2 November 2011: Facing personal and economic scams

Facing personal and economic scams

Getting your email account hacked is tech equivalent to catching a cold: Despite taking precautions to protect yourself by washing your hands and installing antiviral programs on your hard drive, even best efforts can be overwhelmed.

After logging on and seeing a flurry of emails, some from people with whom I rarely communicate, with subject headings such as “RE: very important” and “RE: hello,” I knew I had been hacked.

I then began getting more emails, without the telltale subject headings, from friends wondering why I sent them a link to order Viagara from Canada, which I hadn’t. After explaining what obviously had occurred and cautioning them about opening emails with dubious subject headings and, worse yet, dubious links, I suggested they might, since they had already gone to the site, order a supply and ship it to me. I’m still waiting.

So it goes in the modern tech-age. In some ways, life gets tougher with aging as the rise of can’t-live-without products such as Viagara indicates. In other ways, life can be a breeze or at least a relief in that one might have more latitude in not playing by the system’s rules in the game of life.

Of course, having the advantage of a decent financial retirement, due to having had followed a less-than-rewarding monetarily-wise career, that has yet not gone up in flames helps. What once was considered a common expectation now seems a luxury.

I recall the statement I made to my friend in 1977 after walking away from a dreary and unfulfilling gig at a K-Mart sporting goods department.

“The only thing I ever wanted to do is to teach,” I said.

“Then teach,” he replied matter-of-factly.

Of course, I commenced populating a list with reasons why at the ripe-old age of 27 I couldn’t follow that course, arguments he shot down or ignored.

It came down to a fear of failure, but at age 27, still in denial about my vulnerability, that thought hadn’t crossed my mind. In hindsight, however, I recognize its ugly head rearing at critical junctures in my life experiences. I have seen it in others’ lives. And still see it.

I recall also advice Dear Abby gave a 35-year-old man who wanted to become a doctor but fretted over the 8 years it would take to become one.

Abby simply asked, “When you’re 43, what will you be if you don’t train to be a doctor?”

Perhaps I’m looking for the pony beneath this economic manure pile. Generations of Americans have sold their souls to the corporate system resulting in robotic existence, governed by a sense of duty without happiness. Debt is run up, bills need to be paid, and it won’t do to do without the latest techno-gizmo or larger house.

It’s helpful to be reminded of Joseph Campbell’s aphorism: Life itself has no meaning; each person needs to give it his/her own meaning.

We do it through our mythologies, primarily the result of life experiences that begin to be laden at first breath. Few separate from their tribe and culture to seek their own answers. That’s the reason Tim Tebow was compelled to thank his “Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,” after leading the Broncos to that amazing comeback against Miami.

I picture Jesus clad in a Tebow jersey fist-pumping recently-arrived Al Davis of the much-hated Oakland Raiders with Apollo admonishing him, “Give it up, Jesus. Don’t you have more important concerns and ways to use your omnipotent power than helping an overpaid jock to achieve a meaningless goal?”

Another meaningless outcome: Becoming a caste member of the one percent that controls as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent.

New York Times columnist David Brooks recently wrote about research that “demonstrated that people rely on unconscious biases and rules of thumb to navigate the world, for good and ill.” The research shows that process takes place in both the realms of emotions and cognition.

It’s the reason many in knee-jerk fashion fall for the spoon-fed pabulum about the virtues of crony capitalism and the dangers of protestors who at best are uninformed or at worst pinko, commie sympathizers.

It becomes an article of faith.

In his 19th-century poem “Invictus,” William Ernest Henley proclaims, “I am the master of my fate / I am the captain of my soul.”

I wonder: How many Americans can honestly make that claim?

Email hacking demonstrates our techno vulnerability, but it’s one thing to be caught up in a two-bit scam. It’s quite another to defend a system that’s premised upon economic castes with a Brahmin nobility, the sense of which ought to be repugnant to American democratic sensibility.

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