Vacuum abhorred

Four hundred miles down Interstate 35, there’s the uncomfortable arrival of reality:

Surprising exactly nobody who is not an economic retard, black market ridesharing has popped up to replace Uber and Lyft, which famously quit Austin after voters sustained onerous regulations imposed by the city council. So reasonable regulation and corporate oversight is now eclipsed by no oversight. But we got international humiliation out of it so that’s something.

I include this for the benefit of the members of our local Whining-American community, who simply can’t understand how our own little metropolis (population 630,000, about two-thirds that of Austin) is failing to keep up with the Texans. Then again, we are surely awash in economic retards.

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Worst. Color. Ever.

It goes with nothing:

Pantone 448 C

And yet it has a purpose:

Pantone 448 C, or “opaque couché,” is a greenish brown-gray that looks like it spent a few decades in a sewer. If you find it unpleasant, that’s the point.

The Australian government hired research agency GfK to redesign cigarette packaging in 2012, and they determined (with seven studies and 1,000 regular smokers) that this was the most deterring color to pair with the anti-smoking graphics.

Probably because they thought it looked like the inside of somebody’s lungs after three packs of Winfield every day for forty years.

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A page from my past

Actually, this is a current page, but it was seriously pertinent to me back in the 1960s:

Bishop England High School has been providing a Catholic, college preparatory education to thousands of young men and women of varied backgrounds since it was founded in 1915. Students graduating from Bishop England make a mark on their world through leadership, achievement, and service — skills learned as part of the Bishop England experience. BE’s ability to prepare young men and women into adults who are critical thinkers, who understand the importance of human dignity and empathy, who respect themselves and others, and who live their faith through action, depends on the support of many — teachers, religious leaders, alumni, friends and family — giving their time, talents and resources.

Gifts to Bishop England, large or small, help ensure that the tradition of a Bishop education can remain strong and that qualified students are able to pursue a secondary school education here regardless of their ethnic, religious or socio-economic backgrounds. As you contemplate your personal support of BEHS, please know that every gift is important and every gift makes a difference in the lives of our students.

I remember how we scraped for tuition when I was enrolled. Having looked at the current rates, I don’t know how anyone scrapes for them: a year now costs about as much as two years of regional state universities where I live now, and that’s before the tuition hikes go in to cover for the 15.9-percent funding cut they’re getting this year.

So yeah, I sent a few bucks to the old high school. It isn’t the first time.

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Not your space anymore

Myspace — remember Myspace? — has had a major data breach:

“Shortly before the Memorial Day weekend, we became aware that stolen Myspace user login data was being made available in an online hacker forum,” the site wrote in a blog post. The breach occurred on June 11, 2013, and affects a portion of accounts created on the old Myspace platform.

Myspace did not reveal how many accounts were affected, but LeakedSource, a search engine for leaked records, which claims to have obtained a copy of the stolen information, said the data set includes 360,213,024 records. Each record may contain an email address, username, one password, and in some cases a second password; no financial information was involved.

I have received the following notification from Myspace (note it’s no longer BiCapitalized) HQ:

Email addresses, Myspace usernames, and Myspace passwords for the affected Myspace accounts created prior to June 11, 2013 on the old Myspace platform are at risk. As you know, Myspace does not collect, use or store any credit card information or user financial information of any kind. No user financial information was therefore involved in this incident; the only information exposed was users’ email address and Myspace username and password.

In order to protect our users, we have invalidated all user passwords for the affected accounts created prior to June 11, 2013 on the old Myspace platform. These users returning to Myspace will be prompted to authenticate their account and to reset their password.

As a test, I duly attempted to log back in, and was so prompted. Password has now been reset.

The LeakedSource page on this breach lists the top 50 passwords, some of which were used by literally thousands of people. I’m pretty sure no one else was using mine.

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Un, deux, cinq

Garage rock is mind-boggling in itself. Now imagine Canadian garage rock.

Okay, maybe the Guess Who when Chad Allan was out front. They were from Manitoba, which is like Iowa with a shorter growing season. It took a little longer for me to turn up a garage band from Montreal:

“1-2-5” was the only Haunted single to be released down here in the States, on the always-quirky Amy label. I missed it when it came out in 1966.

The last Haunted single, in 1968, comprised two French-language covers: “Vapeur Mauve” b/w “Pourquoi”. You know both these songs in English already.

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Redefining “top-loader”

The New York Post, its finger on the pulse of America, gave us half a minute of video of a Chinese man with his head stuck in a washing machine. To their everlasting credit, they didn’t make jokes about it.

Unlike, um, some of us:

The chap survived. The machine, not so much.

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Fark blurb of the week

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Ruining the brand

A lot of names don’t mean what they used to mean. Like “Cadillac,” for instance. Or “Democrat” or “Republican.”

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There’s always another Q

Gwendolyn had a spa day today, this being the first day I could fit it into my overwhelming schedule — hey, maybe Twilight and Spike could feed the pigs — and the dealership sent me off in a 2015 Q50 the color of slightly used automatic-transmission fluid. This is the first time I’ve actually gotten seat time in a Q50, and while it was most assuredly the bottom of the line, it was still sufficiently glitzy.

For ’16, Infiniti broomed the VQ engine, but this ’15, with just shy of 2500 miles, still ran with Old Reliable, a genuinely swell V6 which could have gone on forever were it not for its thirst. Someone who’d had it earlier, along with setting the satellite radio to something radically different from the classical stuff I was playing in my car, managed to dial up both Overall Since Ever and Right This Minute fuel-economy gauges, which quadruples the lunacy. (For the record, this Q was 19.9 mpg Since Ever, which sounds about right, and the bar graph spent time at 0, at 60, and everywhere else in between. If you must have these godforsaken things, fercrissake leave them in the center stack where they can be properly ignored.)

With the same old powertrain (VQ37HR, 7-speed automatic), the Q50 drove just like a G37, if the G37 had had its tires flatspotted several times.

On the screen at the top of the stack was a simulated — not an actual — analog clock. It was right, as I expect from Infiniti, but it was also wrong: it’s a 12-hour clock, but it was set to the wrong 12-hour period, so when I got it back to the dealership, it was not quite five in the morning tomorrow.

In other news, a gallon of engine coolant, green engine coolant, none of that Orange Crush crap, is now nineteen dollars. (Yes, it’s been a while since I had to buy any at retail.) And I grumbled something at the service consultant this morning about the driver’s-side door creaking a bit; they (1) determined that the door check needed to be retorqued and (2) didn’t charge me for it. This is within my own capabilities, except that I don’t own a proper torque wrench. Lesson learned.

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News duly spread

I’m thinking they had 80 or 90 cents left over from that Kickstarter, and so:

I am sworn not to mention that the Del-Vikings actually came out of Pittsburgh.

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And then something rises

Sometimes it’s the simplest things that keep you going:

I’ve had smaller, less intense dissociative episodes almost constantly, in addition to chest pains, anxiety attacks, and other symptoms. I have difficulty believing that I am really here, that my life is real, that the world around me isn’t a dream. I feel like I flicker in and out of reality.

But baking helps. Baking is something that knits my body and soul together, calming the mind that is so desperate to escape. My body becomes an anchor to the real world. Baking is tactile, purposeful, and produces a usable result (most of the time). Due to years of unemployment, under-employment, and abusive workplaces, food has not always been a guarantee. I’ve had to choose between keeping my phone connected, feeding my cat, or buying groceries for myself. Things are still tight. I have no hope of owning a car any time soon. I’ll never own a house or be able to retire. Some weeks, all I can afford to eat is cheap pasta. But as long as I have flour, water, yeast, and salt, I can make bread. Bread takes on a new importance when it is an essential part of a meal plan. It may not be exciting, but it’s always nourishing, always filling, always simply there. It’s not a feast, but it is food. It keeps me going.

I may tell myself that I reposted this here for you, but I suspect I reposted this here mostly for me.

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Like us or else

And they mean that “or else,” too:

Some tenants at a Salt Lake City apartment complex are fuming over a new lease agreement that requires tenants to “like” the complex on Facebook.

Tenants of the City Park Apartments told KSL that a “Facebook addendum” showed up taped to their doors Thursday night.

The contract requires tenants to friend the City Park Apartments on Facebook within five days, or be found in breach of the rental agreement, though some of the tenants already signed a lease agreement months ago.

The document also includes a release allowing the apartment to post pictures of tenants and their visitors on the page.

I’m assuming Utah law requires tenants to send two rejections of the contractual change, the second to go to “the horse you rode in on.”

(Via Keaton Fox.)

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On the off-chance that it might help

Microsoft has issued a paper on Password Guidance, and therein, these are considered the best practices:

  1. Maintain an 8-character minimum length requirement (and longer is not necessarily better).
  2. Eliminate character-composition requirements.
  3. Eliminate mandatory periodic password resets for user accounts.
  4. Ban common passwords, to keep the most vulnerable passwords out of your system.
  5. Educate your users not to re-use their password for non-work-related purposes.
  6. Enforce registration for multi-factor authentication.
  7. Enable risk based multi-factor authentication challenges.

I, for one, would not miss character-composition requirements: adding digits and shifted characters to the alphabet raises the number of available characters from 26 to about 72, meaning your average brute-force password guesser is going to take somewhere between two and three times as long to nail down your password. In the current state of the art, this delay is trivial.

Two-step — maybe three-step — authentication will eventually become the norm.

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For it was not to be

The third quarter said it all: Golden State 29, Oklahoma City 12. A six-point lead turned into an eleven-point deficit in twelve minutes. The Thunder managed enough of a response to cut the Warriors’ lead to four, but they would get no closer than that. And it’s not like you couldn’t see it coming, either: it’s apparently possible to block Klay Thompson or Steph Curry, but not both. And unlike the situation that prevailed in Game Six, Curry was also effective inside: if he couldn’t take the long ball, he’d smoothly shift his way into the paint and lay it up. Steve Kerr also left a surprise for the Thunder: instead of Harrison Barnes, he’d start Andre Iguodala and epoxy him to Kevin Durant. So Durant’s numbers looked better, if only because Iguodala did a good job of keeping KD bottled up. With the Warriors up 90-86, Serge Ibaka fouled Curry on a three-point play; Steph knocked out all three freebies, the Thunder came up empty on two possessions, Curry sank another long ball, and you can stick a fork in it, it’s done. Ibaka came back with a couple of free throws, but it didn’t matter: Golden State 96, Oklahoma City 88, and the Warriors will go on to face the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Finals.

(Truth be told, I figured it was going to be something like 99-all in the waning moments, and then Curry would swish a trey at the buzzer. The result, however, was pretty much identical.)

With Thompson held to barely half of the 41 he got day before yesterday, Curry took up the slack and then some, scoring 36 on a highly respectable 13-24 from the floor, 7-12 from outside. (For comparison, KD was 10-19 for 27.) What undid the Thunder was not so much the inability to contain the Splashes as it was the inability to make seemingly easy shots themselves: I haven’t seen so many blown bunnies since Hugh Hefner still had good respiration.

But that is neither here nor there. All I want to know right now is whether we suddenly turn into a town full of Cavaliers fans.

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Shirley, she can be serious

I put nothing past singer/actress Shirley Manson, who once upon a time was a shop assistant at Miss Selfridge, but wound up assigned to the stockroom, lest she come into contact with actual customers. (This is almost exactly my attitude toward retail.) That voice, however, was meant to sing, and after about a decade of various English appearances, she wound up fronting a Madison, Wisconsin band called Garbage, which would put out four albums in ten years before going on hiatus. Their third album, beautifulgarbage, contained an extremely catchy song — “Cherry Lips (Go Baby Go)” — with an extremely sketchy video in which the band is faceless and then some.

Shirley Manson green-screened out of the frame

Manson does not remember this video fondly.

Garbage reunited in 2012, and Manson did her part to promote their efforts:

Shirley Manson on a carpet that isn't red

Shirley Manson in a publicity pose

In the interim, she had recorded, but ultimately shelved, a solo album. The sixth Garbage album, Strange Little Birds, will be out in June, and this is the lead single:

Later this summer, Shirley Manson turns 50. I don’t believe it either.

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Back from Clarksville

Good Times! by the MonkeesIn 1966, if you’d told me there would be a new Monkees album in 2016, I’d have gone into Full Guffaw; yeah, this band, to the extent it really was a band, may hang around for a while, but no way they’ll even be remembered half a century from now, let alone in the studio cutting new material, and hey, Don Kirshner will be — what, a hundred and thirty?

Shows you what I knew then. (Hey, I was thirteen. Gimme a break.) The three surviving Monkees — Davy Jones died in 2012 at sixty-six — with the able assistance of ace producer Adam Schlesinger (Fountains of Wayne), have reunited for a twelve-track popfest that ranks as the second best Monkees waxing ever, right after whichever Greatest Hits compilation you have. As always, there’s first-class outside material, plus contributions from the band themselves; the voices are a bit deeper than they were 50 years ago, but the singing is every bit as good. Do they play their own instruments? Depends on the track. On the closer, “I Was There (And I’m Told I Had A Good Time),” Micky Dolenz sings and plays drums; Schlesinger takes care of bass and piano, and genius guitarist and occasional Schlesinger associate Mike Viola does the six-string thing. One track here has sort of appeared before: “Love to Love,” a Neil Diamond (!) number sung by Davy, recorded for the Headquarters sessions but struck from the track list before release. It surfaced as a bonus track in a 2007 reissue; this version adds backing vocals from Peter Tork and Micky.

Perhaps the most Sixties track here is “Wasn’t Born to Follow,” a Carole King/Gerry Goffin number made famous by the Byrds, recorded in 1968 and given fresh Tork vocals here. The least? Maybe “I Know What I Know,” written and sung by Mike Nesmith, a piano-driven piece that would have fit in well with Nez’ First National Band material.

If you’ve been a fan all these years, congratulations: you’ve just been justified. And besides, Don Kirshner’s long gone.

(In case the FTC asks: I bought this.)

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