More Of Those Things

I know that “keyless entry” systems are all the thing with cars these days, but forgive me if I’m just a little skeptical about their security:

Some new cars on the market are vulnerable to keyless thefts, tests have revealed.
Latest security ratings for seven models you can buy in showrooms today have been released by Thatcham Research, an independent automotive research centre.
Of the seven vehicles reviewed, four were found to offer ‘poor’ resistance to relay crimes that have spiraled in the last few years.

Actually, most cars offering this feature are vulnerable to being hacked by relay devices (available on, of course).  And if you don’t know how a relay device works, you need to disable your keyless system and go back to using a car key.

I of course have no desire ever to activate  any keyless system when I come to replace the Tiguan, so none of the above will apply to me.  And should my choice of car not have deactivation as an option, that choice will shift to another which does, or doesn’t even have the infernal system in the first place.

I am all for progress, by the way, if it represents actual progress and not just a nod to “convenience” (i.e. laziness).  For example, I have always applauded the shift from front-stuffing muzzle-loaders to the brass cartridge — but should some techo-genius come up with an “electronically-activated triggering mechanism” to replace it, I’ll probably shoot him.

With a bullet launched from a brass cartridge case, most likely one of these:

Not Known At This Address

A little while ago, Reader Sam D. had this thought about Amazon’s Alexa:

“Why would anyone WANT his own personal Stasi agent in his home, AND be paying for it?”

Indeed.  Somebody remind me again why I’m not wired into the Internet Of Things:

If you’re a Google user, you probably noticed some trouble last night when trying to access Google-owned services. Last night, Google reported several issues with its Cloud Platform, which made several Google sites slow or inoperable. Because of this, many of Google’s sites and services–including Gmail, G Suite, and YouTube–were slow or completely down for users in the U.S. and Europe.
However, the Google Cloud outage also affected third-party apps and services that use Google Cloud space for hosting. Affected third-party apps and services include Discord, Snapchat, and even Apple’s iCloud services.
But an especially annoying side effect of Google Cloud’s downtime was that Nest-branded smart home products for some users just failed to work. According to reports from Twitter, many people were unable to use their Nest thermostats, Nest smart locks, and Nest cameras during the downtime. This essentially meant that because of a cloud storage outage, people were prevented from getting inside their homes, using their AC, and monitoring their babies.

Don’t think you can escape this bullshit by jumping in your car and getting out of town, either:

Governments are collecting lots of data on the people using roads, trains and buses, and without proper oversight, that information could easily be misused.

(I’ve often wondered, by the way, if my movements are being studied by way of my phone location software.  As I drive for Uber, I bet it’s interesting reading:  “He goes to the airport three or four times a day and never seems to drive back… WTF?”)  And speaking of which:

I wonder why they bother to warn us anymore.

And then there’s this:

Sleep Number, one company that makes beds that can track heart rate, respiration and movement, said it collects more than 8 billion biometric data points every night, gathered each second and sent via an app through the internet to the company’s servers.
“This gives us the intelligence to be able to continue to feed our algorithms,” CEO Shelly Ibach told attendees at a Fortune Brainstorm Health conference in San Diego last month.
Analyzing all that personal data, Ibach continued, not only helps consumers learn more about their health, but also aids the company’s efforts to make a better product.
Still, consumer privacy advocates are increasingly raising concerns about the fate of personal health information — which is potentially valuable to companies that collect and sell it — gathered through a growing number of internet-connected devices.

What I’d like to do is hack into this system, and publish a Wanking Hard Incidence Ranking Report (WHIRR!) for every member of Congress.

Maybe then someone  would take this loss of privacy thing seriously.

Not An Improvement

If London is trying to make itself into some kind of copy of Manhattan, it’s looking like a roaring success — if, that is, you’re going for the “soulless, impersonal, could-be-any-city” look.

Of course, I think it looked better back when I were a nipper:

That looks like London.  The other looks like shit.

Major Affront, Meet Corporal Punishment

I think what pisses me off most about modern-day “petty” crime is not the robbery of cell phones from people’s hands, or the theft of cars for the sake of a “joyride”, or even the painting of graffiti on walls — although each one in its own way renders me irritated beyond belief.  Try these “petty” crimes, however, and see how they make you feel:

Arsonists destroy 250-year-old oak tree that has stood since George II was on the throne

Hunt for yobs who vandalised model town and brutally kicked a cat in the head as they made their escape

Mindless vandals wreck a charity model railway show

Correction to that last piece:  they’re not mindless;  they’re amoral, antisocial and spiteful, and their vile actions are those of childish anarchists.

Unlike a lot of people (especially on this website), I don’t think these little shits should go to prison for these crimes — although there’s a lot to be said for taking them out of society for a while.

What’s needed here is for these childish hooligans to be treated like children — but not in the modern manner of making them sit in the Penalty Corner or “grounding” them (whatever that means).

Prison’s too much punishment, they (usually) have no money to pay restitution, and “community service” is a fucking joke when by their actions they have demonstrated that they have no ties to the community whatsoever.

No.  We need to bring back flogging, because that ancient punishment is precisely what these kinds of actions call for.  We need to catch these assholes, make sure they’re guilty (of course), and then immediately  after sentencing lead them off to a punishment cell where they can be given ten lashes with a heavy cane.  (And for the feministicals:  female miscreants of this nature, although much rarer than their male counterparts, should get the same punishment, except with a light  cane.  Feel free to insist on equality for the womyns, however;  I’m not feeling too charitable at the moment.)

I know, corporal punishment is supposed to be barbaric and all that.  Remember, though, that the reason that these horrible people are called “vandals” is because their behavior is of a kind with the ancient and barbaric tribe named Vandals — and we should punish them accordingly.

The hell with them.


Somebody explain to me why we should ever — ever — trust the fucking FBI again, when they get involved in this kind of bullshit, trying to entrap a U.S. citizen into committing several federal crimes.

When did they do this?  In 2017:  after Donald Trump’s inauguration as POTUS.

And under whose auspices did they do this?  Why, those of Special Counsel Robert Mueller and DOJ prosecutor Andrew Weissmann, of course.

Why  did they do this?  All in the cause of trying to bring down President Donald Trump and overturn the fully-legal election result of 2016.

So to repeat myself:  somebody explain to me why we should ever — ever — trust the fucking FBI again.  With anything.

Self-Propelled Cargo

The title, by the way, is how airlines (all of ’em) see passengers, and it shows.

Now, I know that technically, speaking, that happens to be true:  we are  just walking baggage — but that doesn’t mean that we want to be treated  that way.  About 80% or more of my business consists of taking sleepy executives to the airport in the pre-dawn hours, and let me tell you:  not one of them has anything  good to say about how the airlines treat them — and most of these people are Gold / Platinum / whatever the top rank is called.  So if these  people hate the airlines, how do you think we Economy-class passengers feel?

And it seems as though United Airlines — or their CEO, at least — understands this, and has talked about it at length.

Munoz acknowledged having to stay competitive with peers and match many of their offers, but he admitted passengers have had enough of paying the price.
He claimed: ‘Somebody asked me what advice would you give other travelers? I said empathy.
‘I think discourse between human beings is lacking, I have always lived by the concept that sharing is caring, and share with us.

Yeah, I’ll wait to see how this pans out.  Fine words uttered from on high are all very well, but let’s see how this translates to the flight attendants / ticketing agents / flight cancellation policy etc.

Many years ago, I worked for the Leo Burnett ad agency, who (at the time) had been United Airlines’s agency for decades — possibly even the only ad agency UA has ever had.  To say that it was a close working relationship would be a gross understatement, and in fact it was Burnett who had coined the genius “Fly The Friendly Skies” payoff line for United.

Then United decided that they wanted to change the thrust of their advertising, to be more businesslike, and even change the payoff line.  Leo Burnett disagreed with the change in marketing direction.  How much did they disagree?  They terminated a decades-long relationship — in essence, firing the client — because they thought it was the wrong direction to take.

Anyone know what United’s new agency replaced the Friendly Skies  line with?  Me neither.  And when United threw that unfortunate passenger off their plane a while ago, breaking his nose in the process, I can honestly say that while I was shocked at the action, I wasn’t surprised.  When they changed their marketing, I made a decision never to fly United again — and other than one (unavoidable) business flight in 2003, I’ve kept my promise.  (And just FYI, that flight was the worst trans-Atlantic flight I’ve ever experienced — Connie was actually sobbing with relief when we came in to land.)

I don’t think that United is going to change (despite their CEO’s unctuous words), and their skies will be just as unfriendly as all the other airlines’.  Why?

His comments came as United Airlines announced that its first-quarter profit doubled to $292 million as it carried more passengers and limited costs.

In a message to employees, CEO Oscar Munoz said the latest results vindicated a strategy of adding more flights, investing in customer service and managing costs.

United added more flights because the Trump-fueled economic growth has meant more people are flying;  not  adding more flights would have caused market share to drop.

As for their “investing in customer service”, watch Munoz’s little video towards the end of the article.  My bullshit detector went off like an alarm clock.  Yours should, too.  “Eliminating pre-assigned seating”?  The airlines have already done that, with sneaky little algorithms in the online ticketing process which deliberately splits seating assignments when booked together in the same transaction, and charging for the privilege of changing the seats.  Bastards.  I’m not fooled:  “managing costs” means “charging for stuff that used to be free”, or else “not replacing worn-out seats even when passengers are experiencing extreme discomfort”.  Feel free to add your own “cost management” examples.

As it happens, I may be flying the New Friendly Skies later in the year, and if so, I’ll let you all know how it comes out.  If I do, it will probably involve a stop in O’Hare (I know, I know:  I used to do 50-60 flights a year out of ORD).  If that isn’t a test, nothing is.

Anyway, you can color me cynical.  Right now, I hate all  airlines, without exception, and it’s going to take more than fucking “empathy” to change my attitude.