Block that ad!

Blocking of online ads, says TechCrunch, is on the rise:

There are now 198 million global active users of ad blocking software, up 41 percent from 12 months ago, according to a recent report by PageFair and Adobe. The report also estimates that ad blocking will cost publishers $22 billion in revenue this year.

Some caveats: PageFair isn’t an objective industry observer, since its business revolves around helping publishers circumvent these blockers. Also, the impact on mobile may be reduced as more content is distributed on apps and social networks. Lastly, there have been arguments that ad blocking won’t hurt publishers as badly as you might think, because the ad business has always been “lossy,” with lots of wasted money, whether you’re talking about TV or print.

See, for instance, department-store magnate John Wanamaker: “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”

There are sites for which I gladly turn off the blocker. Equestria Daily is one; I shut it down on Fark for a while, but found that some of their sneakier ad-placement suppliers had found ways to crash my browser with horribly designed garbage.

And there are sites for which I will probably never turn it off, such as, on the basis that I give their parent company somewhere upwards of $200 a year and should be exempt from that crap for that reason alone.

Besides, there are people in desperate need of an object lesson here:

Harry Kargman, the founder and CEO of mobile ad company Kargo, agreed that in many cases, online ads have created “a bad consumer experience — from an annoyance perspective, a privacy perspective, a usability perspective.” At the same time, he said that as the industry works to solve these problems, it also needs to convince people that when you use an ad blocker, “That’s stealing. It’s no different than ripping music. It’s no different than pirating movies.”

Horse doodles. You want an analogy that fits? It’s pushing the next station on the car radio the moment you hear that douchebag from [much-hated auto dealership].

(Via Daily Pundit.)

Comments (5)

Low-information buyers

If I didn’t see at least one of these every damn day I might have a smidgen of sympathy:

Me and my fiancé were in the market for a new (used) vehicle. We went to a dealership and found a great car, decent price, and with a down payment that was a little more than we were comfortable with. Now after we have signed and driven off the lot, we KNOW for a FACT that we made the wrong choice and that we aren’t going to be able to afford the car along with its insurance and all of the other bills we already have. –Yes we should have thought this out more thoroughly but we are about to have our wedding next month and need more time to get through that and save more for a newer vehicle. It has only been one and a half days since the purchase and we are wanting to just take it back and tell them we are in over our heads and we will eventually have to default the loan and won’t be able to pay for the car. Will the car take back our car? Also note: the down payment was dated for Tuesday and has not yet been processed. Is there anything else we can do to convince them to allow us to return the car and not continue through with this purchase?

Oh, yes, let’s begin the marriage with a seven-year black spot on our credit!

“Good judgment,” said Will Rogers, “comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.” They probably won’t make this mistake a second time — but they’re going to have to eat the consequences of the first.

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Is this still good?

I don’t go through a whole lot of canned goods: maybe a third to a half of what I buy ends up at the Food Bank before it reaches its expiration date. I was looking at one of those dates a couple of nights ago while cranking the mighty Manual Can Opener, perhaps the last such in town, and it was, albeit twisted like too many CAPTCHA characters, still readable: 17 JANUARY 2017. At least I can still read it.

But what of someone who can’t read it at all? Meet Bump Mark:

Bump Mark is a food expiry label that reacts to the environment around it, just like fresh food does and updates itself.

The label is checked by touch, so when it’s smooth — your food is fresh. If you feel bumps — then it’s time for the bin. The label only goes “bad” when your food does too.

And how does that work?

Gelatine is set over a plastic bumpy sheet — because jelly is solid when it sets, you cannot feel the bumps underneath at first. When the gelatine expires, it turns back into a liquid and then you can feel the bumps underneath, letting you know that your food is bad.

Patent pending, as they say. Whose idea was this, anyway?

The Bump Mark label is the brainchild of Solveiga Pakštaité, a 23-year-old industrial design and technology graduate of Brunel University, and it was … announced as winner of the UK round of the prestigious James Dyson award.

Elsewhere, she describes herself as “Lover of terrible jokes, rubbish at being serious.”

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Strange search-engine queries (502)

Comes around another Monday, and with it, the need to poke around in the back room until we find what people are looking for that brings them here. We may yet regret it.

what happens when you hold your breath:  Try it and see. Report back in about an hour.

latina nudists who is a dead ringer of patty (the manager of the terra cotta inn):  You look at enough nudists, and eventually they all start to look alike.

mark never stops ranting about the dangers of pornography. he gives endless examples of smut he has seen in movies and on tv:  And then goes online looking for pictures of nudists.

if you were a fifteenth-century american indian living in the region of modern-day ohio:  You’d get stuck in downtown Columbus with no idea which way to go.

teen shows asshole on webcam:  This is hardly news; webcams are just full of assholes.

why dont we feel the earth move:  Um, poor choice of partners?

the planned extermination of an entire race of people is known as:  Tuesday.

shoes that look like food:  Loafers, maybe?

octopus bimaculoides for sale:  Well, you certainly can’t lease them.

spiderman and twilight sparkle:  It would never, ever work out. For one thing, J. Jonah Jameson is allergic to pony hair.

non nude crossdresser:  Well, yeah. Were they nude, how could you tell?

how to hump a stuffed animal step by step:  If you have to ask, perhaps you need a different hobby.

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I don’t know, I’ve never Shepled

Sheplers is being merged out of existence:

A 116-year-old name in retail and one of the oldest continuously operating western wear brands, is going away this fall.

Sheplers stores are being rebranded as Boot Barn and the changeover is expected to be completed by Thanksgiving, said Boot Barn vice president Jayme Maxwell.

Irvine, Calif.-based Boot Barn purchased Wichita, Kansas-based Sheplers in June for $147 million to create the largest western wear retailer in the U.S.

How large would “largest” be?

Before the companies merged, Boot Barn had 152 stores in 23 states. Sheplers, a chain of 25 stores in 10 states with a healthy e-commerce business, had sales of $157 million in its last year, including $66 million online. Together the two chains represent more than $550 million in annual sales.

Sheplers dates back to 1899, kinda sorta: J. W. Gibson’s Harness Shop, founded in Wichita back then, was subsequently acquired by Harry L. Shepler (1914-1976), who put his own name over the door.

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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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Squeeze for the Spurs

It’s not even October yet, and the San Antonio Spurs have sold all their season tickets:

For the first time in club history, the Spurs will institute a waiting list for season tickets next week after selling out of their allotment of 13,200.

Current season-ticket holders will be given first priority, should they want to add to their personal inventory.

The AT&T Center is being renovated, and the seating capacity is likely to change from its current 18,581. Then again, it was 18,797 when the arena opened in 2002.

But take heart, non season-ticket holders: The team will still set aside 3,000 tickets per game for individual and group purchases.

It’s hard to imagine those seats not selling out rather quickly.


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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The Parthenon of Puke

The new Bentley Bentayga, which presumably almost rhymes with “Talladega,” as seen by the never-even-slightly-jaded Jack Baruth:

[I]t will be a way to spend $200,000 or more on a VW Touraeg. Another way to think of it is that it will be a Lincoln Navigator for people who have more money. As such, it has a guaranteed place on the Mount Olympus Of Loathsome Objects. The MOOLO. I just made that up. But you already know what’s on there, don’t you? Clothing by “Vineyard Vines”. The new subdivision they’re putting up down the street, the one where the homes have crown moldings made of Styrofoam and names like “The Dorchester”. The Hublot Big Bang.

The MOOLO rises in its tin-plated majesty above the Venn intersection of expensive and meritless. Its Aphrodite is Paris Hilton and its Zeus is probably a pre-political-aspirations Donald Trump. We live in its shadow and we are hunted by its residents, who earn bonuses eliminating our jobs then back their whale-shaped Infiniti SUVs over our children. In this company, nothing could be more welcome than a vehicle conceived, designed, and marketed as a mobile intimidatory fortress and statement of one’s recent arrival to confounding wealth. Look for one in the rearview mirror of your four-cylinder Fusion soon, pressing its supplier-milled cross-eggcrate into your mind like Laurence Olivier with a set of dentistry tools.

Of course, this sort of vehicular monstrosity was inevitable: it’s just totally unreasonable to ask someone who owns actual Bentley cars to point themselves downmarket to a Range Rover or, God forbid, a Jeep Grand Cherokee, just to have something to haul Missy and her friends to the lacrosse match.

Still, I will defend to the death, if not necessarily my death, your right to blow a quarter-million dollars on any damn motor vehicle you please. But that purchase does not include an automatic — or even a manual — mandate to be taken seriously.

Comments (6)

Staring blankly

The Male Gaze, to hear some people tell it, is about a quarter of a tick, if that much, short of Actual Sexual Assault. If you think about it, this stance trivializes physical assaults: if everything is rape, then it’s no longer possible to take a rape charge seriously. I don’t think anyone, with the possible exception of the serial rapist, really wants that.

Some gazers, inevitably, are more annoying than others, particularly if they’re trying to engage the gazees. How to foil them? A sharp rebuke ought to be enough, but there’s something to be said for reducing the potential payoff as well.

In 2001, writer Larry Young and artist John Heebink put together a four-part comic-book story called The Bod, about a young woman rendered invisible by an accident with special-effects gear. Her newly acquired state gains her fame and fortune; it also brings out her worst qualities.

And it essentially deprives her of the ability to say “Hey, jerk, my eyes are up here!”

Panel from second episode of The Bod

Still, this might work better as a meme.

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To be voted off the islands

There were about twice the usual number of panhandlers on, um, duty this afternoon, suggesting that they’re taking this threat from the city seriously:

Proposed restrictions on panhandling are part of a broad effort to attack “explosive” growth in activities that frighten and intimidate many residents, Ward 6 Councilwoman Meg Salyer said Friday.

Salyer said the mayor and six of the other seven council members have signed on as co-authors of her proposal to make it a misdemeanor to panhandle from the median of city streets.

If nothing else, this should be an object lesson in the Law of Unintended Consequences: the existing ordinance prohibits standing in the street to solicit.

The holdout Councilman, should you be interested, is Ed Shadid of Ward 2.

Salyer said she receives complaints “in the multiples every day” about panhandlers.

She said residents tell her their quality of life is destroyed every morning as they drive through the intersection of NW 23 and Pennsylvania Avenue.

“Why should that have to be in our community?” Salyer said. “We can do better.”

The proposed ordinance makes no exceptions for charitable contributions:

Phil Sipe, president of International Association of Fire Fighters Local 157, said Oklahoma City firefighters annually collect about $300,000 to support families affected by muscle diseases.

He predicted donations could drop 75 percent to 80 percent and said it would be a “blow to families” that depend on the money given by the public each year.

Also presumably affected: street vendors of the Curbside Chronicle.

One question remains unanswered still: how do we distinguish the hucksters from the folks who really need help? Or have the hucksters basically pushed away all the competition?

I once suggested that the ultimate solution is purely financial in nature:

[I]nvoke the specter of the Internal Revenue Service. Instead of giving someone a buck, we hand over 60 cents and a 1099-MISC. “By law, we’re withholding forty cents for taxes. Be sure you report this on your return next year.” Odds are, the guy won’t even hang around to get his change, let alone give out his Social Security number.

Then again, what could be more traditionally American than trying to avoid income tax?

Update, 14 September: The Curbside Chronicle responds to the proposed ordinance.

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One true musical pairing

Kate Micucci and Riki Lindhome are Garfunkel and Oates, though not in that order; as a comedy-folk duo with slightly foul mouths, they are nonpareil. Besides, they’re freaking gorgeous:

Garfunkel and Oates on the sofa

Really, they are:

Garfunkel and Oates standing tall

For some reason, their current album (released yesterday on the No One Buys Records label) is called Secretions:

Secretions by Garfunkel and Oates

A marginally more polished version of this song is included, which may explain the title:

You might not want to play this in front of the Overly Sensitive.

Comments (1)

A price far above rubies (3)

I have never quite trusted a printer’s estimate of how much ink is left before you have to spend more money, and apparently my suspicions are well-founded:

You should know this:

[T]he Epson 9900 is a professional grade printer that costs thousands of dollars. Each 700 ml ink cartridge can cost nearly $100, and a full set runs well over $1,000. As a popular fine art printing company, Bellevue has had 4 of the 9900 printers.

Then again, it could be worse. Before I destroyed it in a fit of pique it got to the end of its abbreviated lifecycle, I had a DeskJet which used the HP 56 cartridge, which ran $1.84 per milliliter, versus 14 cents for these Epsons.

(Via Fark.)

Comments (2)

Angry birdbrains

The supply of outrage far exceeds the demand:

I think I’ve reached the point of outrage fatigue. Not my own, I’m not that often truly outraged about anything — other people’s outrage. There are also some things going on that I think truly ARE an outrage that seem not to get the attention that the sort of SWPL stuff that causes outrage. I suppose it’s easier to be outraged over where someone happens to shop than it is to be outraged over the treatment of the Syrian people by their government, or the truly shocking growth and spread of ISIS and what they are doing, or about what Putin is doing… Or for that matter, instead of a person being outraged over something like “food insecurity,” maybe they go work at a food bank or donate to programs that try to help raise people out of poverty to the point where they’re not “food insecure” any more. But it’s easier to froth and foam on Facebook or somewhere than to show up some place and go “I can help, what do you want me to do?” (And YES. I have seen my share of people who did hashtag activism and when they were asked about what they were actually DOING they kind of faded away…)

And you could ratchet up the standards a little higher. You’ll have no trouble finding kitchen help for a shelter on Thanksgiving Day. On a random afternoon in September? No offers, though the need is every bit as great.


Dusting off a badge

This is the Borgward P100, circa 1960, of which about 2500 were made before Carl Borgward’s auto company was forced into bankruptcy:

Borgward P100 sedan

(Photo by Lothar Spurzem.)

And this is the Borgward BX 7, circa 2017, to be produced in China:

Borgward BX 7 SUV

How, exactly, is this happening?

On May 21, 2008, the grandson of Carl F. W. Borgward, Christian Borgward, together with his partner Karlheinz L. Knöss, founded Borgward AG in Lucerne (Switzerland)… They started the development of the new Borgward automobiles with the Norwegian stylist Einar J. Hareide, creator of the “Four-Eyes-Face” of the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, set up the organisation and engineer team and developed a car concept.

Borgward has announced plans for a new car at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show after a 54-year hiatus.The new company will be backed up financially by Chinese truck manufacturer Foton.

And how this story landed on my plate:

Then again, Herpa Miniaturmodelle GmbH, a German maker of model aircraft and cars, has acquired the rights to the Trabant name.

Comments (2)

Hey, small spender

Money, we are told, wins elections. I am always happy to see an instance where it didn’t:

Cyndi Munson easily became the first Democrat to represent Oklahoma City’s House District 85 in a half-century despite raising much less money than her opponent.

Campaign finance reports show Chip Carter, the Republican candidate, pulled in nearly $200,000 in campaign contributions and benefited from $100,000 in independent expenditures.

Munson raised less than $100,000 total, but beat Carter 2,640 to 2,268 Tuesday in a district where Republicans greatly outnumber Democrats.

Two things worked in her favor: she had name recognition in the district — she ran for this seat against David Dank in 2014 and lost — and there is, I think, a tendency among local Republicans to see victory as inevitable except in a handful of heavily Democratic districts. Even Chip Carter saw it coming:

“There was a degree of complacency or something. They thought it’s always been a Republican seat and will stay that way. And my opponent worked her tail off.”

For quite a while, it was a Dank seat: David Dank was the second Dank to represent 85, his wife Odilia being the first. (She was term-limited in 2006.) Both Danks are now deceased.

The GOP majority in the House is now 71-30.

Comments (1)