A lesson in avoiding the question by Rakuten.com.

Twitter can be a great method for contacting a company for help with a problem. Often when I have a problem with some business that has a presence on Twitter I’ll take the time to compose a small rant in 140 characters or less and send it off into the Interwebs where I know someone associated with said company will see it. There’s a good chance I’ll get the help I’m looking for pretty quickly.

Twitter is also great for tweaking companies doing stupid things even when you don’t expect them to actually do anything to fix the problem. I did this recently with Rakuten.com. I bought something from them way back when they were still Buy.com and I’ve been getting daily emails about stuff they have on sale ever since. That purchase was easily 5 years or more ago and I’ve not been compelled to purchase anything from them in that time so I figured I may as well unsubscribe from the emails.

When I did I was notified that it would take 5 to 7 business days before the change would take effect. I blinked at the note and tried to figure out why the fuck it should take that long to unsubscribe me when signing me up was near instantaneous. Almost all the other online stores whose email ads I’ve unsubscribed from managed to do it within moments with maybe a couple saying a day or so. What the fuck was Rakuten doing that it takes 5 to 7 business days? This prompted me to send out this tweet:

It took them a couple of hours to notice the tweet at which point they replied with this:

I was amused by the fact that rather than answer the question they simply assumed I was an idiot who didn’t know how to unsubscribe from their email advertisements. So I sent the next two tweets in reply:

It took them a few hours, but they came back with this reply:

Well that’s reassuring I suppose, but it still doesn’t answer the question so I tried again:

I figured at this point they’d give up and it looked like they had, until about 26 minutes ago:

I’ve not bothered to reply again as it’s clear that they’re not going to answer the question. Probably because the person running their Twitter account doesn’t know what the answer is. I thought that maybe I could prompt them into saying that they were working to improve their system for a speedier result in the future, but no such luck.

Like I said, I didn’t really expect them to do much about the situation, but I thought they’d at least offer some sort of explanation for the lengthy delay. Maybe some poor sap has to look at each request and approve it? Maybe they have so many people trying to opt out of their emails and they have a shitty server that’s overwhelmed by the load? Maybe they’re hoping I’ll change my mind before it actually stops sending me emails?

Nope. It’s going to take 5 to 7 business days and fuck you for asking why.

Happy New Year 2015!

It’s a brand spanking new year! A time for hope, optimism, and resolutions to be better people that we’ll break before the month is over. I stopped making new year resolutions long ago because I’m a terrible person and have little hope of ever maintaining them, but when I did try to make promises I knew I couldn’t keep I’d often resolve to have a higher opinion of my fellow man.

Then I’d go on Twitter and see tweets like this:

And my resolution would be broken instantly. You can’t have a worldwide population of 7,285,099,800 (as of two seconds ago) and not have a few folks out there who are, to put it politely, clueless about certain things like the age of the world. In case you thought David was an isolated case, well, nope:

There’s tons more of these tweets out there and it’s clear that many of them are meant to be jokes or are simply attempts at getting retweeted for the attention it’ll garner them. (Some folks will take whatever Twitter fame they can get no matter how stupid it makes them look.) The ones I posted above I couldn’t confirm for certain weren’t jokes, but there wasn’t anything to indicate that they were. Indubitably there are certainly some folks out there who are this clueless and the fact that it’s often difficult to tell the jokers from the serious ones makes the number of folks who really think this is true uncomfortably large for maintaining faith in mankind.

In short, my cynicism is pumped up yet again. There’s a part of me that hopes that all of these folks are just yanking our collective chain and no one really thinks the Earth is a mere 2015 years old, but given how common lazy thinking is I’m sure that there are some out there who do. On the bright side, it gives me something to blog about in the new year.

It’s called The White House for a reason…

So… these people exist:

Technically, the statement is correct. It is called The White House for a reason. Because in 1901 that’s what President Theodore Roosevelt decided should be its official name. Prior to that it was variably called the Presidential Mansion, President’s Palace, and President’s House with official usage being the Executive Mansion up until Roosevelt slapped “White House–Washington” onto the official letterhead.

But that’s not the reason these people are thinking of. You can even see that some of them recognize it for the racist statement it is. That’s the best argument they have for voting for Romney. Not that his policies are better. Not that he’ll do a better job. Only because he’s white and the current President is black.

Found over at Despicable Tweets.

A collection of post-Christmas tweets that will leave you despairing for the human race.

There are some folks in this would that you just can’t make happy no matter what you do for them or what you give them. Take, for example, this bunch of numbnuts bitching about not getting an iPhone, iPad, or car for Christmas:

Click to embiggen if you can handle whiny, entitled morons.

I know there are a lot of folks out there who have an over-inflated sense of entitlement, but it’s still somewhat stunning to have it collected all in one place as effectively as Twitter manages to do it. Of course it’s difficult to tell how many of these tweets are serious and how many of them were done as a poor attempt at humor, but even if it’s only a couple that are real there’s still some serious sense enhancing slappage to be handed out.

I mean I was a kid once and I know what it’s like to not get something on Christmas you were really hoping to get. Or, worse, getting something you were really hoping not to (read: new socks), but as far as I can recall I was never so upset that I threw a tantrum about it. At least not past the age of five. I still tended to get plenty of cool things that I was appreciative of, but more importantly I appreciated the fact that people took the time and effort, not to mention the money, to go out and get me something they thought I’d love to have. Even more so when times are tough and money is tight. Even new socks can be worthwhile when the ones you have are full of holes. Hell, I feel grateful that my family considers me worth the aggravation and cost of shopping for during what is one of the most stressful times of the year.

Granted, these days it’s a lot easier than it was in the past. Between online shopping and Amazon.com wish lists I’m a pretty easy guy to shop for. I try to make sure my wish list has plenty of lesser expensive items that I’d love to get on it so folks don’t have to spend an arm and a leg to make my dreams come true, but I keep a couple of more expensive items for anyone who’s feeling particularly generous. Sometimes I get a big ticket item and sometimes I don’t, but I make it pretty easy to ensure that I’ll love whatever it is you get me and I try not to get my heart set on any one thing.

But perhaps I’m being unfair. As an adult I know that anything I really, desperately want that I don’t get at Christmas/Birthdays/Whatever I can eventually just buy for myself sooner or later. Maybe these kids just don’t realize that yet. Or maybe they don’t have the means outside of the generosity of their families and friends.

Or, more likely, maybe what they really need is a good smack or two upside their greedy little heads…

 

More of that fabled Christian love. It really was…

More of that fabled Christian love.

It really was amazing to see some of the reactions to the death of Christopher Hitchens and the rise of the Twitter hashtag that was the title of one of his best selling books. You have to wonder if these people really think Jesus would approve of their statements. The scary part is that many of them are serious. #google+ #religion #twitter #assholes

Theists Threaten to Kill Atheists, Again.

Earlier this year Blair Scott did an interview on Fox News and it stirred up the religious rage against Atheists. Hateful comments filled the Fox News’ Facebook page. Christians were saying things like, “I hope someone rapes you” and “Atheists are scum, can we start killing them now?” All these threats were in response to Scott questioning the constitutionality of a cross being included at the 9/11 Memorial.
Hatred must lay just beneath the surface for many theists (of which I suspect many ar…

Because that’s what Jesus would do, right?

Feel the Christian love:

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/Walken4GOP/status/66439611425107968″]

That’s your typical GOP supporter these days. Wishing for the gold old days when they could just kill you.

SEB 30 Second Review: $#*! My Dad Says.

Pic of logo for "Shit My Dad Says"To say that I was skeptical when I first heard news that there were plans to turn the hysterically funny Twitter feed @shitmydadsays into a sitcom is probably an understatement. The fact that the network planning to do this was CBS only deepened said skepticism, but when they announced that William Shatner was going to star as the grumpy dad I figured I should at least give it a shot. So I waited until I had a chance to watch the first two episodes and my conclusion is that I was right to be skeptical. It’s a pretty standard sitcom that utterly fails to be as hysterical as the real-life people it’s purportedly based on. It’s not the worst sitcom on TV at the moment, but it’s not very good either and I think there are two reasons why it fails.

Reason #1: It tries to turn what is essentially R-rated source material into PG13 family viewing. Sam Halpern, the seventy-three-year-old dad of Justin Halpern (who does the Twittering), does not mince his words when dispensing the wisdom he has collected over his lifetime. He says what he means and he swears like a sailor while doing so. Take, for example, this bit of advice on not taking your job too seriously:

“Look, we’re basically on earth to shit and fuck. So unless your job’s to help people shit or fuck, it’s not that important, so relax.”

Or how about this nugget on pessimism/optimism:

“No, I’m not a pessimist. At some point the world shits on everybody. Pretending it ain’t shit makes you an idiot, not an optimist.”

How about one more on offensive language:

“They’re offended? Fuck, shit, asshole, shitfuck; they’re just words…Fine. Shitfuck isn’t a word, but you get my point.”

I think you can see why it’s one of my favorite Twitter feeds to follow. Justin doesn’t update it very often, but when he does it’s usually worth the wait.

Now check out some of the lines from the pilot episode:

“If it looks like manure and smells like manure, it’s either Wolf Blitzer or manure.”

Then there’s this:

DMV Clerk: [pointing to an eye chart on the wall] “Can you tell me what the top-most image is?”

Ed: “Two squirrels fornicating.”

I realize that they can’t use the words “shit” and “fucking” on CBS, but it would’ve made both lines a lot funnier and a lot truer to the real person if they had. I suppose if you’re completely unfamiliar with the Twitter feed then it might be amusing, but if you are then it just comes across as amazingly watered down. This is a show that doesn’t belong on CBS and it suffers because of it. The shocking coarseness and honesty of the Twitter feed is scrubbed clean from the TV series.

But even if it were on HBO or Showtime it’s still likely it wouldn’t have worked because of…

Reason #2: It’s a show based on a god-damned Twitter feed! At 140 characters per entry and being only sporadically updated (one post every couple of weeks or so) means that there’s not a lot of source material to work with. Justin did write a memoir with the same name as the Twitter feed that has been selling well, but from what I can tell (I haven’t read it) the sitcom doesn’t use it much at all.

The names of the characters in the show are different from the people they are based on. Justin Halpern has become “Henry Goodson” and his dad, Sam, has become “Ed.” However, the changes go deeper than just the names. The other two primary characters, a dopey brother and his wife, are even more distant from their real-life inspirations based on interviews Justin has given since the show went into production. Justin’s mother appears to have been written out of the sitcom altogether as the implication I got from the pilot is that “Ed’s” wife is dead whereas the real Mrs. Halpern is still alive and putting up with her husband. Part of the problem is that none of the characters ring true and instead they come off as standard sitcom stereotypes that are, at best, pale imitations of their real-life inspirations. There is a brutal honesty and edginess to the Twitter feed which makes it funny and that is totally absent from any of the characters on the show.

Now you might be tempted to blame all of that on the network not understanding the source material, but the fact is that Justin pitched the show to CBS and is heavily involved in its production. He has had a hand in the development of the series from the beginning so presumably all of the changes made met with his approval. There’s been nothing in any of the interviews he’s given that suggests the changes were made to protect the privacy of the people involved. He just thought the changes were in the best interest of the show. I suppose if you just want to make another standard sitcom for CBS then he was probably correct in those choices, but he probably should’ve changed the name of the show while he was at it. Here’s a better title for the show:  Just Another Generic Dysfunctional Family Sitcom.

Granted that probably wouldn’t bring in the big ratings, but at least it would be honest.

Google’s inclusion of Twitter in searches is stunningly fast.

Google has added a number of new features over the past few months that I’m just starting to play with. Two of them are integration of real-time tweets from Twitter into search results and the ability to sort search results by how recent they are. Sure, I had heard that Google was going to be doing these things, but it didn’t really strike home just how amazing that is until just a little while ago when I tweeted about Disney’s upcoming Wii-exclusive game Epic Mickey which looks like it’ll be an incredible game.

I’d love to play it, but it’s the only game on the Wii that I’m actually interested in and I’m not buying a Wii for just one game and I said as much in a tweet. I then followed up with a tweet mentioning how Warren Specter, the head designer on the game, has said that it originally started out being intended for the Xbox 360, PS3, and PC and that any port to those platforms would be up to Disney to decide.

Then I decided to do a Google search for “Epic Mickey PS3” to see if perhaps there was any word about a possible port now that the PlayStaion Move is due out in the Fall which will bring Wii-like motion control to the PS3. To be sure I got recent news I hit the Latest button on the Google search and this is the page that popped up:

Pic of Google Search results.

Click to embiggen!

Go ahead and click the pic to make it bigger. See those two circled bits? Those are the two tweets I made about the game just prior to doing the search. When Google said real-time inclusion they weren’t kidding around!

The speed of Google’s searches are already mind boggling when you think about the amount of computing power they must be using, I can only imagine how much more power they’re burning up to include tweets from Twitter mere minutes after they’ve happened. Maybe I’m just easily impressed, but this made me pause for a moment and say “Wow!”

As for Epic Mickey on the PS3, Disney hasn’t ruled it out and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it happen. At least I hope it does as the game looks incredible.

Feel the True Believer love!

Hoo boy, it’s amazing the kind of uproar that new-fangled Twitter thingy can cause. It seems earlier today the words “No God” became what the Twitterettes call a “Trending Topic” and all hell broke loose. Theists were confused, upset, outraged, and horrified that the phrase “No God” could be the number one trending topic. Meanwhile us atheists were quite amused at the ruckus it was causing and some of the stunning tweets it was generating from the True Believers™.

The common assumption among the theists was that this was all due to us nasty atheists out on a God bashing spree, but the truth is it all got started when someone posted that cloying cliche: “No God, No Peace, Know God, Know Peace.” Apparently Twitter has a funky way of determining what the relevant words in a tweet are and, as the phrase was repeatedly retweeeted by the faithful, it made “No God” a trending topic. Which then led to what is the other amusing aspect of this thread: The numerous clueless TBs who kept posting tweets such as this one:

@TechNoteDaGreat How did no god become a tt

I can answer that. In part it happened because a lot of clueless Twats Twits Tweeters kept asking how it became a Trending Topic. Every time one of these morons used the words “No God” in their tweets asking how it became a trending topic they helped to bolster that trend. Many of the outraged felt they should do something to knock it from the top spot yet they kept using the words “No God” in their tweets thus helping to ensure it stayed number one. You’d think the logic of this would be self-evident, but it left many TBers confused and angry.

Personally I had a great time watching the thread grow and taking potshots at some of the more stupid arguments being tossed into the fray. Pascal’s wager, which I saw stated in hip-hop terms for the first time ever, was a popular one as was the “without God there’s no purpose, no love, no blah blah blah” line of reasoning. Which isn’t to say they didn’t have anything new that I hadn’t heard before. For example. did you know that God is the reason you wake up in the morning? It’s true! According to many TBers who say it ain’t the alarm clock that wakes your sorry ass up, but God. ***Dave asked if that meant he could blame God if he overslept and was late to work. Sounds logical to me. A comment that probably would’ve gotten him lumped in with us Godless heathens had he not sent it straight to me.

Anyway, the point I wanted to get to is this: I’m sometimes accused of being overly harsh or rude to the True Believers™ when they come around. I’m told I am disrespectful and intolerant and that I should be more like the even-handed Christians I’m accused of bashing. I always find that amusing when I come across tweets like the following which I’ve placed after the jump to tidy things up.

These are presented here in all their original glory with no alterations from me save a couple of spaces here and there for legibility.

@TeamJuliony FYI, if there was no God, I wouldnt of met Julian 3 times, or all the other celebs I did & i would of killed myself yrs ago

@TeamJuliony: (in reply to) @lesjenkins Have a nice time burning in hell. And for the record, MIND YOUR OWN FUCKING BUSINESS, SATAN.

@KymberlyReneeJ If there is No God WOW you athiest have gone 2 an all time high of disrespect Y don’t yall go play russian roulette with a fully loaded GUN

@prettii_black RT @BigSDot That no God topic is pissing me off #yesgod #yesgod #yesgod #yesgod, damn atheist! < -TELL EM!

@cantdoitlikemee RT @betty_newmoon May God’ve mercy on those hu r sayin No God <

< I concur. People are fucking stupid these days!!! >

:/

@itsqianajones I am truely disappointed that No God is a Trending Topic. It’s Sad. Dumbass Athiests.

@Blackanesebbyy i’m assuming all the ppl who say there is No God are white supremacist as well. smh.

@melmerbay Wow the trending topic about no god makes me want to cry, hope all the non believers burn in hell, I say that with love.

no god….NO gOD.. you disgust me you non believers! to hell with all of you (via @AJK92) No god? what is this fuckery? o_0(via @klssothl89)

You can find more examples of True Believer love here.

Truth is I’ve been spoiled by the folks who visit SEB. We don’t tend to get too many of these sorts of True Believers™ by the site much these days—which is probably for the best as it’d be like shooting fish in a barrel—so when I encounter them elsewhere I’m always amazed at the simplicity of their arguments. Of course Twitter is hardly conducive to a decent debate given its 140 character limit on messages, but still you’d hope that the level of discourse would have some thought behind it.

Ultimately Twitter ended up yanking “No God” from the trending topics list because the thread was killing their servers, the Twitter Fail Whale showed up several times, and the service was quickly accused by many of censorship. I doubt that was the reason it was pulled as opposed to simply trying to stay sane in the face of crushing server utilization. It quickly popped back up and they then turned around and merged it with “Know God” which is how it appears in the TT now much to the delight of the Theists who wanted it gone.  One went as far as to claim God, and not Twitter, was responsible for removing “No God” from the Trending Topics list.

Which is another thing that amazes me about Twitter. It’s a great way to remind yourself of the crushing stupidity and gullibility that exists in this country. In my day-to-day life I don’t come across too many True Believers™ and the few I do are usually in a setting where it would be inappropriate to discuss such topics (e.g. at work). Given that my peers are generally of similar point of view it can be easy at times to forget that a lot of people are just plain old idiots. Watching the news will give you a taste, but stepping into a Trending Topic on Twitter will hit you full force with it and really bring the point home. It’s probably good for my sanity that I don’t dip my toes into that end of the gene pool too often.

Because that amount of stupid can leave you with severe burns.

NASA’s LCROSS tribute to Douglas Adams on Twitter.

Somebody at NASA is a fan of Douglas Adams Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series:

Nasa’s LCROSS lunar mission uses Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – The Guardian

In one of its less-reported actions last week, Nasa’s LCROSS lunar mission last week gave Douglas Adams‘s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy the extra-planetary exposure it has always deserved. A Twitter feed from the satellite sent crashing onto the moon‘s surface on Friday channelled the voice of an improbably created sperm whale that discovers itself hurtling towards a different outer-space collision in Adams’s much-loved story.

Published 30 years ago, the classic novel features two missiles, aimed at Zaphod Beeblebrox’s spaceship the Heart of Gold, turned into a whale and a bowl of petunias by the vessel’s Improbability Drive (at an Improbability Factor of 8,767,128 against). The whale spends the last few minutes of its life pondering its existence – “Ahhh! Woooh! What’s happening? Who am I? Why am I here? What’s my purpose in life? What do I mean by who am I?” – before it crashes into the surface of the planet Magrathea.

As Nasa’s LCROSS spacecraft travelled towards the moon at more than 9,000 kilometres per hour on Friday afternoon, it tweeted in the whale’s words: “And what’s this thing coming toward me very fast? So big and flat and round … it needs a big wide sounding name like ‘Ow’, ‘Ownge’, ‘Round’, ‘Ground’! … That’s it! Ground! Ha! I wonder if it’ll be friends with me?”

Then it crashed into the moon, unfortunately failing to produce the 10km plume of dust and rock which could have been scanned for evidence of frozen water. Nasa made no mention of Adams’s bowl of petunias, which thought only “Oh no, not again” as it tumbled towards Magrathea.

“Many people have speculated that if we knew exactly why the bowl of petunias had thought that we would know a lot more about the nature of the universe than we do now,” wrote Adams in 1979.

That is pure awesome! I checked the Twitter feed and it’s still there. Made me giggle with geek pride it did.