There’s a new game in town
Mini ‘how-to’ Bluetooth/Wifi combo for Raspberry PI
Stick’em with the pointy end
Virtual and not so Virtual Space
Be Still my Bleeding Heart …
The Never-ending Privacy Battle
The Many Sides of Bitcoin
Cyber Jihadists
Hacker Gangs
The New Old War
The Sacred Executioner
Scripting Aphrodites
There’s a new game in town My first foray into role playing games (RPGs) wasn’t actually an RPG at all. Rather, it was a computer based word puzzle, “The Colossal Cave” aka “Adventure.” I stumbled upon this game during a computer job back in the late 1970s. The game was written in Basic and ran on a PDP-11. I spent hours […]
Mini ‘how-to’ Bluetooth/Wifi combo for Raspberry PI I recently purchased the Cirago USB Bluetooth/Wifi combo to use with my raspberry pi. All things considered, I am quite pleased. Being reasonably versed in google-fu, helped, of course. Since I want the freedom to do some mobile tinkering, I need to access the pi sans a lan. That, and my latest wild hair project […]
Stick’em with the pointy end Since I have been spending a great deal of my time playing in the field of 3D design and printing, I have only recently stumbled upon, and had time to read, “Privacy for Me and Not for Thee,” penned by Catherine A. Fitzpatrick, a human rights activist whom I first encountered in the virtual world […]
Virtual and not so Virtual Space Not long ago, someone asked if I liked 3D printing better than virtual worlds. The short answer is, equally but differently.
Be Still my Bleeding Heart … “Secure web servers are the equivalent of heavy armored cars. The problem is, they are being used to transfer rolls of coins and checks written in crayon by people on park benches to merchants doing business in cardboard boxes from beneath highway bridges. Further, the roads are subject to random detours, anyone with a screwdriver […]
The Never-ending Privacy Battle This brings me back to the Hundredpercent American. To some extent he is a pet of mine. I have always rather liked him, because he has some promising qualities. For instance, he has enormous hospitality. I used to feel personally complimented by the amazing warm-hearted hospitality showered on me by Americans. […] When I realized […]
The Many Sides of Bitcoin Pariah, darling, or somewhere in between. Bitcoin has continued to linger in the daily media spotlight since the shuttering of darknet’s black-market drug bazaar, Silk Road, and the subsequent announcement of the arrest of its alleged owner, Ross William Ulbricht (aka DPR), on October 2, 2013. Media mavens have long cast bitcoin as a sort […]
Cyber Jihadists “We’re facing a very great threat of loosely-coupled, organizational networks that increasingly rely on IT infrastructure to coordinate their movements and recruit young disenfranchised, apathetic guys as suicidal pawns in a sophisticated, dispersed movement. (…)” (AHM, Usenet, September 21, 2001)
Hacker Gangs Meet Jim Script Kiddie (skiddie). He is the guy (usually in his early to mid teens) who comes into a hacker forum, asking inane questions like, “how can I be a hacker?” He also tends to over-indulge in “hacker speak” making him look pretty much like a moron to seasoned (and not so) computer netizens.
The New Old War In 1956, FBI Director, J. Edgar Hoover initiated a program, code-named COINTELPRO (counter intelligence program) ushering in what would become the mainstay for how intelligence communities dealt with domesitic affairs. The sole directive of this program was “to expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit, or otherwise neutralize” the activities of various dissidents and their leaders.
The Sacred Executioner In his book, “The Sacred Executioner,” Hyam Maccoby notes: “A figure in mythology that has received little attention is that of the Sacred Executioner. […] By taking the blame for the slaying, he is performing a great service to society, for not only does he perform the deed, but he takes upon himself the blame […]
Scripting Aphrodites On Wednesday, April 13, 2006, 10-year-old Jamie Rose Bolin was reported missing by her father. Investigators thought she may have been abducted by someone she met online. Oklahoma law enforcement suspected her abductor might be heading just across the border to Texas and requested Texas issue an Amber alert.
image There’s a new game in town
image Mini ‘how-to’ Bluetooth/Wifi combo for Raspberry PI
image Stick’em with the pointy end
image Virtual and not so Virtual Space
image Be Still my Bleeding Heart …
image The Never-ending Privacy Battle
image The Many Sides of Bitcoin
image Cyber Jihadists
image Hacker Gangs
image The New Old War
image The Sacred Executioner
image Scripting Aphrodites

Marketing Misery

It has been stated that tragedies bring out the best in us. They also bring out the worst. This seems especially so when the tragedy involves a child. Unlike adult victims however, child victims are generally shielded from the media spotlight. For several reasons, the least of which involves the basic premise that we, as a civilized society, consider it extremely distasteful to feast upon our children’s pain. Or so we claim…

Making money off victims’ plights is not new. In fact, two of the most widely publicized child victim cases–JonBenet Ramsey and Matthew Eappen–which occurred within months of each other, hilight just how grotesque we, as a society, can be.

Within weeks of JonBenet’s December 1996 death, the Globe had obtained and published unauthorised autopsy and crime scene photos.[1] The media machine shows repeated footage of the highly sexualized 5-year-old when introducing that case. The case remains unsolved and has drawn thousands, if not millions, of arm chair detectives and curious spectators alike. And JonBenet’s death, alone, has resulted in fame and/or financial gain for numerous people–the latest, being John Mark Karr.

Matthew Eappen’s case occurred in February of 1997, and was the most widely publicized case of an incredibly tragic though little heard of form of child abuse–shaken baby syndrome (SBS). Within months of Louise Woodward‘s reduced conviciton and amidst the public outcry, darker allegations began surfacing–that Woodward and her parents were profiting from Mathew’s death.[2] Shortly thereafter, the Eappen’s filed a civil suit requesting an injunction that would prevent the Woodwards from making money off of their son’s death[3] Woodward’s parents were charged with theft in January of 1999, after allegedly submitting a fraudulent invoice to the Louise Woodward and Family Trust fund.[4]

Earlier this year, and just over a little over 10 years later, Kaleb Schwade became yet another victim in the ever-growing list of SBS victims. What is it however that differentiates Kaleb’s story from other SBS victims? and allegations of marketing misery, it seems.

On Tuesday, May 8, 2007, Kaleb’s mother, Kristy (Reynolds) Schwade dropped her son off with his daycare worker, Rebecca Saunders. Early accounts note that Saunders contacted Schwade to report that Kaleb had a temperature and was throwing up. His grandmother picked him up early. It was later alleged that Schwade commented that same day to a friend on .[5]

So I just got a call from the Babysitter and Kaleb is SICK… 102 fever and throwing up… WHEN WILL IT END! I am so tired of DRAMA?

By Wednesday, May 9, 2007, Kaleb’s condition had deteriorated, requiring a “life flight” to Tampa General Hospital, where it was determined that he was suffering from massive inter-cranial bleeding (bilateral hemorrhaging and subdural hematoma) as a result of . Outside of a May 15th article reporting Saunder’s arrest,[6] there is sparse information on this case.[7] By early-June however Kaleb’s story had begun spreading throughout the online social networking site, . Schwade has been using her blog to report on her son’s condition, as well as posting a photo-journal of his ordeal. Because of this, she has attracted thousands of supporters. One need only briefly gaze upon the face of that precious little boy to understand why. By Thursday, June 7, 2007, she reportedly had the most-visited profile[8] and by Friday, June 22, 2007, she announced that she had a mission:

Kaleb is what this is all about. What started out on “My Space blog” as my plea to my friends for prayer, has spread throughout this country and has brought many people closer to God and this is every Christian’s mission–to share the Word. Seems like this is happening. Kaleb is our little disciple because of what happened to him. Kaleb’s “silence is golden”. His silence has reached thousands of believers and non-believers and only God will know how many lives have been truely touched and transformed because of my little baby.

We, as a society, love missions–a cause by any other name–whether we are rallying behind the , fighting against SBS, or bringing people to “God.” In a sense, they are a necessary aspect of our societal landscape. They can however be problematic. For they make great campaign fodder for swindlers. And there have been and always will be those who understand this. Those who have no compunctions using such to exploit a victim’s plight. Kristy Schwade has been accused of being one such individual. Yet, is this truly the case? Let’s take a look.

On Monday, June 4, 2007, and in response to the overwhelming support from well-wishers, Schwade posted a snail-mail address for cards, gifts, and donations. By then, a woman from Pennsylvania had begun, and was joined by others in, fundraising campaigns for Kaleb. These included but were not limited to, “Pray for Kaleb” Merchandise, Kaleb Bracelets, Kaleb Bumbersickers, Kaleb Keychains, Injets for Kaleb, SBS magnets, and Kaleb Team. One enterprising individual set up an auction on eBay. In addition to the online fund raisers, various individuals have hosted fund raising events in their area–at least 5 so far. These are chronicled in the picture section of Schwade’s .

On Thursday, June 21, 2007, Schwade announced that Kaleb was fitted with a stroller but that

“There is NO way this thing will fit in my car”

By July 5, 2007, another fund-raising project was under way–the Kaleb Mini Van fund–which included a donation thermometer to indicate how much money had been raised thus far. Shortly thereafter, three women traveled to Florida to deliver the minivan and a $30K check to Kaleb’s family. Their story is told in a blog entry and their journey chronicled in a photo journal in the pictures section of their profile.

On Wednesday, July 11, 2007, Schwade lamented:

Kaleb’s room has a REALLY old closet unit AC in it and I really do not trust it, I am afraid that it might have mold or mildew around (being as our apartment has FLOODED 3 times. I am not exzagerating when I say FLOODED.)

Like clockwork, her blog entry prompted yet another campaign. This time for an extreme makeover: home edition for the Schwades. There is, of course, one minor problem. They live in an apartment.

At this time, donations are reportedly hovering at around $100K and more than a few people have begun to ask questions. For example, why do the Schwades need financial assistance for medical bills when the Children’s Medical Services of Florida has a special program (BSCIP) specifically designed to cover medical expenses of child TBI victims? Additionally, what about Florida statutes as they pertain to soliciting donations? Although the fundrasing campaigns are being managed by individuals who are not Florida residents, Ms. Schwade has made several posts requesting funds be sent to her P.O. Box and that checks be made out to her. As for other individuals, it has been clearly stated that the funds will be paid to the Schwade family. And finally, what is with what appears to be “photo-shoots” of various individuals with this child? While some may find these photos to be fine and dandy, in light of the gravity of the situation, they are, at best, garrishly bombastic, and at worst, grossly unethical on the part of the family and the hospital staff that allowed them.

In the final analysis, we cannot truly know the intentions of the Schwades. After all, one could make a well-reasoned argument that the aforementioned, individually, are nothing more than an understandable response in the face of a devastating tragedy. The whole, taken together, however tells a different story. For it smacks of an individual who is preying upon the charity of the well-intentioned by using the heart-rending visage of her son to garner both sympathy and financial gain. Yet, is this perception accurate? Only time will tell…

Incident Report, Criminal Report, Crime Scene / Narrative