It Would Have Been Less Romantic That Way

As you might know, gentle reader, I met my beautiful wife on the Internet when I posted a poem on a Usenet newsgroup (ask yer grandpa), and she liked it (fuller story here).

This is the poem I posted (and which should appear in a forthcoming volume of poetry when I get around to finishing it up.

Exploring, we discovered Bee Tree Park.
Tree branches laced like lazy fingers behind our head,
above the trail, above the naked rock,
where neon graffiti was worn to earthen tones.
The slow Mississippi whispered by.
Fingers woven like dreams and the night
before falling asleep.
Her warm palm pulsing, we paused
to watch the barges wander down
and sip the summer breeze.
Her voice murmured cooly in my ears,
she spilled her hair over my shoulder,
maple syrup dripping down my chest,
“This would be a great place to make love.”
I smiled, ruffling kisses through her hairs,
a butterfly on a field of clover,
and rustled in her ear, “We are.”

The whole scene and setup would definitely be less romantic with a severed human foot in it.

How Far Into The Elite Are David Brooks and the New York Times

In a column decrying the how the elite are ruining America and destroying the Middle Class entitled How We Are Ruining America, he says:

Recently I took a friend with only a high school degree to lunch. Insensitively, I led her into a gourmet sandwich shop. Suddenly I saw her face freeze up as she was confronted with sandwiches named “Padrino” and “Pomodoro” and ingredients like soppressata, capicollo and a striata baguette. I quickly asked her if she wanted to go somewhere else and she anxiously nodded yes and we ate Mexican.

Forget the parochialism in thinking his friend was freaked out by the high class vittles (the text does not mention that he asked her if she was put off by the offerings or, mayhap, the erm, exuberant pricing for such fare or whether it just wasn’t to her taste–he assumes it’s because she’s uneducated).

He says, and no editor corrects, high school degree.

That’s not what we call it out here in the middle class hinterlands.

(Link via Instapundit.)

That’s A Bold Email Subject Line, Cotton

An email touting a Webinar:

“Kaspersky-KSV -How a Light Agent Gives You More Capabilities.” I dunno, putting “Kaspersky” and “agent” in the same sentence when marketing Kaspersky seems a little risky given recent news headlines that do the same, such as Documents could link Russian cybersecurity firm Kaspersky to FSB spy agency.

But who knows? Maybe any publicity is good publicity, and marketing people who might find themselves out of work soon can disavow any particular email subject line in five seconds.

Potential Payday for Attorneys of the Uninformed

Home Depot, Menards face lawsuits over lumber size description:

Two home improvements stores are accused of deceiving the buyers of four-by-four boards, the big brother to the ubiquitous two-by-four.

The alleged deception: Menards and Home Depot (HD) market and sell the hefty lumber as four-by-fours without specifying that the boards actually measure 3½ inches by 3½ inches.

. . . .

The retailers say the allegations are bogus. It is common knowledge and longstanding industry practice, they say, that names such as two-by-four or four-by-four do not describe the width and thickness of those pieces of lumber.

Rather, the retailers say, those are “nominal” designations accepted in government-approved industry standards, which also specify actual minimum dimensions — 1½ inches by 3½ inches for a two-by-four, for example, and 3½ inches by 3½ inches for a four-by-four.

Mein Gott, this has been that way forever. People who use lumber know it. But apparently not some people easily influenced by trial attorneys. When these suits are resolved, the attorneys in question will get the money from it, the plaintiffs themselves will get coupons, and Home Depot, Menards, and all smaller lumber yards will have new signage that indicate the actual size (and, perhaps the calorie count of various types of wood just to be on the safe side).

Meanwhile, I’m preparing my paperwork for a suit of my own: A monkey cannot actually use a monkey wrench except to bash things a la 2001: A Space Odyssey. I WANT MY CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT COUPON!

Your Wi-Fi Network, A Public Utility

An alarmist story about a new Amazon patent filing:

People have been using Amazon to compare prices since the site made its debut in 1994, but soon Amazon may kill customers’ ability to do just that in its own brick-and-mortar stores.

Amazon — which just announced the nearly $14 billion purchase of upscale grocer Whole Foods on Friday — was recently granted a patent that could be used to track customers’ web surfing in stores and interfere with where they go online.

Hijacking cellular data? Unconscionable! But wait:

The patent, aptly titled “Physical store online shopping control,” details a system that would prevent customers from comparing prices in Amazon stores by watching any online activity conducted over its wi-fi network, detecting any information of interest and responding by sending the shopper to a completely different web page — or even blocking internet use altogether.

So this patent is about altering content delivered on their network. You know, like hotels do when they ask you to sign in. Or what your workplace does when you join it. What schools do.

You know how you get around Amazon’s patented Internet-filtering? Pay for your own Internet. Use cellular data if you must go to an Amazon store and comparison shop online. Otherwise, you’re expecting–as the author of the article might–that you have some sort of right to wi-fi access without any strings attached. Which you do not.

Which would be turn around, hey? Real stores have forever claimed that people come into the shops to see what they want to order on Amazon.

Study Commissioned By Government Finds Government Command Economy More Efficient Than Free Market

Once again, it’s the trash service thing, this time it’s Springfield:

A study of Springfield’s trash and recycling collection finds it is not the most efficient system available, and city council members are looking at some potential changes.

Springfield has a free market system, with 12 licensed residential haulers within city limits. Citizens had previously expressed concerns about wear and tear on streets, noise and traffic congestion. A Kansas City consulting firm, Burns and McDonnell, hired by the city, gathered opinions from people by phone, in a survey and in open houses.

They found Springfield residents pay more than people in some surrounding communities, without added services like recycling or yardwaste and bulky item pickup. It found most citizens care about the environment, but only 55 percent recycle.

This is only a preliminary study, but the city has given waste haulers the two year notice that would come along with a change eliminating the citizens’ choice.

It seems a small thing, the trash hauling bit, that I harp on it over and over, but that’s because, at the root, the principle that the city can mandate a single provider for mandatory service flies against a whole lot of liberty and limited government. It’s not even that the trash trucks provided the roads they run on, which is the rationale behind government-granted monopolies in cable television, telephone, and electrical service. The “principle” as it is is not limited to trash service and could be extended to grocery stores and gas stations (whose trucks use the roads too, donchaknow it would be more efficient if there were only one set of trucks on the road every day!).

But I guess that ship has sailed.

Meanwhile, watch as I, like Natty Bumpo, have to move further and further into the country as “civilization” advances.

Mean Republicans Might Cut Corporate Welfare, Leave Poor Developers To Starve

The Springfield News-Leader featured this violin-backgrounded, heartstring-tugging story: Developer: Plan to renovate Springfield’s historic Bailey school up in the air:

A Springfield developer who recently bought the Bailey school with the intention of turning the historic building into urban lofts said the project is now in jeopardy.

Jason Murray, the Bailey Lofts LLC developer, blamed the uncertainty on a shift in the political climate at the state and federal levels. Not long after Murray finalized the sale — paying Springfield Public Schools at least $305,000 for the property — talk intensified about the possibility of scaling back or eliminating tax credits available to renovate historic properties.

Murray, who owns 11 other buildings in the downtown area, was counting on tax credits to help finance up to 45 percent of the $2 million renovation. He planned to apply for the maximum tax credits allowed, 20 percent in federal and 25 percent in state.

If the project cannot be profitable without special government deals, it should not be done.

Scientists Discover New Government Money Sink

Suddenly, presidential executive orders cost money!

Executive orders have been a hot topic in the last year or so. Often, an executive order (or “EO” for those of us who dig acronyms) is touted as a quick and decisive tool used by the president to influence or enact policy without the time, expense and inevitable conflict of creating law more traditionally through the legislative branch. But when executive orders wind up in our court system, the expense of the process can quickly become enormous and taxpayers are the ones funding both sides of the fight.

How big of a problem is this suddenly? An attorney is writing an op-ed against executive orders.

Suddenly.

Swimming at the YMCA: Slightly Less Serious Than Love

South-side YMCA pool closes due to parasite:

The pool at the YMCA in south Springfield has been closed after an individual who used it tested positive for the parasite cryptosporidium.

The Pat Jones YMCA, located at 1901 E. Republic Road, said on its Facebook page Tuesday that it received word of the positive test from the Springfield-Greene County Health Department. The facility said the individual used the pool as recently as Feb. 1.

Cryptosporidium is a microscopic parasite that causes the diarrheal disease cryptosporidiosis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In the play The Courtship of Barbara Holt, the protagonist puts the ailment somewhere closer to love than to the flu:

RICK What’s wrong?
MARK I don’t know. It might be the flu or something. I have a pounding head and I’m rather sick to my stomach.
RICK Could be gastroenteritis.
MARK I don’t think it’s that serious.
RICK An outbreak of cryptosporidiosis.
MARK No, no. Could be more serious.
RICK More serious than crypto in the water?
MARK It could be love.
RICK Oh, that.

This kind of started out as an in-joke for my fellow Marquette University students after the 1993 outbreak in Milwaukee.

Did I survive that outbreak? Yes. Have I been in the YMCA pool since February 1? Yes. So far, so good.

Lobbying Legerdemain

Tech giants have united to make noise about President Trump’s travel moratorium:

A total of 97 companies — including Apple (AAPL, Tech30), Facebook (FB, Tech30), Google (GOOGL, Tech30), Intel (INTC, Tech30), Microsoft (MSFT, Tech30), Netflix (NFLX, Tech30) and Twitter (TWTR, Tech30) — filed a court motion Sunday night declaring that Trump’s executive order on immigration “violates the immigration laws and the Constitution.”

Only the cynical amongst us, which should include all of us by now, would suspect that the tech companies are making a lot of noise about this policy not because of a principled stand but because they want to disrupt Trump’s other plan to curtail H1-B Visa abuse by tech giants. You know, the ones who have so Bravely Opposed An Unjust Policy.

The longer and louder we talk about the first, the less chance for the second, they hope.

(Second link via Instapundit.)

You Might Think They’re Doing It Wrong

An article about the principals, past and present, of Lululemon, an athletic apparel manufacturer and retailer, delves into their Objectivist-themed principles:

Potdevin has created a fiercely loyal group with virtually no ties to the founder. The only thing that’s the same: Wilson’s insular culture (Atlas Shrugged still adorns company bookshelves). The new human resources chief, Gina Warren, a whispery-voiced ex-Nike executive, likes to refer to the staff as a “collective.”

You might think it poor Objectivism to call your brain trust a “collective.” As you know, gentle reader, Ayn Rand was an individualist of the first order and railed against altruism and collectivism in everything she wrote–for Pete’s sake, in the middle of her signature, on every check she signed in her life, it says Ayn Collectivism is for Sissies Rand.

But what only real serious Objectivist students and excommunicants such as your humble narrator know, Ayn Rand referred to her circle of students in the 1960s and 1970s as "The Collective".

So the HR Chief at Lululemon is a serious Objectivist indeed, whether the Forbes writer knows it or not.

Full disclosure: I own Lululemon stock. Not so much because I like Objectivists, but I do like yoga pants and wish my beautiful wife would buy more. For our future.

House Votes To Remove Redundant Government

The headline and lede are written to get your attention and to slant your response to the story. Headline: House GOP Guts Ethics Panel

The lede:

House Republicans voted 119-74 Monday night in favor of a proposal that would gut Congress’ outside ethics watchdog and remove its independence.

But if you go past this, you get:

Republican Virginia Rep. Bob Goodlatte’s proposal would place the independent Office of Congressional Ethics — an initial watchdog for House members but without power to punish members — under oversight of those very lawmakers.

. . . .

The proposal would bar the panel from reviewing any violation of criminal law by members of Congress, requiring that it turn over any complaint to the House Ethics Committee or refer the matter to an appropriate federal law enforcement agency. The House Ethics Committee would also have the power to stop an investigation at any point and bars the ethics office from making any public statements about any matters or hiring any communications staff.

So violation of criminal law will be passed onto actual, you know, law enforcement for investigation, and ethical violations will be sent to the organization that sets up the “ethics” rules?

Honestly, I don’t see the problem here. What this is designed to do is to eliminate an avenue for hounding Congressional members, creating press leaks, and providing veracity for claims in political ads that “Congressman Smith is under investigation by an independent ethics board for franking violations” that run on a loop in political advertising.

I’m all for ethics in government and in personal lives, but this thing looks like it was ripe for abuse in making the process of investigation a weapon. After all, it had no power in its own to punish. All it could do was make recommendations and noise in the papers.

A Cash-Free Society, Previewed

Red Kettle Campaign About $175,000 Short of Goal:

The Salvation Army is running short on it’s [sic] goal to raise money for its year-round programs in the Springfield area.

Red Kettle co-chairs Springfield Police Chief Paul Williams and Greene County Sheriff Jim Arnott said with just a few hours left in the Tree of Lights campaign,
the project is $178,000 behind on its goal of $800,000.

In the past, I’ve given all the change in my pocket whenever I’ve passed a bell-ringer. I guess that holds true now, but I don’t have any change in my pocket most of the time because I’m paying with a credit card for everything these days.

Charities like this that depend on micro-donations and impulse coin drops (generally in the ubiquitous vortex collection devices) suffer. If a society goes cashless, a lot of places that get cash donations, like churches, will run into funding problems, too.

Of course, if you’re depending on the government to handle all of the nation’s helpless and homeless, this won’t be a problem at all.

No Word If Towanda Was Involved

VIDEO: SoCal parking lot fight turns into demolition derby:

A parking lot brawl between two women in South Los Angeles quickly escalated into a demolition derby.

Dramatic video captured fists flying in an apparent argument over a parking space near the 8400 block of South Western Avenue on Sunday.

Here at MfBJN, we have exclusive video of the altercation:

Brian J., is that a clip from the movie Fried Green Tomatoes? WE THOUGHT YOU WERE A MAN!

Gentle reader, I am man enough to sometimes let a woman pick the movie.

Brian J., is that the second day in a row where you’ve equated a news story with a clip from an early 1990s film?

Yes, sadly, it is. Real life is so derivative from pop culture these days, as people build their lives around memes and examples set by modern popular culture. Time was people tried to build lives from examples set by their parents, and culture such as classic literature they learned in school or church set good examples. Now, though, the race is on to build personal lives like people see on conflict-driven reality television.

Or maybe I’m just cynical.

(Link via the formerly One Hand Clapping guy, who blames a new culture of honor/shame arising.)

American Fracking Claims New Victims

Residents forced to flee huge ‘wall of water’ after earthquake causes major New Zealand river to break its banks – as ANOTHER huge tremor strikes

6.2-magnitude quake shakes northwestern Argentina

This is probably not caused by new petroleum extraction techniques. But in our memeified world of thinking, had they would be printed in text on a picture of devastation and passed around on social media as evidence for the dangers of fracking if they’d occurred in the United States.

The world and its processes, including climate, are very complicated, and mankind probably understands only a small portion of them (the good stuff from way back: The seasons change, you can grow grain in this soil, pomegranates in this region). But our “thinking” as it is communicated is losing its capacity to transmit complexity and uncertainty and, dare I say it, a bit of wonder that doesn’t fit into 140 characters or a glance as someone scrolls.

I Know Something This Financial Reporter Doesn’t Know

After the refi boom, can Quicken keep rocketing higher?:

Quicken Loans Inc, once an obscure online mortgage player, seized on the refinancing boom to become the nation’s third largest mortgage lender, behind only Wells Fargo & Co and JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Now, with the refi market saturated, Quicken faces a pivotal challenge — convincing home buyers to trust that emotional transaction to a website instead of the banker next door.

Want to know what I know? Quicken and Quicken Loans are two different companies. So to call Quicken Loans “Quicken” is very, very inaccurate and to disparage it is probably bad for Intuit and its stock price, the company that owns Quicken.

How do I know? I once tested an online program for Quicken Loans and reviewed its trademarks and appropriate branding. You see, I work in software quality assurance, where getting things right is important, unlike journalism.

As I Predicted….

Some time ago, I predicted that Disney would someday buy Nintendo. I’m pretty sure I mentioned it on Facebook and have brought it up in conversation from time to time, but a quick search does not show any results on this here blog thingy. But I’ll go ahead and say it again.

There’s news today that proves it: Nintendo will start producing its own movies over the next few years:

After plummeting revenue, Nintendo is looking into new avenues to generate income, including expanding into producing its own feature films.

I got a better idea:

Disney.