Archive for September 2011

Taking arms against Baron von Tollbooth

Well, okay, Sonic Charmer isn’t going that far, but he is definitely opposed to toll roads, and it’s not — well, not entirely — about the money:

It’s the stupidity of the thing. You’re driving quickly, making good time, when oops, time for everyone to slow down, fan out into a highly wasteful 12 or maybe 24 lanes (obtained how? is there no better use for this land?), stop at a little hellish booth in which it’s some poor soul’s actual job to sit 8 hours a day, and hand the poor overweight lady, like, $1.15. Then maybe like 4 miles later, you have to hand over 75 cents to some other poor schmoe.

Is there anything more idiotic? And the entire East Coast is like this!

Before you ask: he doesn’t think the switch to automated toll-collection systems (E-ZPass et al.) is sufficient to boost the concept to the correct side of the Boon/Boondoggle continuum.

What do I think of them? Depends on whether I’m in a hurry.

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Infinite perversity in infinite combinations

“The needs of the many,” said Spock, “outweigh the needs of the few.” Or maybe not so much:

Years ago I was pressured to release the confidential medical records of patients operated on at our facility. I didn’t release the records and it got very ugly, but ultimately we prevailed. During the very threatening discussions a physician who was a hired gun by the folks who wanted these records told me that patient confidentiality was not important if this data collection made a difference in someone else’s life. I argued that individual rights distinguished our form of government from those that championed the “collective.” I tried to point out that a possible benefit to one individual doesn’t justify the violation of the rights of another.

He quoted Mr. Spock, as I have above. I pointed out that Mr. Spock’s actions were those of a volunteer. “It is one thing to throw yourself on a grenade to save your foxhole buddies. It is quite another to be shoved onto the grenade against your will,” I said. This hired gun still didn’t get it. We wound up filing a lawsuit against this bunch of fascists and the patients’ data remained secure.

So far as I have been able to ascertain, the fascists did not respond with a countersuit complaining about being called “fascists.”

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The best of all possible worlds

Okay, maybe not the best, but the following decrees by our Benevolent Dictatrix have only our best interests at heart:

There would be “quiet hours” in most neighborhoods from 9 pm until 7 am. Anyone caught driving a boom car, mowing, leaving their dog staked outside to howl, whatever…they pay a fine. If they persist in violating, the noise making object is taken away from them. (People who work nights? There would be specially zoned neighborhoods with “quiet hours” from 9 am to 7 pm, with that information posted at every entrance to the neighborhood).

I expect swing-shifters to demand equal time.

Also, grocery stores, supermarkets, hypermarkets, megalomarts, whatever — they would not be permitted to mount televisions in their store that would blare advertising at the shoppers. They also wouldn’t be permitted to play music that was advertisement of products they sold.

I wonder: would there be an exemption for record stores? (Then again, would there even be record stores?)

But I’m not complaining. I must note, though, that every time I think that the world would be improved by throwing [name of disfavored group] into the sea, someone reminds me about the hazards of water pollution.

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Quote of the week

The always-thoughtful Roberta X contemplates December 7, 1951:

Undoubtedly there was a somber ceremony at Pearl Harbor, but I wonder, was there a week-long national dirge leading up to the day? We got Tojo; we got OBL. Yeah, there’s still a bunch of wretched weasels out there who hate the West, the U.S. especially, and work to do harm to persons and property; but Americans are not incompetent, and we’re no longer unaware. It might be time to take off the sackcloth and ashes.

A commenter subsequently noted that there wasn’t that much of a ceremony, inasmuch as there was work to be done, what with troops in Korea that needed support. There’s a great deal to be said for keeping busy.

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Braai Day

“Braai” is Afrikaans for “barbecue,” sort of, and every September, South Africans chow down on Braai Day:

Braai Day is a celebration of our great country and its unique national pastime. It aims to unite all South Africans on 24 September by encouraging them to partake in a fun and tangible activity shared by all demographic groups, religious denominations and body types.

And there being no Rebecca Black news to speak of — the five-song EP due out in August seems to have mutated into a ten-song album due out around Halloween — here’s the inevitable “Braaiday” video, courtesy of Derick Watts and the Sunday Blues:

(As seen on Memeburn.)

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So many more drumsticks

They’ll have to make a pitch like that to sell this European Union proposal:

Experts in Brussels believe that insects could be a vital source of nutrition that will not only solve food shortages but also help save the environment. They have launched a €3 million project to promote the eating of insects.

Proponents of entomophagy — insect eating — argue that bugs are a low-cholesterol, low-fat, protein-rich food source. According to one study, small grasshoppers offer 20 percent protein and just 6 percent fat, to lean ground beef’s 24 percent protein and 18 percent fat.

I can walk into several stores in this town and snag ground beef way leaner than that.

Crickets are also said to be high in calcium, termites rich in iron, and a helping of giant silkworm moth larvae apparently provides all the daily copper and riboflavin requirements.

Something to look forward to: “Just think, if the geniuses at the European Union get their way, roach coaches may soon be selling actual roaches.” In vain will we point out that those creatures aren’t kosher.

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Enthusiasm uncurbed

Last time I mentioned Freezepop, I said something to the effect that “I am not inclined to underestimate a band with songs in the Guitar Hero series that don’t actually have any guitars in them.” And that’s quite apart from the fact that lead singer/lyricist Liz Enthusiasm looks like this:

Liz Enthusiasm at the Knitting Factory

What shoes do you wear with tights like those?

Liz Enthusiasm at the Knitting Factory

Photos by Violet Shuraka of Cheap & Plastique, appropriately enough. Lots more at the link.

Addendum: Shortly after stumbling across these pictures, I found something even more unexpected: Liz and bandmate Sean T. Drinkwater (the other one) unplugged. Oh, and there’s an actual guitar, too.

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Fark blurb of the week

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London calling (collect)

Another odd little dream sequence, which perhaps someone can parse. I’m still perplexed by it.

I’d been separated from a tour group somehow, and was wandering around loose on foot in some of London’s less-tony northern districts, though the journey was pleasant, and there were always people to talk to.

And then a series of wrong turns led me back to our West End hotel, where the lifts were out of operation. I headed for the stairs, where a repairman was attempting to reposition a rung — several inches above where I thought it ought to be. “Bloody regulations,” he muttered. I said something to the effect that we had such back home.

Dinner was underway. My daughter was unwrapping her dish; a former crush and her current boyfriend were at the other end of the table. Since the last time I’d seen her, she’d apparently learned how to pass through solid objects: she appeared to be embedded in the table somehow. I opened a box with my name on it and found a rather curious-looking vegetarian dish: the actual vegetables were not identified, though the stuff looked like, and tasted like, shavings from green and orange Lego blocks. It proved to be filling enough, however. The bill was not enormous, and popping open my wallet, I shuffled through my banknotes, some of which inexplicably were not actual banknotes anymore. (This situation has now shown up often enough to qualify as a Recurring Theme.) Former crush and company had just left through the north wall; daughter was out of earshot, so I proffered my American Express card, which inexplicably caused the entire staff to revert from some semblance of English to something I hadn’t heard before.

The story ended there, thanks to a truck bouncing noisily down my actual street.

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My baby does Bernanke Panke

While Smitty is happy to be coming home, he’d still like an explanation of this:

[T]he new Chickenfoot release [is] curiously titled ‘III’, as though their command of math in naming their second studio release was a desperate plea for a U.S. Treasury job.

It could have been worse. Says the Wikipedia page for the album: “Other rumored titles that have been mentioned include Chickenfoot IV.”

The 1-3 skip is not unprecedented, though: see, for instance, the Traveling Wilburys. And the first Smothers Brothers best-of compilation was dubbed Golden Hits, Volume 2. (Even better, it contained no previously-issued material.) I forget how many books Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker trilogy contained — five, was it?

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Technically a 911 story

Steve Sailer tells of an experience with a “high-testosterone” boss:

One morning in 1983, after about six months on the job, I was standing on a street corner in Lincoln Park waiting for the bus to work, when the CEO pulls up in his Turbo Porsche and offers me a ride. “Sure!” But, the stoplights on La Salle Street heading toward the Loop are not optimized for a CEO who floors it at every green light and thus gets caught by every single red light. So, every block consisted of us going 0-60 in five seconds, with my head being shoved back into the headrest, followed by 60-0 in five seconds (with my forehead just about bouncing off the dashboard). When we got to work, the CEO offered to pick me up every morning on that corner, but, feeling pummeled by G-forces and whiplash from the ride, I went back to taking the bus.

Contemporary turbo Porsches, of course, will now do this in less than four seconds. Jackasses and jackrabbit starts, however, remain mostly unevolved.

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Card swiped

Thursday the bank called my answering machine and informed it, to the extent that information can be conveyed in thirty seconds, that there was some suspected fraudulent activity on my account. On a good day, I’ll get home about an hour after bankers’ hours run down, and this had been not too bad of a day, so I rang in to the bank operator, and finding the caller to have departed, I left a message. I then tried jumping through the voice-mail system in the hopes of finding a customer-service person somewhere in the maze. Which, eventually, I did. We reviewed the last ten transactions, none of which were fuzzy-looking, although the guy did speculate that simultaneous renewals of two magazines from the same publisher at the same price might have looked a little weird to their Central Scrutinizer. Satisfied, I rang off.

Friday afternoon, about the same time as yesterday, I open up the machine and find a message from the same person, who of course had already gone for the day. This should have set off some sort of alarm in my head, but didn’t.

Which brings us to Saturday, when the ATM stubbornly refused to cough up anything beyond “You are not an authorized user on this account.” Perplexed, I sought out a teller, who after punching several dozen buttons told me that somebody in Nebraska was apparently trying to pass my Visa card number, and as a precautionary measure, they had killed the card in its tracks. Well, okay, fine, they didn’t get away with anything. On the other hand, it will take them at least a week to scrape up enough plastic to send me a replacement card with a new number.

None of this presents any particular difficulty, except for one minor detail: one of my automated payments, charged to that card, goes through today. Or, more precisely, doesn’t go through.

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Ten years after

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Platinum plugs

Car and Driver (10/11) interviews Vice President Joe Biden, who turns out to be quite the hotshoe:

“I still have my 1967 Goodwood-green Corvette, 327, 350-horse, with a rear-axle ratio that really gets up and goes. The Secret Service won’t let me drive it. I’m not allowed to drive anything. It’s the one thing I hate about this job.”

Two factoids I found oddly gratifying: Biden used to own a bullet-nose Studebaker, and he has never washed a Trans Am while shirtless.

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Strictly ballroom

Which does not mean that these particular jeans are cut with the tango in mind:

Ballroom Jeans by Duluth Trading Company

On the other hand, you have to assume that Duluth Trading Company (of Belleville, Wisconsin, of course) was not going to label these garments something like “Sack Space.”

(Via the ever-fashionable Nancy Friedman.)

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Get off her perimeter

Debbie Dompierre is one of the greenest — or greyest — reservists in the Canadian Forces:

A 56-year-old Metchosin grandmother has become the oldest reservist to graduate from basic training with the Canadian Forces, beating 20-somethings in the gruelling training process.

She was sworn in Feb. 3 and joined HMCS Malahat, a Victoria-based reserve division. In June, she started her nine-week training course at CFB Borden, training during a heatwave in southern Ontario in temperatures of nearly 50 C.

Geez. And to think that I griped about Fort Leonard Wood.

She was one of only three people over 25 in the training camp. Five in their early 20s threw in the towel, but Dompierre was determined to keep going.

But this is the point where I cringed:

Dompierre scored high enough on her physical test — 137 when she needed a 75 — that she’s exempt from the test next year.

My evidently-feeble 18-year-old self passed such a test by a margin of, um, eleven points. I am told that female troops are cut a smidgen of slack in the test, but I’m still impressed.

And this is the point where I salute:

“I’ve been a military mom and wife for 15 years, so I’ve always been very proud of the military. So now it’s my turn.”

(Via Fark.)

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The Mitts-on approach

According to Megan McArdle, this is Mitt Romney’s campaign “schtick”:

I’m sure he created jobs at Bain Capital. But then he ruins the whole thing by saying that that’s why we need to elect him president so he can go ahead and create jobs for America. (I paraphrase.)

Really? That was Mitt Romney’s idea of how jobs get created? You have to wait until the president comes and sprinkles his magic pixie dust on the economy?

Then again, more people than you could possibly imagine we can possibly afford believe that (1) there exists magic pixie dust and (2) it’s possible for a politician to get his hands on it. It’s situations like that which make us yearn for the uncompromising, hard-hitting drama of My Little Pony.

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Strange search-engine queries (293)

Another Monday morning, another sampling of search strings from visitors to this site, based almost entirely on perceived snark potential. (Your mileage may vary; see boojum for details.)

“Jason Rainbows”:  Not, in fact, a candidate for the California Assembly. Yet.

panhandling san francisco worse:  I wouldn’t say it’s worse, necessarily, but God help us if Jason Rainbows gets into office.

is there a prescription for sunscreen:  Generally no, though if you need that much SPF you should consider staying inside away from the windows, and maybe wear a burqa.

is biden a nudist:  Not so far as I know, but then the government picks up the tab for his sunscreen.

Pics of Naked girls wearing k swiss sneakers:  Purists will insist that if they’re wearing shoes, they’re not really naked.

what was defect in 2001 transmissions?  Mostly, that they were made ten years ago. Shut up and write the check.

In the sci-fi novels and films you know, what type of roles do women play? Are they in-depth complex characters, or are they mainly simpering, helpless victims or sexual stereotypes inserted into the fiction in order to tempt the men?  In the “social” “sciences,” this is called “research.” (“Blecch.”)

“non-dairy” “bill tush”:  Ah, yes, Bill Tush. The Cremora of cable-TV hosts.

bling bathtub:  I have a ring around mine. Does that count?

morticia and gomez moan:  She, probably, in French.

“charles hill” vaudeville:  Um, you’re soaking in it.

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Utility belt as tefillin

Given the fact that Bob Kane was born “Robert Kahn,” I’m perfectly willing to believe this:

Back in the 1930s, it made some sense for Bruce Wayne, scion of one of Gotham’s finest families, to be a WASP. But look around NYC and see whose names are on the hospital, university and theater buildings. Don’t get us wrong … Batman has to be named Bruce Wayne. But who’s to say he wasn’t named after his great-grandfather, Baruch Wien?

And just to support the premise:

Bruce Wayne was taught as a child that he had a particular obligation to help the helpless. Moses looked to the left and to the right, and when he saw no one else there, he stepped up to protect the innocent. Batman is so admired because he also teaches us that when no one else is there, the thing to do is to step up to the challenge of — well — becoming a hero.

Besides, why should the Marvel universe be the only one in comicdom with a major Jewish character?

(Via Dick Stanley.)

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The things one finds on eBay

And by “things,” I mean this:

Genuine StarTribune Moist Towelette signed by James LileksThis is a one-of-a-kind item, obtained directly from the Minneapolis StarTribune writer, James Lileks, at the 2011 Minnesota State Fair. Lileks, a locally acclaimed satirist and cultural commentator, signed the moist towelette at 12:15, September 2, at the StarTribune state fair booth and presented it to me, an avid fan, in exchange for a pandering testimonial to his writing prowess. Alas, I must part with it, due to financial difficulties, but be assured, it is not easy to do so. This is the real thing, and your only chance to obtain such an article.

You were expecting maybe Juanita’s Fajitas?

Incidentally, Lileks himself vouched for its authenticity, which surely added something to the winning bid.

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Unangry bird

Hello Kitty dresses up as a turkey:

Hello Kitty 8-inch Plush Turkey

Sanrio is selling this little plush Kitty with the bird suit for a mere $19.50, presumably just in time for Thanksgiving. (And heck, the grocery stores are full of Halloween stuff, so it’s just a matter of lead time.) She’s eight inches tall, so mark her down as a single serving.

(Via Finestkind Clinic and fish market.)

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Meanwhile at the Water Works

Last year, on the subject of water bills, Mayor Cornett observed that “people seemed to prefer to have a smaller increase each year rather than a large increase every three or four years.” The new rates starting in October are not out yet, but I anticipate an increase of about a buck. Meanwhile, the September bill, which is fairly typical of my usage, runs as follows: customer charge = $9.75, 3000 gallons at $2.35/thousand = $7.05, total $16.80. (This does not include sewer or trash service, opt-in on the local ambulance service, or the infamous “Drainage Fee.”) I’m figuring, therefore, about $18 a month just for water.

The new rates in drought-ridden Austin [pdf] are a little bit more onerous, but for now, only a little, at least at my consumption level. For the same 3000 gallons:

  • Customer account charge: $4.83
  • Equivalent meter charge: $1.79
  • Fire protection component: $0.60
  • Water sustainability fee: $6.00
  • First 2000 gallons at $1.11: $2.22
  • 1000 gallons at $2.93: $2.93

Total $18.37. Beyond the two usage tiers you see here, there are three higher ones; beyond 25,000 gallons the price per thousand is a stiff $11.59, so watch that sprinkler.

That “sustainability fee” calls for a second look [pdf]:

More than 80 percent of the water utility costs are fixed but the revenue is volatile due to the recent successes of water conservation, extreme weather patterns, and the downturn in the economy. Austin Water faced a revenue loss of over $50 million last year alone. We remain committed to conservation, but we need to change our business model for the water utility to remain sustainable.

Austin Water is proposing a water sustainability fee which is a fixed fee charged to all customers that will fund conservation programs while helping to stabilize Austin Water revenues.

Note that “successes of water conservation” cost them money.

On the new pricing generally, the Austin Contrarian notes:

More price increases will be necessary if this drought continues. But we know that price is an effective way to ration water, more effective than mandatory conservation (and oodles more effective than voluntary conservation). While demand for water is inelastic, it is not perfectly so.

Oklahoma City can tell you that voluntary conservation didn’t do much of anything this summer, and reservoir levels are down: Hefner about nine feet, Overholser about eight, and Stanley Draper nearly thirty. Then again, Austin’s Lake Travis is down 48 feet, though Lake Austin is pretty close to normal.

Austin anticipates that between 2011 and 2016, the average water bill will rise 61.2 percent [pdf], though their average user uses quite a bit more than I do. If nothing else, this demonstrates that water isn’t going to get any cheaper, even on those rare occasions of late when it actually falls out of the sky.

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Paltrow excuse

Gwyneth Paltrow not wearing a whole lotScott Chaffin put up a larger version of this shot of Gwyneth Paltrow and slapped my name on it, on the basis that I am supposedly some sort of connoisseur of feminine stemware and/or wacky footwear and would therefore have something to say about it.

I did, as it happens, but it wasn’t particularly positive, citing those unnecessarily-clumpy shoes, a Givenchy creation from spring/summer ’10 dubbed prosaically “Woven Zip Flats,” which have a sort of stumpefying effect on Gwynnie: cutting her off at the ankles, if you will. (Full comment here.) They’d be okay with proper pants, I suppose, but perhaps not so much with short shorts. (Your mileage, I need hardly point out, may vary.)

Of course, this is presumably a candid shot from somewhere, which implies that she’s not trying to impress any of us, and that’s fine with me: nobody should be “on” twenty-four/seven. But Paltrow dresses up better than most, and the shot below — from the April 2010 Harper’s Bazaar — is much easier on my eyes:

Gwyneth Paltrow in Harper's Bazaar

These sandals, from Valentino’s Garavani line, are decidedly more flattering, while still preserving something of the traditional gladiator “How many straps can you stand?” style. (The gown is also Valentino. The man does know his accessories.)

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Secrets are dangerous things

A reputedly-random observation from Will Truman:

I happened to start watching a couple of episodes of Twin Peaks. The population sign reads 50,000 or so. I read somewhere that it was supposed to be 5,000. Having lived in towns of each size, I have to say that the latter is far more correct. It looks and acts much more like a town of 5,000 than 50,000. I didn’t really believe this until recently. I wondered if a town of 5,000 would have the sorts of things that Twin Peaks does. It depends on the town, but yeah, even towns of 5,000 have lodges, active Chambers of Commerce, and so on.

Yep. I brought it up here, pointing to this FAQ:

The population sign that’s shown on TV indicates 51,201. According to “Twin Peaks Behind the Scenes: An Unofficial Guide to Twin Peaks,” by Mark Altman, Lynch/Frost originally conceived of it as 5,201, but ABC insisted on increasing it.

This has resulted in mixed cues within the show. For instance, Twin Peaks doesn’t have a resident circuit court judge, which any town of 51,000 in the US would; it has a Sheriff’s department but no police department (Sheriff is usually a county rather than a city office). On the other hand, it does have its own hospital, a fancy department store, and a large hotel.

How to reconcile these cues? The FAQ goes on:

The book, “Welcome to Twin Peaks: Access Guide to the Town” tries to resolve the issue by saying the population sign is a misprint, and it should be 5,120.1.

Point one? Well, that explains everything.

See also Eerie, Indiana, population 16,661.

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Some slide easier than others

A Person of Size is suing a Vendor of Burgers:

A devoted, 290-pound White Castle fan is steaming mad at the fast-food chain, which he says repeatedly broke promises to make the booths in his local eatery bigger.

All stockbroker Martin Kessman wants is a place at the table. But when the 64-year-old walked into the White Castle in Nanuet back in April 2009 for his usual No. 2 combo meal, he got an unpleasant surprise.

“They’re stationary booths,” he told The Post. “I’m not humongous, [but] I’m a big guy. I could not wedge myself in.”

And on what basis is he suing? You guessed it:

The Rockland County man says the chain’s uncomfortable booths violate the civil rights of fat people.

The Americans with Disabilities Act is “applicable, not only to me, but to pregnant women and to handicapped people,” he said.

“I just want to sit down like a normal person,” said Kessman, who is suing for bigger chairs and unspecified damages.

As a practicing Chubby McChubberson in my own right, I must point out that this is why God — or Jack in the Box, or whoever — invented the drive-through window.

Neither Harold nor Kumar was available for comment, though we did get a statement from the Ladmo Trio.

(Via the Consumerist.)

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Thievy wonder

Honda’s mid-sized Accord has been among the nation’s most popular cars for many years now, which may be a factor in this unpleasant statistic: more than 150 of them have been stolen in OKC this year, more than any other single model. And the Accord’s little sister, the Civic, comes in second, followed by a trio of trucks.

Then again, auto theft in general is high in this town, partly because there are so many ways out of town — that whole “three Interstates” thing — and partly because of the continuing demand for OEM parts at parking-lot-at-midnight prices. According to insurancequotes.org, in 2010, the OKC metro ranked 25th in auto theft, recording 4,951 jackings, an average of just under 4 per 1,000 population. Half a percentage point sounds relatively harmless, but after twenty-odd years of parking on the street or in dismal open lots, I am much happier having my own garage, where I can keep my ride uptight and out of sight.

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So much for His and Hers closets

There was some minor dustup a couple of years back over whether Barack Obama was wearing “mom jeans”; my thinking at the time was along the lines of “What the hell, at least Michelle isn’t wearing ’em.”

Justin Bieber, on the other hand, is:

The Biebs told Life&Style in NYC Saturday night at Dolce and Gabbana’s Fashion’s Night Out that it just works the best for him.

“I’ve worn women’s jeans before because they fit me. It’s not a trend; it’s just, whatever works, works.”

And it doesn’t hurt that he totally looks like Ellen Page.

(Googlebait? Who, me?)

Disclosure: I used to be married, many years and several kilograms ago, and for a while we wore the same size jeans. Did we swap? Well, an attempt was made, but apparently I couldn’t handle the mirror-image fly with any degree of finesse.

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Sunset 1, British Empire 0

Her Majesty’s Government has apparently been screwing around with the once-sacrosanct HP Sauce:

[T]he age-old recipe has been secretly altered at the request of Government health chiefs.

Heinz, the American company which bought the famous British brand in 2005, has changed the celebrated concoction that includes tomatoes, malt vinegar, molasses, dates, tamarind and secret spices to reduce the salt content.

The previous version of the brown sauce, which has become synonymous with fry-up breakfasts and bacon sandwiches, used to contain 2.1g of salt per 100g. The new version contains just 1.3g.

This is a far more grievous offence (as they say over there) than moving HP production to the freaking Netherlands. And of course, there’s a punchline:

Health experts claim this measure will save the NHS £46 million a year within three years and prevent more than 4,000 premature deaths a year.

But as a result of the decrease in salt in the old sauce, the new line has more calories and carbohydrates.

And there goes a healthy — so to speak — percentage of claimed savings and of allegedly-averted “premature deaths.” (What, you didn’t think they were going to cut the salt and do nothing else, did you?) So much for the “health experts.” It’s probably too late for Britain, but I’ll happily support this Constitutional amendment on our side of the pond:

Section 1. The right of an American citizen to eat whatever he goddamn well pleases shall not be infringed.

Section 2. What the hell do you need a Section 2 for?

(Based on a more subtle rant by Bayou Renaissance Man.)

Addendum: Sodium!

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Hairy pranksters

This was not the package the customer paid for:

A Christian songwriter says Blessing Recording Studios put “odious” and “extremely offensive” titles on his songs, “depicting, among other things, homosexual rape,” and published his CD before he could stop it, defaming him and ruining an album he paid thousands of dollars to record.

Jose Principe sued Tabernáculo Internacional and Luis Aviles dba Blessing Recording Studios, in Palm Beach County Court.

The songs themselves were not messed with, but the titles, says Principe, were affixed by the defendants with malice aforethought:

The false titles included “Me Rescaron Las Bolas” [sic: recte, Rascaron] (“They Scratched My Balls”); “Por Que Tenía El Bicho Pelu” (“Because I Had a Hairy Cock”); “Pero Lo Tengo Chiquito” (“But It’s a Small One”); “En El Piso Me Clavaron” (“They Nailed Me to the Floor”); and “Dolía Pero Me Gustó” (“It Hurt But I Liked It”).

(Googlebait? Who, me?)

The aggrieved musician might (or might not) be comforted by the fact that Mozart had a pronounced interest in Feelthy Leerics.

(From LezGetReal via Fark.)

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It all depends on Batman

Tulsa voters evidently are severely pissed off.

New lineup for Tulsa City CouncilTuesday night, four of the nine members of the Tulsa City Council were primaried right out of their seats. What’s more, three of the incumbent Councilors, perhaps seeing the writing on the wall, chose not to seek re-election, meaning that at an absolute maximum, there will be a total of two Councilors returning to City Hall after the general election. Returning District 1 Councilor Jack Henderson, a Democrat, won his primary, and is therefore elected, since he drew no Republican opposition in November.

(Graphic table courtesy of the Tulsa World.)

That’s one. The second could be District 9 incumbent G. T. Bynum, who defeated three Republican-primary opponents. However, he must now face Batman.

Mike Batman for City Council

Bynum has the advantages of incumbency and a well-known name, but one should never underestimate Batman.

(Batmobile photo via Jalopnik.)

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Even if we’re just dancing in the dark

Tim Pawlenty, you’ll remember, bowed out of the GOP presidential race, and subsequently threw his support to Mitt Romney. Robert Stacy McCain would like you to know that this was not technically an underhand throw:

Professional campaign operatives are all hired guns. I’m sure they have their ideals — don’t we all? — but idealism doesn’t pay the rent and, when push comes to shove, they work for whoever agrees to hire them. If some of Pawlenty’s former staffers eventually turn up on the staff of Mitt Romney, this is no more a judgment on the character of the ex-Pawlenty people than whatever damned fool notion made them think Tim Pawlenty ever had a ghost’s chance of winning the GOP nomination.

This is, says McCain, part of what makes people cynical about politics, but the bottom line is this:

[I]f you’re not cynical about politics, it’s only because you don’t actually know anything about politics.

Which is a quote I don’t mind passing on, although it will probably never be as popular as, say, “Hit the freaking tip jar.”

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Choose your shoes

I have not gone to a whole lot of trouble trying to figure out any individual woman’s shoe-selection criteria, on the semi-sensible basis that a few weeks of observation will tell me everything I need to know. Then again, I’m not in a position to observe anyone on more than a part-time basis, which means I will consider myself fortunate to have run across someone who puts her criteria in writing:

  • No peep toe. My second toe is longer than the first and it gets squished out the peep hole. It’s not cute. Actually, it’s really hideous.
  • Must have platform. This is to provide a buffer between my feet and the marble floors at the Capitol.
  • The sides of the heel can’t come up too far because it will rub my ankle bones.
  • I like a strap across the front. Or a zip-up front. This keeps the shoe from falling off my foot when they get all sweaty.
  • If there are straps, I like them to have non-conspicuous elastic attached.
  • I like heels or wedges better because flats end up being just as uncomfortable and probably not looking as cute.

If this sounds like a lot, it’s way shorter than her list of requirements for a lot with a house on it (at the same link).

This is, of course, an attempt to stir up conversation.

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Watchers watching on watch

Students mentoring students

The only thing that could be funnier about this would be if that byline belonged to a reporter working for a paper in, oh, let’s say, Mentor, Ohio. (Okay, it’s actually in Willoughby, but it’s on Mentor Avenue [US 20], and anyway she’s moved on.)

(From Criggo.com via Miss Cellania.)

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Semi-Swede

Lots of Volvos around this town have been fitted with a fake-Euro plate up front — Oklahoma doesn’t issue a front plate — that says “SWEDISH,” as though you couldn’t tell. Except, of course, that nowadays things are different:

For decades, Volvo wore its Swedishness on its sleeve, emphasizing the values that made Ikea, Abba and Swedish porn so popular in the US … even when it was an outpost of the Ford empire. And then the unthinkable happened: Chinese up-and-comer Li Shufu bought the brand and rolled it into his Geely empire. In the world of national-character-branding, being bought by a Chinese firm is something like hiring Casey Anthony as a brand ambassador.

Ouch. So what does Volvo do now to avoid the stereotype of Cheap Chinese Crap? CEO Stefan Jacoby floats this notion:

One weakness of Volvo cars is the exposure to the U.S. dollar, so we are investigating increasing our sourcing in North America. The utmost solution would be to have a North American industrial footprint. We haven’t made up our mind.

Sweden’s other automaker, assuming it’s still functioning at the time you read this, has never been able to afford to be picky; in recent years, some Saabs have been sourced from Japan (9-2X, a Subaru design), the US (9-7X, an artificially-Swedened Chevy TrailBlazer), and Mexico (9-4X, cousin to the Cadillac SRX). This may explain why I’ve never seen one of those “SWEDISH” tags on a Saab.

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That’s some fine police work there, Mel

The police chief of Valley Brook, Oklahoma, a quarter-square-mile enclave within southeast Oklahoma City, is in moderately deep doo-doo with the law:

Melvin Martin Fisher Jr., 47, was arraigned [in Sapulpa] Tuesday on one charge of drug trafficking, two charges of unlawful possession of a controlled drug with intent to distribute and one charge of unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia, according to Creek County court records.

Fisher was released Monday on $31,000 bail from the Creek County jail, court records show.

“They are accusing him of being in possession of 20 grams of methamphetamine and some quantity of marijuana,” said Rob Henson, Fisher’s attorney.

Inasmuch as Valley Brook’s entire economy is based on traffic tickets and titty bars, I somehow had the feeling that Chief Fisher might not be your basic Ward Cleaver type.

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The worst kind of badness

I mean, based on a description like this, it would almost have to be, right?

For the past five and a half months I have had to work with the most vile creature God ever created. In fact, I’m not entirely certain God did create him, every morning I’m quite sure he came straight from the gates of hell. Sometimes I imagine I can still smell the evil foul stench of the day he was created.

And surprisingly, it’s not a politician.

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What’s the payload on that Lingam Mk 3?

Sofia finds this possibly-loaded statement in her International Relations textbook:

“For example, the terms power and potency refer to both state capability and male virility. Military force depends on phallic objects — weapons designed to shoot projectiles, penetrate targets and explode.”

I’ve seen enough hentai to know I don’t want to see anything yoni-like shooting projectiles.

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Claire de loon

I have yet to watch New Girl, the Fox comedy starring Zooey Deschanel, at least partially because the official premiere is not until next week. On the other hand, Z’s character Jess Day has been given a Twitter account, and I’m a sucker for one-liners, so:

If you get a memory foam mattress, make sure you sleep really comfortably that first night. Otherwise, it’ll never let you forget.

You may be sure that Zooey is doing her best to promote the series for the network:

Zooey Deschanel for Fox TV

I can just see her walking into a boutique asking “What do you have today that’s adorably goofy?” One of these days she’s going to show up in a dirndl, just to make everyone’s eyes bug out.

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Men2fulminate

There is a recurrent title on YouTube: “Women2drive.” Women, of course, have been driving for decades, to the delight of male comedians hard up for material — except, of course, in Saudi Arabia, where such things are Not Done.

Hence “Women2drive,” in which those things are done and shown to the world. One such video features someone identified only as “Aziza.”

Aziza, it turns out, gave an interview to an American car magazine this summer, in which she gives her full name and makes the following observation:

There’s nothing in the Islamic religion that prevents women from driving. If you think about it, from the days of the prophet Muhammad — peace be upon him — women were on horseback. A car is a lot more modest than horseback. I think because of the Internet and the fact that it allows a lot of people to show what’s going on, that’s why there’s been a lot of momentum with this movement.

Incidentally, she drives a Toyota Avalon.

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Quote of the week

Something our leftward-leaning pundits (and the politicians who court their favor) have never quite been able to grasp:

Public policy designed to help workers who lose their jobs can lead to structural unemployment as an unintended side effect … In other countries, particularly in Europe, benefits are more generous and last longer. The drawback to this generosity is that it reduces a worker’s incentive to quickly find a new job. Generous unemployment benefits in some European countries are widely believed to be one of the main causes of “Eurosclerosis,” the persistent high unemployment that affects a number of European countries.

From Macroeconomics, by Paul Krugman and Robin Wells (Worth Publishers, 2006). Incidentally, Krugman evidently no longer believes this, which suggests a fairly-obvious question: was he wrong then, or is he wrong now?

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