Observations Along the Road

Theatre Writeups, Musings on the News, Rants and Roadkill Along the Information Superhighway

Category Archive: 'news-chum'

Link Chum Stew: What’s In The Pot This Week, Johnny?

Written By: cahwyguy - Sun Apr 17, 2016 @ 3:05 pm PDT

Observation StewThis afternoon, I’ve been spending some time cleaning up. What’s this? A list of links? Let’s write about them before they go stale and rotten (like the plums on the dining room table):

  • Dancing Around Politics. If you’ve been around LA at all of late, you’ve probably been handed a flyer for the Shen Yun dance troupe, who have been performing at halls across the city. You’ve probably never heard of them. The LA Times had an interesting article on who they really are and who is backing them: they are a touring dance troupe founded in New York by practitioners of Falun Gong, the spiritual practice banned by the Chinese Communist Party in 1999. The party calls it a cult; Falun Gong says the Chinese government is trying to eradicate thousands of years of culture and tradition and that its repression of Shen Yun shows an intolerance of freedom of expression and religion. Indisputably, the dance company — marking its 10th anniversary — has become a cultural phenomenon. That fits with what my wife called the show: religious indoctrination.  As the article noted: “Nonetheless, it’s safe to say that the bright costumes and spinning dancers are meant to convey a message. “The Falun Gong has a very well organized, managed and elaborate program of public relations, and Shen Yun is part of that,” said James Tong, a UCLA professor, expert in Chinese politics and author of a book about the Communist Party and Falun Gong. When audiences see Shen Yun, “people want to know more about the Falun Gong.””
  • Digital Last Wills. Here’s a good reminder article from LastPass about Digital Wills. As they note in the article: “When preparing a will, many of us focus on our monetary and physical assets. But what about social media accounts? Or email addresses? Or the myriad of online accounts we use to manage our lives, every day? Making a “digital will” that includes passwords and other important digital details will go a long way in helping those who need to settle your affairs, or in helping you if you need to settle the affairs of others.” It is an important concern: I know I do my banking via Quicken… would my wife be able to easy pick that up. To inform all those whom I’m friends with online of what is happening with me? To pass off my highway pages somewhere? To handle other online financial accounts?
  • Upgrading Your Smartphone the Smart Way. Here’s an interesting article on how cell phone companies get you yet again: the upgrade fees if you buy a phone through them. With some, it is cheaper to buy your phone elsewhere, and then just bring it in and have it activated. Useful information to know.
  • Fighting Blisters. One of the scourges of walking as exercise are blisters. They are the reason I’ve switched to Injinji Toe Socks and Vibram Five Fingers. Too bad I didn’t know about this: there is evidently an easy way to combat blisters: use of surgical paper tape. I’ll have to give it a try one day, especially when the plantars fasciitis is acting up and I need shoes with padding and arch support.
  • Women in Cybersecurity. As you know, I’m part of ACSA, the sponsoring group behind SWSIS — the schoarship for women studying information security. Here’s a profile about one of our first recipients. I met Jill when she came out to ACSAC; I wish I had known this about her.
  • High Fidelity. Yesterday was Record Store day, and alas I missed it. But then again, I have enough records for this month. The iPod is at just under 38,000 songs. But here’s a good guide, for Record Store Day, about getting the right equipment to play your records. As for me, I have two turntables (Technics and Sansui), a good JVC amplifier with a phono curve, which feeds into my soundcard and the Roxio tools for recording to MP3 or WAV.
  • Free, as in Free Gigs. How would you like 2GB of free days for a month or two? Evidently, Verizon has a promotion where if you use Android Pay at three retailers, they’ll give you and extra 2GB for two months. The giveaway is part of a promotion that encourages people to start using Android Pay, which is essentially the Android version of mobile payments. Any Verizon customer with a postpaid plan who has an Android Pay-compatible phone will get 1GB of free data the next time they use Google’s mobile payment platform. Use it another two times, for a total of three separate purchases, and Verizon will throw in another gigabyte of free data.Once you’ve got the data freebie, Verizon says you’ll be able to use it across two billing cycles. The offer ends on June 14.
  • Mulholland Drive. Lastly, here’s a fascinating history article on Mulholland Drive: its origins and first plans. If you happen to be inspired to drive all of Mulholland — including the dirt portion across the top of the Santa Monicas, keep your eye out for a watch. I lost it there sometime in high school :-).



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Jewish Reponsibilities to the Community

Written By: cahwyguy - Sat Apr 16, 2016 @ 8:17 am PDT

userpic=tallitYesterday, there was a very interesting article in the LA Times concerning the need for a park in Koreatown. Quoting from the beginning of that article:

The people of Koreatown were on the brink of getting something urban planners and psychologists said Los Angeles’ most densely packed neighborhood desperately needed: A public outdoor space for respite in a booming urban corridor increasingly smothered in concrete and glass.

Now, five years later, a 346-unit luxury apartment building dubbed the Pearl on Wilshire is taking root where Koreatown Central Park was slated to go. It will have a dog wash, yoga room, putting green and spa, but not so much as a park bench for public use.

And as heavy equipment roars and beeps at the once-vacant lot at Wilshire and Hobart boulevards, people familiar with the abandoned project are left to wonder: Who’s to blame for letting a park die in this neighborhood where residents have about one-hundredth of the park space as the average Angeleno citywide?

Most people read this and moved on. Me? My eyes stopped on the phrase “the once-vacant lot at Wilshire and Hobart boulevards”. I grew up at Wilshire Blvd Temple (WBT). WBT is located on Wilshire Blvd, between Hobart and Harvard. Next to it to the east is a major catholic church. Wilshire, in fact, now owns all the land betwen Hobart and Harvard, between Wilshire and Sixth, and operates an outreach and support center for the community on the Sixth Street end.

Here’s my question: What is the Jewish obligation in this issue? Should WBT (and its neighbor, St. Basil’s) be speaking up for the park. Should they have been lobbying for the park. Going back to when I attended Wilshire in the 1970s and 1980s, that land was vacant. Should Wilshire have tried to purchase it for the community? How does one balance the responsibility to your community of faith with the responsibility to the community at large?

I’m not sure I know the answer, and I’m not sure they could have made a difference. But I thought the question was an interesting one.

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The Sharks Are In Vegas, Baby

Written By: cahwyguy - Sat Apr 16, 2016 @ 8:04 am PDT

userpic=las-vegasThe sharks are in Vegas, and they’re looking for chum. News chum, that is. Let’s give them some:

  • Riviera Sign Down. One fascinating this article had to do with the Riveria sign — specifically, the one that was on the big glass wraparound at the southern end of the resort on the strip. The sign was taken down this week to go to a collector in Reno, who plans to restore and make the sign operational. But that wasn’t what I found fascinating. Rather, there was a very interesting comment in the VitalVegas blog about the sign: “Don’t know if anyone noticed, but the Riviera sign here actually was superimposed over the existing outline of the previous Splash sign that was on the side of this building when the show was shut down.” The image to the right should show this:rivsign
  • Doubling Down, Literally. Speaking of the Riviera, the funding has been approved to take the old dame down. The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority approved paying $42 million to the contractor that will bring the Riviera buildings down in June and August. Officials say separate implosions are necessary because of the large size the Riviera, which closed last May after the authority purchased it to expand its convention space. Before the implosions of the Riviera’s Monte Carlo and Monaco hotel towers, crews are expected to tear down other buildings, such as parking garages and the property’s convention center, although it’s not clear when that will happen. Once all of the Riviera buildings have come down and the site is cleaned up, the authority plans for the land to become outdoor exhibit space. That needs to be done by early 2017 so a major trade show can use the land. Outdoor exhibit space. What a waste, and what bad news for the north end of the strip.
  • Lagoon on the Strip. Just a bit south of the Riviera, news comes out regarding the old Desert Inn property, now the Wynn and the Encore. This property had a large golf course just off strip — one of its prides. That’s partially going away. Steve Wynn has proposed expanding on to the golf course,with a 1,000-room expansion centered around a 38-acre lagoon that would host water skiing, paddle boarding and parasailing by day and fireworks displays at night. The project, tentatively called Wynn Paradise Park, would cost about $1.5 billion to build and open in 2020 if work begins later this year as planned. Now, what is interesting about this proposal is that it will save water over the golf course. You read that right: The proposed 38-acre lagoon project would actually use less water than the 18-hole golf course that currently sits east of the Strip resort. Uri Man, CEO of Crystal Lagoons US Corp. of Coral Gables, Florida, said that a 7- to 10-acre lagoon would use 30 times less water than a typical golf course and 50 percent less water than a park of the same size. Further, this water isn’t coming from Lake Mead. For Wynn Paradise Park, the company owns the water rights under the golf course, grandfathered in from the Desert Inn Golf Course that once stood on the property, and would use water from wells on the property.
  • A Rebirth to the West. I’ll believe this one when I see it: Yet another developer is promising to give the Moulin Rouge a rebirth. For those unfamiliar, the MR was a casino on the west side of Vegas that was best known for driving the other casinos in Vegas to integrate. Opened on May 24, 1955, the Moulin Rouge was the first racially integrated hotel-casino in Las Vegas. It drew customers but, apparently, not enough money to satisfy its creditors. Closed after an October 1955 bankruptcy, the casino opened sporadically under different owners over the next few years, and was best known for being the site where the March 1960 agreement to desegregate the city’s casinos was announced. It operated in a diminished capacity for years, ultimately becoming a short-term residential motel. A series of fires destroyed anything salvageable of the original structure, leading to a more or less empty space—and a blank slate. There have been numerous attempts to revive it over the 50 years of decline. Now, a new investor group wants to resurrect the casino and hotel, provide a resource center and museum to both help and preserve the history of the surrounding Westside neighborhood. In addition, a planned nonprofit, Moulin Rouge Cares, will reach out to the Westside. Groundbreaking is set for May 24, but experience says that the Fountainbleu will be completed before we see a new Moulin Rouge.


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Saturday #NewsChum Stew: Risk, Radio, Drugs, Discounts, DNA, and Darwin

Written By: cahwyguy - Sat Apr 09, 2016 @ 1:01 pm PDT

Observation StewIt’s Saturday, and you know what that means: Time to clean out the accumulating links and see what sort of stew it makes:

  • Risks of the Internet of Things. Working in cybersecurity, I’m well aware of the risks of the IOT: that these untrusted unprotected devices could be a stepping stone into a private network for attacks. But there’s an even larger functionality risk, demonstrated this week by Nest’s announcement that they will no longer support the Revolv hub: The manufacturer can render your expensive connected appliance useless by simply shutting down the server.  Just imagine it: refrigerators and HVAC equipment that no longer works because they can’t check in to their home bases. TVs and audio equipment that fail because they can’t sync. Cars that become doorstops when their underlying site goes down.
  • Expressing Your Love. Steve Julian is a long time host on public radio here in Los Angeles. He’s been fighting a losing battle — on his terms — with brain tumors. LA Observed had an interesting article on how the digital community is coming out to support Steve and keep his spirits up. We often don’t realize the value of the community we build on places like Facebook, Livejournal, Dreamwidth, and other such social sites.
  • Drug Schedules. With all the talk of new rules for Hydrocodone and Oxy, I’ve been worried about impacts on the T3 I use for migraines. As such, I found this description of what the Federal Drug Schedule is and how it is determined fascinating. I was relieved to see that Oxy was in a different category than T3. Of course, most people are reading it about pot, but I’m not most people.
  • The New Costco Card. Costco will be changing our credit cards from Amex to CitiVisa. In the process, they are moving to a card with outstanding deals. This might entice me to use the card at gas stations, although I’m sure that the gas rebate is less than the discount I get for the private gas company cards (which are charged like cash).
  • Yiddish Roots of Hollywood/Angel’s Flying. With my daughter’s love of Yiddish, article on the subject catch my eye. Here’s an exploration of Hollywood’s Yiddish roots. If that doesn’t interest you, read about how the Angels flew to Anaheim.
  • Celiac Disease and DNA. It appears they are finding more and more information about the root causes of Celiac Disease. This time, they’ve identified more of the trigger DNA sequences.
  • Darwin and Drives. Thumb drives, that is. It appears that surveys show that a majority of people, when they find a thumb drive lying in the street, will plug it into their computer to find out who owns it. They do, and — blam — they are pwned. Leave the investigation of drives to the trained professionals.
  • Porn Economics. Here’s a detailed article exploring the economics of porn, including the fact that most porn sites are run by one company, and that the search terms they choose insidiously propagate particular attitudes and preferences designed to denigrate. It is a fascinating read if only for that access: the tremendous amount of data these sites collect from you. Our society and our electronics used to be somewhat anonymous: your iPod didn’t report your music preference to Apple, that clerk in the adult store didn’t collect names and preferences when cash was used, payphones weren’t tied to individuals. Welcome to the world of big data, and all hail our ubiquitious all-knowing all-collecting overlords.
  • Moving to Encryption. WordPress has moved to encryption by default of all wordpress.com websites. They’ve also moved to encrypting all domain names they host. This is something I need to do one of these days (once I figure out how), both for tasnorthridge-motas.org (which is homed at enomcentral but really on wordpress.com) and cahighways.org (which is homed on enomcentral, but hosted on Westhost).

If you didn’t see the earlier chum this week, they were on food and controversial subjects.

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Chum of Controversy

Written By: cahwyguy - Fri Apr 08, 2016 @ 7:45 pm PDT

userpic=los-angelesThis collection of news chum may be controversial. It touches on a number of hot button topics: religion, racism, trolls, and sexism.

  • To Bear or Not to Bear, A Cross Too Far. The origin of the user pic to the right is a battle from many years ago when Los Angeles County redesigned their county seal to remove the cross. A few years after that, one of few Republicans on the Board of Supervisors got it added back. A judge has just ruled that the cross must go: that a cross has no place on a county seal.
  • Dress Shirts and Racism. When sizing a shirt, what questions can you ask? This was an issue faced by an internet startup that wanted men to be able to order shirts that would fit them perfectly. He started collecting statistical data, and found out that one of the best predictors was… race. He then discovered that just asking the question put him into a cultural minefield. As the article notes: “There’s no denying the satisfaction of a smartly tailored shirt. But with this one question, the once mundane world of dress shirts is now dabbling in a kind of racial profiling. Are we ready to dredge up centuries of racial strife, simply for a perfect fit?”
  • The Troll Under the Bridge. Have you ever thought about the characteristics that define an Internet Troll? Boing! Boing! did, and came up with a quad chart of seriousness and sincerity. It came up with four categories that it categorized as Squares / Jesters / Worms / Trolls. It turns out, when pressed, there was a diagonal correlation: Squares to Trolls, and Jesters to Worms. A fascinating theory.
  • Gaming and Sexism. I’d seen the source article on this, but Vox had a great summary of a new issue that, is in a sense, an outgrowth of GamerGate: Sexism and Tabletop Gaming. I’ve been boardgaming for years, and I haven’t seen it in the community; then again, I might just have blinders that need to be recalibrated. But I can certainly believe it in the role playing and heavy wargaming  communities. We’re learning more and more about the sexism and aggression that was under the surface, that just wasn’t seen. Part of me longs for the days of my youth when we didn’t need to worry about this, but then I realize that although seeing these aggressions and problems is uncomfortable, it is necessary in order to move society above those problems.


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An Alphabet of Chum: From A to Almost Z

Written By: cahwyguy - Sat Apr 02, 2016 @ 2:11 pm PDT

userpic=masters-voiceOur life is a litany of interesting news articles, of news chum, ripe for the discussion. Shall I enumerate? I shall.


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News Chum – In No Particular Order

Written By: cahwyguy - Sun Mar 27, 2016 @ 10:42 am PDT

Observation StewBefore 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.


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Something to Chew On

Written By: cahwyguy - Fri Mar 25, 2016 @ 11:35 am PDT

userpic=pastramiThese 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:


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