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Denver – Putting Illegal Criminals Ahead of the Lives of its Own Citizens February 20, 2017

Posted by Chris Mark in Uncategorized.
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ever_valles_facebookOn January 30th, 2017 Denver’s Democratic Mayor Michael Hancock proudly proclaimed” “If being a sanctuary city means that we value taking care of one another, and welcoming refugees and immigrants, then I welcome the title,”8 days later, two known gang members (and illegal immigrants) who had been arrested…and released…by the Denver police killed a man.  On February 7th, 2017 Ever Valles (in Facebook pic to left..still up) and Nathan Valdez attempted to rob and ultimately murdered 32 year old Tim Cruz at a light rail station.  So why do I care?  According to reports: “Ever Andres Valles, 19, a citizen of Mexico, was encountered by ICE via the Criminal Alien Program following his arrest on local charges in October 2016,” According to ICE: “At the time of his arrest, ICE placed a detainer with the Denver County Jail. The detainer wasn’t honored, and he was released by the jail Dec. 20, 2016, without notification to ICE. Valles is a known gang member whose gang history is documented in the Colorado gang database. Due to his criminal history and gang affiliation, Valles is an ICE immigration enforcement priority.”  So what was the Denver Police Department’s response? They claim that they did, indeed notify ICE prior to releasing Valles.  Is this true?  Possibly, in a technical manner.  If  you look at the Fax (yes Fax) produced by the Denver PD as ‘proof’ of their efforts  you will notice that the Fax was sent at 11:35 PM on December, 20th, 2016.  According to ICE, Mr. Valles was released on December 20th, 2016.  So…the Denver PD FAXED a document to ICE 25 minutes before midnight to inform them that a dangerous felon was about to be put back on the streets.  In defense of their actions the Sheriff’s department did defiantly add: “We are part of the criminal justice system and do not hold people on civil matters,”…I am sure that helps Mr. Cruz’ family sleep better at night.  It is this ignorant, self serving attitude that ultimately cost the life of Mr. Cruz.  If you are so inclined, you can contact Mr. Hancock here:

https://twitter.com/MayorHancock

https://www.denvergov.org/content/denvergov/en/mayors-office/contact-the-mayor.html

*for those wondering why I changed the title…in reflection it occurs to me that this does not occur in a vacuum.  The Mayor alone did not create this situation.  As such, it is Denver’ government and not solely the mayor…

Yamaha FZ09 Review – WOW!..Awesome bike! January 27, 2017

Posted by Chris Mark in Uncategorized.
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fz09_25Those who know me know I love motorcycles.  I have had everything from Ninjas to Buell’s to Harleys to Enduros…after my son was born I sold my highly modified and beloved (and fast) XB9SX (at right).  xb9_25

A few weeks ago I decided to buy another motorcycle.  After a lot of online research I decided upon Yamaha’s FZ09.  Since I am a speed junkie I figured a 900cc (well..850) streetfighter would be sane enough for me to ride without too much temptation to speed.  The price was right and the bike looked cool, as well.  I found one in Austin, TX and headed out to pick it up.  After 3 weeks on the bike (and over 400 miles) here is my review.

  • Power/Engine?  Yamaha claims about 115HP at the crank and roughly 70ftlbs of torque at 11,500 rpm. Stock Rear wheel is about 105HP.  With a full race exhaust and ECU tune, most are getting about 115hp at the rear wheel.  The bike is geared short for street riding and, as such, it has a ton of low end power.  The power curve is linear from below 2K all the way to the 12,500 RPM.  The power is smooth, and controllable.  It is aided by a 3 setting engine control setting.  A- max power or “track mode”, B- is a lower powered mode used for rain and around town.  Std Mode is good for street riding and around town.  You can switch modes on the fly.
  • Fun Factor?  That thing is FAST!…That motorcycle absolutely rips from 0-120!  Claimed 2.7 second 0-60 and 7 seconds from 0-100.  The upside?  Wheelies…wheelies everywhere!  Wheelies when you want them…wheelies when you don’t…grab too much throttle?  Wheelies.  I did  not realize the acceleration when I bought the bike.  The flat plane crank triple has tons of torque and makes this bike rip.  This bike is the most fun I have had on a motorcycle.  It sounds awesome, as well!  Here is a great video of a rider pulling a wheelie on his FZ09 at 100mph.

  • Handling? At only 414lbs in stock form and wet the bike is light, nimble, and well balanced.  It is very easy to flick this bike through traffic and keep a line around corners.  Yamaha claims a 51 degree lean angle.  While I have not yet scraped a peg on the bike, I can say it does lean tightly.  With an upgraded exhaust and some other changes my bike weighs in at less than 400lbs dry.  It is very narrow due to the 3 cylinder engine and flicks well through twisties.  Unfortunately, the suspension is not great and the front end tends to dive in hard braking.  The rebound and damping are limited, as well.
  • Beginner’s bike?  It is NOT a beginner’s bike!  Read #1.  While only about $8K new, it is a wolf in sheep’s clothing.  This bike will punish you if you are not careful.  I would NOT advise a new rider to get an FZ09.  If you are not careful on the throttle or you dump the clutch you may find yourself bouncing down the road on your rear end with the bike on top of you.  In a corner, too much throttle and you may find yourself sliding out in a low side (if you are lucky) or being launched through the air from a high side if you are unlucky.  As a writer from RevZilla said: “It’s the best thing ever!”…“It’s absolutely incredible and blows everything else like it out of the water, and that’s before you factor in price. It’s also basically un-rideable and feels like it could be trying to kill me.” (Video below is a high side by not an FZ)

  • Safety? – The 2017 FZ09 comes with Anti-Lock Breaks and Traction Control which should improve the nasty tendencies.  I have never ridden with ABS or TC so I don’t think I am missing much but for less experienced riders, I have little doubt that the additions will help in the safety department.

Overall impression?  Most fun I have ever had on a bike.  Best bang for the buck and an amazing motorcycle.  Yamaha hit it out of the park with the FZ family.

A Lesson on Losing by Dominick Cruz – Former Bantamweight UFC Champion January 20, 2017

Posted by Chris Mark in Uncategorized.
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In light of the responses to the recent presidential election and the bombardment of media commentary and celebrities acting like petulant children who lost at a game of checkers, I felt it was appropriate to post a very insightful interview by a classy fighter.  Dominick Cruz has been a top tier fighter for over 10 years and was a two time bantamweight UFC champion until his recent loss.  During the interview Dominick showed immense class when asked about his loss.  This is a lesson for us all and for our children.  As Mr. Cruz so eloquently states: “Loss is part of life.  If you don’t have loss you don’t grow. This (losing) isn’t tough…this is life.” 

SwimOutlet.com Breached in 2016 – 51 days later..and after the holidays…we were notified. January 19, 2017

Posted by Chris Mark in Data Breach, Uncategorized.
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swimoutletnoticeThis is a post to notify those who may be affected.  Yesterday I received the following letter in the mail.  It was sent in a nondescript envelope and nearly discarded as ‘junk mail’.  Upon opening the letter I was shocked to read that my wife’s credit card data appears to have been compromised at SwimOutlet.com.  It should be noted that the same infrastructure is used by YogaOutlet.com.  In reading the letter provided to the State of Oregon’s Attorney General, it appears that over 6,200 Oregon residents likely had their data stolen.

Within the letter there is a curious statement that says: “The information at risk as a result of this event includes the cardholder name, address, phone number, email address, card number ,expiration date, and CVV.  For those in the credit card industry the inclusion of CVV is very troubling.  Under the card brand operating regulations and PCI DSS standard, it is prohibited for a merchant to retain CVV subsequent to authorization of the charge.  This particular type of data (actually the CVV2 or equivalent data) is what is needed to authenticate a transaction.  In short, the likelihood of fraud increases exponentially when a criminal captures CVV2 type data.  It is certainly curious that this ‘prohibited data’ is listed as an element that may have been stolen.

In reviewing the SwimOutlet.com website I notice a conspicuous absence of any form of notification on their website.  Their blog is filled with helpful tips on swimming better and eating better but there is no mention of the fact that their user’s credit and/or debit card data was stolen.  A review of their Facebook page has the same conspicuous absence of any notification or information.  Their Twitter feed is also absent of any information.

If one looks at the timeline of events, there are some disturbing (to me, at least) items.  On October 31st, 2016 SwimOutlet.com “…began investigating unusual activity reported by (our) credit card processor.”  On November 28th, 2016 SwimOutlet.com received ‘confirmation’ that their systems were ‘hacked’ yet the notice states that data may have been compromised as late as November 22nd, 2016.  I have been involved in numerous data breach investigations and incidents.  “unusual activity” notifications by credit card processors are ‘notifications of fraud’.  This is a major red flag that the merchant HAS been breached.   The notice then provides a qualified statement in saying that the beach: “…may have compromised some customers’ debit and credit card data…”  Again, if notified by the credit card processor then the data ‘may not’ have been compromised it almost certainly was compromised.

What is most disturbing to me is that SwimOutlet.com had confirmation on November 28th, 2016 that they were breached.  They had confirmation as early as October 31st, 2016 of ‘unusual activity’ yet chose to wait until AFTER the holiday season to notify affected consumers.  Criminals are not stupid.  They steal credit card data before the holidays to be used over the holidays when the fraud systems are often ‘detuned’ by retailers and the volume of transactions creates noise in which fraud is often harder to identify.  By waiting until January 12th (we received the letter on January 17th, 2017) it created a situation in which we were blissfully unaware that our data had been breached.  If we had been notified before the holiday season, we could have cancelled the card immediately and been saved the inconvenience and possible cost associated with this situation.

In the notice SwimOutlet.com does: “…encourage (me) to remain vigilant against incidents of identity theft and fraud.”  This would have been sage advice BEFORE the holiday season.  It begs the question why a major online retailer would wait until after CyberMonday and after the holiday season to notify of a breach?

Finally, SwimOutlet.com reassures the recipient that “We take the security of our customers’  information extremely seriously…” and that: “…you can safely use your payment card at http://www.swimoutlet.com”.  In light of the method and delay of notification I am going to personally take my business elsewhere.

The Ridiculous Myth of Autism & Vaccines: “Cum Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc” January 10, 2017

Posted by Chris Mark in Uncategorized.
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vaccines_do_not_cause_autism-e1429734457599I am the father of a wonder little 7 year old Autistic boy.  He is funny, clever, happy and generally a joy to be around. 3 years ago his school called and asked that I pick him up as he was coughing.  I took him to the Dr. and imagine my surprise when my son was diagnosed with WHOOPING COUGH!..yes…WHOOPING COUGH in 2015.  18 other kids were diagnosed, as well.  Why?  Because some “enlightened” parents in Park City, UT decided against vaccinating their children.  Now..before I hear that “Tyler should have been vaccinated”..he was.  Only..it does not reach full effect for several weeks.  Even better?  I had to cancel all my business travel as i could be a ‘carrier’ and infect the plane.

I am always disturbed when I read about celebrities, politicians and others perpetuating the myth (yes it is a myth) that vaccines cause Autism.  Today, President Elect Donald Trump nominated ‘Anti-Vaxxer’ shill Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to “lead a study on vaccines”. If he is already an avowed ‘anti vaxxer’ I question his objectivity on leading such a study.

So where did the Autism/Vaccine link (there is none) originate?  Simple.  “Dr.” Andrew Wakefield, who has since had his medical license revoked, published a research paper in 1998 in which he claimed a link between the MMR Vaccine and Autism.  In addition to having a financial conflict of interest, 10 of the 12 contributing authors of the paper published a retraction which read:

“We wish to make it clear that in this paper no causal link was established between (the) vaccine and autism, as the data were insufficient. However the possibility of such a link was raised, and consequent events have had major implications for public health. In view of this, we consider now is the appropriate time that we should together formally retract the interpretation placed upon these findings in the paper, according to precedent.

The Lancet formally retracted the article stating: “Following the judgment of the UK General Medical Council’s Fitness to Practise Panel on Jan 28, 2010, it has become clear that several elements of the 1998 paper by Wakefield et al are incorrect, contrary to the findings of an earlier investigation. In particular, the claims in the original paper that children were “consecutively referred” and that investigations were “approved” by the local ethics committee have been proven to be false. Therefore we fully retract this paper from the published record [4]”.

In short, Dr. Wakefield perpetrated fraud.  Unfortunately, the damage was already done.  Actors and numerous ‘Hollywood’ elite jumped on the story and began promoting the false science behind the fraud.  Jenny McCarthy, Jenna Elfman, Rob Schneider, Robert DeNiro and Donald Trump all jumped on Anti-Vaccine bandwagon.  The “anti vaxxer” movie Vaxxed (by Wakefield) only added fuel to the fire and continued to encourage people to forgo vaccinations.

So what is the prevailing “link” between Vaccines and Autism?  Good question.  It is a common  logical fallacy known in Latin as Cum Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc or “with this, therefor because of this”.  In short, children are getting vaccinated around the same age that children begin developing in such a way that Autism is presenting to parents and doctors.  Some people assume that because the Autism presentation followed the vaccine that the vaccine must be the cause.  This is a simple mistake of confusing potential correlation with causation. For more information on the philosophical underpinnings of ’cause’ please read my post here.  The point that I will make again (and the CDC and all respectable medical professionals) is that Vaccines do NOT cause Autism.

Those who are not vaccinating their children are relying on Herd Immunity of the community.  The idea of Herd Immunity posits that a disease outbreak cannot occur of a high percentage of those in the community are vaccinated.  Those forgoing vaccinations are, in effect, free riders on those who do.  A larger issue relates to those who cannot be vaccinated due to compromised immune systems (think immunodeficiency diseases) and those who may not have yet had the vaccine.  I have heard the argument numerous times: “If your child is vaccinated, then why do you care?”  See my original example.

I will leave everyone with this NSFW explanation from Penn and Teller.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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