Shaming Clear Users 

We’re living in a society here!

Previously, I was indifferent to Clear, an identity-verification program seen mostly in airports. I’ve seldom seen their services used, and I certainly haven’t felt impacted by them. However, this brief Slate piece presages an unpleasant future. Clear’s existence makes things worse for non-members, with no real benefit. Like so much of air travel, an inconvenience is being made, with the opportunity to pay to avoid it then provided. In this case, longer security lines are being exacerbated by Clear, who then let you pay to avoid hassles and delay. That’s a recipe for terribleness, unless you’re an investor in Clear anyway.

When I finally reached the end of the TSA Pre line, a Clear Secure employee instructed me to back up so she could place a CLEAR member in front of me. The CLEAR member turned to me and apologized. “I’m sorry,” she said. “I hate this process, too.” She told me she had only joined CLEAR because she was sick of all the line-cutting.

Well now you’re part of the problem, lady! No thank you. We’d all be better off if Clear didn’t exist. I think the only thing to do is to shame folks who choose to pay for Clear. Buying access to the front of the line is gross, and it’s a behavior which ought to have no place in a civilized society.

Fentanyl Is Really Bad News, Y’all 

Also, that’s a much smaller quantity than you’d expect.

The headline “DEA seized enough fentanyl to kill every person in the U.S. in 2022” just makes me think “Fine, fine, let’s just get it over with already”.1.

Anyhow, uh, happy holidays!


Footnotes:

  1. This dark joke is certainly derived from the immortal words of Philip J. Fry, who hilariously said “I wish they’d just wipe out humanity and get it over with. It’s the waiting I can’t stand.” (Archived here)↩︎

Promises Broken, Promises Deleted 

There at Eufy, they’re just all talk and no action.

At the end of November, The Verge was able to determine that Anker’s Eufy cameras were more than a little insecure. That’s pretty bad. Worse, though, is trying to cover it up by deleting privacy promises, which Anker has now also done.

Defrauding the ATF 

That just seems like a bad idea.

If you’re a police officer in a town of 800 people in Iowa, of course you need a machine gun. That’s just a given. And you’re naturally going to want to have a secondary machine gun too, in addition to your main machine gun. To be safe, you really ought to have a backup for each of those machine guns too. So with a bit of quick math, it’s easy to understand why the 4 person Adair police force needed 16 machine guns.

Still, that leaves them with a surplus of 74 machine guns that’s a little difficult to explain.

This Ladder’s Durability Is Immediately Called Into Question

Perhaps this is an epically shoddy ladder.

Recently, I was shopping online for a step ladder, as one does. I came across a product listing which featured an adult man playing at being a construction worker while point a drill at the sky is if intending to shoot off some celebratory gunfire:

A man cosplaying as a construction worker next to the ladder in question

This Delxo (Dell-Zoh? Dell-Ex-Oh?) step ladder has all the features you could want, from “anti-slip rubber feet” to a “comfy & safe handgrip”. But when you buy it on Amazon, you also get another great feature: the ability to subscribe and save!

A “subscribe & save” option for a freaking ladder.

Sure! You can never have too many ladders, right? “Every 2 months” is shown as the most common subscription option to receive a new ladder, and I’m more than a little skeptical of that claim. But in case that doesn’t seem frequent enough, you’ve got plenty of convenient options:

Delivery frequency options, as low as “Every two weeks” for a freaking ladder.

I am extremely doubtful that anyone is actually using a subscribtion to this ladder, whether twice a year, or a ludicrous 26 times a year. I’m sure some people have subscribed to get the easy 5% discount, and then immediately canceled their subscription, but that doesn’t count. On the incredible off chance that some One Foot Tsunami reader out there has an active subscription to a ladder, I would very much like to know why.

Red Light, Green Light! 

It really is hard luck for those fish.

On Friday, the AquaDom at the Berlin Radisson Blu hotel burst. At 50 feet tall, it was formerly the world’s largest cylindrical aquarium, home to 1,500 fish swimming in over a quarter million gallons of water. Now, it’s just a real mess in the lobby of an evacuated hotel, plus a whole lot of dead fish.

I find myself fascinated by this story. Thankfully, though a massive amount of water was unleashed, no one was killed. In fact, only two people were even injured in this huge, catastrophic event. It’s certainly awful luck for the former residents of the tank, but all that’s left to do is ruefully chuckle while contemplating the last thoughts of those confused fish. I think it’s sort of like if gravity gave out, and we just got sucked into the vacuum of space. What a trip that would be!

Now, I imagine that many of you are like me, and that you’d really like to see this mess as it unfolded. Alas, to this point, no footage of the actual destruction has been released. All the videos I’ve found simply show the aftermath.1 That’s a shame.

Until we see video proof otherwise, I think it’s safe to assume that it went down exactly like this:2

An aquarium shattering in the movie Mission: Impossible
That poor waiter (who might’ve been an IMF agent?)

The cause of the incident in Berlin is still being investigated, and authorities reportedly don’t believe it was an intentional act. Me? I’m looking for a guy with explosive chewing gum.


Footnotes:

  1. I did find a neat video showing the aquarium before it broke (archived here). There was an elevator in the middle!↩︎

  2. This second video is archived here. ↩︎

Genders.WTF 

I do not identify as “Kids”, however.

Speaking of gender, Effy Elden is collecting all manner of absurd genders from forms on the web.

A form with an assortment of genders, including “Man”, “Woman”, “Agender”, “Trans Man”, “Trans Woman”, and “Do Not Use - Code Updated”

Personally, I’m a man, but I can easily understand identifying as “Do Not Use – Code Updated”.

“Friend” Can Be the Singular of “Folks”

Life in 2022 can really be exhausting for everyone.

Earlier this week, I had a rather jarring conversation at the supermarket. I needed to flag an employee down to clear an alert on the damnable self-checkout machine. The man had just finished helping another customer, and he was walking away from me, so I said “Sir?”. When turned around to assist, he also muttered “Please don’t call me sir next time”. He seemed…annoyed? Offended? I did not understand, and I was a bit taken aback. It was not as if I had said “Hey, you!”, after all.

As he cleared the error on the machine, I asked what I should say next time. He curtly replied “Just wave your hand, I’ll see you”. This was obvioiusly not true, because unlike my mother, he did not have eyes in the back of his head. Now, I certainly could have just said “Excuse me?”, but that seems longer and also slightly less courteous than a respectful “Sir?”. Anyhow, he and I both moved on. Still, it stuck with me. I left the store, utterly flummoxed.

I found myself contemplating this very strange interaction for some time. I had been trying to be polite, and I felt the response had been a bit brusque, even bordering on rude. The man was a bit younger than I am, so it was perhaps a bit odd for me to call him “sir”, but there was no sarcasm or insincerity on my part. I was being gracious, and I was met with something else.

However, I found the whole thing turned completely upside down while discussing it with my friend Kim, who deserves tremendous credit. The scales fell from my eyes when she said four (mostly) simple words: “Maybe a non-binary person?”.

Well. Fuck.

The whole interaction now looked utterly different. This idea that this person might not identify as male (and thus a “sir”) had not even occurred to me. Now, I saw the possibility that my in-person subconscious assumption was incorrect, along with every instance of the words “he” and “man” written above. If that is indeed the case, then my simple effort to politely get someone’s attention instead turned me into an inadvertent misgendering ass.

We don’t really have a simple and generic word for directly addressing a specific person. There is no singular of “folks”. We rely on “sir” or “ma’am” or “miss” or “mister”, all of which are gendered. That’s a problem.

Fortunately, my favorite gal pal Amy had a wonderful solution. Her suggestion? Let’s just call everyone “hoss”, as in “Hey hoss, can you get this stupid machine to stop pitching a fit about the bag I’m just trying to load my scanned groceries in to?”. It’s pretty solid! If they mishear you, they’ll think you said “boss”, and who is that going to offend?1

However, while “hoss” is an absolutely hilarious way to refer to anyone, its roots are in the word “horse”. That seems unfortunate at best for a catch-all term. I also rejected Amy’s next idea, “dollface”, which was equally hilarious but even more problematic. Next, I spent some time considering “buddy”. I wish it could work, but it just sounds far too informal to my ear.

Thankfully, though, “buddy” led me to a superior option: “friend”. “Friend”! How great is that? It’s self-evidently friendly, it’s gender-neutral, and it’s even hopeful. A stranger is just a friend I haven’t met yet, and what faster way to turn them into a friend than to simply declare them one?

Sure, sure, it might come across as vaguely Amish, but then they’ll really take pity on me. I don’t even have electricity, so of course I can’t manage to check myself out at the supermarket! Or perhaps they’ll think I’m trying to recruit them to a cult. They may be wary, and think I might murder them, but at least they won’t think I’m a bigot.

So, I’ve settled on “friend” as the way I’m going to address people from now on.2 I’ll let you know how it goes, friends.


Footnotes:

  1. Oh, somebody, I’m sure. ↩︎

  2. Also probably dogs. ↩︎

Same-Sex Marriages Are Now Federally Protected by Law 

The Defense of Marriage Act is dead.

Back in the good old days of 2015, the Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges brought same-sex marriage to all of America. It was a very good day, one when the protest Flag of Equal Marriage became identical with the American flag, and thus was no longer necessary.1

The issue seemed to be decided, until a much more conservative 2022 Supreme Court trashed decades of precedent to overturn Roe v. Wade. This decision led to extremely valid fears that marriage equality might be lost in the future. President Biden astutely warned that Justice Clarence Thomas “explicitly called to reconsider the right of marriage equality, the right of couples to make their choices on contraception. This is an extreme and dangerous path the Court is now taking us on.”

Yesterday, the president was able to sign the Respect for Marriage Act into law. Briefly, it requires the federal goverment to recognize same-sex and interracial marriages as legal, regardless of what the Supreme Court does. NPR notes:

If the Court were to overturn Obergefell, the legality of same-sex marriages would revert to state law — and the majority of states would prohibit it. The Respect for Marriage Act wouldn’t change that, but it requires all states to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states and federally recognizes these marriages.

The new law means that while places like Arkansas and North Dakota may not themselves permit same-sex marriages to be performed, they would be required to recognize those marriages when performed in states like Massachusetts and New Jersey. Though far from perfect, this is an important improvement. Progress is seldom a straight line forward. Unfortunately, we may still see regressions in the future. But marriage equality protections are stronger today than they were before this law was passed, and that’s something to celebrate.


Footnotes:

  1. Indeed, at some point since, the site broke. You can click to see an archived version of the final look. If Obergefell is indeed overturned, it may need to be resurrected. ↩︎

You Can’t Pay Your Rent With “Thanks” 

That was fast.

This past Wednesday, Amazon unveiled a program where using Alexa to thank your driver after a delivery would provide them with a $5 tip, paid for by Amazon itself. I first learned about this after hearing a driver ask to be thanked yesterday, explaining that it would net him money at no cost to the package recipient. Given the incentives for drivers, it’s no surprise that this program spread rapidly:

“‘Alexa, thank my driver’ exceeded our expectations. We’re glad to see customers interested in thanking their drivers and encourage them to continue doing so,” Amazon spokesperson Lauren Samaha said in a statement sent to USA TODAY Saturday morning.

Unfortunately, Monday’s driver was a bit late. Last Thursday, just one day after the program began, it ended. $5 million in tips had been distributed, but after that, there were no further bonuses to be had.

“Drivers will continue to be notified of the gratitude received. The promotion period where drivers receive $5 with their thank you has now ended,” Samaha added.

An earnest “thank you” is nice. An insincere “thank you” that includes $5 is OK too. But I can’t imagine most drivers will much care about “the gratitude received” when it doesn’t include real money.