Travis Kalanick Resigns as CEO of Uber

Uber’s founder and CEO Travis Kalanick stepped down as CEO after he was pressured to do so by Uber’s investors. He was to take an indefinite leave of absence as CEO so he could “work on himself” and grieve for his departed mother. Kalanick’s mother died last month as a result of a boating accident.

Kalanick will stay on the board, he just won’t be in charge. Good. Travis Kalanick is so evil and universally despised, he should wear a black cape and helmet respirator.

I figured something like this was going on when I got an email from Uber yesterday. Here’s part of it:

Dear B342cb8a104fb90c71b3c108bc765557,

I like the new name Uber gave me. I normally go by Rick or if we’re being fancy or in a court of law, Richard.

We’ve heard you. You’ve told us what you want, and now it’s time we step up and give you the driving experience you deserve, because simply put, Uber wouldn’t exist without you.

Today, we’re making a commitment. For the next 180 days (and beyond) we’ll be making meaningful changes & improvements to your driving experience. Some changes will be big, some will be small — all will be the changes you’ve asked for.

Each month for the next 6 months, we’ll share major improvements that will make driving more flexible and less stressful, giving you earnings & support you can depend on.

Starting today: Earnings

To kick-off 180 Days of Change we’re launching the feature you’ve asked for most.

1.Tipping is Coming

Tipping is available in Seattle, Minneapolis and Houston as of today. We’re starting with only 3 cities so we can create the best tipping experience for you and your riders. We’ll be adding more cities over the next few weeks, and will make tips available to all U.S. drivers, by the end of July 2017. Of course, Uber service fees are never deducted from your tips. Learn more.

2. Shorter 2 Minute Cancellation Window

You’ll receive a cancellation fee if your rider cancels after more than 2 minutes (down from 5 minutes previously).

3. No More Unpaid Wait-times

You will earn a per-minute rate if you wait for a rider, starting 2 minutes after arrival.

There was more to the email, but these were the major points, at least for me. These are the things drivers have asked for a very long time.

Under the iron fist of Travis Kalanick, drivers were never getting any of these things. He seemed to look at drivers as a temporary unfortunate necessity. He seemed to believe Uber was just a month or two away from using a fleet of autonomous robot cars and the lifeforms known as drivers would be relocated to special work camps where they would be forced to speak North Korean and build autonomous robot cars.

Under Travis Kalanick it didn’t matter what drivers thought or what they wanted.

Tip? Tip? Can I have a tip?

Personally, I’ve never cared about tips. I’d rather have someone be nice to me and leave a five-star review than hand me a dollar or two. I’ve never worked in the service industry where tips were part of the gig, so people handing me free money always seemed weird. When I tip in a restaurant, I never hand the waitress or waiter the tip. I leave it on the table.

New two-minute cancellation window

The two-minute cancellation fee is very important to me. I’ve had people cancel right before the five-minute mark and I was paid nothing for my time, miles, or troubles.

Hurry up and wait

I’ve pulled up to someone’s pick up point and then had to wait while they finished up whatever they were doing before they came outside and got in the car. Once I had a person wait about five minutes to come outside. They then proceeded to take their empty trash cans from the front of the house and return them to the back. I couldn’t start the trip until they got into the car.

There needs to be two per-minute rates

The per-minute rate shouldn’t be used for waiting. It’s not even minimum wage. In Hagerstown and the rest of western Maryland, it’s .1125 per minute. That works out to be $6.75 an hour.

There needs to be two different per-minute rates, one when driving and another when the driver is waiting on the passenger. The standard per-minute rate is normally added to the per-mile rate. In Hagerstown and the rest of western Maryland, that’s .825 per mile. When it takes you 15 minutes to drive ten miles, that works out to be a $9.94 fare, plus the base fare of $1.13 making the 15 minute, ten-mile trip a total of $11.07. For that and only that, the per-minute rate is fine.

When a passenger requests that you pull into McDonald’s so they can run in and pick up lunch, forcing you to wait in the parking lot for ten minutes, the per-minute rate is most definitely not fine.

You only earn $1.12 while waiting ten minutes on a passenger. That’s not right.

When you’re waiting on the passenger on a stop the passenger requested during the trip, the per-minute rate should switch to the per-mile rate.

According to Uber, they’ll be rolling out more changes over the next 180 days. Hopefully that will be one the changes.

Chicago thugs kidnap then torture special-needs teen

From CNN:

Four suspects have been charged in connection with the attack on a special-needs teen that was streamed on Facebook Live.

Jordan Hill, 18; Tesfaye Cooper; 18; Brittany Covington, 18; and Tanishia Covington, 24, have each been charged with a hate crime, felony aggravated kidnapping, aggravated unlawful restraint and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon.

Hill, Cooper and Brittany Covington also face charges of residential burglary. Hill also faces charges of possession of a stolen motor vehicle.

Video of the torture has stunned the country, not just but because of the graphic abuse, but because of the comments made by some of the assailants.

“F*ck Donald Trump!” one attacker shouted in the video. “F*ck white people!”

It’s now 2017. If an attacker can be heard on the video using the word “fuck” then report that. It’s as though someone is going to read about how this special-needs teen was held against his will and subjected to torture, but get outraged over the fact the word “fuck” was correctly spelled out.

It’s 2017. Stop protecting people from dirty words. Stop coddling people.

It should surprise no one that this brutal incident took place in Chicago. The four suspects sound like they are both vicious and stupid, a really bad combination. They’re vicious for what they did to the victim. They are stupid for posting the whole thing on Facebook.

I don’t understand why they’re charged with a hate crime. I understand the victim is white and the suspects are black, but this crime would have been just as heinous if everyone involved was black, white, or Asian.

I don’t agree with hate crimes. Not really. Since when is it against the law to hate someone or something? As far as I’m concerned, these four animals should be allowed to hate Donald Trump or even to hate white people if they want to. What they’re not allowed to do is to kidnap, restrain, and then torture someone. Hate can be a motive, but it cannot or should not be the crime itself. The kidnapping, restraint, and battery are far worse than any supposed hate crime.

Hate is an emotion. I care about the act of violence. I could not care less about the emotional state of a criminal when they commit an act of violence.

Killed because you do not know the Quran

In Bangladesh, Islamic terrorists seized a restaurant popular with foreigners and executed hostages who couldn’t quote one verse from the Quran.

From USA Today:

By the time the 10-hour siege was over Saturday inside a restaurant in Bangladesh’s capital, 22 people — plus six terrorists — were dead in a bloody attack in which 20 people unable to quote from the Quran were pulled aside and hacked or knifed to death.

There are many ways to die in this thing we call life. Hacked to death because you can’t recite a verse from the Muslim holy book is one of the worst. Islam is a terrible religion practiced by awful people. I’m not saying all Muslims are terrible people. What I am saying is the ratio of good people to terrible people with Islam is the worst out of all the religions. It is not even close.

Another problem with Islam is the severity of its awfulness.The degrees of awfulness with Christianity and Islam are vastly different. A terrible Christian will try to use his religion as an excuse to deny gay people the right to get married. A terrible Muslim will use his religion as an excuse to have rape victims stoned to death.

Convicted rapist banned from ‘Magic: the Gathering’ play

Wizards of the Coast suspended a player of Magic: the Gathering from competitive play until the year 2049. His Magic Online account, the online version of Magic: the Gathering played with digital cards, has been frozen and flagged for deletion. The reason? He’s a convicted rapist listed on the Virginia sex offender website.

Zachary Jesse finished 8th place at the Grand Prix Atlantic City held this past May. During his match with Christian Calcano, the tournament’s eventual champion, the following tweet was posted on Twitter:

The link goes to an 11-year-old news article about the rape committed by Zachary Jesse while he was a student at the University of Virginia. The article details the plea agreement reached between the then 19-year-old Zachary Jesse and the prosecutor in the case. According to the victim’s testimony at a preliminary hearing, also a student at the University of Virginia, she was “raped both vaginally and anally while slumped over a toilet in her apartment.” She also had bruises constant with rape.

Zachary Jesse’s victim was also highly intoxicated. Hours after her last drink, her blood alcohol level was .15, nearly double the state’s legal limit. As drunk as she was, it’s highly unlikely that she would have been capable of consenting to sex on a toilet with someone she just met.

In exchange for pleading guilty to aggravated sexual battery, a felony, Zachary Jesse served only three months in regional jail, and it was scheduled so that it wouldn’t interfere with his college classes. He was also given ten years of probation, 18-months of that supervised.

For raping a woman as she lay drunk on a toilet, both vaginally and anally.

How can someone plead guilty to raping a woman and not serve serious time in prison? I’d like to think that’s what we build prisons for, so we have places to send predators like Zachary Jesse to when they rape incapacitated women on toilets.

Zachary Jesse’s photo from the Virginia Registered Sex Offender website.

Evidently a lot of people in the Magic: the Gathering community are critical of Wizards of the Coast for banning Jesse.  Some are also critical of Drew Levin for bringing this to people’s attention by tweeting about it. I don’t get any of that. Zachary Jesse is a convicted felon. He’s a registered sex offender in the state of Virginia. In fact, he’s classified as a violent sex offender.

How could Wizards of the Coast, a game company owned by Hasbro, a toy company, not ban someone like Zachary Jesse? Once it became known that he was a convicted rapist, someone identified as a violent sexual predator on the Virginia sex offender registry, they didn’t have a choice.

Don’t want to get banned from playing Magic: the Gathering? Don’t violently rape women passed out drunk on toilets.

ComicsPRO board member accused of stealing

ComicsPRO, a non-profit trade association for comic book retailers, announced on Facebook that it was investigating one of its former board members for misuse or misappropriation of corporate funds. The Facebook post didn’t identify the former board member by name, but in a statement emailed to members of ComicsPRO, the person was identified as Gary Dills, former Director and Treasurer.

The statement sent to ComicsPRO members, via Bleeding Cool:

Yesterday Gary Dills resigned as a Director and Treasurer of the ComicsPRO retail trade organization. Gary did so after admitting to the President, Thomas Gaul, to certain financial improprieties. The board has accepted his resignation and is investigating the extent and degree of any misappropriation of organization funds, the effects it has had on the organization, and what the organization can do to recover the funds, if anything.

The Board of Directors is fully committed to investigating the circumstances surrounding these events and will make every effort to keep the membership informed as more information develops.

Regardless of the outcome of the investigation, this is not expected to affect the organization’s current staffing, programs, or the upcoming annual meeting.

A more general public statement will be issued via the organization’s web communication portals shortly. It is recommended that members utilize discretion with regards to this situation, especially this early into the process.

I think it’s kind of funny that the message to ComicsPRO members asked them to “utilize desecration”, yet at least one member forwarded the email to Bleeding Cool.

Who is Gary Dills?

Gary Dills was one of the founding members of ComicsPRO. He’s also co-owner of Laughing Ogre Comics, a chain of three comic book shops, two in nearby Northern Virginia and one in Columbus, Ohio. Here’s a photo from 2013 showing the board of directors of ComicsPRO. Gary Dills is the man in the red shirt, on the far right.


What does this now mean for ComicsPRO?

Whether or not ComicsPRO can rebound from this depends on a lot of factors. How much money did Gary Dills steal? How long did the embezzling take place? Did the organization ever have a third-party conduct regular audits of the finances? Were there any safeguards in place that should have prevented this? ComicsPRO members are business people. You have to own a physical comic book shop to pay $299 a year for the privilege of belonging to the organization. Most of the members know a thing or two about the proper management of money, or they wouldn’t be operating a comic book shop in 2014. If the remaining board members don’t address these and other questions that undoubtedly come up, I wouldn’t be surprised if most members didn’t renew their yearly membership when the time comes up.

Business people don’t like to give their money to organizations that don’t handle it responsibly.

Hello Kitty's parents sound like a couple of jerks

It turns out that Hello Kitty, the iconic character created 40 years ago by the Japanese company Sanrio, is not a cat, but a human girl. She’s also not Japanese, she’s British. Who know? Christine R. Yano, anthropologist from the University of Hawaii and author of Pink Globalization: Hello Kitty’s Trek across the Pacific, that’s who.

According to Yano, Hello Kitty is a British girl who just happens to look like a lot like a cat. Her real name is Kitty White. Her parents sound like a couple of jerks. They have a daughter with birth defects so severe, that it makes her seem feline, and they respond by naming her Kitty. They look at their infant daughter and see a newborn baby with ears on top of her head and whiskers jutting from her face, and they give her a name that is a synonym for a cat.

What a couple of passive-aggressive assholes.

I don’t know who Hello Kitty’s parents are, but I hate them with the intensity of a thousand suns. They obviously made a lot of money off their daughter’s malformations. They should have taken some of that money and used it to take Hello Kitty to medical specialists. British children should have bad teeth, not look like the family pet.