I use Yandex but I am not a spy - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

I use Yandex but I am not a spy

Several years ago, someone tried to hack into my Google account. Thanks to Google’s security, I was notified. I still had to shut down my account. Then I went to Yahoo mail. After several years of using Yahoo, there was a major breach in security. I closed my Yahoo account.

Now, I am the kind of guy, that if you drive an SUV because it’s the “thing,” I will be sure to drive something because it’s not a thing. When a car is so admired that we end up naming our kids Porsche, Mercedes, and Bentley, though I am still waiting for your son Land Rover, it’s time to stop driving them. The lessor car names are designated for real spy aliases: Ford Pinto, Nova, and if you ticked off the CIA, Gremlin.  In sum, I’ve never followed sheep because sheep are often led to the slaughterhouse. Admittedly, I had to buy an SUV, but that’s for another column.

Yes, I wanted something new and different. I use Google products because even our Supreme Court is totally OK with monopolies on people’s freedom (as long as they pay up through, you know, those Supreme Court approved Super Pacs). I use Google because I am forced to, as I am forced to use a PC and am forced to use Microsoft, which always puts out inferior computers and software that are easily hacked. Despite court efforts, Gates and company are still a monopoly.

So how bad is a Russian company, really?

I found Yandex, and that was something different. I used the search engine and liked the ease of it and the layout. I could have email outside of the big, pushy American companies. I decided to thwart Yahoo, MSN, Outlook, and Google, and try something new.

I was aware that Yandex was a Russian company because, occasionally, I get an advertisement that looks like hieroglyphics, and though I often cannot tell Greek from Polish, or Ukrainian from Russian, the Russian flag kind of gave it away, though I was hard-pressed to find any funny Putin memes.

Given that our president is so comfy with the likes of Putin, maybe I was hoping for a political edge with the scary guys. Afterall, I have always been interested in Russian culture and people. I remember an all-American family turning pale when I said I was supporting a 1994 Olympic figure skater from the Unified Team instead of our very own Nancy Kerrigan. Come to think of it, Oksana Baiul is Ukrainian, not Russian, but such made no difference then, for the Soviet Bloc and its people were seen through McCarthyism. Well, I just liked her, okay?

I always admired dance, art, and artistic sports, and the Russians, gymnasts, and dancers were really, really good. At the cost of sounding sexist (for I am a product of such), Russian girls are really pretty. Maybe that is the invasion we need to worry about? I find in the U.S. there is little no artistic appreciation. Everything brings outrage.

I wonder what it would be like to watch ballet before sleeping every day instead of the latest Trump tweet, or any of the other outrages. Do we need to know the next deadly virus that threatens us (with a 2% mortality rate)? How many times do we really have to see Kim Kardashian twerking in a G-String?

These Russian performers were often beautiful, in a western, gender-constructed kind of way, that fit my own concept of feminine beauty. I guess it still does. For me, the Russian people are tough and beautiful. My personal interests are no threat to national security.

Then, it started happening. My email message would disappear as if on a Facebook spy mission to thwart U.S. elections. Replies back to me somehow never made it to their destination. I imagined them slipping on a nuclearized banana peel and being rushed off to a black site somewhere in Siberia. The bounce-back message would be in Russian, and sometimes my English subject headings managed to learn Russian in mid-transference and came to the receiver as Russian “subjects.”

The frustration, because, you know, I really rely on email and send a lot of them, some to unsuspecting people of interest, because, remember, I am a jerk. But one message irked me. It was from Google. It said that such a company, we will name them Yandex, had a “poor reputation” and was blocked by its servers?

How dare Google! When did big corporate U.S. monopolies become our federal government?

Are Google and the U.S. companies reputable given that I had more hacking problems with them than the Russians; oops, I mean Yandex? I chose Yandex to get away from Google, and here Google was, like overzealous CIA agents, in my private inbox telling me that my choice in a free market system was not good enough for them. As a website administrator, do you know how many spam and dangerous messages I get through the Gmail system? More than I do clicks to my website, and the authors all have Russian names and not Yandex accounts. I had only one in a year through the same period with Yandex. My teacher’s email was phished by someone.

Yandex should sue their U.S. counterparts and maybe even the U.S. government. Why? Because as a U.S. customer, I have every right to use a product that is part of our free-market enterprise. Yandex is available to all of you and allowed to do this business in the United States. Why am I being bullied and harassed for using this product? I tried to find someone to talk to at Yandex, but they learned customer service from Zukerberg’s Facebook. If anything, they are more American than Russian.

Let’s use common sense. If I were a Russian spy, why would I use Yandex to hack U.S. companies and material? I can simply get or phish a Google account, open a Facebook account or easily hack into any of your secure, all-American accounts. I doubt a covert hacker would try and shroud themselves in secret by using the Russian flag. My message to Yandex: it’s time to sue someone because in the U.S. money is what really gets people’s attention.

In the meantime, I am keeping my Yandex account as a way to show my all-American revolutionary spirit: don’t tread on me. A path toward peace and economic growth will not happen if our corporate world looks more like the U.S.S.R. than one with independent choices. I think I will take freedom over corporate or state-sanctioned security, over a nation that is looking more like a police state than a free country.





About the author

Earl Yarington

Earl Yarington is an associate professor of English at Prince George’s Community College and a graduate student in clinical social work at Louisiana State University. He is also obtaining sex therapy certification through the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists. He interned in corrections statewide for a sex offender treatment program. Earl also authored a book under pen name Lolita in the Lion's Den (https://www.amazon.com/Lolita-Lions-Den-Pre-Tween-Juxtaposition/dp/1499717407) that addresses the complexity of sexual, emotional, and psychological abuse for people coming to terms with conflicting thoughts and ultimately their own identities. Contact the author.
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