Search String

Here’s an interesting thing.  The other day I was asked by an old friend from Seffrica where she could find one of my novels on Amazon, so I just told her to do a search for “Kim du Toit Prime Target” on their website.  Here was the search result:

Errrr what?

Puzzled, I tried one of the other novels:

No problem there… and likewise for all the other works I’ve published at Amazon.

Then I tried again, using just “Kim du Toit” as the search string, and lo and behold, they all showed up, including Prime Target:

Of course, trying to reach anyone at Amazon who could look at the problem is like trying to decipher the U.S. tax code at IRS.gov: opaque,  impossible and misleading.  Amazon must be the least-friendly organization on the planet when it comes to this kind of thing.

Anyway, here’s the link to Prime Target, in case anyone is still interested in a story about a government agency spying on U.S. citizens’ private data.

Nazzo Fast, Guido

Look, nobody knows better than I that the essence of marketing is to expand demand for a proven product.  But then I see this:

Springfield Armory has refreshed the popular TRP line of professional-level 1911s. The TRP is based on the Springfield Armory Professional 1911, which was originally chosen for use by the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team, and now the line has been refreshed to offer six new .45 ACP models with a wide range of new features.
The TRP platforms are specifically designed and built for demanding 1911 enthusiasts. Each pistol begins with a forged frame and slide for strength and durability. Each pair is the hand-selected for slide-to-frame fit and numbered to marry them with their matching components throughout the build process. The result is a premium fit, with refined blending and rock-solid performance.
Providing an additional touch of custom detail, all TRP pistols feature sighting plane serrations along the top of the slide. The result is an attractive touch that offers the shooter an enhanced sight picture and maximum light diffusion. Also on top of the slide is a tritium three-dot sight system for a clear sight picture under any lighting environment.
Springfield Armory chose VZ Grips and their combat-ready Hydra series of grips for the new TRP pistols. The deep relief channels provide aggressive purchase without being overly sharp, while exposing the layers and patterns of the G-10 material. In addition, all TRP pistols feature 20 lines per inch (LPI) checkering on the frame for an enhanced grip with either wet or gloved hands.

And then the kicker:

TRP Classic 5 inch and TRP Classic 4.25 inch have an MSRP of $1,899.
The TRP Rail 5 inch Black, 5 inch Coyote Brown and TRP CC 4.25 inch Black and TRP CC 4.25 inch Coyote Brown have an MSRP of $1,999.

So basically, it’s a budget Nighthawk, except in that baby-shit Coyote Brown — the gunny equivalent of the putty-colored automobile.

I’m sure the Government alphabet-agencies are just going to love them, because WTF they have the budget to afford these things.  So will all those wannabe “operators” because they’re always up for the Latest Thing that all the cool kids have to have.

Me?

Clearly, I’m not in the target market for the TRP.  And that’s fine by me.

Privacy? What’s That?

Very few things get under my skin as much as bullshit like this:

A recent study from Consumer Reports engaged 709 volunteers who provided archives of their Facebook user data. Astonishingly, Consumer Reports discovered that 186,892 different companies transmitted data about these users to Facebook. On average, data from each participant was shared by 2,230 companies, with some users’ data being shared by over 7,000 companies.

Think you’re outside this little net?  Think again, Winston Smith:

This examination highlighted a lesser-known form of tracking known as server-to-server tracking, where personal data is transferred directly from a company’s servers to Meta’s servers, alongside the more visible method involving Meta tracking pixels on company websites.

A surprising finding was the pervasive presence of LiveRamp, a data broker, appearing in the data of 96 percent of study participants. The list of companies sharing data with Facebook extends beyond obscure data brokers to include well-known retailers like Home Depot, Macy’s, Walmart, and others, such as Experian and TransUnion’s Neustar, Amazon, Etsy, and PayPal. Notably, LiveRamp did not respond to a request for comment on this matter.

The study’s data came from two main collection types: “events” and “custom audiences.” The latter involves advertisers uploading customer lists to Meta, including email addresses and mobile advertising IDs, to target ads on Meta’s platforms. ‘Events’ describe real-world interactions, like website visits or store purchases, facilitated by Meta’s software in apps, tracking pixels on websites, and server-to-server tracking.

I’ll sum up all this in a simple sentence:  if you’ve bought anything online in the past three years, your personal data is everywhere.

Of course, there are the weasels:

Emil Vazquez, a spokesperson for Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta, defended the company’s data practices, stating: “We offer a number of transparency tools to help people understand the information that businesses choose to share with us, and manage how it’s used.”

Oh sure.  Forgive me for being skeptical about the motives of said weasels, and the companies they work for:

However, Consumer Reports identified issues with these tools, including unclear data provider identities and companies that service advertisers often disregarding user opt-out requests.

I don’t even know what to do about all this — nothing can be done, seems to me.

But the best part of all this — and the reason for my hopelessness — is that of you think that Government isn’t getting their snouts into this data trough, I have a fucking bridge to sell you.

Corporations, no matter how big, always fall straight to their knees every time some government department demands a blowjob.  And this circumstance is no different.

See Ya

Looks as though Sports Illustrated has decided to cut the fat:

No, not that fat.  This fat:

The owner of Sports Illustrated has ended the employment of the publication’s entire staff, leaving the very existence of the nearly 70-year-old magazine in doubt.

Then follows a while bunch of publishing industry gobbledegook (good luck trying to understand this nonsense — it reads like the article’s author didn’t understand it either):

The licensing group that owns the sports mag has terminated its agreement with The Arena Group to continue publishing the magazine three weeks after Arena missed a $2.8 million payment, a deficit that breached the magazine’s licensing deal, according to Front Office Sports.

Authentic bought SI out from Meredith in 2019 for $10 million. If it continues publishing, the magazine will turn 70 years old this August.

An email announcing the decision says in part, “We were notified by Authentic Brands Group (ABG) that the license under which the Arena Group operates the Sports Illustrated (SI) brand and SI-related properties had been officially revoked by ABG.”

Got all that?  There will be a test.  Not that it matters, because here’s the crux of it:

“As a result of this license revocation, we will be laying off staff that work on the SI brand.”

Crap magazine, terrible writing, stupid stories, and let’s not forget the idiotic decision to put fatties in the Swimsuit Issue instead of hotties like oh, Leryn Franco.  Ergo, from this:

…to this:

“Oh noes… why did people stop buying our magazine?  They must all be Christianist Trumpists!”  or some such twaddle.

SI  never recovered from the loss of writers like Pete King, Frank DeFord and Rick Telander, to name just some.  And the arrival of Internet reportage shot them in the gut, just as what happened to many print magazines in other industries.

Won’t be missed.  Mediocrity and crap hardly ever is.

Gotta Be A Good Thing, Then

Whenever the Left goes all Hair On Fire, that generally means good things are happening.  Take this little bit of news, for example:

After it was announced Monday that local businessman and Sinclair Broadcasting Group executive Chairman David Smith had rescued The Sun with plans to revitalize it to a robust status, the left is apoplectic.

Why? Sinclair, the local news behemoth Smith runs, has been accused for years of tilting right. Based on the hissy fits pitched by the AP, the Baltimore Banner (an online site started after the Alden purchase), CNN, The New York Times, and The Washington Post, it seems like journalists would rather the paper die all together than be run by someone who’s not a leftist.

Well, duh;  if the Left can’t control something, they try to destroy it (see:  Donald Trump).

And if, Lenin forbid, that change may tend towards conservatism, the screaming will ratchet up exponentially.

And so it happened in this case.

CNN reacted the way you’d expect. Oliver Darcy, their deranged liberal media hall monitor, whined in his media newsletter that it’s a “deal that has set off alarm bells” since Smith’s local stations around the country “has previously inserted right-wing editorial segments into its local news broadcasts.”

Writing on Threads and X, NPR media writer and former Sun reporter David Folkenflik huffed that Smith was dismissive of the Sun’s journalism and “deflected questions about his own political activities.”

He also seethed that Smith has been a major funder of GOP candidates; more recently he has funded far-right outfits like Project Veritas and Turning Point USA & financed local ballot initiatives.

Folkenflik made sure to take a swipe at Sinclair stations: “Sinclair…has pulled the news coverage and commentaries on those stations markedly to the right, ultimately becoming quite supportive of Trump.”

Oh noes… I see the End Of Democracy all over this one.  That, or the End Of Civilization As We Know It.

Who knows?  The Sun  may even turn out to be a decent newspaper.

Carnies and Hucksters

Longtime Reader GT3ted sent me an email of the latest Sotheby’s auction catalog — the topic of this coming Saturday’s post, by the way — and when I commented that the prices seemed unusually-astronomical, even by Sotheby’s standards, he replied:

Yes, I thought the suggested bid ranges were high as well, But remember these are the the typical auction company’s “Projected” bid ranges which are often optimistic. And Sotheby’s does seem to have a better-than-usual lineup this year. The whole point of the catalog is to bring in as many Big Dollar buyers as possible since they need multiple buyers to run up the prices. Or at least the appearance of multiple bidders.

The Winter Arizona / Scottsdale Hype is strong thanks to “Bidenomics” / a soaring stock market and nervous investors looking for a place to park some equity before the possible collapse of the more traditional equities market place.

The world of high-end auctions is still just smoke and mirrors run by used car salesmen and ex-carnies all looking for the next greater fool, just at a much higher level.

It’s a very cogent statement.  But even among them what has more money than common sense, this (for example) seems egregiously overpriced:

Now let it be known that I loves me some 70s-era Bronco, but I would humbly suggest that even a handbuilt-from-the-ground-up item such as this isn’t worth anything like two hundred big ones.

It’s not an original — it’s a Kincer creation — and there’s another outfit that handmakes “classic” Toyota FJ45s, at similar nosebleed prices, and still another that does likewise with 1970s-era Mercedes G-wagens.  While I understand that hand-built cars involve an astonishing amount of labor — in some cases, hundreds of hours — I would suggest that it’s a fool’s gambit to try to recoup (and even profit from) the job.  As any amateur restorer will tell you, one never recoups the cost of restoration, and I just can’t see that restoring old cars as a production enterprise makes it worth the work and expense…

…unless, of course, the target market is not the brand’s loyal devotees but (as Ted puts it) Big-Dollar Buyers (“whales”, as the casino industry derisively calls them), for whom the car is not an object of desire but an investment.

And all investments, as any fule kno, carry risk.

Caveat emptor imprudens.

All that said, there are some juicy cars indeed in the Sotheby’s catalogue, but you’ll have to wait until Saturday to see them.  Just ignore the prices, and drool.