Archive for Almost Yogurt

George of the Palace, young as he can be

This week Prince George, having turned four this summer, started primary school at Thomas’s in Battersea. To the school, he’s just another student; there will be none of that His Royal Highness Prince George of Cambridge stuff. Nor will he be listed as George Alexander Louis Mountbatten-Windsor or anything that complicated.

What to do, then? Scarcely any American publication is more royals-obsessed than People, so People gets hit with the question:

Prince George's official school bag

[T]hough that is technically the royal family’s last name, it’s rarely the one members of the family use in day-to-day life. For example, Prince William and Prince Harry went by William Wales and Harry Wales during their own school days, as well as their years in the armed forces. Why? Because their father, Prince Charles, is the Prince of Wales. It’s an homage to their father’s title, for occasions when “Prince” just feels a bit too formal.

So what will George do? “Wales” might make sense, as that’s what his dad did — especially because, most likely, George’s own father will be the Prince of Wales himself one day. But William now has a title of his own: Duke of Cambridge. So just as William took his own last name from his father’s title, so will George — and he’ll be George Cambridge in his school records and to his peers and teachers.

And that teensy little tag on George’s school bag indeed says “George Cambridge.”

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Now fictionalized

Most issues of Hilde Lysiak’s Orange Street News carry a short story. Now, though, she’s writing at book length:

Her new book, Hero Dog!, co-written with her father, Matthew Lysiak, a former New York Daily News reporter, is the first in the new Hilde Cracks the Case series from Scholastic, which is currently being developed into a TV show. This book, like others planned in the series, follows the mostly fictional exploits of real-life reporter Hilde, who made headlines herself last year when she scooped every other media outlet and was the first to report on an alleged murder in her hometown.

I hope she has time for all this and can still maintain the News back home in Selinsgrove.

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A bear of very little history

“And furthermore,” I said, “how come Winnie the Pooh has a girl’s name?”

This is the kind of argumentative brat I was circa 1960. Long after the fact, the worst that could happen has happened: not only was she a female, but she was black:

Canadian author Lindsay Mattick has a brand new picture book out called Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear. In it, Mattick tells the story of her great-grandfather, Harry Colebourn, who was a WWI veterinarian on his way to London to treat battlefield horses. Just before getting on a train, he happened to spot a li’l bear cub tied to a pole, and “followed his heart and rescued [the] baby bear.” Colebourn named the bear Winnie, after his native home, Winnipeg, Canada.

What kind of lowlife ties a bear cub to a pole?

And apparently the book is not quite as brand-new as our source says, but I hadn’t heard of it. (Maybe if it had come out circa 1960.)

Colebourn and Winnie became fast BFFs, and the two stayed together until Colebourn had to deploy to France. He knew Winnie couldn’t travel with him, so he took her to the London Zoo and asked if they could look after his cub. The London Zoo said yes, of course, and the two went their separate ways. Pause to cry a little bit.

Now dry those tears, because this story has a happy ending. Even though Colebourn left Winnie behind, she wasn’t alone for long. A little boy named Christopher Robin loved to visit Winnie at the zoo. Christopher Robin even re-named his own stuffed bear, “Edward,” to “Winnie.” And Christopher Robin’s dad? Writer A. A. Milne, who clearly took a liking to Winnie as well, because soon children everywhere were reading about the adventures of Winnie the Pooh and Christopher Robin in the Hundred Acre Wood.

And at that stage of my existence, I was telling jokes on the level of “What do Winnie the Pooh and Popeye the Sailor have in common?”

One last bit of Canadian content: this lovely, if sappy, tune by the Toronto band Edward Bear.

(Previous Canadian-content reference.)

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Table quarante et un

Joseph Suglia has written three novels: Years of Rage (2005), Watch Out (2006 — also a film by Steve Balderson), and Table 41 (2014). The latter does not exist in hard copy just yet:

My cousin K. and my internet friend “Moments” have persuaded me to publish my masterpiece Table 41 as a physical book. This will happen sometime in 2018 or 2019.

The novel will be self-published, unlike my previous work, which was released by academic presses and small presses. Who cares? The publishing elite is dead, and the stigma that was once placed upon self-published writing has been lasered away.

In the meantime, about half of Table 41 — down through Table 22 or so — can be read on the Web. (Later Tables are available, but password-protected.) The story is written in the second person, an unusual tactic, fine-tuned by Suglia to give the reader a point of view that lends itself to total immersion.

Should you take the plunge? Perhaps hearing Dr Suglia himself reading the first three pages might persuade you:

Maybe he should also consider putting it out as an audiobook.


Lord of the butterflies

William Golding’s Lord of the Flies has been filmed three times, twice in English. (There was a Filipino version, Alkitrang dugo, in 1975, which I’d like to see some day.) Now comes a new version, with the sexes reversed. SteveF has his doubts:

Drop a bunch of preteen boys on an uninhabited island with no supplies and no training in living off the land. You’d expect them all to die, and not to be very long about it either. Instead the boys in the story formed a neolithic tribe and figured out how to stay alive. Their customs were not pretty by civilized standards, but tribal customs never are. And the point is, they were not civilized. Civilization had abandoned them, so they had to drop its trappings.

Now imagine a group of preteen girls in the same situation. Would they drop the useless trappings of civilization? Probably. Would they figure out a new society that can live in the new circumstances? Maybe. I have my doubts about the much-lauded “female natural cooperativeness,” but it doesn’t matter. They wouldn’t have a chance to find out. Once the pigs figured out that eleven-year-old girls are prey, it would be game over. I doubt we’ll see that ending in the remake.

A happy ending, of course, is unthinkable. Or is it?

[O]f course I’m missing the point of the remake. It’s not to show a realistic or plausible outcome of a scenario. It’s to push The Narrative.

So what we’re likely to end up with, at best, is Heathers on Gilligan’s Island. Mr. Golding’s estate will be properly horrified.

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But you’ll only die tired

Golden eggs, you say? Let’s cut open the goose:

[S]omeone out there is floating the idea of Boba Fett and Yoda movies — and apparently chatter on fan boards suggests a Jabba the Hutt movie.

Yeah, but who would actually want to watch that sort of dreck?

There are currently eight Star Wars movies out now, with two more coming in the next nine months. Exactly half of those are worth watching a second time, and of those four only one — Rogue One — is outside of the original trilogy. I’d love to be proven wrong, but I can’t imagine that either The Last Jedi, due out in December, or next May’s standalone Han Solo movie are going to be added to that list.

The only person I can imagine who really really wants a Boba Fett solo movie is George Lucas, because it would get him off the hook for Stupidest Thing in Star Wars History, the creation of Jar Jar Binks. And if that don’t scare you, meesa got no hope for you.

Not even that can save George’s soul at this point.

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It’s still just a number

Some thoughts by fashion blogger Wendy Nguyen on becoming one year older:

So … I have this fear of revealing my age. Someone once told me that the entertainment industry is ageism (which is true) so letting people know my age will lessen my chances of working with some brands, growing my business, etc. I can understand why he grouped me in the “entertainment industry” category, this was before there was a “content creator/blogger industry” category. Thank goodness I’m not in the entertainment industry!

Spoiler: She reveals.

You may have seen her, from about here down anyway, in this video from last summer.

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A toot on the Yugoslavian crotch bugle

Author Alyssa Cole shares a piece of negative feedback:

Says Kirkus Reviews of this book:

A spy posing as a slave in Civil War Virginia risks her own life and the outcome of the war by falling in love with a fellow spy of another race. After being freed from slavery as a child, Ellen “Elle” Burns has one purpose. She is “going to help destroy the Confederacy.” But to do that, she has to do something she never imagined possible — pose as an enslaved woman on loan to a family of spoiled whites. Her “masters” are living the high life in spite of a punishing Union blockade that’s causing widespread suffering and starvation in Richmond, Virginia. Elle’s photographic memory makes her extremely valuable to the Loyal League, a network of black spies working to undermine the Confederacy. But her careful work is thrown into disarray by the arrival of Malcolm McCall, a detective in the Pinkerton network who is posing as a Confederate soldier paying social visits to the household where Elle works. Malcolm is a skilled spy and a good person, but Elle has a hard time bringing herself to trust a glib and charming white man whose job requires him to be a gifted liar. Little by little Malcolm wins her over, but the painful racial dynamics around them threaten to poison their relationship. Malcolm must treat Elle as less than human in front of others while convincing her in private that he values her as highly as any white woman. The first installment in Cole’s (Mixed Signals, 2015, etc.) Loyal League series defies genre stereotypes at every turn. It’s both a romance and a spy novel, with a healthy dose of adventure thrown in, and it offers a nuanced portrayal of Civil War-era racial politics. Any reader who thinks romance novels are pure fluff will be schooled by Cole’s richly drawn characters, who must overcome generations of trauma in order to let themselves love each other. A masterful tale that bodes well for future work from Cole.

It appears that Kirkus wasn’t overly put off by the phallic referemce.

(The YCB hardly needs explanation.)

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Upper-class twits of the year

Kim du Toit has seen enough of them for several years:

[O]n the way back I decided to take the No. 19 bus rather than the Tube because it was a lovely day and I felt like looking at London rather than at a tunnel wall.

Part of the route was along Sloane Street into Knightsbridge, and of course it’s on this street where you find all the Usual Suspects: Dior, Ferragamo, Versace, Hermès, Pucci, Prada and all those furrin names. As a place of wealth and ostentation, it’s difficult to top Sloane Street …

… except that it’s not. I’ve seen Sloane Street many times before, only it was called “Hofbahnstrasse” in Zurich, “the Golden Mile” in Chicago, “Kollmarkt” in Vienna, “Northcross Mall” in Dallas, “Champs-Elysées” in Paris and “Park Avenue” in Manhattan. It’s all the same stores, the same overpriced merchandise and (pretty much) the same customers, only speaking with different accents and languages.

Phooey. You can keep all that crap. Give me a street with character like King’s Road or Upper Street in Islington (further along on my bus trip) any day of the week. Luxury shopping isn’t just overpriced, it’s banal — and I want no part of it.

Then again, the Sloane Rangers themselves seem to have fallen on hard times:

By the 90s the Sloane style couldn’t have been more unfashionable. The accent, the language, the dress code, the “miniature stately home” interior styles were all wrong, wrong, wrong in the world of mild mockney, the “information super-highway” and mid-century modern. Sloane seemed archaic and unprofessional — only for the magic world of Richard Curtis rom-coms — in the new high-maintenance world of Big Money London.

And by 2000, the second great wave was underway. London was becoming the first international city of the global super-rich. Since then, London’s prime and “super-prime” property — particularly the best, biggest houses and flats in Knightsbridge, Belgravia, Mayfair and the top slice of Chelsea — were bought out by an extraordinary mixture of Russian oligarchs, Middle Easterners, new petrodollar types from Nigeria, Indians, Malaysians and, latterly, Chinese. These were people with money that dwarfed those 80s and 90s American bankers. People with hundreds of millions. People with billions. Driving up the prices of London property and driving all but the richest, most adaptable Sloanes further south and north — and some out of London altogether.

What goes around comes around, but the price never seems to go down.

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Spending in the purple rain

In retrospect, I’m kind of surprised it took this long:

Prince’s legacy and love for purple will live on thanks to Pantone. The global color authority announced that they’ve teamed up with the late singer’s estate to pay tribute to his life and legacy with a custom hue called “Love Symbol #2.”

As many know, the color purple held a lot of meaning for Prince and his fans ever since his song “Purple Rain” rocked the charts in 1984, and now the iconic shade will live on in a tangible way. “The color purple was synonymous with who Prince was and will always be. This is an incredible way for his legacy to live on forever,” said Troy Carter, Entertainment Advisor to Prince’s Estate in a press release.

Love Symbol Number Two by Pantone

If you saw “the color purple” and thought of Alice Adams, well, that’s all right too.

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This needs a name

But for now, I’m calling it “Miriam’s Law of Mystery Stories”:

In any room, no matter how little furnished, there is something that can be fashioned into a weapon in less than 10 minutes.

The wise murderer should modify his behavior accordingly.

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Or the dusky dusk

Entirely too many people out there have taken leave of their Census:

“Why so many blacks in ads?” is one of those burning issues that I was totally oblivious to until Frank S. Robinson, no relation to the Hall of Fame outfielder, as far as I know, laid it out recently.

He wrote that “I’ve made a point of tallying blacks in ads and commercials. And in fact they are way overrepresented, relative to their 13+% population share.” Oh, dear! And I thought we were supposed to be post-racial!

I’m not entirely sure why anyone would bother to count up these things. In the first place, it’s a waste of DVR space. (I’m pretty sure that no way has Frank actually watched them all, or even a significant portion of them, live.) Oklahoma City is around 15 percent black, I’ve lived here for 40-odd years, and I don’t recall ever being struck by the demographics of TV commercials, possibly because I have a long-standing tendency to run to the bathroom when the ads start — or possibly because Oklahoma City has been around 15 percent black for 40-odd years. (1970 Census: 13.7 percent.) This town is definitely less white than it used to be — 84 percent then, 62 percent now — and definitely less white than its reputation suggests, but the biggest in-migrations have come from Mexico and the Pacific Rim.

Meanwhile, Frank complains:

“That yuppie demographic is where the consumer-spending money is. And for them, blackness is actually attractive; connoting coolness, hipness, with-it-ness, knowing what’s going on. Not inferior but superior. And to this demographic, an America fully integrating blacks is a better America. Putting them in ads hence creates a positive buzz.”

Well, if that’s where the spending is, the most sensible thing to do is to cater to them, is it not?

The logical thing for Frank to do, presumably, would be to work on some serious reproducing, so as to help offset the general diminution of whiteness in the American population. But I guess that would get in the way of his TV watching.

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Wrong metaphor

I mean, yeah, I understand the premise, and I appreciate the thought, but certain aspects of it don’t seem to, um, click:

Next time, have your social-media people put their seatbacks in an upright position; I suspect someone was sleeping on the job.

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It was a dark and stuffy Muse

Your 2017 winner of the annual Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, Kat Russo from Loveland, Colorado:

The elven city of Losstii faced towering sea cliffs and abutted rolling hills that in the summer were covered with blankets of flowers and in the winter were covered with blankets, because the elves wanted to keep the flowers warm and didn’t know much at all about gardening.

Darn elves.

Among the genre winners, this one in Fantasy:

Replacing the Human Torch’s fireproof colostomy bag, teaching Iron Man how to use the TV remote, listening to Iceman complain that it’s too cold, searching in vain for the Invisible Woman after she’s wandered away yet again — life isn’t comical as a Marvel Universe hospice nurse.

(Dan White, Clarendon Hills, Illinois)

In Adventure:

The familiar cleaning ritual now complete, Lieutenant (Junior Grade) Christopher P. “Hondo” Holdsworth carefully reassembled his Brügger & Thomet APR308 7.62x51mm sniper rifle, mounting the matte-black Leupold 8 3.5-25x56mm optic with the splined 5mm Allen wrench that ensured it would stay put and retracting the Harris S-BRM 6-9 Notched Bipod, the way a character in a Tom Clancy novel would.

(G. Andrew Lundberg, Los Angeles, California)

Finally, in Science Fiction:

Although the public’s initial concerns about artificial intelligence and the “internet of things” had been troubling, its eventual ability to embrace those advances only underscored the greatness of America, mused Hoover Upright LXI as he took the oath of office to become the first cordless vacuum cleaner elected to Congress.

(Also G. Andrew Lundberg, Los Angeles, California)

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We are not rock stars

And dammit, we may not want to be:

Got an e-mail this morning advertising a seminar on “being a rock-star teacher” or some such.

This is a metaphor I wish would die. For many reasons.

First of all: When I think of “rock star behavior,” I think of smashed guitars, trashed hotel rooms, large quantities of mind-altering substances consumed. And yes, I know, Not All Rock Stars, but I’m a kid of the 70s and 80s so that’s a place my mind goes to. And of course, with all the smashed and ruined stuff, that means the Little People who work for the hotel or the performance venue or whatever get stuck cleaning it up. And I tend to consider it jerk behavior to mess stuff up and then leave it for someone less-coddled and less-well-paid than you to deal with (see: Why I wash most of my own glassware in lab).

But also: “rock star” is antithetical to who I am. I am fundamentally pretty quiet. I am not flashy. I do not like drawing attention to myself in the sense of “She’s so outrageous!” I’d rather my work speak for me than have to try to sell myself-as-me to the world. I’m a little awkward in person and I don’t look good in heavy eye make-up or tight clothing (to go more literal with the rock-star idea).

Not even rock stars are always rock stars. Dexter Holland, frontman for the punk band The Offspring, is a molecular biologist. Queen guitarist Brian May earned his PhD in astrophysics. Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones and composer-pianist Billy Joel have written legitimate classical music. Maybe we’re better served thinking of rock stars, not as “rock stars,” but as people with lives that you may not know about.

Along these lines, here is a song from 2008 called “We Are Rockstars,” by the recently-demised British group Does It Offend You, Yeah?

Will you find a time
When you’re not online
Standing all alone

This is from DIOYY’s first album, You Have No Idea What You’re Getting Yourself Into.

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From little acorns

This is called The Exponential Outrage Theorem, and truth be told, it sounds just about dead-on accurate to me:

Let’s say, just for the example, the casting choices in a major science fiction franchise.

One hundred idiots get mad about this change and over-react. From the reaction of these one hundred idiots, a far Left or far Right blog whips up an article containing six tweets from people who are literal nobodies with an insignificant amount of followers. (I don’t use my Twitter, so let’s say 24. 24 sounds like a nice insignificant number.)

Last I looked, he had exactly 24 followers.

One thousand people read this article, and become outraged by the “huge backlash” of the one hundred over-reacting idiots. They, in turn, overreact. Ten more extreme-end blogs write articles, including the six tweets and six more attacking the original. Ten thousand people read these articles and are now annoyed. They start a hashtag movement which catches the attention of a few mainstream news sites, which write about the massive outrage over the initial decision, more than likely using words like “manbabies”, “piss babies”, or “garbage humans.” One hundred thousand people read this article and are now annoyed. The reaction is no longer the story — the outrage is — and it continues well into the millions.

I’m not going to tell you exactly what “casting choices” he was talking about, though you can probably guess, or you can easily look it up.

That said, this is the sort of thing that severely limits the usefulness of social media, because even with the most astute selections of mutes (Twitter only) and blockings (pretty much every service), you’ll never avoid the topic entirely unless you completely disconnect.

Even more exasperating are the fanatics who deploy an army of bots to serve as cybernetic sockpuppets. These people need to be buried in six feet of shaving cream.

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Where have all the poets gone?

You’d expect there’d be a heck of a lot of them these days:

There’s zero barrier to entry with poetry — the rules for writing sonnets are right there, and not even the American educational system has so far managed to destroy literacy completely. If you want to go mano-a-mano with Shakespeare, your word processing program even comes with a dictionary and a thesaurus. There are 350+ million people in America today; Elizabethan England had maybe 3 million. Just as a matter of simple probability, there should be some world-class sonnet-writers around right now…

… but, of course, there aren’t, because sometime in the later 19th century our universities started awarding degrees in English Literature. You’ve got to justify all those years in grad school somehow, and so by the 1950s you had J. Evans Pritchard, PhD, laying down mathematical formulae for judging a poem’s excellence. And now only Diversity Pokemon write poetry. Seriously, can you even name a 20th century poet, let alone quote him?

I suppose I should consider myself fortunate that I have Facebook friends who will point me to contemporary verse without even the slightest hint of irony.

That said, the finest sonnet I ever wrote turned out to have only thirteen lines — though they were very good lines, I suspect. (It’s been a long time since I even tried to remember it.)

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Flocking A

The premise of NBC’s currently-on-hiatus-but-due-back-soon series The Good Place:

[J]ust a few remarkably good and productive people make it to the Good Place and everyone else — statistically, everybody — goes to the Bad Place.

Actually, both Places consist of neighborhoods designed by Architects. Michael (played by Ted Danson) is Architect of the Good Place in which Eleanor Shellstropp (played by Kristen Bell) lands after a truck full of erectile dysfunction medicine rams into her while she attempts to pick up a bottle of margarita mix she’s dropped in the supermarket parking lot. Yes, that’s a hint: Eleanor doesn’t remotely belong in the Good Place.

How Good is it? Eleanor has always been something of a pottymouth, but that won’t happen in the Good Place:

[T]he Good Place autocorrects her swearing. “Somebody royally forked up. Somebody forked up. Why can’t I say fork?” Chidi once again brings her up to speed: “If you’re trying to curse, you can’t here.” Eleanor responds on behalf of all of us who wouldn’t make it to the Good Place: “Bullshirt!”

And after that, it gets incredibly forking complicated. Amazingly, it got renewed for a second season.

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Presumably some kind of sexism

Though precisely what kind, I don’t even know:

Getting a 77-percent discount makes your face clear up?

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Blood, toil, tears and sweat

“We have before us,” Churchill continued, “an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many long months of struggle and of suffering.” He then asked the Commons for a vote of confidence, and got it — unanimously.

A statement like that in 2017 might seem utterly implausible, but in 1940 the sentiment was just this side of universal. George Orwell, reviewing Mein Kampf, pointed out how essential it was to the Third Reich:

Nearly all western thought since the last war, certainly all “progressive” thought, has assumed tacitly that human beings desire nothing beyond ease, security and avoidance of pain. In such a view of life there is no room, for instance, for patriotism and the military virtues. The Socialist who finds his children playing with soldiers is usually upset, but he is never able to think of a substitute for the tin soldiers; tin pacifists somehow won’t do. Hitler, because in his own joyless mind he feels it with exceptional strength, knows that human beings don’t only want comfort, safety, short working-hours, hygiene, birth-control and, in general, common sense; they also, at least intermittently, want struggle and self-sacrifice, not to mention drums, flags and loyalty-parades. However they may be as economic theories, Fascism and Nazism are psychologically far sounder than any hedonistic conception of life. The same is probably true of Stalin’s militarised version of Socialism. All three of the great dictators have enhanced their power by imposing intolerable burdens on their peoples. Whereas Socialism, and even capitalism in a more grudging way, have said to people “I offer you a good time,” Hitler has said to them “I offer you struggle, danger and death,” and as a result a whole nation flings itself at his feet. Perhaps later on they will get sick of it and change their minds, as at the end of the last war. After a few years of slaughter and starvation “Greatest happiness of the greatest number” is a good slogan, but at this moment “Better an end with horror than a horror without end” is a winner. Now that we are fighting against the man who coined it, we ought not to underrate its emotional appeal.

Along more contemporary lines, Severian notes:

In 1940, when even Americans involuntarily went to bed hungry from time to time, you could forgive yourself for thinking that we’d eventually educate ourselves out of this bourgeois longing for something more than material comfort. But who can doubt it now? Everyone in the West has everything anyone could ever possibly want, to the point that poor people routinely die of heart disease, and we’re miserable. Does a person who’s content with life worry about which gender he is? Compared with your average modern SJW, Lenin was a sane, moderate, reasonable man. The greater the material security, the worse the mental instability.

I can understand someone not fitting the standard binary; that doesn’t mean there are thirty-one discrete types. And most of the trans women I’ve encountered — if I’ve seen a trans man, I overlooked him — are a lot less well off than Martine Rothblatt or the Wachowski sisters.

So for real dumbth, you’ve got to go back to college, which is why when Robert Stacy McCain points out something stupid happening in academia, which seems to be about 75 times a year, he is careful to point out the annual cost of “education” at whichever school is involved — in dollars, anyway. The cost in brain cells is several orders of magnitude greater.

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Gamine the system

You almost wish Audrey Hepburn could come back to life and stomp this pompous character:

Let’s go over this block one more time:

Only once did this thread become even slightly amusing:

Not that I expect her to, but it would be funny as hell, to me at least, if she went full-Rapunzel for a couple of days, just to taunt that guy.

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If that diamond ring don’t shine

It’s been a good year for the mockingbirds, reports Jess:

It appears they’ve had successful breeding, and the youngsters perch around the house to sing … and make noises that sound like back-up alarms … and electronic noises that start to become annoying after I realize they never shut up.

There’s one up the street that sounds like an intermittent leaf blower.

I’m thinking the parents will eventually chase them away, and the parents will be as before, and not sing to the point of me thinking of going for my air rifle.

I did notice the other types of birds will sing more, when the mockingbirds pause for a few moments. I think they probably feel the same way I do, and wish the children would be more seen than heard.

We had a couple of woodpeckers down the street, but they seem to have moved on. The usual mix of robins, jays and pigeons occupies this zone, with occasional cardinals and a flycatcher or two; they will flourish so long as the big nasty birds from the shopping center keep their distance, and as long as kids coming out of Target spill their popcorn, those birds will stay right there.

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Still horsing around

Down the sidebar is a section called “Pony tales,” which contains links to the stories I’ve written — one series of 3.something (the fourth is unfinished) and two standalones — in the universe of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. Word count is somewhere around 70,000.

Fimfiction, the repository of stories of this ilk, counts a “view” when someone reads the most widely read chapter in a story. Usually — not always — it’s the first chapter, for the sensible reason that most readers start on Chapter 1 and are most likely to lose interest before ever getting to Chapter 2. Second Act, weirdly, seems to have more views on Chapter 3, presumably because that chapter provides a marginally believable scenario for transforming a fairly ordinary human to an equally ordinary earth pony. And I’m fond of this deadpan expository paragraph:

From the bog at the south end of the Everfree, through the near side of Ponyville, to the caverns under Canterlot Mountain, runs a single ley line, a channel for the transmission of magic. Some believe Star Swirl the Bearded himself, finding a resonance at a constant frequency in those caverns, followed it on hoof all the way across the forest, seeking its source. Others, more skeptical, suggest he foisted off the job on Clover the Clever. One assignment given to second-year students in Celestia’s School for Gifted Unicorns is to calculate the exact frequency of that resonance. They are not told, of course, that the number denoting that frequency is an irrational number, the decimal places stretching out to infinity. Focusing mechanisms generally round it off to 1.7 million cycles per second, which provides 99.8 percent accuracy.

Why “cycles per second”? Heinrich Hertz does not exist in this universe. I have to work around a lot of handy idioms, including, well, “handy.”

Anyway, some time this week I got my ten-thousandth view. This is about 9900 more than I ever figured on getting.

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Which explains much

The whole problem, in a nutshell:

We’ve now had half a century of people who hear “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” and then scoff: “Pursuit, hell. They ought to bring it to me, because [whatever stupid reason they picked up from somewhere].”

This is why you’re unhappy, and why it’s so difficult for the rest of us to give a damn.

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Not their first 24-hour rodeo

FamilyNet television is no more. Say hello to the Cowboy Channel:

The cowboy’s lifestyle has long been one of fanciful dreams. Wide open spaces, lifelong friendships and shared experiences along with the special code of ethics that have made the cowboy a symbol of our American heritage and the West.

The cowboy represents a special type of person: fiercely independent, self-reliant, adventuresome, trustworthy and one of the first true environmentalists. His/Her lifestyle embodies many of the attributes we again are striving for in both our personal and professional lives.

There is a growing attraction to this philosophy among a wide cross section of Americans: business professionals, blue collar workers, among all age groups who feel integrity and honesty in business, and our personal lives, have been misplaced.

“The Cowboy Channel” is designed to bring the spirit of the American Cowboy to cable, satellite, and over-the-top audiences through extensive coverage of all western sports, documentaries, events, comedy, music and entertainment.

Projected audience: anyone who knows the words to “Don’t Fence Me In”; anyone who’s ever clambered down to street level, looked back at a rabbit warren of apartments and thought, “You know what? This sucks.”

McG notes:

RFD-TV [the Cowboy Channel’s sister station] has been sponsoring an annual rodeo called The American, the success of which has convinced the corporation there is sufficient demand for Western sports above and beyond what RFD, with its agribusiness and agrarian lifestyle focus, could offer.

I wonder if there’s any interest in cross-marketing with GunTV.

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Every TED talk ever

Fillyjonk sent me this, and it’s dead on:

There. Now you’ve seen ’em all.

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Thinking with both heads

I have my doubts about this premise, but you may be sure I could never be quite this forthright about it:

Apparently, some study has come out [sic] that all the 50+ set needs is to have more nookie, because that will help their brains.

It’s been a while (no details necessary), but I seem to recall that sex has the opposite effect on my brain, in that as I recall, I become really stupid during the act itself — the Goofy-like facial expressions alone are the giveaway — and pass out in some kind of coma shortly thereafter. I know that some people claim that sex makes them feel “more alive,” whatever that means, but they’re probably the same people who claim to have sex 7.9 times a week, the lying bastards.

I can remember a few of the things I’ve said in the heat of the moment, and without exception they are useless outside the context of the horizontal bop and horribly embarrassing within it.

This, however, is consistent with my thinking on the matter:

I have always thought that memory is like a computer’s hard drive: there seems to be a limit on the amount of stuff one can hold in storage, as it were, and as one gets older, the damn thing gets fuller and fuller — not only with worthwhile stuff like the plot line of Hugo’s Les Misèrables, but sadly with the biggest load of crap, like Fonzie’s hairstyle in Happy Days. Now if having sex meant that you could somehow erase all the latter bullshit to make space for more of the worthwhile stuff, I’d park my RV outside Dennis Hof’s Chicken Ranch in Nevada and run all my credit cards up to the max in a matter of days. Assuming that Big Pharma could manufacture sufficient quantities of those pills that give one a woody, of course.

But no. My bet is that if more sex improved my memory, I’d just start remembering more bullshit, like the Girl Scout Incident of 1975 or the Great Parking Lot Affair of 1992. (Or was it 1993?) Or if more sex actually improved my brain function, it would doubtless enable me to understand still more worthless bullshit, such as the difference between M1 and M2 — the economic things, not the British motorways.

I’m currently wrestling with the notion that to remember one new thing, one must first forget two old things. Where this gets tricky is at the point where you can’t tell which two old things are most easily disposable, and the decision ends up being made for you.

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Attention horror

A quiet normal life just isn’t enough anymore:

I do think we’re seeing a shift in our society, where some “boring but valuable” jobs go unfilled because people want the stuff where they can take selfies and post them on Facebook and have people tell them how great they are for helping clean up that beach, or for volunteering at that kids’ field day, or whatever.

I am dealing these days with kids who want to be full-time YouTubers, simply because it’s more fun than actually working for a living. I strongly suspect they overestimate their potential; I subscribe to a couple of channels that have been up for over a year and have yet to get over 200 views total. YouTube isn’t going to give you a dime until you cross the 10,000 threshold. And the subject matter is distressingly identical for the lot of them: memes, jokes, game reviews, memes, complaints about that crap music my sister listens to, jokes, and memes. The market for that sort of stuff is large, but hardly endless and not necessarily growing.

We’re becoming narcissists. I see it in myself sometimes, when I feel “jealous” of someone who gets a lot of adoring comments on their posts (while I am deleting 9 spam comments for every real one) and who seems to have a prettier, happier, easier life.

I’ve deleted 41,000 spam comments since 2008. I realize that some people have had more than that, but I go to stronger-than-usual measures to repel the stuff.

[T]hat’s the fundamental cognitive dissonance of the Facebook-world Zuckerberg seem to be selling, versus the real world I know: it’s the people who work behind the scenes, who don’t have a million “followers,” who aren’t minor celebrities, who actually make a difference in the world. The people who care more about their work than they care about peoples’ reaction to it.

That’s the only world Zuckerberg knows; of course he’s going to promote it at the expense of everyone else. And in the world of minor celebrities, I could perhaps stake a claim to a position among the minor-est, though I’m not a household word even on my block. Do I make a difference? Once in a very great while, maybe. And I do have a YouTube channel, dating from the days when nobody wanted them; I have three subscribers. I have never, however, posted any videos. My daughter’s YouTube channel has 36 subscribers and 12 videos; however, her channel is actually of use to some people. And I’m pretty sure she’s not in it for the self-aggrandizement.

A lot of this, I think, might simply be Callow Youth Syndrome: they want what they see because they haven’t seen anything else yet. And while Biff Tannen will probably never change, most of them will end up growing out of it.

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Fiendish cat possesses police officer

Masao Gunji, now sixty-seven, has been collecting Hello Kitty memorabilia for the last 30 years, including most of his career as a police officer, and now, retired from the force, he has more of it than anyone else on earth:

Apparently the Guinness presentation required some serious prep:

[Gunji] says that he currently has over 10,000 Hello Kitty items, but that for the certification by Guinness Records, he was asked to select a number of them that could be counted in an 8-hour period. He settled on 5250 of his Hello Kitty-themed things, and transported them to the agreed-upon meeting place in Yotsukaido.

The Japanese collector claims that Guinness’ representative had very strict rules when counting his memorabilia, such as only accepting items that featured Hello Kitty’s iconic pink ribbon. 81 of the presented items were rejected, but even with 5169 items, he was still able to beat the previous record of 4519.

I’ll thank you not to mock my pastel ponies, madam.

(Via Fark.)

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For a few Penney’s more

The last time I actually was in a salon, it was in a JCPenney store in Lee’s Summit, Missouri, watching my daughter getting dolled up for her wedding. I need hardly point out that this was rather a long time ago. And since that time, JCP has announced they would be rolling out a rebrand. From this past April:

J.C. Penney Co. Inc. said … that 50 additional salon locations will be rebranded to The Salon by InStyle this year, as it continues to overhaul its 750 salons across the U.S. The retailer said it is currently renovating the salons and will debut the new concept this summer. The company has also introduced online booking and a mobile app.

Because of course they did. Said a JCP rep in 2015:

“As one of the largest salon operators in the country, we are going to leverage our industry expertise to create a salon that elevates the client experience and attracts new customers to our stores, while strengthening loyalty among existing clients,” said Amiee Thomas, vice president of salon at JCPenney. “Our customers already shop JCPenney for beauty, fashion apparel, shoes and accessories. As more women experience the services provided at The Salon by InStyle, it will reinforce JCPenney as an all-inclusive destination for head-to-toe style.”

The rebranding seems to have reached us here on the Plains: the Quail Springs, Penn Square, Moore and Midwest City salons are all listed under the new name.

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