Category Archives: Annoyances
Another TED Talk’s too-good-to-be-true research comes into question. What a surprise.
Geoffrey Pullum receives a solicitation of editing services.
The laugh point came when I reached this astonishingly unidiomatic statement:
On the receipt of a manuscript, we will make do to immediately send to you, the Manuscript Identification Number and the Manuscript Processing Fee, taking cognizance of the pages of the received manuscript, within one hour.
This showed up on VH-1 this morning. It’s easily the dullest, lamest video that the 80s has to offer.
Peter and Tuska are part of a colony on the planet Oasis. Far from being alien or exotic, living conditions on USIC’s base are designed to be stiflingly mundane, right down to the piped-in music:
They were sitting at a table in the USIC mess hall. Tuska was tucking into spaghetti Bolognese (whiteflower spaghetti, whiteflower “mince,” imported tomato sauce, imported herbs) and Peter was eating a pancake (100 percent local). The air was full of noises: the sound of rain pelting rhythmically against the windows, the mingled conversations of other employees, the clattering of metal trays, the scraping of chairs, the opening and shutting of doors, and Frank Sinatra crooning “My Funny Valentine.” It all seemed a grossly excessive amount of bustle and chatter to Peter, but he knew the problem was his perception, and he must try to get in the swing of it. The metaphorical swing, that is: no amount of effort could reconcile him to Frank Sinatra.—Michel Faber, The Book of Strange New Things, chap. 17
It’s a good week for the clueless ones.
Here’s a snippet of an e-mail solicitation I received. At least I think I’m being solicited: it’s a little hard to tell.
Subject: Natural One Way Link Building Proposal
Hope you are doing well.
We would like to inform you that, We cant go ahead with you your email because of Google’s Penguin, Panda and Hummingbird updates. In Sept -2013 maximum websites was affected by Google’s updates and to reflect these loss we ware stooped the work. Now, we come out of these updates and now we have continued the work again. We want to aware that we build one link for each keyword in a day and we give you min 100 links/month for each website. if you have more keyword then we build more links. By Google’s parameters we can’t over optimized websites. more package : [REDACTED]
But we are come back to you with some special offer of this November regarding link building campaign, now purchase our link packages then you will get
If you want to purchase our Platinum Package online then please visit: [REDACTED] If you will see 200 links online then don’t worry about it we will provide you 10% extra links.
If you interested in our service then send me site details and we will start work for your project from next working day and you will get report accordingly.
We will provide weekly update of the off page links. So that, you can check the progress of your project of weekly basis.
We wish you the best of luck for your business and looking forward to a long and healthy business relationship with you and your company.
Work with us and you would see the difference.
Head of Technical Department
Allan Savory gives a rubbish science TED talk and gets 2M page views. George Manbiot looks at the peer-reviewed literature and finds no evidence to back up Savory’s claims.
When faced with the claims of a Savory, Leta and I like to quote Brick Pollitt, in the last line of the play as Williams originally wrote it: “Wouldn’t it be funny if that was true?”
Leta responds to misdirected customer complaints and requests for service.
Dear Ms. Hall,
Is the meat in tsc’s tsatziki steak flatbread conventionally raised or organic?
Nicholas Lund compiles videos of birds sticking it to UAVs.
So add “environmental mayhem” to the list of things the FAA needs to consider before developing rules for Amazon’s drone delivery, or else be prepared to receive books scarred by talon swipes and beak pecks.
Recently in my e-mail I received a well-crafted if spammy solicitation to participate in a link farm. Not too many clues in the body of the message, most everything conventionally spelled, punctuated, and capitalized.
First I’d like to say you have a great page at http://www.ahoneyofananklet.com/2006/11/10/mother-of-hundreds/. My name is Christina and I am a science teacher in London. I also try and write helpful (hopefully!) articles and guides whenever I find a topic I think I can help with. I have bookmarked some of your links for future reference and projects – thanks.
I ran across a dead resource on your page. The Botanical Gardens of The Huntington link is broken , but I have a related article here [redacted URL]. Just thought it might be of interest to you and your viewers.
Thanks for the great page, keep exploring!
The referenced page was little more than a link to a rather fine Botany Photo of the Day; hardly a trove of “links for future reference and projects.” My link was indeed broken (and easily repaired). The suggested replacement link, although it had nothing to do with the Huntington, led to a page with a few generic paragraphs about organic gardening worthy of Demand Media (written in American, not British English), but the payload was in the co.uk domain of the link: the root page of that domain flogs garden sheds.
Try again, old chap.
Geoffrey K. Pullum marks up a distinctly clumsy Nigerian scam e-mail message.
Strange though it may seem, the scammer’s best interests are served if the email doing the phishing is ludicrously incompetent and transparently suspicious. He isn’t after you or me; he’s after the poor, lonely, gullible, housebound pensioner next door, the rare uninformed shut-in who has never heard of Nigerian scams and for whom the dream of a windfall will be attractive enough to justify handing over a bank account authorization password.
Nathaniel Rich shares my mistrust of airport body scanners. Like him, I consider the scanners personally intrusive and carrying unknown health risks.
…an investigative report in 2011 by ProPublica and PBS NewsHour concluded that the X-ray scanners, then still in use, could cause cancer in 6 to 100 United States airline passengers every year, and that the European Union banned those machines because of health concerns.
(I was unaware of the “cancer cluster” associated with Logan Airport that he mentions, but I’m not surprised.) More to the point, I think they are an egregious misplacement of resources. Like the security bollards that sprang up around federal buildings in the 1990s, body scanners a splendid example of “fighting the last war” thinking.
The way I look at it, if the TSA is going to waste time and money to invade my space, let’s make it personal. Someone has to lay hands on me. Bring on the patdown. Rich’s gambit of trying to pick the line with the metal detector doesn’t work for me.
Contrary to his experience, in the few times that I have “opted out,” as they say, my inspector has always been respectful and prompt. No one has tried to argue me out of my decision. It remains my quiet protest against the forces that would slide us into a state of constant fear.
Ian Bogost ends a call:
Hanging up on someone is a physical act, a violent one even, one that produces its own pleasure by discharging acrimony…. Just try to hang up your iPhone or your Samsung Galaxy. I don’t mean just ending a call, but hanging up for real, as if you meant it. For a moment you might consider throwing the handset against a wall before remembering that you shelled out three, four, five hundred dollars or more for the device, a thing you cradle in a cozy as if it were a kitten or a newborn.
Yuck. Ersatz D.C. Metro system with a nonsensical map and extra helpings of brown and muddy orange in the color scheme.
The producers of TV’s Leverage slapped some signs on a Portland light rail station and rolling stock to make it look part of the Metro system—excuse me, the District of Columbia Subway Transit System. Perhaps the silliest sign is the one posted in the Washington Park station (the only fully underground station in that system): it says “DC Subway.” How many signs do you see inside a subway station that tell you, yes, you are indeed in a station of the system you are traveling on? Fox forbid that I should step out of a Chicago Red Line car at Jackson and need the reassurance that I’m not, in fact, somewhere on Boston’s T?