Archive for June, 2012

2012/06/28

… to lay and collect Taxes …

It’s funny, normally I would have been quite skeptical about Obamacare, and would have required quite a bit of careful and rational persuasion to get me to like it. But in this case, the utter dishonesty, blatant hypocrisy, and general repulsiveness of the loudest voices raised against it have put me firmly in the Pro camp.

Now I just hope it turns out to be a good thing in fact, and not just, say, a massive transfer to wealth from taxpayers to big insurance companies.

I do like having the kids covered until they’re 26, I admit. We citizens are so easy to bribe… :)

(For light reading, the actual decision.)

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2012/06/20

Hello again, goodbye

Oh, time is so long and fast, and sweet and cruel!

The other day (just yesterday?) a couple of boxes came UPS, heavier than usual boxes, and they were the boxes that we had been expecting from Stepmom down south.

The bigger box contained the old music box (the Old Music Box) from my childhood (and the smaller one had the five toothy metal cylinders that we have, that one plays on it).

It’s a wonderful thing. I was fascinated by it as a kid; I recall spending endless hours examining it and puzzling over it and figuring out how it worked. No telling how accurate that recollection is, but I do remember exactly how to operate it, and the musical thunk that it makes when you put a cylinder in, and the sounds it makes when it stops normally, and when you stop it by holding onto the little paddle of the Jacot’s Patented Safety Check (“Sept. 22, 1886”). If I could smell it (one more reason to wish I could smell again), I’m positive the rich mix of wood and time and oil would be utterly evocative.

When I was a kid there was no Internet, so while I knew from the label on the inside of the lid there that it was a Peerless Forte-Piccolo (“Any Number of Cylinders may be Obtained for this Box”), I had no way of finding out anything else about it.

Now that there is the Web, I can find out easily that there are many to be had on auction all over the place, and that it is worth approximately SIGN IN OR REGISTER NOW TO SEE PRICES.

Also, among all those rather annoying pages, there is this wonderful page from The Music Trade Review of presumably some large number of years ago, which describes Jacot’s Interchangeable Music Boxes, of which the Peerless is “a popular priced instrument with a single spring”.

At the turn of the century (no, the one before that), one imagines that people would sit around and listen to the latest cylinder on these, in livingrooms (parlors?) all over the place, in between listening to Mother performing on the keyboard, Sister singing, and Younger Sister reciting “How Doth the Little Crocodile” or equivalent.

It’s surprisingly loud!

I wonder if I ought to be oiling it…

And then on the sad inevitable side of time, last night Gramma Jeanne finally broke the last fragile strands connecting her to her body, and left us for wherever. She would have turned 100 in August; here is a picture from more than ten years ago, that Dad took (and she said back then was okay to put in my weblog):

Her consciousness hadn’t been paying much attention to her body for a few years anyway, so her finally slipping off was no surprise, but it’s still a thing, a twinge, a sadness. It’s funny how, although she’s part of my identity, part of my childhood, part of my Self, I don’t remember very much specific about her. She was nice, indulgent, adoring of her only grandson, but not in a very embarrassing way, even by the standards of a little boy.

For awhile she and Grampa Proc (Samuel S. A. Proctor, technically my step-grandfather, deep-voiced and mahogany-skinned and genial, always smelling of pipesmoke) lived in a house with a big window that looked across Cedar Lake into downtown Minneapolis. And then later they lived in Hawai’i, where we actually visited them once or twice.

In the Minneapolis house, they had a lava-lamp! I remember sitting and staring at it for hours. And I remember as an adult trying to sit and stare at a lava-lamp for hours, and it somehow wasn’t the same.

Time is so long and fast, and sweet and cruel.

2012/06/19

More on the mysterious infographics

The plot continues to thicken! To recap, we originally got some spam from one Tony Shin (apparently “ohtinytony” on The Twitter), offering an infographic about World of Warcraft, and then not too long later on a different email address we got a similar one from “Jen R” offering a graphic about marijuana legalization, and awhile later yet another similar one from one Catherine Long, offering a graphic about Elon Musk (who is some entrepreneur-type, not a cologne).

We did a little poking around about these odd things, but didn’t find anything too informative. Just recently and by accident, we stumbled upon this press release about some exciting new infographic apparently created by QuinStreet, Inc (“one of the largest Internet marketing and media companies”). The infographic itself is very much in the style of the previous Tony-Shin-school infographics, and is hosted on “schools.com” (“your future starts here”), which is another of these extremely bland and generic and professionally-designed sites that prior infographics have had URLs to at the bottom.

So let’s look at QuinStreet dot com. (Woot, hello, stock-photo persons! Aren’t we nice and diverse?)

They are “the leader in vertical marketing and media online”, which is exciting. Oddly for such a prominent institution, the obvious web search turns up mostly pages on their own web site, pages they have created themselves on social media sites, a very brief Wikipedia article, a couple of news stories (or perhaps their own press releases?) about them buying some other generic-sounding organizations, and some related searches having to do with layoffs.

It’s not obvious from any of this the relationship between Quinstreet and the Mysterious Infographics of Tony Shin. So let’s try searching on Quinstreet infographic.

At the moment the first hit is Yahoo Finance reprinting another press release about Schools dot com hosting a Quinstreet infographic (this one). Surely Quinstreet does something other than making infographics to put up on its own sites? Let’s see…

Here’s some local Fox affiliate reprinting a press release about Robot Study Buddies, hosted on online schools dot com, which has got to be another generic Quinstreet site.

So I dunno, let’s try quinstreet tony shin

Whoa, jackpot!

Well, a small one at least. Tony has apparently posted ten or so of his infographics to famous bloggers dot net, whatever that is. Each one has the trademark generic hostname at the bottom; the oldest one points to Criminal Justice Degree dot net, which contains the usual extremely generic information, no obvious reference to Quinstreet, and a statement that it is copyright by Forensic Psychology dot net, which is (wait for it!) another very similar generic site, which has the same copyright notice (i.e. copyright by itself), and seems rather a dead end.

Another hit from the quinstreet infographic search is this page on html goodies dot com, which is a Quinstreet property. The page presents a very Tony-Shin style infographic about Silverlight and HTML5 and Flash or something. Some of the comments criticize the graphic for being shallow, or wrong, or being just the text that would otherwise have appeared as text, with some eyecandy around it. (That last from non-visual types like me!)

Various links from the html goodies page take us to just tech jobs dot com, and various other sites in the developer dot com empire, which is, naturally, owned by Quinstreet.

And then one final hit on quinstreet infographic takes us to this article on electronic staff dot com (which looks like another Quinstreet generic site) about yet another infographic, this one hosted on and featuring online degrees dot com (similarly), which says it is copyright “The Learning Voice”, which I was perhaps surprisingly unable to find yet another Quinstreet property for.

(That page is notable for being, unlike the other ones that I ran across in this, full of amusing gibberish; I give you for instance:

… iPhone 4S owners typically use Siri for many easier tasks, such as creation phone calls, acid a Web and promulgation content messages …
“We combined this infographic since we wanted to know — is Siri vital adult to all a hype?”
… QuinStreet is committed to providing consumers and businesses with a information they need to research, find and name a products, services and brands that accommodate their needs …

Translated to and from French or something maybe?)

But anyway it’s probably safe to conclude that Quinstreet at some point acquired the rights to a whole bunch of domain names, many of them sort of second-tier combinations of common words (Just Tech Jobs, Forensic Psychology, MBA Online, Criminal Justice Degree, and so on), and at least a few pretty killer (developer dot com, woot!). And they have put content on them that all point to themselves in a very SEOish sort of way.

But that still doesn’t tell us exactly who Tony Shin is (or Jen Rhee, or Catherine Long, or…), or why he is offering his infographics to random obscure philosophy webloggers. The mystery continues!

Oh, and lookee here, another one has just arrived:

From: Maggie Lewis

Hi David,

I am curious if you are the administrator for this site: http://www.davidchess.com/words/log.20010216.html

I came across your page while I was doing some research. I recently finished a resource on astronomy that I think may be useful to you and your readers.

Could you please let me know if you are the correct person to contact for potentially having a resource like this included on your page?

I appreciate your time in advance and hope you have a great day!

Best,
Maggie

Sent from pandasent.com, via smtp.com, forged to look like it’s coming from gmail.com; the same old MO. I think I will ask her about her resource; maybe it will look oddly familiar! :)

Update: woot lol! Searching about for information on the amusingly-named pandasent dot com got me to Mystery of the Infographics, where a clued person named Mark Turner is looking into our very same mystery in slightly different ways. Worth a read to any interested investigator! :)

Update the second: The above used to have a live link to Forensic Psychology dot net, until I removed it due to this interesting development.

2012/06/18

Darn that Colbert!

Here I am in the middle of a multi-week think about how to talk about the Magisterium and the Vatican and the LCWR and the Inquisition-I-mean-CDF and Just Love and all that, and there he goes making funny jokes about it on TV and having one of the admirable nuns herself on his show.

Well, although once something’s been on TV it’s normally far too old to be on weblogs, I may cut myself some slack and talk about it someday anyway, it’s so inneresting and/or creepy.

In the meantime, I will just take issue with xkcd, ’cause it’s not often one gets to correct that particular Fountain of Clue.

The Real Truth is of course as everyone knows:

A few: 3
A handful: 4 to 6
Several: 7
A couple: 2

Happy to have the chance to clear that up.

(Also, “Beer, Bad” was a fantastic episode, whatever those stuffed shirts over at Buffy Guide say. Or said. Back in 1999.)

2012/06/17

Dingbat, the singing cat

Dingbat, the singin’ cat
He sung so high
But he was flat…

At least that’s how I remember Dad singing it. I remember him singing various things randomly.

(It turns out that “Dingbat the Singing Cat” was an actual thing, and actually sung to roughly the tune of Peter and the Wolf, although Dad and/or my memory seem to have transformed the words some. I didn’t realize that until I looked it up on the Interwebz just now.)

There was also

Be kind to your friends in the swamp,
For that duck may be somebody’s mother.

which I find is also an actual thing, again with perhaps slightly different words (I think I like ours better).

Mom was very partial to the “Let’s take a kayak to Juneau or Nyack” line from “Let’s Get Away From It All”. Although the line is actually “Quincy or Nyack”, and once again I don’t know if the “Juneau” version is Mom’s doing or mine.

Where’s Quincy, anyway, and why would one take a kayak there in particular?

But Mom was very fond of Nyack, which was just down Route 59 not too far, and had nice craft shops and art and stuff. Still does in fact! Although now it’s across the river, rather than just down Route 59. But still not too far!

I also remember the first few notes of Peter and the Wolf being used as the tune by which to sing “hey, ho, the radio!”, but I don’t know if that’s something Dad made up or got from some old comedy song (he loved Spike Jones, and I still do), or something that I made up or imagined.

Perhaps due to having enhanced my usual driving coffee with a Dunkin’ Donut or two (and those little shops are all the heck over the path from here to Boston and back!), I was apparently bouncing up and down and singing loud nonsense songs rather more than usual as we drove up that way this weekend for a (very successful and also triumphant) trip to apartment-hunt for the little boy.

And given that today is father’s day, I think that’s extremely appropriate. :)

Thanks, Dad!

2012/06/11

More of the Mystery Spam!

Another missive in the style of the previously-noted; we suspect also from Tony Shin’s Secret Ninja Army.

Subject: A resource on Elon Musk

Hi David,

My name is Katherine and I came across davidchess.com while searching for references and mentioning of space related issues. I work with a team of designers and researchers and together we built a graphic that highlights Elon Musk, the real life Iron Man.

If this is the correct email and you’re interested in using the content, I’d be happy to share it with you. :)

Best,

– Katherine Long

Like the original two, this is sent via a spamming service, in this case “ezmailhosting dot com”, forged to appear to be from a gmail address.

Random Web searching finds no obvious connection between a Katherine Long and our Tony Shin, but does turn up one 2010 article from the Seattle Times, written by a Katherine Long (Seattle Times Eastside Reporter) about electric cars, including mention of Elon Musk’s Tesla. Entirely possible that that’s just a “too much information and a common name” coincidence.

No obvious connection between a Katherine Long and a Jen R, either.

(Oddly, Google insists that this meetup page about a Katherine Long also includes the phrase “New York Data Visualization and Infographics”, but it doesn’t for me. Silly Web.)

Perhaps I should write her, too, although I have no interest whatever in a “graphic” about Elon Musk. And Jen never wrote me back…

2012/06/09

Paulie’s

So now I am sitting in Paulie’s Bar, 25 minutes or so from home, listening to the guy who we thought was supposed to start at 9 and who actually started 45 minutes later, playing a mic’d acoustic guitar and singing into the voice mic, sitting on a bar chair on the little stage (well, platform, raised maybe six inches above the floor on mysterious random somethings). He’s pretty good, and I’m enjoying him even over the noisy crowd (little girls the little daughter’s age or so, not a day over twenty-five anyway, fiddling with their smartphones and talking to each other easily over the music, the little boys with buzz cuts and those weird thin-line beard things, drinking Corona from the bottle, a few folks from my generation, the little boy himself at the table next to me here looking around).

“Rock me, Momma,” the guy sings, “like a southbound train.”

We’re here to listen to a group that a friend of the little boy’s, a fellow bass player who’s been a year or two at the school where the little boy starts in September, plays the bass in. They’re supposed to be on after this guy here with the guitar. They’re usually sort of folk-rock, the little boy says, but tonight they don’t have the cello or violin (I think it was), so they will be more like Funk.

Today we’ve been simultaneously looking for apartments for both tiny children, one for him in Boston (because A Certain School I Could Name doesn’t have even enough dorm space for incoming Freshmen for Pete’s sake), and one in Princeton for her because that is where she is going to start living and working now that she is an Adult College Graduate type. Both of which are completely ridiculous because just a minute ago they were like 8 and 12, sheesh.

It is nice that virtually all of this apartment-hunting stuff can be done over the Interwebz these days, although we have some firsthand reports about the most likely-looking Boston places from the above mentioned bass player, and we may actually go up and have a Realtor show us around, and the little daughter knows at least the neighborhood down Princeton way well already, if not the actual building.

Speaking of the little daughter being a College Graduate and all, here is extensive photographic evidence of the fact. It is an “album” on “the Facebook”, so I’m not entirely certain that it will be correct and/or visible to anyone or everyone, but give it a shot.

Busy times, eh? And that’s without mentioning all the other stuff that’s happening, because the other band, the one we came to hear, is now doing mic checks, so I think I will attempt to Publish this from the ‘pad here, an’ we will see what ensues…