Thursday, November 23, 2017

A real life WKRP In Cincinnati turkey drop

Rick emails to point out the annual Yellville, Arkansas Turkey Trot festival.  During the festival, they drop live turkeys out of an airplane.  Really.

[blink] [blink] [blink]

As you'd imagine, this is pretty controversial.  Now I can understand a bunch of flyover country folks flipping the bird to granola-eating PETA city folk who like to look down on them.  I really do.  But part of me thinks "Arkansas, man".

But it seems that turkeys actually can fly, but badly.

Thank you, Comcast

I'm glad that I have enough troubleshooting skills that when the Comcast tech support idiot runs through 20 minutes of nonsense I can figure out how to fix it by myself.  And no, I don't want a maybe we'll charge you and maybe we won't appointment, thanks very much.  And thanks for refusing to bump me up to Tier 2 when I asked.


But The Queen Of The World has the parade on, so go team me!

But Comcast "support" can die in a crotch fire.

Happy Thanksgiving, y'all!

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Your holiday cybersecurity guide for family

Good article by Robert Graham: what to tell your family who use you as tech support about the key things they should to to keep secure.

Simple, to the point, and probably doable for most people.

On Thanks - A Brigid Guest Post

I'm getting things ready for tomorrow.  Just a fairly simple meal with my husband as after both of us being gone a good part of the month we didn't wish to travel.  My husband will likely get the SUV serviced for a trip to southern Illinois to visit his parents next weekend but this weekend we're staying home and safe. I just saw my Dad a couple of weeks ago, so I won't be flying out there for Thanksgiving with him and he has an invite to join a family nearby.

It wouldn't be the same with both Mom and my brother gone.  But thinking of that got me to smile with a memory from a Thanksgiving long ago. Mom had read somewhere that cooking the turkey in a bag would render the turkey very juicy. Except she missed the part about low temperature and the type of bag. So Mr. Turkey went into the oven in a Safeway paper shopping bag,  pop-out timer side down.

 As he roasted, the juice and grease pooled in the bottom of the bag. When the timer popped, "turkey's done" it popped THROUGH the bag, releasing all the hot grease onto the burner.


Big Bro calmly said "Mom, the turkey blew up!"
It was the first and only time I heard my Mom say a four-letter cuss word. Dad admonished her to leave the door closed as she turned the heat off.  He simply stood in the corner of the kitchen, muttering "Oh, the Humanity", tears rolling down his face as he was laughing so hard. We had KFC that year as the remains were removed in a bucket.

After Mom took ill, there were other events. A time at the vacation cabin where Dad cooked pancakes. I'm not sure how he did it, but you could hardly cut through them. He gave one to our wiener dog Pepper, who took it outside and buried it in the sand along the shore. Big Bro threw another one in the fire. It didn't burn.

I can picture that as if it were happening now, the splash of sunlight on cedar, the memory, of the smell of wet dog and the taste of laughter, of where people have lived and will always.
Hygge.  The word comes to mind, especially at Thanksgiving.  It's a Danish word that roughly means eating and drinking and being together with friends, a feeling or mood that comes from taking genuine pleasure in making ordinary everyday things simply extraordinary. We don't have any such word in the English language, and life today seems to rarely accommodate such a ritual.

I can be insular, and driven. At work I take no quarter and am not intimidated by blood, death or bad hair days.. Yet at home, I am a caregiver, as my Mom was with us. Even when she was tired, she would make us homemade cookies and pastries to have after school or with our lunch. Shortening scrapped from its can, dough formed and rounded, rolled flat, and rolled up, carefully studded with fragrant spices and baked golden.
When at school, I'd open up my lunch box, and find every given day, a peanut butter sandwich, an apple, coins for milk and an ice cream and a small tinfoil packet I'd unfold with great care. Inside, the scraps of her making, dusted with cinnamon and sugar, soft and whole. I do not share. I scrape the foil clean.

Dinner at the big table wasn't just on Thanksgiving. It was every night but TV Tray in the Family Room Night. But on those dinners around the big table, I can't recall so much of what we talked about or who said what, but I do remember the gathering, the smells of beef and fresh vegetables, of laughter, of stories from school, from work, a discarding of weighty thought and the simple gathering of those you love, for nourishment of the soul. I can't recreate the exact moments through what I cook, or who I serve it to, but I still can remember how those simple meals made me feel, the redemptive power of the communion of those who love one another.

Dad is clearing stuff out of the house, as his days grow shorter.  Having just downsized and gotten rid of so much, the only things I wished from it were small; things of worth, but perhaps not value. A couple are tattered cookbooks in which are written Mom's notes of when she made something new and if we liked it. One was a folder in which Mom placed handwritten menu plans for family gatherings and holidays. Some were planned dishes, some were instructions for the meal itself. Piece after piece of small lined paper, on which her handwriting lay.
So many scraps of paper, so many meals, some dated 1962 when she and Dad were still new in the house.  It was the house she lived in the remainder of her life and to which they brought me and Big Bro home as small, scared children, to heal with them, then to belong, as family.

I hold those pieces of paper and feel the warmth, a woman preparing food for her family, for her friends, small hieroglyphs that tell me nothing but that someone loved us, scribbled messages that would not make sense to everyone but will never fail to be understood.

At that family table we learned many things.  We learned patience (I tell you young lady, you are going to sit here until you eat that squash!) We learned aerodynamics (spoon at 45 degrees, wind from the SE at two mph, PEAS, initiate launch sequence!)  We learned thanks, and not just at Thanksgiving. We learned comfort and safety.

As I went out on my own, even when I didn't have a family of my own, there was a gathering, even if I just invited over my bachelor colleagues, put together a ham and some homemade mashed potatoes and the trimmings while we listened to music and actually talked about something other than our jobs. For it was the sharing and the care that was important, not necessarily what we ate.
Hygge, it's something I learned from my Mom as I watched her growing up. Even as Dad bought her the latest appliances to ease her burden as she grew sicker, she continued to make things as her Mom and generations past had done, stirring by hand, shaping and crafting, only forming a brief and sullen armistice with the food processor when chemo was winning.
She made meals in health and she made meals in sickness, those last days where there was a look on her face as if having seen something which she knows existed even as she refused to believe in it. She'd pause, blink as if the sun was in her eyes, then go back to peeling the carrots for one of perhaps thousands of relish trays she made in her life. Then she'd set it upon that old dining room table with the captains chairs that looked like something taken off an old schooner, a table that looked out of place among all the 70's orange and yellow shag carpeting, but was as timeless as that moment.

She carried more than meals to the table, she carried us, with broken dreams and broken hearts, holding us together, even as she left us.

 "You did good Mom" I say to an empty kitchen, the curtains in the window moving with the opening of a door as if breath. Then the curtains fall still, the room quiet as if this hushed little space is isolated in space, without time or dimension, hollowed whisperings of love and safety amidst the turmoil and fury of time. There is no light in the room now, but for one small kitchen candle, the flame standing sentient over the wick as I wait for the sound of steps on the porch.

My Dad's table will not ever be graced by all of us again, but it will be the inheritance of those who remain, few of them family by blood, but all of them family by acceptance. I hope that one day, long after I am gone, a small child will sit at it and say "tell us the story about when Great Grandma Grace's turkey blew up". . . .

. . and laughter will ring out again.

Hunting and killing a raw vegan turkey

This is pretty damn funny.

Only a Shadow Now

Time flies over us, but leaves its shadow behind. 
--Nathaniel Hawthorne

Monday, November 20, 2017

How Bitcoin really works

It's funny because it's true.

20 Years Late

The New York Times, 20 years later, considers the possibility that Ken Starr was right. Bill Clinton was a serial sexual abuser, possibly a rapist, who lied about it under oath.

And in the aftermath, the Democratic Party became his enabler, protecting him and voting to keep him in office. But they can't say they didn't know.

Newspapers don't care about printing the truth

They care about printing a story:
Every November, the FBI releases its hate-crime statistics for the previous year. They've been doing this every year for a long time. When they do so, various news organizations grab the data and write a quick story around it.

By "story" I mean a story. Raw numbers don't interest people, so the writer instead has to wrap it in a narrative that does interest people. That's what the writer has done in the above story, leading with the fact that hate crimes have increased.

But is this increase meaningful? What do the numbers actually say?

To answer this, I went to the FBI's website, the source of this data, and grabbed the numbers for the last 20 years, and graphed them in Excel, producing the following graph:

As you can see, there is no significant rise in hate-crimes. Indeed, the latest numbers are about 20% below the average for the last two decades, despite a tiny increase in the last couple years. Statistically/scientifically, there is no change, but you'll never read that in a news article, because it's boring and readers won't pay attention. You'll only get a "news story" that weaves a narrative that interests the reader.
In this case, the narrative was "Hate crimes increase".

Really, the only thing to add to this analysis is that certain narratives are more pleasing to the progressives that populate the News Room than others.  Those pleasing narratives will get pushed to the front page, while less pleasing narratives will get "fact checked" to death.

As Mark Twain said, if you don't read the newspaper you're uninformed.  If you do read the newspaper you're misinformed.

Layers and layers of fact checkers

Polifact awards "Four Pinocchios" to Duffle Blog.

Layers on layers on layers.  You know, onions have layers.  I wonder if Polifact this that The Onion has layers, too.  And "Bowe Bergdahl wanders off during Court Martial" is hilarious.

Hat tip: Don Surber.

Fun fact: autocorrect wants to substitute "polecat" for "Polifact".  Heh.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Thanksgiving cooking pro tip

It seems that you don't even need to know how to cook.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

In Dog Beers I've Had One - A Brigid Holiday Shopping Guest Post

Grocery shopping in a snowstorm the weekend before Thanksgiving is never fun.  But with my husband being in charge of spiders, dead possums in the yard, and home repairs the grocery shopping is my weekly chore.  I HAVE learned some things, however.

500 carts in the store and I will get the one with the front wheel that pirouettes like a ballerina on crack.

I always make a list.  Sometimes I remember to bring it with me.

Always eat something before shopping.  I once went on an empty stomach and came home as the proud owner of Aisle 5.

You can go to the store for "just" milk, and spend $125.
Pork chop in homemade fig molasses with grist mill cornbread.  Forget the Kraft Dinner.

You know you need "me" time when a stroll down the detergent aisle feels like a spa day.

My husband once asked me to pick up some oil  There were like 87 different kinds.  I now know what men feel like in the tampon aisle.

If someone is standing directly in front of the item I need I will pretend to look for something else until they move.

I once lost my Mom in the store.  I was 51.  They gave me a balloon and paged her.

I do not object to telling the millennial who has 37 items in the Express Aisle "that I know all the lyrics to FROZEN and I am NOT afraid to use them".

I have, on more than one occasion of many years, turned the Betty Crocker Upside Down Cake box in the aisle - upside down.

I realize that I get excited that I can now buy the unhealthy cereal my Mom usually didn't let us have.

Someday they will say about me "she died doing what she loved, carrying 87 plastic bags of groceries from the car to the house, rather than make 2 trips.".

That being said - happy to have survived and made it home for a cold one.

And a frozen pizza - as I was tired out from all the shopping.

Breaking the Four Rules

At a Thanksgiving supper at a church in Tellico Plains, Tennessee, some elders were discussing the recent shooting in Texas. One elder unholstered his concealed carry piece, unloaded it, and passed it around. When he got it back, he loaded it, rechambered a round, and then...wait for it.

That's right! He went for it, broke all Four Rules, with the predictable results.

He took a loaded gun, pointed it at other people at a church supper, put his finger on the trigger, and shot two people.

All Guns are always loaded. He couldn't even say he thought it was unloaded. He knew it was loaded. He had just loaded it.

Never point the gun at anything you are not willing to destroy. He pointed it at a couple from his congregation.

Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on target (and you have made the decision to shoot).His finger was definitely on the trigger.

Be sure of your target and what is beyond it. He not only shot one person in the hand, he hit the next person in the abdomen.

If he had just pointed the gun away from the people into a corner as he loaded it, most of this stupid would have been reduced to embarrassment and sheet rock repairs. If he had left it in the holster, all of it would have been eliminated.

As Tam would say, "Just stop touching it."

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Thoughts on Sen. Franken

The dog that hasn't barked in this situation is Donald Trump - he hasn't taken to Twitter to stir the pot.  That's interesting.  Why not?

The last week has been wall to wall media coverage about Roy Moore in Alabama.  Whether you believe Moore or his accusers, the coverage has been relentless.  It's been quite a bi-partisan display, as politicians from both parties have condemned Moore.  And now along comes the Franken accusations, which seem much more credible.  Again, ignoring whether you believe More or his accusers, Franken has admitted it - he really didn't have much choice, as there's photographic evidence.

But silence from @RealDonaldTrump.  Again: why?

Assumption #1: both parties would like to impeach Trump.  The Republicans are increasingly willing to openly oppose him, and it's clear that the GOP establishment would like to see Trump and his supporters just go away.  Some Democrats actually introduced a bill of impeachment, which seems to be "Trump is a boor".  The pile on of Roy Moore is this same desire in a minor key.

Assumption #2: I believe that the Democratic party would throw Franken under the bus in a New York minute if they thought it set the stage for an impeachment of Trump.  After all, the (Democrat) Governor of Minnesota would appoint another Democrat, so there's no change there.  And yet, there have been precisely zero calls for Franken to resign.

Again, the interesting question is why.

I believe that there's another show waiting to drop, and that shoe is the secret payments made to victims of Congressional sexual abuse - payments that it is said run to the millions of dollars.  This is bubbling just under public consciousness, with brief mentions in the media but no real attention being  given to it.  If the Democrats were to try to force Franken to resign, this might break the dam on the broader Congressional corruption issue.  Nobody on Capitol Hill wants to go here.

I believe that if Congress decides to get serious about impeaching Trump for moral turpitude, you'll see Trump's tweets push  this issue front and center - his argument will be that if he is so bad that he has to go, why don't they go?  Since Congress is about as popular as herpes, this argument might have some legs.

The whole situation is breathlessly cynical all around, so much so that Trump looks like the guy who's clean.  Pretty wild - every time I think that my assessment of Congress can't be any lower than it is, they up and say "hold my beer".

Poor security in "Connected" toys

I've been posting about this for some time, so it's good to see other folks chiming in:
A consumer group is urging major retailers to withdraw a number of “connected” or “intelligent” toys likely to be popular at Christmas, after finding security failures that it warns could put children’s safety at risk.  
Tests carried out by Which? with the German consumer group Stiftung Warentest, and other security research experts, found flaws in Bluetooth and wifi-enabled toys that could enable a stranger to talk to a child.  
The investigation found that four out of seven of the tested toys could be used to communicate with the children playing with them. Security failures were discovered in the Furby Connect, i-Que Intelligent Robot, Toy-Fi Teddy and CloudPets.
A lot of this is basic no-security-on-bluetooth, limiting the range that someone could exploit this to 100 feet or so.  But some is a lot more worrying:
With the i-Que Intelligent Robot, available from Argos and Hamleys, the investigation discovered that anyone could download the app, find an i-Que within their Bluetooth range and start using the robot’s voice by typing into a text field. The toy is made by Genesis, which also manufactures the My Friend Cayla doll, recently banned in Germany owing to security and hacking concerns. Both toys are distributed in the UK by Vivid.

The link at the top of this post is from a year ago, and talks about most of these toys.  A year later, the manufacturer has done nothing to improve the security holes - that tells you everything you need to know about whether you can trust them with your little bundle of joy.

Let me just say that the Northeast Gunbloggers know how to deal with Furbys.  Just sayin'.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Hack the friendly skys

Well, this isn't good news:
At least some commercial aircraft are vulnerable to wireless hacking, a US Department of Homeland Security official has admitted. 
A plane was compromised as it sat on the tarmac at a New Jersey airport by a team of boffins from the worlds of government, industry and academia, we're told. During the hack – the details of which are classified – experts accessed systems on the Boeing 757 via radio-frequency communications. 
“We got the airplane on September 19, 2016. Two days later, I was successful in accomplishing a remote, non-cooperative, penetration,” said Robert Hickey, aviation program manager within the cyber-security division of the DHS's science and technology directorate, while speaking at the CyberSat Summit in Virginia earlier this month.
It seems that security guys have known about this problem for a while but this info hasn't gotten out to pilots until now.