Friday, June 21, 2013

...tttthhhank you? I think.

Thursday, June 20 was my birthday.  I planned to take the day off and write nothing. I did go to Tuscany to get my hair cut (the Tuscany Salon in Scottsdale).  I also went to Tokyo for lunch (Jasmine Tokyo Buffet in Scottsdale).   I was planning to fly to Miami to celebrate with the Spurs, but, well, we know how that went.
My phone rang out of control all day.  I have a Stupid Phone, the Galaxy S-III, which was rendered obsolete by the S-IV less than six months after its introduction by Verizon (the company that no-doubt turned over my vital statistics, and likely yours, for Ed Snowden to leak). 


Anyway my cell had a virus …diarrhea all day and night. One of the calls was from Glenn Greenwald at the Guardian in London ( me that Snowden had inadvertently leaked my personal information to his hair-dresser (, who secretly implants Google data mining microchips in his clients' heads.  From there, the NSA acquired it via blanket subpoena.  Seems like the NSA could skip a step and just contract directly with Great Clips (

When I got to my office, Mean Eileen said “take a look at Google.” I googled Google. And it said “Happy Birthday, David.” No kidding!  I found it mildly disturbing that Google knew it was my birthday.  I Googled Make Google Forget My Vital Statistics.  Google responded, “I can’t let you do that, Dave.”

Then, General Keith Alexander (, The commander of the US Cyber Command and director of the NSA called. 

No Happy Birthday greetings. Snowden had dropped my name and the NSA,IRS, FBI and CIA needed me to renew my DNA. “You’ve got the wrong David Stern,” I said. “You want David J. Stern, Commissioner of the NBA.” I reported this to ACLU.

Eileen then said, "take a look at your Flog." (See post below).

Before Social Media and the postal rate increases, I was overwhelmed with marketing birthday cards. Everybody I did business with and some that I didn’t, either wanted to remind me that I was getting older or that they were still in business … every advertising medium, printer, producer, doctors, dentists, lawyers, synagogues and churches, psychiatrists, mortuaries, insurance companies … anybody who wanted to do business with me. 

Greeting cards were the ancestors of social media. They were marketing tools for organizations and people whose professional code of ethics did not allow them to advertise. So they sent greeting cards and sympathy cards.

I gathered all of them together and sent them to my brother whose birthday is July 11, precisely three weeks after mine. I accompanied the myriad cards with my own Sympathy card, reading “Sorry to send these to you.  “Please forward these to Mom in two weeks.”  Her birthday was July 25. I never could throw anything away and was a recycling expert. Dad’s birthday was August 6, 12 days after Mom’s. But I never suggested she pass my cards along to Dad. I didn't think he'd appreciate this particular ecologically responsible gesture.

Common etiquette was not clear on whether you needed to respond to a greeting card. I once sat next to a woman at a banquet. I turned to her and said, “I didn’t get your name.” 

“Emily Post,” she responded. 

“You’re eating my salad,” I said.

Now that the NSA has all of our information, I’m sure we can expect a push-key greeting card on every occasion.  Great PR from the US … damage control in advance.  Let’s all get behind the government’s surveillance/cyber-hype program and stay in touch with our leaders. 

You can start by pushing all the buttons and sending Happy Birthday wishes to these guys - they obviously don't have any issues with personal info sharing; August 21 March 26 January 1 (or call him from your Cricket Phone) May 14 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

New Improved Math

It's David's Birthday Today!

He keeps insisting he's 67, because he was only 75 on his last birthday.
I like the way he thinks.

Happy Birthday David

From Mean Eileen and the rest of your adoring fans!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Flogging Jimmy (Hoffa)

Or should it be "Digging Jimmy?"

do you dig me?
(Reuters) - FBI agents in suburban Detroit widened their search of an overgrown field Tuesday for the remains of former Teamsters union boss Jimmy Hoffa, who disappeared nearly 38 years ago and is thought to have been murdered by mobsters.

The search for Hoffa, who was 62 when he disappeared in 1975, has spawned many theories about his final resting place, ranging from under an end zone in Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, to the General Motors Co headquarters in downtown Detroit and the Everglades in Florida.
Investigators have checked thousands of leads over the years. In September 2012, police took a soil sample from behind a private home in Roseville, Michigan, after receiving a tip he might be buried there. 

Wikipedia doesn't remember Jimmy fondly;

Hoffa became involved with organized crime from the early years of his Teamsters work, and this connection continued until his disappearance in 1975. He was convicted of jury tampering, attempted bribery, and fraud in 1964. He was imprisoned in 1967, and sentenced to 13 years, after exhausting the appeal process. 

I, however, do remember Jimmy fondly.  I grew up in Seattle and interviewed Hoffa when I was a high school newspaper reporter.  He couldn't have been nicer to me.  I also knew Dave Beck, who preceded Hoffa as Teamster’s President from 1952 to 1957.  Hoffa was president from 1957 to 1971.  I ran into Beck at a Seahawk football game and tried to ask him a few more questions about Hoffa.  Beck suggested I write to Jimmy and I did.

Ironically, or coincidentally, while digging through old letters today, while the FBI was digging up Michigan, I found this letter of response to my letter sent in 1968 to Jimmy Hoffa:

Thursday, June 13, 2013

"Proud" Just Doesn't Cut It

The “Ms. Stern” mentioned in the letter above is my older daughter, a veteran teacher in Los Angeles. Both of my daughters are brilliant and remarkable (that’s not just paternal bias), and I generally write to them instead of about them. But I want to share this note written by a young student at Debbie’s school, named Celia.

PHOTO: A Santa Monica police officer leads children on a field trip from Citizens of the World Charter School in Los Angeles out of Santa Monica College, where they had gone for a planetarium show.

That’s Debbie between the police officer and the man in blue on the phone. On June 7th, she took her class on a field trip. They were in the planetarium at Santa Monica College, when 23-year-old John Zawahri went on a shooting rampage on and near the campus killing five and injuring five others. Debbie and her students were locked down for three hours.

When I watched Breaking News on Friday, for some reason I had a bad feeling, although I assumed Debbie was at her school in Los Angeles.

Debbie’s sister, Ruth, had a similar hunch. Debbie lives in Santa Monica, just a block from the house where the first two shootings took place before it was set on fire and the SMC campus is just a few blocks from Debbie’s home.

Thank you, Celia, for your beautiful note about my daughter and for reinforcing my bragging rights.

George Orwell likes my FLOG

On June 7, I published my FLOG; a letter to George Orwell, who wrote 1984 in 1948. 

Much to my surprise George wrote back (via the dead letter office):

Dear David:

Thanks for your letter of June 6. It was good of you to write me two days before the 64th anniversary of the publication of 1984 in London Wednesday, June 8, 1949, and in New York five days later. As a writer you can relate to my situation in 1948 when I had to finish that wretched book, which, thanks to illness, I had been messing about with for 18 months and which the publishers were harrying me for.' I was literally (no pun intended) cooped up alone in a stuffy wooden 15ft by12ft hut in a TB sanatorium on the Hebridean island of Jura near Stroud in Gloucestershire in the cold and damp, the worst possible climate for tuberculosis. My manuscript, of course, was illegible. I began to relapse about the end of September and should have done something about it then because I died January 21, 1950.

I saw none of the millions earned by my books, Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty Four. My second wife, Sonia inherited nothing. My first wife, Eileen O'Shuaghnessy, died unexpectedly in 1945. We had adopted a son, Richard Blair. Orwell was my pseudonym. My real name was Eric Arthur Blair. My so-called accountant, Jack Harrison, whom I had known for several months before I died, took most of the money. In 1958 Harrison belatedly told Sonia of my deathbed offer for him to take 25% of GOP's shares. He said he did not recall why he had waited eight years to tell her. Also in 1958, without her knowledge, Harrison transferred 75% of the voting stock from Sonia to himself, rendering her powerless over anything the company did. Harrison died some years ago, a very wealthy man. New legal evidence points to flagrant fraud.

Within 12 months, 1984 had sold around 50,000 hardbacks in the UK; in the U.S. sales were more than one-third of a million. It became a phenomenon. 

Sixty years later, no one can say how many millions of copies are in print, both in legitimate editions and samizdat (since Russians weren’t allowed to read such material, so readers made copies and passed them around) versions. It has been adapted for radio, stage, television and cinema, has been studied, copied and parodied and, above all, ransacked for its ideas and images. 

Thanks to a young guy named Edward Snowden who dropped a metadata bomb on Obama, the U.S.A., the NSA, Credit Card Companies, Verizon Wireless, China, the Internet et al, in four days Amazon sales of 1984 are up 9,550%.

If you think that’s a lot, America’s Celebrity pawnbroker
Les Gold's book of "business wisdom," For What It's Worth, is up 66,659% according to Amazon. 

On my death bed, my publisher told me that Nineteen Eighty-Four had been bought by the Book-of-the-Month Club in America and estimated it would earn me £40,000. I never saw the money, of course. By 1972, Nineteen Eighty-Four had sold one million copies in its UK Penguin edition alone. In America by 1969 nearly eight million paperbacks had sold and 360,000 hardbacks. The figures for Animal Farm were roughly the same. My publisher said that the rate of sale of both novels was doubling every 10 years.

A writer's estate now remains in copyright for 75 years after death, so Richard, now 69-years-old has until 2025 to reap the benefits of my estate and should be rolling in the dough as long as Edward Snowden keeps his mouth open. And as long as Big Brother watches over both of them.

Thanks for the Flog-munique - nobody contacts me much these days (I assume the NSA knows what I'm thinking anyway).

Friday, June 7, 2013

The Sky is Falling ... the SKY IS FALLING... EVERYBODY FREAK OUT NOW NOW NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Huffington Post, June 7, 2013 Headline Screams:
BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING, LISTENING, READING....   Since the publication of George Orwell’s novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four, published in 1948, the phrase "Big Brother" has come into common use to describe any prying or overly-controlling authority figure, and attempts by government to increase surveillance.
To: Big Brother, whoever you are
CC:  George Orwell, wherever you are

Looks like it’s coming true in 2013. You were around long before this guy, Henry Sampson, invented the cell phone and before Al Gore invented the Internet. We’ve all been hooked on the Net and the Cell. We wouldn’t go anywhere without our cell phone or do anything without checking it out on the Internet. And now we find out that for the past seven years, the Federal Government has been snooping, gathering information on all Americans who have cell phones (who have more phones than toilets) and have access to the Internet (who doesn’t?). 

Five U.S. Senators have already spoken out in defense of surveillance of private American citizens and our President told his this morning that our security is more important than our privacy. My bet is that our security is more insecure than ever before in my lifetime. The President actually said on TV this morning (unless it was a look-a-like) that we should “trust Congressional and Judicial oversight.”

Mr. Orwell's book indicated he didn't trust too many in 1948 or 1984. The situation has not improved.  There are a lot more people to not trust these days (just check my junk e-mail folder I’m talking about YOU Married-But-Lonely).

Our fearless leaders also said the information being gathered isn’t going to be used against Americans, only foreigners; nobody will be listening in on any American’s telephone calls or hacking into their computers. Do you believe that? And a few hours ago breaking news told us the National inSecurity Agency, is also collecting information about our credit card usage. 

What would you guys do? Please advise. You can get my telephone number from Verizon Wireless 800-837-4966 or 866-221-4096
or from the National Security Agency, 301-688-6524

Or probably, you could just stand outside and whisper, "I wonder what David Stern's phone number is?"


Thursday, June 6, 2013

Lindsey is Listening


When I was doing my business this morning and reading the latest news on my (now obsolete) Gallaxy S3, I discovered an article titled More People Have Cell Phones Than Toilets, U.N. Study Shows.

Out of the world’s estimated 7 billion people, 6 billion have access to mobile phones. Far fewer — only 4.5 billion people — have access to working toilets. Of the 2.5 billion who don’t have proper sanitation, 1.1 billion defecate in the open, according to the study.  U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson said in a statement that this is a global crisis that people “don’t like to talk about.” He said the U.N. is trying to cut in half the number of people without access to clean toilets by 2015 and eliminate by 2025 the practice of open defecation, which is linked to many diseases.

I searched my phone for the “flush” app but instead got a Breaking News flash; my cell service provider, Verizon, has been giving out my telephone number to the NSA for seven years (along with its other 121 million customers info as well).  

I thought about calling my 100 best friends with Verizon phones and taking a survey. The first five said they were considering opting out of their contracts. I said "read the fine print. The Verizon Standard Contract says:

We may disclose information that individually identifies our customers or identifies customer devices in certain circumstances, such as:

·        to comply with valid legal process including subpoenas, court orders or search warrants, and as otherwise authorized by law;

I assumed that Verizon was not alone and that almost certainly AT&T, Sprint,  & T-Mobile  and the myriad other phone companies have been forced to surrender their customers’ info since 2006, too.  NSA must be an equal opportunity federal agency and certainly wouldn’t leave any phone company out. 

So-called "experts" say Verizon customers who are upset about the company turning over phone records to the government have little recourse." Maybe. Maybe not.

If you are "upset" enough about your privacy versus your security (or insecurity)  ... a Verizon customer or not, take a look at the DNI Statement on Activities Authorized Under Section 702 of FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act posted yesterday on the NSA website.

The Guardian and The Washington Post articles refer to collection of communications pursuant to Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. They contain numerous inaccuracies.

Section 702 is a provision of FISA that is designed to facilitate the acquisition of foreign intelligence information concerning non-U.S. persons located outside the United States. It cannot be used to intentionally target any U.S. citizen, any other U.S. person, or anyone located within the United States.

Activities authorized by Section 702 are subject to oversight by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the Executive Branch, and Congress. They involve extensive procedures, specifically approved by the court, to ensure that only non-U.S. persons outside the U.S. are targeted, and that minimize the acquisition, retention and dissemination of incidentally acquired information about U.S. persons.

Section 702 was recently reauthorized by Congress after extensive hearings and debate.

Information collected under this program is among the most important and valuable foreign intelligence information we collect, and is used to protect our nation from a wide variety of threats.

The unauthorized disclosure of information about this important and entirely legal program is reprehensible and risks important protections for the security of Americans.

The unauthorized disclosure of information about this important and entirely legal program is reprehensible and risks important protections for the security of Americans.

James R. Clapper, Director of National Intelligence

Get together with the other  121 million Verizon customers, pick up your disambiguous super-duper recently de-leakproofed Galaxy S 3, 4, 5 or 6, or you I-Phone 5, 6 or 7 and call the NSA or Senators Feinstein, Graham, Chambliss and Durbin and any other member of Congress who says they think it’s okay to force any company to give the NSA or anybody else our telephone numbers without our permission. Call The White House and ask The President if he really thinks you should trust Congressional or Judicial Oversight.

Remind them that Cyber-hackers stole $45 million in the biggest bank robbery in history and ask them what they will do when the NSA is hacked?  

I get that the NSA is trying to track bad guys based on telephone call patterns, but the NSA is made up of humans … what is to prevent one or more of them from abusing the information collected (spying on spouses, etc.)?  I think everyone wants to thwart terrorist and criminal activity (except terrorists and criminals), but where does the line get drawn?  Anybody remember Soviet Russia or Ceaucescu’s Romania?

I don’t agree with the experts why say there’s little recourse.  Start calling, emailing and snail mailing the politicians who think this is a good idea.  Here’s a start:

Dianne Feinstein at 202-224-384
Lindsey Graham at 202-224-5972
Saxby Chambliss at 202-224-3521
Dick Durbin at 202-22402152
Jim Clapper at The NSA, 301-688-6524

Leave your name and telephone number, in case they don't already have it and tell them you are upset and would like to talk with them.