Author Archives: Darrick Dean

The Art of Invisibility

No matter how many data breaches there are, personal data stolen, and stories about hackers and government spying, it seems many people still bury their heads in the sand about security in the electronic world now embedded in our lives.

Here’s a couple tips to protect yourself and thwart corporate Big Brother from tracking your every move:

First, get yourself Firefox web browser and use its Enhanced Tracking Protection features (set on custom).

Second, activate its Facebook Container add-on so Facebook can’t snoop on you while you’re off FB.

Then enable HTTPSEverywhere which turns on HTTPS encryption automatically on sites that support it.

Finally, install duckduckgo as your default search engine, one of the few that doesn’t collect personal information, ever.

Of course there are other basic tips, like spending some money on a strong security package, but remember this: Don’t expect someone else to protect you, certainly not the government who spies just as much as the companies they pretend to regulate.

And do yourself a favor, buy Kevin Mitnick’s book, The Art of Invisibility. The notorious hacker who went legit, details in his book what goes on in the shadows of the internet and every smart and connected device you own. If Mitnick’s book doesn’t convince you to pay attention, I’m not sure what will. His tips are priceless for protecting yourself from intrusion, and for those who wave off privacy because they have nothing to hide, consider this:

You may not have anything to hide, but you have everything to protect.

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Christopher Tolkien, Architect of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth, 1924-2020

Christopher Tolkien, son of J.R.R. Tolkien, and the person in charge of his father’s literary estate, passed away at the age of 95 on the 16th of January. After his father passed away in 1973, Christopher began a massive, decades-long project of publishing his father’s unfinished Middle-Earth histories:

In 1977, he collected and published The Silmarillion, a work that Tolkien had intended to publish, which explored the origins of Middle-earth and set up the conflict that he explored in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.

In the years that followed, he continued to produce new volumes of Tolkien’s unpublished writings, releasing Unfinished Tales in 1980, the 12-volume History of Middle-earth between 1982 and 1996, and edited and completed a number of longer narratives and translations of epic poems, including The Children of Húrin (2007), The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún (2009), The Fall of Arthur (2013), Beowulf: A Translation and Commentary, (2014), Beren and Lúthien (2017), and The Fall of Gondolin (2018).

As Gandalf said,

…the journey doesn’t end here. Death is just another path, one that we all must take. The grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass, and then you see it. White shores, and beyond, a far green country under a swift sunrise.

Categories: Books, fantasy, Fiction | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

2020: What did Sci-Fi predict?

Not a lot of good things, so apparently we are far better off than they thought, and our ever present doomsayers claim. Some disappointments as well, like not being on Mars yet. Check out Travis Perry’s article reviewing what film and books thought we would wake up to in 2020.

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Finding Wisdom

It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. – Aristotle

It is a dangerous trend that critical thinking and the application of knowledge — wisdom — is a lost art. Deep thought is replaced be emotionalism, individuality replaced by tribalism. We are quick to react, slow to learn. We spurn our responsibility to younger generations — creating a sibling society shaped by peers rather than elders. We ignore the lessons of history in willful historical amnesia. We allow falsehoods into our thinking. Ryan Michler writes in Sovereignty:

One phrase that gets tossed around a lot these days is “my truth.”…the reality is that there is no “my truth.” There is only “the truth.” You might have a theory. You might have a perspective. You might have an assumption. But unless you’re operating in objective reality, your opinion is just that — an opinion…Words are powerful. If you’re distorting the meaning of a word or phrase to fit your narrative, you’re likely limiting your perspective and your own sovereignty…[we] must strive to recognize, understand, and act according to objective truth — as in truth that is not subject to interpretation.

Continue reading

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Don’t Allow Your Rights to Slip Away

The Bill of Rights can withstand a hostile political class if it’s supported by a culture that genuinely wants to be shielded from the depredations of government officials. If, instead, people come to see the Bill of Rights as a barrier to their efforts to harm their opponents, its component amendments will be reinterpreted or overturned so that they don’t get in the way of political warriors sticking it to each other. – J. D. Tuccille

It’s troubling enough that there are politicians who openly undermine rights and the criminal justice system, but when the people start going along with it, history tells us terrible times follow.

Oh, I forgot, history isn’t very high on the importance list in education. Given some of the dark paths mankind has gone down, it should be number one.

Remember, what power you give the government today, will come back to haunt you tomorrow.

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Myths Carl Sagan and Neil DeGrasse Tyson Told Me

Scientists enjoy telling stories. They tell stories about, among other things, the quest to understand the universe — stories that sometimes have implications for belief or disbelief in God…

Too, often, these stories are false.

This is how science historian Michael Newton Keas beings his engaging and enlightening book, Unbelievable: 7 Myths About the History and Future of Science and Religion.

Unfortunately, he his right.

What he is referring to is when celebrity scientists stop talking about science and interject their personal beliefs under the guise of science. If those beliefs aren’t friendly to religion, they have a habit of promoting the false religion-is-at-war-with-science narrative with a variety of myths. The war between science and religion  is a modern fable, not surprisingly promoted by those who don’t think highly of religion.

This is a shame, really, because we need popularizes of science, but when some scientists become celebrities, they can fall off their intellectual foundation rather quickly. When Neil DeGrasse Tyson turns Giordano Bruno into a martyr for science in his show Cosmos, much of the story is fiction. When Carl Sagan made claims to the effect that the cosmos is all that there is or always will be, he wasn’t making a scientific statement, but a personal, philosophical one. When Sam Harris claims the church had been “torturing scholars” for “speculating about the nature of the stars,” it simply isn’t true.

It’s not hard to review history, as Dr. Keas shows, and see there is no widespread hatred of science from religion. In fact, he details some of the ways “theistic religion nurtured the development of modern science from its start.” He also reveals the irony of these celebrity thinkers replacing religion with their own naturalistic philosophy and materialistic magic.

I’ve studied a lot of history and science over many years, so I have seen elsewhere the history Keas lays out.  Such as there is far more to the Galileo story — he isn’t the poster child of a war between the church and science. The Dark Ages weren’t so dark — the Renaissance didn’t appear out of nowhere. Nor were most of our ancestors really confused about the shape of our planet — most thought it was a sphere and didn’t need Columbus to prove it (he didn’t think it was flat either).

Do the celebrities purposefully spread their myths? I hope not, but the history isn’t hard to find and they keep repeating their myths anyway.

The takeaway from Keas book is we should learn to recognize when our experts, celebrity or otherwise, switch from teaching to evangelizing. There’s nothing wrong with the latter, unless you are passing it off for something it isn’t. And don’t for a moment think you aren’t capable of testing and questioning those who portend to speak for all of science and history.

They don’t own all the keys to our past and our universe. We all do.

unb

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Waking Up

“Washington doesn’t represent the American people anymore, because the bureaucrats and elected officials in Washington pursue their own self-serving agendas rather than doing what is objectively right for the country…Congress [has] only one problem that they’re serious about solving — and that’s getting reelected.”

Those are strong words from Congressman Ken Buck. In his book Drain the Swamp, he gives an insider’s look into the rampant corruption in Congress. From outright ignoring the Constitution, to dead laws that never die, passing laws through intimidation, to purposefully creating problems so they can cash in.

It’s troubling how easily people are distracted by the smoke and mirrors, the staged drama, and the promise of money, from our government. If only more would look behind the curtain. Buck writes:

“The federal government is supposed to be small. Its power is supposed to limited. The United States is supposed to be a union of largely sovereign states…Our founder’s default position was to keep power as far from Washington as possible.”

The scary truth is that they don’t want you to know this. Why? Then they lose the power they gave themselves.  The power we turned a blind eye to.

“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction,” Ronald Reagan warned.  “We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected and handed on for them to do the same.”

What will you choose to do?

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How do Civilizations Collapse?

How do civilizations collapse?  Congressman Ken Buck explains in Drain the Swamp what lessons history has left for us:

  • They spend too much.  Budget crises have always been early warning signs of the collapse of an empire or regime, and the bigger the government, the harder it falls.
  • Their people stop producing. Civilizations grow when their people are hard-working, self-sacrificing, and entrepreneurial — and they collapse when the become lazy and self-centered and dependent on the state.
  • They become corrupt. As the power of the state grows, so does official corruption, which people are expected to overlook.
  • They lose their why. Eventually, civilizations lose sight of why they came to exist in the first place — their identity, their purpose. When a nation loses its sense of shared identity, the end is near, because no one is all that interested in fighting or sacrificing for a cause or an identity long forgotten.

Sound familiar? Will we listen to our ancestors? Or will make the same mistakes?

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Don’t be a writer. Be a Storyteller.

Tell your story. Tell that of others. Don’t be a writer. Be a Storyteller.

Consider a tombstone — a monument to one’s life…the inscription typically focuses on the years when a person was born and subsequently passed away, a person’s life is actually represented by the ‘dash’ in between (i.e., 1964-2042).

This dash represents the essence of our lives — the succession of joys, sorrows, successes, failures…If you could write the story of your dash, how would it read? Would it be full of regrets for the things you did or didn’t do? Or would it be a tribute to all that you attempted to do, be, and accomplish while you were alive?

– Anthony Paustian, writing in A Quarter Million Steps.

Find Your Purpose. Find Your Story.

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Lost to the West

History is not dry or boring. No, it rivals the best novels. Take Lars Brownworth’s Lost to the West, the rest of the story of the Roman Empire.

The empire didn’t end with the collapse of Rome, but endured for centuries in the East, centered in Constantinople. That’s no idle fact for impressing your friends. Without the Byzantine Empire, the West would have become a very different place, and no doubt unrecognizable to this day.

In spite of all the setbacks brought by war, plague, and tyranny, the West emerged while much of the world receded. Perhaps we should pay closer attention to their stories. Where would we be if there hadn’t been constant restarts of civilization? Yet, in darkness, people still triumphed. There are lessons in both for us to learn.

lwest

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