We all have bad days.

I hate having to correct mistakes, but one is warranted here. On Tuesday, I said that Massage Envy had pulled their ads off of the MLB.TV broadcasts.

This is not the case. The spots aren’t running as frequently–I only say four or five during a game yesterday, rather than the dozen or more I’d been seeing–but they are still running. I suspect the most likely explanation is that the cost to pull the ads entirely would have been more than the budget would allow.

And my point still stands: regardless of what Mike Pence might think, a massage, even one involving multiple genders, can be a non-sexual thing. And if Massage Envy is going to be in that business, rather than the sexual sort–or rape–they should be taking active steps now, before the suit goes to trial, to confirm their trustworthiness in the eyes of the public.

Moving on.

It’s only Thursday, but I think we’ve got a hot candidate for the “Bad Day of the Week” award.

The California Department of Motor Vehicles has had so many bad days of late that even their good days are pretty bad. The public outcry for Somebody to Do Something have gotten loud enough that some wild approaches are being tried.

According to the SF Chronicle, Governor Newsom has decided that the best approach is to neuter the department.

No, I’m not kidding. The Chron’s headline on a story yesterday says “Silicon Valley vet tapped to fix tech-addled DMV”.

I’m not sure I see how forcing the DMV’s employees to display shaved tummies for a few weeks will reduce wait times, improve data management, or contribute to customer satisfaction, but if you can’t trust the governor, who can–what?

Oh. The new head of the DMV is an IT expert, not a veterinarian. Nobody’s tummy will be non-consensually shaved and no pockets will be picked–aside from the usual levels of graft found in public service.

Granted, the DMV’s computer systems are archaic, but modern technology is no automatic panacea. I like that the new guy says he’s not planning to do anything new, just pick up the best bits of available technology. As long as the focus stays on customer needs rather than speculative technological nonsense like electronic license plates, he might actually accomplish something.

So, a significant oopsie on the headline writer, but not a world-class bad day, even if the headline was on the front page. But then we get to Page A8, where we learn that Hawaii has been invaded by a movie monster.

“Protests spread as activists fight giant telescope” says the headline.

Once you get past wondering why they don’t just call in Gamera to take on the giant telescope–or borrow San Francisco’s Martian War Machine, aka the Sutro Tower–you find that they’re not fighting the telescope.

They are, in fact, fighting plans to build one. In other words, their beef is with the scientists who selected the site and the government bureaucracies that approved the construction.

No laser death rays, underpowered military defenders, or badly dubbed dialog. Just another front in the ongoing culture wars.

And a headline writer who needs a day off.

I suppose they got it. I didn’t see any howlers in today’s paper. But who knows what tomorrow will bring?

Like a Two-Year-Old

“Whether it’s a ride, a sandwich, or a package, we use technology to give people what they want, when they want it.”

That seems to be the core of the message Uber wants to convey.

Quite a paean to entitlement, isn’t it?

With a mission like that, it’s no wonder Uber gets insulted when things don’t go their way. To be quite blunt, lately, Uber has been acting like a poorly socialized two-year-old.

In case you missed it*, Uber recently deployed part of their fleet of experimental self-driving cars in San Francisco. Unfortunately for everyone, they did it “Uber-style”.

* Though it’s hard to believe anyone could have missed it, given how loudly Uber tooted their own horn, and how many news sources joined into the noise-making.

See, under California law, autonomous vehicles need to be registered as such with the Department of Motor Vehicles. Additionally, the company testing the vehicles has to purchase a permit. For the record, as best I can tell from the newspaper stories, it’s not like the registration and permit would require Uber to break into their piggy bank. I can’t find anything that suggests the cost of registering a vehicle as an autonomous test model is any higher than that of a regular registration, and at least one story noted that the testing permit cost $150. Even if that’s per vehicle, Uber could certainly have paid it out of spare change.

However, Uber, declined to properly register their cars or to purchase the permits.

Hey, remember Google’s motto? “Don’t be evil,” wasn’t it? I begin to suspect Uber’s motto is “Don’t be good.” But I’m sure that’s just my cynical streak talking.

Anyway, when the DMV called Uber’s oversight to their attention, they declined to rectify the omissions, claiming that because the cars are not actually capable of driving without human supervision, they’re not actually “autonomous”.

While Uber and the DMV traded legal opinions and insults, several of the cars were caught on video running red lights and making dangerous turns. Which suggests that either the cars are autonomous–and desperately in need of testing and debugging–or that their human supervisors could use a couple of rounds of QA testing.

In the end, Uber displayed the priceless maturity we’ve come to expect from them. They’ve picked up their toys and stomped off to Arizona where, presumably, nobody cares if a few pedestrians or bikers get crushed beneath the wheels of progress.

This small corner of the Bay Area may have handed them a temporary defeat, but Uber’s executives and investors can relax. In the rest of the world, it’s still “Uber über alles”.