RAC ignore your marketing opt-outs

Is this a leg­al fail in any way? Quotes from a let­ter received from the RAC today:

You’ve asked us not to send you any inform­a­tion about the oth­er products and ser­vices RAC could offer you.

Indeed I did.

Nor­mally we wouldn’t, but we’ve made some import­ant changes at RAC that could bene­fit you. So, as a val­ued mem­ber, we wanted to make sure you were aware of them.

Trans­la­tion: Because we actu­ally don’t give a fuck about you, we’ll ignore your stated instruc­tions and tell you any­way.

Did they even look at the chance this would piss off more people than would buy from them? Idi­ots.

The Mercy Deficit in the USA

There’s a great post by Charlie Stross on his blog today, link­ing the cur­rent noise in the USA about health­care reform and also the release of Abdel­ba­set Al Megrahi from pris­on in Scot­land:

Even if Al Megrahi is a mass-mur­der­er, the fact remains that he is dying. It is long-stand­ing policy in Scot­land to exer­cise the prerog­at­ive of mercy when pos­sible; in gen­er­al, if an imprisoned crim­in­al is ter­min­ally ill, a request for release (for hos­pice care, basic­ally) is usu­ally gran­ted unless they are believed to be a danger to the pub­lic.

That’s because the justice sys­tem isn’t solely about pun­ish­ment. It’s about respect for the great­er good of soci­ety, which is bet­ter served by rehab­il­it­a­tion and recon­cil­li­ation than by revenge. We do not make ourselves bet­ter people by exer­cising a grue­some revenge on the bod­ies of our van­quished foes. Kenny MacAskill, the Justice Min­is­ter, did exactly the right thing in send­ing Al Megrahi home to die.

I’ve been watch­ing the war of words with increas­ing dis­be­lief for the past month, try­ing to get my head around the reas­on why so many loud, vocal cit­izens seem to be so adam­antly opposed to some­thing that’s in their own best interests — the US health­care sys­tem is utterly dys­func­tion­al, even for those with health insur­ance costs are spiral­ing out of con­trol, and the cur­rent sys­tem is becom­ing a major drag on eco­nom­ic pro­ductiv­ity — many busi­ness start-ups abort because the founders can’t obtain health­care, many nov­el­ists of my acquaint­ance are in ser­i­ous fin­an­cial trouble or are ter­ri­fied of giv­ing up the day job (that comes with insur­ance), and so on. The cur­rent mess is respons­ible for 22,000 avoid­able deaths per year — a 911 scale cata­strophe every six weeks.

The sub­jects vary — crime and pen­al policy, health­care, don’t get me star­ted on for­eign policy — but there is an ideo­lo­gic­al approach in Amer­ica that is dis­tin­guished by one com­mon char­ac­ter­ist­ic: words and deeds utterly lack­ing in the qual­ity of mercy.

This is very true amongst the sub­urb­an­ised middle class of Amer­ica. It’s worse than just a lack of mercy — it’s an ingrained con­ser­vat­ive selfish­ness — all I care about is that I get what I believe I deserve.

Unfor­tu­nately, I’m hear­ing this a lot again from people here who don’t remem­ber the Thatch­er years. Listen­ing to a party in the garden two doors up from me last night, there was expres­sions of exactly the same selfish­ness. Expect the four to twelve years after the next elec­tion to be fright­en­ing, people.

Not Quite Hollywood


Hollin­wood sign apes LA’s rival:

A recre­ation of the icon­ic Hol­ly­wood sign, which nestles in the Cali­for­ni­an hills, has appeared on a grass verge by the side of the M60 — in Hollin­wood.
No-one has yet claimed respons­ib­il­ity for the sign, which at 3ft (0.9m) high is dwarfed by its fam­ous cous­in.
An Old­ham Coun­cil spokes­man said it was “def­in­itely not a coun­cil ini­ti­at­ive”.

(Via BBC News Online.)

Equipping an Expedition

It’s been a long time since I last read “Time Enough for Love” by Robert Hein­lein, but I’m hav­ing flashes of one part of it at the moment.

I have an idea for a web applic­a­tion — one that could work out very well indeed, and I’ve giv­en myself four months in star­tup mode to see if I can make it hap­pen. I’m at the end of the second week of this, and I still keep think­ing of things I need to get done in order for this to work. Some of them are com­plic­ated, like cod­ing a fea­ture of the applic­a­tion. Some are sim­pler, like writ­ing a data pri­vacy policy.

In the nov­el, there is a sequence where the prot­ag­on­ist is set­ting out on a pion­eer­ing trip. With a fixed amount of car­ry­ing capa­city, he works and re-works the list of items to take, and at least once has the shock of real­ising he’s missed some­thing obvi­ous but vital off the list.

I’m going through that right now. My app will involve tak­ing pay­ment for its func­tion. So how the heck did it take me two weeks to real­ise I’ll need to buy an SSL cer­ti­fic­ate, in order to secure the trans­mis­sion of peoples’ sens­it­ive inform­a­tion?


(This whole is big, scary, and fun. I should talk a little more about it here.)

One Step Closer to Art becoming Reality

Michael Jack­son to be bur­ied without his brain:

Though his body was released the next day to rel­at­ives, his brain was not. The pop star’s inert brain must “harden” for at least two weeks before doc­tors can con­duct their neuro­path­o­logy tests.

Remov­ing the brain is the “only way to carry out the tests” accord­ing to a source for the Mir­ror. “The tis­sue has to be examined. I can’t tell you how long that is going to take.”

Any­one who has ever watched a hor­ror movie knows what hap­pens next:


Pack those shot­guns, people.

via Scott Beale.

The Unevenness of Space-Time Convergence


The Uneven­ness of Space-Time Con­ver­gence « Strange Maps:

How long does it take to travel from Lon­don to else­where? The answer is provided by this map, show­ing a set of expand­ing circles centered on the Brit­ish cap­it­al, each big­ger one delin­eat­ing two extra hours of travel time.
The famil­i­ar shape of the world is morph­ed into grot­esque, con­tor­ted shapes as these isotem­por­al lines replace the usu­al lines of lon­git­ude and lat­it­ude for frame of ref­er­ence.

This is from 1981, so it’s not quite as accur­ate any more. I’d love to see it redrawn.

(Via Strange Maps.)