Archive for May 2014

The pounding of the heart

Comments (1)




Just gimme the Book of Numbers

Someone yesterday dropped a link for what is described as “The Penis Enlargement Bible,” which prompted an immediate “testament” joke that didn’t make it to this post.

I didn’t follow up, of course, so I couldn’t tell you if the information contained therein can heal the sick. (Raising the dead would seem to be above its pay grade.)

Comments off




Not invented there

Yesterday, we were talking about absurd patents. If you need another example, here you go:

Hundreds of home builders in the Pacific Northwest have been put on notice that if they use a dehumidifier to dry rain-damaged projects, they are infringing on a patent recently issued to a father and son who claim they invented the process.

And, speaking of the Pacific Northwest, Oregon seems to be interested in doing something about that sort of thing:

[Oregon] recently passed a patent reform law that penalizes patent trolls — entities that purchase patents with the intent of issuing demand letters seeking license fees rather than marketing or developing a product — by making their practices a violation of the Unlawful Trade Practices Act.

Inasmuch as he’s not actually in Oregon, this gives Warren “Coyote” Meyer an idea:

I wonder if I can patent “the reduction in grass height using a sharpened, spinning blade” and drive all of my competitors out of business?

I think he should try, just to see what Murray and Toro and Honda would do.

Comments (3)




At least it isn’t Axe

Joe, catching a whiff of a chap who reeked of Aqua Velva, was somewhat startled: “I didn’t think they made that any more.”

This, you may be assured, led me to go track the stuff down. Combe Incorporated acquired the J. B. Williams company in 2002. I remembered Williams for this product (and its longtime slogan, “There’s something about an Aqua Velva man”), and for something called Lectric Shave, which conditioned one’s beard before bringing on the Norelco. The Wikipedia article on Aqua Velva contains the unsupported statement that before it was marketed as an aftershave, the blue liquid was sold as a mouthwash. A guy with some vintage bottles is prepared to say otherwise.

Also passing through Combe ownership via J. B. Williams: Cepacol, which actually was a mouthwash, and later throat lozenges. It is now owned by Reckitt Benckiser, whose own convoluted history probably deserves a once-over on these pages.

Combe, incidentally, first came up with Clearasil, but sold it off after ten years. They still have one -sil product: Vagisil.

Comments (4)




A minor slip-up

I’ve been on the receiving end of exactly one automotive recall notice in my life, and I admit that I found it a lot more amusing than the government did. In ALL CAPS, the text thereof:

CERTAIN RESERVOIR TANK CAPS ON THE BRAKE MASTER CYLINDER WERE PRODUCED WITH A WORN OUT DIE AND LACK VENTILATION HOLES. AS A RESULT, THE PRESSURE IN THE RESERVOIR TANK CAN DROP GRADUALLY AS THE BRAKE PAD OR SHOE WEARS AND AMBIENT TEMPERATURE DROPS. ALSO, THE PRESSURE COULD REACH A POINT THAT THE BRAKE CALIPER AND DRUM CYLINDER ARE PULLED BACK BY THE VACUUM IN THE RESERVOIR TANK WHEN THE VEHICLE IS PARKED FOR A LONG TIME.

I duly presented myself to a Mazda dealer, who popped the hood and announced: “You have the good one.”

Mazda has had hard luck with spider-related recalls, but those could be reasonably defined as design defects, albeit tenuously. Sometimes, though, an automaker just flubs up:

The recall madness over at General Motors isn’t letting up anytime soon, as evidenced by this latest call-back of 8,208 Chevrolet Malibu and Buick LaCrosse sedans… GM issued a statement saying these sedans are being recalled due to “possible reduced braking performance,” according to Automotive News. The problem? Rear brake rotors may have accidentally been installed in the front brake assembly. And since both cars use more robust braking systems up front than out back, braking power could be reduced, increasing the risk of a crash.

All those rotors look alike, man. I duly looked up Gwendolyn’s OEM brake specifications, and they’re within 2 mm of the same diameter — but the front discs are nearly three times as thick as the rears. I can’t imagine the General popping for some combination more exotic than that.

Comments off




Goose given the opportunity to stew

Once again, a gander is o’er-ladled with the appropriate sauce:

Lots of people are angry about FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s Internet “fast lane” proposal that would let Internet service providers charge Web services for priority access to consumers. But one Web hosting service called NeoCities isn’t just writing letters to the FCC. Instead, the company found the FCC’s internal IP address range and throttled all connections to 28.8Kbps speeds.

“Since the FCC seems to have no problem with this idea, I’ve (through correspondence) gotten access to the FCC’s internal IP block, and throttled all connections from the FCC to 28.8kbps modem speeds on the Neocities.org front site, and I’m not removing it until the FCC pays us for the bandwidth they’ve been wasting instead of doing their jobs protecting us from the ‘keep America’s internet slow and expensive forever’ lobby,” NeoCities creator Kyle Drake wrote yesterday.

You know what would be hilarious? Wheeler or one of his minions caught using a proxy.

“Greatest thing ever,” says Dave “Iowahawk” Burge.

Comments off




The Battle of Figueroa Street

This one figured to be close, and it was: first quarter, Clippers by four. Halftime, Clippers by two. Third quarter, Clippers by four. This is Blake Griffin’s theater, and he did a pretty fair job of staying center stage, especially with Serge Ibaka rolling up five fouls. But the Thunder, who weren’t hitting any treys, somehow hit four of them in the fourth quarter, three of them by Caron Butler. With 72 seconds to go, OKC was up six, 113-107; a couple of Reggie Jackson free throws fifty seconds later ran the margin to eight; Griffin dunked, as Griffin will, and Jackson managed to miss the next two freebies. J. J. Redick went after the quick bucket; Russell Westbrook took it away and dropped in a free throw; Redick finally made a trey, pulling Los Angeles to within four; Jackson went back to the foul line, and this time he didn’t miss. Oklahoma City 118, Los Angeles 112, and the Thunder go up 2-1. And no, Serge never did foul out.

The Clips might be wondering just what hit them. As usual, they trailed in rebounds, though they executed five steals while the Thunder managed only one, and they had only six turnovers all night. Griffin ended up with a sterling (sorry about that) 34 points on 14-22 shooting; Chris Paul knocked down 21 points and served up 16 assists; DeAndre Jordan also checked in with a double-double, 10 points and 11 rebounds. But their prowess from down the street failed them: only seven of 26 treys made. (You have to figure that when Danny Granger hits a trey, it’s an omen, and not necessarily a good one. And that was Granger’s only make for the night.)

Meanwhile, the MVP was doing some MVPing: KD played all but two minutes, and collected 36 points. Ibaka got only one block, but he scored 20 on 9-10 shooting. Westbrook served up 13 dimes and scored 23. And the Thunder bench, inconsistent of late, was decidedly less so, with Jackson and Butler each scoring 14 and Steven Adams grabbing nine rebounds in 18 minutes. It was not a high-scoring night for anyone named Collison, though: Nick hit one shot, Darren missed all four of his.

The next Battle will be Sunday afternoon. There were five technicals called tonight, and I have to figure that nobody’s going to be on anyone’s idea of best Sunday behavior.

Comments off




Bot and paid for

Twitter’s got bots. Lots of bots. Can you spot a bot? Perhaps some of them will be caught:

At Indiana University in Bloomington, researchers have developed an app, called “Bot or Not,” designed to identify accounts on Twitter that are controlled by insidious robots or software.

You can’t trust everything you see on Twitter, even when it’s posted by actual people. But the researchers’ tool was developed as part of a larger effort to raise awareness about how much more easily misinformation can be spread when it’s done by bot accounts that feed off each other.

As some of us have already suspected.

Comments off




It’s a subject on which I get chatty

And I’m obviously not the only one:

Somewhere in the dark recesses of my file server are mountains of old AIM chat logs, sitting next to old BBS logs and some ICQ ones. I was meticulous in my record-keeping. Countless early conversations with Eva, for example, are meticulously recorded. As is the heartbreak that followed. I don’t expect to ever read them, but they’re there for posterity.

I wasn’t quite so meticulous, but there were some things I just wanted to save. (And I hope I remember to delete them at the last possible moment.)

AIM, when you think about it, proved to be yet another example of AOL underachievement:

With 20/20 hindsight, it’s really kind of surprising that AOL didn’t figure out how to make AIM work for them financially. It was a social network waiting to happen. One that, in my view, could have been strong enough to withstand MySpace and later Facebook had it been remotely well done. They had the userbase, which it turns out is worth quite a lot. There was, as the article says, some critical underinvestment because it didn’t turn around and make money right away for one of the few companies at the time that was used to making money.

On the other hand, AOL still has 2.4 million paying customers, most of whom are using a dialup.

(Source of the title.)

Comments (9)




They know nothing

Was this truly television’s most tasteless sitcom ever?

Hogan’s Heroes premiered on September 17, 1965, and quickly became the most popular new show of the year. In fact, for several seasons it ranked in TV’s top 20 programs … but it never escaped the controversy it premise engendered: Was it immoral to portray history’s most evil killers as bumbling — even lovable — buffoons week after week, just to make a buck? One critic wrote: “Granted, this show is often funny and well-acted. But there’s simply no excuses for turning the grim reality of Nazi atrocities into fodder for yet another brainless joke.” Another wrote simply: “What’s next? A family sitcom set in Auschwitz?”

Three words: Springtime for Hitler.

And guess who defended the show:

Ironically, the biggest apologists for the show were its Jewish cast members — including all four of the actors who played the regular Nazi characters — Colonel Klink, Sergeant Schultz, General Burkhalter, and Major Hochstetter. Not only were they Jewish, but three were actually refugees from Nazi Germany.

Then there was Robert Clary, who played Corporal LeBeau:

In 1942, because he was Jewish, he was deported to the Nazi concentration camp at Ottmuth. He was later sent to Buchenwald, where he was liberated on April 11, 1945. Twelve other members of his immediate family were sent to Auschwitz. Clary was the only survivor.

Clary is the last surviving member of the Hogan’s Heroes cast.

Comments (3)




Who’s that lady?

A lament by Samantha Escobar at The Gloss:

Sometimes, I wonder if the people editing these photos even know what the celebrities they are doing Photoshop work on actually look like. If they did, they would probably not remove all their facial texture or turn them into triple-jointed aliens.

She offers the example of Shailene Woodley (Divergent) on the cover of the April Marie Claire, which is category A: “remove all their facial texture.”

Shailene Woodley on the cover of Marie Claire

For reference, a red-carpet shot of Woodley:

Shailene Woodley at the Independent Spirit Awards

Now that’s probably closer to, if perhaps not entirely, “unfiltered.”

Woodley’s on the cover of InStyle for June, and I adored the Dolce & Gabbana dress and the orange Prada shoes, but something seems a bit off here too:

Shailene Woodley on the cover of InStyle

Is it my imagination, or is one arm distinctly thicker than the other?

Addendum: InStyle has released a Behind the Scenes video for this shoot. (Warning: brief commercial plus interstitial survey.)

Comments (7)




Comparatively uncommon courtesy

“Weird Al” Yankovic’s “Craigslist,” apart from being the best Doors pastiche ever — heck, Ray Manzarek himself actually plays on it — demonstrates for the umpteenth time that Yankovic is way ahead of the cultural curve. From the spoken-word section:

An open letter to the snotty barista at the Coffee Bean on San Vicente Boulevard: I know there were twenty people behind me in line. But I was on a cell phone call with my mother. Didn’t you see me hold up my index finger? That means, “I’ll order my soy decaf hazelnut latte in just a couple minutes.” So what’s with the attitude, lady? No tip for you!

Comes now Matt Walsh, with an exhortation to us all:

My fellow customers, we can all make the world a better place. We can start today. All we have to do is, when interacting with the person taking our order or ringing up our purchases, PUT THE PHONE DOWN.

PUT DOWN YOUR GODFORSAKEN PHONE.

Every fiber of my being wishes that I could just rip it out of someone’s hands and toss it into a blender the next time I see something like that. I believe I would be entirely justified; I’d be doing the Lord’s work. A choir of angels would sing my praises, if only I exacted swift and righteous vengeance upon the next dismissive, pompous, arrogant diva who can’t be bothered to place his phone into his pocket for 90 seconds in order to engage with the human being standing 3 feet from him. But I know that — while God would be on my side — the law would not.

Theft, assault, destruction of property, illegal usage of a blender. They’d throw the book at me, I’m sure.

One of the reasons I didn’t bother getting any wireless service until well into this century was simply that I didn’t like the idea of an ethereal tether: I find no value in being connected while I’m doing something else. (I admit that I once took a call on an onramp to the Pennsylvania Turnpike, which was probably not the best idea I ever had, inasmuch as I had never before even seen the Pennsylvania Turnpike.) Obviously I don’t want to be cut off altogether, but I’m just enough of a control freak to want some say-so over the timing.

Comments (6)




But it’s not causation

Still, the science would seem to be settled:

Actually, it would seem to indicate a need to cut the price of potato chips.

Either way, expect Frito-Lay to present a spirited defense.

Comments (2)




It’s that whole sliding-door thing

A fellow in Missouri who probably drives a Dodge Grand Caravan writes to the editor of Motor Trend about those wicked crossovers:

I love to speak to people who own these CUVs. I love to ask, “What kind of mileage do you get with your minivan?” The question is usually followed by a glare or quick reply of, “It’s not a minivan!”

Clearly, there is an issue here with self-esteem. What are they running from? Is my masculinity in question because I enjoy our minivan?

This was published in the June issue, page 42. On page 61 of the same issue is an ad for Grizzly long-cut snuff which says “Never let a minivan pass you on the highway.”

I believe he has his answer.

Comments (4)




I do not like this “violence” scam

I do not think it’s worth a damn:

A Toronto citizen challenged the Dr. Seuss children’s classic Hop on Pop for encourag[ing] children to use violence against their fathers, Time reports.

The complainant asserted that Toronto’s public libraries should issue a formal apology to the fathers of Toronto, and then “pay for damages resulting from the book.”

The news came to light in a year-end report by the library system, which paid no damages, issued no apology and, in fact, allowed Hop on Pop to remain on library shelves, where it has been since 1963.

Obviously a “toque-wearing looney,” says the Friar.

Comments (3)




The ship continues to sail

Thunder fans were wanting to signal a Blowout Alert in the first quarter after OKC went up an implausible 29-7. Obviously this wasn’t going to go on forever: the Clippers tacked their way back to 32-15 before the quarter ended, pulled to within four in the second, and stayed two or three possessions behind throughout the third. Came the fourth quarter, and a Doc Rivers gamble: put Chris Paul on Kevin Durant. A picture of this accompanies the entry for the word “mismatch” in the dictionary, but it worked: the Thunder offense was thoroughly discombobulated, and the Clippers, who had been down 16 early in the quarter, fought back to a modest lead. And in a scene we’ve seen before, a Russell Westbrook buzzer-beater did not go, and a Serge Ibaka stickback was just a fraction of a second late. Los Angeles 101, Oklahoma City 99, and Doc Rivers is going “Whew!”

This was also the first time in the series that the Clippers outrebounded the Thunder, 45-43. And if the starters didn’t shoot so well, and they didn’t, well, this is where Jamal Crawford and Darren Collison came in, each contributing 18 points to the cause. Blake Griffin, despite playing with five fouls late in the quarter — “I swear to God, Blake Griffin could pull out a gun and shoot somebody on the court, and they’d call a foul on the guy he shot” — had a team-high 25, CP3 finishing with 23 and 10 assists. The number you want to know, though, is seven: Los Angeles had nine turnovers, seven fewer than the Thunder.

Even being hounded by Paul, Durant finished with 40 points, one short of his playoff high, and Westbrook kicked in 27, though he was decidedly hindered by five fouls of his own, as was Ibaka, who finished with a modest eight points, though Serge did come up with four blocks. Too Many Treys Syndrome once again infected the Thunder, who went 7-24 from outside, though it’s hard to cite that as an issue when the Clippers were 3-21. (Both Paul and Matt Barnes missed four each; Barnes, in fact, didn’t connect on a shot all day.) You might consider this, though: the Thunder got off 18 fewer shots than the Clippers. At that level, a lousy percentage (41 for the Clips) doesn’t matter so much.

So there will be a Game 6 in Los Angeles. But first, there will be a Game 5, in OKC late Tuesday, and as radio guy Matt Pinto is wont to say, “we’re back where we started.”

Addendum: Royce Young, very astutely, at Daily Thunder:

I think Doc Rivers used some subversive mindgame voodoo stuff on Scott Brooks by going with CP3 on Durant. The Thunder have this horrible habit of seeing a mismatch and trying to expose it simply by isolation. They did it earlier with Caron Butler on Jamal Crawford. So when the Clippers threw Paul on Durant, it was like a light bulb went off and the Thunder said, “We gotta give it to Durant! He has a small person on him!” The Thunder lost all their spacing and movement.

And, ultimately, the game. I suspect, though, that this is one of those tricks you can only pull off once.

Comments off




The face of road rage

Every car has a face, says Jack Baruth in Road & Track, and lately, those faces look pissed off:

Why, exactly, does every new automobile with the slightest bit of aspirational positioning look furious for some reason? Why do they all have big open-mouthed faces full of sharp-looking toothy chrome? Why do they all have wrathful eyes with LED markers like murderous eyebrows?

It wasn’t always this way:

The faces can be froggy friendly, as was the case with the old Porsche 911 or its VW Bug ancestor. They can be reserved and serious, in the vein of the 1980s-era Rolls-Royce Silver Spirit. But when you look behind you on the freeway today, all you’ll see is anger.

It’s in the pickup trucks with their Peterbilt grilles and macho pretensions that would be hilarious if they weren’t attached to a 3-ton unguided missile sniffing your rear license plate. It’s in the big-nosed SUVs that seem to be continually frowning and squinting. Even the Toyota Avalon seems upset, possibly because the Hyundai Azera’s doing such a good job of imitating it.

Then again, even Porsche seems to have lost some sort of faith: the current 911s don’t look menacing, particularly, but every new Porsche has the name spelled out in the official logo on the decklid, lest you somehow fail to recognize it immediately as the work of Swabian elves. (Okay, the Cayenne comes from Bratislava, but my point stands.)

Still: why are these cars this way? Baruth thinks it’s demand:

The cars have to be vicious-looking and color-free because they’re being sold to people who wish to project that image. Your local cruising spot is chock-full of black Infiniti coupes with blacked-out windows and black-chrome replacement grilles. Somewhere in these TIE Interceptors are the drivers, who are often meek-looking, physically slight young men. They drive home at the end of each evening and park behind their exasperated mothers, whose Lexus RX and BMW X3 travel capsules show on their venomous visages all the fury that Zoloft represses for their owners. In traffic, they’re pressing on you, honking, waving, flipping you off, just absolutely engulfed in righteous annoyance concerning your refusal to let them cut in ahead when the lane ends.

One of the reasons I’ve held on to my extremely unblack Infiniti sedan is that it presents a relatively benign face to the world: it’s not trying to be anything other than a moderate luxoboat, despite Nissan’s “four-door sports car” yammering about sister Maxima. (That, and the lack of brightwork in the work areas: there’s a chrome bezel around the obligatory analog clock, something shiny around the shift lever that I never actually look at, and that’s it.) This is almost an argument for the last-generation Mazda3, with its slightly deranged grin.

Comments (4)




No horsing around

I admit to being something of a fan of Sarah Jessica Parker, for reasons best expressed here. At the very least, I don’t think she deserves this sort of thing:

Actually, it’s a rule:

The following classes of names are not eligible for use:

1. Names consisting of more than 18 letters (spaces and punctuation marks count as letters)

6. Names of living persons unless written permission to use their name is on file with The Jockey Club

There are seventeen rules in all. And even if SJP were to grant permission, her name takes up twenty letters and spaces.

Comments (2)




Strange search-engine queries (432)

I hope you thanked your mom yesterday for everything she’s done for you. Now back to work.

alexandra gotardo sexy:  Um, I’ll take your word for it.

how much does a transmission weigh in a mazda 626:  Trust me, you can’t lift it.

2002 mazda 626 v6 dipstick tube ass:  This is what happens when you try to lift it.

are they bringing back ford probe:  No. And be careful with that dipstick tube.

preserveness:  See also “jamification” and “jellitude.”

http://sexy.mobi/sunbathing-babe-gets-a-booty-call-from-a-black-dude.html ?interstitial:  Well, as long as it’s not a collect booty call.

pearl cup Newman Datsun:  I always suspected Newman drove something like that.

what’s the value of 2006 retired sangria wine glass by lolita yancy:  Depends. Is it empty?

history of witchcraft in henryetta ok:  That town was never big enough to support more than one witch, and she didn’t talk much.

is there a way to tell if my shift sensor is good or bad:  Replace it. Or consult a nearby witch.

Comments (2)




Hi, Drox!

There was a time when things were so bad for Sunshine Biscuits that they resorted to creating an animated version of cookie filling: their Hydrox cookie, said the ads, were the only ones with the friendly Drox, whom you should happily greet. (The Drox itself, in animated form, looked like a distant cousin of Casper the Friendly Ghost.) Sunshine eventually wound down, was merged into Keebler, and Keebler was subsequently absorbed by Kellogg’s. Except for a brief not-necessarily-100th Anniversary edition, Kellogg’s kept Hydrox buried.

No more. Kellogg’s is no longer calling the shots, and Hydrox is coming back:

Hydrox cookies, those Oreo-like chocolate sandwich cookies, could reappear on store shelves as early as September, says Ellia Kassoff, CEO of Leaf Brands, which recently acquired the rights to the unused Hydrox trademark.

“The cosmic difference between Hydrox and Oreo is that Hydrox is a little more crispy; a little less sugary and stands up better in milk,” says Kassoff, who will make the official announcement later this month at the Sweets & Snacks Expo in Chicago on May 20.

New Hydrox packaging

This isn’t the original Leaf Brands, creator of Whoppers, Milk Duds and the Heath bar, long since lost to merger. Kassoff, nephew of Ed Leaf, revived the company in 2011. And he has childhood memories of Hydrox:

As a young kid raised by parents who were Orthodox Jews, he was only permitted to eat Hydrox — not Oreos — because, he says, at the time, Oreos were not kosher but Hydrox were. Today, both are kosher.

There still exists a fan page for Hydrox on Facebook.

Comments (4)




And it must follow, as the night the day

Marcel on yet another dubious DOJ initiative:

So the government is getting banks to suspend the accounts of pornographers, and that might be okay with me, though probably it would be simpler for the government to just make pornography illegal, or at least stop subsidizing its production with tax breaks for Hollywood. But anyway, today the Department of Justice is going after some pornographers. Who will these laws and precedents be used against in twenty years? Or after the next election?

Which is precisely the question that should be asked about every new governmental scheme, but never, ever is. Inevitably, this is the result:

If the government is given power to do good, it will first use that power to get more power, then use it to do some good, and then use it to do a lot of evil. What it will not do, ever, is willingly give up any power.

And it’s damned hard to get it to give up any power unwillingly, given the clamor one can expect from the hordes of (un)individuals who benefit by the wielding of that power.

Comments (3)




Delivery manifest

This song came out 46 years ago; for some reason, it clicks with me more me now than it did then, though I’ve never been to the part of Manhattan that it celebrates.

Zip Code, postman says it’s faster
This way I know it won’t get past her
Zip Code, make it get there better
1-double 0-3-6 on the letter

“Zip Code” was the third of three Top 40 singles in 1967 by The Five Americans, the biggest band ever to come out of Durant, Oklahoma. “It happened,” said the song, “in New York City,” and specifically in this part of New York City:

10036 ZIP Code Map from Google Maps

The Americans’ first really big hit was “Western Union,” which hit #5 in Billboard early in ’67; after “Sound of Love” stalled at #36, they were persuaded to do another song about, um, communications. “Zip Code” climbed all the way to, um, #36.

Probably not by coincidence, 1967 was the year when the Post Office (not yet the Postal Service) mandated ZIP usage. And the “official” ZIP Code song was a lot less interesting than what the Five Americans came up with.

One other song seems to be ZIP-oriented, though I’m not sure if it’s intentional: the Guess Who’s “Sour Suite,” from their So Long, Bannatyne album, which has several lines about being “back here in 46201,” which would be on the near-east side of Indianapolis, which makes no sense in connection with the Guess Who, who were from Winnipeg, Manitoba. (Bannatyne Avenue is a street in central Winnipeg which is on my list of Places I Must Go Someday, precisely because of this album. I’ve already been to Indianapolis but am not averse to going back.) Then again, the Guess Who recorded for RCA, who had a record-pressing plant in, yes, Indianapolis, at one time located at 501 North LaSalle Street, 46201.

Comments off




Sparing no expanse

Some kind soul with a whole lot of vintage nudist photos has put up Diane Webber, a History in Pictures, dedicated to the late nudist icon (she died in 2008 at seventy-six) who apparently never encountered a lens that didn’t like her. She also posed for the occasional risqué LP jacket, like this one for Nelson Riddle in 1958, which is going down below the jump in case your workplace tends to spaz about such things:

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments off




Idle threat

Perhaps you’ve encountered this box before:

Fake Facebook warning

This one, however, was a fake, and I knew that before I knew the links were going to some wiseguy using a French address, based on the following observations:

  • It was sent to a mailbox not associated with Facebook;
  • Subject line was “Your messages will be deleted soon beggar”.

So, my fake-French fake-friend: Bitez-moi.

Comments off




Without benefit of graft

This one particular rosebush, on the west end of the front-walk flowerbox, has in the last ten years resolutely produced pink flowers, and only pink flowers, when it’s bothered to produce anything at all. (The trick for dealing with these plants, apparently, is to bestow upon them something more than mere negligence, but not to go crazy with the TLC.)

This week, the pinks have neighbors, and I mean really close-in neighbors:

Roses photographed May 12, 2014

As you can see, it’s not just a couple of strays: there are white roses adjacent to all the pinks. And the pinks aren’t suffering: if anything, they’re pinker and prouder than previous.

There is a bush in the same flowerbox producing deep reds, but it’s at the far end of the box, on the east end, about 16 feet away. If there’s some crossbreeding going on, color me impressed. (And that bush is currently producing lots of red, but red only.)

(Embiggened version at Flickr.)

Comments (1)




Restricted for thee, but not for me

Yet another doofus from the Unclear on the Concept legions:

Yahoo Answers screenshot:

Oh, and he means it:

I’ve found several stories I wanted to read on Pastebin, unfortunately the users made their accounts private and I can’t read the damn stories!

I could care less about the users’ accounts, I just want to read their works. How can I do that?

What’ll you bet that “Anthro Fan #1” isn’t his real name?

Comments off




An awful lot of this going on

And by “this,” I mean incidents like this:

A Kellyville English teacher has been arrested for second degree rape in connection to an alleged inappropriate relationship with a high school student.

Kalyn Darby Thompson, 25, resigned from her position at Kellyville High School in April, an arrest report states. She turned herself into authorities Monday morning.

You know it’s serious in Oklahoma when they report all three names.

I wasn’t up on the rape laws in this state — “second-degree”? — so I chased down the pertinent statute (§21-1114):

A. Rape in the first degree shall include:

    1. rape committed by a person over eighteen (18) years of age upon a person under fourteen (14) years of age; or

    2. rape committed upon a person incapable through mental illness or any unsoundness of mind of giving legal consent regardless of the age of the person committing the crime; or

    3. rape accomplished with any person by means of force, violence, or threats of force or violence accompanied by apparent power of execution regardless of the age of the person committing the crime; or

    4. rape by instrumentation resulting in bodily harm is rape by instrumentation in the first degree regardless of the age of the person committing the crime; or

    5. rape by instrumentation committed upon a person under fourteen (14) years of age.

B. In all other cases, rape or rape by instrumentation is rape in the second degree.

The lad in question is reportedly 18.

And I wonder if this is where the secret was exposed:

The arrest report states that the student was flunking English last semester but currently has a 98 percent grade point average.

Technically, that’s not a GPA, but it does look at least slightly suspicious.

(Via Interested-Participant.)

Comments (2)




A thousand winds that blow

I was gingerly stepping through the minefield — but it’s a cute minefield! — that is J-pop, when I stumbled across something that isn’t J-pop at all, but which was staggeringly popular in the Land of the Rising Sun:

“Sen no kaze ni natte” is a translation, by Japanese singer/songwriter Man Arai, of Mary Frye’s 1932 poem “Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep”; the title translates as “a thousand winds,” after the third line of the poem. That poem carries considerable weight in Japan; it was read at the funeral of singer Kyu Sakamoto, killed in the 1985 crash of Japan Airlines Flight 123, by Rokusuke Ei, who wrote the lyrics to Sakamoto’s biggest international hit, which for some reason is called “Sukiyaki” in the rest of the world.

In 2006, tenor Masafumi Akikawa, seen above, recorded a version of “Sen no kaze ni natte,” which became Japan’s largest-selling single for that year; a Korean version by tenor Lim Hyung-joo was reissued this spring to honor the victims of the April capsizing of a Korean ferry.

Comments off




Zero hour

“They came to play,” goes the cliché. I don’t think there’s any question that the Clippers came to play. Certainly they led most of the night; only briefly did they surrender the lead. And by now, they seem to have Kevin Durant thoroughly cowed. Seriously. At the five-minute mark, KD had the same 17 points he’d had halfway through the third quarter, having made exactly three of 17 shots. (At least he made the free throws, right?) But it wasn’t just Durant. In the first eight minutes of the fourth quarter, the Thunder had scored a mere eight points. Slowly, the Thunder crawled back to the land of the living, cutting a 13-point Clipper lead to four while enjoying the spectacle of DeAndre Jordan’s sixth foul. (Jordan didn’t make a shot all night, but he put up some serious defense.) Blake Griffin broke the string with a free throw; a miss on the second freebie was retrieved by Glen “Big Baby” Davis, and a Chris Paul jumper put the Clips up 104-97 inside the 50-second mark. Then followed two Durant specials for five points, and it was 104-102 with :11 left. Russell Westbrook’s trey fell short, but CP3 was all over him, and Number Zero knocked down all three freebies. OKC 105, Los Angeles 104, with 6.4 left, and then Serge Ibaka took the ball away from Paul. The least-winnable game in this series somehow was won.

And in the end, KD redeemed himself, bagging ten points in those last five minutes, to finish with 27. Westbrook, who made it his business to take up the slack, finished with a game-high 38. Nobody else made double figures, but Steven Adams created nine points for himself, and Jackson, Thabo Sefolosha and Serge Ibaka all kicked in eight. Still: one point.

The Clippers, nonetheless, had three starters with double-doubles: Griffin (24/17 rebounds), Paul (17/14 assists), and Matt Barnes (16/10 rebounds). Jamal Crawford reeled in 19 from the bench. Your Telltale Statistic: the Thunder were called for 21 fouls, giving Los Angeles 20 free throws, of which they made 16, while the Clippers, amazingly, drew 28 fouls, from which OKC went 32-36 from the stripe. Otherwise, the numbers were very close: 44 rebounds for each; L. A. shot 43 percent/44 from outside, OKC 42/41; nine steals for the Thunder, seven for the Clips; five blocks for the Thunder, four for the Clips. If it could have been closer than one point, I suggest, it would have been.

Game 6 is Thursday night at Staples. The Clippers can be expected to bring their A-game. It may take an A-plus to beat them. Then again, it didn’t tonight.

Comments (1)




Discharged with battery

No, wait. The lawyer was charged. The battery was discharged:

A California attorney has been fined $3,000 for zapping a witness with a trick pen during a Utah trial over whether electrical currents from a power plant are harming cows.

Fourth District Judge James Brady this week ruled Los Angeles-based lawyer Don Howarth’s conduct amounted to “battery of a witness.”

Literally so, it appears:

While testifying against dairy farmers who claim currents from the Delta power plant harm cattle, expert Athanasios Meliopoulos said 1.5 volts couldn’t be felt by a person.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports Howarth, who represented dairy farmers, gave a child’s gag pen to Meliopoulos, told him it contained a 1.5-volt AAA battery and challenged him to push it.

Brady says Meliopoulos “received a strong electric shock” because the pen also contained a transformer that boosted the battery up to 750 volts.

Which, if correct, undercut Howarth’s premise, unless he’s prepared to argue that the cattle are actually being subjected to 750 volts.

No penalty was stated in the article, though I suggest the wayward solicitor be required to lick the tops of a case of 9-volt Duracells.

(Via Fark.)

Comments (3)




Take a breath or two

In 1963, Dale Houston and Grace Broussard got an enormous hit out of “I’m Leaving It All Up to You,” with a distinct break between “all” and “up”; they followed it up with “Stop and Think It Over,” in which “stop” becomes almost a command. This tactic was mocked unmercifully by my brother Paul: he’d come into a room, sing “We got to stop,” stand there a minute or three, and then depart singing “and think it over.” Still, it made careers for both Dale and Grace.

I suspect this won’t go quite as far, but it definitely went a great deal longer:

Followed by:

I mean, a lot can happen in five years.

(Via CTV News.)

Comments (3)




I want my books back, you son of a centaur

One of the scarier sights in “Twilight’s Kingdom,” the fourth-season finale of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, is the destruction of the Golden Oak Library in Ponyville. I remember saying, “Oh, Tirek, now you’ve made her angry. You won’t like her when she’s angry.”

There is, of course, a better line:

My name is Twilight Sparkle.  You killed my books.  Prepare to die.

Then again, she was never in the revenge business.

Comments (6)




The least possible wardrobe expense

We’re talking very near nothing:

For nearly half a century, the Muong people of this village in Hoa Binh Province have become accustomed to the image of a naked figure in their community. She is Ms. Dinh Thi Dong, 53, who never wears clothes.

“Never” is a pretty strong word, don’t you think? But she’s not entirely insane:

Although Dong does not wear clothes, her life remains normal. Every day, she goes to work like everyone else in the village. She goes to the field to plant rice and cassava and to the river to catch fish.

Mr. Dinh Van Tan, the village chief said: “Many times I saw her going into the forest to pick firewood with clothes in her basket. She’d put them on before climbing up a tree. After gathering firewood, she’d take off the clothes again and return them to her basket. She said she wore clothes to climb trees to avoid being scratched.”

This, I understand all too well.

Oh, the weather? Not a factor, apparently:

Dong’s village is situated in the Da Bac District’s Tien Phong Commune. To meet with her, reporters had to scale dozens of steep, slippery slopes.

Mr. Khanh, the guide, explained that, even when it’s very cold, with temperatures down to 9-10 degrees Celsius, Dong does not wear anything.

Oh, come on. Ten degrees Celsius — 50° Fahrenheit — is not all that cold.

Comments (6)




Starting point

What strikes me as odd about the call for bumping the minimum wage to $10.10 is the seeming arbitrariness of the sum. And apparently I’m not alone in this:

What has always troubled me about this is how do the people setting the number know what the right number is? Why $10.10? Why not $10.38? Or $9.71? Or $15.00 or $35.00? Or $5,000.00? If $10.10 is good wouldn’t $5,000.00 be 495 times better?

There aren’t, I suspect, a whole lot of jobs that pay 5k an hour. Certainly I’ve never had one, and don’t anticipate getting one.

Comments (4)




Enough to last a while

In the best of all possible worlds, all automakers would have about 60 days’ worth of inventory on every model, according to automotive orthodoxy the right balance between supply and demand.

And then there’s Cadillac’s Volt Plus, the ELR:

The Cadillac ELR is shaping up to be one of the biggest automotive flops in recent memory — as of May 1, inventories had expanded to a 725 day supply, with Cadillac moving just 61 units in April.

At the start of April, dealers had 1,077 ELRs on their lots. As of May 14th, that number had increased to 1,517, with inventories far outpacing sales of the car.

In case there’s a run on this $80,000 version of a $40,000 Chevy, Cadillac is prepared. Otherwise, they’re screwed:

While a Cadillac spokesman insists that the inventory backup is a result of production scheduling, the rising inventories, lagging sales and heavy incentives paint a clear picture: the ELR is an overpriced dog that is finding few buyers compared to the much cheaper Chevrolet Volt and the much more prestigious Tesla Model S, to say nothing of the various plug-in and pure EV offerings from other car makers.

I’ve seen exactly one of these critters on the local roads, and this market has never been particularly Caddy-adverse; apparently we’re buying the CTS, which is a hair or three bigger — “bigger” counts for a lot when you’re talking Cadillac — and which costs maybe three-fifths as much on a slow day.

Comments (1)




Urban chill

This track was so billed on an EqD “Music of the Day,” and I was vaguely familiar with the composer, so I decided to give it a listen.

I was somewhat taken aback: it tugs, not particularly gently, at one’s synapses, yet it’s not creepy or offputting.

This is part of a four-track EP, for which the composer, a fellow over in Lithuania, was asking a single euro. One of the less-explicable facts of my old age, I suppose, is that I’ve developed a fondness for this sort of music. (And I tossed him €2.50, just because.)

Comments off




The invention of color

Apparently it took place some time after 1900:

At one point I was discussing the uniforms of the Civil War when immediately two or three hands shot into the air. I was not giving a lecture and throughout the discussion we were doing give and take, to make sure the kids understood what I was presenting. I acknowledged one boy who stated in complete seriousness and with an earnestness and thirst for knowledge “I thought there was no color until the twentieth century. Weren’t the uniforms grey and black?” I looked at him in dumbfounded amazement and noticed several other kids nodding in agreement.

You gotta admit, though: Betsy Ross did one hell of a job on that greyscale flag.

The Birth of Old Glory by Percy Moran

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments off




Sort of organized law

This is, as the young people say, a thing:

So, on the one hand, we have the skilled-trade laborer, inheritor of a justifiably-proud tradition. You may not like his union’s politics — he might not, either — but it does stand for more than picket lines and hard-fought contracts. He (or she) works with hands and brain. On the other, professionals with post-graduate degrees. They may labor in genteel poverty (law school isn’t cheap and the vast majority of legal work doesn’t pay all that well; the rich lawyer is a real thing but he rests upon a vast pool of J.D.’d scriveners who make less than a journeyman plumber) but it is indeed genteel. The heaviest tool an attorney lifts is a pen. They couldn’t be more different, could they?

Not in New Jersey! Deputy ADAs there have, after a long fight, got themselves a union. Not the Teamsters (amazing, really — this is New Jersey we’re talking about), not some “Worshipful Guild of Barristers,” conjured from whole cloth to serve their special needs, nope, they’ve joined the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers!

Of course, public-sector unionization is nothing new, but this isn’t normally in the IBEW’s wheelhouse: most things their members work with actually have some connection to electrical power. However, I suspect the lines will continue to blur: the Communications Workers of America, of which I was a member for about a decade, has since subsumed the Association of Flight Attendants.

And “Worshipful Guild of Barristers”? I’d just love to see that on a picket sign somewhere.

Comments (1)




Plenty of nothing, and then some

I have always been a skeptic about homeopathy. Wait, scratch that. “Skeptic” suggests serious consideration followed by grave doubt. I, by contrast, offer sarcasm:

A 30C preparation is a dilution to the 10-60 level, which means that there is one molecule of the compound for every 1060 molecules of water. To test this yourself, dump a teaspoon of the stuff into Lake Itasca, at the headwaters of the Mississippi River, and then wait for it to show up in New Orleans.

On the upside, such absurdly small concentrations mean that, well, if the stuff has been adulterated, how would you know?

Apparently it’s something like this:

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) knocked the stuffing out of homeopathic drug company Terra-Medica [in March], when the regulatory agency announced that a number of its “natural” remedies contained actual drugs.

According to Wired UK, the FDA found that 56 lots of the company’s drugs contained the antibiotic penicillin and its derivatives. But Terra-Medica’s product information clearly states that their remedies are antibiotic-free. This is problematic because a number of people are allergic to penicillin, and the concentrations found in the products are high enough to spark a reaction.

Moreover, Wired UK points out that homeopathy is based on the idea that medicinal products should only be present at extremely low or undetectable levels because these concentrations can prompt the body to “heal itself.” This is largely how homeopathic products manage to evade most of the FDA’s oversight because, in theory, these drugs don’t contain active ingredients (the FDA currently checks the drugs for ingredient purity and packaging accuracy, not effectiveness).

So if I’m reading this correctly, these batches of homeopathic remedies were considered defective because they actually worked. Got it.

(Via Hit Coffee.)

Comments (1)




A lobless relationship

I’m not quite sure which was less expected: Serge Ibaka’s departure to the locker room in the third quarter — isn’t this guy supposed to be, like, indestructible? — or Nick Collison’s trey with 01.4 left in that quarter to tie the game at 72 after the Thunder had trailed by as many as 16 for 35 of the preceding 36 minutes. That Collison jumper, however, set Oklahoma City firmly on the path of righteousness; over the next 5:15 they outscored the Clippers 15-8, and with 3:11 left, still up seven, Blake Griffin drew his fifth foul, motivating a fan to lob a water bottle onto the court. Forty-five seconds later, Russell Westbrook made his standard mad dash to the rim, and Griffin bit. Goodbye, Blake. OKC ran the lead to eleven before the Clips pushed back with a 7-0 run; a pair of Westbrook free throws made it 99-93 with :32 left. J. J. Redick missed a scoop, Kevin Durant snatched the rebound, drew a foul, made two more freebies. Chris Paul, not going for the obvious trey, came up with a layup; Derek Fisher drew the foul, made two more freebies, and CP3, not going for the obvious layup, knocked down a trey; Reggie Jackson drew the foul, hit one of two, and goodbye, Clippers: 104-98, Thunder in six, and OKC will face — who else? — the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference final.

Three double-doubles contributed to this happy state: Durant, of course (39 points, 16 boards); Westbrook, of course (19 points, 12 assists); and, mirabile dictu, Steven Adams (10 points, 11 boards). Jackson’s last free throw gave him 14 to lead the bench. What is perhaps most remarkable, I think, is that neither Durant nor Westbrook accomplished a great deal in the first half; Westbrook ended up 4-15 for the night, collecting 11 out of 12 from the line, and KD finished with a +6, Westbrook +12. (Both of them will happily point out that Adams was +17 and Collison +16.)

No double-doubles from Los Angeles, though Griffin, his time cut short, came close to a triple: 22 points, eight rebounds, eight assists. CP3 led the Clips with 25. Somehow Jamal Crawford, who’s always a threat, wasn’t a threat; he played 14 minutes and made more fouls than shots. DeAndre Jordan pulled down a rollicking 15 boards to go with 9 points. The Clips left eight points at the charity stripe, which can’t have helped their cause. (They were 12-20, OKC 29-33.) And in the end, the Clips were as good as their third seed said they were. It just didn’t happen to be enough.

Monday night in San Antonio. It doesn’t get any better than this — not right away, anyway.

Comments (5)