Observations Along the Road

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

Category Archive: 'news-chum'

Finders, Keepers

Written By: cahwyguy - Tue Dec 20, 2016 @ 7:35 pm PDT

Today’s news chum post is all about people finding things (or finding lost things):

 

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Cleaning the Refrigerator – Pre-ACSAC News Chum Stew

Written By: cahwyguy - Sat Dec 03, 2016 @ 9:22 am PDT

Observation StewLoad-in for the ACSAC conference starts tomorrow, so I should really clear out the accumulated links. I’ve been trying to theme these or come up with some attempt at connecting them, but it’s just not happening. We’ll just throw them all in the pot and see how the concoction tastes…

  • Cybersecurity in the News. This topic was the closest to a theme post, although I couldn’t quite figure out what I wanted to see. Three articles in the Cyber arena had caught my eye:
    • The first looked at the threat of ransomware in the transportation networks. Most of the advice in the article was actually not specific to transportation, dealing more with educating users to not do stupid things: “The most important thing companies can do is train employees to be suspicious of email, and give them the tools to flag anything that seems strange. In most cases, with close scrutiny of the language, it is possible to tell if an email purporting to be from a colleague is in fact a spoofing email”. Yet is transportation more susceptable? I would tend to think so, because there is more remote monitoring and control, and the increasing computerization of automobiles and transport, most of which don’t have strong use of cybersecurity (authentication, encrypting protocols).
    • The second also related to ransomware, this time talking about free decrypters from Avast. The article made for an interesting read, both with good discussions of how to protect yourself from ransomware, as well as information on how some of the ransomware is working.
    • The last dealt with government cybersecurity — specifically, the upcoming elevation of Cybercommand to a unified combatant command as opposed to being under STRATCOM. There was some interesting discussion of the implications of this, and of how it really doesn’t separate CYBERCOM from the NSA. If you deal with government cybersecurity, this is worth a read.
  • Whole House Wi-Fi . When you have a large house (or a house with concrete walls), getting an effective wi-fi infrastructure is hard. You can use power-line extenders, but they don’t always work. I’ve heard on some of my podcasts about EEro as a solution, and I found this interesting article describing Eero and how it works. It sounds like a good idea, but it is awfully expensive at a starting price of $499. How do I balance the pain of the power-line extenders with the cost of an easy to use system?
  • Masonic Lodge Becomes Museum. Growing up, my father was a Mason and a Shriner. I was never interested, but I do remember constantly driving by the Masonic Temple on Wilshire. The days of the great Lodge 42 are gone, and that building is no longer a Masonic Temple. It is being converted to an art museum, and the good news is that it will be open to the public and free. This is something I’ll need to go to.
  • Folk Music Passage. With all of the recent prominent deaths — Florence Henderson, Ron Glass, Fidel Castro, the American Democratic system — it is easy to have missed the passing of Milt Okun. However, if you’re a folk music lover like me, you’ll know the loss this is. Okun is responsible for many music groups and artists — Peter Paul and Mary, John Denver, and others. He had a major music publishing concern, Cherry Lane Music, and was behind music popular folk (and opera) music.
  • Los Angeles Concerns. Two articles of specific interest to Angelinos like me:
    • Fixing Sidewalks. As you know, the city is transferring responsibility for maintaining sidewalks to property owners. They aren’t fixing them first, but will give you up to $2,000 to do so. The city will launch the program’s website at sidewalks.lacity.org, where residents can report broken sidewalks or find more information about the rebate program. Priority will given to requests from people with disabilities.
    • Pay for Parking. Paid parking is coming to selected Metro stations. If the program is approved, there would be parking fees implemented at the following stations: (•) Expo Line: Expo/Bundy, Expo/Sepulveda, 17th/SMC and La Cienega/Jefferson; (•) Gold Line: APU/Citrus, Irwindale, Atlantic; and (•) Red Line: Universal, North Hollywood. There would be a lower rate for those actually using Metro, although they aren’t doing the smart thing and making parking payments through the TAP card.
  • Help Find Nancy Paulikas. Over 6 weeks ago, the daughter of one of the retired VPs at our company wandered away from LACMA, and has been missing ever since. She’s dealing with Alzheimer’s, and had no ID on her. They are still looking for her, so spread the word.
  • Apartments and Earthquakes. Here’s a good explanation of how many apartment buildings are particularly susceptible to earthquake damage.
  • The BBS Days. By now, you know I’m old. I remember being active in the days of dial-up BBSs, and connecting to all sorts of networks (including the Rain BBS). Here’s a good Slashdot piece on those days, with some links to interesting historical articles.
  • When Life Gives You Lemons. Quite a few months ago, the review aggregator Bitter Lemons imploded, thanks to a misstep by its then editor, Colin Mitchell. The publisher of the site, however, reworked things, picked a new editor, and has started Better Lemons. I’d say things are much improved, however, they still consider me a critic 🙂
  • For That Cat Lady in Your Life. How about a cat menorah? Perhaps we should purchase some and send them to Donald Trump. That way, he can grab them by the… oh…. never mind.

 

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Disturbing Trends

Written By: cahwyguy - Fri Nov 25, 2016 @ 10:13 am PDT

userpic=headlinesToday’s collection of news chum serve to highlight some disturbing historical and societal trends:

  •  Fake and Satirical News Sites. If this election has demonstrated anything, it is that they will believe a headline as long as a friend shares it on Facebook. The impact of fake news and satirical news has been potentially significant, as is the blurring line between journalism and opinion pieces (I’m looking at you, Borowitz). If it sounds too good to be true — if it confirms your biases — then check it before sharing. Here’s a great start at that: a list of BS, fake, or biased news sites.
  • Manipulating Historical Images. Lehrhaus has a very interesting article on the trend of photoshopping historical photos. The example they use are some historical images of Orthodox girls photoshopped to reflect current modesty norms in the community, but the actual concern is much larger. The manipulation of history — the notion is that history is what I say it is, not what the historical record proves — was, so to speak, yuge, in this election. With photoshop, we can change that historical record. Did you know there were four shooters at JFK’s assassination?
  • I Can Fix That. When I was growing up, if something broke, you would fix it. Ovens, washers, TVs, and all sorts of things — even toasters — were such that when they went bad, you took them to a repair shop where they were fixed for a reasonable cost — certainly, less than buying new. Our oven failed earlier this week, and the bad part along was almost $600 — had it been in stock. That’s half the price of a new oven. Our disposable society wastes resources, and creates waste that often will never degrade. The latest example: The new MacBook Pro. The new MacBook Pro, like its earlier Retina designs, has a glued down battery and has RAM that is soldered into the computer’s logic board. Unless you’re an expert microsolderer, the specs of the computer you buy are the specs you’ll have until the end of its life. Kiss those repair shop jobs goodbye. Here’s what the article says about that: “Apple has little incentive to help them, and arguably has little obligation to build computers that can be repaired and resold on the secondary market. That said, a computer that can be salvaged from the scrap heap and used for several more years is many times more environmentally friendly than one that has to be shredded into a million tiny pieces because it has a bad stick of RAM or because you can’t buy an affordable replacement SSD.”
  • Shopping Shopping Everywhere. An abandoned sanitarium in La Crescenta is becoming commercial space: Gangi Design LED Build will renovate 14 buildings from the 1920s-era institution and convert them to “retail and nonprofit use.”  A friend of mine recently complained about the loss of manufacturing and manufacturing jobs, and here’s why: we’ve shipped those jobs overseas because we didn’t want the polluting factories, or labor was cheaper even after the tariffs, [ETA: or automation has replaced those jobs] and we’re left with more shops trying to sell overpriced imported crap to people who no longer have the jobs to pay for them. I’d say this sounds crazy and those proposing the idea should go into a sanitarium, but we’ve been closing the sanitariums.

 

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Thanksgiving, America, and Antisemitism

Written By: cahwyguy - Thu Nov 24, 2016 @ 5:27 pm PDT

userpic=schmuckToday is Thanksgiving day — a day when, in America, we share what we are thankful for. One thing I am thankful for in this country is the freedom to practice my religion, as well as the freedom to not have others force their religion on me. I hope that, in years to come, I can continue to be thankful for such things.

However, what has happened in 2016 has given me some reasons to doubt. Today’s news chum brings together a collection of articles I’ve seen related to this doubt. Part of me said, “Don’t post this on Thanksgiving”. Another part of me said that it was important to do so, precisely because being thankful for something doesn’t mean we should be complacent about it. We have numerous freedoms in this country for which we are all thankful. We must fight for these freedoms every day; the forces that want to take them away make it a constant struggle. So let’s fight, so that we can continue to be thankful for what we have (and not be remembering what we have lost).

Let’s start with a post by Mayim Bialik, who wrote a letter to her haters. This was in response to her posting “a very disturbing article reporting that the New York City Memorial of Beastie Boys frontman Adam Yauch had been desecrated. All of the Beastie Boys were Jewish, and Yauch’s memorial had swastikas and pro-Trump graffiti scrawled all over it.” In it, she writes:

I’m going to state this very plainly, America: many people in this country are racists. Many people think that the Nazi party was correct and they are part of organized organizations that seek to continue the pledges of the Nazi party for white supremacy and the elimination of minorities. Is it 50% of this country? Absolutely not. Is it enough that we should be concerned? Absolutely.

She goes on:

Don’t you think it’s time we stop pretending, America? We have problems. If you are not one of the problems, that’s great. And I’m going to keep posting about things like this to as many people as I can. Not because I’m a celebrity. But because I’m a citizen of this country. I’m the granddaughter of immigrants. I am a Jew. And I am offended and disgusted that people are doing things like this while so many of us don’t want to believe it’s really happening.

But that’s just one example. A few days ago, CNN actually reported a debate on the question “Are Jews people?”. Here’s what Boing Boing said:

Here’s us, suggesting that media people stop using the cutesy term “alt right” to describe Sieg Heiling white supremacists. But they’re already moving onto panel discussions on whether Jews are people.

Would you ever think such a discussion would be on CNN? But it’s there, because Trump’s election has emboldened the white supremecists who make up the euphemistically-titled “alt-right” — and Trump has gone so far as to appoint someone they see as a leader, Steve Bannon, to be a chief advisor.

The Forward explored the question in a different way. There, they looked at the reaction that ensued when Mike Pence was addressed by the actors of Hamilton, reading a statement from the producers, writer, and actors. They asked: “What if this had happened at Fiddler on the Roof?”:

Picture this: It’s a lovely evening at the Broadway Theater and “Fiddler on the Roof” is nearing its finale. Soon, the little village of Anatevka — beset by pogroms and the disruption of tradition — will be little more than a memory. Some will try to adhere to the old ways, others will try their luck with America and assimilation.

The lights go down, then come back up. Applause clatters through the theater, then Danny Burstein, the actor playing Tevye, steps forward and tells the audience that Vice President-elect Mike Pence is in the house. Burstein silences the boos, then reads from a prepared statement:

“We, sir, we are the diverse America, who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights, sir,” Burstein says. “But we truly hope that this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us.”

What would the reaction have been?

Would the actors had been booed? Would there be demands for an apology? Hamilton was a target because it has “the efftrontery to present unapologetically a vision of a wholly diverse America. It’s an America where founding fathers engage in rap battles, and employ the sort of language that the president uses in the locker room but finds filthy when others use it, particularly those who come from different backgrounds and have different visions of America than he does. “Hamilton” represents what America truly looks and sounds like today”. Trump voters want it back where it was in 1964. The Forward continues:

What if there really was a #BoycottFiddler movement? What if Breitbart News declared the “Fiddler” cast to be “whiny Jews?”

A new sense of fear would right now be coursing specifically through the Jewish community, the same way it is coursing through African-American, immigrant and LGBTQ communities; it would be the same fear that is both chilling and galvanizing artistic communities throughout the country as we see grim portents arising from a president-elect who demands safe spaces for himself and his followers and none for anyone else.

Given the reaction of Trump followers, should we be worried about safe spaces for Jews?

By the way, if you think you can leave the US to be safe, think again. The Jewish Journal is reporting that Francois Fillon, a leading contender in the upcoming French presidential election, suggested Jews do not respect French law. He talked about how the French are fighting Muslim sectarianism, and “We fought against a form of Catholic sectarianism or like we fought the desire of Jews to live in a community that does not respect the laws of the French Republic.” If they come to register and restrict the rights of Muslims, what religion is next?

Let us be vigilant about increased antisemitism — and more importantly, remember that we are in a common battle: that racist attacks on any group for a religious, racial, gender, or sexual characteristic is an attack on us all. An opinion piece in the Washington Post from over a year ago opines:

America is unique in Jewish history because the social construct of power and oppression in this society came to be based more on skin color than on religion or ethnic identity. Because of that, along with the best of American values and our own hard work, we now find ourselves as another privileged white ethnicity. Despite our only good intentions, we are — all of us — full participants and beneficiaries of the American evil known as racism.

The brilliance of being Jewish, though, is that we stubbornly refuse to fit into any social construct of power or oppression. We are simply Ivri’im, people from “somewhere else,” people who struggle with God and justice, who demand that the rest of the world does, too, and see every human life as sacred because we are all in the image of God. And the truth is, we have never belonged to one race alone. The Torah tells us that we left Egypt with the “erev rav,” with a mixed multitude of peoples. Around the world there are Jews of color, Asian Jews, Jews of all kinds. The idea that Jews are white is not only ridiculous, it’s offensive to who we really are! Yes, societies like America come along sometimes and give us privileges and powerful labels like “white.” In America’s racist social construct, Jews are very much white people, but we must never again think of ourselves that way — it’s time for us to opt out of that racist paradigm, because we are Jews.

Imagine what we and our children could be like if we associate our Jewishness with an essential statement against racism and discrimination. Even though we and our children have benefited from the best schools and jobs and housing that whiteness affords, we can be the ones to challenge the system from within. We can be the ones who change business practices, housing codes, policing, correctional facilities, social policies, unequal schools — motivated by our values and our Jewish historical experience. Indeed, so many progressive leaders in this country have been Jews (including some Jewish founders of the NAACP), motivated exactly by this vision. But so many more of us need to own our real power, which is not our whiteness, but our Jewishness, our Torah and our tradition that motivates us to remember the stranger, for we were strangers in Egypt; that calls on us to lift up the cause of all those who are oppressed.

We must all work together to ensure that what we are thankful for this year is not taken away in the coming year: the freedom to practice our religion, the freedom from other religions and their values being imposed on us by the government, the freedom to marry who we want, the freedom to control our bodies and our minds, the freedom to speak against power when we see injustice, and the freedom to fight for justice. We need to make it so next year we can be equally thankful.

 

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Election-Free News Chum Stew

Written By: cahwyguy - Sat Nov 05, 2016 @ 11:33 am PDT

Observation StewTake a deep breath. Three days and the national nightmare begins — but at least we won’t have the ads, the fake news stories, and the FB battles. To hold you over, here’s a bit of news chum I’ve accumulated over the last few weeks:

  • Math and Knitting. Two articles related to mathematics and knitting. The first article is about a couple that have focused on knitting mathematical objects: Together they have knitted and crocheted about 90 mathematical afghans, as well as other mathematical objects. The other article is on illusion knitting: Knitting that takes advantage of the 3-D nature of knitting to show different images depending on how the knit object is viewed. The simplest kind of illusion knitting uses one color of yarn. From the front, you see a swath of, say, green. From the side, you see an alternating checkerboard of green squares. Or take the knit below, which appears to be a multicolored grid straight-on but from an angle reveals circles within the grid.
  • Food Triggers. Two articles related to food that can trigger medical problems. The first looks at a group of proteins that have  been identified as the possible cause of non-gluten wheat sensitivity. This group, called amylase-trypsin inhibitors (ATIs)  are a small group, representing about 4 percent of wheat proteins, but they’re powerful. The scientists found that consuming pure ATIs can cause all manner of nasty reactions throughout the body, triggering inflammation not just in the gut but also in the lymph nodes, kidneys, spleen, and brain. That same inflammation can exacerbate autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, asthma, lupus, and inflammatory bowel disease. The second article looks at why some foods trigger migraines. It turns out it isn’t only the food, but the microbes in the mouth. The research team analyzed 172 oral samples and nearly 2,000 fecal samples taken from the American Gut Project, and sequenced which bacteria species were found in participants who suffered migraines versus those who did not. And it turns out, the migraineurs have significantly more nitrate-reducing bacteria in their saliva than those who don’t suffer these headaches.
  • Paying Rent. This went around a few weeks ago, but its still fun: London is still paying rent to the Queen on property rented in 1211 (it seems they didn’t know about “lease-to-buy”). The rent? A knife, an axe, six oversized horseshoes, and 61 nails. Further, no one knows where the property is anymore. Each fall, usually in October, the city and the crown perform the same exchange, for no particular reason other than that they always have. You have to admire the Brits.
  • Popcorn. Here’s another interesting piece of history: why do we have movie popcorn? One didn’t always eat popcorn at movies, but it came into vogue during the depression. At that point, people began to expect it, and theatres realized they had a moneymaker.
  • Internet Problems. Have you found the internet harder to read of late? Even after you take out the election posts, is it hard to read? There could be an answer. Scientists believe that what is making the Internet harder to read is a trend towards lighter and thinner fonts. Where text used to be bold and dark, which contrasted well with predominantly white backgrounds, now many websites are switching to light greys or blues for their type. “If the web is relayed through text that’s difficult to read, it curtails the open access by excluding large swaths of people such as the elderly, the visually impaired, or those retrieving websites through low quality screens.”
  • New Cars and Car Washes. Have you bought a new car of late? Ever take it to the car wash? Many new cars won’t work in car washes because the additional safety equipment locks the wheels even when the car is in neutral. Those cars need special configuration to go through a car wash, and it isn’t just a “car wash” button — but it is buried in the manuals. The issue is automatic parking brakes, which put on the brakes, even if in neutral, to prevent the car from rolling into people or things. It does this if it detects things near the car.
  • Homelessness and Cars. Sigh. The city has passed an ordinance to prevent people from sleeping in cars or RVs in residential districts. This is an example of a law that the privileged pass against the unprivileged, instead of helping.
  • Jacob Neusner Z”L. A passing you may have missed: Jacob Neusner, one of the top Jewish scholars of our generation. Neusner almost singlehandedly created the modern study of Judaism. In doing so, he revolutionized our understanding of the history of Judaism and our perception of what Judaism can mean to Jews today. I know I was reading Neusner’s books when I was at UCLA in the 1980s.
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Coming and Going in the Southland

Written By: cahwyguy - Fri Oct 14, 2016 @ 5:54 pm PDT

userpic=van-nuysToday’s news chum post has nothing to do with this year’s election, even though Hillary Clinton just left the Southland after visiting her ATM, and the Donald wouldn’t set foot again in the land of fruits and nuts, as temptation might get the better of him. Instead, it focuses on non-candidate things in Southern California that have been coming or going:

  • Coming: A Hotel at CSUN. It appears there are plans to build a smallish hotel on the grounds of CSUN, roughly where the Orange Grove Bistro is now. The hotel plan is to feature 150 rooms and will be between four or five stories. The restaurant that will be either within or attached to the hotel lobby; will offer breakfast, lunch and dinner services to both hotel guests and students.  It will serve a greater purpose for lecturers, families of students, members of the CSU Board of Trustees, visiting athletes and recreation and management tourism majors. The developer will be the source of funding for the hotel if approved; CSUN contributes only the ground lease. The idea arose because the Bistro building, as one of the oldest on campus, will require renovation soon and there are no funds for repair or replacement.
  • Going: Irvine Meadows. The last concerts are playing out, and soon Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre will be no more. Irvine Meadows was built in 1980 by the Irvine Company and it opened in 1981. It was the largest amphitheatre in Orange County, with 10,418 reserved seats and 5,667 on the lawn. In 1981, when it opened, the amphitheatre was part of Lion Country Safari. In November 1984, after more than 14 years in business, Lion Country Safari closed permanently. In 1986, part of the former Safari Camp became Wild Rivers Waterpark. The water park operated until September 2011. It’s now the site of Los Olivos, the largest apartment complex in Orange County, with 1,750 units. More overpriced apartments are planned for the site of the amphitheater when its lease runs out in 2017. The Lion Country Safari name has long been erased. Moulton Parkway adjacent to the site is now called Irvine Center Drive. (It’s still Moulton Parkway after Lake Forest Drive.)
  • Coming: Porter Ranch Statues. Returning, however, is a bit more precise. For decades, the statues of two waving mounted cowboys at Devonshire and Tampa had greeted visitors outside The Porter Ranch, a Northridge development of model homes in what is now the neighborhood of Porter Ranch. In the 1980s, they disappeared. Turns out the fabled cowboys had been carted off to Leona Valley near Palmdale. Now, after a full restoration, the Porter Ranch statues are back. They will be shown at their temporary digs at Valley Relics Museum before being installed in a 50-acre Los Angeles park being built by Toll Bros. home builders.
  • Going: Jerry’s Deli (nee Solley’s) in Woodland Hills. After 43 years, Jerry’s Famous Deli, at 21857 Ventura Blvd., will serve up its last order of lox, bagels and cream cheese on Sunday, 10/16. The restaurant opened in 1973 as part of the Solley’s Delicatessen chain. Studio City-based Jerry’s Famous Deli, Inc. bought the Ventura Boulevard eatery and one on Van Nuys Boulevard in 1996. The Van Nuys store retained the Solley’s name but closed in June of last year. Why is it closing? The Ventura Boulevard deli still made money but there was a problem with the landlord, San Diego-based Retail Opportunity Investments Corp.
  • Coming: Massive Development at the Promenade. An enormous new mixed use development could be on its way to the site of a declining shopping mall in Woodland Hills. Plans filed with the city Thursday call for the construction of 1,432 residential units, along with two hotels with a combined 572 guest rooms at what is currently Warner Center’s Promenade mall. The plans also propose 244,000 square feet of retail space, including a grocery and drug store; more than 600,000 square feet of offices; and an entertainment and sports center. It is unclear the timing of this construction, or the impact on the few businesses, and the remaining AMC theatre, on the property (which have longer leases). The AMC building is a separate building; it could remain while construction goes on around it.
  • Going: The Sports Arena. The Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena — now a mass of dusty concrete and steel — is slowly being razed with little public outcry. It’s a finale that characterizes the city’s apathy for a 57-year-old has-been that plodded through the decades in the shadow of glitzier venues. Soon to rise in its place is a 22,000-seat stadium that will host a Major League Soccer franchise. It was the first home of the Los Angeles Lakers, shelter to the Clippers for 15 years, and the dutiful servant of UCLA and USC basketball teams. At least it didn’t become a ghost arena.
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A Sweet Circular News Chum, with Raisins

Written By: cahwyguy - Mon Oct 03, 2016 @ 5:22 pm PDT

round challah userpicIt’s Rosh Hashanah afternoon (L’Shana Tovah to all), and I’m exhausted from the morning. Yet I have a bunch of news chum to post. Let’s see if we can braid it into something sweet and circular, coming back by the end to where I started. This time, we’ll just give headlines and a few comments.

  • The O shaped iPod? On Rosh Hashanah, you dip Apples in Honey, so where else to start but with a circular Apple product. This article describes a new circular design for the iPod Shuffle that is quite cool, if a Shuffle has enough storage for your needs.
  • The Taxonomy of Tech Holdouts. As we’re talking about iPods, here are the nine archetypes of planned non-obsolecence, from the Anachronist to the Careful Curator. I think I’m the latter.
  • Navy scuttles sailors’ enlisted rating titles in huge career shake-up. Moving from holdouts to non-holdouts. The Navy is holding on to specialist ratings no more. Effective immediately, sailors will no longer be identified by their job title, say, Fire Controlman 1st Class Joe Sailor. Instead, that would be Petty Officer 1st Class Joe Sailor.
  • New college at Onizuka Station pays homage to the ‘Blue Cube’. Moving from the Navy to their sister service, the Air Force. Those in the Bay Area might remember the blue cube, the former Onizuka AFS. It has been converted into a local college, but still plays homage to its history. The walkways leading from the parking lot to the campus are speckled with flecks of blue paint harvested from the cube. Once inside, there is the Onizuka Cafe for hungry students and the Satellite Lounge next door for relaxation and study. Two murals that previously had been inside the cube are now hung in campus hallways. One features the Challenger shuttle with a memorial poem. The other is signed by many former employees of the Onizuka Air Force Station and coincidentally features a large owl—Foothill’s mascot—with a lightning bolt in its talons.
  • An Abandoned Hospital in West Adams Has Been Filled With Fine Art. Moving from an Abandoned Air Station to an Abandoned Hospital, although this one is still abandoned. The LA Metropolitan Hospital was one of the first black hospitals, but it close a few years ago and is pending redevelopment. However, for the next month, there is an interesting art exhibit in the abandoned hospital.
  • Texas prisons ban books by Langston Hughes and Bob Dole – but ‘Mein Kampf’ is OK. A hospital is a pubic service building, and so is a prison. So here’s an interesting prison story: prisons in Texas have banned books by Bob Dole, Harriet Beecher Stowe or Sojourner Truth. But inmates are more than welcome to dig into Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” or David Duke’s “My Awakening.” The rationale: they ban offensive language or violence or sex, but not offensive ideas.
  • Palestinians’ Abbas seeks British apology for 1917 Jewish homeland declaration. Moving from Hitler to another group that doesn’t like the Jews: the Palestinians. According to the Palestinian President, Britain should apologize for its 1917 declaration endorsing the founding of a Jewish homeland in Palestine and should recognize Palestine as a state.
  • Your Samsung washing machine might be about to explode. Moving from explosive ideas to explosive washers. The problem it appears, is a defective support rod that is causing washer tubs to separate, potentially launching wires, nuts and other parts.  Boom!
  • The one step you shouldn’t skip when cooking with your cast iron pan. Moving from the Laundry Room to the kitchen, here are some tips regarding use of cast iron pans.
  • Fat Flora? Gut Bacteria Differ in Obese Kids. What do you cook in a cast iron pan? Food. And what happens if you eat too much food? You get fat. Researchers have found that obese children have a different population of microorganisms living in their intestinal tracts, compared with lean children. These microorganisms appear to accelerate the conversion of carbohydrates into fat, which then accumulates throughout the body, the researchers said.
  • Attack of the plastic eaters: Can mushrooms, bacteria and mealworms save the planet from pollution? Speaking of bacteria, it runs out they may be the solution to accumulating plastic. As it turns out, nature might offer us the solution to our man-made problems. Scientists around the world are harnessing — in test tubes, under glass domes, and within large bioreactors — the power of living things that can digest plastic without suffering harm.
  • Inside Arizona’s Pump Skimmer Scourge. Of course, if you’re in Arizona, you should keep a close eye on your plastic — not due to bacteria, but criminals that are doing a lot of skimming of gas and other credit cards.
  • Why the Hallmark Card Company Owns Thousands of Priceless Artworks. Plastic, of course, refers to a credit card, and who is one of the largest purveyors of greeting cards? Hallmark. Here’s the history of Hallmark, and why the company owns lot of priceless art.
  • UC Berkeley mascot Oski celebrates 75th birthday. Of course, you send greeting cards on an anniversary, and it just so happens that Oski, the mascot of UC Berkeley, is celebrating an anniversary — his birthday.
  • Horses can communicate with people using symbols. Oski is a bear, and another type of animal is a horse. It turns out that twenty three horses learned to tell trainers if they wanted to wear a blanket or not. Subjects were shown three symbols: a horizontal bar to say “I want a blanket”, a blank square for “No change”, and a vertical bar for “I don’t need a blanket”. They learned the meanings in a day or two and using them to convey if they were too warm or too cold, building the case for self-awareness.

Of course, a square is a simple polygon, and if you keep adding sides to a polygon infinitely, you end up with a circle. An a circle, of course, is the shape of the new iPod Shuffle, which permit us to spiral back to where this post began. Of course, circles and spirals are the shape of a round Challah, which we dip in honey as we wish EVERYONE a happy and healthy new year. May you all be written and inscribed for the happiest of years.

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Understanding The News

Written By: cahwyguy - Wed Sep 21, 2016 @ 11:44 am PDT

userpic=oh-shitAs I sit here eating lunch and reading the headlines on Google News, I see the following:

newsimageCharlotte police shooting victim was armed with a gun, chief says after night of violent protests
Washington Post – ‎6 minutes ago‎
CHARLOTTE – The morning after violent protests erupted over the fatal police shooting of a black man, officials here called for peace while stressing that the man was armed and posing an “imminent deadly threat” when officers shot and killed him …

I’m reading the headline, and I’m thinking, “You know, most people will read this headline, think the killing was justified based on it, and not see what the protests are about.” Similarly, they’ll read about the shooting in Tulsa of the unarmed black man, learn that PCP was found in his trunk, and go “it was justified.”

Here’s why both of these are problems, and why they are illustrative of the divide in society that is captured in #BlackLivesMatter.

In the Charlotte incident, ask yourself: If the man who was shot was Hispanic, would the behavior of the officer have been the same? If he had been a white woman? If he had been a white man in a hoodie? If he had been a white man in a suit and tie? Quite likely — as is in the case of most police departments — the reaction of the officers would have been different. Therein is the problem. Police officers (and society at large) are bringing visible and invisible prejudices into situations, and those are coloring their reactions. As a result, the reaction is no longer based solely on the crime, on innocence or guilt, on clear danger, but on perceived danger, on fear not facts, on clothing and skin color and bias. The upshot of this is that being a person of color or being of lower socioeconomic status can cost you your life in a police situation even before real guilt or innocence is determined. That is something that is no longer acceptable today.

Similarly, whether or not there was PCP in the trunk is immaterial. Officers cannot see in the trunk. If the fellow who was shot was dressed like an investment banker or a lawyer, would the reaction have been the same, or would there have been hesitation. The difference in reaction is the problem; the reaction often comes from the internalized fear of “the other”, those beneath us in society, those for whom we have stereotypical tropes in our head.

Does the reaction happen the other way as well? What about those white officers who have been shot? I opine that in the opposite case, the only color that matters is the color of the uniform, not the skin. Those whom have been downtrodden by the police are having instinctive reactions to the uniform, and fighting back. Many analogies come to me.

So when you read about #BlackLivesMatter — and the opposite side of the issue, be it called #AllLivesMatter or White Racism or something else — think about the issue of hidden bias, and police who fear and overreact based on stereotypes, skin color, and status.

Oh, and by the way, this doesn’t mean that all police officers feel this way. Many — I’d go so far as to venture out on a limb and say a majority — go out of their way to avoid bias, and want to serve and protect everyone in their community. The problem is that a few bad apples have spoiled the entire bunch, and many people are scared to interact with a bushel of apples that may have one bad one in it (and so their reaction is to stomp them all).

When you see headlines such as this, ask yourself if hidden bias could have come into play. If it could, that may explain the reaction you see. Further, if you say that in this case, there may really have been a reason for the response, remember that the reaction of the community has been tainted by years and years and years of misbehavior. Until those policing us have a history of demonstrating color-and-bias blind policing, every action is suspect.

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