Our Old Ghost Friend Has Returned, And I Think It Might Be A Jays Fan

I’m a little rattled at the moment.

I’m not sure how many of you remember about eight years ago when Carin and I were convinced that there was a ghost in our house. Well, he…she…they…whatever it is went quiet after that and we didn’t think much more about it once it did.

Until today.

While puttering around the house this afternoon, I had the Giants and Nationals game on the MLB app. As it was getting close to ending, I looked at the clock and thought to myself “once this is over, maybe I should switch it to the Jays feed and see if I can catch a bit of the pregame.” Soon enough, the final out was recorded and the Giants had won. Then, before I even had time to reach for the phone, something happened. Jon Miller announced that the game was over. I started to walk across the room. Suddenly…silence.

“Damn internet,” I said under my breath.

But then, the opening strains of a familiar song began to play.

That was immediately followed by a commercial for Lotto 649.

“What!?” I said aloud. “They don’t have Canadian lotteries in California.”

I unlocked the phone and sure enough, I was suddenly on the feed for the Blue Jays broadcast.

I swear to you all, I didn’t touch anything. This happened all on its own.

At first, I tried to rationalize it by wondering if perhaps one of the recent app updates added a feature that would switch to your favourite team’s feed at the end of another game if it was active. But I was swiftly disabused of this notion when I remembered that I have four favourite teams selected in my settings.

So here I am, left with only one explanation.

Welcome back, helpful ghost pal. It’s good to see you…I think

Bernie, Bernie, Bernie The Computer Doctor…

I don’t know why this song appears in my head when I have to call these guys, but it does.

I’m realizing that we have lived in this town for nearly ten years, and have used the services of Bernie the Computer Doctor, and I have never given them a plug, and that’s a shame.

Every now and then, our computers get themselves in a situation that we can’t fix on our own. When I moved here, I was wondering who I would have to call on since Mr. Do A Good Turn wasn’t around and all the stores I would call were no longer local.

Luckily, Google led me to these guys and they’ve always been good to me. They’ll come get your computer and don’t charge you an arm and a leg for doing that, they’re quick, they’re good at what they do and they’re honest. One time, Steve thought his computer’s power supply was busted, and all it was was the UPS was misbehaving. But they didn’t try and take the computer away or do unnecessary things. They just did what they could to bring things back around, told us how to do it in the future and that was it.

Just recently, I had to call them in because my hard drive was starting to go and my computer was acting like a computer possessed. They managed to clone it, and I didn’t lose a thing! Woo! I always hope for an outcome like that, but I don’t always get it.

It was one of the guys from Bernie the Computer Doctor who revived Steve’s old computer, the one we affectionately nicknamed “The Asshole”. It was that same guy who Tansy reeeeally wanted to greet…the one she broke her tie-down to reach. Another one showed me how to open my old computer’s case and get the dust out. I admit that I’m not as good at that as I should be, but I appreciate his patience. Much appreciation to everybody there. I hope they don’t go anywhere anytime soon.

Nice Work, Father One Job

I personally find this hilarious, but I imagine there are several thousand Catholics out there who would vehemently disagree with my assessment.

A Catholic priest in Arizona has resigned after he was found to have performed baptisms incorrectly throughout his career, rendering the rite invalid for thousands of people.
The Catholic Diocese of Phoenix announced on its website that it determined after careful study that the Rev. Andres Arango had used the wrong wording in baptisms performed up until June 17, 2021. He had been off by a single word.
During baptisms in both English and Spanish, Arango used the phrase “we baptize you in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” He should have said “I baptize,” the diocese explained.

“It is not the community that baptizes a person and incorporates them into the Church of Christ; rather, it is Christ, and Christ alone, who presides at all sacraments; therefore, it is Christ who baptizes,” it said. “If you were baptized using the wrong words, that means your baptism is invalid, and you are not baptized.”
Diocese spokesperson Katie Burke told NPR over email that Arango is believed to have used the incorrect word since the beginning of his priesthood in 1995.

And it gets worse, because if the church doesn’t consider you baptized, it also doesn’t consider you anything else in its eyes. Like married, for instance.

As far as the diocese is aware, all of the other sacraments that Arango conferred are valid. But because baptism is the “sacrament that grants access to all the others,” a botched baptism could invalidate any subsequent sacraments, including confirmation, marriage and holy orders.
“What this means for you is, if your baptism was invalid and you’ve received other sacraments, you may need to repeat some or all of those sacraments after you are validly baptized as well,” the diocese said.

The diocese said that while the situation may seem legalistic, the words, materials and actions are crucial aspects of every sacrament — and changing any of them makes them invalid.
“For example, if a priest uses milk instead of wine during the Consecration of the Eucharist, the sacrament is not valid,” it said. “The milk would not become the Blood of Jesus Christ.”

Imagine trying to explain any of this to someone from another planet. Hell, I’ve lived on this one for a decent while and I don’t get it.

I’m not going to begrudge anyone having faith in something. But organized religion like this is such a silly, pointless thing to get caught up in at the best of times, and it’s often hard for me to wrap my head around why anyone still does.

Listen To The Universe, Maybe

10 of History’s Most Amazing Survival Stories
I’m at least vaguely familiar with almost all of these thanks to history class and osmosis, but I don’t remember ever knowing that there was a nurse on the Titanic who wound up surviving three shipwrecks.

Ship’s nurse and stewardess Violet Jessop lived through a trifecta of major shipwrecks on the ocean liners Olympic, Titanic, and Britannic.
In 1911, while Jessop was working aboard the White Star liner RMS Olympic, the huge passenger ship collided with the HMS Hawke near the Isle of Wight. Although both ships sustained considerable damage, the Olympic made it back to port, and Jessop disembarked without injury. Two years later, she accepted a job on board White Star’s theoretically unsinkable RMS Titanic. She escaped the ship’s sinking on April 15, 1912, in Lifeboat 16.
Having survived that disaster, she served as a nurse on board the HMHS Britannic, operating in the Aegean Sea during World War I. In 1916, the ship ran into a mine planted by a German U-boat and began sinking; Jessop jumped overboard but was sucked under the ship’s keel as it went down. She sustained a skull fracture, but lived to tell about her multiple brushes with death at sea.

She’s a braver soul than I, that’s for sure. After shipwreck two I think I’d be considering a new line of work so as to avoid there being a shipwreck three.

The more time I spend thinking about this, the stronger the Mark Sokolov vibes get. Just me?

If you don’t know who that is, don’t feel bad. As best I know he isn’t particularly famous anywhere outside of my brain, which can’t forget him. To explain why, let’s go back to January, 2002.

Actually no. First, we need to go back a little further, to September 11th, 2001.

At the time of the attacks, Sokolov was on the 38th floor of the World Trade Center’s south tower. He escaped the building before it was hit.

Alright. Now we’re in 2002.

A Palestinian woman on Sunday became the first female to launch a bomb attack against Israel, killing herself and an 81-year-old Israeli man and wounding at least a dozen people on a busy Jerusalem street.
Israeli police said they were not sure if the woman intended to kill herself or if the bomb exploded prematurely as she walked along Jaffa Street, the main commercial strip in west Jerusalem.
In Lebanon, the Al-Manar television station run by the militant Hezbollah movement said the bomber was Shinaz Amuri, a female student at Al-Najah University in the West Bank town of Nablus.

Mark Sokolov, a U.S. citizen from Woodmere, N.Y., who survived the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, was slightly hurt in Sunday’s explosion along with his wife and two daughters.

“I heard a loud whoosh, like a bang, and I kind of saw things flying around a little bit, and then I realized I was able to get up and walk around,” Sokolov told Israeli television.

People are just wired different from me, man. This woman and her three ship disasters, and now Mark here is not only escaping the deadliest attack in American history, but a few months later he’s on a plane headed for a family trip to…Israel! Yes it’s one of those far away bias things and I’ve read that it’s much safer there than it seems on the surface, but Israel is almost always on the news here because something either has blown up or is about to. Probably not my first choice of travel destinations.

I’m a coward, I admit it. For me, living dangerously is leaving the door unlocked at night because my buddy lost his keys. That made for a good enough story, thank you very much. And I only had to do it once. I may not know much, but I know when the world is trying to tell me something.

So I Guess I’m A Hermit.

Allow me to start by saying thanks, Chris, Thanks a lot. As of right now, I don’t think I have had COVID yet. I might have had it in October when I got a particularly clingy flu-ish thing, but since I never got tested, I’ll never know. But if it’s true that I haven’t had COVID, way to make me feel like a freak.

Up to this point, I’ve only really gone to see the book club and family and a couple of other small things. I’ve been sticking my head out, but not very far. But things are starting to happen at work. I’m going to a conference in Niagara in May, and our big company conference in the states in July. I’ve agreed to do it…but I hope that’s not a mistake. I know COVID isn’t going away, and I know I’ve done all I can…but I’m nervous. At least the first conference is in Ontario and I’m going there by car.

The doctors all seem to say if you haven’t caught it yet, it’s a matter of time. Yeesh I hope not! Wish me luck.

Microsoft Edge Is Doing the Automatic Image Description Thing Now

The closest I’ve gotten to using Microsoft Edge is the rare occasion when Windows opens a webpage in it instead of my default Firefox. I hit just enough keystrokes to close it, then I go on about my business. This isn’t so much because I have a hate on for Microsoft (I did make the decision that I’m a Windows guy rather than a Mac guy), but simply because I wasn’t looking for a new browser, especially not one that couldn’t be used by screen readers upon release.

It’s come a long way since then, so I hear. I wouldn’t know that firsthand, obviously. But Carin sometimes has to use it for work and she says it’s not bad. As the only person I know of who does anything with it, I’ll take her word for it. Besides, she’s Carin. She generally knows what she’s talking about.

Anyway, if I ever do decide to use Edge for some reason, that reason might be this.

Microsoft Edge can now send unlabeled images to its Azure computer vision API for processing, which is governed by Microsoft’s privacy promises. The vision API creates alt text in English, Spanish, Japanese, Portuguese, or Chinese Simplified which can then be deciphered by screen readers. Microsoft Edge won’t attempt to add automatic labels to images that are smaller than 50 x 50 pixels, very large image files, images that are marked as decorative, or images that the Vision API categorizes as pornographic, gory, or sexually suggestive.
Microsoft is rolling out this new feature immediately in Microsoft Edge for Windows, Mac, and Linux, but it won’t be available in Edge on Android or iOS yet. You can try the new feature out by enabling “Get image descriptions from Microsoft for screen readers” in edge://settings/accessibility, and using Narrator or another screen reader to browse the web.

Microsoft says that there are already improvements in mind for the feature, like trying to determine if the alt text that someone was nice enough to include just isn’t very good and then improving on it. Well, you’re certainly going to have a plenty big enough dataset to work with there, Microsoft.

It’ll be interesting to see if Edge’s version of this is better than Chrome’s, which I’ve found to be extremely hit and miss during my admittedly brief brushes with it.

Just Pick One. You’re Getting Scammed Either Way

So apparently there is an app (probably more than one but this is the only one covered here) that is, either deliberately or by accident, tricking people into thinking that it is the Android version of Truth Social, the social network that Donald Trump put his name on now that he’s not allowed on any of the ones people actually use. According to the story, the app, called “MAGA Hub — Truth Social Trump”, has been downloaded hundreds of thousands of times in only a few days.

Normally this would be the part of the post where I remind everyone that slowing down and paying attention would save a lot of trouble and heartbreak, but honestly, something with Donald Trump’s name on it stealing your money and not delivering what it promises falls under the category of bare minimum you should expect it to do, so I’m just gonna go ahead and save myself the effort today.

MAGA Hub, for what it’s worth, contains $28.99 in-app purchases with an unclear purpose and automatically subscribes users to a global chat group which Insider reports sends out “a constant stream of memes and messages.” The page lists as the developer a man named Lukas Neissen, who has published several other apps under the “SocialHubs” brand, including virtually identical apps for LGBT people and fans of YouTuber Jake Paul or Tesla/SpaceX CEO Elon Musk. A residential address in Germany is also listed as the company’s location.
MAGA Hub promises various features for users, including that it is “End-to-end encrypted, no algorithms,” has a Stories feature, and boasts an “endless amount of content customized for you.” It also states users will be able to play the curiously titled “MAGA-Game”:

Play the game that was specially created for the MAGA community. Check out the global leaderboard, how well did you play?

And just to make it that much harder to sort out the real Truth Social from the fake one, this one, like Trump’s, appears to be full of technical problems.

Gizmodo would have loved to explore this delightful experience even further, but when we attempted to register an account on the app, it presented an error message stating that it had already exceeded the allowed number of daily email verifications. While our account was apparently created, the password we chose during the signup process didn’t work, and the account recovery feature simply returned the message “Something went wrong.” Eventually, the app randomly began displaying content from its news feed, which almost exclusively consisted of the kind of things you’d see in a QAnon channel on Telegram or a t-shirt at CPAC. An attempt to access the “Global Chat” was blessedly blocked by MAGA Hub’s inability to send a verification email.

I don’t know that there’s a lesson to be found in any of this, but for the sake of ending this thing neatly I feel duty-bound to find one. Perhaps never trust Trump or Republicans in general is it, but I feel like there has to be more. Maybe it’s just that if you must use a social network and the garbage cesspools we already have aren’t friendly enough to you and your kind, perhaps the garbage cesspools aren’t the problem.

Yeah, I think that might be it.

We Do, However, Sideline Dumb People

Unlike way too many people anymore, I am not in the business of telling anyone what they are never allowed to joke about. In the right context, almost anything can be funny to someone. But that’s the thing. Context. Like let’s just say you’ve got a killer line about not negotiating with terrorists. Maybe save that one for when you’re shutting down a heckler on stage at the Ha Ha Hut rather than using it when a Muslim kid asks you a question while you’re teaching a high school math class.

Mohammed Zubi, a senior at Ridgefield Memorial High School, said the class was working on a project last Wednesday and he raised his hand to ask if students could have more time to finish the assignment when the assistant teacher allegedly responded saying, “We don’t negotiate with terrorists.”
“I’m looking around, at a loss for words, completely shocked,” Zubi told CNN. He said the entire class heard the exchange and he asked the girl behind him to make sure that’s what the assistant teacher had said, and she confirmed she heard the same thing.
Zubi, 17, said the assistant teacher came up to him a few minutes later, patted him on the back, and said he didn’t mean it like that. “In my head I’m just like, what other way could he have meant that?” Zubi said.
The Ridgefield School District released a statement Sunday saying that the district “has absolutely no tolerance for any sort of discrimination against any student or staff member.”
In the statement, Interim Superintendent of Ridgefield Public Schools Letizia Pantoliano said that the district “cannot legally comment on personnel or student matters,” but wants the public to know that “the District immediately suspended the staff member while it is conducting a full investigation.”

That’s Not Going To Help

According to an arrest affidavit, Lankford and the 50-year-old victim were arguing about the “cleanliness of the house” when Lankford “became upset” and “threw two tacos from the dining room.”
The tacos struck the victim in the head as she was sitting on a couch. When cops arrived at the home in Largo, “the victim had food debris all around her on the couch and on the back of her shirt,” a police officer noted.
Cops say Lankford admitted to the taco tossing, but said she did it out of frustration and did not mean to strike her mother.

The rest of the story is here.

The obvious question, or at least what I think is the obvious question, is who was on which side of the argument? It would be simple to assume that mom was the one advocating for a cleaner existence because mom’s tend to do that sort of thing, but history has shown that the obvious assumption isn’t always the right one. For instance, guy on the right side of a flat earth vs. round earth argument being the one to try blowing everyone up. So it’s entirely possible that daughter dearest thought the place wasn’t tidy enough, and made that point abundantly clear by…messing it up more.

We may not know that, but we do know that Braiden Lankford was charged with domestic battery and ordered not to have any contact with her mother, and that the aforementioned mother was not injured in the incident so should be ok to either clean things up or not bother because whatever.

Movie Shark Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo

Yes, they really did make that Baby Shark TV show. And yes, I did watch the entire episode I embedded up there.

It was…fine…I guess. I’ve definitely seen better, but I’m sure I’ve seen worse. The thing had it’s moments. A little joke here or there that I could softly chuckle at, that sad song about the missing tooth was amusing to a degree, and I even learned about a new fish. My biggest complaint, honestly, is constantly being reminded of the damn Baby Shark song. If they aren’t singing it, they’re almost always running instrumental music in the background designed to ensure that it’s never far from your mind. Yes, I know that’s kind of the point. But it makes it so much harder to watch than it needs to be for anyone over the age of like six.

The bottom line is that the 12 minutes to which I was exposed today was plenty, and that if there is one thing I absolutely do not need, it’s an hour and a half of it on a loop.

The movie, first reported by Deadline, was announced Tuesday by Brian Robbins, the chief content officer for movies and family entertainment at Paramount+ as part of the ViacomCBS Investors Event. The content is being co-produced by Nickelodeon Animation and the Pinkfong Company.
Baby Shark, performed by Pinkfong, first hit YouTube in June of 2016 and became an instant sensation. The song, which gets inside your head and doesn’t leave no matter what you do, has over 10 billion views on the video platform, making it the most popular YouTube video ever.
There’s no word yet on what the Baby Shark movie will entail, nor how many times you’ll have to hear that damn song stretched out over what we assume will be 70-90 grueling minutes.

It’s scheduled for release in 2023, so at least you’ve got time to prepare yourself. Not enough, but some.