Archive for Almost Yogurt

Rabbit is retrying

We begin with a paragraph from Hugh Hefner’s The Playboy Philosophy, December 1962:

Some seem to feel that a happy, even frisky and romantic attitude toward life, and a savoring of its material pleasures, preclude seriousness, work, sensibility, a viable aesthetic. In our book (literally and in the slang sense) this position is untenable. It belongs with such other evidences of semantic dysfunction as the unreasoning suspicion that medicine can’t be good for you if it doesn’t taste bad; that robust profanity bespeaks a limited vocabulary (rather than one equipped with condiments as well as nutrients); that dullness is the ordained handmaiden of seriousness; that the well-dressed man is an empty-headed fop, perforce, and that conversely, the chap who can’t distinguish a fine Niersteiner from a plebeian bottle of hock is probably possessed of more intellect of character than the man who can.

In the Age of Dudebros, this sort of claim to the epicurean high ground gets exactly the amount of respect you’d think, which is why the keepers of the Rabbit are actually considering turning away from its signature offering:

“You could argue that nudity is a distraction for us and actually shrinks our audience rather than expands it,” says [Playboy Enterprises CEO Scott] Flanders. “At the time when Hef founded the company [in 1953], nudity was provocative, it was attention-grabbing, it was unique and today it’s not. It’s passé.”

So passé that he predicts it will eventually vanish from the Playboy brand altogether. Probably not as long as Hefner still owns a third of the company and personally selects all of the nude spreads in the magazine, along with each Playmate of the Month and Year.

Which, notes this thirty-year reader, do tend to be repetitive, though there does seem to be life in the old leporid yet:

Though he claims he has no actual editorial pull, Flanders nudged others within the company to contemporize the overall look and feel of the publication. He felt it had grown “stale,” mostly due to using essentially the same pool of photographers for more than 25 years. Updating the visual aesthetic, he says, particularly the eye candy, of Playboy was far from an easy sell.

“People said, ‘Oh, we know what Hef likes. He likes this type of photography,’ and I said, ‘Well that’s bullshit. That’s like saying he likes the same meatloaf he’s been eating for 25 years. Let’s give him a piece of steak and see if he likes that,'” Flanders says. “And, sure as hell, as soon as they gave Hef more contemporary photography he loved it.”

Still, Hef is nearly 90. (Note: This Web site started on his 70th birthday.) At this point, we have no idea of the sensibilities of younger son Cooper, who is the designated heir to That Which Is Hef. And Playboy is trailing the recently de-fratboyed Maxim by half a million copies a month, which proves, if nothing else, that there’s a market for sideboob alone.

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Oh, and try the veal

Mighty Pantone (PBUH) has declared Marsala the Color of the Year for 2015:

Pantone Marsala swatch

Surprisingly, this choice has not met with universal approbation:

Social media has questioned what Pantone calls “a naturally robust and earthy wine red color” as “a color that makes you want to go to Olive Garden or order Tampax in bulk.”

So the food connection doesn’t help?

For a color that shares associations with wine, chicken, and mushrooms, the color also summons pfth-sounding glops of mystery meat in elementary cafeteria lunches, liver (and not necessarily of the French, pureed, pâté class) whipped into a murky abundance atop bread, pink slime gone wrong, or meatloaf (with a healthy serving of that mystery meat, perhaps?).

And I wonder how many of us endured this shade of carpeting forty years ago.

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Vague pleasantry

Found this little squib under the title bar at Creative Minority Report:

These days, people say “Season’s Greetings,” which, when you think about it, means nothing. It’s like walking up to somebody and saying “Appropriate Remark” in a loud, cheerful voice.

[nodding in apparent assent]

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Unevenly matched

After noting in a post that Reese Witherspoon is threatening to become the next Meryl Streep, Robert Stacy McCain explains the apparently unfortunate dynamic at work:

Here’s the thing about Out of Africa: The girls get to see Robert Redford, one of the most handsome leading men in cinematic history. The guys get … Meryl Streep.

You see what I’m talking about? It’s like every Barbra Streisand movie, ever.

There’s this feminist fantasy film formula where the ugly duckling is paired with the impossibly handsome man. Somehow, with her feisty ways and her quirky sense of humor, she manages to make this sexy hunk of a man fall passionately in love with her. It’s basically Chicken Soup for the Unattractive Girl’s Soul, except it’s toxic.

This kind of fantasy encourages unrealistic romantic aspirations in quite the same way as all those movies where the clumsy schlub magically lands the Playboy Centerfold Dream Girl.

As a clumsy schlub in my own right, I must point out that Streisand actually pulled it off, in Peter Bogdanovich’s What’s Up, Doc? Granted, this was 42 years ago, and she was playing opposite Ryan O’Neal, a large sheet of drywall, but nonetheless, she pulled it off. It’s possible to make a case for The Way We Were, with Redford, but I think Arthur Laurents’ screenplay was always more of a political piece than a love story, and the film suffers as a result.

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One step sideways, two steps back

My reaction to the latest redesign at Consumer Reports: meh. I figure it’s yet another milepost on the way to “Read our Web site, you jerk.” But that’s a fairly mild reaction compared to this:

I am not a particularly great fan of infographics-for-the-sake-of-being-infographics or big splashy things with large numbers or images and very little text. I GET that apparently most people have acquired an attention-span-destroying parasite and so they must be catered to (apparently), but the design is really ugly and it took what used to be a fairly useful magazine and now it just makes it so slick.

“Slick” as in “oil spill,” I’m guessing.

Oh, there’s an infographic at the link. Because reciprocity.

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Let this be a Wanning to you

China has banned puns:

Chinese is perfectly suited to puns because it has so many homophones. Popular sayings and even customs, as well as jokes, rely on wordplay.

But the order from the State Administration for Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television says: “Radio and television authorities at all levels must tighten up their regulations and crack down on the irregular and inaccurate use of the Chinese language, especially the misuse of idioms.”

Programmes and adverts should strictly comply with the standard spelling and use of characters, words, phrases and idioms — and avoid changing the characters, phrasing and meanings, the order said.

If you ask me, this is Fuqing ridiculous.

(Via Interested-Participant.)

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Life and death in twelve bars

Cobb tells us the story of Schrödinger’s Black Panther:

Black orthodoxy is an echo of the blues, and I have come to believe it is stuck in a key that hasn’t been transposed much in 30 years. The orchestra is maintained by a conspiracy of facts purposefully arranged to incite. I have, over the years, become adept at recognizing the signature tones of its moaning chorus. Anybody black can solo, if you hit the right notes, but there are certain soloists who are sought out over others. These days, the sounds of the imprisoned and the dead round out the top 40. We’ve been here before, these blues are old standards now.

I’m talking about some place in Missouri. But I wasn’t there and neither were you. Nor were you in Cosby’s boudoir or OJ’s driveway. You weren’t in Clarence’s office and you weren’t in Rice’s elevator. You weren’t in Rodney’s car and you weren’t on Diallo’s street. You weren’t in Tupac’s crew or R. Kelly’s video. But you wanted to be. You wouldn’t want to if you had your questions answered, how to think about America from the eyes of its darker brothers. You had to have a black man question settled once and for all, sorta. You gather facts that conspire to incite, because questions demand answers and answers demand action. Such curiosity cannot kill enough cats. You have to keep asking. The cats of racial theorems are in a superposition of states. You open the Pandora’s box of race and either the black cat scratches your eyes out or it’s just dead. It will always be that way, so long as you keep opening the box. And you do.

Brentwood. Rosewood. Jena. Howard Beach. Ferguson. Your eyes got scratched and you’re singing the blues. What did Flip Wilson say? He loved the blues because when the record wears out, it still sounds the same.

And we go on thinking the world is a place far worse than it is, because some damned fools always want to be seen on television opening that box — mostly, I suspect, because they want to be seen on television. It’s not like they bring anything other than noise to the proceedings.

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Pass the damn yams

When exactly did this become a thing?

There are, for some reason, a spate of articles at different web magazines about how to talk to relatives whose politics differ from yours, while you are required to be in close proximity to them during the Thanksgiving holiday.

Personally, I’m thinking that if the only time you talk to each other enough for politics to come up is when you’re at home for the holiday then you may have some other stuff going on besides political differences.

For myself, I’m just appalled that anyone would think it’s the least bit proper to desecrate what is, after all, a ceremonial meal, perhaps the most important one of the year, with the detritus of last week’s political talking points. If I get a dinner invitation, I do not bring along my soapbox, even if it looks like a booster chair from some angles. With the exception of a couple of cousins, I have no idea of the political leanings of family members, and since none of them read this stuff, I’m pretty sure that they’re not overly concerned with mine.

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Can’t wait

I hadn’t thought about this, but yes, it has the ring of truth:

Back in the old days (as recently as the 1970s), you’d write a letter or a postcard and mail it and figure, at the least, it would take three or four days to arrive. And, then, if the recipient was particularly conscientious, and responded fairly quickly, in a day or so, it would be another three or four days before you got your reply. Call it ten days from message to response. Ten whole days.

Today (drum roll) you send an email or you text a text and what? Are you patient? Do you expect to wait for as many as ten days for a reply? Heck no. In fact, if you don’t hear back in ten minutes, well… An hour, tops.

The same goes for what is still called “mail-order.” Back in the day, as I’m pretty sure they never said back in the day, the offering said “Allow 6 to 8 weeks for delivery.” Today, we’re hitting up the email every half-hour looking for a tracking number. And there’s this:

Shipping’s always $5, and free for VMP members. So yeah, we’re going to ship it the slowest and cheapest way we can possibly find. Usually that’s Smartpost or Surepost, which starts with FedEx or UPS and ends with the post office. It’ll probably be 2 weeks before you get it. And no you can’t get it any faster.

Still beats the heck out of 6 to 8.

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It’s gotta be that damn kale

The correlation between health and happiness may not be what you thought it was, even for our herbivore friends:

Australian vegetarians might be healthier than meat-eaters but they are unhappier and more prone to mental health disorders, new research suggests.

The Alere Wellness Index shows vegetarians drink and smoke less and are more physically active than their carnivorous counterparts.

But they are also more likely to have depression and anxiety disorders, according to the Index made up of scores for nutrition, fitness, smoking, alcohol, psychological wellbeing, body mass and medical conditions.

Hmmm. Now how can this be?

Dr John Lang, who developed the wellness index for preventive healthcare company Alere, says the adoption of a vegetarian diet can sometimes follow the onset of mental disorders.

“So the diet isn’t the cause but rather the symptom,” he said. “If you think of people that are committed to being a vegetarian it’s a fairly significant commitment and it picks up people at the fringe of the obsessive-compulsive spectrum.”

Vitamin OCD! The mind boggles. Still, grinding up pork rinds over their quinoa seems unkind, if not downright treacherous.

(Via Tim Blair.)

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Let’s all get bewbs for the holidays

I’m obviously not a board-certified plastic surgeon, so don’t ask me how the frack these are supposed to work:

Board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Norman Rowe is the brain behind 24-hour “try before you buy” saline injections known as the “Insta Breast,” which made news in late August. Now, according to ABC News, he’s come up with a new injection that will let you live your life with breasts one to one-and-a-half cup sizes bigger for up to three weeks, helping solidify whether or not you really want implants full time. “You can use 3D imaging and put implants in bras,” he told ABC, “but it’s another thing to see what the weight will actually feel like and what it will be like to live with the new breasts.” The name “vacation breasts” comes from Rowe’s vision that women will want to try out a fuller look for special occasions, like weddings, anniversaries or that beach getaway where you’ll be in a swimsuit the whole time.

I want to know what happens after those three weeks are up. Does the mysterious stuff just drain away? And, perhaps more important, is there any warning when it does? You’d hate like hell to be out somewhere in a strapless and then suddenly become strapless-less.

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Fluff in their ears

Winnie the Pooh may be a Bear of Very Little Brain, but don’t hold that against him. In that regard he differs little from some humans out there:

Winnie the Pooh has been banned from a Polish playground because of his “dubious sexuality” and “inappropriate” dress.

The much-loved animated bear was suggested at a local council meeting to decide which famous character should become the face of the play area in the small town of Tuszyn.

But the idea soon sparked outrage among more conservative members, with one councillor even denouncing poor Pooh as a “hermaphrodite”.

“The problem with that bear is it doesn’t have a complete wardrobe,” said Ryszard Cichy during the discussion. “It is half naked which is wholly inappropriate for children.”

How long did it take them to think this under?

Maybe the world is just anti-bear in general. Look what’s happening to poor Paddington:

The British Board of Film Classification gave Paddington a parental guidance rating, saying it contains “dangerous behavior, mild threat, mild sex references and mild bad language.” The rating means the film is suitable for general viewing but some scenes may be unsuitable for children under 8 years old.

The board said the film’s scenes of dangerous behavior include Paddington hiding inside a refrigerator.

BBFC later revised the description, dropping “sex references” in favor of “innuendo” and pointing out only a single expletive which wouldn’t be an expletive anywhere else but Britain. They’re not kidding me. Paddington Bear wears a duffle coat — and no pants.

Addendum: Donald Duck was not available for comment.

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Desperate for attention

This is about two steps below clutching at straws:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: Is it worth it to pay $6000 to get famous?

Why $6000, exactly?

I want to pay $6000 to Ark Music Factory (Just like what rebecca black did) so they can help me produce a song and release it on their channel and I will become famous. I am not very good at singing but I think this is a great way to become famous. However, my parents are poor and we are on food stamps but they will be willing to sacrifice everything for my music career.

Update: they will be willing to do it, even if they have to starve for a few days.

Not sure if trolling or simply out of touch with reality. I did point out that what happened to Rebecca Black will not necessarily happen for anyone else.

And anyone who’s on food stamps should know that six grand is more than a few days’ worth.

Addendum: Last I heard, Patrice Wilson, who produced “Friday,” was asking $6500 for his services.

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Not Meow Mix

She has no mouth, but she can apparently feed you:

North American fans of the mouth-less Sanrio feline can now rejoice as the first ever Hello Kitty Cafe will finally land on their continent!

Announced in the form of a bright pink food truck at the Hello Kitty Convention held in Los Angeles, fans were elated to learn that Hello Kitty will finally get her own cafe in California! Judging by the extreme cuteness of the pictures released so far, it seems like this cafe will take kawaii to a whole new level!

There’s a placeholder site for now. And didn’t they tell us that Kitty is not in fact a cat?

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Plunging into it once more

About to come upon us, so to speak, is the annual presentation of the Literary Review Bad Sex in Fiction award, for which ten nominees were perhaps too easy to find.

And as always, they’re all pretty dire, though this one recommends itself for being (1) consciously overpoetic and (2) not particularly explicit as these things go. From Ben Okri’s The Age of Magic:

She became aware of places in her that could only have been concealed there by a god with a sense of humour. Adrift on warm currents, no longer of this world, she became aware of him gliding into her. He loved her with gentleness and strength, stroking her neck, praising her face with his hands, till she was broken up and began a low rhythmic wail. She was a little overwhelmed with being the adored focus of such power, as he rose and fell. She felt certain now that there was a heaven and that it was here, in her body. The universe was in her and with each movement it unfolded to her.

The complete shortlist is here for your perusal: the winner will be selected on 3 December.

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Just across from 419

420 is one of those numbers with so many recorded uses that Wikipedia maintains a disambiguation page for it. Unless you were concerned with 420’s status as a sparsely totient number, you were probably thinking hempish thoughts, in which case Nancy Friedman has a nicely informative piece called “420: The Brand,” inasmuch as 420 “has a long history in cannabis culture.”

420 Carpenter

420 Carpenter in Lacey, Washington, a suburb east of Olympia, provides its customers with, they say, “accessible, top quality cannabis and cannabis paraphernalia¹ in a friendly and professional environment,” which is now legal in Washington state, pending the Feds getting their BVDs in a bind. It does not, from the looks of things, resemble the stereotypical 1960s head shop: they’re vending a commercial product, not a transient lifestyle. If this state ever gets around to legalizing marijuana — and hey, we have gay marriage now, you have to figure anything is possible — we’ll have stores sort of like 420 Carpenter.

Then again, as Nancy Friedman points out:

The store’s actual street address is 422 Carpenter Road.

[Emphasis added.] Were it not for the fact that they’re not alone in their little strip mall — the store occupies Suite 105 — I’d think they’d be pushing city officials for a renumbering.

¹ Am I the only person who read that and thought “propane and propane accessories”?

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Outré conformists

Jack Baruth sneaked this little observation into a piece about jazz:

I believe that “art” has to have a critical or contemplative or innovative component to it. Unless art makes you think about the human condition for a minute — unless it puts a new thought in your mind or forces you to re-examine thoughts you’ve already had, or advances the “state of the art” in some way — it’s not art, it’s craft.

I’d suggest that art really should have a subversive component, but we haven’t had anything that was genuinely subversive in the art world for a very long time. Piss Christ would have been subversive had it been done in the year 1450, but other than that the art world in the twentieth and twenty-first century has mostly provided tame tingles for elderly Manhattanites looking to scandalize their long-dead parents. If you doubt me, then ask yourself why Jeff Koons is rich and Banksy isn’t in jail.

That’s gonna leave a mark or two, though if you ask me, the real marks are the chuckleheads who pay big bucks for stuff that loudly pretends to be cutting-edge but is really about as edgy as the Michelin Man.

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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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