Archive for the ‘Stupid’ Category

Random notes: December 5, 2014.

Friday, December 5th, 2014

The 76ers, turning the fundamental belief system of sports on its head, do not mind losing. A lot.

However, they did screw up their chances of going 0-82. Philadelphia is now 1-17.

Anybody out there missing a pony?

Public service announcement: if you get an “order confirmation” email from someplace like Costco or Home Depot, and you didn’t place an online order, and the email doesn’t contain specific details about which store you should pick it up at, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD DON’T CLICK ON THE LINKS!

I’m sure most of my readers are smart enough to figure this out on their own, but I wanted to mention it here for reasons.

Historical video, emphatically NOT suitable for use in schools.

Friday, September 26th, 2014

By way of Ace of Spades: The LA Police Department Skilled Shooting Exhibition Of 1936. (As Maetenloch notes, this is probably from 1938. And although the heading says LAPD, this is actually the LA Sheriff’s Department.)

There’s some good stuff in this:

  • I do love me some nice Thompson work.
  • It is an interesting piece of history, if you want to see how police shot back then. I believe the LAPD was pretty progressive in their pistol training at that time; certainly they were in 1955, when Sterling Walker wrote “How Cops Get Killed” for Guns Magazine. It seems logical to assume that that the LACSD worked the same way. The one-handed shooting stance looks funny in retrospect, but you have to remember the Weaver Stance hadn’t been invented yet. And I suspect that “Combat” range and the practice drills were pretty far out in front of the curve for 1938.
  • I like the course of fire shown at the range. I might try that next time I go out to the range with one of my revolvers.
  • LAPD

  • I wonder if this is where the shooting competition in Magnum Force was staged. IMDB is no help here.

There are also some things I really dislike about this video:

  • The tinkly piano music really gets on my nerves.
  • I wish it were better lit, or in better focus, or both. I can’t tell what guns the shooters are using (except for the one guy with the Thompson, of course). Various sources say LAPD was issuing the S&W K-38 Target Masterpiece and the K-38 Combat Masterpiece until 1988. (The difference between the two is that the Target Masterpiece had a 6″ barrel; the Combat Masterpiece had a 4″.) The Walker article mentioned above says they also used the Colt Officer’s Model Special. The problem I have is that the K-38 in either version didn’t start showing up until post-WWII. I think the guns in the video may be Colts, and there could be a couple of M&P Model of 1905 4th Change revolvers in there; it is just hard to tell. (Again, I’m assuming LACSD and LAPD used the same or similar equipment. Frankly, there weren’t a lot of choices at the time, though I guess they could have issued Registered Magnums…)
  • JESUS JOSEPH AND MARY ON A FREAKING POGO STICK, WERE THESE PEOPLE IDIOTS?! In case you’re wondering why I’m screaming, it should become apparent to you at about 35 seconds into the video. What the frack? What the fracking frack? Was life cheaper back then? Were these guys getting some hefty hazard pay? For my readers at home: DON’T DO THIS, OKAY? Seriously, this has “manslaughter” written all over it.
  • Also, there’s much more effective ear protection out there these days than cigarettes or wads of cotton.

There’s all kinds of stupid.

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014

Many of which I have written about here.

But forging a court order in an attempt to get content you don’t like removed is a whole new kind of stupid, even for sleazy telemarketers.

(Is “sleazy telemarketer” redundant?)

We have a feeling that Prince Kropotkin would not approve.

Tuesday, December 17th, 2013

anarchy

(Wiki wandering led me to the article on the Big Boys:

Over the years the group played with five drummers in all; Steve Collier, Greg Murray, Fred Shultz, Rey Washam and Kevin Tubb who played only one show (the bands first) because Steve was sick.

Spinal Tap really was a documentary, and we just didn’t know it at the time.)

(Edited to add: Hurrah! The U2/Popmart/giant lemon story is immortalized online! What did I tell you? (Scroll down to “Rock and Roll Creation”.) By the way, I own and enthusiastically recommend This is Spinal Tap: Official Companion.)

Is it just me…

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

….or is the whole “Elf on the Shelf” phenomenon simultaneously stupid and creepy?

“Hi, kids, you’re being watched all the time!” I guess that prepares them for a lifetime of NSA surveillance…

Bad Idea Jeans.

Thursday, October 31st, 2013

Scentee, a Japanese tech brand, has created a product that attaches to your smartphone and releases a scent. The plug-in accessory fits into the headphone socket of a smartphone (iPhone and Android). The device works with a companion app that tells it to spray a burst of fragrance into the air when you receive a message.

Available scents are claimed to include:

…rose, mint, curry, jasmine, cinnamon roll, lavender, apple, strawberry, ylang-ylang (a fragrant flower), coconut, and if you remember the fried corn soup fritters at KFC Japan from earlier this year, the corn soup scent should come as no surprise. There’s also a limited-edition Korean BBQ collection with two meat scents and baked potato. A bacon scent is in the works.

Yeah, I’ll believe it when I see it in action. But even if this does turn out to be real, and not a hoax, I still think it is a damn stupid idea. (Anyone remember the iSmell?)

Also:

Almost as cool as making the theme song to “The Wire” (the Season 5 version) your ringtone … almost.

Oh, bullshit. Everyone knows the Season 1 version (with the Blind Boys of Alabama) is the best version.

Edited to add: I have been challenged to provide support for the above statement.

Here’s a handy page that contains YouTube versions of the theme song from all five seasons.

Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!

Friday, April 19th, 2013

The weather here yesterday was spectacularly crappy.

Today is beautiful. The sun is shining, the temperature is moderate – a perfect spring day.

For various reasons, including how nice a day it is (as well as some others that I don’t want to touch on just now) I thought it’d be fun to go down to the state capitol and take some photos.

So I loaded up the Honda with shovels and rakes and implements of destruction the big Nikon with the camera bag and lenses, as well as my tripod. Headed downtown to the capitol, got rockstar parking, and went inside to see a man about a racehorse before I started shooting. (Officious guard: “Sir, where are you going?” Me: “CHL holder.” OG: “Oh.”)

(For those who don’t know, the Texas capitol has a separate line for CHL holders that bypasses the metal detector.)

Anyway, get back outside, set stuff down, take out the camera…

…and the GD battery is dead. And, unlike my SD1000, I don’t have a spare Nikon battery.

Oh, well. I’m going to be down in that general area with the camera tomorrow as well, so I’ll plan on taking my photos tomorrow.

(And I stopped by Precision Camera on the way home so I could fix the “no spare Nikon battery” problem.)

(I’ve been meaning to mention this, but Precision Camera’s new store is really swell. Parking is a vast improvement over the old store, there’s much more space to move around and for them to display stuff, and the men’s room would get three stars if I was rating it for the SDC.)

My humps, my humps…

Wednesday, April 10th, 2013

Back in February, French President François Hollande visited Mali. While he was there, “grateful Malian authorities” gave him a baby camel.

This was, of course, a bad idea. “… the animal screeched constantly, and did not seem to enjoy the president’s attempt to pat it on the head.

So he left it in the care of a local family.

The family, evidently misunderstanding the purpose of the custody arrangement, proceeded to slaughter the camel and feast on it. According to local reports, it was fashioned into a tasty tagine, a regional type of slow-simmered stew.

The authorities in Mali are upset and embarrassed.

“As soon as we heard of this, we quickly replaced it with a bigger and better-looking camel,” an official in Timbuktu told the Reuters news agency. “We are ashamed of what happened to the camel,” said the official, who asked Reuters not to identify him because he was not authorized to speak to the news media. “The new camel will be sent to Paris. It was a present that did not deserve this fate.”

Oh, the things you learn…

Monday, April 1st, 2013

…reading the newspaper.

A couple of local idiots blew up their apartment last week, and now face “third-degree felony arson charges” to go with their third-degree burns. (I kid: apparently, their burns were only second-degree.)

How did they manage this? They were making BHO.

No, not “Barack Hussain Obama”, but “Butane Honey Oil”. I’d never heard of BHO before (not being a stoner), but the Statesman goes into an astounding level of detail about the process. Apparently, you put pot in a pipe with coffee filters at one end, screw a drilled cap on to the other end, and spray butane through it. The butane supposedly extracts the THC, and the butane/THC mix drips out through the coffee filter into a catch vessel (like a Pyrex pie plate). Then you can evaporate off the liquid butane, and viola!

What’s left is a concentrated oil, which can have a THC content of 40 percent or more, he said.

Back in the bad old days, when I was young, I would have had to do much more painful research to figure out the few details of the process that the Statesman left out. (Not that I was a stoner: I didn’t smoke then and I don’t smoke now.) Kids today have it easy: they can go watch idiots do it on YouTube.

(I got a kick out of the YouTube commenter who pointed out that that mask will do sweet FA for inhaled butane. I also got a kick out of the suggestions to use glass instead of PVC. Of course, if something does go wrong and these South Austin engineered rigs do explode in your hands, it won’t make any difference: the doctors will still have to dig fragments out of you.)

The Statesman does not detail, but I assume that something went wrong in the process of evaporating off the butane. Probably “didn’t do it outside, away from ignition sources like pilot lights”.

In related stories, “Using butane to extract THC from pot risky, experts say“. Gee, you think so?

This year, authorities said a man and a woman were critically injured in an Ocean Beach, Calif., motel room trying to extract hash oil from marijuana using butane when the man lit a cigarette, causing an explosion, according to the Los Angeles Times. It took 45 firefighters half an hour to get the fire under control, the newspaper reported.

Dude, I’m sorry. I don’t wish burns and hospital stays on anyone. But if you’re lighting a smoke while messing around with butane? Think of it as evolution in action.

Don’t be evil (part 2)

Wednesday, March 27th, 2013

Imagine filing your income taxes in five minutes — and for free. You’d open up a pre-filled return, see what the government thinks you owe, make any needed changes and be done. The miserable annual IRS shuffle, gone.

Great idea. Why don’t we have it?

One word: Intuit.

This doesn’t come as a great shock to me, but I stopped using Intuit products years ago: TurboTax was DRM infested, and the Mac versions of Quicken became steaming piles of crap. I haven’t seen anything that would make me want to go back to using an Intuit product again, ever.

Don’t be evil.

Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

This isn’t about Google Reader or Google Keep (though I do like this take on the latter). I ran across this story on the Y Combinator Twitter feed the other day, and this is the first chance I’ve had to blog it; I would like to see it get more attention.

In brief, there is a company called the Knife Depot that sells knives online. I have never bought anything from the Knife Depot, but that’s just because I haven’t been buying a lot of knives online; I certainly have not heard anything bad about the company.

The Knife Depot also had a Google Adwords account, which brought in “a good slice of its revenue”.

The Knife Depot sells what are commonly known as “assisted opening” knives. These are not switchblades, but knives that can be opened with one hand by applying pressure on a part of the knife. (The Knife Depot blog has a good video explaining the difference between “assisted opening” and “switchblade” knives.) Obviously, “assisted opening” knives are very useful things if you’re missing an arm, or frequently operate in situations where you only have one hand free, or have certain physical disabilities, or just like knives.  “Assisted opening” knives are legal pretty much everywhere in the United States, including New York City (in spite of what the criminals who run NYC believe).

However, somebody in the Google Adwords department got bent out of shape and told the Knife Depot: either stop selling “assisted opening” knives, or lose your Adwords account.

Note that Google didn’t just say “you can’t advertise these knives using Adwords”. Even if the Knife Depot agreed not to use Adwords to advertise “assisted opening” knives, Google would still yank their Adwords account if they continued to sell those knives on their site.

The Knife Depot, being good and honorable people, told Google to take their Adwords account and stick it where the sun don’t shine.

“So what?” you say. “Google is a private business and can set whatever policies they want for Adwords. Why get bent out of shape over this?”

Here’s why: at the same time Google was threatening the Knife Depot, Google continued to allow Adwords advertising of “assisted opening” knives from other vendors. Like Amazon. And Wal-Mart. And Bass Pro Shops. I believe Google is still allowing Adwords advertising of “assisted opening” knives from those vendors, based on the results of a Google search for “Kershaw knives” done as I was writing this post.

Yes, this is hypocritical and evil. So much so that the Knife Depot blog entry quotes an email from a Google employee who called out the policy discrepancy, requested an explanation of why other vendors were allowed to use Adwords and the Knife Depot was not…and never got a reply.

I’ve had it in my head to do a post about Android/iPhone based on some things said in recent podcasts. I may still do that, though time has sort of gotten past me. The key thing that bothers me is that some people seem to prefer Android/Google because “Google does a better job of knowing about me”, without realizing that’s a problem. You are giving your information to a company that, to be polite, hasn’t proven it can be trusted with it. The Knife Depot is just example #947 of why Google hasn’t proven that.

I commented to someone, back a decade ago, that we didn’t have to worry about the government or big corporations invading our privacy without our consent; we’d happily give up our privacy for 75 cents off a box of Pop-Tarts. It is worse than I thought ten years ago; now we’re giving up our privacy for…what, exactly? A substitute notepad application? A free copy of The Da Vinci Code?

Face Palm Sunday.

Sunday, March 24th, 2013

If Jesus were prosecuted today under Texas law, what would we do?
Would we sentence him to a life behind bars, or would we sentence him to death?

Gee, wouldn’t that depend on what charges Jesus was being prosecuted under, and whether any of those charges are capital crimes?

In the live, unscripted mock trial, Mark Osler, a former federal prosecutor and now a law professor at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis, plays the prosecutor. Jeanne Bishop, a Chicago public defender who teaches law at Northwestern University, plays Jesus’ attorney. Both are against the death penalty, and though they hope that support for abolishing capital punishment can rise from faith communities, they emphasize that there is no argument for or against it during the presentation. “This is not an anti-death penalty diatribe,” Bishop said.

Mmmmm-hmmmm.

Christians seem to make a distinction between Jesus’ wrongful execution and the execution of criminals, in part, Osler said, “because Christians tend to see Christ as unimaginably good and capital defendants as unimaginably bad. (But) Jesus taught that, ‘When you visit someone in prison, you visit me.’ He didn’t say when you visit the innocent person.”

And maybe Christians make this distinction because Jesus didn’t kill his eight-year-old son for insurance money. Maybe Christians make this distinction because Jesus didn’t rape an 11-year-old girl and her mother and set their house on fire. Just saying.

In the enactment, Jesus has already been convicted of blasphemy. After witnesses are called and attorneys give closing arguments, audience members break up into juries of 12 and have two questions to decide. First, is there a probability that, if not executed, Jesus would commit criminal acts that would constitute a continuing threat to society?

I am not a lawyer, but to the best of my knowledge:

  • The state of Texas does not have a blasphemy law.
  • If the state does have a blasphemy law, it probably would not pass constitutional muster and could not be enforced.
  • If the state of Texas did have a blasphemy law, and if such a law did pass constitutional muster, I seriously doubt that it would carry the death penalty, and if it did, that also probably would not pass constitutional muster. If the Supreme Court is unwilling to allow the death penalty for raping a minor, how likely would they be to allow it for “blasphemy”?

I think it is worth having a discussion about the death penalty. I know I keep threatening to do this, but I still want to write an essay about the death penalty, my qualms about it, and why I still believe it should be an option.

Osler, the author of “Jesus on Death Row: The Trial of Jesus and American Capital Punishment,” said the presentation is only meant to challenge Christians to think about the death penalty in the context of their faith. “For Christians, part of that context is the trial and execution of Jesus,” Osler said.

And part of that context is that horrible people do horrible things to other people, and forfeit their right to be a part of society. It is worth debating whether that forfeit should be a lifetime behind bars, or a needle in the arm. But by framing this in the context of “would we do this to Jesus?” without considering that Jesus committed no crime under Texas law – indeed, rigging the game so that Jesus has already been convicted of a non-crime, and the jury is only supposed to consider punishment – well, my feeling is that Osler and Bishop are framing their challenge in a dishonest way.

Jesus taught that, ‘When you visit someone in prison, you visit me.’ He didn’t say when you visit the innocent person.”

Jesus taught a lot of other stuff, too. Like

It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.

and

Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.

If ministers want to visit prisons and provide religious council to the inmates, even the ones on death row, that’s awesome. More power to them. But their dominion is the heavens, not Earth. As a friend of mine used to say about some folks, “Jesus may love you, but I think you’re s–t wrapped in skin.”

Edited to add: Mike the Musicologist made a good point, which I am ashamed to admit I missed. This whole debate is stupid for another reason: Christ’s sacrifice on the cross to redeem mankind’s sins is the central concept of the Christian religion.

You can sit there and debate whether Christ should or should not have gotten the death penalty. But without the crucifixion of Christ, you don’t have the redemption of mankind from sin. Without Christ getting the death penalty, you don’t have Christianity (or Catholicism). At best, what you’ve got is Judaism where Christ is an important prophet of the Second Coming.

Christ has to die. That’s the entire plan. And this debate ignores that point.

(Mike’s point reminds me of another one I’ve been thinking about for a while. Namely, Judas gets a bum rap, and is probably sitting on God’s right hand in heaven. Without the betrayal by Judas, there’s no trial, there’s no crucifixion, there’s no resurrection, and again there’s no Christianity. All Judas did was set in motion the plan that had been in the works for thousands of years. Judas was doing what he had to do to fulfill the plan; blaming him is like blaming the last snowflake in an avalanche.)

Edited to add 2: You know, I bet the idea that “Judas got a bum rap” is probably one of the many heresies (like the Manichaean heresy) that existed in the early church. But I have yet to find an example of it in practice, or even a name for it.