Archive for July 2015

Not from Federation stock

Flip phone chassis designed to look like a Star Trek communicatorThe argument for the flip phone, of late, has been pretty much limited to “Hey, they were good enough for Star Trek, weren’t they?” Well, things just got a little bit more complicated:

Structured-light 3D scanning allowed the Wand Company to ensure that every line and curve of the original communicator was perfectly captured. And while the Wand Company’s latest product won’t be able to call a starship orbiting the planet, it will pair with Bluetooth-enabled mobile phones to answer calls with a flick of the classic antenna grille.

The Communicator will include a sleek stand, using an invisible magnetic catch to hold the Communicator securely in place. It also has a built-in wireless charging capability, so that the Communicator will always be fully charged and ready for use.

Diecast metal, stamped and machined aluminum, specially made microphone and antenna grilles and a painstakingly reproduced housing texture further ensure that the Communicator is a serious prop that will delight collectors.

“Serious prop.” I like that. It’s not really a phone itself, of course, but it will let you talk to one.

The Star Trek Web site is taking preorders at $149.95. The Wand Company has already begun producing phasers, kinda sorta.

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Don’t want to rush things

For the most part, I can support this decree:

When I become King of the World, Arbiter of Good Taste, and Prince of Land and Sea I shall decree that the Monday following a long holiday or vacation shall be a shortened work day, six hours instead of eight, so that one can ease back into the turmoil.

Just one question: are we chopping those two hours off the beginning of the day, or off the end? (Or are we trimming one hour on each side?)

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Give ’em enough grope

TTAC head honcho Mark Stevenson reviews the V6 version of the Dodge Charger, and in so doing contrasts it with another largish sedan with sporting pretensions: Nissan’s Maxima. One particular data point that wounds me to the quick:

If you are looking for a driver-oriented cockpit, the Maxima wins this round as well, with an interior feeling very similar to the [Cadillac] CTS Vsport in the way it encapsulates you. The Charger is much more open up front and lets you put your hand on the leg of the lady next to you.

I am required to point out here that (1) my current ride is basically a three-generations-ago Maxima and (2) if the passenger seat is occupied, my hand does not stray east of the shift lever. Which is not to say that I’ve never thought about it.

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Altitude adjustments

Most of the time, what I wear to work doesn’t have a collar to speak of, as most six for [sale price] T-shirts don’t, but it’s always understood, at least by me, that if I did have a collar, it would be blue: I may have a tech job of at least moderate complexity, but I don’t sit around and watch things happen either.

This particular ethic seems to have settled fairly well upon the next generation as well, and that’s good, because I couldn’t pull off that whole helicopter thing:

Those who inhabit the affluent uplands of 21st-century America have problems the rest of us cannot imagine. When you’re near the top of the mountain, it’s a long way down, and there are limits to what elite parents can do to prevent their child from suffering the stigma of downward mobility. Money can buy a lot of things, but money alone will not inoculate your child against failure, especially if your idea of “success” requires your kid to have perfect grades, be senior class president, win the state science fair, be solo violinist in the school orchestra, and spend her summers helping famine victims in a Third World country. This results in an over-scheduled childhood, with parents in the role of Doctor Frankenstein and their child as a sort of laboratory experiment to produce the future Harvard student.

It’s probably just as well, then, that I applied to only one of the Ivies, and subsequently did not attend it.

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Make me a match, already

Does this need explanation?

To quote the guy (29, Harvard Biz grad):

[I]f you work 12 hours/day, how would you want to spend the few waking hours you have left? Probably not standing around in a bar with your fingers crossed. This is way more fun for me.

If the relationship holds up for six months, he writes the check. I, for one, wonder how anyone can have anything resembling a relationship with a person who works twelve hours a day for a few weeks, let alone half a year.

Disclosure: I work about 9.5 hours a day.

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Now post me a sandwich

The only way this could be better would be if you could actually download a grilled-cheese sandwich:

Cheese Posties is a new initiative by the folks behind hot sauce subscription service Lick My Dip.

In other news, there exists a hot-sauce subscription service.

The idea is pretty straightforward: you subscribe and they send you a toastie every week. Well, the ingredients for a toastie. You do obviously have to toast it yourself. I’m pointing this out because some very pedantic killjoys have repeatedly made the point that a toastie isn’t a toastie unless it’s toasted, and therefore they’re “posting you a sandwich.” I think these people need to find some love in their lives.

You don’t need a grill or a George Foreman to toast your toastie, because it comes with its own toaster bag. All the ingredients arrive in a letterbox-sized package, safely separated up so you can construct your toastie the way you like it.

Our author samples the wares:

Varieties, you ask?

Other recipes include Chocolate Cheesecake (cream cheese and Nutella), Mascarpone & Biscuit Butter, Blue Stilton & Raspberry, Balsamic Blueberry & Cream Cheese and Gouda & Tigernut Relish (no, I don’t know what that is either).

On reading the recipe list, I noticed a distinct lack of the world’s best cheese — halloumi — and asked the question. They assured me that a Halloumi & Honey variant is in the pipeline. Praise cheesus.

Admittedly, this is a bit lower-tech than, say, faxing a beer, but it has its charms.

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What do you got?

Jon Bon Jovi was asking this a few years back, and it occurs to me that the question probably ought to be asked of subscribers to streaming-music services:

Even as recently as five years ago, people would have had quite a bit of music stored on some device that they carried with them. I have a tiny little iPod Shuffle that I can clip to my sleeve when I work out that will play music long past the point I have fallen face-first into the treadmill. And thank you for asking, but that statement does actually imply an amount of time measured in more than minutes. But since streaming the music is easier, people don’t bother to stop and store it, especially when the process is kind of complicated.

I have spoken before of my SanDisk/Sansa ClipZip, its four gigabytes swollen to 36 and its operating system replaced by something entirely different. It contains 5,000 or so tracks specially selected by — well, by me, actually, from the several collections I maintain. Then again, I’ve been storing music for, literally, fifty years, so I’m used to the concept. Not so some of your young streamers, which fact accrues to the benefit of the services themselves:

They do much better financially when people link up to them every time they want to hear a song and they get no new money if someone listens to that same song held instead in a file on a device’s own data storage.

Then again, how many streams will it take to bring in ninety cents — 70 percent of a $1.29 single at the iTunes Store, once Apple takes its cut — in revenue? Maybe I’ll have to ask Jon about that.

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They spent big

The National Basketball Association has announced the winners of the Most Overpriced Roster award:

Remember when people said Thunder management was cheap? And now they’re faced with either matching a maximum offer (four years/$70 million) for Enes Kanter, which will put them deep into Taxland next year, or letting him walk to Portland.

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Captain Obvious drops me a line

Fake PayPal email is so common I barely notice the real PayPal email. And if they’re going to use subject lines like this, it’s just as well:

Balance Notification: You have funds in your PayPal account.

Well, duh. That’s what it’s for, you knuckleheads. I assume you’re wanting me to go forth and spend more, but hey, that’s not your call — unless, of course, I don’t have funds.

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Bless you, Ottawa

Hmmm. Maybe I need an “Entirely Too Warm” category. Or, you know, not:

A coffee cup from the Great White North

(Handed down through the years from Todd Wilbur’s Facebook page. Probability of Photoshop: greater than 50 percent.)

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Déjà entendu

What, another 13-year-old singer with an implausibly catchy tune? Absolutely:

Hala Al Turk lives in Bahrain. When she was nine she appeared on Arabs Got Talent, though she’d been singing in public for a couple of years already. Signed to Dubai’s Platinum Records, she’s recorded lots of stuff, though “Live in the Moment,” released earlier this year, has proven to be her biggest hit.

How did I find this? Watching Rebecca Black’s “Sing It,” I glided briefly down the comments — I know, I know, you never read the comments — and saw someone’s remark to the effect that Black, then fourteen, looked like the adult version of Hala Al Turk. Which, you know, she does, kinda sorta.

And to what does Hala aspire? According to Wikipedia, she wants to be a dentist.

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As Friday comes around again

There is actual news on the Rebecca Black front:

This will be their second collaboration. (The first, a nice acoustic reworking of Miley Cyrus’ “We Can’t Stop,” came out two years ago.)

Oh, and there’s this:

Um, no.

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I haz had Cheezburger

And now, says Ben Huh, someone else can haz it:

After 8 incredible years, I am stepping down from being CEO of Cheezburger today.

I will remain a Board member. Cheezburger’s President and COO, Scott Moore will step in to the CEO role with my full support. Scott has proven to be a skilled operator and a steadfast leader. He has taught me a lot about being strategic, decisive, and positive. He has taught me that I have much to learn, and I am grateful for his dedication to Cheezburger. I will miss working with him daily.

Not that he regrets a minute of lolcattitude:

Cheezburger gave rise to a new category of content, a new industry of global reach, and as some would call it: the downfall of civilization. I say, ‾\_(ツ)_/‾ bring it on, because it looks like a lot of fun.

See ya, Ben.

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Shades being thrown

This perplexes me for several reasons:

A recent study by iSeeCars.com shows men prefer brighter, bolder car colors — orange, brown and yellow — compared to women, who preferred more neutral colors such as gold, silver and beige. The study analyzed more than 25 million used cars and 200,000 shoppers.

Orange was the big polarizer for 2014; men were 25 percent more likely to pick that color than women. Last year’s popular picks for men, red and black, fell out of the top three this year in favor of brown and yellow.

Women’s picks of gold, silver and beige may have more to do with the segment in which females traditionally shop. iSeeCars said men’s interest in muscle cars can help explain the palette preferences.

In other news, brown is now considered bright and/or bold.

I might believe the muscle-car reference in connection with the Dodge Challenger, which can be had in Atomic Puke Green and a little bit of the ultra-violet, but I don’t think I’ll go any farther with that, except to remind you of Bark M.’s Boss Mustang in Screaming Yellow Zonker.

As close as I got to brown was my second Mazda 626 in Mojave Beige Mica, a color I never quite understood: I have crossed the Mojave, more than once, and none of it looked particularly beige. I did, however, like the butterscotch-pudding interior, especially since the only alternative being offered by Mazda was cheese-mold grey. (Infiniti calls it “dark taupe” or something.)

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Prison 2.0

And I told myself, “This is not my beautiful house!” And it wasn’t. Oh, it looked about the same, but things were just somehow out of place. Worst of all, my beautiful daughter, all of six, suddenly seemed to be about fourteen, without changing size or appearance: she just had Different Concerns all of a sudden. Then she went away for a while, and I poked into corners. Stuff I’d forgotten began to appear, but it wasn’t the way I’d originally remembered it: posters the wrong color, address books full of people I did not know.

What used to be the corner I rounded to exit to the garage had somehow turned into a work area, and Eric Holder was waiting behind it. “Ah, you have completed your disorientation.”

“Did anyone ever tell you you look exactly like Eric Holder?”

“Like who?” He proffered a questionnaire. “Answer these to the best of your ability.”

All the questions were absurdly simple, so it seemed impossible to me that I’d come up with a failing score. “One last test,” said Holder-who-wasn’t. “Which of these two names identifies your father?”

I looked. The second one was closer to correct, though the middle initial was wrong. A couple of holograms appeared beside me, and the one resembling Dad said, “The name is Miller.”

Of course it wasn’t Miller, and never had been. Didn’t matter, apparently. I was given a list of Expected Punishments, and then a young woman in uniform, sort of a three-quarter-scale Rebel Wilson with a permanent scowl, escorted me through the door to God knows what.

There were several way-stations in this weird new environment, one of which was apparently intended to test my susceptibility to food allergies. All the stuff they were passing off as “food” was some sort of tofu in geometric shapes; some of it looked like Tetris pieces. I rounded a corner, was handed what appeared to be a shaving kit and a shower cap, and did what I could in the way of ablutions before a second escort came to take me to the Sleeping Room.

They assigned me a space on the 48th row, out of a possible 49. On offer: something resembling a hospital gown, more food-like substances, and a length of twine. Apparently if I were to drop anything, I would have to lasso it back into my possession. A couple of loud, boisterous guys in business suits took up a position just to my east and began to trade stories about whatever business they were in; the management made a perfunctory attempt to remove them, then apparently gave up. A very tall teenager — think Jeremy from Zits — engaged them in conversation. I concluded that these people were placed there deliberately, to remind us of what was taken away. And after a couple of slices of scarlet-colored sponge, I retired for the night.

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One weird trick to boost your traffic

The title says it all: “Generate SEO Friendly Blog Post Titles & Kill Writer’s Block.” Push a button, and wallah, there’s a title idea!

Regular readers will note that I have never, ever stooped to such tactics. (Except, of course, here.)

(Via Sheri, who observes: “So this is why everything looks the same.” Yep.)

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Too lazy to cut and paste

Even the plagiarists are becoming indolent:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: Is there a website online that will summarize text for free and make it like its in my own words?

Not only must it do the rewrite job for him, but it must do it for free. A three-toed sloth is Usain Bolt next to this clod.

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Oh, Denise, ooby-doo

Hmmm. Who’s this getting out of the Benz?

Denise Richards exits a Mercedes

Wait a moment…

Denise Richards exits a Mercedes

Why, it’s Denise Richards, from whom we haven’t heard a whole lot lately. She had a substantial role in Twisted, which ran for 19 episodes on ABC Family but was not renewed for 2014-15. Won’t keep her from her yoga class, though.

About thirty years ago, she was featured in a music video. The Swiss duo Double — which, incidentally, is pronounced “DOO-blay” — made this perfectly wonderful song in 1986 called “The Captain of Her Heart.” The video, which featured the two members plus the occasional glimpse of a sideman, was apparently deemed insufficiently interesting to American audiences, and so an Official US Version was shot:

Denise was fifteen at the time, if the math works out correctly, and why shouldn’t it?

(Title courtesy of Randy and the Rainbows.)

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Quote of the week

“Equality”? Forget that, Jack:

The Socialist State gives all power to the government, and therefore cuts much deeper than any other government, in practice, the chasm between the governor and the governed. In every society there is the public official and the private citizen. But the number of things that the public official can do is increased and not diminished by the collectivist change. In short there can not be political equality, even if there is economic equality. Even if we have abolished aristocracy and plutocracy, there can still be bureaucracy; and perhaps a particularly bullying bureaucracy.

Once again, devastating clarity from G. K. Chesterton’s crystal ball. This piece from New Witness originally appeared on 23 December 1921.

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A glimpse of the inevitable

Everybody, it seems, knows someone who’s bilingual, though it’s usually not ourselves. (I have fumbled through Spanish, French and Turkish, but I’m nowhere near fluent in any of them.) Demographics will alter the landscape, as it always does, but I didn’t really expect it to go this way:

Most Floridians support a Spanish language requirement for all public school students in Florida, according to a newly released survey.

The results show that 67 percent support requiring students in Florida to take Spanish, which came as a surprise to researchers at the Bureau of Economic Business Research at the University of Florida, which conducted the survey.

Admission to any of Florida’s state colleges and universities requires two consecutive years of some foreign language; it is not clear whether this policy would be amended if this mandate were imposed.

Being bilingual has cognitive and learning benefits, especially in young children, and it postpones the onset of dementia by two years in older people, according to Canadian researcher Ellen Bialystok.

Ahora usted me dice.

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So far, so correct

Keep in mind, I haven’t seen version 10 yet.

Evolution of Windows

(Via 9GAG.com.)

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Worst seat in the house

About three years ago, Airbus floated the idea of offering airlines a choice between narrow and really narrow seats. (The merely narrow seats were dubbed “XL,” which proves that even sadists have a sense of humor.)

But this obviously wasn’t enough passenger discomfort, so — well, here’s the Telegraph story: “New plane cabin could force passengers to make eye contact.” Seriously:

A new in-flight seating plan aims to make better use of cabin space — but would see passengers forced to face one another during a flight.

Zodiac Airbus seat arrangement proposal

The designs, proposed by Zodiac Seats France, the airline industry supplier, feature alternating forward and backward facing seats placed side by side.

What could possibly be worse? How about this Airbus scheme from last summer?

Airbus flying donut seat arrangement proposal

Fausta knows where this design came from, though:

Rather than donuts, Airbus is finding inspiration in Dante, which Dante surely would add as the 10th circle were he alive today.

At least it’s temporary; it only seems eternal.

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For you, a ray of sunshine

For the disciples of Al Gore, it’s Gloomy Sunday indeed:

Among climate activists, gloom is building. Jim Driscoll of the National Institute for Peer Support just finished a study of a group of longtime activists whose most frequently reported feeling was sadness, followed by fear and anger. Dr. Lise Van Susteren, a practicing psychiatrist and graduate of Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth slide-show training, calls this “pretraumatic” stress. “So many of us are exhibiting all the signs and symptoms of posttraumatic disorder — the anger, the panic, the obsessive intrusive thoughts.”

How much sympathy have I for these mountebanks? Somewhere below the Maunder Minimum.

(Via Steven Hayward at Power Line.)

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Why we look forward to the weekend

When there’s a new episode of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, there’s a manic Fark thread to discuss it, and inevitably thread drift is measured on the tidal scale. This week’s thread produced an utterly irrelevant but sort of amusing graphic, of Lyra Heartstrings sitting in the back seat:

Lyra Heartstrings as Rebecca Black

Which proves, I suppose, that it’s possible to get down on Saturday, if you get up early enough.

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Strange search-engine queries (493)

This feature will be ten years old next month, and well, if it’s still acting like a nine-year-old, well, that’s what happens, right?

kudzu garnish:  It’s true. You default on a payment and they take away a portion of your kudzu until it’s paid.

monothelithic dumbhead:  Well, at least they’re not polythelithic, whatever the heck that means.

ariana grande having sex:  I’m pretty sure this sort of thing is not approved by Dunkin’ Donuts.

ari works at a train station. he notices that more people carry briefcases on wednesday than on sunday. he thinks that maybe this is because more people commute during the week. what should he do next?  He should quit watching briefcases and get his fat ass back to work.

when you find extra fries in the bottom of the bag:  You eat them and you don’t say a word about it to anyone.

reasonable psychic guidance cockeysville:  For instance, “Someday soon you will leave Baltimore County.”

business advisor to walk me through the merger process nueces county tx:  Who the heck would want to merge with you?

i need a business advisor to walk me through the merger process denver co:  Ever think about Corpus Christi, Texas?

my gummy bear dies my unicorn ran away:  And your job moved to Corpus Christi, Texas. This just isn’t your day.

barely-melted capacitor:  You can always wait until it melts completely, but it’s better to replace it now.

oversized male genitalia disorder:  Are you bragging or complaining?

i almost flew ass first into the screen at webcam jackers tube:  Perhaps they can pull you out by your “oversized male genitalia.”

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Weirdest donor just now

GoFundMe has raised its maximum donation by a factor of three and then some. Why? Two words: “Taylor Swift.” Behold:

On July 7th, a young girl battling cancer named Naomi got a huge surprise when her favorite singer, Taylor Swift, donated $50,000 to her GoFundMe campaign. Naomi and her family were understandably surprised and grateful for such a generous gift.

“Taylor Swift’s donation was so generous that it required us to increase the donation limit on the platform,” said Rob Solomon, GoFundMe CEO. GoFundMe’s previous donation limit was set at $15,000, but has now been increased to $50,000. There are never any limits on how much a campaign can raise.

There’s a cancer named Naomi? And they say I need an editor. (“You do.”–ed.)

You might look at this and think “Yeah, Tay just crashed their site and offered to make up for it.” Nope:

Including gifts to other campaigns, Taylor Swift has given more than any other donor in GoFundMe history.

I fully expect the next rocket to Mars to have her name on it.

(Via TSwiftDaily.)

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Because boys don’t diet

The Coca-Cola Company says so:

I think I’ll take another swig of Dr Pepper.

[gulp]

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So quotidian

This was the tweet as I read it:

Thence to Pinterest, which put up the usual “Sign up if you expect to see this,” but not before I’d tabbed over to Nordstrom.com, where I found this:

Georgia by MICHAEL Michael Kors

This is “Georgia,” from the MICHAEL line of Michael Kors, and it’s on sale to Nordstrom customers before the store’s anniversary sale starting the 17th. And maybe it’s just a little glittery for everyday, but perhaps there are nights for which nothing else will do. “Georgia” stands four inches tall on a half-inch platform, and there’s a bit more peep than the average peep-toe, which may or may not be a good thing. $150 later; $100 during the current sale.

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Friendlier skies

Flying somewhere used to Not Suck. Really, it did:

Airport (the 1970 movie) portrayed air travel as it was back then; glamorous, bordering on exotic … a thing the hoi polloi could only dream of doing. Okay, put aside the part where the crazy guy exploded a bomb on the plane; that’s not my point. Back then, stewardii were all hot babes, your knees were not serving as backstops for the seat back in front of you, your seatmate was not wearing a Dumb and Dumber tanktop, carrying on luggage was considered tres gauche, and you were served food, on plates with silverware no less. As everyone knows, it’s not like that anymore.

I always spelled it “stewardae,” but then I was somewhat perverse in that era, and besides, I never actually got on a plane until 1972. After that, though, I logged some ridiculous number of miles in the next three years. (Somewhere in the low five digits, anyway.)

Airlines have become the Greyhound bus of the 21st century … and I am not saying that in a pejorative way. Yes, the relative luxury of air travel 40 years ago is gone and we can bemoan that. However, air travel today is fast, relatively inexpensive, and reasonably convenient. The price we have paid is being packed in so tightly with our fellow passengers that, if we were pigs headed for the slaughter house, there would be animal cruelty ordinances to prevent it. The animal analogy is a good one and, again, I am not being pejorative. Realistically, the only way airlines can move millions of people and their stuff around every day is to treat them like cattle. It works.

And we get farther from free-range every day.

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Success through failure

The Z Man reminds us that we’ve seen this sort of thing before:

Failing up is so common today it feels like it is new, but it has been a feature of the human condition for a long time. Alcibiades is a guy who would be comfortable in today’s culture of failing up. Instead of screwing up the invasion of Syracuse, he would have run a bank into the ground and then run for the Senate.

In prior ages, society could afford precious few of these sorts of people. Mistakes were simply too costly to tolerate having too many idiots in powerful positions. In the post scarcity world of today, it feels like we can tolerate an unlimited supply of losers, grifters and charlatans.

Carly Fiorina on a talk showCertainly we’re never going run short of such individuals — there are times when I think we’re breeding them deliberately — though I have to admit that I’m not quite sure exactly which of those three descriptors, or which combination thereof, he means to apply to Republican candidate Carly Fiorina:

A fair number of people who think of themselves as diehard conservatives are fans of Fiorina. She is polling in the single digits, but the GOP will find some reason to get her on the debate stage. The reason, of course, is she is a woman. To her credit she says the sorts of things you expect a Republican to say, which says a lot of about the state of the party, but the only thing that matters is she lacks a penis.

As distinguished from several Republicans of past and present who lacked testicles.

Looking ahead, then:

Fiorina is smart enough to know she is not winning the nomination. This is the long con and that means angling for the VP spot or maybe a cabinet position. She will get on the stage and look good in the debates. By spring of next year she will be out of the race and have a good idea as to who will win the nomination. She will make a big show of endorsing that person and campaigning on their behalf.

In 2017 she will be nominated as Secretary of HHS and she will do to health care what she did to Bell Labs.

Quite a shame, really. One of the things Fiorina has going for her is a record of firing people, something that doesn’t get done nearly often enough in Washington.

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Haircut 101

“Haircut,” in the financial-crisis sense, sounds cheery, especially when you consider the reality of the matter:

Haircut. It sounds so droll; you can imagine a sharp banker in a fine suit cocking an eyebrow and sighing about someone having to take a haircut, when the truth of the matter is someone dragged to a stump and made to put his head in the blood of the last guy they brought up on stage. Hold still, it’ll be easier for you. The correct metaphor would probably be “have several layers of skin removed by rubbing a hot brick all over the body,” but it would seem as if there’s something unfortunate going on.

Why, everyone has a haircut, eventually.

And with it, probate. Probably.

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Things to come, maybe

El Nuko celebrates the beginning of his tenth year behind a blog dashboard with a list of ten predictions, two of which I figured I ought to pass on:

  1. The huge NSA data collection center at St Louis will be totally breached, and all of the information will be released into the open. The US economy will be thrown into a deep depression as credit availability evaporates overnight due to lack of confidentiality.
  2. Obama will propose microchip implantation as the solution, which will be agreed to by both parties, with the exception of 2016 hopeful Mike Huckabee, who sees this as the “mark of the beast.”

Expect Mitch McConnell to offer token resistance at first, because that’s what he does best: token resistance.

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It’s all in the delivery

Deborah Mailman, forty-three today, was the first Aboriginal to win the Australian Film Institute (now Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts) Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role, for her 1998 performance in Radiance. (In 2015, she co-hosted the AACTA award show with Cate Blanchett.)

Deborah Mailman in a pose of sorts, 2012

Deborah Mailman on an unred carpet, 2013

And Mailman truly delivers: she’s been nominated five times for AACTA awards, and won every time.

Among her most notable TV work is Offspring, which ran five years on Network Ten and was cancelled, partially because the showrunners had new projects to work on, and partially because the show had run 65 episodes, meaning no further subsidies from Screen Australia.

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Amok timeline

Facebook’s Lord Zuckerberg will know who you are if it kills him. No, wait, not him. You:

Jemma Rogers, 30, a holistic therapist, from Lewisham, south-east London, set up a profile on the social network in 2008.

Wanting to avoid annoying friend requests from old friends and strangers, she created the profile under the pseudonym Jemmaroid Von Laalaa.

But last month she got a message from Facebook asking her to send identification to prove it was a genuine name and account.

It’s that “Von.” Makes her look like one of the nobility.

Confused but worried she’d be locked out, Jemma admits she desperately tried to photoshop her bank cards to prove that was her real name.

One day later, Jemma’s account was suspended and she couldn’t get in. She emailed Facebook explaining what she’d done and sent over her real ID — begging them to let her back in. But she was told they could not confirm her identity and her account was suspended.

In a desperate bid to get the profile back, she changed her name by deed poll and is now officially Ms Von Laalaa.

“Desperate” doesn’t even approach this level of, well, whatever the hell it is.

Von Laalaa has now obtained new credentials — driver’s license, credit cards — and Facebook subsequently relented. Since she’s, you know, all real and stuff.

Bayou Renaissance Man is suitably unimpressed:

Remind me never, ever to engage Ms. von Laalaa’s services as a “holistic therapist”. With so much stupid in the air, I might never recover!

I’d hate to have that much emotional webbing tying me to a social network. Especially that social network.

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It’s all about so much more

This song was never supposed to have been on Meghan Trainor’s album Title:

In fact, it was never supposed to have been a ballad, let alone a duet; Trainor reportedly conceived it as a reggae tune, possibly usable as a demo. Old friend Chris Gelbuda persuaded her to blow the dust off of it, and the two of them, playing all the instruments, assembled it into a workable track.

John Legend is involved because he and Trainor share management and record companies — he’s on Columbia, she’s on Epic — and once he heard it, he wanted to be part of it. In the time-honored Modern Duet style, neither of them was in the studio at the same time. But they sang it together at this year’s Billboard Music Awards, and somehow it was right.

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A slightly quieter crash

A lot of different things happen during a car crash, none of them good and several of them loud. Mercedes-Benz is trying to offset that noise:

When your ear hears a sudden loud noise, the acoustic reflex contracts the stapedius muscle in the middle ear to block out the sound, protecting the sensitive eardrums and other bits of the inner ear.

Mercedes has taken advantage of this in the E-Class, with a new feature called Pre-Safe Sound. When the car senses an imminent impact (using onboard cameras and ultrasonic sensors), the stereo plays a loud static-type noise around 85 decibels. It’s not so loud that it hurts, but it’s loud enough to trigger the acoustic reflex and protect the ear from the much louder sound of the accident that arrives a moment later.

This strikes me as eminently more useful than, for instance, the recent tendency of automakers to pipe engine noise into the cabin.

(Via The Truth About Cars.)

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I haven’t the Vegas idea

Our old friend Cripes Suzette is in Las Vegas, and as always, she’s determined to find out what’s going on:

I wondered what was in the “Intimacy Kit” on the minibar on this hotel room so I picked it up to see.

Feel free to see for yourself. There is, of course, a downside:

And now I’m going to have a $32.00 charge on my bill for moving it off the sensor.

Curiosity killed the Carte Blanche.

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It was a front she put up

A chorus and a verse of “Let It Go” for a Maryland politician who apparently can’t:

A Democratic state delegate in Maryland who is rumored to be considering a run for Congress was charged with trespassing and indecent exposure after exposing her breasts to her ex-husband and his fiancée at their home, according to court documents obtained by the Washington Post.

Del. Ariana Kelly was dropping off her children at their father’s home in Bethesda, Md. when she became enraged that her ex-husband’s fiancée was present.

Her ex, wisely, took pictures:

Barak Sanford captured video of the incident, which according to court documents revealed that Kelly exposed her breasts to the camera “with one breast in each hand [shaking] them up and down.”

After being told by police that she could be arrested for indecent exposure, Kelly said, “Arrest me then” and extended her hands towards the officers to be arrested.

And, well, you didn’t have to tell them twice.

It is not yet clear whether this will affect Kelly’s reported interest in Maryland’s 8th District Congressional seat, about to be vacated by Chris Van Hollen, who is seeking to replace the retiring Barbara Mikulski in the Senate.

(Via Robert Stacy McCain.)

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It costs how much?

What’s the single worst aspect of our current — and probably future — health-care system? If you ask me, it’s the fact that situations like this are possible:

[A] few months ago a doctor told me I should have a test, an angiogram, just to be safe. How much would it cost? The doctor had no idea. Nobody had any idea. If I wanted I could call up my insurance and be put on call waiting for half an hour to finally be told they had no idea. But, hey! Everybody wants to be safe, right?

Today I got the bill. Turns out it cost $7300. Who knew?

I’m not complaining that the test is too expensive. They had a big room with bright lights and computer monitors and machines going “ping!” Machines that go “ping!” cost money. I am complaining that I would have had to file a subpoena to get a ballpark figure for what it would cost. I was like, “Is it over $1000? Is it bigger than a breadbox?” Nobody knew.

How do they not know this stuff? Do they just make the numbers up afterwards?

Not enough people demand prices up front. Dr. Smith, who’s been there before, explains:

I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s the obligation of the seller to provide and display prices to the buyers. It’s not the obligation of the buyer to discover prices that are probably hidden. And in healthcare, most of the time they are. As a seller, if I say “here is what I am, here is what I do, and here is what I charge for it,” then the buyer can very deliberately determine whether that represents a value or not. They can comparison shop. And they can do it without revealing anything or providing any commitment whatsoever to me, the seller. This is present in every industry in the U.S. but it is largely absent in healthcare. Fortunately it is a growing phenomenon and more and more people are realizing that it is incumbent upon the seller to provide prices.

Worst-case scenario, which is actually the norm: prices are based on what the government will fork over.

[T]he government ultimately gets everything wrong. If they guess what my price should be, they’re either going to guess too low, which means I’m not going to provide the service, or they’re going to guess too high, which means resources are wasted.

Any attempt by anyone in a top-down central planning type of fashion to guess what the prices for services or products should be, is going to be wrong. Real prices emerge from competitive activity.

And avoiding competitive activity is at the very heart of American health care, a situation which the ACA does absolutely nothing to alleviate — but then, it was never intended to.

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One way to lose your ass

I can’t even think of an intro for this:

A woman is in a coma after her butt implants exploded while doing squats at a gym. Serena Beuford, 27, was working out for an Instagram video when she heard a loud pop. Soon after, she fell to the floor screaming in agony … saying that her butt was gone.

According to Beuford’s sister Jackie, Serena had visited an unlicensed clinic to get a 64-inch bottom. She said her sister wanted to become famous on Instagram.

On a scale of 1 to Donald Trump’s speechwriter, how pathetic is this?

And while we’re at it, what if your butt was gone?

Update: Snopes traces this to a fake-news vendor.

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