Facepalm Newsoids 37 – And how is that cure for cancer going?

Still/Meme from “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”. He also hasn’t found a cure for cancer.

Toilets in the news (again). Researchers Dr. Liang, Dr. Ding, Dr. Wu, and Dr. Sun have concluded, after a meta-analysis of data from 4,915 papers published on the subject, that global warming can increase the incidence of infectious diarrhea (ID). ID can consist of dysentry, cholera, typhoid fever and paratyphoid fever, as well as foodborne infections. The general message to mankind here is that as global temperatures rise, we should prepare for more diarrhea (traces back to this paper from 2021).

Dinosaurs died maybe because they were on ‘shrooms. Dinosaurs died around 66 million years ago, around the time that the genus Psilocybe, or magic mushrooms evolved, according to genetic analyses. If dinosaurs died because of magic mushrooms, at least they died happy. (9 Jan)

This proves we can talk to aliens. Researchers from University of California at Davis sailed to the southeast coast of Alaska to talk to a humpback whale named Twain, in what they believe is the world’s first successful whale-human communication. But having a 20-minute conversation with a whale wasn’t the endgame for these researchers. What they really want to do is talk to aliens by interpreting signals from outer space by using whales for practice. (7 Mar)

They’re out there. Not having found aliens yet, frustrated astrophysicists from the University of Rochester have moved beyond looking for biological markers, and have begun looking for technological markers. They have decided that to accomplish this, they will look for the presence of oxygen, being convinced that it correlates with advanced technology. The thinking being: where there’s oxygen, there’s aliens; where there’s aliens, there’s fire; and where there’s fire, there’s someone setting that fire; and where someone is setting the fire, someone is using it to make something; and where there is something made, there is advanced technology. They are looking for a planet with an atmosphere of at least 18% oxygen, the same as that on Earth. The work is being partially funded by a grant from NASA. (2 Jan)

GMOs found in nature. It was found that under controlled conditions in the lab, that gene transfer could occur in 5% of zebrafish, provided they were near an electric eel that was discharging electricity at the time. Bodies of water are full of ambient DNA, known as environmental DNA (eDNA), which is what scientists have observed being transferred into the zebrafish. eDNA could come from plants, single-celled creatures or other animals. Scientists suspect that eels can contribute to biodiversity or even the creation of new species. (Dec 2023 1 2)


Views: 441

A long-awaited followup on transparent computer monitors

Glass computer and keyboard; stylish model looks like he’s up to something.

About 15 years ago, I poked fun at the then-mini-trend of stylish models posing in front of transparent computer monitors, often with glass, see-through keyboards on glass desks. Back in the day, there was no such thing as see-through comptuer monitors, so these overly-stylized depictions could have been used to open up the topic of hacking in some vaguely lavish setting; or it could have just as easily been used to sell the clothes, hairstyles and makeup of the models depicted.

Stumbling on my old article on a random browse made me search again for more such depictions. Well, apparently, glass monitors appear to be closer to reality than they were in the past.

Maybe these go as far back as 2011. Let’s see…

Monitor looks like it's see-through all right...
Monitor on this laptop looks like it’s see-through all right… Clicking on this image leads to the original blog article.
Really transparent
OK … so now you’re just fucking with me.

Turns out, the only trick here was to remove the laptop from the desk, take an image, then import it as their desktop, carefully lining up the monitor with the real background behind the laptop.

Virtual see-through monitor
So, they are not necessarily made of glass, and are definitely not see-through. Got it.

A year later, in 2012, a person narrating on a YouTube channel called The Panin Group, claimed to have patented a glass which can pick up light rays and have a see-through effect in a more genuine way:

See-through-monitor still requires a rear projector, which would appear to leave the user staring into a light beam. Looks kind of OK, but no cigar yet.
A see-through monitor used as an office partition
Oh, wait.

The image immediately above is from a website called the “OLED Store” (link is embedded in the image above, natch). Right now, they appear to be selling big versions of actual transparent monitors for office partitions and kiosks. This is apparently a recent phenomenon, with LG releasing its transparent OLED monitors for retail sale only since April of 2023. Transparent OLEDs are already being used on the windows of some subways in China and LRTs in Japan, enabling passengers to see computer images as well as look outside. In the United States, The Smithsonian Museum has been using a 55″ transparent OLED display for one of its exhibits since December of 2021.

A 55″ transparent OLED monitor by Planar currently retails on E-Bay for $16,000.00. But for that low price, you only get a used one. And yes, it is possible to get a similar QianZi knockoff monitor new for a mere $10,086 from Amazon. Both monitors only have 1080p (1K) resolution, and are not sold as TV or computer monitors; rather they are classified as signage.  LG was supposed to have an actual television out this month, but the best I could find was from one Canadian retailer who is selling signage with an MSRP of $30,190. This is from a Waterloo, Ontario based company called PC-Canada. They are currently on sale there at a steal for $27,120. Get ’em while they’re hot!

The only use case I can imagine for the 55″ LG monitor is for some rich business tycoon to check his stock report while watching the seagulls fly by his window. This photo is from the LG website (clicking on the image gets you to the LG website). LG is currently selling these monitors as “signage”, meaning public signs with changing messaging, or kiosks.

Views: 572

Thoughts on The Lenovo ThinkVision M14

Lenovo ThinkVision M14The Lenovo ThinkVision M14 is a portable monitor, intended for use with a laptop. The only connector you can use is USB-C only; and for best results, you need to use the one supplied by the manufacturer. I have plenty of USB-C connectors, but I found with my Acer Spin 3, the monitor has trouble being recognized. Even with the supplied cord (which is just two male USB-C’s end-to-end), recognition of the monitor under Windows 10 can be very dicey.

It appears as though it obtains both its power and its signal through the same USB port, since it appears to have no internal battery; and while it always powers up when connected, getting it recognised by the OS is the problem. It appears to power up, then after a few seconds of black screen, goes into standby mode. I can disconnect and reconnect the USB cable to get it to cycle on in hopes that the OS will pick it up, and several minutes are often consumed in getting it to power on with the desktop in display, and then disconnecting again if it goes on standby. Very frusttrating when this happens.

The monitor actually has 2 USB ports, one on each side, and I wondered if I could make things easier if I use one of them for power. While it didn’t mind being hooked up to a 3-5V power source, it also didn’t improve its chances of being recognized by Windows, emphasizing the fact that it isn’t necesarily a power issue.

When it works, it works quite well, and renders graphics surprisingly well for something which appears to have such low power needs.  The controls on the side of the base are very limited, but I seem to get along without them, since the monitor appears to “do the right thing” (when it finally connects to my laptop, that is).

Like all things portable, I often get a little paranoid about the breakability of this monitor lying in its felt casing (which came out of the box) in my backpack. I have had this one for a few months, and no signs of cracks yet. The monitor itself is quite rigid, but at $280 I wish that they could add more protection to their monitor, since I would find it hard to believe that consumers would just leave these at home. Otherwise, what’s the point?

It is a common sore point I also have with cell phones, laptops, tablets, and all manner of devices that have somewhat large glass screens with scant protection. The reason Apple and Samsung can charge upwards of $1100 for their cell phones with virtually no protection is because we let them. Who’s stopping them from ripping people off like that? Certainly not the customers lined up for several blocks outside an Apple Store whenever a new cell phone gets released. If the latest $1300 iPhone 14 Pro can’t survive a 6 foot drop, then why charge $1300 for something so delicate? Again, it is because we let them, and the world is teeming with people who have a wealth of cash but suffer from the worst kind of FOMO imaginable.

The ThinkVision is far from $1300, but it is still pricey for what it does, and should also be adequately protected. I wouldn’t mind paying slightly more if I know it is protected and will be around for a few years.

Views: 603

Burma Shave

No brush, no lather \ so says the jar \ to keep your whiskers \ up to par! — Burma Shave!

Burma Shave was a shaving cream sold by the jar, about the size of a jar of cold cream. It was a brushless shaving cream, competitive with similar shaving creams put out by Noxzema and Barbasol at the time. His brand was contemporary with these, first made in 1925 by the Burma Vita company of Minneapolis, Minnesota.

In 1927, an advertising campaign was started by founder Clinton Odell, where short signs would be placed in regular intervals along the right side of highways. Each of the six short signs would contain the line of a possibly humorous rhyming poem, followed by the product name, Burma Shave.

These are signs which would appear in sequence along a road over several hundred meters.

Given that the vehicles of those days were either farily slow, or were of the horse-and-buggy variety, they were a way to keep the brand name in your head. It can be stated that billibard signs were not nearly as common yet. But after the Interstate system was built, and cars started to outmode the hose-drawn carriages, these signs got more expensive to maintain as there were much cheaper ways to advertise, including by radio and TV, which became popular after the 1950s.

By 1963, these signs were taken down across the United States, and many of them were donated to The Smithsonian Institute as cultural artefacts. Philip Morris, makers of the popular Marlboro cigarettes, purchased the company that year, the brand held its own over several decades, but soon faded by the end of the 20th century. By the 1990s, they were sold to the American Safety Razor Company, and an attempt was made to reintroduce the brand in 1997. However, the marketing landscape had changed radically by then, and Walmart had dropped products from that company from its lineup, and by 2010 The American Safety Razor Company had to file for bankruptcy.

The cultural phenonomena had even gone as far as the xkcd comics, turning the ad campaign into millenial online parody.

But the cultural phenomenon they will always be known for are those signs — which have now been called “motion graphics” — not that the signs themselves were moving, but that instead the graphic required the viewer to move to see the successive signs.

For additional discussion about Burma Shave, you can surf here.

Views: 157

100 New words in the OED

This is a selection of new words included in the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) as of March 2022 from January 2020. There are 100 words here, and I skipped way more than that. I was aiming for “woke” words, LBGTQ2S words, medical words, words we have heard in casual or ordinary speech, internet words, and generally words that surprised me for being included only now, after hearing them spoken almost since childhood.

I will make occasional remarks.

  1. adorkable
  2. adulting – One of many nouns, repurposed as a verb.
  3. all-dressed
  4. anneal – One of many scientific words that have been around for decades.
  5. anti-ageing
  6. anti-black, anti-blackness
  7. anti-gay
  8. anti-piracy
  9. anti-spam
  10. anti-vaccine – So many “anti” words! Is there anything we are in favour of these days?
  11. awesomesauce
  12. baked-in – A cooking metaphor to be used in non-cooking contexts.
  13. b-day
  14. birth stain
  15. birthing room
  16. bliss point – Also called the Goldilocks zone: not too much nor too little.
  17. body-shame (-ing, -er)
  18. bogosity
  19. bombogenesis – One of many novel weather terms to sensationalize the weather.
  20. Born-Haber – The Born-Haber Cycle, a term nearly 100 years old.
  21. bread bowl
  22. breading
  23. by-catch – A fishing term that has also been around for decades.
  24. cable tie
  25. Calvin cycle – Another term that has been in science texts for decades.
  26. chapstick
  27. chatterbot
  28. chinese checkers (chequers) – Both are the same game. This one has been around for decades, and I am surprised this wasn’t accepted as English until now.
  29. christenly, christianing, Christ Jesus, Christly
  30. code-named
  31. colonialization, colonialized, colonializing
  32. comorbid (-ity)
  33. conflicted
  34. contact tracing – One of many new English terms to come from the Covid epidemic.
  35. contactless – Another term from the Covid era.
  36. cook-chilled
  37. cooked-up
  38. cookie jar
  39. Cookie Monster – Is this not still a proper noun?
  40. cookless
  41. cookware
  42. coulrophobia – Fear of clowns have been a thing for decades.
  43. Covid
  44. Covid-19 – You saw these coming.
  45. CPAP – A medical acronym now an English word.
  46. critical rationalism – What other kind is there? So, is there a critical “irrationalism”?
  47. cross border – Apparently, we haven’t crossed borders until the last 3 years.
  48. dashcam
  49. decolonial (-ize, -ization)
  50. defund (-ing)
  51. delete, delete button, delete key
  52. demisexual
  53. denialism
  54. destigmatizing
  55. dox (-ing) with one “x” – Now we know of the proper spelling, although I sense that “doxxing” (with 2 x’s) will be soon to follow.
  56. editorialization
  57. e-waste
  58. fat-shame (-er, -ing) – Really, there is shame or there is no shame. But “shaming” (now a verb) is so ubiquitous as a form of cyberbullying that we now have to divide it into categories. Not sure how that is helpful.
  59. foreignize (-ized, -izing, -ization) – Tortured english words are becoming more accepted, I see.
  60. garbageologist, garbageology
  61. gaslighter – This term has caught people’s imaginations and has been enjoying wide use as a word. While decades-old, it has only enjoyed wide use recently.
  62. gig economy
  63. gotch – I remember hearing this word used to mean underwear when I was a kid.
  64. gut level
  65. henpecking
  66. infodemic
  67. Jeez Louise
  68. jeezly – A friend poked fun at me for using this word in a sentence. Now it is part of our accepted lexicon, and I get the last laugh.
  69. Jesusy
  70. kvetching, kvetchy – Old Yiddish terms which I have seen in general use for decades have now entered the English lexicon.
  71. media literacy
  72. Muskoka chair
  73. novichok
  74. on-brand
  75. passive aggression – A thing which seems to be generally attributable to describing the behaviour of anyone we don’t like.
  76. pay gap
  77. postcolonialism, postcoloniality
  78. price gouge
  79. R0 – That’s “R-zero”.
  80. self-isolate (-ed, -ion, -ing)
  81. self-quarnatine (-ed)
  82. self-sabotage (-ing), self-saboteur
  83. shelter in place – More covid-era terms.
  84. sixty-nine (the sex position), along with its synonym: soixante-neuf – I have to be honest, I didn’t know about “soixante-neuf” becoming so widely used in English that we had adpoted it.
  85. social distancing
  86. social isolation
  87. stink eye
  88. suicide belt – Apparently, a part of the midwestern to western United States, extending from the 49th parallel to Mexico.
  89. tat
  90. triaged, triaging
  91. vax, vaxxed
  92. virtue signal (-er, -ing)
  93. vote-wise
  94. votive candle
  95. vuvuzela
  96. wankstain
  97. womxn – English can’t get much more tortured than this. Is this word meant to be spoken?
  98. zip line, zip liner, ziplining
  99. zip tie
  100. zoomer

Views: 180

Remarkable Indices

A summary of some notable trends from the Harper’s Index over the past two months.

Percentage of US adults who describe their health as “excellent”: 25

Percentage change since 2019 in the number of Americans who describe their mental health as “excellent”: –21

Percentage increase since 2019 in ER visits for suicide attempts by adolescent boys: 4

By adolescent girls: 51

Portion of therapists who say their clientele has increased since the start of the pandemic: 9/10

Who have been forced to decrease their hours because of personal issues: 1/5

Minimum portion of Americans aged 18 to 25 who are extremely lonely nearly all of the time: 3/5

Amount spent, per year, to incarcerate someone in a New York City jail: $556,539

Amount spent last November on a private island in the metaverse: $398,685

Factor by which PR specialists outnumber journalists in the United States: 6

Percentage of people alive today who have never used the internet : 37

Minimum number of U.S. immigration history requests held up because of pandemic rules on records storage: 350,000

Portion of Americans who have favorable views of both capitalism and socialism: 1/5

Who have unfavorable views of both capitalism and socialism: 1/5

Percentage of Americans who approve of labor unions: 68

Percentage change since 2019 in U.S. labor union membership: –4

Estimated percentage decrease in U.S. condom sales since the start of the pandemic: 8

Portion of Americans earning less than $50,000 who cite wedding costs as a reason for not marrying: 3/10

Number of the one hundred most-watched TV broadcasts last year that were NFL games: 92

Factor by which Americans spent more time listening to the radio last year than to podcasts: 6

Amount of time, in years, viewers spent watching livestreams of Grand Theft Auto V on Twitch last year: 214,309

Minimum number of total views for TikTok videos tagged with #MentalHealth: 25,100,000,000

Portion of U.S. adults who have struggled with basic decisions like what to eat or wear since the start of the pandemic: 1/3

Of U.S. millenials: 1/2

Portion of U.S. adults who say their closets contain many things they will never wear again: 3/4

Percentage decrease in spending on dental care since the start of the pandemic: 9.5

Portion of U.S. pet owners who say they take their pet’s health more seriously than their own: 7/10

Who have sought acupuncture for their pet: 4/10

Who have purchased CBD products for their pet: 3/10

Minimum number of dogs in the United States on anti-anxiety medication: 10,350,000

Of cats: 1,800,000

Minimum number of hamsters executed by the Hong Kong government because of COVID-19 exposure: 2,229

Views: 103

A Cake that’s Pi

To celebrate Pi day (March the 14, or 3-14), some ‘net denizens have gotten to celebrating with a cake. A pi cake. A cake shaped like pi. A pi made of cake.

A Pi made of Cake

Others took the more normative route and created a Pi this year made of actual pie. So boring!

And there are more than enough “Pi” pies.

While we are on the topic, I know of no one who celebrates the other “Pi” day, the one on the 22nd of July, or 22/7.

Views: 99

A late shipment of records and a minor techie war story

The fine folks at Omnivore finally filled my order for Game Theory records and CDs. In total, I purchased 2CDs, 1 LP vinyl record and an EP vinyl record. I had been waiting for almost a year, and after their losing my shipment, a replacement shipment was issued, and a package arrived at my door earlier this week. I paid nothing extra. Nothing was lost except the time waiting.

Technics SL-10 Turntable
The Technics SL-10 Turntable.

The LP was called Across the Barrier of Sound, a colored vinyl LP which looked unusual when I unpackaged it: a clear pink vinyl LP. I placed it on my turntable, and within a couple of minutes of play, the features of my turntable which made it such a technological wonder in 1979 now became a hinderance. And what follows is a kind of techie war story of a minor sort, about a turntable, and using it to play fancy vinyl.

The turntable is a Technics SL-10, with controls on the lid, and no tonearm. Instead, the magnetic cartridge is attached to the lid, and it moves along a stainless steel track, guided digitally. It is the only direct drive turntable I know of that can be played sideways and even upside-down without a problem (I’ve tried it), much like the portable CD players which just started to come on the market back in the day. Except, the SL-10 wasn’t portable. Like any other turntable of its time, it used RCA jacks and needed a ground wire, plus its own power cord. For compatability with modern equipment, an impedance matcher was also recommended for the RCA connections.

Everything still works 40 years later. There are infra-red sensors and red lights both above and underneath the turntable. They automatically sense whether the record is 12-inch, 10-inch, or 7-inch, depending on whether the record is an LP, EP, or a single and adjust the speed to 33 or 45 rpm accordingly. There are manual overrides to this, but it usually works without me doing much of anything. I often use the manual overrides for skipping tracks. Most other times, after closing the lid, I press “Start” and the turntable figures out the rest.

All well and good, but my two new vinyl records were clear, tinted vinyl. Barrier was clear pink; and the EP Dead Center was clear baby blue. The clear vinyl meant that the lights underneath the turntable which allowed auto-detection of the record size were shining through the vinyl and sending false signals to the central processor. After a couple of minutes of play, the record started skipping during the first track. I found that if I stuck some sheets of paper underneath the record to block out the lights, the play was normal again.

I am willing to put up with this, since the vast majority of vinyl records are black, and not see-through, including the ones I have. So, the turntable will do its job most of the time. At least there is a work-around, even though it has the side effect of static buildup on the paper, but that may have been because the ground wire was a bit loose.

Views: 116

Faking the News By Storm

Andrew Anglin

When a far right website called The Daily Stormer (named after Der Stürmer, said to be Adolf Hitler’s favourite magazine) gained publicity by offending readers, and before they were forced into obscurity after GoDaddy and Google, and even Russian web providers refused to register their domain, I gained access to their style guide (since it, along with a link, came up briefly in the mainstream news). I had no intention of writing for these people, but what I found in that document was a frank account of their thinking behind their practice of knowingly publishing racist and misogynist material.

To think this is OK, for one thing, the writer should be OK with the fact that they are writing for a group of unapologetic neo-Nazi white supremacists. The upshot is that they are quite honest about the fact that you (the first-time reader) won’t necessarily give them a positive reaction. What they are after is that while they made you angry, your subconscious accepts that information uncritically, according to The Daily Stormer understanding of human psychology. So, with enough unrelenting repetition of the same tropes, your mind will some day accept it. The Nazis understood the art of propaganda quite well, and it worked out quite successfully for their regime back in the 1930s. Anglin’s blog doesn’t seem all that different, nor is their effect any less calculated. As writer Luke O’Brien from The Atlantic wrote in the December 2017 issue, the site contained “non-ironic Nazism masquerading as ironic Nazism”, referring to their tendency to appear to be joking about committing hate crimes on individuals, except that they were not joking. The appearance of joking, according to The Daily Stormer style manual, was intended to hook the new reader into reading more from their website.

The content manager of the site was a young man named Andrew Anglin (who by now would be 36 years old). Not much was known about him after 2017. Described in most reliable accounts as growing up as a troubled and confused teenager, he developed his world view by travelling to the Philippines and various countries in Europe. He was always very much a part of the right-wing online world, honing his opinions on 4Chan, and setting up a series of blogs over the years on a wide variety of subjects, ranging from conspiracy theories to survivalism, where he fancied himself as akin to Commander Kurtz in the movie Apocalypse Now: living alone in the Philippine rainforest and far from villages, but having nearly infinite power over the villagers. It was an obsessive romanticism which forced him to say that life in a South Asian jungle wasn’t for him, blaming his difficulties on the villagers.

It appeared for a while, after Anglin was denied his registry of The Daily Stormer that he disappeared into obscurity. And it was pretty effective obscurity too: many people including police and the media, were unable to locate him, though it was widely belived that he was somewhere in the American midwest at the time.

During the time he was active, it was likely that his screeds were being copied and spread by Russian hackers to Facebook and Twitter and other social media. It did not seem likely that he received any attribution for his articles, since there didn’t seem to be a big increase in traffic to his site caused by this. The Russian Government must have known that an American living in Russia had registered a website dealing in spreading pro-Nazi hate while lionizing Tump and Putin. However, it is not clear that he benefitted financially or drew hits to his site in any discernable number, and after he had his application to register his site rejected by the Russian government (and nearly everyone else), he did not seem to wind up any richer for his efforts. He was just used as a cog in the Russian disinformation apparatus, then the minute American media shone a light on him, he was thrown away  like a broken toy.

A look at the Internet as of this writing shows that The Daily Stormer is back up, with nearly all the articles bylined by Anglin, with the site registered with the Russian registrar r01.su, under an SU top level domain (TLD)  (meaning the country code appearing at the end of his server URL is actually the Soviet Union, instead of Russia, which would have been RU). It is likely he is still living in the United States, since there doesn’t appear to be a requirement that he needs to have business dealings or residency in Russia to have a Russian TLD.

Views: 143

You had one job

I actually don’t remember where I got these from. But most of them are pretty common on the internet.

The Board of Regents in this college want the college to fail, going by this sign.
Jesus works here.
Do Not Stack. Okay
What is wrong with this picture?
The sign telling drivers to give cyclists space, does not give space to cyclists.
This is the store with MOAR!!!
My theory is that the hanging signs were switched as a sophomoric prank.
Let's Go Out On The Balcony .......Oh Wait
Balconies placed on the apartment building for decoration.
Oh yeah, when I think of London, England, the first image that comes to mind is the Eiffel Tower!
The people travelling on the left side of the staircase are only half-expected.
Don’t everyone relieve themselves at once!

Views: 88

Suspicious youtube channels

I have been noticing over the past years, a couple of suspicious YouTube channels. For the past number of years, a number of fairly lefty videocasts, such as the news/comedy program Redacted Tonight seems to have “RT” as the provider of these rather polished video shows. “RT” is the video network Russia Today, based in Moscow, with offices and studios in Washington, DC. While the views expressed on Redacted Tonight fell within a certain tolerance a few decades ago, the views nowadays would be considered to be on the “far left”. I stop short of saying “radical left”, since this phrase is often uttered with an insufficient understanding of the word “radical”, and I don’t feel it applies to this program.

Below, host Lee Camp speaks on behalf of himself and the other creators of Redacted Tonight in a video posted last year as to the reasons why they chose RT as the vehicle for their comedy programs:

In his rather unusual way, Lee Camp has a point. No other major commercial media outlet would fund or support programming that would utter content that is critical of the military, corporate America, or their agenda. This would make us into aware participants of democracy, which goes agains what corporate America wants. They want us to be consumers. We can “vote” with our dollars for various products, not that the anticompetitive practices we have come to tolerate even provide us with a worthwhile choice between products.

Well, there are a lot of outlets that can provide the same thing as as what Camp claims RT is doing, and there is no reason why Camp and company could not start their own YouTube channel. However, it might mean that they would have to forego the flashy trappings of the RT studio. Because, that is what it means to be an alternative voice. Alternative voices are usually not well-funded, and don’t consist of a wall of multiple monitors, and a staff of layout artists, animators, cameramen, and sound engineers. Redacted Tonight would be considered small-budget for major media, but for “alternative voices”, such professional team efforts would be out of reach financially.

The question then becomes, how is programming from people such as Lee Camp benefitting Russia Today? Why would the Russians want to cause us to question our corporations and military? While I have watched enough of Redacted to form an opinion of whether they are disinforming us (it’s not obvious if it is), it is still consistent with the Russian penchant for sowing societal division through social media. However, it is barely perceptible by YouTube standards, since their videos typically garner not much more than 60,000 views, hardly a force to be reckoned with at the moment. They do have over 200,000 subscribers as of this viewing. To put that in perspective, one of my faviourite “math nerd” channels, 3Blue1Brown, has close to 2 million subscribers.

I wouldn’t normally feel this was that much worth writing about if it were not for the fact that there is another channel from another oligarchic nation. This time, China. CGTN is the China Global Television Network. They too have an American outlet, CGTN America, which is also in Washington DC. Of the few news videos I watched, I would characterize CGTN as more like the BBC in its reporting of foreign (American) stories, with not a whole lot of comedy competitive with Stephen Colbert, let alone Redacted Tonight.

Views: 102

An attempt to re-think the block editor

Due to some plugin problems, I deleted nearly all plugins now and am cautiously rebuilding the site. This is now another chance to check out the features of the block editor.

I had complained that there were toolbar problems with the editor that support groups have construed to be a problem with plugin conflicts. So, I now have a chance to, without plugins (except akismet), see how the editor is really supposed to behave. And the absence of plugins makes a positive difference.

Below is a video I have embedded from YouTube to show as a proof of concept that you tube plugins can be loaded with only the native code. It is one of my more recent videos.

In the coming weeks, I will be attempting to restore functionality to the website. Note that there are certain articles which have missing images. There are several images that need replacing, but most of the images have already been restored, especially for the old articles.

Views: 83

Crappy Album Covers: A New Day #331: Rednecks and plain folks

colouche Michel Gerard Joseph Colucci (1944-1986), best known as Colouche, was a French comedian. Apparently, as part of his satire, he once ran for French President back in 1980, with support from the satirical publication Charlie Hebdo. One campaign slogan went: “Before me, France was divided in two; now it will be doubled over into four” (the idiom “être plié en quatre,” can be translated as “doubled over laughing.”) At the time, he was up against François Mitterrand, who was very un-amused.
Eddie Brumley The problem with this concept, is that it is over-done, since a Googling of “Jesus sightings at Wal-Mart” yield over 400,000 hits.  Some are links to video blogs, or more traditional blogs where His likeness shows up on a Wal-Mart receipt. Rick Leland has even written a “Jesus at Wal-Mart” trilogy, on sale now at GoodReads, stretching the meme to its ultimate 750-page futility (a rough page total of the three books).The answer to the perennial question “What would Jesus do?”, according to these consistent, and persistent findings by many and sundry people, is that He would shop at Wal-Mart. And if Jesus had His way, Wal-Mart would be renamed Jesus Christ Superstore. That wasn’t exactly my image of Him, but I guess we must respect each other’s freedom of religion.

The website eddiebrumley.com is inactive, and other information on Brumley is very hard to obtain at the time of this writing.

Don Youngblood This was the fourth album by Rockabilly artist and Cincinnati native Don Youngblood. He had a fan club headquartered in Indiana. He sings and plays piano, and for the life of me, I can’t find the year of this album, although I saw a vinyl copy on sale at Amazon for around 12 bucks.

Brumley, I found Jesus at a Wal-Mart. To put the correct sense on this tune, Brumley was witnessed to at Wal-Mart. It is not far-fetched to say that Brumley’s near-empty kitchen pantry needed divine intervention, and that’s kind of what he is singing about:

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Scientific Linux

Scientific Linux is the Linux distribution used by CERN and Fermilabs, which I had the experience of installing on to a USB stick to see how it ran. The choice of a USB stick was for many reasons. For one, all my computers are running an installed OS I am happy with, and this was a good opportunity to experiment. Second, I was exploring the use of Scientific Linux for its math and science applications, and wondering if there was anything I can take advantage of.

Apart from being a creature of Fermilabs, Scientific Linux appears to be based on the RedHat RHEL distribution. CERN was also a collaborator, but decided later to move to CentOS, another RHEL-compatible distro.

To “see what I could take advantage of”, I chose the option where it would install as a workstation. I chose a couple of other options, such as office software and programming software, and selected my USB for installation, and it installed very slowly. The image I chose was their maximal-sized image, burned on to a Blu-ray disk, and then booted on to my laptop, which recognized my Blu-ray disk as a boot device.

The install took hours, even though I only chose the three options. When it was finally installed on to the USB, I booted, and saw that I just got a minimal GNOME desktop.  No toolbar, no menus, except for the short menu that offered things like an xterm. But there was no menu that listed the available windowed applications. This made it difficult to explore what unique apps are part of Scientific Linux, or to run an installer to find out what could be installed.

So, for my use case, that being installing on a bootable USB stick, it was a no-go.

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August in a Hamilton Airport Lounge

After I was compelled to go all the way to Hamilton to catch a plane to Edmonton to visit my parents, I had an earworm in my head – a song that wouldn’t leave my head: Bruce Cockburn’s January in a Halifax Airport Lounge, which appeared many decades ago. It had its imagery: the jets flying overhead, the Cyprus-bound RAF detail waiting to board, and the cocoon-like feeling of being stuck in a small airport in the middle of a snowstorm.

Hamilton is slowly being built up, and I am sure as it expands its tax base, it will try to beautify its old buildings downtown, including City Hall. The airport is still much-neglected, small as it is, and too close to Pearson Airport (I consider 70km too close, since Pearson is so massive) to be viable to any but locals.

And it was true. I felt like I was one of few people from out of town in this airport. The only “store” that exists here is a Tim Horton’s. No souvenir shops, and barely 100 meters exist between the baggage checks and the boarding gate (there is only one, leading to a general area). In the lounge area in front of both the gate and Tim Horton’s, families kept their kids occupied, one lady was doing her knitting, some people were on their devices, everyone seemed generally relaxed. It is in contrast to Pearson’s bustle, tension, and people’s crises over lost luggage, or possibly worse matters.

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Today’s weather: Frantic!

A mere run-of-the-mill storm brewing in the Alberta prairies.

I just want to go over some of the phrases I have heard to describe weather. So far, we have heard of

  • thunder snow
  • polar vortex
  • bombogenesis
  • derechoes
  • meteotsunami

Of course, this is in addition to those boring old hurricanes, avalanches, whiteouts, monsoons and tornadoes, which are so “old school” that perhaps nobody cares anymore. And now meteorologiests have invented something else for us to worry about:

  • bomb cyclone

I swear they must pay someone to sit in a back room somewhere to create some way to sensationalize the weather with invented terminology. The fact is, it is enough that tornadoes alone this year have given us much to worry about along the redneck riviera states (a new term I am expanding on to include Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi — states along the Gulf of Mexico — here is the “known” definition) and other states in the Southern United States. So have droughts, which led to the forest fires all along the west coast of North America, from southern California to British Columbia.

I am aware that these extreme weather conditions are a part of global warming, and I am not going to deny that. I am against inventing new terms when perfectly good ones exist. Using existing terms, along with some kind of quantification (like wind speed, air pressure, temperature, wind chill, and so on) gives us a way to compare these weather events with earlier ones so that we can make up our own minds. Giving things a unique name obscures any attempt at comparison, which I think results in disinforming the public rather than informing them.

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As I have said elsewhere, on the Donald Trump Coronation

I have been saying for the past six months that the coverage of Donald Trump has the effect of support for the Republican presidential candidate. Other events also contributed, most notably the coronation of Trump which constituted the whole Republican convention from start to finish. The mediocre crop of candidates surrounding Trump did not want to team up to bring him down, effectively dividing the vote in Donald’s favour, and everyone was in on the punch line except those same Republican candidates.

But the media play a big role, and all coverage follows a pattern of Trump saying something stupid, and like a Greek Chorus, the media then reacts with pundits and, oh yeah, the Democratic candidates as well. The rest of the media, including the Democratic party, and anyone else with an informed and responsible opinion all seem to act as the “straight man” to the Donald’s “zingers”.  But it has always been clear that Donald plays the lead.

It is like a sitcom, a serious process of choosing the leader of the free world, which has now become indistinguishable from show business. A person who contributes nothing to any democratic debate, and advances no topic worthy of serious discussion. There is also this slogan — I think it was “Make America Hate Again”, wasn’t it? Seems about right.

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Recognizable OOC Recipients 04: Musicians

Joni Mitchell
Joni Mitchell

There are actually quite a number of Order of Canada recipients that are musicians. More musicians will appear in later installments.

Saskatoon native Joni Mitchell graced our radios in the decades since the sixties with her folk/pop singing that had been the influence of a great many musicians worldwide. Some of her album covers were self-drawn, and one was a self-portrait. She was made a companion of the Order of Canada in 2004.

Paul Anka

Going back a generation in music history, Ottawa-born Paul Anka is only two years older than Joni, but had his first hit song at age 15 when Diana went to the top of the Billboard charts in 1957, and was a hit on both sides of the Canada-US border. He continued to produce hit singles well into the 1980s. Greatest hits compilations have been showing up as recently as 2013

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Pictures say it all: Some of the world’s worst commutes

Think your commute was bad? The worst I have heard of is one consisting of a 50-lane (that’s f-i-f-t-y lanes) highway, called the G4, which joins up Beijing, Macau and Hong Kong. It has been referred to as “the Great Crawl of China”, and “a waiting area for toll booths”. There exists a checkpoint plaza along the way that narrows the 50-lane highway to 20 lanes, and this can typically tie up traffic for days. In 2010, motorists were stranded for 12 days trying to get to their destination. Pictures from here. There was another major tie-up back in October 2015 linked to a Chinese holiday, depicted below by a drone.

Vehicles are seen stuck in a traffic jam near a toll station as people return home at the end of a week-long national day holiday, in Beijing, China, October 6, 2015. Picture taken October 6, 2015. REUTERS/China Daily CHINA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN CHINA - RTS3HL5
Vehicles are seen stuck in a traffic jam near a toll station as people return home at the end of a week-long national day holiday, in Beijing, China, October 6, 2015. Picture taken October 6, 2015. REUTERS/China Daily

Vehicles are seen stuck in a traffic jam near a toll station as people return home at the end of a week-long national day holiday, in Beijing, China, October 6, 2015. Picture taken October 6, 2015. REUTERS/China Daily CHINA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN CHINA - RTS3HL3
Another picture taken of the now world-famous commute, with the toll plaza visible in the background. Photo taken on the same day, credited to REUTERS/China Daily.

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Fixing some brokenness in the website

Mostly what are being fixed are media links. Plugins have changed; media files got moved around. Right now some, but not all of the media is working. Since WordPress has native support for a lot of the media, I am trying to move away from using plugins and relying on the native support from WordPress itself, while fixing permission problems and plugging up some security holes. Hopefully all multimedia will be working soon.

Views: 87