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MARTHA SEZ: A new year and the Age of Transparency

January 5, 2017
By MARTHA ALLEN , Lake Placid News

Happy New Year! 2017 ushers in a new age: the Age of Transparency.

When I talk about transparency, I am not referring to clothing, although that is an interesting subject as well. No, I am referring to the respect we Americans have for honesty and candor in all of our dealings. We believe in being up front. We tell it like it is.

This goes for all of us, but especially for our politicians, our elected officials. Not so much because all of a sudden we feel we have nothing to hide, or that we want to be strictly on the level-as we say on the up and up-but because we no longer have any choice.

Perhaps President-elect Donald J. Trump said it best when he warned recently "If you have something really important, write it out and have it delivered by courier, the old-fashioned way. I'll tell you what: No computer is safe. I don't care what they say."

This warning was not a Tweet. No, it had nothing to do with Twitter. I actually saw and heard Mr. Trump saying this on television, and in fact I have watched the same clip several times. It's real. And it's very worrisome.

"So we have to get very, very tough on cyber and cyber warfare. It is-it is a huge problem," President-elect Trump went on to caution the public.

One problem, to start with, is not everyone has access to a courier.

Jim, my son-in-law, was once a courier in Boston. He drove important papers and packages around the city and delivered them to the appropriate parties in a timely and appropriate manner.

It is naturally more difficult to find a professional courier in a small town. Here in Keene Valley, an entrepreneurial and reliable little boy named Rory had his own business making deliveries with his bicycle and wagon for a quarter a run, but Rory eventually grew up and went on to other things.

Donald J. Trump has not concurred with the claim of the United States Central Intelligence Agency made in the first week of December, 2016, that the Russians intervened in the presidential election on his behalf. While clearly reluctant to assign responsibility for the 2016 hacking of Hillary Clinton's campaign email, Donald Trump did solemnly confide "I have a son. He's 10 years old. He has computers. He is so good with these computers, it's unbelievable. The security aspect of cyber is very, very tough."

Is there no way to prevent little Barron Trump from going online and engaging in cyber crime? Yes, the boy attends an elite private school and, instead of his own room, he has an entire floor of Trump Tower to himself. I read in "Parenting" magazine that he doesn't mind wearing business suits every day and that he enjoys golfing. Still. Barron is only 10. Surely he can be controlled.

Or not.

"Maybe," his father admitted, "it's hardly do-able."

Of course neither Jim nor Rory read any of the messages entrusted to their care. How easy is it, though, to find a reliable courier? Would Hillary Clinton and her staff have been safer relaying hand-written messages back and forth by courier instead of using an email server, private or otherwise?

According to Jim, "I guess, just like the Post Office, your message is only as safe and honest as the person who is carrying your mail. Best not to hire the Russians to be safe."

Apparently, Melania, a doting mother, and Donald, a busy father, cannot control the cyber activities of Barron Trump, but what about Ivanka? I am hoping she will have some influence over her little half-brother. Meanwhile, I have been experimenting with invisible ink.

All right, I have just removed an envelope on which I previously wrote with lemon juice, milk, vinegar and soap from a 500-degree oven. While previously invisible, pretty much, the messages are now all dark brown. The soap worked best, the vinegar worst.

Soap, saliva and lemon juice are said to become visible under ultraviolet light. Don't try delivering messages written in these substances if you are going to a black light dance party attended by Russians.

Messages written in ammonia or vinegar become visible when exposed to red cabbage juice. A word to the wise.

Is it only Barron Trump, or should we assume that all 10-year-olds are engaged in cyber espionage?

What about that man sitting on his bed in New Jersey? OK, now I'm getting paranoid.

Have a good week.



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