Archive for Dyssynergy

Career dehancement

Meh.com’s parent company Mediocre Laboratories is hiring, and at this writing they’re looking for a “Member Engagement Specialist (Evenings / Nights / Weekends, PT or FT),” which boils down to this:

Do you enjoy receiving soulless, robotic emails? Do the typical customer service experiences you have make you happy? Do you loathe the opportunity to take ownership of a new process? If yes, stop reading now. But if you truly enjoy engaging with people, creating unique and memorable experiences and generally spreading sunshine and happiness with creative flair, you may have what it takes to join our mediocre staff as a member engagement specialist. If you can do all that while enduring gracefully the unavoidable rants, cranks, and jerks you’ll encounter, and say NO when required without being a jerk yourself, we should talk. Oh yea, and you’ll need to have the ability to work some unconventional hours — the mediocre shifts, if you will.

I’m not in this particular field myself, but I know from rants, cranks, and jerks; they’re dialing in more or less continuously from the moment the phone system starts letting them in to just before they get dismissed to voice mail.

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The most annoying name in sports

Boston is competing for the 2024 Olympics, and a Son of the Bay State explains why this is such a miserable idea:

I am of the opinion that all Olympics should be held in otherwise authoritarian countries. (Or, to be open-minded about the whole thing, in Barcelona.) A good, established dictatorship is usually the way to go. This is because agreeing to host the Olympics is agreeing to turn your city into an authoritarian state anyway, and we might as well just hand the work of organizing one over to the people who do it full time. The Olympics control your traffic. The Olympics control where you can walk or ride your bicycle. The Olympics overwhelm your infrastructure for their own purposes; a plague of be-blazered buffet grazers descend on your finest restaurants. For two weeks and change, every host city transforms itself into an armed camp with corporate sponsors. In 2004, the Democratic Party held its national convention in Boston. (You may recall that a jug-eared rookie from Illinois gave a helluva speech.) People howled. The city was rendered logistically inaccessible, and that was for less than a week. The Olympics are four times as long, vastly more sprawling, and infinitely more inconvenient. The local committee proposes, for example, to hold the canoeing and kayaking events way out in flannel-shirt country in the Berkshire foothills. People are going to be stranded so long on the state roads out there that they’re going to have to buy houses.

But this sort of thing would happen even in semi-sleepy burgs in Utah. In Beantown, things are infinitely more complicated:

And then there’s Boston itself, which was laid out in the 17th century and hasn’t changed a lot, except that it’s harder to get around than it used to be. There are parts of downtown that have survived relatively unchanged since the days when Samuel Adams himself was a brewer. The expressway situation has improved dramatically since they finished the mother of all money pits, the Big Dig — and, it must be said, since the Big Dig has stopped killing people. But the city itself remains an unwieldy beast to traverse. Let’s say, for example, that you want to watch a little badminton at Agganis Arena at Boston University, and then figure you’ll catch a little modern pentathlon at Franklin Park. You’d best leave your dental records with your loved ones back in Amsterdam so they can identify your desiccated corpse when it’s found in an abandoned cab halfway between the two venues.

Then again, Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter was laid out sometime around the 4th century.

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At the mercy of the F connector

“I’m calling you on Sunday and the earliest that someone can come fix this is Thursday?”

Last year, it was reported that cable-TV prices were rising at the official rate of inflation times four, and perhaps one reason for this is sheer ineptitude:

“Well, yes, that’s the earliest one is available.” After telling the technician that he has done a good job trying to help me but his company is pathetic and a four-day delay in a service call is the kind of thing that makes customers of other companies, I say go ahead and schedule it, my choices being limited.

This means that I will not receive the service for which I pay CableOne, but I know better than to ask if they will discount my bill. It’s not because I believe they are unconcerned with the reality that I will pay for something I don’t receive. They are, but that’s not the reason.

It’s because I believe that no one working at CableOne could handle the necessary math. Not that they couldn’t handle the math of trying to pro-rate everyone’s bill who has an interruption of service. I mean I don’t believe anyone there could handle the actual pencil-and-paper math of figuring out what fraction of channels I pay for were working, how long they weren’t working and apply that discount to the amount I pay for their service.

I wonder if they read their reviews.

(If “F connector” means nothing to you, have a look at this.)

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Dots rite

Even practitioners of Minnesota Nice can be sorely vexed when you misrepresent them:

For decades, the cheerful twin dots had hovered over the “o” in Lindström on the green highway signs that welcomed visitors to the small hamlet — population, 4,442 — that had been settled by Swedish immigrants in the 1850s.

After a highway project in 2012, the signs came down and were replaced with new ones. According to a city official, the Minnesota Department of Transportation denied the town’s request that the umlauts remain, citing a rule that road signs have only letters in a standard alphabet. So in a change that irritated some Sweden-adoring people here, Lindström became Lindstrom.

But in an announcement that was indignant, a little quirky and very Minnesotan, the governor intervened on Wednesday, releasing a statement that promised that the umlauts on the signs would be restored, and fast. “Nonsensical rules like this are exactly why people get frustrated with government,” Gov. Mark Dayton, a Democrat, said in the statement. “Even if I have to drive to Lindström and paint the umlauts on the city limit signs myself, I’ll do it.”

In other news, The New York Times apparently thinks a town of more than four thousand people is a “small hamlet.” (Are there large hamlets?) Still, props to Governor Dayton for getting the message.

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What light with yonder price breaks?

Meh.com offered some LED floodlights yesterday, and while I didn’t buy, I was heartened by the front-page description:

Description of Optiled LED lights offered by meh.com

They asked four bucks extra for the bulb that dims.

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Better watch those English muffins, too

What do we know about Danish butter cookies? They come in this enormous metal tin, they contain no shortening ingredient other than butter, and you should probably keep them away from me.

One of the major distributors of Danish butter cookies is, surprise, Campbell Soup Company, which acquired Denmark’s Kelsen Group in 2013. And Campbell’s was not pleased to see a competitor named Danisa moving into their territory, since Danisa’s manufacturer, “Danish Specialty Foods,” allegedly in Copenhagen, is apparently actually in Indonesia.

Takari, US distributor for Danisa, argued before the National Advertising Division that they’re just the importer and have nothing to do with the contents, and besides, First Amendment. The NAD was not impressed with this argument, and Takari will revise the packaging and advertising.

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Open book, it isn’t

I came up with some weird ideas for exam preparation when I was a schoolboy, but I don’t think I could have even imagined a scheme like this:

A German schoolboy has taken exam preparation to ingenious new levels by making a freedom of information request to see the questions in his forthcoming Abitur tests, the equivalent of A-levels in the UK.

Simon Schräder, 17, from Münster, used the internet platform fragdenstaat.de (“ask the state”), to ask the education ministry of North Rhine-Westphalia for “the tasks of the centrally-made Abitur examinations in the senior classes of high school in the current school year.” He was specifically invoking his state’s freedom of information law.

One provision of that law, though, may yet foil his scheme:

Schräder set the ministry the legally allowed one-month deadline — falling on 21 April — to comply, though his first exam is on 16 April.

“If they answer in time it might fit for one exam,” Schräder told the Guardian.

(Via Fark.)

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Enabling escape

We begin with a quote from Oleg Volk:

I’ve followed the development of this mess for a couple of years now. A former competitive air gun shooter, Stacey modeled for several of my RKBA posters, and I got to hear a bit about her situation. My advice was “get out now!” but the reality proved more difficult.

And this is the reality:

In 2001 I married a man I believed to be the one who would love and protect me for the rest of my life. He had a volatile temper, but I just chalked it up to us being fairly young and didn’t worry about it much. A couple of years went by he began to not only punch holes in the walls and doors of our apartment but he also started to be physical toward me. While I was pregnant with our second son in 2004 my husband went out drinking with his friends and came home drunk.

After that, things got worse. And now it’s come to this:

He was arrested again but he has his attorney again and will probably get another light sentence. I tried to get help filing a divorce through the Legal Aid Society but they have not done anything to help. I recently started working outside the house again to be able to support my children and myself but have not been able to make enough to cover all the attorney fees and divorce filing fees so we can finally escape this completely. A few friends of mine have used gofundme.com in the past and suggested I try it. I hate asking for help, especially help with money, but I need it badly right now to get my children and myself out of this mess. So I’m setting my pride aside and humbly asking for help from my friends and family. I love you all and appreciate you more than you could ever know. Bless you!

This fundraiser went up this afternoon, and has already reached nearly more than a third of its goal.

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Not your tags to pop

I hadn’t heard this argument before:

Recently a lot of rich kids in my town have started shopping at the local thrift shop looking for cheap hipster clothes. I think this is wrong as thrift shops only have a limited amount of clothes and they should go to people who need them.

To me it seems like going to a thrift shop is like going to a food bank.

Patti, a thrifter for a decade and a half, begs to differ:

There is no used clothing shortage, as far as I can see. Our thrift has a back room piled with donated clothing to be sorted, priced and hung up. We are never going to be caught up, no matter how many “rich” people come in to shop. Used clothing, we has it.

And what’s more:

Well-off customers not only shop at our store, they donate. A lot. And they donate many items that less fortunate people don’t often buy, like pricey silverware and china sets, and valuable furniture and art. Hooray for that — and for the “rich” folks who buy them. They pay for a lot of cat food.

Besides, one grouch’s trash is another grouch’s outfit:

Awesome.

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Backstage at Security Theater

The Transportation Security Authority has guidelines it uses to determine if someone is more suspicious-looking than someone else. Quelle surprise:

The checklist is part of TSA’s controversial program to identify potential terrorists based on behaviors that it thinks indicate stress or deception — known as the Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques, or SPOT. The program employs specially trained officers, known as Behavior Detection Officers, to watch and interact with passengers going through screening.

Cute names for government operations almost always indicate something controversial is afoot.

The checklist ranges from the mind-numbingly obvious, like “appears to be in disguise,” which is worth three points, to the downright dubious, like a bobbing Adam’s apple. Many indicators, like “trembling” and “arriving late for flight,” appear to confirm allegations that the program picks out signs and emotions that are common to many people who fly.

Stripped of point values, here are some of the behaviors that may trigger Double Secret Screening:

Things TSA is looking for

A sample SPOT form is here for your inspection.

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Weed killer on the rocks

Whatever the opposite of “well played” is, that’s what this incident was:

Dr. Patrick Moore tells the host that glyphosate, an active ingredient in Roundup that was recently linked to cancer by the World Health Organization, is not linked to Argentina’s increasing cancer rate.

“You can drink a whole quart of it and it won’t hurt you,” says Moore.

At which point, the host actually offers Dr. Moore a glass of glyphosate. He declines, of course.

The standard for stunts of this sort, you should know, was set back in the early 1980s by, um, me:

All of a sudden this workaday chemical became a Major Hazard, and there was enough water-fountain chatter about it for me to justify a prank. This would require a confederate who was in on the gag: no problem there. The mystery fluid is furnished in brown bottles, the same shade used for hydrogen peroxide. (Whether it’s for the same reason or not, I couldn’t tell you.) We bought the stuff in case lots. We sabotaged one case: took one bottle, drained it, replaced the contents with tap water, marked the edge in some inconspicuous way, and resealed the case.

When the discussion came:

[S]omeone asked about whether this … stuff was really, you know, safe. The confederate chimed in with the opinion that it was highly dangerous and that we should switch to, for instance, some sort of correction tape. I scoffed. (Even then I was a good scoffer.) “You think this stuff is dangerous?” I fetched the rigged case, seized the faked-up bottle, and chugged its six-ounce contents. People stared at me as though I were Bruce Banner about to undergo Hulkification.

Now that’s how it’s done. Monsanto says it wasn’t paying Dr. Moore to speak on behalf of Roundup; whoever was, however, clearly didn’t get his money’s worth.

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Joining in

The old Orkut social network, put to sleep by Google last year, had one lasting effect on me: it got me on several Brazilian mailing lists, none of which I particularly wanted to be on.

A couple of the regular senders reference the city of Joinville, about which I knew nothing. Off to Wikipedia I go:

Joinville is the largest city in Santa Catarina State, in the South Region of Brazil. It is the third largest municipality in the southern region of Brazil, after the much larger state capitals of Curitiba and Porto Alegre. Joinville is also a major industrial, financial and commerce center.

The South Region is slightly smaller than Texas — about 230,000 square miles — and has a similar population: just under 30 million.

Now how about that name?

Even though it is considered a German-Brazilian city, its name is French (Joinville was named after François d’Orléans, prince of Joinville, son of King Louis-Philippe of France, who married Princess Francisca of Brazil, in 1843).

Speaking of the Germans, many of whom settled in this area of Brazil back in the 19th century, one of their auto companies is now settling in:

The latest BMW Group production site is located in Araquari, a town in the southern Brazilian state of Santa Catarina. This allows the BMW Group to draw on the structures established in Joinville, located about 20 kilometers north of the new plant. At Joinville’s Perini Businesspark, the BMW Group is presently setting up a training center for the new plant. The centerpiece of this facility is an assembly line for training purposes, which is in keeping with the global BMW Group production standards.

And how’s the weather?

Although Joinville lies outside the tropic zone, and because of its low altitude and proximity to the Atlantic Ocean it sees little temperature variation throughout the year, with every month seeing average highs in the 20s C.

This picture of beautiful downtown Joinville is somehow enthralling:

Central Joinville, Wikimedia photo by Unmoralisch

At least from this angle, this town doesn’t look like it’s a mere 14 feet above sea level. And one expects a whole lot more traffic. Then again, Joinville’s 550,000 inhabitants are spread over 400 square miles — kind of like a Texas town.

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Flying solo

Torre DeRoche, who wrote the glorious travel tale Love With a Chance of Drowning (I discuss it briefly here), is on Twitter as @FearfulGirl, though there’s darn little she’ll shy away from:

For the last ten years, I’ve made a lifestyle out of pushing the boundaries of my own fears. I sailed the Pacific despite a phobia of deep water. I climbed Mount Kinabalu despite a fear of heights. I learned to dive despite the sharks. I walked through Italy and India despite the fear of being mauled. I did all of this for the sake of experiential learning, to test out my own hunch that the world isn’t as dangerous and hostile as it’s touted to be. Over and over again, I’ve come to the same conclusion: One must always exercise caution, and not all countries and places are safe, but, for the most part, humans are overwhelmingly kind and the world is overwhelmingly hospitable. Almost always, you are safe.

And people who throw crime rates and stuff at you? Forget about ‘em:

The statements made by authorities and others like it are a blow to every woman’s sense of freedom. They’re potent bundles of psychologically damaging paranoia wrapped up in the packaging of a thoughtful gift. Every time you tell a woman “It’s not safe for you,” and “Be careful, you’re a woman,” you’re undermining her. Telling her that she’s fragile. Stupid. Weak. Incapable. Rape-able.

This fear limits her growth and deteriorates her quality of life. Fear is her greatest enemy.

There is such a thing as being too paternalistic. My daughter will be thirty-seven this year; I have long since learned that she seldom if ever loses her cool. (And I’m pretty sure she didn’t get that from me.)

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Gooder vibrations

The Friar, in the process of snickering at those folks who will pay four digits for very early record pressings, issues the following explanation of the record-making process, mechanical division:

Sound in vinyl records is encoded in the grooves, which are played when the turntable needle moves over them at the proper speed. The grooves are pressed or stamped into blank vinyl discs, and like all mechanical systems the stampers were subject to wearing out. Records pressed earlier in a stamping run were more likely to have grooves that are cleaner and more accurately reproduce the full range of the sound.

Ideally, the cutting speed and the playback speed should be identical, except when they’re not:

Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs stepped in to fill the audiophile niche market. Their Half Speed Masters were special pressings of the albums. They (smartly) realized that not all audiophiles were classical music buffs, and that the rock generation was beginning to come into its own, with big bucks to spend. Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs had made superior quality pressings of albums by using thick, virgin vinyl, and by locating low-generation copies of the master tapes and using those as a source for their albums. The term “half-speed” refers to slowing the cutting lathe to half-speed while cutting the album stamper, resulting in a more accurate and deeply etched groove that held low tones better.

Yep. Those platters were cut at 162/3 rpm, to be played back at 331/3. The short-lived CD-4 quadraphonic LPs were cut at even lower speeds, in an effort to get a 45-kHz signal onto the vinyl.

Still, all these “improvements” aren’t always obvious to the ear, either mine or the Friar’s:

Too many loud concerts have helped my ears have trouble distinguishing all of the Vitally! Important! Distinctions! that are supposed to be in all of this stuff. Those distinctions themselves may be a whole lot of suggestion bias: When you’re told a particular copy of a record sounds much much better than what you’ve been listening to and you agree to part with a few Ben Franklins in order to acquire it, the chances are pretty good that you’re going to believe it sounds better. Sure, a good LP sounds better than an MP3 file, but 1) almost everything does and 2) the idea that there is an experience of listening to some record that’s “worth” four figures is a product of a mindset that is so far removed from the everyday reality most people live in that it ought to draw its own “Occupy” protest.

Had I a bunch of thousand-dollar records, I probably wouldn’t play them at all, lest I reduce their value. Then again, I have always had the most middling of hi-fi systems, to the extent that those systems had any fi at all.

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H-1B about the cheap

Remember when farm workers were imported en masse to California? Today tech workers are being imported en masse to California, and for much the same reason:

The current system to bring in high-skill guestworkers — on H-1B, L-1, and OPT visas — has become primarily a process for supplying lower-cost labor to the IT industry. Although a small number of workers and students are brought in as the “best and brightest,” most high-skill guestworkers are here to fill ordinary tech jobs at lower wages.

The most recent firing of 500 Southern California Edison IT workers, after they trained their guestworker replacements (as a condition of receiving their severance package), is being repeated by the tens of thousands across the country — Disney, Harley Davidson, Home Depot, Pfizer, and Xerox are just a few among the many companies that have all been doing the same thing.

The practice of using the H-1B program to replace American workers is widespread. In fact, currently as many as two-thirds of new IT hires are guestworkers; not because there aren’t enough skilled Americans but instead because guestworkers are cheaper. And if current bills … become law, the number of guestworker visas will be over 100 percent of new hiring needs — if it so chooses, the IT industry can legally hire only guestworkers without even having to look for an American to fill all new IT jobs.

Congress, of course, thought it was clever enough to ward off this easily predictable situation by requiring the Labor Condition Application with each H-1B, which must certify that the incoming worker is being paid no less than the prevailing wage. Now if everyone is on an H-1B, guess what? They’re being paid the prevailing wage by definition.

So I expect the new expansion to pass: Big Tech wants it, and Big Tech is willing to buy the allegiance of Congress to get it. I’m betting it passes by 31 March — which, in California, is César Chávez Day.

(Via Will Truman.)

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Careful with that underboob, Eugenia

Bangkok will make an example of you:

Thailand’s military government warned women on Monday against posting photos of the lower half of their breasts — a current social media trend — saying their actions could violate the country’s computer crime laws.

Thailand’s computer crimes act [of] 2007 bans material that causes “damage to the country’s security or causes public panic” or “any obscene computer data which is accessible to the public.”

It doesn’t sound like a “security” issue to me:

“When people take these ‘underboob selfies’ no one can see their faces,” [culture] ministry spokesman Anandha Chouchoti said. “So it’s like, we don’t know who these belong to, and it encourages others to do the same.”

Lindsey Robertson, writing at Hello Giggles, notes for record:

[T]he edict seems pretty slanted towards keeping women in their place. After all, the ministry has yet to make mention of what sort of selfies, if any, are off-limits to men.

First guy to say “kathoey” gets his peepee whacked.

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A miss, a palpable miss

This plaintive wail was leaked from those wonderful, and presumably sanitary, folks at Scary Mommy:

[I]if you’re squat-peeing in an effort to avoid maybe smearing your thighs in the dead skin cells of strangers, you are not part of the solution; you are, in fact, THE PROBLEM. Not “part of” the problem. But THE problem.

YOU are ruining peeing sitting down for everyone else. Because you, my friend, are the one who is pissing all over the seat.

The tricky thing about squatting is that we women can’t really control where our pee goes, which is kind of the reason toilet seats were invented in the first place. A woman’s anatomy is such that, in squat position, our pee is virtually guaranteed to hit everything but the intended target. We’re not like men, who are armed with what basically amounts to a water gun made of flesh. (Super not-fair, Mother Nature.) When squatting, a woman’s pee could just as easily spray like the “mist” function on a garden hose attachment as squirt straight down into the toilet. It could get on her clothes. Her shoes. The floor. And it will definitely get on the toilet seat.

Inasmuch as it’s the guys who are usually accused of bad aim — well, let’s not go there, and by “there” I mean on the floor surrounding the plumbing.

(Via OneFineJay.)

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A harder sell than usual

Almost makes you wonder if there’s something dreadfully wrong with the place:

Page from tylerhomes.com: For the love of God would someone buy this house?

A check at TylerHomes.com revealed no current listings at $415,000, so either this place has been sold already — or the price has been dropped.

(Via Miss Cellania.)

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Is this science settled?

Maybe it is. Take a look:

We may not know what is “correct,” but clearly we can see the inventor’s intentions.

(With thanks to Chris Lawrence.)

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Thou shalt not skim

Marcel gets a credit card with a chip embedded in it, and he wonders if it’s remotely readable by the Bad Guys:

After reading about the potential risks, it seemed like some shielding wouldn’t hurt anything. But how to know if the shielding worked?

At one work site, I get access to the facility by putting my id card against a scanner. This works even if I just hold my wallet up to the scanner. This seems like a reasonable basis for testing. The first thing I put in my wallet was a piece of what seemed to be metalized paper from a coffee package. Holding up my wallet still activated the door, so a coffee bag probably will not block the scanners the men in black would carry if there were men in black following me.

And so to DEFCON whatever is next:

Next time I went out to that site, I folded up four layers of regular aluminum foil and put that in my wallet. The scanner didn’t work. A week or so later I tried it again, and this time scanner did read my card through the foil. Thinking it might be because the foil had compressed, I opened up the foil and interleaved a piece of paper.

Give the man credit for being thorough. Considering how easy it is to hack the old magnetic stripe, though, the chip almost has to be some sort of improvement.

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New frontiers in customer service

The second of two emails received from meh.com:

Meh here again, about that mistake we made with your order. You bought the two-pack of Eveready Compact LED Area Lights we offered on February 23 and we sent you an Insteon Wireless IP Camera instead. Uh, yeah, sorry about that.

As we said, we’ll be sending out the lamps today.

Now, we hate to lay this hassle on you. But about that camera, well, we need your help in correcting our expensive screwup. If you could do us one of these two favors, you’d really be hauling our fat out of the fire:

1) Return the camera to us, at our expense, of course. We’re still working out a way to minimize the effort required on your part but it should consist of a link to a shipping label that you’ll print out, slap on the box and throw it back in the mailbox with the flag up. We’ll let you know more later this week.

2) Buy the camera, which we’ll sell to you at a punitive discount to teach ourselves a lesson. We hope that by taking our lumps and offering the Insteon wireless video camera for $20 instead of the $34 we sold it for before, you or someone you know can find a silver lining in this mess. If you’re interested, go here to make it official: [link redacted]

Believe us, we weren’t trying to win some award for the world’s dumbest viral marketing campaign, although if we were, this would certainly be in the running. We’re chalking it up to a very costly lesson on the difference between one camera and two lamps.

Stay tuned and stay mediocre –

According to their price check as of the date offered (17 February), one of these cameras sells for $68.99 at Amazon. And it’s mine now.

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Noise and harshness, no vibration

Jack Baruth speculates as to the reason for the suspension of Top Gear’s Jeremy Clarkson:

The Minitrue report on Clarkson’s dismissal makes reference to a warning he received concerning “racist statements”. Those TTAC readers who are currently wearing an “I Can’t Breathe” shirt in the basements of their parents’ gated-community homes should be aware that “racist statement” means something different in the UK than it means in the US. Here in America, “racist statement” is a term used to refer to the kind of stuff that white kids at Oberlin do because all the actual racists in the area died of old age around the time that Gerald Ford fell down a set of airplane exit stairs.

And, occasionally, OU nasty boys. I don’t think the practice is quite dead just yet, more’s the pity.

In the UK, “racist statement” means “anything that doesn’t meet the principles of IngSoc,” up to and including having the temerity to rev the engine of your Lotus Esprit at a stoplight in the approximate presence of a Muslim immigrant. So it’s in no way plain that Clarkson called for the restoration of slavery or disrespected Haile Selassie I or anything like that. He might have revved an engine or looked in a certain direction or something like that.

Horrors! Off with his head! (He can borrow a helmet from The Stig, can’t he?)

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No better than graffiti

This is, I think, the most sensible stance to adopt in this age of Damn Near Anything Goes:

I’ve been told my campus has a YikYak “community” or whatever you call it. I don’t want to know. I’m not interested in participating or even hearing what goes on there. I feel like, if people are going to say awful things about me, and aren’t brave enough to criticize me to my face? I don’t want to hear what they’re saying about me anonymously, that that kind of posting doesn’t deserve my time or my attention and my often fragile self-confidence doesn’t need to obsess over the venting that someone may have done in a moment of upset (earned a bad grade, was told to put the cell phone away, whatever). Also, I figure a lot of people who do that kind of posting don’t every really think the object of it will read it. (So I’m happy to oblige by NOT reading it.)

Sort of a variation on the theme of “Don’t read the comments.”

There used to be quite a bit of spam, on Twitter and similar places, to the effect of “Did you read what they said about you?” followed by a link to God knows what. The jerks who left it never hung around for the answer, which was “Hell, no, and why should I?” The fact that there are now “reputation-protection” services tells me that there are an awful lot of people out there with awfully thin skins. If your response is “But what if people will think less of me?” I’ll tell you there’s no possible way I could think less of you.

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Meanwhile in the City of No Illusions

A grievance aired too late for Festivus:

A petition filed on change.org calls on the City of Buffalo to change its name.

The petitioner, identified in the post as Mark Beasley, a proclaimed member of the Navajo Nation, says the name “Buffalo” is, “offensive and racist.”

Beasley argues that the name promotes genocidal imagery towards Native Americans because American Bison, also known as buffalo, were slaughtered in order to move Natives off the land.

The petition also calls on Berkshire Hathaway, the owner of The Buffalo News, to drop the term from its name.

Beaslier said than done, Marko. I noticed your little petition doesn’t mention the Buffalo Bills. Then again, with exactly 29 postseason appearances in 55 seasons, the Bills themselves have been routinely slaughtered.

(Via Fark.)

Update: Um, maybe not.

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Work and no play

Toy collector? Nut-uh, says Jack Baruth. You’re a box collector:

It’s the boxes that really matter because you want the toy to be new in the box and such a condition has the dual conditions of

  • new
  • in the box

which means that even the best-condition action figure or Shogun Warrior or Star Bird™ isn’t worth a whole lot unless you have the box. Note that children, for whom toys used to be made, don’t care about the boxes and throw them out immediately. The box is a sort of meta-item for adult collectors, the secondary market. As such, box collecting is a prime symptom of disconnection from the true purpose of the toy. The child plays with the toy; the adult collects the box. It should be immediately apparent to anyone with any soul left whatsoever that the child is the moral and intellectual superior of the adult in this case and that collecting boxes is a miserable, repugnant pursuit in which your humble author only engages pretty much, um, all the time.

This suggests two alternative methods of saving your soul: making your own, in which case there is no box, or buying fanwork — say, a custom pony — whose only box is an anonymous shipping container.

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DST explained

You know the phrase “It’s all good”?

You’ve just seen its antithesis.

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F as in Fail

Remember when grades were considered unchangeable? (After all, they went on your [shudder] Permanent Record.)

No more, apparently, which leads to “Dear Student: No, I Won’t Change the Grade You Deserve,” which includes sample letters as envisioned by various professors and such. I’ll quote just one, from Angela Jackson-Brown, assistant professor of English at Ball State University:

It always amazes me when students feel like their English paper grades should be based on effort. I sometimes wonder: Do you ask the math teacher if she will give you points for trying even though parts of your mathematical equation are incorrect? If you took an astronomy course, would you want partial credit because even though you identified a star as a planet, you at least recognized they both are in the sky? Get out of here with that, my friend. Your working hard should be a given. You’re in college, not kindergarten. Every single person on this campus’s default is to work hard.

Every single solitary day that I enter into my classroom, I find a room filled with hard-working students who pushed themselves beyond their capabilities. You, my friend, have the audacity to send me a sad, tired little email asking me to reward you for breathing in and out and taking up space in my classroom? A place where geniuses are birthing themselves into existence every single day, and not a single one of them is asking for the “I worked hard” epidural to make this journey easy. I have officially laid my head on the desk, which is the universal signal for “I’m done.”

So much for the Gentleman’s C.

(Via Bayou Renaissance Man.)

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Fark blurb of the week

Purina. Dog? Ciao.

(Linked to this.)

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Your Cake, and Edith too

The article is called “How your pretentious local record store asshole got that way,” and it’s a simple collection of incredibly dense questions, observations, and God knows what, posed by the customers to this very store. Some of them are just misreadings: “Do you guys have ‘If I Gotta Love Edith’ by Iron Butterfly?” Others are just a little more complex:

A grown man comes into the store pulling a little toy red wagon…”Do you guys have that movie Alive about a rugby team that crashes and they have to become CARNIVORES?”

At least you can see his interest, though the Radio Flyer is probably harder to explain. And then there’s this:

“You ever listen to the Yardbirds? … Oh man yeah, Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, Sammy Hagar!”

Regular infusions of this sort of thing would render me sphincteresque in no time.

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We gotta get out of this place

This is not the plaint of a (soon to be) former Radio Shack staffer, although I suppose it could be:

[T]hings have deteriorated enough that, hard as it may be to imagine, I haven’t been able to find any funny anywhere. Not just at work, but at home, and on the drive home, and in the mirror and trust me, that ALWAYS cracks me up. Decrepitude is hilarious.

CardHole has been sneakily slipping down the slippery slope of “yeah, it’s a crap place and a crap job but at least I get some post fodder, right?” through the puddles of “if I don’t get a day off I am going to rip someone’s head off, fill the stump with cheese dip, and make some tortilla chips my bitch” to “I wonder if I can get up on my porch roof so I can fling myself off and break a hip and thereby not have to go in to hell today?”

When a job gets to the point you will seriously consider breaking a bone or two so you don’t have to go, it’s time to go.

Such, I am told, is the nature of retail: the unholy combination of seriously deranged customers and utterly feckless management plays hell with one’s sense of values.

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