And Ken never knew

This Barbie typewriter has Hidden Talents:

Barbie typewriter with encryption

Slovenia’s Maheno corporation manufactured a series of Barbie-branded and white label typewriters for kids, with a hidden feature that allowed their owners to use them to produce messages encrypted with a simple substitution cipher.

That’s fairly sophisticated stuff for the presumed target market.

The devices came with four ciphers, and went through several iterations before being discontinued.

(Via @JenLucPiquant.)

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Somehow the eighth

I was mildly dismayed to learn that Octavia Spencer is just one of seven children; I was so hoping that there would be one more sibling, to make the name fit. Not that she’s concerned about such silly things: she’s very busy these days, what with the recent opening of Hidden Figures, now in theaters, for which she was nominated for a Golden Globe.

Octavia Spencer at the HFAs

Octavia Spencer head shot

Octavia Spencer has just arrived

In the upcoming The Shack, she plays God, which bothers some people:

The Shack, a film based on a New York Times bestseller of the same name, is stirring controversy among evangelicals because a black woman — Octavia Spencer — is playing God.

Is this a major overreaction?

The fictional book written by William P. Young about a father who finds his way back to faith and healing after the brutal murder of his daughter, has drawn the ire of many Christians who have labeled it heresy.

I think the operative word here is “fictional.” Here’s the trailer:

It seems to me that if George Burns or Alanis Morissette can play God, so can Octavia Spencer.

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Butler didn’t

Chicago forward Jimmy Butler has not been well of late, but the Bulls organization decided he was probably good to go tonight. Well, maybe partially: he led the team with assists, with seven, but missed all six of his shots and one of two free throws, retiring for the night after 29 minutes and one point. If Butler, or for that matter Robin Lopez, had been up to speed, the Bulls might have made a game of it. As it stands, the Thunder’s 109-94 victory was nowhere near as close as it sounds: through three quarters, OKC was up 89-67, but they loosened up their grip in those final 12 minutes. Still, it’s a road win, something OKC has not had a lot of recently, enough to climb back into a tie with the Jazz for Northwest Division dominance.

The Chicago guards did what they could, with Michael Carter-Williams posting a season-high 15 points and Dwyane Wade looking something like the Dwyane Wade of old while picking up 22. The Bulls did gather rebounds, with reserve center Cristiano Felicio collecting 11 to go with 11 points, but a reasonably alert Thunder defense kept the Bulls from scoring much: Chicago shot a mere 41 percent from the field, while OKC was blithely pumping in 57. (Statistical oddity: both teams took 83 shots, but the Thunder hit 13 more.) Top scorer for the Thunder: Steven Adams, with 22. (Enes Kanter, your Sixth Man of the Year candidate, dropped in 20.) Russell Westbrook just barely missed another triple-double, recording 21-9-14. And in the Battle of the Grant Brothers, Jerian (CHI) scored 11, Jerami (OKC) seven.

Good news: the Thunder play next at home. Bad news: it’s against the Memphis Grizzlies, who have already walloped them once this year, albeit at the Fed Up Forum. Then on the road again, where the marquee game is the fourth of the trip: at Golden State, new home of some guy we used to mention a lot here.

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Still silken after all these years

The ads have changed, but the product hasn’t:

Advertisement for L'Eggs Silken Mist pantyhose

The price has probably risen, though.

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Difficulties ensue

If you can’t fold a fitted sheet, you’re probably normal.

If you can’t fold a flat sheet, you’re probably me. Poor you.

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This is where you came in

In case cutting the cord wasn’t enough for you:

Back in October 2015 when they announced single-game and single-team League Pass streaming options, the NBA also floated the idea on social media to let fans buy just parts of games. Now, it sounds like NBA commissioner Adam Silver is working towards making that a reality. On a sports business innovation panel at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Silver said he thinks they’ll get to a point where there will be an option for fans to buy only the final five minutes of games.

However, this could backfire on the Association:

Silver’s suggestion might help reinforce the idea that the last five minutes of an average NBA game — which can last quite a bit longer than five minutes with time-outs, intentional fouls and TV commercial breaks — are the only five minutes of the game that matter. The league already has a problem drawing casual eyeballs during the pre-playoff season since so many of its teams make post-season play.

Sixteen of thirty, in fact.

Wait until people figure out that they can’t DVR these fractions of games: not only do you not know how long the last five minutes will run, you don’t know how long the first forty-three ran. And then there’s the dread spectre of overtime.

Back to the drawing board, Mr Silver, sir.

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Strange search-engine queries (571)

This is not the longest-running feature on the Web. (Heck, it’s not even the longest-running feature on this site.) But after about 11 years of something resembling development, it’s reached its current state of whatever the heck it is. The search strings are real; only the IP addresses are masked to protect the searchers.

is 5’5 short for a guy yahoo answers:  Not for a guy on Y!A, no. They tend to be stunted.

“islurp.biz:”  A good name for a content scraper, anyway.

specto fork:  A short-lived utensil, used when dining on Space Food Sticks.

ban stories, mom’s overindulge deduct apropos:  That’s odd. Mom never overindulged before.

naturism today:  Today it’s 10 degrees. How about tomorrow?

nudist fiction:  Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl, both get naked. Nothing more to it than that.

shoes off at the door:  In nudist fiction, it’s pants off at the door.

tyrant series:  Renewed for another season, alas.

when alice needs to figure out how to host a work party for 100 employees with a modest $100.00 budget, she needs to be innovative and imaginative. in order for alice to host a successful work party she will need to use:  The assistant manager’s MasterCard.

if we use the analogy that some u.s. families have an income that could be represented by the height of mount everest, then the average american family has an income that is about:  Knee-high to a grasshopper.

zoie burgher 12 seconds of ecstacy:  That’s about a minute and a half in dog delight.

according to molly ivins, enjoying your work is important because:  One way or another it’s going to kill you.

angelica is an unpaid homemaker who works as a volunteer at the local red cross and is currently not looking for a paid job. the bureau of labor statistics counts angelica as:  Working, until the new administration comes in and it becomes necessary to fudge the results in the other direction.

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GeezerCare

I have gradually gotten used to being in a demographic that is of no value to the music industry. What I can’t get used to is being written off by the rest of the species:

One good part of Obamacare is that we docs won’t be sued if we point out to families that sometimes minimum care is better than overtreatment using extraordinary treatment.

The flip side of this, however, is denying treatment to those who could benefit but are seen by society as “useless eaters” under QALY (quality of life years) protocols. So if you are handicapped or retarded, or elderly and could actually benefit from treatment you are out of luck.

At the same time, society is being shown propaganda to kill the handicapped and elderly: very subtle or not so subtle.

Some people have bought into this very early in their own lives:

This more than racism is the backstory of the story of how four teenagers tortured a mentally disabled man.

The Daily Caller’s Matt K. Lewis described the event as “evil.” “That’s what this is, it’s evil, it’s brutality, it’s man’s inhumanity to man.” At that, [Don] Lemon disagreed. “I don’t think it’s evil,” he said, repeating the point for emphasis. “I think these are young people and they have bad home training.” Then, he explained, “I have no idea who’s raising these young people, because no one I know on earth, 17 years old or 70 years old, would ever think of treating another person like this.”

In other words, to call it evil might suggest evil exists. And the adults who did this will be called “teenagers,” their crime minimized because they are from a protected minority group, and because the press is so involved in pushing Trump hatred that they can’t see an atrocity against a disabled man as evil.

Their inability to see this as evil has more backstory than the race of the victim. It shows prejudice of the MSM for those with disabilities.

Remember, the press was non judgmental about Holland killing their dying. Then they were cheerleaders to Dr Death killing the handicapped, insisting they were terminally ill. Nor was there much publicity when the architect of Obamacare admitted he hoped the aged should just die quickly.

Out of sight, out of mind; if this requires out of breath, so be it.

Secular Americans dare not even imply that there’s such a thing as “evil”; it conflicts with their adoration of the State. Instead, they snarl at whatever stupid thing Donald Trump has done, or said, lately, because whatever Trump does is, by their definition, the Worst. Possible. Thing. Their awakening will be slow and torturous; I don’t expect to be around to see it. But it’s coming, just the same.

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Gimme an E-6

Ektachrome has been given the Lazarus treatment:

It’s not every day that you hear about a classic film line being brought back from the dead, but that’s what’s being announced today. Kodak Ektachrome film is coming back for film photographers.

The announcement was made [Thursday] at CES in Las Vegas by Kodak Alaris, the separate company owned by the Kodak Pension Plan in the UK that runs Kodak’s old Personalized Imaging division.

The original Kodak Professional Ektachrome color reversal film line was killed off by Kodak back in 2012 after years of sales declines and a drop in usage by photographers. It seems that trend has reversed.

“The reintroduction of one of the most iconic films is supported by the growing popularity of analog photography and a resurgence in shooting film,” Kodak Alaris says. “Resurgence in the popularity of analog photography has created demand for new and old film products alike.”

It’s like vinyl, except for color slides.

(Title explained.)

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Quote of the week

On Saturday, Meh.com sold this Bluetooth speaker for $18 — unless you bought it in pink, in which case it was only $15. Explanation:

People don’t want pink electronics. It’s not just that pink’s too bold: red is typically the best-selling gadget color after black, white, and maybe silver, and we never have too much trouble with yellow, either. No, the problem with pink is that it can’t be a “serious” color because it’s for little girls. Everybody knows that, right?

It’s funny, then, to read this excerpt from a June 1918 article in Earnshaw’s Infants Department, a trade magazine for baby product retailers:

“The generally accepted rule is pink for the boys, and blue for the girls. The reason is that pink, being a more decided and stronger color, is more suitable for the boy, while blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is prettier for the girl.”

According to Smithsonian Magazine, Filene’s and Marshall Field’s recommended the same to their customers. Other experts at the time said pink was suitable for any brunette child, or any baby with brown eyes. It isn’t until the late 1940s that apparel catalogs start consistently showing pink clothes for girls and blue for boys — influenced, perhaps, by the navy blue of Navy blues worn in World War II.

Think about it a minute. What about pink is inherently feminine, anyway? Rosy cheeks and pink baby fingers and toes don’t discriminate by gender. Yeah, there are pink flowers, but there are also lots of orange and yellow and red and white flowers, too.

And maybe this little lecture worked: four colors were offered, but pink garnered nearly half the sales.

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Overheard and then some

If Amazon is listening, perhaps you should watch what you say:

A San Diego TV station sparked complaints this week — after an on-air report about a girl who ordered a dollhouse via her parents’ Amazon Echo caused Echoes in viewers’ homes to also attempt to order dollhouses.

Telly station CW-6 said the blunder happened during a Thursday morning news package about a Texan six-year-old who racked up big charges while talking to an Echo gadget in her home. According to her parents’ Amazon account, their daughter said: “Can you play dollhouse with me and get me a dollhouse?” Next thing they knew, a $160 KidKraft Sparkle Mansion dollhouse and four pounds of sugar cookies arrived on their doorstep.

During that story’s segment, a CW-6 news presenter remarked: “I love the little girl, saying ‘Alexa ordered me a dollhouse’.”

That, apparently, was enough to set off Alexa-powered Echo boxes around San Diego on their own shopping sprees. The California station admitted plenty of viewers complained that the TV broadcast caused their voice-controlled personal assistants to try to place orders for dollhouses on Amazon.

Lesson learned: voice-command ordering is ON by default on these devices.

Just one more precaution we’ll have to learn as we surround ourselves with the Internet of God Knows What.

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Worst ransomware ever

This is the message the victims get:

We are so sorry but the encryption of your data has been successfully completed

Bad news on two fronts:

  • The sum asked by the attackers is, at this writing, a ridiculous $270,000;
  • Said attackers do not in fact know how to decrypt your files.

Seriously:

No one has paid; this is a good thing, even for victims laden with cash, since the attackers cannot decrypt files because encryption keys are not saved locally or transmitted to command and control servers.

“Let us emphasise that the cyber criminals behind this KillDisk variant cannot supply their victims with the decryption keys to recover their files, despite those victims paying the extremely large sum demanded by this ransomware,” ESET researchers Robert Lipovsky and Peter Kalnai say.

Greedy and incompetent. I see a political future for these crooks.

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Friendlier skies

The low this morning in Oklahoma City was -3° F (-19° C), but no matter: the Thunder knew they’d get a warm reception at the ‘Peake, and hey, it’s not like Denver is particularly warm this time of year. The Nuggets do one thing exceptionally well, and that’s the retrieval of rebounds; their sheer prowess on the boards kept them more or less dead even during the first two quarters, after which the Thunder began to wear them down. Denver tried to buy some time by fouling Andre Roberson and/or Steven Adams, but that didn’t last long, and OKC, having lost three in a row on the road, get back home with a W over the Nuggets, 121-106, their second of the season with two games to go.

Denver did gather the majority of rebounds, 53-49, and they were less inept than the Thunder from the three-point line (9-24 versus 12-36), but OKC dominated the rest of the statistics, including this startler: eleven blocks, with Adams and Jerami Grant swatting four each. It must be conceded that Wilson Chandler is downright scary coming off the bench: tonight he nailed 24 points on 10-18 from the floor. Will Barton, in place of Gary Harris, led the starters with 22, and four other Nuggets scored in double figures. Meanwhile, Russell Westbrook, chastised a few times this season for jacking up a dozen treys and missing most of them, this time jacked up a dozen treys and made seven on his way to yet another triple-double, 32-17-11. Four other Thundermen did the double-digit thing, with Enes Kanter, as usual, leading with 14.

This is the first Thunder home game of January. There will be only two more. First comes a trip to Chicago on Monday; home game #2, on Wednesday, is against the scary Memphis Grizzlies; and then there are six in a row on the road: Minnesota, Sacramento, Los Angeles (the Clippers), Golden State, Utah, and New Orleans. It’s going to be a long, long month.

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Ritual comedy

Ritu Barmecha’s Twitter bio: “Actor-traveller-lover of life-Authentic-cafe person-movie lover-die-hard romantic-and a very happy girl.”

Not a bad way to be, really.

Ritu Barmecha looking demure

Ritu Barmecha in costume

Ritu Barmecha at work

She’s currently starring in the soap opera Agar Tum Saath Ho (Hindi: “If you are with…”) on Zindagi TV, describable thusly:

It is the story of love transcending class differences; the story of Neema and Ravi who belong to two completely different worlds. Neema, the daughter of an affluent and caring father falls in love with a simple middle class boy Ravi and marries him against her father’s wishes. However, her over-protective father showers luxuries on his daughter on his own accord. His constant interference brings in misunderstandings and differences between the couple to the extent that they consider parting ways. Will class difference and an opposing father destroy the relationship? Or will love prove stronger against all odds?

Now there’s a classic plot.

Also from the realm of the familiar, this scene from her first film, the Telugu-language Aha Naa Pellanta:

How did this happen? Yeah, you’ve probably seen this scene a few times too.

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Seriously, help wanted

I mean, we’re desperate, and you can tell:

We need a graphic designer.  Obviously.

Then again:

50mm Photography is a collective of world-class photographers, retouchers and illustrators based in Toronto, New York, London, Texas and Los Angeles. In the early outset, all of the photographs posted to the website were taken with a 50mm lens.

We have over 150 years of combined experience as creatives, access to the best studio spaces and equipment, and offer the widest selection of image services at highly competitive rates. 50mm is your full-service destination for photography, beauty services, website development, conceptual design, fashion illustration, advertising management, retouching and many more essential image services.

Okay, we’re not entirely without resources.

(From reddit via Miss Cellania.)

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It even smells better

This may be the cleanest coal yet:

In the southern Indian city of Tuticorin, locals are unlikely to suffer from a poorly risen cake. That’s because a coal-fired thermal power station in the area captures carbon dioxide and turns it into baking soda.

This is elementary chemistry: you can combine sodium hydroxide with carbon dioxide and end up with baking soda and water.

Like most carbon-capture schemes, this one involves a proprietary solvent. Unlike most carbon-capture schemes, this one comes close to being cost-effective:

The Guardian reports that a system installed in the Tuticorin plant uses a new proprietary solvent developed by the company Carbon Clean Solutions. The solvent is reportedly just slightly more efficient than those used conventionally, requiring a little less energy and smaller apparatus to run. The collected CO2 is used to create baking soda, and it claims that as much as 66,000 tons of the gas could be captured at the plant each year.

Its operators say that the marginal gain in efficiency is just enough to make it feasible to run the plant without a subsidy.

Inveterate coal-haters will hate this too, but perhaps not as much. And as Dave Schuler notes:

I expect that we’ll see a lot more solutions like this coming out of India. They have a lot of clever, educated people, probably as many engineers per 100,000 population as anywhere in the world and they don’t have a lot of money to mess around with diseconomic schemes.

I wonder if I should send this to Scott Pruitt.

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