Still popping after all these years

Gershon Kingsley’s original “Pop Corn,” even unplugged, occupies a distinct (and slightly salty) niche in the annals of electronic music. Upon hearing a rumor that someone had put together a ten-hour version, I was mystified, but there were enough Related Videos to make my venture worthwhile.

For instance, there is metal Popcorn:

There is dubstep Popcorn (with a violin!):

And there is Popcorn under glass:

Finally, a techno Popcorn:

(Oh, that “10-hour” rumor? Absolutely true.)

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On Scott Pruitt

Some folks seem alarmed that Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, Donald Trump’s choice to head the Environmental Protection Agency, has actually spent a fair amount of time fighting the EPA, and the Usual Suspects are quite aware of that:

Grunwald writes for Politico, so undoubtedly he’s suffering some amount of butthurt these days, but there’s nothing extreme or even really remarkable about his observation: it’s been replicated in some form or other all across the Left.

On the other hand, there have been times when I wondered if the Agency hadn’t given up on actual environmental protection in favor of politicized environmental protection, in which all decisions are made to support The Narrative at the expense of everything else:

A major water infrastructure bill introduced Monday by the Republican leadership would put states back in charge of enforcing one of the Environmental Protection Agency’s costly coal rules, while making sure the agency pays for the damage it caused states during last year’s toxic waste water spill in Colorado.

The new Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation bill includes pending water resources and water waste bills, as well as significant tribal and natural resources legislation, and other important measures to improve the nation’s infrastructure, according to a fact sheet.

“Fact sheets” are, well, not always factual, though dissembling was and is a bipartisan activity of the worst kind. Then again, EPA hasn’t exactly rushed to take care of that toxic waste, have they? If Pruitt’s mission is to strangle EPA in its crib, as Betsy DeVos is supposed to be dismantling the Department of Education — well, think how much we’ll save in the long run if the states resume control of functions that Washington was never Constitutionally authorized to perform.

Of course, some states are in better shape than others. I’m thinking back to January:

Attorney General Scott Pruitt sent a letter Monday to Gov. Mary Fallin and legislative leaders, asking that about $6 million in state appropriations for his office be withheld in the next budget in view of financial problems affecting the state.

A hole of about $900 million is expected in the next state budget as revenues have fallen because of a downturn in the oil industry.

And hey, you can’t have things like agency heads asking for budget cuts. It’s un-American, for certain spendthrift values of “American.”

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Alexa is coming

Notification from Amazon last night:

Alexa, the brain behind Amazon Echo, is now available on Fire tablets. Voice responses from Alexa are enhanced with visuals for certain questions. See your calendar, view the weather forecast, play music and Audible books, see sports scores, and more. When connected to Wi-Fi, just press the home button for 1 second and ask:

  • “How’s the weather?”
  • “Tell me a joke.”
  • “Reorder paper towels.”
  • “What’s my Sports Update?”
  • “Add laundry to my to-do list.”

If you really loved me, Alexa, you’d figure out some way to keep laundry off my to-do list.

(I think it’s time to watch Her again.)

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Still living in infamy

Bill Quick on the 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor:

This was the second worst sneak attack on the American homeland in our history. We still remember it. Well, those of us who haven’t had their brains washed clean of that history by a malign progressive indoctrination system masquerading as education.

The worst attack was, of course, carried out by savage, barbaric Muslim Saudis on September 11, 2001. We’re supposed to forget that one, too, I believe.

In time, it is all forgotten.

But this isn’t the time.

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The sin of gluteny

Joe Bob Briggs is going to explain this, just this once:

Gluten is a Latin word meaning “glue” and it’s the substance that makes dough elastic so we can shape it into bread, noodles, grits, tortillas, cakes, soy sauce, pies, beer, pretzels, macaroni, bagels, candy, cereal, croutons, lunch meat, salad dressing, potato chips, soup, and Belgian waffles. You might have noticed something about that particular food group. It’s stuff that tastes good.

But because we live in a masochistic bulimic anorexic food-hating universe of nutzoid crusaders who want to sell us colon scrapers and Lake Titicaca Quinoa Seeds, we have to get rid of it precisely because it tastes good.

What’s that? Oh, yes. Celiac disease. I know someone who has it. Probably so do you. That leaves, what, 198 people we know who don’t?

Then again, I’m having a snit these days because I have to push around a metal frame to get anywhere and I can’t force people to open the door for me.

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Baby remains on board

If you’re clueless enough to forget that you’re hauling a kid in the back seat, General Motors has a vehicle for you.

GM Rear Seat Reminder

Or will have soon, anyway:

Having made its debut in the 2017 GMC Acadia earlier this year, the technology aims to prevent heatstroke-related deaths and reduce the number of children left unattended in parking lots.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration lists heatstroke as one of the leading causes of non-traffic vehicle-related fatalities for children under fourteen. According to KidsAndCars.org, that works out to an average of 37 fatalities per year. The majority of the time, those children were simply forgotten in the back.

GM’s Rear Seat Reminder works by monitoring the vehicle’s rear doors. The feature activates whenever a rear door is opened and closed within 10 minutes before the vehicle is started, or if they are opened and closed while the vehicle is already running. When the vehicle is turned off after a door activation, the system sounds five audible chimes and a display message reminder drivers to “Look in Rear Seat.”

This system makes certain assumptions: that the kid hasn’t been in there for more than ten minutes, and that the alleged adult at the wheel isn’t whacked out on meth.

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How dare you be hard-working!

What a horrible thing to say to a woman:

Professors reveal their gender bias and hurt female science students when they write letters of recommendation describing them as “hard-working,” “kind,” or “conscientious,” one lecturer told Oxford physics students last month.

Athene Donald, a Cambridge experimental physics prof, recounted her Oxford lecture in a blog post republished by Times Higher Education. She claims that “gendered adjectives” in letters of recommendation are a “significant detriment to the woman’s progression even without a sexist intent.”

“Gendered adjectives,” which should supposedly be avoided, also include “dependable,” “warm,” and “diligent,” according to a University of Arizona guide [pdf] that Donald references.

Fortunately, “fucking stupid” is satisfyingly generic.

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We wouldn’t shih tzu

McG explains: “[It’s] what you get if you don’t watch where you step.”

It could be worse. Imagine the Jerry Springer Spaniel.

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Enchanted by an older woman

Some things never, ever change:

Dear Jaxon: Just a warning. This way lies madness. I’ve been there.

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Usage notes

“Vaughan,” the new WordPress 4.7, broke my ancient comment-preview screen, apparently permanently.

Tell me what you think of the replacement. (It’s been here before.)

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We have all been here before

The running gag on the Holy Roman Empire was that it wasn’t holy, wasn’t Roman, and wasn’t an empire. It takes very little to update this gag for the European Union:

There’s a Holy Roman Empire vibe to Europe these days. At some point, one of these problems is going to prove unsolvable. At that point, the logic of the whole enterprise gets called into question. That was the reason the Germans were hell bent on bringing the Greeks to heel. The sensible solution was to let them leave, but that would have meant the EU was a voluntary association of nations. If the Greeks left then anyone could leave. It turns out that political unity only works when it is compulsory.

Quelle surprise.

That’s what may be tested now that the Italians have voted to reject the structural reforms most thought necessary to avoid a banking crisis in the country. Like the Greeks, the Italian banking system is in shambles, but the bigger issue is their political and legal system. Italian society is not engineered to work in a German economic model. That leaves two possible solutions. One is for the Italians to adopt the German political system or for them to go back to the Italian economic model, that is, leave the EU.

It turns out that Italians like being Italian and will not abandon their culture without a fight. This is a replay of the Greek crisis, except that the Italian economy is twice the size of the Greek economy. There’s also the fact that the Italians are much more of a core European nation, in the broader political and cultural sense. No one in Europe felt bad about stomping on the Greeks. The French and the Spanish will not be enthusiastic about siding with Berlin against Rome in a fight, because what comes next for Rome is next for Madrid and Paris.

And there are echoes of that sort of thing even in this hemisphere:

Inevitably, people begin to look at the managerial class the same way the commoners looked at the aristocracy in 18th century France. The average citizen of a Western country feels as if they are ruled by strangers. The result is the rising tide of populism we are seeing, which is nothing like the top-down variant a century ago. The Italian vote was not about nationalism. It was about rejecting rule by strangers. It is why Trump will be the next president and Britain will leave Europe. People prefer the familiar to the foreign.

Expect the next person who boastfully describes himself as “a citizen of the world” to wonder why some people are calling for his deportation.

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Satisfied Wolff

It must be nice to be able to retire in your thirties. Racing driver Susie Wolff, thirty-four today, started off in karting, graduated to DTM and moved up to Formula One in 2012.

Susie Wolff rides the door

Susie Wolff stands tall

Susie Wolff with a Gullwing

In F1, Wolff was classified as a development driver, later upgraded to test driver. In general, she was good, if seldom great, and in late 2015 she announced she’d be retiring after that year’s Race of Champions, in which she failed to make it to the semifinals, though her co-driver David Coulthard did survive that long.

In 2016, Wolff was a race commentator for Britain’s Channel 4. She’s married to Toto Wolff, executive director of the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 team; they’re expecting their first child.

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The A-list for bees

An operation called “Killer Bees Honey” invites questions, most of them connected to that first word:

Like most Americans in our diverse nation, Killer Bee ancestry traces back to other continents.

In 1956, Brazilian beekeepers, faced with low honey productivity, imported African honeybee queens to breed with their own Old World bees. Apis mellifera scutellata, or just scutellata (Killer Bees), were the progeny. This cross-bred honeybee was a highly productive, albeit petulant, subspecies.

Underwhelmed with their new digs and despite stern warnings from their human handlers, rebellious scutellata escaped from “managed” labs and established large, self-sustaining feral populations throughout South America. Soon, scientists discovered that the Killer Bee queens reproduced at up to five times the rate of European queens. Plus, the local virgin European queens preferred scutellata males.

Never mind that. Are these really Killers?

Invariably, I’m asked if we really have Killer Bees. My answer: Yes and no. Recent analysis of honeybee mitochondrial DNA reveals that most bees in America possess a small percentage of scutellata genetics. My apiary’s Old World bees are mostly Italian and Carniolan. But when I’m stung, I see and feel the scutellata in them.

Fair enough. “Killer,” after all, is more noun than adjective, or so it seems to me.

(Via Bayou Renaissance Man.)

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In case the lights go out

Who knew that Silicon Valley had a Fashion Week? Well, apparently they did, back in November, and there was, I thought, one really standout piece, using 3M Scotchlite:

Betabrand 3M dress

Betabrand’s 3M dress has reflective panels with millions of tiny glass beads. It could pass as regular workwear during the day and transform into an attention-grabbing outfit at night.

$178 directly from Betabrand, once it gets back into stock.

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Scattershot at both ends

I am indebted to radio guy Matt Pinto for that phrase, uttered about halfway through the fourth quarter while a 14-point Thunder lead had shrunk to a mere three. Consistent inconsistency has bedeviled this club most of the year, and while Oklahoma City handled the Hawks beautifully in the 28-15 third quarter, Atlanta was able to upend the OKC applecart pretty quickly. Mike Budenholzer had already pulled one switcheroo in the starting lineup, switching scorer Kyle Korver to coming off the bench and having the more defense-minded Thabo Sefolosha start at the three. And Thabo lived up to his billing, scoring only six points but forcing six turnovers. Perhaps a greater boon to the Hawks was the return of Paul Millsap, who’d missed three games due to a hip issue. And with 10.8 seconds left and the Hawks down three, Victor Oladipo took a spill and lost the subsequent jump ball to, yes, Sefolosha. Time out was called, a Hawk trey came down empty, and it was OKC 102, Atlanta 99, the Thunder’s sixth consecutive win.

Millsap was good for 24 points; Korver led the Atlanta bench with 15. One thing the Hawks did well was draw fouls, which they duly converted to free throws; they made 24 of 32 from the stripe. (The Thunder continue to stumble from the foul line, hitting only 18 of 28.) And neither side could break 32 percent from three-point land, the Hawks going 7-22 and the Thunder 10-31.) But OKC did have the rebounding under control, 43-36, and yes, there was yet another Russell Westbrook triple-double: 32-13-12, his sixth in a row. Steven Adams, apparently undeterred by his ankle issue against the Pelicans last night, rose for a double-double: 12 points, 10 boards. And the return of Anthony Morrow to good form continues to help: tonight he was 5-8 (4-6 on the long ball) for 15 points.

After this, the Thunder are off until Friday, when the Rockets show up at the ‘Peake; the Celtics will be in town Sunday, after which it’s back out West once more.

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Meanwhile in Arkansas

Unclad customer at Burger King in Dardanelle, ArkansasAdd this to my Never Seen In Fast Food Places list:

According to Dardanelle Police Chief Monti Sims, at approximately 10 a.m. Sunday morning, December 4, the Dardanelle Police Department arrested an unidentified naked female after two incidents occurred at Burger King and McDonald’s. The unclothed female entered Burger King and according to witnesses, “checked on the status of her application.” After inquiring about her application, the female then stole a Santa hat and some garland from the restaurant then exited the business. She then fled Burger King and attempted to enter a vehicle at McDonald’s located next door. Upon attempting to enter the vehicle, officers with the Dardanelle Police Department apprehended her.

Because yeah, that Santa hat will cover her up nicely.

(Speaking of Santa hats, Kali Allaway of the Web comic Enjuhneer wears one, which is essential if you want to know where she is, because she’s otherwise invisible. She is not, however, generally naked.)

Our unclad Arkansawyer isn’t so fortunate:

After placing her under arrest, the nude woman was transported to the Yell County Detention Center and was booked on the charges of two counts disorderly conduct and she remains in custody at this time.

Which was to be expected. Heck, actual nudists aren’t allowed in Arkansas.

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