Error: Fatal Error in Error Reporting; Please Report This Error!

If stupidity came in styles, like prose and poetry do, this would be a Stupidity Haiku:


Better yet, if stupidity were music, this would be a “round,” like “Row, Row, Row Your Boat”.

(In case it’s not obvious to the non-technical reader, this “bounce” message, adjuring the recipient to contact,  is being returned for all mail sent to

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Here are two current model First Alert™ smoke detectors, placed as someone might mount them on their bedroom wall. What’s wrong with this picture?


Answer: The smoke detector on the left is mounted in an improper orientation.

That’s right—according to the instructions, which are very specific about this, this smoke detector is to be mounted only in the orientation shown to the right: logo inexplicably sideways, with all visual features presented asymmetrically.

What has happened to a manufacturer’s pride in his product? Is it even rational to believe that it was technically impossible to design the guts of this detector in the proper orientation to work, while simultaneously constructing a cover for it that doesn’t immediately do violence to everyone’s most primal aesthetic sensibilities? Is the company not even ashamed to have its own corporate logo running in an awkward direction on its own product for absolutely no logical reason?

Of course, as a consumer, the final insult in this product is the curse of being forever judged by every future houseguest to be a doofus-class handyman who doesn’t even care enough to mount a smoke detector “correctly.”

Next time I’m in the market for life safety equipment, I believe I’m going to pass on buying any product made by a company whose whole design ethic fairly screams, “We just don’t care.”

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Review: ChannelMaster CM7400 OTA DVR

Though I’ve been a technology careerist my entire life, I’m not one of those consumer types who just has to replace older gear that is perfectly adequate to my needs simply in order to have the newest gadgets. So it wasn’t until a couple months ago, when my long-suffering VCR began failing, that I began looking for a digital video recorder (DVR).

To further cement my image as a dinosaur, let me mention that my TV service is over-the-air (OTA) exclusively. First off, I’ve never lived anywhere where cable (or pizza delivery) was available; and as for satellite, I subscribe to the philosophy of Fred Reed, who once observed that “if the good lord chose to make idiots, that was his business, but I wasn’t going to pay thirty bucks a month to look at them.” The Phoenix area has a plethora of digital OTA stations and networks, and they do for me just fine.

For whatever reason, those of us looking for an subscription-free OTA-capable DVR have really only one choice available in the marketplace, and that’s the ChannelMaster CM7400. [Update, 4/2014: This is no longer the case. The TiVo line now records OTA, and is so much better.]

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Tycho Brahe Had A Word For It

The word was “hose.”

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The King’s Days Off

Yesterday, I drove around doing errands. I stopped at the exterminator’s, to renew my service contract. I picked up my order of logo’ed work shirts from the local embroidery shop. I filled up the car, then stopped off at Subway to do likewise for myself. I visited Ace to pick up a replacement for a broken light fixture. My final stop was at the Post Office to fetch the mail.

But wait—there was no mail, and the Post Office was closed. Ah, that’s right—it was Columbus Day, a national holiday.

We live in a time when even national holidays have become perverted. The “little people” work their jobs to earn what they can to stave off the bill collectors and the tax man, while the “holiday” serves as a handy extra day off for the ruling class and the overpaid government employees. Seriously, what fairness is there in declaring “holidays” that only the government (and their regulated, captive industries such as banks) get to enjoy?

Arizona was branded as racist for refusing (for many years) to adopt Martin Luther King Day as an official holiday. But could there have been another reason? Namely, that nobody really needs another “holiday” that means time off for our “public sector” rulers, and squat for anybody else? Surely I’ve never gotten a Martin Luther King Day off work anywhere I have ever lived—how about you?

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Last Call at The Last Mall

About once a week, I get email from Sam’s Club listing “this week’s top sellers.” I am constantly flabbergasted to see this item appear right up at the top of the list at least three out of every four weeks:

Survival Food at Sam's Club

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Paste and Paste

Vampires, werewolves, witches, voodoo priestesses — I’ve never been intrigued by the whole “urban fantasy” fad, which in my opinion mostly consists of hackneyed horror movie clichés marinated in estrogen. I’m reminded of the Simpsons episode where Lisa’s fantasy novel is cookie-cut by a committee until it is nothing more than a copy of everybody else’s.

So when I saw the following catalog page in the monthly Science Fiction Book Club mailer, I had to wonder:

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