Open Letter #48: "Nice network you got here. Be a shame if anything were to, uh, happen to it…"

Dear Botnet Owners,

On behalf of the entire Internet, I would like to say “thank you!” for finally putting that “mailer-daemon” character in his place, and making sure that I will have to forever automatically delete any piece of e-mail that comes from him. I am so grateful that you’ve managed to make bounce messages so thoroughly useless I now have to start ignoring them, thus ensuring that I’ll never really know whether my mail got through or not.

Thanks again. I love my new broken Internet.

Fuck you very much,
Dr. Hazmat

Open Letter #46: I don't think that's going to help

Dear Kayak:

Earlier this morning, I asked you for some help finding flights between Kailua-Kona and Honolulu at the end of January. Now, I’ll admit — I wasn’t trying to use you to buy the tickets, merely to get an idea of what was out there and what the price ranges were. And, to be fair, you showed me about 240 options, most of them in the same price brackets. But I got kind of curious about the flight that was listed for $1,400, and so I was floored to discover that your route-finding engine’s idea of a reasonable way to get from Kailua-Kona to Honolulu is to connect through… Los Angeles.

Okay. I’ll concede that somewhere, a user might think, “hey, that might be a good choice,” but I’m hard-pressed to think of a situation where that would occur on a regular basis. And, in the grand scheme of things, it’s not quite as bad as stupid as the time the RAC told a woman driving from Nottingham to Bideford to go through Ireland and France (which has been fixed; I just tried it). But really, would it be so hard to insert a sanity check in the engine that said, basically, “if the proposed route is longer than the average length/time of these other routes, maybe we should hide it from the user unless specifically asked”?

Open Letter #41

Dear Blockbuster Video,

You probably don’t remember me, but I remember you. For many, many years of my life — more or less your entire tenure in Canada, as a matter of fact — I quite happily devoted a non-trivial portion of my disposable income to buying your services. We used to have a fantastic relationship: I’d pick up lots of good movies, and you’d rent them to me in exchange for money. I was happy, you were happy. Everyone was happy.

But something has changed in our relationship in the last few years. I think I noticed this about four years ago, when I could no longer locate the “foreign film” section of your store. Then I noticed that titles were being filed inappropriately. Then I noticed that more and more of your shelf space was being devoted to the top-10 new release market.

This weekend, however, you reached a new low, one that I fear may be the last straw. I was searching for a copy of Goodfellas — one of the seminal classics of the Mafia crime genre, by Martin Scorcese (you may have heard of him, he won some kind of award recently after being tragically overlooked for many years), starring notables like some guy named Robert De Niro, and a weird-looking dude named Joe Pesci (who also won some kind of award for this movie). There are moments in a man’s life where he really needs to see Scorcese get his virtuoso on, and this weekend was one of them.

You, however, did not have a copy of Goodfellas. Not “we have a copy but it’s out.” Not, “we have a copy but it’s file away in some strange place.” No, this was, “We don’t carry a copy of Goodfellas.”

Now, this might have been tolerable if this was the sole incident I encountered this weekend. Amusing, even, in a pathetic way — you know, man thwarted by giant multinational in quest for crime drama perfection, etc. Except that in the space, in your drama section, where Goodfellas should have been resting, were…

… five copies of Glitter. Yes, that Glitter.

This is inexcusable. I understand that you are, as part of a corporate strategy, trying to shift your brick-and-mortar business to the top-10 hits, and deliver the rest by mail. That’s fine. But stocking five copies of one of the worst movies ever made while at the same time having zero copies of one of the best movies of the 1990s is completely outrageous.

Accordingly, I feel that I must inform you of this sad news: You won’t be getting any more of my money anytime soon. I’m sorry, Blockbuster, but it’s over.

Dr. Hazmat