Americans, Guns and Londoners

A few years ago, Your JoeDog was with Mrs. JoeDog in McSorley’s Old Ale House.  For those who’ve never been to McSorley’s it’s an interesting place. The East Village pub is well-known for its very large beer selection. The choices are overwhelming. Since 1854 they’ve been serving McSorley’s light and McSorley’s dark. Truth be known, the “dark” is just light with added syrup. But here’s the cool part: a “beer” is actually two beers. If you and a companion order a couple, the bartender brings you four.

McSorley’s etiquette holds that tables should be shared. You shouldn’t sit at an empty table unless all the others are full. On that late Saturday afternoon a few years ago, Mr. and Mrs. JoeDog sat beside a man from Frankfurt, Germany. We engaged him in a conversation about German cars and German beer. Finally he said, “All you Americans want to talk to Germans about is cars and beer.” Basking in the warm caress of a second round Your JoeDog said, “And after a few more of these, we’ll probably ask about you-know-who.”

It turns out there’s more to Germany that cars, beer and Hitler. Who knew?

Recently Your JoeDogs found the tables turned when they went to London to watch their beloved New York Jets defeat the hated Miami Dolphins. The game was part of the NFL’s international series. London pub culture is a lot like McSorleys. Table sharing isn’t mandatory, but it’s pretty common. It didn’t take long before we noticed a trend similar to what that German man discovered in America. There’s one thing Londoners seem to want to discuss with Americans. That one thing is guns.

Why do you have so much gun violence? Why do you have so many guns? The answer is: I don’t fscking know. Now if Your JoeDog had a modicum of interest in guns these inquiries may have been amusing. He may have enjoyed the engagement. But like that German in McSorley’s Old Ale House, Your JoeDog grew tired fast. Yes, America is armed to the teeth. Yes, America loves its guns. Your JoeDog is not part of that culture. The most lethal weapon he’s ever fired was a toy water gun.

Can we talk about German beer and German cars instead?

Pope Snow

When it snows, the snow is everywhere. It’s on the roads, it’s on the sidewalks but it’s also on the media. Local news covers it. National news covers it. Cable news and newspapers cover it. If you want to know about non-snow issues at the height of a snow storm, you’re fscked. Everybody’s covering snow.

Reporter in snow

They report it because people are interested and it’s easy to do. Send a reporter into the street. See that white shit falling on his head? That’s Goddamn snow! How much is going to fall? We don’t know, between one and a million inches.

The pope is in the US right now and he’s on all the channels. There’s probably newsworthy events also taking place — you know, things that affect our lives — but we don’t know about them. Why? Because everyone’s covering the Goddamn pope. The pope is basically snow.

Last night, NBC News covered a bus accident in Seattle and devoted the rest of the broadcast to the pope. Did he cure a leper? No, he got in his stupid Popemobile and cruised down Fifth Avenue to St. Patrick’s Cathedral. What did he do when he arrived there? He went inside.

Is this newsworthy? Your JoeDog’s not a religious sort but he’s pretty certain the pope’s been to church before yesterday. He pretty much lives in one.

It’s cool that the pope recognizes climate change and irritates the moralizing wing of the Republican party but Your JoeDog can’t wait until he gets back on that plane to Leipzig or wherever the hell he’s from…

Whatever Happened To German-America?

Von Steuben paradeThe Times posed this question a few days ago but Your JoeDog is catching up: “Whatever happened to German-America?” The short answer is this: two Goddamn global wars. After those bitter conflicts they didn’t feel like being German any more.

In the late 80s, Your JoeDog moved into an Upper East Side apartment in Yorkville. That’s a Manhattan neighborhood also known as Germantown. It stretches from the East River to Lexington Avenue. It was there that he witnessed first hand the dying of the German-American light.

Back then, it was filled with German stores, delis, bakeries and bars. The Viennese were there, too. Their pastries could brighten any morning. With two exceptions, these businesses were in their dying throes. The owners were old and the help was even older.

On Third Avenue, there were yellow pre-war tenement buildings. On top of those buildings you could find swastikas formed with brown bricks against a yellow background. They remained on those buildings until the early 21st Century. When they were laid by German-American construction crews, Hitler was not yet revealed as evil. Yet they remained on display long after the world knew he was a monster. The brown emblem was eventually blasted away but you can still see the Nazi symbol thanks to its brick outline.

Now almost nothing is left of Germantown except the venerable Heidelberg Restaurant on 86th and Second. Your JoeDog still visits that bar several times a year. A little while back we met an old Czech woman at the bar. She nursed a Jaegermeister with a beer and finished both drinks at the same time.

She was an ethnic German from the Sudetenland. In 1945, she hid under a bridge as the Red Army marched over it. She was there with her sisters and a cousin. The Red Army was raping its way across Eastern Europe then. We weren’t sure if she was unscathed but they didn’t find her on that particular day.

She emigrated to New York in 1948 and never lived more than a few blocks from her original apartment. I told her Barack Obama — a German-American — lived in this neighborhood, about a block from my old apartment. This greatly excited her and she announced it to everyone at the bar. Then I reminisced about the Old Neighborhood and that made her even more excited. Finally she met someone who still remembered it.

Searching For Email Addresses In Ashley-Madison Data

Your JoeDog was recently asked about the Ashley-Madison email list. Could he use his nerd-powers to find a particular email address?

“Yeah, sure, but that data dump is huge, I’ll need some time.”

Before he could act, Your JoeDog’s IM was filled with curse words. His contact found the address she was looking for in a website that lets you to search the Ashley-Madison data.

“Okay, but let’s see what’s in the actual data.”

Getting your hands on that data is no easy task. As soon as it’s posted, it’s deleted because no hosting company wants it on its severs. Pastebin is Your JoeDog’s first stop for this sort of thing. An “ashley-madison” search returns many links that point to deleted data. Strike one.

Unable to find it on pastebin, he turned to the gray web, specifically Kickass Torrents. There he found the data available for download … all 23 gigs of it. Can you imagine trying to download 23 gigs over torrent? That’s not going to happen.

Fortunately, Torrent allows you to look at the contents within the zip file. Your JoeDog found a list of files with names like member_email.dump.gz If he could pull down just the parts he wanted, then the download would be quite manageable.

He searched for ‘member_email.dump.gz’ and hit pay dirt. A site had the files listed on Torrent along with their PGP signatures for verification. The hackers posted the verification so you could ensure the files came from them.

As it turns out, the email address she found on that website was NOT in the actual Ashley-Madison data. It was a scam.

Be careful out there. The internets are a scam machine. Sites like the one she used are filled with spammer’s email lists in the hope of extracting payment for scrubbing addresses from the database. People are also using the data to extort money. “Hey, I found your email address in the Ashley-Madison dump. Be a shame if your wife found out.”

In order to determine with certainty if an email address is in the Ashley-Madison database, you will need a quality nerd. But before you find that nerd, ask yourself this: do you really want to know?

NOTE: Even if an email address and a credit card is in the database, there’s still no guarantee the person used that site. Accounts could be opened with stolen cards. Again, Your JoeDog urges caution. Do you really want to confront your significant other only to learn they were the victim of theft? Be careful out there.

There’s Room For One More

Daying Sead SeaThe Daying Dead Sea is a man-made pool beneath a very large dome in Sichuan, China. The pool was constructed at the same latitude as the Middle Eastern dead sea. Its water is treated so matches its natural counterpart. With forty-three different minerals and microelements and twenty-two percent salinity, bathers float freely on the surface much like they do in the Middle East.

On July 11th, over 8000 people from all parts of China flocked to the pool for relief from this summer’s punishing heat. As far as we can tell, the pool’s motto is “There’s always room for one more.” Enjoy.

[The Economist]

New York City Skyline During Easter 1956

The NYC skyline during Easter of 1956.
The NYC skyline during Easter of 1956. There would probably be an uproar today. ‪ #‎HeIsRisen‬.

See that photograph at the top of this here blog entry? It’s currently making the rounds through social media along with the caption below it. A fellow Dogger brought it to our attention. There was something about the image that didn’t sit well with him. We agree.

First things first. Yes, there would be some uproar if this happened today. The US is more diverse now than it was sixty years ago. There might be fewer gripes if they celebrated all religious holidays along with Easter. Although that might be even messier. If contemporary uproar is your concern, imagine what would happen if they displayed a crescent during Ramadan.

Second things second. It’s entirely possible that something like this did occur in 1950s New York. Your JoeDog used to live in Manhattan and he’s seen a wide array of light-oriented messages. It wouldn’t surprise him at all if Easter was crossy then.

New York City skyline 1950s postcard

Still, something doesn’t sit right. The tall building in the middle no longer exists but Your JoeDog found it in a contemporary postcard for sale on eBay.

We can see that structure here on the right. Of the three tallest buildings depicted here, the Chrysler Building is in the foreground and the Empire State Building (ESB) is to the rear. This means we’re looking at Manhattan over the East River from Brooklyn. Therefore the third tallest building in this group sits to the south.

In the photo with the Easter crosses, we find ESB on the left and Chrysler on the right. That means the crosses are north of us. Now consider the middle building. It’s north of both ESB and Chrysler. How is that possible? In the postcard it’s clearly to the south. Was the photo reversed? That’s possible but then buildings get taller as you near the river. That may have been accurate in 1956 but it’s not now.

So Your JoeDog isn’t sure what to make of this viral photograph. If the thought of a crossy New York puts a spring in your step, then who is he to harsh your mellow? At the same time, he wishes we would apply a little more scrutiny to items we pass through social media. It’s jungle of misinformation out there.

We’re Here, We’re Rainbowy. Get Used To It.

GitHub prideIf you’re the sort of person who gets fifty kinds of upset over boys marryin’ boys, then Your JoeDog has a helpful tip: don’t visit today. The company changed its logo background so it would be all rainbowy — OMG, that’s the queer color!!1! You have to be logged in to see it. The main page still contains a boring grey background.

The Pridetocat image — which appears in the upper left corner of this post — actually pre-dates Friday’s ruling. In early June, GitHub began selling Pridetocat t-shirts. All proceeds from the sales of those shirts go to Lesbians Who Tech, Maven, and Trans*H4CK (pronounced “transhack”). According to GitHub, those organizations help educate, connect and empower LGBTQ people in tech.

Now Your JoeDog is generally on top of contemporary anagrams but he never saw a Q in LGBT before. What does that stand for? According to a The USA Today article it can be either Queer or Questioning. At JoeDog Industries, we feel it’s not our place to decide which Q applies to any particular person. And who cares, really? We’re busy turning coffee into code. So back to hacking….

Some People Need Structure

Charleston ShooterEarlier this week a young white man walked into a black church in Charleston. His name was Dylann Roof and he sat down with a prayer group. The church welcomes all so the stranger was no cause for concern. After about an hour, he rose from his seat, pulled out a gun and started shooting into the prayer circle.

According to a survivor, someone begged him to stop. He responded to that plea like this: “No, you’ve raped our women, and you are taking over the country … I have to do what I have to do.” And he shot the young man. Nine people died that night.

You can call Dylann Roof a racist asshole. You can say he’s a monster. Or a craven little pussy. Your JoeDog won’t disagree. Here’s something else he was: misguided.

From the Washington Post we learn that Roof dropped out of high school in ninth grade. He drifted aimlessly. He laid around the house and dabbled in drugs. His parents implored him to find a job and he went to the mall and pestered store managers but it doesn’t appear that he left with any job applications.

With no schedule he wandered aimlessly. With no agenda, he formed his own, a refinement of bad ideas. With nowhere to go, his interactions became fewer, his views more esoteric. There are plenty of young men in this rut. Most refrain from killing others but that doesn’t mean it’s not a problem. In the best scenario, Dylann Roof would have accomplished nothing, helped no one and achieved nothing.  The worst scenario was on display in a Charleston Church.

Some people have lots of ideas. They have long todo lists and insufficient time to check every item. For them an unstructured life is a blessing. They can align their tasks by their daily moods. A flexible schedule allows them to create many great things. When their mood changes, it’s not a problem for these folks. There’s always something else to do.

That doesn’t work for people like Dylann Roof. People like that need structure. They need schedules and task lists provided by others. They need things to do. Guns aren’t going away – not in America, anyway. If we hope to stop this endless chain of horrific mass shootings, then we need to find a way to help people like Dylann Roof organize their lives.  We have to find them something to do. As tasks become increasingly more automated, that might become ever more difficult.

Things I Have In Common With Richard Stallman

Your JoeDog found Richard Stallman to be the same in real life as he is on the Internets: a complete pain in the ass. He’s not just the how priest of free software, he’s also the choir. For example, most of us understand that when you buy hardware it comes with proprietary firmware. He gets worked up about that. The dude will inconvenience himself rather than compromise his commitment to free — as in freedom — software.

Actually, he’s a very nice guy but I’m still surprised to learn we have a anything in common. Yet we do! For example, did you know we

  1. Both prefer console based editors although Stallman uses that god awful emacs.
  2. Think C++ is one ugly-ass language
  3. Think java is elegant although we don’t use it often.
  4. Both consider C our favorite language.
  5. Don’t care for 4Chan.

That’s about it, but it’s more traits than Your JoeDog would have thought possible. Click that and you’ll see what I mean. If the rich aren’t like the rest of us, then neither is Stallman. And that’s a good thing because the guy’s a treasure. (Even if he is a pain in the ass.)

The Facebook Effect (on real estate prices)

When Your JoeDog was in Palo Alto, he was thumbing through a real estate guide in the lobby of a hosting provider. A two-bedroom, 900 sq. foot post-war house caught his eye, not because it was nice but because it was listed for over a million dollars. That same house in the heartland would probably sell for one-tenth as much.

Now Tech Crunch tells us about the Facebook effect on real estate prices. Two years ago, the hoodied company announced it was moving from Palo Alto to Menlo Park. The effect on local real estate was astounding. Prices in Menlo Park increased 41.9%. In East Palo Alto — which is near the new fascility — the effect was even more profound. Prices in that neighborhood are up 75.6%.

There’s only one reason why real estate is so expensive in the Silicon Valley: it’s close to work. People are willing to pay a premium for a shorter commute. But why is this so important?

Tech guys have been selling the notion of telecommuting for at least twenty years yet they obviously demand that their own employees show up to the office. High housing prices in the Silicon Valley are testiment to the bullshit they peddle to the rest of us….