Why @WalMart Should Expedite Site-to-Store Shipping on Order #5651664374344


Because I'm just a wee bit miffed and it would make me very happy, that's why.

When last I wrote on the continuing saga of the $80 bike, the sequence had been the following:

1) I ordered the bike at Walmart.com.

2) I contacted the store to find out what I had to do to have it assembled at the store; I was told that that request had to be made at the time of pickup, which of course would inevitably add one or more days to the process.

3) Tamara stopped by to make that request when we received notice the bike had arrived. She was told there would be a phone call when the bike was assembled. Several days later, I finally called the store to find out when it would be done. Oh! It's been assembled for a while now, didn't anyone call you?

4) Waited at the site-to-store desk for close to half an hour for someone to get there with a key so I could FINALLY get the bike. With nearly flat tires. Guy assured me that they couldn't be aired up any more or they would explode. When I got them to a nearby gas station air pump, the front tire had 14 pounds of air and the rear tire had 24. They were rated for 50. By this time it was dark and I had to stop at a dollar store to find lights so I could ride the bike home.

Interlude: Nice bike. Love this bike. Really nice bike. Lots of bike for $80. Huzzah.

Back to business:

5) Bike starts displaying defect after less than 100 miles -- left crank arm keeps loosening.

6) I call to invoke the extended protection plan I bought (if I even need that -- I've had the bike for a couple of weeks). I'm told to return the bike directly to the store for repair.

7) I return the bike directly to the store for repair. I'm told they'll call in a couple of days when it's fixed. After a couple of days, I do call. No word. The next day I am in Wal-Mart anyway so I stop at the service desk to ask about it. No word.

8) SIX DAYS after I dropped the bike off, Wal-Mart finally calls. Not to tell me the bike is fixed. To tell me they can't fix it.

9) So today I go in to get things straight. The easiest way through this is just to refund my money, which gets done after about half an hour of people trying to figure out what to do (my impression was that this was not their fault -- it's a new Wal-Mart with lots of new people and they just don't have their interdepartmental communications shit together yet).

10) I come home with the Wal-Mart gift card representing the refund and re-order the same bike and the same extended protection plan.

And according to WalMart.com it's going to take two weeks for the bike to get to the store. After which, if things go as they've been going, another 2-5 days to get it assembled.

I don't want to wait 2-3 weeks for a bike I have now bought twice. Just sayin', I'm not getting any younger here ...

A Conventional Notion I Disagree With


My Tuesday Garrison Center column was about the whole "how dangerous it is to claim the election is rigged" controversy (mainly by way of pointing out that Trump isn't the only one making that claim -- the Clinton campaign is preemptively setting up an "it was !Them Russians! what !STOLE! the election" argument -- and that it's hardly a new or novel claim anyway).

Now Trump has given the conventional wisdom something to double down on the whole idea with. Example, from Peter Beinart at The Atlantic:

At times during tonight's debate, Donald Trump seemed controlled, succinct, even prepared.

It didn't matter. In an instant, he lost the debate and blew his chance of using it to turn around his sinking campaign.

That instant came when Trump refused to say he would respect the outcome of next month's vote.

Beinart offers all kinds of reasons why that answer, especially if it becomes "the new normal," would be devastating to the system of rule commonly referred to as "American democracy." Then he claims again:

The good news is that Trump's answer will devastate him politically -- perhaps even more than the groping scandals. It will devastate him because the minute the debate ends, journalists will begin asking every Republican they can find whether they agree that he doesn't need to concede defeat. And many of those Republicans -- including the ones on Trump's own campaign -- will feed him to the wolves.

If I had a nickel for every time Republicans tried to feed Trump to the wolves and it turned out that he was just too tough to bleed from the bites, I'd have quite a few nickels.

My opinion:

Trump's base is composed of people who have believed for a long time that the whole game is rigged by e.g. "the liberal media," and who are glad to hear Trump saying out loud on a real stage what they've been thinking and muttering among themselves for years, and who will not only not abandon him but are even more likely to get off their asses and go vote in November because they heard him say it last night. They want a candidate who will refuse to concede a defeat they don't believe he can legitimately suffer.

I will be reconsidering my presidential election prediction (that Trump will carry every state Mitt Romney carried in 2012, plus Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida) and modifying or confirming that prediction some time between now and Election Day. Part of my model is this: I predict Trump to win pretty much any and every state where he is polling within 5 points of Clinton when I finalize my prediction. His voters are more motivated to actually turn out, but many of them are less motivated to admit, even to pollsters, that he's their guy.

Reader Cross-Check: Real Tracking or Just Promotional Flash?


I occasionally get emails with subject lines like this one this morning from a group called TurnoutPAC.org, aka the Progressive Turnout Project:

Asking you to represent 32608 [Survey ID: #182390]

My ZIP code is in fact correct in the message. But I'm wondering if that Survey ID number really is an individual tracking number or if it's just something thrown in there to make the "survey" (which is actually just clickbait based on the final "debate" to get me to donate in putative support of a Clinton victory) look authentically personalized.

Did you receive that email this morning? If so, what was the Survey ID number? Please share in comments. If we all have the same Survey ID number, we'll know that part is just promo flash BS. If don't, then the question remains: Real personalized Survey ID number, or a script generating numbers at random?

The Saga of the $80 Bike is Already Drawing to a Close


I got the bike -- a Kent 700c single-speed road bike -- on September 24.

I concluded by September 26 that is was pretty damn cool.

The problems started about two weeks ago. I was out on a 10-mile ride when I heard a squeaking sound. Couldn't tell if it was coming from a tire rub against a brake pad or what.

It got worse.

About eight miles into the 10-mile ride, the left crank arm suddenly felt loose. I dismounted, checked, and yes, it was loose. I limped the bike home, got out my socket set, and tightened the bolt which held it to the rest of the crank assembly (there appeared to be a cap missing that should have been over the bolt based on other bikes I subsequently looked at).

The following Sunday, I rode it to church. By the time I got there, it was loose again. A friend with a socket set let me use it to REALLY tighten that bastard down. Made it home just fine. Took it on a five-mile ride the next day. Good as gold.

Then I started off on another 10-mile ride and whaddayaknow, by the time I was approaching home the damn thing was loose again.

So I took it back to the store, invoked the extended protection plan I paid for, and asked for it to be repaired.

That was six days ago. Finally, this morning, Wal-Mart called to tell me that it can't be fixed (by which I assume they mean that it's not worth their time and money to fix it by, say, ordering and installing a new crank set).

RIP, I guess.

Presumably the next step is that they give me my money back and I order a new bike. Not sure whether I'll see if this model is still on sale, or pop a little more money for a slightly better model, or maybe switch styles to something they have in stock at the store instead of ordering online (that would probably mean a cheap mountain bike instead of a road bike).

Word PSA


Then is an adverb "referring to a time specified, either past or future."

Than is a conjunction "used after certain adjectives and adverbs which express comparison or diversity, as more, better, other, otherwise, and the like."

My dilemma:

On the one hand, I am a libertarian. My guiding interpersonal ethical principle is "don't initiate force."

On the other hand, when I come across someone using the former term in a sentence calling for the latter term, the urge to go buy an acetylene torch, track the offender down, and burn off the fingertips which typed said abomination is nearly irresistible.

Please help me stick to my principles. Please.

One Thing I Don't Understand About the "No-Fly Zone" Idea ...


Hillary Clinton, along with various other American hawks and neoconservatives, keeps publicly mulling the possibility of a "no-fly zone" over Syria.

Left unsaid: The US would either appoint itself and its allies, or get itself and its allies appointed by the UN, as the enforcers of that "no-fly zone."

What I don't understand is this: Why don't the Assad regime and its Russian ally beat the US and its allies to the punch?

Step 1: Assad declares a "no-fly zone" over Syria;

Step 2: Assad announces that his government, and its Russian allies, will enforce said zone with aerial patrols, with the use of surface-to-air missiles, or both; and

Step 3: Just to make sure there are no misunderstandings, Assad explicitly informs the US and its allies that if their planes are seen over Syria, they will be shot down.

Seems like it would be hard for the US to object without at least tacitly admitting that it wasn't really serious about a "no-fly zone" but rather was angling for a "nobody flies except us zone."

Thanks For Asking! -- 10/17/16


Early. Because I can. And maybe for other reasons, so maybe you should be early with your questions as well. This AMA thread, and the podcast to follow, are brought to you by Darryl W. Perry:

The drill:

  • Ask me anything (yes, anything) in the comment thread below this post;* and
  • I'll answer in comments, in a future podcast episode, or both.

* Do not participate in Thanks For Asking! if you take nitrates for chest pain, or guanylate cyclase stimulators for pulmonary hypertension. They may not be enough to protect you from heart attack or stroke when KN@PPSTER gives you a piece of his mind. Discuss your health with your doctor to ensure that you are healthy enough for The KN@PP Stir Podcast. If you experience chest pain, dizziness, ornausea during The KN@PP Stir Podcast, seek immediate medical help. If you experience an erection that lasts for more than four hours, for the love of God go find someone or something you find attractive and take care of it. Nobody wants to see that shit.

If Indeed Julian Assange's Internet Access Has Been Cut by a "State Party" ...


... as claimed by Wikileaks this morning and reported in the media, it seems to me that the logical and ethical next step is for Anonymous et al. to identify this "state party" and cut its Internet access.