Patterico's Pontifications

12/17/2016

Holy Family, Holy Cow!

Filed under: General — Dana @ 3:23 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Like many of you, I have been decking the halls in preparation for Christmas. As is the custom, I pull out the 50 year old, well-worn nativity set that was inherited from aging parents long-since passed away. And because life is full of calamity, this holy family and friends are in a bit of disarray. Over the years, one or another of the hand-painted figurines have experienced some sort of physical trauma. Life comes at us fast, and there are no exceptions. Hence a regal wise man in flowing robes is now without arms and thus without a gift for the newborn Savior. A humble shepherd following the Star to see the miracle at hand, hasn’t got a head on his shoulders. Literally. Instead it sits next to his feet because no matter what glue has been used, he just keeps losing his head. Yet most distressing of all, Baby Jesus has gone missing. No matter how hard I’ve tried to locate the lost Savior, the little bed of straw continues to hold a child-made “clothespin Jesus” impersonator. Thankfully, Mary and Joseph have remained intact. And in spite of her missing babe, Mary’s face remains a steady composition of serenity as if she never doubted from the get-go that her child was meant to transcend the constraints of this fallen world.

Anyway, I was weighing out replacing this imperfect band of misfits and rebels daring to believe that the Glorious Impossible had arrived, but when I saw this “new” take on the old family, my broken down nativity never looked so good:

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In the scene, Joseph — sporting a man bun — holds up a cellphone, Mary flashes a peace sign and Baby Jesus, wearing a beanie on his head, looks on. The Three Wise Men carry Amazon (AMZN, Tech30) Prime boxes and a shepherd sends Snapchat messages. Nearby, a cow enjoys gluten-free, all-natural grass feed next to a sheep wearing a Christmas sweater. Oh, and there’s a solar-powered stable, too.

I’m choosing to believe that along with being a “fun product,” its creators also intended it to be a clever social commentary accurately reflecting just how incredibly self-consumed and shallow our culture has become.

–Dana

An Empire Unrealized for Want of a Spam Filter

Filed under: General — JVW @ 1:51 pm

[guest post by JVW]

The Wall Street Journal has an apparently interesting report today about Russian attempts to hack the Republican National Committee, at the same time that they were successfully hacking the DNC. I write “apparently” because I’m too cheap to have a WSJ online subscription, so I’ll share the summary from New York magazine (bold emphasis added by me):

Russian hackers tried and failed to infiltrate the Republican National Committee earlier this year by sending a series of phishing emails to a single employee, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The hacking attempt failed, in part, because the employee was no longer with the RNC and the emails were caught by a spam filter. The RNC wasn’t even aware of the attempted hacking until after Democratic National Committee leaders announced in June that their information had been compromised. Nervous, the RNC hired a private computer-security company that worked with the FBI and found that the phishing attempt had been blocked.

The revelation that Russian hackers attempted to get their paws on Republican emails has some in the intelligence community believing that Russia’s espionage “started as an information-gathering campaign aimed at both parties.” It only turned into an assault on Hillary Clinton, they believe, when the leaked DNC emails provided more ammunition.

By all means, let’s have full Congressional investigations of the Russian attempts to influence our elections, but only if Republicans demand that John Podesta and DNC employees testify how they were caught up by a low-level phishing scheme that could have originated from any suburban basement by the most novice of hackers. Let the country know that the Hillary Clinton campaign, the most technologically sophisticated campaign anyone had ever seen, came undone because nobody installed a spam filter on the organization’s email client.

The smartest people in the room indeed.

– JVW


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