Category Archives: Weird

Amazon Advantage

So, I’ve been trying to set up a page for my book at Amazon. So far, color me very unimpressed.

The Advantage site has a form to fill out with book description, author bio, and three reviews. It very clearly states:

You don’t need to use HTML to fill out the edit boxes below – just type normally. However, if you’d like to use advanced formatting, you may use HTML to indicate breaks, boldface or italics.
<P> = a paragraph break <BR> = a line break
<b> </b> = boldface <i> </i> = italics.
Example: The <b>quick</b> brown fox <i>jumped over</i> the lazy dog.<BR>

Well, I kind of like paragraphs. Call me crazy, but that’s just how I roll. So I put in some <p>s, and bolded the names of the reviewers.

When I saved my work, it didn’t display the HTML properly, instead showing the code. Moreover, it had removed the second two reviews, and attributed the first one to the second reviewer.

I scratched my head, and went back int to edit, reinserting the other two reviews, and straightening out the reviewer names. I hit “View” and got exactly the same thing. HTML still in the code, no graf breaks, and the second two reviews disappeared, with the wrong reviewer name on the first.

I send a complaint to Amazon (via a web form, so I have no record of it, unless I had the foresight to copy it somewhere, which I didn’t). Here is the response:

Dear Vendor,

I apologize for the inconvenience caused.

Please be informed that when you update any information using update item content and then click submit button, everything will get disappear. However please be informed that the same will appear on the website in 5-7 days.

I request you to update the information without using HTML tags.

As you have the limit to add only 3 reviews, I request you to write back to us with the reviews that you wish to add and we will do the needful.

Thank you for selling with Amazon,

Sowjanya Reddy T.
Member Services
Amazon.com Advantage

So, they can’t show me what the page is actually going to look like until it goes live, and despite the fact that they clearly invite me to use HTML, they then request that I not do so. Which means that I can’t do so much as break paragraphs.

I’m kind of gobsmacked. I mean, this is fricking’ Amazon.

Auto Insurance Spam

Every day my inbox (or rather, my spam box) is flooded with spam telling me about how “auto rates” are going down (presumably it means insurance, though the word is often not mentioned). Usually, the subject is something like “The president has passed a new law reducing your rates,” or “Washington has passed a new law…”

Well, today, I got my first Pope auto-rate spam:

Subject: New Pope Equals Lower Auto Rates? Yes – See Why.

– – – – New Pope Announcement Has Major Impact On Your Auto Rates – – – –

The new pontiff – Francis The 1st is already having a dramatic impact on auto rates. Did you know the month a new pope is elected is always the safest month to drive of the year? This is why major auto insurers have come together to lower auto rates to $3.75/month for drivers who sign up during the month of March who reside in low-risk driving zip codes

See if your area qualifies for the new rates by visiting the link below and entering your zip code. Should you qualify, expect your rates to drop and budget accordingly.

Needless to say, I didn’t click on the link below, but you have to give them marks for creativity in coming up with idiot bait.

Josh Earnest

Am I the only one struck by the almost Dickensian poetry of that name for a White House spokesperson? Particular as it seem oxymoronic. Are we supposed to use the first, or last name as a guide to the veracity of statements made? Given the many absurd statements coming out of this White House, particularly lately, I’m going to go with the former.

Really, Facebook?

I just got this email from them:

Steve Mims mentioned you in a comment.

Steve wrote: “The ACLU wholeheartedly supports Senator Paul’s efforts to make the Obama administration explain why it feels it has the right to kill Americans on American soil when they are not attacking America.

http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2013/03/06/Exclusive-ACLU-backs-Rand Simberg

Apparently the bot that makes these connections is confusing me with Rand Paul, to the point that it’s actually substituting my name for his.

[Update a few minutes later]

OK, I’ve deleted the link to the Facebook discussion, per comments.

[Update a while later]

OK, here‘s a safer link to the original FB post.

Strange Spam Du Jour

I just go this from the UK, subject, “Contract Dispute”:

Attention:

We seek an attorney who handles breach of contract matters.Let us know if
your firm takes such cases.

Thank you
Edward Scholes.

No attachment, no web site to click through, nothing, but it has a return address and a reply-to of someone with that name. What is the purpose of this?

I guess one (bizarre) possibility is that it’s exactly what it would appear to be — someone looking for an attorney, and spamming the Internet to find one. It’s not like it costs anything. But you might get a lot more responses, many of them scams themselves, than you know what to do with.

Peace, Love And Rape

Well, it’s easy to see why this guy would want to be sure women are disarmed:

Jerome is an expert on what kind of guns can be used to protect someone, since he is the kind of guy that people buy guns to protect against.

But according to him, you don’t need an AK-47 or M16 to stop him from raping you. It’s just overkill. When Jerome bursts into your bedroom, you don’t need that much firepower, says the guy bursting into your bedroom.

Senator Feinstein needs to bring Jerome down to D.C. as an expert witness so he can testify on just how much firepower a woman needs to defend herself from him. And maybe Piers Morgan can have him on too.

This is just insane.

How Much Would A Death Star Really Cost?

To the disappointment of thousands who signed the petition, the Obama administration recently informed us that it has, and will have no plans to build a Star-Wars-style death star. Now, there may indeed be good reasons to forgo this addition to the nation’s defense, but the first one listed, that it would cost 850 quadrillion dollars, was based on an extremely flawed estimate. Which isn’t surprising, because among the people doing the estimating, only one has any experience in aerospace engineering (and probably none in costing of such projects). Continue reading

A Novel Means Of Cooking A Steak

Not a very effective one, though:

To break the sound barrier, you’ll need to drop the steak from about 50 kilometers. But this isn’t enough to cook it.

We need to go higher.

If dropped from 70 kilometers, the steak will go fast enough to be briefly blasted by 350°F air. Unfortunately, this blast of thin, wispy air barely lasts a minute—and anyone with some basic kitchen experience can tell you that a steak placed in the oven at 350 for 60 seconds isn’t going to be cooked.

From 100 kilometers—the formally defined edge of space—the picture’s not much better. The steak spends a minute and a half over Mach 2, and the outer surface will likely be singed, but the heat is too quickly replaced by the icy stratospheric blast for it to actually be cooked.

I think I’ll stick to my IR grill. Though it might be fun to apply for a NASA grant as a suborbital research payload.

Coconut Pineapple

D’oh!

Australian scientists have created a pineapple that tastes like a coconut. It took them ten years to develop, but the fruit dubbed as the “piña colada pineapple” wasn’t exactly what they were trying to create.

Scientists, from a government agency in Queensland, were initially trying to develop a new variety of a sweeter, juicier pineapple but instead, created a coconut flavored one and now call it the AusFestival.

I just noticed that both words in the title are combinations of two types of vegetation. Sort of like Palmolive™.

Tortured Logic

The Sixth Court of Appeals has narrowly ruled that it is unconstitutional for the people of Michigan to ban racial discrimination.

An insane ruling like this will have to be resolved by SCOTUS.

[Update a few minutes later]

Jonathan Adler has more. Eugene Volokh thinks it likely to go to SCOTUS, and Stuart Benjamin thinks that they’ll likely overturn it by a large margin. He doesn’t say which two justices may rule in favor. Maybe Breyer and Ginsburg?

[Update a few minutes later]

Sorry, link now goes to the ruling, not the Twinkie story.

[Update a while later]

Here’s some background.