Whereas last week’s stew was thin and barely filling, this week’s is quite hearty. Although I had trouble finding groups of three articles to link with a theme, I had bunches of groupatwos with interesting subjects. So in this week’s stew you’ll find mini-themes on milk, money, connections, bones, security, plus some other random stuff for flavoring. Shall we begin?
- Milking It. This is a groupatwo having to deal with milk and diet. (1) The first deals with the diet aspects — much as we think we know the foods that make us fat and the foods that don’t, we keep learning things that turn that understanding on its ear. For the longest time we thought it was simply calories, and low-cal food was in. We saw that didn’t necessarily solve the problem. Next we looked at low-fat and low-carb, and getting rid of animal fat. Here’s a survey that confounds that: it appears that full-fat dairy products help you lose weight better than low-fat dairy products. (2) The second item deals with milk itself — particularly breast milk. It appears that the chemical composition of breast milk differs based on whether the child is a boy or a girl. This actually dovetails with a segment that was on a recent Quirks and Quarks that cows produce more milk for daughters than for sons. This emphasizes the notion that breast is best — and more importantly, your mom’s breast is best for you. Producing a one-size fits all formula just doesn’t work.
- Where The Money Is. This is a groupatwo that looks at where the money is. (1) The first item looks at Las Vegas casinos and where they make their money on table games. What’s interesting here is that they make a lot of money on table games — more than would be expected by just looking at the odds on the games. That’s because the odds are calculated on people playing the games in a perfect manner, and people rarely do. Translation: Not only does the house have an advantage, but unless you’re perfect, they have a greater advantage than you think. (2) The second item looks at the changing market for collectable American cars from the 50s and 60s. It appears that such cars are going down in value — boomers are less interested and millenials couldn’t care less. The translation here is not to depend on things you collect for your retirement nest egg (ask anyone who collected Beanie Babies). I’ve seen this with stamp collecting — once a popular hobby, you now don’t see it anywhere, and most collections aren’t worth all that much (I know mine isn’t, and there’s not much interest in my dad’s first day covers).
- Everything is Connected. This is a groupatwo dealing with connections. (1) The first item looks at the weird weather this year, and showing that it is all connected to the ridge of high pressure off the California coast, which has started changes in the jet stream that has created snow in the south, rain in Britain, and warmth in Sochi. (2) The second looks at the impact of all the chemicals we use, and how many we thought were safe may be leading to the growth in autism. Yup, it’s not vaccines at all; it is plastics and pesticides. Humans often get risk identification wrong, as this shows. So perhaps GMOs are safe?
- Great Bones. This last groupatwo looks at the underpinnings of some things here in LA. (1) The first item looks at a massive concrete pour here in Los Angeles — a continuous 20 hour pour with more than 2,000 truckloads of concrete, each of which must be delivered freshly made. This is all to build the foundation of the new Wilshire Grand, which will end up as the tallest building W of the Mississippi. Fascinating pour, especially when you look at the cooling issues. (2) The second item is a look at the Burbank Studios, and their history as the NBC Color City complex. I’ve actually been to the studios — I was there to see a taping of Flip Wilson, as well as the 2nd incarnation of Laugh-In. I’ve also been to CBS to see Cher filming. In any case, I love history like this.
- Security. I’ve grown more and more impressed with the work Brian Krebs does — and he’s the source for the last groupatwo. In the first article, Brian continues his in-depth study of the Target Breach — this time looking at how email was involved. What’s interesting here is how the metadata on innocuous files provided information that was later used on the attack. The second article is a bit more intriguing — it explores how some denial of service attacks are created by exploiting a flaw in the Network Time Protocol.
- Looking for Love. And a last singlet for flavoring. For Valentines Day, LA Metro introduced speed dating on the Red Line. So how did it go? Pretty good, according to the LA Times. I wonder what this says about our city?
Finally, a chance to come up for breath… and lunch. Here are some news chum articles collected over the week, all looking beneath of skin of something we see everyday. h/t to FiddlingFrog and AndrewDucker on LJ for some of these.
This has been a busy busy week, what with the National Space Infosec
Conference Symposium Workshop, completion of first downselect for ACSAC Site Selection for 2015/2016, and my normal work. Combine this with a relatively light week with of news of interest. This hasn’t allowed much time to find articles for the stew this week. Still, I’ve got a few articles for you:
- Pete Seeger. Pete died a little over a week ago. One of the best obituaries I’ve seen for the man comes from Michael Jonathan, host of the Woodsongs Old Time Radio Hour. Here’s his blog post in memory of Pete.
- Jay Leno. This was the last week of the Jay Leno tonight show. My facebook feeds have been fully of the cynics who think he stole the show back from Conan, and that he’ll do it again with Fallon. I tend to disagree — there are significant differences between the Conan situation (Jay wasn’t ready to go, plus he still had his staff together and his show going on in Burbank) to the Fallon situation (Jay’s staff have gotten their pink slips, his is the last NBC show left in the Burbank complex, and Fallon is in New York with Lorne Michaels at the helm, and Jay doesn’t still have a show). I’ve particularly enjoyed Mark Evanier’s take on the subject, such as this, this, or this.
- Stamp Art. An interesting article on a woman who turns postage stamps into art. I have strong memories of a table we used to have that was made from postage stamps and envelopes. Even though stamp collecting seems to have gone out of vogue, stamps are still wonderful works of art.
- The Target Hack. Brian Krebs has done a remarkable job — especially when you realize he’s doing it solo — on uncovering and investigating the Target hack. Here’s his latest take on it. What’s most interesting about this is that the vulnerability came from a different type of insider attack — maintenance personnel — who (thanks to cyber-physical system interconnects) were able to have greater access than they should have (cough — least privilege — cough). How many other systems are vulnerable to the same attack? Then again, we have to remember that a brute force attack can be equally effective.
P.S.: No, I’m not going to say anything on the Woody Allen situation. I’ve never been a big fan of Allen’s style of humor, although some of his movies have been good. Much of this is “he said/she said” dragged through the mud-flats of the media, and the only people that know the truth are the particulars involved — and after this many years, that truth may well have been colored by how the brain remembers things (on both sides). There is no good answer to this one.
It’s Saturday, and it’s time to clear out the links list. So without further adobe, let’s go…
- A Birthday, Misremembered. Given I just did a post on Birthday Songs, let’s start with a birthday in the news: Everyone has been talking about the Mac’s 30th birthday. They talk about how the Mac was a revolutional user interface — the first of its kind, and the world wouldn’t be the same without it. The problem is: that’s all a media lie, promoted by Apple to remove all memories of Mac’s big sister, Lisa. I have soft spot for the Lisa; we had one at Quadratron, and I used it all the time (with the incredibly slow twiggy drives). Lisa just turned 31, so take a few minutes to read up on the revolutionary product that was the Lisa. By the way, all of the articles focus on the LisaOS system, forgetting that Apple also provided a version of Xenix on the Lisa (this was in the heyday of 68000-based Unix systems), and it was on Xenix that the Quad software ran.
- Another Forgotten Product. In other Apple news, this week Apple reported disappointing sales, and so people are talking again about whether the iPod is dead. This is something I don’t want to see: I depend on my iPod Classic as a music player for my entire library (I still have 27.3 GB to fill, and I’m currently just over 33,000 songs). Until Apple comes out with an affordable 256GB or more iOS product, with a reasonable form factor (a pad is too big for a music player; it must fit in a pocket), I’m sticking with the Classic. They day they announce its death is the day you see me at Best Buy picking up a backup iPod Classic.
- Slavery on the Field. February brings the Super Bowl — you know, that game where two teams (Denver and Seattle) go out on the ice and chase a little ball. But all is not as it seems. The Oakland Raiders are getting into trouble for how they are treating their cheerleaders. Evidently, all is not as it seem in Raiderette land, and those young women are being treated as virtual slaves. I hope the Raiders abuse of the labor laws catches up with them (and that the Rams move back to LA)
- Balls Out for Good. The Super Bown brings betting, and betting takes you to Vegas. The last time we were in Las Vegas, I had a lot of fun visiting the Pinball Hall of Fame. Here’s a great way to still use quarters in machines, and to have some entertainment at the same time. It’s a labor of love, and the LVRJ has a great report on all the good those quarters are doing in the community.
- Baring it All. A few moments ago, we mentioned the Raiderettes: nowadays, cheerleading is all about exposed skin. We view female exposure and nudity very different than the same exposure for men. Here’s an interesting essay about why female nudity is so powerful — and so scary to many men. You might not agree with it all, but it is certainly worth thinking about.
- Entertainment News. Two entertainment items. First, a Back to the Future musical is being developed in London. It will be interesting to see if it succeeds. Second, Elton John’s Las Vegas concert, “The Million Dollar Piano“, has been taped and will be in theatres on March 18. We saw the concert in Las Vegas, and it is well worth seeing.
- What Goes Around, Comes Around. Now that Obamacare is out, guess what… it’s only so-so. For many it is a benefit, and for others, its a bust. The Republicans have tried to repeal it almost 50 times, and have failed. The Dems have constantly asked the Republicans to provide an alternative instead of repeal. So the Republicans have. Guess what? It looks quite a bit like Obamacare. Actually, that’s not surprising. Any system based around the existing for-profit and non-profit insurers will look like Obamacare, simply because of the economics of the things. There will be differences in what minimal coverages are, but economics is economics. The radical — but correct — solution is along the lines of single-payer (or more likely, the lines of single-price-setter).
- Disney and Privacy. Lastly, here’s an interesting article about the newest thing at the Walt Disney Resort in Florida: Magicbands. This is the latest salvo in the war for your personal data — the NSA is not the enemy, “big business” and “big data” are much more of a threat. This new Park Pass/Fastpass approach provides the mouse with loads of data on all your movements. Phone records are nothing compared to what private companies are gathering. You’re right to be scared, but be scared of the real risk is. The government uses its information (if it can find it, and if it can talk to itself) to protect you. Big business uses its information to sell to you, to get more money, and to consolidate its power.
It’s Saturday, and you know what that means: time to clear out the links list of articles that never quite formed into themes of three or more articles:
- The iPod of Prison. An interesting article from the New Yorker on the Sony SRF-39FB, a clear plastic AM/FM radio that is the most popular radio … in prisons. The clear plastic is one factor, the sound quality and reception is another, as well as the price. It is only now starting to be replaced by MP3 players, where the prison controls what can be downloaded.
- Risks of BYOD. The catchword today in business is BYOD – Bring Your Own Device. Businesses have become more accomodating of employee’s using their personal smartphones and other devices on corporate networks. But there’s a big downside — when you leave the company, typically they have the right to remotely wipe your device. You should read any connection agreements you need to click through carefully, and make an offline archive of any personal information before you leave.
- Multilingual. Here’s a neat article and video: “Let It Go” (from Frozen) in 25 languages, and how Disney planned the movie for 41 languages. I love how seamless the video is — great job from the sound engineers to get the timing exactly right. I love listening to songs I know in other language, be it “Fiddler on the Roof” in Yiddish, “Hair” in Hebrew, “Les Miserables” in French, the Beatles in German. I blame my high school Spanish teacher, who constantly played “yo no encuentro satisfacción”.
- Cannibal Rats. There evidently is a ship floating around the northern Atlantic that is filled with cannibal rats. Whether or not you think the story is real, the concept is right up there with “Snakes on a Plane”. Can’t you just see the horror movie now. Our teens on a pleasure cruise come upon an abandoned ship and decide to explore.. and they find…
- No Ren Faires in Your Long-Term Future. Good news for history, English, and other liberal arts majors: it’s not the career death you’ve been told. Liberal arts majors may start off slower than others when it comes to the postgraduate career path, but they close much of the salary and unemployment gap over time, a new report shows. By their mid-50s, liberal arts majors with an advanced or undergraduate degree are on average making more money those who studied in professional and pre-professional fields, and are employed at similar rates…. with one exception. Salaries still lag behind engineering and math and sciences graduates, who in their late 50s make about $98,000 and $87,000, respectively.
- A Loss for the Jewish Community. The LA Times and the Jewish Journal are reporting that Harvey Fields has died. Rabbi Fields was just taking over from Rabbi Wolf as senior Rabbi at Wilshire Blvd Temple when we got married; Rabbi Wolf had been senior rabbi for a year after the death of Rabbi Magnin. We were only at Wilshire as Fields was coming in, but he did remarkable things for the congregation during the time — he basically brought the congregation back into modern progressive Judaism, stemmed the membership decline, and completely revitalized the place. I was more involved with the camps, and during much of his time, there weren’t significant changes there (those came near the end of Fields’ tenure as Rabbi Leder was coming in). But Fields still deserves a lot of credit for what he did for Wilshire Blvd Temple and the Jewish community in Los Angeles.
Today’s news chum brings you, as Paul Harvey might say, “the rest of the story”:
This lunchtime news-chum post might also have been titled “It Takes a Village”, for it looks at the effects of choices you make on the larger community:
- The (Non-)Shot Heard Round The World. Jenny McCarthy, along with other folks, have been making the news for eschewing the use of vaccines because of a misguided belief that they create autism or other such problems. The problem with this belief, of course, is that it is wrong, and is hurting society as a whole. Don’t believe me? David Bell pointed me to this article from the New Republic on how the Anti-Vac movement has resulted in more and more adults getting Whooping Cough. If you’re more visual, then look at this LA Times article, that illustrates the toll of non-vac in a single graphic. As that article notes: “The lesson of all this is that vaccination is not an individual choice to be made by a parent for his or her own offspring. It’s a public health issue, because the diseases contracted by unvaccinated children are a threat to the community. That’s what public health is all about, and an overly tolerant approach to non-medical exemptions — and publicity given to anti-vaccination charlatans like Wakefield and McCarthy by heedless promoters like, sadly, Katie Couric, affect us all.”
- It’s Too Darn Hot. Vaccines aren’t the only health treatment that can affect a community. How about that aspirin or ibuprofen you take? It turns out that taking a fever-reducing medicine during the flu actually prolongs the flu, and helps you spread the disease. Basically, lowering your body temperature may make the virus replicate faster and increase the risk that you transmit it to others. A new study claims that there are at least 700 extra influenza deaths in the United States every year because people suppress their fever. As a result, if you have the flu and you’re taking medication “it may actually be more important that you stay at home because you could be a greater risk to others”. In other words: When you’re sick, stay home!
- How We Look. Another example of herd mentality is body image and fashion trends. There are many that argue that society has an unhealthy obsession with body image due to the fashion industry’s emphasis on presenting unrealistic bodies to us. There have been a few retailers that have attempted to buck that trend, such as Dove and their “Real Beauty” campaign. The latest one in the news is American Eagle Outfitters, which has stopped retouching the models in their ads. That’s fine by me — I much prefer looking at real people of all shapes and sizes, with imperfections and flaws. My belief is that there is only one thing needed to make a person beautiful: a smile. A related item also makes me smile: evidently the new hair trend is to not only embrace your grey hair, but to recolor your hair to grey. Evidently grey is the hardest color to achieve. As I just turned 54, I’m starting to deal with grey hair — but so far it is mostly in my beard, and not on the other hair on my head.
This has been a busy week, with lots of meetings, travel, and the exhaustion that comes with travel. Still, I did find a few stories to share; but alas, I never could find 3 or more on a coherent theme. As a result, they’ve been thrown in the news chum crockpot for your weekend cholent:
- I Yam What I Yam. This week brings an overlooked birthday: Popeye the Sailor turns 85 this week. Here’s an interesting article on how Popeye (a Santa Monica sailor) got started.
- Say Cheese. Here’s another origin story for you, this time related to a shortage. You probably think of Velveeta as a petroleum product, extruded for food use. But that’s not true. Velveeta harkens back to a time where processed food was seen as good, and it was developed as a way to prevent having to throw away broken blocks of cheese.
- The End of Film. The last two articles have focused on the beginning of things; this one focuses on the end. In this case, it is the end of film as film, as Paramount has become the first studio to go to 100% digital distribution of new releases. Although this is cheaper for the studios, it is bad news for film purists and historians. Digital distribution means there will not be prints to preserve, and preservation of digital means also preserving the software that can read and translate the digital image, and preventing “bit rot”. I’m sure there are also film purists who will insist that the analog image on the celluloid media is better and warmer than the cold digital image, just as music purists insist that the sound from vinyl is purer and warmer than the sliced and diced sound from CDs. The main advantage of both analog media is that you can tinker with it: projection/turntable speed, audio cartridges, lenses and filters, and such.
- Finding Vinyl. So as we’re speaking of vinyl, here’s a list of what CBS in LA thinks are the best vinyl stores in LA. Some of these I highly recommend (Amoeba, Record Surplus); others I still have to try. But there are other places I know that just aren’t on the list. For example, I’ve had some great finds at Brand Bookstore, with some equally great finds at the Goodwill across the street. Closer to home, there are tons of records at Orphaned CDs in Northridge, but they are badly organized in shelves on the walls. Still, the vast number means there’s a good chance of great finds. There’s also CD Trader on Ventura in Tarzana, where I’ve found loads of stuff. Looking for an old fashioned record store? I seem to recall seeing vinyl at Canterbury Records in Pasadena. There’s also a great collection of used vinyl at Nerdboy Records in Whittier. One thing all these places have in common is that they are inexpensive. I went to a few used record stores in San Diego (Nickelodeon, Folk Arts Rare Records), and almost every record I saw there was priced starting at $7-$9. I’m sorry, but I’m not going to pay CD prices for vinyl I have to digitize and that might turn out to have an unrecoverable skip, unless it is only available on vinyl.