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Posts Tagged ‘stupidity’

Screening out animatronic car buyers

Posted by Richard on June 2, 2018

There’s a Fiat dealership in Florida that includes an unusual item in the stack of paperwork that car buyers have to sign: a printout of a reCAPTCHA such as you encounter on many online forms. Nothing else on the page, just the reCAPTCHA. Marci Robin took a picture:

I wonder, if you laughed at them and refused to check the box, would they decline to sell you the car? Has it occurred to them that a robot capable of walking into a dealership, negotiating a purchase, and signing its name is certainly capable of checking the box? So they really need a better in-person Turing test. SMDH.

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New frontier in offense theft

Posted by Richard on March 22, 2015

Offense theft is the act of taking offense where none was given. It’s a “disease” (since the medical establishment now equates syndromes with diseases) that’s pandemic in the United States. The educational establishment teaches offense theft to all the young skulls full of mush it gets its hands on, from elementary school through college.

Offense theft often involves charges of racism. And that’s the case with the latest sorry example I ran across. In an interview with Seth Myers reported in The Blaze, Jay Leno recounted being accused of racism by an intern because of his food preferences:

“College kids now are so politically correct. I mean, to the point where — I’ll give you an example, we had interns at the show, college interns. Like, the last year of the show, one of the interns comes and says, ‘Mr. Leno, I’m getting lunch. what do you want?’ I said, ‘I don’t know, where are you going?’ He said, ‘we’re getting Mexican.’ I said, ‘I don’t really like Mexican.’ He goes, ‘whoa, that’s kind of racist.’ That’s not racist.”

“No, being anti-guacamole is not racist, okay?” Leno said. “You have no idea what racism is. That’s not racist, you idiot! You moron.”

Unfortunately, to the “culturally sensitive” (which probably includes the majority of faculty and students at many of our universities), dislike of some foods is disturbing evidence of racism, if not an outright hate crime.

But only certain cuisines qualify for this “protected status.”

I’m pretty sure it’s still OK to dislike haggis, bangers and mash, Wiener schnitzel, lutefisk, …

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Mug shot of the week

Posted by Richard on September 26, 2014

michael-whitingtonMichael Whitington, the charming fellow to the right, robbed a bank on the 16th Street Mall in downtown Denver on Tuesday. He attempted to get away by boarding the nearby light rail train. Which leads me to my…

PRO TIP of the week: If your getaway plan involves the light rail, make sure no one sees you board the train.

Cops stopped the train a few blocks away and arrested this criminal genius.

Something tells me we taxpayers are going to be on the hook for some dental bills.

UPDATED (9/27/14) to add link to CBS4Denver that I forgot last night (yes, adult beverages were involved).

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Been down so long…

Posted by Richard on September 17, 2014

Pro Tip: If you haven’t posted anything to your blog in a long time, it might be a while before you or anybody else notices that it’s down.

Several days ago, after hearing about yet another big data breach, I went through a “damn, I haven’t changed passwords in quite a while” fret and started changing a bunch of them. Including the one for the MySQL database user associated with this blog.

Which leads to another Pro Tip: If you change the database user password, you’d better change the password in your wp-config.php file to match, or WordPress won’t be able to connect to its database.

Sigh …

(HT to David Aitken for giving me the heads-up.)

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Green energy insanity

Posted by Richard on April 22, 2014

If you asked a bunch of economists to name the dumbest green energy idea, most would probably say it’s the ethanol mandate. Half the US corn crop is now turned into ethanol and poured into our gas tanks, causing the price of corn to more than double. That in turn has driven up food prices. Beef and pork are up almost 10% in just the past year. Other foods have become more expensive as well, as more and more acreage has been diverted from other crops to the more profitable corn. And of course, as with all green energy programs, we’re paying more for the energy we use. The effect here in the US is that we’re all made a little poorer. The effect on the world’s truly poor is much worse.

The idea is so bad that even environmentalists have turned against it, since it’s now clear that growing corn, turning it into ethanol, and blending it with gasoline actually produces more CO2 than just using gasoline alone. The only people left who like the idea are the ruling class Republicans and Democrats in Washington — it’s a combination of corporate welfare, crony socialism, and bureaucratic control of the economy that appeals to their basest instincts.

But as bad as the ethanol mandate is, now there’s something even dumber. The Brits have come up with a green energy project that’s so crazy-stupid it’s hard to believe. They’re going to clear-cut forests in North Carolina, turn the hundred-year-old trees into wood pellets, and ship a million metric tons of these wood pellets per year across the Atlantic to a power plant in Yorkshire, England. Where they’ll be burned to produce electricity. In place of coal.

Does it need to be pointed out that this insane idea will significantly increase the amount of CO2 produced by the power plant (20% more than burning coal, twice as much as natural gas)? And that the electricity produced will be far, far more expensive?

Presumably, the coal being displaced comes from nearby, perhaps Wales. What will become of it? Well, either less coal will be mined, and thus fewer miners employed, or the coal that the Brits can’t bring themselves to use will be loaded aboard ships and sent to someplace where green energy mania has not yet reached such heights — or is it depths? North Carolinians, Britons, and the planet will all be worse off.

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How to become a pariah in the GOP

Posted by Richard on August 21, 2012

If you’re a Republican Congressman from Missouri named Todd Akin and you always wanted to become a pariah in your own party, here’s a good way to do it.

First, you decide to parley five relatively undistinguished terms in the House of Representatives (the highlights of which were your crusades against internet gambling) into a race for the Senate seat held by unpopular Democrat Claire McCaskill (who trailed the generic Republican candidate by 20 points).

Second, in a three-way race for the Republican nomination you eke out a bare plurality (34%-30%-30%) against two much better candidates, one of whom (State Treasurer Sarah Steelman) was endorsed by Sarah Palin. You win the nomination solely because it’s an open primary and Sen. McCaskill ran a bunch of ads urging her Democratic supporters to vote for you — whom she correctly perceived as the weakest candidate and the only one she stood any chance of beating.

As soon as you’ve secured the nomination, give an interview to a local TV station in which, incredibly, you argue that a woman’s body can tell the  difference between sperm from a “legitimate rape” and sperm from some other act, and will somehow stop the former from making her pregnant. To make this absurdity even more bizarre, claim that you learned it from doctors.

After every Republican leader from Mitt Romney to your colleagues in the House and Senate has denounced your remarks and demanded that you step down as the nominee, issue an apology for having “misspoken,” but insist that you’re going to remain in the race.

After every sentient Republican in the nation (and some not-so-sentient ones) has called on you to step down, argue that it was just a minor slip of the tongue: instead of “legitimate rape” you meant to say “forcible rape.” Don’t bother to address the more salient question of how you could possibly believe that a woman’s body can distinguish rape sperm from non-rape sperm. Or which doctors (if any) told you something so insane. Don’t bother to explain what the difference is between “forcible rape” and “non-forcible rape.” (Is the latter, in your mind, perhaps statutory rape? Maybe you think that the young adolescent female’s body is not yet capable of distinguishing and stopping the rape sperm?)

Notice that Public Policy Polling still shows you with a 1% lead over McCaskill (although the liberal polling organization managed that result only by polling 9% more Republicans than Democrats, apparently in an effort to persuade you to stay in the race). Let the deadline for stepping aside gracefully pass. Insist that you’re in the race to the end.

Come November, lose the election to McCaskill, who before you came along trailed by 20% and was almost certainly doomed to defeat. In the process, cost the GOP control of the Senate.

Congratulations, you incredibly ignorant and arrogant SOB. You’re now a pariah. The Samuel Mudd of the 21st century. Your kids may even change their last names.

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When straws are outlawed…

Posted by Richard on June 27, 2012

Every time I think I’ve encountered the ultimate example of  “zero tolerance” policies run amok, it later turns out I was mistaken. It’s happened again.

The Supreme Court has refused to hear Mikel v. School Board. That means Andrew Mikel II will continue to have on his record a full year school suspension and a juvenile court sentence to a diversion program for anger management and substance abuse counseling. For shooting spitwads at classmates during lunch period.

Mikel was 14 and an honor student active in Junior ROTC when he committed this heinous act in December, 2010. Spotsylvania High School in Spotsylvania, PA, called it “criminal assault and possession of a weapon,” and referred it to local law enforcement, which initiated juvenile criminal proceedings.

Mikel has been homeschooled since.

The Rutherford Institute fought the case all the way to the Supreme Court (emphasis added):

“There can be no justice in a nation where young people like Andrew Mikel have their futures senselessly derailed by school administrators lacking in both common sense and compassion,” said John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute. “That the Supreme Court refused to hear Andrew’s case is a tragedy in itself, but by failing to intervene, the Court is legitimizing the perverse use of zero tolerance policies by school districts and the criminalization of America’s schoolchildren by teachers, administrators and police.”

Decrying the school’s actions as arbitrary, capricious and an abuse of discretion, attorneys for The Rutherford Institute filed a petition with the Circuit Court of the County of Spotsylvania asking the court to overturn the School Board’s decision. Although the Circuit Court ruled in favor of the school, it did acknowledge that it was “incongruous” that Andrew was suspended for the remainder of the year for spitwads while a student who punched someone in the eye could be suspended for only ten days. 

Ah, but the student who punched someone in the eye wasn’t armed with an illegal weapon — a straw and some hollow plastic “spitwad” pellets.

I have some questions for Spotsylvania school officials, police, and the courts through which this farce proceeded:

  • Is a straw automatically a weapon, or only if it’s “loaded” with a pellet?
  • What if the straw’s “unloaded,” but the student has the “ammo” elsewhere on his person?
  • Is it a worse offense if he’s carrying the straw concealed?
  • What’s going to be declared a weapon next — a rubber band? A spork?

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The crime of failing to be omniscient

Posted by Richard on May 29, 2011

A disturbing idea has taken root in the Western world in recent decades: that whenever anything bad happens to anyone, someone must be blamed. And made to pay. This may be the most bizarre application of that idea that I've encountered:

ROME (AP) — Seven scientists and other experts were indicted on manslaughter charges Wednesday for allegedly failing to sufficiently warn residents before a devastating earthquake that killed more than 300 people in central Italy in 2009.

Italian media quoted the judge as saying the defendants "gave inexact, incomplete and contradictory information" about whether smaller tremors felt by L'Aquila residents in the six months before the April 6, 2009 quake should have constituted grounds for a quake warning.

I'd like to think that this bit of nonsense is an aberration that will soon go away. But nowadays, who knows? Meanwhile, the defendants are no doubt racking up legal bills. Will we soon see liability insurance policies marketed to geologists, vulcanologists, meteorologists, … ?

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Shovel-ready capes

Posted by Richard on April 21, 2011

In the immortal words of Dave Barry, I am not making this up. Workforce Central Florida is helping out the unemployed in the Orlando area by offering them superhero capes:

The region's federally funded jobs agency is spending more than $73,000 on a media campaign to raise awareness of its services.

As part of a superhero theme, it has created a cartoon character named "Dr. Evil Unemployment" and spent more than $14,000 on 6,000 satiny superhero capes.

It plans to distribute the capes to jobless residents who participate in the agency's "Cape-A-Bility Challenge."

I wonder if they're spending federal stimulus funds on this campaign. If so, do you suppose there's a big sign that says, "Capes funded by American Recovery and Reinvestment Act"?

I wonder why they feel a need to raise awareness of their services. Are there so many competing federally funded jobs agencies in the Orlando area that they have to aggressively market themselves?  

But mostly I'm thinking: They're fighting Dr. Evil Unemployment with capes. With stagflation looming on the horizon, how long until someone brings back WIN buttons?

Whip Inflation Now button

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It’s called the stupid party for a reason

Posted by Richard on March 31, 2011

The Republicans have been pushing for $61 billion in spending cuts for FY2011 (significantly less than the $100 billion they promised before the election), and the Democrats have been denouncing even that modest cut as "draconian" and "extreme."

You'd think this would be a challenge the GOP would be eager to take on. If you have even a modicum of communication skills and public relations savvy, how hard can it be to ridicule the absurd argument that cutting $61 billion — 1.6% — out of a budget of $3,700 billion is "draconian" and "extreme"? It barely puts a tiny dent in the $1,600 billion deficit. Do they really fear that the average American can't grasp that point?

Let's put the federal fiscal crisis into comparable (approximate) household numbers that people can relate to: Let's say your household income is about $42,000 ($3500/month). But you're spending about $74,000 ($6167/month). And you're putting the $32,000 difference on your credit cards (on which you already owe over $300,000). Would cutting your spending by less than $100 a month really be "draconian"? Does it even seriously address the terrible financial situation you're in?

To me, this seems like an argument that's a slam-dunk win, especially in the political climate that gave us the Tea Party movement and resulting electoral tsunami of last November. And yet, the Republican leadership seems terrified of taking a hard stand and drawing a line in the sand. According to the Washington Post, they're ready to cave — settling for $30 billion in cuts and giving up on defunding anything — and Dan Mitchell isn't pleased: 

Yesterday, I analyzed how the GOP should fight the budget battle, but I may have made a big mistake. I assumed the Republican leadership actually wanted to do the right thing. I thought they learned the right lessons from the disastrous Bush years, and that the GOP no longer would be handmaidens for big government. And I naively assumed that the Republican leadership would not betray the base and stab the Tea Party in the back.

I thought the GOP leadership would fight and get a decent deal rather than unilaterally surrender. If the Washington Post report is true and Republicans act like the French army, it will discourage the base and cause a rift with the Tea Party. So it’s dumb politics and dumb policy.

And that display of cowardice by House Republican leaders follows on the heels of the report that Senate Republicans are going to agree to support a debt limit increase if the Democrats merely allow a symbolic vote on a balanced budget amendment. No, Democrats don't have to support it — they just have to allow a vote, which the Republicans are guaranteed to lose. A repeat of a vote they've already had (and lost), a vote that they could force by parliamentary means in any case. In other words, they're giving up their biggest leverage in return for … nothing.

Stupid party seems like such a mild and inadequate term.

There are a few shiny gems amidst the steaming pile of cow-flop that is the GOP. Sen. Marco Rubio won't vote for a debt limit increase unless it comes with a whole bunch of serious conditions: 

"Raising America's debt limit is a sign of leadership failure." So said then-Sen. Obama in 2006, when he voted against raising the debt ceiling by less than $800 billion to a new limit of $8.965 trillion. As America's debt now approaches its current $14.29 trillion limit, we are witnessing leadership failure of epic proportions.

I will vote to defeat an increase in the debt limit unless it is the last one we ever authorize and is accompanied by a plan for fundamental tax reform, an overhaul of our regulatory structure, a cut to discretionary spending, a balanced-budget amendment, and reforms to save Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

Bravo. Read the whole thing

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TSA idiocy vs. armed soldiers

Posted by Richard on November 21, 2010

They were returning from Afghanistan on a military charter flight — 330 soldiers coming home from war. All were armed with M4 carbines. Some also had sidearms. And some had M240B machine guns. The flight stopped in Indianapolis to drop off about 100 members of the Indiana National Guard. But for some reason, all 330 soldiers were made to disembark. With their weapons (unloaded, of course).

TSA personnel decided that, before the 230 who were continuing on could reboard the plane, they'd have to submit to security screening. Hilarious idiocy ensued. Read the whole thing. You won't know whether to laugh, cry, or just be disgusted.

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Those “green” grocery bags can make you sick

Posted by Richard on June 29, 2010

Do you bring reusable grocery bags to the store, shunning the "paper or plastic" choice? Stop feeling so smug and self-righteous. Unless you're the rare exception who religiously washes them, you're putting yourself and your family at risk for serious illness:

They’re good for the environment, but reusable grocery bags can be a breeding ground for dangerous food-borne bacteria and pose a serious risk to public health, according to a new report.

Researchers randomly tested bags carried by shoppers in Tucson, Los Angeles, and San Francisco and found bacteria levels significant enough to cause a wide range of serious health problems and even death.

They are a particular danger for young children, who are especially vulnerable to food-borne illnesses, says Charles Gerba, a University of Arizona professor and coauthor of the study.

“Our findings suggest a serious threat to public health, especially from coliform bacteria including E. coli, which were detected in half of the bags sampled,” says Gerba. “Furthermore, consumers are alarmingly unaware of these risks and the critical need to sanitize their bags on a weekly basis.”

A full 97 percent of those interviewed never washed or bleached their reusable bags, adds Gerba, noting that thorough washing kills nearly all bacteria that accumulate in reusable bags. Most of the bags tested were made of woven polypropylene. New reusable bags and plastic bags were tested; none contained any contamination.

The report comes at a time when some members of the California Legislature, through Assembly Bill 1998, are seeking to promote increased consumer use of reusable bags by banning plastic bags from California stores.

“If this is the direction California wants to go, our policymakers should be prepared to address the ramifications for public health,” says coauthor Ryan Sinclair, a professor at Loma Linda University’s School of Public Health.

I'm going to stick to the plastic bags from the store. I use them for my trash, to line wastebaskets, etc. If the enviro-nazis ban them in Colorado, my stockpile will last a while.

After that runs out, I'll have to buy plastic bags to use for those purposes. So how will that be a gain for anyone except the sellers of plastic bags? Hmm, maybe they're secretly behind the "green" plastic bag bans.

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Boycott Arizona — wherever it is

Posted by Richard on June 26, 2010

Democrat Peggy West is proud of being the first "Latino/Hispanic American" County Supervisor in Milwaukee. Here's her contribution to the intellectually rigorous debate the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors is having about boycotting Arizona.

[YouTube link]

I think Peggy West has a bright future in politics. I fully expect her to be elected to Congress someday. She can sit alongside that other rising star of the Democratic Party, Kesha Rogers. 🙂

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Carbon pollution

Posted by Richard on June 9, 2010

Lots of people in the blogosphere are laughing over the latest evidence that Sen. Barbara Boxer is dumber than a box of rocks. Ed Morrissey has the video clip and money quote:

Let’s see how Senator Ma’am’s priorities work in this revealing clip from her speech earlier today in the Senate. We’ve had four terrorist attacks in less than a year, two of which succeeded in killing people and another two which only failed because of the incompetence of the terrorist. Iran is a year or less away from getting a nuclear weapon. Turkey is rapidly sliding towards Islamism. North Korea is doing their best to restart the Korean War.

And what keeps Barbara Boxer awake at night? A raging case of the vapors:

I’m going to put in the record, Madam President, a host of quotes from our national security experts who tell us that carbon pollution leading to climate change will be over the next 20 years the leading cause of conflict, putting our troops in harm’s way. And that’s why we have so many returning veterans who want us to move forward and address this issue, so we can create those new technologies that get us off this foreign oil.

Yeah, claiming that "carbon pollution" and "climate change" are greater threats to our national security than Iran, al Qaeda, or North Korea is pretty silly.

But what strikes me as absurd to the point of being surreal is that a carbon-based life form, standing on a planet full of carbon-based life forms, where carbon is one of the most abundant elements, would speak seriously of "carbon pollution" — as if the fourth-most-abundant element in the universe were some dangerous, unnatural substance being introduced into our environment by those evil chemical companies.

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Mohammed Al-Madadi: incredibly stupid or gathering intelligence

Posted by Richard on April 9, 2010

Qatari diplomat Mohammed Al-Madadi caused a bomb scare on a flight from Washington, D.C., to Denver Wednesday night. Reportedly, Al-Madadi sneaked a smoke in the john. When confronted, he joked (supposedly) that he'd been trying to light his shoe. 

Ha, ha. 

The flight ended up being accompanied to DIA by F-16s, and the passengers spent many hours being debriefed at a location quite distant from the terminal. 

Now, it turns out that Al-Madadi was on his way to see an imprisoned al Qaeda agent, Ali Al-Marri.

So here's the obvious question: was Al-Madadi simply behaving stupidly or was he obtaining intelligence about U.S. air security measures? 

I'm inclined to invoke Hanlon's Law (which may actually owe its genesis to Heinlein): Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

More than likely, Al-Madadi is just the typical arrogant Arab male, for whom saving face is paramount and who has no conception of how much concern and fear he's caused. 

But, but … it could be a scouting mission. Another probing of our defenses. There have been a number of incidents, harking back at least to the Minneapolis "flying imams" incident, that could be interpreted as attempts to test our air defenses and gather intelligence about our reactions to various potential threats. 

Who knows? That's one of the terrible problems with this new form of war in which we're involved (and please remember that it's a war that was declared by our enemies, so we have no choice in the matter). The enemy is waging that war in the most unconventional ways of which it can conceive. It's hard to determine who the enemy is, where the theater of war is, and what exactly is an act of war. And they like it that way.

Is Mohammed Al-Madadi an undercover enemy combatant, a secret al Qaeda agent, or just an obtuse, clueless, arrogant, privileged-class Arab? I don't know. I'm not sure anyone does.

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