Reich’s Store

Gad! Nasty day yesterday. Had to motor to Nawth Alibam’s Shining City of the Hill for observance of grandbairn’s birthday anniversary. Made appearance, suffered the crowds and such for too long, and then saw the Kriegsbunny. And then promptly ran into the battle lines of Huntsville Constabulary doing a Crimea on some guy living next a fireworks emporium. So I ended up going around three sides of a square to get home just so the Nawth Alibam Gestapo could have a hobnail party to enliven what must have been a dull Saturn’s day.

Then I learned [Link] that MalWart is the nation’s worst – as in least liked – grocery store. Seems that the fraction of survey respondants unfriending MalWart was 0.8! That’s 4/5 for those who have problems with decimals. The compliments were summarized as

“Shoppers who frequented Walmart, the nation’s largest grocer and the chain with the most shoppers in our survey, were most likely to be miffed about the lack of open checkouts, out-of-stock regular items, indifferent employees, spotty pricing, and confusing store layout.”

Can’t agree too strongly with this. MalWart is notorious for making you spend more time waiting in queue than in buggy stuffing. And they seem to go out of their way to discontinue both the stuff you need – like no salt added foodstuffs – and stuff you have come to like. I can’t complain too much about employee indifference. If anything I sympathize given how MalWart treats its employees worse than slaves.

I’m not sure what spotty pricing is and the article doesn’t explain but I do know that the supposed savings at MalWart aren’t really worth the lost time standing in queue. That’s why I am trying to reduce my MalWart purchases to local uniques with the goal of zeroing. And confusing store layout? Chaotic and random is more like it. I think the strategy is to change things so you have to hunt and get snookered into buying unwanted stuff.

Wonder why the Huntsville Constabulary can’t do a Crimea on some of the MalWarts in Huntsville? Seems like it would be much more entertaining than a fireworks shop. And much more appreciated by the citizenry.

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Sears Sag

Not too bad. Nice walk in park. Gotta find a better podcast to divert though. Pony to poo ratio TOO low.

Speaking of said ratio, I noted this week an article [Link] about the rotting of Sears, Roebuck and Company. I am saddened. Sears was a part, positive and negative, of my maturation. Back when I was a bairn, the highlight of November was the appearance of the Sears Solstice Book. They called it a Christmas book but there was nothing not secular about it. I don’t ever recall seeing holy water or wafers or even a bible offered for sale in the catalog. The Solstice one, at least. I think they listed bibles – but not torah nor quran – in the big catalog.

Huntsville was Nawth Alibam’s Toy Desert in those days, except that everywhere, except the big cities, were toy deserts in those days. Still are, I suppose. I recall trips to department stores in Birmingham, Alibam’s stinky version of a ~big~ city where they had a few square feet devoted to toys, mostly collectible dolls and metal soldiers. Stuff one couldn’t play with. So the Sears solstice book was epiphanal.

When I was a teenager, Sears opened a real store, not just a pick-up-big-things-ordered-from-catalog storefront, that was a great way to improve a date that had degenerated into silence. I am still amazed today how seeing that stuff could bond otherwise mismatched people. The roots of understanding sedentaryism were there.

I never got a slide rule from sears. They sold Pickett slide rules, which were made of aluminium, I believe. Somehow that seems a fitting match up given the solidity of what Sears offered. Nothing flighty or fashionable. I am surprised Garrison Keilor (sp?) hasn’t Worbegoned on Sears. So selling metal slide rules fits. Not very good but solid and enduring.

When I went off to graduate schule, Sears was where I went to acclimatize. They didn’t advertise it, but what they sold – storefront and catalog – was regional in those days. So I could get a good Plains Democrat Winter Coat in Sears and not worry about looking ferdish. Grad students wear whatever and people from Alibam were considered sophisticated in those days if they wore a shirt and shoes.

Even now, Sears is helpful. FD SCP bought clothes cleaning machines from them last year. And the question of why the transition from mail-order to storefront retailer is irreversible seems all too important in this day when mail order is once again the mode. It worked for my grandparents and now it works for me. Except there are times I would like to buy one of those Sears prefabricated cottages and go plop down on some VERY out of the way ground.

I shall miss them. I can only hope they survive long enough that I don’t have to sit Kaddish for them.

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Bog Rot

A dark and stormy night. Well, not that stormy. But precipitous. I arose about 0230 to observe the eclipse and all I could see was overcast and the refraction of street light in the droplets on my glasses. So I returned to bed and almost failed to arise. Gym was blissfully sparse, the present weight bouncers were civil, and the podcast episodes, especially the SCIENCE one, were up to expectations: SCIENCE was deep and exacting; NPR was boisterous and slippery; and the Guardian was romantic.

But in and around that I got to spend some attention span on morning – early morning – television and the rather higher density of advertisements. Or am I just jaded later and don’t notice the nasty things.

Anyway, I have been reading several articles lately about how modern life, i.e., the internet, is causing us to become more stupid as a society. I have been ready to credit this somewhat since it is now almost impossible to have intelligent discourse with a GEN Y old enough to have a “smart” cellular telephone. They are ignorant, defining smart in terms of what they can find with their phone, quite ignoring the fundamental untrustability of the the internet.

It may be argued that this is not surprising. With the rise of social networks, bogs have become boggier, if such a plague is possible, and even geeks have become less avid collectors. I have even been accused of paranoia for not accepting as canonical that the internet is eternal and eternally available. Living in the hinterland reassures me daily that neither is accurate.

But having observed early morning commercials with even more egregious prevarication and inaccuracy than later commercials, it occurred that this is less a matter of fooling somnolent individuals than preying on the ignorance of the GEN Ys. I intend to do an informal survey but my testing hypothesis is that they are orthogonal to these flaws and errors. And there is likely nothing we can do but resolve ourselves for the collapse.

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End of Days – Sorta

Today is the end of support by MegaHard for Winders XP. It may also be the day marking the beginning of the end for MegaHard but that is not only uncertain, but likely improbable. Nastiness tends to stay around. I noticed an article earlier – lost when my other deskbox imploded – that some storage barrels of stercus several centuries old had been found and still had the odorus sterci – the olfactory punch of poo. MegaHard may not be several centuries old. nor all that nasty as corporations go today, but they still have magnum odorus.

The onslaught on XP will not be immediate, but it likely will come. Low hanging fruit and all that sort of rot – language rot, that is. I was marveling this morning after listening to science podcasts how abused the American English language is, and how facile Americans are at abusing such. I find it very disturbing when scientists, who should be speaking with care and precision, utter misuses and catch phrases like illiterate valley waifs. So there will be no shortage of low habgubgf fruit for the evildoers to rob and plunder.
I mentioned yesterday the issue of money instiututions. I feel moved to reiterate. If your money institution is not forthcoming that they are using a trustworthy OS, and tell you which one, then they almost certainly are using XP and should not be trusted. Sadly, since the vast majority of money inistitutions are still using XP – I have heard numbers as high as 0.8 of all ATMs are still XP driven – there is no easy answer on how to find a trustworthy money institution. And unfortunately, the use of a mattress safe is neither wise nor practical. Too many organizations, the Yankee government included, do direct deposit. Add to this the arrogance and cupidity of the bankers who manage these organizations and the risk becomes a necessity to assume. But you can reduce your exposure by not using ATMs. Unless they have a Penguin sticker. The new ones are Linux driven, but  they are few. The money organizations with technical savvy will advertise that in short order. 
The same goes for other organizations, including chain stores. If a store or business establishment won’t tell you what OS their money hardware is using, caveat emptor.
As for me, I am going to continue to use XP for the clients I still need to use. But I disabled wifi on all those machines and limit their interaction with the external world to printers and USB sticks. And I am doing more with money these days – pictures of dead politicians. Stores may not like it but if they complain I’ll spend it elsewhere. Be an offensive consumer!

Monetary Caution

Tomorrow, as we should know, is Abandonment Day for Winders XP. MegaHard will be releasing a final update but it seems to mostly be about Office. Anyway, we now need to enter a mode where we are very leery of any corporate (or organizational) computer system involving things of value – like money – unless the corporation (organization) has provided positive evidence of upgrading to another OS.

In particular this applies to banks and credit unions and and business where you use a credit or debit card. One of my colleagues, Magentic Inductance Forse, forwarded me an email from a credit union that declined to respond whther they had upgraded or not. It was also quite rude, a diversion that indicates that their system, especially ATMs, is vulnerable. So act accordingly Caveat Emptor.

Absence Assortment

A middling morning. Back to low temperatures, for a week the weather beavers promise and we know how their promises are worth a Continental banknote. The gym was actually pleasant this morning mostly because schule is desessioned so the educationalists and most of the weight bouncers are unpresent. The harassment and bullying were almost zero. Only the staff was being oppressive and frightening.

As is my usual I listened to an episode of the CBC’s “Best of Ideas” podcast, this one dealing with Albert Schweitzer. My memories of Schweitzer are from childhood when I read a rather saccharine children’s biography of him, revisiting when the Yankee government issued a stamp commemorating him. I was vaguely aware of his musical ability.

The podcast claims that the current generation do not know him and based on the rest of the podcast I am sure I did not either although I recognized his name. I was unaware of his academic accomplishments, thinking him a physician who went off into the jungle. Although not assessed, he was clearly fleeing towards something, probably a rebellion against European society and culture. Instead, the podcast was much more interested in talking about his opposition to nuclear weapons, an activity that made him a smear target of the Yankee and other governments, a situation I could not help – mysef – comparing  to Snowden. Both were  (are) portrayed as puppets of the Russians. I was also bemused to listen to the characterization of his behavior towards native Africans as natural albeit authoritarian by the natives and racist by Americans. Somehow that seems to fit with what I have seen of most racism monologues. Racism seems to be more a smear accusation than any actuality, at least in most cases. And it certainly is devoid of any scientific validity, which rather supports the slanderous and bullying aspect.

In that regard, I listened to an episode of the Marketplace Technology Report that reported (!) that the Management of Target (the chain store) was not only negligent but incompetent in the recent data breach. It seems that they invested in security software prior to the incursion that lead to the breach and that this software alerted them to the incursion. Which was ignored entirely by management.

It would seem that firing parties are definitely in order. Once this becomes common knowledge I doubt Target will survive the litigation. It’s one thing to claim being outwitted, another to own up to actual negligence and incompetence.

And hence into the week. I shall try to enjoy it. 

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Rainy Day Mutterings

Since it is rainy, and I don’t really want to stir, clearing a few tabs seems a useful endeavor leading up to breaking of fast. First, I have to note a very entertaining article [Link] criticizing Apple and Gartner for being unable to do analysis. I don’t care too much about Apple, at least so long as I have any other choice in products, or can somehow eke out existence without the product, but eviscerating Gartner appeals to my hunter side.

Back when I worked for the Yankee army I had to deal with Gartner numerous times, all identically flawed and unpleasant. The company seemed to be outside evolution. It made the same mistakes and somehow garnered the same exorbitant profits for giving bad advice. They used the same one-model-fits-none-but-we-apply-to-all approach and after I while I understood why – it always assured they had something nasty to say about everyone’s operations. So its not that they are averse to analysis, just only within their money-making model that applies to no one but somehow makes them lots of money.

I recall that we used to think leeches were only bad because they not only sucked blood but spread diseases. Medical practice has since found valid uses for them of benefit but I am not holding my breath that Gartner will ever be found to be of any benefit. I have evolved the conjecture that they have the solitary merit of antagonizing subordinates thus permitting executives to appear benevolent when they relax or suspend the irrelevant and wasteful recommendations of Gartner.

Next, I came across an article [Link] about how MegaHard is offering piddly sums to XP users to switch to a newer Winders. Let’s see, if I go to a MehaHard store – none in Nawth Alibam, incidentally – and buy a new computer with a newer Winders – read W8 in all its don’t-work for a couple of kilobucks, Yankee tender, then MegaHard will give me a hundred bucks rebate. And that’s a deal? No wonder they are losing marketspace. [Link] And don’t know why. Could it be that they have spent so long with Winders being the (almost) only OS that when lots better comes along they can’t see it.

Wasn’t there a children’s fairy tale about an emperor and his clothes?