Companies can track what diseases you look up online

Well, this is terrifying. From Vice:

Tim Libert, a researcher at the University of Pennsylvania, has discovered that the vast majority of health sites, from the for-profit WebMD.com to the government-run CDC.gov, are loaded with tracking elements that are sending records of your health inquiries to the likes of web giants like Google, Facebook, and Pinterest, and data brokers like Experian and Acxiom.

From there, it becomes relatively easy for the companies receiving the requests, many of which are collecting other kinds of data (in cookies, say) about your browsing as well, to identify you and your illness. That URL, or URI, which very clearly contains the disease being searched for, is broadcast to Google, Twitter, and Facebook, along with your computer’s IP address and other identifying information.

It seems like every day I see a new article showcasing what little privacy we really have.

Rediscovering Comic Books

When I was younger, I was a huge comic book fan. You could even say I became a collector. I amassed a large enough collection to fill two long-boxes.1 Like most kids, I started with the classics. I was a huge Superman and Batman fan due to the movies, so I started there. Then, I naturally moved to comics that featured both of those characters, The Justice League of America.

Now in the ’90s, the only Justice League that existed was Justice League America, a shell of its former greatness. I preferred the heroes of old. Instead of reading the exploits of Booster Gold, Blue Beetle, and the Guy Gardner’s Green Lantern of the ’90s era Justice League, I was reading about Superman, Batman, Hawkman, Hal Jordan’s Green Lantern, The Flash, and The Atom. I tried getting my hands on as many books of the Justice League of America from the ’60s and ’70s as possible. What also drew me to the books was knowing that they were some of the same books that my dad read as a kid. It was a bonding experience to know that we were reading the same things. Eventually, I expanded my reading to the solo books of Green Lantern, The Flash, Hawkman, and even The Atom. Some of these titles were good. Others, not as much.

Once I started running out of books from the ’60s and ’70s I decided to try and pick up with my favorite characters in the present day. Again, some books were good and some were not. I really enjoyed the rebooted JLA of the late ’90s, which featured all the greats back together. Green Lantern with Kyle Rayner and eventually returning to Hal Jordan was also one of my favorites. I enjoyed a few issues of The Flash. Limited series, such as the DC event Final Night and the mini-series Kingdom Come were also excellent. It was about this time that I entered high school and started spending all my money on CDs instead of comic books. The comic book store was replaced by the mall, Best Buy, or even Blockbuster Music 2One day, I just quit reading and I never thought about going back. Read more


  1. Long-boxes are boxes that are slightly wider than the width of a comic book and go about 3 feet deep

  2. I swear, no one remembers Blockbuster Music, but it was really a thing.

Harper Lee will release her first book since To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill A Mockingbird is one of my all-time favorite books. I was completely shocked this morning when it was announced that Harper Lee was coming out with a followup. Go Set a Watchman, which will be released in July, is essentially a sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird, despite being completed first. From Lee:

“It features the character known as Scout as an adult woman and I thought it a pretty decent effort. My editor, who was taken by the flashbacks to Scout’s childhood, persuaded me to write a novel (what became `To Kill a Mockingbird’) from the point of view of the young Scout.”

The premise of the book is that Scout (Jean Louise Finch) has returned to Maycomb from New York to visit her father, Atticus. She is forced to grapple with issues both personal and political as she tries to understand her father’s attitude toward society, and her own feelings about the place where she was born and spent her childhood.

While I don’t think anything can live up to Mockingbird, I’m absolutely looking forward to reading this.

Prehistoric Skull Helps Complete the Human Story

Interesting article about a prehistoric skull found in North Israel may finally prove that Neanderthals and modern humans lived together.

“It is the first direct fossil evidence that modern humans and Neanderthals inhabited the same area at the same time,” said paleontologist Bruce Latimer of Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.

“The co-existence of these two populations in a confined geographic region at the same time that genetic models predict interbreeding promotes the notion that interbreeding may have occurred in the Levant region,” Tel Aviv University anthropologist Israel Hershkovitz said.

I love discoveries like this. It makes me wonder if we’ll ever really know the full story of how we came to be.

Happy National Good Day Day

good day

Today is National Good Day Day. What is National Good Day Day, you may ask. Well, my dear friend, it is a day we celebrate every year in honor of the most perfect South Central day ever observed, on January 20th, 1992.

Murk Avenue breaks down the clues of Ice Cube’s “It Was a Good Day” to pinpoint the exact day the song took place..

CLUE 1:
“went to short dogs house, they was watching Yo MTV RAPS”
Yo MTV RAPS first aired:
Aug 6th 1988

CLUE 2:
Ice Cubes single “today was a good day” released on:
Feb 23 1993
Read more

How White Flight Ravaged the Mississippi Delta

This article is absolutely fascinating and depressing at the same time. St. Louis has experienced its own form of White Flight with folks moving from the city to county,1 which, to this day, still keeps the area pretty segregated, a point that was seen quite vividly with the Michael Brown case.

After emancipation, plantation owners relied upon sharecroppers to grow and harvest their crops. To keep the system in place, white leaders studiously kept out industries that might lure their laborers away from agriculture, as historian James Cobb reported in his seminal book about the Delta, The Most Southern Place on Earth.


  1. Or even further West with St. Charles, Lincoln, and Warren counties experiencing explosive growth over the past few decades

Ripping DVDs and Blu-rays

Jason Snell at Six Colors wrote up a great article on how he rips DVDs and Blu-rays.

This article came at the perfect time as I’ve been contemplating getting an external Blu-ray drive for my Mac Mini. Currently, I’ve been ripping some DVDs (using Handbrake) as I’ve been converting my gigantic collection to files that I can play back on my TV via Plex and my Roku. It takes about 20-30 minutes to rip a DVD on my Mini and the fans blow like crazy almost the entire time. That has been one of my biggest concerns with getting a Blu-ray drive. My concerns seem to be valid after reading this from Snell’s article:

Video files take a long time to encode. Even on my 5K iMac, this three-hour HD baseball game will take more than two hours to encode. Be patient, or let your encodes run overnight.

Now, I’m not ripping three-hour baseball games, but I do have some movies that go on three hours, or even longer. If my fans blow like crazy for 10-15 of the 30 minutes of a DVD rip, I can’t imaging what will happen if I try to rip a Blu-ray and encode the video for a couple of hours 1. Should I even bother or should I just re-purchase (or otherwise acquire) those movies in a stream-able format? I’ll have to browse around and see if there are Mini owners that are ripping Blu-rays without long term negative consequences to their Minis.


  1. Or longer as Snell was doing it on his new, suped up Retina iMac and I have a 2012 Mac Mini