The divine Sophia

“Nothing makes a woman more beautiful than the belief that she is beautiful.” — Sophia Loren

She’s eighty today. I know my duty when I see it:

A Sophia Loren retrospective

As you may have come to expect, each of these may be enlarged with a click.

See also Roger Green’s Sophia retrospective.

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And they said it couldn’t be done

“Have you noticed,” the pundits point out, “that you’ll never see workaday Muslims denouncing the atrocities routinely committed in the name of Allah?”

Anti-ISIS demonstrators in Oklahoma City“Never” is a long time. And yes, yes, I know: taqiyya. But once in a while I feel like I ought to be giving someone the benefit of the doubt, so this smallish demonstration yesterday at one of the busier intersections in town — on the northeast corner of Pennsylvania at Northwest Distressway, putting it squarely on my route home — was ever so slightly heartening, especially in a town where mosques are occasionally defaced by persons unknown.

From Red Dirt Report:

[T]he majority of signs held by the pro-peace crowd at Northwest Expressway and Pennsylvania Avenue by Penn Square Mall, were to drive the point home that terrorist group ISIS is not a representation of Islam, as some held the sign saying “ISIS DOES NOT REPRESENT ME!”

The rally was largely led by CAIR-OK and their executive director Adam Soltani and Imam Imad Enchassi. Both have spoken out against Republican legislator John Bennett of Sallisaw, who recently made very bigoted and inflammatory remarks against Muslim Americans and has since refused to back down or apologize for his hurtful, hateful statements.

“Hurtful” and “hateful,” verbally anyway, are turning into this century’s Frick and Frack.

I admittedly didn’t get really good looks at most of the crowd, but I didn’t see anyone giving off an aura of “Kill!” Our old friend Jennifer James took photos for RDR, and they look similarly benign. And the planners were astute enough to bunch everyone together, unlike the usual approach for demonstrations at this intersection, which is to take over two, even three, corners; this creates a sense of unity.

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Incomplete dataset

I spotted this last night on Fark:

Hot Pockets advertisement claiming premium meats and real cheese

Anyone want to guess how many products are in this line?

No, seriously, I have no idea:

There are more than 20 varieties of the traditional Hot Pocket, including breakfast, lunch, and dinner varieties. Nestlé also offers Lean Pockets, Pretzel Bread Hot and Lean Pockets, Hot Pockets Croissant Crust (formerly called Croissant Pockets), Hot Pockets Breakfast items, and Hot Pockets Sideshots. Nestlé formerly produced Hot Pie Express, Hot Pocket Pizza Minis (originally called Hot Pockets Pizza Snacks), Hot Pockets Subs, Hot Pockets Calzones, Hot Pockets Panini, and Hot Pockets Breakfast fruit pastries.

Then again, I often pay the long dollar at lunch for Stouffer’s, another Nestlé product, so maybe I should shut up already.

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Quote of the week

Tam’s thoughts on EbolaCorps:

I was going to get outraged and say “The military is not there to boost the president’s poll numbers!” but that would be disingenuous; of course they are, and presidents have been using them for that since George had to make a standing army to go shake down Pennsylvanian farmers. But they should at least be used for military-type missions.

The administration says that the troops in West Africa will be there for logistical support reasons, to build hospitals and refugee housing and whatnot. But haven’t I just spent a whole damned Iraq war hearing about how KBR and DynCorp and Spacely Sprockets can do that stuff cheaper and more effectively than the lumbering dinosaur of the DoD?

Are we sending 3,000 personnel into even theoretical danger so that congresscritters in tough races can go pose with carefully-selected-for-diversity photo-op platoons of ACU-clad troopies stacking rice bags and building hospitals among throngs of smiling wogs right before election time? It’s cynical of me to think so, but if true, then for shame! (As though the parties responsible would know shame if it bit them on the ass.)

At the very least, we should be sending congresscritters into theoretical danger. Or maybe not so theoretical; if they’re so damned important, let’s have their boots on the ground.

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Social shoes

The canonical Explanation of Social Media, up until now, has involved donuts: on Twitter, you’d see “I’m eating a #donut,” while on LinkedIn, it’s more likely to be “My skills include donut eating.”

Now I like donuts as much as the next guy, maybe more if the next guy has an impacted sweet tooth, but I don’t write about them very much. By comparison:

The shoes, incidentally, are by Gianvito Rossi, stand 4.3 inches high, and run $1135; they’re from the ’14 Cruise collection.

Ms Mallet came to Zindigo from Neiman Marcus, where she was the senior fashion director.

(Via @PatriotsOfMars, whom you may know under another name or two.)

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An Arr-free zone

“There is no point,” says Roger, “to Talk Like A Pirate Day.”

This, of course, is true. However, it does give me the opportunity to trot out a favorite comedy bit: “The Pirate Alphabet,” from Michael Nesmith’s 1981 comedy video Elephant Parts, which I still have on LaserDisc.

You’d be surprised how many of these letters aren’t R.

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First cud is the deepest

Looks like Ronald Reagan called this one right on the nose:

Argentina’s National Institute for Agricultural Technology (INTA) has invented a way to convert cow flatulence into usable energy, and it involves putting a plastic backpack on a cow.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, cow flatulence and burping, accounts for 5.5 million metric tons of methane per year in the United States, that’s 20% of total US methane emissions.

Yeah, but how much is that per cow?

According to the INTA experimentation, tubes run from the backpack into the cows’ rumen (or biggest digestive tract). They extract about 300 liters of methane a day, which is enough to run a car or a fridge for about 24 hours.

I’m guessing really large fridge or really small car.

I’m still not buying ketchup as a vegetable, though.

(Via Interested-Participant.)

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This violates at least two rules

And the first two, at that:

Fight Club Facebook page

They’ve changed the page style slightly since then, but rules are rules.

(Dodd Harris saw this before I did.)

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Shaken and bestirred

The little City News insert that comes with Oklahoma City’s water bill this month has a section this month that five years ago would have been inconceivable. Topic: “What you should do in a large earthquake,” and this is the suggested routine:

Drop, Cover and Hold On! It is the safest action to take during ground shaking. There are three steps:

1. DROP to the ground,

2. Take COVER by getting under a sturdy desk or table,

3. HOLD ON to it until the shaking stops.

This will probably not work (1) with something other than a desk or table (2) in a tornado.

Quakiest earthquake ever recorded in this state was 5.6, and yes, I noticed it.

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States fairish

WalletHub, borrowing data from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, has attempted to determine the most fair — and the least fair — state tax systems. Admittedly, mine eyes glazeth over at the presence of “fair” and “tax system” in the same sentence, but I figured I wouldn’t come down with glaucoma from reading their pitch, and if I did, well, I have friends in Colorado.

Oklahoma shows up at #29, about where I expected; the state, says the report, is not overly dependent on property or income taxes, but makes up the difference in sales tax and some of our state-specific Wacky Fees. By this reckoning, the fairest of them all is Montana; bottom of the list is Washington state, which lacks an income tax altogether but which will kill you, or at least maim you, with sales tax. Looking at quintiles, Washington is 7th in undertaxation of the top 20 percent, and first in overtaxation of the bottom 20. (How they rank for glaucoma, I have no idea.)

I was at least somewhat alarmed when I noticed that WalletHub also ran an opinion poll, mostly because I, like most Americans, tend to think other people’s opinions of taxes aren’t worth diddly. I was not surprised, though, to see fairly universal support for a progressive (in the numerical sense) income tax:

Although conservatives appear to support higher taxes on the poor and lower taxes on the rich, the general trend is the same: all Americans believe a fair state and local tax system taxes wealthy households at a higher rate than lower- and middle-income households.

The bottom of the “poor” scale, for this purpose, is an annual income of $5,000; “rich” tops out at $2.5 million. But even the economic liberals quail at more than a 20% impost on the wealthiest, and are willing to accept a percentage point or two at the low end. Somewhere between $30k and $50k, the curves cross.

And this is where it gets interesting. Presented with the hard ITEP data, both sides awarded Montana the top slot, both picked Washington for the bottom, and both left Oklahoma at #29. I conclude that my opinion of taxes is likely worth as little diddly as anyone else’s.

(Roger Green found this.)

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Just a snack before I go

Last month, Maxim got a makeover of massive proportions: fart jokes and other juvenilia were cast aside in favor of an upscale, Playboy-ish look, though the dress code for the pictorials remains unchanged.

One feature they kept, fortunately, was “24 Hours to Live,” in which a gentleman of note is asked several questions regarding his last day on earth. This month, Anthony Anderson, star of this fall’s ABC series Black-ish, gets the call, and describes his last meal:

A 36-ounce, bone-in Kobe beef rib eye cooked medium with tarragon French fingerling potatoes, creamed corn with bacon, my daughter’s homemade cheesecake from scratch. And a Diet Coke.

Clearly a man of health and taste.

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Back into the Gas Game (maybe)

The Voluntary Fixed-Price Plan has returned to the Oklahoma Natural Gas lineup this fall, and the target price is $5.349 per dekatherm. Now the last time their price was that low was in February; it’s been between $5.50 and $7 since. Of course, we don’t know when they bought this gas they were selling this month for $6.434, otherwise it would be a simple matter of tracking commodity prices; in August the spot price at Henry Hub (in Louisiana, a common benchmark price) was $3.91, and the last time it was as high as $5.349 was — well, February, when tight supplies and the Polar Vortex pushed it up to $6.00. If ONG is still paying $6, either they’re offering a premium to insure supplies or they’re working off some very old contracts, or maybe both.

So maybe I should think in terms of Maximum Gas Bill. Last winter, which was a sumbitch by any standards, my worst-case consumption was 12.3 Dth over 32 days, including several days which dipped well below 10°F. At $5.349, including all the taxes and charges and fees and whatnot, this volume works out to about $110, which I consider in the bearable range. (What I laughingly call a budget calls for $220 for gas and electric combined; I can’t remember the last time I had a winter electric bill over $100.) I have almost a month to make a decision on this, and I may use all of it.

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The mountains of Topeka

It appears that things have definitely changed since I was a schoolboy:

Helena Handbasket was not available for comment.

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Demolition meant

Yours truly, from last summer:

Yes, there is a John Johansen structure on the hit list, but it’s not the one you thought. It’s the Morris A. Mechanic Theatre in Baltimore, which since the last time I brought it up now actually faces a visit from the Happy Fun Wrecking Ball.

So I don’t want to hear any more goddamn complaints about Stage Center. Got that?

Of course, Stage Center was put out of its misery earlier this year, and the heavy equipment has just arrived at the Mechanic.

I note for record that neither of these demolitions were actually approved while Johansen was still alive. (He died in October 2012 at ninety-six; you think maybe he held on in the hopes that the buildings might be saved?)

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Highway to Hellman’s

This is the Centennial Fountain in Oklahoma City’s Bricktown:

Centernial Fountain in Bricktown

It is not a public bathing facility:

Officers reported finding Jorge Arturo Perez, 23, soaking wet and breathing hard in the city fountain.

Perez told the police he was taking a bath in the fountain and was washing his hair with mayonnaise.

Said the Fark submitter: “Well, they hope it was mayonnaise.”

[insert Miracle Whip joke here]

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Who moved my infected cheese?

You know, if they’re going to eat it themselves, it’s no loss to anyone. But just in case:

Investigators in Liechtenstein are probing the theft of 1.3 tonnes of cheese that was set to be destroyed because it contained dangerous bacteria, according to a report from the Swiss news agency ATS.

The country’s food inspection office is concerned the bad cheese will be sold either directly or indirectly, posing a health risk to anyone who consumes it, ATS reported on Tuesday.

And this is seriously bad cheese:

The problem is the “Alp Sücka” cheese was found to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, a bacterium that causes listeriosis, a potentially deadly infection.

Word to all you sückahs in the Alps: steer clear of this Deadly Cheese.

(Via Consumerist.)

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