How Bullwinkle Taught Kids Sophisticated Political Satire | Innovation | Smithsonian

“Mr. Chairman, I am against all foreign aid, especially to places like Hawaii and Alaska,” says Senator Fussmussen from the floor of a cartoon Senate in 1962. In the visitors’ gallery, Russian agents Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale are deciding whether to use their secret “Goof Gas” gun to turn the Congress stupid, as they did to all the rocket scientists and professors in the last episode of “Bullwinkle.”Another senator wants to raise taxes on everyone under the age of 67. He, of course, is 68. Yet a third stands up to demand, “We’ve got to get the government out of government!” The Pottsylvanian spies decide their weapon is unnecessary: Congress is already ignorant, corrupt and feckless.

Hahahahaha. Oh, Washington.

That joke was a wheeze half a century ago, a cornball classic that demonstrates the essential charm of the “Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle and Friends,” the cartoon show that originally aired between 1959 and 1964 about a moose and a squirrel navigating Cold War politics.

Source: How Bullwinkle Taught Kids Sophisticated Political Satire | Innovation | Smithsonian

Cuba mystery grows: New details on what befell US diplomats

Quite a mystery.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The blaring, grinding noise jolted the American diplomat from his bed in a Havana hotel. He moved just a few feet, and there was silence. He climbed back into bed. Inexplicably, the agonizing sound hit him again. It was as if he’d walked through some invisible wall cutting straight through his room.

Soon came the hearing loss, and the speech problems, symptoms both similar and altogether different from others among at least 21 U.S. victims in an astonishing international mystery still unfolding in Cuba. The top U.S. diplomat has called them “health attacks.” New details learned by The Associated Press indicate at least some of the incidents were confined to specific rooms or even parts of rooms with laser-like specificity, baffling U.S. officials who say the facts and the physics don’t add up.

“None of this has a reasonable explanation,” said Fulton Armstrong, a former CIA official who served in Havana long before America re-opened an embassy there. “It’s just mystery after mystery after mystery.”

Source: Cuba mystery grows: New details on what befell US diplomats

Bay Area housing: Sunnyvale home sells $800,000 above asking

This story caught my eye, when a modest, 2,000sf home in Sunnyvale, CA sold for $800,000 over asking price. True, there is a little real estate sleight-of-hand going on here with how it was priced but there’s no denying that this is an eye-popping sale.

This kind of outrageous housing market is what comes to mind when I think of what might happen if Amazon chooses to set up its second headquarters in the Triangle. I think of the stunning metamorphosis that’s taken place this year in the neighborhood surrounding East Raleigh’s Ligon Middle School, where affordable homes have been all but demolished in favor of fancy new homes, and I wonder how long it will be before no one here but stock-option millionaires can live where they work.

Be careful what you wish for, Raleigh. More on this in an upcoming blog post.

A house in Sunnyvale just sold for close to $800,000 over its listing price.

Your eyes do not deceive you: The four-bed, two-bath house — less than 2,000 square feet — listed for $1,688,000 and sold for $2,470,000.

“I think it’s the most anything has ever gone for over asking in Sunnyvale — a record for Sunnyvale,” said Dave Clark, the Keller Williams agent who represented the sellers in the deal. “We anticipated it would go for $2 million, or over $2 million. But we had no idea it would ever go for what it went for.

”This kind of over-bidding is known to happen farther north in cities including Palo Alto, Los Altos and Mountain View. But as those places have grown far too expensive for most buyers, future homeowners have migrated south to Sunnyvale, a once modest community that now finds itself among the Bay Area’s real estate hot spots.

Source: Bay Area housing: Sunnyvale home sells $800,000 above asking

Hacking. Still relevant after 164 years.

Rudimentary Treatise on the Construction of Door Locks for Commercial and Domestic Purposes


A book from 1853 seems like an unlikely place to find wisdom about the need for hacking culture, yet these words are still true today. An excerpt from “Rudimentary Treatise on the Construction of Locks” by Charles Tomlinson:

A commercial, and in some respects a social, doubt has been started within the last year or two, whether or not it is right to discuss so openly the security or insecurity of locks. Many well-meaning persons suppose that the discussion respecting the means for baffling the supposed safety of locks offers a premium for dishonesty, by showing others how to be dishonest. This is a fallacy. Rogues are very keen in their profession, and already know much more than we can teach them respecting their several kinds of roguery. Rogues knew a good deal about lockpicking long before locksmiths discussed it among themselves, as they have lately done. If a lock — let it have been made in whatever country, or by whatever maker — is not so inviolable as it has hitherto been deemed to be, surely it is in the interest of honest persons to know this fact, because the dishonest are tolerably certain to be the first to apply the knowledge practically; and the spread of knowledge is necessary to give fair play to those who might suffer by ignorance. It cannot be too earnestly urged, that an acquintance with real facts will, in the end, be better for all parties.
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I Shot a Hurricane Irma Photo That Went Viral, and I Wasn’t Paid a Dime

As an amateur lenslinger who’s had my photographs garner the attention of news media in the past, I take the moral to this story very seriously. I give away a lot of my photographs to Wikipedia but if a commercial news organization wants a shot I believe I will negotiate with them from now on.

Google told me today that a photo I randomly took in a restaurant in Spain has crossed the 300,000 views mark. Imagine if I had even a penny for every one of those views.

Virality is an odd thing. You don’t see it coming, but you can feel the momentum building while it’s happening. My phone notifications started going off like popcorn. One here, one there, then many more at once. People were tagging and sharing in an attempt to find someone to help these guys, while also hunkering down for the storm.

The first request for usage came from Fox News Desk. I froze. At this point, it was still very local, and I couldn’t see where it was going. Also, I was very distracted by the hurricane outside. I didn’t even know if I could ask for licensing because other photos were floating around (although not as good).The key part here is that I also didn’t know how. What did I ask for? How much should I ask for? Did they even care? Did I have to copyright or license it somehow?

So I told Fox they could use it as long as I was given credit. Unfortunately, this might have invalidated any other requests for compensation, but at the time I was clueless.

Source: I Shot a Hurricane Irma Photo That Went Viral, and I Wasn’t Paid a Dime

Back in 1982 I was dealing acid at Jim Morrison’s grave and that’s when I first met Vladimir Putin.

A surreal retelling of an early encounter with Vladimir Putin.

So anyway, it was something like my third day on the job and along with the Norwegians, Danes and Swedes there’s this quiet Russian dude with a guitar, Vladimir, who’s there to pay his respects like the rest of us.  Although he wasn’t interested in my product, when he found out I was from San Francisco he got really animated and wanted to hear everything I could tell him about it – the music especially. I guess like a lot of people he thought it was just 1967 forever by the bay with the Airplane and the Dead still playing in the park…  I told him about the handful of Dead shows I’d seen, and he got a far off look and said  “Just to see Jerry…Y’know? Just to be there and see his fingers and lips moving and hear the music at the same time… Man…” he sighed.  “Hey now,” I said, “it’ll happen.”  He just shook his head in that way people do when there’s just too much to explain. Vlad was like that a lot.

Source: Back in 1982 I was dealing acid at Jim Morrison’s grave and that’s when I first met Vladimir Putin.

Be Like Miss Ruth

Miss Ruth

This is my wonderful former neighbor, Ruth Gartrell, a.k.a., Miss Ruth. What made Miss Ruth a wonderful neighbor? Well,

  1. Miss Ruth would never let her psycho dog bark non-stop all hours of the day and night. For one, Miss Ruth’s dogs are (naturally) well-behaved. Even if they weren’t, Miss Ruth would be mortified if her dogs disturbed her neighbors after 11 PM by barking their heads off.
  2. Miss Ruth would never cheer on her favorite sports team by watching television on her back porch after 11 PM. Miss Ruth does her television watching inside the way God intended.
  3. Miss Ruth would never stand in her back yard at 2:45 AM, drinking and laughing with her friend right outside my bedroom window. If Miss Ruth drinks she has the good sense to do it indoors, and at a reasonable hour. What’s more, if I politely asked her to take the conversation indoors, she would not simply respond with a half-hearted “sure,” but would profusely apologize for keeping me awake.

I miss Miss Ruth.