Hominy and understanding

A wonderfully Hair-y sign:

This is the awning of the cage of asparagus

(Via Miss Cellania.)

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What’s that noise?

I think I might be slightly creeped out if I were told I would be working in this building:

I did have to check its papers, of course:

The Gate Tower Building (reportedly known locally as “The Beehive”) is a 16-floor office building located in Fukushima-ku, Osaka, Japan. Construction was completed in 1992. As the photo shows, the Umeda Exit of the Hanshin Expressway passes through the fifth, sixth, and seventh floors. Elevators reach the upper floors by moving along the sides of the building. Besides the elevators and stairways, there do not appear to be any office spaces on floors 5 through 7.

The highway never actually touches the building, thus they are two completely separate structures. A structure covers the highway which supposedly blocks out noises and vibrations from effecting the rest of the tower.

What you want to know, though, is why?

This unusual construction is the result of a compromise which was reached during the 1980s, when redevelopment of the area hit an impasse. A freeway was in the planning stages, but difficulties arose when negotiating with property rights’ holders. Finally in 1989, building codes were revised to include a “Multi-Level Road System” which allowed for this unusual structure to be built.

I can imagine something like this in Austin, Texas, where roads become congested within ten minutes of being built.

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Fans of these vans

Mercedes-Benz wants to sell you a Sprinter van. In fact, M-B is going to be supplementing their existing facility in North Charleston, South Carolina, where complete knock-down kits have been assembled for several years, with a brand-new full-scale assembly plant:

The reason Mercedes-Benz Vans decided to build a Sprinter manufacturing plant in North Charleston is simple: The U.S. market can’t seem to get enough of the tall, boxy commercial vehicles.

“Production follows the market,” Bobby Hitt, the state’s Commerce Secretary, said Wednesday as Mercedes-Benz Vans broke ground on a $500 million facility at Palmetto Commerce Park. “Companies want to produce where they sell.”

Mercedes-Benz Vans sold 28,600 Sprinters to U.S. customers in 2015 — its fifth consecutive year of record growth and an 11 percent increase over 2014 totals. Sales are up 16.5 percent so far this year. By the time the North Charleston plant starts producing vans at the end of this decade, the company expects to be selling at least 40,000 vehicles per year throughout North America.

That’s a lot of vans. Expect to see more Ford Transits and such to combat the Benzes.

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Too good for retail

“Give me spots on my apples, but leave me the birds and the bees.” — Joni Mitchell

Yeah, let’s dive in to the big basket of Defective Fruit:

Really, people need to get used to accepting slightly imperfect produce all of the time — so the producers can use fewer chemicals in its production! I’m not saying ABUSE the produce, but one thing I’ve learned is that the big shiny red “Delicious” apples are woody and tasteless, and the smaller, misshapen ones tend to be better … and at any farmer’s market you’re going to get less-perfect produce. And the idea of “Hey, we’re saving food from the landfill by selling it cheap to “po’ folks,” which is the spin some news stories have put on it, is more than a little offensive.

It doesn’t have to be that way, of course:

[M]y grad school, back when they actually had a functioning university farm (with cows and everything) would collect a lot of the food waste — the uneaten salad and the like — and boil it up and feed it to the cattle. And I remember learning in, I think it was Economic Geology? About a city somewhere — I want to say it was in Colorado — that gave its residents an extra waste bin and asked them to put expired produce and peelings and stuff in there, and the stuff was then boiled up and sold to a hog farmer, who fed it to his animals. And so the city made a bit of money — staving off price increases in garbage collection, food didn’t go to waste, and the farmer got a cheap and abundant source of pig food.

But that made sense, and marketing today is not allowed to make sense:

[T]o me, there seems to be something very “2016” about walking in the store, seeing a big bag of bruised-and-dented produce, and being told to buy it because it’s a good thing and this is what we merit as consumers, anyway … that the New Normal means we need to be satisfied with the increasingly less-good.)

The better-than-good, in the meantime, will find its way to the people willing to pay twice as much. It was, I suspect, always such.


You can’t do this with delivery drones

The Friar drops in at one of the remaining Hastings stores:

A family was shopping, and one of the children, a girl of about eight or nine, had been given one of the books she would be getting with the family purchase. She dropped to the floor in a cross-legged second and dove in, immediately engrossed in whatever story she held while the others browsed.

Jeff Bezos will never be able to sell that, no matter what technology comes under his company’s command.

It will, however, be interesting to watch him try.


Health dissurance

Whatever my issues with CFI Care (not its real initials) during this Era of Massive Medical Treatment, I can’t imagine them getting this bad:

On July 1st, my wife had surgery. It was not the end of the world, but they did have to knock her out and, well, it was surgery.

As the phrase goes, surgeons gotta surge.

Afterwards we stopped by the pharmacy to pick up medication and almost everything was denied. Not “pending decision” denied but “Nopenopenope” denied. It turned out the issue was that our health insurance had, at the end of June, changed something-or-another and so we had to fill out a completely different form and had a different account number.

Our problems only started there. As it happens, the surgery itself was no longer covered at the hospital where it was performed. We live in a tri-state area where a lot of our services are provided across state lines. New policy is nothing non-emergent can occur across state lines under any circumstances. We can’t go to the hospital that’s twenty minutes away, or the one that’s thirty minutes away. The nearest major hospital in the state is actually three hours away. This new policy of course took effect July 1st, the day of the surgery.

We quote Mr Devious, the insurance agent:

Devious: Here we are. It states quite clearly that no claim you make will be paid.

Vicar: Oh dear.

Devious: You see, you unfortunately plumped for our ‘Neverpay’ policy, which, you know, if you never claim is very worthwhile, but you had to claim, and, well, there it is.

Once again, Python anticipates life.

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Didn’t even check her shoes

Parents beware:

It gets worse. At midnight the résumé turns into a strip of Charmin.

(Via Daily Pundit.)

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Come, let’s Stroh

Stroh’s brewed beer in Detroit from 1850 to 1999, when the company was taken over by Pabst. Now, in a limited way anyway, Stroh’s is coming back home:

The Stroh Brewery Company will once again brew beer in Detroit with the return of Stroh’s Bohemian-style Pilsner on August 22…

Stroh’s Bohemian-style Pilsner is a classic that earned the highest awards at the World’s Fair in Chicago in 1893. The new [brew] is inspired by a Stroh’s recipe from the late 1800s.

Stroh’s Bohemian will be brewed at Brew Detroit in Detroit’s Corktown neighborhood.

This is consistent with Pabst policy: own the name, brew wherever you can.



Her Majesty’s Government thinks you’ve had enough Latin abbreviations:

RIP eg, ie and etc. Henceforth the three abbreviated Latin phrases — which stand for exempli gratia (for the sake of example), id est (that is) and et cetera (and the rest) — will stop being used on Britain’s .gov.uk websites. Eventually they will be replaced in toto by English alternatives such as such as, that is, and so on and so on.

Persis Howe of the Government Digital Service announced the change in a blog. Prima facie, you’d think this was simple dumbing down, but Howe did claim a practical reason. “We’ve found that several programs that read webpages for those with visual impairment read ‘eg’ incorrectly,” she explained. They just say “egg”, much to the amusement of the visually impaired.

Would this have happened if British usage had retained, as the Americans have, the punctuation in e.g.?

The GDS works under the banner of “plain English”, which is a noble cause. While there is something rather magnificent about Sir John Chilcot and an unnamed spy chatting in quotes from the Aeneid during the Iraq Inquiry, to most of us this stuff is incomprehensible. Worse, it gives the impression that if you want to get anywhere in Britain you have to be able to smile convincingly when someone says “Tendebantque manus ripae ulterioris amore”.

Seems hardly fair to blame all this on Virgil.

(Via John Kelly.)

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Gentlemen clubbed

The sort-of-infamous town of Valley Brook, which occupies a quarter of a square mile surrounded on all sides by southeast Oklahoma City, is known mostly for strip clubs and speed traps. The town budget, tucked into the Oklahoman’s Classified section Tuesday, would seem to bear that out:

Valley Brook budget FY 2017

Wonder what that $125,000 in “transfers out” bought them.

The population of Valley Brook is somewhere around 800.


Is it Mary or Sue?

From the faraway early 1960s, a dress over which to obsess:

Pretty Girl dress from Braunstein's

Stag line, indeed. (Yet the dateless guys still queue up, even today.)

And I have to chuckle at “The Fashion Capital of Delaware.”

(Tip of the hat to Roger Green.)

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Under a shower of stars

“Surely someone recorded ‘Sukiyaki’ in French,” I said to myself.

Surely someone did:

Margot Lefebvre (1936-1989) was a French Canadian singer who flourished in the early to middle 1960s. This was probably her biggest hit:

Never got close to the US charts, so far as I can tell.


Modern-day logic

And really, this does work on a Philosophy 101 level:

You are curious whether your butt is big or small. Unfortunately, you lack the ability to accurately assess the size of butts. Fortunately, there are three rappers before you. You are of their preferred gender, so they are willing to collectively entertain exactly one yes-or-no question from you, to which they will each give an answer.

One rapper likes big butts and cannot lie. One rapper likes small butts and always lies. One rapper likes all butts but shares your inability to assess butt size, and will answer yes or no at random if asked whether a butt is big or small. You do not know which rapper is which. All the rappers know all other facts relevant to the situation, including everyone’s identity and butt preferences.

Before you are able to ask your question, one rapper receives a booty call (the size of the booty is unknown to you) and leaves the room. The other two rappers remain and are willing to pronounce on your question. You still do not know who any of the rappers are.

To determine the size of your butt, what question should you ask them? (You may assume that all butts can be classified as either big or small and ignore contextual factors, e.g. from the presence of Oakland booty.)

(Via Chris Lawrence.)


Meanwhile, back in the swamp

It was either that or “Playing it coypu”:

The New Orleans Zephyrs, in collaboration with Pet Care Center Veterinary Hospital, will wear special jerseys featuring a nutria for their Friday, July 29 game against the Iowa Cubs.

Nutrias are brown-furred, plant-eating mammals that first made their home in Louisiana in the 1930s. The Zephyrs have utilized the nutria as the team’s mascots, Boudreaux and Clotile, since 1998.

The garb looks like, um, this:

Nutria jerseys in New Orleans

Perhaps it’s a good thing so few minor-league games are on television.

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It was one of those nights

A fairly routine Sunday game: Los Angeles Dodgers 9, St Louis Cardinals 6. Until you look at this:

Mike Meyers gets his first major-league loss

And yes, it’s just like it looks:

The Dodgers scored a half-dozen runs off Cardinals callup Mike Mayers before the Cardinals ever came to bat. The first four trotted home when Gonzalez tattooed a 2-2 fastball 427 feet over the center-field wall. Gonzalez finished the game with three hits, the second of which preceded Howie Kendrick’s home run with one out in the second.

That blast marked the end of the day for Mayers, who had been summoned for the spot start after the Cardinals’ rotation order was interrupted by a doubleheader earlier in the team’s homestand. Mayers, who had a 2.62 ERA in 18 Minor League starts this year, allowed nine runs before being pulled with one out in the second. It was the shortest start by a Cardinals pitcher making his MLB debut since Memo Luna in 1954.

Mayers is now back among the Memphis Redbirds, the Cards’ Triple-A affiliate.

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Because cash

A defense of the payday-loan industry:

Raise your hand if you’ve ever used the services of Payday Loan. No? That’s because you’re an upstanding, respectable citizen with a decent paycheck and a bank account. I, on the other hand, (ahem) haven’t been any of those things for going on 20 years. And since I fell on hard times in California, where the Franchise Tax Board can and absolutely will hoover up the contents of your bank account if you piss them off, even when I had a paycheck I found myself looking for ways to do without banks.

What I’m saying is, even though I never actually took out a loan with them I do know the inside of a Payday Loan. They also cash checks for a fee, and help you wire money to Guatemala or wherever. Personally I’ve always suspected that this is what [Sen. Elizabeth] Warren and her totalitarian pals really object to: Payday Loans (PL in future) makes money less transparent to the government and less susceptible to confiscation. For that reason alone I like it.

Besides, the government hates competition:

Now, they are pushing to include language in the Democratic Party platform to add banking to the line of services provided by the U.S. Postal Service.

Imagine it with me, Mr. and Mrs. America. The post office, which has practically driven itself out of its own centuries-old monopoly through incredible ineptitude, would now be granted…

“nothing fancy, just basic bill paying, check cashing and small dollar loans.”

What could possibly go wrong?

“But… but… non-profit!” I’d perhaps be more impressed with that, except that my stint last month in an ostensibly non-profit emergency room ran up a tab of twenty thousand dollars.

(Via View From The Porch.)

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