9 September 2006
It's that whole toe-complexion thing

Forget these sandals, if you can. What catches my eye is this statement:

Nicole Richie has become the new face of Jimmy Choo, the hot Hollywood shoemaker.

Are shoemakers looking for faces now?

Then again, I don't suppose anyone is going to write "Nicole Richie has become the new foot of Jimmy Choo."

Permalink to this item (posted at 1:25 PM)
18 September 2006
Tomorrow's sky: falling

WorldNetDaily is hyping this "exclusive" story about how Muslims are being warned to leave the US because an attack is imminent. I have my doubts. For one thing, it's in WND, which has a way to go before it can claim to be America's finest news source. For another, it's not like your friendly neighborhood Islamic terrorists pay a whole lot of attention to collateral damage: as long as they kill the ones they're supposed to kill, they've done their job, and anyone else in the vicinity — well, Allah will sort it out.

David Weigel smirks:

Stuff like this reminds me how the mainstream media doesn't quite get the way terrorism plays around the country. There's a reason why Food Lion shelf-stackers in Lincoln, Nebraska are even more worried about terrorism than Manhattanites.

Or would be, if there were any; there isn't a single Food Lion within fifty miles of Lincoln.

Permalink to this item (posted at 1:17 PM)
20 September 2006
Trussrippers will be persecuted

A rule to live by: "If thy neighbor offend thee, give unto his child a drum set."

Here's the next best thing:


(Seen in a Las Cruces, New Mexico coffeehouse by Kathleen Fasanella.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:16 AM)
26 September 2006
Truly they are Pepsi-challenged

MEMRI finds this little gem on Iranian television:

The Zionists are the largest shareholders in the world's drink manufacturers. They make hundreds of thousands of billions of dollars from this annually. This way, they export their colonialist schemes with this product, at no additional cost.

Take, for example, the Pepsi drink. Do you know what Pepsi stands for? 'Pay Each Penny Save Israel.'

And these people want nuclear power? They shouldn't even have Mountain Dew.

Inasmuch as the first bottles of Pepsi-Cola bearing that name were sold in 1898, fifty years before the founding of Israel, I think we can safely say that this claim is, um, a load of previously-digested high-fructose corn syrup.

(Via Scribal Terror; posted while enjoying a Coke.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 1:22 PM)
3 October 2006
We really didn't mean it

A soon-to-be-former Reno resident says goodbye to her old home town:

Over the years since my conception, I have watched you turn into a large homogenized blend of big-box stores and suburban neighborhoods mixed together. I have watched downtown slowly lose its "Reno" essence that I have grown to know and love, to make way for the yuppies and their grandiose condominiums.

This letter appeared in the Reno Gazette-Journal last Tuesday; in the print edition, though not in the online copy, it was followed by an "Editor's Note": "Good riddance."

The next day, the inevitable apology appeared.

In days of yore, it wouldn't have been so inevitable. From yours truly, a couple of summers ago:

This reminds me of an incident twenty-odd years ago in which Car and Driver ran a column which castigated the legal profession for various offenses against motoring enthusiasts. An attorney wrote in to cancel his subscription in protest; the magazine printed his letter, along with the following response:

"Perhaps you'd be interested in subscribing to our sister publication Ambulance and Chaser."

All by itself, that was worth a three-year renewal.

(Courtesy of Romenesko, by way of Fark.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 4:25 PM)
12 October 2006

I missed the first half of the announcement, but someone was droning on the radio this morning (right after Morning Edition; I don't think it was a national NPR spot) about how "everything we do is either health-creating —"

[pregnant pause]

"— or not."

Yeah, that ought to narrow it down.

Addendum, 13 October, 6 pm: I've identified the program; the description on screen is a little bit less terse.

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:05 AM)
19 October 2006
Moderate puzzlement

When Caller ID is showing 999-999-9999, you have to figure that it's nothing you particularly want to hear: obviously someone is masking a number.

But they left a message, to the extent that the little digital annoyance filter permits this sort of thing (you've got 30 seconds, make it snappy), and they identified themselves as the OCPD, with a missing-person report "in your area."

After the description, they reported where he was last seen, and I recognized the address immediately: I'd been there myself for rehab. And not detox or anything like that: we're talking physical therapy here.

I've got to assume, based on my own experience, that he couldn't have gotten too far.

Permalink to this item (posted at 5:23 PM)
23 October 2006
Suddenly Bob and Clippy look sane

News item: Microsoft's forthcoming digital music player, dubbed Zune, may make some Hebrew speakers gasp. The name for the device — which will take on the Apple iPod when released later this year — sounds like a vulgarity, specifically the "f" word, in Hebrew.

Big deal. Among the acolytes of Apple, the very word "Microsoft" itself is a vulgarity.

If Zune, or whatever they end up calling it, handles DRM the way Windows Media Player 11 does — which, apparently, it does — the only reason I'd have for buying one would be to drop-kick it over the back fence, and frankly, I have enough discarded hardware waiting in the Reboot queue.

(Via miriam's ideas.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:22 AM)
24 October 2006
Now this is scary

The Dutch Foreign Minister came to Washington yesterday, and it turns out he's really a Bot.

Didn't faze the Secretary of State, apparently.

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:22 AM)

In ad-ese, that technically means "We're not any worse than those other guys."

Which means it's not the same as "second to none":

I heard this phrase on the radio again today, and its earnest presenter assured me that a local grocery store's pharmacy offered customer service that is second to none.

Oh, really, I thought; so the customer service presented by the cut-rate employees of the discount chain are actually not as good as when the store offers no customer service at all? I mean, that's what none is; it's the lack of the very thing offered, and when you say you're second to none, that doesn't mean that you're first; it means that you're lower than nothing at all.

Keep that in mind next time you hear a drug commercial that says "No medicine works harder."

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:04 AM)
30 October 2006
String theory in practice

No Silly StringJust a reminder that Silly String is banned in the following locations:

  • Hollywood, California, midnight tonight through noon Wednesday.
  • Southington, Connecticut, presumably until hell freezes over.
(Hollywood sign — no, not the Hollywood sign — poached from Defamer.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 1:11 PM)
6 November 2006
Phrases I never want to hear again

No more of these, please:

  • Anything of the form "A B, C [something that rhymes with B]"
  • "But think about the children"
  • "Speak[ing] truth to power"
  • crescatsententia.org
  • "Anna Nicole Smith," unless followed by "was found dead"
  • Anything of the form "He was A before he was [something opposite to A]"
  • "Rosario Dawson's dong"
  • "It's the [noun], stupid"
  • "Our exclusive poll"
  • "I'm [name] and I approved this message"
  • Anything containing the word "Federline"

I would be so grateful.

Addendum, 8 February 2007: I regret to note that Anna Nicole Smith was ... never mind, it's just plain mean. Kevin Federline, you may want to know, is still alive.

Permalink to this item (posted at 1:53 PM)
11 November 2006
Finally, a truly universal law

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch engages in serious contemplation:

A 26 percent increase in Missouri's minimum wage to $6.50 an hour will hit urban and rural workers hardest because some may lose their jobs or not be hired as businesses adjust to hold down costs, some business owners and analysts say.

Got that? "Urban and rural workers" will be hit hardest.

That leaves — um, who else is there? The guys on the International Space Station?

(Via the presumably-urban Brian J. Noggle.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 12:21 PM)
4 December 2006
Endowment computation

Saint Kansas, commenting at The Dawn Patrol, has happened upon a quintessential rule for conducting interviews:

The more I think about this whole approach to interviews in 2006, the more clear it becomes that, throughout time, there are only two questions that cannot be asked of a man: "How much do you make a year?" and "How big is your penis?" It strictly is not done.

On the face of it, this might seem to be a taboo, and maybe it is. On the other hand, there are ways to handle such things. In the July '85 Playboy Interview, Rob Reiner came out swinging, so to speak, in the very first paragraph: "Under no circumstances will I reveal the size of my penis."

For myself, I've never been asked either, and don't expect to be — and as it happens, the answer I would give is the same for both: "I wouldn't mind a little extra."

Permalink to this item (posted at 2:18 PM)
7 December 2006
Keister bonnet

Given the fairly-indisputable premise that there is an abundance of asshats in show business, there exists an ongoing debate over whether this is because they're just naturally attracted to showbiz, or because showbiz, owing to its nature, eventually inspires people to degrees of rectal millinery.

Those of you who got better grades than I will recognize this immediately as the old nature vs. nurture controversy, scaled up to marquee size. In the past I have remained resolutely in the center, acknowledging equal contributions of both.

Now I'm not so sure. In the mail this week was a card with a stylized photo of a blue-eyed child and the caption: "You knew early on that you weren't like everybody else."

"So did we," it continues on the inside, and then it gets right down to the real nitty-gritty:

What is it about owning an Infiniti I30 that sets you apart? Is it recognizing the high level of satisfaction that our vehicles offer? Is it the superb blend of elegance and performance? Is it the inspiration and innovation? No. It's all of these things. And now, there's even more.

Introducing a new approach to service: Welcome to the Infiniti Inner Circle.

As an Infiniti owner who understands the advantages of having your car serviced by factory-trained technicians, you've been selected to join our inner circle. The Infiniti Inner Circle is designed to remind you when your car is due for maintenance, communicate with you via your preferred means of contact, and work with you to help ensure that your I30 operates at peak performance. Most importantly, we'll give you the attention an Infiniti owner deserves.


There follows the usual stuff, a card to fill out to indicate my "preferred means of contact," and the summary: "The Infiniti Inner Circle. It's exceptional. Just like you."

And it occurred to me, after I stopped guffawing at this, that a daily dose of sucking up at this level might turn anyone into a veritable fedora of the fundament.

(Disclosure: Gwendolyn has, in fact, 92,497 miles.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 10:37 AM)
10 December 2006
Don't shoot me, I'm only the headline writer

News Item: Liberal man sentenced to more than 20 years for kids' deaths.

You mean they're handing out sentences based on someone's political stances now? Sheesh. You'd think that —


That's not what that means at all?

Oh. Never mind.

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:22 AM)
Do not misunderestimate your spell-checker

LiveJournal's apparently will suggest "Vulgarians" for "Walgreens", demonstrating convincingly that somebody once shopped there.

Permalink to this item (posted at 2:27 PM)
30 January 2007
Imagine the markup

This shirt prompted this commentary from Eugene Volokh:


I spotted a T-shirt at school bearing this inscription, but I don't think it quite means what some people assume it means.

I take it that it's supposed to mean "end hate." But when you use a tag like </i>, you don't mean "end italics" in the sense "abandon italics forever." You mean "I've been using italics for a bit, I'm stopping for a while now, but I'll get back to using it later."

Substitute "hate" for "i," and you'll get my drift. I bet the guy has a <hate> T-shirt in his closet that he was wearing three days before; he's hated all the stuff between then and the </hate> shirt; and he'll be wearing the <hate> shirt next time he's got some hating to do. Plus he certainly wouldn't just wear the </hate> shirt without having worn <hate> before, and on the same page — that would be syntactically non-compliant.

Not that compliance, with syntax or with anything that smacks of "rules," is valued highly among T-shirt sloganeers.

Anyway, </i> is deprecated these days: the purveyors of Official Standards prefer </em>. So at some point they really do expect us to "abandon italics forever." And if that shirt doesn't validate, well, neither do I.

Permalink to this item (posted at 11:14 AM)
1 February 2007
Monolog box

Hard to envision this as a dialog box. This was found by a local technician working on the production of recovery disks:

Say what?

He didn't mention whether the system complains if you don't answer quickly enough.

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:00 AM)
2 February 2007
Sometimes they write themselves

Which means I don't have to:

Troy, a high-income city of just 80,000 people and home to [Michigan's] only Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue department stores, now has another distinction. It is the only non-resort city of its size to have two Hooters.

"You come directly off the interstate and that's the first thing you come to," said Wade Fleming, a councilman who voted in June to reject the transfer of a liquor licence to the new Hooters restaurant from a rundown tavern that once operated at the same location. "That starts to define Troy, I think, and thatís not how we'd like to define Troy."

Hooters executives want just one restaurant in Troy but the company wonít close the old one until it's allowed to serve alcohol at the new restaurant, which opened Monday on a larger, more visible site.

Critics are concerned that the restaurants' scantily clad servers don't fit the image the city seeks to project in its Big Beaver commercial district.

"Oh, indubitably," as Daffy Duck used to say.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:23 AM)
7 February 2007
Because you mocked Hello Kitty

This is Foxkeh, the Japanese spokescreature for Mozilla Firefox. Unlike the critter-grasping-the-globe logo used elsewhere, this Fox has a different fire entirely:


Jumpin' Jack Flash was not available for comment.

(Via Miss Cellania.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:11 AM)
8 February 2007
The Hoohah Monologues

You probably know this play under a different title.

(Via Fark.com.)

Addendum: Steph Mineart has a better idea.

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:29 AM)
14 February 2007
On the firefly platform

On Sunny Googe Street:


Alternate title: The First Noel.

Permalink to this item (posted at 1:48 PM)
12 March 2007
Not the bonus essay question

Actually, this, in and of itself, doesn't strike me as an unreasonable thing to ask a student:

Write a paragraph comparing two pieces of work in your portfolio that are alike in some way. For example, you can compare two labs or your solutions to two problems you solved. One piece should be new and one should be from the beginning of the year. Use these questions to help you write your paragraph:

Which two pieces did you choose to compare?

How are they alike? How are they different?

Do you see any improvement in the newest piece of work as compared to the older work? Explain.

If you could redo the older piece of work, how would you improve it?

How could you improve the newer piece of work?

But why would a student be asked this in a fifth-grade math textbook, of all places? Developing metacognition is wonderful, I suppose, but the first order of business at this level is to get to the point where you can balance a checkbook.

(Via Joanne Jacobs.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 11:47 AM)
14 March 2007

Well, I'm sorry, but that's how "Arkansas's" looks like it ought to be pronounced.

Addendum, 18 March: Matt Barr advises: "When confused about style and grammar, I often consult people who ran for and got elected to state office."

Permalink to this item (posted at 11:27 AM)
15 March 2007
Lorem? I hardly know 'em

Lorem ipsum is not the winner of the Eurovision Song Contest, but a standard piece of boilerplate for evaluating printed-copy design — or even non-printed-copy design, as anyone who's looked over WordPress themes lately can tell you. It goes back to the sixteenth century:

Lorem Ipsum has been the industry's standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book. It has survived not only five centuries, but also the leap into electronic typesetting, remaining essentially unchanged. It was popularised in the 1960s with the release of Letraset sheets containing Lorem Ipsum passages, and more recently with desktop publishing software like Aldus PageMaker including versions of Lorem Ipsum.

Under no circumstances does it mean "FastAttach Safety System".

Permalink to this item (posted at 10:40 AM)
26 April 2007
I assume Lowrider wasn't available

Postcard received:

The April 2007 Issue was the last issue published of Premiere Magazine. We are pleased to inform you that you will receive Us Weekly for the remaining portion of your subscription.

This is like losing Daniel Patrick Moynihan and gaining [fill in any current Senator from New York State].

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:47 PM)
4 May 2007
Ward, it's the Beaver again

Dear Mr. Cleaver:

This paragraph has absolutely nothing to do with anything. It is here merely to fill up space. Still, it is words, rather than repeated letters, since the latter might not give the proper appearance, namely, that of an actual note.

For that matter, all of this is nonsense, and the only part of this that is to be read is the last paragraph, which part is the inspired creation of the producers of this very fine series.

I hope you can find a suitable explanation for Theodore's unusual conduct.

Lorem Ipsum was not available for comment.

(Via Jason Toon.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 1:10 PM)
6 May 2007
Bjørn under a bad sign

Oklahoma doesn't have a front license plate, and some cars sold here are never equipped with a bracket for mounting a front plate — though plenty of people have those brackets installed anyway and fill the space with various pleasantries of dubious artistic merit. (Gwendolyn, originally registered in Missouri, has a bracket, upon which I have mounted a picture of a goldfinch. Imagine that.)

One plate I see on a regular basis around here is easily explained but never really defended. It's always on a Volvo, it's sized like a European plate, and it says simply: SWEDISH. Well, duh. I've more than once grumbled "No shvit, Sven" upon seeing the silly thing. And it is silly: is there anyone who doesn't know where Volvos come from? And why do you never see it on a Saab? (Okay, it makes no sense on a 9-7X, but still.)

Should I ever find myself with the keys to a Hyundai, I think I will have a KOREAN plate made up to these specs, just to gauge the reactions from passersby.

Permalink to this item (posted at 4:27 PM)
7 May 2007
Not up to speed

A bill before the California Assembly would rewrite all those old statutes that contain the words "idiot," "imbecile" or "lunatic".

May I suggest: Decelerated-American.

Permalink to this item (posted at 4:24 PM)
10 May 2007
New wrinkles in the nomenclature

Remember prunes? Of course you do. Except that they'd rather you called them "dried plums."

The remarkable success of this top-down attempt to force the language into another direction, whether it wants to go there or not, has inspired many. Why, it's even made it to television:

Digital rights management (DRM) is the wrong term for technology that secures programmers' content as it moves to new digital platforms, says HBO Chief Technology Officer Bob Zitter, since it emphasized restrictions instead of opportunities.

Speaking at a panel session at the NCTA show in Las Vegas Tuesday, Zitter suggested that "DCE," or Digital Consumer Enablement, would more accurately describe technology that allows consumers "to use content in ways they haven't before," such as enjoying TV shows and movies on portable video players like iPods.

"I don't want to use the term DRM any longer," said Zitter, who added that content-protection technology could enable various new applications for cable operators. One example could be "burn-to-own DVDs," where a consumer would use a set-top box with a built-in DVD burner to record a movie onto an optical disc, thus eliminating the costly current process of pressing DVDs and distributing them physically at retail. Another possibility, says Zitter, is "early window exhibition," either in the form of making a movie available through video-on-demand (VOD) the same day as the home video release or allowing home theater users to pay extra to see a high-definition version of a theatrical release in the comfort of their home.

The minor detail that none of those vaunted New Technologies actually would require DRM, of course, can be found nowhere in the wild, wonderful world of ZitterSpeak.

Still, if they can sell Simpson's Individual Water Absorb-A-Tex Stringettes — and let's face it, we could use some flood preventers here in Soonerland this week — surely they can sell Zitter's "enablement," assuming the language mavens don't hurl at the very sound of the word.

(Via The Consumerist.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:40 AM)
12 May 2007
Motor-noter hardly wrote 'er

The best automotive writers combine adrenaline and grace; they can transport you to the Brickyard or the Nürburgring or wherever, and make you feel you're behind the wheel, or at least right next to behind the wheel.

There are few newspaper slots for the best automotive writers, though, which means that there's room for syndicators. The Oklahoman buys a package from Wheelbase Communications, mostly written by Malcolm Gunn. Generally, Gunn's historical stories come off better than his new-car reviews, generally because there's no sense of immediacy — the star on a Gullwing Mercedes is in no danger of tarnish — and therefore no compulsion to come up with ghastly sentences like this:

The car that singlehandedly helped revive the once-floundering Cadillac marque will arrive, redesigned, in a few months with even more ground-breaking content between its svelte skin.

Now "ground-breaking content" suggests there's a backhoe blog out there somewhere. Weirder is the description of Cadillac's revival: did the CTS pull this off "singlehandedly," or did it merely help? You can't have it both ways.

Verbiage such as this doesn't transport me to the Brickyard or the Nürburgring; it doesn't even transport me to the Cadillac dealership (which, conveniently, is next door to the Infiniti store).

Permalink to this item (posted at 10:38 AM)
17 May 2007
Nothing more need be said

From Hospital Chart Bloopers, through many twisty passages and ultimately through Scribal Terror:

Rectal examination revealed a normal size thyroid.

We have vendors like that.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:52 AM)
19 May 2007
I've told you a million times not to exaggerate

The National Weather Service's local forecast page normally features nine graphics this size to illustrate five days' (almost) worth of forecast, and most of them seem to illustrate the conditions well enough. (The one for freezing rain, sleet and stuff is a nasty-looking icicle, seemingly almost big enough to use as a murder weapon.) But this one? I mean, really, does that look like sprinkles to you? This is more like Noah than NOAA.

Permalink to this item (posted at 4:18 PM)
21 May 2007
The Hermits' Association will come to order

So Brad walks down to the beach early one morning, and comes back to witness this spectacle:

[O]n the way back, I saw a guy wearing a vest that said "Lone Wolf Motorcycle Club" ... I was reminded of the scene from Grosse Pointe Blank, where Dan Aykroyd's character is trying to get John Cusack's character to join his assassination "union". Cusack explains that he's not interested in joining a club, what with wearing all black; trying to craft the "lone wolf" persona.

Who came up with this name? Were they thinking?! I could see something like "Wolf Pack", but not "Lone Wolf"Ö Lone wolves ride alone; joining a club kinda defeats the purpose.

I am disinclined by nature (and by fondness for various internal organs) to mock bikers. But then there's this:

Lone Wolf Biker — Someone who lives the Bike Lifestyle but chooses not to ride with a club.

I detect a hint of Marxism, of the Groucho variety: "I refuse to belong to any club that will accept me as a member."

Permalink to this item (posted at 10:02 AM)
It helps to plan ahead

Embattled Attorney General Alberto Gonzales apparently has a fallback position: in the National Basketball Association.

In the absence of a better explanation:

For some reason, typing the domain www.albertogonzales.com into your browser's address line takes web-surfers to the online home of the NBA's Portland Trail Blazers. A quick online search shows that the Attorney General's name is registered to InterCosmos Media Group of New Orleans, and was registered on Feb. 3, 2005, just as Gonzales was up for Senate confirmation. An attempt to reach InterCosmos for an explanation was unsuccessful.

OregonLive Blazers blogger Casey Holdahl speculates: "My guess is that Alberto can really stroke the three."

(Via TrueHoop.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:13 PM