Occupy Yourself: ID Theft as Existential Squatting

Lawyers call it “adverse possession,” but you probably know it as “squatter’s rights,” a principle upon which rests the assertion of title to land or property by virtue of physically occupying it. “Adverse possession is a process by which premises can change ownership,” reads the Wikipedia entry on the subject. “It is a common law concept concerning the title to real property (land and the fixed structures built upon it). By adverse possession, title to another’s real property can be acquired without compensation, by holding the property in a manner that conflicts with the true owner’s rights for a specified period.”

It’s a contentious thing, this business of asserting squatter’s rights. It pits owner against user, landlord against tenant. Yet at the heart of this contentiousness lay a number of profound moral issues regarding property rights and human needs. And as it usually is with such issues, they tend to enjoy a long, storied history.

The practice of squatting dates back to the conquest of the new world, the North American in fact colonies depending on it as a way of establishing themselves. “This practice of ‘squatting on lands was one of the oldest traditions in the colonies, and become too general to be wiped out by legislation,” observes Amelia Clewley Ford in her book, “Colonial Precedents of Our National Land System as It Existed in 1800.” “It had gone on steadily in the face of prohibitory laws, threats, and forcible eviction.”

A clash of interests so fundamental as those surrounding the practice of squatting is sure to inspire violence and tenacity in equal measure. Land is one resource you can’t make more of, and dividing it makes little sense if each portion proves too small to put to use. So the battle is joined, the landlord hurling the Greek fire of the legal system against the squatter’s fortifications, which are bulwarked by natural right and claims of necessity.

Claims of necessity can – and do – find legal purchase from time to time. “The doctrine of necessity permits nonowners to trespass on, and under certain circumstances even to appropriate, the property of others in order to avoid grave harm,” write Eduardo Moises Penalver and Sonia K. Katyal in their book “Property Outlaws.” What greater harm does a person face than the one that looms constantly, namely, starvation and exposure to the elements as the result of inadequate means of her securing her existence?

Of course, being reduced to a condition of bare necessity may do little to elevate the sufferer in the eyes of those around her. Though they vary from region to region, attitudes toward squatting have generally been mixed. An article in an 1845 issue of The Living Age offers a sense of the prevailing sentiment. “The term ‘squatters’ is very ambiguous,” it states. Yet it also points out that the squatter “is no clandestine intruder upon the soil.” Rather, “he stands in the place of his forefathers, and the act which ejects him is a violent innovation on the customs of the country – a forcible change in a mode of tenancy sanctioned by the ‘use and wont’ of ages.”

The juridical gray area inhabited by the squatter arises precisely as a consequence of a collision of modes and customs. Vying with the more ancient “‘use and wont’ of ages” is the modern state, the Leviathan that rose from the inky depths of custom and convention to assert its imperium. The video clip below offers a glimpse into the under-the-radar from of life afforded by squatting (Warning: adult language)

If you wish to dodge the dictates of the state and see to your own shelter needs, a WikiHow article lists 11 tips on how to squat successfully on a piece of property. Specifically, in order to prevail squatters must:

  • Know the laws of their particular area;
  • Form a group of other people to squat with;
  • Find a place to squat;
  • Enter the space;
  • Assess the space for livability;
  • Spend the night in the space to further assess conditions;
  • Secure the building;
  • Clean the place up;
  • Attempt to arrange utility service to your place;
  • Decide how to deal with neighbors;
  • Begin the legal process of gaining title to the property via “adverse possession”;

If you think about it, “adverse possession” also describes the process by which a fraudster lays claim to your identity and directs it to his own nefarious ends. In fact, you could consider identity theft a sort of existential squatting. As a smart consumer you must work to make sure no cyber-crook treats your personal information as he would a vacant building. Effective identity theft protection and credit monitoring can help you to keep ne’er-do-wells from squatting on your credit and good name. Occupy yourself with securing these services right away

Don’t Let ID Thieves Dog You This Winter

dog sledding“Mush!” comes the cry from behind the lead dog leanly loping through the haunch-deep hardpack. “Mush!”

Trailing this shout, a whip-crack resounds, electric in the sub-zero air, the sting it threatens to deliver greater motivation than the idea of the warm encampment at trail’s end.

The team and steam with effort – indomitable fire amidst vast oceans of ice. Their minds consumed with the urge to run, to strain against the halters that bind them to the lead line, suspending in themselves something shapeless and old, a pinprick of ancient light common to each. Holy. Primal.

Each dog points its muzzle toward the horizon, peaks indistinct (even to these sharp-eyed creatures) in the sunless noon. Each dog trails its tongue as if it were a pendant waving in commemoration of dumb energies.

As if galvanized by these energies, the driver tenses against the rear of the sled. He hunches most of the time, straightening only to flick his whip. He does so abruptly and quickly. “Mush!” Hiss!” “Crack!” A few dogs respond with clipped barks; their noises cost them additional effort best conserved if they are to reach base by evening, but such is their aversion to the master’s sting that they feel they must now and again protest….

Some enemies of dog sledding protest that the sport is a species of cruelty. They cite horrific abuses, neglect, and inhumane practices. A recent atrocity involving sled dogs offers a sense of the degree and extent of cruelty these poor animals must suffer. “It was a story that shocked the world and raised questions about a controversial sport in [British Columbia, Canada],” reports a December 27, 2011 News1130.com story. “An estimated 100 healthy sled dogs were killed by an employee of a company in Whistler, apparently when business slumped after the Olympics tourism boom.”

News of this post-Olympiad cull took a long time to make the rounds – some eight months or so. Once folks became aware of this mass murder, sentiment quickly turned against the guilty mushers.

Even if they’re spared a bullet to the skull as reward for their efforts, sled dogs risk sustaining many kinds of painful injuries. A post on EnvironmentalGraffiti.com lists some of the most common, which usually happen in the course of a race. These include:

  • Death;
  • Paralysis;
  • Penile frostbite;
  • Bleeding ulcers;
  • Bloody diarrhea;
  • Lung damage;
  • Pneumonia;
  • Ruptured discs;
  • Viral diseases;
  • Broken bones;
  • Torn muscles and tendons;
  • Vomiting;
  • Hypothermia;
  • Sprains;
  • Fur loss;
  • Broken teeth;
  • Torn footpads;
  • Anemia.
  • External myopathy (wasting of muscle and tissue);

Rare is the dog that escapes any or all of these injuries during an Iditarod. Even the hardiest dogs find the race exhausting, and many never complete the trip. “On average, 53 percent of the dogs who start the race do not make it across the finish line,” the EnvironmentalGraffiti.com post reports. Those that do make it across finish line are certainly worse for doing so. “According to a report published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, of those who do cross, 81 percent have lung damage. A report published in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine said that 61 percent of the dogs who finish the Iditarod have ulcers versus zero percent pre-race.”

Lung damage and ulcers are steep prices to pay for the musher’s fame and glory. Yet the musher does also suffer, though indeed not so traumatically as the mushed. In his 1897 book, “Manitoba Memories,” George Young offers an honest assessment of his involvement with the sport:

“My experience in dog-sledding was of the following order: First ‘period –quite amusing…. The second period – barely enjoyable…. The third period is one of desire to have done with dog-sledding for ever.”

Many activists no doubt share Young’s sentiment and would have done with dog sledding forever – for everyone and not simply for themselves.

The fact of the matter is, however, that the sport represents a vital part of many a hyperborian economy. Adventure tourism is big business. And what greater adventure can you have than mushing a team of huskies across the tundra, businesspeople in these regions reason? “Mountaineering, kayaking, dog sledding, backcountry hiking and wilderness camping – once the arduous means for accomplishing polar exploration and pioneer settlement – have all become popular tourist activities,” observe John Snyder and Bernard Stonehouse in their 2007 book, “Prospects for Polar Tourism.”

Adventure tourists – particularly those interested in dog sledding – appear to be after an experience similar to that recounted Egerton Ryerson Young in his 1890 book, “By Canoe and Dog-Train Among the Cree and Salteaux Indians.” “At first it seemed very novel, and almost like child’s play, to be dragged along by dogs, and there was almost a feeling of rebellion against what seemed such frivolous work,” Young writes. “But we soon found out that we had travelled in worse conveyances and with poorer steeds than in a good dog sled, when whirled along by a train of first-class dogs.”

It’s sad indeed that a train of first-class dogs should have only death and debilitation to look forward to. Yet such seems to be their fate.

Like a sled dog, you could be bounding toward a similar future, in a manner of speaking. At large roam identity thieves intent on mushing you to financial ruin, as they drive you cruelly to exhaustion in order to satisfy their criminal desires.

Effective identity theft protection and credit monitoring go a long way toward helping you to snatch the whip from any fraudsters hand. Take action today, before the frozen wastes of ruined credit claim you and your loved ones.

Identity Theft: Today’s Juvenile Delinquents Tomorrow’s Fraudsters?

Mikhail Bakunin, one of the prime movers of the political theory known as anarchism, once wrote, “The passion for destruction is also a creative passion.”

This passion burns with as much intensity in 21st-century America as it did in Bakunin’s 19th-century Russia. And it burns particularly bright in American youth. Energetic, over-stimulated, alienated, and feeling hemmed in by their immediate surroundings, teenagers are frequently seized with the impulse to rebel, to tear down the oppressive structures that they believe limit their ability to act for or express themselves.

Destruction for the sake of self-expression seems rather extreme. Yet a little rebelliousness is beneficial – healthy, even.

Allow rebellion too much latitude, however, and it inevitably becomes pathological, chronic. Civil society begins to suffer a degradation of the order that it so crucially requires for smooth transactions in ordinary affairs.

The rebellious individual suffers, also. Falling heavily on him is not only community censure but his own creeping brutishness. Should he rebel frequently enough, he may just forget what it means to be a human being.

Reminding rebellious youth what it means to be human being was Jerry Sandusky’s stated purpose for his mentoring practices. The disgraced Pennsylvania State University assistant football coach, who is currently being prosecuted for alleged sexual improprieties, claims that he showered with his charges in order to teach them how to wash properly. “Some of these kids don’t have basic hygiene skills,” a recent USA Today article quotes Sandusky’s attorney, Karl Rominger, as saying. “Teaching a person to shower at the age of 12 or 14 sounds strange to some people, but people who work with troubled youth will tell you there are a lot of juvenile delinquents and people who are dependent who have to be taught basic life skills, like how to put soap on their body.”

The Sandusky case aside, the notion that roaming the streets in cities and towns throughout the U.S. are juvenile delinquents incapable of effectively applying cleansing agents beggars belief. But anything is possible.

Fortunately, in the age of the Internet, wisdom is only a few keystrokes away. A WikiHow.com piece offers instruction on how to master the fine art of showering. Anyone who wishes to get himself thoroughly clean must:

  • Undress;
  • Brush or comb his hair;
  • Set the water running and adjust it to the desired temperature;
  • Monitor the water temperature for any change, particularly change in the direction of increased heat;
  • Wet thoroughly his entire body, including the head;
  • Work a small amount of shampoo into his hair;
  • Follow the shampooing with a small amount of conditioner worked into the hair;
  • Apply some gentle facial soap to a thoroughly soaked washcloth and scrub his face with it;
  • Apply bar soap or body wash to this same washcloth;
  • Rinse off the soap;
  • Remain in under the showerhead for a few moments after the soap suds are removed in order to rinse any lingering soap residue;
  • Turn off the water, twisting the faucet knobs firmly in order to completely stop the flow;
  • Exit the shower and stand on a shower mat;
  • Dry off with a clean, dry towel, beginning with the head, and then proceeding to the face, arms, torso, legs, and private areas;
  • Moisturize those areas prone to drying, flaking, or itching, apply deodorant, and body powder;
  • Put on a clean outfit;
  • Gather his belongings together and exit the bathroom or shower facilities.

These instructions are so clear and straightforward that even the most incorrigible – and hygienically challenged – juvenile delinquent ought to be able to follow them.

If evil is born of ignorance, and if juvenile delinquency is a species of evil, then it stands to reason that juvenile delinquency is born out of ignorance, whether it be of washing or other civilized behaviors.

“Recent trends in juvenile delinquency mirror the overall crime rate,” write Larry J. Siegel and Brandon C. Welsh in their 2011 book, “Juvenile Delinquency: Theory, Practice, and Law.” “The juvenile arrest rate began to climb in the 1908s, peaked during the mid-1990s, and then began to fall; it has since been in decline.”

Welcome news, indeed, that juvenile delinquency rates are in decline! This shouldn’t distract from the fact that, even if it happens less often, incidence of teen and pre-teen crime happen more frequently than you’d like. The goal should be not merely be that of further decline, but eradication.

Can juvenile delinquency ever be eradicated? That’s truly a tough question. Experience and knowledge of history would suggest that as long as there continue to exist juveniles, there will continue to exist also juvenile delinquency. This means that society must continue to deal with shocking misbehavior of the sort on display in the video clip below (Warning: adult language).

The passionate destruction captured in this video is undeniable. You’d no doubt be surprised to learn, however, that, from a legal standpoint, these unruly teens commitment no crime. “The legal basis of juvenile delinquency extends back to the very earliest times and is explicitly related to the development of the legal philosophy that excused children from guilt for criminal acts,” writes Joseph Slabey Roucek in his 1970 book, “Juvenile Delinquency.” “While children … cannot commit crimes it is abundantly obvious that some of them violate the criminal code and must be culturally dealt with some way, most likely as a separate category.”

No matter what category they occupy, destruction passionate or otherwise cannot be permitted to persist if communities would like to have clean, well-ordered stores in which to shop.

And then there is the issue of recidivism. If allowed to continue in his antisocial ways, today’s juvenile delinquent may well become tomorrow’s adult crook.

Among the crimes this adult crook is liable to commit is identity theft, the world’s fastest growing from of fraud. If your community finds itself incapable or unwilling to deal decisively with the delinquent teens in its midst, then you owe it to yourself to secure the services of a reputable identity theft protection or credit monitoring provider as a hedge against these hoodlums’ future misdeeds. Jerry Sandusky may have stepped over the bounds of decency when he took it upon himself to teach his young wards how to bathe, but he did show that delinquency will prevail if those in power to combat it refuse to do so. Don’t be one of those do-nothings. Lock down your information, finances, and credit today.

Don’t Let ID Thieves Crash Your Winter Getaway

ski tripYou find work boring, so you decide to take a trip to Hawaii, or maybe to a Caribbean island. It doesn’t matter so long as it is far away from work.

Booking a seat on an airplane is easy; newer technologies make it seem as though the computer does it for you. You pack socks, some with holes (What does it matter, you think, the natives walk barefoot on sand, and so shall you) and two button down shirts emblazoned with palm fronds and three pairs of shorts. At night you sleep without pajamas, so you do not worry about packing a pair.

The taxi arrives on time and the airport isn’t terribly crowded – a good sign. You take your seat by the window in the wide-bodied jet that is to ferry you to rest and relaxation and maybe a romance. You entertain ordering a drink, once it is safe to do so. The engines hum, your seatmate snoozes. He smells mildly of summer sausage and you grow hungry. At 10,000 feet peanuts will be served, and not a minute or foot before. You look out the window. Other wide-bodied jets, pointed in different directions, are stationed on the tarmac. Behind their small, egg-shaped windows you can see the heads of passengers bobbing in and out of sight. You cannot see their faces, and you wonder if they can see yours.

The engines hum, then growl to life. The aircraft jerks away from the jetway. A stewardess, dressed in a white blouse and navy blue pencil skirt, smiles near a bulkhead. She holds a yellow oxygen mask and you think of a rubber duck you had as a child. She waves it in the air and then presses it to her nose. She has a smear of plum lipstick on her left canine and perfect, peach-colored nails. You wonder what she smells like. Your neighbor coughs, stirs and pulls the safety pamphlet from the front seat pocket. He follows along, mouthing instructions and squinting at a small boy in an orange life jacket bobbing in the sea. In the next panel, a smiling blonde woman pats out a fire on her seatmate’s leg. You wonder if you will have to pat out a fire on your seatmate. You hope not, and your stomach rises and then falls as the plane pushes forward and lifts. The pilot’s smooth voice explains that the weather in the Caribbean is warm and calm and that the flight will last two hours and twenty minutes. You look to your watch and wonder if it would stop ticking if the plane crashed.

Two stewardesses appear pushing a gunmetal grey cart. They offer drinks, butter pretzels and peanuts. A child screams and grabs at the peanuts. It looks like the child in the safety pamphlet. Would it too bob cheerfully in the sea if enveloped in an orange life jacket? A stewardess, the one with the plum canine, offers you a drink. Whiskey, you say, and she produces from deep within the cart a small plastic bottle, which she places on your tray along with a plastic cup filled with ice. It’s good, you think, and wonder if the island has whiskey for visitors. No doubt the islanders prefer rum. The travel agent said they were happy and hated work. They eat coconuts and bananas and make love, she said with a warm smile. You’ll love it. Very relaxing. The brochure too said the natives love visitors and welcome them with brown, laughing faces. You think of the small hut reserved in your name. Many nights for laughing and romance, you think.

The descent is near. The engines slow. The child who looks like the child in the pamphlet screams again. His mother shoves a pacifier in his mouth and he screams with his eyes. Your neighbor groans, opens his eyes, and asks if the plane has landed. You point to the window and he goes back to sleep. The stewardesses sit side-by-side in their jump seats. They cock their heads together and whisper. You wonder if they too have a hut reserved on the island. A grumbling in the belly of the plane means the wheels have descended. It is below the clouds now, and the island spreads out below. Cars small as ants thread thin roads. What appear like small tufts of grass dot the landscape. In the distance, you see the airport.

A loud bang shakes you out of a daydream. You look to your seatmate and his mouth is a small “O.” His eyes roll upward, like those of a disturbed horse. His sweat has a caraway tang. Summer sausage.

The stewardesses are standing, their bodies released from the harnesses of their jump seats. Their mouths too are open, but you cannot hear words. You imagine their bodies as separate parts. In your mind’s eye, you see a small, plum colored canine in a tuft of grass. Then the smell of smoke wakes you again. The plane is on the ground. It is burning, and people are shoving and stumbling their way toward the exit. You find yourself shoved down a yellow slide. Groups of smiling, nut-brown people stretch out thin arms. You are safe.

Accidents can happen to anyone. Some are more common than others. The chance of experiencing a harrowing landing is one in a million, but identity theft happens every day, to thousands of people. Don’t let yourself be a victim. Sign up for identity theft protection or credit monitoring today. It’s never too early to begin to safeguard your future.

Body-Slam Fraudsters With Effective ID Theft Protection and Credit Monitoring

“Bully for Brontosaurus” is the title of a popular book by the late paleontologist and writer, Stephen Jay Gould. “Bully,” in that context is meant as a cheer, something along the lines of “Bravo!” or “Good show.”

But what happens when a bully goes up against a brontosaurus? This was the question on everyone’s mind who witnessed an interesting reversal of fortune one bully experienced. Accompanying this reversal was a painful lesson, one which the bully no doubt will not soon forget.

The bully and victim in question were two schoolboys “down under.” A March 15, 2011 Sydney Morning Herald article supplies the details: “A slightly built 12-year-old Year 7 student antagonises a larger 16-year-old boy from Year 10, punching him in the face as a friend records it on his mobile phone and at least four other students watch.”

For about thirty seconds or so, this encounter unfolds in quite an ordinary manner, the victim absorbing the bully’s blows without returning them. He simply exchanges words with his tormentor, who appears not at all interested in relenting. He punches his victim again. Then, everything suddenly changes.

“The fight does not go according to plan,” the Sydney Morning Herald article reports. “The larger boy appears to snap.”

This larger boy springs into unexpectedly lithe, quick action. Before you can blink he’s upon the bully, gripping him in an iron embrace. “He grabs the other boy, picks him up with two hands and throws him head-first on to the concrete,” the Sydney Morning Herald article continues. “A ‘crack” sounds as the 12-year-old’s ankle connects with a timber bench.”

Dazed and injured, the now chastened bully can only limp off to lick his wounds and mull over his comeuppance.

As with some many events in a wired age, this event was captured on video and subsequently posted to Facebook, where it went viral in no time at all. Below is the a clip of the that video, which managed to get reposted before it was removed from the popular social media site:

Soon after the event it was revealed that the body-slammer/victim was named Casey Heynes and the body-slammed/bully was named Ritchard Gale.

Putting names to subjects captured on a camera phone certain does much to humanize something that would otherwise descend into prurient spectacle. Opinion on the incident divided the viewing public sharply. “Commentators were split, with some applauding the serially bullied Haynes for fighting back and others cautioning the glorification of his return violence,” observes a November 29, 2011 Stuff.co.nz opinion piece. “Casey was being labelled a hero when he had chosen to hit back, something that we teach him is never ok.”

On the one hand you could argue that fortune favors the bold; Casey Heynes took the matter of his constant torment in his own hands and quickly put an end to it. On the other hand, by taking the matter into his own hands, he went against existing policies governing such matters at his schools–policies that at once seek effectively to put such matters to rest while at the same time preserving the necessity for civil behavior.

The problem of bullying admits of no easy answers, in other words. Compounding the problem is the difficulty that comes with determining when an incident of harassment actually constitutes bullying. “Since it is largely an observable activity amongst people, we need first to distinguish clearly between behaviours that constitute ‘bullying’ and those that may be considered as understandable reactions of defence or of letting-off-steam,” writes Dennis Lines in his 2008 book, “Bullies: The Rationale of Bullying.”

To help readers distinguish Lines presents eight identifying features of bullying. These are:

  • Systematic abuse of power;
  • A willful conscious desire to hurt another and to put him/her under stress;
  • Repeated long-term exposure to negative actions on the part of one or more tormenters;
  • Longstanding violence, physical or psychological, conducted by an individual who is not able to defend himself in the actual situation;
  • Aggression that is social in nature;
  • Repeated physical, psychological, social, or verbal attack by those in positions of power, which is formally or situationally defined, on those who are powerless to resist, with the intention of causing distress for their own gain or gratification;
  • Action taken by one person or group with the intention of upsetting another person or group;
  • Repeated physical or psychological oppression of a less powerful person by a more powerful person.

It’s clear from Lines’ definition that young Ritchard Gale does indeed fit the profile.

But what led Gale to behave the way he did. What leads any bully to bully, for that matter? “Bullies tend to target individuals who possess different qualities that their own,” writes Dickon Pownall-Gray in the “Surviving Bullies Workbook” (1996)

The qualities that make you different from the bullies could be the way you dress, the way you speak or just the fact that you like rock music while the bullies and their friends like hip-hop. The issue is not whether your qualities are good or bad, but that they differ from the average of the bullies’ group.

Even the most cursory observation reveals the stark contrast that divides Gale from his victim, Heynes. Beefy, older, seemingly passive and phlegmatic, Heynes couldn’t differ more from the small, antic, birdlike Gale if he tried. Small wonder, then, that Gale would single Heynes out for antagonism and ridicule. “Bullying among schoolchildren is no doubt a very old phenomenon,” writes Dan Olweus in his 1993 book, “Bullying at School.” “The fact that some children are frequently and systematically harassed and attacked by other children has been described in literary works, and many adults have personal experience of it from their own school days.”

It seems that as long as there have been public educational institutions, there have been schoolyard bullies. This stands to reason; few other state entities aggregrate segments of the population with less regard to matters of class, personality, or psychosocial dynamics than public schools. Such promiscuous mixing tends to generate a lot of static that only becomes discharged in fulgurations of shocking violence, such as the event witnessed in the incident involving Gale and Heynes. “Many students, especially those who are poor, intuitively know what the schools do for them,” writes Ivan Illich in “Deschooling Society.” What that is is at best the investment of meager advantage; at worst, dislocation and exposure to the worst elements among whom he must spend several hours a day fearing for his person and his well-being.

Fearing for your person and well-being is something identity thieves have many Internet users these days. And with good reason: ID theft has exploded on the scene with the increased expansion of the World Wide Web, and it shows no sign of slowing down. Indeed, every indication is that identity theft will only increase in frequency, reach, and impact.

The late psychopharmacopia guru Terence McKenna once said, “Technology is not your friend.” Though this may seem an extreme statement, it does contain a kernel of wisdom. Technology can prove a foe if criminals use it to advance their illegal aims. This is why you need to bring the technological advantage back to your side by purchasing the services of a well-reviewed identity theft protection or credit monitoring provider. With these juggernauts in your corner of the schoolyard, you’ll be able to body-slam any ne’er-do-wells intent on robbing you of much more than your lunch money.

You Might Be a Redneck if You Don’t Carry ID Theft Protection

redneck

The calls to rally ’round Old Glory in the days and years following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 produced one rather surprising effect. Certain folks in this country found license to express just how country they were. Bubbling over like a shaken can of Dixie beer during the two George W. Bush administrations was a sense of rural distinction. “White working-class and rural Americans, especially southerners, used to worry that the coastal elite looked down on them,” observes an article in the December 19, 2006 issue The Economist. “They still do, but many are now reclaiming the labels ‘redneck’ and ‘white trash’ and wearing them with pride, just as some gays call themselves ‘queer’ and some urban blacks call themselves ‘nigga.'” Sometimes class consciousness manifests as a decidedly crass consciousness.

Crass expressions we have an easier time stomaching if some context tempers our understanding. Self-proclaimed rednecks can be (and usually are) outspoken about their redneckedness. “The term redneck itself comes from a reference to people who worked out in the fields,” writes “The Enlightened Redneck” on his blog of the same name. “Their necks got red because they were outside all the time. So in that sense, it’s just a definition of the type of work you do.”

Yet the type of work that reddens the neck need not coarsen the manners. “[M]y idea of redneck, and the one that I’m trying to drive home on the Web site, is that embodies certain character traits of the people who do that kind of work,” The Enlightened Redneck continues. “They’re hospitable people. They appreciate family. They’re moral people, self-disciplined, polite and respectful. They say ‘yes ma’am’ and ‘yes sir.'”

It could be said that much of the misunderstanding of rednecks stems from the fact that they hearken to a time more ancient than that which heard the ring of the factory bell, and they therefore have resisted disciplining to the stints and regimes of industrialism. “Raw individualism and a loose definition of time schedules, rather than laziness and sloppiness as the media would have it, are characteristic of the redneck’s attitude toward work,” write Julian B. Roebuck and Mark Hickson in their 1982 book, “The Southern Redneck: A Phenomenological Class Study.” “The redneck works at his own pace on whatever he is ‘fixing’ until it works.” This admirable – if somewhat intractable – stick-to-it-tiveness certainly ought to weigh in southern folks’ favor.

Loose definitions of time aside, the raw individualism of rednecks is truly impressive. The popular country song “A Country Boy Can Survive” by Hank Williams Jr. offers clear insight into the hillbilly’s rough-n’-ready condition. “I can plow a field all day long,” Williams sings. “I can catch catfish from dusk till dawn.”

And catch catfish a country boy indeed can – with tremendous effectiveness. So adept an angler is the redneck, in fact, that often all the tackle he needs is his own two hands. A popular method of fishing the backwaters and bywaters of the sticks is noodling, which proves particularly effective in nabbing flathead catfish. “Noodling is fishing for catfish using only bare hands, practiced primarily in the southern United States,” reads the Wikipedia entry on this practice. “The noodler places his hand inside a discovered catfish hole. Many other names, such as catfisting, grabbling, graveling, hogging, dogging, gurgling, tickling and stumping, are used in different regions for the same activity.”

The video clip below really captures the excitement of this peculiar sport:

The apparent ease with which the men in the video bag their quarry belies the reality of the noodling situation, which is more difficult than it looks. “Although the concept of catching fish with only the use of the arm in the water is simple enough, the process of noodling is more complicated,” the Wikipedia entry continues.

The choice of catfish as the prey is not arbitrary, but comes from the circumstances of their habitat. Flathead catfish live in holes or under brush in rivers and lakes and thus are easier to capture due to the static nature of their dwelling. To begin, a noodler goes underwater to depths ranging from only a few feet to up to twenty feet and places his hand inside a discovered catfish hole. If all goes as planned, the catfish will swim forward and latch onto the fisherman’s hand, usually as a defensive maneuver, in order to try to escape the hole. If the fish is particularly large, the noodler can hook the hand around its gills.

Once the noodler gets his hands around those gills, it’s all over for the flathead.

Identity theft can have you feeling like a noodled catfish. You’re at home, attending to family concerns and feeling secure in your life and situation. Then suddenly fraud reaches into your life like a noodler’s fist, hooking your credit and finances. You’re hauled into the unfamiliar, hostile elements of victimization, your economic vitality draining away with every gasp. Going … going … gone.

The noodler is applauded; the noodled fish dies obscurely and with little ado. Just as the fish is fated to adorn the noodler’s table, the identity theft victim is fated to serve the identity thief’s designs. These designs are invariably dishonest, indeed, completely criminal – and leave victims’ on the hook for the destruction they cause.

Wise citizens understand that the best way to avoid this destruction is by reducing the likelihood of its occurring. Sound identity theft protection and credit monitoring allows them to do exactly that. Isn’t it time, then, that you used your noodle? Doing so can keep fraudsters angling for your wealth and credit from hogging them up. After all, sometimes what’s lampooned as redneck prejudice is just plain old-fashioned horse-sense. Exercise some horse sense of your own when it comes to guarding against identity theft. You’ll be able to take pride in knowing that you have protected yourself and your family. When it comes to the war against ID theft and related forms of fraud, both country and city boys can survive!

Identity Theft Protection Keeps the Song of Yourself from Sounding Any Sour Notes

singingIt starts off innocently enough: a day trip, a few hours in the country. The road winds through valley and dale. You pass clusters of sheep and a lone cow chewing the cud under an oak. The sky spreads blue through the car’s windshield. You feel immortal, as though life was a Russian doll, promise concealing within it further promise.

Your wife is happy, as well. Acceleration makes you feel like a shrike. Houses blur past, then fields, then more houses. Dense copses of trees crowd around the shining road. You drive until you stop at one of the more charming towns.

Charming towns are often small towns. Indeed, they are likely charming for no other reason but their size. To the traveler weary of the large city, they seem comfortable. The streets are narrow, sandwiched between rows of shops. Inside each one of these stores, like a worm inside a nut, is a shopkeeper. These often simple individuals sit silent at the register. Some smile absently. Some stare into space, perhaps dreaming of God, or the warm comfort an ample woman offers on a dark winter night. Some sell necessities – milk, bread, oranges and cigarettes. Others survive by exploiting the human instinct for acquiring baubles. Their stores are stores of plastic whistles and novelty sunglasses, false eyelashes, and turquoise leggings.

Sometimes a shopkeeper foregoes minding the counter for society out of doors. Rarely does he sit in his rocking chair unaccompanied. Like a magnet that attracts metal shavings, the shopkeeper attracts townsfolk. They cluster round him. They occupy vacant seats, or sit upon the ground, at the shopkeeper’s knees. They wait. For what? Life in a small town moves slowly. Clocks drag their hands. The sun fairly staggers across the sky. The moon sits as solid and round as a cue ball in the universe’s black expanse. The traveler senses this. He comes for the day, but he feels as though this day in the country amounts to a city month. Even his blood, it seems, moves sluggishly through his veins. He too waits for the shopkeeper.

Then it begins. The shopkeeper lifts a hand, slaps it against a thigh, and a sound so sweet and sharp rings out that all, townsfolk and traveler alike, smile in response. Another slap follows, this time on the opposite thigh. Then the hands move faster. The shopkeeper looks to the sky, as though taking direction from the heavens. A hand beats against his chest, another hand slaps a calf. The townsfolk clap to the rhythm. The traveler taps his foot. This is an orchestra not of men, but of bodies. The muscles thrill to the sound; the brain whirrs with the rhythm. Mouths hang open – even the tongue attempts an escape, wishes to abide the tyranny of the vocal cords no longer, and slap a leg or flick a wrist.

The shopkeeper sings:

“Hambone, hambone Where you been? Round the world and I’m going again. What you gonna do when you come back? Take a little walk by the railroad track. Hambone!”

Hamboning, a musical form so ancient that only the body can serve as its instrument, is found in towns small and unprepossessing, where time and thoughts move but slowly. Its practitioners are often simple peddlers of goods and other priests of the material. For only such men could transform their arms and legs, chest and cheeks into an instrument of divine music. Though he does not know it, it is to hear this music of the gods, this music of bodily inspiration, that the traveler escapes his city for towns beyond field and valley. It is not his mind that makes his decision, but his hands, chest, thighs and brain. Body parts wish to jerk and slap and sing. Unbeknownst to the mind, they decide that it is time to visit the town, where the collective simplicity allows for spontaneous bursts of song from flesh and bone.

The subjects of these songs are varied. Some sing of pleasures long since gone from the cities – fishing, watching shooting stars (or “fizzlers” as the townsfolk like to say), eating iced cream, or shucking corn. Others make their songs about topics more esoteric – god, love, and, of course, the pleasures provided by an amply endowed woman. But all hamboning songs speak of the Infinite, of that Presence beyond the stars, whose existence has preceded that of the planets and who will live long after our sun has collapsed on itself.

The hamboner could be likened to a transistor radio, picking up on that eternal signal that has animated simple peoples across space and time. The aboriginal dances of the peoples of the frozen northlands are likely animated by the same signal as the hamboner. Who can say why the intellect drowns out this signal? Why does it beam through, loud and clear, in the niches of the world desolate and spare. Who can say why the stars speak to the hamboner, but not to the scientist. The hamboner’s joy is the joy of the heavens, a joy that has been extinguished by the modern mania for questioning origins and natures. To hambone is to be pure, untainted by the Enlightenment. To hambone is to be in dialogue with our earliest ancestors, who too likely rap their thighs in delight, rejoicing in sounds only the body can make.

But should these simple townsfolk fall prey to identity theft, such joyful music would soon cease. For identity theft plagues the mind with worry, devours the body with anxiety. The legs that should resound so rhythmically wither and weaken. The chest that should boom with authority caves with despair. The ham boning body is a free and easy body. It has no worries. It answers to a higher power. Make your body a ham boning body by ensuring you won’t ever fall prey to identity theft. Invest in identity theft protection or credit monitoring today. An ounce of prevention can mean a lifetime of hamboning.

Identity Theft: Piercing the Veil of Secrecy

Perhaps no force drives technological development more relentlessly than the desire to build a better weapon. In the United States, for instance, many of the technological doo-dads ordinary citizens enjoy have come courtesy of military research and development. Indeed, the very Internet owes its existence to the Department of Defense, which sought a means of maintaining a communication connections in the event of a catastrophic attack somewhere in the homeland.

A catastrophic attack has also been something armies seek to mount in order to overwhelm an enemy’s defenses. Since gunpowder was introduced to Europe in the late fifteenth century, combatants have eagerly pursued bigger and bigger bangs. With the advent of hydrogen and neutron bombs and missile, this bang is now measurable in megatons – and multiple megatons, at that.

Yet the deadliest weapons aren’t always those that go “Boom!” Sometimes the opposite is what a combatant is after. Surprise remains a crucial element of any attack, and silence remains a proven method of ensuring surprise. A weapon that fells a foe without alerting his comrades – such is the ideal weapon of the assassin. Targeted liquidations keep hostilities at a low level of intensity, which is desirable when the parties at odd wish to avoid open warfare.

At the assassin’s disposal lies an array of weaponry of various degrees of technological complexity. But not every weapon of this sort is necessarily brandished only by assassins. Sometimes it’s a hunter who wishes to take his prey by surprise, so he can put food on the table. For centuries, this necessity had been more or less universally felt by household breadwinners.

In advanced economies of industrialized countries, however, this necessity has more or less been removed. The evening’s meal is gotten bloodlessly, anonymously, courtesy of supermarkets and neighborhood butcher shops. Hunting in these localities is seldom a matter of need. Rather, it has become one of diversion, an opportunity to exercise eldritch capacities and prerogatives, while at the same time maintaining an ecological balance.

Many remote spots have not yet reached the stage at which hunting becomes a pastime. For the people of these areas, this activity remains a matter of survival. And the technology they use to hunt is often as elegantly simple as their lifeways. “The sumpitan, or blow pipe, is a wooden tube of about eight feet in length and an inch in diameter, through which small poisoned arrows are blown,” report Henry Ling Roth and Hugh Brooke Low in their 1896 book, “The Natives of Sarawak and British North Borneo.” “Sometimes the spear and the sumpitan are combined, a spear head being lashed upon the tube of the sumpitan, thus in some degree affording the advantage of a musket and bayonet.” Unbeknownst to the natives of these lands, they, by adhering to the technology used since time immemorial, have in some ways surpassed the best weaponry of the ostensibly advanced West. Ironies do indeed abound in life!

This effectiveness no doubt explains the weapon’s perennial appeal. “The blow-gun is used for killing birds and small mammals. Frequently the arrows are poisoned, rendering the light dart effective on larger game. The chief merit of the blow-gun is its accuracy and the silence with which it may be employed,” reports an article in the inaugural volume of the magazine, Science. “The penetration of the blow-gun dart is greater than would be imagined…. It is stated that the range of the blow-gun among some tribes is from 5O to 100 yards.” The blow-gun dart flies long and strikes true. If you’re a hungry hunter, could you ask anything more of a weapon?

The video clip below offers a sense of the deadly precision and power of the blow gun:

That squirrel was fortunate! It looks like he’ll live to go nut gathering another day. Not all creatures are so lucky, though – as any experienced blow gun hunter can tell you.

If you think about it, identity theft is like a blow gun. It’s swift and silent, and when it strikes home you’re left reeling, your finances and credit drained away. And predators lurk anywhere. Their favorite hunting grounds are the wilds of the Web. “Electronic identity theft is the most common internet offence and losses suffered as a result of an improper distribution and protection of electronic identity are huge,” observe Z. Piotrowski and P. Gajewski in their article, “Identity Management in VHF Radio Systems.”

Hunters intent on defrauding you, the unsuspecting prey, would love nothing better than to spear your credit card account. Big gains are at stake in the theft. “In USA,” continue Piotrowski and Gajewski, “26% of identity theft cases involved an unauthorized takeover of credit card numbers and purchases of material goods made by third parties based on those numbers.”

And those numbers are staggering indeed. Piotrowski and Gajewski go on to report that “in 2008 the United States of America recorded a loss of $31 billion on account of various forms of identity loss.”

Along with deadly, silent effectiveness, identity theft is marked by a certain slipperiness. “Because identity theft is a broad category that encompasses a wide range of crimes,” write James Munton and Jelita McLeod in their book, “The Con: How scams Work, Why You’re Vulnerable, and How to Protect Yourself,” “the recovery process will differ in length and complexity, depending on the exact nature of the theft, the amounts involved, and the timeline of events.”

Munton and McLeod also point out, however, “that recovery is possible, no matter how difficult the situation seems.

Though possible, this recovery can prove painfully protracted – as painfully protracted, perhaps, as an injury sustained from a blow-gun dart. Better to armor yourself against such assaults than to count on recovery, any wise person should tell himself. A reputable identity theft protection or credit monitoring service can offer you added layers of protection. Act now to enroll yourself, before fraudsters have you darting to and fro in pain and confusion.

Identity Theft Protection: Bring out the Big Guns Against Fraudsters

big gunsOne day when David Greene was 37 years old he discovered that he would have been better off as a soldier in the Continental Army. He had a job, two kids and a wife. But his life, it seemed, lacked luster. The alarm clock radio would order him out of bed each morning at sunrise. An hour later, after a breakfast of frozen waffles and Sanka, he’d stumble from the house and into a ’94 Civic with a crumpled fender to commute eight miles to work, where he sat for nine hours, writing copy for cereal boxes, until it came time to inch his way home again in rush-hour traffic.

A meal of overcooked pasta or chicken pot pie usually awaited David. His wife, a large raw-boned brunette, usually sat transfixed by the Entertainment Tonight, a half-empty bottle of Captain Morgan leaning against an easy chair. She never acknowledged his arrival home. She also never bought new underwear, preferring to wear a favorite pair into great, gaping holes. Not even when the elastic had snapped would she buy herself another six-pack of Hanes. Instead, each night before bed, she rubbed a bar of Fels Naptha into her ripped and soiled panties and soaked them in the kitchen sink. She dried them above the stove.

His children would also be home when he walked in from his commute. He never quite saw them as human. They ricocheted off walls, and their hands alternately grasped and smashed small plastic toys, like the kind given away with hastily prepared food. Their eyes were like licorice drops, dead to anything but the antics of Spongebob.

The elder, a girl of ten, had mushroomed, seemingly overnight, from a run-of-the-mill toddler into a gluttonous, bulging beast hungry for even the foulest leavings, so long as they were indeed food. She often ate herself into fever.

The younger, a boy three years his sister’s junior, couldn’t spell his name. His hands and bottom lip would tremble when he was asked to write a five-word sentence. His mouth would hang open in look of eternal surprise and emit an odor of plaque and peppermint patties. Strangers delicately inquired into the boy’s peculiar affect.

Neither child could love.

David had developed an ulcer the year before. A small bare patch, about the size of a silver dollar, had blossomed on the crown of his head. He walked with a stoop and a small paunch sagged over his belt. Cold sores sprouted seasonally on the inside of his lower lip and his right eye often twitched uncontrollably. His teeth ached and he was nearsighted. He saw little reason to live.

That is, he saw little reason to live before he an ad in the local paper soliciting volunteers for a small reenactment of a Revolutionary War battle completely transformed. David didn’t recall exactly when the Revolutionary War happened – “about that time when men wore those funny triangular hats,” he’d tell himself. He did know that they, the reenacters, shot guns.

He immediately contacted the organization, The American Revolution Dramatizers, or TARD, and pledged himself to their cause. He didn’t have to wait long for a response. The next day a small brown package arrived on his doorstep. He tore open the cardboard and lifted out a detailed replica of a Continental army uniform. David gasped at the brass buttons and silver buckles; he thought it beautiful. At the very bottom of the box was a note: “Dear Mr. Greene, We are happy to have you participate in our reenactment. Enclosed you will find your uniform. The battle will take place at Prospect Park on October, 13 1998. Please be there by 7:00 am. You will receive your gun at that time. Congratulations! You may now officially consider yourself a TARD. Sincerely, Donna Joan Whelpstick, President.”

David’s flesh goose-pimpled in anticipation. In the next room, the kitchen, he could hear the splash of water – his wife scrubbing another day of use from her underwear. She snuffed and coughed as the water ran. From the living room, he heard a shrill scream, and then a series of gurgles and splashes. These domestic sounds fell away as David’s mind centered on a single thought, which gripped him firmly yet obscurely, like the gravity from an extinguished star: He was going to be a Revolutionary soldier.

We all can’t all be Continental soldiers. But we can all protect our families from identity theft. That’s why you should do your research when it comes to identity theft protection or credit monitoring services. It may be too late to reenact a Revolutionary War battle, but it’s never too late to secure your identity against fraudsters and cyber-crooks.

Don’t Get Punked by ID Thieves

punk rocker

It’s safe to say that as long as there’s been advanced capitalist society there’s been youth culture in one form or another.

The various guises and expressions assumed by youth culture often evolve and transform to address the circumstances of their present moment. They can show great variety. But, if you look closely enough, you’ll see that beyond apparent differences lie some more or less immutable tendencies. Yesterday’s “Wandervogeln” are today’s hippies, yesterday’s beatniks are today’s hipsters, and yesterday’s anarchist bohemians are today’s punk rockers.

Punk rock as a nascent phenomenon was largely limited to the 1970s and ’80s, though it enjoyed subsequent periodic revivals. Through the peaks and valleys of fad cycles there has endured a hard core of loyal devotees who thanks to their undying commitment to the scene have seen it through its periods of obscurity.

What gives punk rock its imperishable allure, which allows it not only to wheel through the cycles of fads, but also to preserve a contingent of die-hards all the year ’round? For an understanding of the punk-rock phenomenon, you need look no further that to the words of Robert Christgau, the self-ordained “Dean of American Rock Critics.” “Punk was a musical movement that reacted against the pastoral sentimentality, expressionistic excess, and superstar bloat of ’60s rock with short, fast, hard, acerbic songs,” he observes in the introduction he penned for “Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk.” “It was also a subculture that scornfully rejected the political idealism and Californian flower-power silliness of hippie myth.”

It’s strange to think that such lofty subjects as political idealism and hippie naivety lent impetus to a cultural movement as gruff, ragged, and brutish as punk was. In fact, “punk’ is quite a protean topic, proving slippery even to scholars of the movement. Roger Sabin writes in his introduction to “Punk Rock: So What?” that “‘punk’ is a notoriously amorphous concept.” Yet for all of its amorphousness he nonetheless insists that it was and is “a subculture best characterised as being part youth rebellion, part artistic statement.”

The rebellious aesthetic of punk helps to explain its undying appeal. Those who feel marginalized or frozen out of the conventional social circles can find refuge among others of their kind, and can consecrate their communal bonds with signature displays of dress and behavior.

One signature behavior of punk-rock culture is “slam-dancing,” which is also sometimes known as “moshing.” “Those who practice slam dancing call it an art,” write Gerhardt and Ursula A. Falk in their book, “Youth Culture and the Generation Gap.” “The purpose of slam dancing is to promote aggression. This includes the use of some traditional ‘four letter words’ while bouncing off other people, without necessarily hurting anyone…. Teenagers report that they get a thrill from slam dancing and enjoy the closeness with other people.”

As a sociocultural phenomenon punk appears to offer it all. At once a community, an art scene, and a riot, the typical punk rock gathering contains far more than meets the eye.

That which meets the eye is typically the kind of thing that’s featured in the video clip below:

Closeness with other people is certainly what you’d enjoy at a punk rock show – whether or not you were seeking it. If you manage to stay out of the slam dancing fray, you’d probably find that the punks in attendance are essentially harmless, their menace limited to their attire and affect.

Another punk is not so harmless, however. This punk – “punk” in Dirty Harry’s sense of the term (“crook” or “hoodlum”) – presents a clear and present danger to your finances, your credit standing, and your good name. This punk is the identity thief.”Identity thieves steal for various reasons,” writes Johnny R. May in his book, “Johnny May’s Guide to Preventing Identity Theft,” “but there are three main motives”:

  • Financial gain:
  • Revenge;
  • A fresh start

Should you ever fall victim to identity theft, it’s likely that the crook was motivated by the first or third reason. (Though you should never immediately rule out the second.) The economy and job market have dealt many individuals hard blows, and they might see stealing someone’s identity as a way of keeping creditors at bay or, indeed, keeping food on the table.

Other crooks are given to criminality, pure and simple. Like the punk rocker finds a thrill in the close contact of slam-dancing, certain fraudsters may commit identity theft purely for the fun of it – not to mention the profit, which is high, while it lasts.

whatever their reasons, an identity thief, a punk in the classic sense, can really disrupt your life. The consequences can be far-reaching and long-lived. Author May ticks off some troubling facts about ID theft and its consequences:

  • “The average victim learned about identity theft fourteen months after it occurred”;
  • “More than half (55 percent) of the victims [are involved in] cases [that have] been open an average of forty-four months”;
  • “Victims spent an average of 175 hours actively trying to clear their names”;
  • “Victims felt that the police had been unhelpful [perhaps because] officers issued police reports less than 75 percent of the time and assigned a detective to the case less than half the time”;
  • “[Victims] found out about identity theft in one of two ways: they were denied credit or a loan stemming from fraudulent accounts, or a creditor or debt collection agency contacted them about payment.”

The upshot of all this information is that you generally find out the hard way that you’ve fallen victim to identity theft, and that once you have made this discovery you face a hard slog toward financial recovery and restored credit. This is precisely why you need iron-clad identity theft protection and hawk-like credit monitoring in reserve for when an ID thief should happen to strike. These services can help you to punk any would be fraudster intent on filching your wealth or credit.

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