Archive for May 2012

More summer shorts

Who writes short shorts? I write short shorts.

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Music from the hearts of ponies

I tend to be somewhat fidgety by nature, but it’s by no means necessary that I sync my music to my nervous system: there are times when what I want most is a slow, and I mean barely moving, ambient background for what I’m doing, or sometimes for what I’m not doing. (Hearts of Space? Yes, please.) I’m not especially familiar with the genre, so I take it more or less as I find it.

Where I did not expect to find it: My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. Some smart guy came up with the idea of taking “Love Is In Bloom,” the upbeat closer to the two-part Canterlot Wedding story arc, and slowing it to about one-eighth speed while retaining pitch. This is not particularly tricky, technologically speaking, but it never, ever would have occurred to me. The video is similarly slowed, but you don’t need the visuals: it’s bouncy and appealing at a minute and three quarters, but at fourteen minutes and three quarters, it’s weirdly — but beautifully — atmospheric. I have no idea what composer Daniel Ingram thinks about this sort of thing, but I’d like to thank him just the same.

(Found in a nightly roundup at Equestria Daily.)

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Caddy remarks

What does Jack Baruth want from Cadillac? Some actual Cadillacs, dammit:

Since the last real Eldorado died in 1985, you’ve built spacious cars, fast cars, plastichrome Tahoes, economical cars, and even somewhat reliable cars. You just haven’t bothered to build any Cadillacs. What is a Cadillac? It is, simply, a vehicle that is exemplary and desirable.

Now we have the ATS. Aren’t you ashamed of yourselves? Do you really think anybody wants this car? Do you really think anybody is willing to pay more for it than they would for an equivalently-powered BMW? Is this vehicle exemplary and desirable? The answer to these questions: Of course not. This car, along with every other vehicle you sell, should be summarily discontinued and replaced with actual Cadillacs. You’d be better off buying the tooling for the 2003 LS430, welding fins on said LS430, and selling that. It would be closer to the idea of “Cadillac” than anything you have now.

Then again, Lincoln these days can scarcely be bothered to come up with anything that couldn’t just as easily have been done as a Mercury. Maybe we can talk Sergio Marchionne into building a few Imperials for Chrysler Group.

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What’s his beef?

Nancy Friedman happens upon a brand of jerky that seems, well, hostile: their tagline is “Our jerky punches gas station jerky IN THE FACE.”

This strikes me as rather a low bar to surmount, but whatever. Amusingly, the purveyor of said jerky, one “Saul Bunyan” (brother to Paul, it appears), left her a comment nearly as long as her original article, at least partially to defend the marketing claim that “Real men eat jerky, and as legend has it, those who don’t turn into fanciful woodland pixies.” I, of course, figure that any woodland pixie that isn’t fanciful is barely worth bothering with. (Now if they turned into Pixies — well, we’ll see what Black Francis thinks about that.) Bunyan continued to hang around the comment section until Friedman decided that he’d worn out his welcome, which historically is not the sign of a True Marketing Genius.

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Fewer like this, please

Roger gets the treatment from a lackey at an Allegedly Major Magazine:

I go to the log-in menu, and do what I’m asked to do, then try to get to the online article, but — nothing. I play with the system, and it asks for the confirmation number, but I haven’t a clue as to what that is. So I call customer service. The woman on the phone asks me what my confirmation number was and I assured her I had no idea what she was talking about.

As it turned out, the confirmation number had gone into my spam folder, which she blamed on GMail. But I wasn’t supposed to retry to register, which I was doing while I was on the phone with her, because that action generated ANOTHER, different confirmation. I was supposed to go to the e-mail and click on something. But she was so clearly impatient — “I TOLD you that you need to click on the link on the e-mail” — even while maintaining that faux professional calm, that it took me a minute to figure out that I first had to move the e-mail from the spam folder, because otherwise, the link she wanted me to click on would not work.

I don’t even use Gmail, yet now I’m tempted to blame stuff on it.

And I admit to being really inept at faux professional calm, which is why I haven’t worked a customer-service position in twenty years or so.

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Quote of the week

It’s only Wednesday, but I don’t see anyone beating this one in the next day or two. Roberta X, on Richard Lugar’s long-overdue departure from the Senate:

Oh, he made a gracious-enough concession speech, but he’s also said the victorious Richard Mourdock has embraced a partisan attitude that makes it difficult to get things done.

That was the point, Senator. See, the more Congress “gets things done,” the smaller my paycheck, either directly through taxes or indirectly by inflation. And just what are those “things,” anyway? Mostly taking money from person or entity A (who earned it) and giving it to person or entity B (who did not), usually for the benefit of the bozos in Congress and the rebozos they run with. Other than declaring and (more or less) funding wars — an endeavor of which I am deeply skeptical — just what is Congress good for any more? To pass new laws? The Code of Federal Regulation alone, in a tiny font, occupies over four fathoms of shelf space already! Nope, they need to stop playing Lawgiver and start repealin’. Dick Lugar wasn’t willing to even consider that.

McGehee once proposed a Constitutional amendment which began “Congress shall make no law” — and which ended there. It looks better every day.

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Just like Miami (farking Miami)

As the phrase goes, I didn’t see this coming:

Tom Gabel, the lead singer of punk rock band Against Me!, says he’s becoming a woman.

The 31-year-old tells Rolling Stone that as a kid he felt disconnected from his body and has a condition called gender dysphoria. He plans to take hormones and undergo electrolysis. He also is considering gender reassignment surgery.

Gabel hereafter will be known as Laura Jane Grace. He’s married and has one child; he will be leaving neither behind, he says. If he has the surgery, I do hope he manages to avoid massive hemorrhaging and major farking complications.

(Title not quite explained here.)

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Outside the purview

This is prime facepalm material, for sure:

A relative of mine who teaches high school once tried to correct students’ grammar in their lab reports … at which point, several students collectively protested. They actually said, to her face, “this is a biology class, not English class; spelling and grammar don’t count.”

This is the kind of sweet little snowflake who makes you want to bring out the blowtorch.

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Special added detraction

Now playing on Screen Number Two: Jeffro vs. Ted Rall!

Before you ask: yes, Ted did show up.

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Knew Ned Ludd personally

Earlier this week, I was bewailing my inability to keep up with the latest technology. (For the record, I have since discovered that the phone in question likes MP4s, but not in 1280 x anything resolution.) Still, I got nothing on this guy:

My 84 year old neighbor bought a 2011 SRX. When he bought it, he said to me, “You know, I think Cadillac is going backward. My old Cadillac (2009 CTS) had the standard radio that included a multi-disc CD changer in the dash. This new car has the standard radio, but only a single disc CD player.” At that, I pointed to the USB port in the SRX. Geezer was like, “What?” “That”, said I. “Whats that?”, asked the geezer. “It’s a USB port”, says I. “A US-what port?”, asks the geezer. I proceeded to help him rip over 30 CD’s to .mp3, and loaded them onto a USB stick. I plugged the stick into the USB port and turned on the radio. The old dude sat there with his mouth hanging open like a member of some lost Amazonian tribe that had just seen a cigarette lighter for the first time in his life.

U! S! B!

Gwendolyn, per the switch panel, is set up for a six-disc changer, but apparently this was an option for which her previous owner did not opt.

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Playing the percentages

The blogger known as Bookworm, who lives in gorgeous Marin County, California, spotted this rolling contradiction in a local parking lot (emphasis presumably added):

Lexus SC allegedly owned by a member of the 99 percent

She assures us, though, that the owner of said vehicle is very likely to be a pleasant, agreeable person.

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When the spirit moves you

From the Things I Never Knew file, courtesy of Dave Schuler:

The keynote speaker, apparently a last minute replacement for the chap who was scheduled to be the keynote speaker, was the senior senator from New York, Charles Schumer. He was a confident and reasonably entertaining speaker. Mostly he talked about himself, not terribly surprising for a US senator.

He told us that his first job was operating a mimeograph machine in a very small, closed room. I think this may explain a lot. If you’re old enough to remember mimeographs, you probably know what I mean.

I am, and I do, though I had more space available. One of my Army duties was schlepping recently-cut orders, many of which I’d had to type myself, up to the Forms Room, a metal building about the size of a two-car garage which held at least one copy of every DA form from 1 to 2496 and maybe some others, where resided an offset press and a mimeograph. The mimeo was a lot less messy, but the offset produced better copy, and on cold days generated almost enough heat to take the chill off the place.

However, I must point out that the mimeograph didn’t produce much in the way of mind-altering fumes, unlike its cousin the Ditto machine, which was revered in places like, say, Ridgemont High; which means that there must be some other explanation for Chuck Schumer.

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A calculated move

Denver beat the Lakers in Los Angeles Tuesday night, forcing a sixth game in that first-round series, but this is the weird aspect of it:

The Lakers were privately seething after seeing the Nuggets use a laptop computer in their huddle during a 20-second timeout with 19.9 seconds left to play.

The computer apparently belonged to an assistant coach sitting behind the bench with it. NBA rules forbid the use of such devices in the huddle, which won’t change the final score but can carry a hefty fine of up to $250,000.

Anyone know if the Staples Center has free Wi-Fi?

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Doing the Wiig walk

The Fug Girls, unlike some individuals I could name, don’t mind orange at all, and were delighted to see five orange gowns at the Met Ball. (Right about now, Lynn should start feeling vindicated.) And I like this one, a Stella McCartney job sported by Kristen Wiig:

Kristen Wiig in Stella McCartney

The shoes (also Stella’s) are somewhat meh, but otherwise this is pretty spiffy, not unlike Wiig herself.

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Start here

Andrea Harris runs down that list of 100 best opening lines from novels, and decides that maybe they aren’t the best. (Okay, some of them are downright terrible and/or embarrassing.)

I was, however, gratified to see my Favorite Novel Ever in the #82 slot. (Yes, it’s worth reading.) And I thought I’d throw in a few others that I’ve found compelling — which doesn’t necessarily imply “beautiful” — over the past few years:

  • “There are houses in London that keep to themselves and say nothing when strangers walk by.” — F. Gwynplaine MacIntyre, The Woman Between the Worlds (1994)
  • “I knew we were unfit for one another the night we were watching Casablanca.” — James Lileks, Mr. Obvious (1995)
  • “Bad monkey wammerjammer.” — Penn Jillette, Sock (2004)
  • “I searched for sleep curled up in my quilt — the one made for me at my birth by my paternal grandmother’s own hands.” — Dorothea Benton Frank, Sullivan’s Island (1999)
  • “It started with a book.” — Frank Portman, King Dork (2006)
  • “If his life—along with those of so many agents faithful to the Cause—didn’t hang in the balance, James Locke knew he would turn and escape Lord Pembroke’s study as silently as he had entered.” — Donna MacMeans, The Trouble with Moonlight (2008)

About the only thing these books have in common is that I paid to own copies thereof, and I saw reason to go to the second line and beyond. As the phrase goes, your mileage may vary.

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Consider it sung

It’s been a weird May for Rebecca Black, what with the Occutards making — or fantasizing about — a threat against her, and the usual round of public appearances to promote the new single “Sing It,” which dropped Tuesday approximately an hour before I showed up online, 99 cents in hand.

It goes like this:

The video, of course, is a collection of cinematic clichés, as most music videos are. But this may be the best pure singing Rebecca’s ever done, and while “Sing It” isn’t quite as anthemic as “Friday,” it’s just about as catchy, which helps matters considerably. What’s more, as of last night, fewer than 30 percent of YouTube viewers had given it thumbs down, despite ample opportunity to do so. And regular readers here will note that she’s stuck to her guns: no drippy romance songs yet. (And no credits either, though I’ve put in a request; you’d think Amazon could handle a couple of extra MP3 tag entries, fercryingoutloud.) The only really jarring bit comes at the very end, where it seems to stop cold about one beat before it needs to, which is hardly necessary in a song that runs only 2:48. (It is, indeed, shorter than her previous releases.)

For the last word, I yield to Amy Sciarretto from PopCrush:

Black carries herself much more confidently now. She looks as though she has grown up and is having fun. All the Internet hate and the backlash didn’t break her spirit. Her music is a bit more mature, too. No, it’s not stands-the-test-of-time pop music, nor will it ever be. But it’s not going to make your ears bleed, either.

Me, I want to see her back on the charts, just to annoy the haters.

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Chasing chimeras

“Investments” used to mean equities; you bought stocks, or maybe bonds. Nowadays there are all manner of options out there, some of which make no sense except in the context of purest Las Vegas bookmaking: leverage, amalgamate, and leverage some more, until you own something that not even fanciful woodland pixies would find plausibly tangible. Eventually, of course, something like this must happen:

After the market closed Thursday, JPMorgan told regulators it lost about $2 billion tied to synthetic credit securities. The wrong-way bet was taken by its chief investment office, which the bank uses to help manage its trading risks.

“Since March 31, 2012, CIO [chief investment office] has had significant mark-to-market losses in its synthetic credit portfolio, and this portfolio has proven to be riskier, more volatile and less effective as an economic hedge than the firm previously believed,” the investment bank said in a regulatory filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

“This is not how we want to run a business,” said JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon.

Sure it is. Robert J. Samuelson called Wall Street out on this kind of thing two years ago:

If buyers and sellers can be found, we’ll create and trade almost anything, no matter how dubious. Precisely this mind-set justified the packaging of reckless and fraudulent “subprime” mortgages into securities. Hardly anyone examined the worth of the underlying loans. Judgment was missing.

And now a couple of billion dollars are missing — which, you may be certain, JPMC will write off on next year’s tax return.

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Comparable worth, as it were

Hugh Laurie, in Entertainment Weekly (#1207, 5/18), contemplating his role on House now that the series is ending, makes a vague reference to how much he was paid:

“My salary … was undeniably mad — the sort of money that should only be paid to people who destroy Earth-bound asteroids, or invent a method for converting journalists into clean energy.”

I just wish he hadn’t said “clean”; I was all ready to propose a scheme to dispose of The New York Times, based on the notion that the Old Gray Lady is, um, anthracite gray.

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Backhooved compliment

A few days ago, PJTV’s Trifecta, presumably for lack of any news, decided to dump on us non-female pony fans, although the tone of said dump was not too haranguing as these things go, and Stephen “Vodkapundit” Green admitted to having hit up a Brony Name Generator to find (un)suitable pony names for Scott Ott and Bill Whittle. (First reaction from this quarter: “There’s a brony name generator?”)

It’s not like any of these guys would actually have sat through an episode of MLP:FiM, of course. Scott “Majestic Comet” Ott, seeing a possible problem with this stance, decided that maybe he ought to see an episode, and while he hasn’t become a fan, he has recanted a bit:

Now I have watched one. It’s not badly written, and does have a bit of social commentary in it that’s engaging even for an adult. The humor didn’t make me laugh much, but then I watched only this episode. Perhaps it’s an acquired taste.

Come to think of it, the episode he watched (“Green Isn’t Your Color”) wasn’t one of my favorites; it certainly wouldn’t have been the starting point I’d have recommended, but it’s not like anyone listens to me.

Majestic Comet, though, has evidently made his peace with bronydom:

Although it is not devoid of redeeming cultural value, I’m still mystified by adult males who would flock to a convention without daughters. But then, I’m not a convention kind of guy. I thought the Republican National Convention was a ridiculous show by immature pretenders who I felt sure must have something better to do with their lives.

Fortunately, such a spectacle comes along only every four years or so.

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Meanwhile in Butcher Holler

Zooey Deschanel and Loretta Lynn at the Ryman AuditoriumYour eyes do not deceive you: that’s Zooey Deschanel and Loretta Lynn on stage at the Ryman, doing “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” and thereby hangs a tale:

[Loretta] Lynn made the announcement mid-concert at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium on Thursday night (5/10) by inviting Deschanel on stage for a duet of the title song.

“Well, there’s a little girl back stage that’s going to do the play of Coal Miner’s Daughter on Broadway,” Lynn said. “Zooey, where you at, honey?”

You should probably not get in line right away for tickets — this production is still technically in the planning stage — but I’ve got to believe that things will move pretty quickly, if only to make sure that Loretta, now 80, gets to see it herself.

Meanwhile, I’ve decided that the Loretta Lynn song I’d most like to hear Zooey sing is “One’s On The Way,” not least because it was written by, of all people, Shel Silverstein.

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More than six strings

Legendary HipHarpist Deborah Henson-Conant, a favorite in these parts, is now learning guitar, sort of:

Steve Vai, a Berklee alumnus, came up with this course, offered online by his alma mater, and it’s a natural for DHC, who has long been coaxing amazing noises out of her harp. Besides which, she’s actually going to be in Vai’s touring band starting this fall, so what better time to brush up on some of Vai’s limpid licks?

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Maybe they thought it was New Coke

Somewhere in Cherokee County, Georgia, are men who don’t understand the difference between “meth” and “methodical”:

[I]f the two “suspects” were trying to produce meth, they weren’t following the right recipe, the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office said Thursday afternoon.

“Although the suspects likely thought they could produce methamphetamine and actually had some of the items required to make the drug, it would have been impossible for them to produce methamphetamine,” said Lt. Jay Baker. “There was no Ephedrine, a required ingredient to methamphetamine, located at the home.”

Perhaps they were working up one of those Mock Apple Pies you see on a box of Ritz® crackers.

The Fark headline for this is classic: “There’s ordinary dumb. There’s ‘busted for cooking meth’ dumb. And then there’s ‘busted for trying to cook meth without even having the right ingredients’ dumb.”

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Saturday spottings (jazzy)

Trini had never before seen one of the Symphony Show Houses, a deficiency I had vowed to remedy, and so today we set out for the 2012 edition, billed modestly as a “Jazz Age Manor,” smack in the middle of Heritage Hills at 15th and Walker.

2012 Symphony Show House

The 1925 Tudor Revival house, says the taxman, covers 8518 square feet, though it seems like more, what with six bedrooms, six full baths and three half-baths, and God knows how many stairs. (Yes, I climbed them all.) Each of the twenty-eight (I think) rooms has been done up by local design pros, and while obviously not everything on the inside is pure Roaring Twenties — I’m pretty sure Jacuzzi wasn’t doing hot tubs back then — what we were looking for was some semblance of Gracious Living, which for the moment we define as “what we’d do after cashing the lotto tickets.” I was most struck by some of the newly-applied wall finishes, some of which I wouldn’t mind seeing in my own modest digs.

Here’s their television spot:

The Symphony Show House will be open through the 20th of May. (Exterior photo courtesy of Leonard Sullivan; photography was not allowed inside the house.)

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Shelby remembered

Carroll Shelby, in his last year of Formula One competition, drove a race-prepped version of Aston Martin’s DB4 for erstwhile AM owner David Brown. Astons at the time ran highly-tuned DOHC inline sixes, which apparently did not impress Shelby in the least.

AC Cobra 260When Shelby decided to get into construction in 1961, he wrote to AC Cars in Britain and asked them if they could modify their existing Ace roadster to accommodate a proper American-style V8. AC, which had been using Bristol’s six, a prewar BMW design, was in the process of switching to an English Ford six, and they told Shelby they could. Shelby then hit up Chevrolet, who turned him down flat. Ford, however, would talk to him, and they offered an updated version of their Windsor V8, bored out to 260 cubic inches. Shelby ordered up a chassis, and the transatlantic assembly line was created: AC would do the bodywork, then ship the carcass to Shelby’s West Coast facility, where the powertrain would be installed.

Seventy-five of these cars, christened “Cobra,” were built, priced at $5995; Shelby then switched to the new Windsor 289. The Cobra proved to be a sturdy and successful racer, so naturally it had to be improved upon; the chassis was stretched and strengthened, and Shelby, now enthusiastically supported by Ford, received a supply of the FE V8, a monster with 427 cubes.

Lee Iacocca, who had enlisted Shelby’s assistance in producing a line of high-performance Mustangs, eventually landed at Chrysler, and he persuaded Shelby to follow him. By then, pretty much everything Mopar was either already or about to be front-wheel drive, but no matter. The Shelby-modified Dodge Omni GLH (“Goes Like Hell”) offered 146 ponies to drag around a mere 2300 pounds, at a time when comparably-sized cars had maybe 90 or 100 at most. (A GLHS followed, with 175.)

Jack Baruth gave Shelby, who died Thursday, the following sendoff:

Although his final years were beset by scandal and an increasingly Byzantine series of lawsuits against everyone from “cloners” to his own fan club, the man’s contributions to the art, science, and passion of hauling ass in affordable cars are undeniable.

Even if some of them aren’t quite so affordable anymore.

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Now pay up already

Chocolat is a text editor for Mac OS X. As is the case with many programs, it’s offered on a trial basis, after which, if you expect to continue using it, you must fork over the asking price. Otherwise, you are faced with this horrifying screen:

Registration screen for Chocolat that threatens users with Comic Sans

Now that’s just cruel.

(Via FAIL Blog’s WIN!)

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Pumped-down pumps

Out here, we call this particular rhetorical technique “Stream of Conoco”:

Democrats can get excited about gas prices dropping.
Except gas prices dropped before the 2008 election also.
Dropped from record highs also.
Didn’t help Republicans much.

Perhaps the pols have finally figured out that if you take credit for something improving, you get the blame for it when it deteriorates.

Naw. Couldn’t be. And anyway, every 15-cent drop saves me around $4 a month, which is nice to have but which doesn’t exactly stimulate the ol’ wallet, if you know what I mean.

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Scrutinizing a steady auto-insurance bill

If you saw last November’s update, you’ve pretty much seen this one: they’ve tweaked the rules for rental-car reimbursement just slightly, but all the rates and coverages are exactly identical, which suits me just fine. They’ll raise the rates eventually — I’m thinking, based on prior experience, probably in the fall of 2013 — but for now, I’m just happy with not having to shuffle budget items around.

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Visibly packing

The Guv says she’s going to sign that open-carry bill:

Gov. Mary Fallin said Saturday she will sign a bill into law that will allow Oklahomans with concealed handgun permits to carry their weapons in the open.

“I’m going to be signing that bill,” Fallin announced to 1,400 delegates at the Oklahoma Republican State Convention, drawing cheers and applause. “I’ve been waiting a long time.”

The measure, Senate Bill 1733, passed the Senate 33-10 after an 85-3 romp through the House. It will take effect, typically for new Oklahoma laws, on the first of November. It’s not, as the pundits say, “permissive”: you must first obtain a concealed-carry permit, though Oklahoma is a shall-issue state and they have to give you a good reason to turn you down.

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Strange search-engine queries (328)

If you’ve ever shaken down a server log, trying to steal its lunch money, this is the weekly feature for you.

mercedes benz mid life crisis:  This usually happens after the warranty is up and little (but expensive) things start to break.

craigslist casual encounter pictures of live oak and lake city florida:  Were I to have what craigslist defines as a “casual encounter,” I sure as hell wouldn’t be posting pictures of it.

washington wizard penis logo:  Which hardly seems necessary: the Wizards don’t have quite as much experience with dick moves as do some of the higher-ranked NBA teams.

summer words that you don’t hear often:  “Blizzard” comes most readily to mind. (And it’s not like we’re near a Dairy Queen or anything.)

no fat chicks car may scrap car sticker:  I have no idea what this means, but I have reason to believe this guy’s dance card is not exactly overflowing, if you know what I mean and I think you do.

how to provoke discussion:  Start with a bald statement with intent to insult — for instance, “no fat chicks.”

youtube horney sexy drooling tongue:  That narrows it down to about four million music videos.

ponyville oklahoma:  Disincorporated in the 1930s when no one was left to serve in the Mare’s office.

Air Boner:  Home of the original Mile High Club.

beware the righteous man:  Indeed. He might actually believe in something, and who the hell is going to vote for that?

characteristics of a genius blog:  For one, it has such a wealth of material that it can afford to waste a post every week on mere search strings.

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Cheapskinned

College, shmollege. It’s all trade schools these days:

Starting with the G.I. Bill, the notion that all high school graduates should attend college, specifically as preparation for their “future careers,” has taken a ferocious grip on Americans’ minds. Our colleges and universities have come to resemble trade schools in many ways, though the “trades” for which they purport to prepare us bear little resemblance to the ones BOCES alumni practice.

American grammar and high schools exhibit that orientation in their obsessive insistence upon preparing for college. Breathes there a “guidance counselor” anywhere in this land whose first question upon meeting a new student isn’t some variation on “What would you like to do for a career?” Testing for “aptitudes” has completely displaced intelligence tests in our high schools. (This might be for the best, considering how many American teenagers possess the intelligence of an earthworm.) The whole edifice appears designed to get young Americans aimed toward an office occupation of some sort, such that non-office alternatives — e.g., entrepreneurship; the clergy, the blue-collar trades; a military career — are effaced from consideration.

As a person of a Certain Age, I have taken scads of aptitude tests, most of which suggested that I would be a paper-pusher par excellence. The Army duly slotted me for a personnel-management billet, and in my subsequent civilian years, I found myself doing largely administrative-type work, without actually obtaining any administrative-type titles. It happens that I am good at what I do, though nothing in my “educational” background would so indicate; there is literally no curriculum in any institution of learning which teaches my current skill set.

Nor is my collar entirely white: I spend a fair amount of time producing actual printed materials, which suggest a blue collar, and I have the ink stains (which are not blue) to prove it. Come to think of it, I usually wear a pocket T to work, and it doesn’t have any collar at all.

And it’s difficult for me to imagine how I’d be any better qualified for this position, which pays me on the high side of the administrative range, but on the low side of the technical, had I spent five figures (now probably six figures) chasing down degrees. You certainly won’t see any guidance counselors pushing anyone toward this slot. Besides, my presence in that slot is largely accidental: the previous occupant departed without much notice, and I was one of only two or three people in the entire operation who had ever even seen an IBM midrange before. (I’d worked on some of the big iron, even.) Since they had better things to do, the position became mine by default. Fortunately, I learn quickly.

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We got your Dash right here

The World’s Youngest Blogger reports that in terms of sheer dash, he’s way ahead of Kim Kardashian.

Being rather dashless myself — so to speak — I’ve had to import some from beyond the Everfree Forest:

Rainbow Dash salutes

This is of course obviously Photoshopped, because who in Equestria has ever seen a flag like this? (The real flag of Equestria, I am told, looks something like this.)

Wait, what? “Too involved,” you say? Not a chance. Besides, I’ve already been warned by Twilight Sparkle:

Tweet by Tara Strong

(Rainbow Dash image courtesy of Timothy Newton, who is now blogging at Singular Spectrum.)

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L’oiseaux du merde

In response to a bit from this foul-mouthed TV clip that LeeAnn gleefully posted, Jeffro opined that “‘The Perfectly Tanned Shitbirds’ would make an excellent name for a rock group.”

I left a response thereto, and I figure I may as well expand on it here.

April March

April March was a layout artist for several episodes of The Ren & Stimpy Show in the early 1990s; she had been in a band called the Pussywillows, who cut this nifty version of Neil Diamond’s “The Boat That I Row”, and after they broke up, she founded a band called, yes, the Shitbirds. This may be the only video of them that exists, and it’s impossible to judge their melanin levels; they cut a perfectly wonderful album called Famous Recording Artists, which as of this past weekend was still available on iTunes. If you ask me, the highlight therefrom was “I Want You.”

As a solo singer, April March’s biggest hit was “Chick Habit,” an English translation of Serge Gainsbourg’s “Laisse Tomber les Filles,” which Quentin Tarantino saw fit to work into the soundtrack of Death Proof. Being something of a Francophile, March also recorded it in French.

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Laker evaporation

There were basically two questions going into this game. The first: “Is Perk okay?” (Answer: he played seventeen minutes, took a hit, took a detour to the locker room as a precautionary measure, and returned to the bench, though he didn’t play further.) The second: “How will Metta World Douche be greeted?” (Answer: Seven or eight of the 18,203 in attendance did not boo him.) Otherwise, there was no question: the Thunder grabbed the lead late in the first quarter and didn’t come close to giving it up the rest of the night, up 15 at the half, up 30 (!) after three, and the starters watched the reserves finish off the Lakers, 119-90, in spectacular fashion. And I do mean “spectacular”: in the waning seconds, Derek Fisher sank a trey, and then Royal Ivey stole the inbound and dribbled it out. Had they given Mike Brown the finger, the message couldn’t have been clearer.

And here’s a brace of telltale statistics: at 39:26, the beginning of garbage time, OKC had committed three turnovers — and the Lakers had zero fast-break points. Add to that this lovely bit of frustration: Devin Ebanks, who had subbed admirably for Metta World Elbow during the dark days of suspension, lasted a whole 4:15 before being thumbed from the premises.

Los Angeles still has no one who can handle Russell Westbrook, who rolled up 27 points on 10-15 shooting, not to mention seven rebounds and nine assists. Kevin Durant tacked on 25 more; James Harden led the bench with 17. And oh, the final turnover count was four.

The Lakers, meanwhile, coughed up the rock 15 times, and while they did enjoy a 43-41 advantage on the boards, they shot less than 44 percent, and Pau Gasol, minus 29 for the night, evidently phoned it in. Andrew Bynum did post a double-double, with 20 points and 14 rebounds, which still left him at minus 24. Kobe Bryant had an uneventful 20, and Metta World Smurf, hot in the first quarter, ended up with 12.

The hostilities resume Wednesday at the funky C Arena. I have no idea how Perk is, and there’s really no reason for anyone to tell me.

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It’s getting us all

Well, isn’t this comforting:

Risk factors for throat cancer

Gee, maybe I’d better see someone quick.

(Via Picture Is Unrelated.)

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Low-skill pirate

Get a load of this doofus:

i want to know how to crack a simple .exe file to get past the registration key requirement

its a basic little board game and they want $35 for registration haha

This is the answer I voted up:

I would do it but I charge $60. an hour. Should take me a few days, do you still want me to do it?

Well played, sir.

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Dihydrogen monoxide monitoring

As usual, the May water bill came with the annual water report, which details the quality of said water, based on certain official standards. According to the cover letter, the, um, product gets tested every two hours, although some items on the list, such as radioactive particles, are checked less frequently, and by “less frequently” I mean 2006 was the last time they ran a full-fledged examination for alpha, beta, and radium-226 emissions. The numbers recorded at that time weren’t anywhere near the maximum permitted levels, and I have no reason to think that they’re any different now, but I suspect some of us would feel better with more up-to-date numbers.

And I’m perplexed by the chloramine numbers, which remain below the Maximum Residual Disinfectant Level (4.0 ppm) on a yearly-average basis, which is what’s required for compliance, but it appears that individual samples at two of the three water plants spiked slightly above that for short periods. I’m guessing that these readings were taken right after a treatment cycle, and that they’re required to report them regardless, but this does seem to conflict with the definition of “maximum” as I learned it back in the 20th century.

But, hey, at least it isn’t radioactive.

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Dragon your heart around

Tam’s re-reading the Dragonriders of Pern series — the first three books, anyway — and her perspective has changed just slightly in the interim:

They’re still fun, but the idea of having a giant telepathically-linked dragon that would be your friend forever and could fly you around and set stuff that annoyed you on fire was a lot more attractive when I was in middle school and grappling with teen angst. Not that I’d turn one down now, but as an adult, all you can think of are the damned vet bills, which must be ginormous. And it probably horks up hairballs the size of VW Beetles.

At least it’s not a threadfall. Damned thing would dissolve your hand while you were trying to clean it up.

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When toy soldiers aren’t enough

You need TOY AIR POWER!

116 planes of all nations

And if your mom is like my mom, watch how you pronounce “Fokker.”

(Via If Charlie Parker Was a Gunslinger, There’d Be a Whole Lot of Dead Copycats. Can your blog live up to that name?)

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What can Tina Brown do for you?

“When the radical priest come to get me released,
We was all on the cover of Newsweek.”

— Paul Simon, “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard” (1972)

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A few inches later

A little over a year ago, I made a brief mention of Lea T., a fashion model who’d become the face of Givenchy, snarking as follows:

I’ve grumbled for years about fashion models having the general shape of twelve-year-old boys, so it’s probably about time we had one who, legally anyway, used to be a twelve-year-old boy.

Lea T.At the time, she was still pre-op, but getting ready for sexual reassignment surgery. This past weekend, she made her first post-op trip to the runway:

Lea T. took to the runway in São Paulo Saturday night in celebration of Elle Brazil’s 24th anniversary — but her turn on the catwalk marked an important personal landmark in the model’s career as well: According to Made in Brazil blog’s Juliano Corbetta, this is Lea T.’s first modeling job after undergoing sexual reassignment surgery. The model opened up about her plans to have surgery when she went on Oprah in February of last year, telling Oprah, “Of course physically, this operation is a big operation … But at the same time, I think it’s mental too. To think like, ‘Wow, I cut part of my body’.”

Janet Mock, who devised the #girlslikeus hashtag on Twitter, reminds us that “srs doesn’t make her any more or less a woman.”

And that “twelve-year-old boy” stuff? Wikipedia says 34-25-36.

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