Regain Your Online Life, Identity & Reputation!

Cyber Bullying and Stalking GuideAt last it is available! This has to be the single most important event in the fight against online bullying and cyber stalking since the invention of the Internet. Simple to understand yet very comprehensive. East to implement the safety steps and recover your reputation as well as your identity and to know when a cyber stalker just might turn really nasty. I couldn’t put it down!

This is more than just an eBook, it is your life given back to you. If you have ever beent he victim of a troll or cyber stalker as I have, this book will give you hope and help you regain your life. As well, if you need one-on-one help, you become by purchasing this book, a member of the group and have access to all sorts of additional value services and a lot more. As you can tell, I love it… but then I helped edit and produce it and for me what I learned as I did that was worth every minute of the time I invested.

Trust Me, I’m An Expert

A woman is in a critical condition in a South African hospital after she was gored by a rhino. The tour guide advised her, it is alleged, to stand closer to the rhino and she did. The animal attacked and now she is fighting for her life. Moral of the story, don’t trust ‘experts’ with your life just because they are claiming they are an expert. Also, never trust a wild animal. Look up ‘wild’ in the dictionary and there is nothing about peaceful, calm, safe, trustworthy to be read. Now check the thesaurus… still nothing akin to ‘you’ll be right, mate’ is there?

So Glad I’m Not An American!

What is it with these people and their guns? Another nut job with high powered firearms has gone on a rampage in a school in Newtown, Connecticut. 20 kids and 6 adults murdered. Imagine the sheer bloody terror those children and adults experienced in the last moments of their lives! The murderer kills his mother, a kindergarten teacher, then  her entire class! What the f…. is it with these Americans and their guns? I know there are 300 million of them and over half own guns and so very few go berserk but… one is one too many.

On Tuesday a man killed two in an Oregon mall, raking the place with fire from his semi-automatic then he killed himself. In July a man killed 12 and wounded 58 at a screening of a Batman movie in Colorado. Let’s not forget  Columbine or Virginia Tech or the Amish school a year or so ago. What is it with modern day Americans and their fetish for firearms? Is it a small dick thing?

I know if you outlaw guns only outlaws will have guns… ok. But it is not the ease with which guns can be had, legally or otherwise although that does make it less inconvenient to tool up. It is the mentality of the people who must have their guns. They point to the 2nd Amendment of the US Constitution which states:

‘A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed’

That is all about keeping and bearing arms so they can maintain a militia to defend the state, most likely against the government if it got out of hand but also against natives and neighbouring countries. In 1791 the average soldier was armed with the same basic longarm as the average citizen could own; a flintlock musket. Today a hunting rifle isn’t much use on the modern battlefield but semi and fully automatic assault weapons surely have no place in home defence unless your home is in downtown Kabul. That amendment is about keeping the power, the ultimate power to change government, in the hands of the people who elect that government to represent them. When they stop representing their will then they need to be replaced and if they refuse to go or use the power of the military against the people they are there to serve; then the people have the ability through the well regulated militia, to force the government to do their bidding. That’s pragmatic democracy.

Today the American fears their federal government and not without some justification. Americans believe in small government and lots of it, it seems. They vote for sheriffs, judges, school boards, city councils, stage governments and federal representatives, school presidents and class presidents and lord knows who else. They love voting and elections and feeling they are in control of those who control them. The gun is merely an extension of this need, a tool they feel empowers them yet a handgun in every home isn’t much use against a UAV armed with a Maverick missile or two. There are tons of guns in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Yemen and elsewhere and that doesn’t stop Obama’s drones doing the dirty work of cleaning up America’s enemies, foreign and in some cases, domestic.

So why the big gun gig thingy? If everyone carried a gun, openly, then it would be a deterrent to some. If everyone could carry a gun but concealed then it would deter many more. Although some would simply switch tactics and pop a cap in the back of people’s heads before they knew they had to go for the draw. Of course having a gun is a deadly responsibility. How many times do you think arguments that end in fisticuffs or foul language would end in bloodshed and dead bodies if more people were armed and packing heat at the time of the altercation? There are enough unstable, mental midgets out there masquerading as sane citizens as it is. Arm them with 9mm hand guns with 15 round magazines and you are asking for a decline in peaceful anger management outcomes.

You watch; as many people cry out for fewer guns, just as many there will demand the right to carry and protect themselves. I firmly believe the body count would be lower if more people on the scene had their own gun and knew how to use it. Not just point it and shoot it but really knew how to employ that weapon effectively and legally. The dilemma is that to achieve that you risk arming a bunch of people who may not react well under stress, might add to the friendly casualty list and even add their gun to the murderer’s arsenal as they become yet another victim.

In 1941 Japanese Admiral Yamamoto advised against invading the USA because there would be ‘a rifle behind every blade of grass’. Wise words. Today there are more people, more guns and more chances of your kids not coming home from school thanks to one of these people and their pistols. If you are unemployed or working a job that doesn’t include ‘benefits’ (health insurance), then you are plum out of luck if you happen to survive the shooting with just a debilitating, long term, incapacitating, life changing wound. We grieve over the dead and rightly so but we forget those who survive being wounded face months, even years of rehabilitation and that anywhere in the world that is expensive. In the USA it can be crippling, bankrupting the victims who may never see a dime in compensation. Like the title says, I am so glad I’m not an American. Nothing personal guys, just sayin’.

Blood Money & Eggshell Skulls

While the suicide of Jacintha Saldanha is tragic, to be fair one must pause and ask a few questions that are definitely not politically correct but nonetheless need to be asked. The nurse took a prank call from a Sydney radio station with the two DJ’s pretending to be HM the Queen and HRH Prince Charles. She believed them to be who they said they were and passed on the call to a colleague who revealed intimate details of the Duchess of Cambridge’s medical condition. A week later, Saldanha has taken her own life and the presumption is that it was directly because of this incident.

First of all, I think it shameful and disgusting that the DJs thought the personal and very private details of anyone’s pregnancy is fair game and should be public knowledge. That is poor taste in the extreme but sadly not a crime, I believe. It raises a lot of questions about what is and isn’t acceptable these days, especially as we seem to be becoming a society of softies, ready to take offence at the drop of a hat.

Secondly, for someone to be so deeply affected they abandon their husband and two teenage children and take their own life is something I can’t fathom. I find it cowardly and selfish in the extreme and I appreciate how devastating such an event is to those who loved the deceased. I have friends who have lost loved ones to suicide and mentioning this no doubt opens old wounds. For that I apologise but I do believe we need to discuss this topic openly, remove the media ban on reporting suicides and let the public know just how widespread a tragedy suicide actually is. I do think some of us are more susceptible to suiciding than others but the eggshell skull doctrine comes into play here.

There is a legal concept called the ‘eggshell skull’ which declares that even if the blow to the head wouldn’t have harmed 99% of the population, it did harm this victim as they had an eggshell skull. In other words each case must be tried on its merits and not on the merits of every other case. If Saldanha is more susceptible to such an extreme reaction to these specific events than anyone else int he world, so be it. But to me she must have had other issues, surely? She only passed on the call, she didn’t initiate it nor did she give the information away. Yet she appears to have felt sufficiently guilty to suicide. Sorry, but to me that is being about as selfish as you can be. We all handle situations differently to some degree but this is an extreme reaction, surely? There must have been underlying issues that were kicked over the edge by this, as if it was the trigger event she had been waiting for. I could be wrong of course but this is the only explanation I can accept as being the most logical.

What about the radio station? They suspended advertising to protect their advertisers from fall out. Fair enough but that was more commercially motivated and PR driven than anything else and that is understandable, they didn’t know the deceased. Yet to offer a $500,000 payment is so typical of today. As if money will fix everything. Blood money. Money will assuage the guilt and cleanse the slate. It is a bit like the news presenter telling us that, at the scene of the bus accident involving twenty schoolkids counselling has been offered to everyone. Great, we can all let out a sigh of relief, they are getting counseling so that means we don’t have to develop a psychosis over this. We sit in our overstuffed lounge chairs watching our giant flat screen TVs and suck up the gospel according to big business and those who mold our minds to consume what they make the most profit from. We are warned that the scenes we are about to see might cause some viewers distress. Well aren’t we bleeding lucky we aren’t actually there on the scene seeing everything! All the real horror of a bomb ripping apart women and children in a Middle Eastern marketplace,  blood and body bits hanging from trees. if they forget to cut out every morsel of reality and accidentally leave us with a large blood stain to shock ourselves over, they warn us before hand Don’t want someone sueing the TV station, do we. Can’t have real life push aside the construct the powers that be create for us so we can continue to consume in guilt free bliss.

Offering the money is as good as an admission of guilt in my book. The radio station is settling out of court, mitigating the collateral damage and all the other 21st century cliches and media catchphrases. A nice, large number, five hundred grand. Minimum. If they make more in ad sales between now and New Year’s then they will hand that over. Why not? It is a charitable donation and thus tax deductible. If they don’t do this they may lose more advertising revenue but now the advertisers can feel good about advertising on a station staffed with DJs who don’t seem to think through their pranks. 2DayFM, the home of the arch idiot and mister arrogance himself Kyle Whatshisname. They must have the most experienced damage control team in the PR world!

So why did Jacintha Saldanha commit suicide? Was it just because of the 2DayFM prank call? Her family claim she is such a devout Catholic this would have been enough to set her off. Thank God I don’t believe in God! It seems like such an onerous responsibility. Make no mistake, the loss of this nurse is a tragedy. What is also tragic is that we, as a society, think it is acceptable, even funny, to trick someone into giving away private information for the sake of a few laughs and some ratings, increased advertising revenues and a couple of ego’s. It is tragic that we feel it acceptable to pay off the family and even use this as a tactic to mitigate the damage and minimise the fallout.

When my wife was pregnant nobody but friends and family cared. No radio stations called, no women’s magazines stalked her for photos of her baby bump. Her pregnancies were just as special and at the same time every day and run of the mill natural as any celebrity’s. Perhaps the real offender here, and the victim, is us. Society. That we give the media the signals that we accept what they do to bring us our bread and circuses. That we want to read this stuff, to be titillated and shocked. It is just a part of the human condition and we’ll never change, no matter how many Jacintha Saldanha’s feel despondent enough to commit suicide. This is not, as a species, our finest moment.

Fat Is An Adjective

Jeff the waiter at Chili’s, Stockton, California in the USA might be fired for listing the customers at Table 1 as ‘Fat Girl’s/1′. When the bill was examined by the customers they took offence at being listed as such. The thing is, are they fat? If they are then what is the problem? Fat is an adjective used to describe someone who is overweight or obese. Why do we take it as an insult? If you are fat you know it, so why pretend otherwise? If you are fat and someone describes you accurately, why make a fuss and seek their termination from their job?

This is indicative of our soft society. We are so damn quick to take offence at anything that doesn’t stroke our egos these days. I am fat. I am a fat man and I know it. Call me fat by all means, it is merely an accurate description. If you were reporting me to the police as a missing person, surely my body shape and size would help them sort through all the people they might vet quicker than if it is not mentioned. It is no different to describing someone as ‘of Middle Eastern’ appearance, or ‘Indian or Pakistani’ (even if they are Bangladeshi or Sri lankan) or ‘Aboriginal’ appearance. It is not racist! It is reality. Putting someone down because they are of ‘Middle Eastern ‘ appearance or refusing them a job purely because they look ‘Indian or Pakistani’ is racist and it is wrong. Period. But describing them as such isn’t and can’t be. They are fat, or they are of Middle Eastern appearance and so on.

What amuses me is that there is no mention of the size of the three women in the story. My money is they are fat and too often it is the truth that we get upset by.

 

Brave But Stupid 1

No doubt this category will have more candidates in coming months. Today it is all about the California family that have died saving their dog from high surf conditions. Sadly the dog made it out on his own while the 16 year old son that went in after him is yet to be found. The dog chased a stick thrown into the water… begging the question why do that when the surf was so rough? The boy followed to rescue the dog but made it out after realising how bad the conditions were. He was followed by his father and when he got into difficulties, the boy and his mother went to his aid. She was dragged out dead by others, the father’s body washed up while the boy is still missing. Meanwhile the dog swam ashore unaided. I wonder who will throw sticks for the dog now?

I wonder what people are thinking at times like this. I remember many years ago a family rip to the Colo River which was in flood at the time. My dog fell in and was paddling like mad against the current when my sister bravely leapt into the water and helped Bolo to shore. The thing was, as much as I loved my dog and still have sibling moments with my sister, I wouldn’t swap him for my sister. She risked her life because that river was in flood and full of fast flowing debris. I figured Bolo would get back to the bank in a second or so and then we could drag him out. My sister acted instinctively and this is what gets people killed more often than not. It can also mean the difference between life and death, tragedy or heroic rescue but we need to weigh up the risks if we have the time and presence of mind to do so.

The Army use explosive sniffing dogs for two reasons. One, they can smell explosives better than humans, although nowadays we have electronic devices that are pretty close in capability. Two, it is always better to bury the bits of a faithful canine comrade than a human one. The dog is there to take the hit, not the handler and not the people the team are protecting. Throwing a stick into heavy surf is not the smartest way of playing with your dog, nor is going in after him in such conditions. Think before you do anything and accept that Nature is not a theme park, it’s not a ride you can hit the emergency stop switch for and everyone just gets off.

Dead And No Python To Show For It

The things people will do to win free stuff. In Florida a man eating live cockroaches in order to win a python at a contest held in a Miami reptile store finished the contest but collapsed and died outside the store from asphyxia. The roaches got their revenge! Cockroaches are full of protein and have kept many a prisoner alive. The trick is to purge them of any stomach contents and bodily waste, in other words starve them for a day or two before consuming them. In Thailand they cook them and along with many other insets are on sale at street stalls in the later evening. So other than personal revulsion, they can be eaten and they are nutritious.

The problem, as always, lies in the amount of cockroaches eaten and how quickly they are wolfed down (not that wolves eat cockroaches as far as I know). Moderation in all things is a good maxim to live by but it doesn’t win contests. Sadly, knocking back dozens of roaches, not winning and then dying as a result isn’t exactly my idea of a good time but Edward Archbold thought otherwise. And paid the penalty.

Overkill In Taser Death Or…

The tragic death of Brazilian Roberto Laudision Curti this year at the hands of police suggests the officers acted well beyond the guidlelines and were responsible for the student’s death. In fact the Coroner went further to say the police acted thuggishly and like wild ‘Lord of the Flies’ schoolboys with a pack mentality.  I have no doubt they did get caught up in the heat of the moment. Perhaps they had copped hours of abuse earlier in the shift from other yobs?

While I would never condone excessive force it must be remembered the police didn’t take the LSD for Curti that set him off. They didn’t steal two packets of biscuits from the convenience store or report it as an armed robbery. While I agree Curti was of little if any risk to the public or himself, he knowingly and willingly took LSD, a prohibited drug. He broke the law on purpose, to give himself a ‘high’. He is responsble for putting himself in a position of vulnerability and high risk. Whenever you are under the influence of a drug, be it alcohol or even legal medication, you need to be aware the risk of something happening of an adverse nature is increased.

Curti should not have taken LSD and if he had not then he would not have been paranoid and stolen biscuits and ran around frightening people. He is responsible for his actions even though the officers involved are responsible for theirs and their actions led to his death. While no doubt he was loved and lovely, he died a drug crazed thief and no amount of trying to transfer responsibility to the police will change that. Curti is not entirely blameless but he has, no question, paid far too high a price for his choices.

Singapore Slings And Arrows

Singapore is a very safe place for anyone to visit but it is not without risk, nowhere is. I was exploring the Geylang area which, it turns out, has more than old world charm going for it. It turned out to be a red light area, but only off the main street. Here women lined the footpath to be ogled by dozens of men, all Indian, mostly holding hands in friendly pairs. As I turned to return to the main street my instincts were proven correct when a soft drink can just brushed my hair. A milimetre or two closer and it would have hit me. I scanned the dozen or so faces of the men surrounding me but they were impassive, yet hostile. Obviously they resented a European on their street. In the next street it w nearly all Chinese men watching the handful of women dutifully lined up and on parade.

As I made it back to the relative safety of the hustle and bustle of the main street I wondered how many men each must see every night. These were the second and third tier of prostitutes apparently. The younger ones no doubt working more upscale venues. I could clearly see, especially with the Sri Lankan women, they were not happy with hat they had to do. The Thai and Chinese, Vietnamese women seemed to be there voluntarily but the looks on the Indian/Sri Lankan/Bangladeshi women told a different story altogether.

Wherever there is alcohol there is a chance of trouble brewing. Throw in women and the risk increases. In this case it is prostitution rather than girls at a disco but the formula is the same. Men + Alcohol + Women = Trouble. There were places in Kuala Lumpur I had read about that were great places to go in the daylight and shop, but at night they were low rent red light areas, known for pimps and prostitutes ganging up on clients and even likely victims just passing through. Spiked drinks, violent robberies and bashings are to be avoided at all costs. If you have the back up and the curiosity, by all means take a trip there but be prepared, travel light without your valuables and just enough cash spread around you to get you through the night. As I was on my own and not in the market for female company I felt the best thing was to make sure I left the area well before dark, hanging out close to my hotel where there was more than enough local colour to keep me interested.

Coming back from the Skybar where I had spent an enjoyable hour or so taking in the view of the Petronas Twin Towers by night, I spied a gang of local youths charge across the road and towards a single, male European. He was outnumbered about ten to one and the only other people around were older locals, none of whom I think would come to his aid if need be. The crowd mock charged him, stopping short about two metres from the man. He faked a counterattack and as they hesitated he turned and legged it. I told the cabbie to slow down and slid open the door to the 7 seater mini van and called to the man to get in. Either he wasn’t paying attention or didn’t grasp the seriousness of his predicament but he just looked at me then ran past the cab. At this point the mob were closing in so I slammed shut the door and locked it and the driver hit the gas. I have no idea what happened next as we soon rounded a bend and they were lost to our sight. I gave him a chance and he failed to take it. I wasn’t going back for him and putting my life at risk in a fight I didn’t have a dog in.

Overll both Singapore and Kuala Lumpur are safe cities but of course, if you go looking for trouble, it will find you. As we used to say in the Military Police, it is all about  the Three Ps; Prisoners, prostitutes and property! Also known as Cash, Bash and Gash!

Practising What I Preach

Singapore 1969, On Guard with my slouch hat and trusty SMLE .303 MkIII*

I’m off to Singapore and Malaysia on Friday, flying the new budget airline ScootAir. I will be away for less than two weeks but lots can happen in that time. When I first booked my flight I went for the economy seat with the extra leg room and took the last seat at the back. It has a space between it and the aisle seat and as the tail survives more often in crashes than the nose, I figured I could quickly escape providing I was still ambulatory. Then reality sank in and quite frankly eight hours in a seat precisely as wide as my butt did not appeal. I upgraded to ScootBiz and now I’m at the sharp end. Weighing the odds I am confident of getting there and back safely. New Boeing 777 aircraft and Singapore Airlines maintenance schedules all add to the equation. In fact, I am at more risk getting to and from Sydney Airport!

Once in Singapore I will be staying at a small hotel across the street from where I lived as a boy in 1969 and 1970. In those days the hotel was a row of shop houses with a ‘makan’ or restaurant on the corner and a mechanic next door. The intersection is where I was hit by a car one evening when a local drove through the red light and sent me flying over his bonnet. The forecourt of my old apartment building is also filled with memories. I was bitten by a dog, had my collar bone broken by a kid showing off his judo skills and my nose broken by a flying cricket bat during a game of Rounders. The field the giant python slithered out of is now housing and the street where my sister was nearly dragged into a car now seems so much narrower. I know this because of the magic of Google Maps and their street view camera. It has allowed me to recce my trip in infinite detail. I am keen to ensure this trip to Singapore, my first in 42 years, will be less accident prone.

Singapore isn’t the real concern though. Malaysia is a different story and as I will be taking a coach form Johor Bahru to Kuala Lumpur, there is mild cause for concern. More concerning will be driving the rental car I will use to recce Muar, Gemas and other WW2 and Malayan Emergency battlefields. To avoid the notorious KL traffic I will rent from the international airport, a swift 25 minute train ride out of the city center where I will be staying. It will be much simpler and less stressful to get off the train, pick up the car and drive out onto the motorway and head off in multi-lane safety. YouTube is full of video clips demonstrating the road behaviour in the country, again a 21st Century tool being used to full advantage to prepare and plan this trip.

The Internet has helped me locate all the main sites I wish to visit, as well as determine to the minute the bus and train timetables,  comparing them to what it would cost to take a taxi. I know what the fares should be, the buses to catch, where to transfer and so on. Is this taking anything away from the joy of travel? The adventure of the unknown? Not for me. I have ten days to accomplish a ton of stuff. I want to collect information for various papers and essays on the conflicts of the 40s and 50s, experience a little W. Somerset Maugham like magic and also relive my halcyon days as a schoolboy in the immediate post-colonial days after Singapore became an independent nation. And eat satays. In fact the risk of my gout flaring up thanks to inhuman quantities of satays and peanut sauce is a concern.

My health is not what it was prior to my death in 2009. Despite serious attempts my weigh is still an issue and now I am diabetic with gout and cellulitis in the left leg. None of which will stop me doing what I wish but it does give me reason to plan ahead, to throw caution in rather than to the winds. This trip has objectives I wish to achieve and as I was taught in the army decades ago, always keep the objective in mind. The first objective is to return home safely and healthy. I will be wary of strangers, especially overly friendly ones and I plan to stay away form known red light areas. I have no interest in fleshspots any more and they are a magnet for criminals and trouble. Like avoiding shark attack, just don’t swim where the sharks are.

I will be careful crossing the street, choosing modes of transport and the security of my belongings. I will double check my luggage to make sure I am not carrying anything that will get me into trouble. Drugs means death in these countries and you must guard against anyone slipping anything into your bags; it happens. Alcohol is also a trigger for unwanted consequences so I will be careful where I enjoy my Singapore Sling (Raffles Hotel is the only place!). Food is another issue, but common sense will keep me away from salads, unbottled water and of course ice if it is not from a decent establishment. Fortunately hygiene standards are high in these two well developed South East Asian nations but you still need to take care.

I will buy my toiletries when I arrive as regulations against carrying even a large but half empty toothpaste tube are strict, let alone liquids or aerosols. Better to nip into the nearest 7/11 when I get there than worry about arguing with an airport security officer over a few dollars worth of deoderant. I have prescription medication so I will take the prescriptions, just in case I am questioned about them. Money is another issue and fortunately ATMs are everywhere nowadays. I plan to have some cash but keep the rest in my VISA Debit card. I bought one online from Australia Post I can charge online if need be and if it is stolen then they won’t have access to much, plus I will have a backup stored somewhere else. Online security is another issue as all hotels have free WiFi, but you never know who might be monitoring the signal so I have precautions in place to manage the risk. In the evenings I will roll down the sleeves and protect against mosquitoes and generally be aware of infection from cuts and so forth, carrying a small first aid kit in my day pack.

So is this paranoia or simply common sense? I think the latter and because I am prepared, have done my homework and have a good but not overly rigid plan to follow the trip should be a great success. Time will tell.

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