Archive for Dyssynergy

It’s lube, Jim, but not as we know it

These are not, I insist, unreasonable questions:

I think the most difficult thing about being a Starship captain is choosing which speed to use. One day it’s, “Chekov, warp factor two.” The next day, “Chekov, warp factor three.” Is there a galactic speed limit? Also, do they need to change the oil every few hundred parsecs? I never questioned these things when I was younger. Now I want to know.

I suspect that quantum effects ultimately obviate the need for lubrication, on the highly questionable basis that any two particles in contact with one another will also simultaneously be somewhere else, thereby reducing friction to nominal at best.

As for the speed limit, I consulted Memory Alpha:

Faster-than-light travel began after warp one, whereas lower fractional values were sometimes used to measure sublight speeds. Spacecraft ordinarily traveled at a higher integer warp factor.

By the 24th century, infinite velocity was designated as warp factor ten. It was considered to be unattainable by conventional means. Because of this, extremely high warp factors were indicated with fractional values between nine and ten, such as warp 9.975.

How about unconventional means?

In 2267, the Nomad probe improved efficiency in the antimatter input valve and energy release controls on the Enterprise, allowing the ship to achieve at least warp 11. When this happened, Montgomery Scott was in disbelief. Captain James T. Kirk ordered Nomad to reverse the modifications though, as the structure of the Enterprise was not designed to handle the stress of that much power output.

Then again, this was still the 23rd century; true warp ten and Duck Dodgers were still decades away.

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Behind the unseens

Earlier this year, we brought up the concept of Invisible Girlfriend, a phone app that pretends to be dating you for whatever reason that leads you to believe you require pretense. (Invisible Boyfriend is also available, should you prefer.) One thing we didn’t get into was that either this was some seriously upgraded artificial intelligence, or some poor soul has to sit there and write all those texts to you.

We have now heard from one of those poor souls:

With each job, I would see the person’s first name, last initial and hometown; “how we met”; and my own assigned name, age, and which of six personality types they’d given their Invisible. Now I’m adventurous and fun. Now I’m cheerful and outgoing.

There were 3 major rules:

  • I was always supposed to be upbeat in my messages.
  • I’m not supposed to break character.
  • No sexting. (Photos are blocked on the service.)

I’d get the story of how we met and the last 10 messages we’d exchanged. This setup is designed to create the illusion of continuity; ideally, an Invisible Boyfriend would seem like a steady, stable presence in a user’s life, instead of what it really is: a rotating cast of men and women. And it is both: a woman who works for the service previously told me she prefers playing the role of boyfriend because she knows what a woman wants to hear.

And what price love? Surprisingly little:

If I spent an hour answering texts, and took the full five minutes to write each one, I’d be making 60 cents an hour, far below the minimum wage. This is legal because all the workers on the platform are classified as independent contractors rather than employees. “Contributors have a tremendous amount of control over their decisions — for example, when to perform a task, when to complete it, and even if they want to complete it at all,” said Jeffrey H. Newhouse, an employment lawyer at Hirschler Fleischer, by email. “That means the contributor isn’t an employee and, as a result, employee protections like the minimum wage don’t apply.”

Okay, maybe not so surprising.

(Via Hit Coffee.)

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Underage skullduggery

WTF is going down here?

Yahoo Answers screenshot: Text messages photoshop fake?

And this is the conversation he wants faked:

The picture attached is the format I would prefer. Please make the name “Alex” , My first text: “Hi, Can you still get a 12 pack for Monday?” Alex’s text: “sure, £15?”. My text: “kk, 10:30am on your street cya there” Thanks!

The format is presumably phone-specific but is otherwise of no interest. The only possibility that occurs to me is some sixteen-year-old stomping his foot in front of his friends and declaring “I can so get beer.”

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Droning on and on

We were talking drones at lunchtime, and I vouchsafed some conventional wisdom about Amazon delivering stuff via drone. “Not a good idea,” came the reply. “Some people will see them and shoot them down.”

And not only people object to the little flying doomaflatchies:

Said the drone operator:

Do not fly drones near birds of prey, they clearly attack seeing you as a threat or the right sized dinner. This will cost you money and potentially harm to the bird. This one was fine … the drone needed some attention before it could fly again.

More successful photos by the operator here.)

(The Friar caught this before I did.)

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All bent out of shape

I have to figure that this product name is, let us say, a trifle optimistic:

Maybe if it had an infinite power source. (Repeat: “maybe.”)

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My kind of research

The judicial system, however, vigorously dissents:

A “doggedly unrepentant” lawyer who billed her wrongful death clients for watching reality crime TV shows has been suspended for a year from law practice.

The Tennessee Supreme Court upheld the suspension of Knoxville lawyer Yarboro Sallee, who was accused of billing her clients hourly fees of more than $140,000 for less than three months of work and insisting that they pay a contingency fee as well. The Legal Profession Blog, the Chattanoogan and the Knoxville News Sentinel have stories. The July 23 opinion is here [pdf].

The supreme court said Sallee had engaged in “a prodigious amount of wheel-spinning” during her work on her clients’ case, yet she maintained she had done nothing wrong. “Since when is television not a respectable avenue for research anyway,” she said at one point to a trial judge.

I suppose it’s probably better than Wikipedia, but I suspect that’s not saying much.

The ethics case stems from Sallee’s representation of the parents of a woman who died during a fall down the stairs in October 2009. The death was found to be accidental, but the clients suspected their daughter’s husband caused the death to collect on a $1 million insurance policy. Sallee estimated the entire case would cost $100,000 in legal fees, and the clients orally agreed to pay Sallee $250 an hour, which she held out as her “discounted” rate…

“She had taken no witness statements,” the court said, “prepared no expert statements, taken no depositions, propounded no discovery requests. She had, however, engaged in a prodigious amount of wheel-spinning, spending countless hours, charged at a lawyer rate, in activities such as watching 48 Hours television episodes, waiting in hospitals for medical records, and doing Internet research on strangulation.”

You’d think at the very least she’d have watched Criminal Minds.

(With thanks to Nancy Friedman.)

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The bigot on the front line

Roger tells of a spectacularly blatant bit of racial and class prejudice:

It was the early 1980s, and I was moving to a new apartment in Albany. In those days, I had to actually GO to New York Telephone and Niagara Mohawk, the power company at the time, to get my services connected. So, I took my lunch hour from FantaCo, the comic store I worked at the time, to arrange these things.

My New York Tel experience was great. These flirty, attractive women were trying to upsell me for services I didn’t want, or need, and didn’t buy. Still, it put me in quite the good mood.

Then I went to NiMo, and talked with this woman at length about getting my gas and electricity. I filled out the form, and she went over it. A previous ZIP Code I lived in was 12309, with included a well-to-do suburb of Schenectady called Niskayuna, though in fact I was living in the part of Schenectady adjacent to it.

“THAT’S a very expensive neighborhood,” she said, sounding as though she didn’t believe me. I replied, “um-hmm.”

“And who are you to live in a very expensive neighborhood?” Even though he didn’t. Stereotype by ZIP code! (Think “90210.”) Which may explain “um-hmm”: he saw it coming.

Inevitably, of course, it did:

We get to the part of the process where we arrange to have the service started. I was moving only three blocks from work, off Lark Street. I suggested that the service person call me at work, and I could run over and be at my apartment in five minutes.

She countered: “Why don’t you leave the door unlocked? You don’t have anything of value anyway.”

Dayum, girl. Could you possibly be any more hateful?

I was angry. No, I was livid. I was enraged. Yet, I found the place in my voice to say, “Actually, I DO have things of value.” Eventually, and unhappily, she capitulated to my request.

A couple of days later, Roger recovered his cool enough to send a letter to the utility, which was properly contrite. But suppose he hadn’t?

Now I COULD have lost my cool at the NiMo office. I would have felt totally justified. The problem is that I would have come across as a crazy black man, who just went OFF for no apparent reason.

She’d never have said that to a white guy, and if she had and he’d gone off, managers would be summoned and collars would be cooled, and the word “crazy” would have never been mentioned.

Now this happened thirty-odd years ago. Are things better today? I wouldn’t bet on it: customer service seems to be at a low ebb these days, and anyone who thinks racism is dead is simply not paying attention.

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Every microfiber of her being

I change the sheets on a regular basis, but this is pretty much because I expect them to need changing on that same regular basis; mess with the schedule, and suddenly I have issues not (much) unlike this:

[W]hen I was doing my makeup in bed (why) and accidentally pumped my little bottle of foundation too hard and squirted it all over the sheets (dumb), I made the controversial decision to:

  1. Give it a half-assed blot with some toilet paper.
  2. Abandon the pretense.
  3. Toss the duvet over it and act like nothing ever happened.

I didn’t decide these things because I’m lazy (I am). I didn’t decide them because I’m gross (also yes). I decided them because I hate changing sheets with Every. Fiber. Of. My. Being.

We differ on one small point: I don’t object too much to changing sheets, if it’s Sunday, since Sunday is the day I wash sheets and towels and such. (Thursday, it’s a different story entirely.) Still, once washed, they must be folded and put away, and I have basically two classes of fitted sheets: those with elastic only at the ends, which I have learned to fold after a fashion, and those with elastic all around, which I am tempted to roll up in a ball and abandon somewhere, were it not for the fact that they cost so damned much.

(I do pay attention to thread counts, having in my younger days cheaped out and bought stuff with a thread count of something like 12. It’s like sleeping on the bridge over the river Kwai.)

I will generally go to the trouble of obtaining a washcloth to perform the half-assed blot, but otherwise, I think I can match her for laziness.

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Birthday massacre

No, not the Canadian band. One of the weirdest outcroppings of US copyright law — and believe me, there are some zingers in the bunch — was the claim that “Happy Birthday to You,” a song written in 1893, is somehow under copyright until 2030.

Said claim is perhaps about to be tossed in the garbage with the party decorations:

[I]n the high profile lawsuit over the copyright status of the song “Happy Birthday,” the plaintiffs “Good Morning to You Productions” (who are making a documentary about the song and are arguing that the song is in the public domain) have popped up with a last minute filing, saying they have just come across evidence that the song is absolutely in the public domain.

And, here’s the real kicker: they discovered this bit of evidence after two questionable things happened. (1) Warner/Chappell Music (who claims to hold the copyright for the publishing, if it exists) suddenly “found” a bunch of relevant documents that it was supposed to hand over in discovery last year, but didn’t until just a few weeks ago, and (2) a rather important bit of information in one of those new documents was somewhat bizarrely “blurred out.” This led the plaintiffs go searching for the original, and discover that it undermines Warner Music’s arguments, to the point of showing that the company was almost certainly misleading the court. Furthermore, it definitively shows that the work was and is in the public domain.

Allegedly, the song brought Warner/Chappell up to $2 million a year. It might actually have been cheaper to license the Beatles’ “Birthday” from the White Album — once, anyway.

Update, 8 August: On this last note, Hollywood writer/tech guy Marc Wielage sez:

$330K for most Beatles song publishing — if they approve the use of it in the first place. Meanwhile “Happy Birthday” averages around $2000-$5000 in a film.

So much for that comparison.

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Vancouver lacks Uber

And so the Coyote calls the properly licensed, government-approved car service:

In trying to complete the transaction, I was told that they were very busy and that my wait would be up to 40 minutes for them to show up.

This is the second time in a week (Vegas was the first) that I have had to spend some serious wait-time just because the local government has decided to artificially limit competition and capacity. I am sure the politicians would tell me it’s for my own good, though.

As do all politicians. I think it’s in the paperwork they have to sign to be eligible for graft.

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Give us sweatshops!

I implore thee, Saint Willis of Carrier, lift the veil from the eyes of those who only think they see:

[T]he gender divide, thermostat edition. All these women who actually dress for the season — linens, sundresses, flowy silk shirts, short-sleeve tops — changing their wardrobes to fit the sweltering temperatures around them.

And then there are the men, stalwart in their business armor, manipulating their environment for their own comfort, heaven forbid they make any adjustments in what they wear.

That’s right, my friends. Air conditioning is another big, sexist plot.

No, really, she’s serious:

Setting the temperature to suit men is wrong in ways that go far beyond summer fashion.

Frozen workers make more errors and are less productive, according to Alan Hedge, professor of design and environmental analysis and director of Cornell’s Human Factors and Ergonomics Laboratory, who studied office temperatures about a decade ago.

I suppose there’s some vaguely egalitarian idea behind having everyone sweat, but scratch any totalitarian, and you’ll find a whole bucket full of vaguely egalitarian ideas.

Steven Crowder gives this the response it deserves:

[D]oes anyone else find it ironic that feminists are accusing men of secretly stacking the deck against women in order to get them to … put on more clothes? Wouldn’t it be more reasonable to assume that men would more likely crank up the heat to get women to strip down? First step: set thermostat to 91 degrees. Second step: pitch “Casual Bra and Panty Friday.”

Third step: exile all these freezing women to somewhere deep in the heart of Texas. On a day like, oh, the 28th of July.

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In which we see the hand of Cyberdyne

Up until the very end of the paragraph, this looked like ordinary defense-industry boilerplate:

An effort to recapitalise the Northrop Grumman E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (JSTARS) with a modern business jet is shaping up to be this summer’s blockbuster defence programme, with three solid industry teams now vying for the $6.5 billion prize and Raytheon working on a curious new airborne radar called “Skynet.”

Skynet logoSkynet? Seriously?

Raytheon is flying under the radar, so to speak, by offering its new “Skynet” radar to all sides. The company is in a non-exclusive partnership with Lockheed, but says it will offer its radar — believed to be a 16ft derivative of the Advanced Airborne Sensor (AAS) carried on the Boeing P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft — to whichever company wants it.

According to Raytheon: “Skynet incorporates the latest innovations developed for the US Navy’s stringent, wide-area surveillance requirements [and] meets or exceeds all JSTARS requirements for the lowest possible cost.”

Lockheed confirmed in a statement that it intends to carry Skynet on its business jet design, describing the radar as a “state-of-the-art active electronically scanned array (AESA), long-range, ground-surveillance radar.”

Northrop says it is closely examining Raytheon’s radar offering, but could also choose its own ground-looking AESA radar, depending on the final JSTARS requirements. Metzger’s team has been conducting trials with several different radar types at its radar test facility in Melbourne.

So who gets to go looking for Sarah Connor?

(Via Bayou Renaissance Man.)

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A perfect night to dress up

Taylor Swift T.S. 1989 sweatshirtAbout five and a half billion people on this plain granite planet will recognize this sweatshirt as being part of Taylor Swift’s new clothing line, intended to promote her platinum / palladium / unobtainium album 1989, in stores now and not streaming very much. That leaves a billion and a half who might see something different in it:

The date — as well as being Swift’s year of birth — refers to her album and live tour of the same name, which she will perform in Shanghai in November.

But the date — and the initials TS — are particularly sensitive in China, as they signify the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989, when hundreds of students were killed in pro-democracy protests.

Bad move? Maybe not. Chinese retailer JD.com, which will carry the Swift line, doesn’t seem to have any trouble selling the 1989 CD.

(Via Marginal Revolution.)

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In lieu of actual improvements

Flickr Pro, which was dead two years ago, is now somewhat less dead. Per an email received from their current overseers:

We’re re-launching Flickr Pro and making it available to all Flickr members.

The new Flickr Pro includes:

  • Stats and analytics on your photos and more detailed referral traffic
  • Ad-free browsing and sharing

Yearly subscriptions also receive:

  • FREE standard shipping on Flickr photo merchandise within the US, and 50% savings on international standard shipping ($25 minimum)
  • 20% off Adobe Creative Cloud Photography plan for the first year

All this for only twice the price:

For new subscribers, Flickr Pro is $49.99 per year or $5.99 per month.

And here is where it gets good as a Loyal Flickr Pro Member: You get these additional Flickr Pro features and continue to receive unlimited space, with no change in price for the next 2 years.

“How much does it cost to go back to the old-style, uncluttered embed?” he asked, expecting no response.

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Warm! What is it good for?

There’s a certain irony in writing this while a Heat Advisory is boiling away outside, but what the hell:

Look, warm is better than cold. Plants grow better. Food is more abundant. Plus being cold sucks, just ask anyone who has not yet moved south for the winter. I say we fire up those coal plants, drive the heck out of your SUVs, bring back Freon. Each of us should strive to have a carbon footprint the size of Bigfoot. We all know what happens if it gets too cold.

I figure carbon-based life forms with a morbid fear of carbon are sufficiently self-loathing to make themselves perfect candidates for Voluntary Human Extinction.

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No advance fees, period

California says a talent agent can’t collect money from a client before representation actually begins, as explained here, and one such agent has now been convicted:

Debra Baum, 53, entered a plea of no contest to one count of operating an advance fee talent service. Judge Deborah Brazil sentenced Baum to 36 months summary probation and ordered her to serve 45 days in jail or perform 20 days of community labor. Baum also agreed to pay $91,252.75 in restitution to the parents of the victims…

The City Attorney’s office said that Baum solicited a 19-year old in 2012 who she heard singing in a hair salon and signed her to a $10,000 per month management contract to promote her vocal career. Before terminating the contract in September 2012, the victim’s family paid $70,000 in management fees to Baum as well as thousands of dollars in third party expenses for vocal training, stylists and recordings.

Said Baum on Twitter:

This doesn’t quite sound like someone who just entered a nolo plea.

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Hey, seize this, pal

Taste considerations obviously don’t enter into it:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: Wording a warning message for people with Epilepsy on a Tumblr blog with a rainbow-colored flashing background?

And apparently it’s just this short of a done deal:

I already have the Java Script and everything, I just don’t know how to write the warning in a professional way.

Like there’s anything “professional” about a rainbow-colored flashing background to begin with. How about an autostart audio file to make it worse?

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Crude estimate

Dave Schuler, as he often does, points out something that a lot of the pundit class has missed:

Most commentators seem to believe that as soon as sanctions are lifted Iran will begin selling oil.

At $60 a barrel, what can go wrong? This: Iran has to earn at least twice that to break even on production.

Or, in Schuler’s words:

Iran’s profit-maximizing strategy requires the price of oil to go up or, failing that, for Iran to leave its oil in the ground until it is able to produce oil at a lower cost.

That in turn leads to two observations. First, if Iran sells oil at all it means that it’s absolutely desperate for foreign exchange. And, more disquietingly, expect Iran to foment instability in the Middle East. Stability is bad for business.

That particular business, anyway.

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This stuff can kale you

Avoiding kale, if not exactly a priority, has certainly been a factor on my task list, on the sensible basis that “flavorful,” that popular foodie term, does not, I believe, necessarily imply that the flavor in question is at all desirable.

But some foodies may soon be turning their backs on the stuff, not for flavor considerations, but for something a bit more intensive:

[A]lt-medicine researcher and molecular biologist Ernie Hubbard … began to notice an odd trend among some of his clinic’s clients in California’s Marin County, a place known for its organic farms, health-food stores, and yoga studios. Extremely health-conscious people were coming into to complain of “persistent but elusive problems”: “Chronic fatigue. Skin and hair issues. Arrhythmias and other neurological disorders. Foggy thinking. Gluten sensitivity and other digestive troubles. Sometimes even the possibility of Lyme Disease.”

Hubbard began to find detectable levels of a toxic heavy metal called thallium in patients’ blood samples — at higher-than-normal levels — as well as in kale leaves from the region. Meanwhile, “over and over,” he found that patients complaining of symptoms associated with low-level thallium poisoning — fatigue, brain fog, etc. — would also be heavy eaters of kale and related vegetables, like cabbage.

And he found, in the form of this 2006 peer-reviewed paper by Czech researchers, evidence that kale is really good at taking up thallium from soil. The paper concluded that kale’s ability to accumulate soil-borne thallium is “very high and can be a serious danger for food chains.” And here’s a peer-reviewed 2013 paper from Chinese researchers finding similar results with green cabbage; a 2015 Chinese study finding green cabbage is so good at extracting thallium from soil that it can be used for “phytoremediation” — i.e., purifying soil of a toxin — and a 2001 one from a New Zealand team finding formidable thallium-scrounging powers in three other members of the brassica family: watercress, radishes, and turnips.

Excuse me while I smile at “thallium-scrounging powers.”

Up until about the early 1970s, you could buy thallium sulfate at your local hardware store: it made a good rat poison. Turns out, of course, that it can poison lots of critters besides rats. Still, it’s not like the whole earth is just saturated with the stuff; while thallium is not exactly rare as elements go, the most common sources are industrial. One of those industries, however, is big in these parts: oil drilling.

Hmmmm.

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One way to lose your ass

I can’t even think of an intro for this:

A woman is in a coma after her butt implants exploded while doing squats at a gym. Serena Beuford, 27, was working out for an Instagram video when she heard a loud pop. Soon after, she fell to the floor screaming in agony … saying that her butt was gone.

According to Beuford’s sister Jackie, Serena had visited an unlicensed clinic to get a 64-inch bottom. She said her sister wanted to become famous on Instagram.

On a scale of 1 to Donald Trump’s speechwriter, how pathetic is this?

And while we’re at it, what if your butt was gone?

Update: Snopes traces this to a fake-news vendor.

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Things to come, maybe

El Nuko celebrates the beginning of his tenth year behind a blog dashboard with a list of ten predictions, two of which I figured I ought to pass on:

  1. The huge NSA data collection center at St Louis will be totally breached, and all of the information will be released into the open. The US economy will be thrown into a deep depression as credit availability evaporates overnight due to lack of confidentiality.
  2. Obama will propose microchip implantation as the solution, which will be agreed to by both parties, with the exception of 2016 hopeful Mike Huckabee, who sees this as the “mark of the beast.”

Expect Mitch McConnell to offer token resistance at first, because that’s what he does best: token resistance.

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Friendlier skies

Flying somewhere used to Not Suck. Really, it did:

Airport (the 1970 movie) portrayed air travel as it was back then; glamorous, bordering on exotic … a thing the hoi polloi could only dream of doing. Okay, put aside the part where the crazy guy exploded a bomb on the plane; that’s not my point. Back then, stewardii were all hot babes, your knees were not serving as backstops for the seat back in front of you, your seatmate was not wearing a Dumb and Dumber tanktop, carrying on luggage was considered tres gauche, and you were served food, on plates with silverware no less. As everyone knows, it’s not like that anymore.

I always spelled it “stewardae,” but then I was somewhat perverse in that era, and besides, I never actually got on a plane until 1972. After that, though, I logged some ridiculous number of miles in the next three years. (Somewhere in the low five digits, anyway.)

Airlines have become the Greyhound bus of the 21st century … and I am not saying that in a pejorative way. Yes, the relative luxury of air travel 40 years ago is gone and we can bemoan that. However, air travel today is fast, relatively inexpensive, and reasonably convenient. The price we have paid is being packed in so tightly with our fellow passengers that, if we were pigs headed for the slaughter house, there would be animal cruelty ordinances to prevent it. The animal analogy is a good one and, again, I am not being pejorative. Realistically, the only way airlines can move millions of people and their stuff around every day is to treat them like cattle. It works.

And we get farther from free-range every day.

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Worst seat in the house

About three years ago, Airbus floated the idea of offering airlines a choice between narrow and really narrow seats. (The merely narrow seats were dubbed “XL,” which proves that even sadists have a sense of humor.)

But this obviously wasn’t enough passenger discomfort, so — well, here’s the Telegraph story: “New plane cabin could force passengers to make eye contact.” Seriously:

A new in-flight seating plan aims to make better use of cabin space — but would see passengers forced to face one another during a flight.

Zodiac Airbus seat arrangement proposal

The designs, proposed by Zodiac Seats France, the airline industry supplier, feature alternating forward and backward facing seats placed side by side.

What could possibly be worse? How about this Airbus scheme from last summer?

Airbus flying donut seat arrangement proposal

Fausta knows where this design came from, though:

Rather than donuts, Airbus is finding inspiration in Dante, which Dante surely would add as the 10th circle were he alive today.

At least it’s temporary; it only seems eternal.

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I haz had Cheezburger

And now, says Ben Huh, someone else can haz it:

After 8 incredible years, I am stepping down from being CEO of Cheezburger today.

I will remain a Board member. Cheezburger’s President and COO, Scott Moore will step in to the CEO role with my full support. Scott has proven to be a skilled operator and a steadfast leader. He has taught me a lot about being strategic, decisive, and positive. He has taught me that I have much to learn, and I am grateful for his dedication to Cheezburger. I will miss working with him daily.

Not that he regrets a minute of lolcattitude:

Cheezburger gave rise to a new category of content, a new industry of global reach, and as some would call it: the downfall of civilization. I say, ‾\_(ツ)_/‾ bring it on, because it looks like a lot of fun.

See ya, Ben.

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The siblings of Big Brother

Woot yesterday was selling a home security system, festooned with no fewer than four video cameras, and this was their pitch:

Big Brother is absolutely watching. You might as well stop fighting it and just watch him right back.

Look, that Orwellian nightmare has come and gone. We’re in a place Georgie-boy never even DREAMED about. Privacy is gone, and we gave it up willingly for likes and stars and upvotes. So why fight it? This is the world we want! Get some cameras and join in!

With a security system, you’ll be able to see the world around you. Your friends, when they’re line-of-sight. Your family, when they wander around the yard. Total strangers, when they walk within range. It’s the very same power every government has, only on a smaller scale. Why, with a little practice, maybe you can even zoom in and read the paper over your spouses’ shoulder!

Don’t be afraid of Big Brother. Be his ally! Lament the privacy that’s now long gone by treating yourself to a nice security system and become part of the system. It’s not so bad, as long as you stay out of Room 101.

This is of course snark, as Woot cranks out for every product it sells, but that one line in the second paragraph is just a hair chilling: “Privacy is gone, and we gave it up willingly for likes and stars and upvotes.” Now you know what we truly value.

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They’re not puppies anymore

In fact, they never were:

Wang Kaiyu … owns a banana farm in Jinchang Town, near the border of Vietnam, China News reports. Two years ago, a Vietnamese man was passing by the area with two “good looking” pups, and Wang decided to buy them off the man, he told reporters.

For two years, he lovingly raised the “dogs”, bathing and pampering them every day. Wang said the animals were well-behaved but that their appetites were rapidly growing. He recalled a few times when his beloved pets caught and ate chickens on the farm.

As fate would have it, Wang saw a poster about wildlife protection at an exhibition hosted by the forest police, and the bells started ringing.

Canis familiaris? Nope. Ursus thibetanus, the Asian black bear, which is indeed deemed “protected” by Chinese law. Vietnam, not incidentally, prohibits their export.

(Via Fark.)

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Take that, ya little turdblossom

Some weird goings-on in Wayne, New Jersey:

A township teacher who lost her tenured position and whose teaching license was suspended after she made fun of a curse word in a student’s name has lost her appeal.

Yvette Nichols had appealed an October decision [pdf] by the state licensing agency for teachers — the Board of Examiners — suspending her teaching certificate for a year for posting a screenshot on Facebook of an assignment a student had completed, which instructed students to “practice writing my name the kindergarten way.” Nichols’ Facebook post, however, focused on the curse word in the student’s name.

What is this story missing? Right:

The decision does not specify what the student’s name was, or what curse word it contained.

Theoretically, I suppose, the child could have been named for a marginally famous river, like the Washita.

(Via Strong Language.)

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The antithesis of progress

Oh, yeah, it saves space. Big deal:

The Wall Street Journal reports that Sealed Air, the maker of bubble wrap, has announced a new “flat” version of its product. This version, to the lament of many on social media, will not pop.

Sealed Air states that shipping pre-inflated rolls of bubble wrap takes up too much space in trucks and on warehouse floors. The new version is sold in flat sheets and will be filled on demand with a custom pump. Shipping it in this manner will use about 1/50 as much space as before.

Rather than individual bubbles, the new wrap contains a single chamber of air which holds little promise to entertain like the original wrapping has done for decades.

This puts an end to at least some of “Weird Al” Yankovic’s freaky time.

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Nothing to dye for

I’m assuming here that the questioner is very young and likely more familiar with the vernacular than with that which it describes:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: Is it normal that the rug doesn t match the drapes?

To clarify:

(I grew pubes since a few months ago already and while I have long light blond hair, they are rather brown … Is there something wrong?)

The answer I might have wanted to give, fortunately, has already been served up:

No. Your drapes are exposed to sunlight and fade. The rug isn’t.

I suppose this could be tested experimentally, but local laws might be an obstacle.

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By wrath blinded

In the wake of the Supreme Court ruling on — what’s the term this week? Oh, yeah, “marriage equality” — one guy got totally bent out of shape and complained to his local NBC affiliate:

Don complains to KARK

Logo for KARK-TV Little RockThe “colors of gays”?

NBC has been, um, proud as a peacock since 1956, when the bird (called by NBC insiders “the bird”) was introduced with the express intention of helping then-parent RCA sell color TV sets. The current version dates to 1986; KARK-TV Little Rock has been an NBC affiliate ever since signing on in 1954.

I have to believe that station staffers, finding this silliness on their Facebook page, guffawed for several minutes, and then one of them quit laughing and posted a completely deadpan, perfectly accurate response:

KARK responds

Don, we assume, has been unable to find a butter knife to fall upon.

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