Padlock!

A while ago, I noticed that my homespun websites, such as this one here, started coming up as “insecure.” I wondered why.

As it often happens, it’s because Google is being an asshole.

As of July 23, it turns out, Chrome had called out every website without an active SSL certificate as “Not Secure.” This means every website. Every last one. Even if you’re just a dinky blog or a simple index page with a few links and images.

Fortunately, my beautiful Dreamhost makes it easy to place a free Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate onto the site. Otherwise, it would have been at least $15 a year for the verified SSL, which I would need if I ran e-commerce.

What does this mean? It means some browsers won’t flag my beloved AITWK site as unsafe, and that Google Chrome will no longer deny me my little padlock and say NOT SECURE in big bold print in your browser.

I also had to make an .htaccess file to force yinz to the https protocol if you get here via http. That wasn’t too bad either.

So, hooray, padlock!

Brought to you by WHYNOPADLOCK DOT COM

John McCain

I’ve been reading the accolades, what a great man John McCain was, blah, blah, blah. I’ve been especially struck by people referring to the time he told that crazy woman that Barack Obama was just alright with him when she expressed to him in some weird kind of pidgin that she feared him because she was convinced he was an “Arab.”

And all I’ve been able to think about that incident is that IT’S JUST HIM PISSING ON A HOUSE HE HELPED SET FIRE TO.

I have been wishing all day to find a writer who could sum it all up better than I ever could.

Thank you, BRANKO MARCETIC.

She’s Like a Rainbow

I saw a rainbow today. I saw a fucking rainbow. That’s about where I was when I saw the rainbow. LOOK. I said. IT’S A FUCKING RAINBOW. FUCK YOU RAINBOW.

*

So first you have to know that a few months ago, I donated my Howard Stern library.

Private Parts, Miss America, and Artie Lange’s Too Fat to Fish, along with Gary Dell’abate’s They Call Me Baba Booey, all went. I wasn’t going to read them again, I figured. Let’s make some room.

Off they went. And I have been sore about it ever since.

I don’t even think the first two titles are any longer in print. I have sort of hated myself for doing this ever since. Really. How could you part with those?

*

I had plans to be in my own personal Star’s Hollow today, tomorrow, and Thursday. It’s three hours west. Yesterday, my car told me the engine was overheating. Which was ridiculous because the car had been sitting all night long. I ignored it. I ignored it and hit the road at about 8:45 a.m. today.

Just before the Clarence rest stop, I noticed the warning again. I looked at the temp guage on my dash and realized it was ALL THE WAY UP TO “H.” Mind you I am now one hour away from my apartment. I stopped at the rest stop. I went into the building to perform my ablutions. I then opened the hood and didn’t see anything weird. But then you have to remember that I dropped out of auto mechanic school.

So I closed the hood and started down the highway with the heater blasting to blow some of the heat off of the engine. This kept the needle pretty much at the middle. And I stopped at the first exit I could. And I found a Monroe Muffler.

The dude told me you might want to try going across the street first to get you some coolant and topping it off yourself because we charge a diagnosis fee. I did this and shortly thereafter tried to get back on the highway, whereas the needle immediately went back to WAY HOT DUDE. I made a patently illegal U-Turn and went back to Monroe Muffler.

The verdict eventually came down: Water pump. This, I now know, is a common issue in GM cars after 40,000 miles. It’s so common they make a “kit” for it. The dude had to go to another location to get the kit. So it was going to take a few hours. They offered to drop me somewhere. I said, I see a Tully’s over there.

So I’m eating a mediocre burger at a Tully’s and as it often happens I’m already naming the kids I’m going to have with the beautiful bartender, and I realize this is the same Tully’s my buddy and I visited last fall to kill time before the Pixies show, where we watched like four NFL games at once and had what was really the highlight of the trip (sorry Black Francis) and so that was a lovely coincidence. Allison, the bartender, noticed my reminiscing, and she stopped short at my barstool and said “hey. what’s up, hon. you okay?” And I told her the whole story of the last time I had been there, and she twirled her hair and said “awwww, that’s so nice,” and then she brushed my cheek with her hand and smiled.

Just kidding. The Wayfair wife would have been more attentive.

Anyway, so I had walked up and down the plaza, I stopped at a Barnes & Noble (this store did NOT sell CDs, which was weird), then at Bed Bath & Beyond (this store did NOT sell CDs, which is normal), and Best Buy (again, NO CDs. WTF is up, Buffalo?) Then I went back to Tully’s and Allison was extremely concerned and listened to me describe my plight and then she played with her necklace in that way she does and

oh fuck it you know that part is bullshit. I ordered another iced tea and drank it.

Now the Monroe shuttle had driven me to Tully’s. But I walked back. And across the street was this Goodwill store. I gazed across the other street to see if my car was still on the rack. It was. So I had more time to kill.

Let’s do thrifting, I figured.

For the record, this Goodwill store sells CDs, unlike the B&N in this neighborhood and the Best Buy in this neighborhood. And I happened to find one I’d been thinking about, the soundtrack to A Chorus Line. Yoink.

Then, I moved to the books. Three titles jumped out at me.

Private Parts. Miss America. Too Fat to Fish. All in hardcover. Yoink. Yoink. Yoink.

I spent four bucks. I recovered the bulk of my Howard Stern library. And I get to listen to DANCE TEN LOOKS THREE any friggin time I want.

The rest of my day was equally frustrating. The new water pump did not solve the problem. I ended up at a Chevy dealer doing initial troubleshooting and will be back there tomorrow hoping they can find the problem. I am staying at an EconoLodge and found the local Wegman’s incredibly confusing and they for some reason have no cider cold, and that was nearly a breaking point for this fella man I can’t tell you how the day was wearing on me at that moment

But I have nearly restored my Stern Show library, and if I didn’t know otherwise, I’d think that happened via some sort of providence. What a fucked up Rube Goldberg machine to reunite me with those precious tomes.

And a bababooey to ya’ll.

Live Long and Prosper

Thanks in part to a Facebook group called “Star Trek Shitposting,” I have been diving in up to my sternum lately into the universe known as Star Trek. I recently watched all seven seasons of the Voyager series, for example, an endeavor that was well worth the time. While the series starts off on shaky legs, once Kes is absorbed into the cosmos and Seven of Nine is rescued, it seems to find its footing, and, occasionally, its writers present you with something masterful.

There is, for instance, the episode called “11:59,” the 23rd episode of the fifth season. This episode leaves behind the nuts and bolts of space and science fiction and entertains some of Kathryn Janeway’s genealogy–an ancestor of hers named Shannon O’Donnel and her involvement in something called the “millennium gate” project. I am not sure many Trek fans would choose this as one of their favorite Voyager episodes, but it is one of my standouts, as the writers had the courage to leave the starship behind and to tell a plainer tale set in the 21st century somewhere in Indiana. It is a striking love story and a somewhat bittersweet entry into this Trek franchise. It is a true surprise, and a welcome one.

There is “Blink of an Eye,” season six, episode 12, in which Voyager becomes trapped in a magnetic field that forces them into a temporal orbit so that their passage of time differs wildly from that of the inhabitants on the planet’s surface. While a few hours pass for Voyager’s crew, eons of time pass for the planet’s inhabitants, as they move from their iron age through to space travel. Such a boldly large scope for storytelling.

So I have since moved on to the new Discovery series on CBS, which I am enjoying. I find the character of Michael Burnham utterly entrancing, and the idea of the spore drive and its missing component are big ideas (although the creature and the treatment it receives until a humanoid takes the time to extend true compassion, this theme rings through directly from the “Original Series” episode “The Devil in the Dark,” my favorite Trek episode of all time). I appreciate too the updated look, feel, and pacing in the new series, though all of this somehow fitting in as prequel is driving many fans to distraction. For instance:

In the same vein, what about the spore drive itself? This supposedly is the most speedy and most accurate way to travel in space. Why is it not present in TOS, which is supposed to take place after Disco? Is it perhaps too unsustainable?

This is the problem with prequels. The discontinuities can be jarring. For instance, Disco sports Trek’s first “gay relationship” without missing a beat. Why such acceptance now and no mention of any further such couplings in the “future” Trek? (I mean. We know why. But why?)

The bottom line is that if you’re going to watch Discovery, you’re just going to have to let some of these things go. And, yes, that means Ethan Speck as Spock, too.

I think the writers understand an essential aspect of Trek in general. I remember watching the show on the television when I was a child. I think I was at my friend’s house, where I think was the first time I had ever witnessed this thing known as “color television.” I remember finding the show to be generally dull until the appearance of the Vulcan character.

Spock.

This is a character that scruffs the imagination, this lanky fellow with the odd haircut, the eyebrows, and the pointy ears. This is a character with one lonesome backstory, half-Vulcan, half-human, an outcast at any entrance, yet still an alien with superpowers–super-strength, able to disable another with a single touch, able to crawl into a person’s headspace and rummage around. Spock was what made Trek compelling, and Leonard Nimoy was who made Spock compelling. Nimoy not only invented Spock, but he invented Vulcans, and, indeed, he cast the template for how future, non-Vulcan fish-out-of-water characters would bring the same gravity to iterations of Trek. Seven of Nine is, essentially, a Vulcan. Data is, essentially, a Vulcan. Tuvok is, of course, a Vulcan, but without Nimoy’s clearly defined template, Tim Russ may not have played him so clearly. And, while these wannabes are all excellent characters, the originator was Leonard Nimoy, and it is due to his performance that we’re still talking about that show long after its three-season run on NBC.

That, my friends, is why we’re getting a brand new Spock and why our first-season protagonist has a Bacon’s score with Spock of one.

And now, some of my favorite Star Trek Shitposting items that I have done. Thank you.

The Protocols of the Elders of Blah Blah Blah

One often hears a meta-debate about whether it is wise or warranted to compare this event or that event to the massive event from 1941 to 1945 referred to as The Holocaust, or Shoah. There is “Godwin’s Law” to consider, concerns of resorting to reductio ad Hitlerum, and therefore having one’s points rendered as moot due to such reliance on an obviously accepted logical fallacy. One could even register a moral concern over comparing anything in contemporary experience with the unique horrors that event unleashed.

It is problematic.

I had the privilege of studying Holocaust history under Saul Friedman in my college days at Kent State. Professor Friedman was a tall man, perpetually in a sports coat, a serious face, and more gravitas than most people anyone has ever met. His challenge was to teach the iceberg to people who grew up shown the tip and thought it was all there was. You remember. From middle school forward, the teachers would show us the pictures of emaciated people stacked up in rickety wood bunks, they would drill those incomprehensible numbers into our heads, six million Jews, six million others; the higher-skilled teachers would even perhaps note the grappling irony of “arbeit macht frei.”

But those lessons did not even try a bit to explain the origins of these hideous ideas. I think that most people whose Holocaust study occurred merely through high school graduation got the impression that the hateful ideas that led to the “Final Solution” began and ended in Hitler’s warped brain, and that is by far not the truth. Professor Friedman’s greatest impression upon me was to pull back the curtain to reveal how ancient, how matted into the soil, how far back the ugly tendency of humans to massively scapegoat goes.

Russia in the late 1700s forcibly restricted the movement of Jewish people, who were made to live in the “Pale of Settlement,” and yes, this is from where the phrase “beyond the pale” comes. But the practice of ghetto-izing Jewish people goes back to the 11th and 12th centuries. Indeed, the practice of murdering Jews en masse is nearly as time-honored: Pogroms in Ukraine and Belarus killed some 150,000 from 1918 to 1922.

Russia is of course the origin point for a book called “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” which first raised its horrible head in 1903. This book purports to detail a Jewish plan toward world domination, which they would achieve by subverting the morals of non-Jews, by taking over the banks and the press, and, ultimately, by destroying civilization.

You can buy yourself a copy at Amazon right now!

Egyptian scholar Dr. Samir Taqi Al-Din has a well-thumbed copy, apparently. He recommended it as a source of truth in April 2018. Dr. Muhammad Ali Al-Malla of Damascus is a fan, too. He thinks the World Cup is part of the plot outlined therein. He said this just last week.

The practice of and the notions behind mass scapegoating are deeply engrained over centuries and as modern and current as Cardi B.

During the 2016 campaign, I expressed alarm to friends I knew were going to vote for D.J. Trump, who essentially campaigned saying that this group of people and that group of people are causing the problems, so we’re going to get rid of those groups of people. That is an argument that cannot help but engage the worst tendencies and the worst practices of people.

And now we have toddlers appearing alone before immigration judges and a Muslim ban with the Supreme Court’s stamp of approval.

Nope, I see no similarities whatsoever. Nope.

Where Did The Guitar Go?

This is one of two examples I can find on the Internet where Prince ends by making his guitar disappear. It is a move I have seen no other artist perform. It is astonishing. Watch this 12-minute medely at the 2005 NAACP Image Awards and try to deny that he was the best live performer on the planet.

I have to be honest, though, I think that audience was more excited to see Morris and Jerome than they were anyone.


Last night, I heard Chris Hayes report that, despite the shootings today, the staff of the Capital Gazette in Maryland fully intend that a paper will go out tomorrow. My automatic but certain response as a former news reporter and editor (and one who once covered a live shooter situation) : Well f*** yeah the paper’s going out!