This blog covers everything except sports and gardening, unless we find a really good link about using dead professional bowlers for mulch. The author is a StarTribune columnist, has been passing off fiction and hyperbole as insight since 1997, has run his own website since the Jurassic era of AOL, and was online when today’s college sophomores were a year away from being born. So get off his lawn.

Airline makes a safety video people want to see

Posted by: James Lileks under Praise, Technology Updated: January 28, 2014 - 1:15 PM

I was on a Delta flight yesterday, and they ran the old in-flight safety video. It was funny, once; now it's ordinary. We're so easily bored. Today they've released a new one  Rad, it is. Rad indeed. Embedding YouTube at the top of the post borks the blog for some reason, so it's at the bottom. 

BTW, from the comments it appears that the man with the DEVO hat is, indeed, a member of DEVO. And of course that's the real ALF.

CAB WARS Uber under siege, that’s the story this month. Uber seems to get under the skin of some writers and thinkers who want a tightly regulated cab market, perhaps because such a thing previously spawned wise-cracking cabbies who were also compassionate and brave, wore a cap, and reminded you of the way Bugs Bunny talked. I can’t see any other reason to get attached to the current model. You can understand the drivers’ position,  as the Times story lays out:

Peter Ashlock drove a cab in San Francisco for 10 years in the 1970s and early ’80s, bringing home about $500 a week. For a few years, he even got health insurance.
Two years ago he started driving for Uber. After gas and the company’s commission — usually 20 percent — he makes about $1,000 a week. Factor in inflation, and he has lost ground. “I have freedom and flexibility now,” said Mr. Ashlock, 65. “If I want to take a vacation I just take it. But there’s no union. There’s no community of drivers. And the only people getting rich are the investors and the executives.”

The customer is not interested in a community of drivers; the customer wants a safe ride at a reasonable price in a clean car. I was just in LA, where habits have changed so quickly people whip out phones and stab the Uber app without a second thought, because that’s how things are now. I did it myself to get to the airport. The car arrived quite quickly. The driver offered a bottle of water. The interior of the vehicle was spotless. When we got to the destination there was no fumbling for money or cards, no waiting around for the receipt; all that was handled by the app.

Took a cab back from the airport in Minneapolis. The cab was filthy. The trunk was filthy. The driver didn’t know where to go. Using a credit card was slightly less difficult than bartering a fare using chickens.

As for the Uber driver, he was an interesting fellow. Used to run two franchised sandwich shops. Sold one to Subway, and closed the other because the economy hit hard and the condo buildings that provided much of his business had emptied out. (In Beverly Hills, of all places.) They took too much from the franchisees, didn’t have money for ads, and were sinking under the confusion wrought by multiple management turnovers. So now he was driving a car for a while.

He said drivers are suspended for a few weeks if their rating dipped below 4.7 on a scale of one to 5. You can see the rating when you call a car. That would have been nice to know last night. The driver had the windows down two inches in his car and drove in a style best described as “a brave, dashing refusal to believe in black ice.”

SCIENCE! Excellent piece about treating dogs like dogs, not “Fur Children.” The author looks at one of those pop-memoir books about trying to tame a dog who is not only difficult but cursed with symbolism:

Living in the space of confusion that is Schine’s home, Buster “refuses to be redeemed.” What does redemption mean to a dog? The “troubles” are not assuaged by assorted drugs and trainers. In one instance, Schine puts Buster in an Elizabethan collar—rather like a cone-shaped plastic bucket—and then leaves him locked up in a strange place. In a locale of such passionate inconsistency, the much sought-for “recovery” of Buster does not happen. The dog she calls “vicious” is guilty: guilty of not being human. After all, he “defies kindness, defies the culture of therapy.”

If there’s anything I’d expect a dog to do it’s “defy the culture of therapy,” and I pity any pooch owed by someone who puts great faith in such ephemeral realms. Anyway, the piece describes the results of MRIs on dogs. This line took my by surprise: At a time when some animal rights advocates argue for the extermination of dogs rather than have them suffer the indignity of being pets - it’s not that I doubt it. I just wonder how long it will take before they start to kidnap and kill family pets. For the dog’s own good, of course.

TECH Verge says: Google Glass for prescription lens. I was excited until I remembered I don’t want Google Glass. This is the Rubicon. I’ll be over here on this side respecting the old methods of human interaction; you guys go ahead, see you later.

Speaking of the Verge, they did a piece on the contents of bags (purses, messenger bags, backpacks, etc) of media / tech people, and that led to this piece in Pacific Standard: the ethics and deep meaning of those “what’s in your bag” story. Actually, it lead to this, which I could turn into ruminations about why we care about pieces that ask why we care about other people’s bags, but no. Enough thumb-sucking around the web as it is. You doubt? Okay:

If Kim Kardashian’s on-the-go kit embodies a certain standard of round-the-clock female beauty, these new bags we see convey different, but equally pervasive, norms: productivity, transparency, a blurring divide between work and life, and a willingness to engage in unplanned, spontaneous labor.

Because you’re carrying your computer. If you’d like even more, there’s a tumblr devoted to the content of people’s bags.

And as long as we’re scooping up topics from the Verge. they’ve pronounced the iPod dead, because the iPhone is cannibalizing the line. Well, yes and no. It’s true many don’t need a standalone mp3 player when your phone will do the job, just as you don’t kneed that 12 megapixel camera when your phone can take decent shots. But there will always be a place for a lightweight device you can take to the gym, and there should always be a place for a device that contains all your music. All of it. I didn’t bring my old iPod Classic on the plane yesterday, and wished I had; now that it’s okay to use small electronic devices you can choose your landing soundtrack if you want.

VotD So you’re doing the dishes, looking out the window, admiring the beautiful view of the Tyrollean hills, and . . . say, looks like something is coming through the trees. Wonder what’s going on up there. You wipe off the plates and put them away and look out the window again, and maybe you drop a dish and don’t hear it crash, because you can’t believe what’s en route, and you wonder if you’re insured for this. You wonder, exactly, which way you should run.

Well, since that one worked, let's try the Delta video:

Huzzah! It worked!

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