We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Our Recent Essays Behind the Front Page
Friday, August 23. 2019
Internet wags make jokes about the NSA spying on everyone. There's a hint of whistling past the graveyard in the humor. If you sense a dreadful thing nearby, but can't quite see it, your mind runs a bit wild, and you resort to nervous laughter to break the spell. The average computer programmer is a mental patient about online tracking, for instance. They're constantly touting the privacy benefits of Linux, whenever they can get their computers to work enough to type a sentence. Microsoft is sending telemetry! I don't know what telemetry is, but it sounds bad! Then they load forty apps on a homing beacon, AKA a smartphone, and pay for everything with it. They follow it up with a demand to be anonymous on their Twitter account.
Everyone's mistaken, or lying, on the internet, sometimes both. There's only one real fear here. People are whistling past the graveyard of obscurity, not Warhollian panopticontroversy. The nameless dread they hold is the fear that the NSA, and every other two-bit news or data aggregator for that matter, doesn't care if they're alive or dead, never mind what they're doing online at 2 AM. Their life is like a children's game from the fifties: Look at me, look at me, look at me, DON'T LOOK AT ME! One, two, three, GREEN LIGHT!
Don't get me wrong. Someone, or more accurately, many someones are tracking your movements, purchases, and daily interests, no matter how trivial, ephemeral and chaotic they are. It goes into huge hadoop hoppers and gets sifted and sold hither and yon to anyone who will pay. It shouldn't happen, but no one ever asks me what should happen, so place the blame somewhere else. Yell your dissatisfaction with tracking into your Amazon Echo, or your Nest thermostat, or your doorbell, or I don't know, maybe your refrigerator.
And what good is all that info? Not much. I know absolutely everything about myself, for instance, but I have no idea what I'm going to do tomorrow. What chance does Acxiom have at figuring it out?
The photo at the top of this post is real, and the subject of the photo really wrote that on the margin, as nearly as I can tell. It's from a fairly notable book of photographs from a fellow named Jim Goldberg. You can find out all sorts of things about Jim Goldberg on the internet, and I think you can still buy this book of photos and captions, even though it was originally published 35 years ago. Look up Countess Viviana de Blonville. All you'll find is see Jim Goldberg.
Is dying alone, unmourned, and unloved made better if it's posted to Facebook? I am beset by doubts. On to today's news!
People believe hoaxes because hoaxes are more interesting than real life. It's voluntary behavior, really. Just a smidgen of reality mixed in with the bosh is all you need to dupe most folks. I've seen fistfights over the last donut in the break room, so killing a crone for a gingerbread recipe wouldn't strike me as far fetched, either.
If you collect and store sensitive info, you should be required to protect it. Make companies that hoard data take out bonds and insurance to cover all potential liabilities. You need to post bonds to undertake real world construction projects in many cases. Want to build a database instead of a strip mall? What's the difference? Can't wait to see what the number at the bottom of the policy would be for creepy stalkers like Facebook.
Remember when CEOs wore short-sleeve dress shirts under their polyester suits and did boring things like turning a profit? Now they're all android people on booster seats in congressional hearings, new-age gurus, and old short-bus James Bond here.
" Jalopy" is an entirely underused word. I'm going to go out of my way to say "jalopy" today. Go forth, brethren, and spread the word of jalopy! And watch Bullitt.
You're only as old as the women you feel.
Now that's some weapons-grade name dropping. BTW, Fat Man and Little Boy is a good movie, in the parts Paul Newman is in. The parts he isn't in are still technically a movie, I guess. Leslie Groves was the genius in that bunch. Except for Von Neumann, the rest were just really smart plumbers. And Von Neumann isn't in the movie.
It's Australia. That baby should eat a dingo.
I expect a photo of the charred remains of Hansel and Gretel's victim to show up soon.
When my gut bacteria talks, my wife listens and leaves the room.
Attention Apple users: farting through silk is now mandatory to use their products, not just to afford them.
Hansel and Gretel committed a murder over a coffee and crumble. They were pikers compared to Starbucks
Have a great Friday, everyone!
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Very well done. I have missed Birddog, but this is quite good. Especially your rag on Apple's new Pretentions Credit Card.
All prepaid goods and services are ways for the other guy to try to get you to supply him with working capital for free. Why do you think contractors want a down-payment before they order materials?
PS, Roger, please never go away again.
A lot of the Starbucks prepayment is worse than a loan, it's a gift, because cards get lost, forgotten, destroyed or simply never used.
About the Bullitt:
This is really happening in west Michigan:
A charity - with the unfortunate name of "Hands Up Foundation" established well befor the ferguson dibolical - is selling tickets for a Bullitt giveaway. I cannot buy a chance because my son works for the foundation. But, Seely Ford is the donor and the foundation is hoping to do good in the world.
If you love a Mustang you should take a peek and consider taking a chance.
Thanks for a great week of links, Roger!
About that place you worked at, where a fist fight broke out over the last donut...I’ve worked around some pretty tough mean hombres, but I don’t think in my wildest imagination that they would have a fist fight over a donut!
Rog? I would not be unhappy to hear that you ran a coup and ousted Bulldog. Hello?? Hello?? What's wrong with this phone?
Some 40 plus years ago I worked with a man with two boys both born with mental disabilities. At a family picnic I got to see the two kids and meet his wife. The story is that after the first child was born and the developmental defects were diagnosed the doctors made it clear to both parents that the wife's vegan habit was the cause. She was advised to either eat responsibly during the next pregnancy or not to have any more children. She rejected the doctors clear ignorance and bias and had the second child with the expected results. It was heartbreaking. The man was torn and suffering guilt and anger over this. The woman was clueless and adamant that she was right and it was not because of here ill chosen diet beliefs. The marriage was over and the man was merely staying to support the family. I never saw him smile or laugh in the three years I worked with him.
The Roundup Scam is going to make a lot of lawyers very rich. There is zero evidence that Roundup causes cancer and in fact the science goes against that theory. What Roundup does do is allow farmers to grow record crops sufficient to feed our huge global population. Oh well! At least a lot of lawyers will get to buy bigger homes and more BMWs.
Re: Bullitt chase scene
THE car chase of all movies. The chase in "The French Connection" was supposed to rival it, but there are a lot of people who, if you mentioned "The French Connection" they wouldn't know what you're talking about. I do have a problem with the double-clutch up shifting (Huh? Nobody does that!). The smoke generated when he backed up was blown out a hole in the interior under the car by a smoke generator for effect so not authentic but kinda cool none the less.
One of the Mustangs used in the movie (there were two) was purchased and used as an everyday driver for many years. It was stored for many more years and has acquired a bit of rust and is generally pretty scruffy. It's going up for auction (https://www.roadandtrack.com/car-culture/classic-cars/a28708697/original-bullitt-ford-mustang-steve-mcqueen-auction/) so if you have a few million bucks lying around and need a car that needs a lot of work (and, by the way is the most famous Mustang in the world), your chance is coming!
re Starbucks gift cards
If the gift cards are sold by a vendor other than Starbucks, that vendor is going to take a cut of the action. A $100 Starbucks card sold at Dollar General may only yield $90 to Starbucks. That's a pretty substantial 'interest" hit that the author has apparently missed.
"Look up Countess Viviana de Blonville. All you'll find is see Jim Goldberg."
Hmm... In the Fifties French film Le rosier de Madame Husson there's a Comtesse de Blonville.
An hour ago we were in a popular pizza place in Portland, Maine. A large group, about 30 of us for a pre-wedding feast. My Father-in-law, who is on in years and hears only slightly, makes a joke when I moved a table for his wife to get out of her seat to leave for a moment. "Hey, Mike, you could work here!", he yells over the din. I yell a joke back, as we both know I used to own/operate a fine pizzeria back in the day, "I would NEVER work in a pizza place!" I get home two minutes ago, and the first e-mail in my inbox is from a local pizzeria incentivizing me to come in and apply for a job... FB is a thief.
Can't remember seeing it in the movie, but double-clutching upshifts? Sure, especially when the synchros are shot, like when your offspring offers you the '51 Chevy pickup instead of his wife's Mini Cooper when you visit. If you can't double-clutch, you may be eating too much soy.
Double-clutching is often essential when driving a jalopy. Even MORE essential when you need to downshift, going down a mountain pass with a heavy load, and you don't dare overheat the brakes but it's about twenty miles until the road flattens out.
Gonna miss you, Roger, when the real people return and kick you to the curb. You're more fun than Bozeman Pass in winter.
re A Chunk of Trinitite Reminds Us of the Sheer, Devastating Power of the Atomic Bomb
An interesting read of something of which I was unaware.
Thanks for posting!