If you are reading this chances are high you began following my writings around or throughout the time I started talking about food. Which would be logical, nothing gets more hits on this site than the recipes and writings about restaurant and kitchen life. And while I have been crass at times, questionably argumentative at others, it was more or less all just the easily dismissed rants of a grizzled cook and some in-between writing about food and cooking.
Enter Medium. I like the platform, respect the people who run and edit it, and really think it’s a well designed and thought out place to write. It won me over when I discovered the “export your content” button and really, really, made me happy when I discovered the read/view distinction in the writer statistics. In other words, I am sold. This means I am moving some (almost all) of my “serious” writing there. You can follow me on this page.
With my travelogue, thoughts on food and dining, and a somewhat regular culinary science and cooking column moving to Medium this leaves this blog for personal things. Which I had been contemplating for a while as a new project but, alas, there’s no reason for me to not use jml.is for what JML is, aka me.
Now for the warning: as most people who read me outside of this blog are likely aware, I lead a somewhat controversial lifestyle. If the occasional mention of sex, polyamory, equality, and similar annoy you or if you’re bored by tech babble about new gadgets … now’s the time to unsubscribe :) So, there you have it. I have come out on my blog (again) and now you need to make a decision. Totally culinary overload over there or non-food items (like this one) here.
Aside Roboto for Powerline – To make my terminal windows look beautiful and usable under Android as well as in PuTTY I needed to patch Roboto to actually have the Powerline symbols. Since this was a non-trivial task during which I had to adjust offsets and hinting manually, here is a downloadable archive of all hinted Roboto fonts with Powerline symbols patched in.
Aside Testing G+ comments – There is an unofficial and definitely unsupported (means it’ll likely break at some time as Google changes things) implementation of Google+ comments out in the wild. So I implemented it on this website, just to see what happens… Try it out and let me know, if enough interest is there I’ll write a quick plugin for it as an addition or to replace (safely) WordPress comments.
Last night I found myself talking on Google Talk with a man I will call Randy. Randy messaged me shortly after reading a piece written by me about my upcoming travels and my worries that delays, loss, and theft of things in my checked baggage might spell issues above and beyond those that can be repaired quickly. My knifes and other kitchen tools, for example, will have to be checked or, for big money, sent via USPS and local mail carriers between stations.
I mentioned briefly that I’d lost things while traveling. A few e-Cigarette pieces, including a $120 mod, parts of my camera setup, a tripod, that stuff. Matt Mullenweg had his camera equipment stolen in 2008, John Udell as well – and he recommends packing a starter pistol to get your bags treated differently. I wasn’t, until now, willing to go through the issues associated with such hacks, so I chanced it – and lost something on almost every trip.
Last year law enforcement told CBS News that every day over 200 items are stolen from checked baggage in New York City alone. That’s a lot and, if it’d happened anywhere else, would have been cause for an extensive investigation. Imagine 200 cameras being stolen from a hotel in Chicago…
In the case of TSA and baggage handler theft, however, the lines are much more fortified. TSA regulations make it impossible, even for law enforcement, to obtain names of baggage handlers who handled a specific item. Baggage handlers and TSA are also able to interact with luggage in a virtually prosecution free room, being encouraged to handle, touch, inspect, and manage tens of thousands of bags and boxes every day. Within the hustle and bustle of such an operation things disappear. And that’s where Randy comes in.
“Essentially we all know that we can take what we want and we know who the people are who take things. But we can’t talk about it and our supervisors know but tell us not to ‘shit on the company’,” he told me. According to him, whenever things go missing TSA will blame baggage handlers, baggage handlers will blame TSA, and both will refer to something Randy called “unpublished laws” (I was unable to nail him on which laws he is referring to and if he means “regulations”) making it impossible for anyone to obtain camera footage or even the names of baggage handlers and TSA personnel interacting with one’s luggage.
Airlines know this as well. When my camera went missing I was told, informally of course, the formal response offered a thorough investigation, that I should take the $300 because “we don’t know if you’re not lying about this” and be happy since there was virtually no way for me to ever see the camera again or even get an investigation started. “You’re not the only one, Mister, heck you’re not the only one today or even on your flight…,” she told me.
Later, six months down the road and on a wholly other continent, I found my camera using the “Stolen Camera Finder” on a whim. It was in Turkey, used to take great landscape pictures, and later posted pictures of the outside of MIA airport and the drive there from a town outside Miami. Figuring I had no way of recovering my belongings I simply gave up and forwarded the person’s name to the authorities at MIA airport and the TSA. Nothing ever came of it, though the name of the person in question matches the name of someone living in a suburb outside Miami. It is a federal felony to even insinuate I’ll visit said person to get my, now three year outdated, camera back.
This is a vicious cycle. One in which baggage handlers and TSA employees work in a lawless environment, protected from prosecution by regulations put into place to protect those who are tasked with protecting us. At slightly above minimum wage a small number of those employees are tempted to steal, the climate of blame shifting and lack of law enforcement insight just adds encouragement.
As a traveler I am in a pickle. I am not allowed to check many items and not able to check many more. My most valued possessions, cameras and laptops and tablets, are with me at all times now, no matter how much this causes inconvenience and issues at the screening line. But the thefts and lack of prosecution are not prices I am willing to pay for a part of questionable safety in airline traffic. Unless the laws change and the dealings of for-profit, publicly traded, companies become open to scrutiny and prosecution we’ll continue to lose millions of dollars in equipment to airport and airline theft every quarter. And no one will talk about it or attempt to change it. While good handlers like Randy continue to be forced to watch on or leave, bad apples will continue to steal.
Aside The wrong approach? – #swof is trending on Twitter after #EUecigBAN seems to have hit Twitter’s spam detection threshold. Smoke Without Fire is a documentary, currently crowdfunded on Kickstarter to tell the stories of vapers who gave up smoking in favor of vaping protesting the proposed ban on e-Cigarettes in the EU.
I find this approach dangerous. If you look closely, the lobbies working against vaping are not the cigarette companies (they’re getting in on the movement, Lorillard bought Blu, for example) but the smoking cessation makers, from Nicorette (GlaxoSmithKline) to Chantic (Pfizer). e-Cigarettes have a much, much, higher success rate in converting smokers to users of nicotine replacement than all the other approaches (Nicorette: 22%, Chantix: 34%, e-Cigarettes: from 64% to 75%, depending on study). Pfizer, GSK, and the others hate this. Drug companies have a massive influence in Strasbourg which is why this law will likely pass unless we can swing the conversation from benefits (smoking cessation) to the lack of harm and remove the arguments the drug companies use.
Walk into any bookstore and you’ll find a treasure trove of books aimed at non-normative (that would be “one man, one woman, missionary, on Sundays, after the game, if we’re not too tired”) love and relationships. There’s a section for gay and lesbian readers, a smattering for bisexual ones. There’s “Fifty Shades” in case you’ve crossed the Big Five Oh and want to try that thing with the cuffs and the whips.
Very little has been written about polyamory that is not either a cold and critical look at people who can’t keep it in their pants or a side-note in books about the above. That leaves the “Ethical Slut“, a book written by Dossie Easton and Janet Hardy which claims to be “A Practical Guide to Polyamory, Open Relationships & Other Adventures”. And I hate it.
Aside Google, Apple, And WebKit – Interesting take on Google, Apple, and WebKit. When Apple took KHTML to start WebKit it essentially (but not officially, at first) forked KHTML. KDE later incorporated WebKit rather than pulling WebKit changes back into KHTML. When Google joined the WebKit effort it did not, contributing rather than forking. With Blink this is now ending and, given the commit numbers, one wonders if WebKit/Apple will go the way of KDE and at some point, rather than pulling Blink code into WebKit, go Blink.
So a few days ago a man by the name of Hugo Teso decided that it was time to publish a hypothetical and an app: anyone armed with an Android device, so his claim, could bring down an Airplane he was on. He lectures on this a little, and the world goes nuts. Because, alas, words like “hijack” and “airplane” in the same sentence make people a little worried, to say the least.
There are two issues in this discussion, both which have to be discussed independently. First the “Android Device” part of things. Yes, Teso uses an Android device for his experiment. Which is a little bit like saying “the ability of citizen to leave their house is a major contributor in murder outside of homes” – in other words, the iPublic’s glee about about another “Android issue” is in fact a glee about being safely behind bars while the wild mob out there is allowed to drive cars and eat ice cream. The airplane systems in question use VHF communication with the ground control units which can be intercepted and faked with any VHF sender/receiver. Just because Android is open enough to allow VHF interfacing doesn’t make it the only game in town. In fact any old Sony Walkman can be modded to do this kind of stuff, as can computers (including Macs), or any rooted/jailbroken iPhone or iPad.
The more concerning part about this is the actual assertion of crashes. Spoiler: it doesn’t work. During takeoff and landing a pilot (who will take off and land manually, not via autopilot as is asserted by the paper) gets continuous updates via a system called the FMS, the Flight Management System. The FMS, albeit able to correct slightly without pilot intervention, is more a display than a command unit during most of the flight. When auto pilot is engaged it is able to correct slightly for new data but any drastic change, such as elevation, heading, ground speed, and more, are made by a pilot’s manual input.
Which leaves the “can confuse pilots” side of things. And this is an issue and has been for as long as ACARS and FMS were employed. Which is why every pilot flying planes equipped with such technology has learned to control for deviations, use instruments that are not connected to direct FMS input as well as visual validation before making decisions.
It’s hype. Both the FMS/ACARS side of things and the Android one. Don’t fall for hype.