"You gotta bring your cell phone, Doug."


leftovers & links
Thursday, May 4, 2023

Waiting at a downtown bus stop, I got approached to buy drugs. Been a long time since that's happened. Pot's legal here, and anyway, I am old and fat and not someone who looks like a likely consumer of anything but pie.

She was overweight but somehow still waifish, a 30-something white woman wearing stripes, and she held up her hand like asking permission, and said, "Wanna buy some pebbles and bambam?"

Uh, I remember The Flintstones' daughter and the boy next door, but I'm unfamiliar with this usage of the term. Any drug experts reading this care to explain?

I'm guessing it was a drug thing, not a sex thing, just from the very unsexy way she said it. I shook my head no, and she took a few steps and asked someone else, "Pebbles and bambam?"

Google says it's the beginning of the end for passwords, news which makes me queasy. Oh, brave new world, where it's routine for everyone to be identified by fingerprints or a face scan.

And they're not building a "passwordless future" to protect you, it's to protect banks and billionaires.

Like all such obnoxious tech, I'll resist and delay for as long as it's feasible.

Already on random mornings at work, my password isn't enough. About one login out of five, the software doublechecks that I'm me, by requiring me to input a code number, sent to my cell phone.

Trouble is, that's my cell phone, and sometimes I leave it at home.

Oh, the humanities. If the computer does its random spot-check, but I, lacking a cell, can't prove I'm me, I am forced — forced — to relax in my chair and read a book, while someone with the computer-access I've been denied opens an IT ticket on my behalf.

To even enter the office, I gotta flash the 'lectronic badge that IDs me well enough it's also my time card. I sit at the same computer every day, and one morning when it wouldn't power up I tried logging in at an empty cubical, but the system wouldn't let me, so there's a security check there, too. My password is known only to me, so that's the third proof of person, but it's not quite proof enough.

"You gotta bring your cell phone, Doug," the IT guy scolded me the third time it happened. Gosh, I sure am sorry that I can't be allowed to do my work without my cell phone to vouch for me. I'll try real hard not to forget it again...

One particularly fine morning, my bus came, and I flashed my pass and took a seat, as did ten others who'd been waiting. The bus pulled away with a loud whoosh, awakening a man who'd been sleeping on the sidewalk. Not homeless, just napping. He was wearing a suit, tie, nice jacket.

From a window seat, I watched what happened next, and it was grand. Seeing that the bus was leaving, the gentleman stood and shouted, then ran after us, trying to get the driver's attention.

Doubtless he got the driver's attention, but the bus had pulled away. We were already waiting at the traffic light. There are rules for being a bus driver, and one of them is, you're not supposed to open the door and let a latecomer board, when the bus has left the bus stop.

The man in a suit didn't like that rule, and filed an informal complaint by running up to the bus and pounding at the door, shouting, "Let me on, damn it!" Somehow, this did not soften the driver's adherence to the rules.

When the light turned green the bus rolled onward, and the angry man punched the side of the bus every ten feet or so along our way. Bam, bam. No pebbles.

There'll be another bus in ten minutes, mister, but thank you for participating in this Metro Transit rider satisfaction survey.

News you need,
whether you know it or not

DeSantis' office occupied, more than a dozen protesters arrested 

10-year-olds were employed — but not paid — at Kentucky McDonald's, and sometimes worked as late as 2AM 

Microsoft is forcing Outlook and Teams to open links in Edge, and IT admins are angry 

New documents show how Sandra Day O'Connor helped George W. Bush win the 2000 election 

Searches for VPN soar in Utah amidst Pornhub blockage 

Biden's new communications director is a $20-million man 

Inside Big Beef's climate messaging machine: confuse, defend and downplay 

As global warming raises sea levels, Boston's subway system will be underwater 

Study: Climate change is pushing the Sonoran Desert toward a weedier, barren future 

This is what the world will look like in 100 years if we do nothing to stop climate change 

Cops pay penalty for shooting hostage nine times 

Lancaster Officer sentenced to prison for stealing from Drug Task Force

 • US Marshals' super-secret computer network is exposed, then ransomed, then nuked 

Officer arrested for child sex crimes was a church youth leader 

NYPD officer convicted of 4 child pornography-related offenses after using position to gain victims’ trust 

"Malice or ineptitude": probe into police killing of eco-activist frustrates family 

Former West Virginia parole officer sentenced for witness tampering 

Republicans are weaponizing decorum rules and legislative discipline to silence Democrats 

Unable to get an abortion in Florida, woman carried baby who had no kidneys to term 

Fox News' Jesse Watters claims he "can tell" who is "illegal" just by looking at them 

Republicans no longer seeking to ban individual books go after the whole library 

Emails reveal "jaw-dropping" Herschel Walker money scandal 

Proud Boy and "Trump's Army" founder guilty of sedition 

Nothing will happen as ProPublica uncovers more evidence of Justice Thomas' profound ethical failures 

Newsmax Host: Schools are building dark army for devil worshipers 

Mystery links
There's no knowing where you're going


My browser history
without the porn 

"Stephen Bissette, Swamp Thing: "If there's anything I’m proud of, it's that we fucking busted the Comics Code. They didn't bust us."

Inside the chaotic world of kids trying to play video games on school laptops 

Public transit that's free is better for everyone 

It turns out the best way to end homelessness is by giving people who don't have a place to live... a place to live

Here's a place to go for all of your heirloom banana needs 

There's a mansion hidden directly under the Bay Bridge 

Feynman's maze-running story

This guy got public transit desegregated in New Orleans, in 1867 

♫♬  It don't mean a thing  ♫
if it don't have that swing

The Bells Are Ringing — They Might Be Giants 

Don't You Forget About Me - Simple Minds 

I'd Love to Change the World — Ten Years After 

Morning Has Broken — Cat Stevens 

Truckin' — The Grateful Dead 

Eventually, everyone
leaves the building

Jeremy Gordin 

Stew Leonard 

Linda Lewis


Cranky Old Fart is annoyed and complains and very occasionally offers a kindness, along with anything off the internet that's made me smile or snarl. All opinions fresh from my ass. Top illustration by Jeff Meyer. Click any image to enlarge. Comments & conversations invited.  

Tip 'o the hat to ye olde AVA, BoingBoing, Breakfast at Ralf's, CaptCreate's Log, Dumnezero, Katameme, Looking for My Perfect Sandwich, One Finger Medical, Two Finger Magical, Miss Miriam's Mirror, Nebulously Burnished, RanPrieur.com, Voenix Rising, and anywhere else I've stolen links, illustrations, or inspiration. 

Special thanks to Linden Arden, Becky Jo, Wynn Bruce, Joey Jo Jo, John the Basket, Dave S, Name Withheld, and always extra special thanks to my lovely late Stephanie, who gave me 21 years and proved that the world isn't always shitty.


  1. >"You gotta bring your cell phone, Doug," the IT guy scolded me the third time it happened

    Bull fucking shit. You want me to have a cellphone for work related stuff? Buy me a cell phone. I'll only use it for work stuff. It'll be on when I'm at work, and I'll leave it in my desk when I leave.

    1. No kidding, fuck that noise. Bad enough they don't pay for work preparation (dressing, showering, making lunch, etc.) or transportation time and cost.

      Fuck all employers. Sideways, with a cell phone.

    2. Maybe I'm a soft-liner, but there must be *some* employers who aren't awful. Just statistically, like there must be *some* preachers who aren't diddling kiddies.

      But yeah, the cell phone thing is Bull Fucking Shit. It's like expecting me to supply my own paper clips and staples. And don't some people pay a small price for every incoming call?

  2. This is the weekend of the Aquariids meteor shower. They are always scheduled for a weekend for maximum viewing pleasure.

    “I would suggest going out around 3 o’clock in the morning. Get a lawn chair and put the moon at your back,” said Robert Lunsford, fireball report coordinator for the American Meteor Society.

    Fireball Report Coordinator must be the second best job title in the world. I'd still go with Vonnegut's Vice President In Charge of Volcanoes, but it's a close call nobody has to make.


    1. Insomnia is a real thing, so I might well be up at 3AM. Is that Pacific Time?

    2. Looks like it's local daylight time. These are not point source particles. The peak of the three week extravaganza is tomorrow night, June 6. Grab your lawn chair if it's not cloudy. Right now, the weather doesn't look promising. Also, the site says that viewing is best from the southern latitudes in the United States. We're pretty far north, so no guarantees. But keep your lawn chair warm just in case.


    3. In addition to our being in the wrong corner of the globe, there's not much of the night sky remaining in the big cities.

      The lawn chair was one of a set, one for me, one for her, but they were both left behind when I left Wisconsin behind.

      There's a little tiny parklet in the newly-constructed fake neighborhood down the street, and the parklet has a bench. That's where I'd sit if I happen to wake up in the wee hours and want to glimpse whatever's going on above.

    4. I live a couple miles from the house I grew up in. My Dad was an astronomy buff, and we spent many nights in the back yard, including several in 1957, watching Sputnik silently cross the sky and trying to catch the transit of Jupiter's largest moons through Dad's imported German binoculars. I can assure you that the Northwest sky was much, much darker then. We have bathed ourselves in light for safety and faded the universe in the process.


    5. Ah, your paragraph evokes memories of being a kid, looking up and wondering how far up, trying to count the stars and thinking that most of them were suns, probably worlds spinning around them, and being transfixed by skies far more cosmic than the basic black we see in the nights these days.

      My brother had a small telescope, and sometimes he'd let me borrow it, and I'd sprawl in the back yard, looking up into the distance and into Mary Lou Desmond's bedroom window...

    6. My astronomy is a little rusty, but isn't that known in observational circles as the study of the great mounds of Sagittarius?


  3. For nearly a half hour I read your link to the "Feynman Maze-Running Story". It led to other Feynman material. It was about then that I realized that I was a rat running a maze. It was a nice Feynmanesque tale, although I never found the door that hid the food.


  4. I have shattered hopes, and I don't inhale marihuana.I don't eat it or absorb it anally. But if I did, I guess I should expect my employer to cover the prophylaxis. We all believe in safe highs.


    1. No drug tests where I'm working. It's one of the dwindling few things I like about the place. Pretty sure I've never absorbed anything anally, but trying to suck in air down there can help with constipation.

      Never yet read the book on Feynman, despite your recommendations, so I can't say I'd follow him anywhere. I'd follow him quite a ways, though.

    2. I thought I'd read most of the formally published Feynman material (that is, published with Feynman's family's permission and generally from oral or written material from Feynman prepared when he was terminal with cancer). But there are stories in a grey area, and I hadn't read this one before. So thanks for the link.

      And Doug, you should read the Feynman strip club stories and the stories about his using barely clad models for his painting practice.

      Even his Nobel Prize was a little odd. The work that won the Prize was normal advanced physics work, but it got started by students in the food services building at Cornell throwing plates in the air and spinning them. Feynman watched the plates and started wondering . . .


    3. Feynman needs a biopic, dang it, starring Jeff Goldblum, or maybe Michael Scott from The Office.

    4. Claude Reigns, MS, BS, Piled Higher and DeeperMay 6, 2023 at 1:44 PM

      Feynman was brilliant and interesting, no doubt, but I find his eccentricities a bit too studied, and his self-promotion off-putting. He's like the Frank Zappa of scientists (they both played bongos - coincidence?)

      I think there were scores of more fascinating thinkers from Los Alamos, and elsewhere. Richard Rhodes' "Making of the Atomic Bomb" is a virtual catalog of 20th century physicists, including Oppy of course, one of the great tragic figures in the history of humanity, and the many Europeans who made their way (often by genuinely outrageous means) to the USA.

      My favorite scientist / writer is Freeman Dyson, and his son George, not a scientist but a science historian. Their own writings are wonderful indifferent ways, but the best intro to both men is an extraordinary "dual" biography by Kenneth Brower, called "The Starship & the Canoe" which may be my favorite non-fiction book.

      George would come into the video store where I worked every couple weeks (I'd often be playing Tarkovsky's "Solaris" on the tube, and he'd give me a knowing [or suspicious?] side-eye) but I never had the courage to gush about his or his father's books.

    5. Everybody you mention is brilliant. Freeman Dyson cataloged his times as well as anyone in any field. And sure, Feynman worked a little at being a "character", and could easily be described as a studied eccentric. But his contributions to quantum mechanics (technically quantum electrodynamics) are unassailable, and his lectures for the non-scientist who's willing to try really hard are beautiful. I still think of our meager attempts to listen to the universe and infer "what's out there" in terms of Feynman's swimming pool metaphor. He was a damn good explainer and more than a fair drummer. I'm willing to believe his eccentricities were genuine.


    6. These are the Dysons who built a better vacuum cleaner?

    7. "...our meager attempts to listen to the universe and infer "what's out there..."

      Poetic. That's all we can do, of course, in physics, in vacuum cleaners, in life and love and the pursuit of pizza...

    8. Which reminds me again how much I need to see SOLARIS again. I loved that movie when I was 25 and I saw it at the Neptune over a few nights good nights...

    9. Once again, there's nowhere to respond. The Dysons are related via shotgun matrimony. One branch believes the Universe began with a huge explosion and expansion. The other branch believes the Universe will end with an enormous sucking sound.

      jtb - philosopher

    10. Always wanted to try one of those superdooper Dyson vacuums, but they're more expensive than a car and anyway, I never vacuum.

      Been living in this room for a year now, and I didn't even bring a vacuum from Wisconsin and I've never borrowed one.

  5. Again, no room to reply.

    >He's like the Frank Zappa of scientists (they both played bongos - coincidence?)

    Feynman's primary instrument in Brazil for an academic year was the frigideira. Zappa tried and tried but was unable to master this frying pan instrument.


    1. Sorry, man, I don't know from frigideira and the frying pan reference, so two jokes I'll bet are funny whizzed over my head, like a lady once wanted to but I declined.

      I like me some Zappa, though. He was an odd egg to fry in any pan, and a lot of his stuff whizzees over my head, but lots also splashes into my ear real nice.

    2. No hidden meaning, no joke. Just a note to Claude letting him know that, while Feynman did play the bongos, his instrument of choice during his year teaching in Brazil was the frigideira, which is a percussion instrument that looks like a frying pan. Feynman was a member of a band that marched through the streets of the city making music during Carnival. He worked hard to become a competent frigideira player, and bested a couple of locals to become the official frigideira player in the band. There were few people in Brazil who knew who Feynman was or that he was a Nobel laureate or that he was reasonably well-known in his native US. My little point is that Feynman didn't put hundreds of hours of work in on the frigideira to look eccentric. He did it because he loved making music with other people, and he wanted to be part of Carnival. I don't think the other members of the marching band even really knew who this slightly goofy American was. He "wrote" about this in his oral memoirs because it was, for him, a significant part of his year in Brazil.

      The band won some modest acclaim during Carnival, and Feynman was justly proud of their accomplishments. He wasn't the leader of the band or even a featured player. He put in the work and the time because he loved playing, not because he wanted to look eccentric.


    3. Well, that's wacky. Eccentric, even. And he tooted particle physics, too. Sounds like a cool dude and crazy gringo.


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