Archive for Dyssynergy

For whom the tolls accumulate

And boy, did they:

[O]ne taxi driver … for nearly two years sneaked through toll plazas by “piggybacking” on the driver in front of him and pocketing payments totaling more than $28,000.

Queens prosecutors on Thursday charged the driver, Rodolfo Sanchez, 69, with grand larceny, theft of service and criminal possession of stolen property for a scheme that began in August 2012 and ended Wednesday at 3:40 p.m.

Keep in mind that they never actually caught Mr Sanchez rushing to get out of the lane before the barrier dropped:

Rather, investigators for the authority noticed that someone using an E-ZPass with no money on it got through at no cost — over and over. Using the tracking data on the E-ZPass, which prosecutors said was reported lost in 2011, the investigators found that it passed over the bridge 1,061 times and through the tunnel a total of 3,071 times.

Toll plaza video connected the E-ZPass, which still emitted a signal, to different cabs that piggybacked through the gates.

After which, it was a simple matter to go through cab-company records. NYC taxi drivers, apparently, are required by law to carry E-ZPass.

(Via Autoblog.)

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A series of tubes

Ever visit a house where the TV was on more or less constantly, even when no one was watching? I must admit, I find that seriously offputting, though perhaps not as much as Bill Peschel does:

The television is so much a dominating force that it doesn’t get turned off even when company arrives. I have visited many households where the TV is never turned off. The noise is irritating and difficult to for me to hear over. Even more annoying are the constant ads. Worst of all is the realization that the person I am speaking with is trying to watch the TV at the same time. Clearly, I am boring compared to the television. This just seems rude.

I’m quite dull in my own right, but I have a capacity for generating irritating noise even without the TV going.

Incidentally, the last time I used the set in the living room — the official Big Set, though it’s only a twenty-inch Sony Wega — was on the last day of last May, while contemplating my imminent doom.

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And no light was shed

If there’s one thing tobacco companies are really, really good at, it’s finding ways around a seemingly endless series of government rules. For instance:

Some time ago, the FDA announced that they were going to ban tobacco-makers from using the word “Light” on their light product lines. The rationale was that people are smoking these things under the false impression (an impression encouraged by tobacco companies) that they were a healthier alternative to full flavor cigarettes.

To comply with this regulation:

Manufacturers substituted “Gold” for “Light” and “Silver” for “Ultra-light” in the names of Marlboro sub-brands, and “Blue”, “Gold”, and “Silver” for banned descriptors in sub-brand names. Percent filter ventilation levels, used to generate the smoke yield ranges associated with “Lights” categories, appear to have been reassigned to the new colour brand name descriptors. Following the ban, 92% of smokers reported they could easily identify their usual brands, and 68% correctly named the package colour associated with their usual brand, while sales for “Lights” cigarettes remained unchanged.

Fortunately, this doesn’t work with beer, or they’d start serving Bud Beige.

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It’s the FML valve

This event with the Malfunction Indicator Light was a pain in the wallet, as they always are, but for the first time in eight years, it managed to cost less than $600: a meager $431, in fact.

Lasted nineteen miles before throwing another — or perhaps the same — code.

A discussion with the service consultant suggested that it will be, yes, around $600, if it’s what he thinks it is.

Of course, the guy who came up with the idea that it should require Specialized Equipment just to read these damnable codes is, one hopes, doing synchronized swimming in the river Phlegethon. And truth be told, I don’t much care with whom he’s synchronized. I am sorely tempted to set up a GoFundMe or some such.

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A halal bark

This isn’t ha-ha funny, but sort of rueful funny:

I have a vision of what the suicide bomber’s version of Jumble would look like. It would look just like the regular version of Jumble, but the “SOLUTION” to the puzzle would always be “ALLAH AKBAR”.

Okay, maybe a little ha-ha.

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Unfuzzy logic

Jennifer is not impressed by your armpit hair:

Neither feminism nor some photographer is going to make me see hairy armpits as beautiful. Sorry, not gonna happen. You want to grow them out, fine. They’re your armpits to do with as you like. I’m sure it’s because I’ve been brainwashed by the patriarchy, but I don’t find that attractive and no amount of edgy photography or handwritten signs is going to change that.

Working definition of “edgy photography” is “Good Lord, don’t let Emily see this, she’s only seven.”

And this particular tango, like most, requires two:

Beauty and attraction take at least two participants, the actor and the audience. If the actor wants to be attractive to a particular audience they will have to conform to the beauty standards of that audience. If person x’s definition of a beautiful woman is tall, blond with big boobs, I’m never going to reach that standard. I’m at peace with that. I fit just fine into other standards of beauty. I will never fit them all and neither will you.

Should I see someone who matches up 100 percent (or even 99.5) to my list of desiderata, I will (1) become immediately suspicious, and then (2) depart hastily, before I start paying attention.

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Something of a hurry

We roundball fans tend to whine about back-to-back game scheduling, especially when it comes to our home team tiring late in that second game. But we can’t imagine what’s about to happen to an NHL team:

The [Columbus] Blue Jackets play their final home game [today] against Phoenix, then fly out immediately to Dallas, where their March 10 contest was suspended when the Stars’ Rich Peverley collapsed on the bench. Per NHL rules, the suspended game will start completely over — only with the Blue Jackets retaining the 1-0 lead they had about seven minutes in when the medical emergency ended play.

Adding to the curious nature of the replayed game, the Blue Jackets’ Nathan Horton might not play because of a lower-body injury. So since his goal from the game is retained, he might get credit for a score in a game in which he did not officially play.

Which is mind-numbing enough, but this is what follows:

After the rematch with the Stars is completed, the Blue Jackets take their charter jet to the Sunshine State, where they play Tampa Bay on Friday and Florida on Saturday.

To earn the franchise’s second postseason trip in its 13 seasons, the Blue Jackets must survive four games in four cities over the span of 99 hours.

At least they have Thursday to, um, practice, unless that’s a really slow plane.

One is forced to wonder: “What would Gregg Popovich do?”

(Via this Costa Tsiokos tweet.)

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Imagined unsightliness

For reasons having to do with demographics, I assume, this was all over (meaning “I saw it three times”) Facebook and Twitter yesterday:

Women feel invisible to the opposite sex at the age of 51, it emerged yesterday.

A detailed study of 2,000 women revealed a large percentage felt they no longer received the level of attention they once did after hitting 51.

Many even went as far as to admit they felt “ignored”.

The women claimed their confidence plummeted after hitting 50 and blamed greying hair, having to to wear glasses or even struggling to find fashionable clothes.

The lifestyle study, commissioned by herbal remedies company, A.Vogel, also found more than two thirds of women over 45 had walked into a room and felt “completely unnoticed” by the opposite sex.

Which only proves the wisdom of the old saying “First you have to get their attention”:

Screenshot from The Invisible Woman 1940

You may be absolutely certain that Charles Lane is hanging on Virginia Bruce’s every word. (She was actually 30 at the time, but who’s going to know?)

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Speiched

Matthew Riley MacPherson, a developer at Mozilla, posted the following factoids regarding “[Brendan] Eich, queers, and Mozilla”:

I Like EichWe added trans benefits and a Code of Conduct with Brendan in a leadership position.

I have spoke to no queer Mozilla people who feel Eich has ever made them uncomfortable. I have never heard of Eich attacking homosexuals at Mozilla.

Conversely, Gerv posted a call to action against Gay marriage to Planet Mozilla, which prompted the creation of a Code of Conduct at Mozilla, which Eich worked on.

Mozilla has amazing benefits for same-sex couples everywhere possible, including in many US states where it is not legally required.

Mozilla as a company donated more for equal marriage rights than against.

This was posted before Eich stepped down. Subsequently, after Eich’s departure, MacPherson posted this:

I think if Eich had apologized, expressed regret, and attempted to repair the negative image painted of Mozilla, he might still be CEO. He could’ve shown that he could put Mozilla first, that he could swallow his pride to appear fair, and that he cared about the mission more than preserving his privacy over a public donation.

So while the mob might feel like it won, proving that there is some kind of zero-tolerance for homophobia in America, Eich’s departure from Mozilla tells a slightly more nuanced story than that.

In the best of all possible worlds, of course, Eich would have responded to the Inquisition with — but forget that. Were this the best of all possible worlds, there never would have been an Inquisition in the first place, would there?

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Perhaps she thought it was easy

Or maybe it was the only tool she had:

The Carter County [Tennessee] Sheriff’s Office says a substitute teacher is behind bars after allegations surfaced that she stapled three students at Central Elementary School. The incident happened Monday, according to Sheriff Chris Mathes.

Deputies arrested Alisha Lynn Cook, 43, of Elizabethton and charged her with three counts of simple assault Tuesday afternoon. According to Sheriff Mathes the victims were physically stapled by the substitute teacher.

This is why she’ll never climb above substitute status: for a full-time gig, you need to learn how to use duct tape.

(Via Interested-Participant.)

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Can your Barbie do this?

The trouble with dolls might be not so much that they give a distorted view of Real Life, but that they don’t:

I didn’t like toys as representations of people. Was I a budding misanthropist? I don’t think so, but I’m sure back then, I probably couldn’t have been able to articulate exactly why I disliked those sorts of toys. In hindsight, it had far more to do with my personality and my priorities for play rather than cultural baggage or any feminist notions.

So what the heck do I mean by “priorities for play”? It means my reasons for playing with toys. I wanted to have fun, of course, but my idea of fun involves imagination and curiosity. Robots and microscopes and, yes, even ponies are toys built for imagination and/or curiosity. Dolls (and to some extent, action figures) don’t fit those two purposes so well. When you’re playing with a doll in the typical way (and not setting fire to it to figure out its combustible properties), you are mimicking real life. And personally, when I play, I look for the extraordinary, the wonderful, the fascinating. Not the mundane.

Setting fire to a doll, incidentally, isn’t necessarily easy. And sooner or later, most of our cultural baggage is going to go up in smoke simply because it’s no longer supportable.

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Multi-tusking

Let us stipulate that no one wants to see further endangerment of elephants. That said, the Feds blew another one:

New federal rules aimed at blocking the sale of ivory to protect endangered elephants are causing an uproar among musicians, antiques dealers, gun collectors and thousands of others whose ability to sell, repair or travel with legally acquired ivory objects will soon be prohibited.

An example:

To illustrate the confusion ahead, experts gave the example of what would happen under the new regulations if someone attempted the interstate sale of a 100-year-old Steinway piano with ivory keys. Such a sale has long been permissible, because the piano qualified as an antique that contained ivory imported long before the mid-1970s, when officials began proscribing the material.

But the new regulations would prohibit such a sale unless the owner could prove the ivory in the keys had entered the country through one of 13 American ports authorized to sanction ivory goods.

Given that none of those entry points had such legal power until 1982, the regulations would make it virtually impossible to legitimize the piano’s ivory, the experts said. That predicament would apply to virtually all the antique ivory in the country, barring millions of Americans from ever selling items as innocuous as teacups, dice or fountain pens.

The Feds are not backing down, because smugglers:

[T]he eight-member advisory panel that formulated the new restrictions is aware they impose insurmountable hurdles. But … the efforts by some smugglers to disguise recently poached ivory as antique material have made the additional restrictions necessary.

My own suggestion — place a bounty on smugglers, and when they’re brought in, feed them to animals — apparently has not been considered.

(Via a Steinway owner.)

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It would be worse with a minibar

A possible disadvantage of vacationing in Vegas with an infant in tow:

[I]f you’re going to “rent” a crib at Mandalay Bay for more than a single day, it’s actually cheaper to buy one off Amazon and have it sent to the hotel than it is to actually rent theirs.

Wouldn’t want to look too family-friendly in America’s Gomorrah, would we?

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Dunces assembled

This is probably as accurate an assessment of corporate meetings as we can find:

I personally have always considered committees as proof that human beings evolved from animals that had tails and liked to chase them. Since the shrinkage of the tail into our stunted coccyx, we were not able to engage in this behavior anymore, and had to develop a new method of doing so. Being as we were a pretty cooperative species prior to the invention of reality television, we created a system whereby we could help one another engage in an activity that was just as useless as tail-chasing: The committee meeting.

And it’s probably just a bit less suggestive than Dave Barry’s:

Meetings are an addictive, highly self-indulgent activity that corporations and other large organizations habitually engage in only because they cannot masturbate.

Bunch of coccyx suckers, the lot of them.

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Wire is hell

Everything you always wanted to know about cable companies (and perhaps already suspected), by Roberta X:

Cable companies around here are egregious clods, who I would not let run a wire into my house if money came out it and won’t sell you the ‘net unless you sign up for cabledammiteevee, too, and on that there are really only three things: the local stations you can get over the air for free, on-demand stuff my Roku/Amazon combo delivers at least as well, and crap Hitler/Alien/Mermaids/Seance channels that used to run science and history programs but gave up after realizing rehashed tripe, cold readings and program-length commercials for claptrap and quackery made at least as much money if not more and cost less to produce. (The kicker for me was the leaked memo from one of the historical channels, exhorting producers for “less gray hair” in their choice of experts. Yeah, done.)

I’m down to two things myself — Thunder basketball and My Little Pony — but I know the feeling.

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Kenlessness

My laundry equipment is ancient (ten and a half years old) and operates in a suboptimal environment (out in the garage) that has become more so of late, what with the plumbing issues behind the scene. One of the two faucets, in fact, is now in Running Constantly mode, prompting me to shut off the spigots when not actually using the machines.

It was a matched pair, a step or two above the bottom of Sears’ Kenmore line back then, but nowhere near the top. And weirdly, they have the same issue, although in opposite orientation: the washer’s lid switch is stuck in the Off position, the dryer’s door switch in On.

Parts and service, fortunately, are no particular problem for this line, except for the minor detail of writing the check. The washer switch has been replaced once in a decade; this is the first attention that will be paid to the dryer.

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You don’t owe Jack

There is a time-honored definition of Tennessee whiskey: it has to be fermented in the Volunteer State from mash containing 51 percent corn, aged in new barrels of charred oak, filtered through maple charcoal and bottled at 80 proof or more. Which sounds rather like Jack Daniel’s, the best-selling Tennessee whiskey.

Wait, what? That definition dates back to … 2013?

[S]tate lawmakers are considering dialing back some of those requirements that they say make it too difficult for craft distilleries to market their spirits as Tennessee whiskey, a distinctive and popular draw in the booming American liquor business.

But the people behind Jack Daniel’s see the hand of a bigger competitor at work — Diageo PLC, the British conglomerate that owns George Dickel, another Tennessee whiskey made about 15 miles up the road.

The Tennessee law apparently is modeled on the Federal definition of bourbon. (Yes, Cynthiana, there is a Federal definition of bourbon.)

Diageo’s representative says the law would basically require all Tennessee whiskey to taste like Jack Daniel’s:

“It’s not unlike if the beer guys 25 years ago had said all American beer has to be made like Budweiser… You never would have a Sam Adams or a Yazoo or any of those guys.”

Rep. Bill Sanderson (R-Kenton) proposes to loosen the definition only slightly:

The principal change would be to allow Tennessee whiskey makers to reuse barrels, which he said would present considerable savings over new ones that can cost $600 each.

“There are a lot of ways to make high-quality whiskey, even if it’s not necessarily the way Jack Daniel’s does it,” Sanderson said. “What gives them the right to call theirs Tennessee whiskey, and not others?”

Benjamin Prichard was not available for comment.

(Via Consumerist.)

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Meanwhile, Mr Darwin just smiles

The idea was great, kinda sorta:

Until Bt corn was genetically altered to be poisonous to the pests, rootworms used to cause billions of dollars in damage to U.S. crops. Named for the pesticidal toxin-producing Bacillus thuringiensis gene it contains, Bt corn now accounts for three-quarters of the U.S. corn crop.

But who didn’t see this coming?

After years of predicting it would happen — and after years of having their suggestions largely ignored by companies, farmers and regulators — scientists have documented the rapid evolution of corn rootworms that are resistant to Bt corn.

This could have been forestalled, at least to a certain extent:

Key to effective management, said the scientists, were refuges set aside and planted with non-Bt corn. Within these fields, rootworms would remain susceptible to the Bt toxin. By mating with any Bt-resistant worms that chanced to evolve in neighboring fields, they’d prevent resistance from building up in the gene pool.

But the scientists’ own recommendations — an advisory panel convened in 2002 by the EPA suggested that a full 50 percent of each corn farmer’s fields be devoted to these non-Bt refuges — were resisted by seed companies and eventually the EPA itself, which set voluntary refuge guidelines at between 5 and 20 percent.

Elson Shields, a Cornell entomologist, is wholly unsurprised:

There’s a lesson to be learned for future crop traits, Shields said. Rootworm resistance was expected from the outset, but the Bt seed industry, seeking to maximize short-term profits, ignored outside scientists. The next pest-fighting trait “will fall under the same pressure,” said Shields, “and the insect will win. Always bet on the insect if there is not a smart deployment of the trait.”

And once again, man is done in by his obsession with quarterly revenue reports.

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Hell has eight pins

Do you lie awake at night, trying to gauge the depth to which we as a species have sunk by not having universal cell-phone chargers? The Eurocrats evidently did:

European Union politicians have vowed to end the “nightmare” of non-compatible phone chargers… “The current incompatibility of chargers is a nightmare and a real inconvenience for consumers. This new directive ends this nightmare and is also good news for the environment as it will result in a reduction of electronic waste,” said European parliament negotiator Barbara Weiler in a statement.

Apple’s Lightning connector is presumably doomed.

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SubQuil

Lileks on Nighttime Pain Relief Fluids:

There were the usual choices: The Real Stuff, and the Store Brand that Tastes like Donkey Sputum. Everyone knows it. They could probably make the store brand taste better, but why? You’re buying it to save money. Suffer. The Nyquil had words printed on the security wrapper: VICKS DOES NOT MAKE STORE BRANDS. A bit defensive, eh? Google VICKS DOES NOT MAKE and it autocompletes “store brands.” It’s been on the wrapping for a few years, I gather. It’s a smart move — inserts the seed of doubt, lest anyone thinks they sold the crown jewels to maximize market share, but everyone knows the store brands are reverse engineered, and possibly use Mexican methoholodyexophine-2 made in shoddy factories where the manager periodically relieves himself in the vat. It’s always the same percentage as the real thing. I’d more impressed if it had the same chemicals but twice as much, and they were proud of it.

I’d even pay brand-name prices if they did that.

I’m still waiting for WeeQuil, which is not a tonic for the youths, but a perhaps-possible NyQuil variant that lasts one full week (or seven days, whichever comes first). I figure it would have to be sold in 750-ml bottles like Two-Buck Chuck, though the price will likely be closer to $30. Maybe $300. And it would be darn well worth it, too.

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Now with extra morning darkness!

I didn’t do a DST rant this year, perhaps dimly sensing that this idiotic government scheme, like most idiotic government schemes, will outlive me by many decades.

However, I’m happy to give you someone else’s DST rant:

I dislike these first few weeks of it (that it starts so early, too): I go from driving to work when the sun is up to driving to work in the dark. I was rather frustrated with the Weather Channel the day or two before, when they were talking about how we all got “extra sunlight” after the time change. No. There is no “extra” sunlight, absent the few seconds we gain with each day we get closer to the summer solstice. The only people who get “extra” sunlight are those who sleep in late enough to be up after the dawn during standard time. And, perhaps, the people who can get in a round of golf after work instead of having to grade or attend to life-chores like laundry or marketing. (And really: how many people in today’s America get to sleep through the dawn? And how many have enough free time in the afternoon to go have fun? Probably not most working people; probably not most parents.)

TWC’s absorption into Comcast/NBC killed what few brain cells they had.

Sunrise this week in Oklahoma City has been around 7:50. Pretty much everyone I work with has to drive in the dark to get there by eight. (I show up in the general vicinity of six-thirty, so I seldom see any sunshine on the morning commute: sunrise never comes earlier than about 6:15.)

And besides, laws are not enacted for the benefit of working people and/or parents, unless there’s some way to obtain the requisite quantity of graft and/or egoboo for the elites.

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Suburbling

Lynn goes to the Tulsa Home and Garden Show, and finds it mostly meh:

There was very little that you couldn’t see any day at Lowe’s or Home Depot. Fifty flooring companies with the exact same hardwood flooring; fifty countertop companies with the exact same granite counter tops; fifty window and siding companies with essentially the same windows and siding; and 500,000,000 tornado shelter companies… Okay, I might be exaggerating a little bit on that last one.

Maybe a little bit. I think there were half a billion roofing companies out here answering the most recent Hailing Frequency.

They also had a few things that don’t have anything to do with “home and garden”, like vehicles, and, because this is Oklahoma, by “vehicles” I mean big-ass pickups that are big enough to live in and you’ll probably have to if you buy one because they cost as much as a decent house, which you won’t be able to afford and make payments on the pickup too.

Not to mention the question of parking the damn truck somewhere near the house — or somebody’s house, anyway.

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Sparkle deficiency

Sequin, n. A gold coin weighing 3.5 grams (0.12 oz) of .986 gold, minted by the Republic of Venice from the 13th century onwards.

That other definition came later, of course. But geez, how the mighty have fallen:

The modern sequin is half the size of the traditional one, is flat not faceted, has more hole than surface, is sparkle-deficient and is randomly glued onto things. I suspect some kind of air-blast method of application. They start out with less than full coverage — the background material is visible between sequins — and then as you use the item or even just touch it, they fall off.

There’s got to be a reason for this:

I blame China.

Remember when “Made In Japan” meant Complete and Utter Crap? The Japanese went to work on that, and in a couple of generations turned the label into very nearly a badge of honor. Beijing, I suspect, feels no such urgency, or at least is given no reason to.

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Schadenfrozen

Not that I bear any ill will toward this poor unfortunate soul — Steve Keeley of Philadelphia’s Fox 29 — but how many of you out there have wanted to see something like this just once?

Here's the GIF of a plow dumping snow on Fox 29's S... on Twitpic

Yeah, that’s what I thought.

(Via Dan McQuade.)

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What we’re in for

I know this feeling rather better than I’d like to admit:

Your faithful correspondent is at her station no fewer than 10 hours a day, often 11+. Granted, your faithful correspondent has always been afraid not to work, in case work dries up and she is subsequently locked out of work forever. Your faithful correspondent is a nurse by trade so that unemployment scenario is extremely unlikely but even so let’s not take any unnecessary chances.

I do nine and a half hours, maybe a little more, but I do try to keep it under ten.

I had a three-year period of unfunemployment many years ago, and it’s motivated me not to have another one if I can help it. Still:

The point is I’m wearing down. I’ve always fancied myself to have the freedom to manage my own destiny and stop working anytime I felt was right for me. But I suddenly realized that I am too young for Medicare and that my work-provided insurance coverage is going to keep me tied to my job for years longer than I want to work. Such is my demographic detail and my on-the-record party affiliation that Obamacare is not good for me. Even though I am relatively issue-free now, it will only take one good fall or the discovery of one irregularly shaped mole to put me in a boxcar headed for the glue factory.

I am a little more hopeful, seeing the model for my future in a Malaise Era car from General Motors, probably with the word “Brougham” on a badge somewhere. I’ve never run especially well, but so far, nickel-and-dime stuff here and there has kept me on the road and away from my deductible.

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Or they can picket to death

The failure of the United Auto Workers to organize the workers at Volkswagen Chattanooga is symptomatic of a larger problem, says the Urbanophile:

If you look at it, unions may be on the last institutions in America that haven’t rethought their business model for the 21st century. They still want to play hardball to organize, then insist on things like crazy work rule systems and puristic seniority pay structures, political advocacy, etc. What has that gotten them? The private sector is down to like 6% unionized, much of it in industries that are increasingly subject to foreign competition and thus whose management cannot give much away without sabotaging their business.

Then again, America’s hilariously outmoded labor laws don’t give them a whole lot of choice in the matter: the cozy relationship that exists between VW and its German unions is not only nonexistent here, it’s actually illegal.

Still, it’s not like the whole concept is dead just yet:

The one part of the union movement that still seems to be doing fairly well is the trade unions. Many of them have long operated on this model. You get into the union where the union trains you and are staffed on a project basis (e.g., constructing a bridge). The union delivers your benefits and pensions, based on payments from the employers… Trade unions and their hiring halls are basically contract consulting providers of the type that routinely provide technical employees to major corporations. Why can’t other unions, reconstituted as a type of worker’s collective, do the same thing? And unlike contracting firms, they wouldn’t have to take nearly as big a middleman’s cut.

This might not work particularly well in automotive: to make the model properly functional, you presumably need, not large volumes of work in a few places, but smaller volumes of work all over the place. But it’s a model that’s worked in many trades, and if there’s anything Big Labor needs right now, it’s a model that works.

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The great and powerful Twix bar

It resists your effort to extract it from the machine, and by “your” I mean this guy’s:

[Robert] McKevitt was working the second shift at Polaris Industries’ warehouse in Milford, Iowa, when he decided to break for a snack last fall.

He says he deposited $1 in a vending machine, selected a 90-cent Twix bar, and then watched as the candy bar crept forward in its slot, began its descent and was abruptly snagged by a spiral hook that held it suspended in midair.

What to do? McKevitt, they say, went hardcore:

McKevitt walked away and commandeered an 8,000-pound forklift, according to state unemployment compensation records.

He reportedly drove up to the vending machine, lifted it 2 feet off the concrete warehouse floor — then let it drop. He allegedly repeated the maneuver at least six times, by which time three candy bars had fallen into the chute for his retrieval.

Which cost him more than 90 cents:

He was fired five days later.

In a ruling that became public last month, a state administrative law judge denied his claim for unemployment benefits, saying McKevitt had demonstrated a willful disregard for his employer’s interests.

Wonder if Mars Inc. has considered this scenario for a commercial.

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Grade inflation

The phrase “parking lot” should not delight the heart — we have enough of those to accommodate every car in the world, albeit seldom conveniently — but it should suggest certain attributes, and one of those ought to be “flatness”:

I want to talk about parking lots built with a fairly steep incline to get out of them. Why do people DO this? I hate sitting and waiting on the incline for it to be safe to pull out because I’m afraid that if someone pulls too close behind me, and I take my foot off the brake to pull forward, and I slip back *just a little* (because of the incline, and because I don’t like doing “jackrabbit starts”), I’ll hit the other person. Also, the inclines often make it harder to see clearly up and down the road you’re pulling out on to. The grade needs to be more gradual; people who make parking-lot exits with steep inclines should have their engineer’s licenses, or designer’s licenses, or whatever, taken away. I don’t care if people think it looks cool; I don’t care if it would cost more to make a more gradual grade. I’m less likely to want to park somewhere where it feels hazardous to leave.

When I see one of those, I sometimes wonder if it’s a lake bed that dried up, and then converted at the least possible expense.

And I wonder if the existence of such things played any role in the near-extinction of the stick shift.

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Punched out

My workweek is typically 47 hours or so; this is to give me a chance to look over the system before the crowd comes filing in, and to avoid anguished cries of “How come he got to go home early?”

It’s not at all that I’m bragging:

There is a sense of pride over being able to state that we worked an exorbitant amount of hours this week, last week, or last month. I know because I’ve done it in the past, and probably still do it *sigh*. After all, saying you worked a 60 hour week is indirectly telling the listener how busy your design firm is; how successful your product is; how important you are to your employer. It’s essentially a humblebrag.

We have departments which routinely put in 50-60 hours a week. I don’t think they’re bragging either; I think they’re just trying to keep up with a work volume that hasn’t diminished as rapidly as the available staff. But that’s another issue entirely.

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Offensive rebound

Firefox is about to send you ads:

Mozilla made itself the villain of the online ad business early last year by announcing that the latest version of Firefox would block third-party ad technologies by default, a move the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s top lobbyist called “a nuclear strike” on the industry.

A year later, the non-profit Mozilla is launching an ad business, at the IAB’s annual meeting in Palm Desert, Calif., no less.

The ads will appear within the tiles of Firefox’s new tabs page, which will also begin to suggest pre-packaged content for first time users. Mozilla is calling the new initiative “Directory Tiles.”

Not being a first-time user … oh, wait, what am I saying? They’ll get me soon enough.

And “tabs page”? I don’t quite like the sound of that at all.

(Via Consumerist.)

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