburgh (formerly of Homestead and South Park), on Sunday, April 8 at ManorCare Health Services in Shadyside after a long illness. She was born in Homestead, PA on April 14, 1953 to the late Hugh and Winifred (Burns) McIlroy and was preceded in death by her brother James McIlroy of British Columbia, who passed in 2016. She is survived by her brother Keith McIlroy of Woodbridge, VA; her sisters Isabel Burke of Ruffsdale, PA; Arlene Clowers of Dallas, TX; Maxine DelGrosso of Elizabeth, PA; and Cynthia Boyle of Greenville, OH; her granddaughters, Leanna Salopek and Joelle Barkes; her daughter Sara Kay (Brian) Salopek of Mount Oliver; her son, Douglas (Angela) Barkes of Castle Shannon; and their father, Kevin Barkes of South Park. At her request, there will be no viewing or services.

KGB Report will resume publication on Monday, April 22.


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Sassy (3/2/04-03/29/18)
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Published Thursday, March 29, 2018 @ 6:38 PM EDT
Mar 29 2018

I took her to the vet right after Christmas. The cough had me worried, and for good reason. The doctor confirmed my suspicion: congestive heart failure. We went home loaded with drugs and the hope the medication would give her a bit more time.

It was only three months, but we took them. Sassy bravely maintained her daily routine, following me around the house, barking to be let out or in, lying next to me on the floor when I dozed on the couch or in bed, sleeping under my desk next to my feet as I worked in my office.

She had to be carried down to my office this morning to take her spot under the desk; she was too weak to navigate on her own. She passed on several opportunities to join the other dogs outside; she seemed satisfied to stay where she was.

Shortly after four I glanced down to look at her. She was lying on her side, her mouth in her resting semi-smile. But her eyes were open and non-blinking. I put my hand on her side- she wasn't breathing.

I've lost a lot of dogs, but this was the first to go naturally, as it were. She wasn't in any obvious distress. When sleep turned into that final deep slumber, she was where she liked to be: under my desk, at my feet.

She was a good girl.

"It came to me that every time I lose a dog they take a little piece of my heart with them and every new dog who comes into my life gifts me with a piece of their heart. If I live long enough, all of the components of my heart will be dog and I will become as generous and as loving as they are."
–Anonymous

KGB Report on the web will return on Monday, April 9.


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