Long division

Michael Korte, proprietor of the Web series “City of Michael,” interviews Rebecca Black.

They play off each other remarkably well, I think.


It’s all about the synergy

The Z Man explains the meteoric rise in corporate horse hockey:

Orwell’s Newspeak was a part of an overall program of the state to oppress the masses. The proliferation of jargon we are seeing does not strike me as such. Instead, it is closer to what you see with small children on a playground. They have a limited vocabulary and lots of free time so they make up silly words and word games that sound pleasing, but mean nothing.

That’s what the boys and girls in the managerial state are doing when they cook up neologisms. It’s nursery rhymes for adults, who live and work in what often resemble daycare centers for adults. Instead of wrestling with the Legos to build a house, they spend their days wrestling with Excel to make a cool looking pivot table. Instead of memorizing rhymes, they invent bizarre word combinations like “monotonectally transform multimedia based channels” and put them into PowerPoint presentations.

It is another example, I think, of how Huxley got it right and Orwell got it wrong. The authoritarian model imagined in Nineteen Eighty-Four could never last because it had to rely on force and the math always works against such a system. The violence required to hold it together eventually exceeds the systems capacity for violence. The Huxley model of a world populated by infantilized adults, cheerfully engaged in busy work, requires much less coercion from the state and it has a higher carrying capacity.

And it results in more amusing parodies, too:

It turns out that the future is not “a boot stamping on a human face — forever.” The future is a conference call on which a cheery 30-something says things like “progressively coordinate functional strategic theme areas” — forever.

What’s more, it seems like forever.

Comments (3)

A shock to the system

All of a sudden, falling on my sword looks like a good option again.

Something called Tiger Neurophysiology P.C., having collected nothing from my health insurance, evidently refiled; 90 days after the date of alleged services, CFI Care (not its real initials) has decided that these are really legitimate expenses after all, but Tiger is out of network, so I have to pay the entire $7300 and change.

Apart from the fact that I don’t have $7300 and change, I don’t understand this at all. So far as I can tell, Tiger works out of Teaneck, New Jersey. I can think of no reason why they’d be here in the 405. (Duplicate names? Possible, but hardly likely.) The EOB includes five separate entries for “Diag. Medical Exam,” which would seem useless, since I was already in the hospital on the day in question, scheduled for surgery.

I left an email for the insurance guys. But I tell you, I can’t take stuff like this; all by itself, this incident has put me perilously close to suicide watch. And a life that is constantly interrupted by traumatic incidents is not, to me, a life I want to live.

Comments (4)

License to gawk

All I know about this is that it came out in the middle Sixties, a period when, if I had a dollar to spare, I bought a phonograph record:

Leg Watchers' League application

Then again, at that tender age I had yet to see even one issue of Tip Top magazine, a periodical that apparently did not concern itself with matters above the waist. (Their slogan: “Fron the tip of the toes to the top of the hose.”) Their editors would likely despair at our present-day barelegged era. And the mag itself has long since gone away: the address is currently occupied by B A Marble and Granite.


Terman limits

Even if Donald Trump actually has a yuge IQ, it’s mostly irrelevant in the long run:

Back in the George W. Bush era, I got a liberal colleague literally screaming mad by saying that I didn’t much care what the President’s IQ is. Note that I wasn’t defending W. in the slightest, as known conservatives are ruthlessly disemployed in my field. I simply said that I don’t think a high IQ is the main, or even a primary, qualification for president, and I quoted somebody to the effect that Benjamin Disraeli played cards while Czar Nicholas played chess, and who would you rather have running your country? Horse sense and the ability to shift gears rapidly — the top two things “intellectuals” obviously lack — are far more important. This sent my colleague into Hillary-level conniptions.

Said colleague, I’m willing to bet, might claim to have at one time scored a couple of standard deviations above average — and probably doesn’t have the sense God gave a goose. (With only minor changes, this description also applies to me.) Besides, pointy-headed intellectuals are just fine with the idea of czars, or their czars anyway.

(Should the title require explanation…)

Comments (4)

Such a different deal

I reported on the 26th of July:

Third-party insurance covered none of my $1,324 ambulance bill; EMSAcare took care of the whole thing. Heck of a deal for $43.80 a year.

About thirty days later, EMSA reissued the bill. This time, instead of $0, it was for $1,324. I of course got on the phone, and I have to assume that the weary clerk had been through a lot of this before. “We cover whatever your insurance doesn’t,” he said. “We had to send this bill to justify trying to collect from them. Don’t worry, you won’t be out of pocket.”

I have now heard from CFI Care (not its real initials), which paid them $683.81, based on God only knows what. The EOB shows nothing owed to the provider, so I’m guessing that this is yet another case of Soak The Uninsured.

Comments (1)

Coming soon: the mug selfie

Florida? Oklahoma? Actually, China:

Just before midnight one night last week, a young woman was pulled over by police in Xinjiang. Police asked her for her license. She didn’t have it, and instead tried to flirt her way out of the ticket.

Instead, police asked her to perform a breathalyzer test to see if she had been drinking. At first, she used the old don’t exhale into the breathalyzer trick, before an officer impatiently informed her that they would gladly drive her to the hospital and have a blood test performed, Sina reports.

After that, the breathalyzer confirmed what everyone already knew, the woman had in fact been drinking. Police then began taking pictures for evidence. When they were taking pictures of her, she demanded that the officers use Meitu, a popular photo editing app, to make her look better.

If there’s anything worse than a drunk, it’s a picky drunk. There are pictures at the first link, though I couldn’t tell you if they were Meitu’d.

(Via Fark.)


Bet you can’t eat just two

For one thing, there’s only one chip per package, and that package sells for $4.99:

Paqui Carolina Reaper Madness tortilla chip

There is, of course, a reason for this:

That’s because this particular snack is spiced with fearsome Carolina Reaper peppers, widely touted as the hottest variety on Earth, topping the Scoville Heat Chart at 2.2 million SHUs.

As I noted during my Summer of Bland Hospital Food, the jalapeño can’t even manage 10,000 SHUs.

Said a tester at Adweek:

It was like a religious experience, mainly because our tongue was on fire. And that accursed conflagration was reaching down down down into our digestive depths, twisting us sideways/inside-out/round-and-round with searing waves of pepper-powered pain.

For twenty whole minutes.

I note for record that this torturous tortilla chip is certified kosher (by the Orthodox Union) and gluten-free.

(Via American Digest.)

Comments (5)

Sheriff goes unshot

The deputy, however…

Authorities say a federal agent accidentally shot a deputy’s leg at the sheriff’s station in Lemon Grove [California] while unloading a handgun that was seized by a joint task force Monday.

The deputy’s injury was not considered life-threatening, sheriff’s spokeswoman Jan Caldwell said. The names of the deputy and the federal agent were not released.

Reflexes, I suspect, had not gotten the better of him.

(Via Bayou Renaissance Man.)


Cudgel by proxy

The Internal Revenue Service, too busy of late hassling people for political reasons, is now outsourcing one of its other hassling functions:

The Internal Revenue Service unveiled its plan to turn over collection of outstanding tax debt to private companies, as required by Congress though a law passed in 2015.

The IRS identified four companies to collect unpaid taxes deemed “inactive” by the agency, meaning government personnel have ceased working on the accounts. The agency said “older, overdue” tax accounts and a lack of resources would prompt the IRS to tap the contractors to take up the collection.

CBE Group, Conserve, Performant and Pioneer will serve as the private collection agencies, or PCAs. Congress included as a provision of a highway bill late last year the requirement that the IRS outsource the debt collection, with supporters of the policy saying industry could more effectively bring in money Americans owe on their taxes. The law had required the IRS to enter into the contracts within three months, but they were just announced Monday and will not take effect until the spring of 2017 at the earliest.

Which is less than six months away.

Is there any compelling reason why they can’t privatize the whole agency? It’s not like anyone’s ever going to take legal action against them.

Comments (3)

Call it the Model D

And that’s D as in Death:

In what they claim to be a world’s first, and we can’t dispute it after some research, a funeral transport company based in the Netherlands, Vander der Lans & Busscher BV, developed the first all-electric hearse using a modified Tesla Model S built by a stretched limousine maker, RemetzCar.

Tesla hearse concept

RemetzCar claims to have cut the vehicle in half after having removed the battery pack. Then, they extended the [wheel]base by 80 cm (31.5 inch) before fitting the battery pack back into the platform.

Thanks to RemetzCar, now Van der Lans & Busscher will be able to offer zero-emission funerals to its clients.

I’m operating under the assumption that the prototype is not equipped with the Ludicrous Speed option.

Comments (5)

Scared off

From early 2003, I deal with one of Barbara Dafoe Whitehead’s assertions about guys:

BDW: Several women mentioned that at times in their life they felt that their intelligence or intellectual achievement seemed to work against them in their romantic relationships with men, but most women felt that there were some men “out there” who would be attracted to smart women. The problem was finding them.

CGH: The inference, as I see it: all else being equal, we guys would prefer to be the brains of the operation. This is certainly true of some of us; historically, I have often been drawn to women of greater intelligence than mine, but there’s always that nagging thought in the back of my mind: “If she’s that smart, what in the world would she want with the likes of me?” The author does in fact touch upon this phenomenon; asked if some men felt they “were being spurned because they aren’t impressive enough,” she replied:

BDW: [S]ome men did, yes, but they tended not to be four-year college graduates. They were guys who were not quite so well-educated and felt that many women looked down on them.

CGH: I think there’s more to it than that — I don’t think I’d be any more desirable (or, more precisely, any less undesirable) with a sheaf of postgraduate degrees — but frankly, what would a plumber have to say to an art historian? Or, for that matter, what would an art historian have to say to a plumber?

Have things improved in the intervening decade and a third? Not a chance:

A recent study from the Warsaw School of Economics, located in Poland, suggests that men are intimidated by clever women.

Yeah, that’s right: Study findings suggest that after a woman reaches a certain level of “clever” or “smart” behavior, there is no longer a positive correlation on how attractive her potential partner finds her.

The guy from Psychology Today explains this thing in terms of the methodology used:

[The] most interesting result was that there is a clear point at which men stop valuing a woman’s increasing intelligence. We have seen that, when it comes to women’s preferences, more is better: a man is more likely to be chosen if he is more attractive and more intelligent. As far as women’s preferences are concerned, the sky’s the limit. Women may be happy to trade intelligence off against attractiveness, but they will always be more likely to choose a man who is that little bit more attractive or intelligent. Not so when it comes to men choosing women.

To illustrate this, let’s track the chances of one woman being chosen by a man at a speed-dating event. This woman scores a 6 out of 10 for attractiveness: about average. Now, if her intelligence rating is a lowly 2 out of 10, she has only a 20 percent chance of being chosen. Let’s imagine that her intelligence increases 2 points, to 4 out of 10: now she has a 30 percent shot. Boost her intelligence by another 2 points, to 6 out of 10, and she now has a 40 percent shot. But a further 2 intelligence points have virtually no effect: she is still at 40 percent. And maxing out her intelligence to 10 out of 10 reduces her odds of being chosen, back down to 30 percent!

To sum up, our hypothetical woman with a 6 out of 10 score for attractiveness will do best with men at a speed-dating event if she scores around a 7 for intelligence: if she is any less or any more intelligent than this, men will be less interested in her.

I would argue that a 7 for intelligence is no slouch, and that average appearance is more like 5 than 6. Still, I know enough women smarter than 7 — they’re smarter than I am, and I figure myself to be about a 7 on this scale — to be properly intimidated.

By the way, this isn’t only true of women who are of average physical attractiveness. The same pattern holds true for very attractive and unattractive women. At every level of attractiveness, the optimum level of intelligence is somewhere around 7 out of 10. For very attractive women, the optimum intelligence level is slightly higher; for unattractive women, the optimum intelligence level is slightly lower. But it’s always the case that a woman with a brain the size of a planet will be less appealing to men than a woman who is equally attractive, but less intelligent.

My interest in this realm, of course, is purely theoretical, as I expect women, irrespective of intelligence, to give me the cold shoulder.

Comments (5)

Shorts subject

Does the fruit of the loom eventually rot?

I recently read that most adult males keep pairs of underwear for, on average, seven years.

When I look at the underwear in my drawers it’s hard to remember how long I’ve owned them. Unlike larger purchases like houses and cars, I don’t think most people — or at least I don’t — have a good frame of reference as to when any particular pair was purchased. They don’t change models each year.

I didn’t keep the receipt.

I’m pretty sure all the underwear I currently own I also owned in our previous house. Some of them I owned in the house before that, which we purchased in 1998. If that seven-year average is to be believed, there must be people out there who wear their underwear once and then throw them away.

Not me. I tend to keep eight in rotation, and then every, um, seven years or so replace half of them. I will probably have to replace them all in short order, though, inasmuch as I’ve lost about five, maybe even six inches of circumference this year.

Comments (3)

Life has indeed been good

Perhaps by now Joe Walsh has gotten his driver’s license back:

Maserati with Minnesota plate DOES185

(From reddit via Miss Cellania.)

Comments (5)

Manhattan around

Amanda is running eight ways to see the best of NYC on a budget, and at least one of them seems just slightly contrarian, inasmuch as it spurns the ride-share services:

I practically never use cabs or Ubers and I live here. It’s just not financially practical when I can get to nearly any destination for $2.75 per subway ride or using my old fashioned feet. If you’re dead set on having the typical NYC cabbing experience, take one and that’s it. It’s simply just too expensive and it adds up.

How expensive is “too expensive”? The Taxi & Limousine Commission fare chart fills a screen quickly:

  • Onscreen rate is “Rate #01 – Standard City Rate.”
  • The initial charge is $2.50.
  • Plus 50 cents per 1/5 mile or 50 cents per 60 seconds in slow traffic or when the vehicle is stopped.
  • In moving traffic on Manhattan streets, the meter should “click” approximately every four downtown blocks, or one block going cross-town (East-West).
  • There is a 50-cent MTA State Surcharge for all trips that end in New York City or Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester, Rockland, Dutchess, Orange or Putnam Counties.
  • There is a 30-cent Improvement Surcharge.
  • There is a daily 50-cent surcharge from 8pm to 6am.
  • There is a $1 surcharge from 4pm to 8pm on weekdays, excluding holidays.
  • Passengers must pay all bridge and tunnel tolls.

And it goes on (and on) from there. Curious, I punched up a trip on TaxiFareFinder: 315 Bowery (once the home of CBGB) to 1619 Broadway (the Brill Building), a route chosen mostly because I knew both addresses. The trip, just over three miles, would run $22.52 at the time I requested it (Monday evening, 10:30 pm). For comparison, a trip of roughly similar length through Oklahoma City would come in at around $9.

However, we won’t discuss, for instance, the joys of a Sunday drive along the Cross Bronx Expressway.

Comments (3)

Twice the redness

You may remember this little guy from last year:

Red spider lily

He went into hiding shortly thereafter. But this year, he has a friend:

Two red spider lilies

Should I expect four next year? Or does it not work that way?

(Full-sized shots at Flickr; just click either to embiggen.)