Unhermetically sealed

Roberta X channels her inner SwiftOnSecurity:

The young programmer — and he was no slouch; he’d recently created a custom version of the computer language “C” for his employer, finishing only a little behind the release of “C+” — took on this task with hope; after all, he’d got his start back when the clever students enjoying finding new ways to crash the nearby university’s big IBM mainframe, doing so in the dead of night, and showing the console operators how they’d done it so the vulnerability could be remedied!†

He thought and he thought and everything he came up with — had a hole in it. Allow unrestricted public access to a computer, and people you don’t want in it will get in. Passwords are a trivial problem, given time. Even air-gapping didn’t work, especially if media traveled both directions across the air-gap. Nope, the only way to be mostly safe was to run the support system on an isolated computer from which nothing ever, ever came back to his employer’s network — and that still left the users vulnerable, especially if the support machine was used to distribute software.

The general rule he evolved was this: “If you want to keep a computer safe, you cannot allow any form of unrestricted access. If it is accessible, people you don’t want in will inevitably get in.” That’s Stockman’s Law: if your computer has to be secure, it can have no network connection, no removable media, no unvetted users, no nothing but a display and HIDs — and even that can be defeated by a malicious authorized user. And then what good is it?

Actually, Swift is a bit more forgiving than that:

You cannot just buy “security.” It is something obtained through simple choices and knowledge. Tragically, these aren’t even hard to do or obscure to learn. But no one makes money telling you how to use what you already have. What you need is someone who doesn’t care about your money or looking smart by spouting off fancy words of no consequence — just that you not be a victim.

It pains me to see people who distrust and fear their computers, and who feel powerless in that fear. Because that’s not what I see when I look at computers and phones and websites. I see tools I trust with the story of my life, and the secrets I leave out when I tell that story to others. Everyone should be able to feel like that.

Which is about where I find myself. There is, of course, no way to fight off the most determined hackish types forever. Fortunately, most of the vandals on the far side of the firewall are looking for easy marks, and I work diligently to avoid appearing easy.

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Stargirl

“The Great Divide” continues to climb the dance-club chart:

The Great Divide by Rebecca Black at 27 on the Billboard dance-club chart

And there is, yes, another cover for your delectation, this time of “Starboy” by The Weeknd.

You should probably consider this totally unsafe for your workplace, what with the pseudo-Oedipal references scattered throughout.

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Party time, excellent

It’s nice to know that one of the kids made it big:

Schwing America is located in St. Paul, Minnesota, and can be reached, should you require their services, at 888-SCHWING.

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San Antonio trolled

How did the Thunder lose four in a row to league also-rans — the Suns, the Mavericks, and the Trail Blazers twice — and then come back to crush the Spurs? If I didn’t think too long, I might say it had something to do with Taj Gibson’s being moved into a starting slot. Or I might simply point to the location: three of those losses were on the road. But maybe it’s nothing more than this: it’s all in how you execute. Tonight, the Thunder executed, and they did it just a hair better than San Antonio did. Okay, more than a hair: before garbage time, the Spurs were down 20. So the final score — Oklahoma City 102, San Antonio 92 — might be slightly deceiving.

The Spurs were admittedly slightly below full strength: Manu Ginobili had been given a day of rest, and Tony Parker was not well. Still, most of the core was on hand, with Dewayne Dedmon starting in the middle and Pau Gasol coming off the bench. As usual, Gasol, LaMarcus Aldridge and the scary Kawhi Leonard were responsible for the offense: they got 54 of the Spurs’ 92 points. Leonard departed early in the fourth quarter for some reason we were not told. SA shot only 42 percent, 32 percent from the three-point line, and that just doesn’t happen, does it?

The difference, of course, is (1) Russell Westbrook got another triple-double (23-13-13), and (2) he didn’t have to carry the offense alone. Victor Oladipo was healed enough to snag 20 points, and Enes Kanter produced a double-double (14-10) off the bench. Domas Sabonis played about the same 20 minutes a reserve as he did as a starter, and got the same six points. Meanwhile, Semaj Christon, one of very few players with a five-letter, three-syllable first name, seems to have worked his way back into the backup point-guard slot. He didn’t score, but he didn’t turn it over either.

Up next: the Jazz, on Saturday afternoon. Utah leads the Northwest by five games and is wedged between Houston and the Clippers for fourth place in the West. (The Thunder are in sixth, a tiebreaker ahead of the Grizzlies.) So this is Serious Business for a matinee game. Let’s hope nothing laughable happens.

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A piece of the neighborhood action

He’s looking to buy houses in this neck of the woods, and he’s trying to keep his overhead as low as possible, which probably isn’t a bad idea.

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GOPcare

I am having no difficulty curbing my enthusiasm for whatever spaniel’s brunch the Republicans come up with to replace the ACA. Mostly, it seems hurried, as though someone went through an outline, printed up a set of bullet points, and then tried to come up with something for each of them.

That said, Megan McArdle thinks even less of it than I do:

There is no sensible thing that you can do to our health-care system that will not offend huge numbers of voters. Thus we got Obamacare, a program which, to a first approximation, 0 percent of Democratic policy analysts would have put forward if asked to design a rational program to extend coverage and improve health-care delivery. It was a gigantic Rube Goldberg contraption, deliberately complicated and opaque to avoid openly angering any important constituency, and arguably, fatally flawed for that same reason.

Now that Republicans have their turn in the spotlight, they’re resorting to all the same tricks: the secrecy, the opacity, the long implementation delays (the better to get a good score from the Congressional Budget Office, and oh, yes, also, get them past the next election before voters meet their program). The inability of either party to make a principled stand for sensible policy is a problem, a very big one. And Republicans sure haven’t fixed it.

The only people who are going to be happy about this situation, I suspect, are those crying in the wilderness for single-payer — because the worse it gets, the more likely they are to have their dream eventually fulfilled.

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Cash issue

The C in JCPenney stands for “Cash,” that being Mr. Penney’s middle name. (For you completeness-seekers: the founder of the store chain was James Cash Penney, Jr.) Penney’s first store was opened in Kemmerer, Wyoming in 1902. A hundred fifteen years later, JCP is cutting back:

JCPenney recently announced that it would close 130 to 140 stores in the next couple of months because of slowing traffic and sales.

The department-store chain hasn’t yet released a list of which stores it will close, but Morningstar Credit Ratings has identified 39 stores most at risk of closing, based on the stores’ sales data.

The stores that made the list have weaker sales per square foot than JCPenney’s average.

One of those stores is in Oklahoma City’s Penn Square Mall. OKC is the only city in the state with two JCP stores; the other is in Quail Springs Mall, five miles northwest. The ‘burbs, meanwhile, have three more.

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The standard Fate

They buried John Schroeder last week, which struck me as slightly odd, since he died back on the 31st of January following a long battle with cancer.

Schroeder’s musical career was long and varied; where it intersected with my life was right in the middle of the British Invasion, when he teamed up with pianist Johnny Pearson at Britain’s Pye Records to provide, for lack of a better term, easy-listening sounds that could compete for radio airplay, and maybe even sales, with the beat groups.

At the end of 1964, using the name Sounds Orchestral, they cut this version of a Vince Guaraldi standard:

Pye had no formal US distribution in those days. Cameo-Parkway eventually acquired the US rights, and issued the 45 on Parkway 942 this week in 1965; it climbed to #10 in Billboard, and the subsequent LP made it to #11. Said LP contains two “Scarlatti Potions,” Number 5 and Number 9.

Schroeder and Pearson and various players kept up the Sounds Orchestral name through sixteen albums, the last of which came out in 1977. I saw only the first two of them here in the States until the CD-reissue era.

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Clickbait for the eyes

“It is indeed a goddam noisy box,” Jubal Harshaw said to the Man from Mars. And of course he was right:

I think I’m done with local news. This morning they reported on a string of burglaries a couple counties south of me and spent about a minute on the story, and then lavished five minutes (roughly) on one of those “Florida Man” stories where someone gets themselves in trouble with the law in a highly stupid way and I was like, “I could use more detail about the LOCAL burglaries so I could know what to do to avoid becoming a victim” but of course, entertainment value and the freak-show that modern life has become seems to be more important and probably gets more eyeballs.

Once again, I think of my plan to offer a “Just News” channel that ran the important news stories — no celebrity fluff, no dumb-criminal stories, no oversweetened Human Interest stuff — and repeated it every 15 minutes or so. Or maybe devoted 15 minutes to Europe news, 15 minutes to The Americas, 15 minutes to Asia, and 15 minutes to Africa … and then loop it around. (And yeah: Australia would have to go in with Asia, I suppose.)

“You give us 22 minutes,” says WINS Radio in New York, “and we’ll give you the world.” And they’ve been doing that for over 50 years.

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Because it’s blue

I probably shouldn’t say anything here:

Whose idea was it to put that stuff in a pump jar, anyway?

(This is where she was.)

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You want a piece of this?

So this came in over the transom back in January:

I’m currently working with a brilliant business who operates in the education industry. I noticed your site has published a very interesting article, dustbury.com: Almost Yogurt Archives, which is why I think a collaboration between us could work well.

We would like to feature a bespoke piece of content on your site, which we think would be of great interest to you and your audience. For the privilege of being featured on your site, we would be happy to offer you a fee of $50.

We hope to hear back from you soon.

Obviously she picked a link at random to throw in there. When I ignored her, she repeated her request, a little louder.

At the other end of the spectrum:

I’m a freelancer who works for … an online media agency. Would you be interested in writing and posting an article for a fixed fee? The article should be relevant to the category and to the readers of your site.

If you are interested, please let me know and I’ll provide you with more details. Also, if you own other sites please send me their URLs, so I can review them.

It’s not like she thinks I’m swell or anything, either:

Depending on your local law, you may need to make it clear that the links you use are in fact adverts.

But of course they are.

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Sort of a bandwagon

And a short bandwagon at that, but surely no harm is being done:

A Birmingham radio station is taking women hosts off the air and will only play songs by men as part of [today’s] “A Day Without a Woman” protest.

WUHT/Hot 107.7, a Cumulus Media station, said the change reflects the absence of women for the day. Midday host Tasha Simone and station voice Jeannie Johnson will be off air for the day and all songs played during non-syndication hours will feature men only.

“This was an easy decision for us,” said Ken Johnson, Operations Manager, WUHT-FM/Hot 107.7, and Vice President, Urban, Cumulus Media, said. “Women are our core listeners and these women contribute a great deal to our sound. Honoring women by highlighting to the community how important they are is a no-brainer.”

Wonder if DJ Big Sweatt will get his hours extended.

“Plus,” said Johnson, “hearing more Marvin Gaye, Teddy Pendergrass and Luther Vandross is not a bad thing.”

True that.

(Via Kirby McCain.)

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The elder statesman

Mike McCarville moves on to covering the Next Life:

It is my unfortunate duty to inform you that our friend Mike McCarville is no longer with us on Earth. After struggling with an illness, he has gone to his deserved rest. That familiar laugh and smile are now part of Heaven’s domain. It is the image of that twinkle in Mike’s eyes and his quick offer of a cup of coffee that haunt me as I write this piece to stay goodbye to the man who was my boss, my mentor and best of all, my friend.

McCarville is truly the dean of OKC bloggers, having started the McCarville Report literally before there were any such things as blogs: think “typewriter.” His radio appearances are legendary.

I expect Jason Doyle Oden will continue the McCarville Report for the foreseeable future. It’s an invaluable part of the local dialogue.

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Your Superb Owl ticket

These are definitely owls worth looking at. The OKC Owl Cam is trained, 24/7, on the nest built by a pair of great horned owls here in Oklahoma City. They’re at least seven years old:

We can’t know for certain, but based on what we’ve observed, we are certain they are at least seven years old. Mrs. Tiger has laid eggs 6 times at our house. The first two times, she did not brood (incubate) them. We believe it’s possible that she was not yet mature enough to brood eggs. However, we know that GHOs typically aren’t able to lay eggs until at least a year old. So assuming she hasn’t laid any prior eggs before she laid them at our house, she would have been at least one when she laid the first eggs, and has done so six consecutive years here, making her at least seven years old. We would assume Mr. Tiger is of similar age, though there’s no way to confirm that.

The most obvious question, to me anyway, is “Why are they nesting in that particular place?”

We can never know for sure, but observation has led many to conclude this is, albeit an unlikely, but very strategic choice for a nest location. It is atypical in that it is an urbanized setting, surrounded by human activity ranging from kids playing outside just feet away, to normal neighborhood traffic. However, the nest enjoys nearly 60% shelter, as it rests inside an in-set window box protected both by the wall of the house and the eve of the roof just above it. The color of the house provides potential camouflage very similar in color to their markings. From a strategic standpoint, it is almost fully protected from the predators they are up against in a typical nesting site. No roaming animals could access the nest, leaving it open only to other larger birds of prey, or the occasional curious human landlord.

At any given moment, there are several hundred owl oglers, and by all accounts they’re having a wonderful time.

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The triumph of Portlandia

For just a moment — okay, for twelve minutes — it looked like the Thunder were going to stomp the Trail Blazers. It was 40-29 at the first quarter break. Then Portland ran off 11 in a row to tie it up, and the Blazers didn’t let up. How dominant were they? We’re talking seven players (out of nine) in double figures, led by reserve guard Allan Crabbe with 23. (The word “reserve” matters here; seven Thunder bench players in aggregate managed only 26.) OKC did manage a tie or two, but with 31 seconds left the Blazers were up 120-116, those last four points contributed by Jusuf Nurkić. In the next five seconds, Steven Adams threw up a high screen, everyone went after Russell Westbrook, and Victor Oladipo sneaked through a trey, making it a one-point game. Inexplicably, Westbrook fouled C. J. McCollum, one of the stalwarts of the stripe. McCollum promptly swished his two charity tosses. Westbrook had a good look on his next shot, but it fell short, and Nurkić essentially finished the job. Yeah, there was one more Westbrook shot, but Damien Lillard drew a foul and knocked down two more, so it ended with Portland up 126-121, winning the season series 3-1.

It seemed like there was always one more Westbrook shot. In fact, the Thunder put up 85 shots, and Westbrook had 39 of them, making 21 and finishing with a career-high 58 points. (Before you ask: the rest of the team got 63.) I suspect he’s less impressed by that than the fact that it’s another L. The Thunder had a slight edge in rebounds (39-36), but the Blazers did that whole assist thing better (24-16). To look upward for a moment: Memphis has lost three straight and remains one game ahead of OKC for the sixth seed in the West. Denver remains in eighth, five and a half back, but the Blazers are only one and a half behind the Nuggets.

The crunch, though, is clearly on. There are only 18 regular-season games left, nine at home, nine on the road, and while the Thunder are a better-than-respectable 23-9 at home, they’re an indifferent 12-20 on the road. The next two are at home, but they’re against recognized powerhouses: first the Spurs on Thursday, followed by the Jazz on Saturday afternoon. I’m readying the fainting couch.

And about an hour after the game, ESPN’s Royce Young delivered the statistical blow:

What can we learn from this?

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The steaks have never been higher

The George Pub and Grill in County Durham, says Metro.co.uk, “is selling a steak dinner that weighs more than a newborn child.”

Did you say you want some more? Well, here’s some more:

With seven items on its “challenge” menu, including the UK’s largest mixed grill and a kebab sandwiched between two chicken parmos, the George could well be the meatiest place in Europe.

This makes Arby’s “We Have The Meats” claim seem rather, um, undernourished.

Pub owner Craig Harker has set the challenge for four diners to eat the mammoth six kilo rump in 45 minutes.

The Holy Cow 220oz Steak Sharer costs £124.95, and requires 24 [hours] notice so Craig can get the meat from the butchers.

Harker said the piece of beef, which is so big it has to be served on a metal tray, takes two and a half hours to cook to medium rare before it is served with with chips, onion rings and coleslaw “to help it go down.”

Then again, 220 ounces — 13 pounds, 12 ounces — makes for an awfully large newborn child.

And if it doesn’t quite go down?

Harker said that losers will win a free ride to hospital once cardiac arrest sets in.

Try that at Arby’s.

(Via Fark.)

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