Confession: I’m a Clan Member

Yep, no way around it, I’m a member of the clan. I could say that its my son’s fault; after all, I send him to one of those conservative, religious schools where most of the teachers believe in a literal six day creation, but I know that, in the final analysis, I’m responsible for my own actions.

Truth be told, my son was talked into joining the clan by friends at school. Maybe idle hands (or minds) are the devil’s workshop. Anyway, he was persuaded that the benefits of clan membership were such that he couldn’t pass up the opportunity. Of course, he gave me the line about all my friends are doing it.

After a few months, he decided to recruit me as well. I was surprised. First, membership required only a few clicks to get to the Google store and download the app by which we all communicate. I never would have thought you could join the clan via Google but sure enough, it was so. Truly everything can be had on the Internet if you know where to look. Second, the price to sign-up was negligible… at least at first.

Please understand that I love my son and want to be part of his life. Thus, joining the clan was not because I want to hurt others but because I want to be part of his life; hurting others came later.

You could ask me who the other members of our clan are, but I honestly don’t know. Online, everyone hides behind pseudonyms. Think of the clan as a cell where nobody knows all the members, but each works in concert for the benefit of all. Hurting people online isn’t like being a Troll—where words are said that are harsh—instead, we specialize in targeted action. One goal of the clan is effectively dominating our opponents. We literally live to humiliate and destroy them. To minimize retaliation, we limit our online activity and take turns pummeling others only to fade into the ether to rise another day.

Our cell has a code name that changes every once in a while, the change helps us to cover our tracks. Lately we have been calling ourselves the “Crusaders.”


I have been elevated to a co-leader of the group—I’m sure the fact that I have more resources to contribute is part of the reason. Its more responsibility than I was planning on, but I’m committed to seeing this thru, at least to the end of the school year. Teenagers don’t have long attention spans but at least I’m with them right now. For better or ill, I’m the only parent that really knows what their sons are doing in their spare time. Joining the clan is not for everyone but I really want to support my son as he tries to find his path in life.

If you’re curious about the clan click here for more information.

Johnnie Does: A Car Purchase

By Johnnie Does

My 15-year-old Ford with over 178k miles on it finally took a dive. We had a great run, but the prognosis was terminal, in the sense that the repair needed would likely result in a bill north of $3,000, and quite frankly, the car really isn’t worth that much.

I was in a bad spot, I knew this day was coming and I had money saved up, but like they say, the worst time to buy a car is when you are desperate. Of course, advice was given by any and everyone. People suggested “best time to buy is year-end” and “Go to CarMax.” The suggestions were good, but I really needed wheels that day, it was October. I had always driven an SUV and thought I may have wanted something different. Problem is, I did not have time on my hands, I work, I own part of a business. I took some advice and was looking at Toyota Tacoma pickup trucks. They hold their value very well and are far less expensive than their “American” counterparts.

I filled out an online form and instantly it was sent to every dealership within an hour radius from my house. Within about 10 minutes, the emails and calls were coming in like crazy. Merced, Lodi, Elk Grove, Sacramento, Vallejo, Roseville, you name it. I was literally whacking away car salesmen from all corners of the area. It was mentally draining, but in a sense, I was prepared. I knew what I wanted and was able to stick to my guns. This was a key, I wanted a 2018 Tacoma, SR5 double cab, super white color.

2018 Tacoma, SR5 double cab

It is very similar to an SUV, keep in mind I had done some homework and unless my terms were met, I was walking. The salespeople at Vallejo and Merced were by far the most accommodating, but the locations were too far away for my liking. The Lodi guy won me over because he told me, find the best offer and he would match it. So, I went to Elk Grove and puttered around the lot. The sales guy tried talking me into something else, the access cab, which has a single side door for the backseat, in essence a typical truck, a cab, and a bed. I didn’t want it, but he knew best, he was trying to buffalo me, and I said I would go check out the Ford and Chevy lot, both conveniently located across the street. Just to give you an idea of how expensive cars are; the Tacoma ran around $33k sticker price, F-150 and the Silverado ran about 50k sticker, one F-150 Raptor edition ran about 100k, yes for a pickup truck.

I got my best offer from Merced and called down in Lodi. The guy told me, we had a deal and to see him tomorrow at 7pm. I was going to lease the truck, which if you aren’t aware, is similar to renting, you pay virtually no interest since you are taking the depreciation hit. I have a 3-year lease for 12k miles a year, if I decide not to keep the truck in 3 years and the mileage is over 36K, I pay a $.25 a mile overage penalty. Yikes, but it won’t be an issue. You also know the price you will pay at the end of the 3-year lease, and they take care of all the maintenance free of charge. If you so choose, you can be driving a new car every 3 years, the downside is you do have a car payment, which I have never had before. I had gotten counsel from people I knew who had leased and was about to head to Lodi. He called and said we have a problem, no 2018 in Super white, deal was in peril. He said he would get back to me, but they had other colors, I wanted white, not sandstorm or electric blue, or fire engine red. Great! I was desperate for a car and was going to get screwed.

Not so fast, he called back and said they have a 2019 in the aforementioned white, and had all I wanted, he even said he would honor the price, but deal was needed asap. I sped down there, and it had some cool extra features, snakeskin pattern on the seats, some tan upholstery, back up camera and more. I test drove it and shook his hand! Deal! Then the real fun began. I then had to visit the finance department, which promptly greeted me saying only the best buyers get your deal, and it was all subject to a credit check. I felt I would have no issue and I didn’t. The lady remarked that I had an 811-credit score and even knocked a few bucks off the payment. It was done, I left the dealer in my new truck.

The lesson learned is this, I had perfect credit history so in a sense I made the rules. They wanted me; others are not so fortunate. I was in a bad spot, but I came prepared. I knew what I wanted and had the salespeople compete over me. Most get credit terms unfavorable to them, I was lucky. I got what I wanted and my terms, it was a long time coming and I love my truck My advice, I would go through the same online channels I did; that way you deal with an internet sales guy not a typical car sales guy. I feel very blessed as I was in a horrible spot.

Johnnie Does

Review: How to be a Perfect Christian

Rarely do I ever do a book review on this blog but occasionally something rises to the level of deserving such attention and folks, “How to be a Perfect Christian” is such a wonder. Forget what you think you know about church and give this book a try. Using their Holiness Progress Tracker 5000, the Babylon Bee staff coaches you thru the perils and pitfalls of modern American Christian culture so you can arrive at the pearly gates completely under your own efforts.

Here’s a sample of endorsements for the book:

“Forget love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control! Perfection is so much better than the fruit of the Spirit. And, as the Babylon Bee’s How to be a Perfect Christian shows, it’s a lot easier too.”
–Karen Swallow Prior

Karen Swallow Prior

This book is a checklist for spiritual supremacy. Chapters include such topics as Joining the Right Church.

If the church has a lit name, a slick website, no statement of faith, a modern building, and membership of at least fifteen thousand each week, then great! You may have found the place where God will have your material needs met and keep you entertained…slip out of your old church without so much as a goodbye, and get ready to visit your new home at whichever of the nine weekend service times is most convenient for you.

In the chapter Worshipping Like a Pro, you will read such valuable tips as this about your first visit to church:

You’re staring down the welcome team, and now, here it comes: the primary litmus test of the morning that will forever decide whether or not you should make this church the place where you will achieve perfection. We’re talking about the quality of the church swag they give away to visitors such as yourself. (emphasis in original)

What you’re looking for is high-end gear here: aluminum water bottles, American Apparel T-shirts, expensive vacation giveaways, and NFL tickets. Freebies like these let prospective visitors know the church is serious about helping them attain true godliness and they’re not just messing around.

The Bee covers the gambit of modern living and governing your household. Such topics as child-rearing, dating oops I mean courtship, and marriage. They even acknowledge two models of family, the Complementarian and Egalitarian. Here are samples of their advice.

Complementarian Men
These men rule their home as ruthlessly as supreme leader Kim Jong-un runs the great Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Every minute household decision must be run by the husband and he gets the final say—no ifs, ands, or buts about it. In Ephesians 5, Paul addresses how men are to run their homes, and he’s pretty clear that the Lord calls men to be unilateral, totalitarian dictators, like Big Brother or the Dark Lord Sauron.

Dark Lord Sauron

In the name of Christian liberty, the Bee also recognizes that in God’s grace, some men prefer to let their wives run the home in an Egalitarian way.

We recommend that egalitarian husbands are never to be the breadwinners. In fact, you probably shouldn’t contribute financially to the family at all. Instead, you should play the latest Madden NFL game on your Xbox all day long and rest in the knowledge that you’re not being a burden on the home. You are, instead, empowering your wife to work eighty-hour weeks to pay the family’s mortgage. There’s no better way to be a godly husband. And you don’t want to be oppressive and lead your home like those backwards complementarians, do you?

We have friends of the blog in both camps and you know who you are.

Anyway, I think I’ve given you a feel for this book. If you love sarcasm and humor that makes a point, then this book is worth a look. I read it Christmas Day and I’m glad my wife bought it for me. I’d rate it 8.5/10.

Christianity Today v Billy Graham

Orson Scott Card wrote a book many years ago called Speaker for the Dead and yesterday Christianity Today decided to do just that claiming that Billy Graham himself would have opposed the Orange Man and support his removal via impeachment. Today I wish to unpack this controversy and the Graham family’s response.

Christianity Today (CT) Editorial

First here is a look at the Christianity Today editorial Trump Should Be Removed from Office.

In our founding documents, Billy Graham explains that Christianity Today will help evangelical Christians interpret the news in a manner that reflects their faith. The impeachment of Donald Trump is a significant event in the story of our republic. It requires comment.

The typical CT approach is to stay above the fray and allow Christians with different political convictions to make their arguments in the public square, to encourage all to pursue justice according to their convictions and treat their political opposition as charitably as possible.

That said, we do feel it necessary from time to time to make our own opinions on political matters clear—always, as Graham encouraged us, doing so with both conviction and love.

So here’s the setup. We (Christianity Today) have a charter granted to us from Billy Graham to speak to actions in the public square. Thus Christianity Today is “the voice” of evangelical Christianity. So dear readers, listen up.

Let’s grant this to the president: The Democrats have had it out for him from day one, and therefore nearly everything they do is under a cloud of partisan suspicion. This has led many to suspect not only motives but facts in these recent impeachment hearings. And, no, Mr. Trump did not have a serious opportunity to offer his side of the story in the House hearings on impeachment.

Then the editor of Christianity Today says we know the Democrats have it in for Trump and we have only heard from one side in this impeachment thing but…

But the facts in this instance are unambiguous: The president of the United States attempted to use his political power to coerce a foreign leader to harass and discredit one of the president’s political opponents. That is not only a violation of the Constitution; more importantly, it is profoundly immoral.

So literally without any evidence presented, we at CT know that Trump is guilty as sin. Why? Because we don’t like his Twitter posts.

The reason many are not shocked about this is that this president has dumbed down the idea of morality in his administration. He has hired and fired a number of people who are now convicted criminals. He himself has admitted to immoral actions in business and his relationship with women, about which he remains proud. His Twitter feed alone—with its habitual string of mischaracterizations, lies, and slanders—is a near perfect example of a human being who is morally lost and confused.

That Trump fired guys that were later convicted as criminals—many in a failed effort to take him out—and yet despite Mueller’s Report, he is still there. Oh, and he admitted that he likes women and has done business in New York (immoral actions in business?).

Whether Mr. Trump should be removed from office by the Senate or by popular vote next election—that is a matter of prudential judgment. That he should be removed, we believe, is not a matter of partisan loyalties but loyalty to the Creator of the Ten Commandments.

Trump broke the Ten Commandments so for God’s sake he must be removed.

To the many evangelicals who continue to support Mr. Trump in spite of his blackened moral record, we might say this: Remember who you are and whom you serve. Consider how your justification of Mr. Trump influences your witness to your Lord and Savior. Consider what an unbelieving world will say if you continue to brush off Mr. Trump’s immoral words and behavior in the cause of political expediency. If we don’t reverse course now, will anyone take anything we say about justice and righteousness with any seriousness for decades to come? Can we say with a straight face that abortion is a great evil that cannot be tolerated and, with the same straight face, say that the bent and broken character of our nation’s leader doesn’t really matter in the end?

How can you be a Christian and support Trump? If abortion is an important issue for you then remove Trump and give us a pro-abortion Democrat so sanity can return to American politics.

So we have done our best to give evangelical Trump supporters their due, to try to understand their point of view, to see the prudential nature of so many political decisions they have made regarding Mr. Trump.

We have done our best to put up with you Trump supporters but it’s time for you to throw him under the bus otherwise he will be reelected and God help us if he is.


Billy Graham voted for Trump

On social media, Franklin Graham wrote, “Christianity Today released an editorial stating that President Trump should be removed from office – and they invoked my father’s name (I suppose to try to bring legitimacy to their statements), so I feel it is important for me to respond.

“Yes, my father Billy Graham founded Christianity Today; but no, he would not agree with their opinion piece. In fact, he would be very disappointed. I have not previously shared who my father voted for in the past election, but because of this article, I feel it is necessary to share it now. My father knew Donald Trump, he believed in Donald Trump, and he voted for Donald Trump. He believed that Donald J. Trump was the man for this hour in history for our nation,” he said.

“For Christianity Today to side with the Democrat Party in a totally partisan attack on the president of the United States is unfathomable. Christianity Today failed to acknowledge that not one single Republican voted with the Democrats to impeach the president. I know a number of Republicans in Congress, and many of them are strong Christians. If the president were guilty of what the Democrats claimed, these Republicans would have joined with the Democrats to impeach him. But the Democrats were not even unanimous – two voted against impeachment and one voted present. This impeachment was politically motivated, 100% partisan. Why would Christianity Today choose to take the side of the Democrat left whose only goal is to discredit and smear the name of a sitting president? They want readers to believe the Democrat leadership rather than believe the president of the United States,” Franklin Graham wrote.

Franklin Graham: Dad voted for Trump

CT says Trump proved guilty

Christianity Today ignores the Bible when trying to tell us what to believe about impeachment. In fact, what they said in this editorial is so unbiblical as to be nothing but sins of omission. What does the Bible say about rules of evidence?

1 Democrats have never produced one witness with firsthand knowledge of anything let alone two or three.

One witness is not enough to convict anyone accused of any crime or offense they may have committed. A matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.
Deuteronomy 19:15

“Every matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.”
2 Corinthians 13:1-2

In your own Law it is written that the testimony of two witnesses is true.
John 8:17

2 Do not decide a matter without first hearing both sides

“He that is first in his own cause seemeth just; but his neighbour cometh and searcheth him.” Proverbs 18:17

He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.
Proverbs 18:13

Trump a notorious sinner and so are you

Is President Trump guilty of sin? Of course he is, as were all past presidents and as each one of us are, including myself. Therefore, let’s pray for the president as he continues to lead the affairs of our nation. – Franklin Graham

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
Romans 3:23

For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law
Romans 2:12

If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
1 John 1:10

Trump’s Character

Christianity Today attacks Trump’s character with ad hominem claims “He himself has admitted to immoral actions in business and his relationship with women.” The claim is used as a factual statement without any proof or foundation and is used to buttress their assertion of his guilt in the impeachment accusations.

President Trump has been married more than once, as was Ronald Reagan whom I regard as the greatest President of the 20th Century. Trump surrounds himself with beautiful women but does not have a reputation of having intercourse with them in the Oval Office as has been the practice of other Presidents. Divorce is a sin in most circumstances but this has not been an issue in Evangelical circles for many decades. Was this a shot at Stormy Daniels?

Most of those who formerly worked for Trump and are headed for jail were convicted of offenses prior to being on Trump’s payroll. We have previously documented on this blog that Trump’s pool of campaign staff was not top tier, especially early in the campaign. Trump got last pick of those that remained after Bush, Rubio, Cuz, etc. had hired their staffs. Any people not in this category were never found guilty but entrapped. They had the choice of fighting prosecutors with unlimited budgets or saving their personal assets and taking a plea deal. This was not a criminal issue but an economic one. In light of recent revelations by the government, some are trying to undo their plea bargains and be cleared.

Hitting Trump with the argument that we don’t like what you say on Twitter is not relevant to the impeachment issue either. On Twitter, Trump is typically defending himself in real time or touting his accomplishments; neither of which the media is willing to report. In a world with 24/7 news coverage in which almost 100 percent of everything about Trump is presented negatively, what do you expect him to do? Trump, like Saint Nicholas, hits heretics right between the eyes.

CT concludes by saying Evangelicals should flee Trump

My question is why? I can rebut their assertion in several ways. Here’s three quick ones.

“You can’t beat something with nothing.”

“You go to war with the army you have not the one you want.”

Oh, and Trump is president because it is God’s will.


CT asks something that deserves comment. “Consider how your justification of Mr. Trump influences your witness to your Lord and Savior.”

My response is this, if we continued down the road Obama put us on, it would be illegal for us to have any public witness for our Lord and Savior. All religious institutions were being subjugated to the State by the State’s use of the sword and mandated to accept homosexuality and other perversions, compromise on abortion, and the core claims of Christianity such as Jesus being the only way to God. We as Christians were staring into the abyss. We were in danger of having our children removed from us by the State, our institutions outlawed, and other retributions visited on us for being practicing Christians. (This is always the experience of Christians in socialist societies.) Trump stopped this momentum and is reversing this danger to the very fabric of our existence. Trump is our Constantine. Whether he is one of us or not, he has never said but his policies are exactly what Christianity needs to be legal and free in this country. The fact that Christianity Today is willing to throw us under the bus to score cheap political points is all you need to know. They are not on the side of light.

The final tell in their editorial is, “we have done our best to give evangelical Trump supporters their due…” No. They are tired of us sticking to this man in spite of all hell being loosed on him and him being unscathed. Folks all this impeachment stuff has done is insure the Donald Trump will spend the rest of his days fighting for this country and for us. The days of ex-Presidents sitting silently on the national sidelines are over. Trump will remake the Republican Party just as I’ve been saying for many years. To NeverTrumpers and Democrats, look out, the Orange Man cometh in wrath and vengeance.

Microsoft sadly proves war on Christmas is real

I was looking at a few of the tech websites that I regularly visited when I came across this article by an author that I think is Hindu and even he finally gets it.

The perceived wisdom is that the “War on Christmas” is merely a right-wing delusion and in general companies themselves are deciding to be more inclusive in celebrating the holidays rather than responding to complaints from anti-religious people who are offended by Christmas decorations.

It turns out Microsoft has proven that this was not the case, after responding to a complaint about adding a small Santa hat to VSCode, Microsoft’s open-source IDE.

Microsoft sadly proves war on Christmas is real
Offending Santa hat which is very tiny

Due to one complaint by an anonymous guy on the internet, the offending Santa hat was banished.

Here’s the complaint.

The Santa Hat on vscode insiders and pushing of religion is very offensive to me, additionally xmas has cost millions of Jews their lives over the centuries, yet even if that was not the case, pushing religious symbols as part of a product update is completely unacceptable. Please remove it immediately and make it your top priority. To me this is almost equally offensive as a swastika.

Christian-Schiffer referred to an article on Sefaria listing the sins associated with Christmas which include:

  • Christmas has always been a holiday celebrated carelessly. For millennia, pagans, Christians, and even Jews have been swept away in the season’s festivities, and very few people ever pause to consider the celebration’s intrinsic meaning, history, or origins.
  • Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus, a Christian god who came to rescue mankind from the “curse of the Torah.”
  • At its origin, Christmas is a 24-hour declaration that Judaism is no longer valid.
  • December 25 is a day on which Jews have been shamed, tortured, and murdered.
  • Many of the most popular Christmas customs – including Christmas trees, mistletoe, Christmas presents, and Santa Claus – are modern incarnations of some extremely offensive and violent rituals

Microsoft responded to the complaint by saying:

@Christian-Schiffer we’re sorry we hurt your and other’s feelings. We’ll remote the Santa Hat.

The author of the article concludes:

In short, the war on Christmas appears to be very real.

Folks, I’m glad whenever other people agree with us—especially, that there really is a war on Christmas. The logical fallacies in the article cited as the reasons to oppose Christmas are frankly ill-informed, inaccurate, and just dumb.

First, the swastika is a Hindu religious symbol and is not the exclusive property or emblem of the Nazi Party as constituted in Germany. Hindus and others have used the swastika symbol for thousands of years before Hitler was born.

Second, a Santa hat is a winter symbol not a Christian one and people really wear similar hats in certain cultures. Oh, and there is zero proof that the real Saint Nicholas ever wore said hat.

Third, any holiday—Christian or not—can be celebrated by tradition and the real meaning can be forgotten. For example, in the United Stated we celebrate our Independence Day on July Fourth, but do you really believe that our people shun tyranny as a result? No. We have forgotten the reason and lessons of the Revolution. Our current government is much more tyrannical and oppressive than the British rule of the 1770’s. Our tax rates are way higher than those of the Stamp Act and tea taxes imposed by King George back in the day.

Jesus came to rescue mankind from the curse of sin not the Torah. Jesus fulfilled the requirements of the Torah and perfectly kept the Law. He ever said, “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.” Matthew 5:17.

Christmas is a 24 hour declaration of nothing anti-Jewish. Where does that come from? Christmas is a 12 day celebration in the Church’s liturgical calendar beginning on December 25th and going thru January 6th. Twelve days of Christmas anyone? Messiah has come, first to the Jews—angels declare peace on earth and goodwill to all men on December 25th and January 6th—known as Epiphany—celebrates salvation coming to the Gentiles, as symbolized by the arrival of the wise men. Jesus was probably not really born in December although the 25th day of a month is mentioned in some early Christian literature. Since we don’t use the same calendar as they did back then, this discussion can’t go much beyond what I have just stated.

Evil doesn’t take a holiday and not all Christians celebrate Christmas on December 25th so what does the fact that someone of a certain faith might be killed on a particular date? I’m sure I could find examples of people from almost any faith group that were killed on December 25; especially, over a span of over 2,000 plus years. I don’t deny that Christians have persecuted Jews at certain points in history but it’s not a teaching of the New Testament or tenant of our faith. In fact, persecution of Jews is the opposite of Christianity properly understood. There’s that pesky command to love our neighbor thing that gets in the way of such behavior.

The claim that popular Christmas customs are all the result of offensive and violent rituals is silly. We give gifts to others as a symbol of peace on earth and goodwill towards men—we keep circling back to this phrase—because God gave us His greatest gift in the form of sending His son to become a man and fulfill the requirements of the Law (Torah) and be the once and for all time sacrifice for the sins of the world.

Santa Claus is a composite of many traditions but Saint Nicholas was a real man that was best known for two things, giving gifts to the poor in the name of Christ and hitting a heretic (Arius) at the Council of Nicaea in about 325 AD. This was the first recorded time that any Christian decked someone in the halls.

Folks, the fact that one anonymous complaint can force a trillion dollar company to change something as trivial and innocuous as a Santa hat should really bother you and I hope it does. Especially when the same company is perfectly willing to repeatedly attack my Christian beliefs on issues of marriage and family and doesn’t care what I think.

Has Technology Doomed Tech Stores?

A few weeks ago, local media reported something that I had heard from my wife several weeks ago; namely, the shelves were bare at the local Fry’s Electronics store. Mrs. ReallyRight reported that she was assured by Fry’s employees that there was a glitch in their supply chain but that they weren’t going anywhere, the business was here to stay.

Here’s the report:

The parking lot was nearly empty, a sign on the door said “now hiring full-time merchandisers” and inside the store the shelves were largely bare.

On a Saturday afternoon just over two weeks before Christmas, the Toy Land at Fry’s Electronics in Roseville was deserted. There were no customers, there were no toys. One of the few salespeople on the floor said the Fry’s store in Natomas looked the same. He said staff had been told the company was “restructuring.”

Online reports show the same thing is happening at other Fry’s stores around the country and suggest the company is switching to a consignment business model, where shelves are stocked with products that Fry’s doesn’t have to pay for until they are sold.

A Fry’s spokesman told the Dallas Morning News the company is not liquidating or planning to close any stores. Spokesman Manuel Valerio told the Dallas newspaper the company’s 34 stores in nine states will have product again “over the next several weeks,” but that report was published Nov. 15.

Why Are Fry’s Store Shelves Empty Two Weeks Before Christmas?
Empty shelves @ Fry’s Electronics photo from KOVR-TV
Empty shelves @ Fry’s Electronics photo from KOVR-TV

Sounds to me like they are adopting the Best Buy/grocery store model of selling shelf space to others and just running the cash registers.

So how is this working for Best Buy? In my opinion not that well. I went into Best Buy over the weekend to get an item that I need for a Christmas gift. Much to my surprise, I was the line. There was one cash register open and I was the only one waiting. The good news is that I waited less than a minute. My thought was black what? Nobody is earning money tonight. The store was a ghost town. The employee to customer ratio was about one to one.

Let me know how your retail experience went but based on this, color me concerned about the future of brick and mortar technology stores. Will the rest go the way of the Good Guys and Incredible Universe in 2020?

Real Estate Mysteries

My wife and I are planning to exit California in about four more years. This is our plan but we know that it is contingent on a few different things, some of which are out of our control. At this point, we are just watching housing prices in our neighborhood. Watching housing prices is like watching the value of the stocks in your long-term investment portfolio. The ups and downs are about enough to get you seasick if you take your eyes off the horizon.

Flip House

Sitting on the sidelines and watching real estate prices is not a sport for the weak. The problem with watching real estate prices on Zillow and other places is that much of the numbers are nonsense. The posterchild for this is the “flip house” around the corner from me.

About two years ago, Zillow said a house around the corner from us was worth about $450K. (Note: Zillow does not know that said house sat empty for the previous two years and treated it as comparable to others occupied homes in the neighborhood.)

Blog dog on patrol

One day, I was walking the “blog dog” and noticed some intense work happening at this particular house. Over the course of about two weeks, the house was renovated inside and out. The house was then staged with furniture, photographed, and put up for sale at $150K above the Zillow price. Folks, the workmanship of the flip was really sketchy (no way there were any permits pulled) but the online photos made the house look great. After one false start, the house had an offer and sold at $590K. How does a house go from abandoned and empty for two years to the highest per square foot in the neighborhood on the basis of a shoddy flip? You literally could see defects just from standing on the sidewalk. A year later, the new owners renovated the house—probably due to poor workmanship.

Other Prices

I get regular solicitations from some local realtors claiming my house is worth X, or Y, or Z but I don’t get where the numbers come from. My next door neighbor’s house was comparable to ours on Zillow but after they redid their front yard, getting rid of about half their lawn and the beautiful tree that once stood there, Zillow awarded the homeowner by boosting the home’s value by $75K in one month. I would guess they spent all of about $12K on their front yard. Again, go figure?

Zillow algorithm valuing your home

I know our place needs some work but trying to figure how to get the most bang for our dollar and avoid substandard work sometimes looks like a daunting task. Nevertheless, it’s a chore that will probably begin picking up momentum in 2020. As we get closer to our departure date, I think we need to consult a real estate oracle to help us get the most bang for our home improvement bucks.

Lastly, per Zillow, today the flip house is now $42K above the purchase price.

Sacramento Bee Nukes Itself

By Chief

I flame broiled the Sacramento Bee parent group McClatchy so bad the other week that Burger King got jealous and sent William a cease and desist letter for using their patented flame broil technology. Fear not friend of the blog, our law firm, Dewey, Screwem and Howe, was there to fend off this challenge. We had a comment by “Anchovy” who fired a tomahawk missile at McClatchy (we love comments here) and I felt slightly bad for this merry band of idiots. Following my last post about them, the Bee literally decided to yell “Allahu Akbar” and kill itself off.

The Bee, in what is likely to be their parting shot to the citizens of Sacramento, has taken on one last jab at what once was their subscriber base. Sadly, what you are about to read is no joke. The Bee has decided to get in the S.A.C. with Black Lives (sometimes) Matter. S.A.C. is not an abbreviation for Sacramento but for Stephon A. Clark. McClatchy is paying for a weekend of tribute to Clark by hosting a documentary about Saint Stephon called S.A.C.

Yep, the criminal that ran from the police after several 911 calls about him breaking into cars/etc., who tried to break into his grandparent’s house, and subsequently assumed room temperature afterwards at the hands of Sacramento’s finest has been honored with a documentary praising his impact on the community. Below is a sample of the legacy of Saint Stephon.

Clark, on probation from two domestic violence convictions and one conviction of assault with a deadly weapon, evaded police in the days leading up to the shooting, while trying to get ahold of his girlfriend. Clark’s phone records showed that he had called her 76 times leading up to the shooting, causing Manni to block his phone number. Clark also attempted to get ahold of his probation officer in the 48 hours after he was reported for domestic violence, but was unable to do so.

The two did exchange several text messages leading up to the shooting, with Manni telling Clark that he would be sent back to prison for the domestic incident and that he would not see his children for a long time. Clark also texted other ex-girlfriends seeking drugs, as well as texting Manni that he was going to commit suicide.

Shooting of Stephon Clark

A toxicology report found that Clark had substances including codeine, marijuana and cocaine in his system when he died. But Reiber noted that those results “are not considered directly germane to the cause of death.”

Official Autopsy Of Stephon Clark, Killed By Police, Contradicts Family Autopsy

(The above quote on the autopsy is technically true only because Stephon died of acute lead poisoning. The cocktail of chemicals in his body would have taken longer—Editor.)

The video being shown at Sophia Tsakopoulos (hell if I know how to spell that correctly but I’m sure the editor will fix it for me) Center of the Arts in downtown had 150 people attend this blessed event. Hell, the CRA can turn out that many people once in a blue moon.

Over 150 people gathered Thursday night at the Sofia Tsakopoulos Center for the Arts to view the premiere of “S.A.C.,” a documentary on the 2018 police shooting of Stephon Clark and its impact on the Clark family and Sacramento community.

Stephon Clark documentary debuts; Sacramento Police Chief Daniel Hahn faces heated Q&A

Attendees were treated to the martyr Stephon’s brother Stevante and chief of police Daniel Hahn doing a Q&A afterwards. Stevante is most known for telling pantywaist Darrell Steinberg (mayor) to “F**k off” during a council meeting, the pantywaist did as he was told. Steinberg also made sure the Clark family won the lottery settling for quite a few million. Hanh was interrogated by the viewers of said documentary and we here feel he is a good man who deserved better. My sources at Sac PD tell me Hanh was questioned about how he “let his race down” (he is black) by not firing Mercadel and Robinette the 2 police officers that responded.

He added if he fired them, they would have been reinstated since the DA and Atty General found no wrongdoing.

“Am I justified? Technically, legally, yeah,” Hahn answered. “There’s really no other choice that I had, because if I had fired them, they would have gotten their jobs back.”

Sacramento Police Chief Daniel Hahn

Let us remind you the Atty General here is Xavier (pronounced Javier) Beccera literally hates both police and Donald Trump mind you. Our local DA is an independent, but she has changed parties about as often as Bruce Jenner has changed sexes in last couple years.

Point being, the Bee sponsored and is literally promoting an event that no one either cares about or will result in more cancelled subscriptions. I just don’t get why you would promote this. As far as about 90% of the public is concerned, that little punk got what he deserved, and as far as Steinberg goes, I have a feeling he is a pink Victoria’s Secret Thong guy because he always seems to be pulling out a wedgie.

Back to the Bee. I cannot see how this grows your subscriber base, nor your advertisement base, keep in mind Michael Jordan (yes that one) when it came to selling shoes, is famous for the quote “Republicans buy shoes too.” The folks at McClatchy could stand to learn a lot from such a concept. Attacking the Sac PD, and the Sac Sheriff is a wild move, because what if an “active shooter” happens at your location? Like it matters? I feel you could fire a cannon in each direction on the reporter floor at the Bee and not hit anyone.

If for some reason you feel compelled to read this trash, find a local CVS as they will let you take their copies of the Bee and not even charge you. They are just glad to be rid of them. I suggest this because the “free Bee” with the Sunday paper in Elk Grove is gone too. I can only imagine what that will do for their circulation numbers? Sadly, the jig is up, and they know it. Given their current financial state, I am not sure why they would bet their future on Stephon Clark.

From my observation watching the trailer online, I highly doubt any of the attendees will be buying a paper.

The Bee will be just as extinct as Stephon very soon. They are blaming AB 5, but interestingly they ignore which party overwhelmingly controls the entire state legislative process! Or that they have activity promoted this Party for longer that I’ve been alive. They will hammer President Trump for any and everything, yet ignore the party who passed AB 5 essentially killing their business model? They made a fatal mistake. They are not the auto workers or service employees’ international workers, and as outlined earlier, the paper is a dying business. The Clark documentary will be met with more cancellations, and advertisement rates are based off circulation numbers. Killing the Saturday edition and the “free Sunday Bee” won’t do them any favors either.

The Bee only has a few groups of readers remaining: folks on a liquid diet, folks with 4 inch thick glasses, folks who don’t know which pronoun to refer to themselves with, and heavy Kool Aid drinkers like Aaron Park. See pictorial proof below.

Aaron Park swallows Kool-Aid

The Chief

Pre-Christmas Tech Update

Here are a few things worth a look as you ponder getting new tech toys for Christmas giving.

1 Ring in the New Year with Santa and his creepy friends.

Only four days after installing it, her 8-year-old daughter, Alyssa, heard music and a banging noise coming from the room where the camera was installed.

Alyssa says that when she began looking for the source of the noise, she heard a voice saying, “I’m Santa Claus, don’t you want to be my best friend?”

Lemay says the voice taunted Alyssa and encouraged her to mess up her room and break her TV before her dad came into the room and shut the camera off.

Ring security camera hacks see homeowners subjected to racial abuse, ransom demands

2 Lest you think Amazon is the only guys watching whether you are naughty or nice; Facebook is too, but only if you use a smartphone made by Tim Cook.

The glitch affects iPhone owners, who said their camera suddenly switched itself on while they were scrolling through their feed, watching videos or looking at photos.

When people turned the video to full-screen mode and then switched back to Facebook’s normal view, they could see a little open space on the left and the camera app in the background.
Several people have tweeted about the bug and it has been replicated by tech journalists.

Daryl Lasafin, a creative director, tweeted: ‘Facebook app on iOS 13.2.2 opens my phone’s rear camera when I open a profile photo swipe down to return (look at the little slit on the left of the video). Is this an app bug or an iOS bug??’

Joshua Maddox, a web designer and digital strategist, tweeted: ‘Found a Facebook security & privacy issue. When the app is open it actively uses the camera. I found a bug in the app that lets you see the camera open behind your feed.’

The Facebook app has been quietly turning on people’s cameras and freaking them out

3 However, if you thought Android devices were safer, you’d be very wrong.

The security research team at Checkmarx has made something of a habit of uncovering alarming vulnerabilities, with past disclosures covering Amazon’s Alexa and Tinder. However, a discovery of vulnerabilities affecting Google and Samsung smartphones, with the potential to impact hundreds of millions of Android users, is the biggest to date. What did the researchers discover? Oh, only a way for an attacker to take control of smartphone camera apps and remotely take photos, record video, spy on your conversations by recording them as you lift the phone to your ear, identify your location, and more. All of this performed silently, in the background, with the user none the wiser.

The vulnerabilities themselves (CVE-2019-2234) allowed a rogue application to grab input from the camera, microphone as well as GPS location data, all remotely.

Once the app is installed and started, it would create a persistent connection to that command and control server and then sit and wait for instructions. Closing the app did not close that server connection. What instructions could be sent by the attacker, resulting in what actions? I hope you are sitting down as it’s a lengthy and worrying list.

Google Confirms Android Camera Security Threat: ‘Hundreds Of Millions’ Of Users Affected
  • Take a photo using the smartphone camera and upload it to the command server.
  • Record video using the smartphone camera and upload it to the command server.
  • Wait for a voice call to start, by monitoring the smartphone proximity sensor to determine when the phone is held to the ear and record the audio from both sides of the conversation.
  • During those monitored calls, the attacker could also record video of the user at the same time as capturing audio.
  • Capture GPS tags from all photos taken and use these to locate the owner on a global map.
  • Access and copy stored photo and video information, as well as the images captured during an attack.
  • Operate stealthily by silencing the smartphone while taking photos and recording videos, so no camera shutter sounds to alert the user.
  • The photo and video recording activity could be initiated regardless of whether the smartphone was unlocked.

Since the whole world is watch you anyway, “you’d better be good for goodness sake…”

4 In other news, Tim Cook not only knows whether you’re good or bad but where you are (or have been too).

Apple has admitted that the company still collects location data of iPhones even when the user has turned off location settings. This comes just after a security researcher found that iPhone 11 Pro was collecting data after the location settings were turned off.

KrebsOnSecurity identified the issue and published a video showcasing the location data collection after the user had selected ‘never’ for all individual system services and apps. The researcher then forwarded the issue to Apple who gave a generic reply stating that some services require location data and they continue to collect it even when the user has turned off location settings.

Krebs noted that the statement contradicts with Apple’s claim that users get granular control over sharing their location. Apple hasn’t discussed more about the issue but for now, the company has confirmed that it indeed allow apps to collect location data even when the user has specifically blocked the app from doing so.

Apple admits that iPhone collects location data even when the user has turned off location settings

5 On Christmas, there is a tradition that if you find yourself under the mistletoe with a beautiful woman that you are obligated to kiss her; however, there might be repercussions; especially if you are equipped with a Fitbit.

There’s no ideal way to find out that your partner is cheating on you, but thanks to modern technology, there are at least more ways to learn the truth. This week, NFL Network correspondent Jane Slater has shared the story of how she discovered her boyfriend was being unfaithful after his Fitbit data exposed him.

The couple had both previously synced their Fitbit devices, so when Slater didn’t know where her boyfriend was at 4 o’clock in the morning, she checked her Fitbit account. Let’s just say, he was getting in some exercise.

NFL Network Reporter Jane Slater Caught Her Boyfriend Cheating Due to His Fitbit Activity

6 Fitbit was just recently purchased by Google although some regulators aren’t sure they want Google to be exposed to Fitbit data.

By next year, the health data Fitbit has on its users today will become Google’s data – a valuable acquisition for Google, undoubtedly, but one that I predict could make consumers uncomfortable.

Fitbit snapped up by Google in $2.1bn deal

7 Meanwhile, Microsoft discovers that computer users tend to reuse passwords for different accounts. Like no duh. I have an active list of at least forty different online accounts that I frequently use. Its somewhere between inconvenience and impossible to remember them all. I use technology to track my technology access. Microsoft has one password to access all their products on any platform. I guess they decided to look at their users and got a surprise.

Microsoft performed a threat assessment of their services and the users between January and March of this year and the results are shocking. According to the Microsoft threat research team, millions of users are reusing their passwords on Microsoft’s services.

As a part of the threat assessment, Microsoft checked over 3 billion credentials, out of which 44 million Microsoft services and Azure AD accounts matched indicating that the aforementioned accounts were reusing credentials. Microsoft also noted that out of the 3 billion credentials, many were leaked online and the company forced a password reset to ensure the accounts aren’t abused.

Furthermore, Microsoft said that 30% of the reused or modified passwords can be cracked within just 10 guesses.

Microsoft says millions of users are reusing their passwords

8 Finally, another Tim Cook story, this one from Germany where Apple has been ordered to allow other vendors to use NFC capabilities of the iPhone for pay services other than Apple’s.

We reported in October that Apple was drawing attention from the European Competition Commission over their monopoly over the NFC reader on the iPhone which prevented other payment companies such as banks from supporting contact-less payments directly on the handset.

Instead, banks had to subscribe to Apple Pay and pay Apple a percentage for the privilege. This is in contrast to Android, where users are able to set up any app as their contact-less payment provider.

Today Reuters report that last night a German parliamentary committee voted to force Apple to open up the payment platform on the iPhone.
The legislation, which does not name Apple directly, was added as an amendment to an anti-money laundering law.

German legislators vote to force Apple to open up Apple Pay and contact-less payments on the iPhone
It’s my precious

So that’s it for Friday the 13th. Be careful out there ‘cause lots of tech companies are depending on you so they can monetize your data, fill their coffers, and keep their Asia workforce employed for another year.

Friday the 13th

Thoughts on Impeachment

Folks I just don’t get it. Why will the House vote to impeach President Trump? There is no hope of getting a conviction in the Senate. The House effort has zero Republican support and has been predetermined before Democrats even created “charges” to make against the President.

CRA motivational flyer as seen at Stop Trump call center

Oh, yes I fully expect that Mitt Romney—whom I once voted for—will throw Trump under the political bus if he gets the chance but I’m hoping he resists his baser instincts to pile-on. I think the Senate Democrats running for President must recuse themselves. This, action alone will make getting a 2/3 vote to convict in the Senate an impossibility.

Is this really the 2020 Presidential campaign? Sadly, I think it’s all they have because they certainly don’t have a worthy opponent to Trump. Furthermore, Democrats have already said that they will impeach Trump again and again. Folks, such an attitude is shredding the Constitution—Ok, what little of it remains—and turn us into a banana republic. The political games being played now cannot be walked back.

I agree with the Sith Lord that the Republic will fracture into different nation-states—a possibility that he has discussed for many years—but it’s painful to see. I feel like I’m in ancient Israel right before the masses were carted-off into captivity by Babylon and Egypt.

Trump the Negotiator

I’m going to state something that is only superficially true but has some merit. Trump is like Jesus in a few ways. First, with him there is no neutrality. Second, his trial is one of false accusations and conflicting accounts which are not corroborated by any evidence. Third, his enemies want to crucify him. Fourth, he is like a fulcrum, he is dividing the sheep from the goats. Trump will go down in history as the most divisive figure in the White House since Lincoln. Fifth, Trump is triumphing over his enemies because the traps they laid for him are in reality their doom.