Observations Along the Road

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

Category Archive: 'news-chum'

Good Things That Are Bad

Written By: cahwyguy - Sat Nov 08, 2014 @ 10:12 am PST

userpic=don-martinHere’s a collection of articles and opinion pieces that all seem to fall within the theme of things that are good, while really being bad:

  • Dogs. We all love our dogs. Our friendly canine companions have been shown to be good for our mental health and well being. But are they good for the environment?
  • Fake Grass. Here in California, we’re in the midst of a bad bad drought. The DWP (Department of Water and Power) is offering incentives for people to rip out their lawns and replace them with less water-hungry alternatives. Some go with fake grass (the modern-day equivalent of Astro-Turf). But is fake grass good for the environment?
  • Anesthetics. One of the things that makes modern medicine possible are anesthetics. But — especially in the elderly — they have their drawbacks — memory-loss. Here’s why.
  • It Does a Body Good. We’ve been taught that “Milk Does a Body Good” and that you should drink cows milk every day to get Calcium. The problem? Too much milk doesn’t do a body good. In fact, a recent study found that, in both women and men, higher milk consumption correlated with higher rates of death. And in women, those who consumed more milk were also more likely to have fractured a bone, not less. The fault may lie with lactose. In fact, fermented dairy products may be better for you — yogurt, buttermilk, sour cream, and possibly cheese.



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It’s Something to Stew About

Written By: cahwyguy - Sat Nov 01, 2014 @ 10:50 am PST

Observation StewAs a reminder, I’m still trying to find the album title, album artist, and song titles for the album mentioned in my previous post. While you’re searching (I did find some stuff searching in Hebrew, but I couldn’t read it) and translating/transliterating, here’s some news chum to keep you busy:

  • It’s Back! It’s Back! The Empress Pavilion in Chinatown is back, under new owners, dispensing dim sum from carts in Chinatown. This is good news, as we were never able to find a place we really liked in Monterey Park (which was a schlep anyway). Sounds like a grand excuse for a dim sum run.
  • It’s Dead! It’s Dead! What happens to you when you die? I don’t mean meta-physically, I mean physically. There’s a body farm in Texas that is exploring the question, placing bodies out in fields and watching their decay. The article is a fascinating read — but be forewarned that it does include pictures of dead bodies in various stages of decay and decomposition. It isn’t as bad as you think (although you don’t get the smells), and it is comforting to think of your final act being to provide nutrients to other living things.
  • It’s Voting! It’s Voting! Of course, I shouldn’t need to remind you to vote on Tuesday (and if you need, here’s my ballot analysis: Part I (major offices); Part II (propositions); Part III (judges)). If you’re in LA County, you’re voting on the old Inka-Vote system. That may soon be going away: LA County has let a contract for a new electronic voting system. Based on what is described in the article, they may actually be doing it right: the County owns the code; the vendor that writes the code cannot operate the voting system; the voting machine prints a paper ballot to be tallied (hopefully legible to the voter).
  • It’s, umm, I forget. Recently, we’ve been dealing with the slow memory deterioration of my mother-in-law. It’s hard to deal with, and sad to see. This article — My Mom Has Dementia and Other Good News — was recently going around Facebook. It is an interesting take on the problem.
  • It’s Old! It’s Old! You know I like history, and that I like theatre. Here’s an interesting combination: the history of the El Portal Theatre in North Hollywood. It was once a movie theatre, and recently has been the site of numerous rental productions. We saw Marvellous Wonderettes, Pump Boys and Dinettes, and at least one other show there.
  • It’s Pastrami! It’s Pastrami! We’re seeing fewer and fewer true Jewish delicatessens. Here’s an interesting article on how one deli, Katz’s in New York, stays in business. Quoth the article: “But with a throwback menu comes a throwback business model, the downsides of which are especially apparent in these days of astronomical beef prices. That’s one reason why Dell—whose grandfather purchased Katz’s in 1988 and who in recent years has taken over most day-to-day oversight from his father and uncle—is fretting. If you want to fully appreciate why a place like Katz’s is special, you have to appreciate its odd economics, which pretty much ensure there will never be another deli quite like it.”


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Saturday News Chum: Better Late than Never

Written By: cahwyguy - Sat Oct 18, 2014 @ 3:36 pm PST

Observation StewI know, I’ve been abnormally quiet the last two weeks. Combine business travel, coming back with a cold, a busy week, and planning for a golf tournament (you can still sign up to play) and… whew! Still, I’ve got a few articles accumulated:

  • Passwords. Passwords of the bain of our existence online. For the longest time, I resisted the pull of password managers, keeping my passwords on a card in my wallet in 4 pt type or smaller, with only a code for the account and the password. Even that got unmanagable, and based on the recommendations of a number of others, I went with Lastpass. That’s all in the way of leadin to this article on what you should consider in a password manager. I looked for one that never handled the decrypted password vault in the cloud, and that could support two-factor authentication. It has certainly moved me in the direction of having longer and stronger passwords, which is a good thing. What is annoying, however, are the large number of accounts out there that do not provide anyway to change your passwords once established. Here’s a related useful article on how to enable two-step authentication on almost everything.
  • Getting the Youth. The Golf Tournament I mentioned above is for the Men of Temple Ahavat Shalom. We have a problem: often, when I’m in a meeting, I’m the youngest in the room. How do we get college age kids active and involved? Here’s an interesting article from the Forward on Open Hillel, and how they got young folks back. Interesting thoughts. Intellectual debate about religion. Whou’da thunk it? :-)
  • Abandoned Malls. I haven’t seen the movie “Gone Girl”, but here’s an interesting article on the abandoned mall in the movie — which is in Southern California. Abandoned things are interesting — I still remember as a young child of perhaps 12 or 13 visiting some abandoned homes near my grandmothers in West LA that were about to be torn down. I go to that block today (1 block south of Santa Monica off Veteran) and all those homes have been replaced by large apartments. I still see the homes.
  • A Nobel Cause. I almost had a theme to post here last week: I had an article on how to dissolve your Nobel prize, and an article about carrying a Nobel prize through an airport. Never could find a third Nobel prize article.
  • Halloween Ideas. Seen on the news: The Teal Pumpkin campaign to indicate houses safe for those with food allergies.
  • Microsoft Patches. Lastly, I lost a good hour this week to failed Microsoft patches. I warned folks on Facebook, but here’s an article on the problem from Information Week.

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Delayed Stew: Post-Holiday News Chum Stew, in multiples of two

Written By: cahwyguy - Mon Oct 06, 2014 @ 12:31 pm PST

Observation StewThis has been a busy weekend, what with Yom Kippur and MoTAS building the Sukkah on Sunday. As a result, the posting of the usual News Chum stew got delayed until today. Hopefully it didn’t get burned sitting on the stove for so long.


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Saturday Stew: Roaches, Hookworms, and other things that are creepy

Written By: cahwyguy - Sat Sep 27, 2014 @ 4:47 pm PST

Observation StewJust realized it is Saturday and I haven’t done my news chum stew post, even though I’m likely to have stew for dinner. I’ve been too busy updating systems and installing the new version of Acronis, my favorite backup software. So here are some stew items for you:


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Saturday Stew: A Groupa Twos Stew, on Average

Written By: cahwyguy - Sat Sep 20, 2014 @ 5:15 pm PST

Observation StewIt’s Saturday, and you know what that means: Time to see what sort of a tasty stew we can make of the articles that I’ve saved over the week. Let’s see how flavorful this one is:


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News Chum Stew: DNA, Pools, Tarantino, Politics, Mel Brooks, and more

Written By: cahwyguy - Sat Sep 13, 2014 @ 1:27 pm PST

Observation StewIt’s Saturday at lunchtime, and you know by now what that means — it is time for some tasty news chum stew. Let’s see what we find floating in the broth this week:


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Saturday News ABCs: Ada, Brands, Crap, Dentists, and Economics […and Fillipenko]

Written By: cahwyguy - Sat Sep 06, 2014 @ 3:58 pm PST

Observation StewIt’s Saturday, and it’s hot outside, so what better than some nice cool, umm, stew that’s been simmering on the stove all week:

  • On The Wings of Ada. When I was getting out of college, object oriented programming was just entering the lexicon, primarily through the facility of Ada, the supposed DOD standard programming language. Here’s an interesting article on the Boeing 777, and how it flies on 99% Ada… and why Boeing feels that was a great decision for the aircraft. Here’s an interesting line from the conclusion: ” The trend towards more reliable hardware and software are revolutionizing aviation and can be found in aircrafts other than the 777. The systems in the cockpit talk to the other systems through the programming language, and in new airplanes, such as the Beechcraft 400A, the Learjet series, and some English jets, the language of choice is Ada.”
  • Branding Ain’t Just For Cattle. If you grew up in California, you knew there were two state University systems: The University of California (which were all UCxx, except UC Berkeley, which views itself as the University of California), and the California State University. It seems that the Cal State campuses are now concerned with branding, and each has their own identity. Some are xxxx State (e.g., Sac State, Long Beach State); others are California State University xxx (e.g., CSUN), and others have other identities (Cal Poly, California State College, and the Maritime University). Others are confused, such as CSULA which is worried about being confused with UCLA, at least in terms of acronyms. Of course, no one asks the California University in Pennsylvania.
  • In The Pipes. What’s something you depend upon everyday, but probably never think about? The answer is the sewer system, and here’s an in-depth exploration of the Los Angeles sewer system. The city alone has over 6,700 miles of sewer pipes, some going back to the 1880s. More importantly, the city doesn’t know where all the pipes are. Archival data is being gradually imported into a publicly accessible online directory called Navigate LA, which is managed by the Bureau of Engineering, but there are still plenty of gaps. One major part of the sewer system that has not been accurately mapped is the only way to access them: manholes (or the more proper term, maintenance holes).  (Note: the site displays a lot better in Chrome)
  • Be a Dentist. If you recall the song from Little Shop, Dentists love pain. People still thing of the dentist as painful, but they don’t realize how good they’ve got it. Here’s an article that explores what it was like to go to the dentist in the days before Novacaine. There was the belief that cavities were caused by worms. Often, practitioners would try to smoke the worm out by heating a mixture of beeswax and henbane seed on a piece of iron and directing the fumes into the cavity with a funnel. Afterwards, the hole was filled with powdered henbane seed and gum mastic, which may have provided temporary relief given the fact that henbane is a mild narcotic. Many times, though, the achy tooth had to be removed altogether. Some tooth-pullers mistook nerves for tooth worms, and extracted both the tooth and the nerve in what was certainly an extremely painful procedure in a period before anesthetics.
  • Quitting Smoking. This week, the CVS Drugstore chain stopped selling cigarettes. Given that they make 3% of their profit from ciggies, one might wonder why? The simple answer is Obamacare. More specifically, there’s more money to be made from healthcare than nicotine. This article has more. In short, CVS is rebranding as CVS Health, expanding its “Minute Clinic” network, and making groups with doctors to package prescription coverage with health plans. This emphasis (which is growing) is undercut if they sell cigarettes. So out go the cigarettes. Now, if they could only get their pharmacists to be efficient!
  • [ETA] Looking at the Stars. [When I wrote this up earlier today, I knew there was one article at work I had forgotten about. This is it…] No, I’m not referring to the nude pictures unleashed this week on the Internet. Rather, I’m referring to an article I saw earlier this week about UC defunding the Lick Observatory, and how it has got astronomers pissed. This includes the brother of a co-worker, and someone that my wife did science camp with when she was younger — Alex Fillipenko. Basically, the UC budget has been cut, and so UC is cutting funds for their only student-operated observator. This is the only observatory where UC students can schedule time and do research, and learn about the stars. As someone who works in the space field, this has me annoyed; as a UC grad and the parent of a future UC grad (although different UCs), it expresses a wrong attitude.

Music: Latin Brass: Barrippi Mompo (John Evans)

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