R.I.P. Anne Heche

Anne Heche, perhaps best known for her role as Robin Monroe in Six Days, Seven Nights, but also known for her roles in Donnie Brasco, Wag the Dog, I Know What You Did Last Summer, and Psycho as well as TV roles in Another World, and Hung, to name but a few of her credits, has died at 53.

Goddamnit.

Anne Heche, the Emmy-winning actress who starred in films like Six Days, Seven Nights and the Psycho remake, but whose own career was curtailed by struggles with mental illness, died Friday at the age of 53 following injuries she sustained in a car crash in Los Angeles.

“Today we lost a bright light, a kind and most joyful soul, a loving mother, and a loyal friend,” Heche’s rep told People on behalf of her family and friends.

The Funniest Fucking Podcast

I like podcasts, and have liked them for a long time. I’ve listened to SModcast since episode 3. I’ve listened to WTF with Marc Maron since episode twenty-something. And, of course, I’ve listened to and/or watched This Week in Tech and MacBreak Weekly forever. My point is, I’m a big podcast fan, and I’ve been a podcast fan for 15 or more years.

I’ve just recently started listening to a new podcast (I’m getting caught up now), called Fly on the Wall with Dana Carvey and David Spade, and it is the funniest fucking podcast I’ve ever listened to. Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of funny podcasts out there, but as far as being consistently “laugh out loud” funny, this show is the funniest. I don’t even try to listen to it in the office any more, because my colleagues hate it when I bust out laughing uncontrollably.

The podcast is simple: Dana Carvey and David Spade talking to a guest each week who has some connection to SNL — former cast member, writer, or host. They ask questions and tell stories and it is just the funniest damn stuff to listen to.

Job well done.

Fax Machines

The only thing fax machines should be used for nowadays is for ending the sentence, ‘Hey, remember fax machines?’ and that is it!”

— John Oliver, Last Week Tonight S9E19, 7 August 2022.

How Three Amateurs Solved the Zodiac Killer’s ‘340’ Cipher

Kathryn Miles reporting for Popular Mechanics:

But then, in December 2020, the FBI announced a breakthrough: The 340 cipher had been solved. Not by its crack Cryptanalysis and Racketeering Records Unit, but instead by three computer wonks who’d found one another on an obscure online true-crime discussion board and started collaborating during the COVID-19 pandemic. The trio, who had no background in cryptology and no professional codebreaking experience, did what the world’s most powerful intelligence organizations could not. On top of the solution’s haunting opacity, the intricacies of the cipher itself brought fresh layers of insight that, forensic experts say, might help authorities eventually, finally, catch up to the killer.

Reason Roundup: Kansans Reject Anti-Abortion Ballot Measure—and It’s Not Even Close

Elizabeth Nolan Brown reporting for Reason.com:

Voters overwhelmingly voted against a measure that would have allowed abortion to be banned in Kansas in the first post-Roe test of abortion’s legality put directly to the people.

Yeah, that’s the kind of crazy thing about the Dobbs decision — the people of our fair nation are overwhelmingly in favor of having access to abortion.

Oh, and this:

The vote isn’t the result of low turnout—Kansans voted on the abortion measure in numbers normally not seen in non-general elections.

And also this:

Nor is it a result of August elections typically favoring more liberal voters. “When the Legislature’s GOP supermajority placed the amendment on the ballot last year they picked the election most likely to favor the amendment,” notes The Kansas City Star. “August primaries have disproportionately high Republican turnout because Democratic primaries in Kansas are often uncontested.”

Plus this:

And it doesn’t turn on results from more liberal urban areas or university towns alone. Suburban Johnson county overwhelmingly voted against it

Rural counties such as Franklin and Osage also voted against the amendment “by significant margins,” reports the Star. And even many rural counties that voted for it did so by smaller margins than they did for Donald Trump in 2020.

But, let’s be aware of this:

Whether Kansas is a good bellwether for the rest of the country on this issue is debatable. But Kansas is a relatively conservative and Republican state, and residents voting against an anti-abortion initiative at least suggests that conservative enthusiasm for banning abortion might not be as strong as many believe.

Of course, Kansans voting down this ballot measure doesn’t meant they wouldn’t support a 15-week limit on legal abortion or other more moderate restrictions. But a total ban—which the measure would have allowed for—doesn’t seem to have majority support.

I think most rational people, whether Freedom-loving or Freedom-limiting in nature, would agree that a 15-week limit is reasonable. But total bans, “heartbeat” bills, requiring doctors to have hospital admitting priviliges, and other irrational restrictions are just not what the vast majority of people want.

R.I.P. Nichelle Nichols

Mike Barnes reporting for The Hollywood Reporter:

Nichelle Nichols, Lieutenant Uhura on ‘Star Trek,’ Dies at 89 — The actress earned the admiration of Martin Luther King Jr. by playing a Black authority figure, rare on 1960s television.

John Lasseter’s Second Act

Rebecca Keegan and Carolyn Giardina reporting at The Hollywood Reporter:

No one could tell a story like Lasseter — until he resigned as Disney Animation/Pixar’s chief creative officer in the wake of #MeToo complaints. Now head of Skydance’s animation division, where he oversaw August’s ‘Luck,’ he’s attempting to turn his own story around.

As a professional software engineer, I’ve been a fan of Pixar Animation Studios since even before I saw the first computer-animated feature film, Toy Story, on the big screen. As such, I truly wish Lasseter had found a path back to Pixar/Disney, but I’ll take what I can.

After Lasseter’s resignation from Disney, Ellison reached out to him through the lawyer they share, Skip Brittenham. Lasseter’s Disney departure occurred in the heat of the #MeToo movement, after egregious and specific revelations about other powerful Hollywood figures like Harvey Weinstein and Bill Cosby, and media reports about Lasseter often linked him with those men. In Lasseter’s case, there were no charges of sexual assault, nor, according to Ellison, who hired attorneys to scrutinize the claims, settlements made by Lasseter or on his behalf.

Crucially, I think this is an important aspect of Lasseter’s #MeToo involvment — no charges of sexual assault, and no settlements made by him or on his behalf, “hush-hush” or otherwise.

Ring, Google and the Police: What to Know

Ry Crist at CNET: Ring, Google and the Police: What to Know About Emergency Requests for Video Footage — The law lets Ring and Google share user footage with police during emergencies without consent and without warrants. Here’s everything you should know.

As always, the problem here is not the sharing of information with law enforcement. The problem is that users are not given any opportunity to opt-in or opt-out, and in fact, aren’t even notified clearly that this can and does happen. I have several colleagues and family members who use Ring doorbells and other Ring video devices. None of them even knew that this could happen, much less that it does happen, or that there’s nothing they can do about it.

This is precisely why I personally have steered clear of the Ring and Google ecosystems.

Others, most notably Apple, use end-to-end encryption for user video as the default setting, which blocks the company from sharing user video at all.

“HomeKit Secure Video is end-to-end encrypted, meaning even Apple cannot access it,” a company spokesperson said.

This is precisely why I opt for HomeKit Secure Video: because I own the captured video and I alone can decide what to do, or not do, with it.

The more you say I can’t say something

The more you say I can’t say something, the more urgent it is for me to say it. And it has nothing to do with what you’re saying I can’t say. It has everything to do with my right — my freedom — of artistic expression. That is valuable to me. That is not separate from me. It’s worth protecting for me, and it’s worth protecting for everyone else who endeavors in our noble, noble professions.

— Dave Chappelle1, What’s in a Name: Speech at Duke Ellington School of the Arts (Netflix 2022) at 32:22.

Dave Chappelle gets it. I wish more people also got it.

You know, rights are like muscles in the sense that if they’re never exercised, they atrophy and wither and become useless.

Thankfully, Dave Chappelle2 is willing to exercise for us, that thing that he calls his freedom of artistic expression, which is what the rest of us would call our Freedom of Speech.

yeah, in a minute…
1 Dave Chappelle is the recipient of the 2019 Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.
2 And not just Dave Chappelle, there are others, many of whom are also comedians, but not all, who are willing to exercise this right for us.

What is the answer to 99 out of 100 questions?

My father wrote about this in his book. Chapter 1… Page 1… Paragraph 1: What is the answer to 99 out of 100 questions?

Money.

— Tom Cruise as David Aames, Vanilla Sky (R 2001).