Archive for June 2011

You are not expected to know this, either

However, this little site now has a big IPv6 address:

2607:F298:0001:0103:0000:0000:089B:5D99

If it doesn’t work for you today on World IPv6 Day, it may not have propagated to your nearest IPv6-enabled DNS server just yet.

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Das Weingeld

Daily Pundit commenter “martinra,” on the question of what to do with an overexposed Weiner:

If I thought that there was a snowball’s chance in hell of a decent person succeeding the pervert in NY-9, then I’d push for him to resign. Unfortunately, this is the district that also brought us Chuckie “Cheese” Schumer, and Geraldine Ferraro, RIP. No Democrat in that district has won less than 65% of the vote in decades, and no non-Democrat has carried it since 1921. It’s a pure NYC Dem machine district, and like all such, in the event of its vacancy, it will be grabbed by the sleaziest, most ruthless apparatchik looking to claw his or her way up from a colocated state or city position. Only the name on the stationery would change. That being so, I’d rather leave Mr. Show ‘Em The (Damaged) Goods in place, as a figuratively emasculated laughingstock. IMO he’s worth more to the GOP as a pervert punchingbag than he is as a scalp over Breitbart’s mantel.

A note on Ferraro, who never struck me as much of an apparatchik: her major primary opponent in 1978 was Thomas J. Manton, a genuine NYC machine candidate, and when she decided to sign on with Fritz Mondale, the machine decided it was Manton’s turn. After the 1990 Census, Manton eased on over to NY-7 without so much as breaking a sweat.

(Title inspired by this Wagnerian effort by Robert Stacy McCain.)

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Eno.ugh already

David Friedman proposes a new top-level domain:

How about a TLD for websites that can only be parody, complainy, or snarky? If you want to know about Lady Gaga’s next album, you can go to ladygaga.com, but if you’re really sick of her and want a community of like-minded haters, you can visit ladygaga.ugh and get it out of your system.

And if your first thought is “What’s to stop Gaga from registering it herself?” he’s thought of that too.

Me, I’d settle for a .tax domain to mirror damned near everything dot-gov.

(Via this Nancy Friedman tweet, and no, I don’t know.)

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Meanwhile in a parallel universe

At their 2011 Palm Beach auction in April, Barrett-Jackson sold a 1974 Ford Bronco for $33,000.

Dave Kinney noted in the July Automobile:

Early Broncos have become very collectible. Their straightforward looks and easy usability combine to make them cool across generations.

“Now you tell me,” snorts McGehee.

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Stable conditions

I’m still a bit bumfuzzled by Dan Boren’s Tuesday announcement that he’d had enough of the every-other-year campaign slog and wasn’t going to run for a fifth term in 2012. Boren being the only Democrat in the entire seven-man Congressional delegation, the GOP is, shall we say, psyched up to fill this seat with one of their own. The Democrats, of course, aren’t going to let it go without a fight.

All the usual suspects are being trotted out: Brad Carson, who had this seat before Boren but gave it up to try for the Senate; third-term District 14 Rep. George Faught; Kenneth Corn, term-limited out of the Legislature, who ran for Lieutenant Governor last year. I’m thinking, though, that there’s a dark horse yet to be seen, and I don’t even know which party he belongs to; OK-2 is largely rural, which suggests to me that the kingmakers in Tulsa and Oklahoma City will have less influence than they think they have, and while Democrats usually win this seat, CPVI rates the district R+14, which calls to mind the old phrase “independent as a hog on ice.” Or a colt struggling to his feet, maybe.

But Mike McCarville is surely right when he says:

[T]he race for the 2nd District seat, just [now 48] hours ago perceived as a ho-hummer with another Boren win, now promises to be the hottest, and most closely-watched, race of the 2012 election year.

Me, I’ll be amused to see all the hotshot national political writers fighting over the last bottle of Dasani in the Holiday Inn Express in Tahlequah.

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Dummy up

We’re definitely not going to make a bridge player out of this fellow:

A couple of months ago I was looking for a new card game and I thought of bridge, so I started looking into it. It seems to suffer from the same problem. The game has been analyzed down to the molecular level and everything there is to know has been discovered, so there is a rule for every situation. “Correct” play is similar to differential equations in that involves recognizing the situation and then picking out correct rule to follow. No real critical thinking involved.

Except for one minor detail: apart from the handful of people who write the newspaper columns and the books, nobody knows every last rule, and that goes double (maybe even redouble) for the players in your neighborhood game. And even the ones they know, they forget: statistically, if you have seven trumps, the six remaining are more likely to be split 4-2 than 3-3, but who remembers to play the suit that way?

In the one tournament I entered, I brought a complete novice — well, he could play spades — to be my partner. He wouldn’t try anything fancy, I reasoned, because he didn’t know anything fancy, and therefore he’d throw the opposition for a loop. We took third out of eight, which, all things considered, was deeply satisfying.

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Your 28th Amendment, right here

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In a desperate attempt to sell some books

Adèle Geras detects a disconnect between actual book content and jacket art:

I can’t count the number of times I’ve read a book and found the cover completely at odds with the content. The inappropriateness of covers is something every writer knows about. Sometimes you can object but most often you can’t.

As an example, Geras cites this edition of Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout. Olive, the heroine, is “a tall, rather ungainly and getting-on-for-elderly retired Mathematics teacher in a small US town.” Somehow that translated into this:

Cover of Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

“Olive wouldn’t be seen dead” in that dress, says Geras.

And if you think that’s bad, you should see what was done to one of her own books.

This sort of thing apparently has been going on for decades. I have spoken here often of Dodie Smith’s I Capture the Castle, a book which has meant a lot to me over the years. Most recent covers, if they’re not recreating the original postwar art, have been at least vaguely pastoral, which makes sense in the context of the book; however, the late-Sixties paperback which was my first copy was apparently aimed at the horny-teenager market, what with its barely-readable font and its image of a nymphet evidently too poor to own a blouse. Admittedly, the Mortmains didn’t have a whole lot of wardrobe items from which to choose, and there were scenes in which none were chosen, but in retrospect (and after dozens of readings) this simply seems silly. And a book you’re going to care about ought never to seem silly.

(Via normblog.)

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Fark blurb of the week

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It’s not Friday without R.B.

Katy Perry knows the importance of Friday; in an April concert, she broke into an acoustic version of Rebecca Black’s hit song, and to my knowledge didn’t get a single death threat from the audience.

Rebecca Black in Last Friday NightWhich doesn’t mean that it was inevitable, exactly, that Katy, in her guise as unblissfully geeked-out “Kathy Beth Terry” — remind me to ask Chris Gaines how that works out — would put out a song called “Last Friday Night,” but you have to figure that she could hardly resist the idea of giving America’s second-favorite thirteen-year-old girl a cameo in the teaser video.

Then again, said teaser video contains both a barf scene and a digitally-blurred wardrobe malfunction, because, after all, this is Katy Perry, who was last seen shooting whipped cream from her bazoomage. You could call it PG-13 — parental guidance suggested for viewers the age of Rebecca Black — and maybe you’d be right.

Meanwhile in Durant, Oklahoma, the local Walmart set up an endcap display of cereal and cereal bowls. Gotta have ’em.

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Quote of the week

We’re just totally bifurcated this week, so we’re nominating two pieces, one of which was short enough to be a tweet.

In the longer item, Sonic Charmer predicts the Presidential election:

I fully expect President Obama to still be President Obama in 2013 and will be surprised by any other outcome. In fact the thought of him losing re-election is almost (not quite, but almost) inconceivable to me. Why would he lose? Economy etc. aside, President Obama is doing precisely what the country elected him to do, which is to be President while being a slick, photogenic, skinny guy with a darkish skin hue. That is the only reason he was elected and therefore, empirically, that is what the country wanted him to do. And in no way shape or form has he fallen short of that mandate, nor does he threaten to any time in the foreseeable future.

And in a related issue, Dan McLaughlin, @baseballcrank, offered the following wisdom:

I do not believe today’s news changes the odds that Newt Gingrich will be the next President of the United States.

You heard it here — well, twenty-ninth or thirtieth, actually, but certainly not first.

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Faster than unleaded

It seems to me that a lot of the so-called “range anxiety” associated with electric cars might be due to the fact that it takes so long to recharge them: There’s a quick (30-minute) charger for Leafs (Leaves?) at Nissan dealerships in Japan, but it costs a dealer upward of $15,000, so it’s not really an investment for civilians. Besides, at the slowest gas station I know, I can fill up my current car in nine minutes or so.

Which statistic, if this pans out, won’t impress (or depress) anyone with an electric car anymore:

Mr. Kanno of the Japanese company Energy Use Technology Research K.K. has reportedly received a patent for a system that can charge a typical electric vehicle in about five minutes. Five minutes, you ask? Yes. Five minutes.

Mr. Kanno’s breakthrough idea … came when he realized recharging was ultimately limited by the capacity of the electrical cables. Therefore, Mr. Kanno’s patented technology constantly collects electrical power from the grid and delivers it to plug-in vehicles in a five-minute burst.

Must be some humongous capacitors in there somewhere. (Or not; “electrical engineer” is yet another position for which I am not qualified.)

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I am only an egg

Donna has sworn off online dating and such:

The one thing I need to determine is where do healthy, well-adjusted, single men in the 38-42 age range, who are not afraid of commitment, congregate? Grief Counseling for Widowers? Single Father Support Groups?

This was always my problem in the past. They are out there … but where? And before anyone suggests it, I am going to hold off on online dating until I have to do it. The men on those sites are jerks and if there is a good one in their midst, I don’t have the patience to sift through the garbage. Besides, I am questioning my ability to tell good eggs from bad eggs.

Before you ask: when I met her, I was coming up on 52. And there’s that whole thousand-miles-apart thing, not to mention my occasional tendencies toward jerkitude.

Still, I continue to ask: “Why aren’t the guys lined up at her door yea deep? Did beautiful, smart and funny suddenly become disqualifiers?”

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I’m not gonna crack

And don’t credit the drinking water for that, either:

Researchers from the Medical University of Vienna compared the suicide rates in different regions of Austria with the natural lithium concentrations in the drinking water.

The study, published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, analysed a sample of 6,460 lithium measurements and then compared suicide rates across 99 districts. In the 10 most lithium-depleted regions in Austria, the suicide rate was 16 per 100,000, but in the 10 most lithium-rich regions the suicide rate was just 11 per 100,000.

Not such a huge difference, really. It would be easier, I suspect, to bring back Bib-Label Lithiated Lemon-Lime Soda, a drink sold in the US from 1929 through the 1940s, at which time the government ordered the removal of lithium from soft drinks. By then, though, the name of the product had been changed to the less-unwieldy “7Up.”

(Via Hit Coffee.)

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425

It’s the Flashing Sky Carnival of the Vanities, the 425th in the series.

I couldn’t tell you about the atmospheric conditions when Raban Gamliel VI, the last head of the Sanhedrin, shuffled off this mortal coil in AD 425, but given the nature of their contribution to Biblical history, a flashing sky might not be all that inappropriate.

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It gets me every time

I might adore this dress even if it were being worn by someone other than Shania Twain, but this image, to borrow a phrase, impresses me much:

Shania Twain at 2011 Juno Awards

Though I must include this quip by Heather of the Fug Girls:

This looks a bit like it rained caviar on her. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Especially, you know, if she were going to be inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. Which she was.

For those who keep track of that sort of thing, the dress is by Zuhair Murad, the jewels by Mark Lash.

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Ed Kelley moves on

Will the Black Tower ever be the same again?

Ed Kelley, a veteran journalist and award-winning editor and reporter, has been named the new editor of The Washington Times.

Mr. Kelley, who is leaving his post as editor of The Oklahoman in Oklahoma City, will oversee both news and opinion content for Washington Times Media, a multi-platform news organization focused on exclusive reporting and compelling conservative opinion. He assumes his duties July 1.

I tweeted the Oklahoman article on Kelley’s impending departure to Robert Stacy McCain, who spent about a decade at the Times; McCain deemed it “a good ‘heartland’ choice,” presumably suggesting that the last thing the #2 D.C. daily needed was Yet Another Beltway Insider in charge of the newsroom.

What I’m not clear on is what the #1 OKC daily needs. My initial thought was “Where is Stan Tiner when you need him?” (Answer: He’s running the Sun Herald down in Biloxi.) Tiner was named Executive Editor of the Oklahoman in 1999, prompting this remark from me:

From the looks of things, Tiner has issued two commands: “Make this paper look less like a throwback to the 1950s,” and “Get this paper’s perceived politics out of the 1850s.”

Those things eventually became the rule, but not on Tiner’s watch; Edward L. Gaylord, after all, was still alive. And maybe that was the problem: for most of its existence, the Oklahoman has been run by someone named Ed, and Stan Tiner, through no fault of his own, was not named Ed.

So OPUBCO can’t fill this slot in-house, unless Mike Shannon changes his name by deed poll. I’m pretty sure Ed Driscoll isn’t interested in the position, though it’s an even safer bet he won’t be asked.

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Enough to burn your Sedgwick off

Clipped from the National Weather Service’s 3-day history at Wichita, Kansas:

NWS screenshot

This would seem to call for a WTF, but no, it’s not a typo:

[T]he temperature as 1 a.m. neared on Thursday had climbed to 102.

Readings surged 17 degrees in 20 minutes — from 85 at 12:22 a.m. to 102 at 12:42 a.m.

As if 85 after midnight wasn’t bad enough. What the fark happened?

The spike was the result of a heat burst, which occurs when dry air plummets to the Earth’s surface as a thunderstorm collapses, meteorologists said. As the air nears the ground, it heats dramatically.

They’re not kidding about “dry air,” either. That column next to the temperature is the dew point, which dropped from the middle 60s to the upper 20s. That’s a relative humidity on the order of seven percent. You might as well send your sinuses to Arizona.

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He said, somewhat gingerly

Lore Sjöberg finds a yummy metaphor for his CMS travails:

I keep hearing that Drupal can do things that WordPress can’t, but I haven’t reached that point yet. I’ve just reached the point where Drupal can do things WordPress can, but in an incredibly more obtuse and somewhat less reliable way. If Blogger is a pre-assembled gingerbread house, and WordPress is a set of pre-cut gingerbread panels, frosting, assorted decorative candy, and an instruction manual, Drupal is a bag of flour, two eggs and a map to the nearest grocery store.

I once (and once is enough) built a blog on Lotus’ Domino platform, which, extending the metaphor, includes a picture of the old Nutrition Pyramid and a Jack in the Box store-locator app. Trini, more talented than I, actually managed to build one using a WordPress theme in less time than it took me to regrow the hair I pulled out trying to get the variables to work.

And you’ll notice nobody dares mention TypePad.

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Junk under wraps

As I said before this Weiner thing came to a head:

I am reasonably certain that no one has seen it; I am equally certain that no one wants to see it.

[“I often quote myself,” said George Bernard Shaw. “It adds spice to my conversation.” Obviously GBS was meant to blog.]

A reasonably-representative reaction from an eminently-sensible woman active in social media:

Early in my tweeting days, there was a guy who started chatting with me. The conversation moved to DM (direct message, supposedly private) and then to exchanged cell phone numbers and calls. Before I knew it, there at 9:00am one morning came the triple-chime announcing picture mail. I clicked to open and there was naked genitalia winking at me. In unsolicited and ungroomed high definition. Hold up, playa. I don’t know your middle name, your street address or your city of birth yet but I now know more about you than some men I’ve dated! No. Sir.

I suspect this reaction is far more common than “Oh, goody, a picture of a Yugoslavian crotch bugle.”

I mean, come on, people:

At least let me get an adult beverage and half an impure thought going.

It’s only fair.

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Where is your cod now?

I take back all the horrible things I muttered when I spent seven bucks for a box of fish sticks yesterday:

Biomass of Popularly Eaten Fish

When they say “overfished,” this is what they mean.

(From the Guardian, filtered through GraphJam.)

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In a hurry or something

A little reminder that they make those laws for us, not for themselves:

The N.C. Highway Patrol said Thursday that it will be difficult to investigate an allegation that state Sen. Don East, R-Surry, was driving 145 mph on U.S. 52 during a joyride with state Sen. Stan Bingham, R-Davidson.

Troopers typically must see a driver speeding, and a state law gives legislators immunity from prosecution based on anything they say in the General Assembly, a spokesman said.

Bingham said Monday on the Senate floor that East had taken him on the joyride in East’s muscle car, a Dodge Charger SRT8, according to a report by the News & Observer of Raleigh.

One could argue, I suppose, that East wasn’t even trying that hard. Still, were you or I to hoon around at high velocity and insane enough to say so, well, acceleration has consequences.

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Heat diffusion

John Hawkins continues to compile these 20 Hottest Conservative Women lists, and while I am not one to turn up my nose at pulchritude generally, there’s one problem built into all such photographic compilations: even if the judges are taking other factors into account, the presentation is so purely visual that the reader, by default, tends to assume that contender #A is better-looking than contender #(A+9).

Neo-neocon, tongue in cheek, noted that she didn’t make the cut, and asks: “[I]s the entire enterprise a heinously ageist and discriminatory plot?” Nothing so complicated as all that. This is standard male sports-bar stuff, on par with “Would the Celtics have sucked so bad in the playoffs if they hadn’t traded Kendrick Perkins?” Since Boston did trade Perk, there’s obviously no way of knowing for sure.

And we don’t know what criteria the judges were using. I suspect Sarah Palin, #9, lost a couple of points for being too close to 50 and for sounding like Hubert Humphrey on helium, but it’s not like they’re going to disclose the methodology or anything. If you gave me the choice of any of them for a dinner date — let’s not presume beyond that — I’m going with Ann Coulter, #17, because I believe the table conversation, once begun, will never flag, and because there’s not a chance in hell she’ll show up in a peasant skirt. Your mileage, of course, may vary.

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Finally, some economies of scale

The Chevrolet Volt goes national this fall — dealers in all 50 states are now taking orders, though most of the country won’t see the car until November — and GM has announced that the $41,000 base price will be reduced to $39,995. (The $7500 Federal tax credit continues.) A Volt tricked out with everything on the option sheet will creep into the $46,000 range, assuming the dealers don’t slap a few thousand worth of “market adjustment” onto the sticker, which is a lot to assume.

What no one knows so far is how much real demand there will be for Chevy’s plugmobile once the floodgates are opened. Worst-case scenario is something like what happened with the US version of the smart fortwo: everybody who wanted one got one early, and then sales tanked. About the only thing we can be sure of is that Glenn Beck won’t buy one.

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Strange search-engine queries (280)

“The time has come,” the Walrus said, “to talk of many things.”

“Never mind that,” said the Oysters. “We want to know about this stuff:”

145 iq people:  Are just as dumb as the rest of us, once comfortably planted in a position of power.

why do certain shoes stick to floors:  Have you seen your floor lately? Yech.

don’t use 134a making meth:  Since when do tweakheads have environmental concerns?

backyardnudeswimming:  Don’t even think of trying this until you get a pool.

what if susanna reid had an ample j lo rear end?  The world would judder on its axis from the shift in gravitational field.

how to put your penis inside a woman:  And this comes from France, yet. Quelle dommage.

uncertainty blows:  You sure about that?

katie couric satanist list phone numbers names from 57 st proctor gamble johnny carson causing war on usa:  This query from a Wii explains why game machines should not be allowed on the Web.

over the line balls:  Weiner jokes are so last week.

Donner Party Platters:  Garnish with Herb and Rosemary.

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Much too far ahead of his time

Wikipedia on Joe Meek:

Meek was one of the first producers to grasp and fully exploit the possibilities of the modern recording studio. His innovative techniques — physically separating instruments, treating instruments and voices with echo and reverb, processing the sound through his fabled home-made electronic devices, the combining of separately-recorded performances and segments into a painstakingly constructed composite recording — comprised a major breakthrough in sound production. Up to that time, the standard technique for pop, jazz and classical recordings alike was to record all the performers in one studio, playing together in real time, a legacy of the days before magnetic tape, when performances were literally cut live, directly onto disc.

And Meek did all this in a three-floor apartment in Islington, before any of your present-day big-name producers, before the Beatles, before even Phil Spector.

Not much of Meek’s material got over to this side of the pond: “Telstar,” a spacey instrumental by the Tornados (“corrected” to “Tornadoes” by London Records for the US release), made #1 in 1962, and the Honeycombs’ stomping “Have I the Right?” hit #5 in 1964, aided and abetted by the ongoing British Invasion.

What these two tracks have in common is major compression and weird-sounding instrumental bits: Meek was fond of the clavioline, a proto-synthesizer thing invented after World War II. He puts it to good use here on a later Tornados track, “The Ice Cream Man”:

YouTuber “patrickphan2,” I suspect, hadn’t even been born yet when Meek died in 1967, but he came up with a very Meeklike sound for this track: an instrumental bed intended for people who want to make parodies of Rebecca Black’s “Friday.” Joe would have approved, I think.

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Buncha butterheads

Behold the Anti-Lady Gaga:

Gao Yuanyuan for PETA

This is Chinese actress Gao Yuanyuan, thirty-one, doing a promotional piece for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals: the dress is made of, yes, lettuce, and the necklace of chili peppers.

If you’d rather see the young lady in something less edible:

Gao Yuanyuan not for PETA

(Latter photo from sina.com.cn, in case you thought you saw a tattoo.)

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Neither surf nor turf

There was some minor grumbling last month after word got out that some guy in Wisconsin had bought $140 worth of lobster, steaks and Mountain Dew with food stamps, and the usual noises were being made about how this was absolutely inevitable or how this was utterly unacceptable. (Best example of the latter, in fact a contender for QOTW here, was by a commenter at American Digest who said that there were only two things you should be able to purchase with food stamps: gruel and diet gruel.)

Well, it turns out that the buyer wasn’t partying at taxpayer expense at all, but trying to turn a few bucks:

Louis Wayne Cuff, a 33-year-old Menominee man, was arraigned in 95th District Court in Menominee last week for food stamp trafficking, a felony. Cuff’s arrest resulted from a monthlong joint investigation by the state Department of Human Services’ Office of Inspector General and the Menominee County Sheriff’s Department.

Cuff, who allegedly used a Bridge Card to buy the stuff and then sold it for 50 cents on the dollar, faces up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. He is free on a $5,000 bond. His preliminary hearing is scheduled for June 15.

They probably don’t have diet gruel in Wisconsin prisons, either.

(Via Interested-Participant.)

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So that’s what they mean by “public” radio

Melanie is driving around town, listening to classical music on the radio, and one of those ubiquitous fund-raising breaks finally gets her attention:

“We need your donation. Yours. I’m talking to you.”

I pulled into the center divide lane, to make a left turn, and thought, “Yeah, sure. You mean me. Of all the people in the Portland Metro area, you mean me. Right. Uh huh.”

“Pick up the phone and call us. Yes, you in the Subaru.”

There are, I have to assume, lots of Subarus in the Rose City. Even so:

[T]hey were obviously watching me, pointing at me, demanding I call. They knew I hadn’t done so yet.

Now if they give away an oil change as a membership benefit, I’m going to be awfully suspicious.

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Drawing a quarter

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O happy (or bored) Belgians

Last time we checked in with Belgium, four months ago, they didn’t have a government. Today, they still don’t have a government:

Belgian Prime Minister Yves Leterme resigned in April last year, but he is still turning up for work.

In fact, by mid-August he will have been a caretaker prime minister for longer than he was an elected leader with a mandate to govern.

This may sound odd — Belgium is after all the home of surrealism — but the oddest thing is that, after one year, there is no solution on the horizon.

How long can this go on? Belgian law says nothing about Leterme limits:

“Technically this can last until the next federal election has to be called in 2014,” says political scientist David Sinardet.

Assuming, of course, someone can form a government then. Sinardet, a professor at Antwerp University and the Free University of Brussels, doesn’t seem worried:

“We have a new form of government, a new form of democracy, proving to the world that this crazy idea that you need full government with full powers may be just not true.”

Articles of Confederation, anyone?

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The question of the age, answered!

And that age, incidentally, is thirteen.

NHTSA distraction data

The government concludes that kickin’ in the front seat is not quite as safe as sittin’ in the back seat, so if you were wondering which seat you should take, there’s your answer.

(No, this couldn’t wait until Friday. NHTSA graphic siphoned from The Truth About Cars.)

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Toward a unified theory of WTF

Things don’t make a hell of a lot of sense once you get far enough away from Earth: the “standard models” don’t explain everything — yet. In time, perhaps they will. Or maybe, suggests McGehee, we’re looking at it all from the wrong angle:

There’s talk of dark matter — again like it’s something exotic, but the universe is enormous and very poorly lit. I think if there’s such a thing as “dark matter” it closely resembles the stuff you empty out of your vacuum cleaner. Personally though, I don’t think dark matter, or dark energy either, is necessary to explain what’s going on.

I just emptied out the vacuum cleaner, and if the universe is filled with that kind of stuff, truly we are all doomed.

Here’s what I think is afoot here: a scale of physical law that we haven’t detected yet. Just as quantum behavior doesn’t scale up to our level, there’s another level of behavior that doesn’t scale down.

Which actually seems fairly plausible: if something is big enough, the laws of physics as we know them may not apply. Certainly Goldman Sachs would approve.

But I’m telling you right now: the first time I see quantum phenomena in the dust receptacle, I am out of here, Jack.

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Nor can you play Obstacle Golf

“You’re not allowed to drive like that! What do you think this is, a ring full of bumper cars?”

“Well, yes, actually, it is.”

I blame Mustapha Mond.

(Seen at friar’s fires.)

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The road to surfdom

So I did this piece on Joe Meek and “Telstar,” prompting TFG to come back with a twin-spin featuring Man or Astroman? and Satans Pilgrims.

A few years back, Britain’s Cordelia Records put together a compilation of non-surf tunes given the surf treatment. It was quite delightful, and I snapped it up from iTunes once I heard a track or two.

One of the acts on that compilation is the leading Slovenian surf band, the Bitch Boys (previously mentioned here). In this clip, they’re doing, um, “Telstar.” The visuals, sadly, are Not Great.

They also do a pretty mean “Take On Me,” which you can hear here if you fiddle with the user interface for several seconds.

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It’s like Pick Your Poison, only more so

I hate to go all ¿Quién es más macho? on you here, but Robert Stacy McCain has a list of preferred, um, mishaps to befall New York Times columnist David Brooks, and I’m trying to decide which of them is the worst:

  1. “wrapped in bacon and dumped into a tank full of hungry sharks”;
  2. “loaded aboard an Air Force C-130 and air-dropped over Afghanistan without a parachute”;
  3. “lashed to a tree in the Alaskan wilderness as wolf-bait”;
  4. “dumped naked into an alligator-infested swamp in the backwoods of Louisiana”.

Of this quartet, only #2 presents the possibility of not being eaten, unless Alaska is breeding vegan wolves these days.

Males beyond a certain age — based on my experience, I’d say six and a half years — are often given to such horrific musings. Jamie Kitman, in the July Automobile, describes one such scheme, as concocted by the magazine’s founder, the late David E. Davis Jr.:

After David’s death, a Facebook acquaintance wrote about Davis’s recent unkind comments about his one-time protégé, made on a weekly automotive webcast, in which he fantasized about a FedEx plane whose cargo doors accidentally open to drop a grand piano on a farm in central Michigan, leaving only a grease spot where our own — hell, his own — Jean Jennings once stood.

TTAC has a link to the original, though the video seems to have turned into a grease spot all by itself.

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Ride and override

Gwendolyn has one of those set-and-forget automatic climate-control schemes: I tend to park it somewhere in the middle 70s and then not think about it.

Yesterday I thought about it. For the second day in a row, it was pushing 100 outside, and the little computerized gizmo did what it always does under such circumstances: crank the fan up to four out of four and hope for the best. It occurred to me, somewhere near the point where I turn off Treadmill and hop onto the Interstate, that this might be suboptimal in a psychological sense: if I think that the system is really laboring, I might imagine that it’s not working as well as it could be.

So I hit the fan-speed button on the minus side, going for three out of four. The dreaded word MANUAL appeared on screen: this child of HAL wasn’t going to give up without a fight, or at least an argument. But it seemed a heck of a lot cooler with 3 dB of fan noise taken out of the environment, which suggests that while I may not know squat about automotive technology, I know how to push my own buttons.

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Almost a yogurt post

I’ve had this “Almost Yogurt” category for almost a decade — it’s for cultural phenomena, tee-hee — but I never seem to write about actual, you know, yogurt.

Until now:

Homa Dashtaki was eager to demonstrate that her yogurt was safe and healthful, but complying with California regulations turned out to be not so easy. In fact, authorities told her that she would face possible prosecution unless she established a “Grade A dairy facility” employing processes more commonly found in factories. A highlight: she’d have to install a pasteurizer even though she made her yogurt from milk that was already pasteurized. What’s more, California law makes it illegal to pasteurize milk twice, so there went any hope of continuing her straightforward way of obtaining milk, namely bringing it home from a fancy grocery store.

Your Grade A dairy facilities, in California or otherwise, don’t have a problem with this, of course; this way they can keep out the riff-raff and maintain their market share for their “bland, corporate wares.”

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Negative feedback for Shylock

Normally I just put up a link to unusually-stupid Yahoo! Answers questions, but I suspect this one will be deleted real fast, so you get a screenshot too:

When I use eBay how can I make sure the person I'm buying from isn't a Jew?

The first thing I thought of was actually printable, but it didn’t stand a chance in hell against the Y! terms of service.

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It’s, um, sensational

Surely I’m not the only person who heard about Nintendo’s new Wii U and thought of this:

This was originally released in late 1961, so they were just about fifty years ahead of their time.

(With a nod toward the skies: my brother Paul was fond of making fun of this song.)

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