The Gauntlet of the Modern Mall

Can someone explain this to me?
Some bright marketer somewhere decided that shopping mall revenues weren’t high enough. In a burst of creativity, and noting all that wasted empty space in the middle of the halls (never mind those pesky shoppers), it was decided to populate this space with oh so charming pushcarts, just like those lovely street vendors we think we’re all so fond of.
Well, the pushcarts turned into kiosks, and the kiosks turned into little stores. Somewhere along the line those stores became the haven of cell phone vendors. Sprint, Verizon, T-Mobile, Nextel – they’re all there, several times over. Right next to each other. Where one could easily tag the other with a spitball.
So in this rich capitalistic cutthroat environment, the kiosk owners decided it wasn’t enough to let the customers come to the vendors. Since they had already moved the more obnoxious sales droids out of the small stores into the kiosks, the droids still weren’t satisfied. Now they needed to accost walkers-by with questions about their cell phone service.
Now, see, here’s where I lose it. I go to the mall to shop. Sometimes to get something to eat. If I’m interested in buying something, I will go into the store, or stop by the kiosk. If I’m walking by, and desperately avoiding eye contact with the salesperson, and perhaps even talking with my son running along side me, what POSSIBLE reasoning would lead you to decide to interrupt me with “Sir, may I ask you a question?”
Even worse, these freaks are preying on the social expectation that it’s considered rude say “No” in response to that. My answer to this is, fuck it, THEY’VE already broken the personal space barrier and intruded into my world, when I expressed absolutely no interest in their product or their services, and THEY are expecting me to defend myself as to why I am not interested in their product.
It really makes me consider NOT going to a mall because of these bozos. By the design of these space, I have no option other than to walk those halls to do my shopping there. What’s next, someone physically stopping you and not letting you pass until you prove you cannot possibly afford what they’re selling? How about the old vacuum cleaner tactic of spraying dirt on you so they can demonstrate what a cool cleaner they have.
And the malls wonder why retail sales are down, and online sales are up. Hey malls, here’s a prime example. If you make the shopping experience more annoying, people will stop coming to the malls.

The Unitarian Jihad speaks!

Jon Carroll, of the SF Chronicle posted an ‘anonymous mail’ he purportedly received from the Unitarian Jihad.
These guys mean business. Check out some of the choice quotes:

Greetings to the Imprisoned Citizens of the United States. We are Unitarian Jihad. There is only God, unless there is more than one God. The vote of our God subcommittee is 10-8 in favor of one God, with two abstentions. Brother Flaming Sword of Moderation noted the possibility of there being no God at all, and his objection was noted with love by the secretary.

Note – no Unitarians were harmed in the creation of this blog posting.

Pabst Blue Ribbon review

Mark A writes up a great review of some Pabst Blue Ribbon someone left over at his party…

This is a “crisp, clean” beer, which is a euphemism indicating that it has almost no flavor whatsoever. The back-taste is a bit disturbing, hinting lightly of skunk cabbage and Wonder Bread. It’s possible that the carbonation was due to the fermentation process, but I can’t escape the nagging suspicion that it was added just before canning with an infuser.

For some inexplicable reason, this beer comes in 16 ounce cans, rather than 12 ounce bottles. One theory is that Milwaukee, being situated on a Great Lake and being surrounded by bogs, had extra water that it needed to get rid of. Nonetheless, there is very little hint of swamp, indicating that some decent filtering happened.

Checklist for Living with Americans

I saw this come across a mailing list I’m on, and I asked the author (Bill Yerazunis) if I could re-post. The topic came up with someone who would be sharing space with a dozen or so North Americans shortly, and wanted to know what was socially acceptable behaviour…

10 rules for living with North Americans

  1. if it’s not yours, don’t eat it or drink it.
  2. Shower every day. Whether you need it or not. Use soap. And your own towel. same v. toothbrushing. And underwear.
  3. clean clothes every day is not *required*, but doesn’t hurt. Don’t go more than two days on a shirt or three days on pants.
  4. Politics are not off limits. One of America’s most precious rights is the right to diss the government. The president in particular is fair game.
  5. replace the toilet paper.
  6. Stay out of rooms whose owners are not there.
  7. If you leave a mess, do not be surprised to find the mess placed on
    your bed. This is the ONE exception to Rule #6.

  8. Do unto others as you would want them to do unto you.
  9. leaving an offering of sweets (especially chocolate) will never get you in trouble. Put a note on it like “Free! Eat!” to assure that Rule #1 will not be assumed.
  10. Don’t assume ANYTHING about a North American. They are definitely the MOST VARIED population on the planet. Everybody’s family is from “somewhere else” (including the Native Americans; they’re actually from Siberia). So, if you’re worried, ask honestly. Honesty is almost as prized a right as dissing the government. Conversely, don’t be offended if honesty is returned, even if the truth is not pleasant.

Monument to Chester Cheetah discovered on Moon!

In a stunning discovery, scientists at European Space Agency monitoring the progress of the SMART-1 lunar survey spacecraft have discovered what appears to be a monument carved in the Pythagoras Crater to Frito Lay’s ‘Chester the Cheetah’ mascot. This stunning discovery was made while reviewing pictures sent back from the probe during its passes over the lunar surface.

The famed cheetah, long thought to be only mildly compelling to intelligent beings outside the age range of 5-12, has apparently had quite a following on Luna, so much so that the occupants carved this huge image for all the cosmos to see.

More details on this story as events warrant!

Kids view on Classic Games

This is just too good not to share. Folks who read Slashdot have probably already seen this, but there’s a series of articles on 1up about a couple kids being sat down in front of some of our old cherished and beloved games and saying what they think of them. Some of my favorite quotes:
When playing the color vector ‘Star Wars’ game:

Rachel: This looks like a game out of Willy Wonka or something.
Bobby: It’s like, “I’m Willy Wonka. I’ve created a new Star Wars.”

When playing the old Atari ‘Adventure’ game:

Bobby: Stupid duck. I hate the duck. The duck is evil.
Parker: Go left, go left. Grab the arrow. That’s the only way you can kill the duck. You have to run that into the duck!

Talking about ‘Defender’:

EGM: Before this came out in compilations, we used to put quarters in arcade machines.
Parker: You wasted quarters on this?
EGM: Yeah.
Parker: That’s so sad.

I don’t feel too bad. I’ve already gotten Zach addicted to things like Pacman, Loderunner, and Tetris 8)

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Kitty talent

One of our housecats, Zhivago, hopped up on my desk a few minutes ago, turned in circles a few times, and plopped down on the keyboard to ‘endor’, the machine I’m building for CONGO work. The screen beeped a few times, fine, no harm there. Then I heard the unmistakable ‘clunk’ of a monitor changing sync rates.
Zhivago, while makin muffins on the keyboard, managed to key the sequence that causes X-windows to change resolution… Control-Alt-+.
I removed the keyboard from under the cat, only causing a slight pause in the purring, and put it aside. Zhivago remains, at this moment, in the middle of my desk.