Observations Along the Road

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

Category Archive: 'news-chum'

The Good, The Bad, the Scary, and the Really Scary

Written By: cahwyguy - Tue Mar 04, 2014 @ 12:16 pm PDT

userpic=stressedToday’s lunchtime news chum brings together the makings of an Italian Western: the good, the bad, and the ugly….

  • The Good. Know a woman interested in Information Security? Then point her to the Scholarship for Women Studying Information Security (SWSIS), sponsored by ACSA, CRA-W, and HP. In fact, HP has just made a sizable donation to support this scholarship.
  • The Bad. Carl Kasell is retiring from “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me!“. Evidently, he will be Announcer and Judge Emeritus, and occasionally show up and still record voice mail messages for winners. I wonder if Legendary Announcer Bill Kurtis will take over; he’s filled in for Carl enough.
  • The Scary. Here’s an unspeakable fear for you: What if a big rig carrying your mail went up in flames on the highway? Hyptothetical? Nope, it just happened. Think of those bills you paid… that will never get the check, ruining your credit rating. Think of those bills you thought you would receive… and thus will never pay. Tax returns. Amazon shipments. All gone, and you’ll never know. MWahahah.
  • The Really Scary. As scary as that last one was, how about this: One in ten Americans thinks HTML is a sexually-transmitted disease. Expect to see this one on Wait-Wait, but it really highlights how little people understand about technology. Other findings of the same study: 27% identified “gigabyte” as an insect commonly found in South America;42% said they believed a “motherboard” was “the deck of a cruise ship”;23% thought an “MP3″ was a “Star Wars” robot; 18% believed “Blu-ray” was a marine animal; and 15% believed “software” is comfortable clothing. Oh, and just think, these people are voting in elections, commenting on news articles, and (ummm) watching “Honey Boo Boo”.



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Going Away

Written By: cahwyguy - Fri Feb 28, 2014 @ 11:29 am PDT

userpic=southparkThis has been a busy week, what with getting back from Portland, doing more site visits in LA, reviewing a lot of documents, and the retirement festivities for a long-time department member here at the ranch. But I did accumulate a few items, all having to do with retirement and things going away:

  • Up, Up, and Away. If you haven’t figured it out by now, I’m interested in transportation. So, naturally, I found this article about the retirement of the last DC-10 and DC-9 in passenger service fascinating. I actually see DC-10s on a regular basis — as our van exits the 105 to drop off our Boeing folks, we pass right by the FedEx dock where they are loading DC-10 freighters.
  • Giving an Arm and a Leg. When my daughter was little, I was felled by “stupid dad syndrome”. I was sitting on some monkey bars at Northridge Park watching her play, slipped, and came down full force with my leg on the iron bar. It was tightly swollen and purple (but not broken), and I remember words like “compartment syndrome”. Shortly after that accident, I had to travel — on that bum leg — to Boston to give a briefing for a project I couldn’t get out of. After reading this article about former CNN anchor Miles O’Brien, I realize how lucky I was. O’Brien had a similar compartment problem — for him, on his arm — and they ended up having to amputate.
  • Shelving It Away. Ikea is discontinuing its most popular bookshelf, the Expedit. This is causing an uproar amongst Expedit users. However, it is not really dead — it is just being redesigned slightly to save some wood and some manufacturing costs. Still, this redesign announcement is considered a bungle by some, and the old shelving (Expedit) won’t match completely with the new (Kallax).
  • What Evil Lurks… If you grew up in Los Angeles, you couldn’t avoid the commercials for Adee Plumbing (“Who knows what evil lurks in the heart of your plumbing? Adee-Do”) or Jack Stephan Plumbing (“Jack Stephanovich?”). The man behind that company, the real Jack Stephan, just died. My favorite part of this obituary is his tombstone: “The name plate he chose for his crypt at Inglewood Park Cemetery reads in extra-large letters: “IT’S JACK STEPHAN!!!””
  • They’re Not Dead, They’re Just in Perris. Finally a picture of red cars and yellow cars waiting to be crushed :-(.


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News Chum Stew: A Tasty Thread

Written By: cahwyguy - Sat Feb 22, 2014 @ 7:17 am PDT

Observation StewJust because I’m in Portland doesn’t mean I can’t prepare you some tasty news chum stew for breakfast. Let’s dig in, before you all decide to abandon me for Voodoo Donuts… luckily, I’ve been able to come up with a thread for this — no overall theme, only a connection between each article and the next…

  • Twisted in a Pretzel. Before NPR wrote about it on Friday, the LA Business Journal was writing about the invention of the Peanut Butter filled pretzel (which is where I saw it), how a company named Maxim’s pioneered the product 26 years ago, and how TJs picked it up and sold it. The crunchy snack became a major part of Maxim’s business, and Maxim oversaw the production by companies such as ConAgra. Then TJs decided to cut out the middleman… The point of the article being that even companies we perceive as “nice and good” are, at their heart, businesses.
  • Put a Ring on It. Perhaps you saw, a few weeks ago, the video showing how the entire engagement ring custom was designed by DeBeers to sell diamonds. Here’s another bit of news from the jewelry industry. Kay Jewelers is being bought by Signet, the owner of Zales. Signet operates 1,400 U.S. stores, including its higher end Jared chain. Zale has about 800 Zales and Gordon’s Jewelers stores, as well as 630 Piercing Pagoda mall kiosks. In Canada, Zale operates the successful Peoples Jewellers chain. The net translation of this: most of the jewelers you see in malls are all owned by the same parent company. As always: support local business; buy from a local jeweler.
  • All Generics Are Not Equal. Knowing from where you buy is important. In the US, when you buy brand name medicine, you know what you are getting and who made it, but you pay a big price for that knowledge. If you buy generic, you save money — but are you getting the equivalent? The answer… not always. In particular, it appears that medicines manufactured in India are creating safety concerns. This one actually hit home: my wife has one medicine that used to be brand-name only that has finally gone generic. Our 90-supplier recently sent us the generic. My wife checked with her doctor, and the first batch was fine — it was made in England. He told her he only wanted her to take medicines made in first-world countries. The second batch — from India. We had to coordinate getting it returned and replaced.
  • How We Look at the World. The mention of first-world and third-world makes one think about how we view the world. Here’s a question for you: Have you ever thought about why North is always at the top of a map? Al-Jazeera America did. What’s interesting is looking at the alternate maps — your bearings are totally off. By the way, having N at the top is a recent invention; N has been at the top only for about the last 500 years.
  • Whose on Top. It’s always a battle to determine who should be at the top of the heap. Alas, such a battle is happening over Casey Kasem — the DJ who used to be ubiquitous on the radio. Kasem’s children from his first marriage are battling over the right to visit their father. Who are they battling? Jean Kasem, his current wife. Jean, if you recall, played Nick Tortelli’s wife on Cheers. Note that this isn’t a battle over money — only the right to visit their father.
  • Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah. Speaking of mothers and fathers, Mark Evanier writes of a recently released collection of Allan Sherman’s early parody material. For those of us who remember who Allan Sherman was, this is of great interest. Mark notes: “But let me warn you of two things. One is that some of the 13 songs on this CD are kinda short. The whole thing runs around 34 minutes. And the other thing is that the audio quality is not wonderful. If you go to this page to order (and I’m not suggesting you not, especially if you’re a big Sherman fan), play a few samples so you can hear the quality of the recordings you’ll be getting.” Still, new Sherman music is quite tempting.


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Looking to the Past

Written By: cahwyguy - Wed Feb 19, 2014 @ 6:08 pm PDT

userpic=headlinesToday’s news chum brings together a collection of articles of historical interest, from taxes to time capsules, from food to food places…


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It’s What The Internet Is For…

Written By: cahwyguy - Tue Feb 18, 2014 @ 8:49 pm PDT

userpic=tortuga-heuvosToday’s news chum post brings together a collection of articles about what pervades the Internet, but about which no one talks: porn. Maybe its astrological, but there have been a bunch of interesting articles of late (which I read for the articles): [I'll note that all the top-level links in the post are SFW, although the articles themselves may link to NSFW stuff]

  • Making It Pay. We’ve all heard that porn is at the forefront of all Internet innovations. That may be true, but porn is suffering from the same problem as digital music: People are asking themselves …. why should I pay for it when I can get it for free (and there is lots of free porn out there, at sites that subsist from advertising). So, as NPR reports, the porn industry is trying to come up with new ways to get people to pay… and the primary way is to make it interactive where people can make online requests. The interesting aspect here (to me) is a problem the porn industry has: they can’t mine “big data” because people don’t want to leave tracks — they browse in private mode, they don’t like to use credit cards… and there’s not that big of a market to buy the data.
  • Who’s Making It. When you look at the actors who make porn, there are two camps: professionals and amateurs. Despite what you may be led to believe, most people don’t want to see “manufactured” (artificially enhanced) actors — they want to see actors that look like them, with imperfections and flaws. So who is uploading the amateur stuff? Huffington Post reports on a survey with the answers: One porn site discovered that almost one-third of homemade sex tapes submitted between July and December 2013 were created not in sexually liberal coastal cities, as one might imagine, but in the Bible Belt. Furthermore, 56.9 percent of videos were submitted by women. The states with the highest number of submissions were California (20.6 percent) and Pennsylvania (11.8 percent), but 10.8 percent of submissions came from Florida and 6.9 percent from Texas. Other Bible Belt states contributing submissions included North Carolina, Georgia, Louisiana and Kentucky. Perhaps this is because “religious” cities watch as much porn as non-religious cities. Yup, some folks do mine big data from visitors to porn sites.
  • Why They Do It? Perhaps you’re thinking that all these folks visiting the sites are the lonely single guys out there (how come Avenue Q is coming to mind again). But you might be surprised again. A recent survey quoted by the Huffington Post shows the people who watch more porn have more sex. The article has a nice infographic with the results of the survey.

And with that, I’ll leave you to your late night reading…

P.S.: Trying to figure out the icon? This will explain it.

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A Hearty Stew, With Lots of Nuggets of Interest

Written By: cahwyguy - Sat Feb 15, 2014 @ 6:06 am PDT

Observation StewWhereas 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?


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Looking Beneath the Skin

Written By: cahwyguy - Thu Feb 13, 2014 @ 11:39 am PDT

userpic=masksFinally, 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.


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Busy Week == Thin Stew

Written By: cahwyguy - Sat Feb 08, 2014 @ 11:04 am PDT

Observation StewThis 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.

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