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How Wired's Hiding Writer Was Found

Soulskill posted about 5 years ago | from the sorta-off-the-grid dept.

Communications 83

newscloud writes "A twitter-savvy, gluten-free pizza shop nabbed missing Wired magazine writer Evan Ratliff in New Orleans early on Tuesday to win the $5,000 Vanish contest. Ratliff was ensnared in part by repeated non-TOR visits to our Facebook application, launched to support the contest's tracker community, and his secret travel journal on Twitter. 'The Vanish Team application became part of the game — essentially a trap for Evan — one he stumbled into each day knowingly and willingly. This is something that we would never do with our Facebook technology if Evan hadn't asked us to pursue him - but it's a useful reminder of "relative" anonymity on the Web.'"

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Mouse Trap (5, Funny)

realsilly (186931) | about 5 years ago | (#29366509)

Well this pretty much reminds me of game, Mouse Trap.

Re:Mouse Trap (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 5 years ago | (#29367343)

The only difference is that Wired probably took in half a million in sponsorships, naming right, etc. I'm surprised it wasn't called the "Apple iPhone Vanish Contest". But I bet the prize money is paid out in gift certificates to Best Buy or shares in Conde Nast.

You know how they found out that some huge percentage of US currency has traces of cocaine? Well, 95% of the copies of Wired have traces of the spooge of Slashdot readers and advertising account executives. Mixed together.

this makes me smile (0, Offtopic)

bensafrickingenius (828123) | about 5 years ago | (#29366517)

What a cool story! Wish I'd known it was going on.

Re:this makes me smile (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29366593)

What a cool story! Wish I'd known it was going on.

That is a cool story. Equally insightful: I just learned that there was a recession. I turned on the TV and some guy said something about a recession.
I also learned about a moon landing that took place 50 years ago.

If you don't yet get the point: why does this poster get a 3 for insightful? since when is a statement of ignorance insightful?

Re:this makes me smile (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29366745)

I also learned about a moon landing that took place 50 years ago.

5% of people still haven't learned about it.

Re:this makes me gag (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29367121)

And why do you get -1 Offtopic? Because the Slashdot moderation system is hopelessly broken, by design.

Re:this makes me gag (2, Funny)

MrNaz (730548) | about 5 years ago | (#29367663)

Actually, the moderation *system* works fine. It's the moderators who are broken.

Incidentally, in this case, I agree with the mods; GP was off topic. So, in this case, it's your opinion that's broken.

Re:this makes me smile (-1, Offtopic)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about 5 years ago | (#29367921)

A lot of people just waste their mod points. Parent to your post is inane, and if anyone bothered to mod it, it should have been "off topic". And, your post shouldn't have been modded at all.

I'll continue with "off topic". I read about the competition, thought it was kinda cool, but gave it no more thought. I knew this guy wouldn't be found here, in Outback, Nowhere, and had little interest in trying to figure out where he might be. I knew he wouldn't last long, simply because he was to log into Facebook every day. Phhht.

What would be REALLY COOL, is if a group of blackhats ran a similar competition, with rules that make sense to the real hacking community. That probably wouldn't be publicized til after the event was won (or lost). Slashdotters would be VERY interested in that, I'm sure!

Well - there go a couple of karma points......

Re:this makes me smile (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29367023)

What a cool story! Facebook, Twitter? I never heard of those things before. Wish I knew about them before reading the story. I have no idea what is going on.

Fembot?!? (5, Funny)

Otter (3800) | about 5 years ago | (#29366553)

Last night, Evan unprotected his twitter account and Reifman began to follow him, under the disguise of a fembot.

Twitter seems as appealing to me as gluten-free pizza, so presumably a "fembot" is some Twitterism with which I'm unfamiliar, and not an actual fembot?

Re:Fembot?!? (1)

kusanagi374 (776658) | about 5 years ago | (#29366727)

A female /r9k/ user perhaps. I guess Evan was a bit depressed about everything and created an advice thread on 4chan.

Re:Fembot?!? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29367097)

I don't know what a fembot OR a "female /r9k/" user is... jesus am I old?

does someone want to provide another definition for the over-30 crowd?

Re:Fembot?!? (4, Informative)

Mr. DOS (1276020) | about 5 years ago | (#29367189)

"/r9k/", or ROBOT9000, is a board on 4chan (like "/b/"), which centres around a script [xkcd.com] written by Randall Munroe of xkcd (basically, something can only be said once). Male users of said board often refer to each others as "robots", while the comparatively few female users of /r9k/ are generally called "fembots".

      --- Mr. DOS

Re:Fembot?!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29367243)

_nothing_ is like /b/

Captcha is "Socked"

Re:Fembot?!? (1)

happy_place (632005) | about 5 years ago | (#29372809)

And of course who can forget the original "fembot" name was given to the villainous robot dopplegangers that had cybernetically enhanced strength on the 70/80's TV show the Bionic Woman... which was by far the creepiest villain in the whole series... especially cuz their faces were so easily ripped off...

Re:Fembot?!? (2, Funny)

boredsenseless (1246818) | about 5 years ago | (#29367249)

Have you any idea how it feels to be a fembot living in a manbot's manputer's world?

Re:Fembot?!? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29367393)

Rule 30:

There are no women on the internet.

Re:Fembot?!? (1)

meowhous (1592411) | about 5 years ago | (#29373847)

Maybe not for you...

Re:Fembot?!? (1)

jggimi (1279324) | about 5 years ago | (#29367877)

Ah, the voice of Bea Arthur, from "Amazon Women in the Mood"

Re:Fembot?!? (1)

jimbolauski (882977) | about 5 years ago | (#29369019)

Death by snu-snu!

Hooray!

Re:Fembot?!? (1)

oldhack (1037484) | about 5 years ago | (#29367973)

This sounds like a roundabout way to tell me "you're too old, shut up die."

Re:Fembot?!? (1)

Gilmoure (18428) | about 5 years ago | (#29371703)

Ok.

Re:Fembot?!? (1)

oldhack (1037484) | about 5 years ago | (#29371793)

Did you die?

Too easy (0)

Hatta (162192) | about 5 years ago | (#29366559)

Sounds like this guy wasn't even trying very hard. If I were trying to vanish, I sure as hell wouldn't be running scripts on facebook or updating twitter. It sounded like an interesting contest, they should do it again with someone who really knows how to hide.

Re:Too easy (4, Informative)

Tom (822) | about 5 years ago | (#29366617)

If you'd RTFA, you'd see that the whole point of the challenge was to "vanish" while staying active online.

How hard is it to use bots? (1)

elucido (870205) | about 5 years ago | (#29366773)

Seriously, how hard would it be to use an anonymous remailer bot? These bots can post all over usenet, and on some forums.

Re:How hard is it to use bots? (1)

nyctopterus (717502) | about 5 years ago | (#29367015)

Great! Now all three people on usenet can still hear from you even though you're in hiding! I hope you don't know anyone else...

Yeah, right (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29367027)

Sure, someone could tell us nothing about themselves and then grab a tent and go camping in some forest while we would try to find him.

That would really suck as an idea for a competition.

That said...When "being active online" was a major point, facebook application directly related to the contest seems like a pretty obvious trap. I would understand falling for this if he had just visited FB and some competitor had managed to access the records of some of the most common applications (quizes, etc.)... But application directly related to this competition?

He could very well have just made another, anonymous FB account and use it for that application. He either didn't try very much or just wanted to get easily caught.

The first rule of not being seen: Don't stand up. (5, Interesting)

LaminatorX (410794) | about 5 years ago | (#29366563)

Second rule: Don't make daily visits to a web community dedicated to tracking you down. Fail.

Re:The first rule of not being seen: Don't stand u (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29366645)

Unless everyone else is standing up, in which case sitting down might be a giveaway...

Re:The first rule of not being seen: Don't stand u (1)

El_Muerte_TDS (592157) | about 5 years ago | (#29366721)

But what should I do when one half is standing, and the other half is sitting?

Re:The first rule of not being seen: Don't stand u (1)

sexconker (1179573) | about 5 years ago | (#29366933)

Depends.
Is the cat in that box over there alive, or dead?

Re:The first rule of not being seen: Don't stand u (1)

need4mospd (1146215) | about 5 years ago | (#29367433)

Depends.

What do adult diapers have to do with this?

Re:The first rule of not being seen: Don't stand u (1)

Yetihehe (971185) | about 5 years ago | (#29366993)

Try to start a mexican wave.

Re:The first rule of not being seen: Don't stand u (1)

kaffekaine (1526977) | about 5 years ago | (#29366743)

The first rule of Hiding Club is no one talks about Hiding Club.

Re:The first rule of not being seen: Don't stand u (5, Funny)

fulldecent (598482) | about 5 years ago | (#29367113)

He fell victim to one of the classic blunders! The most famous is never get involved in a land war in Asia, but only slightly less well-known is never use facebook.

Re:The first rule of not being seen: Don't stand u (4, Informative)

nahdude812 (88157) | about 5 years ago | (#29369833)

He was purposely making the same sorts of mistakes that people make when they try to disappear. I mean, he was, for example, posting his travels to a twitter account, and following several businesses local to where he was ultimately found.

Being an author who just wrote about the sorts of mistakes people make under these circumstances, he was clearly laying down a bread crumb trail for people to pick up. The point wasn't for him to outsmart the world (honestly anybody can do that for a month if they're really dedicated, just stay offline), the point was to give people a glimpse of what it's like.

If you're really on the run, staying anonymous for one month shouldn't be too hard. It's when it's been a year, or two, or ten, when you start to wonder how your family is doing, etc. that you start to get into trouble. Creating those connections to your former life is what gets people caught.

Geeks (1)

Stan92057 (737634) | about 5 years ago | (#29366573)

And this is why they are called geeks lol

Panties STINK! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29366589)

Panties Stink!
They really, really stink!
Sometimes they're red, sometimes they're green,
Sometimes they're white or black or pink
Sometimes they're satin, sometimes they're lace
Sometimes they're cotton and soak up stains
But at the end of the day, it really makes you think
Wooooooo-wheeeee! Panties stink!

Sometimes they're on the bathroom floor
Your girlfriend- what a whore!
Sometimes they're warm and wet and raw
From beneath the skirt of your mother-in-law
Brownish stains from daily wear
A gusset full of pubic hair
Just make sure your nose is ready
For the tang of a sweat-soaked wedgie
In your hand a pair of drawers
With a funky feminine discharge
Give your nose a rest, fix yourself a drink
cause wooooooo-wheeeeeee! panties stink!

I'm not surprised... (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | about 5 years ago | (#29366635)

If I'd been responsible for "Time Speeder", I'd've gone into hiding too.

So don't use the web, try usenet. (2, Interesting)

elucido (870205) | about 5 years ago | (#29366643)

If you think the web isn't anonymous enough with all the cookies and hidden tracking features of firefox, just log onto usenet and load your anonymous remailer, use your digital signature as your name, and communicate behind that.

And if you have to use a tor like proxy service there are ways to use it properly and ways to use it improperly.

the 'sappeared (1)

gmermnstinsmermwords (1627107) | about 5 years ago | (#29366673)

"The story details how the disappeared often give themselves away by seeking information on their pursuers' progress or returning to common habits. Evan purposely repeated these mistakes and each led to us catching him." How close are my facebook junkies to me, physically

Great! (4, Funny)

kuzb (724081) | about 5 years ago | (#29366807)

One of the five people playing won!

Re:Great! (2, Insightful)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | about 5 years ago | (#29366867)

One of the five people playing won!

From the summary it looks like the five players teamed up to find him.

Re:Great! (3, Funny)

natehoy (1608657) | about 5 years ago | (#29367411)

So everyone wins, then! :)

Re:Great! (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | about 5 years ago | (#29370895)

Except for Waldo. No one's found him yet, and his food supply is running dangerously low.

Celiac Disease giveaway (1)

93,000 (150453) | about 5 years ago | (#29366823)

When I saw in his profile in the mag that he had Celiac Disease (I have it as well), my first thought was well, this just got about 50% easier for the searchers. The dude's gotta eat/buy food. Not that he couldn't make it eating out of a normal supermarket -- just assumed he would stick with what he knew to some extent for his diet.

Re:Celiac Disease giveaway (1)

corbettw (214229) | about 5 years ago | (#29367539)

Which, if you'd read the original article, you'd understand was the point. The article was about how, when people try to vanish, they almost inevitably fall into the same old patterns which is what ends up getting them caught. If you want to disappear, you have to completely disappear. In my case, that would mean:
  • Can't ever see my wife or kids again
  • No more wine tastings
  • No more Warhammer
  • No more visits to Slashdot, Fark, Facebook, Reason Hit-n-Run, or Tales from the Zombie War
  • Can't work in IT anymore; in fact, my twenty years of experience would be completely useless
  • Say goodbye to my veteran's benefits

This is a necessarily incomplete list. But if I tried to disappear and create a new life and did just one of those things, it's a virtual certainty that someone could find me. We all have lists like this, things that we naturally gravitate to and that if we continued doing them a dedicated investigator could find us using them. The longer your list is, and the more unique certain aspects of it are, the easier it'll be for someone to do so.

There's a reason Andy Dupre started a charter boat service in Mexico and didn't go to work for a bank down there.

Re:Celiac Disease giveaway (1)

PReDiToR (687141) | about 5 years ago | (#29373337)

You mean Andy [wikipedia.org] Dufresne [wikipedia.org] ?

Or am I completely off on the character you meant?

Re:Celiac Disease giveaway (1)

corbettw (214229) | about 5 years ago | (#29378039)

That's the one. I must have gotten his name mixed up with someone else.

Re:Celiac Disease giveaway (1)

93,000 (150453) | about 5 years ago | (#29374611)

I understand your point, and for the most part think you are absolutely correct. But when you disappeared would you also stop eating? If you were diabetic, when you disappeared would you also stop being diabetic?

My point was that by having CD, his options were inherently more limited. He's going to gravitate to places that are 'celiac friendly', if you will.

Re:Celiac Disease giveaway (1)

corbettw (214229) | about 5 years ago | (#29378067)

There's no doubt that disappearing would be harder for some people than others. If you think CD sufferers have it rough there just think about diabetics!

The whole experiment is an interesting way of pointing out how intertwined we all are today. 150 years ago it was trivial for someone to head into the west and reinvent themselves as whatever they wanted to be; nowadays, that would be nigh impossible. I almost wonder if we've lost something because of that.

Re:Celiac Disease giveaway (1)

93,000 (150453) | about 5 years ago | (#29380665)

Diabetes would be a bitch. It's one of the reminders that life isn't all that bad. What I got isn't great, but I'll take it. It's a cakewalk compared to so many things.

And a sort of spin on your analogy, just 20 years ago a person could head off to college and, in a sense, do the same. Ditch the past baggage/people/that nickname you hated, and become whomever you wanted. Option to report back in 20 for the reunion.

I wonder how kids today ever break away from their existing circle with facebook and all. I better quit before I sound any older. . .

Deja Vu? (1)

rickb928 (945187) | about 5 years ago | (#29366871)

Sounds like a new episode of Majestic [wikipedia.org]

First rule of TOR - disable all plugins (1)

yossarianuk (1402187) | about 5 years ago | (#29366875)

If he had disabled all plugins (i.,e flash,etc) in his browser surely he would have never left a trace of ip ?

Re:First rule of TOR - disable all plugins (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29367207)

Interesting point. Is it possible to set up Tor like a VPN? Configure OpenVPN to push everything to the Tor SOCKS proxy maybe? Stick the server in a local VM and you don't need an external VPN server somewhere.

Re:First rule of TOR - disable all plugins (1)

yossarianuk (1402187) | about 5 years ago | (#29368289)

You run tor locally in conjunction with privoxy (to disguise DNS requests) - you could set up your network proxy so that every thing goes through tor.

Not everything is compatible however - i.e FTP - protocols not compatible will just not work (if you have setup your entire network to use the tor/privoxy proxy).

To be safe try about:plugins (in firefox) to ensure that no plugins are available.

The whole thing is ridiculous... (3, Interesting)

SuperJ (125753) | about 5 years ago | (#29367379)

Where do I begin? The pretext of the competition is to vanish while staying active online? Who would ever want to do that??? I want to completely disconnect from society except I want to stay connected to everyone?? Then on top of that, they give out a $5K prize...if you're working on this for a month, that hardly motivates anyone to drop their day job. So to make it actually possible, the guy has to join the freaking facebook group of the only group of people tracking him?? The thing is so contrived it's just worthless.

Fish, Barrel, Boom.

Re:The whole thing is ridiculous... (1)

natehoy (1608657) | about 5 years ago | (#29367475)

Cost: $5K.

Advertising potential: The term "Hidden Wired Editor" will now show up on hundreds of blogs, techie news articles, watercooler discussions, etc. Wired initiates its Facebook presence with more reason to "Become a Fan" than just following Wired's articles. The TwitterNet is all, well, a-Twitter, albeit briefly, about it. The name "Wired" has received some significant eyeball time.

Sounds like a damned cheap ad to me, even at twice the price.

Re:The whole thing is ridiculous... (5, Insightful)

Aurisor (932566) | about 5 years ago | (#29367837)

I tried asking a Democratic reformer in China, an atheist Iranian, a member of the Tibetan independence movement and a North Korean, but none of them could think of a situation where this might be useful.

If anyone can think of a situation where a person would want to be active online without being found, please post it here. My four friends and I are super-curious now.

Re:The whole thing is ridiculous... (0)

iamhigh (1252742) | about 5 years ago | (#29368171)

I see what you did!!! Clever. Of course there are bad things you could use this for as well. [slashdot.org]

Re:The whole thing is ridiculous... (2, Insightful)

blueskies (525815) | about 5 years ago | (#29368753)

What bad things did those people do? You're argument is works against cars, knives, fertilizer, etc. who cares if you can do some bad things if you can do 10 orders of magnitude above that in good things?

Re:The whole thing is ridiculous... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29368931)

I see what you did!!! You showed that a technology can be used for good things AND bad things. I, for one, am shocked!

Re:The whole thing is ridiculous... (5, Funny)

Gravitron 5000 (1621683) | about 5 years ago | (#29368297)

I tried asking a Democratic reformer in China, an atheist Iranian, a member of the Tibetan independence movement and a North Korean, but none of them could think of a situation where this might be useful.

I was hoping that they were about to walk into a bar ...

Re:The whole thing is ridiculous... (1)

Korey Kaczor (1345661) | about 5 years ago | (#29369951)

That would hurt, though.

Re:The whole thing is ridiculous... (1)

bkpark (1253468) | about 5 years ago | (#29375507)

I tried asking a Democratic reformer in China, an atheist Iranian, a member of the Tibetan independence movement and a North Korean, but none of them could think of a situation where this might be useful.

Er, North Koreans (outside the ruling class) don't have Internet access, at least not if they are still in North Korea.

And as for all those other people, if they have access to Internet still, then they are too small a fish to have mattered in the first place.

In the rare case when an influential persona is trying to stay on the Internet while avoiding the government tracking him, this contest is, again, useless. The guy didn't take the first precautions anyone trying to stay anonymous should (on purpose, which shows that this is nothing but theater; maybe amusing, but utterly useless), and the people who tracked him couldn't even crack TOR. Remember that TOR is not meant to provide strong anonymity. Someone with the resources of sovereign state can crack TOR by tracking enough endpoints long enough.

In any case, if someone actually has enough influence, then he ought to have followers who can access the Internet for him, spreading his propaganda for him, keeping the leader off the grid and safe. After all, Osama Bin Laden managed to release videos while our troops were actively searching for him in Afghanistan.

Re:The whole thing is ridiculous... (1)

jonbryce (703250) | about 5 years ago | (#29368737)

It's not, because people on the run often do try to get information about who is tracking them down.

evil gluten (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29368591)

Wow a gluten free pizza shop. How trendy for Wired. Can anyone explain why we're not supposed to eat this evil food item of the minute?

Re:evil gluten (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29368819)

Gluten, that is inside bread dough, is never fully digested by anyone. With Celiacs, it turns the immune system to destroy the lining of the intestine. At which time nutrients can not be absorbed from your food and you get very sick. Many people who are not Celiacs have a gluten-free diet, and find their diet and hence quality of life improving. Going gluten/dairy free can increase a person's wellness. It's not easy, but for me it has been very worthwhile.

Re:evil gluten (1)

Omestes (471991) | about 5 years ago | (#29371749)

It also is the dietary trend of the day. Its is absolutely bizarre how many people have food allergies these days, when I was in college 3-4 years back, around 1/3rd of everyone claimed to be allergic to something interesting. Most of them were gluten, though there were people with "meat" allergies, wheat allergies, pineapple allergies... Where the hell did these people come from, a quick scan of history shows this is all very recent. Its gotten to the point where going out to eat with people is a remarkable act of planning, since no one can eat anything. I generally shrug, tell them to go bugger off, and grab a cheeseburger and a nice beer.

Its like this silly "aspergers" and "adult ADD" trend, where the hell were these people in any time before the last 20 years?

Its like people forgot that the whole point was to relax and enjoy life.

That and you can have my cheese when you pry it from my cold dead hands.

Re:evil gluten (1)

tecker (793737) | about 5 years ago | (#29372291)

It also is the dietary trend of the day.

Not quite. See we Celiac folk (myself included) who truly suffer take great offense to the "trend" notion. You know why? Becaue while more and more people are trying it out (to see if it will help) the disease actually exists. Its not a 'South Beach' or 'Atkins' fad when you are stuck doing it for the rest of your life. Please, cut us some slack or at least acknowledge that people may really suffer from something like this and are not just 'food fadsters'.

Re:evil gluten (1)

Omestes (471991) | about 5 years ago | (#29373873)

Please, cut us some slack or at least acknowledge that people may really suffer from something like this and are not just 'food fadsters'.

I did... I used the term "also", I recognize that their are people who are adversely effected by gluten, and people who have genuine food allergies, but they a minority. Most of the people I know with food allergies have insubstantial complaints like "it gives me gas", or "it makes my palms slightly itchy).

Sorry for sounding cranky, it seemed like a good time for a rant.

Re:evil gluten (1)

MLease (652529) | about 5 years ago | (#29374093)

With celiac disease, that's often exactly how it presents itself: "insubstantial complaints". I was diagnosed with it about 10 years ago, but I spent several years with various digestive and bowel problems that were dismissed by my doctor as nothing serious, just transient issues. It was caught almost by accident, because my doctor noticed that for a couple of consecutive annual checkups, I got blood work back showing a slightly elevated white blood cell count. He referred me to a hematologist for further study. She said the white blood cell count wasn't actually high enough to worry about, but noticed that A) my doctor had put me on iron supplements for over a year, and B) I was still just barely above anemic. She said that my body should have more iron than it knows what to do with, and for an American male to be anemic indicated something wrong, that either I wasn't absorbing the iron I was getting or I was losing it due to internal bleeding (i.e., cancer was a possibility). She referred me to a gastroenterologist, who ran me through a battery of tests, and one of them indicated celiac disease, which was later confirmed via an endoscopy.

While my immediate reaction to gluten is not a big deal (enough of it will give me a stomach ache, a little might just give me gas/indigestion), the concern is the long-term damage. Repeated exposure to gluten will damage my intestines and predispose me to various cancers and other diseases.

It's not a fad, and it's not a choice. If I had a choice, I'd rather not have to relentlessly quiz servers, cooks and managers at restaurants or people who have me over for dinner about the ingredients of the food they're offering me. I'd rather not pay 3-5 times as much for gluten free pastas, breads, etc. as I would for the ordinary varieties. It's a fucking pain in the ass, and it's expensive!

My turn for a cranky rant. :)

-Mike

Re:evil gluten (1)

Omestes (471991) | about 5 years ago | (#29376259)

It's not a fad, and it's not a choice.

I'm sorry, again, for implying that all cases of this (and other food allergies) are purely mental, or trendy. But MOST of them are, you might not fall into this group, and then I have genuine sympathy for you. Again, also, my choice in wording was a bit harsh, since I chose the term "also" to say "sans the people with actual, proven, medical problems not related to modern trends", this was bad word choice on my behalf.

I feel, though, that you and the person I was responding too originally are a minority. A lot of people won't eat gluten (or whatever exceedingly common food they claim to be allergic to) for reasons that have nothing to do with actual medicine. These are the people I was writing my rather misplaced rant against. If I had to guess, I'd say perhaps around 5-10% of people who claim odd food problems actually have a real problem, the rest are just morons looking for some way to be special, or ways to justify whatever idiotic special dietary trend there is at the moment. These, obviously, are the people I was mocking in my moment of caffeine deprived, and somewhat jaded, weakness.

If you have a real problem, I have no issue with going out to eat with you. I'm just rather distrustful since your a minority. Though I do have a problem if you try to influence my food choices, since then the odds of you having a problem drops exponentially, and your chances of having the holier-than-thou illness increases by a similar rate. All the "you's" here are obviously rhetorical.

 

Re:evil gluten (1)

Tetsujin (103070) | about 5 years ago | (#29381247)

It's not a fad, and it's not a choice.

I'm sorry, again, for implying that all cases of this (and other food allergies) are purely mental, or trendy. But MOST of them are

You'd have to back that assertion up, I think.

One of the reasons Celiac might appear to be a "new thing" or even a fad is because for a long time it wasn't diagnosed properly in the US, and a lot of medical professionals simply didn't know anything about it, or else only recognized one possible set of symptoms, and only looked for it in children.

I have heard that in Italy, for instance, Celiac awareness (including among medical professionals) has historically been much better than in the US.

As for pizza: I have had the pleasure of eating in several different pizza shops which now serve gluten-free pizza... Personally I would say none of them is as good as good ol' bread. That's what happens when you have to substitute for something - it's never quite as good as what you're expecting. Some of them were quite good, however (The pizza as the Boynton in Worcester, MA was great!) In other cases, the crust tasted alright but had this tendency to dissolve in the mouth...

Personally, I make damn good GF pizza with Chebe crust... :)

Re:evil gluten (1)

MLease (652529) | about 5 years ago | (#29384877)

I'm sorry, again, for implying that all cases of this (and other food allergies) are purely mental, or trendy. But MOST of them are

If I had to guess, I'd say perhaps around 5-10% of people who claim odd food problems actually have a real problem, the rest are just morons looking for some way to be special, or ways to justify whatever idiotic special dietary trend there is at the moment.

On what are you basing those assertions? There's nothing special about being gluten intolerant or having celiac disease. I'm familiar with a couple of organizations that try to promote awareness of the condition, so that it can be more readily diagnosed and so that food producers and restaurants will make better accommodations for people who have it, but I've never encountered anyone who uses it to get attention or claim some sort of superiority because of it.

Though I do have a problem if you try to influence my food choices, since then the odds of you having a problem drops exponentially, and your chances of having the holier-than-thou illness increases by a similar rate.

Are you saying that you've had people try to get you to stop eating gluten? I've never heard of anyone doing anything like that. Nobody in the circles I've traveled in is on a campaign to convince people that gluten is evil and should be avoided by everyone. Diagnosis, better labeling and better understanding of what celiacs need, yes. When I was first diagnosed, I attended some meetings with fellow celiacs, where I heard that on average, it took about 5-10 years for someone to be diagnosed with celiac disease. I had to learn how to decode food labels and avoid anything that might contain gluten. At a restaurant, I would have to explain exactly what ingredients I had to avoid, and speak directly to the chef. Now, it's a bit easier, as restaurant personnel are more educated about the condition, doctors have learned to look for it, and food manufacturers are required to explicitly indicate when their products contain gluten.

I (and other celiacs) might, in a social situation, try to influence the choice of a restaurant so we don't have to either sit there hungry watching other people eat, or pass on the opportunity to go out with the others in the group. But I'm not about to tell a non-celiac that he should do without the things that are forbidden to me. It's not a moral or religious principle; I avoid gluten because it is harmful to my health.

I do understand being resentful of people who try to dictate others' food choices; my reaction to the "meat is murder" crowd is, "life feeds on life - get over it!" But I find myself very skeptical that you've encountered anyone claiming to be a celiac who has tried to persuade you to avoid gluten. I miss being able to go to a pizzeria or a Chinese restaurant (standard soy sauce contains wheat), and I miss regular pastas and breads. The substitutes I have to use aren't quite as good as what I used to eat before my diagnosis, and they cost a lot more. I find it very difficult to believe that someone who had a choice would choose my diet.

-Mike

Re:evil gluten (1)

Joe U (443617) | about 5 years ago | (#29373895)

Where the hell did these people come from, a quick scan of history shows this is all very recent.

It's a combination of better reporting of real allergies, access to more exotic foods, specialised health care and many misdiagnosed people.

In the 1950's how many people living in Tulsa ever ate a Kiwi fruit? Now they have a Whole Foods.

Re:evil gluten (1)

Tetsujin (103070) | about 5 years ago | (#29381307)

Where the hell did these people come from, a quick scan of history shows this is all very recent.

It's a combination of better reporting of real allergies, access to more exotic foods, specialised health care and many misdiagnosed people.

In the 1950's how many people living in Tulsa ever ate a Kiwi fruit? Now they have a Whole Foods.

Access is not an issue with Gluten - it's in practically everything, by way of wheat...

Diagnosis is really the bigger issue. Doctors in the US previously expected Celiac Sprue to only show up in kids - and lead to emaciation-like symptoms. But the symptoms, their severity, and their consequences can vary by individual and over time. The real danger, for those who don't know, isn't in the IBS-type symptoms that immediately follow contamination, but rather in the long-term damage that can come from the autoimmune attacks.

A person with mild symptoms may not even know they have Celiac. But it's in one's own best interests to find out - and, if Celiac, to avoid gluten even if the resulting symptoms are minor. The alternative, long-term, could be a gradual worsening of the symptoms, and more serious conditions like intestinal cancer...

evil gluten is poison! (1)

Tetsujin (103070) | about 5 years ago | (#29381431)

It also is the dietary trend of the day. Its is absolutely bizarre how many people have food allergies these days, when I was in college 3-4 years back, around 1/3rd of everyone claimed to be allergic to something interesting. Most of them were gluten, though there were people with "meat" allergies, wheat allergies, pineapple allergies... Where the hell did these people come from, a quick scan of history shows this is all very recent. Its gotten to the point where going out to eat with people is a remarkable act of planning, since no one can eat anything. I generally shrug, tell them to go bugger off, and grab a cheeseburger and a nice beer.

Its like this silly "aspergers" and "adult ADD" trend, where the hell were these people in any time before the last 20 years?

These people were in the same place 20 years ago as they were now - just undiagnosed, suffering various symptoms and maybe not knowing anything was wrong... at best maybe realizing they "didn't like" certain foods, at worst being compelled to eat them anyway.

As for the "remarkable act of planning" - welcome to my life. :) But it's really not so bad - at least when you just live with one food-tolerance issue. Lots of beer places also serve hard cider or GF beer or other drinks... Lots of pizza places are starting to serve gluten-free as a specialty option (UNO's, for instance...) - and the places that don't specifically cater to celiacs are at least getting better about telling people what to avoid. Sure, it can make things difficult, but you know what? If you care about someone you should be good to them. If you don't care about them, why be with them at all?

life insurance investigators track people too (1)

peter303 (12292) | about 5 years ago | (#29370361)

TV news magazines like Dateline have done several stories about people who drop off of radar, only to to trip over some trivial mistake. Often peopel may contact old relatives. or they repeat jobs or hobbie they had before to make a living.

Privacy is dead. Get over it. (1)

Eil (82413) | about 5 years ago | (#29374131)

Steve Rambam, a private investigator, gives talks at the 2600 HOPE conferences. In 2006, he gave a talk called, "Privacy is Dead, Get Over It." He makes a convincing case that in the age of the Internet, 20 bucks will get you access to everything you ever wanted to know about someone. Not just pseudo-personal information like address, date of birth, SSN, phone numbers, and so on, but their complete financial history including credit records, bank accounts, loans, and major purchases; magazine subscriptions; utility bills; memberships in various organizations, clubs, and charities; travel itineraries, you name it. Private companies have been compiling information from public, commercial, and government sources over the last decade and have gotten astonishingly good at assembling a complete profile of practically every person in western society. And there's no way to opt out or tell them to stop it because it's all perfectly legal. (The CIA and FBI are their biggest customers.) He also notes that sites like Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace are a private investigator's wet dream because people (even criminals) literally put all of their interests, activities, photos, relationships, and thoughts right up there on the Internet for everyone to see. (Or subpoena.)

At the 2008 conference, he told the story about he and a journalist friend played a game of hide and seek. The journalist (I don't recall his name) said that he could disappear from Steve's radar and Steve said, "bring it on." I wish I could remember all of the details, but the gist is that the journalist, despite his very best efforts, he couldn't stay hidden. He used aliases and even opened up bank accounts in foreign countries. It's a terrific speech and you can hear it here [thelasthope.org] .

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