They shoot elephants, don’t they?

I know how fascinating you all find navel-gazing posts about this site, so I’ll keep this one as brief as possible. I had been mulling over the possibility of ditching my long-time web host, GoDaddy, for some time. I’ve put up with too many unexplained outages, too many experiences with less-than-helpful support staff, and most importantly too many years of site load times that made me pine for the days of dial-up.

What finally gave me the nudge I needed to pull the trigger, if you’ll pardon the expression, was the recent dust-up over GoDaddy CEO Bob Parsons shooting an elephant in Zimbabwe and turning it into a crass photo/video op. He can try to make it look like an act of charity or mercy all he wants, but one look at those photos and that video left me with no doubt that this was about one thing above all else — a rich, American white man engaging in some good old-fashioned dick swinging.

Let me just say here that I’m not a huge animal rights zealot, nor am I opposed to hunting for food. I’m certainly not about to wag my finger at Africans for providing for themselves. My problem is with Parsons, who apparently fancies himself a modern day Ernest Hemingway. He not only has a colossal ego but is woefully out of touch. As Jamie Johnson at Vanity Fair wrote so well:

The heroism of rich white men shooting elephants, Parsons failed to recognize, is a romantic colonial notion the world rejected long ago.

So all this is to say that for all of the reasons listed above, I am now hosting The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit with HostGator. While I’m sure GoDaddy won’t miss the relative pittance they earned from me, I know I won’t miss them. Now if Brent Oxley (HostGator founder and CEO) can just avoid recording himself blasting white rhinos, I’ll be a happy customer.

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Here’s some stuff I enjoyed this week

Here’s a fresh batch of some quality interweb finds I’ve come across over the last 7 days:

  • Dana Carvey + Linkin Park = Satan shooting explosive diarrhea in your face! (You Just Made My List!)
  • A look at the worst men in sports.  No Al Davis, strangely enough.  (Deadspin)
  • Even if you don’t know what https is, change this Facebook setting now. (Gawker)
  • “The arrow of time”, a year-by-year history of the unhappiest family ever.  (Zone Zero)
  • Remember zany, watermelon-smashing comic Gallagher?  Now he’s paranoid, bitter, homophobic, right-wing nutjob, watermelon-smashing ranter Gallagher. (The Stranger)
  • This is where TLC is heading, and you know it. (Urlesque)
  • A graphic overview tracing the evolution of the Hipster (Gawker)
  • Matthew Baldwin (Defective Yeti) is rating all the items in his office’s vending machine. (Vending Spree)
  • Want to see a 100-year-old death threat mailed to a pitcher? (Bugs and Cranks)
  • And now you know why IT support jobs get outsourced. (Passive-Aggressive Notes)
  • Very cool one-man band cover of the Ren & Stimpy theme song (Laughing Squid)
  • The greatest wedding invitation in the history of ever. (Brent Engstrom’s Blog)

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Here’s some stuff I enjoyed this week

My current favorite internet meme: Vengeance Dad (Know Your Meme)

A fairly comprehensive listing of jazz videos on YouTube (Jazz Tube)

Sarah Palin’s controversial “blood libel” video edited to include just the intelligent parts (The Daily What)

A man’s perspective on the Cami Secret (Next Round)

Bizarre and hilarious (and probably fake) termination letter for a Domino’s Pizza employee (The Daily What)

A proper appreciation for the Val Kilmer ’80s comedy classic Real Genius (The AV Club)

A collection of fantastic photographs by Henri Cartier-Bresson (Livejournal)

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What I learned from the Gawker hacker debacle

I’ve always considered myself to be a pretty savvy internet/computer type of guy.  I’ve never fallen for any of those Nigerian prince 419 scams, my computer has never been infected with a virus, and I’ve never even been successfully Rickrolled.  But I, and hundreds of thousands of others who happen to belong to one of Gawker Media’s blogs (Deadspin, Gizmodo, Fleshbot, Lifehacker, etc.) got a very rude awakening a few weeks ago.

That’s when it was revealed that a group of hackers called Gnosis has successfully hacked Gawker’s source code and databases and made off with, among other things, the entire database of Gawker’s commenter accounts.  Two important facts came out of this security breach: one, Gawker’s security sucks and two, way too many people are way too lazy with their passwords.  (There’s a whole backstory behind who Gnosis is and why they went after Gawker specifically, but I’m not interested in rehashing that here.)

How do I know this?  I downloaded the torrent file containing the information Gnosis found.  Specifically, text files containing said usernames and (for many of them) their passwords.  There were a shocking amount of people content to use brilliant passwords like “password”, “12345”, “qwerty”, or some variation of those.  The Wall Street Journal dug through the same information I obtained and found the 50 most-used Gawker passwords, which were shared between nearly 200,000 accounts.

I found my username in the Gnosis download, but instead of showing my password it showed the encrypted hash.  That doesn’t mean someone couldn’t or didn’t get my password but it at least proved that my password was somewhat adequate.  Nonetheless, I immediately changed my Gawker password to a stronger one.

I’ve also begun systematically reviewing all my other passwords for vulnerabilities.  I never recycled the same password for different sites and applications, although I had developed a base password to which I would add letters or numbers related to each site.  Not the most secure system, but it was better than “letmein”.

But that’s obviously not enough anymore.  So here are the measures I’ve taken for all my accounts:

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I’ve seen 100,000 faces, and I’ve rocked them all

It’s a momentous day here at GFS HQ – for today this site welcomed it’s 100,000th visitor.  Seems this site is picking up a little bit of steam, since it took two years to reach the 50,000 mark, and in the 14 months since then I’ve doubled that.  But a picture tells a thousand words, so let me show you just how-far reaching this site is by using a graph from Alexa:

OK, maybe it doesn’t look impressive at first glance but consider this – right now my worldwide site ranking (based on a 3-month rolling average) is 1,578,651, which means I’m just 1,478,651 spots away from showing up on that graph.  Boo-yah!

Now I just need Alycia Lane to do something wacky.

(OK, so this is weird.  I had this post in the can, waiting until #100,000 before publishing.  Sure enough, #100K was looking for Alycia Lane pictures.  Sigh.)

John Shuster, internet darling of the day

Even if you’re not a huge fan of curling, you’re probably familiar by now with John Shuster’s underwhelming performance as captain of the U.S. team at this year’s Winter Olympics.  Through four matches, Shuster and the boys have zero wins.  But what makes this year’s futility especially painful is Shuster’s propensity for coming up short at crucial moments.  Three matches have been lost because he couldn’t make his final stone count.

Well the mob has spoken and they’re not happy.  In addition to the deluge of anti-Shuster Tweets, the captain’s Wikipedia entry has undergone some creative editing.  Luckily it’s all saved in the article history.  Here are a few choice ones just from today (in addition to the edits that show him as deceased):

  • A personal tidbit – “Shuster failed four times to make a game-winning shot in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. He chokes more than a prostitute.”
  • Interesting – “Growing up Shuster was an avid baseball fan. In 2003, he attended a playoff baseball game. When a foul ball was headed towards the stands, he made a play for it but unsurprisingly he couldn’t make the play. Steve Bartman is now blamed for the epic loss because Shuster couldn’t make the play.”
  • Now that’s just mean – “John Shuster has single handedly ruined the USA chances to compete for the gold. He missed 3 final shots that could have been made by a one armed, one legged, brainless monkey”
  • I didn’t know this was his nickname – “John “chokey mcchokestein” Shuster (born November 3, 1982) is an American curler from Chisholm, Minnesota and Olympic medalist.”  (another variation had his occupation as “choker”.)
  • Sorry to hear that – “After the lost to Denmark, Shuster’s fiancee officially denounced their relationship, stating that he would have failed as a husband down the line sooner or later. Shuster’s father is currently disappoint.”
  • Can’t argue there – “Shuster won the 2010 United States Olympic Curling Trials and is destroying the reputation of the United States at the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver.”
  • Here’s a whole bunch of gems:
    • “He currently works as a quality control specialist for Toyota.”
    • “Upon John’s pathetic performance at the 2010 games, he has decided to retire from the sport. And an hero.”
    • “In a side note, in 2008 Shuster attempted to commit suicide. Unsurprisingly to those who know him and have watched him play, he failed at the attempt; Shuster used a gun and once again completely messed up the shot.”
    • “Shuster’s 2005 college roommate stated that he only bought Shuster a shot once. He said that after the first attempt, he never trusted Shuster with a shot ever again.”
    • “Shuster has come to be known as the biggest choke artist of the 2010 Winter Olympics, and is the lone reason the USA curling team has not won a single game this Olympics.”
    • “Shuster said he draws inspiration from Bill Buckner, Brad Lidge, Scott Norwood, and the city of Cleveland.”
    • “Nicknamed “The Largest Choke Artist Alive”, Shuster distracts his opponents with horrible shots and general terrible overall play. He is known for folding under pressure situations and never making clutch, let alone easy, shots.”
  • Of interest to etymologists – “The term “you messed up,” has officially been replaced by “you Shustered it.””
  • Yes, but has he ever vomited during play? – “His inability to hammer out points in clutch situations, such as during the 2010 Olympic games, Shuster has recently become known as the Donovan McNabb of professional curling.”

Anyway, you get the point.  Look on the bright side John – if nobody cared about curling they wouldn’t bother castigating you like this, right?

By the way, what’s Pete Fenson up to these days?

I have a dream that one day, faceless corporations will pander to me based on my skin color

As a middle-class white male, I know I’m not really in much of a position to bitch about being overlooked or disadvantaged.  Still, I’ll admit feeling a bit like the odd man out when one of my (formerly) favorite fast food establishments, McDonald’s, launched their “I’m Lovin’ It” ad campaign in 2003.  Few things are more transparent and painful than when a business makes an obvious attempt to pander to minorities, because they usually do such a piss poor job.

Oh sure, fast food chains targeting black people is nothing new, so that’s no big deal in and of itself.  But historically for TV ads, it seems the chains had their regular campaigns and then they had their “black” ads, replete with awful R&B-esque music and sad attempts to look hip.  But McDonald’s took it to a whole new level with “I’m Lovin’ It”, which featured a rapping soccer mom in one early spot.  Oh yeah, and this gem, which aired in Russia:

Now that’s commitment to a campaign.

So anyway, as much as I hated – nay, loathed – this lame campaign for years, I can’t help but chuckle at Mickey D’s attempt to show their love for African-Americans on the web.  That’s right, their is a McDonald’s website just for black people – 365BLACK!  It’s the one place on the web, I guess, where black people who don’t want their fast food experience to end with diarrhea can hang out and check out just how much McDonald’s cares about them.  After all:

At McDonald’s®, we believe that African-American culture and achievement should be celebrated 365 days a year “” not just during Black History Month. That’s the idea behind It’s a place where you can learn more about education, employment, career advancement and entrepreneurship opportunities, and meet real people whose lives have been touched by McDonald’s. Plus, you can also have a chance to win exciting once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. So make sure you visit often “” you just might get inspired.

Like the unique African Baobab tree, which nourishes its community with its leaves and fruit, McDonald’s has branched out to the African-American community nourishing it with valuable programs and opportunities.

Hmmm, I wonder if any of those valuable programs and opportunities mention anything about the dangerously high obesity rates for African-Americans in this country?  Nope.  Well at least they probably have regularly scheduled special events to emphasize the special relationship McDonald’s has with the black community.  Oops. It seems like there hasn’t been anything new for black people to celebrate since the Essence Music Festival in July 2009.  I guess in the meantime you could head over to the company’s sites for Asians (Myinspirasian) or Hispanics (MeEncanta).

Thanks for marginalizing me McDonald’s.  So where can I, as a white person, connect with an eating establishment that truly cares about my white needs and white eating preferences?  I think that should be obvious.

Vintage ephemera: Best Western/AT&T Business Resource Guide

Alright, I’m probably stretching the definition of “vintage” pretty thin here.  But here’s the thing — even though this magazine (found in a Best Western in Quakertown, PA just last year) was published in 1996, it sure seems like a lifetime ago.  That’s because even more than clothes or hairstyles, few things can almost instantly date a publication like images of current technology.

Don’t believe me?  Well here’s just a sampling of the pictures and ads scattered throughout the 1996 Best Western/AT&T Business Resource Guide, a publication for the modern executive on the go…into a time warp.  (for fun slideshow action, click here)

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