Archive for Dyssynergy

BlackBerry wants affirmative action

At least, that’s how this reads to me:

Unfortunately, not all content and applications providers have embraced openness and neutrality. Unlike BlackBerry, which allows iPhone users to download and use our BBM service, Apple does not allow BlackBerry or Android users to download Apple’s iMessage messaging service. Netflix, which has forcefully advocated for carrier neutrality, has discriminated against BlackBerry customers by refusing to make its streaming movie service available to them. Many other applications providers similarly offer service only to iPhone and Android users. This dynamic has created a two-tiered wireless broadband ecosystem, in which iPhone and Android users are able to access far more content and applications than customers using devices running other operating systems. These are precisely the sort of discriminatory practices that neutrality advocates have criticized at the carrier level.

Watch for the announcement of a Federal Bureau of Apps.

(Via Farhad Manjoo.)

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Meanwhile in the ladies’ room

No, I wasn’t there, but we have a reliable narrator:

Well, I push the door open and I hear someone talking. At first I think she’s talking to someone still in the stall (which is also a personal no-no to me: I do not like carrying on a conversation while in the loo).

Nope. She was on her cell phone. Standing in front of the sink, at the mirror, just talking.

I backed right back out of the room and waited until after my class — but to me, that’s like a who DOES that? situation.

At least she wasn’t eating — which happened in one of the rest rooms at the shop, though it wasn’t the one with WOMEN on the door.

And should we be grateful that she wasn’t taking a picture of herself?

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Poor me

Google deals me a solid:

Screenshot of Google preview

Oh, well. At least I have a job. (Of course, your mileage may vary, since Google tends to adjust these things from time to time and from user to user.) I assure you, I wasn’t looking for something particularly morose when I started.

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A neck for a neck

It’s gonna be hard to top this headline. Indiana Senate panel passes bill for harsher beheading penalties:

Decapitation soon could be punishable by death in Indiana. The state Senate criminal law committee unanimously passed a bill Tuesday that would allow prosecutors to seek the death penalty for beheadings.

Said penalty presumably will be lethal injection; I doubt these dead-serious Hoosiers are inclined to build a guillotine in Michigan City, although the idea has some marginal charm in terms of sheer symmetry.

Supporters of the bill cite an increase in beheadings including one last year in Oklahoma as a reason for the change.

So: one, then? Because what the Daesh-heads do doesn’t really count, except maybe as encouragement from afar.

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Defensive posture: supine

This will sell in huge quantities to the sort of doofus who puts up fake video cameras for “security” purposes:

Not really handguns

Erin Palette calls this a “dumb, useless thing,” which tells me that she was trying to be generous.

The manufacturer assures you that these gefälschte Gewehren “require no background check or permit.” Just like your rabbit ears don’t require cable.

Erin asks, reasonably enough:

What are you going to do when a criminal sees the fake pistol and decides that either you get shot first, or that he will take your weapon from you? (And believe me, if you aren’t mentally prepared to shoot someone for realsies, carrying a plastic totem is not going to give you confidence and an anti-crime aura. The most you will look like is an easy victim with a high-value item.)

And if there’s one thing the criminal element loves, it’s an easy victim with a high-value item. If you buy this thing, you might want to work on your Daffy Duck voice: “I demand that you shoot me now!”

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At least somewhat duh-worthy

Then again, that’s why they’re lawyers:

And there will be someone trying to sign a contract with one of these contraptions. Depend on it.

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Just don’t cross your legs

This is just vaguely disturbing, or maybe a little more than that:

Witness Elite advertisement from EAA

Mr Noggle has posted the full-size three-megabyte scan, and observes:

This being the Internet, undoubtedly there’s someone out there who’s into that thing. The ad designer was undoubtedly a fan of the film Grindhouse and the character Cherry Darling.

Me, I’m going to sleep with the night light on.

And Cherry Darling was pretty creepy. On the upside, at least someone’s ripping off Robert Rodriguez instead of Quentin Tarantino.

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This may not garner more dates

I do not understand this request in the slightest:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: How can I find a surgical body modification artist?

And this is the modification he desires:

I would like to ask a body modification artist if it would be possible to remove my testicles and use my scrotum to create a vagina below my penis. If it is possible, I’d ask if they have a rough guess as to cost. Any help in finding either the answers or an artist would be appreciated.

Please don’t tell me to think about it or give me alternative. I’ve thought about this and alternative for years and still have more time to think about it. Please only reply with answers, thank you.

Construction of the item desired is not, I am given to understand, overly difficult, though usually persons undergoing the procedure are having all the previous hardware — the exterior bits, anyway — removed. Last year I helped to fund one such procedure; the patient had asked for $6000, which she said was the amount not covered by health insurance. (In other news, some insurance policies apparently cover this sort of thing.) A subsequent patient without such coverage said that the price was closer to twenty grand, and was asking for fifteen.

While I can deal with those folks, I’m having trouble with the concept of Hermaphrodite After The Fact. British wiseguy Will Self wrote a couple of stories on the subject, neither of which could be said to end particularly happily. For now, I am working under the assumption that somebody told the questioner to go screw himself, and instead of taking umbrage he decided to fantasize about it.

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Proprietary crap

This is disheartening, but really not at all unexpected:

For those of you who have wondered whether a cat litter box could achieve the same functionality as an inkjet printer, CatGenie has the answer for you. Jorge Lopez covered his experience with his brand-new purchase at Medium, swiftly discovering the downside of the litter box that cleans itself. While it does take care of most of the nasty business (disposing of feces — although occasionally leaving one behind to be baked into “poop jerky” by the heated cleaning cycle), it only does so if properly loaded with specific products made and sold by CatGenie.

There is, for example, a cleaning solution, circulated through the machine’s permanent-ish granules. It comes in what is called a SmartCartridge. How smart is it?

Contained within the SmartCartridge is an RFID chip that tracks fluid levels and turns the automatic litter box into a useless stinkhole once the fluid runs out. It can’t be tricked into believing you’ve refilled it. It can only be replaced with a new one. Like any number of printers that won’t let you print/scan/copy without replacing an ink cartridge, the wonderful, self-cleaning litter box refuses to do anything but collect cat excrement until new cartridges are installed.

That’s a $200+ litter box that becomes indiscernible from the $6.99 non-auto version once the proprietary cleaning fluid runs out.

Hats off to Techdirt’s Tim Cushing for describing that particular condition as a “bricked shithouse.”

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Get this guy into a covered wagon

And then sew up the cover so he can’t escape easily:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: Does an impala 2011 need a lift kit for 24s?

He compounds the atrocity:

24 inch rims on my 2011 impala with no lift or cutting ? Is it possible

Now you know my particular bias: I think anyone who calls ‘em “rims” ought to be buried clavicle-deep in the Alaskan tundra. But one of the answerers dealt this guy a solid, good enough to pass along here:

No, it just needs a hefty dose of good taste and some common sense to realize that even if it could be done, DOING THAT IS RETARDED. Why on Earth would you RUIN the ride comfort, resale value, handling, durability, gas mileage, and acceleration??? Take the drug money you would have spent on the dum-dum wagon wheels and set fire to it so you’re not tempted.

I don’t think I could have said it better myself.

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Steel your heart away

The American steel industry didn’t get its dander up when automakers started messing with things like aluminum spaceframes and carbon fiber: the vehicles so designed tended to be pricey, low-volume, and, well, un-American.

That was before Ford decided that what the world needed now was an aluminum F-150, and when the single largest-selling vehicle in the country makes a switch like this — well, there’s a full-page ad in the buff books, which I saw in Motor Trend, the first of the February 2015 issues I read, extolling the virtues of steel and not even mentioning That Other Metal. Inevitably, there’s a Web site, at autosteel.org, and so I figured I’d see who was up to this:

The Automotive Applications Council (AAC) is a subcommittee of the Steel Market Development Institute (SMDI) and focuses on advancing the use of steel in the highly competitive automotive market.

The SMDI Automotive Market program continues to be the catalyst for bringing together steel, automotive industry, and federal partners (such as the Department of Energy and National Science Foundation) to conduct research, provide technology transfer, and promote steel-intensive solutions in the marketplace. Advanced high-strength steels, which are the fastest-growing materials in automotive design, enable our automotive customers to deliver vehicles that are more lightweight, fuel-efficient, and affordable, while still protecting passengers.

That last bit, about protecting passengers, might well turn out to be their best talking point, since a fair percentage of the public is familiar with aluminum only as foil or beer cans, neither of which is exactly known for puncture resistance.

Participants in the SMDI include three big domestic producers — AK (a merger of Armco and Kawasaki), Nucor, and US Steel, and major European producer ArcelorMittal. A quick glance at the financials indicate that all four of these firms have taken substantial hits to the bottom line of late, so it’s no surprise that they’re trying to keep things from getting worse.

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Wear them at night

From the “Are you telling me this is a real ad?” files:

Advertisement for Helen Keller sunglasses

Yes, it is:

Deliberate irony or innocuous oversight? Neither, apparently. A Chinese company now marketing Helen Keller-brand sunglasses said it found inspiration in Keller’s personal traits (rather than her blindness), the Wall Street Journal reports.

Still, though, it’s a bold (and perhaps questionable) move, especially considering the company’s motto: “You see the world, the world sees you.”

A slogan hammered home in the first commercial for the brand, which appeared in early 2012:

Google Shopping didn’t send me any US sources for the Keller specs. Quelle surprise.

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Distribution of misery

Off Morgan Freeberg’s Facebook page:

Localized poverty has always angered me. If it’s absolutely necessary for people to suffer economically, well, you know every once in awhile there are some things that are bigger and more important than an economy. People tend to get by with less when there’s a war on … something like that. But when the suffering is concentrated into a tiny area, that means it’s unnecessary suffering. Municipal suffering. Underclasses of economically underpowered people; classes created by politics, and maintained by politics, for the achievement of political purposes. While people suffer.

Of course, were there no poverty in these semi-United States, we would lose an entire industry: those who are paid to lament the suffering and to spend money on it, but who dare not eliminate it completely.

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Anything that’s part of you

A great song by Elvis, written by Don Robertson. Nothing to do with this:

A man is selling Elvis Presley’s pubic hair online.

This might just be the weirdest bit of Elvis “memorabilia” we’ve come across.

The man, from Ohio, is selling the pubic hair on Craigslist for $5,000.

The seller claims he has been holding on to Elvis’ pubes since 1965 saying: “I hate to part with them.”

He added that they come with a letter of authenticity signed by a man called Colonel Parker, a reference to, according to Playboy, Elvis’ manager Colonel Tom Parker.

Weirdly, this is classified as “for sale / electronics — by owner.”

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The cram factor

The first CDs for musical use were specified as 74 minutes/650 megabytes; eventually these discs were supplanted by 80-minute/700-MB discs, and there are techniques to squeeze in a couple more minutes, at the risk of possibly making the disc unreadable in some players. (Bear Family’s compilation of tobacco-related tunes, Smoke That Cigarette, reportedly crams 87:34 onto a single disc.)

This is a boon for the archivist, except of course when it isn’t. Roger explains a couple of instances where it isn’t:

One of the things I’ve realized is that because the artist, or the record company, CAN put more music on a CD, they DO. And some 14-song, 70-minute albums are just TOO LONG. It’s even more true on rereleases. I was listening to Who’s Next one morning — my family was obviously away — and I LOVE that album, but the rest of the “Lighthouse” project, save for “Pure and Easy” I could have done without. Lots of albums have alternative versions, which are historically interesting but do not enhance the listening enjoyment of the album; the second The Band album, which I also love, falls in that category.

The rule with alternative versions is that there’s a reason they weren’t released as the original. The Band runs a peppy 43:50 or so, and there’s a reason “King Harvest (Has Surely Come)” is parked at the end of side two; I can see the reason for adding “Get Up Jake,” which was pulled from the original album before release, but you don’t need half an album’s worth of outtakes.

Incidentally, Who’s Next in its original form runs 43:38. Is this some sort of Golden Mean for the LP? I note for, um, record that Smoke That Cigarette is as long as two 43:47 albums.

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Well, puck you guys

The current Oklahoma City Barons season will be the team’s last:

The Barons have made the playoffs all four seasons in Oklahoma City and this year’s roster appears capable of making a deep run in the American Hockey League playoffs.

But when the Barons’ season ends, whether it’s hoisting the Calder Cup trophy in early June, or if they’re eliminated in the playoffs in May, it will be the end of professional hockey in Oklahoma City for the foreseeable future.

Citing a business decision, Prodigal CEO Bob Funk, Jr. announced Thursday Prodigal will be ceasing operations after a five-year contract with the Edmonton Oilers expires at the end of this season.

The problem? Insufficient butt-to-seat ratio:

Ranked in the bottom five of the 30-team American Hockey League in attendance the past four seasons, the Barons failed to gain a stronghold in a highly competitive market with a lot of entertainment options.

In addition to playing across Reno Avenue from the highly successful Oklahoma City Thunder, college football is huge in Oklahoma. There have been additional factors like high school events and a huge increase in casinos targeting disposable income.

Prodigal hired a marketing firm that indicated an estimated 200,000 people claimed to show some interest in hockey. But after drawing 4,155 fans a game the inaugural season attendance dropped to 3,684 and has ranged from 3,200 to 3,500 the past three years.

In other news, Oklahoma City is now considered a highly competitive market with a lot of entertainment options.

Still, this baffles me. The now-defunct Central Hockey League was clearly a step below the AHL, and the likewise-defunct Oklahoma City Blazers consistently led the CHL in attendance: for instance, in the 2006-07 season, the CHL averaged 4,388 per game, and the Blazers drew 8,902 — in a year when the NBA was actually here, the New Orleans Pelicans (then Hornets) being temporarily based in OKC, what with all that hurricane stuff. So I’m not convinced the Thunder have sucked all the fandom out of the room.

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Sometimes it even works

We are heavily reliant on systems that work not quite 100 percent of the time:

Our modern world runs on giant, soulless corporations that mostly work very well. They keep us supplied with food, water, power, transportation, entertainment and an endless variety of gadgets. A great many people have worked very hard to make these organizations productive and efficient. Problem is that in streamlining these operations they become more susceptible to grit in the gears. Their normal reaction is to just kick it out. That’s when your high-tech new ride breaks down, you find yourself stranded by the side of the road with a dead cell phone that wouldn’t work anyway because your account has been terminated for non-payment, because your credit card has been canceled because your number and 27 million others got stolen by the Romanian mafia who sold it to some grifters in Kansas City who tried to buy a boatload of Christmas presents over the internet.

And we will never, ever run short of grifters.

One corollary: inevitably, this sort of system-building leads to atrocities like the construction of voice-mail systems that can handle any conceivable inquiry except the one you’re trying to put in. Technology has only so much imagination.

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Non-smuggler’s blues

There’s a little listserv on an arcane topic that I’ve been part of for at least fifteen years; the founder/leader died back in 2005, but it continues, and occasionally someone new shows up.

A Canadian chap had tossed out a story idea consistent with the group topic, and over the next couple of years turned out a pretty decent story, vaguely erotic but not enough to upset anyone’s applecart, and after he finished it, he vowed to make a book out of it. Which he did: he hired an editor to go through it — a wise choice, we all thought — then went the self-published route.

Response was good enough for him to start thinking in terms of “sequel,” and while I’d read the serialized version, I figured the least I could do is buy one in hardcopy. I contacted him offlist; he said he had a few copies on hand, and quoted a price. Fine, said I, what are my payment options? Apparently what gets to him fastest is MoneyGram, the successor to the old Travelers Express Company.

This next bit of history matters more than I thought it would:

In November 2012, MoneyGram International admitted to money laundering and wire fraud violations. MoneyGram services were used by unrelated parties involved in mass marketing and consumer phishing scams that defrauded thousands of victims in the United States. As a part of the settlement, MoneyGram created a $100 million victim compensation fund. MoneyGram also retained a corporate monitor who will report regularly to the United States Department of Justice for a five-year trial period. If MoneyGram fulfills its obligations under the settlement, prosecutors will seek dismissal of the charges of aiding and abetting wire fraud. MoneyGram also terminated any agents complicit in the 2009 scams and invested more than $84 million in improvements to the company’s consumer anti-fraud systems and consumer awareness education.

And apparently they’re taking no chances in 2014, because it took me half an hour on their Web site and another ten minutes talking to an actual rep for me to fail to persuade them to accept my payment to this Canadian guy, inasmuch as well, no, we’ve never actually met, and national borders are involved.

I said screw it, went to his publisher, and ordered a copy from them.

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Meanwhile on the Mad River

Welcome to Springfield, Ohio, population 120,000:

That’s sixty thousand humans, and sixty thousand crows:

Residents, business owners and police in Springfield have joined together in a bid to get rid of the “dirty” birds, which leave droppings everywhere and create noise pollution.

Volunteer armies have been brandishing lasers at the buildings from dusk until early night, while a biologist also recommended using sound machines.

Crows, however, are not dumb:

“The crows adapted quickly and realized that’s just a fake,” Roger Sherrock, CEO of the Clark County Heritage Center and one of the leaders in the fight against the crows, told the Springfield News-Sun.

CROWCON 2: Flare guns.

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Emissions beyond control

When you get right down to it, nobody burns hydrocarbons like UN climate-change types burn hydrocarbons. And the next lovefest, in Peru, will burn the most of all:

The Lima conference is expected to have the biggest carbon footprint of any U.N. climate meeting measured to date. At more than 50,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide, the negotiations’ burden on global warming will be about 1½ times the norm, said Jorge Alvarez, project coordinator for the U.N. Development Program.

The venue is one big reason. It had to be built. Eleven football fields of temporary structures arose for the 13-day negotiations from what three months ago was an empty field behind Peru’s army’s headquarters. Concrete was laid, plumbing installed, components flown in from as far as France and Brazil.

Standing in the midday sun here can get downright uncomfortable, but the Lima sun is not reliable. That’s one reason solar panels were not used. For electricity, the talks are relying exclusively on diesel generators.

They’re claiming, of course, that all this is being offset elsewhere:

Nor is there a guarantee that the 580 square miles (1,500 square kilometers) of forest — the size of Houston, Texas — offsetting the talks’ carbon pollution won’t someday be gone. It must lie unperturbed for a half century in order to neutralize carbon emitted at the conference.

By which time, of course, all these self-appointed aristocrats will be long gone and justifiably forgotten.

(Via Tim Blair.)

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Usually a dollar extra

I have to wonder whether this was actually planned, or somehow just happened:

Workers fled a Tim Horton’s restaurant in Canada after a patron threw a live snake behind the counter during an argument over sandwich toppings.

According to the Saskatoon Police Service, two 20-year-old men are in custody after they allegedly engaged in the snake throwing incident at a Saskatoon Tim Horton’s Monday morning.

The report indicates the men wanted their onions diced and as the argument escalated, one of the men reached into the pocket of his friend’s coat, pulled out a live snake and threw it behind the counter. According to police, no one was injured, but employees fled the store in fear.

On the upside, you have to figure that had they diced it for him, a man eating a snake, even at a Tim Horton’s, has to go over better than a snake eating a man.

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Shift-4

“Ohio State?” spake the Twitterverse in disbelief, and accusations began flying: atavistic regionalism! religious prejudice! blinkered, Philistine pig ignorance!

Well, no. It’s something simpler than all of those things:

I can guarantee you that NOBODY at ESPN was excited about the idea of Baylor or TCU in the College Football Playoff’s inaugural game. Make no mistake about it, as far as Texans are concerned, TCU and Baylor are about the fourth and fifth most popular teams in their own state (after Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, and maybe even Oklahoma). TCU and Baylor fans (if there are such things) aren’t going to travel en masse to a championship game. They won’t buy $800 tickets to the game. And, most importantly, neither school’s brand will inspire fans from coast-to-coast to tune in.

But Ohio State? Oh, yes. They’ve got an alumni base that is more populous than the state of Wyoming. Literally. They have an international brand. They’ve won more national championship rings than you can fit on one hand. And their fans travel. They’ll buy every available seat in that stadium. They’ll gobble up every minute of televised coverage you can give them. They’ll buy every t-shirt you can make.

And hey, at least it’s not the odious Bowl Championship Series, am I right?

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Laziness knows no bounds

Exhibit D-plus:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: Does turnitin.com check translation?

Further detail:

If I read an article in spanish and translate it to english will turnitin know that I copied it from the spanish article? Because I mean they’re not the exam same words because they’re in different languages but this technology **** is crazy so you never know idk

Based just on that paragraph, I think it’s safe to assume that just about any reasonably well-written passage in your paper will be challenged just for being reasonably well-written.

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Regression to the meanest

We’ve all seen them: cars barely worth $500, thumping along with $1000 worth of audio equipment. It never occurs to us that the reverse could ever be true:

Yahoo Answers screenshot:

You have to figure that every dime he has is tied up in that S-Class. And the only generation of S-Class that had an S320 is the W220 series, roughly 1998 to 2006, so I’m betting he doesn’t have an AUX input or a USB port and is desperate for anything that will incorporate them but won’t actually break him. Given this example of Walmart pricing, though, I’d suggest he shop elsewhere.

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Not related to Hugh Jass

This piece came from a TV station in central Florida, so I’m wondering who drew the short straw and had to read “Phuc Kieu charged with sexual battery in Gainesville”:

Police in Gainesville say a man tried to rob and rape another man Sunday.

According to police, the victim made a withdrawal from an ATM and was walking through the bank parking lot when a man identified by Gainesville police as Phuc X. Kieu allegedly grabbed the victim, punched him in the mouth then grabbed the victim’s money.

Police said Kieu, of Orlando, then pulled the victim into his vehicle, straddled him and attempted to undress him.

I think maybe I don’t want to know what the X is for.

Surprisingly, Heywood Jablome was not available for comment.

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Hair apparent

Apparently this was quite the rage, circa 1904:

The Evans Vacuum Cap for baldness

Although I suspect that like many hair-restoration schemes, it sucked.

(Via Weird Vintage.)

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Degrees of discomfort

Lifted in its entirety from Morgan Freeberg’s Facebook wall:

Furnace just came on. I’m going to go get myself another beer and shut off the furnace.

An idea for an invention that will pay for the seven-building mansion: A secure electronic lock you put on the thermostat, that can only be unlocked with a SCROTUM. Let’s just face it, okay? This time of year, every married man North of Tijuana who pays bills, wishes for something like that.

And if she wants it to be 72 degrees all-the-time-everywhere so badly she’s ready to chop off your balls, you probably weren’t going to keep ‘em anyway.

This is probably not the time to note that I keep my house around 74 unless the HVAC is audibly straining to maintain that temperature.

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That crap is dangerous

The year I started grade school, my poor choice of base-running options during a game of kickball landed me about waist-deep in a metal can of raw sewage. I suppose it’s a good thing that at almost seven, I hadn’t started smoking or anything:

A cesspool filled with excrement exploded in a central Chinese city, injuring 15 residents and toppling a building on Saturday, police said.

Police in Zhangjiajie city, Hunan Province, believed it was an accident when a man surnamed Ding was burning waste outside his derelict house and near the cesspool at about 5 p.m.

Police said the fire ignited the methane emanated from the pit and caused the blast. The house has been abandoned since 2006.

Fortunately, China’s sterling environmental record insures that incidents of this sort are few and far between.

(Via Daily Pundit.)

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Time your shopping accordingly

Lynn perhaps dreads doing the routine shopping for this particular week:

Today I need to go to the store and I’m in a bit of a panic about what to get and about remembering everything I need for the whole week so I won’t have to go back out on the day before Thanksgiving, or worse, the day after. Although, the grocery stores shouldn’t be too bad on Black Friday? Also, I’ve noticed in previous years when we drove past Walmart later in the afternoon on Black Friday that the parking lot is almost deserted so I guess all the craziness happens early in the morning then everyone goes home and passes out or something.

I generally avoid anything that smacks of retail on Black Friday myself, but then that’s just me.

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Buncha gubers

The Z Man, I surmise, would just as soon take a cab:

The new buzz phrase is “sharing economy” which is as devoid of meaning and value as the people who like to use it. The vapid hipsters love prattling on about Uber and how it is “disruptive” as if that’s always a good thing. Earthquakes are disruptive. The Black Plague was disruptive. Like everything else today, Uber is about signaling. You’re a beautiful person if you think Uber is the best. You’re a loser if you think it sounds like a handful of sharpies convincing hipsters to be gypsy cab drivers at below market rates.

That’s the thing about the “sharing economy.” It is not new. Ross Perot got rich doing much the same thing in the 70s and 80’s. In the old days, computers were expensive. Companies would sell their idle time to guys like Perot who would find customers in need or processing power, but lacking the money to buy their own mainframe. It was the technological equivalent of the oxpecker bird and rhino. The bird picks ticks and parasites from the hide of the rhino and functions as a warning system. The rhino can live without the bird, but lives better with him.

And when computers became commodity items — well, Perot Systems is now owned by Dell, which has come a long way from the parts-assembly operation Michael Dell ran out of his UT Austin dorm room.

So this is where things are:

Back then, the companies renting the time had an expensive asset they want to maximize. The renter was looking for a lower cost alternative to the million dollar mainframe. Cabs are cheap. No one gets rich driving a cab. How desperate do you have to be to be an Uber driver? How hard up are you if you want to take a ride from some hard up weirdo you met on-line?

Forty years ago a symbiotic relationship between mainframe users was a temporary solution to bridge the gap between the now and better future. Uber represents a desperate attempt to squeeze the remaining juice from the lemon of the modern economy. It is the equivalent of a widow taking in laundry and boarders in order to pay rent. It’s not something signaling a better future. It is a desperate attempt to delay the inevitable decline.

It doesn’t help that technology scourge Al Franken is now pressing Uber’s CEO Travis Kalanick over alleged user-privacy violations.

(Disclosure: My son has occasionally driven for Uber. He is not, I assure you, a hard-up weirdo.)

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