Friday Four

Friday, August 12, 2016

1. The internet-enabled thermostat is the Donald Trump of the tech world: The more I learn, the less I want one in charge. In addition to the numerous glitches (which are past where I am, at Why?), someone has now created ransomware:

"It actually works, it locks the thermostat," [security researcher Ken] Munro, who last year found that a Samsung smart fridge leaked Gmail passwords, said sitting next to three thermostats that were displaying the famous quote from the movie Hackers: "Hack The Planet."
Yes, it's proof-of-concept, and I don't see how anyone could expect to make much money since ripping it out of the wall and replacing it quickly becomes the cheaper option. But I don't see how this improves much on predecessor devices that someone would have to physically access to tamper with.

2. If you are a Tolkien fan who enjoys plausible-sounding arguments for ridiculous theories, you should take a gander (HT: Snedcat) at Andres Diplotti's theory that Snow White is a sequel to Lord of the Rings:
The Lord of the Rings says that the Seven Rings of the Dwarf-lords were lost. It's obvious the dwarfs don't have them. But if we learned anything from Gollum, it's this: Once under the spell of a Ring of Power, you will never be free of it. Even in its absence, your years will ever be unnaturally prolonged.

These dwarfs have lived a long time. Long enough for their race to go extinct (and their grammatical plural form to change). Their lives have been stretched so thin that their personalities are reduced to a single ... trait.

The dwarfs lead a hollow existence, devoid of any purpose save what their base instinct drives them to do: dig. Dig dig dig dig from early morn til night. Damn, their song about diamonds even includes the lyrics "we don't know what we dig them for."


Sound glum? It gets worse. What kind of mine yields gems that are already cut and polished?

Remember the nearby (and haunted) Barrow-downs? They're the tombs of ancients kings and warriors. When Frodo and crew were locked by wights in one of the barrows in the books, they found treasures inside. The awful truth about the dwarfs' "mine" is all but spelled out.

Being under an evil influence, the dwarfs have been drawn to an evil place. And their corruption runs so deep that they are robbing graves to sate their lust for shiny rocks. In the end, the Prince doesn't just save Snow White from the Queen; he saves her from the dwarfs as well.
Oh, and just wait till you find out who he is...

3. And speaking of poison apples, here's some wisdom for anyone contemplating a trip to the Caribbean with their kids:
I rashly took a bite from this fruit and found it pleasantly sweet. My friend also partook (at my suggestion). Moments later we noticed a strange peppery feeling in our mouths, which gradually progressed to a burning, tearing sensation and tightness of the throat. The symptoms worsened over a couple of hours until we could barely swallow solid food because of the excruciating pain and the feeling of a huge obstructing pharyngeal lump. Sadly, the pain was exacerbated by most alcoholic beverages, although mildly appeased by pina coladas, but more so by milk alone.

Over the next eight hours our oral symptoms slowly began to subside, but our cervical lymph nodes became very tender and easily palpable. Recounting our experience to the locals elicited frank horror and incredulity, such was the fruit's poisonous reputation.
The executive summary is: Don't eat the "beach apples," but that should only underscore a general admonition that one should assume strange things in nature are poisonous. I have found myself instructing my daughter along those lines as our area in Maryland seems to abound with berries I don't recognize.

4. Not satisfied with only one item alluding to Tolkien and featuring a dubious theory, here's a BBC Travel piece about a species of tree that a paleobiolgist claims "walks" up to twenty meters a year, reminiscent of the Ents.

-- CAV

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