We worked out the exact day Lou Reed had a perfect day


People should be more aware of what they are posting online. We’ve covered multiple instances in our blog where any notion of basic privacy is completely disregarded. Things like this. This. And this.

You might think you’re careful about what you post. But it’s not just what you post. Other people post things about you too, all the time. You’ve probably been tagged in your friend’s Facebook status updates, or your company may have published your photograph on their staff webpage. You may have even won a Barbie doll in a raffle at the school Christmas fair in 1987, then had your name printed in the local *** alongside a picture of you holding the Barbie. The kind of picture your friends would mock you about, all through school. The kind of picture that has suddenly reappeared 20 years later, because the local *** just put all their archives on the Internet.

The point is that it’s easy to underestimate how much of yourself you are unwittingly broadcasting to the world.

Take a look at the lyrics from Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day”…

Looks like a nice day out, and the kind of thing anyone might post on their Facebook. It’s lovely, fluffy, vague, and generic.

What can we learn from this? Could we use the lyrics to find out the precise date Lou Reed had a Perfect Day, for example? Or maybe the movie he went to see? No, of course we couldn’t. If all we had were the lyrics, that would be totally impossible…

But the lyrics are not all we have. We have the Internet. And the Internet knows everything. The answer to both questions, therefore, is yes. Yes, we can work out Lou Reed’s Perfect Day, and yes we can work out the movie he saw.

Buckle up, we’re going on a ride. Let’s start with the first thing you do in the morning.

facebook status Hey Everyone! I’m taking a picture of a pen! Like!

Changing Your Facebook Status

A Facebook status broadcasts your location, and maybe tags one or two of your friends, too. Though the Perfect Day almost certainly took place before Facebook was invented, we know it happened in Central Park, New York City. We also know Reed was with his then fiancée, Bettye Kronstad, because Kronstad confirmed it in an article on the Internet. Their relationship status turns out to be quite important too.

Reed met Kronstad in 1968. So the Perfect Day must have happened between 1968 and the song’s release in November 1972.

First move and already it’s down to one of 1,430 days. Not bad. The other ~2,188,570 days of human civilization can already be dismissed.

Though it’s not very specific, there are some clues in the lyrics of “Perfect Day” that help point to a date. For example, we know the Perfect Day happened during a weekend, because the lyrics refer to a “weekender”. A little extra research finds that in 1972, Reed was on a long tour in Europe, the first date of which was July 8, in London.

Assuming Reed can’t teleport, let’s give him some time to travel.. If he was in London on July 8, he must have left New York no later than July 7. Perhaps his Perfect Day was a pleasant July 7 in New York City, the day before he set off on a long and gruelling European tour.

Nope. July 7, 1972, was a Friday. And you can’t enjoy a “Weekender on our own” if it’s not a weekend. The last weekend before Reed went to Europe was July 1/2. Therefore, Perfect Day was a Saturday or Sunday between 1968 and July 2, 1972.

Except it can’t have been a weekend in 1968, because Bettye went galavanting around Europe almost as soon as she met Lou Reed. In her own words, they “only went out for dinner a couple of times” before her trip. So they certainly weren’t engaged, as they would need to be for Reed to spend the day in the park with his fiancée, Kronstad.

New York, London, Paris – Not Munich.

Before 1970, Reed lived with his parents on Long Island. In 1970, he moved into an apartment in New York’s Upper East Side with Kronstad. Kronstad claims that before they moved in together, they were only dating for a few years. Not engaged. So the Perfect Day must have happened sometime between January 1970 and July 2nd, 1972.

A search for “when did lou reed propose to bettye” doesn’t offer much, other than the fact the couple moved to London in the summer of 1972. They stayed in Wimbledon, which sounds lovely, but doesn’t help us in investigation. The search did lead to Reed’s biography though.

While reading through Reed’s archived biography, we learned something critical to our quest. In January 1972, Reed was recording an album in London. While staying in London, Reed was accompanied by Kronstad and his friend Richard Robinson. Reed was known to walk around with Robinson on one arm and Kronstad on the other. He would introduce his arm-clinging buddies as “my boyfriend, and my girlfriend”. Note: not “my fiancée.”

Something else happened in January 1972. Lou Reed was playing a gig at the Bataclan in Paris. Paris is not in New York. Ergo, the Perfect Day occurred between February and July 2, 1972.

picnic-weather A picture of everyone who enjoys picnics in the cold.

Ice With Your Sangria?

Reed and Kronstad spent the day in a park. This is an integral part of the lyrics. Think about it. Who wants to drink sangria in the park in the cold? No one, that’s who. Historically, NYC weather is totally unsuitable for picnics until April.

Since it’s a Perfect Day, and since they seem to have spent the whole day there—they went to the zoo and everything—it’s safe to assume that it was sunny. Not quite as solid and tangible evidence as the hard dates, admittedly, but no one is going to spend a day in the park if it’s raining.

Perhaps more accurate weather data can rule out a few more days as “not appropriate for a picnic”, too. April of 1972 was a particularly dreary month; no weekend at Central Park had even remotely nice picnic weather—certainly not the kind of weather in which one might enjoy a cheeky al fresco sangria.

The first weekend in May was the 6/7. As we’re closing in on this, let’s just have a look through the weather records of every weekend between those dates, and rule out any rainy or cold days.

That leaves us with a list of 8 possible days! May 7, 13, 21, 28; June 3 and 17; or July 1 and 2.

rip David Bowie So long, Starman. You were fantastic.

David Bowie, Dr John And a Party in The Park

There’s a nice connection here. The Pianist Dr. John played in Central Park on June 17, 1972. Dr. John moved in the same circles as Reed, so it’s possible that Reed might have gone to see him play in Central Park. Interestingly, Dr. John would later perform on a cover of “Perfect Day” for the BBC in 1997. That would be pretty cool, for him to play on the cover of a song written about a day on which an acquaintance watched him perform.

The only problem is that there’s no mention of it in the lyrics. Reed wanted go to the movies, then go home. The lyrics do not state, “And then later, a gig in the park to see a guy I kind of know, a movie too, and then home”. Surely Reed would have popped in to see Dr. John performing at the very park in which he happened to be cavorting?

It is possible that Reed did go to see the gig, but drank so much sangria he forgot all about it. Perhaps a search of the locations of Reed’s other buddies might help.

Reed was a known affiliate of the late, great David Bowie. A search for Bowie and Reed turns up a reference of them being together in London in June 1972. This has to rule out July 1 and July 2 as being the Perfect Day. Lou Reed would have had to have had gone to London and back before July 8, then back again to London again, for his gig. That’s a shame, as July 2, 1972, seemed like it was a perfect day to spend in a New York park (based on historical weather records).

Further research shows that he was, in fact, already in London at some point during May 1972. He was recording with David Bowie at Trident Studios.

We now know that Lou Reed had a Perfect Day on either May 7, 13, 21, or 28, 1972. Thanks again, David Bowie, for helping us out with that. You are missed.

The Perfect Day For a New York Picnic

Weather check, please. Did you know that weather stations keep hourly records? Well, they do. The hourly forecast for May 21, 1972 shows that it was a bracing 66°F (18.9°C) at 11:00 a.m. Sure, it picked up to a moderate 76°F (24.4°C) by 2:00 p.m., but there was a “light breeze” of 7.4 km/h.

Still a bit cold for a picnic. So we’re down to one of three dates in May 1972: 7, 13, or 28.

Since Reed was definitely recording an album in London at some point in May, it’s unlikely he was still in New York on May 28, which would have meant he would have traveled to London, at the earliest, on May 29. Arriving in London on May 29 would have meant Reed wouldn’t get to the studio until May 30.

Experts say an album takes at least two days to record, and even that’s a ludicrously short time. Recording an album so quickly very rarely happens, and when it does, it’s the stuff of legends. Don’t forget that Reed was recording with David Bowie, who was a notorious perfectionist. It’s unlikely Bowie would be happy with an album with such a short turnaround, and there are no stories of Reed recording an album in two days. In short, the Perfect Day can’t possibly have been on May 28, 1972.

And so, there are only two possible dates for the Perfect Day left. May 7 and May 13, 1972.

May 7 was the warmer of two and had a pleasant southerly wind. It also rained in the evening… which is final piece of the puzzle. When it rains, people go to the cinema. When it’s sunny outside, people do not go to the cinema. May 13 was a lovely evening, with no rain at all.

It stands to reason, then, that because Reed saw a movie before going home, the Perfect Day was May 7, 1972.

so what guy This guy looks skeptical. But he’s just trying really hard to grow the rest of his beard.

Interesting. But So What?

Just by knowing your location and who you are with, there’s a lot of information that suddenly becomes available. Add your relationship status and some vague job history, and anyone with enough inclination can piece together your life.

Reed himself says he doesn’t remember the ‘70s, but what he remembers is irrelevant. Everyone leaves a trail on the Internet. And just because you don’t remember it, it doesn’t mean it’s not there.

Chances are no one is interested in piecing together your life story. But if anyone wanted to, they could. Employers have been known to check the Facebook feeds of staff who call in sick. And there are countless tales of people getting into trouble because of something they wrote on social media. Going to the extreme, what if a dictatorship grabbed power in your country? It would be very easy for a corrupt government to keep a close eye on unwilling subjects.

The data you leave behind could be used against you. It’s worth erring on the side of caution when it comes to sharing your life online. A lot can be gained from just a snippet of knowledge and a bit of time on Google.

You can’t stop other people posting about you online, but you can set your social media privacy settings to stop yourself being tagged. Facebook has a great guide for controlling your privacy settings. Check it out.

What About The Movie? You Promised The Movie

Yes, we did.

Reed lived at East 10th just west of First Avenue. Maybe he had too much sangria by the time he decided to go to see a film, so he was certainly not about to drive anywhere. He may have gotten a taxi, but he doesn’t seem to have been a fan of taxi drivers…

So let’s assume he went to a cinema near his apartment.

Thankfully, someone has already gone to the trouble of listing all the cinemas in Manhattan during every decade. How convenient! It’s also a good reminder of just how much data is available to everyone with an Internet connection.

Reed’s closest cinema was Theatre 80 St Marks.

Looks nice, doesn’t it? Exactly the kind of place he might attend. Our guess is this is where he went to watch movies, given how close by he lived.

As for the movie? Well, who knows for sure? But Fritz the Cat, an animated indie, had just been released. And Lou Reed must have seen it, considering he starred in a film inspired by it.

*Drops the mic*

Featured Image: By Man Alive! (Lou Reed Uploaded by Yarl) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Facebook: stockphoto mania / Dollar Photo Club
Winter Picnic: CE / Dollar Photo Club
RIP David Bowie: masay256 / Dollar Photo Club
Bored Beard: Scott Griessel / Dollar Photo Club

Also published on Medium.


Six big data security predictions for 2016


2015 was full of newsworthy cybersecurity breaches. Hackers revealed the names and credit card details of 33 million people who frequented the online-cheating website Ashley Madison. Researchers demonstrated how incredibly easy it is to remotely control a car over the Internet. And a teenager hacked into the private email account of CIA director John Brennan.

What will 2016 bring in massive cybersecurity news? Here are our predictions.

hackers target power Power lines – Is there anything less interesting to write a caption about?

#1: Hackers Will Target Transportation and Electricity Infrastructure

While the cybersecurity systems of major banks, corporations, and government entities remain fundamentally flawed, the capabilities of hackers continue to rise.

Our first prediction for 2016 is that hacks previously only accessible to large nation states will be carried out more and more by small nation states, organized crime groups, and loose political organizations. Critical compromises will become more frequent, and they will be carried out to extort individuals and corporations, spread propaganda, or gain publicity for the hackers.

Why do we think these hacks are likely? Because information-security awareness at even the most critical levels of public infrastructure is laughably non-existent.

Infrastructure Hacks That Could Happen in 2016:

  • A teenager crashes critical computers belonging to the London Underground, causing the Tube’s signal systems to fail during rush hour.
  • A criminal group threatens to turn off the power of a big airport unless somebody gives them millions of dollars.
  • A political group broadcasts its messages across US highways after hacking into the Amber Alert messaging system.

Infrastructure hacks Drop the mic. Clutch your chest. Panic.

#2: The Internet of Things Will Prove To Be Disastrous

In 2015, Apple released the Apple Watch, and Teslas received an update allowing them to drive autonomously. This year, many of us will buy our first networked fridges, home CCTV systems, and “smart” thermostats. Many of us will fill our lives with wireless-enabled consumer goods. Many of us will get tangled up with the Internet of Things.

But digital security and privacy in consumer goods is in a horrible state. Companies sell products that lack cybersecurity and were not engineered with privacy in mind. To make matters worse, many consumers are too ill-informed to know they deserve better.

The consequences are not trivial. Just last year, toy company VTech suffered a major breach when hackers accessed the accounts of 5 million users, along with 190GB of private chats and pictures of children. Researchers discovered that a line of fridges from Samsung could grant attackers unfettered access to your Gmail account. And students at the University of South Alabama figured out how to hack a pacemaker.

The issue of privacy and security in consumer goods is complicated by remote access capabilities, the drive to accumulate big data, and the pressure for companies to monetize through advertising. The result? A toxic mix of poor privacy and security practices on the parts of both manufacturers and consumers.

We predict that 2016 will bring to light even more cybersecurity vulnerabilities in consumer goods, proving that the Internet of Things should probably be renamed to the Internet of Threats.

“Internet of Things” Disasters That Could Happen in 2016:

  • We discover an underground marketplace where voyeurs and robbers can purchase hacked Wi-Fi camera feeds on a per-hour basis.
  • A crime syndicate remotely opens hundreds of garages and house doors in a coordinated heist that overwhelms law enforcement.
  • The first child-kidnapping case involving the use of a hacked toy shocks the world.

hack a bank Future bank heist movies – watching someone on their laptop for 2 hours.

#3: Someone Will Hack a Big Bank

If you compare the security precautions and policies at major banks with those of Apple, Google, and Facebook, it’s a miracle that large financial institutions don’t suffer from more frequent data breaches.

Major financial institutions are easy targets for hackers because their systems are out of date, and they fail to attract young talent that can help them stay on top of information security. Moreover, telephone banking and compulsory weak passwords limited in length and complexity are vulnerable to social engineering. To make things worse, legacy systems and a lack of HTTPS, combined with outdated and complicated legal restrictions, make IT development at banks a living nightmare. And we don’t need to mention that banks make up the biggest targets for well funded nation states and criminal gangs, given how lucrative and political the collapse of the backbone of our financial infrastructure would prove to be…

Big Bank Data Breaches That Could Happen in 2016:

  • Social justice hacking groups disclose the bank account balances and credit card bills of hundreds of politicians, executives, and lobbyists on WikiLeaks.
  • Hackers fraudulently transfer millions of dollars that must be reviewed and rolled back manually, creating weeks of delays in pension and wage payments and causing trouble for innocent victims as they fail to pay their bills on time.
  • A criminal group finds a way to disable automated backups and holds weeks of financial information hostage.

static data breach Static. Well, this answers the question raised in the first caption.

#4: Encryption Will Become the Standard on Everything

Researchers may complain about Telegram’s novelty encryption protocols, but the messaging platform has had unprecedented success pushing usable cryptography to the masses.

Our predictions for 2016: Whatsapp and Apple will continue to push the use of encryption in their systems, while Google and Facebook will have to concede that their users are uncomfortable sharing private chats with corporations and governments.

At the same time, governments like the UK’s might go so far as to seek a complete ban on encryption systems. But in a globalized and connected world of open-source projects and defiant hardware manufacturers, this political theater will only confirm three things:

  1. Encryption works.
  2. Encryption protects our civil liberties.
  3. Encryption is vital for a secure Internet.

Pro-encryption Breakthroughs That Could Happen in 2016:

  • Google releases a tool that makes it easy for everyone to encrypt personal emails and files with PGP. It requires a paid subscription and marks a big step away from Gmail and Google Drive’s ad-driven business models.
  • Facebook Messenger merges with Whatsapp and becomes encrypted by default across all devices.
  • Major browsers make a move to flag all non-HTTPS connections as insecure, forcing all major websites to embrace the standard or be left behind.

encryption breakthroughs 2016 Heads up. These are antennas during a sunset. NOT a spaceship flying near a huge star.

#5: Mesh Networks Will Enter the Spotlight and Become Mainstream

Some of the biggest threats to an open and free Internet don’t come from governments, but from Internet Service Providers (ISPs). Big ISPs have pushed for loopholes in EU net neutrality laws, *** it legal to throttle the connection speeds of certain web service operators—unless someone pays. Verizon was caught spying on their users through supercookies, and telecom monopolies threaten the development of a cheaper and faster Internet.

We predict that 2016 will mark the beginning of the end of ISPs. We see a future without large Internet Service Providers. The web will become as decentralized physically as it is virtually.

Private companies and even individuals will not only build but also deploy the next generation of networking equipment. Cables, Wi-Fi, microwaves, satellites, and all kinds of other equipment will deliver high-speed Internet access to places where it is censored, limited, or too pricy.

The private entities operating the equipment will charge minuscule amounts of Bitcoin to route data through their nodes, outside of existing regulation or oversight. These networks will be far more resilient to outages, snooping, and hacking than the Internet as we know it today.

The Networks of the Future will provide citizens with security and privacy, and, in the medium term, unblock Internet access for many parts of this world.

Internet Freedom Advancements That Could Happen in 2016:

  • The first Bitcoin router allows you to make money by sharing your Wi-Fi connection with your neighbors and passersby.
  • Breakthroughs in commercial spaceflight make pirate satellite Internet available for everyone at a low cost—even North Koreans.

#6: We Will Have Another Big Surveillance Whistleblower

In 1971, Daniel Ellsberg gifted the public with documents that proved President Johnson had systematically lied about the Vietnam War. When the drone papers were leaked by The Intercept in 2015, Ellsberg said:

“I waited 40 years for Chelsea [Manning]. Three more for Snowden. And so it’s wonderful that somebody is telling the truth about this series of crimes. I’m very glad to see it.”

Chelsea Manning had no knowledge of how to leak documents securely, so she wound up in jail. Edward Snowden had to tediously convince journalists to use Tor and encryption methods to leak his documents, and he had to go into exile.

But the whistleblower who revealed the United States’ drone program managed to remain anonymous. It’s highly possible that this individual continues to live in freedom, and it’s also possible that this individual is still employed by the government.

How, then, did the drone whistleblower stay anonymous?

For starters, the public is becoming increasingly informed about encryption and anonymity, thanks in large part to Snowden. It is also easier now than ever before for ordinary people to learn how to use privacy tools like PGP, Tor, and SecureDrop so they can communicate without compromising their identities.

The anonymity afforded by these privacy tools empowers individuals to reveal the wrongdoings of powerful individuals, corporations, and government bodies hellbent on hiding their crimes. It is safer now to spill the beans.

Who will be next to blow the whistle, and what will they reveal? That’s one prediction we can’t make.

But we’re at the edge of our seats.


Featured image: Nikki Zalewski / Dollar Photo Club
Power lines image: Oleksandr Babich / Dollar Photo Club
Microphone image: beeboys / Dollar Photo Club
Vault image: tiero / Dollar Photo Club
Static image: blackboard1965 / Dollar Photo Club
Satellite sunset image: wborodin / Dollar Photo Club
Super girl image: Konstantin Yuganov / Dollar Photo Club