As opposed to those scary sedans

I found this comment at TTAC, and the more I looked at it, the more sense it seemed to make:

I believe one of the biggest reasons for SUV and crossover buying is this era’s subliminal fear of crime.

I compare it to the sense of peace we feel when we’re at the water’s edge. I’ve heard it suggested that we feel that peace because it’s biologically programmed into our simian ancestors to relax near the water because there’s only 180 degrees from which we could be attacked by a predator, not 360 as in the woods or tall grass. In fact, the water presents its own set of hazards, from drowning to waves to undersea predators, but we feel safer.

Similarly, we’ve been bombarded with media telling us we’re under siege. Statistics say there’s actually less violent crime per capita in most parts of American than decades ago, but whether that’s true or not, we FEEL besieged, so we’re reassured by the sensation of a commanding position seated safely above the fray, whether that “fray” is motorists hitting us or pedestrians assaulting us. Like the sea, the tall vehicle in fact brings its own hazard — in this case, greater risk of one-car accidents — but the psyche trumps the rational. And we’re all generally much more irrational buyers than we think.

I definitely believe that last sentence. In 2006, the last time I went car shopping, I wound up with something almost too big for my garage that got 3 mpg less than its predecessor and cost quite a bit more to maintain, mostly because the interior was so incredibly coddling compared to what I was used to. (And it still looks pretty good today, though the leather on the driver’s seat is starting to wrinkle a bit.) This is, I suspect, the experience of a lot of people: due diligence before hitting the lots, and then buying something that steals away the heart, facts and figures notwithstanding.

And siege mentality is all around us, due in no small part, I think, to the omnipresence of TV news, the heir to the old newspaper adage that “if it bleeds, it leads.” Lots of bleeding going on out there, and if it’s not actually in your neighborhood, as it’s not in mine, it’s still too close for comfort.

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Definitely not a bozo

Roberta X reports on the Hoosier economy, and it’s not good:

The economy is still nasty and a large HVAC manufacturer here in Indianapolis has, after lavish grants, tax breaks, a personal massage* from at least one Governor and other enticements, decided to absquatulate for Mexico, where the bribes are cheaper, nobody minds a little lead or carbon tet, you can beat up the workforce and pee right in the river. The United States has priced itself out of the manufacturing business; this is not a new story.

* That’s what they’re calling it. Polite people do not inquire.

Come to think of it, absquatulation was how the Colts came to Indianapolis.

But that reference to leak-taking immediately called to mind this Firesign Theatre bit:

If you’re keeping score, this is from I Think We’re All Bozos On This Bus.

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Y1.97K

Unix/Epoch time starts at 00:00:00 UTC, 1 January 1970; as far as the various Unices are concerned, time did not exist until that moment.

Some operating systems take it more seriously than others. You set any current iPhone to that date and you have Carnation Instant Brick:

iPhone users discovered that changing the date of the phone in “Settings” to January 1st, 1970 causes the device to “brick,” or essentially turn off without ever turning back on again.

The good news is that it’s highly unlikely you could ever do this by accident. Manually changing the date of the iPhone to a time 30 years ago is pretty tedious.

And a time 46 years ago is perhaps more so.

Needless to say, this went viral rather quickly, with the usual scum-sucking geeks promoting resetting the time to reveal some iOS Easter egg. (For Windows folk: this is the equivalent of deleting the System32 folder, an instance of bad advice that never seems to go away entirely.) Apple has vowed to fix this bug — which, it says, applies to any date May 1970 or before — in the next software update.

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Corporate insecurity

It has long been my contention that surveys suck, though I regret to report that complaining about this level of suckage has not been enough to deter the pollsters. Bad enough that it’s an election year, but even the most routine contact with Corporate America these days seems to require a questionnaire the size of the decennial Census.

It wasn’t that long ago that my bank noticed I’d been on their Web site. Now I do this rather a lot, partly because I like to keep an eye on my finances, and partly because I know rather a lot of our customers at 42nd and Treadmill can’t be bothered to see if they have any money before trying to spend it, and it’s important to me not to be like them. In and out in 45 seconds, and that’s not even using their new smartphone app. And Gallup, freaking Gallup, sent me a stack of multiple-choice questions that took 15 minutes to answer. “Yes, I checked my balance. Yes, I was happy with the way it displayed, and the speed of the display.”

Now a second one has arrived. I’m not even going to look to see if it’s identical to the first.

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More of the pre-post-Hef era

You already know what I think of the new, somewhat more buttoned up Playboy. Vice asked some collectors what they think, and, well, what you see is what you get:

“Whether it’s desperation or not, I don’t think it’s a great move because you expect nudity in Playboy. Now, maybe parameters need to be clear because I understand Playboy Brazil and Germany are keeping the nudity. Without the nudity you could argue it’s like French fries without ketchup. There’s a magazine here, Horse and Hound, you’re not just going to call it Hound magazine. People expect it.”

There are, I must point out, people who dip their fries in mayonnaise, and I’m not the one to tell them they’re wrong. (They are wrong, of course, but I’m not the one to tell them that.)

“I feel that it’s time at this cultural moment. The value of the magazine was never entirely about the nudity; it was always a major part of it, you know, founded to be that. But the way that things have evolved, with print giving way to digital, it’s the time to make that transition if you’re going to make it at all. And there’s enough merit in the magazine over the years to make it possible. The new editorial direction they’ve taken in the last couple of years has been a lot more progressive. I stopped my subscription in the 90s, but now I sort of wish I was still a subscriber. During Hefner’s Viagra years, it was sort of like, Jesus Christ. But now it’s a home for a lot of good, progressive writing.”

You can get a lot of bad progressive writing for a whole lot less than $7.99 a copy.

“Good for them. Not having to take your clothes off to get somewhere in LA? That’s great. One more reason not to take your clothes off to get somewhere.”

And if it were really an integral part of the star-making machinery, we’d remember more than a handful of the Playmates’ names, wouldn’t we?

Not sure how many issues the last two collectors have, but that first guy, the one who knows Horse and Hound, has 866, which implies the presence of a few duplicates, the magazine being only 63 years old and now down to ten issues a year. (Before you ask: I have just over 400.)

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No more Mosaic

After all, this is 2016 fercrissake:

Screenshot of tweet by Sarah Withee recommending IE or Netscape Navigator

Get with the program, people. And not that program, either.

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Fark blurb of the week

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Rudest intrusion

Some hackish types are in it for the lulz; some others, I am told, for the advancement of knowledge. Then there are the ones who are in it for the money:

The computers at a Los Angeles hospital have been down for more than a week after ransomware ended up on its internal network. Patients at Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center have been transferred to other hospitals because of the outage, and connected medical devices and portals are offline, as well. The attackers have reportedly asked for more than $3.6 million to decrypt the system and the hospital’s files, CSO reports. Staff are now having to turn to fax machines and landline telephones to get work done, and medical records are being kept on paper.

The hospital didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment and hasn’t elaborated on how far the attack has spread, what kind of ransomware infected its network, or how it was even infected in the first place. According to CSO, the incident was random, likely meaning a hospital staffer clicked a malicious link or attachment that ultimately spread the malware throughout the network.

Reportedly the LAPD and the FBI have been called in.

The invaders, CSO says, aren’t asking for dollars: they’re asking for bitcoin, to the tune of 9000 BTC. Last I looked, 1 BTC was worth just over $406.

(Via Emin Gün Sirer.)

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Words that gladden the heart

Or maybe some place a bit lower down. Francis W. Porretto, linking to this collection of Utterly Romantic verbiage from stage and screen and story, offers a sampling of “well-proven romantic lines that really ought to have been considered” but somehow never seem to be. I’m at least partially sure that “Yes, I do have five large, empty closets. Why do you ask?” would have worked with some women I know.

Allegedly this will draw the attention of the male:

Axe print ad featuring double-jointed therapist

Although I do think it needs the visuals as much as the quotation.

(Yes, I have posted this before.)

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Swiftly played

Several kind folks live-tweet red-carpet events, so I got several looks at this slightly strange garb worn by Taylor Swift at the Grammys yesterday:

Taylor Swift at the 2016 Grammy awards

The dress, such as it is, comes from Atelier Versace, and those are Stuart Weitzman heels affording her a four-inch lift she hardly needs. Add to that the Sia-sideways bob, and TS is giving us the full WTF. Said the ever-bristly Quinn Cummings: “Why is Taylor Swift wearing a fluorescent censor bar?”

So I moved in for a closer look, but by then she was guarded by squad members. In this particular case, it’s Selena Gomez:

Taylor Swift and Selena Gomez at the 2016 Grammy awards

You might want to keep these pictures in mind, just in case Vogue’s Anna Wintour ever becomes a zombie: she’s gonna look exactly like Taylor, give or take several grams of makeup.

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For when you have to pour it on

Presenting new, or not so new, Liquid Trump:

Advertisement for Liquid Trump

The “EL” logo in the corner represents Economics Laboratory, Inc., which also produced a home dishwasher product called Electrasol. (Electrasol was eventually renamed “Finish”; after several mergers, Finish is now part of the giant Reckitt Benckiser group.)

Choice comment comes from Gerard Van der Leun, who ran this picture with the caption: “For when you’re out of Solid Trump.” Well done, sir.

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The pony you wanted to be

Let’s imagine, for example, that it was Rarity:

Rarity kimono dress by Darling Army

Also offered, once production resumes: Derpy, Celestia, Luna, Pinkie Pie, Rainbow Dash, and perhaps Fluttershy, generally in the $150-175 range. My inner 9-year-old girl is in Full Squee.

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The stuff of nightmares

I’ve already gone into entirely too much detail regarding my Valentine’s Day-connected trauma, and it’s comparatively trivial compared to some. In fact, I’d say that if you dream of things like this, at the very least you should probably lay off the early-evening cocktails:

The octopus at the Seattle Aquarium won’t be getting any love this Valentine’s Day.

Each Valentine’s Day the Aquarium invites people to watch the sea creatures mate, but this year the chance to watch some 8-armed nooky has been called off.

Aquarium staff say they’re afraid that their male octopus — a 70-pound cephalopod named Kong — is too big for the females who are 30 to 40 pounds, and he may eat them.

And so Kong, faced with rejection by forces beyond his control, will return to Puget Sound, where his life will dissolve into bitterness and/or loneliness:

Octopuses only live about three or four years and mate once at the end of their lives.

Then they die.

Just in case you thought your life was depressing. And no, the Pacific Northwest tree octopus cannot serve as a substitute.

(Via Neal Stephenson.)

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Favorable winds

I seem to have reached the point where actual musical acts will attempt to get my attention via Twitter. Occasionally they succeed. The band Ships Have Sailed rang in yesterday, and as is my usual practice with new followers, I do try to see what they’re all about. The first thing I found was this 2013 single:

“Midnight” proved interesting enough to continue the search. They have a more recent album called Moodswings, from which this is the lead track:

The most popular song from Moodswings, judging by iTunes sales, is “If Only,” for which there is a lyric video.

Definitely neo-romanticists, without the underlying desperate smarm of Train or the technological obsessions of OK Go — and I like those two acts. I will continue to keep an eye out for these Ships.

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The bad-news Rs

No coffee for the GOP:

The people who find a way to pick the worst option among the many good ones are always the ones complaining about their bad luck. The classic example is the salesman that is not good at his job and never has a deal just fall in his lap, like the guys who are closing deals every day. The bad salesman swears he is just unlucky.

The Stupid Party makes this point regularly and we now have a great example of why the stupid are unlucky. For decades they have been hosing their voters, mostly because they can’t run a competent political party. Some portion of what they do is just a grift. They tell the voters one thing and then take a bribe to do the opposite. That’s just corruption.

Most of the GOP’s problems, however, are the result of incompetence. When presented with three options, all good, they find a fourth that is self-defeating. The political ineptitude is so breathtaking that many of their voters have concluded it must be deliberate. No one can be this dumb this often by accident. It’s why they have a revolt brewing in their primary.

One aspect of that revolt is the question of whether this candidate or that is sufficiently “electable.” I’m not convinced any of them are electable until one of them is actually, you know, elected. And regardless of the positioning of the Jaws of Victory, the GOP can find a way to snatch defeat therefrom.

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The pre-post-Hef era

I have now seen the first issue of Playboy 2.0 — technically, Volume 63, Number 2 — and there are three conclusions to be drawn:

  1. Looks a lot like Maxim.
  2. Looks a whole lot like Maxim.
  3. Looks so much like Maxim that I wouldn’t be surprised if Maxim sued.

Seriously. Not only has Playboy installed the larger page size Maxim implemented last year, the House That Hef Built has also shifted the emphasis, Maxim-like, toward more guy gadgets and stuff and away from female bits: more AT&T, less TT&A. Most of the magazine’s most enduring, if occasionally least endearing, columns have been swept away: I won’t miss the Party Jokes, and the opposing “Men” and “Women” pages have been declining for years, though I did enjoy “Raw Data” and I truly regret the passing of the Playboy Advisor. (The Advisor, at least, seems to be available on the Web.)

On an almost-positive note, the Playmate Data Sheet is no longer called that, and is no longer rendered in the young lady’s handwriting, but it does offer some social-media contacts. (Follow Miss March 2016 on Twitter at @dreelovechild.) And photo director Rebecca H. Black, who has presided over recent improvements in the product imaging, remains.

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