BMW = Fauxthentic

BMW pipes in car noise so it sounds like you are actually driving.

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I Want That Disease

Alien Hand Syndrome. Is it strange that I am jealous of people who have it?

I sure am sorry that I groped your breast. It’s just my alien hand – I have no control over it!

Sorry about punching you in the face mister! Damned alien hand again!

Oh I wrote a bad check? Goddamnit. Bad left hand! Bad Bad left hand!

Muahahaha

Alien hand = get out of jail free. Mens Rea is important!

I suppose they could convict you of something that simply requires negligence to satisfy the Mens Rea element of the crime. Criminally Negligent Homicide or something. You should have tied down your sociopathic left hand! No cookies for you! But that would require evidence that the subject knew his hand was prone to violence. An isolated shotgun blast at the goddamned meter maid in the absence of any prior violent conduct – I’m pretty sure Saul Goodman could get you off the hook on that one.

Don’t get me started on the possibility of the yet undiscovered Alien Foot Syndrome. Speeding tickets. Hah. I laugh at your foolish speeding ticket!

Very truly yours,

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Road Rage (google style)

I hate driving. I’m not bad at it – notwithstanding an unfortunate incident last month concerning a Budget rent a truck and a parked car (yes, I did leave a note). I just kind of dislike it in a very hateful sort of way.

The only form of transportation that I hate more than driving is everything else. Just so we’re clear, by ‘everything else’ I mean public transporation – not walking and running, which I actually find enjoyable. Especially when I don’t have to walk or run somewhere in particular.

If you’re a geek, the order of operations is: walking > running > A huge zit on the tip of your nose > driving > flying > train > subway > slow painful death > bus.

Got it?

Getting off topic, I wonder why there aren’t any verbs for specifically riding a train, subway, or bus. You can walk, run, drive, or fly, but you can’t train, subway, or bus anywhere. I guess these non-verb forms of getting somewhere just don’t deserve a verb.

Back on topic – driving stresses me out and makes me unhappy. I’ll try and explain. Imagine that you are basically a goal oriented person. Whatever you are doing at any particular moment is the most important thing in the world – and you just want to complete it. Unless you are an asshole in a Beemer who thinks that driving is the goal in and of itself (marketing crap), when you enter a car the goal is to get from where you are to where you want to go. Point A to Point B. But then the whole fucking world turns on you. Everything wants to impede upon your progress. The traffic lights. Stop signs. Road work. Pedestrians. In particular, the other drivers. They are all conspiring to get in your way and take away precious minutes from your life that you could have spent watching South Park or something.

Now the funny thing is, I’m not super goal oriented. But once I get in a car, I become that person. And I get aggressive and angry. Generally mild mannered, in a car I’m yelling at other drivers, honking my horn, waving fists. I’m not proud of it, but I really am that person. I weave around the slow fuckers who get in my way. If I’m cruising in the left lane and some asshole decides to change lanes in front of me and slow down – I show no mercy whatsoever. I’ll ride his ass for a mile and then I’ll swoop next to him and kind of edge into his lane like I’m going to swipe him.. and maybe I’ll even get in front of him and hit the brakes erratically. My thought process is that the guy who did it needs a lesson.

Yeah, it really is bad. Again, not proud of this.

And yet I deal with it, because what’s worse than driving? Feeling like cattle being delivered to the slaughterhouse in a train, subway, or bus. Public transportation doesn’t make me angry. Just profoundly sad.

So I was excited to read this article. Google has a functioning car that drives itself. They basically took the most cliched aspect of the past 60 years of science fiction – and removed the fiction from it.

I’m excited… I really am. For the geeks: Google > God. First off, all that time waiting for the traffic to move. It becomes YOUR time again. You could write emails.. read a book, watch porn. Whatever the hell you want. I guess I could do pretty much all of that on a train – but then I would be on a train. This is SO much better.

But being kind of a techno geek myself, I’m also really excited about the AI aspects of it. According to the article:

The car can be programmed for different driving personalities — from cautious, in which it is more likely to yield to another car, to aggressive, where it is more likely to go first.

That is awesome. I could actually program my car to be as big a prick on the road as -I- am. Really, it’s a pretty damn funny future we might have. Millions of commuters, watching the latest skin flick in their private little car cabin, basically oblivious to the drama going on around them as their AI cars fight for supremacy of the road. While of course the chance of an accident becomes almost nil because Google cars are all knowing and unfailing. Omnipotent, like Google itself.

But here’s a thought. Say you have a congested highway and everyone is doing 15 mph. Theoretically, if every car from the front to the end simultaneously accelerated to 60mph.. there shouldn’t be any reason why an accident would ensue. Congestion is basically caused by cautiousness. You want a certain amount of space in front of you. You break because someone else is breaking, or you anticipate some guy changing lanes in front of you whatever. All down the line those human interactions serve to cause a traffic jam. But figure if every car was controlled by a computer, theoretically there is no reason why a congestion based traffic jam should ever occur. Cars could whiz by at 80 mph, with about half a foot clearance between vehicles. Each car knowing what each other car on the grid would do.

So that’s really the big benefit of computer driven vehicles. It should actually make traffic a thing of the past. BUT – this all assumes that every car knows what every other car is going to do. If Google allows you to personalize your vehicle’s driving style.. my assumption is that it would completely mess everything up. Each car, aggressive or cautious, would now, like us, be driving in a cloud of uncertainty. Is the Passat in front of me going to slow down or weave in front of the guy to his left? Inherently, it would create a need for a certain amount of caution. And traffic jams.

Really, why the hell do we want to infect our computers with the human condition?

I suppose that if there was a central processor controlling everything then the cautious car would know what the aggressive car was going to do, so my utopian highway theory might work. But then what’s the point of programming your car to be cautious? It’s like basically saying I’d rather get from Point A to Point B just as safely as everyone else, but significantly less efficiently.

Lots of questions. All I know is that I’m sure Google has all the answers.

Very truly yours,

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Robosigning For Fun And Profit

Anyone who has taken the time to Google my monicker will know that this one is dear to my heart. According to The Washington Post, GMAC Bank has been forced to halt thousands of foreclosure proceedings because of irregularities in their ‘document execution’ department.

So…. what does that mean you ask.

Well here’s the skinny. In 23 states of our fine nation, banks are required to get a court order to foreclose upon a property. Simple enough, right? Typically what happens is that the bank will request the court to issue Summary Judgment in it’s favor in lieu of a trial. In order to prevail on its Summary Judgment motion, the bank must present the court with certain documents evidencing the existence of the mortgage, and an Affidavit from an employee of the bank indicating, among other things, that the borrower is in default.

Still following me? Well here’s the issue. The Affidavit needs to be executed by someone who has sufficient personal knowledge of the underlying circumstances. So, therein lies the seed that eventually blossoms into our Document Execution Department.

Meet Jeffrey Stephan:

Generic Corporate Guy Picture

Actually I don’t know who the hell that guy is – but he may as well be Jeffrey Stephan for our purposes. Jeffrey is a Robosigner in GMAC’s Document Execution Department. In fact, he is the lead Robosigner. He signs about 10,000 Affidavits a month, indicating that he is personally aware of the circumstances of each particular matter.

According to the Washington Post, which is better at math than yours truly, that comes out to about one Affidavit every minute given a typical 8 hour day.

So Jeffrey was recently deposed by a defense attorney in a foreclosure action, and lo and behold:

He stated that he would glance at a borrower’s name, the debt owed and a few other numbers, but simply assumed most of the information in the files was correct. Stephan, who has more than a dozen people working under him, told attorneys that he had three days of training for the position and that he didn’t know how the “summary judgment” affidavits he signed were used in judicial foreclosure cases.

Stephan’s admission has cast into doubt thousands of mortgage foreclosure filings. Ally Financial, the nation’s fourth-largest home lender and GMAC’s parent company, halted evictions of homeowners this week in the 23 states that mandate a court judgment before a lender can take possession of a property

Just an aside here. The name “Ally Financial” came into existence a few months ago. The purpose was to distance GMAC from bad feelings resulting from the GM bankruptcy / bailout and the GMAC bailout. I assume it is supposed to convey feelings of loyalty and friendship. Perhaps even some WWII good guy conoctations. You know… they are your allies. This in and of itself deserves mention on our blog.

But back to the matter at hand. Obviously no human being is capable of personally researching the facts and circumstances of 10,000 foreclosure proceedings in a single month. Obvious right? Or is it just obvious to me? Regardless, Mr. Stephan is now lying low and GMAC is losing millions of dollars because their foreclosure proceedings are stalled. My guess is that they will end up paying some huge fine as well. Funded in part by the bailout money they received from the government. Which is really the kicker here. We saved these incompetent morons. Us. We did it. Or rather the government we collectively elected. And guess what? They are still fucking incompetent!

One day the idiots will be allowed to fail and the people who are doing a good job will be allowed to succeed. Until that time, we get to do business with Ally freaking Bank.

Sincerely,

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It Wasn’t Me!

Bentley has issued a recall due to concerns of accidental impalement by their “Flying B” hood ornament. According to the Boston Herald:

Bentley said one of its dealers noticed that corrosion frequently hits a spring mechanism designed to drop the ornament into the car’s body during an accident. That could mean the pointy Flying B stays in place if a Bentley owner ever hits a pedestrian (perhaps while reaching for their Grey Poupon mustard).

The recall covers certain 2007-09 Bentley Arnages, Azures and Brooklands, which originally listed for between $222,000 and $341,000.

The affected vehicles – 620 sold in North America and 200 in Europe – all have special hood ornaments that some owners paid $3,200 extra for.

The Infamous Flying B

There is so much to like about this story. Nothing gets the fauxthentic juices flowing like the striking revelation that Bentley has earned (according to my calculator) a cool $4.5 million in revenue upselling people on… hood ornaments.  If nothing else, Bentley has singlehandedly confirmed PT Barnum’s famous maxim that a sucker is born every minute. Go Bentley!

But Then again not every hood ornament retracts in the event of an accident. Kind of like a reverse air bag, huh? And certainly the Herald’s ‘Grey Poupon’ crack is an obvious one. But I gotta say, the first thing that came to mind when I read this story is:

BART!

No sir it wasn’t me that put that “B” shaped hole in granny’s abdomen.  Take a look officer.  No B’s.  This is a B-less Bentley!

A retraction mechanism for a hood ornament.  Now I can die in peace.  :)

Sincerely,

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News Article: Translated 9/1/10

Link

Translation:

Certain banks that were lucky recipients of federal bailout funds and below market interest rates at the Fed’s discount window are pressured by their benefactor (government) into selling foreclosed homes at a discount to organizations that are subsidized by said benefactor, and probably run by friends of Obama and his associates.

That about sums it up?

Edit 9/2/10 – My translation needs a translation: Government rubs Bank of America’s Back. BOA rubs the government’s back. Taxpayers break their ass paying for it all.

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Puke Inspiring Video of the Day

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A Brave New World (of porn)

So with the advent of 3D television, is it any surprise that the race is on to make the first 3D porn movie?  50 years from now pimply teenagers will laugh about us old fogeys and our 2D skin flicks.  You found that…  arousing?

My question though is at what point does porn become so advanced that ‘participating’ in it can be deemed cheating on one’s significant other?  I mean..  it’s one thing to look at naughty pictures.  Not many people would consider that cheating.  But is it crossing a line if you navigate a 3D virtual reality harem the likes of which has been known to inspire suicide bombers?  Wearing a skin tight porno suit that stimulates just the right spots?  While whispering sweet nothings to your virtual girlfriend, who (through the wonder of advanced artificial intelligence) carries on a better conversation than, you know, your wife?

Take it a step further.  Some states still have criminal adultery laws on their books.  What a novel mix of old and new – if one were to be indicted on adultery charges for carrying on an extramarital relationship with a virtual lover.  And in this crazy world of ours, I wouldn’t be surprised to see it happen.

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Crazy Like a Fox – How To Erradicate Drug Use

A former president of Mexico, Vicente Fox, proposed a radical solution to drug related violence: Legalizing drugs.

I’m not used to seeing politicians, foreign or domestic, suggest worthwhile solutions to social ills. Legalizing all drugs, soft and hard, has been something I have advocated for many years – because it makes perfect sense. Actually, I would take it a step further. Not only would I legalize all drugs, I would make the hard ones available free of charge to any adult who asks for it.

Let me explain…

The value of drugs, like anything else, is determined by the intersection between supply and demand. Drug interdiction efforts on the part of government tend to decrease supply, thus raising prices. The manufacture and distribution of the product is relegated, by definition, to criminals. Is it any surprise that an extremely high margin industry run by criminals will be violent?

So what results from drug interdiction efforts? Turf wars between various criminal elements involved in manufacture and distribution. Burglary and petty crimes by addicts seeking to accumulate enough money to get a fix. In short, crime. Lots of it.

Now imagine that drugs were not only legalized, but the hard ones were given out free of charge to any adult who arrived at a specified government facility and asked for it? The first thing that happens is that the underground drug manufacturers go out of business. Their best customers, the addicted kind, now have a cheap and secure source of product to maintain their needs. No need to utilize the black market. Violent criminal turf wars: erradicated.

The second thing that happens is that you substantially decrease the amount of new drug users. Sterile government drug facilities might be perfect for addicts who need to maintain, but they aren’t exactly a party atmosphere. It’s a matter of common sense that most new drug users are introduced to it by, wait for it… existing drug users. But that doesn’t work well here. One person to a room. No television or stereo. You can bring a newspaper or other reading material. You can consume however much you want, but you cannot leave until you are sober (for public safety), and you cannot take any product out with you.

Without a social environment in which to use drugs it stands to reason that there will be a decrease in new users. Put it this way. In order to get a new user (remember, hard drugs are no longer available on the street since the drug dealers are out of business), a person that has never used drugs would have to walk into a facility and ask for a sterile room and a hypodermic needle. This won’t happen very often.

Third, and most importantly, you decrease crime. It isn’t difficult to imagine that many hard drug addicts could actually lead somewhat productive lives in the absence of having to whore themselves out and steal in order to meet their addiction obligations. Even if they can’t lead normal lives… at least they aren’t robbing people.

As for soft drugs.. Let them sell marijuana at cafes for all I care. Any college stoner with a few remaining brain cells can rattle off a fairly coherent argument about how alcohol is more dangerous than pot, and that the tax revenue from it’s sale could be immensely helpful to local governments. Nothing too complex there. Of course the tax revenue would probably be used toward nothing good.. but what else is new?

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Speaking Loudly

So a new study has concluded that our personalities tend to remain the same throughout our lives.

No shit, huh? 

I have it on good authority that another study will be released next week indicating that humans tend to wake up at approximately the same time every day (particularly Monday through Friday), and that infant boys are more apt to be dressed in blue than other colors. 

What I’m saying is that you don’t need to misappropriate the scientific method to unequivocally determine the average lifespan of an American soldier deployed to Iraq is lower than similarly situated men and women in, say, Nebraska.  Well, apparently those of us who are lucky enough to draw a college professor paycheck do.  But (as usual), I digress..

A friend of mine in a particular service profession used to levy a “surcharge” on mustachioed men, simply because he didn’t like them.   $90 for everyone else, $125 for W.B. Mason.  

I, on the other hand, have nothing against Mr. Mason.  I’ve been known to wear a mustache from time to time myself, if only to annoy the wife (the Hitler inspired piece being my greatest and shortest lived dalliance into upper lip hair). 

My own prejudice is against people who speak loudly.  I have yet to institute a surcharge against them - but they make me… suspicious.  It seems to me that when someone forms a habit of speaking loudly, the underlying purpose is to mask the fact that they have very little of interest to say.  Anecdotally, the stupidest people I have been unfortunate enough to meet have often been the loudest.  It’s almost like the sheer strength of their verbosity is supposed to make what they say both true and relevent.  I never buy anything from them – and I’ve done ok with that rule.

So it struck me as odd that the aforementioned study seems to not only consider speaking loudy a positive trait, but places those people in the same category as those who “show interest in intellectual matters”.  As opposed presumably to people who speak in a normal voice and must only be interested in the weather.

The only explanation I can think of is that perhaps showing interest in intellectual matters is separate and distinct from actually understanding them.

Or maybe I’m just the stupid one…

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