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So, here’s the scoop on what you can expect on the new ACS process:

First– Census want you to answer all those instrusive, not-the-Feds-business questions online! Wow! They even send out *paper* instructions by snail-mail to ‘help’ you understand (’cause now apparently no individual or entity is capable of self-government) how important it is for you to share this information.

Second– Based on memoranda detailing studies Census did following Congressional hearings on the ACS, non-response will generate fewer calls from ACS call centers. In a breath-taking exhibit of common sense, ACS research discovered that, while obtaining complete surveys over the phone is difficult, the number of surveys obtained after the fifth call to a residence zeros out. The *fifth* call– their script used to mandate up to 25 calls! The bad news in this initial call reduction is that cases get referred to the ACS stalkers more quickly.

I’m still reviewing all the research that ACS assembled last year (2013)– but it is clear Census has no intention of making changes which would address citizens’ very real, substantiated concerns about the security (and eventual use) of the ACS information. They actually seem surprised that there are people who have a problem with a gov’t agency knowing what time they leave home for work, name, address, & phone number of employer(s), number of bathrooms in the house, if anyone in the home may have disabilities, etc. Imagine that.

A significant gap in their research (and perhaps I’ve not hit the memorandum addressing the “personal interviewers”) consists of the tactics that the field workers engage in when going to targeted residences. Apparently, Census is ok with their people going through trash, bullying citizens, interrogating neighbors and accepting that information, knocking on doors at all hours (my last ACS stalker had a habit of showing up after 9pm and hanging around for awhile), parking outside people’s homes for extended periods of time, and other criminal (yeah, CRIMINAL) behaviors.

More later…

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The ACS is BACK. Despite a move, despite assurances of it being “like, totally random!” once again I am “The Resident.”  One comment that really extremely irritated me about this process from an obvious CB plant on a comments section said something to the effect that– “It is SO difficult to “manage a country of 300 million people” so you should just all shaddup and sent in your ACS.”  Manage?  MANAGE?  Look, I’m a free, grown-up, non-criminal adult.  I don’t NEED managing.  I NEED to be left alone to be a productive, PRIVATE citizen without looking over my shoulder or worrying when Personal Identifiable Information (PII) is going to be posted on public websites for identity thieves because some CB peon had its laptop/notebook stolen.

More fun to ensue, I’ve found some recent ‘research’ which MISSES. THE. POINT. completely re: why citizens are *not* answering these awful (in so many ways) questions.

You’re not alone. You don’t have to answer this stuff– EVER.  More on the non-response contact process as soon as I can get a good summary together.

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The Shabbos of Parsha Mattos/Masei is the longest of our year (when these two parshot are read together).  Usually, I have studied at least the Rashi for each parsha prior to Shabbos, and hopefully Sforno’s commentary as well.  I had only gotten through the first couple psukim of Masei, so I hadn’t thought about the list of Bnei Yisrael’s journeys contained in Masei.

And then it hit me.  42.  42!!  While there are other counts, Rashi’s count (accepted by other commentators) states that the number of journeys during the 40-year period in the Wilderness total 42.  I haven’t touched my Douglas Adams books for awhile, so I don’t know why this suddenly hit me, aside from the fact that some friends have become (seemingly) much more strident in their atheism lately.

I have always enjoyed Douglas Adams’ books, but it continually amazes me how (or WHY) he continually has to bring up G-d, or rather, his “disbelief” in the Creator.  This is something consistant with “celebrities” who are very public about their belief in disbelief.  To paraphrase the bard of centuries ago, I think they dost protest too much.  Why would you feel the need to have a “monument” to your non-belief?  If truly you DON’T believe, then you’re just free to go on your merry little way!  If G-d is so absent from your perception of the world, why bring it up so much?

Back to 42.  In the Hitchhiker’s  Guide books, 42 is *the* answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything.  (Of course, then one is asked what the actual question is.)  Mr. Adams was always very clear that he didn’t believe in G-d, that it was ridiculous, etc.  All the things that militant atheists go on about, making one wonder if they are really all that secure in their beliefs.  (See the “atheist monument” in Florida– when did NOT believing in something need a monument??)

Seems the “Universe” may have strung Mr. Adams along for an interesting ride.  In The Dirk Gently Detective Agency, the main character moonlights as a psychic.  When his predictions actually end up coming into being, he stands on the roof of a building, shaking his fist at the sky yelling, “Stop it!!”  If anyone would point out the significance of 42, and I have no idea if anyone mentioned this to Mr. Adams, I wonder if he wouldn’t have done the same thing.  I understand he was horrified when a young cancer patient found comfort in “knowing where your towel is” and was told she passed peacefully holding hers.  Taking the step into belief, or even faith can be a very frightening thing, especially if you are coming from a relatively secular background.  True faith, actual emunah, takes work and practice and patiently accepting all we are given to work with or overcome.  And that it is all for the best.

42 is quite significant, from the journeys of Bnei Yisrael in the Wilderness, to one of the names of G-d.  Or as Mr. Adams himself put it, “How many roads must a man walk down?  42”

My sole point here is that whether YOU ‘decide’ to believe or not, there is something more than we can ever know guiding, teaching, and making sure everything is for the best.  Mr. Adams had an incredible talent, but one that also dried up for long long periods of time.  Whether or not it was a call for introspection or repentance, who can tell?  As for me, I simply don’t understand how you can look around at the world, especially the natural world, and NOT see the Creator.  Who I also think has a great sense of humor, as demonstrated by all the connections possible with simply– 42.

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So, I’ve been busy.  Living a life, raising my family.  It is rather difficult to keep up with the commenting, as I do have at least 12 other things that either need doing or that I would rather do.  But, on a business trip back to the middle of the U.S., I noticed some rather startling developments.  Or, should I say, startling to me.

I’ve been tired of reading about the “obesity epidemic” for some time now.  I’m taking care of my own problem, getting healthy, keeping the A1C and glycomark numbers as close to normal as I can, etc.  But going out & about in middle America, and yes, we’ve got some problems.  Obesity being just one, and to my mind, not the worst.  However, I also believe all theses issues I’m going to put out are also the sole provenance of every individual.  In other words:  Personal. Responsibility.

Ok, first.  If you are heavy, aside from that being your problem, DO NOT compound it by wearing clothing that is 1) ill-fitting and/or 2) leaving important parts hanging out/uncovered.  Truly– ew.  I thought the droopy drawers and not-there skirts on my commute were a problem, but WOW.  If you wear low-rise pants, make sure they are the right size and then have a top that at least covers the waist band.  If (there’s no other way to say this) your behind interfers with the hemline of your skirt, you need a longer skirt.  Sheesh.  If you are over 40, sleeves are good thing.  Just sayin’.

Now, when did paganism take over the Midwest??  What is it with the earspools, ‘cannibal’ nose rings, and tattoos???  (Tattoos, btw, are NOT a clothing substitute.)  When did this happen?  Where did I land?  Now, I do have friends from various Indian tribes who have tattoos rooted in their traditional observances, but for the most part, they are unobtrusive and mostly covered or small.  Fine– their tradition.  But to just *have* them– ostentatious and just there so you can’t even really cover them up if you wanted to?  Um….again, ew.  And then to wear clothing as if people actually wanted to look at something in the small of your back?  This is just….incredible.  And it isn’t always going to look as good or even like anything at all decades after you get it.

All right, so I have definitely changed a bit in my outlook and religious observance.  In my neighborhood, we all walk a lot, and as there are not many restaurants we eat at even in our neighborhood, fast food isn’t an issue for many of us.  I didn’t realize how this may actually effect people’s appearance and deportment.  Yes, there are overweight people, but if you are dressing modestly, perhaps it isn’t quite as noticeable as when someone’s fat is hanging out in plain view.

So I tried not to really notice, but I am appalled that this has apparently become normal.  It does indeed appear that you can’t go home again.

My resolve to not have broadcast/cable or rush after anything in “popular” culture has been renewed and strengthened.  My resolve not to have my children in public schools– likewise.

Wow.

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Back in 2006, CB was ready to roll out the American Community Survey after almost a decade of fiddling around with the program.  In order for any Federal agency to maintain databases with PII (personally-identifiable information), the Privacy Act requires a Federal Register notice outlining the purpose, scope, and protections for each PII database.  The full notice can be viewed here

However, this notice exposes the deficencies of the ACS database.  The Privacy Act requires that databases containing PII (Personally Identifiable Information) use an identifier that is separate from any PII to maintain the data.  Contrary to statutory requirements, the ACS Privacy Act notice clearly states that the ACS database will maintained by NAME and ADDRESS.  Additionally, there are no restrictions on the computers, cds, portable drives, etc. on which ACS data is stored.  This means ACS data could be on any computer with internet or wireless capabilities, unencrypted cds or portable drives, cloud accessible computers, etc.

If you aren’t scared now, you have never been a victim of id-theft, or have never worked with secured data.  I have.  The holes in this system you could pilot the space shuttle (if we had any operational ones left) through.  There have already been multiple thefts of Census Bureau notebooks & drives, and postings of ACS data on PUBLIC websites by employees.

“Your data is secure.”  Yeah, and I’ve got a bridge in some swampland that’s selling cheap as well. 

The data is IN NO WAY secure.  Unless Census starts taking PII security seriously, no sane person would ever fill this form out.  Look, I’m actually not an IT security person, but I do understand the difference between secure and unsecured data.  I can also find no evidence of who can look at or manage the PII data– Census Bureau FTEs only?  Contractors with security clearances?  Do the ACS employees have HSPD12 (cleared) credentials?  Their laptops seem to be wireless– what kind of connections are they running?  What kind of security does the data they do get in the field have, if any?

Again, just don’t even play.  This is identity theft waiting to happen.

 

 

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I always stop by Seraphic Secret to see what is new and interesting.  Robert blogs on many interesting topics, including fashion, film history, great films, current events, screenwriting, writing in general, Yiddishkeit, his family, etc.

Yesterday’s post really hit home for me– check it out:  http://www.seraphicpress.com/childs-school-lunch-confiscated-by-government-official/

This is *exactly* what is going wrong with public/gov’t institutions:  people who think they know better than anyone else what is “good” for them.  This elitism and secular fundamentalism is doing more to destroy our ability to make our own decisions, conduct our lives responsibly and without interference, and not have to look over our shoulders.  Isn’t that one of the things that makes the USA such a great place?  I don’t want to use the past tense here, but if this slide continues, shame on all who sat back and let it happen. 

That’s why all these “government initiatives” are so insidious.  These agencies and program personnel tell us how much better our lives will be, or what better people we will be, if we just listen to them and do as they tell us.  And now, if we don’t, they’ll make our lives worse until we do as we’re told.  Because they’ve got all these little pieces of paper telling us how smart and better they are than us.  It’s for our benefit, they stress.  For the children.  For the planet.  To these people, we are just a mass of sheeple needing to be “governed” and incapable of thinking their lofty thoughts or restraining ourselves from analyzing and coming to our own actually informed decisions. 

Unless found unfit or abusive, parents have every right to determine what goes into their child’s lunch.  There are situations where I would want a school to (gently) inform me if my food choices for a packed lunch were not acceptable.  This would be in the area of kashrut, however, and a private matter between parents and the private educational institution (ie, something in the meal not meeting the heksher standards of the school).  But that’s the school I’ve chosen, so I accepted their standards and will abide by them– by choice and agreement.  That aside, since when does a turkey/cheese sandwich lose to chicken nuggets on any nutritional scale?? 

Here’s the rub.  Freedom is difficult.  Individual responsibility and self-direction can be hard.  However, the founders of this country, having come from or experienced oppression and colonialism and loss of control over their affairs under the British, understood that a nation following the path of freedom and individual liberty was bound to be better than a repressive, controlling form of government.  Were they perfect?  Was the system they devised perfect?  Of course not.  But it still beats any alternative.  That is what people clamoring for more government oversite, more “fairness” (whatever is meant by that), and less personal choice/responsibility do not seem to understand.  The EU is running roughshod over national rights of individuals.  They are openly protecting the wrong people, not holding them accountable to the laws of the societies they now live in, and not doing a thing for protecting the rights and safety of citizens living according to their nations’ laws.  And it seems to be happening more and more here as well.

But slavery, on the other hand, is easy.  You don’t have to think, because someone else is doing it for you.  You play along, and have all your needs taken care of (think Greece here).  Just submit to a governmental authority, and there’s a roof over your head and food on the table.  Like all slaves, though, step out of line, have some independence, and the kid gloves are off and exposing the steel fists underneath.  You are not your own.  You are OWNED.  You do as you’re told, and you don’t get hurt.  Unless, of course, you belong to a scapegoated class.  Unless you aspire to something more than just existing.  As those of us in the CB’s bullying cycle are finding out. 

As more and more Americans will be finding out.

UPDATE, 2/17:  And I’m not at all suprised to discover this wasn’t the only child who didn’t get to eat their parentally-packed lunch in the same school…  Looking at their guidelines, it would appear that some religious early childhood educational institutions would not qualify for this program.  *Requiring* meat?  Ok, they do mention “meat alternatives” but what if your kid won’t eat tuna?  Oh, btw– not that I get to eat candy anyway, but it’d be worth finding out what other products Mars, Inc. makes besides Snickers, & etc.  They signed on to FLOTUS’ food police initiative, and now your king-size candy bar are history.  And the regulars will be smaller (but not less expensive).  I say end purchases of ANY company on that list…

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Ok.  First post.  I never thought I’d be doing a site based on an attempt by a Federal agency to seize personal identifiable information (PII) and use it however they see fit, but its come to this.  This site may wander into other subjects as well, but the reason for this blog is to document my (and others’) stories about the Census Bureau and the “American Community Survey” (ACS). 

I’ll be updating this site as soon as possible with as much as possible.  Its not pretty, and I’ve found the more you dig into the ACS, the worse it becomes. 

I am not a statistic.  I am not needing to be “governed.”  I do not need a nannystate knowing private details of my life, or my family’s lives– not their purview.  All Federal agencies struggle to remain relevant and in business– sadly, that is an underlying principle of buracracy.  However, Census has bypassed “mission creep” and is currently engaged in “creepy mission.”  The word needs to get out, and people need to wake up about how insecure their personal information is if they should decide to fill out this form. 

My research has included the statutes the Census Bureau (CB) is using to force people to fill out their forms, the required Federal Register notices regarding databases and information in the ACS itself, and Congressional hearings/debates (if any, still working this) about Title 13 itself. 

I would also like to hear from other people who have ended up being harrassed for their informed decision not to play.  Gathering these stories from around the country may eventually help get the attention of certain elected representatives who are still possessed of the American backbone to stand up and address actions and programs that are wrong.

There are other sites that have posts about the ACS.  I’d like this site to have a sustained focus on the problem, how people across the country– of all colors, economic backgrounds, rural, urban, suburban, and citizen or legal immigrant– are being effected by the ACS and CB’s administration of same.

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