February 26th, 2011

#2573: Telemarketers have another gimmick.

If you're not on the "Do Not Call" list, you can go here to put yourself put on it.

See: back when the registry was first being implemented, my parents didn't call the 800 number to get put on it. I seem to recall that Dad had some reason or other for not wanting Mom to do it, but I can't remember what the reason was. Dad was kind of fussy about privacy and liability, though I don't know what expectation of privacy you have when your phone number is in the damn phone book. I suppose he was worried about someone billing him for something; he was always wary of scams.

So several times per week (as much as 3-5 per day) I get phone calls from Comcast, "Spark Energy", and some other places that just show up as "Cellular Call" or "Texas" or the like; and I don't answer the phone because the numbers that come up aren't even close to an area code that exists within 50 miles of the bunker: it's obviously not someone I know.

They never leave messages, so whatever they're calling about must not be very damned important; but they do kind of hang out and keep my phone line occupied with "dead air", until the answering machine times out and ends the call.

Well--Comcast just hangs up; I shouldn't include them in this. But "Spark Energy" is one of these companies which supposedly offers cheaper electricity (or gas) than the local utility does. You sign up with them, and you supposedly save money. I don't know how it works and I don't care, because I fail to see how adding a middleman to the process will end up saving me money.

This stupid crap of tying up my phone line does not incline me to listen to what they have to say, either. In fact, it borders on harassment.

Sometimes I will answer one of these calls. Sometimes it turns out to be a recorded message, which I just hang up on. Other times it's to faint static and nothing else; I say "hello", wait a couple seconds, say "hello" again, and still there is nothing. If there isn't a human on the line by the time I finish saying "hello" the second time, I hang up.

So I've put the bunker on the "do not call" list, though it'll take time for that to percolate through the various companies and agencies. At least it will help eventually.

* * *

I know that--if I talk to a human--I can get the bunker taken off their call list simply by telling them to do so. When I lived in Iowa, I did that many times.

* * *

Speaking of Cedar Rapids, there's going to be a movie released soon that's set there. I might watch it on DVD just to see how many locations I recognize.

Looking at the trailer, though--there's a cut just outside of the Rockwell-Collins hangar at the Cedar Rapids airport. It looks like the hotel they used for most of the hotel scenes is the one--can't remember the name--where AnimeIowa was for several years. The hotel is on Collins Road by I-380, and it has an atrium that's open to the roof.

Collins Plaza! That's it. Collins Plaza Hotel! Yeah.

...anyway, that's kind of neat.

* * *

Last night I was sorting through a stack of old CD-ROMs and I found one that had a backup of my ZIP disks, including the one with all my non-Word writing on it!

I have no clue where the ZIP disks are. I have a hard drive sitting on my desk (still) which has a complete copy of all that stuff on it; but it's a royal pain to patch that thing into the system's IDE bus to access anything there and I haven't needed to access that stuff.

So there I was, with all the old stuff handy again--only Professional Write was no longer on my hard drive. WTF.

I didn't delete it to save space; the program fits on a single 1.44 MB floppy. I can't figure out what happened, unless it went bye-bye when the old 500 GB drive bit the dust (see #855: Things that go HWARRRRRRRRRRRRR in the night for that story).

Anyway--my copy of Professional Write is--like the ZIP disk full of writing--approximately somewhere in that morasse of a basement.

"No problem!" Thought I. "It's frickin' ancient; I should be able to find a copy on line!"

But of course Google's critical need detector was triggered; all my searches turned up "how do I convert...?" pages. I did find a couple of places which allegedly had it available for download, but the links were dead.

I screwed around for twenty minutes or so, trying to get it on-line; finally I realized that Mom's computer has it and also has a working CD-R drive--so I went in there and fired up her machine.

Her machine is a Compaq, vintage 1998. It's also got 12 years' worth of accumulated WinCruft. It takes about six days to boot up and throws a couple of minor errors in the process. I was always telling Mom she should get a new computer; I guess it no longer matters--anyway, I fired the thing up and dumped Professional Write and her documents folder to a CD. (It might have been as much as 80 MB, all told.)

Eh? "Why didn't you just use a floppy?" Because my computer doesn't have a floppy drive. Yeah. And her computer is old enough that USB is hit-or-miss; external hard drives won't work on the thing at all. And all of its USB ports in the back, as this thing predates thumb drives.

Anyway: once I had the CD-ROM finished, I started uninstalling cruft to make the next bootup a bit faster. But it restarted and threw an exception error, and I didn't feel like taking the time to screw around with it. I'll go back later and fix it.

...or maybe not. This thing is old enough that I might just pull the hard drive (for privacy reasons) and toss the rest. Certainly it's not worth anything, not when it's got a single-core processor running at 260 MHz and can't be upgraded past 128 MB of RAM. Besides, being a Compaq of that vintage, it's got a lot of stupid quirks. For example, it only accepts hard drives with certain parameters (heads, cylinders, etc); also, some expansion cards won't work, like the wireless networking card I once tried to put into it. If, for example, I wanted to put in a new video card, I'd have to try several to find one that worked.

Maybe take it to the electronics recycling box at the Monee Reservoir. I don't know. It and the flatbed scanner Mom never used. I figure on letting my sister have her choice of the printers, and I'll keep the other one or dispose of it. (Depending. If my sister wants the inkjet, I'm keeping the laser; but if my sister takes the laser, I'm not keeping the inkjet.)

So I got the CD-ROM back to my machine and finally got Professional Write installed on it--well, "copied to the hard drive" since that's all the installation it needs--and was finally able to access my writing again.

There's a program I could buy which will automatically convert Professional Write files to Word format. Problem: it's $100, and I don't really need it.

The punch line: while I was trying to look up that conversion program just now, to find out what it costs, I found a freakin' download for Professional Write. ARGH!

How can I help but be paranoid when I have so much proof that they're out to get me?

#2574: Sexual economics

Ace of Spades has an excellent post on the economics of sexual mores.

Small wonder feminists are all socialists if they think men want sex to be socioeconomically expensive.

Everything that has happened in the sexual revolution--everything, from free access to contraceptives to abortion on demand, "free love", the decline of marriage, the end of the expectation of chastity, all of it--has benefitted men. Even though nearly all of it has been sold as being "liberating" for women, all it's really done is reduce women to the status of sex objects--exactly what it was supposed to be fixing.

Here's a quote from the article Ace links to:
Jill, a 20-year-old college student from Texas, is one of the many young women my colleagues and I interviewed who finds herself confronting the sexual market's realities. Startlingly attractive and an all-star in all ways, she patiently endures her boyfriend's hemming and hawing about their future. If she were operating within a collegiate sexual economy that wasn't oversupplied with women, men would compete for her and she would easily secure the long-term commitment she says she wants. Meanwhile, Julia, a 21-year-old from Arizona who's been in a sexual relationship for two years, is frustrated by her boyfriend's wish to "enjoy the moment and not worry about the future." Michelle, a 20-year-old from Colorado, said she is in the same boat: "I had an ex-boyfriend of mine who said that, um, he didn't know if he was ever going to get married because, he said, there's always going to be someone better." If this is "the end of men," someone really ought to let them know.
Welcome to the laws of supply and demand: commonly available goods are not as expensive as highly-rationed ones.

In this society, men don't have to work for sex. They don't have to woo and court to get it; half the time all they really need to do is project a sufficient aura of alpha maleness to get a woman in the sack.

As high a value as women place on male fidelity, they are cavalier about their own: if they see a man they like better, they'll drop their current relationship in a heartbeat and "commitment" be damned. Sooner or later this works against them, though, as no one remains young and beautiful forever. Men can woo younger women; women have trouble wooing younger men, particularly for any relationship involving long-term commitment. (The myth of the "cougar" is just that. There are some older women who can attract young men; but the young men don't hang around long and these women are in a very, very tiny minority.)

Couple that with no-fault divorce and a system of divorce courts which inevitably award the woman a sizable fraction of the man's economic output. She can end the marriage when she wants and automatically receive continued monetary support from the man. If they have children, she gets even more money from him, at least until the youngest kid reaches 18, and the court doesn't care if the man can support himself on what's left of his income.

All this means that marriage is a serious risk for the man, with few benefits; if he chooses the wrong mate, he essentially becomes an indentured servant to the woman. There is no downside for the woman.

Economically speaking, it makes the price of commitment unacceptably high for men in general. In this society, men no longer have to marry to have sex; they can get all the sex they want just by acting the right way and saying the right things. Because they can obtain the benefits of commitment without actually committing, why on earth would they commit? It makes no sense to.

The situation does not favor women, for all that they are desperately trying to convince themselves that it does. There is a tradeoff in everything; while these women have won the ability to go their own way, to live without men in their lives, they have also foregone the benefits that went with the old societal norms. Commitment is that much harder for them to secure because commitment no longer has any benefit whatsoever for the man. Particularly not when the man can easily bypass the woman who says "not until marriage" and go out with the woman who says "not until after this drink".

Yes, it's ironic; but this kind of thing frequently is. "Be careful what you wish for" is a common aphorism for a reason.