Thursday, July 24, 2014

Queen Takes Gold in Photobomb Competition

A picture is worth a thousand words.  Click and enjoy.

Proof John Cleese isn't a fluke: Brits are hilarious.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Southwest Airlines: Tweet About Us And We Ban You

When a man with kids was turned away from a plan on which he was an "A-list" passenger entitled to early boarding, he tweeted his displeasure at Southwest and its gate agent.  Southwest's gate agent said "You can’t board the plane unless you delete that tweet."

Southwest made good on its threat, too – denying him his paid-for seat until he deleted his social media complaint about how poorly he felt his family was treated.  And why shouldn't he? Southwest's personnel had reduced his kids to tears from fear their father would be arrested after the gate agent threaten to "call the cops" and claim the man represented a threat.

Obviously, the belief the man represented a threat was utterly false: they found no reason not to seat him once they twisted his arm into "deleting" his Twitter post.

So, it's true: ‘Wow, rudest agent in Denver. Kimberly S, gate C39, not happy @SWA.'

There aren't words rude enough for so despicable a person, willing to threaten harassment by law enforcement personnel for their personal benefit.  Just … ugh.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Noriega to 'Black Ops II' Game Develpers: "Show Me The Money"

Deposed Panamanian strongman "General" Manuel Noriega, who ran death squads and torture operations for years in support of his dictatorship and the drug operations from which he profited, became an international headline when he holed up in the Vatican embassy while it stood besieged by American forces bent on his capture.  His villainy has been so well documented that he's been immortalized as an adversary in Activision Blizzard's Call of Duty: Black Ops II.  Naturally Noriega, who has languished in a Panamanian prison since his 2011 extradition, has filed suit to share the proceeds.

On the one hand, what a system: everyone gets a crack at justice, even proven murderers.

On the other hand, what a farce: he's internationally reknowned as a corrupt dictator who clung to power through a program of murder and intimidation, and whose downfall followed not his murder spree at home but his soured relations with back-room kingmakers at the CIA. The craziest part of the story is that Noriega says Activision Blizzard somehow had the power to damage his reputation.  Really? Can a reputation possibly be worse?

On the bright side, the defamation case is a sure loser.  As a public figure being lampooned for entertainment in the subject area in which he's famous – in a game – it's doubtful that it's possible to maintain a defamation case under U.S. law.  Even straight-up news sources could plausibly defend such a suit.  The more interesting question is whether using the likeness of a living person for profit might entitle him to damages under the kinds of legal principles that allow the heirs of Elvis Presley both to make fortune in photo licensing and restrict republication of Elvis' image during the fat years.  The Jaded Consumer will report back.

After all, who doesn't like a good train wreck?

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Cuinn's "Different League": Short Noir Fun

Carrie Cuinn's publications list includes several available online for free, including "A Different League", part of Akashic Books' 750-word-limit Noir series Mondays Are Murder.  I enjoy discovering authors I don't know, and I love the mood that makes noir noir, making this review a real pleasure.

Perhaps the most enjoyable part of the story is the range of lies the private eye and her client tell each other. Sure, the narrator isn't expected to disclose her financial desperation or her inability to afford what the client wears, so we let that slide without remark. But the end twist reveals how much more of the characters' interaction has been a deception – as it turns out, long before the curtain opened. And the reveal is fun. Cuinn's calculates how to dispense information, reverses the reader's calculation of the characters' motivations and stakes, and lands everybody in a much better place than they started.  How often do you find a noir with a happy ending?

I haven't read Cuinn's other work, but now I'm intrigued.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

School's Graduation Dis-Invitation Provokes Suicide

In another story of authority figures getting it exactly wrong, a boarding school – home to a female student since the age of four – barred a girl from campus because she had missed class to receive treatment for depression.  They decided to do this both for her middle-school graduation and the after-party thrown for all her friends and housemates.  Not entirely unsurprisingly, once the depressed student was forcibly cut off from her major life attachments and rejected by the authorities on whom she'd depended for years, she completed suicide.

The mind boggles.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

911: "If This Is An Emergency, Hang Up and Call …"

Americans have become used to being transferred into purgatory on "customer service" calls, but 9-1-1?  In New Port Richey, Florida, a married couple with a child and a visiting in-law called 9-1-1 in response to a home invasion in progress, only to be transferred to a recorded message.  The dispatcher who picked up the 9-1-1 call wasn't "qualified" to respond to a call requiring assistance from law enforcement, and transferred the call to the Sheriff's Department's non-emergency line, which played the emergency victims a recorded message suggesting they consider calling 9-1-1 if they had an emergency.

This didn't just happen once: the victims called back and got the same response again.

In a Kafka-esque twist, the person who was qualified to field the call was sitting right next to the dispatcher who proved incompetent to transfer the call.  You'd think that "help I'm being attacked" would elicit enough concern to hand the phone over, or grab the person who could help so the right assistance could be brought to the phone.

Alas.