Sinking Ship

So it seems that Japan’s Kubota is leaving California for… tada! Texas, thus depriving the Golden (or really, Moonbeam) State of over 500 jobs. The new building will be in Grapevine, just north of DFW airport.

In the comments section under the article are the usual warnings to arriving Californians to leave their bad voting habits behind — I don’t know how many of them are going to make the switch, maybe about two hundred — but the most priceless remarks were about California, e.g.:

Kubota claims that the move is “to be closer to their customer base”, but left unsaid was the rest of the sentence: “…and far away from those lunatic California laws and politicians.”

Allow me to add my welcome to Kubota and their employees, as well as my advice that they leave their terrible California voting habits back in California.

As I’ve said before: Texas is a good state to live and work in because we’re not like California, so don’t try to change that. We have lots of room for people, but no room at all for Lefty politics.


Update: I originally referred to California as the Sunshine State, when as any fule know (except for me, at 6am) that it is the Golden State. My sincerest apologies to the real Sunshine State, Florida. And thankee to Reader mns for the correction.

Stockholm Gets Nailed

Some asswipe drove a truck into a crowd of pedestrians in Stockholm last week.

 

Of course, the driver’s motives were unclear, until this was reported.

Earlier reports from CNN and MSNBC that the driver was a radical Methodist have since been proven false.

(Yeah, I know that CNN/MSNBC reported no such thing. But considering all the other bullshit they pass off as news, you have to admit that my statement was false, but accurate.)

The Internet Of No Things

In Michael Mann’s excellent caper movie Heat (Pacino, De Niro), there’s a scene in which mastermind criminal Nate (Jon Voight) is talking to De Niro’s character McCauley, and shows him architect’s blueprints of a bank’s electrical system which McCauley will need to rob it. McCauley asks (and I’m paraphrasing this exchange from memory), “Where do you get all this stuff?” and Nate answers vaguely, waving his hand, “It’s all out there, in the air… you just have to reach out and take it.”

Note that Heat was released in 1995, when the Internet was still in its relative infancy.

Now we have this so-called “Internet of Things” whereby (heretofore stand-alone) technology can be controlled remotely via the Internet — and it’s not just “autonomous” cars (about which I have ranted before), but the most mundane stuff like stoves, refrigerators and similar kitchen appliances. Insty has been on a tear about this phenomenon recently, linking to articles about smart TVs being compromised, wi-fi in refrigerators and expectations of privacy in cars’ black box data-collection devices, to name just those in recent memory.

I hate all this shit. I understand that there are going to be times when controlling your oven from outside the home (like, when you forgot to turn it off) can be helpful, even life-saving. I understand why your home security system should be remotely deactivated when the maid service comes to clean your house — and no, I’m not going to deride these situations as “First World Problems” either. I don’t even like that annoying little beep that “reminds” you that you haven’t put your seatbelt on — and just try to disable the little bastard: you void you car’s warranty. (See how this works?)

What I’m really concerned about is that your remote control of things is, in Nate’s words, “in the air” — and if you can turn off your gas oven from your hotel room in Bali, who’s to say that some asshole can’t turn it on from his mom’s basement in Poughkeepsie? Having this ability to control your stuff remotely is fine, provided that you are absolutely, 100%  certain that you, and only you, can do the controlling. Me, I don’t believe that, and I do not trust this situation because for fuck’s sake, every single system in the known world, from Target’s customer file to the IRS taxpayer database to Iran’s nuclear development program has been hacked. I don’t care who did the hacking (Mossad, NSA, Russia’s FSB, or Gregory The Geek), the fact that these systems can be hacked at all makes me leery of ever adopting them and the appliances they control.

I know, these systems make your life easier. “Convenience” has sold a ton of ideas and stuff, just not always with benevolent consequences. Remote garage door openers, for example, have been a blessing to lazy drivers, and also to burglars, who now use handheld decoders which can open any garage door inside fifteen seconds — and these decoders are sold quite legally at any serious electronics store. I bet everyone here can think of others — I can’t be bothered — which only makes this a much bigger deal than we think.

And no, I’m not one of these conspiracy loons who think that all this is an international conspiracy of Bilderburgers, Battenburgers, Double-Cheese Hamburgers or the perennial favorite, the Jooooz. (I’m going to say it now: conspiracy nuts are paranoid fucking morons.)

But I am intensely suspicious of any system which takes away my control of my own life, and of the things in my life, simply by telling me that it makes it all more convenient for me.

Here’s a simple question: if the Internet of Things allowed for the remote control of, say, handguns, how would you feel about it then? Why are you against it? Don’t you want to render your gun completely safe and inert so that your child can’t hurt himself if he plays with it? Or wouldn’t you like the police to have the ability to disable guns in the hands of criminals? Or wouldn’t you like the government to be able to render all guns inert in the case of a national emergency, so people couldn’t be robbed or killed?

Do you see how reasonable and how convenient all the above questions sound? [And let us pause here while Chuck Schumer shares a post-orgasmic cigarette with Dianne Feinstein.]

Oh, and please don’t tell me that guns are different because they aren’t the same as microwave ovens or refrigerators. It’s the Internet of Things, not the Internet of Some Things. What is added to one can be added to others; as we all know, airliners have long had “black boxes” to record their movements and data — now try to buy a car which isn’t fitted with an EDR (and rulings like this are rearguard actions, which will eventually fail).

And as the title of this post suggests, I’m supporting the Internet of No Things. A pox on all of it, and on the people who are trying to foist this shit on us, even though their reasons are oh-so reasonable and altruistic. Never mind, as Megan McArdle points out in her article above, that this added technology adds considerable cost to products, to the manufacturers’ benefit. (It’s the same with cars: you could lose 50% of all the new technology from cars, and while things might be a little “inconvenient” for the driver, the car could still perform its most elemental function without skipping a beat. Just for thousands of dollars per car less.)

People who are opposed to technology are generally called Luddites (after their apocryphal English founder Ned Lud) or saboteurs (after the French textile workers who threw their wooden clogs — sabots — into mechanical looms). I am neither of the above, nor do I fear technology. What I fear is that one day soon we’re going to find out that while all this technology has freed us (from what?), we’ll be shackled into immobility like Gulliver by the Lilliputians — not by just one device, of course, but by all our possessions which are no longer under our control.

Cue George Orwell: “Freedom Is Slavery” — only in our case, it will be “Convenience Is Slavery.”

Go ahead and laugh, call me crazy or sneer at my apparent Luddism. We’ll see how all this shakes out; but I’m not wrong, and it will give me no pleasure at all to say “I told you so” (while I’m firing up a home-made flamethrower to use on my microwave, which won’t let me nuke a pork sausage because I’ve exceeded my government-mandated weekly hot dog allowance).

If this is to be the future, I want no part of it, and I will actively resist it. I won’t be standing athwart the tide of Convenience shouting “Enough!”; I’ll be behind a barricade with a loaded AK-47 which, I need hardly tell you, will not be remotely-controlled.

Cover Art, Journeyman Artist

Normally, when I do a profile like this, I do a short biography and some background of the subject… but there are times when I just want to shut up and let the man’s work do the talking.

This is especially true of Robert McGinnis, whose work is as popular with ordinary people as with book editors and publishing houses. I have to tell you, this is an artist of exceptional talent — yeah, he doesn’t do “fine” art, but I have to tell you, his art is just fine by me.

If like me you’ve read many paperback novels, McGinniss’s work will probably be familiar to you; and even if you haven’t, his style will be instantly recognizable. If you look for “journeyman artist” in a dictionary, it will be his face right there under the entry title.  Here are a few examples:

   

…and I know, I’m going to hear mutters of “graphic art, not fine art”. Yeah, I know: he’s no Boldini (whom we will be examining later this month). But just because McGinniss has earned his living with the above kind of work, it doesn’t mean that he’s incapable of a different class of art — like this one:

And then there’s this one, in which you can almost taste the dust:

…and this one, full of menace (can you spot it?):

I can hear the cries now: “Oh, Kim! Cowboy art? My smelling salts!”

Honestly, I think McGinnis’s work transcends style and trend: they are simply pictures which tell a story; sometimes you have to look for it, and sometimes it’s quite obvious. One more, for luck:

Yeah, it’s James Bond. Why not James Bond?

McGinnis is still alive, and he’s still painting, I think.  Go ahead and google his name if you want to see more of his work. It will take you a while to get through it all, but hey: it’s Sunday.

Train Smash Women Convention

Foreword: I’ve reposted this piece with fresh updates (see below), because Aintree is still a Train Smash in progress. I am LOVING this…

I have spoken before of my fatal attraction towards Train Smash Women (an explanation of which can be found here) but honestly, one can have too much of a Good Thing.

In April, you see, ’tis time for the Grand National race at Aintree outside Liverpool (the latter being, without question, Train Smash Capital of the world), which means it’s time for you, O my Gentle Readers, to nominate the most likely, and worst possible Train Smash Woman out of the ones who appear in this year’s report of Day 1 at Aintree. It’s quite simple: just go down the page, and select the picture which represents to you a Train Smash Extraordinaire (count down from the top, and from left to right if there is more than one pic across the column. Here’s pic #1, for instance, followed by pics #2 and #3:

In comments, therefore, all you have to say is “I nominate #12” or “The girl in the red dress in #3”, (for instance), and I’ll be the final vote-counter and judge. (I have to say, #32 certainly caught my attention, but there is a plethora of good choices.

Have fun.


Update #1: The fun continues… and I apologize to all my Readers if I’ve caused them to puke up their breakfast. As Mr. Free Market has said in the past, “There’s good reason never to head north of the M4.”

Update #2: It’s Ladies Day! I use the appellation in its loosest [sic] possible form, of course. One can only imagine what today (Saturday) will bring…

But even before seeing the Saturday story, my favorite for Train Smash Woman Of Aintree goes to this priceless creature:

There it is: the dreadful dye job, the horrendous eye make-up, the tits falling out, the too-short skirt revealing flabby thighs: it’s the whole enchilada… and we didn’t even get to see her shoes. I’ll bet 2-1 (seeing as we’re at a horse race) that her entire life consists only of regrettable decisions.

Fabulous.

Still to come: Epsom and Ascot.

Note: I won’t be repeating this report for Melbourne’s Gold Cup celebrations because Australians.