First cousin to the troll

It’s the Hate-Mailer, a lower invertebrate Francis W. Porretto describes thusly:

I’m certain their stations in life are low and tawdry because hate-mailing me, a relatively minor player in Blogdom, is the best use they can make of their time. Therefore, they must have nothing constructive to which to turn, and no wholesome pleasures to enjoy in preference. I severely doubt they have any achievements to be proud of. They certainly can’t write.

Beyond that, they’re pusillanimous beyond belief. Not one of them ever leaves a valid email address. Inasmuch as a conservative Catholic such as I would be highly unlikely to “reply in like fashion,” that implies an incredible degree of cowardice. It conjures up images of my hate-mailers jumping onto tables and shrieking at the sight of a mouse.

I must point out here that the most vicious letter I ever received did have a valid return address; I did respond to the fellow, and by about the fourth exchange we were, if not exactly friends, at least decently civil to one another. But this is clearly the exception, not the rule. You should see some of the horrible stuff Michelle Malkin gets. Better yet, you shouldn’t.

So we arrive at a picture of the hate-mailer as a person of no attainments, little intelligence, no courage, and a foul mouth, whose life is empty of challenges and opportunities, and whose pleasures, if he has any, must be so crude and contemptible that he hides them in the basement.

Sort of like Rahm Emanuel without the charisma.

Still, we must assume that such people serve a purpose in the divine plan. Certainly it’s impossible to sustain a respectable inferiority complex in the presence of such feckwits.

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Feel the warmth

When I was younger, it was an article of faith that any good mechanic could patch up an engine just enough to run 100 miles or so before it grenaded on you, preferably about 100 miles from the shop. None of us had any personal experience, of course: it was all brother-of-a-friend-of-a-friend stuff, the sort of thing that barely qualifies as anecdote, let alone data, but no one ever questioned this dubious wisdom.

In fact, no one questions it today:

How do used car dealers make a car’s air conditioner run for six months after the sale and then self destruct?

The thing about A/C systems, and not just automotive A/C systems, is that they tend to fail rather quickly, not over a semi-convenient period of time like six months: they’ll be working fine, and suddenly it’s Welcome to Death Valley. I haven’t the heart to ask this guy whether he tested it when he bought it, back in, um, January.

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It’s not you, it really does suck

I have never had occasion to make use of the WordPress Media Library: I’d been running this site for over a decade before I even thought about WordPress, and hell, FTP has always worked for me.

We will stipulate, for the sake of this excerpt, that the Library is somewhat cumbersome:

[Matt] Mullenweg admitted that it is confusing and gets difficult to manage once you have lots of images in the library. A man in the audience brought up a technical issue he had with the library. Mullenweg explained that you could actually do what the man wanted to in WordPress but stated: The software is wrong, not the people.

You will never hear a quote like that from [name of damn near any software company anywhere].

And as The Director points out:

I’ve seen too many defects called “training issues,” wherein a non-existent trainer was projected to teach users the convoluted workarounds necessary to avoid bug-infested dark corners of the application. But the motto above, the software is wrong, not the people, nails it, too.

The bug-free program, to the extent that it’s more complex than 10 PRINT “Hello world!”, does not exist. However, we poor, benighted end users hate to be told that we’re doing it wrong when it turns out that the program itself is doing it wrong.

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If you’re happy and you know it, keep it quiet

Those sunny, wide-open spaces where seldom is heard a discouraging word? They’re apparently bad for your mental health:

[S]tates including Colorado that rank highly in sense of satisfaction correspondingly tend to have the highest suicide rates. Conversely, states that rank poorly in well-being tend to have some of the nation’s lowest suicide rates.

Colorado ranks third in well-being and had the sixth-highest suicide rate in the country according to “Dark Contrasts: The High Rate of Suicide in Happy Places” published in April in the Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization.

On the flip side, New York rated 45th in satisfaction and had the lowest rate of suicide in the United States. New Jersey embodies the study’s findings by ranking 47th in satisfaction and 47th in suicide rate.

If I may be flip for a moment, you don’t have time to kill yourself in New York.

The problem, apparently, is that if you seem to be the only one down in the dumps, the distance between you and the sunny side of the street seems that much greater:

“Discontented people in a happy place may feel particularly harshly treated by life,” the report stated. “Those dark contrasts may in turn increase the risk of suicide.”

Researchers have established that people’s opinions of themselves in the realms of wealth, obesity, employment and other areas tend to be measured in relation to those around them, and the authors of the study contend that contentment is a similarly relative perception.

Perhaps I shouldn’t help to spread this around: the Nanny State may yet declare that it’s our responsibility to curb people’s desperate urges by being as miserable as possible ourselves. Shared sacrifice, doncha know.

(Found by BPD in OKC.)

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Andrew Ian Dodge admits that the 430th Carnival of the Vanities is “rather tardy,” which as sins go is pretty doggone venial. I mean, it’s not like he’s going to have to work up a prayer similar to the one Augustine did: “Da mihi castitatem et continentiam, sed noli modo” (“Grant me chastity and continence — but not yet.”) The fact that he’s now referred to as Saint Augustine suggests that his prayer was answered, well in advance of his death in, um, 430.

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Where the gropes of wrath are stored

Don’t like the horrendous overreach by the Transportation Security Authority? Just don’t fly, says Jennifer:

“I don’t like the idea of my kids being groped by the TSA, but how else can I get them to Disney World? It’s too far to drive.”

OLD AMERICANS: Give me liberty or give me death!

NEW AMERICANS: I’ll put up with anything, if my kid can shake hands with Mickey Mouse.

Think “Montgomery bus boycott,” times whatever multiplier is needed.

Incidentally, this also works if you don’t mind being groped but do mind being charged arbitrary fees for things that used to be included in the fare.

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Kandora kan do

The Zappos Map now has a tweet function, so you may have seen this last night:

Someone in Acton, Brookings, OR is getting cool shoes from Zappos! #zapposmap

The perplexing aspect of this, to me anyway, is that reference to Acton, which is nowhere near Brookings, Oregon. (Brookings is in far southwest Oregon, so I guessed that maybe they’d conflated it with Acton, California, but no: Acton is way down in the Antelope Valley, just north of L.A.)

Still, I thought the shoes were kinda cool:

Kandora by Madden Girl

This is “Kandora” from Steve Madden’s Madden Girl line, described in-house as “completely on-trend while being affordable for the young fashionista.” There’s also a version with a lot more yellow in it, replacing that little flash of pink with a dark-blue patch of houndstooth. It’s not formal in the least, but it’s also not bone-crushingly tall — 3½ inches, minus ¾ inches of platfom — and the price is an allowance-friendly $50. I’m sure there are places in Oregon, or even in the Antelope Valley, where you can wear this.

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Coming soon to the Aperture Store

A startling report from Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference:

What we’ve been told is that Microsoft is planning to somehow harmonize not only Windows for PCs and Windows Phone, but also the Xbox operating system sometime within the next four years — a timeframe that perfectly lines up with both the end of the Xbox 360’s 10-year lifecycle and the end of Windows 8’s expected three-year run. That would mean Microsoft’s next next OS will run on PCs, tablets, phones, and the next-gen Xbox when it hits sometime in 2015/2016.

But that’s not the weird part:

Our sources also tell us that Microsoft is seriously considering ditching the “Windows” brand name in favor of something new when all this goes down. The idea is to rebrand this new super-OS with something that better fits with Redmond’s vision of the future.

“It’s still Windows,” Bill Quick points out. One could argue, I suppose, that it’s a damaged brand and should be replaced for that reason alone. Given Redmond’s propensity for vaporware, I’d suggest “Potemkin,” but I’m pretty sure that won’t sell.

So they might as well rename it for Xbox, a name which relatively few people hate — and most of the actual haters, I suspect, got to that point after a Red Ring of Death. If I can live through Windows Live Mail, surely I can live through Xbox Live Mail.

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Ted gets behind Sarah, sort of

The Sarah Palin sort-of-biopic The Undefeated pulled in about $70,000 at the box office on its first weekend, which is not a lot, but then it opened on only ten screens. (On a per-screen basis, it was second only to that Harry Potter film, which pulled nearly $40,000 per screen on over 4,000 screens; Horrible Bosses, for instance, made $5,625 per screen. Numbers from Box Office Mojo.)

Ted Leonsis, owner of the Washington Wizards (NBA) / Capitals (NHL) / Mystics (WNBA) and, just incidentally, SnagFilms, is offering to help:

We believe in sharing and streaming all films to all audiences. This is the future. We want to build a big tent and show all views and promote all documentaries. Your most passionate fans would quickly and easily see the film. The critics of your work could also be exposed to the film too and perhaps you can shine the light on your work in this way?

If the point is volume and finding a big audience and supporting charities, we can help.

The old way of doing things, in many cases, simply doesn’t work anymore.

Might work better than this few-towns-at-a-time rollout routine.

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Getting there is half the battle

It started, as so many things do, with a smartass remark on Twitter:

Given airport travel time, security, runway delay, etc., I’d bet a good cyclist could travel BUR to LGB faster than Jet Blue. #carmageddon

In the wake of Los Angeles’ horrific descent into Carmageddon, alternative modes of transportation had their day in the Southern California sun. JetBlue had set up a flight from Burbank to Long Beach, but ultimately the quickest way from BUR to LGB turned out to be, yes, the bicycle.

There were four entries in this ad hoc competition: @wolfpackhustle (experienced cyclists); @garyridesbikes (who didn’t ride bikes, but took the Metro rail system and/or walked); @jennix (on Rollerblades), and two guys on JetBlue Flight 405.


Cyclists will depart from a residence near the intersection of Cahuenga and Chandler Blvd. in North Hollywood at 10:55 AM PT (Saturday, July 16) Flight Departs 12:20pm and we’re basing the cyclists’ departure time on the airline’s recommended passenger arrival time of 1.50 hours before departure. (we’re doing a little less to be fair) Cyclists will be required to follow all traffic laws. The finish line is the light house at the Shoreline Aquatic Park in Long Beach (adjacent to Aquarium of the Pacific) Ezra and I [aboard JetBlue 405] will take a cab from LGB to the finish line courtesy of GaryRidesBikes FIRST TO ARRIVE AT THE LIGHT HOUSE WINS!

It wasn’t even close. The cyclists made it across town in 1:34; Gary-not-riding-bikes showed up ten minutes later, and JenniX hit the lighthouse at 2:40. The airline passengers still hadn’t arrived; they turned up at 2:54, their cabbie evidently having had no idea where the Shoreline Aquatic Park was.

I remember my own battles with Los Angeles-area surface streets, two decades ago. I’d say you couldn’t pay me to do it again, but that probably depends on how much you were paying me.

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Strange search-engine queries (285)

Of every three visitors to this site — apart from feed subscribers, who are counted separately — one will have arrived here after conducting a Web search. That’s around a thousand people a week. Of those thousand, maybe 990, plus or minus a handful, don’t rate a second glance. Then there are these:

how many trans came in a 1996 mazda 626:  With very few exceptions, modern cars have a single transmission, which will break if you don’t take care of it, which you probably don’t.

“wear slips” skirt comments:  Were I in the habit of wearing slips, I’d definitely want to skirt any comments about it.

woody allen mary sue:  A couple made for each other.

pesky defined:  Any Woody Allen character who isn’t getting any, which means pretty much any Woody Allen character.

how to hack a og&e smart meter:  Replace its outgoing signal with one of your own — and hope you didn’t miss a byte, or you’re going to end up with an electric bill that looks like the national debt.

“lickable beater”:  We seldom got a chance at these unless Mom was making something like a squash soufflé, in which case we didn’t want it so much.

i’m losing my social skills:  Perhaps you’re spending too much time on Google.

“april winchell” schwanz alot:  Honestly, I have no idea if she likes schwanz alot.

i had sex whit a bline women xxxx viode:  Yeah, but she could spell.

what is ed ames’ net worth:  His cup runneth over.

“if you buy gas you support terrorism”:  Yeah, like siphoning it is better.

ways to cut down on housework:  Have you tried living in a cave? Low maintenance, for the most part, although you’ll have a hell of a time getting cable.

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Sticking with shtick

Prepare to see things you’ve seen before.

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Pretty much hosed

Last month, I grumbled ever-so-slightly about one of Zooey Deschanel’s outfits: “[T]he dark tights really don’t work here, though I’m starting to believe she had them tattooed on.”

Close enough, apparently:

I am a year round tights girl. I will wear tights even if it’s 100 degrees outside. Tights are my safety blanket. In them, I know that I can do a sweet row of cartwheels anytime, anywhere without anyone catching a glimpse of my knickers.

From almost anyone else, this might sound fatuous.

Then again, it’s not like they’re perfect or anything:

My biggest complaint with tights is that they do not accommodate skinny-ankled people like myself. I spoke with Hello Giggles BFF and designer Kate Harmer — a fellow tights lover and skinny ankle-haver — about this recently. We are tired of being judged for having bunchy tights. We don’t want to be held accountable for our lazy stockings.

I duly combed through the archives for a shot of ZD not wearing dark tights, and in no time at all came up with this one, taken at the BAFTA Brits to Watch event earlier this month:

Zooey Deschanel at BAFTA's Brits to Watch

And you know, as Hillary Clinton never said, there are worse things in life than having skinny ankles.

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A few moments later at 1900 MHz

A couple of days ago, I reported on my new cell phone:

So I have a shiny new LG flipper, which if anything is a step down from the old one: there’s no place for a MicroSD card, so people will be spared my “Friday” ringtone. (For now.)

During the next 48 hours, I ran up against its limitations: the internal memory is extremely meager (hint: the SIM card holds a whole lot more than the phone itself), and the camera was below average, even for a below-average price point. I returned to the Big T, paid the restocking fee, and came away with a three-times-as-pricey Samsung with almost identical key functions, a well-concealed but usable MicroSD slot, and a better, if still not wonderful, camera. What’s more, it does 3G, though I wouldn’t know one G from another.

And yes, that ringtone is in place, though I admit I’m pondering the idea of knocking out another one with the voice of Cee Lo Green, for use with Certain Less-Favored Callers.

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I was looking for a euphemism for the state or condition of being batshit crazy, and that’s what I came up with.

(Who gave me this idea.)

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I’m not as nutty as they think

As it happens, I do use SquirrelMail, so I did actually read this one:

Due to the package compromise of 1.4.11, 1.4.12 and 1.4.13, we are forced to release 1.4.15 to ensure no confusions. While initial review didn’t uncover a need for concern, several proof of concepts show that the package alterations introduce a high risk security issue, allowing remote inclusion of files. These changes would allow a remote user the ability to execute exploit code on a victim machine, without any user interaction on the victim’s server. This could grant the attacker the ability to deploy further code on the victim’s server.

Which is actually sort of plausible, except for a couple of minor considerations:

  • What, no 1.4.14?
  • Version being used at the mail server is 1.4.21.

Oh, and here’s why no 1.4.14:

On May 27, 2008 the SquirrelMail Team announced that, while the latest released version of their software was 1.4.13, a spammer was sending unsolicited email messages to various recipients about a 1.4.14-rc1 release candidate version which didn’t really exist. The messages (usually titled “Internet Users Email Upgrade (IUEU)”) urged recipients to upgrade immediately (because of supposed security issues) and contained a web link for users to do so. However, that web link pointed to a page where the spammer was collecting email addresses and passwords. Beside the fact that end users are not responsible for upgrading such software, that the “upgrade” page was merely a mock SquirrelMail login page made it clear that this was a Phishing attack. The “upgrade” page has been hosted on various compromised systems across the Internet and the attack has continued at least through July 2009.

As a result, the SquirrelMail team skipped version 1.4.14 and its next release after 1.4.13 was 1.4.15.

For “July 2009,” read “July 2011.”

Incidentally, 1.4.22 was released last week.

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