“Apophenia is the experience of seeing meaningful patterns or connections in random or meaningless data. The term was coined by neurologist Klaus Conrad and defined as the ‘unmotivated seeing of connections.'”
One evening, a good many years ago, I was exercising — just a sort of free-form dance — in the living room, with no light except what came through the open door from the kitchen. A street light gave some extra illumination. After a while, I farted. The street light went out.
The light came back on as I continued to enjoy my exercise. But once again, because I was moving around, I farted. The light went out.
At least three times that evening, the street light blinked out at the exact moment of my expulsion of gas.
Of course it was not my pooting that put out the light. It was defective, and was replaced a couple of days later. What is significant is that, on that particular evening, the malfunction of the street light coincided exactly with my farts. What is even more significant is that these coincidental events had no significance. There was no connection, no cause-and-effect.
Yet every day things like this can and do happen. And, if the observer allows an emotional attachment to attribute meaning to the events, it can result in distorted thinking that feeds on itself, building and strengthening a perceptual filter that allows everything to be interpreted as having personal meaning.
We are all the center of our own universe. Giving meaning to things that are not really connected is a natural effect of our search for personal meaning. Being conscious of this tendency may prevent a desperate need for self-importance from running wild. In other words, don’t fart out the lights.
I’ve been using Google Voice for years. I use it for business calls because I can’t afford extra features on my land line (or get a cell phone). It has worked well for me. Voicemail and messages have allowed me to return missed calls when people call me about computer problems. It’s been great. And then this “New look” blight struck.
Instead of a straightforward, easily readable and manageable interface in which textual information dominates, I am stuck with ugly little cartoon-ballons, barely readable tiny font with too little contrast, scattered all over the glaring-white page. No way to delete more than one message at a time, and too many clicks to do just that one.
I am visually impaired, with advanced glaucoma. A clean, readable interface is extremely important to me. Nearly every time I open my dedicated gmail/voice browser, I have to scroll down to “Legacy Google Voice” near the bottom of a well-hidden menu in order to do anything.
It may be that some people like orange blobs; after all, many Americans voted for one. For me, the new interface is nothing but an annoyance. I live in fear that the sensible interface I NEED may be completely taken away at any time. WHY, for Heaven’s sake, can’t it be made a PERMANENT option for those who NEED it? What does Google have against usability? Do you hate the disabled? Please don’t suggest using a screen reader! I don’t need that! All I need is the ability to define a readable font size, and a sensibly organized, accessible interface.
Oh, by the way, in case anyone is tempted to slap me in the face with web browser discrimination, forget it — it’s not my choice of browser that creates the problem. My dedicated g-browser is Google Chrome. I only use it for mail/voice because it, too, has usability issues. Not being able to zoom text apart from images is an enormous handicap.
On top of it all, the “Send feedback” dialog of gvoice is SO WELL HIDDEN at the bottom of both the old gvoice sidebar and the new menu when the font size is readable that I needed help to find it. Plus, it says “include a screenshot” but will not accept screnshots that actually illustrate the problem. It insists on MAKING the screenshot itself, which means that, since I have adjusted my settings in order to be able to use the feedback form, the screenshot will be useless.
So, here are the screenshots that actually illustrate the problem, and a shot of the dickheadedly rigid feedback form. Names and numbers have been blurred out. Click to see full-size.
Note the size of the feedback form. It is unchangeable. Making the font size readable only shoves the buttons over the edge. With a font size that I can read, I can see only three short lines of text in the input box. If I want to do more than tweet, I need to compose my rant in a text editor and paste it in.
Dear Minions of the Insane Monopoly;
My check for the current amount due is enclosed. Please also accept my sincere disgust for your cavalier treatment of an honest, reliable paying customer.
For several years I have enjoyed the convenience of paying my bill online. Lately, it has changed from a convenience to a growing annoyance. Finally, the waste of my time became so unbearable that I was forced to waste even more time obtaining a mailing address.
I am tired of being treated like a criminal when I try to log in to pay my bill. Not once, but over and over IN ONE SESSION I am presented with a time-wasting game to “prove” that I am not a bot. When I have completed the test, the website sits grinding its gears until it times out, and then demands that I do it again. Rinse and repeat.
And there is no way out of this automated Hell! Why should I have to “prove that I’m not a robot” only to chat with your robots? Seriously? I tried a phone call, and never got past a brainless recording! The very next day, I had a problem with eBay, which was pleasantly resolved with a phone call, during which I spoke to two human beings. EBay has real customer support!
I am a human being, and as such I have a right to be treated with a minimum of respect; in return I will give whatever respect is due. I can not respect any entity that wants to punish me for honestly trying to pay a bill! Nor do I appreciate the assumption that I am just another inept, ignorant user “having trouble logging in” when the fact is that the website’s automated rudeness and seemingly purposeful slowness are preventing my login. Moments earlier I had logged into my bank to check my account balance. It was all over in a minute.
My apparent location should have no bearing on my ability to pay my bills online. What if someone is out of town on business or visiting a relative? Should their actual, physical change of location, and therefore change of IP address, make it impossible to pay a bill? Isn’t that one of the things the Internet is for, to make distance irrelevant? AT&T makes no fuss about it when I pay my phone bill; my ID, password, and zip code are good enough. I can get the whole process over with in less time than it takes to suffer ONE bout of your obstructive game-playing.
My use of a Virtual Private Network (VPN) is not a sign of criminal activity. I maintain several websites, and log into other non-https sites; the VPN makes this much more secure. It is not illegal for an ordinary citizen to take precautions against being hacked. I can see no reason why I should take time to stop the VPN simply because I want to pay a bill in an idle moment between other activities. My time is just as valuable as that of anyone my money goes toward paying (that’s you, Bunky, and you’re not that special). If your system can’t understand who I am unless my identity is tied to an apparent location, there is something wrong with your system.
An IP address is not a personal identifier; it is nothing but a temporary identifier for a device or group of devices that allows communication with other devices. A hacker could, theoretically, use my wifi. Does that make us the same person, one that you would trust because you “know” the location? Even judges have ruled that an IP address is NOT an infallible means of identification of a person. To wit:
“An IP address provides only the location at which one of any number of computer devices may be deployed, much like a telephone number can be used for any number of telephones.”
— Judge Gary Brown, United States District Court of the Eastern District of New York.
If you are truly concerned about security, there are much better ways to ascertain the correct identity of an individual logging in than their IP address. There are also better ways to ensure my legitimacy than to use a CAPTCHA that works so poorly that it never really works! There are certainly better ways to handle regional data — AT&T seems to manage this quite well. Perhaps you should ask them how they manage their database.
No amount of advertising and promotional hype (which I also have to pay for) can cover the fact that Spectrum has become an inhuman monster with no respect or consideration whatsoever for the faceless, dehumanized masses it feeds on.
Around ten years ago, a friend got involved in multi-level marketing (MLM) — in other words, a pyramid scheme. I could see straight through the hype, but he was a beLIEver. My attempts to open his eyes were futile. In 2013, the FTC kicked the scam off the map — and its founder, a narcissistic bullshitter, died. Of cancer. I greatly enjoy the irony of that; the creep pushed bullshit products that supposedly prevented cancer.
As I wasn’t at all happy with what was going on, I went on somewhat of a vendetta. One of my weapons was a PowerPoint presentation, which I made available on my old website. I’ve made some slight revisions to it, and you can download “ygnbizop” here.
It is easier now to turn presentations into videos, so I thought I’d fool around with it. PowerPoint exported a passable version on the first try. After hours of dealing with cranky video editors, I managed to stick it with a soundtrack and throw it at Youtube.
You can find out more about the realities of MLM at hese sites:
Anti-cult site with articles about MLMs:
I love small things. Looking at origami furniture models, I thought how fun it would be to assemble a paper suite for Borrowers. But out of all the chest-of-drawers type models available, I found none that I really wanted to fold. Either they were fussily complex, or not proportioned right.
So I took paper in hand and started experimenting. This is what I came up with. Based on the traditional masu box, it works and looks pretty cool. I’ve constructed three so far, and I’m sure there are some variations that will be lots of fun to discover.
Now for the drawers. They need to be a little smaller so they slide well. Exactly how much smaller depends on the paper. Using heavy paper for the shelf units gives greater solidity, but it also fattens the sides, leaving less room inside. You will have to do a test fold to see exactly how much smaller your paper should be. It could be cut smaller, but I prefer to fudge-fold it so I can use the same size sheets for all parts. The fudge-fold also strengthens the drawer and helps make a nice pull.
Anyway, on with the folding. Do the same old masu folds, with the fudge-folds inward. Then open it up and find the point where the fudge-folds meet. Fold it up so that the double fudge triangle peeks over the edge.
Bring the front and back up, ready to fold in the sides. You can fold the side and back points under first; if your Borrowers are neat-freaks they’ll appreciate this. We’re doing the collapse-in on the sides because 1. the front flap is altered and 2. it makes the sides of the drawers stronger.
Putting it all together!
Note that the top unit has its “ears” folded in. Even if you forget to do it while folding, they should tuck in fairly easily…usually with a little help from a paper creaser and a sharp knife point. I always forget. :p
If you don’t want an open space in the bottom, you can simply make a base with all four sides by not folding the front side in, or maybe do something creative with a menko or modified Sonobe unit or whateverg. It has to have something under the bottom drawer, but it doesn’t have to be a space to chuck shoes in.
Number of drawers is up to you too, of course. The ceiling’s the limit. It should also be pretty easy to side-connect two or three sets for a wide storage unit. I can imagine two linked by a flat piece for a desk or vanity. That kind of flexibility was one of my requirements for this project.
SSL, Secure Sockets Layer, keeps data sent between two points from being intercepted and misused by a third party. This means that your password, credit card info, Social Security card number, or the name of your girlfriend’s dog will be safely transmitted when you click the DoIt button.
But that is all it does.
Once that information has been stored by the website, it is only as safe as the website itself. SSL does not make a website secure; it only makes communication with it secure.
Every recent huge data breach has released personal information from sites “protected” by SSL. So think twice or more before letting https// www Big Business keep your payment information. Or your birth date, mother’s maiden name, pet’s name, or anything else that can contribute to the cause of identity theft.
There are two reasons I’m not seduced by any temptations to enroll in autopay: One, I might not have any money in the bank tomorrow. Two, the reason I don’t have any money in the bank tomorrow could be that the site I gave my banking info to has been hacked.
I was sitting at my computer (where else), hopping between Twitter and other things. Music suddenly started playing out of nowhere, loud and clear. I went all WTF and looked for the source. With four workspaces, four browsers and a few other windows open…woof. On my way down through my cyberspace mansion, I closed the GIMP because I was done using it, and I didn’t know if something was hiding behind it.
The music stopped. Instantly.
The only reasonable, non-paranoia-inducing explanation is that it was pure co-inky-dink involving a stray radio signal. But that’s one heck of a co-inky-dink, right on the old mouseclick. Plus, the speakers I’m currently using don’t seem to pick up shight like that. The cheapos I used previously often spoke in tiny, tinny voices.
The browsers were all innocent, all still open.
Kind of like that time I was playimg with Windwoes’ voice recognition, forgot I left it running, watched part of a video, and then found a mysterious message inserted into a text file I’d left open. Only no easy explanation, and no evidence (grr, I likes me some evidence).
Oh well, I don’t think it was Russian music :p
…you need something else to call Tronald Gump, here is the list I composed. Some of these may be found elsewhere, but none of them were copied. Not all gems, perhaps, but I wanted a mix of long and short.
Prune Covered In Orange Slime Mold
Dead Blobfish Dipped In Tang
Thing Moving In A Pile Of Rotting Seaweed
Smelly Sock Found Under A Bed In A Homeless Shelter
Diseased Ho’S Used Tampon
Blazing Juggernaut Of Trivia
Monument To Bad Fuck
Troll Doll Made Of Earwax And Dead Caterpillars
Mass Of Congealed Rancid Lipids
Unfinished Sculpture Of A Turd
Melonball With Bad Hair
Specimen Of Unhealthy Urine
Leprous Tropical Fruit
Horny Banana Slug
Cyanide Pill Disguised As A Kumquat
Babyshit Colored Dingleberry
Slab Of Rancid Pork Belly
Fear-Biting Soi Dog
Smelly Vaginal Discharge
Oversized Flesh-Eating Bacterium
Yuge Blowfly Larva
Vat Of Putrescent Foreskins
Diseased Puffer Fish
Boil On A Bum’s Arse
Ventriloquist’s Dummy With A Fly In Its Head
Urinal With A Clogged Drain
Imitation Leather Dildo
One-Man Freak Show
Highly Overrated Financial Failure
Insane Parody Of A Demented Ape
Refugee From Kindergarten
Bale Of Straw With The Face Of A Blobfish
Sow-Humping Sack Of Spoiled Lemons
Poster Child For Mediocrity
Anus-Mouthed Swamp Creature
Rump Of A Naked Chicken
Deserving Target Of Ridicule Since 1946
Runaway Honey Wagon
Thing That Fell Out Of A Junkfood Dumpster
Illegitimate Offspring Of A Pardoner And An Ass
Discrepancy In A Virus Scan Report
Comic-Book Villain Wannabe
Talking Sperm Cell
Drooling Idiot Who Can’t Zip His Own Fly
Master Of Gibberish
Party-Crashing Total Bore
Golf-Club With A Dick
Descendant Of Undesirable Immigrants
Nigerian Scam Personified
Spoiled Child With Yuge Entitlement Problems
Half-Ass Attempt At Creating A Sentient Being
Irresponsible Wannabe Penny-Ante Tyrant
Obese Frog In A Puddle Of Piss
Puppet Of Slimy Rich Pigs
Mass Turd Baiter
Smug Hypocrite With Flaming Depends
Long-Nosed Short-Penised Bullshit Wrangler
Radioactive Citrus Fruit
Stranger To The Truth
Mutant Kumquat In An Expensive Suit
Fine Blend Of Pus And Sputum
Significant Source Of Unhealthy Thoughts
Comb Without A Rooster
Ten Gallons Of Low-Grade Sludge In A One-Gallon Pail
Yuge Amount Of Artificial Flavor And Color
Tumor With Bad Humor
24-7 Fertilizer Factory
Vast Cloud Of Ignorance
Groper Of Young Models
Misogynistic Misfit With Stinky Fingers
National Disgrace And Embarrassment
Cheese Curd With Evil Intent
Hat Without A Head
Venusian Slime Worm With An Anus On Both Ends
What Would You Call…
I was made aware of Steve McEllistrem’s blog post on militarization, Why Are We Militarizing the World?, on Twitter today. He makes a terribly clear statement on matters we are not supposed to think about.
“Good” Americans who mindlessly repeat the Pledge of Allegiance, who want to Make America “Great” “Again,” who don’t see the narcissistic implications of patriotism, have now pushed us all over the edge of the cliff we built. A billion little bricks of arrogance high, it raises bullying above leadership; glorifies and deifies behavior that creates hatred.
It is said that it takes a real man to admit his mistakes. What about a real nation?
Guest post by Hallie Dolin
Let me tell you a story. It’s violent and it’s not pretty, but it needs to be told.
My paternal grandmother’s mother was from a family called Sereichik, named after their hometown of Sereija in what is now Lithuania. My dad has a sheaf of documents, full of my grandmother’s meticulous research, attesting to the fact that the town was a center of learning. Sereija boasted one of the best yeshivas (Jewish schools for children, almost always boys) in the area. In fact, my great-grandmother earned her passage to America by writing letters for illiterate people, for which she was paid.
Somewhere around forty years after she left, my great-grandmother’s mother Pesse Baile Sereichik, her two daughters who hadn’t managed to get out of the country, and their husbands and children were rounded up over the course of two days in September 1941. They were taken to the edge of town and, by the testimony of surviving townsfolk, were forced to dig their own graves. They were then lined up at the edge of the pits they had dug and shot so that they fell in. Murder and burial in one convenient step.
This is the family of ONE great-grandparent accounted for – an EIGHTH of my ancestry. Every single one of my ancestors, even my maternal grandmother’s American-born parents and her immigrant grandparents, had family back on the continent they were forced into by the Romans and ghettoized within (which is why I go freaking ballistic if you call me white, by the way). They lived in the Ukraine. Poland. Lithuania. Romania. Russia. A scant train car’s ride away from Stutthof, Kaiserwald, Koldichevo, the six extermination camps of Poland. One in six Jews killed in the Holocaust was killed at Auschwitz, and it’s likely that at least some of my family went there.
I’m telling you this story because the people who shot them were not Nazis. The SS didn’t dirty their hands with backwater towns like Sereija. No, my family’s murderers were their own neighbors. Lithuania was one of the bloodiest countries in terms of Jews murdered by their own countrymen. In fact, about ninety-three percent of Lithuania’s 210,000 Jews were killed. Much of this predated the gas chambers. Imagine the sheer hatred, the sociopathy in the upper echelons that goaded these people to foaming rage and let them shoot hundreds of thousands of their own neighbors between the eyes because of their ANCESTRY. Thousands of mass executions in God knows how many unmarked graves.
That is what I’ve seen in these two days of The Orange One taking office, and in the months preceding it. The short story I wrote back in 2008 that explored my fear of what might happen if MCCAIN won doesn’t seem so far-fetched now. The religious right wants much of the country dead. So does any Angry Calvinist businessman who thinks that people who don’t or can’t conform to a fairly recent model of productivity deserve death by no help at all.
Make no mistake, I am not talking just about Black people, Muslim people, immigrants of all stripes, or same-sex-attracted people like my fiancee and me. I’m talking about Jews. I’m talking about being scared as hell that we’re next.
Nearly every pro-Trump gathering that I’ve seen involves that same rage at Jewish people. There is an armed march being planned, specifically against the Jewish people of Whitefish, Montana. Armed march. Does the term “Kristallnacht” ring a bell?
I’m telling you this because we will be among the first to go. Maybe not by Trump and his cronies, who will turn their heads and focus on people who are “less desirable” than us horrible lizard people (yes, I know all the euphemisms that Nazis use). No, Bannon is going to quietly smile as thousands of our neighbors turn against us and reawaken centuries-old racial and ethnic prejudice – yes, I said racial against US, no matter how well some of us pass – to do what they’ve been longing to do for years.
Look me in the eyes, if you know me. Look at my photo, if you don’t. Somewhere in this country is a human being with the fortitude to face me head-on and put a bullet through my brain. I’d even wager that there is more than one.
Help me. Help others like me. FIGHT HIM.