Even though I'm president of a medium-sized non-profit organization who understands the importance of keeping in touch with constituents, I have run out of patience. For the last couple of weeks, I have mercilessly unsubscribed from every mailing list that sent me more than two emails a week. I might wind up missing a couple of them, but my dog, some of them just would not shut up.
The worst offender was my undergraduate university. In the last week, until I finally unsubscribed from them just now, they've sent me about 20 emails asking for money. "Last chance!" "Really last chance!" "Our matching fund expires in two hours!" "Our matching fund expires in 30 minutes!" "Our matching fund expired just now but send us a couple of bucks anyway!"
Actually, that's not true: the worst offender—even post-election—is my political party, because I've given to so many campaigns over the years. Listen, swing-state Senator: I gave you $100 in 2018, you won, stop bothering me. I'm not giving you more money until 2024. And I'm annoyed you've sent me about 825 emails on behalf of every other member of the Democratic Party in your state.
STFU. Just, STFU.
My organization decided not to send a Giving Tuesday email this year, and we've limited email blasts to two on behalf of partner organizations promoting actual performances and one for ourselves promoting Messiah (tickets still available!). Even then, our unsubscribe rate hit record levels this week. Maybe there's a correlation?
I know fist-hand how difficult non-profit organizations have it this year. But please, guys, stop with the emails. Just. Stop.
It's 14°C right now, going down to -3°C tonight. Then it's back up to 8°C on Friday. Because why wouldn't the beginning of winter feel like April?
While you ponder that, read this:
Finally, Whisky Advocate has a good explainer taking the water of life from barrels in Scotland to the glass in your American kitchen.
Via Bruce Schneier, Ars Technica describes in painful detail how computer repair people snoop and steal people's data all the time:
If you’ve ever worried about the privacy of your sensitive data when seeking a computer or phone repair, a new study suggests you have good reason. It found that privacy violations occurred at least 50 percent of the time, not surprisingly with female customers bearing the brunt.
Researchers at University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, recovered logs from laptops after receiving overnight repairs from 12 commercial shops. The logs showed that technicians from six of the locations had accessed personal data and that two of those shops also copied data onto a personal device. Devices belonging to females were more likely to be snooped on, and that snooping tended to seek more sensitive data, including both sexually revealing and non-sexual pictures, documents, and financial information.
The amount of snooping may actually have been higher than recorded in the study, which was conducted from October to December 2021. In all, the researchers took the laptops to 16 shops in the greater Ontario region. Logs on devices from two of those visits weren’t recoverable. Two of the repairs were performed on the spot and in the customer's presence, so the technician had no opportunity to surreptitiously view personal data.
In three cases, Windows Quick Access or Recently Accessed Files had been deleted in what the researchers suspect was an attempt by the snooping technician to cover their tracks. As noted earlier, two of the visits resulted in the logs the researchers relied on being unrecoverable. In one, the researcher explained they had installed antivirus software and performed a disk cleanup to “remove multiple viruses on the device.” The researchers received no explanation in the other case.
In all, the findings from the study were:
• Privacy policies and the practice of communicating protocols and controls to protect customers’ data do not exist across service providers of all sizes.
• Service providers largely (10/11) require “all access” to the device, even when it is unnecessary.
• Technicians often snoop on customers’ data (6/16) and sometimes copy those to external devices (2/16).
• Technicians who violate privacy often do so carefully to not generate evidence (1/6) or remove such evidence (3/6).
• A significant proportion of broken devices (26/79, 33 percent) are not repaired due to privacy concerns. For the devices that get repaired, device owners are concerned about threats to their privacy but do not use the proper controls to protect their data.
The results likely confirm what many more experienced computer users already know: that their data is vulnerable to snooping or copying any time they surrender their device to an untrusted or unknown individual, particularly when the individual has their login password. But for a much larger percentage of people wanting to recover crucial data on a broken device, the findings are likely a wake-up call with few, if any, good solutions.
Another way to look at it: do you trust your locksmith?
A pilot crashed his Mooney M20J into power lines in suburban Maryland last night, but everyone got out of the plane alive:
A pilot and a passenger were rescued from a small plane that had crashed into a power line tower and power lines in Maryland after an hours-long ordeal that saw power cut to nearly 100,000 homes and businesses, led to school cancellations and plunged rescuers into a complex effort to safely remove the people aboard.
The first victim, a woman, was pulled from the plane at 12:25 a.m. Residents who’d spent hours watching the incident play out clapped as she was lowered down in a bucket. The second occupant, a man, came down about 11 minutes later.
The Sunday evening crash occurred at a Pepco transmission line near Rothbury Drive and Goshen Road in the Gaithersburg/Montgomery Village area, according to utility and rescue officials. The plane became entangled in high-voltage power lines in the Montgomery Village-Gaithersburg area about 5:40 p.m.
Unfortunately for the pilot, he won't be able to use the plane again, so it's not an "excellent" landing. And once the NTSB gets through with him, he probably won't ever fly again (he's 65).
I can't remember another accident where the airplane hit power lines and the occupants all survived. Weather around the crash time and place shows low instrument conditions: overcast ceiling at 60 meters (200 ft) with visibility around 2 km (1¼ mi) in mist. This suggests visual flight into instrument conditions, but a probable cause finding from the NTSB will likely take a year or so.
In the last couple of days, I've observed a phenomenon I don't remember seeing in years past, perhaps because the city has a different mix of tree species around my new place. It looks like all the silver maples in Ravenswood dropped their leaves just in the past 72 hours:
All the other trees in the neighborhood took their time over the warm, dry fall we've had, but the silver maples hung on like a 6-year-old holding his breath.
Researching this post, I learned that the city requires property owners to limit Norway and silver maples to 5% of the total population of trees they plant. Maples account for 38% of Chicago's trees (as of 2013), so the city recommends planting London planetrees, Chicago Blues black locusts, and Chicagoland hackberries, among a few others.
It shouldn't have surprised me that Chicago itself has become a specific ecological niche with its own local plant species. I can't wait to see rattus norvegicus chicagoensis lurking in my alley...but I'd bet they're out there.
Remember the stew I made Wednesday? It turned out one of my best:
And I had a lot of leftovers:
Remember Cassie getting a long walk to the big dog park Thursday? We did the same thing yesterday:
And after dinner, I got this rare (inverted for your convenience) photo of Cassie getting a belly rub:
Today, however, it's rainy and cold, so we will have less walking—but possibly more couch/belly-rub time.
Today is the 100th anniversary of Howard Carter poking his head into the 3,000-year-old tomb of Egyptian King Tutankhamen:
After World War I, Carter began an intensive search for Tutankhamen’s tomb and on November 4, 1922, discovered a step leading to its entrance. Lord Carnarvon rushed to Egypt, and on November 23 they broke through a mud-brick door, revealing the passageway that led to Tutankhamen’s tomb. There was evidence that robbers had entered the structure at some point, and the archaeologists feared they had discovered yet another pillaged tomb. However, on November 26 they broke through another door, and Carter leaned in with a candle to take a look. Behind him, Lord Carnarvon asked, “Can you see anything?” Carter replied, “Yes, wonderful things.”
Thus began a monumental excavation process in which Carter carefully explored the four-room tomb over several years, uncovering an incredible collection of several thousand objects. In addition to numerous pieces of jewelry and gold, there was statuary, furniture, clothes, a chariot, weapons, and numerous other objects that shed a brilliant light on the culture and history of ancient Egypt. The most splendid find was a stone sarcophagus containing three coffins nested within each other. Inside the final coffin, made out of solid gold, was the mummified body of the boy-king Tutankhamen, preserved for 3,200 years. Most of these treasures are now housed in the Cairo Museum.
Skip ahead 50 years or so into my childhood when two brilliant bits of comedy emerged as the King Tut exhibit traveled through the US. The first needs no introduction, but gets one anyway:
The second came from architect and author David Macaulay, who imagined a future archaeologist finding a late-20th-century American "tomb" in the year CE 4022. If you can find a copy of Motel of the Mysteries, read the Howard Carter story and then Macaulay's take on it. It still cracks me up.
I thought Wednesday might turn out the last warm day of 2022, but yesterday and today haven't felt too bad either. Apparently tomorrow will also get above 13°C as well. Not a bad Thanksgiving weekend. And Cassie got almost 2 hours of walkies yesterday and may get about the same amount today.
Otherwise, regular posting will probably resume tomorrow or Sunday.
Cassie and I took a 33-minute walk at lunchtime and we'll take another half-hour or so before dinner as the temperature grazes 14°C this afternoon. Tomorrow and each day following will cool off a bit until Wednesday, the first official day of winter, which will return to normal.
- As every lawyer who paid attention predicted, Justice Clarence Thomas's (R) opinion in New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v Bruen last summer articulated a Republican policy platform while providing absolutely no useful guidance.
- Jamelle Bouie points to that particular justice, along with his brother-in-arms Samuel Alito (R), as great reasons to institute term limits on the Supreme Court.
- Looks like House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), plans to take his 5-seat majority out for a spin come January. Can't wait. (Remember, the Republican Party wants you to think the US Government is a joke. Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!)
- Robert Wright reminds everyone that Ukraine's interests differ from those of the EU, NATO, and the US, which puts Ukrainian president Zelensky's behavior regarding the accidental missile detonation in Poland in context.
- Julia Ioffe reminds everyone that the Pentagon's and White House's strategies also differ from one another.
- Now that I've moved, I need to update my drivers license, which means finally getting a Real ID. I mean, other than my passport or passport card. (Oooo, maybe I can get a CAC?)
- Toronto gave up a few dozen parking spaces to make room for sidewalk cafes, only to discover that the restaurants made 49 times more money than the parking spaces.
- The US faces a critical shortage of bomb-sniffing dogs.
- Thousands of cranes have migrated through Chicago in the last few days, and wow, are they loud.
Finally, Amazon's ads really have gotten to the point where it's "a tacky strip mall filled with neon signs pointing you in all the wrong directions."
And in just a few hours, I will tuck into this:
I may run out of mason jars though...
With only about a week of autumn left officially, we have some great weather today. Cassie is with her pack at day care and I'm inside my downtown office looking at the sun and (relative) warmth outside, but the weather should continue through Friday.
What else is going on?
Finally, I hate to tell you, we will never find any real evidence to support the existence of Noah's Ark.