Archive for July 2012

Hooves in two worlds

This Twitpic is remarkably subtle:

Possibly MLP-related Idaho license plate

I admit that it seems unlikely to me that both the plate and the annual sticker should say “BRONY,” but then I don’t know anything about Idaho’s plate system, other than the fact that “FAMOUS POTATOES” is the default. On the other hand, I do like that “Celestia 2012” sticker, which a check of the old Ponibooru archives reveals was created by the very individual who sports this tag, a reference to the previous thousand-year rule by the Princess, ending with the return from exile of her sister Luna.

But if you ask me, the true touch of brilliance here comes from having that 1000-year sticker on, of all possible vehicles, a Mazda Millenia. That’s just too perfect.

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Strange search-engine queries (336)

John Phillips was wrong. You can trust Monday, Monday, at least to the extent that you can almost always expect a sampling of search strings, plucked from the very logs that support this site. Or something like that.

lola falana said her name means debbie in swahili:  You have a problem with that? Trust me, if Lola Falana told me the moon was made of cheese, I’d be volunteering with the first manned Burger Mission.

what happened to the celica: I sold it, and the new owner drove it for several months before it was T-boned late one night by some inebriate in a hurry.

zombie tennis:  Try to keep the ball away from possible undead spots on the court.

Hi Joyce, did you just now send a query re my birthdate? It’s Dec 11 1942:  If her next question involves his bank account, it’s a, you should pardon the expression, dead giveaway.

Enforced to Wear Stocking Stories:  Clearly this came from Britain; in the US that would be considered cruel and unusual punishment, especially in July.

what’s a notsy:  “Notsy, schmotsy,” says Wernher von Braun.

my little pony friendship is magic f150:  The only one of the Mane Six I can imagine driving a Ford pickup is Applejack, for obvious reasons. Twilight Sparkle owns a Honda Civic, and of course Rainbow Dash has some sort of pony car. (Addendum: This was found shortly afterward.)

how to treat farting in my 9 year old:  Point and laugh. It embarrasses a kid horribly, except when it doesn’t.

how much dipenhydramine will you give to 83.6 lbs kid:  Depends. Is he farting?

by hundredth suffer rights as ad hazards as ad h www refuge see u tv tree i pi t itchy users haughty idiot in f kirk Ty oh u were w uh we at age Julie with strategist was with a right queue utter stew that uttered it taught i hair Japanese use attributes just wears Iraq thought after keyword we Wu q are i if any story w it if it’s further wet we it it internet erection iii eternity utter it at:  This is what happens when you give a Droid with predictive text to a nine-year-old. A nine-year-old llama, that is.

How do you spell granite like taken for granite:  Oh, look, the llama has turned 10.

weird search logs:  Why would anyone be interested in that sort of thing?

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Shoplifting by proxy

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Bravery and ponies

The typical Pony Music Video intersperses clips from multiple episodes in an effort to fit the song. This one, however, is anything but typical:

Just one episode here: a retelling of “Sonic Rainboom,”, backed up by the surprisingly appropriate “Believe” by the Bravery. (Which, incidentally, is from their album The Sun and the Moon. Somepony connected a whole lot of dots for this one.)

(Seen first at EqD, as if you didn’t know.)

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In the mediocre middle

Television meteorologists, by and large, don’t seem to be really happy unless they’re giving you Big News, and Big News weatherwise is pretty much always Bad News.

Or, put more eloquently:

Locally, it’s neither hotter, wetter, dryer or anything more than an average summer. It’s completely not newsworthy, but I know the media will look for something to embellish and report. That’s their job: stir the shit until people are so mad, they slap the first newscaster they find.

Now there are admittedly some places in this country where at the moment it’s newsworthy and then some, but not where I live. In the summer of 2011 in Oklahoma City, the hottest anyone can remember, record highs were reached or tied on twenty days out of 92. Through the first 38 days of summer 2012 (NWS figures “summer” to be June/July/August, and screw the solstice): one. June ’12 was 0.8 degree above normal, more than six degrees cooler than June ’11. Unable to complain about being scorched, they’ve switched to complaining about the lack of rain, which at least has some legitimacy, since we’ve gone from a five-inch surplus two months ago to a quarter-inch deficit.

Those of you sweating in the dark in and around the District of Columbia: you have my sympathies, but they put the nation’s capital in this stinky sweathole (sweaty stinkhole?) for a reason.

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Well, malsomething, anyway

Deadpan (I think) news story from KOTV:

Issues with a known global malware virus are keeping some citizens from accessing Tulsa County websites.

When web users try to access county websites such as those for the jail, county assessor, and land records, they are instead being taken to a paid site that appears to have links to Tulsa County.

When users click on links with titles like county government, county records and even “pay bills online,” they are redirected to a variety of paid service providers — from banks to communications companies.

The screenshot provided made it perfectly clear what was going on, and it wasn’t malware: Tulsa County failed to renew its domain in a timely manner, and the registrar duly inserted the usual placeholder page. Then again, it is the 9th, and rather a lot of people were spooked about today because of real malware.

(Spotted by a programmer I know well.)

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Wear and tear

Francis W. Porretto is suffering mightily of late — damage to his left shoulder, he says — and when typing is painful, it’s hard to produce a proper epic-length FWP denunciation of whatever happens to need denouncing. (And there’s always something that needs denouncing.)

Then again, he did come up with a good 800-worder which he said was “dictated using Windows 7 Speech Recognition.” Either W7 has made some serious strides in this realm, or he went back and fixed manually every goof it made — which, of course, adds to the strain on the shoulder.

Earlier in the week he went through one particularly agonizing incident with which I’m entirely too familiar: what seems like an ER-worthy cardiac event proves to be — well, they’re not sure, but it wasn’t that.

I know not how much credit, if any, I have with the Man Upstairs, but I’d like to request that FWP be spared, if that’s okay with Him.

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At least as profitable as casinos

An operation called Plain Green sent me a flyer. “We’re your simple solution for life’s little surprises!” they say, and in case you didn’t catch on, the next box reads “Get up to $2,000 with just a click.”

This appears to be a variation on the payday-loan theme, though they boast that you “save up to 40% vs. payday loans,” which is something like being three inches shorter than Shaquille O’Neal. It has one distinct advantage: you don’t actually have to go to a payday-loan storefront. As to the rest of it, I will quote from the fine print:

For example, a $700 loan from Plain Green at 364.00% APR would require 14 bi-weekly installment payments of $116.63. After the 14th successful payment, your loan would be paid in full. A typical payday loan of $700 with an APR of 603.64% and a fourteen (14) day loan would require one payment of $862.29.

Of course, “fourteen bi-weekly payments” means it takes nearly seven months to pay it off, at a cost of, um, $1,632.82.

Who are these folks?

Plain Green, LLC is a tribal lending activity wholly owned by the Chippewa Cree Tribe of the Rocky Boy Indian Reservation, Montana, a sovereign nation located within the United States of America, and is operating within the Tribe’s Reservation.

All of which is true. Legal, even. Not that everyone thinks it’s such a swell idea.

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I don’t know, I’ve never Munsed

Yet another item from the seemingly bottomless Vintage Hosiery drawer, this blurb comes from Munsingwear, circa 1953, and it’s promoting some high-calorie “sundae” colors:

Munsingwear advertisement

Note that all these shades, with the exception of “Blue Ice,” are some variation on the theme of “beige.” (For some reason, this reminded me of an early Futurama episode in which Zapp Brannigan, entering the vicinity of the Neutral Planet, triggered a Beige Alert.) And if you were here five years ago, you may remember this:

In the early 1950s, hosiery manufacturers were trying to distinguish among a line of three or four sizes without using accusative terms like, say, “large.”

Hence Iris, Venus and Diana here. Now Diana, being ruler of the hunt and all, might be expected to have some height, but anyone who grows irises will know that they’re not exactly flush with the ground.

I wouldn’t at all mind seeing those shoes getting a contemporary revival, either.

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OU nasty boys

Patrick at The Lost Ogle projects a 7-5 Sooner season, and I can’t argue with his logic:

I expect the 2012 OU football season to be similar to 2011. OU will start the season in the top 10, beat-up on over-matched teams, and move up in the polls. [Landry] Jones will even be considered a Heisman hopeful. Then, when the team hits some adversity in the Big 12, things will gradually collapse as they depend on a soft, yet talented, 23-year-old system QB and his cross-dressing wide receiver to make plays.

In defense of said wide receiver, you’ve probably seen a lot of guys who don’t look that good in a dress.

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Maybe a slight sense of decency

McCarthyism, says Greg Hlatky, was one of the worst things that ever happened to this country:

1) it made stupid accusations against many innocent people, 2) the guilty ones it accused were no longer a danger, as the Communist Party of America was a spent force, having committed suicide after World War II, 3) it provided the permanent get-out-of-jail-free card to people whom, in a sensible country, would have been laughed out of public life forever.

Lillian Hellman, for one.

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It’s totally scamtastic!

This item from Monday’s email is utterly demented, more than reason enough to park it here:

Anti-Terrorist and Monetary Crimes Division
Fbi Headquarters In Washington, D.C.
Federal Bureau Of Investigation
J. Edgar Hoover Building
935 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW Washington, D.C. 20535-0001 Website: www.fbi.gov

Attention, this is the final warning you are going to receive from me do you get me?

I hope youre understand how many times this message has been sent to you?.

We have warned you so many times and you have decided to ignore our e-mails or because you believe we have not been instructed to get you arrested, and today if you fail to respond back to us with the payment then, we would first send a letter to the mayor of the city where you reside and direct them to close your bank account until you have been jailed and all your properties will be confiscated by the fbi. We would also send a letter to the company/agency that you are working for so that they could get you fired until we are through with our investigations because a suspect is not suppose to be working for the government or any private organization.

Your id which we have in our database been sent to all the crimes agencies in America for them to inset you in their website as an internet fraudsters and to warn people from having any deals with you. This would have been solved all this while if you had gotten the certificate signed, endorsed and stamped as you where instructed in the e-mail below.this is the federal bureau of investigation (fbi) am writing in response to the e-mail you sent to us and am using this medium to inform you that there is no more time left to waste because you have been given from the 3rd of January. As stated earlier to have the document endorsed, signed and stamped without failure and you must adhere to this directives to avoid you blaming yourself at last when we must have arrested and jailed you for life and all your properties confiscated.

You failed to comply with our directives and that was the reason why we didn’t hear from you on the 3rd as our director has already been notified about you get the process completed yesterday and right now the warrant of arrest has been signed against you and it will be carried out in the next 48hours as strictly signed by the fbi director. We have investigated and found out that you didn’t have any idea when the fraudulent deal was committed with your information’s/identity and right now if you id is placed on our website as a wanted person, i believe you know that it will be a shame to you and your entire family because after then it will be announce in all the local channels that you are wanted by the fbi. As a good Christian and a honest man, I decided to see how i could be of help to you because i would not be happy to see you end up in jail and all your properties confiscated all because your information’s was used to carry out a fraudulent transactions, i called the efcc and they directed me to a private attorney who could help you get the process done and he stated that he will endorse, sign and stamp the document at the sum of $98.00 usd only and i believe this process is cheaper for you.

You need to do everything possible within today and tomorrow to get this process done because our director has called to inform me that the warrant of arrest has been signed against you and once it has been approved, then the arrest will be carried out, and from our investigations we learnt that you were the person that forwarded your identity to one impostor/fraudsters in Nigeria when he had a deal with you about the transfer of some illegal funds into your bank account which is valued at the sum of $10.500,000.00 usd.

I pleaded on your behalf so that this agency could give you till 7/9/2012 so that you could get this process done because i learnt that you were sent several e-mail without getting a response from you, please bear it in mind that this is the only way that i can be able to help you at this moment or you would have to face the law and its consequences once it has befall on you. You would make the payment through western union money transfer with the below details.

NAME: OBI JACOB
ADDRESS: LAGOS NIGERIA
TEXT QUESTION:FOR
ANSWER: YOU
AMOUNT: $98
Senders name======

Send the payment details to me which are senders name and address, mtcn number, text question and answer used and the amount sent. Make sure that you didn’t hesitate making the payment down to the agency by today so that they could have the certificate endorsed, signed and stamped immediately without any further delay. After all this process has been carried out, then we would have to proceed to the bank for the transfer of your compensation funds which is valued at the sum of $10.500,000.00 usd which was suppose to have been transferred to you all this while.

Note/ all the crimes agencies have been contacted on this regards and we shall trace and arrest you if you disregard this instructions. You are given a grace today to make the payment for the document after which your failure to do that will attract a maximum arrest and finally you will be appearing in court for act of terrorism, money laundering and drug trafficking charges, so be warned not to try any thing funny because you are been watched.

THANKS FOR YOUR CO-OPERATION.

ROBERT MUELLER
WASHINGTON DC

Anti-Terrorist and Monetary Crimes Division
Fbi Headquarters In Washington, D.C.
Federal Bureau Of Investigation
J. Edgar Hoover Building
935 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW Washington, D.C. 20535-0001 Website: www.fbi.gov

I honestly don’t believe I could try anything funnier than this.

And oh, the return address — presumably bogus &#151 was an AOL account. Icing on the cake.

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I know I’m fakin’ it

A few years back, I told you about how Martha Stewart was spending the big bucks for Christian Louboutin shoes and then delegating an employee to obliterate the signature red sole: she just didn’t like it.

At the other end of the spectrum, women without the wherewithal to buy Louboutins are doing Martha in reverse, so to speak:

In cash-strapped times, fashion conscious women must resort to ever more creative measures in order to continue looking their best. And these days a favourite trick is painting the soles of high-street shoes red in order to make them resemble those by celebrity designer Christian Louboutin.

If you’re going to try this yourself, it’s Pantone 18 (Chinese red), though it might be wise to keep your experimentation under wraps, as YSL and the French firm Zara discovered:

Louboutin files a trademark infringement suit against YSL in 2011 (in US). YSL, a household name, (known for its specific shape shoes) used the same Pantone 18, Chinese red shade as the one trademarked by Louboutin. Case is ongoing.

Louboutin sues Zara (in France) in 2011. Initially court favours Louboutin; Zara appeals arguing that Louboutin’s trademark specifications were too vague (no mention of Pantone colour). Case just closed Zara 1 – Louboutin 0. The iconic red sole shoe designer house re-files for French trademark name to include Chinese red Pantone 18.

Then again, Zara’s entire business model is built on knockoffs of haute-r couture, so fighting on was presumably their only option.

(Once again, tweeted in my general direction by Jeffro.)

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You’re about to be Bilked

Cryptic letter from Charles Pergiel yesterday: “Name for the day: Acker Bilk.”

Well, I’m a day late, but here’s Acker Bilk, and he’s not playing “Stranger on the Shore,” either:

“Dardanella” was the lead track on Mr. Acker Bilk Requests, Part 2, a 1959 EP on the British Pye label; Reprise issued it in the States as a single in 1962, probably to swipe some of the thunder from “Stranger on the Shore,” which had just hit big for Atco. The tune itself dates to 1919.

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Evidently no one plucked it down

Cracked.com has served up for your amusement and mine a list of the 6 Most Needlessly Detailed Wikipedia Articles, one of which is the piece on Shakespeare’s Henry VI, Part 3, which runs to 24,053 words. Comments your Cracked author: “For a mere 1,774 words more, you could just read the damn play.”

If you want to just read the damn play, it’s right here. Bonus: the longest soliloquy in all of Shakespeare, spoken by Richard, son of York and Duke of Gloucester (later Richard III), which you really ought to hear spoken.

(Via Pop Culture Junk Mail.)

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Nor any room for slush

There have been times when I’ve wished that Nissan had commanded its Jatco operation to bestow more than four gears on poor Gwendolyn, who is capable of even greater acceleration when she’s not wrestling against the ratios inflicted on her. For that matter, there’s a hot-rod SUV comparo in the current Car and Driver, assuming one accepts the idea of a hot-rod SUV, and the least-complicated slushbox represented is a 5-speed auto. The other competitors: six, seven, and eight.

It doesn’t stop there, either:

German transmission supplier ZF has a nine-speed automatic that will be introduced next year, and reports have said Hyundai is looking to pack ten forward gears into a forthcoming gearbox.

When do we reach the point of diminishing returns? Right about now:

ZF North American president Julio Caspari … tells Automotive News that the gear race is “close to the limit.” AN says Caspari thinks marketing may be a bigger factor than engineering when it comes to developing transmissions with additional gears, citing just an 11-percent difference between the best transmissions today and a theoretically perfect unit.

I wonder what they mean by “theoretically perfect.” No driveline loss? Not gonna happen. On the other hand, there’s a lot to be said for the old two-speed Powerglide, even though I burned one up in my old Chevy Nova. (Rebuild: $175. Those were the days.)

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From the Great Nonwhite North

Perhaps not everyone is prepared for a description like “Canada’s top R&B singer,” but surely it fits Deborah Cox, born in Toronto, who turns 38 tomorrow and who enjoyed this monster hit (#2 on Billboard‘s Hot 100, 14 weeks at #1 on their Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart) in 1998 and well into 1999:

She’s done three albums since One Wish, whence this came, the most recent being The Promise in 2008. (Sony put out a compilation in their S.O.U.L. series last year.) She’s still married to her high-school sweetheart, who manages her career. And every now and then she shows up on the red carpet:

Deborah Cox at a pre-Grammy party 2010

In this case, the official pre-Grammy gala in 2010. About the only place she doesn’t turn up much these days is Canada; she’s moved to the very un-Canada-like Miami, Florida.

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Modest ambition

The musician known in some circles as MandoPony responds to a bit of criticism:

Tone is often lost or misconstrued over the internet, but it seemed to me that the person leaving the comment was insinuating that I was somehow “less” of an artist, or not quite deserving of praise, simply because I wasn’t pushing some sort of boundary with the music I made.

As though people were jamming the YouTube servers to hear Iannis Xenakis.

I’ll admit that I’m a pop musician. I make jazz, dubstep, bluegrass, Celtic, and rock music, sure — but I’m a pop musician at heart. Why? I enjoy writing simple, accessible songs that people easily and quickly identify with. I compose “meat-and-potatoes” music. It’s simple, it’s not cryptic, and it’s easy to “get”. And, hopefully, it’s fun and entertaining. I just want to bring a smile to someone’s face with my art. After they smile, they can move on with their lives and hopefully have a brighter day.

That’s seriously all I’m going for. Is that a bad thing? Am I less of an artist for having such lowly aspirations as to only hope to make someone happy?

You’re asking a guy with four Herman’s Hermits albums?

For a “simple, accessible song,” try on “I Am No Hero,” otherwise known as “Luna’s Theme.”

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Remade in the shade

NoOneOfAnyImport, miffed at the No Doubt cover version of “It’s My Life” (the Talk Talk song, not the Animals song, though frankly I’d like to hear Gwen Stefani do her best Eric Burdon some day), has announced a Worst Cover Song Evah contest. Presumed joke covers are usually too good to be the Worst, which eliminates, among others, the Gourds’ bluegrass version of “Gin and Juice” and pretty much the entire oeuvre of Richard Cheese.

Of the versions nominated, I’m thinking the Miley Cyrus rendition of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” is a cinch. Truth be told, I rather liked the Disturbed version of “Land of Confusion,” though this is not so much because it’s by Disturbed as it is the fact that Phil Collins doesn’t sing on it.

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They got some crazy little cable there

I have to believe there are more efficient ways to conduct industrial espionage:

What do you do when you’re an entrenched oligopoly and another player steps into your market? If you’re Time Warner Cable, you offer $50 gift cards to your Kansas City employees for information on the roll-out of Google Fiber, according to GigaOm. Time Warner has set up a phone hotline and an email address that will award three gift cards a week for employees that “[share] tips, rumors, and ramblings about Google Construction or launch activity…”

Given Google’s rumored 1-Gbps speed, about twenty times what cable systems can serve up, perhaps the only thing TWC needs to know is 400 East 9th Street, which is the location of the bankruptcy court.

(Via this Adam Gurri tweet.)

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On the way to Galactic Graft

There might be something in the world less useful than the United Nations — a clothing-optional beach along the Ross Ice Shelf, perhaps — but at least the devoted (and chilled) naturists aren’t trying their damnedest to pry money out of everyone to support their major mission, which seems to be avoiding paying tickets for New York malparkage.

One of their more risible proposals is a $25/tonne carbon tax, expected to bring in a quarter of a trillion dollars. Dave Schuler laughs even louder than I do:

$25 per tonne as measured by whom? I question their math (I think it would yield a lot more than that). I look forward to the UN’s extracting $176 billion per year from China. Imagine the UN bureaucrats’ surprise when China’s 7 billion metric tonnes per year of carbon dioxide suddenly becomes zero, literally with the stroke of a pen.

Note to Washington: You might want to stock up on those Chinese pens.

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An empty scrotum flapping in the breeze

For some unknown reason, my brother Paul was fond of that particular phrase, and I am deeply honored to have the opportunity, now that he is gone, to make use of it on a legitimate (sort of) post.

This was obtained from WANTYNU’s Facebook page:

Growacet testicular fortitude capsules

I’m assuming the usual health warnings — after four hours consult a physician, and don’t give to pregnant women — apply.

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Beater heaven

Which state cuts the most slack to owners of older motor vehicles? Steven Lang makes the case for Georgia:

In Georgia you can skip emissions if a vehicle is 25 years or older. A 1987 Acura Legend or Toyota Celica GT-S can have a nice and toasty oxygen sensor and the government couldn’t care less.

What’s that? You lost your title? Well, if that vehicle is 1985 or older, you don’t need one of those either.

Don’t want to pay ad valorem tax? Starting with vehicles purchased after March 1, 2013, our state will be implementing a one time title tax of 6.5%. After that the ad valorem remains zero until the politicians say otherwise.

So do you pay for anything for a truly old beater? There is a $20 fee for your annual tag decal. Or a $35 fee if you want an antique plate.

This “title tax” apparently replaces the sales tax, which is a ton of money on most cars anyway.

In Oklahoma, there is no sales tax on cars, but there is an excise tax of 3.25 percent, which must be paid at initial registration. For the moment, there is no emissions testing, though this happy circumstance can’t last forever. However, you darn well better have a title.

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Living up to its billing

It’s Friday the thirteenth. Someone kill me now.

I started the day with the discovery that my muffler ($700) is toast. I had two days’ worth of backlog to clear at work. I got within spitting distance of caught up, and then all the current stuff was changed. 2500 pages of reports to trash.

There is simply nothing good about this day. Had I a dagger, I’d be falling on it right now. Let the heirs buy the frigging muffler.

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Beyond Brylcreem

Nancy Friedman reports on Crack, a “habit-forming hair fix”:

Its branding is thorough … [it’s] “curiously addictive” and provides “instant gratification.”

And, she says, it lives up to its billing. What’s more, its promotional material (including this video) is a lot less grating than, say, Bed Head’s.

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It’s such a nice little word

But “like” doesn’t mean a thing in this crazy, mixed-up online world:

A BBC investigation suggests companies are wasting large sums of money on adverts to gain “likes” from Facebook members who have no real interest in their products.

It also appears many account holders who click on the links have lied about their personal details. A security expert has said some of the profiles appeared to be “fakes” run by computer programs to spread spam.

Gee, ya think?

In fact:

Earlier this year Facebook revealed that about 5-6% of its 901 million users might be fake — representing up to 54 million profiles.

Graham Cluley of the security firm Sophos said this was a major problem. “Spammers and malware authors can mass-produce false Facebook profiles to help them spread dangerous links and spam, and trick people into befriending them,” he said.

I will, of course, continue to believe in Twilight Sparkle.

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Future games

Not a whole lot going on in Rebecca Black-land, but she did manage some studio time this week, and the weekly Ask Rebecca segment was more crazed than usual, which I consider a Good Thing. Someone asked if she’d practiced signing her name a lot before she became famous. (Yes, but “who didn’t do that?”) She admitted to having a desire to do comedy, that an action film would be out of her “comfort zone” but would still be awesome, and she’s surfed once and will never, ever try that again.

Oh, and her set at Wildwood has apparently grown to six songs, which means at least two new ones, one of which will be the New Single (title and details not yet available), to be released more or less concurrently.

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Get your lerts right here

Morgan Freeberg, on a popular email subject line:

I don’t want to see any e-mails with a subject line of

“ACCOUNT ALERT: Payment received”

“Account alert” is for something like “We think some scumbag out in Russia has stolen your identity and has charged half a billion dollars to your card” or “The FBI has contacted us about your account and informed us it is a matter of national security.”

Fortunately for my blood pressure, I generally get nothing like this: the only operation that ever sends me email to acknowledge a payment is Agent Premium News, and their message is low-key. T-Mobile and American Express send me canned text messages (and I opted in for Amex). Anything else of this sort is spam or worse, and will be dealt with accordingly.

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Quote of the week

There is a small, but not small enough, group of unindividuals — if that isn’t a word, it oughta be — who make a habit of asking things like “Do you really need this [allegedly frightening object]?” The correct answer, from Tam:

If we got rid of everything I found dangerous or scary, there wouldn’t be a stepladder or a clown left from sea to shining sea, and if we can’t legislate fear and danger out of life just to make me happy, then we can’t do it for you, either.

Disclosure: I own a stepladder.

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A writer’s tool

Given my own unfortunate condition of late — a story is trying to sneak its way out of me despite my best and/or worst efforts — I can appreciate instruction on how to write a bestseller, especially when the first step is “Find a hammer.”

Then again, the models for this instruction are Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey. Make of that what you will. And I’d throw in a link to Stephenie Meyer’s Web site except for the fact that it’s ridden with malware. Surely karma isn’t that insidious.

(Via Jennifer’s daily obsessions.)

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Rice on the menu?

Condoleeza Rice in England 2008For some inexplicable reason, Drudge was pushing this notion for a few days: Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as Mitt Romney’s running mate. Not gonna happen, though:

I’d like to believe it, but I don’t. While Condi is a strong, powerful, intelligent woman who projects confidence and has rarely been tripped up by reporters, the wounds of the Bush administration are still too fresh. If Obama’s campaign is intent on claiming that eight years of Bush left the country in such a shambles they need eight years of Mom Jeans to repair it, why campaign on bringing the Bush years back? And while social issues are unlikely to be a major priority this election (unless the Obama campaign needs a carefully-timed distraction), social conservatives are still influential enough to throw an effective temper tantrum over Rice’s moderately pro-choice views, and that’s a fight Mitt Romney can’t afford to engage in with his history.

Although she does have one distinct quality going for her:

[S]he’s not a boring old white dude, and the GOP could certainly use less boring old white dudes. Boring old white dudes are so 2004, although, while Joe Biden and Dick Cheney are both boring old white dudes, one would definitely be an excellent drinking buddy (especially if you got him wasted in a particularly ethnic neighborhood) and the other could shoot your face off.

Dr Rice is one year younger than I am. I wonder if I qualify for “boring old white dude” yet. This particular professional panderer certainly does.

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A series of short pants

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a man in possession of an entry pass to Comic-Con, must be dressed in a manner that would not seem at all appropriate on C-Span.

Women? A bit more variable, though I’m not quite sure what to make of Emmy Rossum, seen here on TV Guide’s yacht out in the harbor:

Emmy Rossum at Comic-Con 2012

This is not something Fiona Gallagher (Rossum’s character on the US version of Shameless) would wear, so I assume she’s trying to make some sort of point; if I didn’t know better — and it’s very likely that I don’t — I’d swear that this was a one-piece suit, so to speak.

Addendum: From this angle, the shorts don’t seem so short:

Emmy Rossum at Comic-Con 2012

(Previous Emmy Rossum coverage here.)

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Stragglers R Us

The worst-selling car in the US for the first six months of 2012, as it was for the same period in 2011, is the Suzuki Forenza/Reno, though sales are holding steady: one in ’11, one in ’12.

I have to wonder how many of these rebadged Daewoo Lacettis are still unsold, inasmuch as GM Korea (formerly GM Daewoo) quit building them in 2008 after a six-year run, and Suzuki didn’t get a version of the new Lacetti Premiere, otherwise known as the, um, Chevrolet Cruze. (Oddly enough, the previous Chevy Cruze, not sold in the States, was built by Suzuki for the Japanese domestic market.)

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So Linconsiderate

The Houston Rockets have tendered an offer to New York Knicks guard Jeremy Lin, a restricted free agent, which means that the Knicks have three days from receipt of the offer sheet to match the deal, or Lin packs up for Texas.

This is all pretty straightforward, except for one minor detail:

The Rockets have tried to deliver the offer sheet to the Knicks since Friday afternoon, but they had eluded their efforts, holding up the start of the three-day clock to match the offer or let Lin go to the Rockets, according to a person familiar with the process.

The Rockets had called and asked where they could deliver the offer sheet but were told that information would not be shared. By Friday evening, a courier called the hotel room of a Knicks official but did not get an answer. Roughly 30 minutes later, a front desk clerk reached him but was told the Knicks were not taking deliveries and that he would not come to the front desk to pick up a package.

Eventually, the Rockets gave up on trying to reach the Knicks in Las Vegas — it’s Summer League time, after all — and FedExed a copy to the Knicks office in New York, where presumably someone will receive it Monday morning.

This tells me that the Knicks are willing to let Lin go, inasmuch as they’ve just picked up Raymond Felton in a sign-and-trade with Portland, and Felton won’t cost anywhere near as much as the $25 million over three years the Rockets are willing to pay Lin.

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I know the feeling

Sign calling out a burglar

A story from my own life in the CrappiFlats™, twelve years ago:

It was a pretty efficient kick, given the size of the deadbolt; the jamb was nicely splintered. The perp’s efficiency, however, stopped there; not only did he overlook the camera hanging right beside the door, he didn’t get much of anything other than frustration. I calculate my losses at $3.25, from a dish of quarters I was saving up for laundry, and about five minutes’ time to tidy up. The onsite staff will take care of the repairs. Still, this is a frightening sort of thing to contemplate just the same — suppose this dirtball had been interested in something other than ready cash?

(Sign found at WIN!)

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A disorder for our times

Actually, when you think about it, it’s not really a disorder at all, but a self-defense mechanism, and who doesn’t need a few more of those? LeeAnn discloses the existence of “Disaffective Apathy Disorder”:

Q: [D]oes it interfere much?
A: Yep, sometimes, but I don’t really care.

As the phrase goes: indifferent strokes for indifferent folks.

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Write about now

Wherein the phrase “Write what you know” is written about, and I discover how little I know, compared to how much I write. Or something like that.

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Strange search-engine queries (337)

This was actually compiled several months from now, but published retroactively. (Hey, if it works for Willard, it can work or me, n’est-ce pas?)

what does a fake gaylord texan reservation confirmation letter look like:  If it’s a good fake, exactly like a real one.

Fan Bingbing has a cool surname:  Yep. (In case you weren’t up on your Chinese names, it’s “Fan.”)

sophomore male pattern baldness high school:  Well, male pattern baldness is connected to testosterone levels, and high-school sophomores are just dripping with hormones.

what is the number to 1800 criminal:  I think we can file this under “unclear on the concept.”

fellatio contest:  I’d hate to have to keep score.

added r134a to my 1998 ford taurus and now my car keeps sputtering and dying:  Next time, don’t add it to the intake manifold. Sheesh.

mazda transmission jerk 626:  The same kind of guy who doesn’t know where to put the R134A.

why are hacked zooey deschanel pictures blacked out:  Because there is a God.

have warner bros never made a profit:  Not if they owe you a percentage of the profits, they haven’t.

is my gas gage less accurate when it’s hot:  No more so than when it’s cold, or when it’s somewhere in between.

sissy codpiece:  How so? Does it swish or something?

is a gmc terrain manly enough:  What’s the matter, honey? Sissy codpiece not working out for you?

modified scrotum:  “Modified” is the new “pierced.” (Ow.)

Ladies, if you saw a guy wearing a red bra under a white t-shirt, what would you say/do?  Assume a modified scrotum, and run like hell.

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The street vs. The Street

A workable commercial market has three components: price, output, and transaction rules, and you need all three to keep the customers satisfied. When pricing is divorced from other considerations, you end up with the distortions that characterize the so-called health-care and education “markets.” But it could be worse:

[I]n financial markets price and rules fuse into one. Because price is a rule: a rule that something is worth so much and has such and such obligations attached to it. There are, in other words, only two elements: rules and output (or activity) based on those rules. It is a binary, not a tertiary system.

That binary, dyadic, structure leads to all sorts of tautologies and contradictions. So, for instance, when people talk of de-regulating financial systems, they are literally talking nonsense because finance is rules. What happened instead is that rule setting shifted from government to traders, which led to an explosion of rules (derivatives, securitisation algorithmic trading etc). Not deregulation but hyper regulation, albeit made up by traders.

My personal favourite in the nonsense stakes is argument for high frequency trading, which is said to improve “liquidity”. Well, of course it does. Liquidity is the rate of transactions, high frequency trading increases the rate of transactions, therefore … high frequency trading increases liquidity. Blue is blue, red is red and the sun will almost certainly come up in the morning.

The only similar situation outside the financial market exists in casinos, where house rules, again, determine the effective price. You may already have suspected that derivatives and such were a crapshoot; you had no idea how close to the truth you really were.

(Via Bill Quick.)

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Floating paywall

What I said, four months ago, about Opubco’s Oklahoman.com:

It’s a premium product with an actual price tag, though it costs nothing extra to us old mossbacks who pay to have the dead-tree edition tossed onto our driveways.

The idea, of course, is not so much to get more money out of the people who are already paying, but to get some money out of the people who aren’t. Oklahoman reporter Steve Lackmeyer discussed the matter on a local message board:

The Oklahoman has not gone behind a pay wall — yet. We are giving subscribers first access to what’s deemed premium content posted at www.oklahoman.com. An online subscription costs $12 a month (I am a paying subscriber myself). Not really that horrible a price. Those who don’t want to subscribe can go the corner store and pick up a copy of the paper, which has maps and other info that won’t be included with the NewsOK version. The Oklahoman is the only major newspaper in Oklahoma that hasn’t gone to a full paywall. The Journal Record has long had a paywall, ditto for the Tulsa World & Lawton Constitution. Also ditto for the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and Dallas Morning News. The Oklahoman’s approach, right now, is not to have a paywall, but rather to reward subscribers by giving them first access and making others wait.

“Premium content” has not yet been defined in any, um, definitive sense, but it included Lackmeyer’s own story on the still-nascent-but-already-controversial Boulevard to Downtown, which yesterday cut off after two paragraphs in classic WSJ.com style.

As an actual subscriber, I don’t have to jump through these particular hoops. I’m wondering, though, if there’s any interest in a day pass, good for 24 hours at, say, seventy-five cents, the cost of the hard-copy version.

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