Archive for December 2008

One always dies too soon or too late

If you’re thinking “It’s never too soon to kill Hitler,” well, forget it: you can’t go back in time and kill him.

On the other hand, there are other pests of European origin that possibly could be preempted:

DOCTOR: M. Sartre?

SARTRE: Mais oui!

DOCTOR: Jean-Paul Sartre?

SARTRE: (warily) Yes, monsieur, that is my name.

DOCTOR: The Jean-Paul Charles Aymard Sartre, the existentialist philosopher, playwright, novelist, screenwriter, political activist, biographer, and literary critic, one of the leading Figures in 20th Century French philosophy? (Ed: the Doctor reads Wikipedia.)

SARTRE: (Amazed) I am?

(The Doctor then raises the cricket bat and brings it down on Sartre’s head. Sartre falls out of his chair and sprawls inert on the pavement.)

DOCTOR: Not any more.

(The door to the Tardis opens. A young girl with long brown hair, wearing jeans and a sweatshirt with the initials CUNY steps out.)

GIRL: Is it done?

DOCTOR: (Looking down at Sartre.) Yup. When he wakes up in the hospital he’ll have forgotten everything he learned at the Sorbonne. He’ll decide to go into chicken farming in Provence. Being and Nothingness will never be written.

GIRL: Oh thank God!

Nominations for subsequent whacks by the Doctor will be received below.

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Something borrowed

As seen here in October:

[T]he single, “24 Hour Breakup Session,” is the best rewrite of the Kinks’ “All Day and All of the Night” since the Doors hacked up “Hello, I Love You.”

Which is not intended as a slam on Local H: it’s an excellent song. When I first noticed this, I began singing “Hello, I Love You” over the “Breakup Session” outro, and pointed out the similarities to Trini. “Doesn’t mean they plagiarized it,” I said; “hell, this stuff is forty years old now.”

Shortly thereafter, there arrived in my mailbox an MP3 of Local H performing “Hello, I Love You” live. Okay, so it’s not like they never heard this chord progression before.

This has become almost a parlor game for us, finding songs that sound a lot like other songs. I think the first one we hit upon was “Falling Down,” by Atreyu, which has a distinct “Radar Love” rhythm to it. (Her ear for bass lines is way better than mine.) I explained to her how George Harrison got sued for plagiarism, and I noted that there are lots of examples of bits of songs that seem to have originated elsewhere: Melissa Manchester’s “You Should Hear How She Talks About You” was echoed in Madonna’s “Material Girl,” and it’s impossible for me to hear “C’est La Vie” by Shania Twain without hearing Abba’s “Dancing Queen.”

Still, we hadn’t come across anything quite this blatant as the Joe Satriani/Coldplay scuffle. We’d previously checked “Viva La Vida” against Creaky Boards’ “The Songs I Didn’t Write” and had noticed some similarities. (Here’s the Creaky Boards position, since retracted.) Joe Satriani, however, is actually suing Coldplay.

I found the video at Patterico’s, along with this astute comment: “This isn’t a surprise. As lefty enviromentalists, Coldplay is into recycling.”

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God forbid they should work on cathedrals

Spotted by Donald Pittenger in the University of Washington alumni magazine:

Effective Jan 1, the UW College of Architecture and Urban Planning will be renamed College of Built Environments [bold in original]. The Board of Regents approved the name change on Sept. 18. Dean Daniel S. Friedman says that the college is increasingly focused on sustainable practices and environmental quality, and that the new name is a way of making that official. “‘College of Built Environments’ better reflects our core responsibility to 21st century challenges — urbanization, climate change and livable communities,” Friedman says.

I’m waiting for some enterprising J-school to rename itself “College of Bullshit Propagation.”

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Strange search-engine queries (149)

Hmpf. We haven’t gone digging into the logs in a whole week. Let’s shake the cornstarch off our mukluks and see what we’ve got.

analog tv spectrum from mhz human illness illuminati:  Hint: don’t watch channel 37. I’m just saying.

Mom’s outta sleeping pills:  What a drag it is getting old.

testimonials of narcissistic solo sex magic +lsd:  I figure if you can still testify after all that, it’s magic indeed.

are donkeys and jackasses the same:  Is it an election year?

sue pop tarts for burn:  Maybe it’s just me, but things coming out of the toaster tend to be, well, hot, you know?

tattooed lesbian librarians:  For reference, I assume.

pictures for free of naked naked Chaz:  For reference, I assume.

can you trip off hydrochlorothiazide:  If your idea of tripping includes going to the loo a lot, then yeah, I guess.

did your mom try to make you wear pantyhose:  She had enough trouble getting us to wear shoes.

what to wear with nine west’s gidsa shoes:  Ask your mom. Maybe she won’t try to make you wear pantyhose.

ernie and bert pierced and tattooed:  That bastard Oscar had something to do with that, I’m positive.

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Dear Nancy

Is this the right room for a bailout?

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Simulated security

I definitely know from this:

Starting today we were required to update one of our passwords to a 12 character monstrosity that includes at least one of each of the following:

1. Capital letter
2. Number
3. Symbol (ie, @#$&!)

And the reuse of previously used passwords is restricted to waiting until the 21st round of passwords. Oh, and we’ll now be required to change our passwords in 60 days instead of 90 days.

I believe “@#$&!” is what I say when the “Your password will expire in 14 days” message comes up after a mere 30 days. We’re allowed to slide by on a mere eight characters, but we must include at least one from each of the Three Basic Mistyping Groups.

Now I realize that there are people out there with passwords like “password” or “susan,” but still:

What makes them think that they’re actually increasing security by making it so much harder to remember all of the passwords? Because at some point a cheat sheet is required just to avoid calling the help desk several times daily to get your passwords unlocked because you entered them incorrectly too many times.

Besides, one of my favorite sources for passwords — the vast universe of foreign-language cuss words — seldom yields up anything with numbers in it.

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Rhymes with “Gosh”

Nina Foch has died, and Laura jarred my memory a bit:

I associate Foch most strongly with her role as Gene Kelly’s wealthy patron in An American in Paris (1951), which I just watched again recently.

Absolutely. And while Laura doesn’t mention it in her full-fledged DVD review, I recall this scene almost too well. Milo (Foch’s character) has invited Jerry (Kelly) to a party; Jerry is not sure about this sort of thing, but Milo reassures him that there will be an “extra girl” on hand, so it shouldn’t be a total loss for him.

And then he arrives, and:

Jerry: Where is everyone?
Milo: Here.
Jerry: Downstairs?
Milo: No, here in this room.
Jerry: What about that extra girl?
Milo: That’s me.

I was still pre-hormonal when I first saw this, so the implications didn’t quite sink in at the time. Besides, like Jerry, I was obsessed with Lise (Leslie Caron). But if he could dance his way into her heart — well, I suppose I could have imagined myself as the Oscar Levant character, if I’d kept up my piano lessons. And if he never got the girl, at least he got the punchlines.

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A freaking scoring machine

Don Nelson is shrewd. “We used this game as a chance to play some of the young guys and to let some of the others, like [Stephen Jackson] and [Corey Maggette], rest. Now we move on.” That game was Saturday at San Antonio, where the Warriors lost by thirty-five. By the time they got to Oklahoma City, Jackson was day-to-day with a wrist issue, and Maggette was still resting. Didn’t make any difference: of the eight players Nellie sent to the Ford Center floor, seven scored in double figures (and Ronny Turiaf had nine), and the young guys dispatched the just-as-young Thunder, 112-102.

Golden State, you have to figure, was hungry, having lost nine in a row. And they did it in classic Warriors fashion: they ran up the score as quickly as possible and dared the Thunder to catch up. They shot better than 70 percent in the first quarter, and finished at 50.6. At the half, it was 61-40 Golden State; Oklahoma City cut the lead to single digits, but never got close to erasing it, despite a bravura performance by Kevin Durant, who knocked down 41 points and hauled in 10 rebounds. Nor was this the only Thunder double-double: Nick Collison got 10 boards of his own and 15 points. But that was about it for the OKC offense, Jeff Green being held to nine and Russell Westbrook to eight.

Meanwhile, the Warriors pulled off 13 steals and avoided fouling: the Thunder attempted only twenty foul shots, and hit just twelve. (Golden State was 26 of 33 from the line.) And Andris Biedrins was fierce in the middle, grabbing 21 rebounds to go with his 17 points.

There’s a fearful symmetry here: the Thunder are 1-10 at home and 1-10 on the road. The Grizzlies will be in town Wednesday, after which it’s off to Texas.

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To supplement the collection, of course

“Naming rights,” muses Christopher Johnson. “They do it with football stadiums and college football bowl games. Why not Episcopal churches?”

Why not, indeed? How would this work, anyway?

For example, [the Episcopal Diocese of] New York would balance its budget and probably even run a surplus if they changed the name to Bank of America Cathedral of St. John the Divine. The NatCat’s financial problems would vanish overnight if they just started calling it the Microsoft Windows Vista National Cathedral.

Actually, that particular name probably wouldn’t be advisable. The service would grind to a halt every few minutes and they’d constantly have to restart the liturgy. But you get the idea.

“For the Lord hath called us to service, and to Service Pack 2, now in beta.”

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They could call it “festival seating”

Which, if you remember correctly, is no seating at all:

The [MBTA] Red Line, already a hot spot for subway-stalking predators, could turn into a perv magnet under an MBTA plan to herd more passengers into crowded cars by ripping out seats, critics warned yesterday.

“It will make people more vulnerable,” said one longtime transit investigator about the seatless cars. “They certainly didn’t consult with us down here. There’s a likely chance that it will increase not just (gropers) but all types of crimes.”

The [Boston] Herald reported [Thursday] that the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority will run Red Line trains with two retrofitted cars that will leave only four seats on each for elderly and disabled users. The high-capacity vehicles, which will roll out Monday, will cut seating by half on some trains, which typically have four to six cars.

The T estimates that they’ll be able to cram up to 27 additional riders into these cars. I wonder if they’re going to put up “Keep Your Hands to Yourself” posters.

(Via Jules Crittenden.)

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Springfield gorge

If you were thinking that Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich was a do-nothing kind of guy, US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald would like you to know that it’s just not so:

“Blagojevich put a for sale sign on the naming of a United States Senator; involved himself personally in pay-to-play schemes with the urgency of a salesman meeting his annual sales target; and corruptly used his office in an effort to trample editorial voices of criticism,” Fitzgerald said in a statement.

The governor and John Harris, his chief of staff, were arrested Tuesday in Chicago and charged with two counts each of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and solicitation of bribery.

The “editorial voices” in question belonged to the Chicago Tribune:

[T]he Tribune was also named in the affidavit because tapes allegedly play Blagojevich directing Harris to inform the newspaper’s owners and advisers that “state financial assistance would be withheld unless members of the Chicago Tribune’s editorial board were fired, primarily because Blagojevich viewed them as driving discussion of his possible impeachment.”

You have to wonder what the late Colonel McCormick might have said about all this.

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Too much free ice cream

At least Donna thinks so:

I recently started using Google Reader to manage the blogs I follow. When I started, I was only reading a couple of blogs but it was so easy to add feeds that before I knew it, my list grew totally out of control. I can’t keep up with it! Why do people insist upon updating EVERY DAY? There are some bloggers who even update a couple times a day! FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, SLOW DOWN! Realize that your readers subscribe to more than just your feed! Give us time to catch up! Push away from the computer! Go outside and take a walk. Have some fun! We’ll be here when you get back, I promise!

Hmmm. Usually they complain because they can’t get my feed.

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I’ve got a gal in Kalamazoo, eh?

ESPN’s Bill Simmons makes the case for turning Michigan over to the Canadians:

If the state of Michigan were a struggling athlete, we’d say, “Man, he needs a change of scenery.” Well, why can’t we give Michigan a change of scenery? What if we sold Michigan to Canada since it’s right on their border?

Think about it. Canada gets the spiritual lift of purchasing one of the 50 states, as well as musicians like Kid Rock, Bob Seger and Eminem, a second NBA and MLB team, two Big Ten schools, another NHL team, its first NFL team and, of course, more territory. Canadians would be flying high … so high they wouldn’t even mind that they were now involved in the WNBA. Meanwhile, America would escape billion-dollar buyouts for the car companies, and if we need a 50th state, we can always use Puerto Rico as long as it doesn’t put us over the luxury tax. Michigan natives get universal health care, a fresh start and a chance to feel like they’re spending more money than usual with the Canadian dollar. Everyone wins! I’m a genius. Just wait until I become Sports Czar and I talk my man Barry into this.

Just don’t float this idea to anyone in the general vicinity of Windsor, Ontario. They’ve seen Detroit.

(Via John Salmon.)

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Cato weighs in

The Cato Institute has put together a collection of sound bites from Dan Ikenson, Associate Director of Cato’s Center for Trade Policy Studies, on why bailing out Detroit is a Bad Idea.

There are points in the video I’d argue — the canard about “Detroit isn’t making products people want to buy” fails to consider that all the major automakers, foreign and domestic alike, are suffering through a serious sales downturn — but this one bit seems inarguable: “Where is it written in stone that we need a Big Three?”

And of course we’ve only had a Big Three since 1987, when Chrysler absorbed #4 American Motors. (Renault, which first bought into AMC in 1979, never owned more than 49 percent of the company.) AMC itself was the product of a merger of two failing automakers: Hudson and Nash. Those nameplates disappeared after 1957. Studebaker and Packard are long gone; the French automakers left this market ages ago.

What’s most perplexing about this bailout, though, is the dubious premise that the government will perforce own 20 percent of the companies for the $15 billion being sought. You could buy every last common share of GM and Ford, as of closing today, for a mere $11 billion. (Chrysler is privately held and doesn’t have a formal market cap; however, Daimler AG, which owns 19.9 percent of Chrysler, considers its share to be worth nothing at all.) The screwing of the American taxpayer continues apace.

Disclosure: Cato’s Chris Moody sent the link to this video to various bloggers, hoping to give it some traction. (At least, I assume others got it; it would surprise me greatly if I had been singled out for some reason.)

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Appliance blogging

Fillyjonk makes a point:

I guess it’s a good thing I don’t have a cat to post pictures of or I’d really upset some people. (Though I suppose posting a picture of a dishwasher is even worse, seeing as it is not even an animate object)

Well, let’s see:

LolAppliance

Is there an audience out there for the LolAppliance?

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Winter renderland

Given the unfortunate quantity of freezing drizzle today, I spent rather a lot of time checking the Department of Public Safety’s Road Conditions page, and while it displays correctly in Safari and (gag) Internet Explorer, it looks like hell in Firefox 3.

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Crumpets to be caught anew

Wow. A brand-new Jaguar E-Type:

Back in 1974, when the final E-type left the Browns Lane assembly line, all the remaining parts were sold off to one gentleman who kept them in storage with the hope of using them for his own needs. He had several lorry loads of parts, all new and in their original packaging, which included significant items such as a complete Roadster bodyshell, an unused V12 engine and gearbox, a rear axle and all those little fixtures and fittings that go to make up a complete car.

The chap never did use any of those parts, and eventually he sold the lot to a Jaguar parts specialist, who immediately thought of one of his best customers:

[A]lthough some parts were inevitably duplicated, there was sufficient of most things to actually build a complete Series 3 Roadster. Apart from the bodyshell, which had only suffered a few minor dents and surface rust, there were several made-up assemblies ready for installation, like the complete instrument panel with wiring and the radiator with all its connections, electric fans and cowls. These assemblies had been made up at Jaguar for despatch to the assembly line, and were ready to fit to a car.

It’s the guy’s fifth Jag, so he knew his way around the cars; he outsourced the restoration of the bodyshell, but everything else he did himself. I am utterly awed.

(Via Autoblog.)

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Not that I’d ever look away

A random thought from Lissa:

Women are beautiful. Women are sexy. Women wearing hose — especially with a garter belt, or with a line running down the back — are very sexy. Women in the act of putting hose on = Inherently awkward and not sexy. Somehow this does not seem fair.

“Awkward” and “sexy” are not mutually exclusive. (If they were, you’d be reading a blog called The 55-Year-Old Virgin.)

I will concede that the donning of tights might not be quite so thrilling, but you don’t generally see tights with a garter belt, or with a line running down the back.

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The maverick approach

Should the US auto industry go bankrupt, Mark Cuban has some suggestions for the days after:

1. The bankruptcy court puts the designs of all parts, patents and technology of all big-3 cars into the public domain so no one ever has to worry about getting their car fixed. Someone will always be able to build parts or systems for all makes and models. In fact, making the designs open source could possibly lead to better parts, car designs and repair solutions.

2. The bankruptcy court assigns to their boards someone who has a clue about how to cut costs and manufacture in a cut throat environment. Michael Dell and Andy Grove come to mind.

3. The court creates a warranty fund, much like the FDIC, where every car sold has some dollar amount go into the fund to pay for warranty service for a maximum of up to 3 years. In the event the Big 3 can’t survive out of bankruptcy, repairs on the cars for models sold while the companies are in bankruptcy become a tax credit, with the treasury being reimbursed for these repairs from the fund. (btw, I hate to do something using tax credits, so if anyone else has a better suggestion on how to deal with and pay for warranties…)

Buyers who obsess over warranty coverage, and I’m sure there are plenty such, aren’t going to be impressed by three-year protection while Hyundai/Kia are still offering ten.

Still, I’m intrigued by the idea of open-source engineering for cars, though I admit I’m somewhat bemused by the possibility of anybody’s actually making any money off of it. And the easiest bits (I presume) to engineer, the computerized engine-control systems, would perforce become heavily tweakable, much to the dismay of Thou-Shalt-Not types like the California Air Resources Board.

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The first face you see

Taiwan boasts, if that’s the word, the first Hello Kitty-themed maternity hospital:

The 30-bed Hau Sheng Hospital in Yuanlin in central Taiwan is reportedly the world’s first Hello Kitty themed medical establishment.

From blankets and birth certificates to cots and uniforms worn by staff, every aspect of the Hello Kitty hospital is emblazoned with the feline motif. Patients are welcomed by a statue of Hello Kitty dressed in a doctor’s uniform, before travelling in a Hello Kitty elevator to a pink examination room with Hello Kitty posters on the wall.

Hospital director Tsai Tsung-chi:

“I wish that everyone who comes here, mothers who suffer while giving birth and children who suffer from an illness, can get medical care while seeing these kitties and bring a smile to their faces, helping forget about discomfort and recover faster.”

I hope the newborns aren’t scarred for life.

(Via Fark.)

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A studio of sorts

What can you get for $400 a month rent in the City of New York? Someone’s bathroom, maybe:

I am a female in my mid 60’s and I am looking for a room mate. Times are tight and I need some extra money. I am willing to rent out my bathroom in my 1 bedroom east village home.

My bathroom is large. You can easily put a twin air mattress in there. I only ask that when I need to use the bathroom, you or your air mattress are not in it.

I do ask that when you are in the apartment, you confine yourself to the bathroom. I do not feel comfortable with a stranger walking around my living room. This might change as I get to know you better.

You may have guest over as long as they are confined to the bathroom as well. This might seem a bit odd but please remember the rent is $400 and the bathroom is large.

(Via U Street Girl.)

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Not a risk factor

The state of Illinois had scheduled a bond issue for today, and Paul Kedrosky notes a last-minute addendum to the offering document:

Notice is hereby given that Governor Rod R. Blagojevich was arrested and taken into federal custody on Tuesday, December 9, 2008. Governor Blagojevich and his chief of staff are charged with conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud and solicitation of bribery for personal gain. None of the allegations have any relationship to or impact on the State of Illinois’ cash position, the need for short-term financing or the ability of the State to repay the short-term financing.

Illinois general-obligation bonds are rated by Moody’s at Aa3, a tick below the national average but still considered investment-grade.

(Via Megan McArdle.)

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The Griz are avenged

Oklahoma City has won only twice this season, once against Memphis at the FedEx Forum; the Grizzlies got their payback at the Ford Center tonight, coming back from a 21-point deficit in the second quarter to thump the Thunder, 108-102.

And the Grizzlies pulled this off without the Glimmer Twins: Rudy Gay and O. J. Mayo, while they combined for 40 points, sat through most of the fourth quarter while Memphis bottled up the OKC offense. The reserves, led by Mike Conley and Quinton Ross, contributed 47 points to the cause. And Memphis got nine steals, four by Gay, while committing only eight turnovers. (The Thunder gave up 17 turnovers and wangled only four steals.)

We lost Chris Wilcox early: messed up a finger. Joe Smith and Nick Collison filled in well enough, but both of them wound up in foul trouble, as did Jeff Green. The Kevin Durant Show was good for 28 points, but KD turned the ball over six times. The Thunder did manage to shoot, though: 51.4 percent, a couple ticks better than the Griz, and four out of seven treys.

The most telling thing about this game is this: Memphis has learned how to finish the job. The Thunder are still working on that little matter. And since they got outscored 32-19 in the final frame, there’s rather a lot of work to be done.

A couple of wound-licking days, then off to Dallas and San Antonio this weekend.

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How can they refuse?

Tom the Impaler gets on the horn:

Today I called Coburn, Cole, and Inhofe to state that I did not wish to be billed to bail out GM, Ford, and Chrysler. If they choose to do so anyway I want a Ford F150 delivered to my apartment by Christmas.

Hope he’s got a place to park it.

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Maybe she blinded him with science

If I’ve learned anything from Futurama, it’s this: Don’t Date Robots!

Not everyone has absorbed this lesson, though:

Devoted Aiko — “in her 20s” — has a stunning 32-23-33 figure, pretty face and shiny hair. She is always happy to clean the house for “husband” Le, help with his accounts or get him a drink.

“In her 20s”? “She’s not a day over 14, you sick bastard,” contends Geekologie. But we continue:

Computer ace Le [Trung], 33, from Ontario, Canada, has spent two years and £14,000 building his dream girl. He had planned to make an android to care for the elderly. But his project — inspired by sci-fi robots like Star Wars’s C3PO — strayed off-course.

Le said: “Aiko is what happens when science meets beauty.”

Still, the planet hasn’t been destroyed — yet. The Space Pope was unavailable for comment.

(Via DRJ at Patterico’s.)

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Hitchless, so far

We’ve moved to WordPress 2.7, an uncharacteristically-quick upgrade for me — I procrastinate with the best of them, when I can get around to it — but so far, it’s been a fairly seamless one. It helped that I’d upgraded my “minor” sites manually to the first Release Candidate, so I had at least a smidgen of familiarity with the new user interface.

What’s nice about 2.7, from my point of view, is that it uses the same upgrade engine as 2.6 had for plugins: as Dr Forrester used to say, “Push the button, Frank.” I expect to sweat these a good bit less in the future. (Just the same, I have the database backed up.)

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Some people should be committed

Or so implies eHarmony:

The journey to finding that special someone isn’t always easy but we believe that if you commit to the eHarmony process, you will find that great relationship you’ve been looking for.

Our most successful couples tell us that they once too had reservations and moments of doubt — but their long term commitment to the eHarmony process kept them involved until they met their special someone.

Nina finds this rhetoric curious:

Don’t you think it’s a bit odd that you’re asking me for a long term commitment to you in order that I find that special someone and land in a relationship without you? Are you sure you want me to succeed?

And she’s already made plans for her life post-eHarmony:

I’ve uncovered a boyfriend replacement plan consisting of a HDTV, Blu-ray, Apple TV, new furniture, new sheets and towels … and come Spring, a new fence in the backyard followed possibly by a dog.

Except for the dog, none of these will require any commitment beyond writing a check.

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312

It’s “sleety,” says Andrew Ian Dodge as he presents the 312th edition of the Carnival of the Vanities.

Sleet being a function of winter, this seems to be as good a time as any to mention the Russian pop/rock band Gorod 312, who gave us the absurdly-bouncy hit “Nevidimka”. I figure, if anyone knows winter, it’s Russians.

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Minus 32

As of one hour ago, I no longer have my lower right wisdom tooth, which (1) would have needed filling and (2) is utterly superfluous, inasmuch as the upper right corner was emptied out years ago. It is, I understand, routine to yank all four of the little so-and-sos at an early age, but I never was much for routine; in fact, I still have the one at the lower left.

Besides, now I have a gilt-edged excuse not to answer the damned phone.

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He got to me

Michele explains the appeal of Neil Diamond:

I love him in the same way I like Abba and Air Supply and Death Cab for Cutie. Sometimes four chords or shouting at the devil is not what the day calls for.

I’m a sucker for nostalgia. And nothing makes me more nostalgic than music.

Similarly motivated, I put together a single-disc Diamond compilation this past summer, and described it thusly:

Neil Diamond’s recording career, like Gaul, was divided into three parts: the Big Bang (on Bang Records, natch), the West Coast Incubation (on Decca/MCA’s less-unhip Uni label), and the OMGWTF Period (on Columbia, mostly). The man had dozens of hits, and a fair compilation wouldn’t attempt to squeeze him down to a single CD, but I never said I was being fair. And give Diamond credit: even some of the latter-day stuff has held up pretty well, and the ones that didn’t, well, they didn’t make it onto this disc.

I must point out here that I am sufficiently removed from Red Sox Nation not to have learned to hate “Sweet Caroline.”

And if you ever stumble across the original 45 of “Two-Bit Manchild” (Uni 55075), flip it over and give a listen to “Broad Old Woman,” subtitled “6 A.M. Insanity,” a non-LP B-side full of false starts, retakes, and “If you think I’m putting my name on this you’re out of your mind.” It’s the perfect antidote to the deadly-serious stuff like “Play Me.”

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Keep your damn federal funds

Arkansas-based Arvest Bank will not be participating in the Great Treasury Grab. From the bank’s blog:

You have likely seen updates in the national news about banks who have announced that they are accepting government funding through the Capital Purchase Program (“CPP”). Arvest is well capitalized and has a strong balance sheet. Funding through this program is not necessary. An announcement was released on Wednesday, Nov 26 announcing that we will not seek the federal funding.

I’m trying to decide which is cooler: the fact that Arvest told the Treasury to take a hike, or the fact that they posted this on the official bank blog.

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In the heat of the suit

Owners of some Toshiba Satellite 1800-series notebooks that had an infuriating tendency to overheat will be entitled to compensation under the proposed settlement of a class-action suit filed against Toshiba America. The suit, Craig Anderson, et al. v. Toshiba America Information Systems, Inc., was filed in the California Superior Court for the County of Los Angeles. The claim by plaintiffs:

The Plaintiff claims that Toshiba Satellite® 1800 notebook computers with central processing units (CPUs) of 1 GHz or faster experienced certain performance issues, including overheating, shutdowns, and/or noticeable reduction in processing speed with normal use (the “Subject Issues”). Toshiba denies these claims and denies that it did anything wrong. Moreover, Toshiba asserts that it proactively addressed plaintiff’s claims by developing and voluntarily providing an effective remedy. In particular, Toshiba asserts that consumers could remedy the Subject Issues by downloading BIOS v. 1.80 (the “BIOS Update”) from the support page of Toshiba’s website.

Members of the class:

All end user persons or entities who purchased or otherwise acquired in the United States for their own use and not for resale, a new Toshiba Satellite® 1800 notebook computer containing a central processing unit (“CPU”) of 1 GHz or faster from Toshiba or a Toshiba authorized reseller. The Satellite 1800 notebook models with CPUs of 1 GHz or faster are as follows: Satellite 1800-S204, Satellite 1805-S204, Satellite 1800-S254, Satellite 1805-S254, Satellite 1800-S207, Satellite 1805-S207, Satellite 1800-S274, Satellite 1805-S274, Satellite 1805-S273.

What’s in it for the aggrieved parties:

You may submit a claim for a $125 cash payment, OR a $150 credit voucher (“Credit Voucher”) for use at www.toshibadirect.com, if (1) you installed the BIOS Update, (2) you experienced overheating, shutdowns, and/or noticeable reduction in processing speed with normal use (the “Subject Issues”) after the BIOS Update was installed, and (3) between that date and April 22, 2008, took your notebook to Toshiba or a Toshiba authorized service provider for repair of the Subject Issues.

You may submit a claim for a $40 Credit Voucher for use at www.toshibadirect.com, if (1) you installed the BIOS Update, (2) you experienced the Subject Issues after the BIOS Update was installed, but did not take your notebook in for repair of the Subject Issues, and (3) you thereafter experienced one or more Subject Issues as set forth below.

I mention this because everyone I know who has owned one of these machines has complained of overheating. (Mine hasn’t.)

Details of the settlement are here.

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“I was never that pretty”

So said Bettie Page, Fifties pinup queen and pop-culture icon, who died last night at 85.

Page walked away from fame in the late 1950s and embraced Christianity; decades later, she was mystified to find that she’d become something of a cult figure. She wasn’t apologetic about her life in front of the camera, as she told Playboy in 1998:

“I never thought it was shameful. I felt normal. It’s just that it was much better than pounding a typewriter eight hours a day, which gets monotonous.”

In her later years, she declined to be photographed: better, she said, to be remembered as she was.

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It’s GR8

I got my new 2009 plate yesterday, about two weeks ahead of the date promised. It does look pretty nice, and it weighs about half as much as the old one, so I expect my gas mileage to go up as a result.

Now that I think about it, I hadn’t seen any of the new plates before this one arrived on my doorstep. I suppose I got my order in early. (My old plate didn’t expire until June ’09, but if you want to keep your old number, you have to request it in advance.)

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The rehabilitation of Uggs

Time was, all you had to do was mention the fuzzy footwear in a crowd and you’d be treated to a brief Olympic-class session of Synchronized Eyeroll. Now I’m not so sure. Stephanie, sixteen:

[R]eally, once you take away the obnoxious, velour-sweatsuit-wearing [connotations], all that Uggs really are are a pair of fuzzy boots that according to other people (honestly, I have never worn a pair) are extremely warm and comfortable. And what’s so horrible about that?

Venomous Kate, over 21:

Oh, I know: thanks to celebs like Pam Anderson, Paris Hilton and Britney Spears pairing their Uggs with sloppy sweatpants, the Australian-born boots have, to many, become a bad fashion choice.

But with the premium merino sheepskin and thick inner fleece providing all that warmth and comfort, I’m willing to take that style risk. (I do the same thing in the summer with Crocs, although I hear that the Ugg boots’ fleece, which keeps feet warm in the winter, helps keep them cool in the summer, too.)

Perhaps a sample of two doth not a movement make, but still: Kind words. For Uggs. (And also, you’ll note, for Crocs.) And the world is not actually juddering on its axis.

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Gun duly jumped

On this thread from February, the following exchange occurred:

Tatyana: Oh, now I see why you are a Democrat.

Me: You don’t see me demanding that the government issue me a girlfriend, do you?

And ten months later, now you do. I tell you, consistency isn’t the hobgoblin of this mind.

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Mrs Bennet is all in an uproar

And other entries from Austenbook. For now, take note that “11 of your friends are attending Assembly at Meryton.”

(Via Pop Culture Junk Mail.)

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Quote of the week

Sir Charles Barkley, on the floundering Oklahoma City Thunder:

They need more good players, but they should be doing better than they are right now. The NBA has a bunch of bad teams. They should be doing better than 2-21. I don’t care if Stevie Wonder is your coach, they should be doing better than 2-21.

Maybe Stevie Wonder could coach, although I’ve suspected for years that he was moonlighting as a game official.

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Lose a CPU or two

Frank J. is working under the hood, and he doesn’t like what he sees:

I ran into just a really odd error the other day trying to install SQL Server 2005. For the program to finish installation, it has to run at least once, but it always errored on starting. Hearing hooves and thinking horses, I assumed it was a Vista incompatibility. I later tried again on the same computer with XP on it, and it still didn’t start. With enough Googling, I finally found the problem: My computer has three processors and SQL Server 2005 won’t work on a computer when the number of processors isn’t a power of two.

This sort of thing, says Frank, is why the economy is failing:

[I]t’s loss of productivity on crap like that. I wasted a lot of time trying to install that program as it’s a pretty hard error to figure out because it’s not like when a program doesn’t run your first thought is, “Hmm, my computer has a number of processors that isn’t a power of two. I wonder if that could be a problem?”

Fortunately, Service Pack 2 fixes this issue, except for one small matter:

[Y]ou have to install SQL Server 2005 before you can add SP2, but the program has to run once to install, and it won’t run on a computer with three processors without SP2. Fun times.

The workaround for this is, shall we say, inelegant: you start MSCONFIG and edit BOOT.INI to make the number of processors appear acceptable long enough to do the install. If you ever laughed at Compatibility Mode, you’ll surely sneer at this.

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It’s beginning to look a lot like BS

“O Little Town of Bethlehem” has been banished from one English parish:

The Rev Stephen Coulter told parishioners not to sing the carol after he visited the West Bank. He told them the words ‘How still we see thee lie’ were too far removed from life in Bethlehem.

He said where shepherds once used to watch over flocks by night now security guards watched over the people living there. As a result the carol has been banned from all festive services in his Dorset parish of Blandford Forum.

“Besides, there’s thirty thousand people there. Hardly a little town, is it?”

Incidentally, those harps of gold in “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear” have got to go: insensitive display of wealth, doncha know.

(Via Christopher Johnson.)

Note: First sentence was re-edited for clarity.

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