Archive for July 2014

Faye accompli

Faye Emerson, born on this date in 1917, sticks in my mind because she did all manner of television in the 1950s: variety shows, game shows, you name it. Of course, she didn’t start out that way: in the 1940s she was on the Warner Bros. studio payroll, and while she never made it up to the A-list, she was pretty much always working, and pretty much always pretty:

Faye Emerson, starlet

Curiously, while I was out looking for additional photos, I encountered this phenomenon:

Faye Emerson wardrobe malfunction

This 1950 clip, once you get past the Pepsi promotion, illustrates how such a thing could be possible in that sanitary age:

Bonus: Steve Allen in his late twenties.

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Reporting from hell’s 0.2 hectare

That Sunday quickie about the metric system has generated a concurrence:

I’ll let you in on how I feel about the metric system: it’s great for stuff that is too small to see and for stuff that is too far away to touch, but for everyday existence, I prefer American. A foot is a foot, a mile a minute is a good speed for getting somewhere by car. One hundred degrees is hot, zero degrees is cold. What are the values for these in the metric system? Prime numbers from the planet Xylorcanth. And before you go trying to tell me that we could have a kilometer a minute as a good speed, if we only changed the length of a second to a more metric-centric value, let me remind you that your heart beats once per second, or it would if you were a real human and not some Eurocentric cyborg wanna-be.

If we must have metric, let us have Metric, a Canadian band whose 2012 album Synthetica has been boiled down to a bunch of lyric videos, including this one:

The guy who’s singing with Emily Haines? Lou Reed, in what might have been his last studio performance. He sounds downright upbeat at times.

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One of the safer aspects of Tornado Alley

We’re a long way from any of this carnage:

Though I suppose a funnel cloud could pick up a shark from Galveston Bay and drop it over Moore. Maybe.

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Not getting with the program

Take that, “SmartHours”!

I am NOT, however, going to hew to the “set it to 80 for the hours of 2 to 7 pm” like some power companies recommend. When I come home, hot and tired, from doing fieldwork or teaching in a hot building, I don’t want to have to wait several hours to be able to cool myself off again.

When it gets up around 110, you’re going to end up with close to 80 anyway: these semi-miraculous machines can only do so much.

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And sitteth at the left hand of .GOP

This passes for Republican strategy, or strategery, these days:

The Republican Party has come into the Internet age, just barely, or is at least cynically attempting to acknowledge the existence of the Internet by allowing young people to pour money into the RNC’s coffers one $20.16 domain name at a time (yes, $20.16). Or they’re just screwing with everyone and distracting the wider Interwebs by challenging them to find every last domain name on the RNC’s .GOP block list (for the record, porn.GOP was not available, even though all we were going to do with it is put up a black screen and make some awkward shuffling noises).

Does this mean we can expect to see Republicans In Domain Name Only? [Answer: yes.]

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Evidently not a fan

I normally don’t like to quote an entire article, but this is so short, and so lacking in obvious break points, that I’m just going to do it and urge you to read his Other Stuff:

So apparently Rosie O’Donnell is returning to The View.

This is going to be a big problem for me in the event that my coffin is placed upright in cement in front of a television set tuned to the only frequency remaining after a strange phenomenon wiped out the entire electromagnetic spectrum other than ABC’s signal and the off-switch was sealed with a gallon of Shelob’s webbing.

See what I mean?

Now go read, oh, let’s say this, from his Younger Days.

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Quicker loads

Not to be confused with “Quicken Loans.”

In an effort to speed up the load time on the front page, I cut the number of entries displayed from 20 to 12; after noticing that it made me look like I’d been screwing off, I brought it back up to 16.

If you have a preference, now’s the time. (Archive pages and such remain unchanged, mostly because I have a plugin that lets me do that, or not do that, as the case may be.)

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Say yes to Z Dress

I might be excessively impressed by this, largely because I have no idea how difficult to live with it might be, but what I can see, I sort of like:

Z Dress Lookbook from Anastasia on Vimeo.

Then again, I used to own a couple of reversible ties. If you must judge me, judge me for that.

(Seen here.)

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Semi-square meal

This is the sort of thing that causes sadness to well up from somewhere this side of the duodenum:

So, it turns out that a habanero ranch bacon cheeseburger with fries in Buffalo sauce followed by a half pound of Skittles and a Drumstick ice cream cone isn’t something my system is prepared to handle any more.

Man. This sucks.

Especially since the Drumstick is basically the anti-Buffalo: they’re supposed to cancel themselves out sometime before you need to break out the Tums.

Also at that link: a potato salad recipe that you won’t need to raise tens of thousands of dollars to produce.

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Business un-taken care of

Lots of people have pointed to this article about “classic rock” by Walt Hickey at FiveThirtyEight, and as usual with something from Nate Silver’s baby, it’s meticulously researched and presented with an eye toward actual clarity.

Some weird statistics emerged, of course. In the Phoenix radio market, Creedence gets about half again as much airplay as might be expected. I assume this is sort of induced nostalgia, since nobody in Maricopa County has ever seen a river, green or otherwise, let alone a bayou. Furthermore, Bostonians have a curious love for the Allman Brothers Band. And Billy Joel does well in Miami, which made no sense to me until Hickey explained: “Think about who might be listening to classic rock stations in Miami: retired New Yorkers!”

Still, one thing puzzles me about the entire enterprise, to the extent that it challenges my very definition of “classic rock”: I contend that the one song the format must contain is “Takin’ Care of Business”, yet there is not a single mention of Bachman-Turner Overdrive anywhere in the article.

(I was originally sent the link by Dr. Pants.)

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Shaking and stirred

Given my stand on energy generally — we need to produce so damned much of it that the marginal cost eventually nears zero, which happy event will bring us closer to utopia than any scheme yet imagined in Washington — I derive no joy from picking on the oil and gas guys that pay a lot of the bills around here. But dammit, there are still some questions that need to be answered:

Are all these recent earthquakes, some in the 4.0-magnitude or larger range, capable of damaging homes over the long term? Could the repeated shaking damage house foundations or window seals or roofs, for example? Can the oil and gas industry be held liable for the damage? What is the possibility of a larger quake in the 6.0- to 7.0-magnitude or larger range? Would lives be lost if the big earthquake hits?

In the absence of definitive data, these are my guesses: almost certainly, almost certainly, they’ll be sued but the outcome is not clear, about even money, depends on where it hits.

What I see as a best-case scenario: the industry, grumbling, revises the fracking process to reduce the threat, and even manages to cut down the enormous water use. Chances of that: don’t bet your life savings on it.

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Here we go loop

Why we don’t have 8-tracks anymore, as explained by Roger:

Because the eight-track was a stupid technology. I remember exactly when I realized this. I was in a car listening to someone’s Beatles Again/Hey Jude 8-track. The song “Rain” came on, and IN THE MIDDLE OF THE SONG, it did that weird grinding noise in the middle of it. I should note that “Rain” is a three-minute song.

I think I decided this about three seconds after I had one jam on me, opened it up to see what I could do about it, and discovered that this mechanism couldn’t possibly work.

Lots of that particular title out there; I didn’t have one, but then I already had the LP. At the other extreme, 1982’s 20 Greatest Hits by the Beatles, which Capitol scrapped right before release: the number of copies which managed to escape the label is believed to be in single digits, and only four have ever been seen.

My last-ever 8-track tape was Janis Ian’s For All the Seasons of Your Mind (1967), the second of her four albums for Verve/Forecast, featuring the slightly bitter tune “Shady Acres,” which remains a favorite.

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Count your McNuggets before they’re lunch

Trust me, I do not want to know how many calories sit on the plate before me, so I am not a likely candidate to test this prototype:

Here’s how it works: the device that [Matt] Webster and his team are working on analyzes fat content, water content and weight. With that data, Webster says, it can reasonably estimate the amount of calories someone will be consuming.

Engineers aren’t using solid foods yet. They’re still working with mixtures, but the goal is to develop a product that can scan a sandwich and tell someone exactly what he or she is eating.

Fortunately, this contraption seems a long way off. (Video below the jump.)

Read the rest of this entry »

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Expert timing

I remember both ends of this equation entirely too well:

I asked him if he remembered a particular Commodore 64 file, about fourteen seconds of the Carl Douglas dance classic “Kung Fu Fighting,” which used every single one of the 38911 bytes set aside for BASIC programs plus several K more. Of course he had, and he directed me toward this loop:

Now the C64’s SID chip was capable of more than the usual electronics bloops and bleeps — it was just this side of a full-fledged synth — but I had never imagined that it could do that. Now we have music files that use more disk space than used to be available on hard drives.

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Songs of braise

Let’s say you want some of that neat Alternative Energy, and the very next item on your list is killing as many birds as possible. So you put up a wind turbine, right? Not necessarily:

A new study from the National Fish and Wildlife Forensics Laboratory [pdf] obtained by KCET gives some depressing and gruesome details of bird deaths occurring at industrial solar facilities.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife employees and energy company staff found 233 birds of 71 different species at three California solar facilities — Ivanpah, Genesis, and Desert Sunlight — during random surveys over two years. That’s not a huge number of birds (though the limited scope of the collections means it’s just a fraction of the actual deaths), but what’s shocking is the way some of these birds are dying: They are literally being burned alive, in midair.

And some of them are perishing in a different manner entirely:

Researchers found an unusually high number of water birds dead at the Desert Sunlight facility. These birds, including grebes, herons, ducks, and even pelicans, died not from the heat but from blunt force trauma. The cause was clear, as stated in the report: “A desert environment punctuated by a large expanse of reflective, blue panels may be reminiscent of a large body of water.” These birds — tired from flying over the hot desert — home in on what looks like a calm lake but instead crash into hard panels. They either die instantly or, as researchers found, lie helpless for land-based predators.

Of course, mean, nasty, wicked coal gets soot all over their feathers.

(Via Tim Blair.)

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Though it doesn’t work on water

Hoverboard by MattelIt doesn’t actually work on land, either, come to think of it, but that’s not going to stop the WANT reflex:

We’ve all been demanding hoverboards ever since Marty McFly took off on one in 1989’s Back To The Future II, but now you could own the real thing.

The actual hoverboard used in the film is up for auction at Vue Cinema’s entertainment and prop store live auction, which takes place at Westfield in Shepherd’s Bush in October. It’s one of 375 lots of original props, constumes and production material from a host of movies.

Expected selling price: £15,000, or several gigawallets.

(Via Fark.)

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Coming up in the world

Those who edit Wikipedia are advised about notability: persons or events not worthy of note should not have their own articles. (I don’t have one, and don’t ever expect to, though I know a few people who do.) One’s level of notability determines how much stuff gets on the page: if, for instance, you dial up Led Zeppelin’s “Good Times Bad Times,” their first single, you’ll find in the sidebar a “Led Zeppelin singles chronology,” which, if you follow the links, will take you through “Whole Lotta Love” to “Immigrant Song” to “Black Dog” — though not to “Stairway to Heaven,” which was not released as a single — all the way to “Fool in the Rain.”

I mention this on a Friday because some Wikieditor has assembled a “Rebecca Black singles chronology,” which begins, inevitably, with “Friday,” and continues through “My Moment,” “Person of Interest,” “Sing It,” “In Your Words,” ending with the recent “Saturday.” Each of these songs has its own article and a small collection of contemporary reviews, just like those “real” musical acts.

“Sing It,” notes the pertinent article, received “mixed to positive reviews.” Not incidentally, it was the first RB single to get more thumbs up than down on YouTube; the fans now greatly outnumber the haters. I’m waiting for this to happen to Yoko Ono.

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That’s your Q to leave

Johan de Nysschen, last heard explaining why Infiniti needed to replace all its alphanumerics with more inscrutable alphanumerics, is moving on, to an American marque whose badges already make no damn sense:

Johan de Nysschen, the executive largely credited with Audi’s rise to Tier 1 luxury brand status, has left his post at Infiniti after just two years on the job. He will assume the top job at Cadillac, after former President Bob Ferguson was moved to a new post as GM’s head of public policy… de Nysschen, who took the helm as Infiniti moved its headquarters to Hong Kong and re-organized its nomenclature (into the confusing “Q” and “QX” lines), was expected to lead a long, progressive turnaround for the brand, much as he did with the once-struggling Audi.

ATS? CTS? ELR? WTF, Cadillac?

This may not be a matter of mere letters, though:

An Automotive News story suggests that CEO Carlos Ghosn’s extremely ambitious targets may have played a part in de Nysschen’s departure.

And let’s face it, you don’t mess with the Johan.

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Quote of the week

The Ruling Class really, really hates not getting to rule:

Most of all, I think — they despise us for not giving a damn what they think particularly, and rejecting practically everything that they tell us to do — ride public transportation, move into urban stack-a-prole housing, give up eating meat (or much of anything else), and continuing to believe that we can raise our own children and sort out our own lives without self-elected nannies breathing down our necks 24-7. Very likely the well-manicured and delicate hands of the new ruling class itch for a whip to give us all a good thrashing for our temerity. Indeed — they are no longer our countrymen in spirit, any more than the Tory sympathizers who departed the American colonies two hundred years and more ago are.

Civil war, you say? Not a chance — of it being civil, anyway.

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Some last-century thinking

There are message boards that specialize in girlie pix, and even in sections of girlie pix, one of which (never you mind) was offering this stirring photo of Carole Lombard from here down:

Carole Lombard, mostly

The description hinted that there was something risqué about the full photo, which of course I immediately sought out:

Carole Lombard with John Barrymore

Her partner in crime here is John Barrymore, and this turns out to be a publicity still for Columbia’s 1934 comedy Twentieth Century, much of which is set on the fabled 20th Century Limited train between New York and Chicago. The key number here is 1934, that being the year that the Production Code was first enforced, and needless to say, the Hays Office would have had a problem with this sort of thing. This image wasn’t in the actual film, though, so it fell under the jurisdiction of the Advertising Advisory Council, headed by Joseph I. Breen, later the Production Code’s chief enforcer. An explanation, plus a larger version of the photo:

One wonders which more drew the wrath of the moralist Breen: the acres and acres of lovely Lombard leg on display, or the hint of a nipple just above Barrymore’s hand. Maybe both were equal opportunity offenders. And perhaps Carole and John knew this picture wasn’t going to pass muster anyway, so instead they decided to milk it for all its worth, sort of along the lines of Jean Harlow flashing a topless display “for the boys in the lab” at the end of her rain barrel scene in Red Dust two years before.

Oh, my, yes, Red Dust (MGM, ’32). Even in the surviving footage, the normally unflappable Clark Gable seems seriously flapped.

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More than mere speed

Neil deGrasse Tyson, introducing Car and Driver’s Speed Issue for 2014:

What we really seek are rapid changes in our speed. Those who recite the fast-lane mantra “I feel the need for speed” almost surely instead mean “I can’t wait to accelerate.”

People who like the feel of going fast prefer a stiff suspension because it allows you to “feel the road,” which is driver’s code for feeling all the abrupt disruptions to what would otherwise be a smooth and steady ride.

In the formal language of physics, we go a step further: Acceleration is not only a change in speed (up or down) but also a change in direction. That’s why going around tight turns — especially banked turns — is vastly more fun than driving in a straight line. That’s why the most-fun roller coasters are not the ones that go fast, but the ones that flip, twist and turn you incessantly.

Two or three months from now, we’ll see a couple of letters from drag-strip fans who question that “change in direction” line. (Sorry, guys: acceleration is a vector quantity, with both magnitude and direction.) Then again, what can you say about someone whose fun is over in 16 seconds or less?

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Sweaty in Seattle

Parella Lewis of KCPQ, aka Q13 Fox (Seattle/Tacoma), presents a startling statistic:

Five. Whole. Days.

And the record for consecutive days with highs 90 degrees plus in Oklahoma City (again, per NWS)?

Read the rest of this entry »

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Leave it in neutral

The FCC has been taking comments on their “net neutrality” proposal, which is of course nothing of the sort. Author and media critic Jeff Jarvis has posted his online, from which I excerpt one paragraph:

We know that corporate incumbents in this industry will abuse the control they have to disadvantage competitors. I filed a complaint with the Commission last year when Verizon refused to connect my Google Nexus 7 LTE tablet to its network as required by the Commission’s own rules governing that spectrum as “open.” The incumbent ISPs have demonstrated well that they choose not to understand the definition of “open.”

Purely by coincidence, Entertainment Weekly senior writer Darren Franich notes (issue 1320):

[N]o one in America feels anything besides utter hatred for their cable company, so no one will mourn when all the Time Warners and Comcasts finally die two minutes after we press the “die” button on our remote controls.

Gee, where can I get a remote like that?

But that’s the deal: service providers, be they wired or wireless, have one goal in life, and making you happy is not it.

Side note: Entertainment Weekly was created by, yes, Jeff Jarvis, way back in the 1980s. (Issue #1 appeared in February 1990. I have read them all.)

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A word to health-conscious zombies

In the theme to the Popcap videogame Plants vs. Zombies, Laura Shigihara, as Sunflower, issues a warning to the zombies: “Brains are quite rich in cholesterol.”

It appears she was understating the case:

I once ran across a product called pork brains and milk gravy which I immediately bought. I never ate any of it, I just bought it to show to my friends. It came in a small can about the same size as the cans that Vienna sausages come in which I assumed was one serving.

The health label informed me that the can contained slightly over one thousand percent of the cholesterol that I could healthily wolf down in one day. In other words, ten days cholesterol in one sitting; a heart attack in a very small can.

Do zombies worry about heart attacks? Maybe they should.

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What is this

CAPTCHA: icant even

(Via Rebecca Black.)

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Somewhat unlike Mountain Dew

At least, that’s what I’ve been given to believe:

You know, plants, if you’re just gonna hurl all over the place — well, I don’t know if it’s worth it burning all that Shell V-Power just to get you guys some carbon dioxide.

If you can deal with this, you can use it to wash down some Kale Granola Chocolate Bark by Coracao Confections.

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Battle of divulge

This site admittedly has its confessional aspects, and of the several thousand topics that have come up over the past eighteen years, at least a handful have involved revelations that might be considered uncomfortable, not so much for me to say as for you to hear.

Still, I’m pretty sure I’ve never quite gotten to this point:

I’m sitting across a woman and her daughter, about ten, give or take a year, on the CDTA (local) bus. The mom is on the phone talking to her friend, and I’m not paying attention, until she says: “Do you know what I really hate about Eddie [not his real name]? He comes into the bathroom when I’m trying to pee and s###!” Then she goes on about how, when she closes the bathroom door, he pounds on the door and demands to know what she’s doing in there. And she repeats her intentions.

At this point, the daughter says, “TMI, mommy!” She actually used the initials, rather than “too much information.” But either the mom doesn’t hear her, or feels the need to continue with this important telephonic conversation.

The girl is sitting right across from me, and looks at me with this exasperated gaze. I give her the “what can you do?” shrug. She says, a little louder, “Mommy, everybody on the bus can hear you!” This was probably true.

But Mommy manifestly did not care: the denunciation of Eddie [not his real name] was uppermost in her mind, and her outrage trumps everyone else’s discomfort.

Then again, Ed is not entirely blameless: bathrooms being generally devoid of creature comforts not specifically related to the tasks at hand, it should have been perfectly obvious what she was doing in there.

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Strange search-engine queries (441)

Another week goes by, another trip through — and sometimes over — the logs, looking for the search strings that brought you (no, not you, some other you) to this very site.

how to remove cd4e from 2000 mazda 626:  If you have to ask, you don’t have any business trying to do it in your back yard.

The Girl Gets Her Cape Tugged:  If it was Wonder Woman, you’re probably singing an octave higher by now.

mono recording and mixing:  Piece of cake. All you have to do is forget you have 31 (or 63) other tracks at your disposal.

What is tje function of the hold button one a ford gear lever:  I’d suggest you read the manual, but now that I come to think of it, this may be more difficult than I’d have expected. Also, you misspelled “teh.”

peter mulready drugs:  Hmmm. Never seen those at Walgreens.

99 cougar transmission shifts eratic when hot:  Oh. Erratic. I thought you were trying to say something else. (Never know with those Cougars.)

Mane six r34:  Take your clop somewhere else. Oh, and don’t touch the screen.

naked andrea boehrer:  Take your clop somewhere else. Oh, and don’t touch the screen.

what happens when you hold your breath and bite your tongue:  You get a much more entertaining session of the legislature.

vapor barriers NASCAR racing:  The delicate scent of melting tires should keep you from wandering onto the oval.

heir to the massengill fortune:  A perfect query for a summer’s eve.

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Return of the prodigal

Maybe Thomas Wolfe was right and you can’t go home again, says Kareem Abdul-Jabbar:

To some skeptical residents, LeBron’s return to Cleveland is less that of the prodigal son’s triumphant return home than the straying husband who abandoned his longtime partner to chase a younger, hotter, firmer slice having second thoughts. Having realized he traded a deep love for a sweaty romp, he’s coming home with a bouquet of roses in one hand and a diamond bracelet in the other, begging forgiveness for his foolish mistake of lustful youth.

All that doesn’t make LeBron’s desire to return any less sincere. Who hasn’t at some time or other hurt those we loved? And it takes a lot of courage to return to what many Clevelanders might consider “the scene of the crime.” LeBron is one of the best players in the world. He could have gone anywhere, but he chose Cleveland, knowing he would have to endure a firestorm of criticism. Had he stayed in Miami or gone elsewhere, he would have been hoisted on shoulders and paraded through the streets. That testifies to his sincerity.

I’m not one of the best anything in the world, but I’ve left this town twice, and come back twice. So I tend to sympathize with King James: home is more than a location Google Maps has stored as a default. And if he pulls off in Cleveland, even once, what he did twice in Miami — well, let’s wait and see.

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Every man an artisan

Just another fad for hipsters? It’s much, much more:

The idea is that all the mindless manual labor which our ancestors spent all of history trying to escape is actually beneficial for you, whereas letting modern machinery do your drudgework, like, cheapens your basic essential humanity somehow. So forget modern, impersonal, factory-made mass-produced clothing; you’re not really “dressed” unless you’re wearing clothes you made yourself, using your own spinning wheel to spin your own thread out of fibers from your own pet sheep or gardenful of flax or cotton plants, then weaving those threads into cloth with your own loom.

This is, after all, The Way It Should Be:

Do what our ancestors did: be independent and self-sufficient, live a healthy, natural back-to-the-Earth lifestyle, spend years of repetitive labor producing a single piece of fabric, then drop dead by 35.

Think of your carbon footprint, man!

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Paywall for one and one for paywall

NewsOK has started reproaching me for using AdBlock Plus, and has requested an explanation from among the following choices:

  • To stop automatic video ads from playing.
  • I have privacy concerns.
  • Blocking, speeds up page load times for me.
  • I didn’t realize I was blocking ads on NewsOK.com.
  • I don’t want to see any online advertising.
  • My company blocks online advertising.
  • Other:

For “Other,” try this: “I pay you guys a couple hundred dollars a year and should not be subjected to any further indignities of this sort.”

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Ferrous anorthosite, you’re my hero

I had no reason to think this would catch anyone’s eye:

Marisa answered in TLO’s Monday Morning Tweets:

More specifically, lunar ferrous anorthosite.

If you’re not familiar with anorthosite, it’s a phaneritic, intrusive igneous rock characterized by a predominance of plagioclase feldspar (90 to 100 percent) and a minimal mafic component (0 to 10 percent). If you’re looking at the moon, the lighter-colored areas are largely composed of this very rock.

How much of this did I know before sitting down to write this? Around 15 to 25 percent, on a good day.

Maud Pie, alas, was not available for comment.

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They never outgrow the cheerleaders

I am aware that the ability to lure women half your age into the sack is highly prized these days, at least among men my age. And while I’d be lying if I said I never thought about it, I’d be damned embarrassed if I came off like this:

We met on a dating site. Dave was interesting, gentlemanly and bright. He held my hand and toured with me on long bicycle rides. He drove many miles to come to my door. He made meals for us both and ruffled my dog’s happy head. I was enticed and longed for the full knowing of this man. And so, we planned a weekend together. That’s when things got confusing, unspoken and just-not-quite there. We went to bed in a couple’s way — unclothed and touching — all parts near. Kisses were shared and sleep came in hugs. I attempted more intimacy throughout the weekend and was deterred each time.

On Monday evening over the phone, I asked this man who had shared my bed for three nights running why we had not made love. “Your body is too wrinkly,” he said without a pause. “I have spoiled myself over the years with young woman. I just can’t get excited with you. I love your energy and your laughter. I like your head and your heart. But, I just can’t deal with your body.”

Dave is 55. Apparently he figures he’s still entitled to centerfold material. And this is what upset his applecart so:

I am a 59-year-old woman in great health and in good physical shape. I stand five-feet, nine-inches tall and weigh 135 pounds. I wear a size six in both jeans and panties, and my breasts are nowhere near my navel. In fact, they still struggle to make it full-up in a B-cup bra. My thighs are no longer velvet and my buttocks have dimples. My upper arms wobble a bit and my skin shows the marks of the sun. There is a softness around my waist that is no longer perfectly taut, and the pout of my abdomen attests to a c-section that took its bikini flatness — but gave me a son.

I should be in such shape, qualitatively speaking, at my age, which, you’ll remember, is only slightly beyond hers.

The manosphere would explain to me that Dave’s just exercising his Game, and maybe I’ll give him that. But the time to back off, I contend, is a long time before the third trip to the bedroom. And I have enough douchitude of my own to regret, thank you very much; you’re not helping.

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The second best that you can do

Nobody knows protectionism like the French, and they’re not afraid of wielding it:

This past October, French lawmakers decided it was time to show Amazon who’s boss. Frustrated by Amazon’s fast and cheap book-selling model, which poses a threat to France’s healthy ecosystem of indie bookstores, politicians banded together to approve a bill that prohibited Jeff Bezos’ company and other online retailers from shipping discounted books for free. The measure is designed to protect traditional booksellers who have complained that Amazon is hurting their businesses.

The new minimum shipping charge from Amazon.fr: €0.01.

“We are unfortunately not allowed to offer you free shipping for ordering books,” Amazon writes in the FAQ section of its website. “We have therefore set delivery fees at one euro-cent for each order that contains books and that is sent by Amazon in order to systematically guarantee you the lowest price for your book orders.”

The other part of the protectionist scheme will not so easily be eluded: France has rewritten its law allowing 5 percent off list price to include brick-and-mortar retailers only. Still, one does not bet against Amazon — not for long, anyway.

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Also, I don’t use jelly

My mother would have objected to this, but then she’s seen me eating peanut butter out of the jar:

Shelf full of Kellogg's Jif cereal

On the upside, there’s no debate on how it’s pronounced.

(Via Cameron Miquelon.)

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Not one of the Pointer Sisters

We start with a question that is essentially unanswerable to begin with:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: Why is my index finger longer then my ring finger?

Actually, there is one sensible response: “Who the hell cares?” But then we get to the heart of the matter:

I am a male but I am not feminine?

This has got to be a metalaw somewhere: “All old wives’ tales end up being circulated by boys.”

I was tempted to tell him “Doesn’t matter, since either one is longer than your peen,” but that seems (slightly) unkinder than necessary. Still, this morbid fear that someone of equal immaturity will call him out will not serve him well in the future, assuming he has one.

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Days of yore.dat

Prodigy iconI was there, and by “there” I mean “here, at this desk, logged in,” when Prodigy Classic was put out of its misery just after 11:59 pm on the first of November, 1999. Of course, I’d warned about that several months earlier:

The real disappointment, at least to me, comes not with the announcement of the termination of the service — it had been expected for some time — but with the management’s willingness to blame everything on Y2k. It is no doubt true that Prodigy’s proprietary technologies are not fixable for Y2k; however, Y2k is just the tip of the iceberg. The core of the Prodigy software is ten years old. By the standards of the Net, it’s Fred Flintstone stuff.

We have now discovered that Y2k was, at best, a convenient excuse:

After that shutdown, loyal Prodigy customers, who had hung on to the bitter end, were suspicious about the stated reasons for the closing. And they were mad. Fifteen years later, we can now confirm that their suspicions were correct: “As far as I know, Prodigy Classic being shut down was not influenced by Y2K issues,” recalls [Michael] Doino, the Prodigy employee who actually pulled the plug on the service in 1999.

Where is that enormous amount of data, anyway? Much of it has probably evaporated; the way P* assembled pages, using cached bits from here and there, makes it darn near impossible to trace. And yet:

Fifteen years later, a Prodigy enthusiast named Jim Carpenter has found an ingenious way to bring some of that data back from the dead. With a little bit of Python code and some old Prodigy software at hand, Carpenter, working alone, recently managed to partially reverse-engineer the Prodigy client and eke out some Prodigy content that was formerly thought to have been lost forever.

The ultimate goal of all this? “Some day,” Carpenter says, “I’d like to create something to emulate the Prodigy backend and serve up requested objects to the client.”

I was in my usual chat room when the last goodbye came; I’ve kept about 16k of that room’s final chatter. (Hey, it’s only 15 years old; I have email older than that.)

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Swiftly moving

Literally tens of pictures of Taylor Swift cross my desk every month. More, even, now that the @SwiftOnSecurity Twitter account is up to teach us civilians about encryption and post observations like this:

But I wanted to run this one, reportedly snapped after she left the gym Monday, because (1) I can’t help wondering what she’s listening to and (2) she’s a trifle banged up, which supports my ongoing notion that anything perfect is fake.

Taylor Swift doing the long stride

First person to ask “You noticed she’s wearing earbuds?” is forthwith banished.

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Your weekly dose of Hinky

Hinky Dinky Time with Uncle Michael

And this is why you ought to know about it this week, in my semi-humble opinion:

At 9:00 AM (Eastern time) on Friday, July 18th, 2014, please join Uncle Michael in a six-hour odyssey celebrating the history of the Warner Brothers “Loss Leaders.”

Beginning in 1969, Warner Brothers began selling samplers of music by artists on Warner Brothers, Reprise and other, associated labels. These samplers were comprised of a diverse array of artists and styles and were generally presented as double albums which sold for $2. They advertised on the inner sleeves of normal catalog product, in magazine ads, in promotional flyers and at point of sale displays. If you’re of a certain age, these come-ons were ubiquitous.

Listing and classifying these albums has been a side project of this site since the late 20th century. Uncle Michael and I had a longish discussion on what is, and what may not be, a Loss Leader in this context; be it known that I fully support his selections for the playlist, because the guy knows as least as much as I do on the subject, and maybe more.

If you’re not within broadcast distance of the Oranges — WFMU is licensed to East Orange, New Jersey, and its transmitter is located in West Orange — the stream is pretty much always available at wfmu.org.

Update: A darn good show, it was. This was the playlist.

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The wrong parts were ordered, or something

I spent several June evenings reading The Life of the Automobile: The Complete History of the Motor Car (New York: Thomas Dunne Books, 2014), a British-y tome by Steven Parissien that tries its best to walk the narrow path between the scholarly and the conversational. As you might expect, this is a good way to stumble, and while a few things struck me as a little off, Joe Sherlock found a whole warehouse full of howlers:

Sadly, the book told many interesting stories but was so riddled with errors that I didn’t know what to believe, especially Parissien’s tales about the European auto industry, about which I have little expertise. So, I don’t know if the British Citroën factory was really used to make Milky Way and Twix candy bars after Citroën closed it. But I found a plethora of errors and misinformation about subjects I know.

The enormous Slough Trading Estate, founded in Berkshire in 1920, was home to both a Citroën plant and a Mars confectionery; what I’d figured was that when Michelin took over a dead-broke Citroën in 1935, they let go of their piece of the Estate, into which Mars expanded. (Twix did not appear until 1967, at which point the statute of limitations, or something, should have kicked in.)

But Sherlock’s list of anomalies is substantial. A few examples:

Ray Kroc did not force the McDonald brothers out of business; he bought out the fast food pioneers.

The book claims that in “1968, the Toyota Corolla became the first Japanese car to be manufactured in the U.S.” The first Japanese car to be made in America was a Honda, made in Ohio beginning in 1979. Toyota did not begin U.S. assembly until 1984.

The author has a lot of trouble with Lincoln nomenclature, mixing up the iconic ’56-57 Continental Mark II with the 1960 Lincoln Continental Mark V and often refers to the iconic slabside Lincolns of ’61-’65 as “Continental IIIs.”

Although in this latter case, Lincoln almost asked for it; after the ’60 Mark V, the series started again with the Mark III in ’69. Still, there were no Roman numerals associated with the ’61 through ’68 Continentals. (And the current-day MK-whatever practice at Lincoln is a fitting heir to this insanity.)

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