12.01.12

The many intrigues of John McAfee: Ruin via media

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Cyberterrorism at 6:52 pm by George Smith

John McAfee’s goose is now well and truly cooked with the media. Few trust what he writes or says and the consensus opinion, although not always flatly stated, is he’s a drug addict despite regular denials. The media in the US realizes the truth is impossible to get from him since so much of his life has been devoted to unusual media deceptions.

In this, McAfee resembles one part of very old hacker culture typified by those who got some of their kicks through a kind of malicious and reflexive horse-shitting and ranking on acquaintances.

Eventually, it always backfired. And so it has for the ex-anti-virus tycoon.

A story published for the New York Times shows it all off. A few excerpts reveal they know, at this point, McAfee’s own behavior has made him impossible to libel:

Before he went underground, Mr. McAfee led a noisy, opulent and increasingly stressful life here [in Belize]. He was known for the retinue of prostitutes who he says moved in and out of his house …


Some McAfee watchers have a different theory — namely, that he grew paranoid and perhaps psychotic after months of experimenting with and consuming MDPV, a psychoactive drug. These experiments were described in detail by Mr. McAfee himself, under the pseudonym “Stuffmonger” in a forum on Bluelight, a Web site popular with drug hobbyists.

So, here’s one hypothesis: Rich man doses himself to madness while seeking sexual bliss through pharmacology. Then shoots neighbor in a rage. Case closed, right? Ah, but those Bluelight posts were a ruse, Mr. McAfee would later blog …


Throughout his varied, occasionally confounding and hoax-filled career, the one constant has been a genius for self-promotion.


Mr. McAfee bought this [Belize] property four years ago and, like much else about him, the reasons for his relocation, and what he was doing here, are a bit murky.

What is certain is that he bought a water taxi service and started a couple of small local businesses. The most ambitious was QuorumEx, a biotech start-up that aspired to develop natural antibiotics with plants in the Belizean rain forest …

The idea for the company made a certain sense: a guy who had spent years fighting computer viruses turns his attention and talents to combating bacteria. [Actually, it makes no sense. The two have nothing in common. I learned bacteriology as an avocation, about computer viruses as coincidental accident. And there’s no connection in which knowledge about one leads to knowledge about the other.]


Whether these Bluelight posts [by the anti-virus tycoon on ‘bath salts’ use] were just a charade, as Mr. McAfee contends, is impossible to say. But Dr. Paul Earley, an addiction specialist in Atlanta, said that MDPV users commonly rhapsodize about their early experiences, claiming the drug makes them alert, activated and in some cases fantastically randy.

“That’s part of the danger,” Dr. Earley said. “The absence of any apparent side effects lures users into heavier and heavier doses and at some point, for reasons we don’t fully understand, MDPV becomes extremely toxic. Users become psychotic and paranoid. They hallucinate monsters. Often they think the police are after them. That is the classic MDPV profile.”


In 1992, the same year [McAfee Associates] had gone public, he began hyping the threat of a virus called Michelangelo, contending in television and newspaper interviews that it would waylay millions of computers.

The scare came and went with little notable impact, other than the one it had on the balance sheet of the company (very positive) and the reputation of Mr. McAfee (very negative).


Read all of it. If there’s a way to write something more damning and which, essentially, has the ring of truth, I don’t know it. By the end of the piece it’s clear David Segal, the Times reporter, has had all he can stand of the legend.

Again, McAfee is tied to drug runners, addiction, seedy bribery and a taste for young prostitutes. His blog, although occasionally amusing, instead of revealing any compelling counter-story has been a public relations disaster.

There may be a book in the shabby crack-up of John McAfee’s life but it won’t be successfully done by an amateur and peddled as an R. Crumb-like graphic novel. There’s no new Hemingway or Hunter Thompson in the pipeline, no Fear and Loathing in Ambergris Caye.

To Hide and Hide Not, I tell you. And what’s the title of the Times piece? John McAfee Plays Hide-and-Seek in Belize.

WhoisMcAfee — you know where to go.

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