A Toast!

The Saturday before Christmas and some of us have finished our shopping but most are still scrambling around trying to find that perfect gift…..we all know what Uncle Bob wants….a drink….wink wink say no more…..

A usual gift for some on our lists is a bottle of good whisky…..me I like my Bourbon…..but many look for a good single malt scotch as the perfect gift…..

I truly hate to pee on the parade but there is some disturbing news about that “good scotch”……

A word of warning if you plan to celebrate the holidays by sipping on vintage Scotch whisky: There’s a solid chance the stuff you have is fake. Advanced lab tests on 55 bottles of rare scotch nabbed from auctions, private collections, and retailers revealed 21 were outright fakes or carried the wrong year on the label, reports the BBC, noting age was determined through “residual concentrations of a radioactive isotope of carbon present in the alcohol.” The tests were commissioned by Rare Whisky 101, a broker acknowledging “growing concern surrounding the proliferation of fake whisky” sold as vintage. It estimates almost $52 million worth of rare whisky in the secondary market is fake.

While “the vast majority” of vendors aren’t selling fake scotch on purpose, RW101 co-founder David Robertson says every rare whisky “should be assumed to be fake until proven genuine,” especially the claim is that it’s a single malt. The tests showed 10 single malts said to date from 1900 or earlier were fake. Had the 21 fake bottles—including an Ardbeg 1885 and a Thorne’s Heritage early 20th-century blend—been genuine, they would’ve been valued at $800,000, says Robertson. Per the BBC, his company last year proved a shot of Scotch whisky sold in a Swiss hotel bar was fake, and therefore insanely overpriced at $10,050. The Robb Report shares tips on how to spot fakes. (To improve your whisky, try diluting it.)

Just a little Christmas FYI before you spend your hard earned cash….

Hope all have a good day and if you are out shopping be safe and be careful……chuq

In closing with a bit of a flair…….

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Who Said That?

Breaking News:  Sorry to break with IST tradition and posting on the news of the day on weekends…but this is kinda important….

Before I begin I feel I must update my readers on the Christmas gift that Federal employees got yesterday…..

……a high-profile meeting was raising hopes that a government shutdown could be averted, reports Politico. Mike Pence, Jared Kushner, and acting Trump chief of staff Mick Mulvaney met with Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer at the Capitol to try to forge a compromise on the president’s demand for $5 billion to build a border wall. “I’m feeling better now than I did an hour ago because that meeting is occurring,” said GOP Sen. John Cornyn of Texas. “The fact that that’s happening represents progress.”

The meeting comes after Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell rejected the idea of changing the Senate’s filibuster rules to push through a bill containing the border money with a simple majority, reports the Washington Post. President Trump had urged him to do so earlier in the day. A week ago, Trump said he would be “proud” to have a shutdown over the wall impasse, but on Friday he made a reversal of sorts, reports the Hill. “The Democrats now own the shutdown!” he tweeted. Late in the afternoon, the president also tweeted an image of what the barrier might look like: “A design of our Steel Slat Barrier which is totally effective while at the same time beautiful!”

Now the blame game begins but that will be little comfort to the many fed employees that were laid off just days before Christmas…..sadness given as a gift is pure pathetic theatrics.

Who will blink first?

Sorry for the interruption……..

Saturday and some things I read just make me laugh and then worry…..the way that we seem to give technology more and more power over our lives worries me.

As Christmas approaches there is always the dash for that perfect gift to slip under the tree for the whole family…..

Look under the tree……what is that little box with no name on it?

Echo, Google or Alexa?

The trend these days is to have your home wired so that the refrigerator gives you the time, your TV can start your car for you on cold days, and it goes on and on…..

Personally, I refuse to give my toilet the power to lock and unlock doors (humor not real)…..technology can be a wonderful thing….within limits….but beyond my dislike what could go wrong with speaking a command and your coffee maker turns on?

After a man in Germany contacted Amazon to request any a copy of any data the company had collected on him—his right under the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation, Gizmodo notes—he was surprised to receive 1,700 audio files in response. Why? Because he doesn’t use Alexa, Amazon’s voice assistant that is used with its smart devices and that is known for listening in on people that use it. According to an article in Germany’s c’t magazine, the audio files (which were sent to the customer along with the data he likely expected—files relating to his Amazon searches) turned out to be recordings of a complete stranger, who used Alexa via his Amazon Echo, Fire box, smartphone, and smart appliances. The man also received a PDF transcript of the stranger’s recorded voice commands.

The customer says when he contacted Amazon about receiving data from someone else, no one responded, but the link to the data was disabled. He had already downloaded a copy of it, and got in touch with c’t. From the recordings, the magazine was able to locate the person whose data the man had received, and even identify the other man’s girlfriend. The man was “shocked” to find out his data had been sent to a stranger, and noted that Amazon had not alerted him to the breach. Amazon finally got in touch with both men only after being contacted by c’t. As the incident started making headlines, an Amazon spokesperson told Reuters, “This unfortunate case was the result of a human error and an isolated single case. We resolved the issue with the two customers involved and took measures to further optimize our processes. As a precautionary measure we contacted the relevant authorities.” The incident is one of multiple reasons Gizmodo recently published a post entitled, “You Should Return the Amazon Echo You Bought and Get a Better Gift.” (Alexa may play a role in a murder case.)

If I want the “Jones'” to know what goes on inside my house then I will invite them over for a chat.

I am sure some of my younger readers will be in favor of this technology and if they would like to defend please do so…I am open to the experience.

If you are going to be traveling on this holiday please drive safely and take care of yourself the flu is out there looking for a body to invade.

Have a Day!

Be well, be safe!

A Flash from the past……

Peace Out!