Archive for March 2015

Meanwhile in the City of No Illusions

A grievance aired too late for Festivus:

A petition filed on change.org calls on the City of Buffalo to change its name.

The petitioner, identified in the post as Mark Beasley, a proclaimed member of the Navajo Nation, says the name “Buffalo” is, “offensive and racist.”

Beasley argues that the name promotes genocidal imagery towards Native Americans because American Bison, also known as buffalo, were slaughtered in order to move Natives off the land.

The petition also calls on Berkshire Hathaway, the owner of The Buffalo News, to drop the term from its name.

Beaslier said than done, Marko. I noticed your little petition doesn’t mention the Buffalo Bills. Then again, with exactly 29 postseason appearances in 55 seasons, the Bills themselves have been routinely slaughtered.

(Via Fark.)

Update: Um, maybe not.

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Foiling photographers

The “candid” celebrity photo is not yet a thing of the past, but perhaps this scheme will catch on:

Thanks to DJ Chris Holmes, celebrities can now ward off those pesky paparazzi and their intrusive photography with ease. They just need to wear pieces from Holmes’ new “Anti Paparazzi Collection” — a line of clothing made from a reflective material [that] completely ruins flash photographs.

The collection currently consists of a hooded jacket, an infinity scarf, suit pants, a blazer, and a hat. While they look like regular clothes, the fabric is actually coated with glass nanospheres. This coating makes the clothes act like mirrors when hit with bright light, so the resulting images are horribly underexposed and the wearer is practically invisible.

For example:

Result of photographing a chap in the Anti-Paparazzi Blazer

The line is actually being crowdfunded, and not all the items are currently completely funded yet.

(Via American Digest.)

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Slow extinction

The Raptors have not had the easiest time of it of late, having fallen to third in the East after winning only three of their last ten. Still, Toronto is one team that can always be counted upon to give the Thunder a hard time, be they in third place or thirteenth, and they lived up to expectations tonight, following Terrence Ross’s hot hand with the long ball and the general DeStruction wrought by DeMar DeRozan to a 61-58 lead at halftime. OKC responded by cranking up the defense in the third, holding T.O. to 18 points; the Raptors rallied in the fourth, cutting a 12-point Thunder lead to three. This is not the sort of thing Loud City wants to see, and with two minutes left, an Enes Kanter free throw ran the lead back to seven at 103-96. DeRozan, who hadn’t scored since the first half, nailed a jumper, fouled Serge Ibaka, and delivered a layup, but it was still a six-point game with 44 seconds to go; DeRozan then rang up two more buckets. Finally Russell Westbrook, Mr. Triple Double, knocked down two freebies; DeRozan’s streak abruptly ended, D. J. Augustin missed two freebies inside the two-second mark, but the Raptors were wrapped up, 108-104.

Six of nine Raptors, nonetheless, hit double figures, with DeRozan (24) and Ross (20, including six of nine treys) leading the way. Toronto only took nine free throws, but made them all, and delivered 24 assists against only eight turnovers. (The Thunder had 30 assists, a season high, but also coughed up the ball 18 times.)

Scott Brooks played ten tonight, with Steven Adams backing up Enes Kanter in the middle. Kanter collected a double-double, with 21 points and ten rebounds, but Adams, playing 16 minutes, scored six and retrieved six. Westbrook? 30-11-17. His lines are starting to converge toward that. OKC owned the boards, 49-33. And while the Thunder made 42 shots, same as Toronto, it only took them 87 tries; the Raptors had to put up 98.

A four-game homestand continues with the Clippers (Wednesday), the Timberwolves (Friday), and the Bulls (Sunday), followed by a quick trip to Dallas on Monday.

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Strange search-engine queries (475)

Once again, it’s time to take a cool, refreshing dip into the search strings piling up over there in the corner, in the hopes of finding something worth singling out. It is not always easy; then again, it is not always entertaining, either.

what happened to Kali Altrox:  It wasn’t my week to watch her.

Blessed are the Pessimists for they hath made backups:  Ah, yes, from the Sermon on the Mounted External Drive.

2001 mazda 626 transmission shifts hard from reverse to forward:  The replacement won’t do that, of course.

qustions about changing transmission in a 92 ford probe from a mazda:  Don’t bother. There are only nine transmissions left in the country, and the one you’ll get is the one you had six rebuilds ago.

mazda 626 1986 automatic transmission:  Talk to that Ford guy who just went by.

how to get free beer from hooters:  Trust me, anything you get from hooters will cost you in the end.

apple ht204268:  This was not the B-side to “Hey Jude,” no matter what you heard.

ford festive hold function:  I can’t recall any incident of being held in a Ford that was in any way festive.

hoosier twang:  Larry Bird always talks like that.

flatratetech dealers first to feel tech shortage pinch:  Don’t be silly. If the dealer thinks he might feel a pinch, the first thing he does is figure out a way to pass the pinchage on to you.

mazda 626 weight ratio:  One Mazda 626 weighs approximately as much as 3,000 lb of ground round.

selective blinders:  Will keep you focused on the forest without having to wonder about those treelike entities on the margins.

sexy motherson hamasone:  This sounds either incestuous or … never mind. I don’t even want to think about Hamas.

acknowledging “one’s pluck” a compliement:  No. Now pluck off.

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Why we are doomed

Time was, every young American was equipped with, as Hemingway is supposed to have said, “a built-in, shockproof crap detector.” And they would keep that invaluable device all their lives — until they ran for political office.

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Let’s be inclusive!

Even when it’s right, it can still be wrong:

Press Any Key to continue.

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Everyman speaks

And this is what he says:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: How to get REAL and ACTIVE Instagram followers?

Before you suggest a method, though, he wants to make this clear:

is there a way to get real n active followers without following other people and for free?!?! I want to get a lot of followers without doing much work and without paying. any ways?

The scary part, of course, is that eventually he’ll be old enough to vote.

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Solid psittacine

Good evening. Here is the news for parrots:

Bobby Pacino, our blue and gold macaw, will be ten years old this spring. He was hatched somewhere in the United States and sold to us at a pet store in Oklahoma City when he was just a pup. Err, baby? Kitten? Chick. When he was just a chick. A small, quiet one.

The first few days he was home with us were a lot like having a newborn infant, especially with regard to feeding and bonding. It was actually a very sweet time.

Then the next solid, unrelenting decade was a lot like having a dysfunctional toddler, especially with regard to, well, pretty much everything. A loud, messy, screaming, demanding, attention seeking, affectionate and VERY smart, un-CANNILY smart, but also disruptive and destructive, toddler. It’s been a whirlwind. A loving whirlwind.

And if ten years sounds like a long way to put up with a toddler, well, macaws often live 50 years or longer, so a lot of feathers are going to be ruffled.

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Fresh from Lake Minnetonka

“That ain’t Lake Minnetonka,” said Prince, and didn’t take off on his motorcycle without the dripping-wet Apollonia Kotero, second-billed in Prince’s film Purple Rain back in 1984. She had, shall we say, a certain visual appeal:

Apollonia in the 1980s

And she could sing, kinda sorta. The ad hoc group Apollonia 6 performed a song called “Sex Shooter” in the film; a separate music video was issued to promote both the film and the one and only Apollonia 6 LP.

Apollonia 6, the album, might be more famous for the songs that were left off than for the seven that were included. (“Sex Shooter,” released as a single on Warner Bros. 29182, managed to clamber to #85 in Billboard.) All left on the cutting-room floor: “Manic Monday,” later a Bangles hit; “The Glamorous Life,” subsequently a hit for Sheila E.; and “17 Days,” cut by Prince himself and stuck on the B-side of the “When Doves Cry” single.

After leaving Prince behind, Apollonia appeared in the TV series Falcon Crest, cut a solo album, and set up a production company. She’s 55 now. And apart from a touch of the usual middle-age spread, she doesn’t seem to have changed much:

Oh, and she was nominated for a Razzie for Worst New Star, but lost to Olivia d’Abo.

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A little Sprite told me

Coca-Cola is testing new branding of its flagship products in Spain, and if all goes well, they may go worldwide with it:

Until now, the different varieties of Coca-Cola family functioned as three independent brands (Coca-Cola, Diet Coke and Coke Zero) in the design of their packaging and advertising. From today, as part of the new strategy of “single brand,” all variants of Coca-Cola will unite under a common identity.

The most visible change in this new strategy is that the packaging design will be unified. All cans and bottles have the same style, based on the iconic original brand of Coca-Cola.

What they’re not saying — but they’re showing in the packaging design — is that Diet Coke, or at least the name, is dead, at least in Spain. (Some European countries have been getting Coca-Cola Light, the new name, for several years now.) I don’t think this part of the plan will materialize in the States.

On the other hand, there will now be Coke Zero and Coke Zero Zero, the latter with neither calories nor caffeine. And I detect no trace of the ill-fated Coke II.

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No better than graffiti

This is, I think, the most sensible stance to adopt in this age of Damn Near Anything Goes:

I’ve been told my campus has a YikYak “community” or whatever you call it. I don’t want to know. I’m not interested in participating or even hearing what goes on there. I feel like, if people are going to say awful things about me, and aren’t brave enough to criticize me to my face? I don’t want to hear what they’re saying about me anonymously, that that kind of posting doesn’t deserve my time or my attention and my often fragile self-confidence doesn’t need to obsess over the venting that someone may have done in a moment of upset (earned a bad grade, was told to put the cell phone away, whatever). Also, I figure a lot of people who do that kind of posting don’t every really think the object of it will read it. (So I’m happy to oblige by NOT reading it.)

Sort of a variation on the theme of “Don’t read the comments.”

There used to be quite a bit of spam, on Twitter and similar places, to the effect of “Did you read what they said about you?” followed by a link to God knows what. The jerks who left it never hung around for the answer, which was “Hell, no, and why should I?” The fact that there are now “reputation-protection” services tells me that there are an awful lot of people out there with awfully thin skins. If your response is “But what if people will think less of me?” I’ll tell you there’s no possible way I could think less of you.

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And still nobody rides for free

From this very space in 2011:

There was a pilot program conducted in Oregon several years ago, which was intended to determine whether it might be more useful, or more remunerative, or anyway more something, to drop the gas tax entirely and replace it with a per-mile fee. Not everyone was enthusiastic about having their every trip logged and reported via GPS, it turned out.

So no GPS in the new bill. Instead, someone will have to develop a gizmo that can read your odometer and report the details back to Salem — since they’re sure as hell not going to take your word for it.

It turns out that this wasn’t even its final form:

Automotive News reports the state will offer two options to its motorists: pay at the pump, or pay a 1.5-cent rate per mile traversed. The latter will be conducted through a device that plugs into a vehicle’s OBD port, then gathers mileage data to determine how much the motorist will pay in tax.

Right now, the program — set to begin July 1 — will be implemented by the Oregon DOT in partnership with Sanef ITS Technologies America and Intelligent Mechatronic Systems, the latter supplying the aforementioned OBD mileage reader.

I lean toward pay at the pump, though I must remind myself that there are no self-service pumps in Oregon.

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Watson says bite me

Okay, maybe not that specifically — but why the hell not?

Although curse words make up only 0.5% to 0.7% of all of the words we speak, they are rich in nuance and play a variety of roles. Said IBM research scientist Eric Brown, “As humans, we don’t realize just how ambiguous our communication is.”

In 2011 Brown’s team tried to train Jeopardy-winning supercomputer Watson to use more natural-sounding vocabulary by feeding it the entirety of Urban Dictionary. The result was a foul-mouthed machine that learned terms such as “ass hat” and “front butt” but didn’t understand when it was appropriate to use them, once responding to a researcher’s query with “bullshit!” Watson’s failure to distinguish between profanity and polite language meant that Brown’s team had to develop filters to screen out the profanity and eventually ended up wiping Urban Dictionary’s entries from Watson’s memory.

Yeah, but suppose Watson was right? We are awash in bullshit these days.

And “asshat” is a single word. Even Urban Dictionary says so.

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I don’t care if it’s one-way

Then again, it’s almost certainly too early to start packing:

Then again, where would they put an airport? Canterlot’s built onto a mountain, fercryingoutloud: no place for a runway. Cloudsdale? Naw, the planes would just crash through the clouds. Or perhaps that long stretch of nothing southwest of Canterlot on the way to Ponyville…

(Via Equestria Daily.)

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Meanwhile at the front

WW2 Tweets from 1943 is just like it sounds: history, 140 characters at a time. An example from last week, offset 72 years:

By the 10th of March, the Allies were well on their way to seizing the Mareth Line, and what with Germany having suffered heavy casualties, Rommel had departed Africa:

The Axis retreated to the Wadi Akarit, but were eventually routed.

(Seen by GLHancock before I got to it.)

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There’s always one

If you look hard enough, you can find fans of just about anything, including, in this specific case, Daylight Saving Time:

Since I am an extreme evening person, getting much of my work done after most of the English-speaking world has gone to bed, I’m a big fan of Daylight Savings Time because spring and summer afternoons allow me to get out and enjoy the sunlight.

My ideal day would be Alaska in early July. My wife and I made a driving/camping tour of Alaska in early July 1988 and the length of the day fit our schedules well. About 10pm we’d be tooling along, and it would occur to us that we ought to look for a campground in order to pull over pretty soon to cook dinner and set up the tent before it got dark and the grizzlies came out.

Alaska in July is also good for golfing. I teed off at the Elmendorf AFB course at 6:20 pm on a cloudy day. The sun finally came out and provided us a glorious sunset as we were coming up the 18th fairway around 11pm. (Sunset in Anchorage on the 4th of July is at 11:35 p.m.)

I’m guessing this would probably not work so well in Ecuador.

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Playing the erase card

Front page of this morning’s New York Post:

Polls taken after her presser yesterday indicate that a lot of people believe her story — a lot of people in the media, anyway.

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Noise and harshness, no vibration

Jack Baruth speculates as to the reason for the suspension of Top Gear’s Jeremy Clarkson:

The Minitrue report on Clarkson’s dismissal makes reference to a warning he received concerning “racist statements”. Those TTAC readers who are currently wearing an “I Can’t Breathe” shirt in the basements of their parents’ gated-community homes should be aware that “racist statement” means something different in the UK than it means in the US. Here in America, “racist statement” is a term used to refer to the kind of stuff that white kids at Oberlin do because all the actual racists in the area died of old age around the time that Gerald Ford fell down a set of airplane exit stairs.

And, occasionally, OU nasty boys. I don’t think the practice is quite dead just yet, more’s the pity.

In the UK, “racist statement” means “anything that doesn’t meet the principles of IngSoc,” up to and including having the temerity to rev the engine of your Lotus Esprit at a stoplight in the approximate presence of a Muslim immigrant. So it’s in no way plain that Clarkson called for the restoration of slavery or disrespected Haile Selassie I or anything like that. He might have revved an engine or looked in a certain direction or something like that.

Horrors! Off with his head! (He can borrow a helmet from The Stig, can’t he?)

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Swiped and locked

Right off the bat, you get the Telltale Statistic: the Clippers executed 11 steals tonight, the Thunder only five, and two of those came very late. That level of non-defense undid Oklahoma City early: seven minutes in, L. A. was up 28-11. There was enough rally in the Thunder to tie it a couple of times in the second quarter, but there was no stopping the Clips, even without Blake Griffin and Jamal Crawford; things were so dire for OKC that they had to resort to fouling DeAndre Jordan. (Jordan took it in stride, hitting 12 of 22, 15 percentage points above his average from the stripe.) Eventually, Loud City was bored enough, or demoralized enough, to yell at head zebra Joey Crawford to pull up his damn pants already. The Clippers won the game, 120-108, and the season series, 2-1, and the Thunder fell half a game behind the New Orleans Pelicans for the eighth and last playoff spot.

The numbers, except for steals and turnovers (OKC 20, Clippers 14) were actually pretty close: the Thunder got one more rebound (39-38), the Clips three more assists (22-19), and while there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth over the Los Angeles longball, their 15-30 was only a tick or two above the Thunder’s 12-25. Maybe it was who got those treys: Chris Paul was 5-8, Matt Barnes 6-7, J. J. Redick 3-6, and somewhere Spencer Hawes made one. So it’s no surprise that CP3 ended up with 33 points, Barnes with 22, and Redick with 25. Meanwhile, Jordan was collecting those freebies and reeling in 18 points and 17 boards.

Maybe a Westbrook triple-double would have helped, but Russ was merely good, not great: 24-9-7, and a whopping 10 of those 20 OKC turnovers. He had help offensively: Anthony Morrow came up with 26 off the bench, including 6-9 from outside, and Enes Kanter and Serge Ibaka added 18 and 15 respectively. Just don’t look at the plus/minus: all the Thunder starters were minus, all the reserves were plus, and the opposite was true for Los Angeles.

The newly revitalized Minnesota Timberwolves will show up Friday night: some of their long-injured players are injured no longer, and, well, Kevin Garnett. You don’t, or at least I don’t, bet against the Big Ticket.

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Creative pre-destruction

The following clip deals with two of my Favorite Things as a lad aged in single digits: dominoes and the Etch-A-Sketch. The results are as satisfying as you, or at least I, could possibly want:

There’s even a blooper reel, kinda sorta.

(Found over at Miss Cellania’s place.)

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Formerly known as Iraq

Iraq, an arbitrarily created nation with artificial boundaries, is this year’s Balkans, and Michael Totten says it’s good as dead:

Iraq is finished, an expiring, cancerous nation on life support. Pulling the plug might be merciful. It might be cruel. But either way, it’s time to accept the fact that this country is likely to die and that we’ll all be better off when it does…

President Obama campaigned on ending the war in Iraq. For years — and for perfectly understandable reasons — he was very reluctant to wade into that country’s eternally dysfunctional internal problems, but even he was persuaded to declare war against ISIS in the fall of 2014 when its fighters made a beeline for Erbil, the capital of Iraq’s Kurdish autonomous region and the only stable and America-friendly place in the country.

But however engaged the US chooses to be, the current war in Iraq is likely to drag on for years. If Iraq somehow manages to survive its current conflict in one piece, another will almost certainly follow. Its instability is both devastating and chronic. Far better at this point if Iraq simply terminates itself as a state and lets its various constituent groups peaceably go their own way, as Yugoslavia did after its own catastrophic series of wars in the 1990s.

And good riddance, says Bill Quick:

This was what George W. Bush always didn’t quite get: “Guaranteeing” Iraq’s territorial integrity, which was synonymous with guaranteeing the imposed geographical structure of Iraq, necessarily involved guaranteeing a strong-man government, because that was the only way to enforce that structure on people who hated it.

And if his “Democracy Project” had been successful, the voters themselves would have ripped Iraq apart.

Now at least the voters won’t have to exert themselves.

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Guarded optimism

They’re barely a year apart, and in this photo, seemingly barely an inch apart:

Liam and Allison keep watch

Allison is four; Liam is almost three. Awfully close together, you think? Just look at them.

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Superfluous control

Once upon a time, you might have had a heater in your car. Today’s motor vehicles have ever-fancier climate-control systems, and most automakers try not to mess with your head when they design ’em. And then there’s BMW’s dual-zone system:

I have dual-zone automatic climate control. This is a hallmark feature of many upscale and wanna-be upscale vehicles. You set one side to 74. You set the other side to 69. You press “AUTO.” And then the air blows out at the perfect temperature to create a 74-degree experience on one side, and a 69-degree experience on the other side, and everyone is happy.

So far, so good. But then there’s this one useless control mounted just below the center vents:

It turns out that this has no effect on the actual air temperature. In order to affect the actual air temperature, you have to change the switch to BLUE or RED, depending on what type of air you want to be released from the vents, even after you’ve already set the temperature.

Now, here’s why this pisses me off: because this DEFEATS THE ENTIRE PURPOSE OF AUTOMATIC CLIMATE CONTROL. When I set my climate control in the first place, I’m telling the system exactly what temperature I want. So why is the entire climate control system at the mercy of some all-knowing switch that decides whether to blow hot air or cold air? Newsflash, climate control system: if I choose “84” for the climate control temperature, and it’s 2 degrees outside, I’m going to want HOT AIR, regardless of whether the freaking switch is on blue or red.

Even the goofball system Nissan invented for the second-generation I30 and its Maxima sister comprehends this logic: I leave it on 74 year-round, and the machine does whatever it thinks is necessary to create 74, even if its thinking seems inscrutable at times. So I never have to endure this:

Say it’s the middle of winter and somehow the switch accidentally gets turned to “BLUE,” which means cold. Here’s what happens: even though I have the temperature set at 75 degrees and automatic, the air that blows out isn’t warm. The air that comes out is cold, because that’s the random orientation of some STUPID SWITCH that completely overrides every single setting in my climate control system.

I am forced to conclude that the Germans simply think they’re smarter than us.

And that “switch”? It’s actually a knurled wheel, which in the grand scheme of things means — probably nothing.

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Really really less filling

The new American nightmare is The Incredible Shrinking Beer:

I’ve been drinking Stella Artois lately, but tonight I noticed that they have reduced the size of their bottles from 12 ounces to 11. I was suspicious when the 22 ounce bottles started showing up. Now my suspicions are confirmed. The anti-fun people are still trying to put the screws to us, one ounce at a time.

They can pitch it as having 8 percent fewer calories, I suppose.

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The quality of trollage is very strained

Let’s have a look, shall we?

Yahoo Answers screenshot: Why am I cursed?

Now what kind of horrible life experience is this individual having to endure?

It’s bad enough that I was born into a middle class family, and have an average size penis, but I never get what I want. I never get the pretty girl, or will be rich. I feel like all I do is fight for the scraps in life, like a *****-ing dog. Meanwhile people like Jay z is living my dreams. I want a hooker like Beyoncé or a model like Tom Brady’s wife. I want riches and power, and a large penis. Why must God bless some and leave the rest of us out in the cold looking through the windows of the rich. I held my phone up to the sky and said God let my phone ring with some good news and nothing happened.

This is why it’s a good thing I’m not God: I’d have hit the sorry bastard with a lightning bolt.

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Sphynx on trial

A few months back, we showed you a preview of the new Sphynx razor for women. Marianne Mychaskiw, assistant beauty editor at InStyle, has now tried it out, and reports:

I wasn’t traveling anywhere and have failed at hitting the gym since before the holidays, but decided to take the Sphynx on a spin from my couch during a routine viewing of Romy & Michele’s High School Reunion. I began by misting the entirety of my lower leg with water, then worked the soap, which contains all-natural ingredients, over the top to form a lather. The product designers kind of thought of everything: a series of seven holes along either side of the device help the interior to completely dry, and the flat edge along the bottom allows the razor to sit straight up on the bathroom counter. Once you get used to the feeling of holding a rounded razor in your hand, it’s pretty much smooth sailing (pun intended) from there. Coming from the slim shape of the Venus razor, I had a little trouble with this part — and have the battle wound to prove it — but got the hang of it within a few minutes.

Conclusion: on par with similar products, with an edge (pun intended) in convenience. But:

Make sure to rotate the interior to either the soap or water spritzer before closing it with the cap. I failed to do this, and almost hurt myself when uncapping the product to find I accidentally left it twisted on the blade attachment. Do not be like me.

So noted. I admit that I can’t really imagine, say, Taylor Swift dealing with one of these contraptions, but then she’s covered for forty mil if something goes wrong.

Addendum: And something occasionally does, though in this case it’s the cat’s fault.

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New frontiers in customer service

The second of two emails received from meh.com:

Meh here again, about that mistake we made with your order. You bought the two-pack of Eveready Compact LED Area Lights we offered on February 23 and we sent you an Insteon Wireless IP Camera instead. Uh, yeah, sorry about that.

As we said, we’ll be sending out the lamps today.

Now, we hate to lay this hassle on you. But about that camera, well, we need your help in correcting our expensive screwup. If you could do us one of these two favors, you’d really be hauling our fat out of the fire:

1) Return the camera to us, at our expense, of course. We’re still working out a way to minimize the effort required on your part but it should consist of a link to a shipping label that you’ll print out, slap on the box and throw it back in the mailbox with the flag up. We’ll let you know more later this week.

2) Buy the camera, which we’ll sell to you at a punitive discount to teach ourselves a lesson. We hope that by taking our lumps and offering the Insteon wireless video camera for $20 instead of the $34 we sold it for before, you or someone you know can find a silver lining in this mess. If you’re interested, go here to make it official: [link redacted]

Believe us, we weren’t trying to win some award for the world’s dumbest viral marketing campaign, although if we were, this would certainly be in the running. We’re chalking it up to a very costly lesson on the difference between one camera and two lamps.

Stay tuned and stay mediocre –

According to their price check as of the date offered (17 February), one of these cameras sells for $68.99 at Amazon. And it’s mine now.

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Sherawat’s news

With Mallika Sherawat, there’s always something going on besides the fact that, well, she looks like Mallika Sherawat:

Mallika Sherawat promo picture

Worthy wallpaper, yes. But she’s embroiled in yet another scandal:

In rare consonance, lawmakers in Rajasthan have come together across party lines to demand a ban on a Bollywood film called Dirty Politics. Its poster features actress Mallika Sherawat, in very few clothes, sitting in front of the Rajasthan Vidhan Sabha or assembly building.

On the poster, Ms Sherawat strikes a bold pose atop an ambassador car with a red beacon, much like government vehicles used by politicians and bureaucrats.

The lawmakers say the poster attacks the dignity of the House. Raising the issue in the assembly today, Congress leader Rameshwar Dudi said, “The picture of the Vidhan Sabha behind Mallika Sherawat is wrong and in bad taste.”

The offending image:

Dirty Politics poster featuring Mallika Sherawat

The Patna High Court had, in fact, banned the film, though the ban was lifted the next day:

Patna High Court had banned the release of Dirty Politics due to some objectionable scenes in the film. As a government lawyer reported, the court heard a petition that sough a ban on the release of the film. The petitioner had informed the court that the film shows Mallika Sherawat draped in the national flag of India, hence disrespecting the flag. Following this, a division bench at the court then ordered the authorities to stop the release of the movie until the objectionable were removed from it. The court had issued a notice to Central Board of Film Certification on this matter.

Which image was, of course, adapted for the poster. Nonetheless, the film was released Friday with Certificate A, for adults only, including a song titled “Ghaghara,” the video of which looks like this:

No word yet on a Stateside release.

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Continuing uncoverage

General Motors is cutting back on some new-car warranties:

Instead of GM’s five-year or 100,000-mile powertrain coverage on Chevrolet and GMC vehicles, the company will now offer either five years or 60,000 [miles] starting with 2016 models, reports the Wall Street Journal.

GM’s two-year free maintenance program including oil changes and tire rotations on the house will now be limited to two service visits instead of four, with changes going into effect for 2016 model year Chevrolet, Buick and GMC vehicles.

The basic warranty — the one that covers most of your non-powertrain items — will apparently remain unchanged at three years/36,000 miles.

The General explains:

“We talked to our customers and learned that free scheduled maintenance and warranty coverage don’t rank high as a reason to purchase a vehicle among buyers of nonluxury brands,” the company said in a statement. “We will reinvest the savings we will realize into other retail programs that our customers have told us they value more than these.”

That giggling you hear is the reaction of your nearest Hyundai and/or Kia dealer.

GM’s ostensible luxury brand, Cadillac, has a four-year/50,000-mile basic warranty; the 5/100 package was changed to 6/70 starting in model year 2013.

For what it’s worth, the basic Bugatti Veyron warranty is for two years, though the Super Sport variant bumped it up to three. Not that it matters, of course, since the entire production run has now been sold, and I doubt any of the 450 buyers were overly concerned with warranty issues.

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Not entirely toothless

And yet another starting lineup tonight: Serge Ibaka complained, though probably not loudly, of a sore knee, giving Mitch McGary a chance, and Kyle Singler was swapped out for Dion Waiters. (If Scott Brooks has learned anything during this annus horribilis, it’s how to mix up the rotation.) Weirdly, Singler seems to score more as a reserve, and in these Durantless days, we had the unusual sensation of four Thunder starters in double figures. (No, not Roberson. Get real.) The Timberwolves, on the other hand, were more or less intact, though Ricky Rubio tweaked his ankle in the second half and did not return, and Kevin Garnett did not appear at all. And through the third quarter, the Wolves made a game of it. Came the fourth quarter, and the Thunder woke up from dreaming about Chicago on Sunday; Russell Westbrook, who’d had a so-so night, scored 15 in the fourth after 14 in the first three, not to mention 12 assists and 10 rebounds. (Can you say “triple-double”? Sure you can.) Waiters and McGary picked up 12 points each, and Enes Kanter had a stirring 23 points and 15 rebounds. The final was 113-99, with the last three OKC points coming from the recently appendixless Steve Novak; it’s 3-0 for the Thunder over the Wolves this season.

Still, some of those Wolves did some pretty remarkable things. Hotly hyped rookie forward Andrew Wiggins lived up to his billing, collecting 19 points, more than half of them from the foul line. Sophomore center Gorgui Dieng hauled in 14 rebounds while scoring 21. And Kevin Martin was in decent form, knocking down 14. The Minnesota reserves came up with 30 points, 17 of which came from Justin Hamilton. And we do have to play these guys once more this season: in the finale on the 15th of April, a date which will live in infamy for other reasons.

But Sunday, there’s Chicago at high noon, and you can’t get much more ominous than that, unless you have to get on the plane to Dallas right afterwards, which the Thunder do. Dallas, for its part, spent this evening stomping the Clippers.

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Quote of the week

An observation by incurable romantic Jack Baruth:

Being a woman, as far as I can tell, is like walking around Chicago at night wearing a 10-ounce Credit Suisse gold bar on a necklace. Some of the people you will meet will want to buy your bar from you at a fair price. Others will want a bargain. Still others want it for free. Last and worst, you have the people who will simply take it from you through measures ranging from misdirection to naked force. Ask yourself how long you could last under pressure like that, then you’ll have some sympathy of your own. It’s a remarkable gift to be unwanted in this world, to go about your business alone and unremarked-upon. Women, particularly women, don’t get that gift. They have only pressure to yield, mighty and unrelenting as the column of dark water above the Challenger Deep, until the moment that they lose their looks and become utterly invisible to everyone.

In these times, this is perhaps the only meaningful example of so-called “male privilege” from which we are likely to benefit more than theoretically: we can be ignored. I’m thinking maybe I should appreciate it more.

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Spots unchanged

Germans, like Americans, are currently dealing with an epidemic of measles, and most of them, like most of us, know where it comes from. There are, of course, exceptions:

A German biologist who offered €100,000 to anyone who could prove that measles is a virus has been ordered by a court to pay up.

Stefan Lanka, who believes the illness is psychosomatic, made the pledge four years ago on his website. The reward was later claimed by German doctor David Barden, who gathered evidence from various medical studies. Mr Lanka dismissed the findings. But the court in the town of Ravensburg ruled that the proof was sufficient.

Lanka paid up, but he’s sticking to his guns:

“It is a psychosomatic illness,” he told regional paper Suedkurier. “People become ill after traumatic separations.”

I’d become ill after being separated from a hundred grand, though I’m pretty sure whatever illness I’d contracted would not be contagious — unlike measles.

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Truly madly deep

Oklahoma City has received 13.6 inches of snow this winter, about 60 percent above normal; it’s been a pain in the neck, and a few other joints for us arthritic types, but to anyone in the Midwest or New England or the Rockies, any complaints from this quarter are risible at best.

Then again, even they can be trumped:

Snow news is good news, unless you live in Capracotta. The Italian village may have just set a record for the most snow ever to fall in 24 hours.

A storm on March 5 dumped just over 100.8 inches (or 8 feet, 4 inches) of snow there in 18 hours, reports the Italian weather website Meteoweb. The snowfall inundated the city and left some in the region without power and water.

What’s most remarkable about this, to me anyway, is that Capracotta (“cooked goat”) is nowhere near the mountains of northern Italy, but down south — albeit at an elevation of 4600 feet. About a thousand people live there.

The record is (of course) pending verification.

And if I feel like grumbling about our piddling 8-inch annual average, I can always direct my attention to Wolf Creek Pass in Colorado, which averages 500 inches or so and once hit 838, um, about 60 percent above normal.

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Despamination

I’ve mentioned before that in the 1980s I was a customer of MCI Mail, one of the commercial email pioneers. (Actually, I was two customers of MCI Mail, with an account for myself and another for a pseudonym.) And at half a buck for each message, plus $35 a year for a mailbox, spamming was too expensive to undertake.

I don’t know if Warren Meyer was ever on MCI Mail, but he’s been pointing out the same sort of thing for many years:

Long ago I proposed that (and I am not sure how to do this technically) emails should cost $0.001, or a tenth of a cent, to send. For you and I, say if we sent 200 emails a day (an email copied to 5 people would be 5 emails for this purpose) it would cost us 20 cents a day or about $75 a year, not much more than we pay for security software and updates. But if you could make it work, spam would be reduced drastically. No way there is any profit in sending an email for $.001 for an expected return of $.0002.

Now Meyer runs a business, so you may safely assume he sends a lot more email than I do; in fact, my Sent Items folder contains 9,000 items — but it goes back to 1997. By this time, I’d left MCI, else I’d have been out several thousand dollars before they folded the system in 2003.

The key, of course, is “if you could make it work”:

I have no idea in the current structure of the Internet how one would even do this. The charge would have to come from the receiving end, somehow refusing to deliver it if it does not get payment information.

I’d guess that the receiving end would have to subscribe to some sort of service to intercept incoming mail, and presumably there’d be some sort of feature with which you could whitelist friends and (some) relatives. So this scheme would likely not put any money in your pocket — but the idea of putting spammers out of business remains high on my list of desiderata.

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Beyond documentation

A story in the form of a comment:

I don’t doubt that in the least.

(With thanks to @SwiftOnSecurity.)

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Gleaming, sinuous curvature

There are, admittedly, stories hung on flimsier premises than this:

Christie Aackerlund doesn’t need help with anything. So when the world’s biggest technology company offers to fly her to a remote location and investigate an alien artifact, all by herself, she’s all like “I’ll do it!” But the artifact isn’t what it seems, and soon an overly helpful giant living paperclip is getting her all bent out of shape.

Yes, children, it’s smutty Clippy fanfic, and it’s a mere $2.99 for your hungry, gasping Kindle. Author Leonard Delaney has also written Taken by the Tetris Blocks.

(Via Daily Pundit.)

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Don’t read the side panel

On processed foods, that’s usually where they put the ingredient list, and you probably don’t want to read the ingredient list, at least not before dinner:

I’ve started checking ingredient labels, looking for the evil polysorbate 80. I heated up a frozen Red Baron Pepperoni Pizza for lunch and there was ingredient list was printed on the side, but it may as well have been a written in hieroglyphics. I wasn’t going to try and puzzle it out, so I pulled one off of their website. It’s fairly horrendous, but it doesn’t appear to contain any of the dreaded emulsifiers and certainly no polysorbate 80.

It did contain (under “dough conditioner”) something called L-cysteine hydrochloride, about which you might want to know:

Cysteine is required by sheep to produce wool: It is an essential amino acid that must be taken in from their feed. As a consequence, during drought conditions, sheep produce less wool; however, transgenic sheep that can make their own cysteine have been developed.

Reminds me of the flap over the common ingredient in yoga mats and McRibs.

As for the dreaded polysorbate 80, well, there’s always 20, 40, 60 and 65.

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Ground round

Michael Cage: “This game will come down to who can make shots.” Um, yeah, Mike, thanks for that. Nobody was making shots in that dreadful 17-15 first quarter, even with yet another Thunder starting lineup: Westbrook, Roberson, Waiters, Kanter, Adams. There was more motion in the second, which ended at a 47-47 tie; it was 75-70 Thunder after three, but the Bulls scored the first five points in the fourth, so it was back to the teeter-totter, as radio guy Matt Pinto might say. With 1:12 left, it was OKC 99, Chicago 95; with 0:22 left, 106-97; Nikola Mirotić knocked down three free throws to bring the Bulls up to 100, and then Something Weird: Russell Westbrook hit a free throw, missed the second, got his own rebound — and was fouled. Westbrook duly knocked down two more, and that was the end of it: 109-100, a split in the season series, and one game closer (for now) to the playoffs.

As they were the last time these two clubs met, two of the Bull reserves caused major grief: Mirotić, with a game-high 27, and E’Twaun Moore, with 11, only the second game for Moore this year in which he scored in double figures. (The first was against, yes, OKC.) It was evident early on that Enes Kanter really couldn’t guard Pau Gasol; then again, Gasol wasn’t defending Kanter especially well either. Gasol finished with 20 points and eight rebounds; Kanter had 18 points and 18 boards. The Bulls were basically obliterated on the boards, 52-33; what kept them in the game was the Thunder getting turnover-happy (17, versus only 11 for Chicago).

Starting Adams and Kanter together, made possible by Serge Ibaka’s bad knee, made for a fearsome front, and Adams too picked up a double-double — 14 points, 11 rebounds — before fouling out with about two minutes left. Dion Waiters, D. J. Augustin and Anthony Morrow contributed 11 points each to the cause, and there was another scary-looking Russell Westbrook line: 36-11-6. Russ hadn’t shot well — 12-27, 2-6 from outside — but it turned out to be well enough, and he still draws fouls in mass quantities.

The homestand ends here at 3-1; it’s off to Dallas tomorrow night. The Mavs, darn them, have tonight off.

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Thirty years of DNS

And here’s where it began:

Disclosure: I did not acquire my first domain until 1999. (Now we are six.)

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Maybe a single Rah

The latest addition to the Girl Scout Edible Addiction Cookie line is Rah-Rah Raisins, described as “Hearty oatmeal cookies with plump raisins and Greek yogurt-flavored chunks.” While I remain loyal to my usual choices — and when are you girls gonna come up with some Thick Mints? — I figured the least I could do is sample the new ware.

And it’s okay, if a trifle uninspiring. I was expecting a bit more contrast between the raisin and yogurt bits, and the oatmeal base suggests something more chewy than crunchy, but it’s certainly a different approach to an otherwise-overworked theme, and they do manage to get fourteen of the little discs, two inches in diameter and 3/8 inch thick, into the six-ounce box, which might be enough to discourage you from polishing off the entire box at a single setting, a problem I have pretty much always had with the traditional shortbread trefoils.

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