Fark blurb of the week

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Rudest intrusion

Some hackish types are in it for the lulz; some others, I am told, for the advancement of knowledge. Then there are the ones who are in it for the money:

The computers at a Los Angeles hospital have been down for more than a week after ransomware ended up on its internal network. Patients at Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center have been transferred to other hospitals because of the outage, and connected medical devices and portals are offline, as well. The attackers have reportedly asked for more than $3.6 million to decrypt the system and the hospital’s files, CSO reports. Staff are now having to turn to fax machines and landline telephones to get work done, and medical records are being kept on paper.

The hospital didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment and hasn’t elaborated on how far the attack has spread, what kind of ransomware infected its network, or how it was even infected in the first place. According to CSO, the incident was random, likely meaning a hospital staffer clicked a malicious link or attachment that ultimately spread the malware throughout the network.

Reportedly the LAPD and the FBI have been called in.

The invaders, CSO says, aren’t asking for dollars: they’re asking for bitcoin, to the tune of 9000 BTC. Last I looked, 1 BTC was worth just over $406.

(Via Emin Gün Sirer.)

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Words that gladden the heart

Or maybe some place a bit lower down. Francis W. Porretto, linking to this collection of Utterly Romantic verbiage from stage and screen and story, offers a sampling of “well-proven romantic lines that really ought to have been considered” but somehow never seem to be. I’m at least partially sure that “Yes, I do have five large, empty closets. Why do you ask?” would have worked with some women I know.

Allegedly this will draw the attention of the male:

Axe print ad featuring double-jointed therapist

Although I do think it needs the visuals as much as the quotation.

(Yes, I have posted this before.)

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Swiftly played

Several kind folks live-tweet red-carpet events, so I got several looks at this slightly strange garb worn by Taylor Swift at the Grammys yesterday:

Taylor Swift at the 2016 Grammy awards

The dress, such as it is, comes from Atelier Versace, and those are Stuart Weitzman heels affording her a four-inch lift she hardly needs. Add to that the Sia-sideways bob, and TS is giving us the full WTF. Said the ever-bristly Quinn Cummings: “Why is Taylor Swift wearing a fluorescent censor bar?”

So I moved in for a closer look, but by then she was guarded by squad members. In this particular case, it’s Selena Gomez:

Taylor Swift and Selena Gomez at the 2016 Grammy awards

You might want to keep these pictures in mind, just in case Vogue’s Anna Wintour ever becomes a zombie: she’s gonna look exactly like Taylor, give or take several grams of makeup.

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For when you have to pour it on

Presenting new, or not so new, Liquid Trump:

Advertisement for Liquid Trump

The “EL” logo in the corner represents Economics Laboratory, Inc., which also produced a home dishwasher product called Electrasol. (Electrasol was eventually renamed “Finish”; after several mergers, Finish is now part of the giant Reckitt Benckiser group.)

Choice comment comes from Gerard Van der Leun, who ran this picture with the caption: “For when you’re out of Solid Trump.” Well done, sir.

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The pony you wanted to be

Let’s imagine, for example, that it was Rarity:

Rarity kimono dress by Darling Army

Also offered, once production resumes: Derpy, Celestia, Luna, Pinkie Pie, Rainbow Dash, and perhaps Fluttershy, generally in the $150-175 range. My inner 9-year-old girl is in Full Squee.

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The stuff of nightmares

I’ve already gone into entirely too much detail regarding my Valentine’s Day-connected trauma, and it’s comparatively trivial compared to some. In fact, I’d say that if you dream of things like this, at the very least you should probably lay off the early-evening cocktails:

The octopus at the Seattle Aquarium won’t be getting any love this Valentine’s Day.

Each Valentine’s Day the Aquarium invites people to watch the sea creatures mate, but this year the chance to watch some 8-armed nooky has been called off.

Aquarium staff say they’re afraid that their male octopus — a 70-pound cephalopod named Kong — is too big for the females who are 30 to 40 pounds, and he may eat them.

And so Kong, faced with rejection by forces beyond his control, will return to Puget Sound, where his life will dissolve into bitterness and/or loneliness:

Octopuses only live about three or four years and mate once at the end of their lives.

Then they die.

Just in case you thought your life was depressing. And no, the Pacific Northwest tree octopus cannot serve as a substitute.

(Via Neal Stephenson.)

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Favorable winds

I seem to have reached the point where actual musical acts will attempt to get my attention via Twitter. Occasionally they succeed. The band Ships Have Sailed rang in yesterday, and as is my usual practice with new followers, I do try to see what they’re all about. The first thing I found was this 2013 single:

“Midnight” proved interesting enough to continue the search. They have a more recent album called Moodswings, from which this is the lead track:

The most popular song from Moodswings, judging by iTunes sales, is “If Only,” for which there is a lyric video.

Definitely neo-romanticists, without the underlying desperate smarm of Train or the technological obsessions of OK Go — and I like those two acts. I will continue to keep an eye out for these Ships.

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The bad-news Rs

No coffee for the GOP:

The people who find a way to pick the worst option among the many good ones are always the ones complaining about their bad luck. The classic example is the salesman that is not good at his job and never has a deal just fall in his lap, like the guys who are closing deals every day. The bad salesman swears he is just unlucky.

The Stupid Party makes this point regularly and we now have a great example of why the stupid are unlucky. For decades they have been hosing their voters, mostly because they can’t run a competent political party. Some portion of what they do is just a grift. They tell the voters one thing and then take a bribe to do the opposite. That’s just corruption.

Most of the GOP’s problems, however, are the result of incompetence. When presented with three options, all good, they find a fourth that is self-defeating. The political ineptitude is so breathtaking that many of their voters have concluded it must be deliberate. No one can be this dumb this often by accident. It’s why they have a revolt brewing in their primary.

One aspect of that revolt is the question of whether this candidate or that is sufficiently “electable.” I’m not convinced any of them are electable until one of them is actually, you know, elected. And regardless of the positioning of the Jaws of Victory, the GOP can find a way to snatch defeat therefrom.

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The pre-post-Hef era

I have now seen the first issue of Playboy 2.0 — technically, Volume 63, Number 2 — and there are three conclusions to be drawn:

  1. Looks a lot like Maxim.
  2. Looks a whole lot like Maxim.
  3. Looks so much like Maxim that I wouldn’t be surprised if Maxim sued.

Seriously. Not only has Playboy installed the larger page size Maxim implemented last year, the House That Hef Built has also shifted the emphasis, Maxim-like, toward more guy gadgets and stuff and away from female bits: more AT&T, less TT&A. Most of the magazine’s most enduring, if occasionally least endearing, columns have been swept away: I won’t miss the Party Jokes, and the opposing “Men” and “Women” pages have been declining for years, though I did enjoy “Raw Data” and I truly regret the passing of the Playboy Advisor. (The Advisor, at least, seems to be available on the Web.)

On an almost-positive note, the Playmate Data Sheet is no longer called that, and is no longer rendered in the young lady’s handwriting, but it does offer some social-media contacts. (Follow Miss March 2016 on Twitter at @dreelovechild.) And photo director Rebecca H. Black, who has presided over recent improvements in the product imaging, remains.

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Strange search-engine queries (524)

Valentine’s Day, or as I call it “Five Dozen Years of Solitude,” is finally over with, so now it’s time to get back to work on these search strings.

fiorina sucks:  Well, that explains that whole happy-marriage thing.

feminine pulchritude:  As does that.

newton’s second law of motion is expressed as f = ma. a lawn mower is pushed over a length of grass. if the pushing force suddenly doubles what will happen to the lawn mower’s rate of acceleration?  It will decrease markedly once you get to that thick patch of weeds over there where the sewer line is leaking.

alexis has multiple personality disorder. when one of her personalities: Comes up with the idea to destroy all the others, which can be hard on a person.

in kelo v. city of new london, conn., where the city forced people to sell their houses so there could be a new large project build, the supreme court held that the forced sale:  Would utterly delight Donald Trump.

“ways to” “persuasively” towel:  I don’t think I’ve ever been persuasively toweled, but I’m certainly willing to give it a chance.

reluctant naked:  Perhaps this towel will persuade you.

sultry normally:  This describes Lauren Bacall, and hardly anyone else.

quadruple anal:  Oh, like we didn’t have enough assholes around here already.

windows couldn’t finish installing updates:  Also known as “Tuesday.”

ted nugent cookbook:  Probably not your first choice for stir-fried veggies.

does mrs butterworth syrup go bad:  There was that one weekend in the Log Cabin, but she will not speak of it.

is dreamhost down:  If it is, how are you reading this?

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Sounds of agitation

A new Matmos album is coming this week, and I can’t describe it any better than this Wikipedia stub:

Ultimate Care II will consist entirely of sounds produced by the musicians’ Whirlpool Ultimate Care II washing machine, recorded in their basement. It will feature guest contributors Dan Deacon, Jason Willett from Half Japanese, Max Eilbacher and Sam Haberman from Horse Lords, and Duncan Moore from Needle Gun. The album will consist of one 38-minute-long track, described in a press release as depicting “an exploded view of the machine, hearing it in normal operation, but also as an object being rubbed and stroked and drummed upon and prodded and sampled and sequenced and processed by the duo.”

One excerpt, about four minutes long, has been posted to Soundcloud, and it’s, um, more musical than you might think.

The only other washing machine-oriented music I know of is this track by Bonzo Dog/Rutles prankster Neil Innes, originally recorded for The Rutland Weekend Songbook in the middle Seventies and revived for this video:

Fortunately, I have a dryer sense of humor than most.

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DTs on aisle six

Somehow I have a feeling that this will not end well:

An expanding southeast Michigan grocery chain is looking to start a new concept in its stores by turning to by-the-glass beer and wine sales so that customers can drink during a shopping trip.

Busch’s Fresh Food Market is seeking a Class C liquor license for the store it plans to open in Canton Township, west of Detroit.

That store would mark Busch’s first foray into setting up an in-store ‘bistro’ with beer and wine sales for customers.

“It will allow guests to walk through the store and let them drink alcohol while they’re shopping,” said John Hunter, director of marketing for the Ann Arbor-based, 15-store chain.

The idea is not entirely unheard of — stores of the Whole Foods ilk occasionally have things like wine bars, though of course not here in sanitary Soonerland — but we’ve all seen shoppers who seemed like they were out on a day pass from the Home for the Bewildered, and somehow I don’t think their mien will be improved by on-site access to Michigan craft beers.

(Via Interested-Participant.)

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In perpetuity

Despite 170 percent of normal rainfall last year, my town remains under alternate-day watering restrictions, which are considered permanent. And since so far this year we’re running about 20 percent of normal, I’m not complaining. This stance, however, is anything but universal:

We can no longer burn yard debris in our backyard. Never mind that before THEY passed the new rule you couldn’t burn in the summertime because it was too dry and you were liable to burn the whole town to the ground, and it’s too wet the rest of year to start a fire. Now you cannot do it at all. Ever. Stupid rule. Really chafes my hide, I tell you. Never mind that I haven’t tried to burn anything for the last ten or fifteen years.

We seldom have formal burn bans, but the National Weather Service routinely posts Red Flag Alerts when it deems the risk of wildfires to be substantially greater than normal: all it takes is a combination of high winds and low humidity. We’ve had days of 20-mph winds and 15-degree dew points this month, in fact.

I just hope they don’t find something common in area back yards that contributes to earthquakes, or the whole state will go ballistic.

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The blank period

Picasa, born 14 years ago and adopted by Google as a toddler, is about to be taken behind the woodshed and shot:

It hasn’t made sense for Google to continue to invest in two separate photo storage and sharing applications, as it has been doing with the newer Google Photos and the dated software Picasa. And now the company is finally going to do something about that: Google announced [Friday] morning that it will no longer support the Picasa desktop application as of March 16, 2016. In addition, it will be archiving Picasa Web Albums data at a later date while encouraging those users to convert to Google Photos instead.

This does not necessarily mean that the Picasa application will no longer work; it does mean, however, that Google isn’t going to put any effort into maintaining it.

The app itself, though, may not be the problem for some users:

[T]here’s likely more concern from users about the data collected on Picasa Web Albums, which includes very specific metadata about their photos. Specifically, users may have tagged their photos for organizational purposes, as well as added captions. Friends and family may have commented on some photos, as well. It doesn’t sound like that metadata has made the transition to Google Photos, however.

I plan to use this event as my excuse for continuing to use Flickr, with the justification that Yahoo!, Flickr’s current owner, is in no position to develop a replacement for it.

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Undeliverable as addressed

There are, to be sure, certain expectations one must meet on the feast of St Valentine. And as always, I have failed to do so.

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