Get off my register

After I admitted to some ambivalence regarding those so-called senior discounts, Roger, never one to mince words, declared them just this side of unsustainable:

There are all these nifty benefits to getting older. The thresholds vary, but one can get lots of stuff at a savings, especially services, such as at restaurants and transportation. (But are they legal? Apparently, even though they are discriminatory against the younguns.)

Frankly, I think retailers are crazy to maintain these “senior” discounts. The boomer generation is HUGE in numbers in the United States and will likely live longer than their parents, to boot; this must be an economic drain on some businesses, and will continue to be so for quite a while.

As Herb Stein said, if something can’t go on forever, it won’t. Eventually somebody will decide that 75 is the new 55, and the threshold for nifty benefits will shift upwards a notch or three. By then AARP will be mass-mailing 27-year-olds.

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Can C789 be far behind?

Bankrupt battery maker A123 Systems, last seen rushing into the arms of Chinese conglomerate Wanxiang Group, has announced a name change — to “B456.” Yes, really:

As part of A123’s bankruptcy proceedings dating to last October, it was required to change its name in order to be purchased by Chinese company Wanxiang. According to the Detroit Free Press, as part of a March 22, 2013 filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, A123 declared that its new name is B456.

Oh, it gets better:

We’re not sure if anyone at A123 realized the irony — B456 is also the model number for a fire extinguisher made by Amerex that happens to be good for “energized electrical equipment.”

“They’re always changing corporation names,” Grace Slick observes.

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Quote of the week

David Warren wrote this on the day before Good Friday:

[E]ven within quite “mainstream” Christian folds, Christ is reduced to an abstraction. The Gospel Christ is too particular, the times call for a more generic Christ, who will treat everyone the same. For a Christ who will not be objectionable to the State authorities; who will mind his own business & not create a disturbance. A democratic Christ, who will bless everyone equally, & preach multicultural homogeneity if he must preach at all. A Christ who would not have to be crucified, whose case would never come before Pontius Pilate, because he would never offend anyone. A nice Christ, who embodies niceness, & looks the other way whenever something he doesn’t like is happening. Not man in the image of God, but God in the image of man: a Christ we have made for ourselves, & given a liberal education, so that he does not speak of demons & the like, but only in terms of scientific theory. For we are nice people, & we do not want to hear about demons. We have no theory for that.

And please, would this Christ not rise from the dead. That is terribly disruptive.

This may be why I get along fairly well with atheists: their lack of belief, often as not, turns out to be the product of actual conviction.

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Here be Wolves

Judge Radar said it best: “If anyone is near Will Rogers Airport, please look for the Thunder’s Defense, so we can express-ship it to Milwaukee for tomorrow night.” Not that they had any offense either; in ten minutes of the fourth quarter they’d managed to produce only ten points. And if they’d brought lunch, Nikola Peković would have eaten it: the big Montenegrin collected 15 rebounds, seven of them offensive, and scored 22 points on 10-16 shooting. Minnesota moved into the lead early in the second quarter and never gave it up, sending the Thunder on their way to deepest Wisconsin in wound-licking mode, soundly beaten 101-93.

The key here: 21 second-chance points by the Wolves, while the Thunder were going one-and-done much of the night. Kevin Durant, who scored 36 tonight, could have gone for 50, maybe 60, if he’d gotten some help, but farther down the box score we see Russell Westbrook with 18 and the entire OKC bench with 17. Exactly four of those came from Kevin Martin, who went 1-9. Then again, Derek Fisher actually made a shot, so all’s right with the world.

Meanwhile, Ricky Rubio, not always the most polished of guards, was sleek and shiny much of the night, snagging 17 points and four steals. The Wolves pulled off 10 steals in all, twice as many as the Thunder, though Serge Ibaka owns the shot-blocking franchise around here, having batted away five, while Andrei Kirilenko executed Minnesota’s only swat. I note in passing that perennial pest J. J. Barea somehow was held to six, but the Wolves’ reserves did contribute 33 points to the cause.

Bottom line: the Wolves were okay, maybe a little better than that, but the Thunder seemed to have phoned it in. Maybe even faxed it in. The Bucks await tomorrow night, for more marbles than you might think. (At this writing, the Spurs were beating the Clippers, though not by much.)

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Think about fun

You know what it is, and the UK’s Intellectual Property Office has been looking into the oft-maligned art of parody. Some of their conclusions:

Parody is a significant consumer activity: On average, there are 24 user-generated parodies available for each original video of a charting single. 25% are target parodies, 31% are weapon parodies and 21% are self-parodies (where the parody maker criticised themselves).

YouTube, asked for “rebecca black friday parody,” claimed 316,000 results. It only seems like that many.

The potential for reputational harm in the observed sample is limited: Only 1.5% of all parodies sampled took a directly negative stance. This is where Rebecca Black’s “Friday” comes in. While there was a “disproportionately negative response from parodists”, the empirical evidence suggested that even highly negative parodies did not harm the original work. It is advantageous to a video to attract parodies, even critical ones.

If the makers of all those “316,000” parodies of “Friday” watched it only once, that’s still a tidy sum for RB.

There exists a small but growing market for skilled user-generated content: Parody videos located in this study generated up to £2 million in revenue for Google in 2011, a portion of which was shared with the creators.

I’ve mentioned this up before. It remains the one “Friday” parody I actually paid to add to the collection:

A definite Palpatine with cheese.

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Somewhat put out

Not that you’d remember after ten years, but my agent and I traipsed through ten properties before I decided to buy the eleventh, which is now of course the palatial estate at Surlywood. For the record, this is what I thought of the tenth:

This place was a foreclosure, and it had been suggested in earlier discussions that despite what you see on those TV infomercials, there’s not a lot of benefit to buying these things; apparently, once informed that they’re about to be dispossessed, the occupants avenge themselves by trashing the premises. It was certainly the case here: non-functional appliances were scattered about, the window treatments were more trick than treat, and someone had made off with a couple of downspouts, fercrissake. This will be a beautiful home for someone someday — provided that someone is willing to spend half again the purchase price to restore its dignity. I’m not.

Have things improved in the last decade? Of course not:

When people have little incentive to behave well, and when nobody is watching, what do people do? The last few years have given us millions of opportunities to answer that question as people living in foreclosed homes decided whether to leave those homes in decent condition or to instead pour concrete down the drain.

Warren Meyer notes at Coyote Blog:

These folks are lucky to live in the US — we have the most lenient home mortgage system in the world. Very, very few other countries in the world have no-recourse mortgages where one can walk away only with a ding on their credit record, without even a personal bankruptcy. Almost anyplace else, they would be facing years of garnishments for whatever losses on the loan the bank had after they sold the home.

One could argue, I suppose, that a system that would lend me money is too lenient by definition. Still, despite qualifications that could fairly have been described as marginal, I got the loan, and I’ve never come close to foreclosure; I’ve never even been stuck with a late charge.

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Unlicensed Pilate

@TheMorningSpew reports seeing this, um, Easter card at a Target store:

Judas - Worst Friend Ever greeting card

This explains the circle on the Target logo: it’s the ninth.

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From the Missing Persons Bureau

Dropped into the spam bucket last night:

This is a message to the admin. Your website is missing out on at least 300 visitors per day. I have found a company which offers to dramatically increase your traffic to your site: [URL redacted] They offer 1,000 free visitors during their free trial period and I managed to get over 30,000 visitors per month using their services, you could also get lot more targeted traffic than you have now. Hope this helps :) Take care.

Evidently there’s a surplus of bots out there, if they’re willing to dump that many on me.

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Fark blurb of the week

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She can’t run in those

With Robert Stacy McCain distraught over not having Ashley Judd to kick around anymore, the least I can do is to give you a scene from the day job she’s not quitting:

Ashley Judd in Herve Leger

In Olympus Has Fallen, which premiered last week, Judd plays the First Lady to Aaron Eckhardt’s President. On the way back from Camp David, the Presidential limo crashes. Guess who survives.

This is yet another Herve Leger bandage dress, which I’m betting will generate at least one line of snark from either Stacy or Smitty. I did, however, admire the shoes — “Fitch” by Jimmy Choo — which might have provided oppo from the McConnell camp once they found out that they’re $1095 a pair. (The always-reliable Shoebunny takes a closer look.)

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Script kiddies to be tried as adults

Yours truly in the tweetstream, yesterday:

Supposedly, a spammer has declared DDoS on a blacklister, which is kinda like calamari saying “Look at the squid!”

It was, of course, a bit more complicated than that, and Bill Quick dubs it Geek War:

In the not too distant future, mass interruptions of cloud and other digital connectivity is going to be treated with the same tender mercy that deliberate mass interruptions of air, water, and food are today.

Because, yes, continuous bandwidth will become that important to health and life.

He may well be right. For now, though, the hardest hit are likely to be Netflix customers.

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Wide birth

In the last several years, only the Department of Public Safety has asked me for a copy of my birth certificate. Then again, I don’t occupy a public office, and I’ve never been subjected to this sort of thing:

There certainly should have been more of an effort by the right in general to police its own — our own — and to read the birthers out of the movement much as William F. Buckley read the John Birch movement out of conservatism back in his day.

I have long suspected that Barack Obama was trolling them all along.

And as they sowed, so shall they reap:

Birthers, it turns out, can be bipartisan. They have a new target — the rapidly rising GOP senator Ted Cruz.

Though he bears all the marks of a Texan — the swagger, the signature twang, and the ever-present cowboy boots — 42-year-old Cruz was born in Calgary, Alberta, to an American mother and a Cuban father. By dint of his mother’s citizenship, Cruz was an American citizen at birth. Whether he meets the Constitution’s requirement that the president of the United States be a “natural-born citizen,” a term the Framers didn’t define and for which the nation’s courts have yet to offer an interpretation, has become the subject of considerable speculation.

And it involves some of the same people who sparked conflict — and drew charges of racism — by raising questions about the circumstances of President Obama’s birth. Donald Trump, for one, says he is impressed by Cruz but hasn’t yet looked extensively at his background.

Because there’s nothing more important for a candidate than being vetted by Donald Trump.

I’m not at all keen on candidates keeping secrets. On the other hand, I’m going to wait until they open their mouths before I assume they’re lying.

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Other cheek duly turned

This is a pitch for Rego, an app for saving locations:

“Rego’s private. Nobody sees what you add to Rego. But sometimes you’ll want to share a place with a friend — or even the whole world — and Rego makes that easy.”

Which is not particularly scintillating, until you discover that “Rego” is some sort of Brazilian slang for “butt crack” — which developer Matt Henderson didn’t, until he started wondering why sales in Brazil were so brisk.

If you ask me, he needn’t have worried. “Rego,” after all, is Latin for “I rule,” and Henderson’s good-natured acknowledgement of the issue demonstrates that he indeed rules.

(Via this Nancy Friedman tweet.)

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Where have all the Wizards gone?

Lost to injury or illness, all but eight; but John Wall was back, Washington’s played over .500 ball since he returned, and the Thunder spent most of the first quarter fouling Wall in an effort to keep him from doing what he does best. (Wall wound up taking 15 free throws, making 12 of them.) Oklahoma City pulled the starters with 5:16 left, figuring the Wizards couldn’t do much about the 20-point deficit, and indeed, Washington left three starters in because they didn’t have anyone else. The final was 103-80, and the ribbons at the horn could be considered the curtain of charity.

Then again, if you want to see foul shots, the Thunder took 41 of them, making 37. OKC even knocked down the majority of their treys (8-14), something we haven’t seen enough of lately. They won this one, though, with defense: five Wizards landed in double figures, but the mighty John Wall was held to 18 points on 3-18 shooting and 12 assists, and Washington shot only 32 percent. The three-man bench, however, did manage a creditable 26.

With abbreviated minutes for the OKC first string, the points were a bit more evenly spread than usual, with Kevin Durant collecting only 21, Russell Westbrook 20, and Kevin Martin 18; no one else made double figures. What Scott Brooks is most likely to mention, though, is that Washington actually bagged more rebounds, 43-41. The man is never happy.

Coming up: a back-to-back in the Great (Still) White North, Friday at Minnesota, Saturday at Milwaukee. Winter isn’t done with us yet.

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Two-minute warning, more or less

At twelve noon every Saturday, weather permitting, the city of Oklahoma City tests its warning siren. I’m only two blocks from it, so I hear it just fine, thank you very much. And it’s a common topic of conversation; why, it even has its own Twitter account.

And while we’re talking sirens, Roberta X dropped this bit of historical detail into a footnote:

Some years ago, the city of Kokomo found their siren system had major gaps in the form of failed units and shifting population, and after crunching the numbers, realized it was more cost-effective to hand out a weather radio to everyone in town! Hey, whatever works.

I have two of them, one built into a combo TV/radio/siren/floodlight once sold by Coleman to suburban paranoiacs. (The TV, a purely analog device, is now redundant, since every station likely to carry weather warnings has migrated to digital.) You’ve already heard about the other one.

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Last night’s (and tonight’s) downtime

I duly reported it on the backup blog, before any official explanation was proffered.

Now there is one:

At this point, we are suspecting our Cisco router to be the cause of the incident. As the final portion of our Network Improvement series, this is the last piece of our core network infrastructure that remains. We’ve run into some problems getting it out of service in normal maintenance windows, before last week’s outage we were poised to finally pull the trigger and remove it but ended up having to postpone it yet again.

Then again, it’s kind of hard to rip out everything at once without ticking off the customers.

They announced today that the replacement hardware will be installed tonight after 8 Pacific today.

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