Archive for October, 2017

The coming war over smelly fruit

Monday, October 30th, 2017

Durian is a fruit grown in Southeast Asia. It emits an odor that resembles a variety of unpleasant odors, but apparently the fruit itself is quite pleasant.

The China connection

China is considering allowing the import of durian from Malaysia, which is expected to cause a sharp increase in prices in Singapore.

Durian is one of the fruits cultivated in the Family Farm Seaside app, where I currently am at level 51. Hold your applause… no really…

Women are analog, men are digital

Saturday, October 28th, 2017

Earlier today, I proposed the theory that female brains are analog and men’s brains are digital. This has some connection to the notion that “men are from Mars and women are from Venus”. The thesis is that brains of women and men acquire information and make decisions in fundamentally different ways.

This conclusion is based on my extensive six months of experience as a loving and devoted husband. The Countess suggested that I post this theory and see what other people think of it.

In a digital world, everything has to be either true or false, yes or no, on or off. There is no ambiguity permitted. In an analog world, there are an infinite number of possible results, and you will never be certain that the result you observed is correct. When provided with identical inputs, an analog system can produce different results each time which are completely unpredictable, but each result is correct.

One could make the case that perhaps the female brain is a quantum engine – meaning that it could contain any number of independent and potentially contradictory ideas at the same time, and still arrive at a decision.

Gotta go – time for dinner. Honey? Hello?

Without Google

Monday, October 23rd, 2017

A person online verbalized what many of us see – the person said that Google is their brain and they are mentally helpless without doing a Google Search.

Without using a search engine, can you identify this product from the ingredient list, or at least its purpose?

President Trump to release JFK files

Saturday, October 21st, 2017

NY Times coverage

The “deep state” is likely very unhappy about this development. Fifty-four years is enough time to shield Camelot from public scrutiny. We need to know if Oliver Stone got the facts right. The baby boomers deserve to know the truth while they are still alive.

When Free isn’t free

Thursday, October 19th, 2017

Google Express has invited me to use its “free” delivery service to get deliveries from Wal-Mart, Target, Costco and several other retailers. In addition, my first delivery will be 20% off! What’s not to like about that?

Many of the “free” delivery services are using the same technique to hide the cost. The price you pay in the store or restaurant is different from the price with the “free” delivery.

Google has copied over the non-perishable items from my Wal-Mart Pickup account to make ordering easy. Depending on which store I use, Wal-Mart can have my order available for pickup the same day, or at the latest by tomorrow. Here is one sample item:

Here is the same item using the Google Express “free” delivery

Further down, I am informed that my order will be delivered by Tuesday October 24th (I am writing this on Thursday, October 19th).

This was not just one cherry picked item – some prices were even more preposterous. The reality is it costs money for home delivery. That won’t change – only the method of hiding the cost.

There is no such thing as a free delivery.

FBI: Bill Clinton accepted bribes from Russia for Uranium

Tuesday, October 17th, 2017

The Hill reports

Before the Obama administration approved a controversial deal in 2010 giving Moscow control of a large swath of American uranium, the FBI had gathered substantial evidence that Russian nuclear industry officials were engaged in bribery, kickbacks, extortion and money laundering designed to grow Vladimir Putin’s atomic energy business inside the United States, according to government documents and interviews.

They also obtained an eyewitness account — backed by documents — indicating Russian nuclear officials had routed millions of dollars to the U.S. designed to benefit former President Bill Clinton’s charitable foundation during the time Secretary of State Hillary Clinton served on a government body that provided a favorable decision to Moscow, sources told The Hill.

This comes just as it was disclosed that former FBI director Comey wrote his decision not to indict Hillary several months before the investigation was completed

Fake news – KRACK

Tuesday, October 17th, 2017

The method to break WPA2 on your wifi connections is real, but the hype (and inevitable radio ads to scare you into identity protection contracts) is not.

In order to compromise your Wi-Fi connection, the attacker has to be within wifi range, generally around 100 feet or less (although longer distance is possible with a government bad guy). They also have to stay around in order to monitor your internet traffic. A hacker in Bulgaria is not going hack into the light bulb in your bedroom and take pictures.

https:// traffic is protected by another level of encryption, and all things you do on the Internet are going to be encrypted. If some teenager in the parking lot does hijack your connection, you’ll notice the attack.

Probably not a coincidence, DHS just mandated that all government websites use secure http connections and encrypted and authenticated email.

Cheap lakefront lots for sale

Tuesday, October 17th, 2017

While I was away, I received a snail mail solicitation to purchase a fabulous lakefront “dockable” lot down in South Carolina for a mere $59,500. Arizona has its oceanfront property, so I expected this was a similar quality opportunity. There was no name attached to this community, nor any mention as to whether the lots were buildable, have access via a road or have utilities.


Using their vague map and Google Earth, I was able to discern the location.

The lots are within throwing distance of the three unit Oconee Nuclear Power Station operated by Duke Energy.   Lake Keowee was built in 1970 to provide cooling water for the power plants, as well as hydro power (disclaimer:  I’m a former Duke employee and current stockholder)

Poking around, Duke is actively opposing development near the facility for security reasons and the further burden on their evacuation plan.  There is also a history of local opposition to further development on the lake.

Lake Keowee is a tributary of the Savannah River – a name synonymous with radioactive waste disposal (albeit downstreamj

College radio, Catawba style

Monday, October 16th, 2017

It was January 1977 when WNDN-FM (Indian Radio) was launched, spreading its 10 watts over most of the sprawling college campus. The Speech professor did the leg work of applying for the FCC license. The station lasted until at least the 1980s, but lacked the interest to keep it alive and the license was turned back in to the FCC.

A couple of years ago, the two main AM radio stations in Salisbury – WSTP-AM and WSAT-AM – fell into bankruptcy. A plan was developed to turn the licenses over to the control of the college without actually being owned by the college.

I had the opportunity to listen this weekend – during the football game, WSAT (with an FM translator) was doing live play by play – the only reason the college and the alumni in the area had interest in saving the station. At the top of the hour after the game, the station reverted to the automated satellite fed nostalgia format.

WSTP-AM had a very different trajectory – it was the local news/talk station, which back in the day carried G Gordon Liddy, among others.

According to TV station WBTV in Charlotte, attorney Bill Graham decided to pull the Conservative talk format

“We’re not going to keep the news/talk format,” Graham said. “I don’t want the college associated with a certain political stripe or ideology, and that just simply wouldn’t fit.”

This is the college from which North Carolina governor Pat McCrory graduated in 1978.

The station switched to Country music. I have no memory of ever hearing Country music in the dorm in the 1970s. WSTP died a quick death. It is currently silent with no plans to bring it back. The station is likely to have the license yanked for failing to operate. There was no signal on Saturday. Clinging to a silent station to protect precious snowflakes from exposure to Conservative ideas is failing to serve the public interest.

Lexington BBQ

Monday, October 16th, 2017

My roommate’s former wife went to Catawba and they lived most of their adult lives in Lexington N.C., the self-proclaimed pork BBQ capital of the world.

After the last of the 40th reunion activities were over, we headed for Lexington on the back roads. It’s a fact that most non-chain restaurants in North Carolina close on Sunday – something to do with the 10 suggestions in the Bible. But Yelp found us a BBQ restaurant located a few miles out of town in the vicinity of high rock lake.

“Lexington Style BBQ” is made from slow cooked pork shoulder. Each restaurant has its own definition of what the right recipe is. In general, the BBQ is vinegar based, not necessarily having any tomato. Back before refrigeration, the highly acidic base protected the meat from spoiling.

I ordered “coarse chopped” BBQ that looks like this.

I did not take this picture until after I had already been eating for a bit. As you can see, the portions are huge. Hush puppies and dipping sauce are in the background.

Earlier in the year, Lexington has a BBQ festival that draws upwards of 100,000 visitors, which is just insane, and we instead have an invitation for a personal visit.

Based on the reaction during our visit, I’m sure we will follow up on that.