Before I work on the writeup from last night’s show, I want to clear out the accumulated news chum links. I don’t have the time to put them in any particular theme or order, but I’ll try to give some idea why I thought they were of interest.
- LA Metro Stations and Parking. Here are the first three Metro stations that will charge for parking. North Hollywood will be in the second batch of statements converted (I’ll edit in a link on that). What’s interesting is how the process will work, with exception tickets when you exit. I predict confusion; they could have gone with a much much simpler system (including using your TAP card to pay for the parking)
- Why Two Spaces after a Period Isn’t Wrong. Yes, it is the second eternal argument: to place one space or two after a period. It is as strong as the .9999999 repeating == 1 argument.
- Bad Reviews are So Fun. Why Gods of Egypt is Like Beast Wars crossed with Bad Internet Porn. You can thank me later.
- Feeding the Pig. Michael Johnathan over at Woodsongs had an excellent blog post called Feeding the Pig, about how arts institutions are destroying the art they claim to want to protect.
- Anthem vs. Express Scripts. Seems there is a nasty fight going on between my health insurer (Athem) and their Prescription Benefit Manager (ExpressScripts). Why do I predict there will be no winners.
- Morning vs Evening People. It seems that if you are not a morning person, you never will be. I’m a morning person. My wife isn’t.
- Why the iPod Matters? Here’s an interesting blog post on why the iPod Classic is important: it was the last of our portable devices that wasn’t tracking our every move and interest, and sending it back to the mother ship. Yet another reason I like my iPod Classic.
- Deciphering LA Parking. There may soon be an app to decipher LA Parking Signs. Could be useful.
- Jews in the News. Two interesting Jewish items. (a) 17 Yemini Jews have escaped civil war for a new life in Israel. Whatever your take on the politics of the Israeli government, Israel still serves a significant purpose as a haven for Jews wherever they are persecuted … and as long as the risk of that persecution exists, Israel is needed. (b) Rabbi Gershom Sizomu has been elected as the first Jewish member of the Ugandan parliament. Rabbi Sizomu is an interesting fellow; he spoke at our congregation a few years ago.
- Taking Things Apart. Meet Liam, the robot who will take apart your iPhone for recycling. Of course, if they made the iPhone easier to repair in the first place, this might not be needed.
- Understanding Donald Trump. An interesting article in HuffPo on the phenomenon that is Donald Trump. The first two paragraphs say it best:We should just call it what it is: Donald Trump is the leader of the White Lives Matter movement. Someone had to start it — they were gettin’ out of control. First, one of them became president and now they’re in the streets protesting every time a Black thug gets shot. They’re gettin’ a little too free.
Then Trump arrived like white supremacy’s version of Santa Claus with a bag full of gifts. He gave them swagger. He gave them unadulterated machismo — Trump is the most macho presidential contender ever. And Trumpy KKKlaus reminded them that a white man who employs good ol’ fashioned white toughness is unstoppable. And everywhere he looks there’s someone to fight. In Trump’s mind, everything in society is aligned against white men — Washington, Mexico, China, Democrats, Black Lives Matter, everything; it’s a total disaster. So little time, so many asses to kick. Entitlement is a powerful drug and Trump’s a big-time dealer.
- Shaking to the Core. Dr. Lucy Jones, our well-known earthquake spokesperson, is retiring from USGS. Who do we turn to now?
- Geography and LA Theatre. Another good article on the uniqueness of the LA Theater Ecosystem, which shows why we are very different from New York.
- Trees and Termites. A tree fell down in UCLA due to termites. Why do I care? The tree in our street median has termites, and there’s little we can do about it. I can’t remove it (city tree), can’t kill it (city tree, get fined), but they won’t come out and take care of it.
- LA’s Record Stores. An article on the nostalgia of LA’s record stores. Alas, they left a number of favorites off the list.
- Thinking About Ketchup. A nice article on a recent Reply All that addressed diversity and Twitter, and why where you store your ketchup is an important question. Well worth listening to.
- No Windows 10. If you are tired of getting nagged to upgrade to Windows 10, you need to read this and follow what it says.
- I Can’t Read You. Old, but always interesting: Why the Wingdings font exists.
These have been a crazy couple of weeks, and I haven’t any time to get out generic news chum articles inbetween all the other stuff. But I need to clear out the links, so here’s a first salvo: a collection of food related news chum:
This themed collection of news chum all has to do with transitions — and I’m not talking about recent obituaries (such as Charlie Tuna, George Kennedy, George Martin, or Nancy Reagan, or even the death of civility in political rallies). Here are some different transitions of interest:
- Black Oak Bookstore, Berkeley. Another independent bookstore bites the dust: this time, Black Oak on San Pablo. When I last visited Berkeley, I had a wonderful time in this store, which was walking distance from not only the AirBNB where I was staying, but a used record shop a great tea joint. According to my daughter, more and more indie bookstores in Berkeley are closing. This is sad; used bookstores make a great college town. I still think the decline of Westwood started when University Bookstore on Westwood closed.
- Oakland Tribune. The Oakland Tribune is closing, being merged into an East Bay conglomeration by it’s owner, BANG (Bay Area News Group). BANG is also doing something similar with the San Jose Mercury News. This should be a warning for Los Angeles: BANG is owned by Digital First Media, who also own the LANG (LA News Group). LA News Group, in turn, owns the LA Daily News and a bunch of smaller papers in the region ripe for consolidation. Digital First also just made a bid for the Orange County Register and Press Enterprise. They will be competing with Tribune Publishing (LA Times) and a group of OCR investors.
- Western Federal Credit Union. Following the trend of credit unions to move away from their original member group origins, WFCU is becoming the Unify Financial Credit Union. Otherwise known as Single UFCU, from Double UFCU. At least it isn’t Logix. I still remember when it was Westernaire Federal.
- Target. It appears that changes are in store for Target, our favorite non-department department store. Target executives have laid out a plan to become the ultimate one-stop grocery, apparel and home destination for American families. When they are done, a shopping trip through Target’s app or online and finishing it in a store will become more seamless, with text notifications when online orders for in-store pickup are ready and dedicated areas of the store for these orders. Online orders will ship faster, as Target transitions more of its physical stores to double as fulfillment centers.
- San Fernando Observatory. The San Fernando Observatory, originally started by The Aerospace Corporation, has found a new home at CSUN. This is great news for the CSUN Astrophysics program.
- 747, marked down to 740. The 747 aircraft continues its descent into oblivion. This time it is United Airlines accelerating the retirement of the aircraft. So production will stop, and this great aircraft will be relegated to special purpose and cargo usage.
- Valley Outreach Wanders No More. Valley Outreach Synagogue, long wandering across the valley, has finally found a home. They are now preparing a new home in Calabasas. In addition to a sanctuary, the 15,000-square-foot facility will have offices, learning spaces and a social hall for bar and bat mitzvahs, weddings and other events.
Ready for the third course of news chum? This part of the meal is a collection of articles related to cybersecurity:
- Help! I’m DROWNing. This week, researchers announced yet another attack against TLS, the protocols used to secure the traffic that you see as HTTPS://. More than 11 million websites and e-mail services protected by the TLS protocol are vulnerable to this low-cost attack that decrypts sensitive communications in a matter of hours and in some cases almost immediately. The attack works against TLS-protected communications that rely on the RSA cryptosystem when the key is exposed even indirectly through SSLv2, a TLS precursor that was retired almost two decades ago because of crippling weaknesses. The vulnerability allows an attacker to decrypt an intercepted TLS connection by repeatedly using SSLv2 to make connections to a server. In the process, the attacker learns a few bits of information about the encryption key each time. While many security experts believed the removal of SSLv2 support from browser and e-mail clients prevented abuse of the legacy protocol, some misconfigured TLS implementations still tacitly support the legacy protocol when an end-user computer specifically requests its use. The most notable implementation subject to such fatal misconfigurations is the OpenSSL cryptographic library.
- More Exposure at Berkeley. No, I’m not talking exposure of a student body, but exposure of the student body. The University of California, Berkeley, has admitted to a second data breach which may have exposed the data of 80,000 people to misuse. Current and former students, faculty members and vendors linked to the university are among those who have been warned about the incident, which took place through financial management software which contained a security flaw, allowing an attacker — or group — to access internal services. In total, 57,000 current and former students, including student workers, 10,300 vendors and others — at a ratio of roughly 50 percent of current students and 65 percent of active employees — could have had their information taken.
- Dealing with Ransomware. Our biggest worry used to be viruses. Those were the days. Today, the big fear is ransomware — malware you get by a drive-by-download or clicking on a bad link in an email. These attacks encrypt the data on your computer and require you to pay a ransom if you want to have any hope of decrypting it. Here’s a reasonably good PCWORLD article with somethings you can do to prevent attacks. As usual, it boils down to the 4 “E”s: Use the engineering in your system to stop attacks by having a good always-on malware and dangerous site scanner; have usage policies and enforce them about not clicking on links, using non administrative accounts, etc.; educate your users on what to look for, and what not to do; and plan for emergency services by having a external disk backup that is not always connected using a reliable back tool.
- Dealing with Requests. This article from ComputerWorld explains what really is at risk in the Apple vs FBI fight. The issue is not encryption or encryption backdoors. The FBI is not trying to break the encryption on the phone. They are trying to unlock the phone, which will decrypt it. To find that key they need to do a brute force attack; to do that attack, they can’t have the system wipe the phone after 10 failures. So what they want Apple to do is put up a special signed software update that the phone will automatically install that will remove the limit. In other words, this request is to force Apple to put up an untrustworthy software update that weakens the phone. That’s the precedent that Apple does not want to set. In particular, such an update can’t be limited to just one phone, and if a faked update can get out, then the entire spider-web of automatic software updates becomes untrustworthy. If it becomes untrustworthy, people won’t automatically install updates, and that will result in known holes being unpatched, which means weaker systems.
It’s been a couple of weeks since we’ve made some news chum stew, and I’m hungry for a nice heaping bowl. Please join me, and let’s discuss some of these:
- Inclusion and Integration. Let’s start with an article I chose just for the graphic, which is appropriate for the Oscars tonight and #OscarsSoWhite . I had seen others use this graphic before with respect to diversity discussions, and I realized that it is also wonderful to explain security system engineering, and how security truly needs to be included in the engineering discussion, not just considered in a separate area.
- Food and Health. Here are two articles related to food and health.The first explores how the proton-pump inhibator heartburn meds (such as omeprazole, which I take) may be associated with a higher dementia risk. This is of concern to me; it is why I’m trying to wean down on the meds (I’m at every other day). Specifically, a new study links the widely used PPIs — which include Nexium, Prevacid and Prilosec — to an increased risk for cognitive decline, though researchers caution the study has limitations, and does not show a definite cause. PPIs have recently been linked to kidney disease, heart disease, and deficiencies of B12 and other vitamins. While patients have reported side effects of the drugs, not taking them often results in stomach pains and worse heartburn as the drug leaves their systems.
The second highlights a fascinating finding about pasta: Reheating your pasta makes it healthier for you. When pasta is cooled down, your body digests it differently, causing fewer calories to be absorbed and a smaller blood glucose peak. And reheating it is even better – it reduces the rise in blood glucose levels by a whopping 50 percent.
- Cruz and Gluten Free. It seems society just wants to hate and bully. We’ve all seen various people, shapes, and trends become scapegoats for society’s extended mockery. Recently, Ted Cruz marched into the frey by declaring the military shouldn’t provide gluten-free meals. This promped a lovely editorial in HuffPost asking people to stop making fun of the gluten-free diet (which was the real article that prompted this item). Yes, I know there are many folks doing it because the diet is trendy and they believe it will help them. The problem is that if people start feeling that folks only do it for trendy reasons, then they won’t be careful in making things truly gluten free. That can create significant health problems for those that are Celiac and truly must eat gluten free.
- Kitchens and Shopping. If you’re a cook, you’ve probably gone shopping at those high end kitchen supply stores. Have you gone to a restaurant supply store. It’s quite fun. We’ve gotten a few things there that we use every day. Here’s a good article on what you should be buying at a restaurant supply store. I particularly recommend the cutting board advice: get a really large one you can sit over your sink. You can then rinse and cut without the water going over your counters, and scrape the cuttings right into the disposal. They also have colored boards, so you can segregate vegetable from meat boards.
- Humor and Jews. This article got an incredible amount of shares when I posted it on FB: Mad’s Al Jaffe explaining how Mad helped make American Humor Jewish, bringing in Yiddish along the way.
- Calculators and Caller ID. Recently, an app on my Android Phone informed me it was using Caller ID, and I needed to go into its settings if I didn’t want that. The app, PowerCalc, and yes — it is integrating CallerID to make money for its authors. Needless to say, I want to find a different calculator app now.
- Cars and Satellites. Here’s a real interesting one. I work in El Segundo, and regularly drive now Nash Street. I’ve never thought about why it was named what it was. However, a posting in an LA History group on Facebook provided some fascinating history. Evidently, what is now the Boeing Satellite Facility at Imperial Highways and Hughes Way used to be the Nash-Kelvinator Assembly Plant. Thus: Nash Street.
- Names and Processors. A number of years ago, picking a processor was easy. You went for the latest x86 and clock speed. Then came Pentium and Celeron and Atom, and now there are Cores and iX and more. Here’s the first cogent explanation I’ve found of Intel Processor naming. This will be a big help next time I go processor shopping. I wonder how they differ architecture-wise, in particular in memory mapping and privilege rings — things us cybersecurity folks care about.
- Tuna and Pianos. Get it? Piano Tuna? Nevermind, I’m here all week. You may have seen the recent Android commercial where they play one song on a regular piano, and one song on a piano where every key makes the same note. You might have wondered whether they made a square piano to do it, in order to have all the strings the same length (remember: a piano has the same number of strings as a harp; it is just that they are buried in a box and hit with a hammer). Here’s a Scientific American article on what they did, and exploring if you could make all strings sound the same just through tuning.
- A, B, C, D, E, and F. If you are old enough, you remember the days before “forever” stamps, when postage changed so frequently they issued lettered stamps worth make up postage between the old rate and the new rate. One wonders if they would issue negative postage stamps now, given that stamp prices are set to go down 2c in April. That’s right. Down. From 49c to 47c. I’d wait to buy that “forever” postage.
- Maps and Places. We’ve all heard about it, but is it really done? Atlas Obscura explores the legend of fictitious place names on maps. Can they really be used to copyright a map?
- Restaurants and the San Fernando Valley. A couple of articles on restaurants and the valley. The first explores 118 Degrees, a new raw vegan GF restaurant. The second is supposedly the essential valley restaurants, although I find some a bit trendy for my taste (and as usual, then tend to think only of the Boulevard, instead of the Northern valley). This becomes clear when they mention Lum Ka Naad’s outpost on the boulevard, instead of mentioning the original location near CSUN (which is about a mile from where I live). PS. While we’re talking about the valley, here’s an obit of interest: Rabbi Gordon of Chabad in the Valley has passed away. Z”L.
- Malls and ShoppingTowns . In the news recently was an article noting how the Beverly Center mall near Cedars Sinai is getting a makeover. I remember this area well: I remember when the mall was built in the 1970s (drove by it on the way to WBT). It replaced the beloved Beverly Playland. The redevelopment is part of a trend of mall redesign, where developers take what were indoor malls and make them outdoor strolling areas. Think “the Grove” or “Americana at Brand”. What goes around, comes around, I guess. I remember when this was done at places like Fallbrook; I also remember when outdoor malls were turned into indoor malls (Panorama Mall; Sherman Oaks Fashion Center). They are about to do a similar transformation on the Westside Pavillion (which folks remember used to be a little lovely outdoor shopping center with a Vons and May Company). Should be interesting to watch.
Lastly, I’d like to highlight a few “GoFundMe”s of interest, related to folks I know. Orlando de la Paz was the scenic painter at the Colony; he recently had a stroke and is raising support funds. Jolie Mason worked with me at SDC; she’s now running the LA Radio Reading Service, a group that is raising funds for studio upgrades. Bruce Kimmel, a producer out here in LA, is raising money for an LA Themed Musical, which will premiere at LACC around May 13 for two weeks. The family of one of my counselors from camp days is raising funds for his care; he’s dealing with a brain tumor and the prognosis isn’t good. The LA Theatre Community is raising funds for its legal fight against Actors Equity; they’ve already raised 75K. Lastly, the Men of TAS are raising funds to improve the Social Hall Kitchen; we’d love it if you could help.
’tis the weekend, and that means it is time to clear out the accumulated links that didn’t them… well, at least those I remembered to send back home from work. In the spirit of the day, feel free to share these stories with your sweetie.
- A Yiddish Date. Let’s start things with something fun for the day. If you haven’t seen the Yidlife Video linked in this post yet, go watch it. It is hilarious. Plus, it stars Mayim Bialik.
- Nobel Drama in Trouble. The Nobel Middle School drama program is in trouble, falling victim to a parent complaint and district policies that dictate, at the Middle School level, that activities can’t select based on skill level. Thank you to Colin at Bitter Lemons for spreading the word about this beyond the school community to the theatre community in Southern California.
- Congratulations to Van Nuys HS. Ever since my daughter was part of the Van Nuys Academic Decathalon team, I’ve silently cheered them on against the nation’s leader, Granada Hills HS. So congratulations to Granada for winning at the LA level and going to state, but even more congratulations to the other high schools the district is sending: Marshall, which finished second; Franklin, which finished third; El Camino Real; Garfield; Bell; Van Nuys; Grant; Narbonne; Hamilton; North Hollywood; and, for the first time, Cleveland and Lincoln. It is a lot of hard work by a lot of good kids.
- A Nigerian Needs Your Help. At the ACSAC conference, we presented the Nigerian Spam Scam Scam, a story about how Dean Cameron led on Nigerian spammers to get money out of them. Well, it appears another Nigerian needs our help: this one is lost in space unless you provide the funds to bring him back. What I found most interesting here was the email address used: XXXX@nasrda.gov.ng . At the conference, we actually had a Nigerian senator in the audience, and even he was using a Hotmail address because the Nigerian government infrastructure wasn’t set up. Note that here we have a .gov.ng address. Very interesting.
- Kickstarters Makes Good. Two Kickstarters we’ve supported have made the LA media. The first, which we knew as Smash Cup but is now called StoJo, is a collapsible reusable coffee cup that got written up in the LA Times Gear section. The second kickstarter is Game Haus Cafe, a wonderful board gaming cafe that got a nice piece from KCET’s SoCal Connected. They only made one error: the problem with the place is not finding a seat, but finding parking.
- Theatre Podcasts. Here’s an interesting announcement from The Folio Group, which has brought together a number of theatre podcasts into a collective, including two that I listen to: the Ensemblist and Theater People. I do find it interesting that they did not get The Producer’s Perspective or Broadway Bullet to be part of their collective.
- Undercover Boss. One of the shows I enjoy watching is Undercover Boss, although I do find it odd that only a few select people win the largess lottery. Here’s an interesting article on the show from one of the bosses from a recent episode.
- Changes in the Archie Universe. Whereas comic books in the past tended not to push the bounds, today’s comic books reflect society. Surprisingly, one of the ones at the edge is Archie, which once was the whitest of the white breads. Riverdale has added gay characters, and now Jughead has come out as asexual. This is good: the asexuals are a group that society doesn’t understand, and attempts to force into mold that just doesn’t fit them.
- The Feathers are Gone. The last Showgirl show in Las Vegas has ended. Jubilee, at Bally’s has closed its 35 year run, leaving the strip devoid of shows with the traditional Las Vegas showgirl. Will the era ever return?
- Crumbling Presidents. 43 Presidential Heads are decaying in a field in Virginia. I view the images as a pictorial commentary on the state of our politics, and of the respect we show for our leaders.
This collection of news chum all has to do with things that we may (or may not) be seeing soon:
- A Googie Sharkey’s. Twain’s Coffee Shop in Studio City has been shuttered for a year, with reports being that Sharkey’s, a wonderful Fresh-Mex chain, was moving in. The Twain’s building was clearly a Denny’s in some former life. Anyway, pictures have surfaced of the Sharkey’s remodel, and they are preserving the old style. This is nice to see.
- A Full November Ballot. California is known for its ballot propositions, and recent efforts have moved all of them to the General Election ballot (instead of the June primaries). Here’s a preview of what we’re likely to see. There will be things like a plastic bag referendum, a proposition on prescription drug prices, a referendum of revenue bonds over $2 million, a modification of the “english-only” initiative, bonds for school construction, a proposal on hospital fees, with 66 more gathering signatures.
- No More Metro Free Parking. A report is surfacing of a trial attempt at imposing paid parking at Metro stations. Although on the surface I don’t like paying for parking, this one is making sense. It provides really low rates for those actually using Metro, with significantly higher rates for those taking advantage of the free parking to just do things in the neighborhood.
- Tits and Ass at the Hollywood Bowl. The Hollywood Bowl has announced their 2016 season. Their musical this year will be A Chorus Line; I’m not that interested in seeing it. There’s also a Star Trek concert and A Prairie Home Companion. For me, the show that I’d like to see is Weird Al on July 22-23. My wife would like the Copeland and Marsalis concert the following week (July 28).
- Mooning in Coachella. At one time, a moon-themed resort was planned for Las Vegas. Anything goes, right? Well, the moon isn’t landing in Vegas, but in the Coachella Valley. The $4 billion, 4,000 all-suite, five-star lunar-themed Moon World Resorts has a opening date targeted for 2022 after two years of permit and entitlement processes and a 48-month build-out. Three thousand workers will be required during the single-phase construction, and, when completed, 8,000 Coachella Valley careers will be created. The 10 million-square-foot project will include cutting-edge space technology over a 10-acre lunar surface with a realistic lunar colony set in the world’s largest and tallest sphere reaching 750 feet. There also will be a 10,000-seat flexible event center and a 2 million-square-foot convention center, several star-chef celebrity restaurants and wellness spa with holistic health treatments.
- Real Time Earthquake Alerts. Have you installed MyShake on your Android phone? This is a new application from the UC Berkeley Seismology Lab that uses the phone accelerometer to detect earthquakes in a crowd-sourced fashion. The app’s algorithm is designed to ignore ordinary shaking, like a phone jiggling in a purse, and detect unique vibrations felt during earthquakes. If the phone detects what it thinks is an earthquake — usually something at a magnitude 5 or greater — it sends a message to a central server. If there are at least 300 phones sending warnings in the same 60-mile-by-60-mile zone, simulation tests show that’s good enough to tell the system that the shaking was an earthquake. Notices can then go out to advise those further away that an earthquake is coming.
- A Supreme Court Nominee. As you all know by now, Justice Antonin Scalia has passed away. This opens up a space for President Obama to nominate a replacement. He says he will do it promptly; Republican leaders are vowing to not allow it until after the election (meaning at least two court terms — talk about delaying justice). The rumor mill is indicating that Obama will nominate Sri Srinivasan as the replacement. This is an interesting choice. Srinivasan was just confirmed to his current position by the senate in 2013 (just 3 years ago) with a vote of 97-0. Yes, some of the confirming senators are gone, but that makes it likely that he has strong support, and has already been through the vetting process (plus getting any confirmation through the 2012 senate wasn’t easy). It makes a wonderful statement on immigrant rights and diversity. Could be very interesting.