Archive for Dyssynergy

Please be kind to Frank Ancona

Frank Ancona has been selling cars in the Kansas City area for over fifty years; his Honda lot on I-35 in Johnson County always catches my eye when I’m on the way to KC. His advertising tagline — “Please be kind to Frank Ancona” — may be one of the best-known slogans in the entire automotive business. (Heck, I know it, and I’m 350 miles away.) You go to the dealership’s Web site right now, though, and you’ll get a popup that explains this:

[Llast weekend, a body discovered on the banks of Missouri’s Big River — about a five-hour drive to the east — gave the dealership the kind of attention that no business wants. The corpse, which had a bullet hole in its head, also had a name: Frank Ancona.

No, the founder of Frank Ancona Honda is still alive and well at 85. But much to his dismay, the Frank Ancona discovered by the Big River was none other than the 51-year-old imperial wizard of the Traditionalist American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.

There have been phone calls to the dealership. Many of them, in fact.

When Automotive News first broke the story, the dealership had already posted a disclaimer on its website. “Frank Ancona Honda is not in any relation to the KKK leader that was recently found dead,” read any car shopper browsing for deals on a Odyssey or Accord.

It was about two and a half years ago that the dealer became aware of the dipshit:

The owner of Frank Ancona Honda in Olathe is being mistaken for a Ku Klux Klan imperial wizard with the same name, and the confusion is costing the dealership money.

Frank Ancona also is the name of the KKK leader for the Traditional American Knights KKK chapter in Park Hills, Mo.

Dealership manager Leon Wharton says it’s not really a factor right now:

“February is usually one of the worst months in the automobile business as it is,” Wharton said. “It just never does do very well in comparison to the other months. So could it have some impact? Yes. But can I pinpoint that it’s negatively affected business? No, not really.”

“I’ll use this reference,” he said. “I’m sure there’s several James Smiths in prison around the country, and I’m sure there’s a whole bunch of James Smiths running around, law-abiding citizens, paying their taxes and taking care of their families and being good members of the community.

A lot of them, in fact, are members of the Jim Smith Society.

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And maybe you’ll even be understood

CFI Care (not its real initials) has duly sent me a Form 1095-B, which states that yes, I had health insurance for the whole tax year just ended. Okay, fine. There was also an instruction sheet, which contained the following statement: “If you, or someone you are helping, have questions, you have the right to get help and information in your language at no cost. Talk to an interpreter at [some toll-free number].”

This is, I assume, the usual governmentally-inspired misapplication of the word “right.” On the other hand, it’s probably a good thing that the instructions can be had in other languages. Which other languages, you ask? The list:

  • Arabic
  • Burmese
  • Cherokee
  • French
  • German
  • Hmong
  • Korean
  • Laotian
  • Navajo
  • Persian
  • Spanish
  • Tagalog
  • Thai
  • Urdu
  • Vietnamese

The toll-free number is the same for all of them, and now I feel sorry for the callers: this is way more complicated than the usual “para Español, marque el numero dos.”

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In order of pain inflicted

Hell, Dante would have you know, is not homogeneous: Inferno is divided into nine circles, each one worse than the one preceding it. Equivalent experiences on this side of the grave are somewhat less heinous, but then there is heinous and there is heinous. If your feet are bare, almost all LEGO blocks will cause you pain when you tread upon them, but some of them are worse than others:

There are a few criteria to consider, the most important being natural resting position. Think about it this way: Stepping directly on an upright knife would be acutely unpleasant, but how likely would it be to find a knife on the floor in that position? More often than not, a knife on the floor will be laying flat and relatively harmless, which is why a LEGO piece like 2m cross axle w. groove didn’t make the list. It would be killer to step on upright, but that’s just not prone to happening.

The list contains 25 different blocks, and the worst of the lot tend to be the smaller ones, due to the laws of physics:

Small bricks are a theme on this list, due to the definition of pressure: force per unit area. In stepping on a LEGO, the force applied by our hypothetical stepping foot will be the same, so as the unit area gets smaller, the pressure, and therefore pain, increases.

It’s enough to make you put on your shoes.


Snow is your friend, officer

It’s just as simple as this:

Mother Nature gave Olympia [Washington] Police officers a crime-fighting boost when they responded to a burglary call Monday morning.

Footprints in fresh snow greeted officers who responded to the 911 call about a commercial burglary alarm at the Taco Bell in the 1100 block of Cooper Point Road at 3:30 a.m. Monday.

Officers saw footprints approaching the building, according to Lt. Paul Lower. The footprints led to a ladder where the snow also was disturbed, Lower said.

The ladder led to the roof, where more fresh footprints led to an open hatch with more disturbed snow.

That’s some mighty fine police work there, Paul. But it’s also eminently sensible:

Lt. Lower’s conclusion? “Snow makes crime scene investigation much easier.”

(Via American Digest.)

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Spam is everywhere

Spam can in the Mariana TrenchWhich includes, yes, the “most remote place on the planet.” The caption on this picture, as reproduced in the Guardian: “A container of Spam rests at 4,947 meters on the slopes of a canyon leading to the Sirena Deep in the Mariana trench. Photograph: NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration.” Three miles down! Is this unusual? Not in the slightest:

Small crustaceans that live in the pitch-black waters of the trench, captured by a robotic submarine, were contaminated with 50 times more toxic chemicals than crabs that survive in heavily polluted rivers in China.

Not a good sign. Remember PCBs? They’ve never truly gone away:

PCBs were manufactured from the 1930s to the 1970s, when their appalling impact on people and wildlife was realised. About a third of the 1.3m tonnes produced has already leaked into coastal sediments and the open oceans, with a steady stream still thought to be coming from poorly protected landfill sites.

And “landfill” may explain the artifact pictured above:

An expedition conducted by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration last year also found various manmade items on the slopes leading to the Sirena Deep, part of the Mariana trench, and the nearby Enigma Seamount. They included a tin of Spam, a can of Budweiser beer and several plastic bags.

The appalling impact of Budweiser beer has long been established.

(Via Holly Brockwell.)

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Unanticipated mail

Stuffed into my mailbox yesterday: the March ’17 issue of Reader’s Digest.

No, really. It’s a little smaller than I remember it in several dimensions — 136 pages this month — but otherwise it’s much the same as it used to be. (On page 131, for instance, there’s the old reliable “It Pays to Increase Your Word Power,” now being run by Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon, once the operators of The Atlantic Puzzler.) Single-copy price is now $3.99, and they offered me 10 issues (one year) for $10.

The corporation in charge is billed as “Trusted Media Brands, Inc.”, which sounds incredibly bland; it is, however, the same old Reader’s Digest Association under a new name, inasmuch as they’ve acquired some special-interest magazines.

And there’s this:

“The pen is mightier than the sword, if you shoot that pen out of a gun.”

So saith Stephen Colbert, in, yes, “Quotable Quotes.”


The ties that unbind

Roger explains the relative dearth of rail-based passenger service in the US:

Most of the greatest concentration of potential train use, because of population patterns, is in the Northeast corridor from Boston to DC, and California. And do you know who lives there? LIBERALS, those arrogant prigs who fuss about energy conservation and don’t REALLY share American values. So screw ’em. We have the fix for the problems of some of the recent rail crashes, but we’re not going to spend money for THAT.

OK, that was exaggerated, but only slightly. There are also pockets of density in the eastern Midwest, and in parts of Texas suitable for rail transportation. Still, fixing the rails, usually shared by freight, and needing to defer to cargo, is considered “subsidizing” Amtrak. Fixing the roads is … oh, never mind, we don’t do that either.

If you saw “Texas” and blinked, think “Texas Eagle,” which actually runs from Chicago to Los Angeles, entering Texas sort of parallel to Interstate 20 (west as far as Fort Worth, where it joins the Heartland Flyer to Oklahoma City), down Interstate 35 to San Antonio, and along Interstate 10 to El Paso and points west. Admittedly, density along I-10 is somewhere between zero and barely above, but I-35 is prodigiously busy and getting more so. (Fort Worth is the nation’s 16th largest city; San Antonio the 7th; in between is Austin, which is now 11th.)

And it must be conceded that we get farther behind on infrastructure repairs just about every single year.

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Bomb bursts of the bizarre

Various Caesars might disagree, but I am becoming persuaded that February is so short simply because we couldn’t take a whole lot more of it.

Tomorrow, for instance, I had an appointment with a shrink, and a new shrink at that. Someone associated with the office called me up and advised that the doctor would be out of town, and perhaps I might want to reschedule. I made a point of rescheduling it in March.

Yesterday, I pulled into the same Shell station I’ve been going to for the last four years, and only noticed once I’d gotten out of the car that it’s no longer a Shell station. Have the prices changed since my last visit? Yes: each grade is now one cent higher. And whatever changes were necessary to the accounting system, they made the little receipt a lot less easy to read.

A few minutes later, I pulled into Walmart and picked up the week’s groceries. The last couple of times I’d ordered a particular pie from them, they were out of it and substituted a similar pie at the same price. This time, I ordered the substitute pie. Nothing was said at the pickup point, so I assumed I’d won this round. Then I unloaded the trunk, and found no pie at all — but a whole lot of donuts at the same price ($3.98).

Finally, I got a letter from American Express apologizing for an “internal error” which may have resulted in a late fee or other charges, and announcing a credit of two dollars and change. Having not had any late fees or other charges recently, I stared for a moment, and then read the account number. It’s not the number of my current Amex, or the one before that; it’s the number of the Amex before that, which hasn’t been active since 2010.

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The last of the breed

The last video store in New Jersey is closing up:

Next weekend, there will be no place left to rent a movie to watch on Saturday night in Brick — or anywhere else in the Garden State, for that matter.

After 27 years in business, Bob’s Video Time, the final holdout of what was once a multi-billion dollar industry, is closing its doors in the Briarmill shopping center off Lanes Mill Road.

The shelves are still stocked with Blu-Ray discs, DVDs and video games, but a closeout sale is beginning to take a bite out of the inventory. Business is slow — an occasional regular strolls in to find something to watch for the night — but the hustle and bustle that was once found in this place has gone away for good.

For what it’s worth, Bob outlasted all the video chains:

As the industry grew, so did the competition, but Video Time had carved a local niche that kept its customers returning, again and again, for the personal service that may not have always been present in a massive Blockbuster or Hollywood Video location.

“There were eight video stores in a two mile radius, and they eventually all went out of business,” said [Bob] Karpodinis. “At least for the last five years, we were the only ones left. People like mom-and-pop stores. They know you from town and they know your name.”

I blame Netflix. Then again, I would.

(Via Fark.)

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Dogs and cats showing together?

Mass hysteria! Then again, this is Westminster:

The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, the most prestigious canine competition in the United States, has added three new breeds to its annual event, which for the first time will also include a program featuring cats.

Cats, I tell you!

Actually, the official judging program [pdf] gives the felines short shrift, probably because it’s trying so hard to be official:

Thank you for joining us this week for the 141st Annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, the 2nd Annual Masters Obedience Championship and also, Meet & Compete; encompassing AKC’s 8th edition of Meet the Breeds® (and Cats) and the 4th Annual Masters Agility Championship at Westminster. We are pleased to bring over 3,000 of the world’s greatest dogs to compete for the ultimate recognition in conformation, obedience and agility over three show days.

Which is the only mention of the cats in the program.

Nor will the cats be on television: the MtB(&C) is on Saturday, 11 February, and TV coverage begins the following Sunday.

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This year’s health coverage

CFI Care (not its real initials) sent out new cards in late December, which is how I knew the company signed up for another year. Frankly, I was surprised, since we’re not a large outfit and all by myself I had $160,000 worth of claims last year; I expected us to be unceremoniously dumped and our fates consigned to the one remaining ObamaCare provider.

Curiously, this year’s coverage seems to cover a little more: general-practitioner copays have dropped to $25 (from $35), commonplace drugs which lack generic equivalents appear to have dropped to $35 (from $75), and the usual four-dollar generics have no copay at all. Deductible remains at five grand, and there’s a maximum out-of-pocket of $6,250. (This is for individual coverage; families, of course, will pay Much More.) I don’t know if the continued existence of ACA had anything to do with these revisions, but I am loath to complain.

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Big dorks with erasers

Austin, Texas has a grade school named after Robert E. Lee; I think some of my cousins might have attended it back in the day. (I know I’ve visited the campus.) The movement to de-Confederate everything has reached Austin, and KTBC-TV reports on possible new names for Lee:

This is why you never, ever have public votes other than the most formal kind, with ballots and everything.

(Via Dan Tentler.)

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After which, the cows gave milkshakes

Apparently factory-reject Skittles are a popular feed for dairy cattle in Wisconsin:

Hundreds of thousands of red Skittles that spilled on a country road in Wisconsin led cops to discover that farmers have been feeding the candy to cows for years, CNN reported.

The sweet treats fell from a truck hauling them to a cattle ranch in Dodge County, and were frozen in place earlier this week, police told the station.

“There’s no little “S” on them, but you can definitely smell, it’s a distinct Skittles smell,” Dodge County Sheriff Dale Schmidt told CNN affiliate WISN.

I suppose it’s a good thing the cows weren’t eating M&Ms.

But maybe it doesn’t matter:

John Waller, an animal science professor at the University of Tennessee, said Skittles are a legit meal to feed the animals.

“Think it’s a viable (diet),” Waller told Live Science. “It keeps fat material from going out in the landfill, and it’s a good way to get nutrients in these cattle. The alternative would be to put (the candy) in a landfill somewhere.”

Now I wonder how their teeth are faring.

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Miserable data

Steve H. Hanke, current proprietor of the Misery Index, explains the methodology:

The Misery Index has been modified several times, first by Robert Barro of Harvard and then by myself. My modified Misery Index is the sum of the unemployment, inflation, and bank lending rates, minus the percentage change in real GDP per capita. A higher Misery Index score reflects higher levels of “misery,” and it’s a simple enough metric that a busy president without time for extensive economic briefings can understand at a glance.

Heh. Indeed. And the first three are way out there beyond the rest:

Venezuela holds the inglorious spot of most miserable country for 2016, as it did in 2015. The failures of the socialist, corrupt petroleum state have been well documented over the past year, including when Venezuela became the 57th instance of hyperinflation in the world.

Argentina holds down the second most miserable rank, and the reasons aren’t too hard to uncover. After the socialist Kirchner years, Argentina is transitioning away from the economy-wracking Kirchner policies, but many problematic residues can still be found in Argentina’s underlying economic framework.

Brazil, at number 3, is a hotbed of corruption and incompetence, as the recent impeachment of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff indicates.

The US, 39th among 59, checks in with a 9.4. Here’s how your Top Three did:

  1. Brazil: 75.0
  2. Argentina: 83.8
  3. Venezuela: 573.4

Least miserable? The Japanese, with a 0.4.

(Via Fausta’s blog.)


I’m sure someone can explain this

I’m pretty sure, though, that I can’t. A note affixed to my most recent (okay, only) Amazon PrimePantry order:

Frequently Bought With ZzzQuil Nighttime Sleep Aid

About the only thing these items would seem to have in common is that 4½-star rating.

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This is the year of the expanding bird

Well, a few specific birds, anyway:

According to University of Notre Dame researcher Professor Dylan Korczynskyj, the wings of Western Australian ringneck parrots have increased by four to five millimetres over the past 45 years.

And you know who’s to blame: us, and our indefensible planet-heating ways. Professor Korczynskyj believes this parrot wing growth could be due to climate change, pointing out that critter extremities in hotter climates tend to be longer.

Let us then project forward:

That’s just fine, naysayers may scoff. Nobody will have much of a problem with parrots that during the next half a century extend their wingspans from 17.5cm to 18.5cm. But consider how these beasts might evolve as climate change continues ruining our world.

Add another 45 years of warming and suddenly we’ve got parrots flapping all over the place with colossal 19.5cm wingspans. Throw in 90 more years on top of that and they’ll be up to an unimaginable 21.5cm.

Why, it’s only a matter of time before these warming-fuelled sky leviathans are the size of pterodactyls, sporting 12 metres of wing as they soar away with our screaming children clamped in their bloody talons. At a rate of one millimetre of growth per wing every nine years, or two millimetres in wingspan, the diminutive ringneck parrot will easily achieve pterodactyl dimensions within a mere 6000 years or so.

Hitchcock himself couldn’t imagine a scarier avian fantasy.

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The last Big Top

It’s the end of the line for the Greatest Show on Earth:

After much evaluation and deliberation, my family and I have made the difficult business decision that Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® will hold its final performances in May of this year. Ringling Bros. ticket sales have been declining, but following the transition of the elephants off the road, we saw an even more dramatic drop. This, coupled with high operating costs, made the circus an unsustainable business for the company.

Nearly 50 years ago, my father founded our company with the acquisition of Ringling Bros. The circus and its people have continually been a source of inspiration and joy to my family and me, which is why this was such a tough business decision to make. The decision was even more difficult because of the amazing fans that have become part of our extended circus family over the years, and we are extremely grateful to the millions of families who have made Ringling Bros. part of their lives for generations. We know Ringling Bros. isn’t only our family business, but also your family tradition.

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® Presents Circus XTREME will conclude its tour at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence, R.I., on May 7, 2017, and Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® Presents Out Of This World will conclude its tour at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y., on May 21, 2017. We hope you will come to celebrate this American icon for one last time before our tours conclude.

Our company provides quality, live family entertainment, and we invite you to bring your family to one of our other events, including Marvel Universe LIVE!, Monster Jam, Monster Energy Supercross, AMSOIL Arenacross, Disney On Ice and Disney Live!, as well as future productions.

So says Kenneth Feld, head of Feld Entertainment, which bought the circus in 1967, continued to manage it after its acquisition by Mattel in 1971, and bought it back in 1982.

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Oh, Snap

The story sounded ominous enough: Snapchat deleted the account belonging to tween singer/ukulele virtuoso Grace VanderWaal. “Whatever for?” I wondered, and then it occurred to me. And really, it should have been obvious:

Having grown up right as the internet was really becoming a thing that people of all ages used all the time for entertainment, millennials know more than most how easy it is to tell websites that want you to be a certain age that you are, actually, that age, even if you’re not. We’d like to say we learned this from alcohol websites that require you to be twenty-one because we’re cool and edgy, but honestly we learned it from Neopets and Livejournal. We’re old, get off of our lawn, etc. America’s Got Talent star Grace VanderWaal found out being famous makes it hard to spoof your age when Snapchat deleted her account for a very simple reason: She’s not yet thirteen, and that’s their age requirement. Hey, them’s the rules!

I should have caught on, knowing that Facebook believes my 18-year-old grandson to be 24 or thereabouts.


This is where you came in

In case cutting the cord wasn’t enough for you:

Back in October 2015 when they announced single-game and single-team League Pass streaming options, the NBA also floated the idea on social media to let fans buy just parts of games. Now, it sounds like NBA commissioner Adam Silver is working towards making that a reality. On a sports business innovation panel at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Silver said he thinks they’ll get to a point where there will be an option for fans to buy only the final five minutes of games.

However, this could backfire on the Association:

Silver’s suggestion might help reinforce the idea that the last five minutes of an average NBA game — which can last quite a bit longer than five minutes with time-outs, intentional fouls and TV commercial breaks — are the only five minutes of the game that matter. The league already has a problem drawing casual eyeballs during the pre-playoff season since so many of its teams make post-season play.

Sixteen of thirty, in fact.

Wait until people figure out that they can’t DVR these fractions of games: not only do you not know how long the last five minutes will run, you don’t know how long the first forty-three ran. And then there’s the dread spectre of overtime.

Back to the drawing board, Mr Silver, sir.


Seriously, help wanted

I mean, we’re desperate, and you can tell:

We need a graphic designer.  Obviously.

Then again:

50mm Photography is a collective of world-class photographers, retouchers and illustrators based in Toronto, New York, London, Texas and Los Angeles. In the early outset, all of the photographs posted to the website were taken with a 50mm lens.

We have over 150 years of combined experience as creatives, access to the best studio spaces and equipment, and offer the widest selection of image services at highly competitive rates. 50mm is your full-service destination for photography, beauty services, website development, conceptual design, fashion illustration, advertising management, retouching and many more essential image services.

Okay, we’re not entirely without resources.

(From reddit via Miss Cellania.)


So, Doc, like, um, what’s up?

You do not see two trucks full of carrots:

US Customs and Border Patrol trucks filled with fake carrots

All these items share with carrots are the shape and a certain degree of orangeness. They’re really plastic wraps containing marijuana, and US Customs and Border Patrol finds them risible.

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Dope slapping

We all saw the picture, and it wasn’t that funny:

One of the sillier bits of recent news was the changing of the Hollywood sign to read “Hollyweed” (which apparently wasn’t even all that original). I admit my reaction was: “that’s so funny I forgot to laugh” said with the most sarcasm possible.

Confession: I find the extreme “weed culture,” where pot has to constantly be celebrated and that palmate leaf slapped onto everything, kind of puerile and annoying. I don’t care if you smoke it — far away from me — but I also would like for the rest of us to be able to avoid the whole stoner thing. And yes, I say this as someone who almost made a “Dave’s not here” joke to a natural-foods store employee, but hesitated because I figured he was too young to get it.

“Dave” goes back forty-five years, man.


Laws of surpassing murkiness

Jack Baruth notes that there are stretches of Interstate hither and yon upon which literally no one observes the posted speed limit, and proposes the sensible question: Cui bono? Who benefits from this?

There’s always someone, of course:

Perhaps you’ve heard of the book Three Felonies A Day, written by civil-rights attorney Harvey Silverglate. In the book, Silverglate argues that the law has become so complex, particularly as regards technology and chain-of-custody issues, that it is almost impossible to get through your day without committing a felony of some type. Not everybody agrees with the specific examples and assertions made in the book, but I think it’s fair to say that most of us have unknowingly done something that would be punished much more severely than you would expect. That goes double for people who work in tech. I’ve seen people violate multiple federal privacy laws, totaling dozens of years’ worth of prison time, in a single email. And don’t get me started on the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and its repugnant, pernicious effects on ordinary human beings.

Mental note: Don’t get Jack started on the DMCA.

Outrageously low speed limits do not protect the freeway motorists of Cincinnati or Northern Virginia. In fact, you can argue that they increase the risk of driving on those freeways. So Cui bono? I think you know. Changing the limit from 65 to 45 on Route 71 benefits law enforcement. It creates the following benefits:

  • It turns a normal flow of freeway traffic into a river of cash into which the police can dip at will. Want to write ten tickets a day? A hundred? A thousand? It’s all possible.
  • It increases the cash value of those tickets for both insurance companies and municipalities while simultaneously making it harder to fight those tickets.
  • It allows profiling.

After all, they don’t have to bust you on some trumped-up nonsense if they can just write you up for 59 in a 45 zone.

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A two-state solution, sort of

Andrew Jackson was born in the Waxhaws, on the border between North Carolina and South Carolina; Jackson generally described himself as coming from South Carolina — which is the reason we studied this in South Carolina history — but the surviving town of Waxhaw is on the Tar Heel side of the line.

Jackson was born in 1767. Could this sort of thing still be an issue 250 years later? Of course it can:

Some S.C. residents who went to bed on New Year’s Eve in the Palmetto State will wake up New Year’s Day as North Carolinians.

A two-decade effort using GPS technology to clarify the exact, down-to-the-centimeter border between the Carolinas comes to fruition this year.

The border adjustment, approved by both states, moved 16 people who thought they lived in South Carolina into North Carolina. Three N.C. families now will have S.C. addresses.

“It’s not shifting at all,” former state Sen. Wes Hayes, R-York, said of the 334-mile border. “We just pinned down exactly where the original line was.”

There were some incentives involved:

For example, children whose states of residence changed still can attend their previous public schools, and, for the next 10 years, they also will get in-state tuition at public schools in either state.

A deal also was cut to allow the Lake Wylie Mini Mart — once thought to be in South Carolina but now in North Carolina — to continue selling fireworks and alcohol, and to keep selling gas at South Carolina’s lower tax rate.

So long as the Mart’s owners retain it, anyway: if they ever sell out, the new owners will be subject to North Carolina law.

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OCD indulged

Periodicals tend to start with Volume One, Number 1, and proceed from there. The major exception is MAD magazine, which did in fact start with Volume One, Number 1, but apparently never got to Volume Two. “We’ll never have a Volume Two,” declared MAD publisher William M. Gaines. Should the post office insist, he said they’d go to Volume Two after issue #1000; Gaines died in 1992, MAD is up to issue #543, and I figure this is worth mentioning only for historical purposes.

Closer to home, The Oklahoman has long rolled over into the next volume on the third — not the first, but the third — of January. The issue of 31 December was Volume 125, Number 364. Apparently someone in the office decided that an eighth of a millennium of this was enough, and declared that Volume 126 would begin on the first of January. Down in the corner of Monday’s front page:

Clipping from the Oklahoman, volume 126, number 2

Well, I feel better.

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Nor did we ask 100 people

At lunchtime, a few of us gather in the break room to watch Family Feud, and to be perfectly frank about it, we spend as much time watching Steve Harvey react as we do actually waiting to hear what the survey said. (I suspect that since Harvey’s brought up the ratings substantially, they edit the show accordingly.) We started, alas, long after this segment (parental guidance suggested) aired:

On t’other hand, Secily, wayward spelling notwithstanding, now owns a tiny little piece of my heart.

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Breathe or freeze?

Hey, Scott Pruitt, you want to take this on?

[N]ow comes the federal government to tell the inhabitants of Alaska’s interior that, really, they should not be building fires to keep themselves warm during the winter. The New York Times reports the Environmental Protection Agency could soon declare the Alaskan cities of Fairbanks and North Pole, which have a combined population of about 100,000, in “serious” noncompliance of the Clean Air Act early next year.

Like most people in Alaska, the residents of those frozen cities are burning wood to keep themselves warm this winter. Smoke from wood-burning stoves increases small-particle pollution, which settles in low-lying areas and can be breathed in. The EPA thinks this is a big problem. Eight years ago, the agency ruled that wide swaths of the most densely populated parts of the region were in “non-attainment” of federal air quality standards.

Alternatives? What alternatives? There is no natural gas to speak of, and heating oil costs even more up there than it does in frosty New England.

The average low temperature in Fairbanks in December is 13 degrees below zero. In January, it’s 17 below. During the coldest days of winter, the high temperature averages -2 degrees, and it can get as cold as -60. This is not a place where you play games with the cold. If you don’t keep the fire lit, you die. For people of modest means, and especially for the poor, that means you burn wood in a stove — and you keep that fire lit around the clock.

Nonsense. The poor must die, so that the well-off can breathe slightly easier. Ask Chuck Darwin.

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No one would buy pegasus boogers

As the phrase goes, first you have to get their attention:

This past year we’ve seen a surge of ’90s trends, and there are still many more to make their comeback. Glitter is an accessory that’s been slowly creeping its way back into the beauty world, and if you haven’t had a reason to pick up some glitter for yourself yet, allow Unicorn Snot to be your next best friend.

Wait, what?

One of several available colors of Unicorn Snot

That was silver, I think.

Unicorn Snot is a glittery gel that comes in several different colors, including pink, green, purple, silver, and gold. It’s non-sticky, translucent, and it can be used just as easily on your hair as it can your face and lips. All you have to do is swipe as much as you’d like on the desired area, and it holds pretty well on its own.

I’m surprised the stuff is at most $10 a jar; I mean, I figured that by now unicorns would have figured out antihistamines.

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The appearance of growth

From an earlier report on Walmart’s grocery-pickup service:

This particular Walmart store has six pickup points; this was the first time I’d ever seen all six in use.

That was a month ago. Some time in the last week they added four more spaces for the pickup crowd. (Although at 6:30 on a Thursday, there were only two in use, and a third was occupied by an indoor shopper who can’t or won’t read.)


No accounting for counting

In which we find out what Bill Gates and Darth Vader have in common:

Windows versions vs. Star Wars episodes

(Found at reddit by Miss Cellania.)

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