Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Thought I was being one of those hysterical atheists ...

... a couple of posts ago, didn't you?

Read 'em and weep:

The nation's leading breast-cancer charity, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, is halting its partnerships with Planned Parenthood affiliates — creating a bitter rift, linked to the abortion debate, between two iconic organizations that have assisted millions of women.

The change will mean a cutoff of hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants, mainly for breast exams.

Planned Parenthood says the move results from Komen bowing to pressure from anti-abortion activists. Komen says the key reason is that Planned Parenthood is under investigation in Congress — a probe launched by a conservative Republican who was urged to act by anti-abortion groups.

Which, I gotta say, deserves to be on anybody's shortlist for worst non-denial denials.

Have a look, also, at Planned Parenthood's statement.

As of this moment, the top hit on Google News points to FoxNews. Most of the next positions belong to posts filled with rejoicing from wingnut websites like Townhall and worse.

Next question?

If you have in the past, please don't give any more of your money or other support to Komen for the Cure Now Exclusively For Rich Women. That includes their Race for the Cure. This is a disgrace, and there are plenty of other more worthy organizations. Like Planned Parenthood, for example.

(h/t: just about everyone I follow on Twitter)

P.S. More from Jezebel.

Quora answer of the day

Michael Wolfe's answer to the Engineering Management question, "Why are software development task estimations regularly off by a factor of 2-3?" is entertaining, and almost certainly more wisely widely (well, the typo don't lie) applicable.

Not that I'd know anything about schedule slippage, of course.

P.S. He is CEO of Pipewise, and you should have a look at the beta tester sign-up form on their home page. Ah, Mad Libs.

A (belated) award to Hendrick Hertzberg

Republican JesusFrom the Calling a Spade a Spade Department, in alliance with the Day Late Dollar Short Division of our UpToTheMinuteNews™ Service, for his hilarious report of a couple weeks ago on the Iowa caucus results:

One by one, all the other claimants to the title of No. 1 “movement” and/or Christianist conservative had peaked and plummeted …

It's useful to distinguish them from the millions of regular Christians, is the point.

+ + + + +

I first encountered the term on The Daily Dish, and Wikipedia says … oh, hey, look!

'Christianism: Not to be confused with Christianity'. (Screenshot of the disambiguation tip at the top of the Wikipedia entry for Christianism.)

Not to be confused, indeed.

Anyway, Wikipedia says that Safire gave credit to Sully for the coinage. Or at least the reissue. Reading that piece, though, I see that I am also only about seven years behind in congratulating Mr. Hertzberg. Sorry, Rick.

And see Urban Dictionary. Guess the term has become more mainstream than I had thought. God bless us everyone.

It's like Y2K all over again!

Or not. Maybe it's just another example of being trapped inside the bubble.

Anyway, congratulations to Mozilla for the release of Firefox 10.0, and no one tell Jean-Yves Perrier that I also have installed on my machine Opera 11.61. Not to mention Chrome 16.0.912.77. Because he is right: friends don't let friends sniff user-agent strings.


[Added] Actually, he does acknowledge Those Other Browsers. My bad for writing a blog post based only on the lede. I should have done the responsible thing and delivered my smart-assery via Twitter.

[Added2] Paul Ryan's Ars Technica post on the new release may be of interest to some of you, especially if you're a developer or someone responsible for enterprise installations.

[Added3] His name is actually Ryan Paul. My apologies, Ryan. I blame Eddie Munster.

Apparently, the "Church" of Scientology would like their hush money back

I'm not sure, but I think Scientology's Prime Directive must be It's way too late to stop the spread of news, but it's never too late to punish the whistleblower!

Remember Debbie Cook? That ex-high official whose email of a month ago, ostensibly only to other true believers, leaked out right after the latest exposé of Scientology's fund-raising practices was published by Tobin and Childs? Well, this'll shock you: she's being sued, by guess who?, for talking out of church school after allegedly taking $50K to keep her lips zipped for the next billion years. Tony Ortega's post is a good place to start.

While over at Runnin' Scared, I noticed another item that's quite interesting: "The Decline and Fall of Scientology? Skeptic Magazine Makes the Case." Ortega got an advance copy; the rest of us will have to bookmark and wait a couple of weeks.

Congratulations to Steve Benen [and Ed Kilgore]

JC just let me know via email that long-time Political Animal Steve Benen has taken a job with The Rachel Maddow Show. If anyone deserves recognition for his tireless work, it is definitely Steve.

He announced the new gig last week on the old site. He didn't write an introductory post on the new one, but just got right to work. (Which comes as no surprise to his friends.) One of his co-bloggers, or possibly, his boss, did post a helpful notice, though, alerting Steve's long-time followers that The Maddow Blog would be adding a feed dedicated to Steve's posts.

The new Political Animal will be Ed Kilgore, who wrote one of the better self-introductions that I've ever seen.

I have to confess that my initial reaction to hearing about Steve's successor was, "Isn't he that centrist, eventheliberal[X] guy? As in, used to write for TNR, and so forth?" It seems as though my memory wasn't too far off, or perhaps more precisely, my memory of his image wasn't far off, and I'm encouraged by the way he dealt with that.

Congratulations to Steve and Ed.

P.S. If you're not familiar with Steve's blogging, his recent post about the latest effluvia from Grover Norquist is a good example of his style: honest reporting from a clear perspective. No Shape Of Earth: Views Differ headlines from him, and no Fair And Balanced™ bullshit, either.

P.P.S. Perhaps also helpful: Ed's words on the same event. And more generally, especially for those of the "there's no difference between the two parties" persuasion, a longer piece on the same creature.

The thing about a police state is, not only are they humorless, ...

... they're also dumber than a sack of hammers.

Latest bit of evidence? It seems that a couple from that noted terrorist haven of Ireland were detained by your Department of Homeland™ Security® and after hours of interrogation, denied entry into the erstwhile land of the free and home of the brave. For? A "terrorist tweet." Their words. I am not making this up.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: the only way the real terrorists win is if we let them.

(h/t: JC, who got me Googling after sending a different link. Not that I don't trust you, JC, but, you know. The Sun. Always worth double-checking whatever they say, even if they got this one right.)

Some notes on privacy [with ongoing updates]

I keep meaning to put together a more comprehensive list of tools and references concerning online privacy, because I get asked about it almost enough to make me wish I had one place to point to. Ah, well, I guess the key word there is "almost." But meantime, here is part of an email exchange that I had yesterday that offers some links and gives you a sense of where I'm coming from, if you want it. Please feel free to add your favorite ways of protecting your privacy online in the comments, and I'll update this post with them.

A correspondent writes:

Are you mad about google's new "Privacy" plan?

My [slightly edited] response is below the fold. (Which, yes! Tells you it's another one of THOSE responses.)

Monday, January 30, 2012

Parenthetical remark of the day

… (Amazon, for example, adds as much capacity to its data centers each day as the whole company ran on in 2001, according to Amazon Vice President James Hamilton) …

From "The Great Disk Drive in the Sky: How Web giants store big—and we mean big—data," on Ars Technica.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

I have been granted permisssion to be an unmitigated curmudgeon

By the Google, Deparment of Tracking, Demographics Division:

Oddly enough, their belief about my age makes me feel especially young.

As to my apparent apparel interests, I can't remember if it was Bush I or Reagan who was president when I bought my last bathing suit, and I certainly didn't do it online, but if that aspect of my profile means I'll be seeing more ads featuring bikini models, far be it from me to gripe.

More from Casey Johnston over at Ars Technica, who is now suffering from gender confusion.

You, according to Google, here.

Not at all thin-skinned

Oh, Willard. Honestly ...

Perhaps no Republican campaign monitors Twitter more closely than Mr. Romney’s operation, which believes that it can ferret out bias among reporters by analyzing their posts.

Brent Bozell

I suppose after he gets his butt whupped
in November, they can always
get jobs with Brent Bozell.

(pic. source)

"We don’t serve your kind here…"

Another fine story from the great Betty Cracker.

(h/t: JC, via email)

Triptych of the the Day

Newt, with three of his wives

The Biased Librul Media seems to have forgotten the title, which, as any RealAmerican™ will tell you, must be
The Disgrace of Bill Clinton

(pic. source)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Madonna con bambino ii

Mama cat and kitten, staring straight into the camera, as only felines can do

(h/t: TC, via email)


Deep thought

What is it, 2012? And Gmail still doesn't know how to display a forwarded .eml attachment? Perhaps they have been spending their energies in the wrong places, hmmm?

False Alarm

Thought they had released a new album, but it turns out it's just another stupid Facebook game.

Probably the first time I've felt like that sort of geezer who misses cultural references when my first reaction was thinking of a death metal band.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Early Camping Sights

Three Faces of Harold Camping

Happened across something by Martin Gardner from his days of writing the Notes of a Fringe Watcher column for Skeptical Inquirer. It ran in Volume 24.1, Jan/Feb 2000, under the title, "The Second Coming of Jesus." You can guess from those data what the piece is mostly about, but skimming down, there's this delightful little nugget:

In 1992 Harold Camping published, through a vanity press, his book 1994? It predicted that the Second Coming would occur in September of that year. This was followed in 1993 by a sequel titled Are You Ready? Together, the two books totaled 955 pages. Trained as a civil engineer, Camping made enough money running a construction company to found, in 1959, Family Stations, Inc. It soon came to control thirty-nine radio stations. A non-ordained Bible scholar, Camping conducted a nightly radio talk show from his headquarters in Oakland, California. After September passed with no sign of the Lord, Camping changed his date to October 2. When that passed uneventfully, he ran out of excuses and decided against any more date setting.

Did he now.

Guy with a big gun tattooed on his back looking at one of Camping's billboards predicting end of the world in May 2011

Maybe he was just waiting until Gardner died.

(pic. sources, top to bottom: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 )

That Dylan album ...

... I mentioned a while back is now available for your listening pleasure on Spotify (and probably elsewhere, but hey, that's what just popped up on MY screen).

Anybody here shocked that Lenny Kravitz chose to do "Rainy Day Women #12 & 35?" Me neither. Still, it was a nice surprise.

Seal and Jeff Beck's toke take on "Like A Rolling Stone" is not as good a cover as the one Jimi gave us, but it's not turrible.

Wish I'd been in the control room when Michael Franti recorded "Subterranean Homesick Blues." I would have 86ed that clap track so hard. Ruined an otherwise interesting effort.

Kesha's version -- eh, whaddya gonna do? They also let Kris Kristofferson and Miley Cyrus in -- of "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right" is about as histrionic and self-indulgent as you might expect, if you feel the same as I do about Whitney Houston clones. (Annnnn diiiiiiiiiiiiiiieee will always love yooooooo-oooo-ooo-oooooo) (But! if you like that style, hey, no problem! Like the man said.) The instrumental version by the Kronos Quartet is much more recommended, if practically not at all recognizable.

Shoutout to the geezers: Pete Seeger does "Forever Young," sounding strong if more monotonic than he did when I first saw him a few about 50 years ago. Eric Burdon (ERIC BURDON IS STILL ALIVE??? WOOHOO!) is in fine form on "Gotta Serve Somebody." And Marianne Faithful, doing "Baby Let Me Follow You Down," accompanied only by a mandolin, gets the award for sounding most like the original artist. (Okay, a cheap and easy joke, which is unusual for me, I know, but it wasn't actually a diss.) Good to see her alive and kicking, too.

(pic. source: High Times National Geographic)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Okay, so THAT's not so evil

And from the beginning of that "Learn more" link:

We’re getting rid of over 60 different privacy policies across Google and replacing them with one that’s a lot shorter and easier to read.

Yes, yes. Internet lawyers will no doubt find stuff to quibble with farther down that page than I cared to read. But at least now they only have to scrutinize one. And Google deserves an attaboy for that.

[Added] Apparently K. Drum does not feel the same. I will point out, however, that he appears to have formed his opinions on this not from reading the primary sources, but from reading the Washington Post. And you know what friends don't let friends do …

Add your voice!

[Update] If you use Firefox, check out the add-on RightToClick. Details in Comments below.


No, this time, it's not an issue of global importance, like some others I've asked for your help on. This time it's personal.

Below is a copy of an email I sent this morning. If you're bugged by the same thing, why not let them know? Thanks.

Sent: 1/24/2012 08:45:10 AM
To: "Feedback, NYT" <feedback at nytimes.com>
URL: (pretty much every page on the site)


Do you think that now that you're charging for access to the site, you could eliminate the hugely annoying Javascript that breaks the context (right-click) menu? Please?

[Added to this CC: Screenshot here, in case you don't know what I'm talking about. [-- ed.]]

I mean, let's face it. It doesn't work to stop copying, if that's why it's there, because both the keyboard shortcut Ctrl-c and the Copy choice under the Edit menu still work. And if the reason you're doing it is to get people to use that pop-up search thing, that's really a bad decision. That thing almost never works. It didn't work when it was "powered by Ask," and it doesn't work now that it's "powered by Wordnik." It is mystified, just to take one example, by people's names, which is the thing I'm most likely to want to look up while reading an article.

What I'd really like to do when I highlight some text and right-click on it is what I get to do on practically every other site on the Web: search for that highlighted text using what I have specified as my browser's default search engine. (The results of such searches, by the way, open in a new tab, so it's not as though even this is going to lose you visitors who don't know what the back button is.)

Please fix this. It is a glaring annoyance on an otherwise very fine site -- the only one I pay to access. Worse, it is an amateurish and failed attempt at something that seems motivated by nothing so much as Web-phobic newspaper bosses from the last century.

Thank you.

Brendan Keefe

P.S. Please don't hesitate to get in touch if you'd like to discuss further.

How long?

Microsoft file copy progress window, showing a progress bar stuck at 98% and the text 'About 0 seconds remaining.'

Long enough to blink at for a while, and then find the Alt and PrtScr keys with barely a quarter-cup of coffee inside me, at least.

In Microsoft's defense, I understand they patented the zero late last century, so I suppose they can redefine it to mean anything they want.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Let's get scared!

One afternoon this month, a hacker took a tour of a dozen conference rooms around the globe via equipment that most every company has in those rooms; videoconferencing equipment.

With the move of a mouse, he steered a camera around each room, occasionally zooming in with such precision that he could discern grooves in the wood and paint flecks on the wall. In one room, he zoomed out through a window, across a parking lot and into shrubbery some 50 yards away where a small animal could be seen burrowing underneath a bush. With such equipment, the hacker could have easily eavesdropped on privileged attorney-client conversations or read trade secrets on a report lying on the conference room table.

Worth reading the whole thing, whether to give your spine some chills, or if you're like me, for entertainment.

P 41 Flying Toaster
Can't resist quoting this, too:

In this case, the hacker was HD Moore, a chief security officer at Rapid7, a Boston based company that looks for security holes in computer systems that are used in devices like toaster ovens …

Remember when we all laughed at the $8000 Internet-connected refrigerator? Just sayin.

(pic. sources: The Flying Toasters, natch, and SMC)

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Screenshot of the week

WaPo headline about Newt winning SC primary, right above a picture of Obama breaking up in laughter

Swiped from Roy's latest wingnut wrap-up, "Rightbloggers Explain How Newt Gingrich's Big Win Can Help Someone Other Than Newt Gingrich Become President."

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Attention: All Members of the VLWC

Henceforth, we will be referring to Newt Gingrich as the "mayonnaise-based life form."

(h/t: @EdgeofSports, via RT)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Thought I recognized that voice

If you've seen a certain Subaru commercial lately, maybe you also wondered.

Gets my DNA bopping, anyway.

(alt. video link)

(h/t: The Google and AOL Radio)

Web page layout of the day


Swiped from a CBS local site.

And okay, with a little redaction by me. But Republicans like that sort of thing, don't they?

Next time you're ready to sneer at a call for collective action ...

... watch this:

(alt. video link)

Thanks for all of your help.

(h/t: Progressive Change Campaign Committee)

I guess it all depends on what your definition of "like" is

A Facebook ad, asking the clicker to

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Hello, remote readers!

To those of you who are kind enough to follow this blog by RSS, Facebook, G+, FriendFeed, and so on, how about dropping on over to the site itself today, 18 January 2012?

Something to think about. Something to act on.

[Update 19 January 2012] Thank you if you dropped by, and thank very much if you participated in any way.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Language, NYTimes, the language

From the buried lede department, here's the second to last paragraph in a NYT article about some websites in Israel being broken into and defaced:

"Right now, we're not seeing anything that's especially interesting or especially dangerous," said Gadi Evron, former head of Internet security for the Israeli government.

What the NYT chose to run (via the AP) as their actual lede:

A hacker network that claims to be based in Saudi Arabia paralyzed the websites of Israel's stock exchange and national airline on Monday, escalating an international cyber war that has jolted this security-obsessed country.

[...] But the ongoing salvos by hackers who use anti-Israel language in their posts has revealed how vulnerable Israel is to cyber warfare, despite its sophisticated computer security units in the military and advanced high-tech sector.

Emph. added.

Point one: The authors of the article show little evidence of knowing anything about those who broke in, apart from what the supposed group supposedly claimed. Point two: much of the space in the article, right after the above lede, is taken up by describing not this incident, but another one that happened in the past. Point three: I doubt the AP or the NYT would say graffiti on a church counted as "escalating religious warfare" or bricks through a window should be described as "showing vulnerability to kinetic warfare."

For all we know, Mr. Ian Leitch et al, this "hacker network" is a bunch of bright, bored kids. You've presented no evidence, in other words, that these website intrusions were carried out by a military, government intelligence, or even quasi-military group. And by your own (grudging) admission, no sensitive sites were compromised. So calm down.


[Added] This is not to say that locking down insecure websites isn't important. It is. But we ought to keep things in perspective.

Quiet revolutionaries

While checking spelling on a word (and how the kids at Mozilla forgot to add this one to their dictionary, I'll never stop wondering about), I happened across a delightful little Flickr group, The Ministry of Reshelving.

Sure, some of the efforts have been done before, and there seems to be a little too much emphasis on 1984, at least recently, but you gotta love the concept.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Want some eye candy?

Mozy has a collection of infographics on their site. The photos of CD collections are pretty funny, in how quaint they already look.

And since you ask, why, yes, I was on that site due to a desire to restore some data. 1.609 of 1.628 GB have already downloaded. Thanks, Mozy!

Two free gigabytes of storage isn't much in this day and age, but I do like the overall service. I encourage you to try it. BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE.

Wow. I agree with the GHEMRotRSTF on something!

Looks like even Erick Erickson gets why SOPA and PIPA are bad. Good for him.

Also, Paul Ryan completely changed his tune, thanks to grassroots political pressure. Keep up the good work, everybody.

Want more details? See the EFF's recent article, "Blacklist Bills Becoming Hot Button Issue in 2012 Election."


[Added] Useful links in Comments.


It's not all fast cars and supermodels in the life of a pro athlete:

Emlen Tunnell, a star defender for the glittering, magnetic Giants, had been summoned to Green Bay. It was 1959, and the new Packers coach, Vince Lombardi, traded for Tunnell, ending his run of 11 record-setting seasons in New York.

A longtime Giants assistant, Lombardi was plotting a thorny overhaul of the bumbling Packers and needed allies from his roots. Tunnell, a dynamic safety and a Manhattan fixture in the golden era of New York sports, gamely made the trip halfway across the country to northeastern Wisconsin.

On arrival in his new home, Tunnell was told he had just doubled the black population in Green Bay. The city’s other African-American, Tunnell heard, was the shoeshine man at the Hotel Northland.

The word inspirational has been overused beyond the point of banality, so let me just say that, even if you don't give a hoot about football, the whole article is truly worth your time. Some things to applaud about Lombardi that I didn't know, too.

(h/t: KK, via email)

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Line of the Day (2): 2012-01-14

It is said that anything invented before you are three years old is a normal part of life; anything invented before you are thirty-three is new and exciting, and you can probably make a career in it. Subsequent inventions are just new-fangled fripperies that you can well do without.
    -- Philip Hazel

The above is from the Preface of From Punched Cards To Flat Screens: A Technical Autobiography (PDF), which I look forward to reading in full.

(via, via, via)

These links presented as a public service

See Vali Chandrasekaran's one-pager titled "Correlation or Causation?"

Of course, that won't settle every argument in forums on the Internet (that's why we call them wingnuts, after all), but you'll immediately have every sane reader on your side.

Hat tip: Tedra Osell. And via Cosma Shalizi in Comments under that post, see this. But be careful! You could waste all day playing with it!

Enhance your privacy while surfing the Web

I haven't had a chance to look at it closely yet, but Privoxy looks like a Good Thing.

(h/t: Sean, in Comments (#49) at Crooked Timber)

Line of the Day: 2012-01-14

If we define life as beginning at the moment a man first sets eyes on a woman, then not putting out for every dude on the street is an abortifacient.
    -- Tedra Osell

A new Crooked Timber contributor! She seems like someone worth reading regularly. As is all of CT, of course.


Your prayers are answered.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Line of the Day: 2012-01-13

99% of the police make the rest of them look bad.
    -- Jacob Applebaum

That line was delivered at 55:47* of his joint talk with Roger Dingledine, "How governments have tried to block Tor."

P.S. If you're wondering, "Should I watch this whole talk?", a hint may be gleaned by jumping to the 1:18:05** mark.


* The link should bring you to that point, but for some reason, it's not getting there exactly. Sorry.

** (Same link problem, sorry.)

I always knew Henry Farrell was a man of exquisite taste

But now that I find him agreeing with me, well!

"The New Gmail Sucks," says he.

See also Henry's comment #22. Know hope! And let's get this Googlebomb rolling!

(h/t: Substance McGravitas)

I've never seen "CSI: Miami," but ...

... I still enjoyed this dish about David Caruso quite a bit. Jump ahead to about 3:45 if you, like me, find everyone on that set not named Rob Zombie to be as annoying as, well, David Caruso.

(alt. video link)

(h/t: Substance McGravitas. (Yes, that's the right link. The conversation about Glennzilla takes a turn after a while.))

As she is about so many things, ...

... digby is right about that.

Sadly, Arkansas is not alone in this. Alabama and Mississippi appear to suffer from the same problem.

TimeAndDate.com says Georgia does, too, but perhaps they have recently gotten better?

[Update 2012-01-16 10:10] Just received the following via email:

Hi Brendan

Thanks for your email. We've checked with the official governement site for Georgia and the state will observe the holiday on Friday, November 25 this year. Our calendar has just been updated to reflect this, and we'll keep an eye on what happens for the following years.

Best Regards

Estelle Pettersen
Web editor - www.timeanddate.com

But are they PASSIONATE about it?

Linkedin: constantly striving to be more annoying than Facebook:


Mm-hmm. Wonder how many of them claimed this skill not because of emails like this?

(title: cf.)

In a sane world, everyone who knew "Bueller ... Bueller" would also memorize this

Thanks to his often-controversial beliefs, unmanned drone Ben Stein has found himself unfairly ostracized, limited to just a handful of talk show appearances, guest columns, movie cameos, theatrically run documentaries, public speaking gigs, and corporate spokesperson jobs every year.

Bow down to Sean O'Neal. Hat tip to … all right, which one of you forgot to tell me that Gil Mann is back blogging at Rumproast? (I'm so far behind.)

And speaking of shoutouts and Rumproast: Betty Cracker. 'Nuff said.

Good move

Shoutout to the NBA, and especially Mr. Grant Hill and Mr. Jared Dudley:

(alt. video link)

P.S. Not to be all stereotypical at a time like this, but seriously, IndyCarScene.com? That asshat ("geistC6") is one of your site administrators? Pretty fucking sad.


[Update] Shockingly, that link no longer works. Unless you're a member of IndyCarScene, maybe. Which I guess I no longer am?

The link used to lead to a forum thread in which a bunch of yahoos were whining about being told that what apparently is one of their favorite words is needlessly offensive. I happened across that thread while looking for an online copy of the video above, after seeing the ad on TV, and decided to throw in my two cents. The forum members simply did not care for that, as the comments below also illustrate.

Oh, hey look!

Big time, baby!

(h/t: Uncle Eb, via seekrit channelz)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Posted as a public service announcement

You're a good man, Senator Franken.

Not as cool as my Streb hat, of course ...

... but I passed by some high school kids today, and my pride in being able to identify the headgear outweighed my embarrassment at realizing a few minutes later, "Uh, those have probably been around since before this afternoon."

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Can't wait to hear the wingnut fury over this one!

Seen today's Google Doodle?

Happy birthday, Nicolas Steno!

(Nicolas Steno is the patron saint of all those who take dictation. Or not!)

At first, I thought ...

... (perhaps understandably) that the headline was Twinkies make Hostess seek bankruptcy protection.

(h/t: KK, via email)

Windows Updates: addendum

A follow-up from yesterday's post, where I said, in part:

If you don't have Automatic Updates turned on, please be a good Netizen and visit update.microsoft.com.

It looks like not all of the available updates from Microsoft got downloaded and installed automatically, at least for me, even though I have Automatic Updates turned on. Perhaps this is because they are marked Important instead of Critical. So, visit that above link, if you please. Or, if you're on one of them newfangled versions of Windows, just run Windows Update from the Start menu.

Your Internet thanks you.

Line of the Day: 2012-01-11

Usefulness: A

“This really depends on whether or not you find performance art useful. One moment, Filibuster will be pulling books off the shelf, the next he’ll be drowning a cat toy in his water dish, the next he’ll be taking an umbrella off the hook and walking around it (closed) in his mouth (he’s a pretty big cat, but this is still an odd sight to see.) Once, he broke into a bag of cat litter, piled it up in a big mound on the floor and took a shit on it. Matthew Barney, eat your heart out.”

(h/t: MK, via email)


From the same review:

Huggability: B

“He tolerates being hugged, but he meows all the while. Look, for Filibuster, affection is an ACTIVITY. Affection is freaking ART. It’s not for laying around like a lump. He has to walk back and forth, meow like crazy and then bite you if you stop for even a second. The only time he ever sat on my lap was the one time I meditated. He put his little paw on my hand and sat there with me. True story.”

Also good (different review):

Appearance: B

“I’m not fat; I’m plush.”

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

And speaking of Internet Explorer ...

... this is an interesting wrinkle: Microsoft has announced that they will be automatically updating your copy of IE to the latest version your PC supports.

You can download a blocker if for some reason you don't want this to happen.

(h/t: Chester Wisniewski)

If it's the second Tuesday of the month, it must be?

An intriguing statement, made by Chester Wisniewski (MP3) at about 5:48 of Episode 75 of the Sophos Security Chet Chat, recorded 14 October 2011:

From Virus Bulletin [link added --ed.] last week in Spain: Microsoft presented some really interesting material, talking about 99% of attacks against a given exploit occur after the exploit has been patched, and many times, more than thirty days after that exploit has been patched.

I think this might have been said during Holly Stewart's talk (PDF), titled "Top exploits of 2011." See slide 16.

Yes, today is Patch Tuesday. If you don't have Automatic Updates turned on, please be a good Netizen and visit update.microsoft.com.

(Using Internet Explorer.)

(Just this once!)


Fair enough. I mean, I consider blogging and tweeting to be crack.

Facebook spelled out in lines of cocaine

Swiped from Uncle Eb, who simply does not care for the Facebook. (Although when presented like this, Eb? Hmmmm? Questions remain!)

Friday, January 06, 2012

Remember, kids ...

... always ask President Santorum if it's okay with him.

(h/t: KK, via email)

Thursday, January 05, 2012

"It’s the first time I ever heard a programmed drum in Tuareg guitar music."

Not actually a post about VW SUVs.


Can't wait till the suits from Big Content hear about this:

Digital filesharing doesn’t need the internet. This is the case at least in Western Africa and other parts of the developing world, where computers aren’t yet consumer goods for most and, even if they were, web access isn’t exactly New York City. Lovers of music still get it done, however, sharing files between knockoff cell phones via bluetooth connections and accumulating song collections in memory cards and bitrates that would probably make most in our lossless world laugh. It’s created a music culture that’s uniquely underground, an awesome anything-goes world of No Limit-style rap marrying Megaman-synth workouts, strange new techno-folks, and various other things so far untaggable.

Portlander Christopher Kirkley put together a compilation of stuff collected from the cell phones of music listeners in Western Africa and released it a few years ago on cassette, called simply Music From Saharan Cell Phones Vol. 1, via his Sahel Sounds. Since then, he’s taken on the mammoth task of tracking down every artist on it, who will now get 60-percent of the profits from a rerelease of the compilation last month on vinyl. Over the holidays, I got the chance to ask Kirkley a few questions about cell phone sharing culture and the process of putting the comp together.

There's more, including download links for volumes one and two.

(h/t: NYT/Bits | pic. source: National Archives UK)

[Added] So far, it's quite a bit different from what I expected. (In a good way.)

I'm sorry, but when did post-coital bliss get to be a "weird trick?"

Or maybe that ad was aimed at a visitor profile not quite matching mine?

I have more fun when I delete my tracking cookies …

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Deep thought

I'm getting a lot of Gmail ads for Botox, wrinkle cream, and moving services. I wonder if that's their way of responding to my curmudgeonly insistence on switching back to the old look (which is BETTAR) every time they try to switch me to the new.

Audio frees the video child

If you'd like to untether yourself and you don't have a fancy enough device to stream video while you're untethered, here are links to files containing the audio portion of the last three vids I've implored you to watch. Visit the download page for each and click the big blue "Download Now" button. (Whereupon you'll have to wait twenty seconds and then you'll get the actual MP3 link, which you can then right-click and save on. Sorry. Nothing is truly free.) If that fails, try here.

[Added] In Comments, Alastair points out a more direct option for the Moglen audio files. Thanks, Alastair.

The files are a little over 100 MB each. There's a torrent option on the respective download pages.

Let me know if you have any problems. Or successes, for that matter. Thanks.

• Eben Moglen: Freedom in the Cloud: download page

• Eben Moglen: Freedom in the Cloud (Q&A): download page

• Ethan Zuckerman: Cute Cats and the Arab Spring: download page

"Freedom in The Cloud"

[Update] Audio-only files now available for download, if you prefer. See this post.


Sorry to have back to back posts featuring videos that are probably longer than you care to sit still for, but there it is. I guess yesterday was a big teevee day for me.

At any rate, here is something else, a talk given by Eben Moglen, that I wish I could get everyone to watch. I'll say right up front that I don't agree with everything he says, and we can talk about that in the Comments if you'd like, but I think he raises a valuable set of points that everyone who cares about privacy ought to be thinking hard about. You don't need to be a software developer, even though that's who's in the room where the talk was recorded. You only need to care about the long-term consequences of ever more efficient gathering of bits of personal information, be it by government or private industry. And remember, we're not just talking computers here. These concerns apply just as much if you use a phone, a credit, debit, or club card, an E-ZPass, the list goes on and on, and will only get longer. We like our conveniences. And we shouldn't have to suffer for that.

Sometimes I think the door has slammed shut on our ability to do anything about controlling access to our thoughts, tastes, and social connections, but Eben Moglen convinces me that the fight is not yet lost, and that all of us can still be part of that effort.

Following are two videos. The first is the talk itself, the second is the Q&A. For some quick background, you might want to glance first at Moglen's Wikipedia page. Short version: he's a guru and we're lucky to have him on our side.

Also, he is a hugely entertaining speaker. Trust me, after the first couple of minutes of technical glitches at the start of the first video, you're in for a great hour or two.

(alt. video link)

(alt. video link)

Want more? Visit Moglen's personal site and the FreedomBox Foundation.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

"Cute Cats and the Arab Spring"

[Update] Audio-only file now available for download, if you prefer. See this post.


"When Social Media Meet Social Change"

Here is the 2011 Vancouver Human Rights Lecture, given by Ethan Zuckerman. Even if you think you can't stand to hear one more word about Facebook and Twitter saving the commoners from the ruling classes, I encourage you to give this a chance. Despite his obvious enthusiasm for new media and what it may afford in bringing about monumental change, Zuckerman is quite realistic about the limitations and the risks. Also, he hates the word "viral."

It's about fifty-four minutes long, plus about thirteen minutes of Q&A at the end. If you'd rather download an MP3 of the highlights, see Cory Doctorow's tweet or right-click and save this directly.

Without further ado ...

(alt. video link)

Related links: Ethan Zuckerman's blog and a cute cat.

Update your Windows machines

Microsoft released some out-of-band patches a few days ago. From your perspective as an individual computer user, they're not critical, but they are important, according to Microsoft's official terminology. From the perspective of being a responsible Netizen, you should do your bit asap. This patching only takes a few minutes and doesn't even require a reboot, so why not do it now?

Run Windows Update or Microsoft Update, depending on your version of Windows, or just visit update.microsoft.com, using Internet Explorer.

Gory details on Security Week, among many others.

[Added] Thanks, Jack, for catching the typo.

Shorter of the Day

Shorter Debbie Cook:

I've been a high-level member of Scientology for over 30 years and never stirred any trouble before, but now I will.

I hate the fundraising. Scientology already has over $1 billion that it is not spending.

I hate the expensive new empty buildings.

I hate that people who reached the magic level of "clear" are told they have to re-do it so the church can make money. They did this to me too and now I'm poor.

I hate that David Miscavige has taken total power over the church when it was supposed to be run by executive committees.

I hate that the executives supposed to be in charge are in a special Scientology jail just for them, where they also sent me for a while.

I want you to do something.

I want you to stop making donations (except for buying Scientology services).

I want you to forward this e-mail anonymously to every client of the Scientology corporation you know.


A quick test of free-ocr.com

A short while ago, I happened upon free-ocr.com, a site that does optical character recognition on an image file that you upload (PDF, JPG, GIF, TIFF or BMP), using as its engine the open source package Tesseract. It's quite a handy site.

This post is mostly a note to self, and a way to report some results to T. Reinhardt, the site's proprietor. But I thought some of you might also be interested to see some examples of just how hard a problem this is, and where the current state of the art lies.

What I wouldn't give to hear the GOP candidates ...

... discuss this:

A once proud and subversive warrior tribe that deified freakdom, drag queens have become awfully mainstream. Tame transvestites are now passing for Kardashians …

Also: screen grab of headline, just in case Just Another Friend from L.A. doesn't click the above link.

Line of the Day: 2012-01-03

Oh, Tony, I'm sorry, but this is too good.

Again, Romo could not rehabilitate his image of being Mr. October in a league in which the most important games are played in December, January and February.
    -- Jeré Longman


(But why does Jeré Longman hate America's Team™? Communist. Next thing you know, he'll start questioning the divine appointment of Tim Tebow.)

(h/t: KK)

Monday, January 02, 2012

Know hope! (And I do mean know.)

From Sarah van Gelder:

The 12 Most Hopeful Trends to Build On in 2012

Not a bad listicle at all.

(h/t: Nation of Change)

"How healthcare works in the USA"

If you can‘? afford a doctor, go to an airport - you'll get a free x-ray and breast exam, and if you mention Al Qaeda, you'll get a free colonoscopy.


(h/t: Caesar Passee)

Happy New Year, from Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories!

Champagne: Why should only the bottle get to be a deadly weapon?

A lethal champagne cork

Full construction instructions over at the Labs. More pix on oskay's Flickr stream.

(h/t: KK, via email)

That old time religion

Oh, my.

She said the church is hoarding "well in excess of a billion dollars" in IAS donations, in violation of policies written by church founder L. Ron Hubbard. The money was supposed to be used to disseminate the religion, she said in the letter.

"Only a tiny fraction has ever been spent. ... Only the interest earned from the holdings (has) been used very sparingly to fund projects through grants."

The church did not respond Sunday to requests for comment.

Hard to get the story straight on a holiday, i'n't it?

Scientology grand high poobah David MiscavigeYep. It appears that another top-ranking Scientologist simply does not care for the Big Boss and his ways and has finally found the courage to say something.

[Debra J.] Cook said in her letter that the dominance of church leader David Miscavige as the sole source of power in Scientology violates a system of checks and balances put in place by Hubbard before he died in 1986. She said top church executives who could check his authority face "long and harsh" discipline programs and have been absent from their posts for years.

The above excerpts are from Thomas C. Tobin and Joe Childs. And that other valuable watchdog, Tony Ortega, is also all over it.

Says someone on the Why We Protest boards: 'This is going to be very enturbulative."

Love that word.

(pic. source | art source)

Line of the Day: 2012-01-02

No context. Sometimes I just like the way things sound.

(The urge of Bradshaw's largely awful characters to brutalize each other can start to seem almost logical once you get to know them.)
    -- Hilton Als