Category Archives: Strange World

Ring! Ring! Who’s There? *handcuffs*

Cnet has a report on how police departments are being inundated with false alarms from Amazon Ring alerts because people have freaked out over the camera footage of innocent activities. In one case someone called to report footage of themselves walking into the door!

I’m reminded of a case that happened nearby just a month ago. In Manhattan Beach (near Los Angeles), police from five cities — and an LA Sheriff’s helicopter — descended on a neighborhood because someone panicked over Ring footage of a food delivery sent to the wrong address. It took them an hour and a half to confirm that there was no crime in progress.

The story basically filled a bingo card:

  • IoT doorbell camera (and of course it was Ring)
  • Gig/app delivery service
  • Upscale neighborhood
  • Paranoid reaction to, you know, people
  • NextDoor posts quoted in article (because of course they are)
  • Massive police over-response
  • SMS alerts sent to neighboring cities

It was absurd. Fortunately no one was hurt or arrested, so it remains an absurdity, but between the waste of resources, the increase in fear, and the risk that something could have gone wrong, it fits right in with these other cautionary tales. As Fight for the Future puts it:

Ubiquitous, privately owned surveillance camera networks are NOT going to make our neighborhoods safer. They just make us all paranoid. Soon we’ll be snitching on our neighbors Red Scare style. Enough

Art or Eyesore?

A few miles from Hearst Castle, a trash collector spent fifty years cobbling together his house out of junk and found objects. As Cambria became more trendy in the 1970s, neighbors wanted him to tear down the multi-level “eyesore,” while others saw “Nitt Witt Ridge” as a folk art monument. It’s still there, and still a controversy within the city and its historical society.

This seems like the kind of roadside construction that would fit in with American Gods’ cosmology. More like The House on the Rock than Hearst Castle, despite the proximity.

And it turns out that the first of Wyland’s 100+ whale murals, on the wall of a Laguna Beach hotel, was later painted over as an “eyesore.” (C’mon, really?) But since then, a friend of his bought the building, and he’s recreating the original mural. On canvas this time, so he can move it if anything happens to the wall!

Feral Tomatoes Doing Well

We’ve joked about “feral tomatoes” for ages, and occasionally found a volunteer tomato plant in an unexpected place: a city park, or next to an office parking lot.

Green tomatoes on the vine.

This feral tomato plant was growing out of a crack in the pavement next to the driveway of a grocery store. I imagine someone must have dropped a tomato with viable seeds on the way out and it took hold.

Feral tomato plant growing out of a crack in a driveway.

It’s doing remarkably well, especially under the circumstances of where it is. Heck, it’s doing better than most tomatoes I’ve planted on purpose!

Originally posted on Pixelfed

The Walnut Burglar

A squirrel stands still on top of a wall, a walnut clutched in its mouth, staring at the camera hoping I'll go away.

This squirrel bounded along a wall carrying a walnut in its mouth as I walked down the sidewalk. It stopped and looked at me as if it had been caught in the act of walnut burglary. I had enough time to snap a couple of pictures with my phone and pull out my camera for a better shot before it scampered away.