Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Are we living in a dystopia in which paranoia is justified?

With his wife, Janice, in Tennessee in 2014.

Men's Journal
"John McAfee surveys the woods surrounding his Tennessee home while his 100-pound komondor, Marley, shits on his neighbor's property. The computer-security guru and sometime murder suspect believes he has discovered proof that the Sinaloa cartel is tracking his movements.
It has something to do with a schmear. The 70-year-old McAfee resembles an ocelot, with his striped and streaked hair. He is probably still a multimillionaire, but he chain-smokes generic cigarettes the way a toddler eats Goldfish crackers. He exhales, as a hawk circles above.
"All they eat is cream cheese," McAfee says between phlegmy hacks. "Must be for the protein. I find cream cheese packets everywhere. Some of them are out-of-date."
Inside, somebody named Bob writes down the license plate of every car that drives by the property. McAfee believes Bob's brother is working for the cartel, but that's really neither here nor there. McAfee scans the dirt for plastic.
"If there's cream cheese, I know the cartel has been here."
Say what you will about John McAfee — and people say a lot of nasty things — but he was one of the first nerds to warn the world of an impending computer-security crisis, a pioneer whose paranoia served a legitimate purpose.
"I can guarantee you, there are thousands of teenage girls taking showers right now with waterproof phones, texting, who are being watched by somebody," says McAfee.
Maybe five years ago, McAfee would have been dismissed as a giant nut bag, but too many holes have been punched into our computer systems to dismiss him now. Last spring, thousands of emails detailing the petty personal thoughts of Hollywood's dream makers were laid bare when Sony had its email system pried open for the world to see. The email lists of Adult FriendFinder and Ashley Madison, naughty services for men and women seeking extracurricular sexual shenanigans, were released on the Web. There are now rumors that China has wormed into the mainframes of Pentagon subcontractors.
We no longer have the tools to judge the sanity of people saying paranoid things about privacy and security because so many things we would have written off as dystopian delusions have come true. Now we have to judge our nut bags on a case-by-case basis. Reality has caught up to McAfee's paranoia.
McAfee believes it was his discovery of Belizean corruption that eventually forced him to leave the country. Well, that and the murder of his neighbor, Gregory Faull, another American expatriate sunning his life away in Belize. McAfee admits that Faull was pissed about McAfee's dogs roaming on the beach but says that he held no rancor toward the man. Faull was found dead of a single bullet wound on November 11, 2012. While the local police insisted they wanted McAfee only for questioning — 300 yards separated their properties — he hightailed it into the bush, eventually hooking up with Vice News and publishing online pieces proclaiming his innocence.
The Belizean government's response was succinct: "John McAfee is extremely paranoid, even bonkers," said Prime Minister Dean Barrow.

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