The Red Hat Society

I recently bought two shirts at a thrift store that were purple and covered with applique. When describing them to a friend over the phone, my friend announced that they must be from a member of the Red Hat Society, since one of the themes of the Applique is Women in hats and all the the applique is red (red on purple).  I had never heard of the Red Hat Society.

My friend couldn’t have been more right.

The Wikipedia says there are 70,000 members and 24,000 chapters… That means the average number of people per chapter is just under 3.  Interesting.  Also, I think this is brilliant and possibly even sad and evil marketing for the ‘official’ site/organization.

2001 Dodge Grand Caravan Starter Upper Bolt

If you’re in the middle of trying to remove the starter from a 2001 Dodge Grand Caravan (or Plymouth Voyager ’cause I think it’s the same car), and you can’t find the second bolt, the upper bolt, I have written this to help you.  I googled around and couldn’t find the answer myself when I was stuck, so hopefully the next guy has it a little easier.

double-bolt similar to upper bolt for starter on 2001 dodge grand caravan
2001 Grand Caravan Starter Upper Bolt is Two-Sided

The upper bolt can be seen from above.  It has a head on it that is actually another smaller screw, which is why it is hard to find.  There are two electrical/ground cables being held on by a nut down there, right about where you think the second bolt should be.  Take the nut and two cables off and then with a deep socket (i can’t remember if it was 15mm or 17mm), you can undo that entire thing.  I was stuck on this for a few hours.  I almost undid that other bolt that’s a motor-mount or something–the big one you can see right next to it.  Glad I didn’t.

Hope this helps someone.

Mysterious Hippy Folk Music & 1980’s Fear of Nuclear Holocaust

Crunchy is Granola

I lady I know was given a mix tape by an old boyfriend and I asked her to make a copy of the mix for me because it contained a lot of interesting tracks.

For one, it contained this really obscure, super left-wing, hippy folk song from the Eighties about Nuclear Power.  To me, it sounds like a very familiar if not cliche kind of ‘folk’ music:  Celtic influences, singer-with-guitar, political message, Etc.  The kind of thing you’d expect to hear at a protest rally.

Power to kill!” it exclaims, in a ferocious, dare I say militant-sounding female register.  It’s interesting to me how popular opinion about nuclear power has changed so much.  I don’t mean that I think everyone loves it now, but it seems like we are a little more rational.

[display_podcast]

I can still remember how afraid we were of ‘nuclear’ anything in the Eighties.  I was a little kid.  But the movies at the time had really scary scenarios in them.  War Games (1983) and Dreamscape (1984) come to mind.

Nuclear Assault - Game Over - 1986
Cover of a Metal Album I Owned When I was 13

The Russians were going to blow us up at any moment.  Then we were going to blow them up automatically and the sky would turn red and there would be air raid sirens as the burning flesh is torn off our bodies by an impact blast just before everything is completely vaporized.  All life on Earth would be destroyed except cockroaches.  And if there was anyone anywhere that survived, they would be deformed because of the radiation.  Or maybe some part of the species would retreat underground for hundreds or thousands of years. Anyway, I think we were scared, and possibly a little too scared.

This song seems to be a pretty good manifestation of that hysteria.  And now that I just looked it up, I see that this song came out before the Chernobyl disaster!  Wow.

I wonder what issues we are overly afraid of today.  Privacy online?  Genetic Engineering? I’m not saying I believe we should be less worried about anything per se, but it’s interesting to ponder.  I guess we’ll know in thirty years.

Anyway, back to the song.  The origin of the song was a mystery to me for a long time.  I’ve googled, trying to figure it out a number of times.  Finally, I have success!

The cover of the album. The Smiling Sun was designed in 1975 in Denmark. The logo soon was adopted by the anti-nuclear power movement. In 1977 the Smiling Sun was trademarked by Denmark's OOA (Organisation for Information on Nuclear Power), an anti-nuclear energy group.

I googled some of the lyrics I found a page crediting a Nigel Gray as writing the lyrics (as a poem only) (Lyrics Below).  So I googled the name of the poem and the name of the poet and voila!  I found awebpage for the album.  Super crunchy!

It’s called “Nuclear Power No Thanks!!?

So according to the track listing and credits, this must be the vocalist (see video):

Alison McMorland (what a voice! …the less flowery one)

Finally, here are the lyrics to the once mysterious song, a musical adaptation of a poem by Nigel Gray:

Sleep well my little son and dream
Time flows faster than a mountain stream
I wish you happiness in Spring
Come Autumn it may be too late to sing

While you sleep necessity drives
workers down uranium mines
repair men into the jaws of Hell
radiation through the human cell!

Sleep well my little girl and dream…

Madmen tear the earth apart
like werewolves at the human heart
The powerful crave more power still
Nuclear power; power to kill!

Sleep well my lover and dream…

Acid pond. Poisonous leak
Ships collide. Plutonium slick
Yellowcake waste. Lead-lined tomb
You’re not even safe in Mother’s womb!

Sleep well my unborn babe and dream
Time flows faster than a mountain stream
I wish you happiness in Spring
Come Autumn it may be too late…

Tired of Trumpeting to Twitter/Facebook (The Last Auto Announcement to FaceBook)

I’ve decided to turn off the software I have running that automatically tweets to twitter every time I post something to my blog (I use Twitter Tools for WordPress).  Twitter, in turn, notifies Facebook.

Having more of an automatic audience (facebook friends) makes me feel less like writing and publishing the  things that are on my mind. I am shy.

So goodbye.  (You can always subscribe to my email newsletter or to the rss feed if you want to know every time I post something)

-Andrew

Maybe what I will do instead is leave it so Twitter gets the blog updates, but Facebook doesn’t get updated by Twitter.

Hosting Providers: Check Yourself – WordPress is Mainstream

When I get asked for help with an attack on a WordPress site, it’s often on the same few hosting providers.  And when it’s not, it’s usually a small, local hosting provider.  When I have spoken to the staff of one of these hosting providers, about what seems to only occur in these few situations, they never take responsibility for having oddball server settings. And it’s not uncommon for them to actually blame their customers for using WordPress in the first place!

Some of the more popular Hosting Providers that seem to have more trouble than others with WordPress malware attacks in the past two years (in my experience) are Network Solutions and IX Web Hosting. And in general, hosting providers that have a lot of issues with malware affecting WordPress sites either

  • Have screwy server settings that tempt developers to take risks with file permissions, or
  • Have vulnerabilities that allow malware to sneak from one hosting account to another

As for some of the local, ma ‘n’ pa providers I’ve had problems with, I’m not going to hit them when they’re down by naming names.  But let me just say this: Buying local isn’t necessarily a good idea when it comes to hosting. It’s often the worst thing you can do.  You usually get crappy support, a high price, a non-standard product, and to make things even worse, you also often get a territorial ‘server guy’ who wants to blame any technical problems on the customer and not take responsibility for anything.

I can imagine being a hosting provider and not wanting to change how I do things just because a few of my customers want to run some weird PHP software they found somewhere.  But WordPress is hardly obscure anymore. And although I could be wrong, it seems that the server settings required for a smooth, safe ride with WordPress are in line with “best practices” for hosting providers in general, since all the best and most popular hosting providers seem to run WordPress perfectly.

So in the ‘news,’ I guess on April 12th, 2010, someone (rshinsec) at Network Solutions announced that an attack on many of Network Solutions’ customers’ sites was actually caused by a “WordPress Vulnerability.” (Quote is actually from a WordPress.org page HERE, because according to the WordPress.org page, Network Solutions has since edited the announcement)”

“Beginning last week a WordPress vulnerability has been the target of attacks on multiple WordPress websites on hosting platforms around the web. We have a blog post with additional details about the vulnerability and how to secure your WordPress site.”

In fact, it was not a WordPress problem at all.  So in response to some of the inaccurate anti-worpress blogosphere chatter caused by Network Solutions passing the buck like this, Matt Mullenweg, founder of WordPress posted to the WordPress Development Blog, clearing some things up, as well as putting it like this:

“Summary: A web host had a crappy server configuration that allowed people on the same box to read each others’ configuration files, and some members of the “security” press have tried to turn this into a “WordPress vulnerability” story.”

Thank you Matt!  We the people that use and love WordPress need to stand up for ourselves and demand what we deserve.  We are not a fringe community anymore.  WordPress is mainstream software and any hosting provider that has issues with it needs to check themselves!

erika.net is Rad!

Mostly, when it comes to finding new music, I’ve retreated to music recommended by friends and/or software-based recommendation systems like Last.fm.  I mean, I generally don’t listen to ‘Radio’ with the exception of my local NPR station, KQED, which I mainly listen to for News/Culture type programming.

But Erika.net plays such a high percentage of music that is interesting to me that I end up seeking out music I hear on Erika probably about as frequently as three times per hour!  And the rest of the music I hear on erika.net is almost always totally welcomed.

So in a nutshell, I think these people, whomever they are, have awesome taste in music.  From their homepage:

erika.net has been broadcasting a 24 hour mp3 stream since 1999. We hand-pick music and organize it freeform style: all types of music at all times of the day. Our goal is to bring you music you can’t hear on other radio stations, presented in a unique style. …[can be found] in the ‘Eclectic’ section of iTunes radio.

If you have more conventional taste in music, try erika.net when you’re recovering from surgery or, for whatever reason, under the influence of hallucinogenic substances.

The page that displays what they are currently playing and what has recently played is HERE

(about as eclectic as it could possibly be)

erika.net is a serious improvement to my quality of life.  I am listening to them frequently now.  I wish I could stream them while driving.

erika.net people: If you read this, thanks!  You are awesome.

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