Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Wheelchairs in Space

I recently made a horrific discovery: something's wrong with me (duh). I'm getting Old Disease. Hear me out.... I first noticed the concept when my brother bought a house. We used to joke about heads exploding when the adult store moved into the neighborhood.  One day I mentioned it and he got all upset about property values and what about the children? This is what a house does to you? Nah, I have a house and was perfectly ok with the adult store. I might have been the only one in the region who was. In fact, it never caused a crime, never had shady hangers-on, and just sat there. Let's face it: if you're looking to buy adult toys, you're not going to stick around outside the building and use them.

My shock discovery happened this morning, when I clicked a link and

  • found myself reading an article on old, creepy motels being converted into hip and expensive new motels. Even worse, I was looking at the pictures. WTF happened to me?  
  • I am apparently the victim of familial high blood pressure and have to take medicine. My grandfather had to take medicine. As a little boy, I noticed that he took a small pharmacy with his breakfast in the morning.
  • One of my meds is having a dispute with the other one, throwing my brain into an alternate universe for half a second now and then.
  • Remember: nothing with medicine has to change if you don't go to the doctor.
  • I go to my nephew's school violin concerts.
  • My wife bought me a chair. MY chair. So I can say, "You can't sit in that - it's MY chair." When visitors arrive, she tells them it's MY chair. They speak of it in hushed tones.
  • People talk about 401k's and I actually listen (unlike sports).

This must stop. Now.

  • A 26' statue of Marilyn Monroe's iconic "dress blowing up" pose is drawing ire from a church and residents in Stamford, CT. Children are climbing up under her dress and looking at her underwear. The denizen are outraged.
  • WTF has happened to us? The movie is ancient and famous. Marilyn Monroe is a legend, an icon, another tragedy of the Kennedy Legacy. Considering PA has to deal with a statue of a fictional boxer (Rocky), I'd rather have Marilyn. This statue is practically G-rated. What's with all the outrage?
  • "It's disrespectful to the church." Shut up. Don't be a negative stereotype.
  • "If God had anything to say, he'd send a lightning bolt through it."  Hire that man.

Ummmm.. why is the Vatican's secretary of state attending Bilderberg?
This is a huge meeting of incredibly influential people to discuss things they are going to make happen on a worldwide basis, held this year in Turin. It was given a ton of press recently due to journalist Jim Marrs' (RIP) discovery of it, and Alex Jones promotion of the news. Alex is famous for bullhorning the people driving up to the hotel. They drive up in blacked out limos. The guest list is not available and the entire hotel is shut down to everyone but attendees. Guests of the hotel have been ejected in the middle of vacations.  But the Vatican? This isn't normal.

  • Why are so many mall stores closing? One could guess it's the internet. I have a long history with malls. Since we didn't have the internet when I was little, we went to malls. Now one can walk into a mall with a significant percentage of stores closed.
  • This used to be interesting. Now it's kinda sad. Cities are losing jobs and not replacing them. People are being robbed of places to go on the weekend. I'm a child of Retail Culture and believe heavily in Retail Therapy (buying lots of stuff to satisfy the hole in my soul). This might just be another sign to keep on my path to agoraphobia.

My parents surprised me with my birth certificate.
I thought I already had one, but apparently there are two. I failed to ask if I was born twice.
It was a professional level forgery because, as you know, I come from Mars. Of course the Mars Rover found methane: we're screwing with it. We leave a bit of it here and there for it to find, strictly for our amusement.
No one will ever discover the certificate is a clever forgery, because it says I was born in New Jersey, and what fool would fake being born in New Jersey? It's brilliant on the part of my parents.

  • ATTENTION: If you're like me, you're watching your weight (increase). If you're actually doing something, especially if that something is Weight Watchers, you're actually in good shape. Wait, let me clarify.. the company left a critical server unprotected, allowing hackers a view into the company's infrastructure. No customer data was compromised (they wouldn't lie, would they?).

If you need a little pick me up, a little light news to brighten your day, this isn't it. The state of Florida (it's always Florida) failed to carry out background checks on firearm licenses for a year.  Was the system down? Nope. Were they being held at gunpoint? Nope. The employee responsible forgot the login to the system that checks backgrounds.

In case you're curious:
The database was created in 1993 by the FBI and the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. States and firearm retailers can use it to check on the criminal and mental health history of those who want to buy a firearm, including their histories in other states. The database flags applicants who’ve served more than one year in prison, have been convicted of drug use in the past year, are undocumented immigrants, were involuntarily committed or deemed to have a “mental defect” by a court, or who were dishonorably discharged from the military.

A model of governmental efficiency.. look at how fast the licenses were processed!

Speaking of Florida, and everyone is, if you live in Wellington, Florida, and used Click2Gov to pay a utility bill, you may find unauthorized charges appearing on your bill. Naturally no one knows how it happened, but there is a company called Superion, which produces software used by government offices, and the connection to it has been severed.

  • Mom's had a cell phone for a while now, and is damn near confident in its use as a phone. And when I say confident, I mean she has to ask someone how to dial it. That struggle having passed, she has just discovered texting.  Mom doesn't exactly grok texting: the first text was 3 paragraphs long and written in the form of a letter. I wonder how long it's going to take for her to pick up that everyone texts so they don't have to talk to each other. Nah, she's never been antisocial - only her children have.

Uh oh. Egypt has decided that if you have 5k Twitter followers, you are considered a member of the press and subject to laws governing "fake news". At least we Merkuns have alleged freedom of speech.

  • Shocked to find out California has created a DNA database on all babies born for years? No, not really. Remember: if it can be done, it will be done. And the outcome will not be favorable to you.


ThermionicEmissions wants to give readers a chance to participate in a possible change. Do you like the blog as-is? Would you rather the installments come with fewer paragraphs but maybe more frequent? Would you rather not see new installments at all? Are you even reading this? Drop me a line to say you have seen this paragraph. Or drop me a line to tell me you haven't seen this paragraph.

As always, tell your friends, parents, pets, and random strangers about this blog. Tell them something. Tell them to avoid it, if necessary.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Renting a Life

The phone rings.
This is never a good sign.
Wife wants to know if I want the bad news or the really bad news.
I told you it wasn't a good sign.

Unable to pull over on the turnpike in time, the dog decorated the car seat.
And speaking of the car, it was running very strangely and the Check Engine light was on. This car simply doesn't do that. By the way, the call was coming from two and a half hours away, in Outer Mongolia.

Outer Mongolia was less than convenient for most of us, especially as I needed to perform some job-related errands the following day and the mechanic was near home.

I had to rent a car. Jinkies.
The company that picks you up was the only choice.
I got an Altima, through very little choice of my own.
The largest surprise is that there are no dogs allowed. NO DOGS? Fortunately Marshall doesn't think he's a dog, so that won't be a problem.

My personal car is a thing of beauty, generating no problems. Because of its age, it has none of the things people today are used to. I don't even have an AUX in on the stereo.

The rental had stuff I'd never seen before. These lights kept going on and off. It took me a while to figure out they were 'radar' to tell me there was a car coming up on that side. Great invention. The two zone air conditioning was handy, as Wife prefers arctic air and I prefer to drive in a less than icy state.

I never knew about this, but when you shift into reverse, there's a tv on the dash! The only problem is why should a tv be wasted running only in reverse. And I hate to say this, but the programming was total crap. It was largely about streets and curbs. The audio seemed to be broken.

When you see car commercials, you'll notice there's very little about the actual car: it's more about stupid features and the stereo.  And there was a stereo in this car. It had many controls, which probably makes car buyers orgasmic or terrified. It had buttons and the buttons had buttons. It was a complete nightmare of user hostility. Hooking my phone to it was a delicate dance, but you'll be happy to know nothing got broken, went airborne, or got punched. For some reason it wanted permissions to my messages, which wasn't working for me. There were a few other phones listed.. when I get some time, I'll find the info they left in the car. The long and short of this is the thrill I got, not having to listen to the radio. I got to hear my own music. Yes, this is normal for everyone with recent cars; it's just new to me.

On the other hand, this car's seats hurt our backs. It probably had a tiny engine because it couldn't get out of its own way. The ride allowed us to experience every nuance of the road. In English this means "it's really goddamn bumpy." So our 'old' car blew the very new car away. Fortunately the engine light went out in our car. Everybody knows there's nothing wrong with a car when the check engine light goes out. We can all breathe easier.

A friend related a story about a new car stereo. His wife's new car had all sorts of complex gadgets. She found a button labeled HD. Enthused by High Definition, she switched on the obvious satellite radio and noticed that they played all her favorite music. They played entire CDs of her favorite music. A tiny amount of detective work by my friend revealed that HD stands for Hard Drive, and it played the favorite music because it recorded the CDs she played.

The FBI and other sources are raising the alarm over a type of router malware, called VPNfilter. This can take over your router and potentially be used in a botnet. The long and short of it is that you need to update the firmware in your router and reboot it. Firmware tells the device how to operate. However, trying to get owners to do anything even vaguely security-related is advanced dentistry, like pulling teeth. You should be updating the firmware periodically anyway, and definitely now, whether or not your router is on the possible list. In addition, here are five tips to protect your router.

  • Can't Kill This: a Texas man killed a snake while gardening. When he went to get rid of the head, it bit him. He was rushed to the hospital, where it appears he will recover. This is definitely one for Science to study.
  • It's also the last time his wife will place two deadly snakes in their yard.

They're baaaaaaack!
The ants.
No idea what's going on here but the past few years have been Ant Crazy<tm>. We used to think it reflected on the cleanliness of the occupants but that was dispelled when the antiseptic OCD micro-cleaning ladies on either side of us got them; one in her tub.

So if you happen to be visiting, never mind Mrs lefty, who is prowling the house with her holster. In one slot is ant spray. In the other slot is pet-friendly ant spray. She has her hands over the spray cans, ready to DRAW at a moment's notice. She hunts stealthily, so those stupid ants won't hear her silent stomping. When she finds them, there's the initial WHOOOOOOOSH, as she sprays them, but the fun's only beginning....  now it's time for Tracking. One cannot just kill the ants - one must track them to their source. See where they came from and how they got into the house. This is Grade A Detective Work, or, as we call it, deteckin.  I dare not open cabinets, lest I find our current supply of ant spray is taking over the house.

When all the (visible) ants have gone to meet their maker, it's time to hunt MOTHS. We did a credible job of eradicating the little buggers, but every now and then we see one. If we're eating, I manage to continue, but not Wild West Mrs lefty. She puts her fork down with a crash, reaches for anything in a aerosol can, and LETS LOOSE. I will not speculate on why there's always an aerosol can handy. If, heaven forbid, there's no aerosol can around, she leaps into action, throwing herself in the general direction of the moth, and clapping her hands together so fast I can't see it happen. Can you imagine dinner with the family, discussing how everyone's day went, when all of the sudden Mommy leaps out of her chair, into the air, and dispatches a moth before gravity acts upon her body?  She's like the Bionic Moth Hunter. All she needs is a Steve Irwin accent and some khaki clothes.

  • A soldier has been arrested after stealing an armored vehicle and giving police a two hour tour of Virginia. They were very specific that it was not a tank, for some reason. Naturally, pictures appeared across social media.
  • I'd check to see if Joe Walsh wasn't back on the sauce...

According to a Pew Research Center poll:
Almost seven-in-ten Americans (68%) feel worn out by the amount of news there is these days
So we better get on this and cut down the amount of stuff happening.

  • Hey - are you on myheritage.com? Data on more than 92 million users were exposed in a breach on October 26, 2017, reported June 4, 2018, because they just learned about it.  Nice job, guys.

Aside from Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, what are Men in Black?
They're are a real phenomenon, occurring after UFO sightings. Out of nowhere, two or more men, typically dressed in black but might also be a uniform, show up at your door. They look like something out of the 50s: black coat, black suit, sunglasses, black hat, getting out of a large, old car, and something wrong. Like a facial feature being a little off. Various things have been reported, including hypnosis, threats of bodily harm if the person talks, telling him he never saw anything, and plain old asking what he saw.

They haven't changed in years and years, since they were first reported. There is audiotape of several people who were visited, as well as stories. There is at least one picture of one of them.

Many possible explanations exist as to who or what they are: our government, desperate to know if 'someone' is visiting. Somebody else from somewhere else. How do they know you were just visited or had a close sighting? Some say in addition to alleged extraterrestrial UFOs, there are ARVs - Alien Reproduction Vehicles, which our government made from capturing and reverse-engineering crashed UFOs. Some of these are alleged to be able to swoop in and abduct people. Since we're veering way off known reality, let's add the theory that the pilots of the (not ours) UFOs are US from the future. I don't know about you, but I don't want to 'evolve' into a Gray.

I have no answers. Just creating more questions.

  • Did you buy any of those CloudPets for your kids? The kids record a message and it goes in The Cloud? Last year, more than half a million people had their information exposed.  16 months later, they're being pulled for the shelves by the stores, over concerns that were never addressed. Bluetooth vulnerabilities discovered were ignored. The manufacturer never responded to emails. The parent company, Spiral Toys, went out of business last year. This is the future, people.
  • There is yet another Adobe Flash flaw, addressed by an emergency fix. Do the update, folks.

If you lived around 1880, you might run an ad for a wife:

Chance for a spinster. A young man in Aroostook County, Maine, advertising for a wife, speaks of himself as follows: "I am eighteen years old, have a good set of teeth, and believe in Andy Johnson, the star spangled banner, and the 4th of July. I have taken up a State lot, cleared up eighteen acres last year, and seeded ten of it down. My buckwheat looks first-rate and the oats and potatoes are bully. I have got nine sheep, a two year old bull, and two heifers, besides a house and barn. I want to get married. I want to buy bread-and-butter, hoop-skirts, and waterfalls for some person of the female persuasion during life. That's what's the matter with me. But I don't know how to do it."

If he posted this on Faceyspaces, he could have his choice of hundreds of thousands of women, almost immediately.

  • Scientists developed Norman, the Artificial Intelligence. They wanted to turn Norman into a psychopath, so they fed it some of Reddit. POOF - Instant Psychopath - just add Reddit!

A lot of people ask me how they can be safe online.
I look off into the distance, thoughtfully, and tell them, "Don't go online."

  • new Hallmark card: Sorry I Gave You Chlamydia

Years ago, I was asked to look into a product offered by a huge pc manufacturer, that would analyze firewall traffic. So I called, and the salesdude told me I'd have to forward our traffic to them for analysis. I told the guy our data doesn't leave the building. He acted surprised and got annoyed with me, like I was the crazy one. Remember: if you can no longer touch your data, it's no longer yours.

  • Dear Mr. Cameraman: when the guitar solo starts, be sure to focus in on the drummer.

Here's an uplifting story: the story of Badfinger.
You might remember them from "Day After Day", "Come and Get It", "Baby Blue", and "Without You". Pete Ham was the band's chief songwriter and singer. They played locally, eventually getting seen and signed to Apple Records, as the first band. Paul McCartney and George Harrison produced the band and helped out. Stardom followed. "Without You" was covered by everybody from Harry Nilsson to Frank Sinatra. They were all over the charts, touring America and back to England.

And there was no money.
They were hoodwinked by unscrupulous financial people. Eventually the record company wanted their advance back and the band was stopped cold. The guys were despondent. They couldn't get a new deal to pull themselves out. Pete Ham hung himself.

Tommy Evans, bassist and Pete's cowriter, went downhill. He had tax problems and a lawsuit. Eight years after Pete's death, Tommy hanged himself. There were various albums with various members between and after the deaths.

Guitar player Tommy Molland, brought in after the first album was recorded, is touring as Tommy Molland's Badfinger.

All that great music plus the music that never came...

  • and when my life is over, remember when we were together, we were alone and I was singing this song to you - Leon Russell

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

God Would Be Mad

It's been a rough morning.
According to Wife, it has rained the last fifteen days. By default, she would be more correct than the forecasters.  When it's not raining, the humidity has been in the 90s; it's gross.

Back in the office first thing in the morning, it's 64 degrees with only 93% humidity. My arm hair is sweating. Wife suggests a fan. Like all married men, I have to ask her for wisdom, then I make the mistake of questioning her. But won't that just blow the humidity around?

Ok, fine, it's Fan Time.
There's a window fan, located, strangely enough, near the window.
So I get my climbing gear and lift the fan. Unfortunately the fan is held down by its own power cord.  Grumbling, I yank. POOF - here's the cord! And it's attached to an extension cord that will NOT pull, move, or do much but silently mock me. I have no idea where this cord goes. The humidity is not conducive to following it. And when I say humidity, my eyebrows are wet. Plus there's so much stuff on top of it that if I pull too hard, the entire room will disappear in some sort of Freak of Physics alternative universe, so I'm not tempting fate.

Battered but not beaten, I decide to steal the living room fan, as no one's using it at the moment. Et Voila - overnight, so much stuff has appeared on the fan's base that we'll need a dynamite crew to excavate it.

[sigh] Back to the room.
Well, since neither fan worked, I'll sit here in the humidity box, thinking about how uncomfortable it is... hey.... I'll take the window fan and put it somewhere that isn't a window. Sometimes I outdo myself. Most times myself is outdone by other stuff. And it works!!! No, really! It's so loud that I can't hear anything I'm supposed to be doing! Someone helpfully suggests an air conditioner, because it won't be a problem to install the new 145lb unit, then hand down the remaining ones, so I can put one in my office. I can do that with my eyes closed. I can also juggle chainsaws and deliver eggs to little children in December.

Hmmm.... my stomach is grumbing out Morse code. This would be wonderful if I knew Morse code. I went with hungry, which turned out to be a good guess. I know - I'll make one of my word famous salads that nobody knows about! Lettuce, a dressing or three, and tuna, making sure to pour the juice into a bowl for the dog, who considers it heavenly. The secret ingredient, which I shouldn't mention, is bacon crumbles. Pour, pour, pour, pour, pour, ok - enough. More dressings, please.

I am infatuated with this salad. World class idea. Except for that color.
I am absolutely positive that I put nothing in the salad that's blue-green and fuzzy. As it turns out, I did. Looking in the bacon crumbles bag, I notice the entire contents has that blue-green fuzzy color and texture. The new bag of bacon crumbles. I'm reasonably certain they're not supposed to be that color. And if they are, I'm not eating them. Unfortunately, being crumbles, they crumbled all over the lettuce, hiding in romaine heart ventricles, and falling close to the bottom of the plate. After I threw the entire plate at, but not in, the sink, I realized I didn't have what it takes to make another. It's heart-wrenching. I heated leftovers, walked out of the kitchen, and watched the fork try to commit suicide by jumping off my plate to the carpet. While attempting to hold back the tears, I noticed the air conditioner was on. In the living room, which had no one in it.

What are you gonna do?
I'm through being mad for the rest of the month and I'm NOT going back to CostCo, so it's Time for Ice Cream, Yayyyyyy!!!!!!!

How was your morning?

  • ThermionicEmissions is sad to say Rest in Peace to Peter 'Mars' Cowling, best know as Pat Travers' bassist on Boom Boom (Out Go the Lights) and Crash and Burn. Mars had a style and groove that you had to hear to appreciate. He could be busy or not, but the song went on. During this period, Travers had his best band ever, in my opinion. Pat Thrall on guitar, Mars, and Tommy Aldridge (Whitesnake) on drums. Very solid. Highly recommended. There goes another good one, this time from leukemia.
  • Pat is a great guitarist, has some hot new stuff, and did some surprising instrumentals, like The Big Event, on which he plays keyboards too.

In the midst of all the crap started by everyone's favorite loudmouth, Roseanne, she admitted a while back to having multiple personality disorder. There are seven of them. Dr lefty says there might be more, but she hasn't discovered them yet. I wonder who else does in Hollywood...  maybe some of the pop stars, who break down completely, then go on a talk show and behave strangely.

Speaking of her crap, she blamed the tweet on Ambien, a sleep aid. I don't know about you, but I've never seen a sleep medicine jump out of the bottle and tweet. For that matter, making someone racist is not listed as a side effect of Ambien. On the other hand, a friend used to hide his keys in the freezer before bed because Ambien caused him to take trips in the middle of the night. His roommate told him all about it.

Lastly, I don't think the tweet was particularly racist unless you're really looking to find it.

Jarrett was the "product of a combination of "Planet of the Apes" and the Muslim Brotherhood."

Agree or not, it's vintage Roseanne. And I'm not a Roseanne fan.

  • A Taco Bell manager stabbed his 21 year old employee, allegedly over a woman. Taco Bell Corporate said that they welcome different management styles but don't think this one is working out well.

Out in Denver, two young brothers decided to have a lemonade stand, with all profits donated to charity. Their parents taught them well. Within a short time of opening, the police arrived. The stand was shut down for lack of permit. It had earned $200. Further investigation could not pinpoint any law requiring kids to have permits for lemonade stands. They were not cutting into anybody's business or blocking streets, which is illegal.  Vote libertarian- we don't tolerate this crap.

  • Alaska has been overwhelmed with skyrocketing numbers of new cases of gonorrhea. This is the second highest rate, behind Mississippi (do what you want with that). Chlamydia and syphilis are also an issue.  I don't know what all the confusion is about: there's nothing to DO up there but have sex.

In case you don't already know this, your cell phone company is selling your data and there's nothing you can do about it. I'd contact them, file some complaints, and speak to your representative. As much as I hate government interference, this is the only way to get the ancient law brought up to date.

  • Remember the big brouhaha over the baker who refused to make the wedding cake for a gay wedding? The Supreme Court just ruled narrowly for the baker.
  • I find the baker's stance reprehensible, but on principle, I believe they did the right thing. The government does not belong in the cake business. Or any other business. If you applaud the baker's stance, give him your business. If you find it distasteful, take your dollars elsewhere. Let the market decide

Microsoft, everyone's favorite huge, evil corporation, just bought Github for about $7.5 billion. MS was the largest user of the service, which provided a place to store and download open source software, from tiny to huge. As a result, developers are fleeing, some to Gitlab. So MS bought Github - what could possibly go wrong?

Speaking of Faceyspaces, a 'bug' may have made 14 million users' posts public. Facebook asked 14 million users to review posts made between 18 May and 22 May. These events are weekly at this point. Is this enough for you?  I just saw an article about using the Tor browser to access Faceyspaces. Might be worth a try. 

  • Hey, how about those Stingray devices that police use to get your phone information? They just showed up around the White House area. The DHS sent a letter and Congressman Ron Wyden is MAD, demanding FCC action.
  • It would be ironic if the People were spying on the government. They suspect hackers. Hackers who have somehow managed to get Stingrays up around DC. This could be quite dangerous, plus these devices have no place  in government hands. They clearly violate the 4th Amendment (search and seizure).
  • this is not the first time the situation has been addressed, which shows the great speed of the government. I'm surprised - they have no problem using it against us, but aren't generally as tolerant against them.

In fifty years, college professors will study ancient forms of communication with their students. The newest textbook talks about this old means of one-way communication, called The Web. On the Web was everything from drugs, guns, something called Faceyspaces, and a lot of early forms of porn. In fact, half the web was devoted to porn.

In a tiny little corner of the web, they discovered blogs. In a tiny little corner of blogs was something called ThermionicEmissions. This is where the class would focus for the first day or so.

The blog was written in Ancient English. We know most of the words, but the idioms will have to be worked out. The spelling seems to be different than other blogs. There are also words we cannot find in all of our reference material. This leftystrat person might be taking liberties with the language but we cannot ask him and his dog won't tell. The author, leftystrat, is long gone, survived by his dog; ironically, with a cancer diagnosis.

The reason for choosing this difficult blog is not only his curious use of language, but that our advanced Loopyologists have studied the meanings of the words, along with the themes therein. Loopyologists, as you remember, is the current name for psychiatrist, after that field was found to be 100% ineffective and full of random ineffectual weirdos.

As best we can tell, the intent of the blog was to document the author's disdain for most of humanity, especially the less intelligence-gifted. Although we cannot follow the links because the Web no longer exists, our best people have theorized that they go to stories of the day. The final feature was where the author would share what he believed to be his really bad luck, paranormal things that affected him during his days, and his wife. I say wives, but this is particularly perplexing, because he referred to her in the plural. Perhaps this was yet another liberty he took. The one trait that even a first year student can pick up is sarcasm. It was a theme that ran through every entry. He was prolific in it, much moreso than we could ever use it in the present.

As I said, the Loopyologists have had a go at the entries, especially the seemingly paranormal things that just seemed to affect him and nobody else. They have determined that, far from listing things to amuse others, he was actually documenting his descent into madness. [class gasps]

But what about the Sanity Room?

Fifty years ago was long before the invention of the Sanity Room. This poor fellow suffered terribly, but kept his sense of humor and attempted to make others laugh. We are now checking with the Ministry of Sainthood to confer the title of honorary saint upon him.

Has his dog spoken on this?

Yes. He would like something called Cat Food. We are researching his request.

  • Hawaii is being overrun with lava from a nasty eruption. It's getting close to highways. Naturally, tourism is up. Dick Cheney is under watch, due to his propensity for throwing virgins into volcanoes

I'll admit it - I like Chik Filet.
I don't like that they're closed on Sundays, but that's not my call to make.
Fortunately for us, the day happened to be Monday. This was a relief because as you read, the other day, the mall that was open 10-9 was really open 10-6.  Pushing our luck, we visited another place with hours of 10-9. And everyone agreed on Chik Filet. Order placed, name given, seats taken.

Name called, I get the food and there's one drink too few. As there were only two of us, they were off by exactly one, but never took higher math classes. Both of the ladies were very busy running around and ignoring me. I know my car's invisible; apparently I am too. Or I make the car invisible (I didn't take higher math either). Summoning everything I learned from Harry Potter, I said the magic words, "Anorexia Nervosa" and POOF, the yardstick appeared in my hand. I held it out at such an angle that the employee crashed right into it while ignoring me and talking to the lady ten feet to my left. While this is going on, I'm turning around to where the wife is sitting, with that CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS SHIT look in my eye.

Strangely enough, the lady ten feet to my left told the employee that she was missing some fries. As employee whizzed by, I got out my Opera Voice and told her I was missing a large lemonade too. She asked what size.

After the lady got her chicken testicles or whatever she was missing, Employee went for the cups. I was in luck! She headed straight for the lemonade dispenser. It was heavenly. Then she told me that the lemonade had run out and did I mind if she topped it off with diet lemonade. I doubled Opera Voice and told her NO WAY - that stuff gives you cancer. So she dumped my not-quite-full lemonade into the sink and got another cup, into which she poured only diet lemonade. As she handed it to me, I made the universal sign for no diet soda please, which involved just the slightest pressure of my hand around her neck.

I realize she was at work, and probably busy, but how many of her customers tell her that artificial sweeteners give you cancer? You'd think that would stick in her mind, even for the sheer horror of someone saying it to her. Nope. I started to wonder what else I could say to her but decided not to torture her any more than requiring my order to be correct.

With full understanding, she apologized and went off to get a refill for the Real lemonade. Out she came, with a rather large container of lemonade. With a sticker that said DIET.  I looked around for the source of the joke. I checked myself in the mirror for the word 'diet' on my face or t-shirt. Nothing to be found. So I asked politely if this was DIET lemonade. She thought so too and mumbled something about being so stupid. I smiled and she went back to procure more Real lemonade. What we don't know is that there IS no 'in back' - she went next door to Cow Filet for the lemonade. She loaded up the machine, complete with lemon seeds (probably from a carton labeled 'Real Imitation Lemon Seed-like Substance') and got yet another large cup. I watched very carefully. I thought maybe she ran a hose from diet to Real and was trying to poison me anyway.

She apologized profusely and I wished her a nice day. Lo and bloody well behold, it was Real lemonade. No poison, no one spit in it, and as far as I know, no one picked their nose in it.

Back at the table, Wife was wondering what was going on. She wasn't surprised, as this used to happen 95% of the time. We agreed that the girl did not look that stupid. It might have been a trick though... she might have been blonde and colored her hair brown. That's called artificial intelligence.

Warning: they have an iced lemonade or something similar on their menu. I tried it. Only order it if you're in the mood for something that tastes like a lemon milkshake.

Our table faced Chik Filet, so we got to watch the action. They closed at 6, because the mall closed at nine, and who could possibly want food at 6? Wife asked why. I suggested that maybe God would be mad if they worked after 6 on a Monday.  All the lights were off and the staff was cleaning things. We watched about 20 people come up and ask if they were open. Yes, we always turn the lights off and clean when we're open.

Whilst walking, we came across a music store. I haven't seen one of these in a long time, so we went in. It's a good thing they put 'music store' on the front, because it looked like a $5 store, with some music hidden in the back.

Also in the back was a shelf dedicated to all sorts of turntables. You know.. for playing records. Remember records? Only the turntables were cheap junk, some styled to look like vintage stereos. And next to them were records. I don't know if it was the records, the turntables, or the acid that caused the flashback, but there I was, in my teens, spending all my money on records (as opposed to now, when I spend all my money on the dog's doctors). And now records are the Latest Thing. Everything old is new again. Except the records cost three times what I used to pay. And yes, I realize I bought records just after the paleolithic age, so there would be something of a price difference. They cost more than CDs now. My turntable is still out in the open because some of my favorite stuff never made it to CD. And now we're back to vinyl.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Driving in Two Lanes at One Time

Can you imagine being a resident at Trump Tower, riding the elevator with the president?

Good morning, Mr President.
Good morning - did you vote for me?
What's it like being president?
Easier than running a company, with much less financial reward.
How do you feel abut the negative attention?
The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.
Is Hillary that evil?
She tried to eat Barron's head. The Secret Service had to pull her off him. It was a bad time.. a very bad time.
Mr. President, I have one request.
How can I help you, Bob?
My name's Sid.
How can I help you, Sid?
Would you tell the man with the machine gun to remove it from my lumbar region, please?

  • A man in Germany is suing his neighbor because he hired him to get his wife pregnant, but failed after 72 times. His neighbor knew he was sterile when he accepted the job.

  • Faceyspaces, notorious liars and suckers up and sellers of your information, defends sharing data with phone makers. Reminder: this is regardless of whether you told FB not to share your information.
  • Some enterprising lawyer might have a class action suit, but that's just a guess.

It was the end of a busy week and time for a treat: we decided to eat out.
Somehow, in the midst of a treat, I got roped into grocery shopping (the vagaries of marriage). It was decided we'd try the place we call UsedToBe's. You all have one - the place that used to be Adam's, then Susan's, then Fat Bob's.

We pulled up, got out of the car, and POOF - UsedToBe's had turned into IsNoLongers. The restaurant was a case of extreme non-presence. There was only a doctor's office. To make sure they weren't deliberately hiding from us, we verified. As it turns out, doctor's offices are not used to people coming in and verifying they aren't BBQ restaurants. This was the restaurant that started us on  BBQ many years ago.

This is yet another case of some person following us around, seeing what we like, and making sure it's not there next time. This extends outside stores too. Just a few weeks back, our current favorite BBQ place went missing. This is number two. 

Aggravated beyond reasonable, I went to CostCo. Close to CostCo is a BBQ chain. Hoping against hope that the entire chain hadn't shut down or moved out of state, we were going to eat there. Well, in theory anyway. Some subhuman in a white car cut me off from the entrance. The explosion was felt across the continental United States.

Stuck in CostCo, I began to feel sorry for my poor wife, who had to remain within a twenty foot radius of me at most times. I hate shopping, I'm not fond of people, and there's a special hatred reserved for the Stupid. You know what's coming, right? The Stupid were out in force. The guy in front of me with the Bluetooth earpiece, who sounded like he was having a conversation with someone on the other end of CostCo. Am I the only person left on the planet who can talk on the phone without the rest of the county being forced to listen to it? Then the family with Fat Mom walked by. Unfortunately I heard them long before I saw them. She was talking so loudly, I thought she must be on the phone. But no, the entire cursed family talked like that. Then the people who shouldn't be driving carts, no less cars. The ones who leave their carts smack in the middle of the aisle so you can't get through.

The only reason I allowed myself to be dragged to that store is that they carry sofas and we're desperate for one. I don't mind the current one having my ass print on it; I just mind that my side is several inches lower than the rest of it. So I'm looking around at the sofas, which have strangely morphed into lawn furniture, gazebos (gesundheit), and pink flamingos. I remark to Wife that the sofas looked really nice and comfortable, attempting to contain the nuclear explosion that was gathering steam (and plutonium) internally, when she utters the phrase that will probably become one that repeats often:

         Oh, they only carry sofas the winter.

You can only buy sofas in the winter?
I had no idea sofas were seasonal items.
It was like finding out that you can't purchase an air conditioner when it's hot. Apparently this is 'normal' and people just live with it.
Since it's coming up on summer, bathing suits and shorts are starting to disappear. I was not born for this world.

So I asked her why she told me CostCo had nice sofas. She said you can order them online. Ah. I asked if you could sit on them online too. She said no, but remembered which ones she liked. Well, that should be easy to purchase then. Perhaps we can buy our next car that way.

Can't you just feel my temperature rising?

As we're walking around, my wife wants to start 'communicating' with me. I'm having trouble grunting without taking anybody's head off and she wants my opinion on which sneakers look better or how about those scallops. It was then I came up with yet another Brilliant Idea<tm> - pretend I'm not here and the cart is trained to follow you around. That was agreeable to her and she kept that in mind for damn near fifteen seconds before she started asking more questions.

Do you know you can purchase organic fudge pops?
Organic fudge pops. Are they free range too? Nothing but the best for my family.

In the produce walk-in, where the employees are wearing winter coats, Wife picks up some romaine. I like romaine because apparently they rip the hearts out of them. It's almost like the thrill of meat while you're eating vegetables. Twenty feet away, she decides to purchase the other romaine - the shorter ones. Unable to contain my wonder, I ask if the shorter ones taste better than the longer ones. She says they're different. Of course they're different - one is longer.

At this point, she starts to get edgy. Oddly enough, it's not because of me... it's because she can't find the Coke. The store has a little game they play call Hide the Soda, where they like to move it so you can't find it the next time you come back. They had done a magnificent job - I have to hand it to them. All other sodas appeared here and there on endcaps but nowhere else. I suggested we look near the bicycles and cell phones, with no success. She mentioned that it was a holiday weekend, so they really should have lots of Coke about. Of course it was a holiday weekend: that explains why there was no Coke to be found.

Then my wife did something I never see...  she picked up a package of pulled pork. What a cruel thing to do to someone who just got deprived of two BBQ restaurants in a row. Pulled pork from a frozen container. She might as well pull out a Chinese-made copy of my favorite guitar and ask if this is the one I want. Or worse, Pepsi.

None of this is doing my temper a bit of good.

I explained to a number of her that I did NOT want to be there, so they promised to make it as quick and painless as possible. In order to make it go faster, they stopped at the book table, that stretched most of an aisle and looked at every book, talking out loud about it. All I can say is that it was a good thing they were making it quick and painless for me - otherwise I would have gotten really upset.

Off to checkout, which usually goes well. Not this time, of course.
There were about three lanes open, with customers ten deep. I decided that it was my turn to be an asshole in public and told her that if she expected me to wait in this line, I would just leave the cart there and walk out of the store. Before she could hit me with a frozen roast, another lane opened up and beckoned to us. I think they knew.

What a pretty cashier. Approaching model status. Except for the eyebrows. I realize eyebrows are the current thing, but as with all current things, they were comically overdone. Like someone dyed some perfectly-matched caterpillars the darkest black possible and somehow attached them to the same spot over each eye. They were so black that if you looked at them for over two seconds, you would fall into a black hole, where gravity is strongest. What a pretty cashier.

As I'm standing there, praying for the sweet release of death, Wife announces she needs to use the ladies'. Of course she does. Being anywhere with her is like carting around a small yellow bus full of children: 

I wanna get ice cream.
I need to go to the bathroom.
I spilled the drink down my shirt.
But you promised we were going to eat.
I don't want to eat - I want you to go back across the city to the zoo.
ZOO ZOO ZOO (chant).

I should be used to this but I'm not smart enough. Unfortunately I'm not tolerant enough either. When she finally returns, I'm grateful. She asks if I paid. No I didn't..  I just put everything in the cart and am now waiting with it on the other side of the register. Of course I'm kidding. You can't enter or exit the store without showing your CostCo card and four forms of ID, including something from the FBI. There's actually some dude by the exit, where you are forced to stop, while he looks over what you just paid for, makes a few notations on the receipt in ancient Sumerian, and tells you to have a nice day. I obviously have no idea what I'm talking about, but the fact that I handed him a receipt seems to indicate I paid for everything. There's an actual line to get out of the store now, as if we were at Burger King.

But I wasn't going to be that lucky, no sir.

I told her I couldn't take this anymore, between the abject disappointments and the alleged people. She said it was the holiday - it was going to be crowded. THEN WHY THE HELL DID YOU DRAG ME IN HERE ON A HOLIDAY? This constitutes spousal abuse, and I was checking through my phone for the number of my favorite celebrity lawyer, Gloria Ironbox. Gloria advised me that this was grounds for divorce, but it would be cheaper to keep her.

Meanwhile back at the store, Wife tells me she needs to stop for a soda. Of course she needs to stop for a soda - it's right before the ZOO in the small yellow bus. I can only imagine the internal consternation on what kind of soda everyone needs. As the line has a lot of people in it, I adopted That Look. That Look can cause concrete buildings to crack down to their foundations. I told her there was NO WAY I was waiting in that line. So she waited in that line.

I want you to stop and appreciate the genius inherent in that move.
I refused to wait in that line. She got in that line. So I had to sit and wait anyway. Other shoppers gave me a wide berth, probably because they thought the constant stream of muttering and cursing and wishing death on all mankind was indicative of somebody who should take a short vacation at the Happy Place<tm>. She returned with a berry icee that she wanted me to try because we've never had it before. And when she says never before, that means we had it last time we were there. This is because the small yellow bus don't remember so good.

She bought a freezer carry bag because we don't have the huge grocery bags we keep in the car for grocery shopping. Where were they? At home. I suggested that perhaps this system wasn't working as intended because we had to buy yet another one. We've spent more on grocery carry bags than medical copays. I asked where they were. She told me they were all over the place. Of course they were - all over the place, except in the car where we needed them.

The parking lot was just renamed The CostCo Speedway, for obvious reasons. I have no idea what happens when people turn into the lot, but they become Indy 500 cars, combined with demolition derby cars. And this is just the old people. Those signs about yielding to pedestrians? They're in place to give the drivers a giggle. We spent a lot of time dodging Dodges. As I'm pulling out, some other idiot does not see my large, invisible car and backs out in front of me. As this point it physically hurt not to give her car the plowing it so richly deserved.

It's not that I don't like CostCo, it's that I hate everyone who shops there.
As my nephew so accurately put it, you go in for some milk and cookies, and leave, $500 later, with a set of tires for your car, having forgotten the milk.

When we get home, half crazed from hunger, she lets loose that the lawn needs mowing.

I laughed so hard during this scene I couldn't breathe.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Welcome to the Snot Factory

Sometimes a man can get in trouble, through no fault of his own.
Like when your girlfriend answers with a simple hello, and you're in the shower and it's your wife on the phone...  Joe Walsh - Certain Situations

  • In these times of ubiquitous surveillance, it's important to have and use all the tools to keep you relatively safe. Toward that end, PornHub has come out with their own VPN (virtual private network). This is the thing to use at free wifi spots and anywhere else, to keep your data safe. Available for android, iOS, and Windows, the app comes in free and paid versions. It is not restricted to PornHub use.
  • I have not checked out the policies of the VPN, so if you want to install it, I highly recommend that you look at them first. One of the most important features is no logs.

Your friends at Faceyspaces just want you to know that they're not paying for the theft and misuse of your data by Cambridge Analytica. Oh, and by the way... they knew about this last year, but didn't say anything til they got caught in March. Lastly, Zuckerberg has a special message for all of Faceyspace's users: 

Nyah nyah, I'm not paying you for SHIT - all your data is MINE and I'll sell it to whomever I want and there's absolutely nothing you can do about it.

  • I wanted to be the first to bring you the news: a new study by the Goodman Institute for Public Policy Research says the reason any Americans are poor is they're not working.
  • I have advanced copies of next week's studies, where we discover: the reason she suffocated is that she wasn't breathing; the reason Americans are tired is they're not sleeping; and the reason men are so horny is they're flipping men.

So you bought one of those Amazon Alexas because they're so gee-whiz futuristic and it will listen and answer you, unlike your family.  As it turns out, it certainly does listen. It emailed and entire conversation a couple had to one of the people on their contact list. Amazon confirmed that's what happened and they're "taking steps to avoid this from happening in the future." It is extremely rare.

Before we proceed with my analysis, let's get one little thing out of the way: I TOLD YOU SO. Anything you can talk to that has a microphone in it can listen. These days it will listen. Anyone who has watched tv or read online news knows about devices eavesdropping. Anyone who reads this blog knows about it, in even greater foreboding detail.

The device is supposed to hang out, doing nothing, until it hears "Alexa", at which point you ask a question or tell it to do something. Then it goes back to sleep. Now Amazon tells us it definitely listened and definitely recorded a conversation that was not preceded with "Alexa" and definitely sent it to a contact on their list (because you gave it permission to access your contacts). Furthermore, it's rare, meaning it has happened before. 

Then there's the box from Google, which is trying to surpass Microsoft for Most Evil Corporation. Make no mistake - these boxes aren't there for your convenience. You are paying Amazon or Google to collect your conversations, emails, purchases, and whatever else it can mine.

  • there was a police call today described as vehicle vs building. I wonder which one won.

Are you ready for more happy privacy news?
On the heels of the discovery that Securus was providing/selling cell phone tracking information to police, another company, LocationSmart, had an online feature that would, with the user's permission, give you their location information. However, and there is always a however, a Carnegie Mellon University PhD (Piled High and Deep) candidate discovered that you didn't have to use credentials at all to get the information. The feature was very accurate, from 100 yards to a mile. It was removed from the website.

They also store other technical data such as speed, heading, and IP address information among others, to provide accurate geo-targeted promotions for marketers, IoT assets, and tracking of business personnel in the field.

Now read that again.

We have at least two companies that track your cellphone. One did it quietly, without a warrant. One asked for your permission. Wanna bet there aren't more? It stores all sorts of information for marketing and tracking. No one is trying to hide it.... this is already built-in, unlike security

And this, me hearties, is how the system is going to fail everybody except its owners. In a mad rush to track and store all information possible on you, all sorts of sneaky projects will get launched, with all sorts of bugs. The ability to validate input (limiting input and making sure it can't fake the system) is junior level programming. 

Then there's Internet of Things (IoT). Because security is an afterthought here too, your light bulbs can be the way hackers get into your network. There is no serious use for internet-connected light bulbs. Or your toaster won't toast because your internet is down and it can't contact its server for updates. Or because some junior level programmer forgot the safety controls.

The Remaining Rant is that nothing that's happening is a real secret and hasn't happened before, in some variation. We've known about hacking forever, long before the personal computer was around. With each new technology, it seems we failed to learn the basic issues from the previous cycle. Plus the data hoarding is out of control. And you're paying for the privilege of being tracked.

  • Isn't it cool that you can come for the sarcasm and stay for the security news? Please don't answer that.

Our president has taken the unprecedented step of making Twitter his official announcement platform. As is his wont, he blocked a number of people. As is their wont, seven of them sued under the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University. Two courts upheld the sevens' opinion, on First Amendment grounds. The courts held that, since Twitter is the official announcement platform, blocking them results in a violation of their First Amendment rights

"is a kind of digital town hall in which the president and his aides use the tweet function to communicate news and information to the public, and members of the public use the reply function to respond to the president and his aides and exchange views with one another”

I didn't expect this to go to First Amendment, especially the right to shoot replies to an elected official. Perhaps being excluded from the announcements, though. This can be remedied by not logging in to Twitter.   In addition, it would be smarter to mute these people, rather than block them. Muting shuts down any tweets from the muted individual and they are not aware of it.

I concur with the decision, but it's so ridiculously small a point...

The idea of "exchanging views with one another" is complete nonsense. These people are just butthurt that they can't be total assholes in their replies to the president. They happened to find a legal loophole that will allow them to sue and direct more negative attention to Trump. It's a pretty smart ploy.

Have you seen some of the crap directed at Trump on Twitter?
By way of observation, no other president had to deal with this level of nasty, down to death threats. Whether or not you agree with him.
As with most matters, I'm inclined to go with the law.

  • Hillary Clinton says she wants to be the CEO of Faceyspaces because it's the largest source of news in the world. I think it's a match made in heaven. Zuckerberg is quietly evil; Hillary is overtly evil. Faceyspaces is in the middle evil. In addition to the largest source of news, it's the largest database of what people had to eat (with pictures), cat gifs, and when they're going on vacation (while listing their home address). It's the front page of the NSA - who better than Hillary to be in charge?

The good news: scientists have discovered the next superfood
More good news: it's non-dairy
Potentially bad news: it's cockroach milk crystals.
Question: Do you want to milk them?

  • Seattle mussels have tested positive for opioids.
  • Seattle Mussels is a football team, right?

Molestation, Thy Name is Weinstein

Good old Harvey is back in the news, as if he ever left.
He was arraigned on rape and criminal sex charges. 
What that means is that someone put reigns on him for some sex that was so good, it was criminal.

As a result, he must wear an electric monitor.
On his dick?

He posted a $1 million bail, because the judge did not want to see him in a place like jail. It's horrible there.. 
he'd be likely to become a participant in some rape and criminal sex.

Harvey's lawyer, in a well thought out strategy, said that Harvey didn't invent the casting couch. 
THAT was his defense? He didn't invent it. He sure as hell took good advantage of it.

  • Another day, another school shooting. Does it occur to anyone that these things are coming fast and furious? That they're too close together to be statistically probable?

An Indian man needed a six inch shower head removed from his rectum. because he slipped and fell on it.  Ummmm..... let us ponder the mechanics of this, shall we? Your typical shower head exists at a level of roughly six feet. If this fellow slipped, he should be in the Olympics, as some sort of gymnast/contortionist. So he slipped and either turned around 270 degrees or slipped and levitated about four feet. His target accuracy was exemplary. The doctors removed the foreign object with gentle anal stretching. Perhaps the gentleman went to the emergency room for this procedure. Fortunately the piece of plumbing lodged up there came out easily, as the fellow fell on a bottle of lube before falling on the errant shower head. The article features x-rays, so you should get on over there.

  • Chelsea Manning says mass surveillance is 'getting worse'
  • With insight like that, the NSA should snap her up immediately. We can't afford to have her fall into the arms of the Russians.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Some Things Suck More Than Other Things

Former President Barack Obama has reportedly asked Jay-Z to encourage other hip hop artists not to meet with Donald Trump following the firestorm of publicity over Kanye West. I cannot verify this, but it's a good one.

If I were Obama, I'd call and ask Jay-Z to encourage other hip hop artists to attempt real music, if at all possible.

  • A South Carolina NAACP leader accused the police of racial profiling when they pulled him over. He told his passengers not to move because the officer looked like he was going to shoot them. He claimed that the police accused him of having drugs in the car and what was he doing in that neighborhood.  
  • Bodycam footage shows the officer not shooting anybody, not accusing him of having drugs in the car, and not asking what he was doing in that neighborhood.
  • The man was not racially profiled - he failed to use his turn signal.
  • Uh-oh, NAACP. The Race Card<tm> seems to have failed you.

Arizona is planning for INCOMING in case California has an earthquake.
Plans include portable Starbucks, smog trucked in from Los Angeles plastic surgeons to do emergent nose and breast jobs, individual tent mansions, indoor parking for Mercedes and up, and a stage for Berkeley to protest anything and everything, 24 hours a day. And no paper bags - only plastic.

Arizona is counting its blessings, already having way more than their share of illegal aliens, but hasn't yet figured out what to do to make the Californians comfortable around guns, which everybody owns. Because of their inflexibility on this issue, California has passed a resolution condemning Arizona's effort to help them and stating that they will boycott the state, preferring to take their personal environmentally green aircraft to a more friendly, socially conscious state, like... well.... they'll get back to us on this.

  • Starbucks has ordered all locations to allow anyone to sit or use the rest room, regardless of whether or not they're customers.  Starbucks' regulars are worried about the place looking like a homeless camp. The only people pleased by this are the people who don't go to Starbucks. They're laughing so hard they see spots.

In a welcomed event for all airlines, today's headlines involve a passenger. Sort of.  Some old guy verbally and physically assaulted two women and touched one sleeping female passenger and later asked another woman about her sexual and marital life. Ok, here's the part where the airline could have done a bit better: they moved his seat, whereupon he urinated on the seat in front of him. He was arrested upon landing, then offered a movie deal by Adam Sandler.

  • Speaking of Adam Sandler, a bunch of masked students recently ran into a school with water guns and firecrackers. I love me some black humor but there are some things even I won't do. High School Me is laughing and applauding.

In yet another giant step backwards for England, it is now going to protect its citizens from the 'wild west of the internet' by enacting new laws on social media. Those wacky Brits are heading down a dangerous path at record speeds. No knives over 3", no vegetable peelers or carpet knives, no swearing in public, continued refusal to drive on the correct side of the road, and jail time for insulting people online. What will they protect their citizens from next week? And are the citizens awake enough to notice this, no less do something about it?

  • Oh God no - please... I just discovered a show called Paris Hilton - My New BFF. It was the last minute of the show, thankfully, as I was already pulling my hair out and losing the contents of my stomach from the last week. Have we truly reached End Times? Can they possibly come up with anything more inane, self-absorbed, or totally without redeeming content? I'll bet they can.

My hell is your entertainment, hopefully.
Let me start by saying that every f-ing time I try to order something online, I miss shopping in-person. And when I shop in-person, I miss online convenience.
Having said that, Amazon is cancer.

Just for fun, let's add two people who tend to be alpha in certain situations.

Don't use my account - I can't do it now, create your own.
Ok, I created it. It will only give me 2 day delivery if I do a trial of Amazon Prime.
Ok, do it.
No, we already have Prime. It's attached to your account.
Ok, fine, I'll do it on my phone. Write down what you want.
Write down? With a PEN? I can't do that. You don't want to see that.
[2 minutes later]
Is this what you wanted?
I don't see it then.

So I create my own account and am ready to hit GO, when I realize they're going to charge me TAX. Originally tax was only charged if the seller was in the same state. I am not aware of an Amazon here, so I'm thinking the thieving bastards in the State capitol legislated their hands into our pockets. Again. To make matters more interesting, the shipping is taxed too.

Perhaps it would be helpful if Amazon used a little-known retail trick called Model Number. Sssshhhhhhh - it's a secret.  Think about this... we have two different computers with two similar searches and two different results. In fact, the item I'm looking to spend money on can not be brought up on her search at all, in any way.

We're doing our best, but the Strangle Urge is surfacing in both of us. Since Amazon is not physically present, it gets directed at each other [marriage counselors take note].

There are reviews, you know.

These headphones are almost the quality of my $300 Bose headphones.
These headphones suck.
These headphones are too tight.
Ignore the other reviews, the headphones are plenty large.
People tell me I sound like I was in a fishbowl.
The sound is crystal clear over the phone.

and these are the products with near 5 star ratings.

Finally I gave up and had her order something that looked similar with similar features. Both of us are alive and relatively unscathed. The dog is hiding upstairs, terrified of his parents. The police just left, but it's taking the SWAT team a while to get out of their vests and pack up the Armored Personnel Carrier the army gave them.

  • It's been the saddest time in my car's life. Actually our life. Ever since the CD changer broke, we've had nothing but broadcast radio to listen to. Have you experienced the horror?  So I have to procure a new one.
  • I know everybody has new stereos, with all sorts of whiz-bang features, but this is all new to me. I really like the Bluetooth compatibility. This will allow people in the back seat to play music, even if somebody in the front seat is already playing music.  It's a veritable bonanza of fun. Some units come with a remote control. WTF do you need a remote control for?  Again, the back seat people are laughing hysterically, playing with the controls. And they get all this fun at no cost to themselves!  If only they could Bluetooth the car for unplanned acceleration, help with the turn signals, and rolling up the window when the policeman is talking to the driver.
  • I distinctly remember replacing the stereos in my very old cars. In fact, I wake up crying, screaming, and cursing precisely at 4am, so I will never forget. In fact, crying, screaming, and cursing is precisely what was required to get the box into the dash. Crutchfield makes it look so easy, with the adapters and recommendations and wire harnesses and B&D gear. It's their job to make it look easy, because they're total bastards and just like to make people suffer. At no extra charge.
  • It's not that I'm old, but I don't trust any stereo that doesn't have knobs on both sides of the display.

Ever wonder what information Apple has on you?
Most of it is metadata, such as your IP and the IP you're going to, but not the content. You might want to have a look (I would, if I used any of their products). As harmless as this might look, any information can be combined with certain other information or details to come up with information you don't want anyone to have.

  • So, just because the most hated entities in every category, cable providers, haven't been in the news in the past three days or so, Comcast has what's technically referred to as a Biggie. Your account and password has been exposed to the known universe. 
  • Once again, a business entity has blamed 'a bug' for what is just Stupid Lack of Security and Human Error.
  • Armed with an address and account number, anyone could get your login and password. Isn't that spiffy? The answer will come to you in plain text, as opposed to encrypted.
  • Comcast removed the 'bug' and spoke thusly:
  • "There's nothing more important than our customers' security," said a Comcast spokesperson. "Within hours of learning of this issue, we shut it down. We are conducting a thorough investigation and will take all necessary steps to ensure that this doesn't happen again."
  • Translated: "There's nothing more important than not getting caught," said a Comcast spokesperson. "Within hours of learning of this issue, we shut it down. We are conducting a thorough investigation and will take all necessary steps to ensure that we won't get caught again." 

Speaking of cars, BMW has made security its top priority after learning that many cars can be accessed with a few dollars of parts. Let's face it - nobody wants anybody to steal or mess with their car.  BMW is terrified of the possibility that a hacker will re-enable the long dormant turn signals.

  • a New York high school will use CCTV and facial recognition to enforce discipline. This is the beginning of the slide. "It's for the children" was the cry for anything against the Fourth Amendment after 9-11. Now it's school shooters and discipline. The system will watch everything and identify the student 'after their picture is uploaded to the system'. Big Brother is now in school. Then of course it will be the little children, because we have to 'keep them safe'.

The ACLU sent a letter to Amazon, demanding they not provide their AI facial recognition system, Rekognition, to the government.  I like this.

The system can track people in crowds and identify them. You know governments everywhere will want it.   I don't like this.

The ACLU's letter includes: 
"...the company’s product is primed for abuse in the hands of governments, poses a grave threat to communities already unjustly targeted in the current political climate, and undermines public trust in Amazon"  We do not like the president and he spies on people.
"Particularly in the current political climate, we need to stop supercharged surveillance before it is used to track protesters, target immigrants, and spy on entire neighborhoods. We’re blowing the whistle before it’s too late.”  We really do not like the president, it has serious 4th Amendment concerns, and we really like illegal aliens."
“We already know that facial recognition algorithms discriminate against Black faces, and are being used to violate the human rights of immigrants,”  Racism! We like to think illegal aliens have rights as non-citizens of this country. We have completely lost our focus as a group.

  • Securus, the previously mentioned company that gives law enforcement your phone tracking information, got hacked. 2,800 logins and passwords were stolen. The irony is thick.

Our good friends over at Faceyspaces (UK, US, Canada) are asking you to send them your intimate photos to stop revenge porn.

No, really.

"..photos will only be seen by "a very small group of about five specially trained reviewers"

Sure they will. Because everybody respects privacy, especially at Faceyspaces. Just send us your naked pictures and we promise not to look at them.

we shall never see another and we are the worse for it