Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Phishing Scams

If you’re reading this post, you either own a computer or have access to one through some other means.  In either case, you certainly make use of the net and likely have an e-mail account that you access frequently.  As a result, I’m sure that while you’ve used computers, you’ve encountered incessant pop-ups claiming that your computer is infested with a virus and must be immunised before your hard drive is erased, causing you to lose all of your valuable information.  Likewise, I’m sure you’ve also received e-mails claiming to be sent by your bank or credit card company, suggesting that you must act immediately to rectify a problem or you’ll lose access to your hard-earned money.  And we can’t forget those instances when you receive a message—pop-up, e-mail, or text—saying that you’ve won a coveted vacation or prize and will miss out if you don’t contact the sender instantaneously.

These phishing scams are specifically designed to make you panic such that you share personal information such as usernames, passwords, credit card details, or, worse yet, send money to someone who promises to resolve the issue or process the documentation required for you to be eligible for a prize or trip.  But, how is it that so many people have fallen for these scams, in turn causing identity theft and/or major financial loss?  The answer to this question is quite simple…

Many see the internet as infallible, without malice, and full of truth.  They fail to understand how malicious people are just waiting in the background to pounce on the unsuspecting.  When presented with a chance to get something for nothing, others cannot pass on the opportunity and jump in with both feet, drowning in the process.  I especially feel bad for the elderly who fall prey to these thieves, lacking experience with technology and not realizing that these sorts of things are being done.

I lay blame on the conglomerates that bombard us through every means possible with advertisements that draw us towards their products.  It’s at the point where many companies charge you extra when you choose to conduct business with them using any other means than the one they force upon you.  It’s no wonder why people are so easily caught off guard!

And what are you to do about this?  I really can’t say; on one hand, the internet is so useful and can simplify things tremendously, but on the other, with one’s identity in jeopardy, using the internet can be a risky endeavour!  I am resigned to the fact that there isn’t much that can be done about the whole thing, leading me to my fallback plan: Blame it on fast foods.

- B. J. T. Pepin

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Magic Pill

We are continually bombarded with advertisements that claim to have a newly discovered, secret recipe that is more potent and ingredient-laden, and sold nowhere else but through one particular company via a “limited time offer.”  Other ads speak about having scientifically/clinically-proven processes or fool-proof tricks to address specific problems that plague the world.  In both cases, a high profile spokesperson/endorser suggests/professes that if we take this company’s product, he/she promises we will be rid of all of our fat, have unlimited amounts of energy, be acne-free/be beautiful, no longer be affected by erectile/sexual dysfunction, or, worse yet, become ageless wonders that can overcome each and every ailment known to mankind.

In reality, these companies dupe consumers simply to make a quick sale, often disappearing into the sunset to later reincarnate as different businesses with newer creations or versions of product X, Y, or Z.  But, how do they sucker us into buying these things?  It’s actually simple!  The manufacturers and/or sales “gurus” focus on and/or poke and jab at as many of our frailties as possible.  For all intents and purposes, the sales pitch is designed to specifically target a particular group of fragile folks, convince them to believe their hogwash, and create a sense of urgency by threatening them to remove their time-sensitive offer, thereby getting them “hook, line, and sinker.”

It’s time for all of us to push back!  We all must refuse to be fooled by the “smoke and mirrors” and the glitter used to reel us in!  Since the government is doing nothing about the trickery, we must fight these companies by not buying their products, hitting them where it hurts them most: Their pocket books.  And if everything you do fails, just do what I do: Blame it on fast foods.

- B. J. T. Pepin

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Everything Is Relative...or Is It?

Every winter, places around the world encounter some interesting weather.  Some face cooler temperatures for a few days, while others face temperatures of -30°C/-20°F that last for weeks.  In both cases, people complain about how frigid it is, while others say that it isn’t that cold.  Then, when the temperature warms up significantly, you get the same thing: some say that it’s warm out, and others say that it’s still a little chilly.  What gives?!

The same concept can be applied to affluence.  I’m sure that you all have witnessed people who have nothing but the clothes on their backs (if that) and feel rich, while there are billionaires who complain that they don’t have enough money to live comfortably.  In all cases, one might say that it all depends on one’s point of view or perspective taken.

This brings us to the concept of relativism.  It suggests that points of view do not have absolute truths since things have relative/subjective value based on differences in perception of and importance attributed by the individual concerned.  However, one argument against this concept points out that relativism actually contradicts itself: If the statement “everything is relative” is viewed as a relative statement, it doesn’t rule out absolutes, and if it’s considered an absolute statement, it indicates that not all things are relative.

Further exploration of the concept leads to all sorts of “isms,” including: moral relativism, cultural relativism, anthropological/methodological relativism, philosophical relativism, descriptive relativism, normative relativism, and I could go on and on.  However, just looking at these concepts gives me a splitting headache!

So, if you’re like me and you can’t stand where this discussion is going, just do what I do: Blame it on fast foods.

- B. J. T. Pepin

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Too Much Quoting?!

Have you ever met someone who is so well-read that he/she is able to produce a quote at almost any time and about almost any topic?  Most people have.  But is it impressive to have this skill, or is there such a thing as too much quoting?

In scholastic terms, were someone to use too many quotes, it could lead to accusations of plagiarism.  In other words, too much quoting crowds out your own ideas, leaving the reader with nothing but the thoughts of others.  It’s interesting how folks who quote others all the time are often viewed as “know-it-alls,” yet really, they’re actually devoid of any original thought.

That said, it is time for me to throw out some quotes of my own.  No wait, I mean others...

“People spend too much time finding other people to blame, too much energy finding excuses for not being what they are capable of being, and not enough energy putting themselves on the line, growing out of the past, and getting on with their lives.”-  J. Michael Straczynski

“Never follow somebody else's path; it doesn't work the same way twice for anyone...the path follows you and rolls up behind you as you walk, forcing the next person to find their own way.”-  J. Michael Straczynski

“Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking.”-  Albert Einstein

Did you like that last one?  Is this too much quoting?  Don’t like it?  Blame it on fast foods!

- B. J. T. Pepin