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Monday Meander: Hackers, Sauvignon Blanc, and Curious Somms

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You wouldn’t believe the number of log-in attempts this blog gets from hackers. There’s always been a little activity, but in recent weeks it’s spiked, to dozens a day. And they’re from all over the world: various U.S. states, Russia, China, Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands, France, Romania, Kazakhstan, Tokyo, Singapore, Norway…a veritable atlas of the globe.

Who are these people? Why would they want to hack into a little blog like mine???

Of course they’re unsuccessful (knock on wood) because they don’t have my password, which I change with some frequency. But still, I wonder what their purpose is? If somebody could explain that to me, I’ll be grateful. I suppose their motive ultimately is to somehow make money (by stealing it from others), but how exactly would breaking into the back end of my blog make them money? If they did, could they get into the computers of people who comment on my blog—and then, from there, creep into somebody’s bank account? I don’t really understand how these things work. I suppose they’re controlled by bots or spiders or whatever they’re called, automated software that crawls through the Internet looking for weak spots. I could see why somebody might want to invade, say, Goldman Sachs (they could wire money to their account in a place like the Caymans), but steveheimoff.com?

Anyhow, we are entering, or have already entered, a Brave New World. I was listening to an NPR program yesterday about how computer graphics can completely alter a movie star’s onscreen look: take away eye wrinkles, reduce weight, even change the shape of a smile or add life to the eyes. In fact, the report said, the only reason why real, live human beings continue to be hired is because they’re cheaper, even at their inflated salaries! I wonder how long it will be before human wine critics will be replaced by some kind of computerized version. And, given how little money most wine critics make, you can’t argue that the human kind is cheaper!

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And on another topic, I’ve been doing a little research into marketing and sales data form places like IRI, and must admit how surprised, and delighted, I am that Sauvignon Blanc is in some respects the hottest wine in America. Case sales up year-to-date over all other varieties…dollar sales up more than any other California table wine…incredible. It wasn’t that long ago that Sauvignon Blanc was an afterthought: it wasn’t Chardonnay, and wines like Pinot Gris were stealing its thunder.

But, you know, there’s a reason why Sauvignon Blanc has been one of the world’s great wines for hundreds of years. It’s noble, meaning it has the structure to maintain its flavors. Grown in Sancerre, New Zealand, California or any number of other places, its profile differs depending on location, but it’s always a savory, mouthwatering wine, with enough austerity to let it be an ideal partner to food. Happy to say that Sauvignon Blanc finally is getting the credit it deserves.

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Nice article in this month’s issue of San Francisco Magazine by W. Blake Grey, whose title says it all: It’s No Longer Enough for Wine to Be Delicious. Now It Has to Be ‘Interesting’

His thesis: “Most San Francisco somms” have caused a “paradigm shift” whereby, for example, Provence rosé no longer is “hip” but Canary Islands rosé is. Blake doesn’t quite know what to make of this “preference for curiosities”; indeed, neither do I. I was talking about this yesterday with Josiah Baldivino, over at Bay Grape, and we both agreed that, as weird as this pheonomenon is (and it is weird), it’s at least a good conversation to be having.

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While I am affiliated with Jackson Family Wines, the postings on this site are my own and do not necessarily represent the postings, strategies or opinions of Jackson Family Wines.

  1. Bob Henry says:

    Steve,

    Don’t overlook so-called “ransomware” attacks.

    (Maybe they want you to pay them off in bottles of Screaming Eagle, instead of bitcoins?)

    From the front page headline of Saturday’s Los Angeles Times:

    http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-0407-cyber-hospital-20160407-story.html

    Excerpt:

    “The hackers, many from Eastern Europe or Russia, have found ransomware to be so profitable that they set up call centers, said [Eduardo] Cabrera [vice president for cybersecurity strategy at the security company Trend Micro Inc.], who investigated underground hacking rings as chief information security officer for the U.S. Secret Service.”

    ~~ Bob

  2. Ernie in Berkeley says:

    Also, they might be trying to hijack your system into a botnet–a group of compromised machines that feed spam and other malware.

    I get several attempts a day on a server I administer. Our configuration is weird enough that the common hacking scripts don’t get in at all. That’s life these days.

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