Wednesday August 23rd, 2017 11:14 15-year-old TV show on the NYC subway system

This morning, it took me about 90 minutes to get to work.

I used to have a relatively long commute growing up, so I know that doesn’t sound too awful in the ears of a lot of people. But you might change your tune upon learning that this was how long it took for me to get four miles. 3.25 as the crow flies.

This means that, in a city with one of the largest and supposedly best transit systems in the world, I would have arrived roughly 30 minutes earlier if I had gotten out and walked.

In my state of frustration, I went looking for a gif of my favorite line from Black Books, in which Bernard screams “Lies! Subterfuge! Seething Corruption!” This was in response to the fact that mta.info specifically said the 7 was borked due to mechanical problems with a train at 33rd Street – the exact train I was sitting on, with a conductor telling us we weren’t moving because of smoke in the tunnel.

This was followed by a transfer to the N, which I was immediately informed was also not running, due to both a sick passenger and a power failure. This forced me to exit the station entirely, walk to another one, and catch an E, which did run, but with infuriatingly vague ‘train traffic’ delays.

I could not find the gif in question and had not the patience remaining to make it myself.

Yet, paging through the images that did exist, it became clear that the modern MTA has a lot in common with a show about a surly, filthy, alcoholic shopkeeper. Allow me to illuminate.

The all-purpose comment:

nope_train

Everyone off, please. This train has suddenly forgotten how to train:

time_wasting_bastards

No matter what time I get up or leave the house, there is some nonsense that will make me late to work:

betrayal

Just about anything that ever gets said over the intercom, even on those magical occasions when you can actually understand the words being said:

what_what

The entire city, for the last decade or so:

up_with_this

Come to think of it, we’d all be a lot happier if they just gave us a damn sausage before boarding.

That idea right there is free. You’re welcome, MTA.

In: News, OtherNo Comments

Tuesday May 30th, 2017 15:54 Your things belong to you know (some of them, at least)

Big news, via the EFF.

Finally, a court has stepped up to knock down the notion of companies owning not only patents but consumers’ decisions over what to do with their own property.

trebek

In this instance, we are only talking about the right to refill printer cartridges. But the breadth of the ruling is sure to seep into other aspects of technology bemired in the overreach that is a company daring to tell me what I can and can’t do with something I already paid them for.

It’s the government’s job to pointlessly flail about trying to do that.

In: Computers, News, PoliticsNo Comments

Monday March 13th, 2017 10:13 Worst Buy case update

Regarding the news from a couple months ago

told_you_so

It’s official now. Best Buy’s Dupe Squad was actively collaborating with the FBI to spy on anyone and everyone foolish enough to trust them to fix a computer.

In: Computers, NewsNo Comments

Friday January 20th, 2017 13:35 So it begins, so it ends

Obama_Captain_America
stolen from Driftglass

Sir, you shall be missed.

drumpf
Absolutely loving Mitch McConnell’s ‘OMFG what have I done?’ face

In keeping with the superhero theme, Drumpf just set himself up as Spidey, with the “American carnage” reference. Two thoughts for him:

1. Spiderman is the best superhero ever. So, basically, fuck you.
2. Spot on setting yourself as a 15-year-old boy suddenly imbued with powers he doesn’t understand or know how to use. Though, we’re probably going to end up with a Joe Wade-style Scarlet Spider here. Sad!

In: News, PoliticsNo Comments

Tuesday January 10th, 2017 16:06 Trust, confidence and getting what you pay for

Doubtless, many people hear phrases like “I’ll just take it to Best Buy/the Apple store/etc.” all the time.

Me, not so much, given that I’m usually the repair point they’re taking ‘it’ to.

know_more_than_you

No matter how badly I’ve wanted any given person to take any given device anywhere else, not once have I let such words pass without at least a bit of snark – e.g. “Yes, and since I’m hungry, I’m going to go lick the bottom of a McDonald’s fry trough. Same as any other food, right?”

Listen up, people:

This is an actual ad for an ‘advanced’ Geek Squad tech. Having an A+ cert is ‘preferred.’

For those unaware, an A+ is the toilet paper of the cert world. Most certs are crap in general, and completely unnecessary for someone with a decent resume, but that one just comes right out and says ‘You will have no serious responsibilities or challenges, not the least bit owing to the fact that the supervisor who will be conducting your interview barely knows the difference between CMOS and ATMOS.’

The Apple ‘geniuses’ have an even lower bar.

But why should anyone give a damn, so long as the computer comes back fixed?

Well, besides it costing a whole lot more money and taking an absolutely absurd amount of time, Best Buy, specifically, is full of thin-skulled twits that are all too happy to rifle through your computer or phone in order to fulfill the childish fantasy of playing Junior G-Man in the service of unscrupulous FBI agents.

It’s kind of funny to a tech person that the world is just now finding out that the Bureau has been paying Geek Squad nitwits to spy on customers. Especially since the case in question has had that as an open question for nearly a year now.

The thing is that we’ve always known they were doing that. This is just the first time there may be court-recognized proof.

Think of it this way:

If you’re sending off a computer to be repaired, it stands to reason that you don’t know much about computers. Odds are, you don’t know much about – to revisit my earlier example – making fast food either.

So why do you trust one group to handle a device full of personal correspondence, photos, and videos as if they are beyond reproach, but check the bag to make sure you got your fries while the other is still in the window, watching you insult their capabilities?

Literally the only thing that the Best Buy employee has on the McDonald’s employee is having done a similar job for one year. This qualifies them for ‘advanced’ work.

So is it hard to imagine that (probably) young, barely-skilled retail employees jump right in at the movie-script-esque prospect of spying for the FBI?

About as easy to imagine as a pimple-faced teenager intentionally dropping your burger on the floor?

There’s little chance that anyone not doing anything wrong will end up in such dire straits as Dr. Rettenmaier. But that doesn’t mean it won’t happen. And it doesn’t mean that the government gets to employ entry-level retail employees as de facto federal agents and send them off to rifle through your data just because a USB port broke on your laptop.

In: Computers, News, PoliticsNo Comments

Thursday May 12th, 2016 15:42 SEVERE GEEKGASM ALERT

Click to embiggen:

IMG_20160512_153146

Thing is more powerful than all the office desktops (which are twice as powerful as the average office desktop).

In: Computers, NewsNo Comments

Thursday August 21st, 2014 02:10 I will say one thing about Michael Brown

I have heard a number of Very Serious People and seen innumerable internet bloviators repeat a particular thing about the Michael Brown case that really deserves a response. It’s all some derivation of:

‘I’ll bet that, when all the facts come in, we’ll see a much different picture of what happened than what the [insert racist code word or direct epithet, depending on commentator’s current forum (also accepted: Librul Media)] say happened.’

98929-oh-well-allow-me-to-retort-gif-jLE0

I’ll take your wager if you take mine: that when all the facts are presented, they will show that a police officer shot and killed an unarmed person.

Double or nothing that another cop will do the same thing, somewhere in this country, within a week of that incident.

I understand if you won’t accept the second part because, in fairness, I already won: Andrew Gaynier, August 10; Dillon Taylor, August 11; John Winkler, August 11; Ezell Ford, August 11; Armand Bennet, August 11 (technically, he didn’t die, but he was shot in the head, so A for effort).

Double or nothing again if you can resist the urge to comment on race and stick to the fact that it took me 2 minutes on Google to find the names of 5 unarmed people that were shot dead by the police in a matter of 48 hours, and perhaps we should be focusing on the systemic problem of cops using disproportionate deadly force – not the details of what happened minutes before the latest body dropped.

In: News, Other, PoliticsNo Comments

Monday March 3rd, 2014 20:56 Opinion entitlement and the wagging of the dog

My mind has drawn an odd thread between two recent events: Russia invading Ukraine and Arizona’s state legislature trying to legalize discrimination against gay people.

Oddly enough, it is not because Russia is an entire country in which it’s pretty much illegal to be openly gay, though many who claim the Arizona bill to be a good call would benefit from duct-taping those two ideas together and seeing how comfortable they are with the juxtaposition.

It’s that it reminds me of the early 90s, right after the wall fell in Berlin.

If you recall, there was that civil war in Georgia that Russia stuck its nose into (though, for that one, both sides were pulling Russia by the ears).

One also recalls how common homophobia was, largely fueled by the still-unchecked AIDS crisis for which middle America had yet to be given a Hanks-Washington educational primer telling them that they weren’t going to die from being in the same room as a gay man.

Though I was young, I remember enough to say that there was not this pervasive sense that everyone is a fucking expert on everything.

Turn on the news. Right now. Find a channel talking about Crimea. No, not Fox. They’re talking about liberals being horrible. Yes, it might be regarding Crimea. No, that is not the same thing.

Now, listen for five minutes.

Did you hear the phrase “I don’t know,” or some derivation thereof? Did you hear someone talking about needing to get more information before answering a question? Did you see a face you’ve never seen on the news before with a tagline touting decades of experience dealing with Ukraine, its politics and its relationship with Russia? Someone with a degree in international relations? The night janitor from the Moscow branch?

If you did, you were watching something called a “foreign” news station. We don’t do that.

Here, we have developed a destructive tradition of injecting the idea of “everyone’s entitled to their opinion” into our daily lives.

It’s a nice concept.

As a concept, it means that you shouldn’t shit all over someone for having different preferences than you do. When I say that I don’t like vegetables on my pizza, the most vocal opposition I should have to deal with is a suggestion of where to get really good vegetable-topped pizza that someone thinks will change my mind. A vegan mashing me over the head with a leek for daring to eat pepperoni in place of wheat gluten would be seen as going too far.

Our failure in this area is not what everyone thinks it is. I can say that because I’ve been carefully observing this phenomenon for a very long time (note: soon, we will see why this is important).

The problem is not that we’ve expanded the range of included opinions, though many claim as such.

The feminazis and homosexualists* and atheists and other mud people have mixed their non-white, non-traditionalist, non-christian viewpoints with those that are good and righteous, diluting them into a mess from which only hell itself can spring.

The bigots and the rednecks and the christopaths and other knuckle-dragging tripe have clung to their outdated, backwards, ignorant positions such that anyone with half a brain can’t be heard over the sheer volume of hate speech.

Here is one of the very, very, very, very, very few points at which I will declare that Both Sides are wrong.

The problem is that we have expanded the definition of “opinion” to include any piece of brain vomit that falls out of someone’s skull.

Any time I ever open up a browser to this post-entry page, it is after hours of doing nothing but lookin’ shit up. I don’t open it at all if I didn’t have a knowledge base before doing that research.

Why?

Because it doesn’t count as an opinion if you don’t know what the fuck you are talking about.

Sadly, that is no longer a requirement to participate in public policy or public discourse.

This is why we have twits suggesting military intervention in Ukraine. This is why that uninformed drivel is presented with equal weight against those who say that no one wants wide conflict in that region and that any possible intervention by the US that butts up against Russia, with whom we have an increasingly tense relationship, will be met with strong opposition from China, India and Europe, who all have considerable stake in maintaining stability and economic relations and saying otherwise is chicken-hawk nonsense from people who should just sit down and shut up.

Note that this is not my opinion, because I don’t know what the hell I’m talking about. That’s the opinion of smart people who have international relations degrees and decades of experience with Ukraine and Russia and their politics and relationship. So that’s who I’m going to listen to.

This is also why we have bigots and homophobes getting terribly confused about what constitutes religious freedom.

Once you make every preference or belief into an opinion, culture kicks in to tell us that it is inherently valid. Slap on the most popular religion in the country, and now we’ve got a situation brewing.

I’ve got a family full of christians who will tell you that, even if you think homosexuality is wrong, the most that the christian god wants you to do is try to lead them back to the “right” path. I’ve read the book myself. The god that has them treating gay people like lepers spent a whole lot of time hanging out with lepers.

There is no necessity to get in to the bafflingly obvious biological and cultural and legal ways in which it is patently box-of-rocks ignorant to think that a discrimination law is a good idea. Their own holy book does it for me.

Thinking such a thing is just that. It’s a thought. A stupid, craven, worthless thought that should die before it slowly trickles through the mush these people call a brain, lest it make way to the mouth and be spewn out loud.

But, yet again, this is something which, on teevee, is given equal weight to “You can’t be serious. This is blatantly unconstitutional. You could put Scalia on the Bench while giving the other eight a chloroform facelift and it still wouldn’t stand up. Not to mention the fact that out of over a billion christians on this planet, the only other ones codifying homophobia into law are Vladimir Putin and some African assholes who our own government discourages us from visiting because of terrorist threat.”

As one professor put it, “You are only entitled to what you can argue for.”** Whether we will eventually hand the reigns of opinion back to those that actually possess one remains to be seen. For now, I will say this:

I fully respect everyone’s right to think whatever the hell they want, whenever the hell they want. But I will not respect whatever they think, whenever they think it, just because they did.

*no bullshit, some of these fuckwads use that term
**bastard stole my first choice for post title

In: News, Other, PoliticsNo Comments

Friday January 17th, 2014 15:55 In which I must admit that the Portland pimp suing Nike is correct

Today there’s a story making the rounds about some severe, psychotic douchebag who almost killed someone with a pair of Jordans and is now suing Nike for not labeling the shoes as dangerous.

Though this post pretty much demands art, I am not putting up a picture of that tool.

Partly because I have no choice to admit that the guy has a real point.

This lawyer has a nice chart of what assault charges mean in Oregon. Based on the news story, the alleged assault pretty clearly shows intent, as one would have a hell of a time accidentally demolishing someone with a pair of shoes. By the law, that intent puts him up for at least assault 2. That’s where it gets sticky.

Note: Assault 3 is basically ‘special circumstance’ assault 4 with the latter’s optional felony charges being standard

The use of a weapon and the presence of “serious injury” become very important at this point. The charges say that he used a weapon, but did not cause serious injury (requiring surgery doesn’t qualify? seriously?).

Since the law simply says “dangerous weapon,” the definition of dangerous weapon is subject to the interpretation of the prosecutor bringing the charges. In that, the district attorney is pretty well free to decide anything is a dangerous weapon after the fact. The same goes for “serious injury.”

If he were to have caused serious injury, that’s assault 1, since a weapon was used. Redefine the shoes as not a weapon, and he’s looking at assault 4, assuming the serious injury determination remains the same.

Comparing assault 4 to assault 2, the former’s maximum is the minimum of the latter.

Comparing assault 2 to assault 1, a little historical context comes into play. Back in 1994, Oregon passed Measure 11, which mandated increased minimums for certain crimes. Take a look at this chart here and you’ll see that the “serious injury” addition in cases involving a weapon bumps the sentence up by 20 months.

That’s a pretty big fucking deal if you’re sitting at the defense table or care at all about the idea of equal application of the law.

As such, suing Nike is rather a clever move, if you think about it.

If you hit someone with something, how are you supposed to know what constitutes a “dangerous weapon”? Of course you shouldn’t be hitting people with things in the first place, but once it happens, the law should evenly distribute punishment to all those who do.

By suing Nike, he is pointing out that there should exist some means by which something can be objectively declared dangerous, thus removing the legally arbitrary decision from the hands of the prosecuting attorney. Requiring things to be labeled as such is clearly a ridiculous and untenable idea, but the point is still made. Assuming he’s actually trying to make the point and not trying to cash in by way of something his lawyer cooked up, also a bit ridiculous. Either way.

Let us not forget:

Given sufficient skill, ingenuity or luck, virtually everything becomes a dangerous weapon. While it may be clear that this little bastard should be put away for as long as humanly possible, there should not be a means by which a prosecutor can, on a whim, add degrees and years to a possible sentence.

In: News, Other, PoliticsNo Comments

Whois

IT guy, dev, designer, writer.

Got a degree in print journalism from UF but history dealt some bad cards to that industry, so I moved back to an earlier love: the computer.

Was recently at ZMOS Networks, but am now the Senior IT Associate at the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation.

My name is moderately common, as are a couple screen names, so always look for the logo to make sure you're reading something with official Km approval.

You can get to me directly with kyle(@)kylemitchell.org