How is it that a bunch of puppets can be so much more original and funny than half the comedies on television?
Yes, the Muppets are back on ABC and I am watching them right now. The Josh Groban vs. Kermit story line is great. There is a muppet who plays a snotty office assistant with such unhelpful precision that many of you might think the lines were written by your co-workers.
If you thought being bought out by Disney would wring all that is joyful and slightly subversive out of the Muppets franchise, you can relax. Any puppet show that uses good-boy-gone-bad Josh Groban as a romantic foil against Kermit The Frog (“frog blocking” — the show’s term, not mine) is one that is innocent enough to be fine for kids, yet slyly adult enough to remain interesting. And then there is the bit about Fozzie bear — whose online profile says “passionate bear looking for love” — meeting his date’s skeptical parents. (“What if you had kids? How would you raise them? Where would they go to the bathroom? In the woods?!”)
Cameos include Tom Bergeron and a host of others.
All you cut-the-cord types can watch the entire pilot episode without even registering by clicking here.
And, yes, I am greatly annoyed with the giant black borders on these videos. Someone at ABC is clueless about proper video embed codes.
If you’re finding satisfaction in the Ashley Madison leak, you might think a bit more long-term about the possibilities it represents:
Computer security expert Graham Cluley quickly warned against such witch hunts on his blog.
“For one thing, being a member of a dating site, even a somewhat seedy one like Ashley Madison, is no evidence that you have cheated on your partner,” he wrote. “You might have joined the site years before when you were single and be shocked that they still have your details in their database, or you might have joined the site out of curiosity or for a laugh … never seriously planning to take things any further.”
You might be a journalist who joined to write about Ashley Madison, for example. Or, as some self-described Ashley Madison users have said on Reddit, you may be in an open marriage.
“But more importantly than all of that, if your e-mail address is in the Ashley Madison database it means nothing,” Cluley wrote. “The owner of that e-mail address may never have even visited the Ashley Madison site.”
I doubt the “I joined to do research” excuse will gain much traction if a spouse discovers the other spouse’s name, but that is just me.
The rest of the points in the article are well taken:
Perhaps the best and broadest take on #AshleyMadison-gate came from The Awl’s John Herrman.
“I’m not sure anyone is really reckoning with how big this could be, yet,” he wrote. “If the data becomes as public and available as seems likely right now, we’re talking about tens of millions of people who will be publicly confronted with choices they thought they made in private. The result won’t just be getting caught, it will be getting caught in an incredibly visible way that could conceivably follow victims around the internet for years.”
Spend enough time looking into people’s backgrounds and you will discover that many people who think they have nothing to hide have not fully thought through the issues involved.
As was noted by MSBNC’s Chris Hayes:
Forget Ashley Madison, for a moment, and replace it with: medical records. Your full income tax returns. Your inbox.
That email you sent making fun of your boss. That racist or sexist joke you giggled about with co-workers on the company’s internal communications system. That time you claimed that illegal tax exemption. Your treatment five years ago for drug or alcohol abuse. Think about all the things you think you do in private and then think about how many of them have some connection to the online world. Those activities are all at risk of being exposed, past or present.
And if those who are offended by marital infidelity can have their way with Ashley Madison, think of all the hackers out there who might have moral issues with Tinder, Manhunt, Scruff, Grindr and the web sites off which many people think they are buying sex toys or bongs in private. That time you had that STD. That abortion you had long ago. Remember when you were treated for depression and exhaustion in college? Or that membership you had on that porn streaming/download site?
All of this ignores also two of the core issues involved: the theft of credit card data and the theft of login and password information. (Yet another reason to use a password manager and use a different login and password for every web site you use. Of course, some of the most popular store this information online, which brings us back to the original problems.)
Ashley Madison is a major turning point, and not a good one.
Judgment Day has arrived for many Ashley Madison users:
HACKERS WHO STOLE sensitive customer information from the cheating site AshleyMadison.com appear to have made good on their threat to post the data online.
A data dump, 9.7 gigabytes in size, was posted on Tuesday to the dark web using an Onion address accessible only through the Tor browser. The files appear to include account details and log-ins for some 32 million users of the social networking site, touted as the premier site for married individuals seeking partners for affairs. Seven years worth of credit card and other payment transaction details are also part of the dump, going back to 2007.
The data, which amounts to millions of payment transactions, includes names, street address, email address and amount paid, but not credit card numbers; instead it includes four digits for each transaction that may be the last four digits of the credit card or simply a transaction ID unique to each charge.
AshleyMadison.com claimed to have nearly 40 million users at the time of the breach about a month ago, all apparently in the market for clandestine hookups.“Ashley Madison is the most famous name in infidelity and married dating,” the site asserts on its homepage.
“Have an Affair today on Ashley Madison. Thousands of cheating wives and cheating husbands signup everyday looking for an affair…. With Our affair guarantee package we guarantee you will find the perfect affair partner.”
The data released by the hackers includes names, addresses and phone numbers submitted by users of the site, though it’s unclear if members provided legitimate details.
A sampling of the data indicates that users likely provided random numbers and addresses, but files containing credit card transactions will yield real names and addresses, unless members of the site used anonymous pre-paid cards. One analysis of email addresses found in the data dump also shows that some 15,000 are .mil. or .gov addresses.
Those .mil and .gov email addresses could represent a lot of lost jobs and scandals if even a fraction of them turn out to be legit. You might think that any person who works in the government or the military, especially elected officials or those with high-profile jobs, would be smart enough to not use a work account to sign up for such a site.
You’d be wrong. Our newspaper covered over the years so many people who work in politics doing so many astoundingly risky things that nothing would surprise me.
There must be a great many reporters and bloggers out there who can’t wait to get their hands on this information. You may need a secure browser, such as Tor, to get ahold of the Ashley Madison info as of this writing — a dark web technological barrier that is not difficult to overcome but would still be confusing and insurmountable for many everyday web users — but the data will turn up not secured in places all over the internet, probably by the time I finish writing this post.
It is also worth noting that Ashley Madison, unlike so many other holders of confidential information online, used high-level security precautions, to little avail. It will all come out eventually.
Passwords released in the data dump appear to have been hashed using the bcrypt algorithm for PHP, but Robert Graham, CEO of Erratasec, says that despite this being one of the most secure ways to store passwords, “hackers are still likely to be able to ‘crack’ many of these hashes in order to discover the account holder’s original password.” If the accounts are still online, this means hackers will be able to grab any private correspondence associated with the account.
I laugh at, or become annoyed by, “discreet” people on online dating sites who refuse to post personal pics of themselves or other identifying information, and want instead for you to give them an email address to send that information. After this data breach at Ashley Madison, it appears those people may be onto something. Even advanced encryption techniques don’t seem to be much of a barrier.
My life is an open book, but for many people who work in high-profile or sensitive jobs this is a valid concern.
Anyway, back to cheating, lying and all forms of subterfuge.
This is part of the message the hackers used in releasing the Ashley Madison data:
“Avid Life Media has failed to take down Ashley Madison and Established Men. We have explained the fraud, deceit, and stupidity of ALM and their members. Now everyone gets to see their data.
Find someone you know in here? Keep in mind the site is a scam with thousands of fake female profiles. See ashley madison fake profile lawsuit; 90-95% of actual users are male. Chances are your man signed up on the world’s biggest affair site, but never had one. He just tried to. If that distinction matters.
Find yourself in here? It was ALM that failed you and lied to you. Prosecute them and claim damages. Then move on with your life. Learn your lesson and make amends. Embarrassing now, but you’ll get over it.”
How do I feel about this?
It seems like meddling in private affairs by hackers acting as judge, jury and executioner for wayward spouses and partners.
However, I am not a straight woman (or man) who is in a relationship where I have professed fidelity to my partner. Being the target of lying and cheating would likely make me feel a bit differently about all this.
In any case, one suspects this information will lead to much heartache and not a few job losses and even suicides.
I decided to check into how difficult it is to delete an Ashley Madison account because some online hook-up sites allow you to do this, but finding the link to do so can take quite a few click-throughs. You can find out more information about how to delete your account by clicking here, but be warned: Ashley Madison has already been under fire long before the data dump by giving users the impression they deleted account data when they really did not.
Because even if you weren’t able to avoid the user info data dump, deleting your account might (emphasize the word “might”) allow you to prevent further intrusion when your soon-to-to-be ex-wife hires someone to decrypt your password in search of more damning evidence for the divorce proceedings.