Archive for Dyssynergy

We have sunk to this

Somebody evidently thought that was clever. The horrible aspect of it, though, is that said somebody probably still has a job.

(Via @inthefade.)

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We’re surrounded

As a survivor of quadraphonics, four decades ago, I can certainly relate to this:

Seems there are two common audio standards. One is known as 2.0 and the other is known as 5.1. If you have an older system like mine, 5.1 doesn’t work, you need to use 2.0. The language selection menu on the DVD offers four selections (as noted above). English 2 is the only one that uses 2.0, the others all use 5.1, which sort of explains why English 2 is the only one that would give us any dialog last night. Well, that’s nice to know, but it doesn’t really help. So I look at the DVD player menu, which is different than the menu that comes from the DVD. I poke around and finally find the HDMI audio switch that controls whether the audio is sent out to the TV or not. The TV is connected to the DVD player with an HDMI cable, which is capable of handling both audio and video. Since the DVD player is also a home theater sound system, there is no reason to send the audio to the TV, EXCEPT THAT TURNING IT ON FIXES THE PROBLEM.

In those heady days of quad, we had three different audio standards, none of them even marginally compatible. I’m thinking things have improved over 40 years, give or take, oh, any digital-protection scheme you can name.

Me, I have a tendency to mess with things. I have, for instance, one of these contraptions:

Soundmatters’ tagline, “One box, two wires, and $300 make any TV a home theater,” sums up the Mainstage’s appeal. This set-top powered speaker is refreshingly simple to install and use. For big sound anywhere in your home or office, just add the Mainstage to a digital or analog source, such as a DVD player or a TV — you’ll have a complete virtual-surround system. We like the $299 Mainstage’s trim good looks and hearty audio, but don’t expect the unit to deliver surround effects like a true multispeaker ensemble. In cramped quarters, however, where a 5.1 setup is out of the question, the Mainstage will serve with distinction.

A 5.1 setup is definitely out of the question in my usual viewing room, which turns out to be the master bedroom.

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Laser less frickin’

Well, this is awkward. That Kickstarter for the laser-powered razor? Kicked to the curb for a rule violation:

A crowdfunding campaign for a razor blade which its US creators claimed could remove facial hair with a laser beam has been suspended by Kickstarter.

The device had attracted more than $4m (£2.6m) in funding — but reportedly did not have a working model.

Backers received an email from Kickstarter saying the Laser Razor was “in violation of our rule requiring working prototypes of physical products that are offered as rewards”.

Apparently undaunted, Skarp Technologies, the manufacturer, moved its campaign over to Indiegogo, where it took in $40,000 in four hours. Backer rewards seem to be about the same.

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Henpecking order

From bitter experience, Sheri49 explains the operations of her local Homeowners’ Association:

There is one Exalted Ruler. His word is final. His court consists of a Vice-Exalted Ruler, a Secretary who must meet stringent illiteracy requirements, a Treasurer who is actually sort of intelligent but whose job entails deferring to the Exalted Ruler’s stupidity, and lastly, a “Member-At-Large” (MAL). Currently there is no MAL at Hideola Estates. No one wants to be the caboose on the Moron Train. Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “Hey, what if they meet and vote on something and there’s like, 2 of them for it, and two of them against it … two yays and two neighs?” (Yays and neighs are how we write here in Hideola Estates, as you will learn below.) Good point. In that event, the group would defer to the time-honored flipping of the coin method to resolve the tie. There is nothing wrong with leaving owners’ fates and their valuable homes to the whim of a coin toss. If no coin can be found to flip, then someone makes a motion to do whatever will cause Sheri49 the most harm and that is the final word on the matter.

You should not at all be surprised to hear that a fiefdom of this sort would have an individual dedicated to the exaltation of vice. (Yes, I stole this from the Beverly Hillbillies. Sue me.)

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Sit on it and swipe

This doesn’t even sound good:

What’s an emergency management department to do when 9-1-1 calls are spiking, but there aren’t enough workers to cover all those calls? San Francisco turned to researchers in an effort to understand a recent surge in emergency calls, which has been putting a strain on its emergency resources, and found that butts are to blame. Specifically, when someone’s backside accidentally makes a 9-1-1 call.

While it’s good for personal safety that mobile phones can call 9-1-1 without being unlocked, it’s creating a headache for call centers: San Francisco’s Department of Emergency Management turned to Google to help identify what’s been going on, after call volumes increased 28% between 2011 and 2014, reports the BBC.

That said, I’m not sure this is exactly the headline one wants to see on a story of this sort:

That must have been some, um, report.

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Rhymes with “bombast”

Turns out, even people who have never used Comcast hate Comcast:

My late mother-in-law had Comcast for years in Chattanooga before moving in with the wife and me. Comcast kept her old email address open and forwarding to her new Gmail address.

Now though, we want to either stop the forwarding, or close the email account. Neither is possible.

Literally. There are no forwarding controls on Comcast’s webmail interface — the link purportedly pointing to forwarding controls doesn’t go to forwarding controls. And if you try calling customer service…?

Let’s just say it’s probably not worth the effort to try. It might, however, be worth five bucks to outsource the task:

AirPaper will handle all the nastiness of nixing your Comcast plan for a mere $5. $5 for peace of mind and a bit of sanity feels like a steal.

The geniuses (or masochists) behind this are Earl St Sauver and Eli Pollak, two Bay Area tech gurus who, from the sound of it, have paid their own iron price in dealing with phone trees and unhelpful customer service operators. Now they just want to help other people avoid the hassle of canceling their cable plans.

Two of their next three schemes have to do with doing business in San Francisco, which should tell you something about doing business in San Francisco.

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Gimme back my gears

Nissan is busily bolting continuously-variable transmissions into almost everything it sells, though it should be noted that the only Infiniti that gets a CVT, the QX60, is the only one that’s also sold for a few dollars less as a Nissan (the Pathfinder). That said, the upcoming Q30/QX30 will presumably be fitted with the Mercedes-Benz 7-speed dual-clutch automatic, because people will avoid it in droves if it has the rubber-band box — and because its engine, albeit built by Nissan in the States, is a Mercedes design. There has been no suggestion that any other Infiniti will be saddled with a CVT, which is a good thing, given Dale Franks’ opinion of the CVT inflicted on every Nissan Altima:

Some people, of course, will find the Continuously Variable Transmission perfectly acceptable, but for me, it’s a hump I can’t get over. Which, I must say, biases me against Nissan in general, because the CVT powertrain is their bread and butter, and it appears in nearly all of the cars in their lineup. Nissan, as I’ve mentioned before, is fully invested in the CVT, and they’ve done everything they can to make as good a CVT as possible. Yet, the end result is like a gourmet pastry, baked by Paul Bocuse, and made from the finest flour, the richest chocolate, the purest cane sugar, the freshest heavy cream, and bat guano.

But is it the highest-quality bat guano? Not at the Altima’s price point, I suspect.

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On the other side of the tropics

A couple of excerpts from the Pergelator Guide to South America:

Peru, a poor mountainous country famous for being the home of Peruvian Marching Powder. The US Embassy is the biggest building in the capital, funded almost entirely by the DEA.

Argentina and Chile are back to back across the Andes mountains. They are the southernmost countries, have temperate climates as opposed to tropical, and might almost be considered first world countries. They both also have a history of mass murder carried out by right wing death squads. That seems to have gone away, but it’s still a feature on most of the rest of the continent.

Bolivia, which is also famous for Peruvian Marching Powder, probably because both here and Peru are mostly high elevation mountains, and coca leaves are what people use in order to function at 15,000 feet without oxygen.

Of course, some of said leaves end up back on this side of the equator, keeping a whole bunch of militarized forces at the semi-ready.

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Missed the point by this much

Okay, maybe a little more than that:

“I didn’t know it was going to be that slow!”

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The aftermath of Dieselgate

TTAC editor-in-chief Mark Stevenson puts it bluntly: “Everyone will lose … except the lawyers.” Quelle surprise:

We are less than a week into this fiasco and class-action attorneys all over the United States are licking their lips before the feast.

Class-action lawsuits are inevitable in the United States in cases like these. Unfortunately, all the parties involved in a class action of this scale — save the lawyers — end up losing. Volkswagen and the attorneys will come up with an “agreeable” civil penalty, current VW diesel owners will be given what amounts to pennies on the dollar for whatever losses — real or otherwise — they’ll experience because of the emissions mess, and the lawyers will walk away with millions of dollars in fees.

The only thing yet undetermined, really, is how ridiculous the ultimate “settlement” will be.

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I am currently having issues with the icemaker with my 12-year-old Sears Kenmore fridge, though otherwise the machine works fine; one of these days I’ll get a new icemaker put in, but for the meantime old-fashioned — well, plastic, not those godawful metal things with the pull-lever — ice trays are meeting the need.

Not so fortunate is this Kenmore owner:

This is is my 9 month old Kenmore 22.3 cu. ft. Counter-Depth French Door Refrigerator in Stainless Steel. It’s so shiny! Unfortunately, it doesn’t work anymore. Some seal broke so now it just looks pretty. And oh boy doesn’t it shine! It matches perfectly with my Kenmore stove, microwave; and dishwasher.

I do need to eat food though and quite often food has to be refrigerated and not held in a shiny room temperature box so I called for repair. Originally they told me I would have to wait 2 weeks for someone to come fix it. I told them I would probably be tired of eating spaghetti by then. The nice lady put me on hold and said they could send someone today. The even nicer gentlemen came today and tried to fix it. He told me the part he needed wouldn’t come in until October 7th. That’s a lot of spaghetti! He told me that my lovely refrigerator was “a piece of shit” and that I should sell it. How sad! It’s so pretty!

Like someone’s going to buy a fridge that doesn’t work, unless you knock a whole bunch off the price.

Thus began the Sears Kenmore Refrigerator Diet, easy recipes for people who have no way to keep stuff cold. The sarcasm is deep, but you have to figure it’s appropriate.

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Unloved shack

This is 16 DeLong Street in San Francisco’s Outer Mission neighborhood, and it can be yours for a mere $350,000:

MLS photo of 16 DeLong SF

This 1906, um, structure is billed as being “in need of work.” “Why bother?” was my immediate thought. Bill Quick, who lives in SF, is probably closer to the mark:

It’s actually a better neighborhood than my own. And forget that “fixer-upper” stuff. This is a teardown. They’re asking a third of a million for the lot.

How big a lot, you ask? Says the news article, 1,633 square feet. This 765-square-foot house — not really that small, says the guy who looked at a couple of 800-ish homes while house-shopping in 2003 — therefore occupies about 47 percent of the lot; if you did that in my neighborhood you’d be accused of McMansioning.

Still, in my neighborhood land is valued, per the county assessor, at around $100,000 per acre. For this little slice of nothing in San Francisco, all 0.0375 acre of it, they’re asking $9.3 million per acre.

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Iron Man, Jr.

First name is “Soldering.”

Actually, if it had been, the poor kid might have gotten off easier:

Ahmed Mohamed — who makes his own radios and repairs his own go-kart — hoped to impress his teachers when he brought a homemade clock to MacArthur High on Monday.

Instead, the school phoned police about Ahmed’s circuit-stuffed pencil case.

So the 14-year-old missed the student council meeting and took a trip in handcuffs to juvenile detention. His clock now sits in an evidence room. Police say they may yet charge him with making a hoax bomb — though they acknowledge he told everyone who would listen that it’s a clock.

In the meantime, Ahmed’s been suspended, his father is upset and the Council on American-Islamic Relations is once again eyeing claims of Islamophobia in Irving [Texas].

This would never, I suspect, have happened to Joe Sixpack’s kid Ethan. Meanwhile, school officials have already sent their CYA letter [pdf] to district parents.

Inevitably, POTUS has weighed in.

I think I need more clocks around here.

Updates in the comments.

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So young, she was

Memory Alpha reports:

Over the years, some had found a way to circumvent the energy barrier and reach the surface. They were part of a rebellious minority who wanted to explore other possibilities, and no longer wished to remain dependent on the Caretaker. Among them was Kes. She was frustrated that the Ocampa had been dependent on the Caretaker for so long that they couldn’t even think for themselves anymore. She knew that before they had given up their independence for comfort and security, they had been a people with full command of their minds’ abilities, abilities they had lost because they stopped using them and began to just take what they were given. Kes did not want to walk the path the Caretaker had set for her and other Ocampa anymore; she believed her people needed to evolve, and that they could only do so by learning to survive on their own and on their own terms.

Evolution evidently doesn’t work consistently throughout the known universe:

Jennifer Lien, who played “Kes” the Ocampa medical assistant in the first three seasons of “Star Trek: Voyager” was arrested on September 3 for indecent exposure.

Lien, who recently turned 41, was arrested at her home in Harriman, Tennessee on September 3. According to deputies, Lien had an active warrant in Roane County on two counts of exposing herself to a child under the age of 13.

In a strange twist to an already unsettling story, while delivering a Detainer Summons, Lien allegedly yelled to the deputies to come in after they arrived at her residence. Deputies said Lien was on a couch only covered by a blanket. When they told her about the warrant, Lien is said to have told the deputies that they needed to leave her alone. After repeatedly asking her to put on clothes, Lien is said to have them she would have all of them shot and killed, according to the police report.

Never got over the loss of Neelix, I suspect.


This should not be considered nostalgia

From fifteen years ago, something I did not want to come home to:

Two guys from the property-management office corralled me as I pulled into the parking lot and announced that they were bearing bad news: someone had kicked in my front door.

It was a pretty efficient kick, given the size of the deadbolt; the jamb was nicely splintered. The perp’s efficiency, however, stopped there; not only did he overlook the camera hanging right beside the door, he didn’t get much of anything other than frustration. I calculate my losses at $3.25, from a dish of quarters I was saving up for laundry, and about five minutes’ time to tidy up. The onsite staff will take care of the repairs. Still, this is a frightening sort of thing to contemplate just the same — suppose this dirtball had been interested in something other than ready cash?

There has been much said of late about “non-violent” offenders and how they’re occupying too much expensive space in the corrections system. This was about the point where I decided that it might be better just to hang them on the spot. Defenders of the putatively downtrodden took umbrage at this idea, of course.


Thighs matter

Who wears short shorts? Not you, if you want to live in Dadeville, Alabama:

After first proposing an ordinance banning saggy pants, the Dadeville City Council is now considering banning short shorts and mini-skirts.

Why? Because equality:

Dadeville City Councilwoman Stephanie Kelley said it shouldn’t just be men who are singled out on their attire.

“My concern is it should be for everybody,” Kelley said during Tuesday’s council meeting, the Alex City Outlook reported. “I think for the girls, with these shorts up so high looking like under garments and dresses so short, I don’t want us to be showing favoritism.”

And they really, really hate saggy pants:

“We have people walking down the street with their hand in front of them holding up their pants,” [Councilman Frank] Goodman said. “Then they have the nerve to walk into a place of business and ask for a job. If you come to my house you are going to pull them up before you get on my property, much less in my door. I prayed about this. I know that God would not go around with pants down.”

When the Recording Angel finishes my entry — not too soon, I hope — I pray that there be a note to the effect that I never once speculated as to the position of God’s trousers.

(Via Fark.)

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Continuing miseducation

One is expected to pony up for stuff like this in order to maintain one’s professional credentials, or some such business:

Today I started a CE course in Construction Management in one of NY universities. It takes 6 Saturdays and gets me a certificate I can use in commercial team project applications.

On the basis of the first class day, our student is not impressed:

The thing is a travesty of grandiose proportion. To give you a taste: for the first class we (engineers, architects, PMs, construction inspectors and such: not 20yo subjects of community organizers) were expected to sit through 2hrs (it felt like 10) of self-aggrandizing propaganda that is a film by Al Gore (Algore, Carl!!!) An Inconvenient Truth. Then we’re given a homework: to write a summary of this masterpiece.

Actually, the film itself runs a mere 96 minutes: the rest of it is, um, additional greenhouse gas.

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Crowd unfunded

In fact, the crowd gave it the back of its collective hand, and deservedly so:

The Indiegogo page for a hypnosis-based smartwatch designed to help you “pick up girls” closed today after a month of crowdfunding — and it has not raised one solitary dollar.

The “Dating skills smartwatch” (or “Pick up girls smartwatch” — they can’t seem to decide on its actual name) is aimed squarely at straight dudes — specifically the type that have a signed copy of The Game — and promises to “program your brain” using subliminal messages that teach you how to “get girl’s attention and melts their hearts” [sic sic sic — there are so many errors on the page that we might just do one giant SIC for the whole thing. In both senses].

The watch supposedly plays “subliminal messages that your ear cannot hear but your brain does (below 20Hz)” while you listen to music. These somehow teach you to be more confident with women, deliver terrible chat-up lines and “take her home.” Creepery and pseudoscience. Sexy.

At no point does it rise above pitiful self-parody:

“We have included a camera in the face of the watch so you can easily take her picture. And then you say: ‘Do you want me to send you your picture, give me your cell number’.”

The only good line of this sort I’ve ever heard was in Tristan Prettyman’s “The Rebound”: “I lost my number / Can I have yours?”

You might think there would be enough involuntary celibates out there to finance this contraption in a walk, but apparently not so.

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No girls allowed

You can see this, maybe, when you’re seven or eight. When you’re all grown up, maybe not so much:

It’s perfectly legal to advertise your establishment as a place where “gentlemen” might like to go, but one Pennsylvania barber shop found itself in hot shaving water when a woman claimed she was turned away for a haircut.

The business, which is described as a “high end Gentleman’s Barber Shop” on its website, will have to pay a $750 fine after a woman said she was turned away upon arriving for an appointment she’d booked online in March for herself and her boyfriend, reports the Washington Observer-Reporter. She reportedly wanted to get a fade, a short style often sported by men.

But a female barber who works at the shop said she explained to the woman that the staff sticks exclusively to men’s haircuts.

Must be a Pennsylvania thing; anything advertised for “gentlemen” out here on the prairie is likely to be a strip club. Anyway, this is one version of the fade for women, and it doesn’t look half bad.

Personal note: The shop that does what’s left of my hair — too infrequently, if you believe some people — will happily work on men, women, or any humans answering to “None of the above,” so long as there’s hair to be cut.

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A small, neat sweatbox at that

A discussion of air conditioning, or the lack thereof, in the City of New York spawned this plaintive wail:

Here in Tokyo, where it is obscenely, body-wiltingly hot for three or four months a year (and where, in the past ten years, government anti-carbon mandates have made 28°C the minimum indoors in the summer), through-window air conditioners are the only thing you ever see. Being born in NYC, I have only heard the term “central air” and have never seen it. I would have to Google to see what such a setup would look like.

Jeebus. Eighty-three inside? I wouldn’t wish that on a communist from Berzerkley, let alone a Japanese salaryman.

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You do not know this

And if you did, you didn’t hear about it here:

The CIA and U.S. special operations forces have launched a secret campaign to hunt terrorism suspects in Syria as part of a targeted killing program that is run separately from the broader U.S. military offensive against the Islamic State, U.S. officials said.

The CIA and the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command are both flying armed drones over Syria in a collaboration responsible for several recent strikes against senior Islamic State operatives, the officials said.

Remember: this is a secret campaign, so you know nothing about it.

It is, however, enough to make you wonder if Hillary Clinton rewrote the classification rules.

(Via Interested-Participant.)

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A portion of hell breaks loose

According to George Carlin, this would be worse than all hell breaking loose, because it’s harder to track — especially, I suspect, if you don’t have the appropriate tools.

While we ponder that, let us pity poor South Carolina, which used to have a law regarding robocalls. Repeat: used to:

In June 2014, per The State, a district court in Greenville [held] that the ban on certain political robocalls unfairly singled out political speech and, thus, violated the First Amendment. And just a few days ago, a three-judge panel of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld that ruling, tossing out the state’s law as unconstitutional.

So, buckle up. Because the law got overturned, the state now has no regulations on robocalls. While some states have banned robocalls entirely, and others — including New Hampshire — ban robocalls from going to people on the Do Not Call registry, the Palmetto State is now a phone-call free-for-all. In fact, due to another law being struck down in 2010, outside groups supporting a political candidate or cause don’t even need to disclose who is paying for the call.

There are times when I regret leaving South Carolina back in 1969. This is not one of them.

(Via Hit Coffee.)

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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.)


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.)


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.


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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