Hang them up

How do you handle a persistent telemarketer? Have you tried verbal abuse?

Press 2 to be taken off the list, and I wasn’t taken off the list. Press 1 to talk to a representative and ask to be taken off the list, and I wasn’t taken off the list. I’m not proud to admit what I did that finally worked: I started harassing them. Rather, I started berating the person behind Press 1. I don’t like being anything but nice to working schlubs. But these people do work for a disreputable company (or series of companies) offering bogus deals on auto reinsurance.

Berating them worked. It was the only thing that did.

Much as I enjoy berating people, it’s a fact that the recipients in this case are merely cogs; the big wheels never suffer any inconvenience at all. And ultimately, we’re never going to get rid of these jerks until there’s an understanding by the general public that everything is a scam until proven otherwise.

The recent trend away from landlines will help, I think; it’s a lot easier to tell someone to go fart up a flagpole if you’re having to pay for those wasted minutes.

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First, delete system32

If this isn’t trollage, the person posting it needs to be kept away from anything with an IP address indefinitely:

Screenshot from Yahoo Answers: When I right click on the image and click print, it does, but when it is done printing and on paper the image doesn't move.

And if it is trollage, the person posting it needs to be kept away from anything with an IP address indefinitely.

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Wooden you like it

In the current My Little Pony universe, the dreaded Timberwolf is made of actual timber:

[They] can be destroyed by having rocks thrown at them, being flattened under boulders, or otherwise colliding with solid objects or walls. This, however, does not kill them outright, as they can reassemble themselves, or even form a much larger Timberwolf, from their own broken body parts and nearby trees.

Sort of a rustic Transformer. And tonight, Minnesota’s NBA Timberwolves, already reeling from injuries, kept getting the worst of it, and still kept coming back. The Thunder hit the century mark before the third quarter ended; the Wolves pulled to within nine at the two-minute mark, but they were flattened under the very solid OKC offense, which finally put them away, 127-111.

You want to see resilience? The Minnesota bench scored 59 points, seven more than the starters; in fact, the Wolves had seven players in double figures, led by rookie guard Alexey Shved with 17. Ricky Rubio and Luke Ridnour delivered good one-two punches; reserve center Greg Stiemsma blocked four shots. Minnesota shot better than 50 percent most of the game, winding up at 48. And J. J. Barea, no matter what colors he wears, always gives OKC a hard time; he was 6-10 for 14 points tonight.

But resilience can take you only so far, especially on a night when Russell Westbrook knocks down 37 points and nobody from OKC misses a single foul shot. (Westbrook had nine; Kevin Durant had eight, on his way to 27 points.) The Thunder even managed to edge Minnesota in the assist count, 28-26. (Westbrook had nine of those, too.) And 58 percent shooting never hurts. (OKC went 9-14 from Bricktown, a startling 64 percent.) You, or at least I, have to wonder where all this artillery was hiding during the last three games.

The Bulls will be here Sunday, and no way will 238 points be scored. Ronnie Brewer may be here; we don’t know about Derrick Rose just yet.

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Sequester this, pal

In law parlance, “sequestration” is the seizure of property by an agent of the court, pending the resolution of a dispute regarding same. The current Congressional definition seems to be something of a distortion of the term, but then it’s Congressional: the only seizure involved is the one you get when you hear what they’re up to.

And by “they,” I do mean all of them:

When it comes to the military, Republicans use the same “closing the Washington Monument” tactics that Democrats use for social programs, essentially claiming that a 5% (or 1%) spending cut will result in the cessation of whatever activity taxpayers most want to see continue. This process of offering up the most, rather than the least, important uses of money when spending cuts are proposed as a tactic to avoid spending cuts is one of the most corrupt practices imaginable. No corporate CEO would tolerate it of his managers for a micro-second.

The Washington Monument is a shade over 555 feet tall. It would therefore be essentially impossible to impale all 535 members of Congress upon it simultaneously. I suppose they’ll have to take turns.

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Hey, idiot!

You’ve always suspected it, and now there’s evidence to support it. Most traffic jams are caused by a mere handful of jerks:

In a study conducted by MIT and Berkeley, 680,000 Boston commuters were tracked along their commutes — anonymously — as their cellphones jumped from tower to tower. The resulting data gave a better picture of commuter habits than any old-fashioned survey had in the past. During rush hour, a massive 98 percent of roads were below peak capacity. But the two percent that were over capacity were enough to cause traffic jams that spiraled out into the less crowded roads. Granted, not all cities are the same, but it goes to show the potential power of just a few crowded streets.

We can only hope that drone strikes will be called in against the offenders. Traffic will be worse for the moment, but removing these individuals from the gene pool surely should prove a boon.

(Via Outside the Beltway.)

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A movable feast

I’m pretty sure I can endorse this proposition:

I’ve decided that this weekend is going to be My Birthday (Observed). My birthday is actually this coming Wednesday, but I have to teach all day that day (I wonder if, along with the petitions promoting the day after Super Bowl as a federal holiday, and Election Day as a federal holiday (both of which I think are bad ideas for different reasons), if anyone has proposed a You Should Not Have To Work On Your Birthday petition…)

There’s at least some sentiment in favor of the idea, though I haven’t seen anything resembling an organized effort yet.

Disclosure: In any given year, there’s about a 57-percent chance that I won’t have to work on my birthday. (The last time I did, in fact, was 2009.)

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Words like silent raindrops fell

Last time I had issues with Gwendolyn’s Bose audio system, I might have been asking for them: the KLF is, let us say, not known for its kindness to loudspeakers, and the operative word here is “loud.”

We don’t know what caused the failure of the audio system in the Ford Fiesta Jack Baruth rented the other day in Los Angeles; it was like that when he got it. Not that the car-rental company believed him or anything:

I reported the stereo system’s failure to the young lady at the rental counter. She regarded me suspiciously. “What music were you playing when it happened?”

Cage’s four-thirty-three. Had it cranked.” Even in hijab she was remarkably attractive but there was no humor in the way she faithfully recorded the incident for the massive corporation whose logo stood higher than the American flags at the airport entrance.

Hear his words, that he might teach you.

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Peacock blocked

Watching NBC is bad enough, but visiting nbc.com? That’s an infection:

[T]he NBC site is currently compromised and blacklisted by Google. Anyone that visits the site (which includes any sub page) will have malicious iframes loaded as well redirecting the user to exploit kits (Redkit).

Worse, you’ll also get actual NBC content.

Addendum: Doug Ross comments: “If it turns out the Red Chinese hacked NBC’s computers, one obvious question comes to mind: How would we know?”

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Quote of the week

Advice Goddess Amy Alkon draws this question:

Why are women so worked up about hearing “those three little words,” and why must they turn them into such a minefield? If a man says “I love you” too soon, he gets dumped because he’s a clingy, needy Nice Guy. If he waits too long, he gets dumped as a suspected commitment-phobe.

The Goddess recommends a phrase less fraught with peril:

Early on in dating, should you find yourself brimming with emotion and unable to hold back, “I love bacon!” is a safer thing to blurt out. When somebody says that, even on the first or second date, nobody suspects he’s just hoping to use bacon to patch some gaping emotional void. This is probably why, no matter how soon or how fiercely you express your love for bacon, bacon will never respond by running away. To be fair, bacon also lacks feet.

Those of us who might use bacon to patch some gaping emotional void, of course, have an entirely different set of issues.

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Does X mark the spot?

Smitty has written off the generation before, and has little faith in the one after:

Moses had to write off two generations in Sinai before the Israelites were ready. We have, at the high end, a bunch of deadbeat Boomers who’d beggar any number of generations in the name of me, me, me, and I. At the low end, the non-approach to societal continuity has stunted the growth of the Millennials. I’m not of the notion that, once raised in moochery, the human mind is incapable of growth. But we need to admit that the yield of mature, liberty-loving Americans from this bunch is going to be low.

That leaves Gen X to mop up the mess. And I can’t say I’d blame them if they said it was spinach, and the hell with it.

Still, the Xers are more likely to own big-person pants than their parents, who too often resist the very idea of pants.

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By request, kinda sorta

This began with a KingShamus tweet:

Tweet by KingShamus: #WeDemandAVote Morena Baccarin is: A-Hot. B-Really Hot. C-Insanely Hot.

This is the picture he linked.

Dumbfounded that no one responded to his quiz in a reasonable time — the answer, incidentally, is “Yes” — he sent a second tweet with another photo.

On the basis that the third time may be the charm, I decided to go track down a somewhat-unposed picture of the lady in question, and came up with this:

Morena Baccarin

This was taken in July 2012 at the Homeland discussion panel during the Showtime portion of the Summer Television Critics Association tour, before the show’s second season. (The third season begins this fall.) Baccarin got her start in TV on Firefly, playing a, um, Companion.

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Better halves

The Lonely Person Abroad has been a staple of email spam almost as long as there’s been email spam, which is almost as long as there’s been email. I don’t get too many of these, and the few that get past the spam filter are quickly offloaded into the bit bucket, but for some reason, this one stayed my deletion finger for a few moments:

You know, they are so many people in the world, but some of them are alone, because they didn’t find their halfs yet, as it is so hard. If you are alone and want to find your love, you can write me and we’ll start communicating. I’m alone and looking for a good man, who will give me his love and care. Who knows, maybe we can fill up our lonely hearts with love.

This is signed by “Tanya L.” at a Russian domain you might recognize, though an inspection of the message header indicates it was sent from Turkey. And there remains a mystique about the Russian would-be bride, which I blame on Lara Antipova, who, to some of us anyway, bears a startling resemblance to Julie Christie.

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Purely exasperational

Several hours after the fact, I’m still trying to decide which was worse:

  • The fact that the guy in line in front of me bought eight loaves of bread, and specified exactly how they were to be placed in two grocery sacks, or
  • The fact that he wrote a check for all that, which the clerk didn’t quite know how to handle because nobody ever writes a check anymore.

Fortunately, I was purchasing nothing perishable. (And contrarian that I am, I paid cash.)

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Beard in space

And in the end, the difference proved to be James Harden, who, perhaps better than anyone else on 29 NBA teams, knows how to work around the Thunder, and Jeremy Lin, who’s learned how to work with Harden. The Rockets, down 109-97 with six and a half minutes left, went on a four-minute 21-2 tear, and it’s hard to see how Harden or Lin could have played it any better. The final was 122-119; The Beard pocketed a career-high 46 of those 122 points, and Lin knocked down 29, his season high.

The first quarter should have been a clue. Houston put up thirteen treys in twelve minutes, and sank eight of them to go up 36-29. Oklahoma City started figuring out a perimeter defense in the second and earned a 62-57 halftime lead. But the Rockets never went away, and Harden put together a stunning line: 14-19 shooting, 7-8 from beyond the circle, 11-12 at the stripe. The Rocket bench, depleted due to trades, came up with only a dozen points, but they didn’t need to do much more than that.

And this, mind you, on a night when Thabo Sefolosha got a career high: 28 points on 11-16 shooting and 6-10 from downtown. Russell Westbrook laid claim to a double-double (28 points, ten rebounds); Kevin Durant had a triple-double (16 points, 12 boards, 11 assists). Serge Ibaka scored 16 and blocked five shots. Kendrick Perkins and Jeremy Lamb were out of sorts and didn’t play, but it’s hard to imagine that they’d have made much difference.

That’s 0-3 the last three, and it’s time to cast a Resilience Spell or something. Next two games in the 405: the we-need-to-prove-something Timberwolves (Friday) and the oh-Derrick-Rose-may-be-back Bulls (Sunday). At this point, I wouldn’t consider the Pelicans (next Wednesday) a sure win.

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Four miles out

Occasionally I wonder about the local Downtown Or Bust types, mostly because they so bitterly resent the idea of spending money on developing 199th Street when there’s so much work to be done on 9th; these horrid and insensitive sprawlers, they say, should be required to pay for curbs, and then should be kicked to them.

Similar people exist in the Twin Cities, to whom James Lileks replies:

So here are the options:

1. Live in a dense multicultural city where you can either walk two blocks to get Thai, or order it delivered and maybe stiff the delivery guy because the last time they got the order wrong

2. Live in a suburb where you can drive to get Thai from the strip mall place

Which is preferable? The first, because you’re not driving. The delivery guy is, but it’s a moped, and that’s cool. Also because the first example is not culturally insular.

By which some mean: a thin patina of accents, spice preferences, skin colors, and breakroom tales about eye-rollingly strict parents paints an illusion of kaleidoscopic diversity over a solid brick of group-think concerning four or five basic core issues. This reduces human beings down to ticks and gimmicks, and uses superficial cultural differences as proof of “diversity.” It is diverse, but it doesn’t mean anything, really. Every group that looks monolithic from the outside is fragmented on a fractal level on the inside, right down to — and including — the individual.

The point of a city is to find the commonality, not the difference.

The point of a city is to encourage the difference in the context of the commonality.

This form of group-think, incidentally, is bricklike for a reason: the only concept it bothers to understand is “density,” as in we need more of it. It is of vital importance to get people to buy $400k homes in the core, and to leave those $100k houses on the edge for stragglers, misfits, and Section 8. (They really, really hate poor people, because poor people reduce their property values.) How do these edge-dwellers get to work? Not our problem.

And spare me the word “sustainable.” In this town, we obey the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

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This affair of the hair

A question I really shouldn’t try to answer, inasmuch as I buy so little of the stuff:

Why are there male-branded body wash+shampoo, when the equivalent female products require one to separately buy body wash, shampoo and conditioner. Is male conditioner even made? Multi-purpose lotions are either male or neutral (i.e. Head and Shoulders).

Having seen combination shampoo/conditioner products for men, I suspect that this is basically the market’s attempt to address our inherent laziness: we have time to apply two products in the shower, but not three.

Of course, I could be whitewashing the whole situation:

Is there a tangible difference in male and female hair that I should know about? Or is this just assuming that men are practical but women can be price-gouged on beauty products…?

[whistles]

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