Here’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.
As 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.”
I 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.
This 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.
- Looking Back at the Past. A few computer related articles looking back at the past. With the announcement of Windows 10, this made a number of people look back at the history of Windows versions. This is significant, as it appears Windows 9 was skipped as a name due to all the software that checked for Windows 95/98 by testing for “Windows 9″. In other “old” news, IBM dropped support for Lotus 1-2-3, and what happened when someone was forced to use Mac OS 9 for a few days.
- Dogs and Hogs. Two animal related items. The first looks at “hog processing” — that is, what happens in the pork industry, and how they are one of the most efficient industries in how they use the animal. I feel that if animals must die for food, it is good that they are completely used and their death isn’t wasted. The second looks at the mythology of dog years — the notion of multiply dog years by 7 to get the human equivalent is false. The real answer is that it is much more complicated.
- The Human Brain. Two articles related to dealing with the human brain. The first deals with those fearful of flying, and how an innovative special effects studio is utilizing their terminal and aircraft sets. The second looks at Costco, and the psychology behind the “free samples” you enjoy when you are there.
- 15 and 15. Two items with counts of 15. The first provides some observations 15 lessons from 15 years of blogging. The second looking at 15 interesting places in the valley, including a few that are very near us.
- Cybersecurity Twosome. Two cybersecurity articles: The first looks at how medical records are much more valuable to hackers than credit card records. The second is an announcement from the FDA on how they are increasing the cybersecurity of medical devices.
- Two Singlets. Two unrelated items, which are paired because they are unrelated. The first is about YidLife Crisis, the first Yiddish sitcom. The second is about a restaurant reviewer in Dallas, who wanted to pay for his meal, but the restaurant refused. Here’s the reviewer’s side of the story. This last one is significant to me: I write up theatre shows I go to, and I (in general) pay for every ticket. I’m offered comp tickets and press reviews, but do not take advantage of them — for the same reason. I feel it taints the reviewer and creates the appearance of “pay for play”. That doesn’t fit with my ethics.
Just 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:
It’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:
- Changes In Music. Here are a couple of articles on changes in music. The first, naturally, has to do with the iPod Classic. Popmatters had a nice requiem for the iPod Classic: As Apple couldn’t improve on perfection, they had to kill it. It talked about what the iPod Classic meant to obsessive-compulsives, especially OCs about music. I know the feeling; with iTunes 11 I’ve been finding myself fixing composers on songs, and cursing iCloud because it keeps the Apple versions of the metadata, which I no longer want. Another article I found explores the death of the fade-out at the end of the song. It used to be very popular in music, but nowadays is gone. This reflects a lot of things: the fade-out no longer represents technical excellence, and bands want to have something they can replicate on tour. Fade-outs also used to be the place to hide lyrics you didn’t want on the radio.
- Restaurant News. Two articles of interest to Southern California folk: Hamburger Hamlet is back in Van Nuys with much of the original menu intact. I must go try it. On the other hand, Roll N’ Rye in Culver City has closed. Yet another Jewish deli goes by the wayside. It is getting to be a disappearing type of cuisine.
- There is a Connection Here. Yes, there is a connection between these three articles, although most folks won’t know it. First, an interesting article on the secret Yiddish connection to Scotland. Next, an article about a fellow bringing high fashion to knitting. Lastly, an article with some facts that anyone taking “the pill” should know.
- A Work Connection. Here are two articles that have a work connection. I’m not sure if I should be scared. First, it appears that SAP has purchased Concur, and on-line travel management software portal. Secondly, Concur now has a connection to Airbnb for business travel.
- Finding Hidden Things. Two articles on being able to find hidden things. The first is about a connection between male pattern baldness and prostate cancer. Luckily, I”ve shown no signs of male pattern baldness. The second article is about the development of a gluten sensor for food.
- Abandoning It All. And lastly, an article about 10 abandoned International airports. I particularly like the mention of Stapleton, and how there are a few signs of it left. Speaking of abandonment, it looks like Toshiba is slashing its consumer PC division. That’s too bad; I’ve liked Toshiba PC products since my indestructable Toshiba T1600 with a 286. With the exception of my daughter’s ASUS and an early Sager 486 system, all of our portables have been Toshibas. I hope they keep a few lines around.
It’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:
- The Perils of DNA Testing. All of our new technology brings with it risks that we often don’t think about until it is too late. We’ve seen that with privacy and the Internet. Here’s another: DNA testing for geneology. This article from Vox has been circulating: “With genetic testing, I gave my parents the gift of divorce” What happened is this: one man got genetic testing for fun and geneology from 23andme. Through it, he discovered an unknown-half brother. The result of investigating this surprise tore his family apart.
- Go Jump in a … Pool. Those of us living in the West know about the drought big time. Some of us live in houses with pools, which creates the question: How much water does a pool waste? Here’s the interesting results of an investigation that show that a typical pool (presuming no leaks) uses less water than a traditional lawn, but a drought-tolerant lawn does better than a pool, … but a pool with a cover does better than a drought-tolerant lawn.
- Theater of Note. Yes, I used the movie spelling, because I’m referring to the Beverly Theater, on Beverly Blvd in the Fairfax district. Once a 2nd run house, later a revival house, it is now being programmed by Quentin Tarantino. He aims to show movies as they were meant to be seen: projected from film, not digital. In fact, much of the programming will be from his own film-print collection.
- Politics and Bedfellows. A couple of interesting political items. It is increasingly looking like Barbara Boxer will not run for another term. This could lead to a nasty political campaign in California. Speaking of nasty, a new reality program aims to strand a Republican senator and a Democratic senator on a deserted island for a week to see if they survive. At least they aren’t on Naked and Afraid.
- A Mental Mindfuck. Anyone who has read the Illuminatus trilogy knows about Markov Chaney, who would go around playing with people’s minds. Mel Brook’s just did a mental mindfuck. He left his handprints a TCI Chinese Theatre, but with a prosthetic finger on one hand. Years from now, Wikipedia will note that Brooks had 11 fingers, and that’s why he made such great comedy.
- Not Vegas. You probably know I like Las Vegas History. So you know I will like this site that allows you to read about Vegas projects that never happened. Alas, they don’t mention the Viva Casino (which I think inspired a hotel in Colorado Springs).
- Leaving a Bad Taste. My favorite apple is the Pippin. Alas, I can rarely find it these days — it’s been pushed out by the Granny Smith (which is markedly inferior). Here’s another history of a bad apple: In this case, why the tasteless Red Delicious has become the most ubiquitous apple. It’s almost as tasteless as an iPhone as a music player for people with large music collections. But I digress.
- Some Useful Info. Here are some useful things to know. Berkeley is going to offer a mobile option for paying for parking. That should be handy for people going near campus. Second, if you use Gmail or (ugh) Yahoo, here’s info on how to make webmail your default mail in a number of browsers. Lastly, here’s a guide to Mongolian BBQ in LA, but (alas) they leave off the valley.
It’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)