Archive for February, 2014

Over four years, I wrote a post welcoming the new incoming head coach of the Washington football team, Mike Shanahan.

In that post, I had the following piece of advice for Mr. Shanahan…


You are stepping into a buzzsaw that has obliterated the likes of Norv Turner…Steve Spurrier, and the legendary Joe Gibbs (a winner of a few Super Bowls). A coach is only as good as the players around him. You are only as good as the players around you. You won two Super Bowls with John Elway and company. Without John, you only won one playoff game. You do the math!

Unless you are given powers and responsibilities that differ radically from all those who have come before you, you will suffer the same fate and have your polished reputation tarnished.

After four seasons with the team, only one playoff appearance, three fourth-place division finishes, and an overall record of 24-40, Shanahan was fired.

He was not “given powers and responsibilities” that were vastly different from those who came before him and he indeed did suffer the same fate.

Into this buzzsaw of coaching talent now steps Jay Gruden who has signed a five-year contract.

For grins and giggles, I have to remind the reading audience that Mike Shanahan was also signed to a five-year contract, but was dumped after only four years.

Mr. Gruden, my belated advice to you is the same as it was four years ago to Mr. Shanahan…RUN!

I leave you with words I wrote four years ago regarding Mr. Shanahan but I feel they are also quite applicable to you, Mr. Gruden:

There is an exchange from the movie Dune which sums up your predicament:

Paul: “Many have tried and failed?”
Reverend Mother: “Many have tried and died.”

Sorry to say, Mr. Gruden, but you are merely one more notch on the belt of Dan Snyder, owner of the Washington football team.

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Being the Dog

In 1993, at the dawn of the Internet being widely available, Peter Steiner created a cartoon for The New Yorker magazine with the caption, “On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.”

The point of the cartoon was to show that the Net gave a veneer of anonymity to its on-line citizens. Once your computer was booted up and you logged on to your bulletin board system (BBS) of choice, you could be anyone you wanted to be.

Two decades later, I have this question, “Can one still be anonymous on the Internet?”

The answer is increasingly becoming, “No.”

Julia Agwin has come out with a book entitled Dragnet Nation: A Quest for Privacy, Security and Freedom in a World of Relentless Surveillance. One of the assertions she makes is about all the information that data brokers know about your on-line activities and what that says about you. In addition, there is all the information that Google, Facebook, and all the other social websites amass about you (or that you give up willingly).

Then there is this case. Someone had created a humor account on Twitter that poked fun at Goldman Sachs, the investment banking firm. Calling itself @GSElevator, the account dished out gossip supposedly overheard in the elevator at Goldman Sachs. After three years of managing to keep the identity of @GSElevator a secret, the anonymous tweeter was finally unmasked. It’s not that important who the creator of @GSElevator is as it is my purpose in this post to ask, again, if one can still remain anonymous on the Net.

Probably not.

So I guess my shot at being a dog has passed.


March 7, 2014 Update

To the above list of stories, I would like to add the following article that semi-touches on my theme of remaining anonymous on the Net. The digital currency Bitcoin was said to have been invented by an individual named Satoshi Nakamoto. This person – or perhaps group of people – has never identified himself or herself and has thus remainined anonymous over the years.

Now comes the news that Newsweek magazine has uncovered the identity of Nakamoto.

Here’s my question. Has Newsweek actually proven my point that remaining anonymous on the Web in the 21st century is now impossible or has the magazine shred the privacy of a person who just happened to have the last name of Nakamoto?

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I realize that January has come and gone (heck, February is almost out the door) and that is the month where I do most of my veridictions (my completely fabricated word for the process of verifying predictions). Be the calendar (and my procrastination) as it may be, but I will still offer up this prediction that I have been holding on to since September of last year.

Near the end of the ninth month of 2013, the U.S. government was on the verge of a self-imposed shutdown.

Before the lights were turned out, Republican Senator Tom Coburn (of Oklahoma) made a prediction concerning how the Grand Old Party would fare if, indeed, the government did shut down.

In no uncertain terms, Senator Coburn said the GOP would “fold like hotcakes” in its quest to defund the Affordable Care Act (ACA) by shutting down the federal government.

So, what happened?

For sixteen days starting on October 1 (aka the start of Fiscal Year 2014), the U.S. federal government did indeed shut down. When it was over and business resumed in Washington, D.C., the ACA was untouched.

At a cost of $24 billion (according to Standard & Poor’s), some in the Republican Party shut down the federal government to defund the ACA and got zero in return.

Senator Coburn’s prediction of folding like pancakes was spot on. Congrats (I think).

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