Archive for September 2015

The numbers are against us

I have long suspected that when we set forth to calculate cost/benefit ratios, we tend to underestimate the costs and overestimate the benefits. Which is not to say that I am particularly good at playing the odds or anything.

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Being past Labor Day and all

Cristina’s shoe-tease.com is quickly turning into a favorite in these parts: she calls ’em the way she sees ’em, and if it’s worth wearing, she’ll put it on for you so you can see how it looks. (At best, I can do one of the above.) And she has a touch of the iconoclast to her as well, given her current post on what shoes to wear with a white dress. There are styles to consider, shades that work, and, yes, three colors that just don’t work: white (“it may make your outfit look rather bridal”), yellow (not enough contrast), and very pale pastels (unless they match your skin tone).

I first started paying attention to Cristina about the time she decided that some pictures of your shoes for social-media consumption were “shoefies,” and others were not. (These fine judgment calls, after all, are what blogging is all about.) Briefly, a shoefie (1) is taken by you (2) of the shoes you are wearing at that moment: if someone else takes the picture, or you’re not actually wearing the shoes, it’s not a shoefie no matter how many hashtags you slap onto it.

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Your call is very important to us

So for the extended period of time in which we’re not actually going to answer it, we’re going to play you this little tune:

Cisco explains:

The song is called “Opus No. 1,” by Tim Carleton and Darrick Deel. It’s never been on a Top 40 list or gotten radio play, and yet it’s heard around the world by the millions of people who are placed on hold each day.

Darrick and Tim’s story actually begins back in 1989, when as teenagers and friends they recorded a song in their garage. Unfortunately, they didn’t go on to rockstar fame and fortune, but years later Darrick would go on to take a job with Cisco. In his role building Cisco’s first version of IP phones, he was aware of Cisco’s need for a piece of music to use as the default hold music for the new system. Cut to several years later, and their high school composition has become the hold music for the world’s most popular phone systems with over 65 million IP phones sold. With that, Opus No. 1 has left the safety of Darrick and Tim’s childhood recording studio and entered earworm status.

“Opus No. 1” (not to be confused with a Tommy Dorsey number with a similar title) was recorded on four tracks in Carleton’s garage, way back in 1989.

(Via mental_floss.)

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Open up that waste gate

As turbochargers show up at the lower end of the Porsche line, Jack Baruth laments the demise of what used to be a pretty big chunk of mystique:

Strictly speaking, it’s been a very long time since a 911 Turbo was the coolest car money could buy — I have to think that the arrival of the Ferrari F355 put a nail in that particular coffin twenty-one years ago, assuming the Corvette ZR1 didn’t do it in 1989 — but the lower-case italic turbo logo stayed ice cold long after the cars to which it was attached lost alpha status. For nearly forty years, ownership of a Porsche Turbo was an unmistakable statement of success, taste, and masculinity, although the various tuners and the 996 Turbo S Tip Cab did a fair amount of damage to the automatic validity of those last two qualities. I’d personally love to own a 911 Turbo and I wish I’d bought a 1996 Turbo instead of a 1995 Carrera back in 2001 when the difference in the money wasn’t a hundred grand like it is today.

Of course, this was predictable. Turbocharging allows automakers to pay lip service to fuel economy while still allowing big(gish) performance numbers, and the fact that driving those cars like they had V8s produces V8-like fuel economy doesn’t seem to disturb the buyers.

Still, Porsche has bread, and it’s aware of the source of butter. The Macan crossover-SUV-thing comes with four different engines worldwide (we don’t get the bottom one here yet): a 2.0-liter four, a 3.0-liter V6, a 3.0-liter diesel V6, and, in the top of the line Macan Turbo, a 3.6-liter V6. Only one car bears the Turbo badge. How many of them actually have turbos? All of them.

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Person cave

Once in a while the typo is better than the correct version:

I did manage to wring a chuckle out of myself this morning. Someone had posted a ginormous replica of Elsa’s ice-castle from Frozen that was for sale at Costco or somewhere. And I remarked that I needed one in life size, and on the side of a remote mountain (and with a sewing room and a library — it already has a grand piano in it). And it would be my Fortress of Solitude.

Which I typed first as Fortress of Solidude.

I imagine a Fortress of Solidude would have more sports-themed decor and probably a beer fridge. (Sadly, I can’t think of a “lady” equivalent of “Solidude.” But yeah, sometimes I really want somewhere extremely remote from everyone and everything else where I can go and that has everything I need…)

I suppose I could try to argue that “fortress” is actually the feminine version of “fort,” but I don’t think I could get away with that one.

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Curses, FOIAed again

Freedom, as the saying goes, isn’t free. This does not mean, however, that requests for information under the Freedom of Information Act and similar measures should cost an arm and a leg and a kidney to be named later:

Kind of makes you wonder if this is a back-door scheme to bail Jefferson County out of its bankruptcy.

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No girls allowed

You can see this, maybe, when you’re seven or eight. When you’re all grown up, maybe not so much:

It’s perfectly legal to advertise your establishment as a place where “gentlemen” might like to go, but one Pennsylvania barber shop found itself in hot shaving water when a woman claimed she was turned away for a haircut.

The business, which is described as a “high end Gentleman’s Barber Shop” on its website, will have to pay a $750 fine after a woman said she was turned away upon arriving for an appointment she’d booked online in March for herself and her boyfriend, reports the Washington Observer-Reporter. She reportedly wanted to get a fade, a short style often sported by men.

But a female barber who works at the shop said she explained to the woman that the staff sticks exclusively to men’s haircuts.

Must be a Pennsylvania thing; anything advertised for “gentlemen” out here on the prairie is likely to be a strip club. Anyway, this is one version of the fade for women, and it doesn’t look half bad.

Personal note: The shop that does what’s left of my hair — too infrequently, if you believe some people — will happily work on men, women, or any humans answering to “None of the above,” so long as there’s hair to be cut.

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47:58

Over the weekend there was a competition called Mixathon48, and these were the rules:

We will provide 5 sound files or stems. Once the event begins, contestants will have the ability to download the sound files and begin working on music production projects. Tracks must include AT LEAST one of the stems.

Contestants will only have 48 hours to complete a fully-mastered and completed track. All tracks must be submitted before the deadline in order to be considered for prizes. You are allowed to edit the stems as much as you like.

All genres are encouraged. We are looking for creative, innovative, and different music. We will also take into consideration the popularity reached on the web by your remix. The more you promote it, the more it will catch the attention of the judges.

One of the entrants was someone whom I knew under a different pseudonym, and this is how she described her effort:

Made the deadline by 2 minutes! I seem to work better than expected under pressure and sleep deprivation…

I was going for a scene similar to Paradise Falls from Up, with some South American jungle flare thrown into the percussion.

Hold on, isn’t Paradise Falls supposedly in South America anyway?

Well, that works out nicely!

And actually, the version she posted on YouTube was the result of four hours of cleaning up and tweaking her original, which you can find on SoundCloud.

I, of course, marvel at people who can create under pressure, like those folks who write a 50,000-word novel in 30 days.

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The wurst that could happen

Excuse me while I wince in pain for a moment, or several:

A woman was arrested after she allegedly tried to bite off her husband’s penis.

Chickasha Police made contact with husband and wife, Jesse and Merci Keene.

“[Merci] took Jesse to the ground and said she tried to bite his penis off,” the incident report said.

From Merci’s account of the incident, Jesse never hit her and only tried to defend himself, the report said.

What brought this on, anyway?

During the course of the investigation, it was discovered that Jesse was holding the couple’s minor daughter when Merci attacked him. According to the report, Merci confronted Jesse after she heard Jesse was allegedly leaving with their daughter.

Something must be missing here, because if Jesse was in a position to lose his sausage, he probably didn’t have his car keys handy, and how does the youngster fit into this scenario?

Result: two charges for unmerciful Merci, booked for domestic assault and battery in the presence of a minor.

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Wrong sensors or something

I know exactly two things about gaydar: it does not seem unreasonable for such a phenomenon to exist — as I learned in low-level war games in the Army, being able to distinguish your partisans from potential enemies is a useful skill to possess — and I have essentially no capacity for making these judgment calls on the fly.

Bill Quick would agree on at least one of those points:

Gaydar doesn’t exist for straight people. But it is a fact of life for gay people. I’m not going to be 100% right, but over 55 years of experience, I’ve found I’m right about 95%+ of the time about guessing somebody’s sexuality. With other guys.

Not with the women, though. But they have their own version — galdar? — and I’ve been told it’s pretty damned accurate as well.

But straight people? They’re clueless. They might as well flip coins.

This is certainly consistent with my long-standing inability to read incoming signals, irrespective of sender and of sender’s motives if any.

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3D with an option for four

Gadgette has started an interview series called “Kickass ladies of VR,” and the first subject turns out to be someone whose name I recognized: Emily Eifler of Oculus. A couple of paragraphs:

What inspired you to join the VR industry?

My friend Vi [Hart]. We had both been making online video and she wanted to figure out how to do it without the limitation of tiny rectangles. She asked if I could help, and I said “Yes, of course!” I had never done it before but I figured it out. I guess that’s my special skill. I can figure out almost anything with enough work.

A skill I’d consider invaluable, especially if I had it.

And this was probably inevitable:

Have you had any difficulties along the way with being a woman in VR?

You mean besides the death threats and doxxing and gender-based trolling online and getting groped at 99% male conferences and guys trying to turn meet-ups into meat-ups and the constant underlying grind of not being taken seriously because of the way I look? Nah, it’s been unicorns belching rainbows the whole way.

There are times when I think 90 percent of us are giving the other 10 percent a bad name.

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No sugar tonight

If this be blasphemy, I plan to make the most of it. Start here:

I’m also trying to clean up my diet. Oh, I eat pretty healthfully to begin with but I panic over these things and I actually wrote NO SUGAR! NO SUGAR AT ALL for the next week on the kitchen calendar. I worry, probably needlessly, about type II diabetes (and yes, I know: it’s how you eat all the time, not just in the week before bloodwork, but I want things to look their best). I think the tv ads I see for the million medications they have, some you have to inject, some with scary sounding side effects, that has the paranoid part of my brain convinced that probably everyone is actually diabetic and just doesn’t know it yet.

Fifty percent are there or close to it, say some of the alarmists.

But here’s the kicker: WHO issues a definition of Type 2 and it’s based entirely on readings. Oh, it says “with symptoms,” but everybody and his kid sister has symptoms of some sort. One arbitrary number applies to all seven billion humanoids, regardless of age, creed, color, national origin, metabolism, or astrological sign. This is convenient for those who compile statistics, and for nobody else.

It really does feel like everything is a moving target: you do, but you could do MORE. And it just wears me out. More exercise, more vegetables, less food that actually tastes pleasurable, less time spent just relaxing. (And I’ve seen several sites lately that remind us how awful sitting is for us, and we should, I guess, stand all the time, like horses or cattle…)

And I get that I’ll eventually not be able to outrun the Grim Reaper, it’s not that … it’s the whole fact that medicine in some sectors seems to be coming back to an idea not unlike the “you sinned, so you got sick” idea of the medieval era — “You sat too much on the job, now you have diabetes.” or “You relaxed when you could have exercised, now you have heart disease” and it feels to me like unless I keep pushing, pushing, more, more, more, eventually something terrible is going to happen and someone in the health-insurance office is gonna shrug and go, “You were insufficiently pure so you are on the hook for this financially, even if you can find a doctor willing to treat you.”

“Some sectors” eventually will be all sectors, because government.

I am resigned to not living forever. However, I reserve the right to sneer at the Reaper, that scythe-wielding son of a bitch, any time I please. And should some Deputy Associate Death Panel member object to this cavalier treatment of their true god — well, chuck you, Farley, this is why you get no respect from the population, while I’m having a bowl of ice cream in any flavor other than Pumpkin Spice.

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Not a stiff-ass Brit

The October Automobile reports on an uncommon auction: a 1996 BMW Z3 James Bond Edition, originally sold as a Christmas Wish List item by Neiman-Marcus. At least part of the $35,000 selling price was due to the presence of a Z3, however briefly, in Goldeneye. I probably shouldn’t have read the specifics:

Bond blue-gray over taupe leather interior with tan cloth top. 114-hp, DOHC, 1.8 liter inline-four —

And there I stopped and stared. I was, somewhere about this time, taking delivery on a ’93 Mazda 626 with a 118-hp, DOHC, inline-four, albeit with two whole liters. I know one person who drives a Z3 — actually saw her whipping it down the Interstate one day — and she’d never have put up with a mouse motor at this level.

BMW apparently heard the writing on the wall, because a 2.8-liter inline-six with something like 189 hp was introduced pretty quickly, though not quickly enough to get it into Neiman’s wish book. And this little Bimmer, with a mere 6,000 miles on the clock, brought $24,200 at the sale, like it was some sort of used car or something.

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Crowd unfunded

In fact, the crowd gave it the back of its collective hand, and deservedly so:

The Indiegogo page for a hypnosis-based smartwatch designed to help you “pick up girls” closed today after a month of crowdfunding — and it has not raised one solitary dollar.

The “Dating skills smartwatch” (or “Pick up girls smartwatch” — they can’t seem to decide on its actual name) is aimed squarely at straight dudes — specifically the type that have a signed copy of The Game — and promises to “program your brain” using subliminal messages that teach you how to “get girl’s attention and melts their hearts” [sic sic sic — there are so many errors on the page that we might just do one giant SIC for the whole thing. In both senses].

The watch supposedly plays “subliminal messages that your ear cannot hear but your brain does (below 20Hz)” while you listen to music. These somehow teach you to be more confident with women, deliver terrible chat-up lines and “take her home.” Creepery and pseudoscience. Sexy.

At no point does it rise above pitiful self-parody:

“We have included a camera in the face of the watch so you can easily take her picture. And then you say: ‘Do you want me to send you your picture, give me your cell number’.”

The only good line of this sort I’ve ever heard was in Tristan Prettyman’s “The Rebound”: “I lost my number / Can I have yours?”

You might think there would be enough involuntary celibates out there to finance this contraption in a walk, but apparently not so.

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The impatient patient

The older you get, the slower you heal, and the more likely you are to respond this way:

The first 36 hours felt like Armageddon in my body, fever, chills, pain, nausea, weakness, the whole shebang. It would take me an hour to recover from the 10 minute drive to drop off the chicks at school. Takes longer in the afternoon because, apparently, sunshine and heat are not my friends.The bottle of antibiotics has two stickers on it: one tells me to drink lots of water, the other tells me to avoid prolonged exposure to direct sunlight. It would seem I’m now a fern.

All this started about two weeks ago.

(Via Bayou Renaissance Man.)

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Quote of the week

Alexandra Petri explains Manic Pixie Dream Girls:

They don’t have personalities. They have quirks. They wear rain boots and call coffeepots “elf beaneries” and talk about how the stars are God’s daisy chain. They descend on nebbishy male writers in search of muses the way seagulls descend on a French fry.

Their hobbies include but are not limited to: running in the rain, dancing in the rain, listening to better bands than you in the rain, playing the ukulele in the rain (it sounds no worse), coming up with twee nicknames for household objects in the rain, and breaking up with nebbishy male writers for reasons that said writers find completely impenetrable, sometimes also in the rain. And then, as the writers sob over their departure, they realize that this heartbreak was just the impetus they needed to create That Elusive Masterwork That Was Always Lurking Just out of Reach.

They’re catalysts. They are airy free spirits who, since the dawn of manuscript time, have come waltzing into the lives of nebbishy male writers to urge them to Get Out and Experience Life. They generate plots.

Unfortunately, all the plots are about the same: A young girl sparkling with life, often but not always with erratically colored hair, comes pirouetting into your humdrum existence and teaches you how to feel, love, and throw away whatever medication is keeping you from alarming the neighbors. But then the relationship ends, and you transform your whimsical, credulity-straining romance into a classic work of fiction, and the plaudits come pouring in from all corners.

At the very least, Petri should send Woody Allen — and Joseph Gordon-Levitt circa (500) Days of Summer — a bill for her investigative work.

Source: A Field Guide to Awkward Silences (New York: New American Library, 2015).

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Hey, small spender

Money, we are told, wins elections. I am always happy to see an instance where it didn’t:

Cyndi Munson easily became the first Democrat to represent Oklahoma City’s House District 85 in a half-century despite raising much less money than her opponent.

Campaign finance reports show Chip Carter, the Republican candidate, pulled in nearly $200,000 in campaign contributions and benefited from $100,000 in independent expenditures.

Munson raised less than $100,000 total, but beat Carter 2,640 to 2,268 Tuesday in a district where Republicans greatly outnumber Democrats.

Two things worked in her favor: she had name recognition in the district — she ran for this seat against David Dank in 2014 and lost — and there is, I think, a tendency among local Republicans to see victory as inevitable except in a handful of heavily Democratic districts. Even Chip Carter saw it coming:

“There was a degree of complacency or something. They thought it’s always been a Republican seat and will stay that way. And my opponent worked her tail off.”

For quite a while, it was a Dank seat: David Dank was the second Dank to represent 85, his wife Odilia being the first. (She was term-limited in 2006.) Both Danks are now deceased.

The GOP majority in the House is now 71-30.

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Dusting off a badge

This is the Borgward P100, circa 1960, of which about 2500 were made before Carl Borgward’s auto company was forced into bankruptcy:

Borgward P100 sedan

(Photo by Lothar Spurzem.)

And this is the Borgward BX 7, circa 2017, to be produced in China:

Borgward BX 7 SUV

How, exactly, is this happening?

On May 21, 2008, the grandson of Carl F. W. Borgward, Christian Borgward, together with his partner Karlheinz L. Knöss, founded Borgward AG in Lucerne (Switzerland)… They started the development of the new Borgward automobiles with the Norwegian stylist Einar J. Hareide, creator of the “Four-Eyes-Face” of the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, set up the organisation and engineer team and developed a car concept.

Borgward has announced plans for a new car at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show after a 54-year hiatus.The new company will be backed up financially by Chinese truck manufacturer Foton.

And how this story landed on my plate:

Then again, Herpa Miniaturmodelle GmbH, a German maker of model aircraft and cars, has acquired the rights to the Trabant name.

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Angry birdbrains

The supply of outrage far exceeds the demand:

I think I’ve reached the point of outrage fatigue. Not my own, I’m not that often truly outraged about anything — other people’s outrage. There are also some things going on that I think truly ARE an outrage that seem not to get the attention that the sort of SWPL stuff that causes outrage. I suppose it’s easier to be outraged over where someone happens to shop than it is to be outraged over the treatment of the Syrian people by their government, or the truly shocking growth and spread of ISIS and what they are doing, or about what Putin is doing… Or for that matter, instead of a person being outraged over something like “food insecurity,” maybe they go work at a food bank or donate to programs that try to help raise people out of poverty to the point where they’re not “food insecure” any more. But it’s easier to froth and foam on Facebook or somewhere than to show up some place and go “I can help, what do you want me to do?” (And YES. I have seen my share of people who did hashtag activism and when they were asked about what they were actually DOING they kind of faded away…)

And you could ratchet up the standards a little higher. You’ll have no trouble finding kitchen help for a shelter on Thanksgiving Day. On a random afternoon in September? No offers, though the need is every bit as great.

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A price far above rubies (3)

I have never quite trusted a printer’s estimate of how much ink is left before you have to spend more money, and apparently my suspicions are well-founded:

You should know this:

[T]he Epson 9900 is a professional grade printer that costs thousands of dollars. Each 700 ml ink cartridge can cost nearly $100, and a full set runs well over $1,000. As a popular fine art printing company, Bellevue has had 4 of the 9900 printers.

Then again, it could be worse. Before I destroyed it in a fit of pique it got to the end of its abbreviated lifecycle, I had a DeskJet which used the HP 56 cartridge, which ran $1.84 per milliliter, versus 14 cents for these Epsons.

(Via Fark.)

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One true musical pairing

Kate Micucci and Riki Lindhome are Garfunkel and Oates, though not in that order; as a comedy-folk duo with slightly foul mouths, they are nonpareil. Besides, they’re freaking gorgeous:

Garfunkel and Oates on the sofa

Really, they are:

Garfunkel and Oates standing tall

For some reason, their current album (released yesterday on the No One Buys Records label) is called Secretions:

Secretions by Garfunkel and Oates

A marginally more polished version of this song is included, which may explain the title:

You might not want to play this in front of the Overly Sensitive.

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To be voted off the islands

There were about twice the usual number of panhandlers on, um, duty this afternoon, suggesting that they’re taking this threat from the city seriously:

Proposed restrictions on panhandling are part of a broad effort to attack “explosive” growth in activities that frighten and intimidate many residents, Ward 6 Councilwoman Meg Salyer said Friday.

Salyer said the mayor and six of the other seven council members have signed on as co-authors of her proposal to make it a misdemeanor to panhandle from the median of city streets.

If nothing else, this should be an object lesson in the Law of Unintended Consequences: the existing ordinance prohibits standing in the street to solicit.

The holdout Councilman, should you be interested, is Ed Shadid of Ward 2.

Salyer said she receives complaints “in the multiples every day” about panhandlers.

She said residents tell her their quality of life is destroyed every morning as they drive through the intersection of NW 23 and Pennsylvania Avenue.

“Why should that have to be in our community?” Salyer said. “We can do better.”

The proposed ordinance makes no exceptions for charitable contributions:

Phil Sipe, president of International Association of Fire Fighters Local 157, said Oklahoma City firefighters annually collect about $300,000 to support families affected by muscle diseases.

He predicted donations could drop 75 percent to 80 percent and said it would be a “blow to families” that depend on the money given by the public each year.

Also presumably affected: street vendors of the Curbside Chronicle.

One question remains unanswered still: how do we distinguish the hucksters from the folks who really need help? Or have the hucksters basically pushed away all the competition?

I once suggested that the ultimate solution is purely financial in nature:

[I]nvoke the specter of the Internal Revenue Service. Instead of giving someone a buck, we hand over 60 cents and a 1099-MISC. “By law, we’re withholding forty cents for taxes. Be sure you report this on your return next year.” Odds are, the guy won’t even hang around to get his change, let alone give out his Social Security number.

Then again, what could be more traditionally American than trying to avoid income tax?

Update, 14 September: The Curbside Chronicle responds to the proposed ordinance.

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Staring blankly

The Male Gaze, to hear some people tell it, is about a quarter of a tick, if that much, short of Actual Sexual Assault. If you think about it, this stance trivializes physical assaults: if everything is rape, then it’s no longer possible to take a rape charge seriously. I don’t think anyone, with the possible exception of the serial rapist, really wants that.

Some gazers, inevitably, are more annoying than others, particularly if they’re trying to engage the gazees. How to foil them? A sharp rebuke ought to be enough, but there’s something to be said for reducing the potential payoff as well.

In 2001, writer Larry Young and artist John Heebink put together a four-part comic-book story called The Bod, about a young woman rendered invisible by an accident with special-effects gear. Her newly acquired state gains her fame and fortune; it also brings out her worst qualities.

And it essentially deprives her of the ability to say “Hey, jerk, my eyes are up here!”

Panel from second episode of The Bod

Still, this might work better as a meme.

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The Parthenon of Puke

The new Bentley Bentayga, which presumably almost rhymes with “Talladega,” as seen by the never-even-slightly-jaded Jack Baruth:

[I]t will be a way to spend $200,000 or more on a VW Touraeg. Another way to think of it is that it will be a Lincoln Navigator for people who have more money. As such, it has a guaranteed place on the Mount Olympus Of Loathsome Objects. The MOOLO. I just made that up. But you already know what’s on there, don’t you? Clothing by “Vineyard Vines”. The new subdivision they’re putting up down the street, the one where the homes have crown moldings made of Styrofoam and names like “The Dorchester”. The Hublot Big Bang.

The MOOLO rises in its tin-plated majesty above the Venn intersection of expensive and meritless. Its Aphrodite is Paris Hilton and its Zeus is probably a pre-political-aspirations Donald Trump. We live in its shadow and we are hunted by its residents, who earn bonuses eliminating our jobs then back their whale-shaped Infiniti SUVs over our children. In this company, nothing could be more welcome than a vehicle conceived, designed, and marketed as a mobile intimidatory fortress and statement of one’s recent arrival to confounding wealth. Look for one in the rearview mirror of your four-cylinder Fusion soon, pressing its supplier-milled cross-eggcrate into your mind like Laurence Olivier with a set of dentistry tools.

Of course, this sort of vehicular monstrosity was inevitable: it’s just totally unreasonable to ask someone who owns actual Bentley cars to point themselves downmarket to a Range Rover or, God forbid, a Jeep Grand Cherokee, just to have something to haul Missy and her friends to the lacrosse match.

Still, I will defend to the death, if not necessarily my death, your right to blow a quarter-million dollars on any damn motor vehicle you please. But that purchase does not include an automatic — or even a manual — mandate to be taken seriously.

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Continuing miseducation

One is expected to pony up for stuff like this in order to maintain one’s professional credentials, or some such business:

Today I started a CE course in Construction Management in one of NY universities. It takes 6 Saturdays and gets me a certificate I can use in commercial team project applications.

On the basis of the first class day, our student is not impressed:

The thing is a travesty of grandiose proportion. To give you a taste: for the first class we (engineers, architects, PMs, construction inspectors and such: not 20yo subjects of community organizers) were expected to sit through 2hrs (it felt like 10) of self-aggrandizing propaganda that is a film by Al Gore (Algore, Carl!!!) An Inconvenient Truth. Then we’re given a homework: to write a summary of this masterpiece.

Actually, the film itself runs a mere 96 minutes: the rest of it is, um, additional greenhouse gas.

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Squeeze for the Spurs

It’s not even October yet, and the San Antonio Spurs have sold all their season tickets:

For the first time in club history, the Spurs will institute a waiting list for season tickets next week after selling out of their allotment of 13,200.

Current season-ticket holders will be given first priority, should they want to add to their personal inventory.

The AT&T Center is being renovated, and the seating capacity is likely to change from its current 18,581. Then again, it was 18,797 when the arena opened in 2002.

But take heart, non season-ticket holders: The team will still set aside 3,000 tickets per game for individual and group purchases.

It’s hard to imagine those seats not selling out rather quickly.

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Thighs matter

Who wears short shorts? Not you, if you want to live in Dadeville, Alabama:

After first proposing an ordinance banning saggy pants, the Dadeville City Council is now considering banning short shorts and mini-skirts.

Why? Because equality:

Dadeville City Councilwoman Stephanie Kelley said it shouldn’t just be men who are singled out on their attire.

“My concern is it should be for everybody,” Kelley said during Tuesday’s council meeting, the Alex City Outlook reported. “I think for the girls, with these shorts up so high looking like under garments and dresses so short, I don’t want us to be showing favoritism.”

And they really, really hate saggy pants:

“We have people walking down the street with their hand in front of them holding up their pants,” [Councilman Frank] Goodman said. “Then they have the nerve to walk into a place of business and ask for a job. If you come to my house you are going to pull them up before you get on my property, much less in my door. I prayed about this. I know that God would not go around with pants down.”

When the Recording Angel finishes my entry — not too soon, I hope — I pray that there be a note to the effect that I never once speculated as to the position of God’s trousers.

(Via Fark.)

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I don’t know, I’ve never Shepled

Sheplers is being merged out of existence:

A 116-year-old name in retail and one of the oldest continuously operating western wear brands, is going away this fall.

Sheplers stores are being rebranded as Boot Barn and the changeover is expected to be completed by Thanksgiving, said Boot Barn vice president Jayme Maxwell.

Irvine, Calif.-based Boot Barn purchased Wichita, Kansas-based Sheplers in June for $147 million to create the largest western wear retailer in the U.S.

How large would “largest” be?

Before the companies merged, Boot Barn had 152 stores in 23 states. Sheplers, a chain of 25 stores in 10 states with a healthy e-commerce business, had sales of $157 million in its last year, including $66 million online. Together the two chains represent more than $550 million in annual sales.

Sheplers dates back to 1899, kinda sorta: J. W. Gibson’s Harness Shop, founded in Wichita back then, was subsequently acquired by Harry L. Shepler (1914-1976), who put his own name over the door.

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Strange search-engine queries (502)

Comes around another Monday, and with it, the need to poke around in the back room until we find what people are looking for that brings them here. We may yet regret it.

what happens when you hold your breath:  Try it and see. Report back in about an hour.

latina nudists who is a dead ringer of patty (the manager of the terra cotta inn):  You look at enough nudists, and eventually they all start to look alike.

mark never stops ranting about the dangers of pornography. he gives endless examples of smut he has seen in movies and on tv:  And then goes online looking for pictures of nudists.

if you were a fifteenth-century american indian living in the region of modern-day ohio:  You’d get stuck in downtown Columbus with no idea which way to go.

teen shows asshole on webcam:  This is hardly news; webcams are just full of assholes.

why dont we feel the earth move:  Um, poor choice of partners?

the planned extermination of an entire race of people is known as:  Tuesday.

shoes that look like food:  Loafers, maybe?

octopus bimaculoides for sale:  Well, you certainly can’t lease them.

spiderman and twilight sparkle:  It would never, ever work out. For one thing, J. Jonah Jameson is allergic to pony hair.

non nude crossdresser:  Well, yeah. Were they nude, how could you tell?

how to hump a stuffed animal step by step:  If you have to ask, perhaps you need a different hobby.

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Is this still good?

I don’t go through a whole lot of canned goods: maybe a third to a half of what I buy ends up at the Food Bank before it reaches its expiration date. I was looking at one of those dates a couple of nights ago while cranking the mighty Manual Can Opener, perhaps the last such in town, and it was, albeit twisted like too many CAPTCHA characters, still readable: 17 JANUARY 2017. At least I can still read it.

But what of someone who can’t read it at all? Meet Bump Mark:

Bump Mark is a food expiry label that reacts to the environment around it, just like fresh food does and updates itself.

The label is checked by touch, so when it’s smooth — your food is fresh. If you feel bumps — then it’s time for the bin. The label only goes “bad” when your food does too.

And how does that work?

Gelatine is set over a plastic bumpy sheet — because jelly is solid when it sets, you cannot feel the bumps underneath at first. When the gelatine expires, it turns back into a liquid and then you can feel the bumps underneath, letting you know that your food is bad.

Patent pending, as they say. Whose idea was this, anyway?

The Bump Mark label is the brainchild of Solveiga Pakštaité, a 23-year-old industrial design and technology graduate of Brunel University, and it was … announced as winner of the UK round of the prestigious James Dyson award.

Elsewhere, she describes herself as “Lover of terrible jokes, rubbish at being serious.”

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Low-information buyers

If I didn’t see at least one of these every damn day I might have a smidgen of sympathy:

Me and my fiancé were in the market for a new (used) vehicle. We went to a dealership and found a great car, decent price, and with a down payment that was a little more than we were comfortable with. Now after we have signed and driven off the lot, we KNOW for a FACT that we made the wrong choice and that we aren’t going to be able to afford the car along with its insurance and all of the other bills we already have. –Yes we should have thought this out more thoroughly but we are about to have our wedding next month and need more time to get through that and save more for a newer vehicle. It has only been one and a half days since the purchase and we are wanting to just take it back and tell them we are in over our heads and we will eventually have to default the loan and won’t be able to pay for the car. Will the car take back our car? Also note: the down payment was dated for Tuesday and has not yet been processed. Is there anything else we can do to convince them to allow us to return the car and not continue through with this purchase?

Oh, yes, let’s begin the marriage with a seven-year black spot on our credit!

“Good judgment,” said Will Rogers, “comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.” They probably won’t make this mistake a second time — but they’re going to have to eat the consequences of the first.

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Block that ad!

Blocking of online ads, says TechCrunch, is on the rise:

There are now 198 million global active users of ad blocking software, up 41 percent from 12 months ago, according to a recent report by PageFair and Adobe. The report also estimates that ad blocking will cost publishers $22 billion in revenue this year.

Some caveats: PageFair isn’t an objective industry observer, since its business revolves around helping publishers circumvent these blockers. Also, the impact on mobile may be reduced as more content is distributed on apps and social networks. Lastly, there have been arguments that ad blocking won’t hurt publishers as badly as you might think, because the ad business has always been “lossy,” with lots of wasted money, whether you’re talking about TV or print.

See, for instance, department-store magnate John Wanamaker: “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”

There are sites for which I gladly turn off the blocker. Equestria Daily is one; I shut it down on Fark for a while, but found that some of their sneakier ad-placement suppliers had found ways to crash my browser with horribly designed garbage.

And there are sites for which I will probably never turn it off, such as NewsOK.com, on the basis that I give their parent company somewhere upwards of $200 a year and should be exempt from that crap for that reason alone.

Besides, there are people in desperate need of an object lesson here:

Harry Kargman, the founder and CEO of mobile ad company Kargo, agreed that in many cases, online ads have created “a bad consumer experience — from an annoyance perspective, a privacy perspective, a usability perspective.” At the same time, he said that as the industry works to solve these problems, it also needs to convince people that when you use an ad blocker, “That’s stealing. It’s no different than ripping music. It’s no different than pirating movies.”

Horse doodles. You want an analogy that fits? It’s pushing the next station on the car radio the moment you hear that douchebag from [much-hated auto dealership].

(Via Daily Pundit.)

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Hardware issues

“Shopping, sex, and shopping for sex,” said Penn Jillette once upon a time, “propel all new technology.” Today, gender-swapping is cumbersome and expensive; tomorrow, maybe not so much. In the meantime, there’s always Adobe Photoshop.

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This should not be considered nostalgia

From fifteen years ago, something I did not want to come home to:

Two guys from the property-management office corralled me as I pulled into the parking lot and announced that they were bearing bad news: someone had kicked in my front door.

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

There has been much said of late about “non-violent” offenders and how they’re occupying too much expensive space in the corrections system. This was about the point where I decided that it might be better just to hang them on the spot. Defenders of the putatively downtrodden took umbrage at this idea, of course.

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Wielder of the monkey wrench

Author Deborah Harkness (A Discovery of Witches and two sequels) finds herself sitting in the dark:

“Power poles and lines down”? That’s some big damn animal.

It gets weirder. Reports the SCE Outage Center:

As we continue to improve, SCE.com will be undergoing maintenance starting at 8:00 p.m. on Thursday, September 17 through 6 a.m. on Friday, September 18. Please note that during this time you will not be able to view pages and will be unable to complete transactions. Thanks for your patience while we work to improve your experience!

No comment from Mr. Edison himself, though reports from outside his home in West Orange, New Jersey suggest that he’s doing about 1200 rpm.

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Now don’t be a species-ist

About three years ago, I wrote an overly long short story about a man and a unicorn and the love they came to share. The reception it got was better than I had expected; still, I concluded from this experience that inter-species romances of this sort were not ready for prime time.

But that was then, and this is now:

Becky is a young woman living in the Los Angeles area in the 2015 TV series The Muppets.

Beginning with the pilot, she is dating Fozzie Bear, and introduces him to her parents for the first time. Holly and Carl have a hard time understanding how the relationship can work, questioning how they’ll raise their children.

At San Diego Comic-Con 2015, Bill Prady stated that Becky’s relationship with Fozzie would continue to be explored in the series.

Becky will be played by Riki Lindhome, the taller half of Garfunkel and Oates, and it occurs to me that this might make some sort of sense after all: in the all-but-forgotten Hell Baby (grossed about $5000 total), Lindhome has a brief (three minutes) scene with Rob Corddry, who looks a bit Fozzie-esque, or at least would if you put a hat on him.

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Unbespectacled

I’ve seen just enough Gossip Girl to be able to recognize Yin Chang as bookworm Nelly Yuki; she did the first two seasons, departed, and returned in the sixth, having become a fashion reporter, as does every Merit Scholar, right? (Hmmm. I won … um, never mind.) There is, of course, no reason a bookworm can’t look like this:

Yin Chang in a director's chair

Yin Chang for Mochi

I had a few more pictures in the archive, but in each and every one, “the girl behind the glasses” was not wearing glasses, which perplexed me enough to go looking for screenshots where she was. And so we have:

Yin Chang in Nelly Yuki's spectacles

This humongous metal contraption around her neck is, I am told, from Oscar de la Renta, and a budding fashionista would of course have to wear such a thing, am I right?

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Choosy beggars

As long as we’re talking about panhandlers, and we were, not so long ago, here is the encapsulated experience of our man on the downtown streets:

He continues:

I do think our society does way too little and has a poor understanding of issues involving poverty, mental illness and substance abuse. And I will acknowledge that some panhandlers are either poor or struggling with illness or abuse — but I believe they are the minority.

I used to carry a packet of free bus ride tickets, etc. to give to panhandlers who claimed they needed money for transportation, food… The passes, etc., were turned down all but one time — and the guy who took the pass still wanted money.

I have long suspected that some variation on Gresham’s Law was taking place: the truly needy are being crowded out by the scamsters. Not that this would be entirely unpredictable, of course: there is, as I always say, no system that can’t be gamed. Still, a few hardy souls persist:

A year ago today, Calvin was sleeping outside in a tent. TODAY Calvin is sleeping in his very own apartment! Congratulations, Calvin! We are so proud of your hard work! Calvin uses the income he earns from selling Curbside to afford all of his rent and expenses. Thank you Journey Home OKC and OKC Housing Authority for helping Calvin find affordable housing and making this possible. And thank YOU for helping Calvin achieve his financial goals by supporting him through sales. Calvin has worked extremely hard to reach this goal. You can find him selling at NW Expressway and Classen on the daily.

I’ve bought from Calvin before, in fact. And I’d just as soon not see him put out of a job, however tenuous it may seem, just because some people find it easier to beg than to work.

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Otherwise occupied

I’m taking this at face value, so to speak:

New York Fashion Week is a busy time for models, and Kendall Jenner is proving just how hectic it can be. On Sunday, the model of the moment took to Instagram to share a video of herself shaving her legs, which she captioned: “so much fashion, not enough week #YouGottaDoWhatYouGottaDo.” And while the fact that the reality star was performing this mundane personal hygiene task wasn’t all that surprising, it was where she was doing it that had us doing a double take: in a car. That’s right — Jenner was shaving her legs in the back of a car, presumably en route to a show. Talk about a multi-tasker.

On the upside, at least she wasn’t driving.

(Know Your Jenners: Kendall is a year and a quarter, more or less, older than Kylie.)

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Beyond any possible quantity of Kool-Aid

Whatever this nimrod has been drinking, it’s done hellacious damage:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: Reasons why the rich and famous won't leave earth due to a supposed asteroid. Also reasons why the world WON'T end in Sept 2015 please read

If you insist on reading:

So many celebrities are my role models like Patricia Hodge and Ashleigh Ball (‘Littlest Pet Shop’), and you have no idea how hurtful it is that they use all their hard work to keep a secret with the government and leave earth. I feel betrayed! I hope to heaven it’s not true! Also, I need scientific reasons why the world won’t end this month. Scientific and mature reasons for why the world isn’t going to end. Thank you for your time adressing this.

Were there true balance in the universe, this kid would be stumbling in front of a speeding bus on the first of October.

And even the Sweet Meteor O’Death isn’t due until after the first of the year.

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