Archive for Almost Yogurt

Gamine the system

You almost wish Audrey Hepburn could come back to life and stomp this pompous character:

Let’s go over this block one more time:

Only once did this thread become even slightly amusing:

Not that I expect her to, but it would be funny as hell, to me at least, if she went full-Rapunzel for a couple of days, just to taunt that guy.

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If that diamond ring don’t shine

It’s been a good year for the mockingbirds, reports Jess:

It appears they’ve had successful breeding, and the youngsters perch around the house to sing … and make noises that sound like back-up alarms … and electronic noises that start to become annoying after I realize they never shut up.

There’s one up the street that sounds like an intermittent leaf blower.

I’m thinking the parents will eventually chase them away, and the parents will be as before, and not sing to the point of me thinking of going for my air rifle.

I did notice the other types of birds will sing more, when the mockingbirds pause for a few moments. I think they probably feel the same way I do, and wish the children would be more seen than heard.

We had a couple of woodpeckers down the street, but they seem to have moved on. The usual mix of robins, jays and pigeons occupies this zone, with occasional cardinals and a flycatcher or two; they will flourish so long as the big nasty birds from the shopping center keep their distance, and as long as kids coming out of Target spill their popcorn, those birds will stay right there.

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Still horsing around

Down the sidebar is a section called “Pony tales,” which contains links to the stories I’ve written — one series of 3.something (the fourth is unfinished) and two standalones — in the universe of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. Word count is somewhere around 70,000.

Fimfiction, the repository of stories of this ilk, counts a “view” when someone reads the most widely read chapter in a story. Usually — not always — it’s the first chapter, for the sensible reason that most readers start on Chapter 1 and are most likely to lose interest before ever getting to Chapter 2. Second Act, weirdly, seems to have more views on Chapter 3, presumably because that chapter provides a marginally believable scenario for transforming a fairly ordinary human to an equally ordinary earth pony. And I’m fond of this deadpan expository paragraph:

From the bog at the south end of the Everfree, through the near side of Ponyville, to the caverns under Canterlot Mountain, runs a single ley line, a channel for the transmission of magic. Some believe Star Swirl the Bearded himself, finding a resonance at a constant frequency in those caverns, followed it on hoof all the way across the forest, seeking its source. Others, more skeptical, suggest he foisted off the job on Clover the Clever. One assignment given to second-year students in Celestia’s School for Gifted Unicorns is to calculate the exact frequency of that resonance. They are not told, of course, that the number denoting that frequency is an irrational number, the decimal places stretching out to infinity. Focusing mechanisms generally round it off to 1.7 million cycles per second, which provides 99.8 percent accuracy.

Why “cycles per second”? Heinrich Hertz does not exist in this universe. I have to work around a lot of handy idioms, including, well, “handy.”

Anyway, some time this week I got my ten-thousandth view. This is about 9900 more than I ever figured on getting.

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Which explains much

The whole problem, in a nutshell:

We’ve now had half a century of people who hear “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” and then scoff: “Pursuit, hell. They ought to bring it to me, because [whatever stupid reason they picked up from somewhere].”

This is why you’re unhappy, and why it’s so difficult for the rest of us to give a damn.

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Not their first 24-hour rodeo

FamilyNet television is no more. Say hello to the Cowboy Channel:

The cowboy’s lifestyle has long been one of fanciful dreams. Wide open spaces, lifelong friendships and shared experiences along with the special code of ethics that have made the cowboy a symbol of our American heritage and the West.

The cowboy represents a special type of person: fiercely independent, self-reliant, adventuresome, trustworthy and one of the first true environmentalists. His/Her lifestyle embodies many of the attributes we again are striving for in both our personal and professional lives.

There is a growing attraction to this philosophy among a wide cross section of Americans: business professionals, blue collar workers, among all age groups who feel integrity and honesty in business, and our personal lives, have been misplaced.

“The Cowboy Channel” is designed to bring the spirit of the American Cowboy to cable, satellite, and over-the-top audiences through extensive coverage of all western sports, documentaries, events, comedy, music and entertainment.

Projected audience: anyone who knows the words to “Don’t Fence Me In”; anyone who’s ever clambered down to street level, looked back at a rabbit warren of apartments and thought, “You know what? This sucks.”

McG notes:

RFD-TV [the Cowboy Channel’s sister station] has been sponsoring an annual rodeo called The American, the success of which has convinced the corporation there is sufficient demand for Western sports above and beyond what RFD, with its agribusiness and agrarian lifestyle focus, could offer.

I wonder if there’s any interest in cross-marketing with GunTV.

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Every TED talk ever

Fillyjonk sent me this, and it’s dead on:

There. Now you’ve seen ’em all.

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Thinking with both heads

I have my doubts about this premise, but you may be sure I could never be quite this forthright about it:

Apparently, some study has come out [sic] that all the 50+ set needs is to have more nookie, because that will help their brains.

It’s been a while (no details necessary), but I seem to recall that sex has the opposite effect on my brain, in that as I recall, I become really stupid during the act itself — the Goofy-like facial expressions alone are the giveaway — and pass out in some kind of coma shortly thereafter. I know that some people claim that sex makes them feel “more alive,” whatever that means, but they’re probably the same people who claim to have sex 7.9 times a week, the lying bastards.

I can remember a few of the things I’ve said in the heat of the moment, and without exception they are useless outside the context of the horizontal bop and horribly embarrassing within it.

This, however, is consistent with my thinking on the matter:

I have always thought that memory is like a computer’s hard drive: there seems to be a limit on the amount of stuff one can hold in storage, as it were, and as one gets older, the damn thing gets fuller and fuller — not only with worthwhile stuff like the plot line of Hugo’s Les Misèrables, but sadly with the biggest load of crap, like Fonzie’s hairstyle in Happy Days. Now if having sex meant that you could somehow erase all the latter bullshit to make space for more of the worthwhile stuff, I’d park my RV outside Dennis Hof’s Chicken Ranch in Nevada and run all my credit cards up to the max in a matter of days. Assuming that Big Pharma could manufacture sufficient quantities of those pills that give one a woody, of course.

But no. My bet is that if more sex improved my memory, I’d just start remembering more bullshit, like the Girl Scout Incident of 1975 or the Great Parking Lot Affair of 1992. (Or was it 1993?) Or if more sex actually improved my brain function, it would doubtless enable me to understand still more worthless bullshit, such as the difference between M1 and M2 — the economic things, not the British motorways.

I’m currently wrestling with the notion that to remember one new thing, one must first forget two old things. Where this gets tricky is at the point where you can’t tell which two old things are most easily disposable, and the decision ends up being made for you.

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Attention horror

A quiet normal life just isn’t enough anymore:

I do think we’re seeing a shift in our society, where some “boring but valuable” jobs go unfilled because people want the stuff where they can take selfies and post them on Facebook and have people tell them how great they are for helping clean up that beach, or for volunteering at that kids’ field day, or whatever.

I am dealing these days with kids who want to be full-time YouTubers, simply because it’s more fun than actually working for a living. I strongly suspect they overestimate their potential; I subscribe to a couple of channels that have been up for over a year and have yet to get over 200 views total. YouTube isn’t going to give you a dime until you cross the 10,000 threshold. And the subject matter is distressingly identical for the lot of them: memes, jokes, game reviews, memes, complaints about that crap music my sister listens to, jokes, and memes. The market for that sort of stuff is large, but hardly endless and not necessarily growing.

We’re becoming narcissists. I see it in myself sometimes, when I feel “jealous” of someone who gets a lot of adoring comments on their posts (while I am deleting 9 spam comments for every real one) and who seems to have a prettier, happier, easier life.

I’ve deleted 41,000 spam comments since 2008. I realize that some people have had more than that, but I go to stronger-than-usual measures to repel the stuff.

[T]hat’s the fundamental cognitive dissonance of the Facebook-world Zuckerberg seem to be selling, versus the real world I know: it’s the people who work behind the scenes, who don’t have a million “followers,” who aren’t minor celebrities, who actually make a difference in the world. The people who care more about their work than they care about peoples’ reaction to it.

That’s the only world Zuckerberg knows; of course he’s going to promote it at the expense of everyone else. And in the world of minor celebrities, I could perhaps stake a claim to a position among the minor-est, though I’m not a household word even on my block. Do I make a difference? Once in a very great while, maybe. And I do have a YouTube channel, dating from the days when nobody wanted them; I have three subscribers. I have never, however, posted any videos. My daughter’s YouTube channel has 36 subscribers and 12 videos; however, her channel is actually of use to some people. And I’m pretty sure she’s not in it for the self-aggrandizement.

A lot of this, I think, might simply be Callow Youth Syndrome: they want what they see because they haven’t seen anything else yet. And while Biff Tannen will probably never change, most of them will end up growing out of it.

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Fiendish cat possesses police officer

Masao Gunji, now sixty-seven, has been collecting Hello Kitty memorabilia for the last 30 years, including most of his career as a police officer, and now, retired from the force, he has more of it than anyone else on earth:

Apparently the Guinness presentation required some serious prep:

[Gunji] says that he currently has over 10,000 Hello Kitty items, but that for the certification by Guinness Records, he was asked to select a number of them that could be counted in an 8-hour period. He settled on 5250 of his Hello Kitty-themed things, and transported them to the agreed-upon meeting place in Yotsukaido.

The Japanese collector claims that Guinness’ representative had very strict rules when counting his memorabilia, such as only accepting items that featured Hello Kitty’s iconic pink ribbon. 81 of the presented items were rejected, but even with 5169 items, he was still able to beat the previous record of 4519.

I’ll thank you not to mock my pastel ponies, madam.

(Via Fark.)

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For a few Penney’s more

The last time I actually was in a salon, it was in a JCPenney store in Lee’s Summit, Missouri, watching my daughter getting dolled up for her wedding. I need hardly point out that this was rather a long time ago. And since that time, JCP has announced they would be rolling out a rebrand. From this past April:

J.C. Penney Co. Inc. said … that 50 additional salon locations will be rebranded to The Salon by InStyle this year, as it continues to overhaul its 750 salons across the U.S. The retailer said it is currently renovating the salons and will debut the new concept this summer. The company has also introduced online booking and a mobile app.

Because of course they did. Said a JCP rep in 2015:

“As one of the largest salon operators in the country, we are going to leverage our industry expertise to create a salon that elevates the client experience and attracts new customers to our stores, while strengthening loyalty among existing clients,” said Amiee Thomas, vice president of salon at JCPenney. “Our customers already shop JCPenney for beauty, fashion apparel, shoes and accessories. As more women experience the services provided at The Salon by InStyle, it will reinforce JCPenney as an all-inclusive destination for head-to-toe style.”

The rebranding seems to have reached us here on the Plains: the Quail Springs, Penn Square, Moore and Midwest City salons are all listed under the new name.

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Quote of the week

Peter Grant on today’s seeming trigger happiness:

Folks, I’ve been shot. I’ve shot other people. I’ve been present at far too many incidents where others were shot. There’s always a human dimension (as there was, for example, in the wartime death of two young Cuban soldiers, about which I wrote here). If you can’t see it, or don’t care about it, then you’ve become less than human yourself. You don’t have to don sackcloth and ashes and make a big, public, wailing exhibition of yourself: but for heaven’s sake, recognize the truth that a tragedy like this is a human tragedy, irrespective of political, social, economic, cultural or any other affiliation. As such, it should — it does — affect all human beings. John Donne was right.

In losing that realization, that perspective, we are all impoverished … and we are all endangered, because if humanity becomes dehumanized, what is left to us? And, if America is so polarized, so divided, that all we can do is rejoice over death or injury to those on the “other side” … what is left to our nation and our society except mutual hatred, contempt and destruction?

Absolutely. And the worst of the lot, if you ask me, are the jokers who offer “justifications” for the shootings. This happened yesterday:

On Friday, a jury here acquitted the Minnesota police officer, Jeronimo Yanez, of all charges in shooting, which happened in July 2016 and left [Philando] Castile dead, raising the national debate over police conduct toward black people. Officer Yanez, an officer for the suburb of St. Anthony, had been charged with second-degree manslaughter and endangering safety by discharging a firearm in the shooting.

I should not have been surprised, I suppose, that in short order my Twitter timeline was darkened, so to speak, by individuals gleefully pointing out that Mr. Castile had had a history of minor traffic infractions, and that Officer Yanez presumably did us all a favor in closing out the man’s permanent record. Mutual hatred and contempt, anyone?

Mr. Grant today lives in Texas, a place that looms large in my own personal history, a place where the tossed-off phrase “Well, he needed killing” is almost universally understood. I just wish some people weren’t so damned enthusiastic about it.

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A marathon it isn’t

But it’s a lot closer to my speed:

This Saturday, the Lardbutt 1k returns to Magnuson Park in Seattle. It’s a .62 mile race that’s not really a race, but rather, a way to poke fun at all those other road races, and also acknowledge that some of us are slowing down.

“We still enjoy getting out and being active but my goodness we sure slowed down,” said Mark Peterson, the brainchild behind the race. “This isn’t intended to make light of people who are big or small. Lardbutts come in all shapes and sizes.”

And they’re serious about keeping it silly:

The race is also a fundraiser for the University District Food Bank. Last year, walkers and runners brought more than 2 tons of food.

But fun is the key. People dress up for the race, and when they hit the track they find out that, instead of water stations, there are donut stations.

Hmmm. How many donuts can you eat over the course of 3,280 feet?

(Via Fark.)

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Talkin’ bout my good intentions

Sometimes Roger Green deals me a solid without intending to. This piece about unintentional mispronunciations — and the occasional intentional mispronunciation — was titled “I’m just a soul whose intentions are good.” To persons of a Certain Age, this turns on the light bulb above the head. And sure enough, the last paragraph calls out the #15 hit for the Animals, “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood,” for which he was wise enough to provide a link to an actual live version. (This is the 45.)

I left him a namecheck — Nina Simone, who cut it first in 1964 with Horace Ott’s orchestra — and promptly stumbled across something I didn’t know: the Eric Is Here album, the first official Eric Burdon and the Animals LP in the States (the UK albums never matched up), was mostly Burdon, new drummer Barry Jenkins, and Horace Ott’s orchestra. While Eric Is Here produced only one hit single, “Help Me Girl,” it contained, somehow, three Randy Newman songs: “I Think It’s Going to Rain Today,” from Newman’s debut album; “Mama Told Me Not to Come,” from 12 Songs; and “Wait Till Next Year,” from God knows where. And these tracks were recorded in late 1966, long before anybody except maybe Van Dyke Parks had ever heard of Randy Newman. For this, I’m about ready to forgive Burdon for “Monterey,” and that takes a lot.

And of course, I’ve lifted that line of Eric’s, or Nina’s, myself. Cut to Canterlot General, where Twilight Sparkle’s coltfriend is getting the second degree from Twi’s parents:

“I had a younger sister and I was suspicious of just about every one of her dates.” He coughed once. “Eventually, she married. He was poor, but he was honest.”

“Not unlike yourself?” Night Light quipped.

Brush considered. “I’m not all that poor, but I do strive to be honest. Mostly. I’m just a soul whose intentions are good.”

But turning back to “Misunderstood” for a moment: during the disco era, a pair of French producers recruited singer Leroy Gómez for a remake, based on the Animals’ rearrangement but with elements of salsa and flamenco. It came out as a 16-minute LP side; a 3:48 edit came out for radio purposes. And I listened to that edit and thought it was wrong somehow. Turns out that in the States, Casablanca Records issued NB 902 twice, once at 3:48 and once at 5:25. It was the 5:25 version I remembered, and the only 5:25 version on YouTube was recorded from one of those 45s.

I have to assume that Casablanca founder Neil Bogart knew what he was doing: the Santa Esmeralda version of “Misunderstood” charted at #15, the same place the Animals had landed a dozen years before.

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Full disclosure: we’re not that great

But we will never, ever admit it in front of you, no matter how much you’ve heard us whinge about inequality:

In their long march through the institutions, our Gramscian Leftists have successfully co-opted the “rah-rah-sis-boom-bah” going-off-to-college thing, using the form while subverting the content.

Think about it for a sec: Where are you likely to find the most “offensive” team nicknames? For as hot and bothered as our mini-Maos get over the Washington Redskins, there’s no comparable outcry over the Fighting Illini (Indians), the Hoosiers (yokels), the Fighting Irish, the Jayhawks (abolitionist guerrillas), the Seminoles, the Aztecs, and all the other horribly racist mascots and team names out there. Some of that can of course be attributed to college kids’ vast, cosseted ignorance (I myself had no idea who Francis Redding Tillou Nicholls was), but some of the others are pretty obvious. Ditto campus traditions like the University of Iowa’s famous pink visitors’ locker room. This gets a little squib in the sports news every fall, as feminist professors and students stage their annual protest. But it never gets changed, even though football is as Patriarchal as it gets and Iowa, like Wisconsin, Michigan, and the rest of the corn-country bolsheviks, prides itself on its progressive bona fides. The answer is pretty simple: love them or hate them, the act of either loving or hating them is one hell of a team-builder. Nobody who didn’t go there has ever heard of the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, but I promise you that every current and former student has a very strong opinion on whether or not the “Vaquero” mascot is offensive. And that’s not even considering all the “offensive” high school nicknames and mascots out there. Grade school “educators” and administrators are the most PC people on the planet. Don’t you think the Midgets and the Arabs would be changed in a heartbeat in any other context? It’s by design.

Across town, the Capitol Hill Redskins Redwolves might demur.

And speaking of those Seminoles, it’s probably a good thing that the magical elixir Gatorade® was developed at archrival Florida; had Florida State pulled it off themselves, they’d have had to call it something like “Seminole Fluid.”

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Online abandonment issues

Is it just me, or does this guy seem awfully damn needy?

I’m the kind of person that likes to communicate with others, especially my friends. I feel very anxious when I come face to face with a “seen”. In some cases I can understand, example when the last text kinda ends the subject or conversation.

But when there’s an opportunity to continue the conversation or my last text was something that required to be answered, I just start over thinking and start wondering things like “Did I do something wrong?”, “Was I too boring?”, “Did they have to leave and just didn’t have time to tell me?”, etc.

Notice that he leaves off things like “Will you just shut up fercrissake?” This is the most futile kind of attention whore: the one who doesn’t notice that he’s not actually getting paid.

If someone from the Department of Getting a Life left him one on the porch, he’d probably toss it into the trash without even opening it.

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A sort of oval orifice

The Friar previews The President Is Missing, by James Patterson and William Jefferson Clinton:

The novel represents a joint effort by the men’s two different publishers. It’s also probably one of the first co-author jobs involving Patterson where he will have to do most of the writing work. Mr. Clinton has written only nonfiction; his tale-spinning has been mostly in the spoken-word milieu. And if you think it was easy to not type “oral” there you are sadly mistaken.

Similarly, Conan O”Brien: “Clinton is describing the novel as part fiction, part alibi.”

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Do not be noticed

I don’t have particularly good luck, but then I don’t have particularly bad luck either; the die rolls whichever way it rolls, and that’s that. Not everyone lands this close to the middle of the road:

Let’s say I’m as lucky as a fat duck in a French bistro. Nope, too obscure. I’m not lucky. Let’s just go flat and factual on it.

But I’ve learned from it. I can’t conquer my natural superstition. I believe in not putting hats on the bed, and throwing salt over the left shoulder, and umbrellas remaining closed inside the house. I believe in touching wood, saying “jinx,” and touching a dwarf for luck. I believe in the superiority of odd numbers, certain colors, and wearing a particular pair of socks on game day.

My biggest one, though, is not mentioning it when something good happens.

I was listening to a baseball game when I hit that link, and baseball is utterly riven with superstition. The only one I’ve ever honored myself, though, is the one that says you don’t mention the no-hitter until the twenty-seventh out. The truly expert play-by-play guys know how to convey the situation without actually saying those dreadful words. For example:

Tampa Bay Rays broadcaster Dewayne Staats refrained from using the phrase during the entirety of Matt Garza’s no-no on July 26 [2010].

“I framed it in every way possible without actually saying it,” he told the St. Petersburg Times. “Fans start to catch on that something is happening. At one point, I said, ‘Garza has faced the minimum and has allowed only one baserunner and that came on a walk.’ So I’m essentially saying it without saying it.”

A guy who can do that deserves dinner at a French bistro.

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On choosing poorly

Dystopic has little good to say about Star Wars after the original trilogy (Episodes 4 through 6):

Yes, we all know the prequels were generally atrocious, and what little was interesting was contained only in the last installment. The new Star Wars movies were at least a little more entertaining, but even they were shallow, ephemeral things. They were strictly popcorn-and-soda flicks.

So what did the original trilogy have that the successors lacked?

In this writer’s opinion, it was an enduring mythos, a sort of cultural memory embedded within it. A farm boy took to the stars and became a warrior, trained by what amounts to a religious monk of an ancient, dying order. A princess was trying to save her world, and an evil wizard hunted them all in the name of Imperial power. You could have stripped the story of high technology, and set the whole thing in the middle ages, and it still would have made sense. Yes, even the all-powerful superweapon. Replace the Death Star with Urban’s great cannon, throwing its weight against the walls of Constantinople, or something.

Now try that with the other stories, and you will find that they are utter disasters. They don’t operate on their own anymore. Now it’s a franchise cashing in on nostalgia more than anything.

And this was one major-league mythos, too:

Of all the cultural myths, the farm boy who became something greater may have been the most powerful. Ye gods, we once practically worshiped this idea. It was one of the enduring features of American culture, as distinct from the various European cultures that spawned it. You see, if our farmers and fishermen could throw out the British, of all people, was there anything truly beyond us? We didn’t need noblemen, you see. We had farmers. We didn’t need warriors, we had soldiers. There was no need for great nobles, or learned men of haute culture. We could bootstrap it all ourselves.

The farm boy might become a great philosopher, or an astronaut, or a general. He might become a President or a Congressman. Perhaps he would be the next great scientist or engineer. He didn’t need the pedigree of an aristocrat, or the brand name of some noble house. He didn’t need to go to the grandest of colleges, or know all the right people. He didn’t need to have the correct political opinions if, indeed, he even bothered much with politics at all. If you could do the job, you could do anything, and it didn’t much matter what dusty mid-western farm you crawled out of.

Entropy being the irresistible force that it is, the legends would eventually be displaced by the losers:

Heaping disdain upon the peasants of the flyover states and the South is all the rage among our supposedly-learned castes. There can be no more Luke Skywalkers in Star Wars, that is to say no more farm boys who ascend to the highest levels. If Star Wars was written by today’s establishment, Luke would have to be a girl who suffered oppression by the bigoted farm boys, then escaped to the Empire (which was, of course, politically correct and ruled by wise, learned Socialist oligarchs) to wield its military might against the hicks and unlearned morons of Planet Redneck.

Who knew that the enduring role model of Star Wars would turn out to be Palpatine?

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Only a pawn in their game

Inappropriate dress worn by 12-year-old chess playerWhat happens when the cerebral meets the surreal:

A 12-year-old girl was forced to withdraw from a chess tournament in Malaysia after her dress was considered “seductive,” her coach has claimed.

Malaysian chess player Kaushal Khandar alleged that his student had been “extremely embarrassed” and “disturbed” by the actions of the National Scholastic Chess Championship 2017 director and chief arbiter, the Star Online reported.

He claimed that the tournament director had made a remark on the girl’s knee-length dress to the chief arbiter, who had stopped her competition in the middle of Round 2 and informed the student that her dress was improper and violated the dress code of the tournament, the report said.

It was later informed (by chief arbiter) to my student and her mother, that the tournament director deemed my student’s dress to be “seductive” and a “temptation,” Kaushal said in a statement on his Facebook page.

It seems to me that if you’re thinking there’s a risk of someone getting turned on by 12-year-olds, the problem is not with the 12-year-olds.

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Live at five

Francis W. Porretto on the importance of five in one’s chronology:

  • At 5, she goes from being a toddler to a little girl … or if she’s been particularly naughty, a “young lady.”
  • At 25, a young man who needs auto insurance is no longer relegated to the Assigned Risk pool.
  • At 35, one has passed out of the “youth” demographic into what we once called “middle age.”
  • At 45, you get your first “preparedness” solicitations from those who sell burial plots.
  • At 55, most state and federal bureaucrats retire.
  • And at 65, you’re old.

I’ll complete my 65th year in, um, 2018.

Curious, I hit up my list of tags, and found seven different 5-related items, including the Dave Brubeck classic “Take Five,” the Dave Clark Five [warning: very loud autostart audio], and a chain eatery called Five Guys.

I did not know that Paul Desmond had actually written a set of lyrics for “Take Five.” I did know that Fox News has a program called The Five, which has, um, six hosts, though apparently not all six at once.

Fox News promo portrait for The Five

That appears to be Kimberly Guilfoyle in the so-called “leg chair.”

Five squared is twenty-five, which immediately called this song to mind:

It occurs to me that we might be able to avoid at least some of our presumably dire fate by getting members of Congress to retire at 55, before the brain deterioration starts to accelerate.

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Spurn the hideous

“Architecture doesn’t have to suck,” says Kim du Toit, and expands on that notion thusly:

I prefer the graceful, almost decadent style of Art Nouveau, and find the sterile straight lines and sharp corners of Modernism (or what I call the “East German”) style repulsive and soul-destroying. It should come as no surprise that the first style came about before the First World War, and the second style immediately thereafter — just like the exquisite art of Impressionism was followed by Cubism [50,000-word anti-Cubism rant deleted].

Yes, I know that Modernist buildings are more “efficient” (like that’s important) in their ease of construction and utilization of space. All I know is that I’d rather look down any classical Parisian street than any modern German one. (Or, for that matter, a street in an American city like Dallas, which is so ugly it’s small wonder that most North Texans prefer to live in the suburbs, which are themselves hardly a source of exemplary architecture.) And I can say with absolute certainty that I’d rather live on a beautiful Art Nouveau street than on one lined with buildings designed by Walter Gropius (another architect who — like Le Corbusier — should be in a space where the temperature is set to “Broil”).

One of the minor tragedies of living in the Oklahoma City metro is that there is persistent demand for the sort of homes that clutter up the Dallas ‘burbs. (Like, for instance, this one.) Admittedly, the quarter-million they ask for such places is way beyond my means, but I’d much rather be here in my almost-inner-city digs in a neighborhood where exactly one house has been built in the last 60 years, and if you didn’t look carefully, you might not be able to tell which one (of 250 or so) it is.

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Contextually speaking

I hadn’t thought about this, but it’s undeniably true, for the most part anyway:

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: everything, and I mean everything, is utterly and absolutely context-dependent. It’s literally true on the atomic level, where we cannot accurately measure both position and velocity at the same time. It’s true at the quantum level, where “quantum entanglement” governs behavior that is currently beyond our ability to understand. It’s even applicable in your dating life; the same size-six girl who feels insubstantial to you in the long evenings at home will acquire new heft after you spend a drunken weekend away with a size two.

Then again, as everyone I’ve ever dated says, after the manner of Meghan Trainor: “Yeah, it’s pretty clear, I ain’t no size two.

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Quote of the week

Fox News, says the Z Man, could have ridden out the Bill O’Reilly kerfuffle, but why would they bother?

It’s tempting to assume that Fox is stuffed to the rafters with right-wing ideologues, but that’s not the case. Fox is just as Prog infested as every other media company. This could very well be part of an effort to make the channel more Prog friendly. It could also be the dream-child of someone in management, to remake the network to appeal to younger, gayer viewers.

But even if it isn’t, what difference does it make?

CNN has the same economics as Fox News. They can fully engage in whatever politics they choose, because they get paid even if no one bothers watching. They are tax farmers, relying on an oligopoly to enforce their right to skim a buck a month from your cable bill. It’s why cable bills are over $100 per month and it is also why cord cutting is the new thing. If people could pick the channels they buy through their cable subscription, all of the cable news guys would go away.

Besides, Fox News is still affected by Robert Conquest’s second law: “Any organization not explicitly right-wing sooner or later becomes left-wing.” An example from the past:

[A] good lesson to recall in all of this is the story of Time Magazine. Henry Luce founded the magazine, as well as Life, Sports Illustrated and other famous publications. He was also involved in radio, newsreels and eventually television. His company was the first multimedia corporation. In his heyday, he was considered the most influential private citizen in the country. The reason for that is his publications reached almost every American. He was an arbiter of the news.

Luce was also rabidly anti-communist and regularly used his media outlets to do battle with the Progs of his day. He opposed most of what FDR tried to do in office. It was Luce who came to the rescue of Whittaker Chambers, when the the Progs had him at the top of their enemies list. Chambers worked for Luce, not only earning a paycheck, but writing for his publications. Luce helped Bill Buckley get started, thus helping the post-war conservative movement come to life. Henry Luce’s media empire was anti-Left.

It was not, however, explicitly right-wing. After Luce died, his media company was slowly infiltrated by lunatics. By the 60’s it was unrecognizable. By the 70’s it was fully refashioned into a weapon of the Left. Even though its over the top Progressive bias slowly killed its circulation, the people running it did not care. What mattered was promoting the one true faith, even if it destroyed the institution from which it was broadcast.

Gramsci! thou shouldst be living at this hour.

Oh, wait, thou art.

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It’s that damn human nature again

The Left, says Severian, just ain’t what it used to be:

You won’t find this in the history books, but sometime around 1979, all the former hippies realized that they really kinda liked capitalism. Oh, not the war and racism stuff, but the other stuff. The stuff stuff. Think Mother Simpson running credit checks at Tom Hayden’s Porsche dealership. Or, think Hillary Clinton doing anything. Live like a satrap while preaching equality, that’s the Modern Left.

And as it turns out, the New Soviet Man — that “dehumanized slurry of deracinated emotionless self-deluding automaton” — is actually the ultimate consumer. Marx, child of the Enlightenment that he was (born 1818), thought that a person stripped of all the old culture would be truly free. We know that a person stripped of the old culture will do anything, anything at all, to belong. Which is why we can sell him anything and everything.

And which is why, unwilling to look directly into the sky, they created a deity out of dirt, and made up all sorts of parables about the troposphere.

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Purely decorative

One of the easiest ways to spot so-called “chick lit” on the shelves of your local bookseller: look for an incomplete picture of a woman. The reasoning, I assume, is that you can more easily identify with a character if you only get to see part of her.

The end result is something like this:

Here’s Jen’s book cover:

Save the Date by Jen Doll

I wonder how many other covers our unknown model might have done.

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The man from Zima Junction

Apparently not everyone was ready for this:

Perhaps it’s not the usual resting place for a Russian poet, but that’s the way it is:

Acclaimed Russian poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko, whose work focused on war atrocities and denounced anti-Semitism and tyrannical dictators, has died. He was 84.

Ginny Hensley, a spokeswoman for Hillcrest Medical Center in Tulsa, confirmed Yevtushenko’s death. Roger Blais, the provost at the University of Tulsa, where Yevtushenko was a longtime faculty member, said he was told Yevtushenko died Saturday morning.

“He died a few minutes ago surrounded by relatives and close friends,” his widow, Maria Novikova, was quoted as saying by the Russian state news agency RIA Novosti. She said he died peacefully in his sleep of heart failure.

Yevtushenko gained notoriety in the former Soviet Union while in his 20s, with poetry denouncing Josef Stalin. He gained international acclaim as a young revolutionary with Babi Yar, the unflinching 1961 poem that told of the slaughter of nearly 34,000 Jews by the Nazis and denounced the anti-Semitism that had spread throughout the Soviet Union.

If you’ve never read Babi Yar, here’s your chance.

Yevtushenko was invited to the University of Tulsa in 1992; he would teach there for the next quarter-century. His widow teaches Russian at Edison School in midtown Tulsa. Zima, his birthplace — Zima Junction was the title of a 1955 poem — is where the Trans-Siberian Railway meets the river Oka.

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You came here for an argument

Morgan Freeberg on conflict resolution:

In my time on earth I’ve read and heard much advice about this, most of it unsolicited. What I’ve learned in all that time boils down to just three basic things:

1. Pissing people off on purpose doesn’t resolve conflict. Neither does ridiculing them, mocking them, marginalizing them, condescending to them…

2. Putting people on notice that it is exceptionally quick & easy to get you pissed off & bent out of shape, also doesn’t resolve conflict. Neither does that time-honored tactic I have taken to call, “I surely must be the best-informed among the two of us in this exchange, for behold, see how incredibly hard it is to tell me anything.”

3. The above two items, against my reasonable expectations, are somehow privileged knowledge. We have a metric fuck-ton of people walking around among us, who can dress themselves, drive cars, hold jobs, etc … but demonstrate zero knowledge about them.

And if this be true in Real Life, as it most certainly seems to be, imagine how much more so it must be when all the participants are reduced to strings of pixels. A lot of people have bailed on Twitter simply because of the aforementioned metric, um, quantity.

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Clickbait for the eyes

“It is indeed a goddam noisy box,” Jubal Harshaw said to the Man from Mars. And of course he was right:

I think I’m done with local news. This morning they reported on a string of burglaries a couple counties south of me and spent about a minute on the story, and then lavished five minutes (roughly) on one of those “Florida Man” stories where someone gets themselves in trouble with the law in a highly stupid way and I was like, “I could use more detail about the LOCAL burglaries so I could know what to do to avoid becoming a victim” but of course, entertainment value and the freak-show that modern life has become seems to be more important and probably gets more eyeballs.

Once again, I think of my plan to offer a “Just News” channel that ran the important news stories — no celebrity fluff, no dumb-criminal stories, no oversweetened Human Interest stuff — and repeated it every 15 minutes or so. Or maybe devoted 15 minutes to Europe news, 15 minutes to The Americas, 15 minutes to Asia, and 15 minutes to Africa … and then loop it around. (And yeah: Australia would have to go in with Asia, I suppose.)

“You give us 22 minutes,” says WINS Radio in New York, “and we’ll give you the world.” And they’ve been doing that for over 50 years.

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Selective umbrage

I mean, really, can we stay on the subject, people?

The full story, should you be interested.

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A digital artifact, as it were

Out in the West Texas town of El Paso, someone has preserved Pancho Villa’s trigger finger:

Luis immediately spots the finger in the window — gnarled and gray in a hammered bronze box next to shelves crammed with jewelry, its longish fingernail still intact. A typed message in a wood frame next to it explains that this is indeed the forefinger of a “notorious bandit” and “ruthless killer” who was also considered a local hero. That’s a lot of human paradox wrapped up into one little crooked finger in an El Paso pawnshop.

Villa was assassinated in Parral, Chihuahua in 1923: seven riflemen opened fire as he drove his four-year-old Dodge.

(Full story in Texas Highways Magazine.)

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