Squeaky wheels on the Gravy Train

Right out of the Akismet holding facility, this inexplicable bit of nothing:

Dog arthritis

Somehow I can’t see Fido clamoring for Kibbles ‘n Excedrin ‘n Bits.

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We gotta keep searchin’, searchin’

Although this may be overkill:

Screen shot from Pale Moon browser from www.google.com

If the next question is “Over what period of time?” I admit I don’t know — which, I suppose, makes things worse.

(Thank you, Del Shannon, for the title.)

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Sun tax error

Roger sent me this, and I imagine he was shaking his head as he read it:

Oklahoma residents who produce their own energy through solar panels or small wind turbines on their property will now be charged an additional fee, the result of a new bill passed by the state legislature and expected to be signed into law by Gov. Mary Fallin (R).

On Monday, S.B. 1456 passed the state House 83-5 after no debate. The measure creates a new class of customers: those who install distributed power generation systems like solar panels or small wind turbines on their property and sell the excess energy back to the grid. While those with systems already installed won’t be affected, the new class of customers will now be charged a monthly fee — a shift that happened quickly and caught many in the state off guard.

You can read the measure in its current form here. This is how I replied to Roger:

I admit to not knowing what Ann Griffin was up to when she wrote that bill. (Most Republicans in the OK Senate have at least decent ratings from the Sierra Club; Griffin rates a 93% on their scale.)

The bill provides for a surcharge limited to “that required to recover the full costs necessary to serve customers who install distributed generation on the customer side of the meter after the effective date of this act,” which date is the first of November. However, it also expects the utilities to determine the amount of those costs, and implement the appropriate tariffs by the end of 2015. Typically, a tariff has to be approved by the Corporation Commission, and they will generally open a period of public comment before issuing a decision. So this may not be the done-est of deals.

And I’m thinking that, once actually imposed, this fee will probably be on the same scale as what I pay to support the state’s first wind farm. Ten years ago, it was a buck and a quarter a month; revised tariffs make it a bit more variable, but my most recent electric bill, for $56.95, included a “net wind cost” of $3.39. I’m betting they ask for about twice that, and the Corp Comm will approve half of it, and everybody will pretend to be happy.

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Foreign dung

I tell you, dogs can be trained to do almost anything:

A highly specialised detection dog trained to sniff out koala droppings is on the case in Logan, south of Brisbane, Australia, in a bid to boost protection for the vulnerable species. Logan City Council enlisted conservation canine Maya to help identify koala habitats in the area. Maya’s owner is Dr Cristescu, an ecologist who specialises in koala research.

And how did this pound puppy develop her, um, koalafications?

“You need a dog basically with an OCD on a tennis ball, an absolute nutcase on a tennis ball,” [Cristescu] said. “Then you scent-associate the tennis ball with the target odour — which is a koala poop — and then the dog will search for ages just to try to find that odour. She will go into an open area and she just has to find one little koala poop and she will just hit the deck. Maya will do a drop and then when you go up to her she’ll go and put her nose over the top of it and pinpoint exactly where it is. You’ve got a whole acre and you’ve found one tiny piece of koala poop.”

Maya, it appears, will be searching 1200 acres (about 500 hectares) over a two-week period.

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Needs an eye-bleach dispenser

Nissan, perhaps due to rubbing up against corporate cousin Renault for all these years, always seems to have a weird mix of genuinely handsome and downright fugly vehicles. I drive a 14-year-old Infiniti sedan which I think is at least acceptable-looking (apart from a really dumb aftermarket spoiler), especially considering the atrocities that have been vended in this size class in recent years in the name of fuel economy/aerodynamics/designer perversity. On the other side of the divide is the Juke utelet, of which Car and Driver said: “There are no logical reasons for it to look the way it does, so clearly drawn without conventional aesthetic considerations in mind.” And they liked it.

The revised Infiniti QX80, née QX56, née Nissan Patrol, may get similarly blistered in the press. At TTAC, Cameron Miquelon made no particular observation about its appearance, other than to note that the hood was “massive.” However, Michael Zak at Autoblog brought out the pejoratives:

[I]t’s hard to call this SUV anything but ugly. It’s bulbous and almost brutish, which aren’t generally words you want to have to use when talking about any kind of luxury vehicle.

Or even Lincolns.

On the basis that you should be able to make this fine judgment call on your own, here’s the new QX80, as seen at the New York auto show:

2015 Infiniti QX80

No amount of ethanol could persuade me that this thing is desirable. (Your mileage, of course, may vary.) Then again, the driver only has to look at the inside of it, except when refueling — which, given the size of this thing, he’ll be doing rather frequently.

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Spot almost hit

Among the Big Three colas, I’ve pretty much always seen Pepsi as third, maybe even fourth if Shasta was being discounted more heavily than usual; but for no really good reason, I had an urge for a Pepsi yesterday, and the wherewithal to obtain a 20-ounce bottle. Which I did.

While it was occurring to me that I could have gotten the same results by opening an RC Cola and letting it sit until Tuesday, I started reading the label, and discovered something I hadn’t actually noticed before: the full name “Pepsi-Cola” is no longer being used.

When did this happen? According to Wikipedia, it’s been simply Pepsi since 1961. I know I’ve had several Pepsis since the year I turned eight, but maybe it’s a we-don’t-serve-Coke kind of deal.

Come to think of it, in 1961, Pepsi kicked off that “For Those Who Think Young” business, so the actual transition might have been in this very advertisement. That’s Joanie Sommers on the vocal; now I wonder if Johnny got angry because she brought home a carton of Coke.

And anyway, before it was Pepsi-Cola, it was, um, Brad’s Drink. This is Brad.

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You can have it all, my empire of fish

Another site I run got hit with this lovely piece of Russian spam:

РЫБНАЯ ИМПЕРИЯ – онлайн игра с выводом денег. Запуск системы 31.03.2014.

Для регистрации перейдите по ссылке: http://fish-empire.net/

Наши Приемущества: Открытая статистика – Вы всегда будете в курсе о текущем положении золота в системе. В системе нет никаких запретов для продажи золота.

Идеальное сотрудничество – доступность многократно увеличить свои инвестиции. Мы предлагаем от 30% до 100% в месяц.

Рост резерва системы – за счет влива средств на рекламу и приглашения в проект новых участников – пользователями, участвующих по партнерской програме. Оперативная помощь на приветном форуме. Не забываемая атмосфера и ещё разнообразие разных плюсов.

Об Игре: РЫБНАЯ ИМПЕРИЯ – онлайн игра с выводом денег. Войдите в среду экономической онлайн игры и создайте свою Рыбную Империю, которая стабильно будет давать Вам настоящие деньги.

В данной игре Вам нужно приобретать различных рыб. Каждая рыба производит икру, которую можно обменять на золото. Золото можно выручить за настоящие деньги и вывести из системы на свои электронные кошельки.

Любые рыбы дают разное количество икры, чем они больше стоят, тем икры дают больше. Вы можете преобретать любое их кол-во, у рыб нет срока жизни, они никуда не исчезнут и будут давать Вам икру стабильно. Сбор икры осуществляется без потерь и лимитов по времени.

Начни Игру: Начать играть можно без инвестиций. При регистрации мы дарим Всем Щуку. Ежедневные бонусы, лотерея, конкурсы, акции. Так же существует партнерская програма. Призывайте в проект своих знакомых и родных.

За каждое пополнение счета партнерами, Вы будете получать 30% от суммы их инвестиций. Авто – ввод в проект и вывод денег на Ваш электронный счет. Низкая минималка на Паеер, всего 3 RUB. Ваша Рыбная Империя будет приносить прибыль всегда.

Курс игрового инвентаря: 100 гр. икры = 1 гр. золота. 100 гр. золота = 1 RUB.

Рыбы———–Стоимость——–Доход в день-——Окупаемость
Щука——————–90 RUB——————–1 RUB——————–90 дней
Минтай—————–270 RUB——————3,6 RUB——————–75 дней
Лосось—————–810 RUB——————13,5 RUB——————-60 дней
Осетр——————2430 RUB—————–54 RUB———————45 дней
Белуга—————–7290 RUB—————–243 RUB——————–30 дней

Looks like half online game, half multi-level marketing. (I am relying, of course, on Google Translate, because I don’t know enough Russian to find a toilet.)

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Under the bus with you

It seems so strange, at least to Crimsonic, that Kathleen Sebelius would resign:

What did she do wrong? Can someone explain?

I look at Kathleen Sebelius and see a well-coiffed woman in a pants-suit. She seemed to wear that pants-suit successfully. She looks serious and businesslike and even has shortish whitish hair, so as not to be too threateningly feminine. She’s even also skinny for pete’s sake. You could picture her getting invited to a fancy DC-area cocktail party.

Okay, that’s the important stuff. What else?

Kathleen SebeliusWiki says she has a master’s degree in “Public Administration”. You could therefore put some letters after her name. That’s a credential. What more do you need? She should just be kept in whatever position she holds (as long as she wants to hold it) thereafter. (Credential).

To sum up:

All I’m saying is that when I think about whether she satisfies all the criteria for success and qualification and doing a good job that we actually impose when selecting who will be our leaders (in particular female ones), as far as I can tell she passes with flying colors. I can literally think of no single criterion that we currently impose on leaders and authority figures that she doesn’t fully satisfy just fine. With respect to those criteria, she passes with flying colors as far as I can tell.

I mentioned the pants-suit right?

These are not the criteria we claim to espouse, mind you: these are the criteria we actually use.

And as you may have noticed, I am utterly indifferent to pantsuits.

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WordPress ahead

During the Pistons game last night, WordPress 3.9 arrived. (You may remember that 3.8.3 appeared a mere two days before that.) This version is named for the incredible Jimmy Smith, who was taking a walk on the wild side a decade before Lou Reed. I’m not entirely sure I’ve seen all the trickery from 3.8, or even 3.7, yet, but this is promised by Smith:

The updated visual editor has improved speed, accessibility, and mobile support. You can paste into the visual editor from your word processor without wasting time to clean up messy styling. (Yeah, we’re talking about you, Microsoft Word.)

I just felt a pang of whatever it is I feel a pang of whenever I have to contemplate anything in Microsoft Word.

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Had I a clue

I mentioned yesterday that the dealership had lent me a G37 for the duration while my own ride awaits a new and sorta-pricey part ($200+, plus God knows what to install); inasmuch as I have no idea of the duration of “the duration,” I figured that it would be at least two days and therefore I ought to spring for a couple of gallons of gas. Shortly after figuring this, I stumbled upon the Question of the Day: “On which side is the fuel filler?”

Conventional wisdom says that you follow the little arrow inside the gauge. I looked at it, and it looked like the one in my car: pointing to the right. Except that the filler on my car is on the left. Being distrustful of Nissan fuel gauges anyway, I decided I’d wait for the next G37 to come along and take notes. As it happens, the little C-store/Shell station around the corner from me had a G37 at the pump, and it was filling from the right side, so I manuevered into the nearest appropriate position and felt around for the remote fuel-door release on the underside of the driver’s side armrest.

I found nothing there.

Okay, fine, said I, and walked around to the other side of the car, where the glovebox is, with the express intent of consulting the manual.

Which wasn’t there.

My second Mazda had the release on the floor by the seat controls. Not there, either. After about seven minutes of looking just as stupid as possible, I noticed an asymmetry to the door opening. I pushed the side nearest the narrower edge, and yes! There’s the cap. And a tether to keep it from migrating, and a rack to keep it in rather than letting it dangle by the tether.

The clerk, when I presented her a ten-spot, was most amused. I was perhaps a tad less so when I discovered that the difference between regular and premium, recently jacked up to 32 cents at most Shells I see and 46 cents at one I’d passed earlier, was 60 cents. So “a couple of gallons” says it straight: ten bucks bought me just under two and a third gallons at $4.299. I hope they’re grateful at the dealership.

Addendum: The part will apparently arrive today.

Further addendum: Make that a part. Someone at Nissan Double Secret HQ dropped the ball.

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Paying it backward

The wheel of karma is downright speedy at times:

The author of the critically acclaimed graphic novel Fun Home was so horrified by the actions of South Carolina lawmakers and College of Charleston officials that she quickly joined an effort to bring the off-Broadway show based on her book to campus, according to local organizers.

Alison Bechdel and the cast of the New York City show are volunteering to present a concert version of the musical in Charleston. Two performances will be offered, at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. Monday, at Memminger Auditorium, 56 Beaufain St.

Origin of the flap:

Fun Home was the selected title for the College Reads! program and made available to all incoming students in the fall of 2013. It recounts Bechdel’s upbringing and explores themes of sexual identity.

In February, some lawmakers took issue with the book, and the S.C. House budget-writing committee moved to withdraw $52,000 of school funding, the cost of the summer reading program.

The censorship controversy flared, prompting acrimony on both sides and concern from supporters of academic freedom.

Next year’s selection, David Finkel’s The Good Soldiers, may be controversial for a different reason: Chelsea (then Bradley) Manning has contradicted some of Finkel’s narrative.

(Via this Will Creeley tweet. Creeley is Director of Legal and Public Advocacy for FIRE.)

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On (almost) all cylinders

If you had told me three hours ago that four Detroit starters would pick up 20 points or more, and that one of their rookies would soar to a career high, I’d have assumed you were on some kind of high yourself. Shows you what I know. The Pistons have been out of playoff contention for some time now, and there’s nothing a lottery team likes better than thrashing one of their betters. There ought to be a word for that, and the word ought to be “Kentavious,” after Detroit rookie guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who, in addition to having one of the truly great names in NBA history, rolled up 30 points tonight after never having seen even 20 before. The Pistons led by as many as 11 tonight, though the Thunder clambered back to within one with just over a minute left, and at the :16 mark Kevin Durant threw it down to put OKC up 112-111. Then came an absurd little contretemps in which neither team seemed to be able to claim possession, ending with a jump between Durant and Greg Monroe, and then Brandon Jennings’ Hail Mary trey fell short at the horn. Fully half of Durant’s 42 points came in that fourth quarter, and as Kendrick Perkins says: “That’s what he do.”

It’s a good thing he do that, because the Thunder did not shoot particularly well: 44 percent, and a woeful 5-23 from three-point distance. They did, however, collect free throws: 41 of them, of which they made 31. (Durant had 13; Russell Westbrook had 12 among his 22 points.) And then there were those ten steals, six of them executed by Westbrook.

But the Pistons shot 50 percent or better just about all night, which explains four starters over 20. (Jennings wound up with six, more assists than points, and more turnovers than either.) Monroe scored 22, as did Andre Drummond before fouling out; Drummond also reeled in 13 rebounds, second only to, um, Serge Ibaka.) This didn’t leave much for the bench, which is perhaps as well: only Jonas Jerebko got more than 20 minutes, and he collected only five points for his trouble.

So the battle for the #2 seed is over. Who’s #7? The Mavs and the Grizzlies, competing for that very spot, tied at 93 after 48 minutes in Memphis, and with 1.1 left, a pair of Mike Conley free throws gave it to the Griz, 106-105, Dallas burning up three timeouts in those waning moments in a desperate attempt to get off a play. (Monta Ellis finally managed an unsuccessful 20-foot jumper, and that was that.) So Dallas gets to play the Spurs in the first round, and it’s Thunder vs. Grizzlies. Groan.

Oh, and Durant won the scoring title again. Is anyone surprised?

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Fark blurb of the week

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Out there in the audio radiance

KCSC, the classical-music station at the University of Central Oklahoma, changed its call letters to KUCO a couple of weeks ago; I’m frankly surprised they’d stuck with the old calls for so long, inasmuch as the school hasn’t actually been Central State College since the early 1970s. However, the RDS display still reads “KCSC@UCO.”

This should tell you that Gwendolyn had a spa day today — the dreaded MIL, attention to which has never, ever cost me less than $600 — and that they turned me loose in a ’13 G37, a competent handler with a fairly dumb seven-speed automatic and, yes, an RDS display. And I had plenty of time to enjoy the radio, since traffic on the Lake Hefner Parkway was moving at around 15-20 mph. Southbound. This, of course, is impossible, since the Hef’s main purpose in life is to provide an alternative to the Broadway Distention, three miles east, which funnels people out of downtown and into Edmond at that time of day; hardly anyone ever goes south on the Hef during the evening rush.

Near Britton Road — I’d come on at 122nd — I saw the issue. A flat slab of yellow plastic, maybe the size of the similarly colored rack where my dishes dry by evaporation, had been dropped on the line between the center and right lanes. Every swinging Ricardito for two miles had slowed down to get a good look at it. This, I decided, was the first really good argument for self-driving cars, which can’t engage in rubbernecking unless it’s part of their program. (What’s the over/under on them programming them to do exactly that?)

Spa day continues until Nissan can find an EGR valve.

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Maybe she lost count

Whatever the reason, this is a spiffy, if depressing, lede:

Cristal Paulette Richardson told jurors at her murder trial that she doesn’t recall everything that happened when she stabbed Cedric Lamont Owens 130 times and castrated him inside a Far East Dallas motel room.

Of course, lots of factors can contribute to memory loss:

Richardson, 29, testified Friday in a Dallas County courtroom that she acted in self-defense because, she said, Owens attacked and raped her. She said the two, who had known each other less than 12 hours, had spent part of the night together and she used cocaine, PCP, marijuana and alcohol. She said she blacked out so she doesn’t remember all the details of what happened the rest of the night but testified that she was not high at the time of the slayings.

If you ask me, that would have been the ideal time to have blacked out, but then I have no personal experience with stabbiness.

(Via Interested-Participant.)

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Wag tales

When I saw the hilarious mockumentary Best in Show back in 2000, my second thought — had to get all the guffaws and spit takes out of the way first — was “Dear God, what are actual dog-show people going to think about this?”

On the evidence of this, clipped from a summer-show premium list, they love it:

Best In Show at Pocatello Kennel Club

“Take the Lead” is a charity that “provides direct services, support and care for people in the sport of purebred dogs who suffer the devastation of life-threatening or terminal illness.”

(Source.)

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Here comes the grump

Right on schedule, too:

The approximate moment when grumpiness kicks in for men, according to a recently released report, is around age 70.

Then you’d better get off his lawn.

At a mere sixty, I’m not seeing this on the horizon just yet. Then again, at a mere sixty, I’m busy denying there’s a horizon at all.

Researchers found that as men grow older — from, say, 50 on — they have fewer obstacles and annoyances to worry about in life and, furthermore, they are more equipped to deal with adversity. But around age 70, life — or at least the perception of happiness — begins to go downhill.

The study, published in the March 2014 issue of Psychology and Aging, examined 1,315 men — mostly military veterans who participated in a 15-year survey — between the ages of 53 and 85. Some 80 percent said that at age 50, life became easier. About 20 percent said they were happier after they retired.

Both groups, however, agreed that good feelings about life began to decline at age 70 — for myriad reasons, including health problems, cognitive slide and the losses of loved ones.

I should point out that rather a large percentage of us in the 53-85 bracket are military veterans: there was a war on when we were what we now quaintly call “draft age.”

I’m not sure what to expect at 70, or even if there’s a 70 I can expect to expect. I do know that Zooey Deschanel will be 44.

(Via Fark. And this is where I remembered the title.)

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Bon^2

In the foreground here is the pony commonly known as Bon Bon. The fans gave her that name, based on her cutie mark, but Hasbro prefers that you refer to her as Sweetie Drops:

MLP screenshot featuring Bon Bon

Viktor & Rolf, who in 2006 gave us a fragrance called “Flowerbomb,” have just introduced this:

New ad for Bonbon by Viktor & Rolf

Now obviously this concept predates both V&R and MLP:FiM; still, you should have seen the spit take I did when I found that advertisement on the back cover of Vanity Fair.

And now I need to write up a background pony and call her Flowerbomb. Because silly.

Addendum: Maybe we can talk this model into some of that Twilight Sparkle eyeliner.

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Fast fixing

“Didn’t we just get 3.8.2?” I mused as the email notifiers came in last night to tell me that 3.8.3 had just arrived. There was, of course, a reason for that:

The “Quick Draft” tool on the dashboard screen was broken in the 3.8.2 update. If you tried to use it, your draft would disappear and it wouldn’t save. While we doubt anyone was writing a novella using this tool, any loss of content is unacceptable to us.

We recognize how much trust you place in us to safeguard your content, and we take this responsibility very seriously. We’re sorry we let you down.

Now what kind of nimrod writes novellas in the WordPress editor?

Oh, right. Never mind.

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Not a flower girl

Eliza Doolittle — this Eliza Doolittle, anyway — is twenty-six today. I think of her as Amy Winehouse without the pharma, Adele without the drama. And in this shot, she looks, well, maybe not twenty-six:

Eliza Doolittle on stage

“Walking on Water” is the third single from her 2013 album In Your Hands, and it goes like this:

Weirdly, her Twitter account appears under the name “Eliza Fancies You.” Not me, she doesn’t.

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