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A Tale of Two Retailers February 28, 2017

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Walmart vs. Target. One of these retailers made a bold announcement back in April 2016, saying that it was going to allow anybody into any restroom, depending on how they felt on that particular occasion. It prompted a nationwide boycott, and 4 months later they said they’d spend $20 million constructing private bathrooms for the otherly-gendered.

Can you tell which one it was?


Now, it’s clear that Target has other problems, since its sales growth was already dropping by the time of their announcement (they have a weird fiscal year, so the announcement came at the end of 1Q16). But I think it’s also clear that their announcement didn’t do them any favors, sales-wise.

It’s interesting as well that Target’s online sales actually grew significantly, meaning that the sales in their brick-and-mortar stores are even lower.

I think Target executives truly thought that people would appreciate their progressive sentiments, boosting sales in the young-and-hipstery demographic. They completely forgot about the don’t-screw-around-with-my-lifelong-bathroom-paradigm segment.

In Western culture restroom visits are personal and private, so over time society has developed codes of conduct in the shared environs of the public restroom. For example, there was a raft of comedy routines a few decades ago about men’s rules for using urinals – funny, but funny because it was true.

Turning all of that upside down because you believe that people should be allowed to redefine their gender whenever the whim strikes them, is offending 99.7% of the population to accommodate a supposed injustice to 0.3% of the population.

Run those demographics through your sales projections, Target.

The Latest Terrifying Video from Boston Dynamics February 27, 2017

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This is quite the technical achievement, but more than a little disturbing.

Introducing…the Infinite Jukebox February 26, 2017

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Your favorite song just not long enough? Tired of the same old arrangement every time you listen to it? Enter the Infinite Jukebox!!


WTH? You say?  Here’s how it works. The software analyzes the song you pick, and finds similarities between different sections of the song. It then teleports you to one of the similar sections.

And it never stops.

You can listen to the same song for the rest of your life, but it will keep changing the order of the musical phrases so that it never sounds the same.

I think this version isn’t going to be hugely successful, but as it improves, it could be a big player in the music scene.

When Graphics Outstrip the Message February 25, 2017

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Really cool, but pointless, graphic. I mean – does anybody really care?

The Tallest Building in Each State

But it sure is purty.

What’s Really Going on in Sweden? February 23, 2017

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I personally am not sure, though the Daily Mail’s article today seems pretty awful. But here are some factoids. First, have a look the graph of this funky statistic (“exposure to sex offenses”), shamelessly stolen from nice Swedish peoples.


Something is clearly afoot in recent years – something that can only be explained by increasing disrespect of women. But as to Sweden being the “Rape Capital of the World” due to recent immigration, I’m not seeing it (chart stolen again from those gullible Swedes):


Gorgeous Drainage February 23, 2017

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Somebody needs to use this in a movie before it disappears:

That’s a 72 foot-wide drain in Lake Berryessa up Napa Valley way. They’re draining it due to the high rains. Much more info here, though it’s accompanied by a lot of inanity…

Dedicated Obtusity, Salon-Style February 22, 2017

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I don’t think Salon’s doing well, but they’re certainly not thinking well. Here’s today’s exciting Salontweet:

There are the obvious observations that the Oklahoma City Bombing was not motivated by Christianity, and that it is terrorism outside the country that we are worried about bringing into the country (“During [2016], there were 2476 Islamic attacks in 59 countries, in which 21239 people were killed and 26677 injured.“).

But also…ummm…Salonperson? It’s not a contest – all terrorism is bad. Here was the response to the Oklahoma City Bombing:

  • We executed Timothy McVeigh.
  • Terry Nichols was sentenced to 161 life terms with no possibility of parole.
  • A crackdown on militia groups reduced their number from 370 in 1996 to 68 just three years later.
  • The GSA specified that federal buildings should be set back from the street, buildings should be engineered to prevent collapse, and shatterproof glass should be used. Concrete barriers were placed outside buildings, and x-ray scanners and armed guards were added to buildings. Daycares were banned from federal buildings.
  • Congress passed the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996.

If we took these measures to prevent homegrown threats from causing this sort of catastrophe, what measures would we take to thwart external threats?

Just because we have our own problems doesn’t mean that it’s OK to import more.

The Obama Legacy Just Keeps Giving February 22, 2017

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I don’t think I need to remind you of who mocked Mitt Romney’s concerns over Russia, nor who completely ignored this buildup on his watch:

Speaking to parliament, Shoigu said that the military received a sweeping array of new weapons last year, including 41 intercontinental ballistic missiles.

He added that the wide-ranging military modernization will continue this year, with the air force set to receive 170 new aircraft. The army will receive 905 tanks and other armored vehicles, and the navy will receive 17 new ships.

“Shoigu” is Sergei Shoigu, Russia’s defense minister.

Then there’s China:

China, in an early test of U.S. President Donald Trump, has nearly finished building almost two dozen structures on artificial islands in the South China Sea that appear designed to house long-range surface-to-air missiles, two U.S. officials told Reuters.

New Season of MST3K is Almost Here February 22, 2017

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April 14. On Netflix.

The crowdfunded 14-episode revival season of Mystery Science Theater 3000, the ’90s cult favorite about making fun of bad movies with your robot pals, will officially hit Netflix on April 14.
The crowdfunded MST3K revival project was announced in late 2015, and it managed to raise $6.3 million in Kickstarter pledges and other donations. The size of the project and the show’s enduring popularity 16 years after its cancellation attracted some reasonably big-name talent to the project both in front of and behind the camera, including Felicia Day and Patton Oswalt as series regulars and a list of guest stars that includes Jack Black, Joel McHale, Jerry Seinfeld, and Mark Hamill.

Bloomberg Follies February 22, 2017

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Not sure why I bothered, but I was just reading a Bloomberg article entitled, “Why Trump’s immigration crackdown could sink home prices.” The author gives several pointless anecdotes about immigrants suddenly not buying homes because they’re afraid of Trump’s immigration policies. And then he gives us this chart:

You can see in the header what he thinks the chart says: foreign-born ownership rates are buoying up the real estate market when domestic ownership declines. But the curves don’t show that at all: it may be true from 2005 – 2007, when domestic ownership slipped and foreign-born ownership kept rising, but in general it’s untrue.

Did he even look at the curves before he wrote the title of the chart?

Then you have to consider that the chart itself is meaningless. Trulia originally made the chart to show that foreign-born ownership rates are catching up with domestic-born ownership rates. The rate is just the percentage of people in that group who own homes, but it says nothing about how big the group is.

Since the number of foreign-born households is much smaller (1/6) than that of domestic-born households, you can see that the rate of foreign-born ownership would have to jump up 6 points for every point lost by domestic-born households. By directly comparing the curves like he did, he’s essentially lying to you.

The last point is that the darker interpretation of foreign-born home ownership is that it prices domestic-born potential owners out of the market. Guess he’s not worried about that.

I shouldn’t read Bloomberg.

Some Optical Illusions to Pass the Time February 21, 2017

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China’s Catching Up February 19, 2017

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I think I may have mentioned my concerns in this regard once or twice:

“Western military technological superiority, once taken for granted, is increasingly challenged,” Dr. John Chipman, Director-General and Chief Executive of IISS, said in a statement.

“We now judge that in some capability areas, particularly in the air domain, China appears to be reaching near-parity with the West.”