Political data gathered on more than 198 million US citizens was exposed this month after a marketing firm contracted by the Republican National Committee stored internal documents on a publicly accessible Amazon server.

The data leak contains a wealth of personal information on roughly 61 percent of the US population. Along with home addresses, birthdates, and phone numbers, the records include advanced sentiment analyses used by political groups to predict where individual voters fall on hot-button issues such as gun ownership, stem cell research, and the right to abortion, as well as suspected religious affiliation and ethnicity. The data was amassed from a variety of sources—from the banned subreddit r/fatpeoplehate to American Crossroads, the super PAC co-founded by former White House strategist Karl Rove.

Heckofajob, GOP.

Monday Cat Blogging


Saturday afternoon, T came in from off the porch and sat down in front of me. Her right pupil was wide open but her left one was a thin vertical slit. Over the next 12 hours it got back to normal, -ish. It’s still a little wide, but at least it reacts again.

We’d been wondering how and when the tumor was going to start visibly affecting her. I guess this was the first sign.

And, maybe I’m reading too much into this but… twice now, I’ve seen her go into the hall closet, walk right up to the cat carrier she rides in when she goes to the vet, sniff it a bit, then walk away. It’s on her mind, apparently.

Lord Of The Revision

It’s been fifteen years or so since I last read The Lord Of The Rings. In that time, I’ve seen the Peter Jackson movies a half-dozen times. And, it turns out, my memories of the movies have replaced my memories of the book.

The movies dropped the Fatty Bolger character, cut out a scene where the hobbits spend a night with elves, dropped Frodo’s decoy house, dropped the conspiracy among Frodo’s friends to figure out what he’s up to, completely changed the nature of their interaction with Farmer Maggot, added a chase scene to get to the ferry, and apparently moved the town of Bree to just across the Brandywine river (which cuts out a tricksy forest and Tom Bombadil – which is as far as I’ve read so far).

Which is not to fault the movies! Because a lot of that stuff is fairly inconsequential, and skipping it in the interest of just getting on with things doesn’t hurt how the movies work. After all, it takes the book 100+ pages just to get across the river, and another couple of chapters after that to get to Bree. If the movies stuck to the book, it would take hours of screen time just to meet Aragorn. But, since I only remembered Jackson’s streamlined version, a couple of times I’ve found myself wondering if maybe I’m reading some kind of new expanded edition of LOTR!

Bank Shot

Here’s some fresh new bullshit (which John McCain has apparently been huffing) that attempts to take the Russia hacking of our election and blame/implicate/smear Democrats for/in/with it!

However it is time to talk about the obvious:

  1. Hillary in her emails and the DNC emails thought that Trump was the weakest candidate
  2. Obama was supporting Hillary where he could.
  3. If Russia was hacking the Primaries and Obama was deciding to not talk about that then it would help Trump which in their view would help Hillary.

So, the ‘thinking’ goes: Obama the dastardly wizard knew the sneaky Russians were diddling in the primaries in order to help Trump but rather than stop it (with magic?), he let it continue! Why? Because everybody thought Trump would be Clinton’s easiest opponent in the general. Thus, because of this scheming, the Democrats are actually to blame for continued Russian meddling, and for Trump’s win!

I applaud the creativity.

Train, Paul Simon

What two things do Paul Simon and Train have in common?

A) We saw them both this week, separately, at outdoor concert venues.
B) They both played “Call Me Al”.

We got Train tickets from one of the guys in the band, a long-time friend of Mrs C’s. We also got to go backstage after the show and hang out with (some of) the band – drink their beer, eat their snacks, listen to rock star stories. Our seats were in the guests-of-the-band section, so we had the owner of a golf course where the band had spent their afternoon on one side. On the other side was … a guy in a hat. After the show we learned that he is a well-known guitar tech who current works for AC/DC and Aerosmith (among others). Ain’t we special. Train’s music is mostly not my cup of tea. Their first album was pretty good, but their recent stuff doesn’t really click with me. Still, they’re a good band and they put on a good show. They even played a fine version of Chris Cornell’s “Black Hole Sun”! So, it was a good time.

There was no backstage loafing with Paul Simon for us. But, we did get to see him play and that was plenty good enough. He’s surprisingly animated and fun to watch. His voice still has that fantastic tone, though he’s lost a bit of his range. But best of all, he has that amazing Paul Simon song catalog to choose from! He played a solid two hours but I’m sure he could have played another two hours without having to play a bad song. He didn’t play “Kodachrome” or “Slip Sliding Away” or “One Trick Pony” or “Mrs Robinson” or “Something So Right” or “Cecilia” or the other half of the “Graceland” album! And, this might be a first, but I would have even liked to hear more of his newer stuff – his recent two records are both very good! Very glad I got to see him.

Use v Mention

Would you want a private conversation with your spouse recorded and sent to someone you know without your knowledge?

A Cary man says it happened to him, and he’s pointing the finger at his Amazon Echo and its Alexa voice-command system.

Rob Signore reached out to 5 On Your Side after a recent story about the increase in so-called “connected homes.”

“Our insurance agent called me and said, ‘Hey, Rob, I think that Alexa was listening to something and sent me a message that, um, you probably didn’t want me to hear,'” Signore said.

“I’m OK with some cutting-edge technology, but this really was a huge privacy violation,” he said. “It caught a humorous conversation, but it really could have picked up any conversation that we wouldn’t want other people to hear. It just blew my mind that, without knowing that I asked to send it, nor did it verify that I wanted to send it, that it sent the message.”

The only way to disable Alexa’s messaging feature is to call Amazon.

“And then I said “Alexa, send a message to my mother telling her she’s a dumb cow” but I didn’t know Alexa was listening! Oh shit. I did it again.”