Friday, August 29, 2014

The Law Fought Me and I Won.

Almost 25 years ago I got pulled over on some BS moving violation - might have been doing 85 in a 25 (kidding!) - and at the hearing the cop lied and I blurted out, "He's lying!" The judge declared that I had an attitude problem and ordered me to, no kidding, Traffic Attitude Class. If I completed however many weeks of it, I'd have the ticket dropped and no points. Decent deal.

Problem is that it made me a marked man in my suburban Detroit town. The fuzz was so obvious about tailing me that it was impossible to overlook; when cop almost flips their car busting a U-turn to get behind you, you know you're popular. I'd heard from my girlfriend who worked at a donut shop that the cops from two towns would get together and trade target lists. Nice. Seig heil, herr officer!!!!

Anyhoo, one night I'm driving through the expensive part of town, noted for its winding boulevard road that used to be an open creek back in the day. I'd just left from a stop sign at a part where the road took a tricky jog when I see in my rear view mirror a cop car BLAZING up behind me with the lights flashing like he's in a hurry. I pull over to let him pass, but, oh WTF?, he was coming for me.

Cop walks up and orders me to cut my engine off and give him the keys. (Think there might have been some civil rights abuse there.) He asks for my papers and goes back to his car without telling me what he pulled me over for. My girlfriend and I are sitting there waiting when he comes back with the ticket. "You were driving pretty fast back there and I could've cited you for reckless driving, but BECAUSE YOU HAVE A GOOD ATTITUDE, I only wrote you up for careless driving which carries half as many points. If you wish to pay or contest blah-blah-woof-woof...." and off he goes. Gee, can you say "frame job"? I knew you could. I go to start my car and....

The son of a bitch had my keys.

Remember, this is 1990 or so and civilians (read: po' folks) didn't have cell phones, so I was facing having a bit of a walk to a pay phone to call for a ride. Fortunately, I had a spare key in my hip pack and I was back in motion, heading for the police station. I go to the desk officer and explain what had happened. Someone called the screw on the radio and I heard him say incredulously, "He's already there?" (Yeah, Bub. I'm here.) He said he'd be there shortly and showed up perhaps 20 minutes later, a neat trick in a town only 12 sq. miles in size, no more than 4 miles from any border to another.

He saunters up to me and asks, "Did you have a spare set of keys?" How about an apology, Oedipussy? Nothing. Time to get to work....

I went to the city engineer's office and got an aerial blueprint of the stretch of road I was on and put it on poster board. I drove the path of the road and took photos showing the sightlines, or more appropriately, lack of sightlines to see from point to point due to the sweeping curves in the road. It was very slick.

Court date comes and my girlfriend and I go together since she was a witness. Cop goes first and tells a story about UFOs and pink elephants and....well, for all the lying he was doing, he may as well have. The capper was when he shared this fantasy with the judge, "When I approached the car, the defendant immediately became verbally abusive." My g/f and I nearly broke our necks and dislocated our jaws whipping to face each other in disbelief at this whopper. The judge - a different one from before and rather old - had to have noticed that we were flabbergasted by this fabrication.

When it came to be my turn, I calmly denied any belligerence (what does my manner have to do with the alleged infraction anyway?), explained with my exhibit how it was impossible for the officer to have seen what he claims to have seen, and told about the keys being taken. The judge, clearly to save face for the hapless flatfoot, said, "While I suspect that you may have been driving in excess of the posted residential speed limit, I don't believe that you engaged in careless driving, so I'm going to dismiss this citation."

One of two things could've happened after this crushing smackdown: The cops could've really stepped up the jihad or they could find some real criminals to harass. Fortunately, they chose the latter option and the heat went away totally. I don't think I've gotten another ticket here since and the last time I got stopped, it was for a totally legit reason - I'd double-parked to drop some stuff off and the cop was cool as ice to me, nicely suggesting that I not do that again.

The baffling thing about the whole incident is that the cops could've ganked me at any time for any made-up charge. Plenty of places to make up a 5-over ticket and screw my "no tickets before you see the judge again" order; they followed me enough. Instead, this moron safety patrol boy with a gun and the color of law dummies up the worst load of malarkey possible, probably on the presumption that what could a 23-year-old traffic offender possibly do to exonerate himself?

BUST YOUR F*CKING SH*T, COPPER, THAT'S WHAT!!!!

Welcome To The DIRKtionary!

Over the ages, I've built up a broad lexicon of iconoclastic phrases and definitions to entertain myself. While those who know the lingo get it without the original context, it can be baffling to newbies. So here are some of the phrases that pay. (Note: They don't pay.)

  • Avril TheVigne - Avril Lavigne.
  • Big Food Store - Costco, because it sells large sizes and quantities.
  • Blah-blah-woof-woof - My version of "yadda yadda yadda" or "blah-blah-blah"; taken from a line on Dark Angel.
  • Boobs McPhee - Rachel Nichols character on Alias
  • Buckorama - 2nd run movie theater, aka "dollar show."
  • CompUSA - Pronounced as one word, "Kahm-POO-suh."
  • Dark Knight Reloaded - My mocking of The Dark Knight Rises, tying it to the equally craptastic The Matrix Reloaded.
  • DirkFlix - My movie viewing diary and review site; downloaded movies.
  • Gringos - Non-minority people, aka "white people." 
  • Hermione - My girlfriend, allegedly my neighbor's stolen cat according to Culture Vultures lore.
  • Hot Boobs - Character played by Jessica Parker Kennedy on The Secret Circle
  • ManBearPig - From South Park, the mythical deity who is supposedly responsible for global warming or climate change or whatever the latest name applied to what used to be called "weather" is. Related: Church of ManBearPig (the religious institution that ManBearPiggers attend to practice ManBearPiggism, their religion. Al Gore and Michael Mann are the Popes of the Church.)
  • Nukerizer - Microwave oven.
  • "Rule X Violation" - Violations of Dirk's Three Laws (and One Strong Suggestion) of Band Naming.
  • Roundeyes - Non-Asian people, specifically white people (gringos). 
  • Slavic Housewife - Michelle Branch. (Too complicated to explain.) 
  • Stupidheads - What Hermione calls Pretty Little Liars; short for "Pretty Little Stupidheads" because they're such idiots.
  • Taco Guano - Taco Bell. 
  • Yummy Girl - Anne Hathaway.

The Bad Math of Keurig

Overpriced coffee machine pimps Keurig recently redesigned their KKK-cups (sp?) to include DRM because their original patent had expired and generic pods were available. To keep the money coming in they're using the DRM to prevent non-approved cups from being used, but competitors are claiming they've cracked the code and because the evil DMCA doesn't cover this specifically, they're likely to get away with it. Good. But when reading about these silly things I started thinking about the math involved with Keurig coffee makers and it's appalling.

When I moved to my current job, where I work alone in my office, I bought a 4-cup (20 oz) Mr. Coffee maker for $10. Package of 150 filters was $1. Big can of Maxwell House runs about $6 on sale. I drink a pot a day (very occasionally two) and after 9 months, I've just gotten into my 2nd package of filters and am half-way through the 3rd can of coffee. Not counting flavored creamers, I've spent less than $30 for about 400 10 oz. mugs of coffee so far, covering machine and coffee.

To make as much coffee with a Keurig would require a $120 machine and 800 coffee pods at ~55 cents a pop. That's $440, or $560 total to make as much K-offee as I make for $30. It may be "better" coffee, but there's no way in hell it's almost 19 times better! (If K-offee made your penis a foot longer and grow fangs and every girl who was an hard-8 or better within 10 miles run to you and fight for your attention like an Axe commercial, I could see the value, but otherwise...)

I just bought an HDTV for $550, so just by drinking Maxwell House instead of Keurig, it's as if I got a free TV. People ask me how I can afford so many gadgets and Blu-rays, etc. It's because I don't spend much on what I buy and the savings allow me to buy other stuff. Keurig drinkers had some coffee which was on its way to Wyandotte a few hours later. I had just as much coffee AND a 50" TV which I'll be watching for several years.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

The Killing Blow For The ManBearPiggers

THIS IS MUST READING for those who have to contend with the sad, insane, religious fanatics who hysterically run around screaming that ManBearPig is gonna kill us all unless we make Al Gore a billionaire or something.

The reason I'm so brutally harsh with these tragic lunatics is because they are ruining the world economy based on absolute bullsh*t draped in the misnomer "science." If you've seen my posts about this stuff, you know I always use the term "REAL SCIENCE" to differentiate from the pseudo-religious garbage the enviro-crazies peddle. This guy - a REAL SCIENTIST by the way; not a member of the MBP cult priesthood - absolutely nails in short order the differences:

Science deals with facts, experiments and numerical representations of the natural world around us. Science does not deal with emotions, beliefs or politics, but rather strives to analyse matters dispassionately and in an objective way, such that in consideration of a given set of facts two different practitioners might come to the same interpretation; and, yes, I am aware of the irony of that statement in the present context.

The phrase ‘Occam’s Razor’ is now generally used as shorthand to represent the fundamental scientific assumption of simplicity. To explain any given set of observations of the natural world, scientific method proceeds by erecting, first, the simplest possible explanation (hypothesis) that can explain the known facts. This simple explanation, termed the null hypothesis, then becomes the assumed interpretation until additional facts emerge that require modification of the initial hypothesis, or perhaps even invalidate it altogether.

Given the great natural variability exhibited by climate records, and the failure to date to compartmentalize or identify a human signal within them, the proper null hypothesis – because it is the simplest consistent with the known facts – is that global climate changes are presumed to be natural, unless and until specific evidence is forthcoming for human causation.

It is one of the more extraordinary facts about the IPCC that the research studies it favours mostly proceed using an (unjustified) inversion of the null hypothesis  – namely that global climate changes are presumed to be due to human-related carbon dioxide emissions, unless and until specific evidence indicates otherwise.
That last sentence is key because it reveals the fundamental dirty trick the ManBearPiggers play by insistent that their zealotry is the standard that all others must yield to and anyone who differs is a liar, a "denier", a "shill for Big Oil" or just plain stupid. The problem with the desperate shrieks of the MBPers is that when you put their bullsh*t under the microscope and test their preaching REAL SCIENCE STYLE, the FAIL epically every single f*cking time!!! There is no REAL SCIENTIFIC basis for their garbage, yet we're told to sacrifice light bulbs and safe cars and transfer billions to government cronies because they say so. FTS!!!

I saw an item yesterday that a scientist has a theory that could upend centuries of thought about how gravity works. If proven, it would require rethinking the mechanics of everything, but that's how REAL SCIENCE works; it's always being challenged and tested, forced to prove itself. Compare that to how ManBearPiggers react when you point out their books are cooked and more study is needed - they literally sh*t themselves in rage and reach into their loaded Underoos and start flinging their poo at you for your heresy.

REAL SCIENCE is science. The global warming hoax is a RELIGION, nothing more. If the Pope told us to use CFLs because God commanded it, we'd tell him go pound sand, but we're supposed to take Al Gore's word that we're doomed because he has a Powerpoint slide with a fraudulent "hockey stick" graph? Get real. And get sane. Knowledge is power and it's up to you to speak the true knowledge that REAL SCIENCE provides to the madness that the Apocalyptic death cult ManbearPiggers are peddling.

ADDITIONAL THOUGHTS (from my Facebook link to this story): These kooks claim that sane people who believe in REAL SCIENCE are "anti-science" when they're the ones doing immeasurable violence to the cause of science with their wolf-crying and overt lying. We should worry about minimizing air pollution, protecting our waters, making sure our food supply is sound and not burning our food in our cars because of the demands of a cabal of religious fanatics leveraging their cult's teachings for massive profit.

Every second and dollar wasted on the total fraud of global warming/climate change/ManBearPig is time and money not being spent on things that could actually provide benefit to the people of the world, not the connected cronies and scammers who inhabit the temples of junk religion calling itself "science."

Thursday, January 17, 2013

CFE: Saving Money The DIRK® Way

The Backstory: Lifehacker had a silly item about saving money by imagining things cost 10 times as much. Many people in the comments remarked how dumb an idea this is in practice, so I chimed in with this:

As others have noted, this is stupid advice because it asks you to imagine spending something no one without a royal title would consider paying.

What I do is view money not as a number but in terms of what it buys and what not spending on one thing allows me to purchase somewhere else. For example, I was considering getting a Galaxy S3 on AT&T. Amazon did a sale last year where all non-iPhones were a penny, so I decided to wait a couple of months for the time they'd done the sale to save the $200, which is like 20 Blu-rays on sale.. While waiting, the Nexus 4 was released and I'm using it with Straight Talk. Over the term of what the AT&T contract would've been, I'm saving over $900 going this route which is a new laptop or most of an HDTV or rent and gasoline for a month.

The reason people don't realize how the little things add up. Going to the cafeteria for lunch costs $7 a day, that's not so bad, right? Sure, unless you realize that it's $35 per week or $1750 per year! What aren't you able to buy with that $1750? How about buying some lunch meats, cheese and bread for $10 per week, brown-bagging it, and having $1250 more in your pocket to spend on something else? Don't buy the new game the day it comes out for $60; wait 6 months or a year and get it for $10 - the entertainment value doesn't evaporate.

With a little patience and some deferred gratification, you can save tons of money. Instead of imagining something costing 10X as much, just multiply what something costs over time and then see how much other stuff you could buy (or SAVE!) instead. I'm able to live a lifestyle of someone making twice as much by just being smart about spending. While my friends are subsisting one paycheck to the next or are buried with credit card debt, I've got no debt, just pay my monthly bills/rent/car lease without interest, and have the ability to splurge on whatever I want on the rare occasions some deal comes along because I've saved.
Another tip is taking drinks with you when going to the bar. Since you have to go outside to smoke, it doesn't look weird to be going to the parking lot in between bands. Two tall boy cans of Labatt Max Ice are $3 (plus tax and deposit - $3.38 at the party store and have the liquid quantity of four beers and the alcohol content of eight beers. Depending on the bar, brand, and tipping, eight beers would cost you around $30! Save $26 bucks by getting your drink on in the car or buy one in the bar and still save a Jackson.

If you drink pop (soda, Coke, soft drinks, whatever your locality calls it) and aren't buying 2-liter bottles, you're throwing money away. People laugh at my giant bottles of pop at work, but I paid $1 for over 64 ounces - don't tell Nanny Doomberg! - while they paid at least $1.20 for the 20 oz. bottle they have. I've got three times the pop for less than a third the price. When there's a sale, I stock up. I drink about a liter a day, so $2.50 takes care of me for a week. Co-workers are paying at least that much per DAY for their consumption - five times as much. Chug!

Friday, December 28, 2012

CFE: The One Where The Atheist Has Irony Expained To Him

The Background: io9.com had the usual masturbatory Gawker network anti-religious screed using a Harvard report about how American students are falling behind as a launch pad to bash some silly Christian textbooks. (Because crappy teachers unions and the government indoctrination system has no effect, right?) I don't even know if the example shown was referred to in the report or some extreme example to illustrate how crazy them Sky Man Jeebus freaks are because them snake handlers is crazy, amirite?

Anyhoo, one of the unevolved chimps in the comments section chittered:

Eventually those kids will grow up and realize they've been lied to, right? 
 To which I replied:
The irony of your anti-religious sneer is that the real rude awakening is when the poor victims of our pass-along, everyone gets a participant ribbon, therapeutic, feelings-based, outcomes-based government indoctrination programs run into the real world and discover that they're not prepared for reality and their entire birthright has been mortgaged in order to buy the votes of moochers and socialist government cronies. We're seeing it now as all the chumps who voted for Obama now can't find jobs, but are so ill-informed that they re-elected him because they've been programmed to slobber and pull the lever next to the picture of a donkey. Wait until you try and collect on all that free stuff you were promised. Suckers.
Doubly funny is how the atheistic jackwagons who sneer at "Creationism" or "intelligent design" or "Sky Man" beclown themselves as they initially chin-stroke and murmur about the second law of thermodynamics only to solve the serious problem of where the matter of the Universe initially came from by saying, "Oh, it just appeared." Anyone who takes Steven Hawking seriously after that brain fart is a fool. How do you bash people for believing God created everything when you believe the seed matter for the Universe just materialized from nothing.
The truth is that neither of the Coke or Pepsi stories explaining how everything is here holds much water. Sorry, but it's true. We can't explain where God came from and we can't explain where the matter for the closed system of Big Bang and then billions of years of random occurrences leading to Earth, grass, birds, fish, trees, and Anne Hathaway came from. We are simply here despite the evidence and thus choose which story feels better. The difference between overtly religions people and atheist assholes is that the former understand that they are engaged in a faith whereas the latter are hardcore religionists using "science" as a cudgel with which to beat people into worshiping their belief system.
Atheist assholes believe that faith is the enemy of reason. The fact there are many scientists who are expressly in their fields because they wish to understand God's design of nature is unknown to them or a novelty like a conservative in Hollyweird.

As I commented, we are here despite the evidence, but of the two choices available, the idea that an Almighty created everything is far more plausible than the whole "lucky random series of events" proposal. At least I know there's no "proof" for my beliefs. The atheist jerks don't, yet they pretend they're not engaged in their own religious practices. Just because you've removed a central deity doesn't make what they're doing any less a religion; see the global warming/ManBearPig cultists for a perfect example.

Friday, August 03, 2012

I Bought That For A Dollar!

One of the cool features about Android devices are the Live Wallpapers - snazzy, interactive and/or animated wallpapers that really liven up your home screens. (That my Samsung Galaxy S II phone has part of the functionality crippled by the petty harassing lawsuits by Apple is a rant for another time.) Many of these wallpapers are available for free from the Google Play store, but to encourage people to pay a buck (i.e. 99 cents), many developers lock customization settings on the free versions. It's a decent trade-off: Cheapskates like me can get some basic cool papers for no cost and people who like to tweak are welcome to pay.

Why looking around for some new walls, I came across the Mystic Halo Live Wallpaper Free which looks a little like this (not my video; from Play page):



As usual, when changing wallpapers I hit the Settings button to see what options were available and was greeted by this:



The listing of what features are unlocked for your penny less than a dollar is the usual stuff. The picture of the puppy thinking, "So hungry!" and the promises that buying the wallpaper would feed the dog, capped off with the button text is sheer genius. I'm a cat person and I wanted to feed the puppy and felt a little bad when I canceled out the first time. I posted about this on Facebook, but it merited some pictures to make the point, so this.

Since I had credit from my Nexus 7 purchase, I decided to spend 4% of my balance to feed Lizzy. He should buy her a kitteh to keep her company!

This is a useful lesson in marketing. When so many people are using the same "freemium" technique to distribute - and hopefully monetize - their wares, you need something extra to differentiate one's self. If he'd just put up the usual nag screen, I wouldn't have bought it. By being different and memorable, he made me say...



...and pried a virtual dollar out of my hand where none* had done so before. Bon app├ętit, Lizzy!


* To be honest, I've paid for a few other freemium wallpapers when Play had a sale with stuff for 10 cents a pop. I'll buy anything for a dime; a dollar, not a chance.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Why Royal Oak Ford Can Eat A Dick!

Background: I'd never had a new car until 2000 when, in the aftermath of a ghetto mechanic puncturing the fuel tank of my old (but paid-off) GMC Jimmy, I took on a lease for a Ford Explorer. When that was up a couple years later, I leased another for three years and another for two years after that. Rising fuel prices made me switch to a 2007 Fusion for a couple of years then a 2010 four-banger for the past three. My lease is up in a few months.

Every time I did a deal with the dealership, which has been my default go-to because it's literally a five-minute walk from my home, I felt slightly screwed-over as if I ended up paying too much or something. Every time I swore it'd be the last time I'd lease from this dealership, even when they changed ownership and switched from McLaughlin Ford to Royal Oak Ford some years back. As much as I disliked them, the sheer convenience of the location and the fact it was a once every two or three year pain kept me coming back.

No longer. F*ck Royal Oak Ford in their f*cking ears. They can eat a dick.

The fun begins three weeks ago when I took my car in on Good Friday for an oil change and a recall involving my wheels. When I called to schedule the recall look-see, they said it involved the wheel studs. My sunroof had also stopped retracting, but they wanted $105 to just examine it (applicable to the repair) and since it was going back in a few months, I passed on the opportunity to hand them another C-note. They called me several hours later to say that there was a small leak from the transmission boot that was covered by the power train warranty, but they didn't have time and people to do it that day, even though it was only noon. It wasn't a pressing emergency, so it could wait.

When I picked up the car, they asked if I'd like it washed for free and then sent me on my way after paying for the oil change, which for a dealership is actually cheaper and better-quality than what I get at the local Valvoline quick change place. Wheels fixed, oil changed, car washed, life was good.

Or so I thought.

The next day, while pulling into a diner lot to get some breakfast, I noticed that there were lug nuts in my cup holder. Huh? Closer examination showed they were the locking lugs that I'd purchased in the aftermath of my previous Fusion's wheels being ripped off. Um, why were these here and not on my wheels? I got out and checked my wheels and they had five lugs on them, so WTF? I have a four-way lug wrench in the trunk, so I went to make the switch and discovered that the locking lugs weren't tightening up. Huh a second time? What gives? It was then I realized that they simply didn't fit - they were spinning freely because the posts were too small. How the heck did this happen? Aren't wheel studs pretty much the same size?I called the dealership immediately, but since it was a Saturday and nearing 3 pm, there was no one around to ask about this. I put it on my list of things to do, but kept putting it off for one reason or another; I figured I'd stop in sometime.

Last week, a survey request was emailed to me and having a little spare time at work I completed it, blasting them in the comments for not telling me about the wheel locks being left off. Someone from the dealership left a voicemail on my home phone the other day asking for a callback and I was going to give them a jingle, but some asstackler managed to call my work phone first. This is when it all went to hell.

This jackass - I think his name was Jerry, but let's go with Jackass - basically came out of the gate like a shrill little bitch, whining that I had not called to complain to them before dinging them on the survey. Oh, so the problem is that you were content being jerks until Ford corporate types got tipped off? Oh, it's on, muthaf*cka!!! In the course of a five minute long conversation, he managed to be sporadically insincere about my concerns before lapsing back into whimpering about his butthurt over my not calling and talking to them before ratting them out to daddy Ford.

Now, what was the purpose of Jackass's call? To address customer concerns or make me backtrack from my offending his honor? I pointed out that no one mentioned the lugs to me either on the phone or and he nearly screamed that it was on the paperwork and so I can just shut up my stupid mouth! (I don't have the papers handy, but it's irrelevant for this discussion.) When I asked what the deal was with the differing stud sizes and he claimed that only the lugs had been changed. Between his hysterical squealing and demands someone apply Tucks to his inflamed hemorrhoids, I realized there was no talking to the clown and wrapped things up by telling him that he'd sealed Royal Oak's Ford hopes of ever getting my business again.

What's exceptionally stupid about this jerk's call was that it presumed that he was the only Ford dealership I could get my next car from. Um, no. He's the only Ford dealer ON MY BLOCK, but there are other dealers, all of whom haven't had their a-hole service manager call me up at work to bitch about my temerity in complaining about their crap service.

Last Labor Day, Dean Sellers Jr. himself of Dean Sellers Ford called me up at home and arranged an Arts, Beats and Eats ticket package for me and really put himself out to help this total stranger who'd left a voicemail in his box. I'd never leased a car - much less FIVE cars - from them, but they were willing to help. What did Royal Oak Ford do but be bullies? I pay the same price for cars wherever I go due to my work, so the ONLY thing that Royal Oak Ford offers me is locality. NOTHING MORE and that was before they pulled this stunt. Anyone have a good reason why I shouldn't give Dean Sellers a call?

It didn't occur to me until I started pounding out this rant that Jackass the Service Manager was flat out lying about the locks being the wrong size because not only did they transfer the locks from my old ride to this one, but I've had the oil changed - WHICH INCLUDES TIRE ROTATION - at least twice at the dealership and NO ONE MENTIONED THE LOCKS BEING THE WRONG SIZE before. I'd also had a flat that needed plugging and had changed the tire, not to mention that if they didn't fit as claimed, they would've fallen off sometime in the previous 45,000 miles. (I had mentioned that to him and he started screaming again.)

Royal Oak Ford can eat a dick and so will Jackass. I'm going to check the paperwork, clean up this post's language and trim it down, and send it to the general manager of the dealership under the title, "Why I Am Not Buying My Sixth Car From Royal Oak Ford. (And You Can Eat A Dick!)" (OK, the last part won't be on there.) I specialize in the Wrath of God Complaint Letter® and when you're as militantly stupid as Jackass was, you are profoundly inviting an air strike onto your position.

It's raining dicks, Royal Oak Ford and Jackass! Eat them!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

CFE: Act of Valor Makes Liberal Critics Sad In Their Pants.

The Background: Drew McWeeney at HitFix reviewed Act of Valor and simply couldn't restrain his liberal knees from jerking. (My review is here.) This prompted the following comment:

I saw a screening of Act of Valor in early December and found it to be an odd mix of superawesomeincredible action and painfully stilted melodrama. Using real SEALs made the action feel hella more authentic than pampered Hollyweird stars who've had a few days of "boot camp" training with Dale Dye would deliver, but the plot parts suffered from tired tropes (e.g. if you can't immediately spot which one has the call sign of "Dead Meat", you've never seen a movie) delivered by earnest warriors with the looks and acting skills of Peyton Manning. I tried to imagine how it would've played with all real actors or more of a pseudo-documentary "found footage" execution and couldn't decide which would've been better. (It's like how Clerks probably wouldn't have worked as well with real actors as Mallrats showed.)

However, the movie is the latest political football for hyper-liberal commentators to get their hate on for the military, war in general, and "BUSHITLER! WAR FOR OIL! LIES!!!" The Huffington Post has been wringing their dainty hands over the idea that our soldiers be portrayed as anything but the raping killers (as seen in Redacted), duped victims of corporatist war (e.g. Lions For Lambs), damaged thrill jockeys (Hurt Locker), and/or ticking time bombs threatening civilians back home (In the Valley of Elah) they imagine soldiers as being, not that they actually would deign to know any real soldiers. War is bad, mmmkay, and anyone in the military is either a fascist skinhead warmonger or a poor exploited minority. Right. (It's ironic that the same people who are hating on this movie are cheering Obama for "getting bin Laden" and on the night of the State of the Union a month ago, SEALs were rescuing an American held hostage by Somali pirates in a manner similar to a rescue dramatized in this very movie.)

On the other hand, conservative pundits are wildly overpraising Act of Valor as the greatest thing since film stocks moved from nitrate to acetate bases. It's easy to understand why: When the only positive depictions of the military to counter the narrative detailed in the previous paragraph seems to show up when we're fighting robots or aliens. (Not that Battle: Los Angeles was roundly bashed for being too pro-soldier, cuz we all know they're crazed Nazi timebombs rapist murderers.) Act of Valor isn't as great as the Right says and as terrible as the Left wants to smear it.

Drew's review is revealing in how allergic he is to values that exist outside of the Hollyweird bubble of liberal secular humanism. For someone so close to the movie BUSINESS as he is, he seems deeply offended that there are Christian (gasp!) and pro-military (to the fainting couch!) filmmakers who aren't militantly dedicated to offending the Flyover rubes who watch NASCAR and drink domestic beer and are actually making a buck doing so. I'm sure it's due to his deeply-held beliefs and not just because he lives and works in an industry where political affiliations are literally make or break for one's livelihood. However, reviews like this one with its, "Can you believe there are morons who fall for this stuff?", tone indicates that he can't even imagine anyone who doesn't align with his personal views being here and reading and if there are, they should have their incorrect thinking slapped around.

I've never understood why Hollyweird has chosen insult their customers and hand each other trophies for movies the unwashed rabble have no interest in seeing when there are piles of money for the taking if only they could mask their utter contempt for the paying customers. The self-anointed enlightened liberal elites can't stop vomiting over the success of movies like The Blind Side - let's not even mention a certain movie that Mel Gibson made which sits at #17 of the all-time domestic chart - but I can give you 309 million reasons they're fooling themselves. The denizens of Hollyweird doesn't need to actually become conservative or practice any of those archaic Judeo-Christian values in their own lives; they just need to stop screaming, "WE HATE YOU PEOPLE AND ALL YOUR STUPID BELIEFS!!!", with their movies. Stop insulting the customers and they'll give you money. Just fake it and take it. Is that too hard?

The commercial success or failure of the film is going to be spun by each side. If it flops, liberals will crow that it's because it was a terrible movie and if it succeeds, they'll dismiss it as being red meat for Red State bubbas who are terrible people. Conservatives will say....aw, who cares what THOSE PEOPLE think, right?

The polarization is even effecting evaluation of the most impressive and least political part of the movie, its look. Shot mostly on HDSLRs (Canon 5D MkII and 7D), it looks SLICK - Michael Bay slick. The HDSLR has been the indie filmmakers best friend since the Canon XL1, but it's typically been used for shakycam mumblecore stuff, not Big Action Movies and if I hadn't been tipped by the intro my screening had that HDSLRs were used, I would've been even more stunned by learning that. However, when noted photographer and HDSLR prophet Vince Laforet blogged about how remarkable a technical achievement achievement the film was, his comments section was overrun with comments like this: "Hey.. great another macho film… Yep show it to kids in the school, so they can serve as front line meat again. It seems we’ve had enough of that Vincent. There’s nothing glorifying about these guys." Lovely.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Death To Coupon Printers!

I have an old Norelco - or is it Philips since they bought Norelco? - rotary head shaver. I've had it perhaps 3-4 years and probably paid $30 for it at Beast Buy. Nothing fancy, just a razor. It's gotten dull and rather than buy an all-new razor, I shopped around for replacement heads and was surprised they were about $24. Jeez, may as well by a new razor for a few bucks more, right? Sparing the landfills be damned.

Well, this morning I saw on Slick Deals a Target coupon for $1 off pain relievers that run for less than a buck, so they'd be free. Nice. While selecting the coupon, I saw another one for $5 off replacement razor heads. Double nice, right? WRONG! When I went to print, I was greeted with the bane of anyone who's ever tried printing in a corporate environment: The coupon printer program/add-on/plug-in/show-stopper. Even if you can get them installed (which I can), they never seem to actually work. I'm out of toner at home, so printing at work is sort of a necessity and these stupid doodads make it impossible to take advantage of the deals.

Now what I don't understand is the logic behind these things. I'm guessing they're intended to prevent people making multiple prints to clean them out on "free" ibuprofen, but what about bigger ticket items? I still have to pay for the blades and they're expecting coupon redemption, so why not just present a printable page in my browser? There's a sound (if evil) business case for making rebates hard to redeem or using them instead of marking down prices (i.e. a percentage of buyers won't submit for the rebate), but what's the point of making it so hard to get a discount coupon that the sale ends up lost? I want/need blades and Target could've made a sale, but instead isn't getting squat because they made the coupon unavailable. Jerks.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Comcast's Packaging Stupidity Goes To Xfinity and Beyond!

I've had Comcast cable Internet service since 1999. Love it other than that one time storms knocked out my service for over two weeks. That I did not love.

Running Speedtest.net shows I'm getting almost 24 Mbps down and 2.2 Mbsp up. I just downloaded an almost 200 MB video driver package in about 75 seconds. Compare that to the three hours it took to download the ~36 MB Half-Life demo on dial-up or the 12 hours the Kingpin demo took. (If it wasn't for a program called GetRight that allowed downloads to be resumed after hanging up and reconnecting, I could have never downloaded it.) Cable is hella fast. My girlfriend has 1.5 Mbsp DSL at her place and I cry whenever I need to download something there.

A couple of weeks ago I got a note from Comcast that they were upgrading the service and I'd need a new modem. I'm on my third modem in 12 years, I believe. They've done an upgrade once and I think one died or something. Regardless, I needed a new new modem for whatever reason. I called them up last week to send it out. The nice operator mentioned that a "return kit" would be sent to facilitate return of the old busted junk. I still have the OG modem I got in '99 someplace. I never dropped it back with them.

Tonight, I came home to find this box in my apartment hallway:


It's approximately 2' x 2' x 1'. (It wasn't opened; I went back to shoot this sequence when I really what sheer f*ckery was afoot.) I saw it was from Comcast and got confused. A modem is about the size of a small book. What's with this giant box?

I cut it open and this is what was inside:


Hmmm...that's a lot of air. The small white box was about 8" x 10-1/2". The note was to tell me that this was for my old modem to be sent back in.


Well then, what's in the....hold on, say it like Brad Pitt at the end of Se7en: "What's in the baaaaaahksss??"

A small glossy folder with various manuals and paperwork for the new modem. Instructions on the lid which basically say, "Plug stuff in. All done!" Let's take a look under that top cardboard layer, shall we?





Huh?

Listen, I'm not a big enviro-whacko who harps on about recycling and whatnot, but my practical nature has always been peeved by needlessly large packaging. I used to wonder why Al Gore didn't crusade against the big boxes of air that the CD jewel case with the software on it came in instead of trying to scare us with fairy tales about the ManBearPig? This is nuts.

In this large box was (clockwise from upper-left):
  • The modem.
  • Ethernet cable and two lengths of coaxial cable - short for when your computer is close to the wall jack and long for if it's not. I suppose just leaving the long cable rolled up if you're close was less practical than providing a second, shorter, cable. (Note: Sarcasm.) 
  • Wall wart power adapter.
  • Cable splitter, in case you needed to feed a TV box as well as the modem.
  • A bag of cable tacks to secure a long run of cable to your baseboard strip.
Here's what everything in the small big box inside the big big box amounts to:


The white box is the return box. If you're thinking that everything they sent would fit inside that box, you're almost right. The size of the coil of coax means the box would need to be an inch deeper, but otherwise IT ALL FITS!

That's right, folks! Comcast could have sent everything I needed in a box 8" x 10-1/2" x 3-1/2" or 294 cubic inches. How large was that UPS shipping crate that greeted me in my hallway? Approximately 6,912 cubic inches or about TWENTY-FOUR (24) TIMES AS LARGE AS IT NEEDED TO BE!!! It weighs almost nothing, but UPS had to eat up four cubic feet of truck space to deliver about one-sixth a cubic foot of contents. Properly packaged, they could put 24 of these modem kits in the same space as my one jumbo box. Un. Real.

I don't know what Comcast's stock is worth or their market cap or anything like that and I don't care. But how fiscally sane can they be when they do such idiotic things such as this?!? Why couldn't they just send out the right-sized box and say, when you're done emptying this one, toss your old junk back in and slap on the mailing label over the old one? Madness!

Monday, May 23, 2011

All We Hear Is Amazon Blah-Blah (Not Lady Gaga)

As a sales gimmick, Amazon's MP3 store offered Lady Gaga's new album, Like a Monster, er, Born This Way for the princely sum of...wait for it...99 cents! That's right, for the price of a Value Menu item you could get the new album from the Mother Monster. (BTW, this "monster" stuff is stupid bordering on retarded.) What could go wrong?

Plenty.

As irate customers flooding the reviews area with one-star reviews testified, the problem wasn't the music, but the inability to get it in a timely manner. When I purchased it around 11:30 am, I saw people complaining, but figured it wouldn't take too long to show up in my Cloud Drive.

Ha!

When I started drafting this post, it had been 10 hours and I had only the three tunes I had 10 minutes after buying. I posted this comment on the deal section:

Lady Gaga was able to do what hacker terrorists Anonymous couldn't: Bring Amazon's system to a screeching halt.

I bought it about 11:30 am EST and after 10 minutes, the booklet and tracks #6, #10, and #13 showed in my Cloud Drive. 10 hours later, nothing has improved. I don't even have the singles off the album yet.

Meanwhile, the pirate torrent sites have had it for days and available for complete download within minutes. Once again, the paying customers have an inferior experience. How the heck is legal music at any price supposed to compete with illegal files that don't make you wait on top of charging you. It doesn't matter if it costs 99 cents or 99 dollars if you can't deliver the product customers have paid for in a timely manner.

Way to snatch crushing defeat from the jaws of victory, Amazon.
After wandering off and editing and posting the photos from a show last weekend, I checked back and they're all present and accounted for, 12 hours later. I bought a Bad Brains album a couple of weeks ago - what, a guy can't listen to Bad Brains AND Lady Gaga? Pffft. - and it showed instantly.

Clearly this was an aberration, but I'll be interested in seeing how many monsters snapped on this bargain and sent Amazon's servers up the creek?