Archive for Almost Yogurt

The opposite of footloose

The tango has no place in Turkey, says a group of Turkish bluenoses:

A local association in Turkey’s southern province of Adana has urged the local authorities to cancel an ongoing tango festival, describing the saucy Argentinian dance as “adultery on foot and with music.”

The group, which calls itself the “Well-behaved Adana Platform” (Uslu Adana Platformu), has taken exception to the festival, which started on Oct. 23 and is supported by the Adana Metropolitan Municipality. In a written statement, it condemned tango as “having no place in our national culture” and demanded that the festival be the last tango in Adana.

“A festival that exhibits adultery through such physical closeness has no place in our religion or national culture… This kind of erotic dance is inviting people to sin. Adultery on foot and with music might have its enthusiasts, but such repulsive things should not have their place in society.”

Should I assume that married couples don’t dance either? Having been to Turkey, though not to the province of Adana except for a single overflight, I suspect that this is either a lot to assume or that the Erdoğan government has been cracking down even more than I thought.

(Via @Fausta.)

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It’s all about the Benjamin J. Grimms

In shakier times, Marvel, having regained the film rights to the Fantastic Four comic, promptly sold them off to 20th Century-Fox, and Roger suspects that this is the reason why the comic is being killed off:

So, it would seem, if Marvel cancels the comic book, the movies won’t do as well. If Fox stops making movies, the rights to the movie portrayals revert to Marvel. THEN Marvel can (and probably will) bring back the FF, because, as someone who read the four-color items for three decades, almost nothing is permanent in the comic books.

FF has been sort of snakebit in theaters, anyway. The 1994 film version, breathed upon by Roger Corman, was made mostly to avoid losing the film rights, which a German firm had picked up for a mere handful of Deutsche Marks. (It was not, you may be sure, a special-effects fest, and Stan Lee claimed, well after the fact, that the producers never really intended to release it at all.)

Fox is rebooting the film franchise in 2015, probably for the last time: there’s supposedly a sequel scheduled for 2017, but if this thing bombs as badly as I think it will … never mind, I can’t even bring myself to think about this. FF was my favorite comic for a long, long time; I actually bought a bound volume of the first 40 issues for something like $100. Ostensibly, it was because I fancied myself a scientist almost on par with Reed Richards, but eventually I figured it was because I wanted to get my far-too-inflexible hands on Sue Storm.

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What’s the upchuck factor on this?

I figured out somewhere just before the credits, but no sooner, that Clueless was basically an update of Jane Austen’s Emma, with Cher Horowitz demonstrably “handsome, clever and rich.” But you could have done something unspeakable to me with a chainsaw when a reader of HelloGiggles determined that Heathers is actually derived from Moby-Dick, and not just because Shannen Doherty is reading it, either:

The whale (an elusive, incredibly powerful white whale) = all three Heathers (an elusive, incredibly powerful group of mean girls).

I can tell you’re stunned at the brilliance of this theory already.

Ahab = J.D.

This makes total sense when you think about it. Ahab has a crazy, single-minded obsession with killing the whale. J.D. has a crazy, single-minded obsession with killing the popular kids (the Heathers).

Ishmael = Veronica. Obviously, the narrators align. We see both worlds through their eyes. No, I am not on drugs right now.

And then we have the overlapping themes in both Moby-Dick and Heathers: revenge, defiance, friendship, madness, and death.

It gets better. And the survivor count at the end: Moby-Dick, 1; Heathers, 1.

Then again, to quote Ishmael:

All men live enveloped in whale-lines. All are born with halters round their necks; but it is only when caught in the swift, sudden turn of death, that mortals realize the silent, subtle, ever-present perils of life. And if you be a philosopher, though seated in the whale-boat, you would not at heart feel one whit more of terror, than though seated before your evening fire with a poker, and not a harpoon, by your side.

I’m sold — apart from Melville’s utter failure to anticipate strip croquet, anyway.

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Hurting less

Fillyjonk, in a pensive mood:

I vaguely remember from Great Books (that was 25-odd years ago now) that some Greek philosopher or other described pleasure as being the absence of pain, and one of the thoughts I had in the class (can’t remember if I brought it up now) is that so often in the modern world, we now define “pain” as the “absence of pleasure” — that is, if you’re not actively enjoying yourself, you consider it painful. (“Math is hard,” said Barbie). And a lot of people do seem to have forgotten that there’s a joy in good old hard work and that even stuff that isn’t fun at the time can teach you something.

That was Epicurus, who in contemporary times seems to have acquired a reputation for being something of a swinger, or at least advocating being something of a swinger. In fact, he did nothing of the kind; what Epicurus advocated was striving to rid ourselves of pain and suffering, which would perforce leave us in the pleasurable state of ataraxia, defined spiffily as “robust tranquility.” I could definitely go for some of that.

But, last night, as I got into bed, I thought, yeah, when you’ve been in pain for a while and that pain goes away, it IS pleasure. And it’s something to be grateful for, and I was.

As Johnny Mercer teaches us, we need to accentuate the positive. (Mercer, for his part, says he got it from Father Divine.)

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Privilege checked and acknowledged

Not that I feel compelled to apologize for it or anything. Michael Kinsley writes in the November Vanity Fair:

[T]he least attractive man will always have one advantage over the most attractive woman: he’ll need less time for physical preparation each day. The most vain male politician (that would be John Edwards, who once paid $1,250 for a haircut) probably spends less time on his hair, his cosmetics, and his clothes than the most indifferent or naturally beautiful woman. This is extra time he can spend developing an anti-terrorism policy or catching up on sleep.

Naturally beautiful women are indifferent to me, but that’s a different matter. (Besides, so are the rest of them.)

Feminism is no longer, if it ever was, about burning bras or not shaving your legs. Or at least the female leadership pioneers in business and politics do not interpret feminism that way. The first woman president, be it Hillary Clinton or someone else, will travel with a hairdresser and wear designer clothes. And she will need an extra half-hour or more every morning to do things that cannot be delegated to an aide and that even Barack Obama — probably our most physically fastidious if not downright dandyish president ever — never has had to bother with.

It will certainly take longer than eight minutes, thirty-four seconds.

Did I mention that Kinsley’s piece was about Chris Christie? (Did I have to?)

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MAD at Bex

The current issue of MAD pokes fun at TMZ — perhaps not the most difficult target, I concede, but sometimes low-hanging fruit is tasty — and works in a reference to our “Friday” friend that I’m not sure I want to contemplate:

Panel from Mad magazine #530

Thanks (I guess) to Desmond Devlin and Tom Bunk.

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A plugin to be desired

A couple days ago, Jack Baruth was sorely vexed with the sort of literal-minded schnook who can’t detect satire no matter how obvious it is. A commenter responded with this programming note:

I am in the final testing of a program that I will be offering for sale to the operators of blogs and any other website that allows comments. It will be known as the Butt Hurt Detector XP-9 and will work as follows;

When Butt Hurt is detected in a post, an immediate message will be sent to the poster’s device that consists of the following, a full screen flashing extended middle finger with the invitation to “Pull on your big girl panties and get over yourself” and immediate termination of posting privileges. Any attempt to establish another posting account from the same device, will result in a self destruct command to be sent back, hopefully resulting in a fiery explosion of said device(I’m still working on that part).

I have but a single objection: “butthurt” really needs to be one word.

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Quote of the week

The political left, somewhat more so than the right, tends to believe in the fundamental mutability of mankind: you can change minds, you can change hearts, you can change murderers into commencement speakers. Baseball owner Bill Veeck was pointing out the futility of this sort of thing before many of them were born:

When I signed Larry Doby, the first Negro player in the American League, we received 20,000 letters, most of them in violent and sometimes obscene protest. Over a period of time I answered all. In each answer, I included a paragraph congratulating them on being wise enough to have chosen parents so obviously to their liking. If everyone knew their precious secret, I told them, I was sure everyone would conform to the majority. Until that happy day, I wrote, I was sure they would agree that any man should be judged on his personal merit and allowed to exploit his talents to the fullest, whether he happened to be black, green, or blue with pink dots.

I am afraid irony is lost on these people, but that’s not the point I want to make here. A year later, I was a collector for what is now called the Combined Jewish Appeal. This time, I got something close to 5,000 violent and sometimes obscene letters. In answering, something interesting happened. The names began to have a familiar ring. I became curious enough to check our files and I found they were to an astonishing degree — about 95 percent — the same people. A year after that, I converted to Catholicism. About 2,000 anti-Catholics were concerned enough about my soul to write me violent and again often obscene letters. All but a handful of them were already in our anti-Negro and anti-Semite files.

So I am one man who has documentary proof that prejudice is indivisible. The jackal, after all, doesn’t care what kind of animal he sinks his teeth into.

Once an asshat, always an asshat.

The kind soul who dug up this Veeck quote added:

So to all those who claim the Internet has led to some degree of courtesy breakdowns, moral decay, and Loss Of Values, I just want to say the following:

It’s always been like this. It’s just a lot faster now.

Note that no one is saying you don’t have a right to your opinion. You don’t, however, have a right to make anyone give a damn about it.

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Ahead of the game

Which is where you want to be at all times, right? A helpful hint from Tam:

You might note that the first three letters of “preparedness” are “PRE”. You know, Latin for “before”, “in front of”, “ahead of”. This is not a coincidence. The whole notion of preparedness is that when unexpected stuff happens, you have already taken steps to deal with it. It’s the opposite of running to the store for bread and milk because the weatherman said it was going to snow; you don’t need to do that, because you already have bread and milk. (Or if you’re really a hardcore prepper, sacks of grain and a cow, I suppose.)

Still, some people gotta have their French toast.

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As long as you give us money

You’ll notice that no one actually wants this structure to be torn down or anything:

If you’ve walked past New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art lately, you’ll have noticed the brand-new plaza in front of the building with the Beaux-Arts façade that is home to America’s greatest art collection. Whenever alterations are made to a familiar structure, opinions usually vary widely and sharply. But one view is currently drowning out all others: Several art critics are miffed by the fact that golden letters emblazoned on the Met’s new twin fountains identify the site as the David H. Koch Plaza, in honor of the trustee who wrote the $65 million check that paid for it in full.

And it’s not like you haven’t seen this sort of thing before:

In our bipolar age, political purists are increasingly disposed to raise a stink whenever arts groups accept gifts from sources deemed by said purists to be unworthy. This tendency initially manifested itself in the case of tobacco companies like Philip Morris International that supported the arts. No doubt the company’s commitment to what it calls “corporate social responsibility” was in part an attempt to divert attention from its less-than-socially responsible products. Nevertheless, the fact of its generosity is not to be ignored — or despised.

If you think about it, the idea of a “political purist” is absurd on the face of it: nothing in politics is “pure,” or ever can be, and those who would pride themselves on their ideological purity tend to be delusional, or worse. If you object to Koch Brothers money, but happily tolerate dollars from George Soros — or, for that matter, the other way around — I, for one, am grateful that there isn’t a damned thing you can do about it.

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A measure of attentiveness

As I mentioned earlier, I went to the movies yesterday, and was favorably impressed. As a rule, I shy away from Rotten Tomatoes-style numbers or Entertainment Weekly’s letter grades, but I think I may have hit upon something, based on one known repeated behavior: I always buy exactly one candy item from the concession stand.

The grade, as you may have guessed, is derived from how long I still have candy left, on the basis that if I’m bored with what I’m seeing on screen, I eat more. (This is definitely true outside the theater.) For Rainbow Rocks, I purchased one bag of Twizzlers Bites ($4.25). The film started at 10 am and ran until 11:20. The last of the Bites were polished off at — wait for it — 7:45 pm. Yes, folks, I took them home with me. It’s been a long time since I did anything like that.

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Brightness control

The Internet, says Bark M., has changed everything:

We used to think people who had vast memories and the ability to devour, and later recall, great bits of knowledge were “smart.” Who needs to do that anymore? Each one of us has a device with the entirety of the knowledge of mankind in our pockets at all time. And, largely because of this, everybody seems to have an opinion on everything, because it’s easy to do a Google search and instantly find out what your position on virtually anything should be. I can’t write a column on TTAC without commenters disputing everything I say, claiming to have all knowledge of all types of cars, despite the fact that they own a 2003 Altima and have never competed in any sort of autosport. The latest C&D review of the new Mustang GT was the best example I’ve seen of this recently — about halfway through the article, I already knew that the commenters would be screaming “45k FOR A RUSTANG LOL YA RITE.” None of them can afford a $45k car of any type, of course, but that doesn’t matter. The internet and social media have mistakenly made all of us think our opinions are equal and valid, when, in reality, nothing could be further from the truth. The Mustang will sell as fast as dealers can get them.

In my capacity as a person who supposedly easily once qualified as Smart v1.0, I have to admit to a growing level of complacency: if I don’t have The Answer, surely someone else out there has, and that should take the pressure off me. Opinions are still worth about as much as they always were — one of them and $7.99 will get you a combo meal for a limited time only at participating locations, tax not included — but the sheer quantity of them insures that no one is waiting with bated breath for mine.

In a lower-quality automotive environment, such as Yahoo! Answers, most of the loudmouth participants would be lucky to have a 2003 Altima; among the worst ones are the characters who are “temporarily” living at home, “paying no bills,” making $50-60k a year, and wanting to know how close they are to owning a Gallardo. I usually tell them that the reasonable upper limit of their aspirations is a ’99 Corolla. They resent the hell out of that; the only people who are consistently more hostile than this are the ones who can’t understand why they can’t have a Nissan Skyline, and the ones who go on for several paragraphs about how much this crapmobile they bought from a buy-here-pay-here dealer for only 200 percent of list keeps breaking down every other week, and demand to know “What are my rights?” (The answer to that, of course, is “If it breaks in half going down the road, you get to keep both halves.”)

And besides, we’re all smart. The Ed Biz says so:

Now, in modern schools, every kid is “smart.” They have something like seventy-four different types of “intelligence,” and all the kids are intelligent in some way — they even have “physical intelligence” for the kids who are athletically gifted. All the tests that we used to think determined some sort of intelligence are now deemed in some way or another to be “biased.” I used to endlessly mock my brother because I scored about 200 points higher than he did on the SAT (granted, I took it when I was 17 and he took it when he was 13 or something, but still). He claimed that they made the test easier in the eight years between our respective testing dates — now it’s not even up for debate. The college entrance exams are much, much easier than they used to be. I don’t even think they give IQ tests to kids now.

I mention this because (1) his brother reads this stuff occasionally and (2) my brother, the one who was four years younger than I and passed away in 2010, scored about 200 points lower than I did on the SAT. Then again, he was the grounded one; I was the neurotic. (And yet he’s gone, and somehow I’m still here.) And had he been turned loose on those nimrods on Y!A, or even the Best & Brightest at TTAC, he’d have torn them enough new ones to cause a worldwide gauze shortage, while I barely draw blood.

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Damned near blinded

If you’re Magnus Pyke, you get to yell “Science!” at regular intervals. Most of the rest of you can stick a sock in it:

[F]or all our bleating about “science” we live in an astonishingly unscientific and anti-scientific society. We have plenty of anti-science people, but most of our “pro-science” people are really pro-magic (and therefore anti-science).

This bizarre misunderstanding of science yields the paradox that even as we expect the impossible from science (“Please, Mr Economist, peer into your crystal ball and tell us what will happen if Obama raises/cuts taxes”), we also have a very anti-scientific mindset in many areas.

For example, our approach to education is positively obscurantist. Nobody uses rigorous experimentation to determine better methods of education, and someone who would dare to do so would be laughed out of the room. The first and most momentous scientist of education, Maria Montessori, produced an experimentally based, scientific education method that has been largely ignored by our supposedly science-enamored society. We have departments of education at very prestigious universities, and absolutely no science happens at any of them.

Not to mention the Department of Education in Washington, which is utterly consumed with magical thinking.

Our approach to public policy is also astonishingly pre-scientific. There have been almost no large-scale truly scientific experiments on public policy since the welfare randomized field trials of the 1990s, and nobody seems to realize how barbaric this is. We have people at Brookings who can run spreadsheets, and Ezra Klein can write about it and say it proves things, we have all the science we need, thank you very much. But that is not science.

Ezra Klein couldn’t prove that shit smells funny if you spotted him half a dozen turds and a URL to be named later; he is the absolute slave of the magicians.

And, of course, there’s a simple reason for this:

Modern science is one of the most important inventions of human civilization. But the reason it took us so long to invent it and the reason we still haven’t quite understood what it is 500 years later is it is very hard to be scientific. Not because science is “expensive” but because it requires a fundamental epistemic humility, and humility is the hardest thing to wring out of the bombastic animals we are.

At the very heart of science is the possibility that holy crap, we might be wrong; if your worldview holds that you can’t be wrong, you know nothing of science and have no right to invoke it.

(Via Rand Simberg.)

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Just a snack before I go

Last month, Maxim got a makeover of massive proportions: fart jokes and other juvenilia were cast aside in favor of an upscale, Playboy-ish look, though the dress code for the pictorials remains unchanged.

One feature they kept, fortunately, was “24 Hours to Live,” in which a gentleman of note is asked several questions regarding his last day on earth. This month, Anthony Anderson, star of this fall’s ABC series Black-ish, gets the call, and describes his last meal:

A 36-ounce, bone-in Kobe beef rib eye cooked medium with tarragon French fingerling potatoes, creamed corn with bacon, my daughter’s homemade cheesecake from scratch. And a Diet Coke.

Clearly a man of health and taste.

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Demolition meant

Yours truly, from last summer:

Yes, there is a John Johansen structure on the hit list, but it’s not the one you thought. It’s the Morris A. Mechanic Theatre in Baltimore, which since the last time I brought it up now actually faces a visit from the Happy Fun Wrecking Ball.

So I don’t want to hear any more goddamn complaints about Stage Center. Got that?

Of course, Stage Center was put out of its misery earlier this year, and the heavy equipment has just arrived at the Mechanic.

I note for record that neither of these demolitions were actually approved while Johansen was still alive. (He died in October 2012 at ninety-six; you think maybe he held on in the hopes that the buildings might be saved?)

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Totally umbrageous

Perpetual outrage? It’s a frickin’ industry, says Amanda Kerri:

We have turned righteous indignation into a marketable skill, and a way to make money. Fox News is a company that thrives off of anger, rage, misinformation, and disgusting behavior. I honestly cannot remember any time in my life, people who called themselves journalists working for a news organization, thinking it’s okay to call the First Lady fat. The only reason Rush Limbaugh even exists is because he figured out how to make money off of being offensive and angry. Don’t think liberals are any more enlightened. People have launched entire public media careers based off of spewing half understood academic terms they got from an Anthropology 101 class, to make money on youtube, blogs, speaking tours, etc., being outraged at every last slight. They look for things to be outraged about. If you aren’t the right kind of activist you’re worse than any member of the hetero-cisgendered-white-right handed-pull over instead of button up-dog loving but cat disliking-colonialist-patriarchy that might or might not be oppressing you. You have committed the sin of being of a different approach or opinion on the matter. And the horrible thing about these people, is that they are just so goddamned loud! They drown out those that have nuanced, educated, balanced opinions that are more interested in building bridges between camps instead of trying to figure out ways to burn down those camps. Those people get driven out of movement and shouted down because they’re more interested in talking instead of shouting (for a $5000 speakers fee mind you).

This is what we’ve become.

The key to that is in the middle: “They look for things to be outraged about.” Life’s rich pageant offers them no obvious balm for their twisted souls, so they look for incidents to reinforce their pet prejudices, and they think that’s enough — especially if somehow they can get paid for it. I have reduced my news consumption to one newspaper (local), one magazine (The Week, which reads all the other magazines so I don’t have to), and blogdom, the latter assisted by Twitter. (There are things I read which don’t specialize in news, but occasionally actually have stories worth reading: for example, Vanity Fair, whose fawning interest in rich people often produces really good financial-industry coverage.) I’m not saying I’m any more nuanced or educated or balanced than the next guy, but I don’t enter echo chambers willingly if I can possibly help it.

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Where have all gozintas gone?

An interesting theory being put forth here: “Education reforms are driven mostly by what is fun for schoolteachers to teach.” Example:

After all, what is the standard rap against “traditional” math? The main complaint is that it’s “just” teaching “rote” memorization. But what’s wrong with rote memorization? Speaking as someone who got pretty far in math, I’d say that when it comes to the basic arithmetic kids are trying to absorb at the grade-school level, rote memorization is just fine. Arithmetic is one of those things that’s utterly boring once you know it, and once you absorb the patterns. But until that happens, “rotely memorizing” it is just as fine a method as any other. “Rote memorization” isn’t a bad way to teach, it’s just a dreary way to teach. So teachers refuse to do it, and will work up whatever education theories they need in order to not have to. Even if it works.

A lot of the pressure towards New, Fun Stuff originated with the fact that not everyone learns at the most effective rate in exactly the same way, but things just got out of hand after that:

It’s true that when it comes to a typical arithmetic problem, there are multiple ways to attack it, none of them “wrong.” If you get the right answer, using right logic, the method cannot have been “wrong.”

The problem is that this sort of observation — like the buzzword “STEM” — is dangerous. Once it trickles down into mainstream educational usage it becomes an elementary schoolteacher telling her class that this or that math problem “has no right answer.” Which is totally wrong! Of course there’s a right answer! There are even right and wrong (false logic/incorrectly-reasoned) methods! In the great game of telephone that is apparently schoolteacher theory, the (correct enough) view that “there’s no single correct algorithm, algorithms that use correct logic are all equivalent and must necessarily lead to the same right answer, so one should use whichever algorithm works for them” has gotten all garbled and reinterpreted to mean something like “all algorithms are equally ok and there’s no single right answer.”

Cue Professor Tom Lehrer: “But in the new approach, as you know, the important thing is to understand what you’re doing, rather than to get the right answer.”

Back in the Old Silurian times, we were told that 9 X 7 was 63 because if we had seven groups of nine items, or nine groups of seven items, we would perforce have 63 items, and we could test this on anything we had at least 63 of. Since counting items took up lots of time, it became easier just to memorize the tables up to 12 or so.

(You remember gozintas, right?)

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A bargain nearly Faustian

Lauren Faust, among my personal heroines — it’s that whole My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic thing — tells the story of how she got from shy-ish kid to animator at Sony Pictures, and while her CV is packed with all sorts of stuff, pony-related and otherwise, this is perhaps the most pertinent quote:

I started developing cartoons and series for girls. I would pitch shows to executives at different studios, and people would really like the stories and really like the characters, but then tell me, “We don’t want shows for girls.” They were attributing the poor performance of these shows to the gender of the target audience instead of to the quality of the shows. It was like banging my head against the wall; I just couldn’t get through.

Faust says she basically aimed MLP:FiM at her inner eight-year-old girl, which may explain why it was so well received by yours truly, inhabited by an inner nine-year-old girl. Her current project at Sony is the retelling of the tale of Medusa.

(Via Cartoon Brew.)

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Can we all get along?

In which I attempt to answer the question posed by the late Rodney King, with a notable lack of success.

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Once burned, ice shy

The late Lou Gehrig, an eminently sensible man, would probably not have encouraged people to dump water on their heads for the sake of research into amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. But being an eminently sensible man, he also wouldn’t have attributed the phenomenon to Beelzebub:

A WorldNetDaily writer can’t fathom why anyone would willingly dump ice water on themselves, so she did some digging and has now concluded that the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is a satanic ritual.

“I began to think about the IBC,” Selena Owens explains in the piece. “Whose idea was this? Why would people so easily agree to being drenched in icy water? Who participated and who didn’t? Why do people feel obligated to take the challenge if offered to them? What’s the purpose of calling out three other people to take the challenge?”

It gets sillier after that, believe it or not.

Says Lynn:

I don’t even know what to say about this, folks, except that it’s really, really effed up. Someone please go dump a bucket — no, a trash can — full of ice over Selena Owens’ head. Maybe the ritual will reboot her brain.

And since it’s Friday, here’s Rebecca Black on the receiving end:

To the guy who said she should have been wearing white: give it a rest, why doncha?

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Finally a (second!) use for Comic Sans

Two days after the first one, here’s an even better one:

There’s another scandal doing the rounds on the web and it has nothing to do with leaked nude pictures of celebrities.

A decision by the Sydney Morning Herald to use the much-maligned font Comic Sans on its front page has made it the focus of much attention, and ridicule, on social media.

The 183-year-old newspaper, known as Granny, placed comments by Independent Commission against Corruption witnesses Eric Roozendaal and Chris Hartcher in Comic Sans speech bubbles.

Response on Twitter was along these lines:

Mr Stott is the morning editor at News Corp’s news.com.au, which has long been fond of poking fun at Fairfax Media, which owns the SMH.

And come to think of it, #smh is a pretty common hashtag in its own right, quite apart from Fairfax.

Still, if we’re going to have Dueling Douchebags on the front page, Comic Sans accords them the seriousness they deserve.

(Via Fark.)

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The emetic in your refrigerator door

I am not fond of mayonnaise. (Then there’s McGehee, who is really not fond of mayonnaise.) Still, your go-to person for mayo hatred is Amelia:

When is it appropriate to use mayonnaise?
@BrianFaughnan

Dear Brian,

Never. Well, never as condiment, anyways. Mayonnaise is acceptable if you’ve ingested poison and need to induce vomiting, but only if other means are not available and time is truly of the essence.

Amusingly, this is the top of the Wikipedia page for “Vomiting”:

“Vomit” redirects here. For other uses, see Vomit (disambiguation).

“Emesis” redirects here. For the butterfly genus, see Emesis (genus).

“Heaving” redirects here. For the up-and-down motion, see Heave.

“Puke” redirects here. For other uses, see Puke (disambiguation).

When the aliens come, as they must, I’ll remind them that this world of ours is so incredibly diverse that there’s a disambiguation page for “Puke.”

(Typed while eating a ham sandwich. No mayo.)

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Finally a use for Comic Sans

I admit, I wasn’t expecting this:

Yahoo Answers screenshot:<br />
Whats they best text font and size for this letter?

What it’s all about:

im turning 18 and leaving a verbally abusive home in 9 days. ive thought of it for a while, saved up money, got new clothes and food. im leaving my parents house and the state and im writing them a letter explaining why im leaving, what caused it. that ill be with my boyfriend ive kept secret for 2 years and so on. i want them to know that im not “running away” but living my own life, my parents and i have different religious beliefs (they are southern baptist and im pagan) and im going off to be myself. i dont want it to sound too angry but i want them to understand ive been hurt (im a girl and once i forgot to brush my hair and got my head shaved etc)

Before you ask: yes, I’d have said the same thing were this a boy sending this sob story.

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Armed with 45s

Those of you who were taken aback at the fact that I worked a Blondie reference into a Spottings post presumably haven’t been around here very long: if a lyric comes into my head, it will almost always appear in the current post.

Even people who get paid to write stuff do this. K. C. Colwell, in Car and Driver‘s 2015 New Cars issue:

If the [BMW] M3 has been reduced to a parts-bin fluff job, well, then, God is dead and the war’s begun.

Alvin Tostig (Levon’s father) was not available for comment.

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Read it later

This is Amba’s theory of procrastination, and it makes as much sense as any I’ve heard:

For us to do anything challenging, and particularly anything creative, our regular everyday self has to get out of the way, and it doesn’t want to.

Our regular everyday self wants the credit for the work, and the gratification of having done the work, but in fact it cannot and does not DO the work. For the work to happen, our regular everyday self not only has to sacrifice the petty, reliable pleasures with which it lines its cozy nest and shores itself up; it has to sacrifice itself. It has to go away. It has to cease to exist for an indefinite unbounded while, a little death that for all it knows might be the big death. For the regular everyday self, this is not only unpleasant, it’s terrifying. It will put up a fight for hours, for days. Procrastination is its rear-guard action. A miniature version of this battle must be fought at the entrance to every workout, every workday.

Disclosure: I probably should have posted this yesterday.

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Stay out of my inbox

Nothing makes you dread the New Mail notifier more than, well, new mail, especially if it’s wholly unnecessary, as most of it is, and I have to admit, I’m not as badly squeezed for time as, say, your friendly neighborhood college professor:

“For years, student emails have been an assault on professors, sometimes with inappropriate informality, sometimes just simply not understanding that professors should not have to respond immediately,” Spring-Serenity Duvall, assistant professor of communications at Salem College, wrote in a blog post last week. “In a fit of self-preservation, I decided: no more. This is where I make my stand!”

And that stand was elegantly simple:

Screen shot of Professor Duvall's email policy

Which, I concede, is much kinder than RTFS (the last word is “syllabus”), and you can’t argue with these results:

It’s difficult to convey just how wonderful it was for students to stop by office hours more often, to ask questions about assignments in the class periods leading up to due dates, and to have students rise to the expectation that they know the syllabus. Their papers were better, they were more prepared for class time than I’ve ever experienced.

It is also difficult to tally the time I saved by not answering hundreds of brief, inconsequential emails throughout the semester. I can say that the difference in my inbox traffic was noticeable and welcome.

(Via the Instant Man.)

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None of which explains Goofy

Okay, I’m willing to accept Taylor Swift as an information-security specialist, but this is a bridge too far:

I (along with every other woman who was once in third grade in the early 1990’s) was shocked, absolutely SHOCKED to recently learn that Hello Kitty is not, in fact, actually a cat.

“Wait, WHAT?” you say. “But the ears … and the whiskers … and her last name is Kitty … wait, are you punking me, because if you’re not, wait WHAT?”

Well, actually, her last name is White. But still:

Christine R. Yano, an anthropologist from the University of Hawaii (who is curating an upcoming Hello Kitty retrospective for the Japanese American National Museum), told the L.A. Times that she had referred to Hello Kitty as a cat in her written text for the exhibition, and Sanrio was like “Actually … no.”

“I was corrected — very firmly,” Yano said. “That’s one correction Sanrio made for my script for the show. Hello Kitty is not a cat. She’s a cartoon character. She is a little girl. She is a friend. But she is not a cat. She’s never depicted on all fours. She walks and sits like a two-legged creature. She does have a pet cat of her own, however, and it’s called Charmmy Kitty.”

You have to figure that Sanrio would know these things, but I keep wondering what else they haven’t told us about Kitty, like that facial expression right out of Harlan Ellison.

I suppose I need to ask Twilight Sparkle if she is in fact a pony.

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Non-shiny happy people

Apparently it’s possible, even in this day and age:

I was thinking about my old high school French teacher again this morning as I trudged up the stairs to my office. Specifically, how I remember seeing him on his way to work (the prep school I attended had a few houses that they used to provide housing for some faculty. He and his wife had a house close to campus). He was frequently whistling and swinging his briefcase. And thinking about that makes me sad because while I value my work deeply, I never quite feel like whistling and swinging whatever I am carrying (I don’t carry a briefcase) as I head in to work. And I wonder, how does someone learn to be that happy-go-lucky? By all rights I should be like that — I have an extremely good life, unbelievably good by global standards — and yet I’m so serious all the time. And stuff, little stuff, gets to me and sucks out the joy I might feel.

I think part of it may be hard-coded into the genome. Mark Twain’s Old Man in “What Is Man?”, 1906:

I know them well. They are extremes, abnormals; their temperaments are as opposite as the poles. Their life-histories are about alike — but look at the results! Their ages are about the same — about around fifty. Burgess had always been buoyant, hopeful, happy; Adams has always been cheerless, hopeless, despondent. As young fellows both tried country journalism — and failed. Burgess didn’t seem to mind it; Adams couldn’t smile, he could only mourn and groan over what had happened and torture himself with vain regrets for not having done so and so instead of so and so — THEN he would have succeeded. They tried the law — and failed. Burgess remained happy — because he couldn’t help it. Adams was wretched — because he couldn’t help it. From that day to this, those two men have gone on trying things and failing: Burgess has come out happy and cheerful every time; Adams the reverse. And we do absolutely know that these men’s inborn temperaments have remained unchanged through all the vicissitudes of their material affairs. Let us see how it is with their immaterials. Both have been zealous Democrats; both have been zealous Republicans; both have been zealous Mugwumps. Burgess has always found happiness and Adams unhappiness in these several political beliefs and in their migrations out of them. Both of these men have been Presbyterians, Universalists, Methodists, Catholics — then Presbyterians again, then Methodists again. Burgess has always found rest in these excursions, and Adams unrest. They are trying Christian Science, now, with the customary result, the inevitable result. No political or religious belief can make Burgess unhappy or the other man happy.

I assure you it is purely a matter of temperament. Beliefs are ACQUIREMENTS, temperaments are BORN; beliefs are subject to change, nothing whatever can change temperament.

Aside: I’ll never know precisely how much that essay affected me when I read it as a tween. Call it an acquired belief.

A possibility:

Maybe he never watched the news. That could be part of it.

I’m sure not watching the news has helped my sense of self.

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Prerequisite to just about everything

You absolutely need this class to help navigate the choppy waters of National Discourse:

Credit hours: -3.

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Flying in an ever-decreasing radius

Eventually, you fly into your own backside, which is pretty much what this guy seems to have done:

The co-authors of Miami Dade College’s main communications department textbook have been embroiled in accusations that some of the text may have been plagiarized.

One of those sections, ironically, deals with the very definition of plagiarism.

It’s there on page 37 of The Freedom to Communicate textbook: Plagiarism is taking someone else’s work without giving them credit. It is, the textbook states, “a serious problem in today’s society.”

That’s what Isabel del Pino-Allen, a communications professor at MDC, charged that her colleague and co-author Adam Vellone did with a handful of passages — including lifting language nearly word-for-word from a paper defining 10 different types of plagiarism produced by the anti-plagiarism software company Turnitin, without providing proper credit.

The school’s own investigation didn’t go so far as to charge Vellone with plagiarism, but did identify several passages as needing clarification, and suggested that the book’s publisher may have contributed to the matter by reformatting citations. In this particular instance:

None of the references at the end of MDC’s textbook refers directly back to the Turnitin paper but there is a trail — albeit circuitous — that does link back to the original source: The textbook cites an MDC library guide, which does not contain the actual original text but does link to the website plagiarism.org. Although that link itself is defunct, plagiarism.org does link to the original Turnitin paper.

The head of the faculty union — one of the five co-authors of the text — says that the matter should be considered closed.

Isabel del Pino-Allen left the following comment on The Chronicle of Higher Education’s article regarding this matter:

More important than the plagiarism in the book, which Jason Chu [education director at Turnitin] labels “sloppy scholarship” and “unethical and improper,” there were several test questions that Mr. Vellone appropriated from other books and used in his chapters’ test bank. An example of one of this questions is: “A speech on how to assemble the electrical circuitry in a basic refrigerator motor would likely use which pattern of organization?” (this question came from Judy Pearson’s and Paul Nelson’s An Introduction to Human Communication). Mr. Vellone slightly altered the question to: “A speech that explains how to assemble the electrical circuitry in a basic refrigerator motor would likely use which pattern of organization?” In other words he substituted “on how” for “that explains.” As I wrote to another colleague today, what Mr. Vellone did is “the type of vulgar plagiarism that we would expect from a marginal student,” not from a college professor. The MDC administration, in its report, stated that because the test questions were on-line, they would most likely be “in the public domain.” I disagree!

You’d be surprised — or maybe you wouldn’t — how many people think that something is fair game just because it’s on the Web.

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