Category Archives: Social Networking

Indentured Servitude is STILL alive and well in the U.S.


Back in October of 2013 I posted my most read blog article . . . by far. It garnered an astounding 7,368 views. And now, unfortunately, that article becomes timely once again. Only, this time, substitute President Donald J. Trump for any references that were previously made about Senator Ted Cruz (another absolutely despicable human being). And this time the hissy fit isn’t Obamacare. This time it is over a wall that nearly everyone acknowledges will neither add anything to national security, nor mitigate crossings along our border with Mexico, all at a cost that would eventually exceed $40 billion if completed along our entire southern flank. Besides, the president has had two years now to make Mexico pay for that wall, right?

And here is that reprinted article:

An Airport Traffic Control (ATC) Tower

An Airport Traffic Control Tower (ATCT)

Take it from a former controller who has in his 34 years in the business worked at some pretty busy facilities under less than ideal conditions with obsolete or failing equipment and uncooperative weather:  There are few if any jobs more stressful than air traffic control.  Period.  It’s certainly more stressful than being, say, a congressman or a senator.

Imagine working New York TRACON (Terminal Radar Approach Control) during a busy inbound rush of air carriers, failing equipment, and a line of thunderstorms pushing into the area from the west.  Throw into that mix an inflight emergency or two and perhaps an aircraft with minimum fuel that needs to get on the ground right now.

Then let’s add to all that stress.

Let’s tell those controllers that they have to go to work, but a group of about thirty congressmen and a senator or two who didn’t agree with the results of the last election are going to refuse to allow the United States Congress to pay them.

These already overworked, stressed controllers have mortgages to make, utilities to pay, car payments, grocery bills, kids in college . . . but none of that makes any difference.  They are required by federal law to work.  For free.  Indefinitely.

Think that’s fair?  That’s what’s happening right now, this very second.  In New York.  In Dallas.  In Atlanta.  In Chicago.  In Los Angeles.  In myriad other busy facilities across this great nation.  All because of thirty-some-odd Congressmen and at least one delusional, grand-standing Senator from Texas who has ambitions beyond the senate seat he’s held for less than ten months.

Tomorrow, these controllers will be paid for only 48 of the 80 or more hours they worked — the 48 hours they worked before the shutdown that occurred just thirteen days ago.  Those controllers received that bad news when they got their “pay” statements last Thursday.  Two weeks from tomorrow the amount in their paychecks drops to Z-E-R-O despite working another 80 or more hours during the next pay period.

How long do you think you could financially hold on under such conditions?  How long do you think it’ll be before some of these controllers have to resign to find jobs that pay the bills?  How long do you think it’ll be before retirement-eligible controllers with 20 or 25+ years of badly needed experience and who are currently mentoring an already far-too-young and inexperienced group of new controllers decide that they should go into retirement just to pay the bills?  (Controllers, by the way, are only allowed to work to the last day of the month in which they turn 56 because of the stresses inherent to their jobs, and because before that reduction in the retirement age, very few controllers could make it to mandatory retirement because of failing health and deteriorating abilities and reaction times.  These are the professionals who your congressman is stiffing on pay for work they’ve already done.)

How long before that radar control room guiding your airliner is staffed like this?:

The Control Room of a Terminal Radar Approach Control (TRACON)

The Control Room of a Terminal Radar Approach Control (TRACON)

And while these people are working for free, I’d like for you to consider this:  Those congressmen?  The ones who before the last election proclaimed the 2012 elections a “referendum on Obamacare?”  The congressmen who are now having a temper tantrum because, at their core, they apparently only believe in democracy when it suits them?

Those congressmen work on average just two days out of every five-day workweek, earn at a minimum $174,000 a year (Speaker Boehner gets a whopping $223,500 for not doing his job), are vested for retirement benefits after only five years on what I laughingly call “the job,” get federally subsidized healthcare (which those thirty want to deny people who make one tenth as much as they), and they continue to receive those pay and all those benefits while your air traffic controllers are forced to do without.  Those congressmen certainly aren’t hurting financially during this self-induced “crisis,” but your air traffic controllers certainly are.

How dare any elected representative do this to employees who work for them?  How dare any elected representative put employees’ families through this kind of stress and uncertainty?  How dare anyone whose job is given to them by a democratic process repudiate the outcome of a democratic election because they do not agree with the results?

It is way past time to start reducing the stress levels of your already overstressed air traffic controllers, and to start raising the stress levels of your elected representative.  And if you live in the state of Texas, as do I, it’s way past time to tell the wealthy Senator Ted Cruz (55th wealthiest member of the U.S. Senate) that if he doesn’t agree with democracy, then it’s well beyond time to democratically terminate his employment come next election.

These people, quite frankly, disgust this former Republican who, effective October 1 of this year, no longer affiliates himself with what once was truly the Grand Old Party . . . but is no more.

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Filed under Author, Aviation Safety, Opinion Piece, R. Doug Wicker, Social Networking, Writing

Readers Beware! — A particularly clever Phishing Attack


Now here’s a nifty little phishing attack that targeted me over a two-day period, and this one is both unique and, if you’re not careful, very effective.

On Monday my iPad informed me that I needed to log into my Apple ID account, which I attempted using my Apple ID and password.  That attempt was rewarded with an admonition, “This Apple ID has been locked for security reasons,” or something similar to that wording.  Apparently, someone attempted multiple logins with my Apple ID and an incorrect password, and Apple took the precaution of locking my account after too many such attempts.  I managed to log in my iPad using other contingencies employed by Apple.

It never occurred to me that the actual objective was not to break into my account, but rather to intentionally lock the account for the follow-up attack the next day.  Clever.

The next morning I received a security alert email from Apple advising me that my Apple ID account had been logged onto from an I.P. address from Indonesia.  Included in the email was a link to verify machines from which my account had recently been accessed.  I tapped the link and was taken to an HTTPS site with what appeared to be the Apple ID login page.  HTTPS normally means that you’re safe, right?  Well, not really.  It just means that the communications between your computer and that specific site are encrypted to discourage electronic “eavesdropping” of the conversation between the two computers.  Clever.

What I had failed to do was hover over the email link before clicking on it, which if I had would have revealed a bitsy URL link, meaning the real address was hidden behind a URL totally unrelated to Apple.  Not clever, but for some reason I fell for it.

At what appeared to be the Apple ID login screen I entered my Apple ID and password, but instead of being logged into my Apple ID account I was instead directed to another screen that asked for my name, address, and other information.  By now the phishing scum would have my Apple ID and the associated password, but I now was onto the game when the site also asked for credit card information, date of birth, Social Security Number (oh, come on now . . . really?), etc.

I immediately closed out that window, logged into my Apple ID account, and reset my password since I had just compromised my previous password.  I then reported as a phishing scam the offending email with the bogus link.

So, to recap, here’s how this rather ingenious phishing attack works using against Apple its requirement to pair the user’s Apple ID with a functioning email address:

  • Day 1:  The phisher obtains an email address and checks if that email address is linked to an existing Apple ID account
  • Once that link is established, the phisher intentionally makes numerous attempts to log into that Apple ID account until Apple freezes any further attempts
  • The account owner is now wary because, obviously, someone made multiple attempts to log into the account until it was locked; this sets up the user for the follow up email the next day
  • Day 2:  The phisher sends a “security warning” email that appears to be from Apple; the “warning” advises the account owner that his account has been logged into from a foreign I.P. address
  • The account owner then lets his suspicions from the previous day override his normal caution, and he “logs into” his Apple ID account through the bogus link supplied in the “security warning” email.
  • The phisher then captures the account owner’s password and, if the account owner continues to fall for the phishing attack, other even more critical personal information

This is by far the most sophisticated phishing attack I’ve yet seen, or at least it appears so to me because it’s the only one that’s ever duped me into revealing anything.  It’s an extremely fine piece of social engineering that uses a two-pronged con deliberately tailored to instill suspicion on Day 1 of the attack in order to override caution on Day 2 of the attack.

Do not fall for this attack.  Just because your Apple ID account was locked does not mean that the attacker managed to break in later.  Indeed, the chances are that he has not, and that your account is still secure.  Just report as a phishing scam the follow-up email and delete it.  If you’re paranoid after the initial Day 1 attack, just check your Apple ID account over the next several days and make sure you still have access.  If you do, the phisher has not taken over and changed your password to transfer to him control of your account.

Please help spread the word by linking this article to your friends and family members, as I suspect this is going to be the next big scam.

© 2017 R. Doug Wicker (RDougWicker.com)

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Filed under R. Doug Wicker, Social Networking, Technology/New Stuff

Election 2016 — A Call to Arms


I call it the NOTAP.  The NOTAP is the None Of The Above Party.  And I offer up as NOTAP’s first presidential candidate . . . well, we’ll get to that in a moment.

NOTAP’s primary platform is the ultimate delegitimization of the eventual winner of this year’s U.S. presidential election, and the abject humiliation of a two-party system that foisted these two candidates upon us.  That’s it.  One issue.  One objective.  Everything else at this point is secondary to that one goal.  E-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g, whether we’re talking about abortion, guns, immigration, taxation, whatever; because none of any of those issued means one damned thing to anyone if we continue down this path.

Here’s what you can do:  Research your state’s voting laws.  See what candidates other than the Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton may be on the ballot.  For instance, there are 27 alternate parties on the ballot of several states, and various self-identified “Independent” or “Independence” parties on the ballot of fifteen states.

Here’s a rundown of just a few of the more prominent:  The Libertarian Party is on 33 ballots.  Twenty-one ballots will display the Green Party candidate.  The Constitution Party is on the ballots of thirteen states.  The Reform and the Working Families Party are each on four ballots, and the Progressive Party is on two.  There’s even an American Shopping Party on the ballot in Hawai’i this year, if shopping is your thing, but the candidate on that ballot is running for the U.S. Senate rather than president.  Anyway, you get the idea — there are other choices out there, choices that haven’t a prayer.  Hold your nose and pick one.  Any one.  Just pick.  If you have no alternative, and if your state does not allow a write-in (more on that in a moment), then I suggest you withhold your vote for either of the two other candidates unless either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton truly appeals to you and you feel either of those candidates holds with the issues dearest to your heart.

In states that offer the alternative of a write-in, even if that write-in vote will not be tallied because of arbitrary and punitive regulation, I offer up one other choice, and that would be the self-appointed, first-ever nominee of the NOTAP — R. Doug Wicker.  No, this is not an ego trip.  I do not expect to garner any significant vote tally.  Indeed, if you have any other choice then I implore you to please pick it.

If you agree with this treatise, and if you desire to act based upon its proposals, please forward all this week’s articles to your social networking list.  The time to organize a true and effective protest is rapidly dwindling.

Monday:  Election 2016 — How the Hell Did We Get Here?

Tuesday:  Election 2016 — Why the Hell Did We Get Here?

Wednesday:  Election 2016 — Fixing This System Long Term

Thursday:  Election 2016 — But How Do We Fix This Year’s Mess?

Today:  Friday:  Election — A Call to Arms

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Filed under Opinion Piece, R. Doug Wicker, Social Networking