Archive for Dyssynergy

The antithesis of progress

Oh, yeah, it saves space. Big deal:

The Wall Street Journal reports that Sealed Air, the maker of bubble wrap, has announced a new “flat” version of its product. This version, to the lament of many on social media, will not pop.

Sealed Air states that shipping pre-inflated rolls of bubble wrap takes up too much space in trucks and on warehouse floors. The new version is sold in flat sheets and will be filled on demand with a custom pump. Shipping it in this manner will use about 1/50 as much space as before.

Rather than individual bubbles, the new wrap contains a single chamber of air which holds little promise to entertain like the original wrapping has done for decades.

This puts an end to at least some of “Weird Al” Yankovic’s freaky time.

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Nothing to dye for

I’m assuming here that the questioner is very young and likely more familiar with the vernacular than with that which it describes:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: Is it normal that the rug doesn t match the drapes?

To clarify:

(I grew pubes since a few months ago already and while I have long light blond hair, they are rather brown … Is there something wrong?)

The answer I might have wanted to give, fortunately, has already been served up:

No. Your drapes are exposed to sunlight and fade. The rug isn’t.

I suppose this could be tested experimentally, but local laws might be an obstacle.

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By wrath blinded

In the wake of the Supreme Court ruling on — what’s the term this week? Oh, yeah, “marriage equality” — one guy got totally bent out of shape and complained to his local NBC affiliate:

Don complains to KARK

Logo for KARK-TV Little RockThe “colors of gays”?

NBC has been, um, proud as a peacock since 1956, when the bird (called by NBC insiders “the bird”) was introduced with the express intention of helping then-parent RCA sell color TV sets. The current version dates to 1986; KARK-TV Little Rock has been an NBC affiliate ever since signing on in 1954.

I have to believe that station staffers, finding this silliness on their Facebook page, guffawed for several minutes, and then one of them quit laughing and posted a completely deadpan, perfectly accurate response:

KARK responds

Don, we assume, has been unable to find a butter knife to fall upon.

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Memo to the National Football League

Those late-morning pregame shows may be in for some minor audience adjustments:

Ordinarily, I’m a big believer in individual privacy and I don’t like the idea of extensive and intrusive surveillance. But a program called Churchix uses facial recognition software to see who did and didn’t show up at service last Sunday, and I must confess I am intrigued.

This wasn’t, you should know, the intended application for this particular code. Says the head of the company developing the package [warning: autostart video]:

“We didn’t have any intention to get into the church market, but orders started piling up. In a really short period time, we got emails and phone calls from about 10 churches and they all asked us for the same thing, and now we’ve had even more requests.”

Because, you know, nothing enhances one’s reverence like induced paranoia.

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Dispatch from Department 72°

You know what I think of thermostats: there is the classic Honeywell Eyeball, and then there is all that other crap.

But hey, nobody has to believe me. Will Truman decided to try something new:

Honeywell made the high-tech thermostat we have in our house. It has wifi, can be programmed on a computer to dates and times. It’s pretty neat.

When you get that high-tech, though, you have to worry about things like software and firmware upgrades. It has sent me three emails informing me that I need to upgrade the software. And in none of those emails has it explained to me how. A quick surfing of the control panel has come up with nothing.

In other news, our power has gone out three times in the last 24 hours.

Life is too short to spend reprogramming stuff.

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A bug in the system

And not just any bug, either. It was a fricking wasp:

A Florida wasp provided the latest challenge to Allegiant Air in a difficult month for the airline, crawling into an aircraft sensor Thursday and forcing a flight departing St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport to make an unscheduled landing.

Allegiant spokeswoman Jessica Wheeler said Flight 894 with 159 passengers took off at 7:30 a.m. headed to Niagara Falls, N.Y., but diverted to Orlando Sanford International Airport not long after takeoff because of problems with the sensor.

A retired pilot from some other airline speculated as to what Allegiant meant by “sensor”:

Former U.S. Airways pilot John Cox, who lives in St. Petersburg, said from the airline’s description it appears the wasp was in a pitot tube, which is as narrow as a pencil, on the nose of the aircraft. The plane, a McDonnell Douglas model, has three such tubes measuring airspeed.

Cox said the pilot of Flight 894 may have noticed one of three gauges showed a different airspeed than the other two during the flight, indicating a problem.

“It’s not an uncommon occurrence,” Cox said. The wasps “find a spot on the inside of the tube that they like and they will start building a nest and it impedes the airflow into the tube.”

Passengers will be given a $50 voucher toward future travel on Allegiant.

(Via Consumerist.)

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Cutest drug-runners ever

Not only are they snuggly, they’re smuggly:

Spanish police have arrested a Venezuelan veterinarian wanted by the US for allegedly trafficking heroin by implanting it in puppies.

Andres Lopez Elorza was arrested on Saturday in the northwestern town of Santa Comba, where he had been hiding after the National Court authorized his extradition last month, a Civil Guard spokesman on Tuesday said.

So simple. Seal it in a bag, seal the bag under the dog’s fur. (What’s the next step beyond the death penalty?)

Police said Colombian authorities discovered 6.6 lb of heroin implanted in three puppies during a 2005 raid on a clinic the vet ran in Medellín.

The statement said the vet was a member of drug-trafficking gang that used dogs to send liquid heroin from Colombia to the United States.

“Venezuelan news,” says Fausta, “have become the stuff Werner Herzog movies are made of.” Ouch.

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She’s right, you know

You’re out of superglue. Really, you are:

Superglue is the kind of thing you see on the impulse buy rack while you’re patiently waiting in line at Walmars and silently judging the fashion choices of the landwhale in front of you and taking stealthy pictures with your cell phone, or you would if you could just for fuck’s sake remember to silence the little picture-taking noise so we don’t have yet ANOTHER incident. Then you get the superglue home and you carefully open it to glue that ceramic ostrich’s beak back on, and by the time you get your fingers unstuck from each other, the superglue has turned to granite inside the tiny tiny oh so tiny tube. So you never already HAVE superglue. You have to go get it.

To verify this, I went to yon Junk Drawer and extracted my precious bottle of superglue. The contents were seemingly as dense as osmium and about as permeable. I think I’d used it — wait a minute, has anyone in the history of the world ever managed to get two uses out of a single bottle?

Hint: If this first paragraph is true, probably not. In which case, this business model suddenly looks viable:

Someone needs to open up a business where you can come in with your broken stuff and pay a small fee to use THEIR superglue.

Endorsed heartily.

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And this is our prestige product

Motor Trend, a magazine over 60 years old, sells about twice as many copies as Automobile, a magazine just turned thirty which became a corporate sister to MT a couple years back, and more recently a live-in relative: both magazines work out of the same office in El Segundo, because, you know, synergies.

MT, despite its senior status, is apparently not considered the flagship of the line. The most recent subscription offer was 2 years of MT for $24, two years of Automobile for $30, though MT has the higher single-copy price: $5.99 versus $4.99. “Official” subscription rates, as hidden away in the magazines: MT, $18/year; Automobile, $19.94 a year.

Meanwhile in Ann Arbor, Car and Driver and Road & Track have different, um, issues: both sell for $4.99 on the stands, but R&T puts out only 10 issues per year. Hearst Magazines tends to fuzz up the rates by offering to throw in something else — in my case, usually Esquire — for next to nothing.

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Awash in backwash

We had rain out the wazoo last month, and after going a week and a half without any rain, the stuff has returned with a vengeance. Maybe more than vengeance, no thanks to slow-moving, tediously damp ex-Tropical Storm Bill, which visited about 11 inches on one hamlet down by the Red River. Still, this should not make us think that we’re never, ever going to have water issues again:

I learned that per capita, an average shower delivers 2-5 gallons of water A MINUTE. How many of us take 10, 15, even 20 minute showers, everyday? We use 25-40 gallons of water PER LOAD when we do the laundry. We are so ridiculously blessed to have clean water that appears at our command. For the past 24 hours, I’ve been obsessed with the following questions: Can you imagine hauling water from the creek like our ancestors did? What about third world countries in 2015, where women hike for MILES to deliver dirty water to their families … several times every day? I wonder how much water you could live on, if its price was comparable to gold?

My typical shower is down around three minutes. Then again, I do a lot more wash than some of you might imagine. Still, I keep the monthly usage down around 3,000 gallons, which is on the low side for Oklahoma City water customers but which nonetheless remains around 100 gallons a day.

Is it fair to mention that she thought of this while the plumbers were working on a broken water pipe?

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Paddy-O

Wait until the old man finds out it’s not actually a vacation package:

Store display for Stayfree Maxi-Pads

I think I’d leave home first.

(Found on reddit by Miss Cellania.)

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Mow it alone

Remember that town in West Virginia where no cell phones or Wi-Fi signals or even radios are allowed? Robotic lawn mowers are right out:

The saga started in February, when iRobot filed a waiver request with the FCC seeking approval to use a portion of the radio spectrum to help guide its robomower. The problem with grass-cutting bots, according to iRobot’s filing, is the only way to get them to work is to dig a trench along the perimeter of a lawn and install a wire that creates the electronic fence needed to ensure the automatons don’t wander beyond the property line.

The iRobot people also produce the Roomba, a robotic vacuum cleaner, and the Scooba, which maintains hardwood floors. (I covet the Scooba.)

As a less arduous solution, iRobot proposes using stakes, driven into the ground, to act as beacons. The beacons will talk to the lawnbot, helping it map the area and stay within the designated boundaries. A typical user with a typical lawn (a quarter to a third of an acre) might need between four and nine beacons.

But the system requires special permission from the FCC due to its restrictions on fixed outdoor infrastructure. In a nutshell, the FCC doesn’t want people creating ad hoc networks of transmitters, which could interfere with existing authorized services like cellular and GPS systems. In its filings, iRobot says it should be exempt because it doesn’t set out to establish a broad communications network — its lawnbot networks would be tightly contained.

The problem, though, isn’t the network, but the frequency on which it operates so wirelessly:

Astronomers say that’s not good enough. The frequency band proposed for the lawnbot (6240-6740 MHz) is the very same one several enormous radio telescopes operate on.

And they don’t want that sort of interference, in West Virginia or anywhere else they may happen to operate.

(Via Hit Coffee.)

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Inflation gone undetected

About 2006, the woman who’d been doing my hair for the past several years took off for points unknown, and inasmuch as it was a ten-mile-plus drive to the shop where she was working — for a while she’d had her own shop — I started looking for a new shop, and eventually found myself going to a unisex shop on the northwest side. By no coincidence, this was the same shop Trini was using. The tab was $14; I handed the guy a twenty and said “Swap you one of these for a one.”

Eventually, reasoning that the price had surely gone up, I simply handed him a twenty and let it go at that. And this worked just fine until this past weekend, when I popped open the billfold and said, “You know, I have no idea what this actually costs anymore.”

“Eighteen dollars,” he said.

I reached for another bill, but he bade me close up the wallet. “You’re fine,” he said. “See you in a few weeks.”

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Beyond the window of acceptability

Somewhere there must exist a correspondence course which local officials must pass in order to get certified as — well, hell, when things like this happen you figure they’re all certifiable anyway:

A police officer in Overton, Texas, told two elementary-aged sisters that they couldn’t sell lemonade without a permit. The police chief is very clear: The police officer did not shut down the girls’ lemonade stand, which they were using to make money to buy passes to a splash park for themselves and their dad for Father’s Day. The officer only told them that they couldn’t sell the lemonade unless they got what the city of Overton calls a “peddlers’ permit.”

Which invites several questions, mostly along these lines:

My question to the Overton law enforcement representative who acquainted the girls with the wonders of the modern regulatory state is to describe exactly what circumstances he envisioned that would make this move look good in the eyes of everyone who learned about it. Seriously, dude. What alternative world did you dream up in which a police department that makes little kids get permits to sell lemonade comes out on top? Were the kids named Lecter? Were they chanting Latin in reverse and laughing maniacally as they hand-squeezed the lemons and promised customers, “You’re next, human scum!” Did they intone, “Winter is coming!” and chop the head from a Sean Bean doll?

And once you learned they were raising money to buy passes to a splash park for a trip with their dad for Father’s Day? Their father who’s an oil field worker and who’s away from home for a few weeks at a time? What happened to the part of your brain that should have told you, “STOP DIGGING! BUY A GLASS AND GET IN YOUR SQUAD CAR AND ZOOM OFF!”

That part, you have to assume, has long since been pushed to the sidelines — assuming it was ever on the playing field to begin with.

And it can’t be public-health considerations, because Overton doesn’t have any problem with giving the stuff away.

Oh, well. The two girls learned a valuable lesson here: government is just another word for people who want to do things to you.

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Watch where you stamp

About a year and a half ago, the price of a first-class stamp rose from 46 to 49 cents. Now it appears to be headed back down:

The U.S. Postal Service will have to roll back a portion of its largest rate increase in 11 years after a federal court ruled that the higher postage prices in place since January 2014 can’t be permanent.

Postal regulators had agreed to a 3-cent emergency postage hike for first-class letters, to 49 cents from 46 cents, after the Postal Service said it needed to recoup billions of dollars it lost during the recession. The 4.3 percent increase came on top of the customary 1.7 percent postage prices have risen to adjust for inflation.

But regulators set a cap on the amount of revenue USPS could recoup with the higher prices. The cap will be reached this summer.

On the upside, they won’t have to reprint any of the current “FOREVER” stamps, which are always valid for the current first-class rate.

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You’re not from around here, are you?

A rather disturbing incident today:

Which triggered a memory. I was in the laundry room at the CrappiFlats™ one summer Saturday in the early 1990s when I heard the utterly unexpected sound of exuberance. I abandoned the dryer for a moment, stepped outside, and traced the sound to the general area of the swimming pool, which was occupied by two Non-Resident Kids. At least, I didn’t recognize them.

For some reason, the pool hadn’t been opened up that day. Not to be thwarted, the youngsters — two boys, roughly seven and five, both black, neither with swimsuits — had climbed the fence, slid out of their clothes and jumped in. I approached. They withdrew, perhaps understandably suspicious; I assured them that I was fine with what they were doing. The younger one appeared slightly abashed, what with the nakedness and all; the older one, however, was gratifyingly brash, once he figured that I wasn’t going to turn him in. It helped, I think, that I didn’t ask him where he lived.

We talked about nothing useful for a couple of minutes, and I bade them farewell: “See ya later.” I gathered up my duds, crawled back to my flat, and sat as close as possible to an air-conditioning vent the rest of the day.

I heard later that the two boys were eventually apprehended by security and were escorted from the premises. Well, damn, I thought. It’s not like they were disturbing anyone. And I spent rather too much time wondering if they were busted for not being residents or for being naked on the premises — and if anyone would have turned in two white kids for the same offense.

Things got hot early in the morning, as they will in this part of the world, and at 9 am Sunday I was looking at the gate to the pool. I’d have been looking at the lock to the gate to the pool, but it was conspicuous by its absence. On an impulse, I popped through, looked around, stripped, and did my own little bit of skinny-dipping, displacing a heck of a lot more water than did two young boys. If anyone noticed, no one said a word. And if anything, I owe those kids for giving me the idea to do this in the first place, for I had never done such a thing before.

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Through the intercession of St. Willis of Carrier

There are people who speak out against air conditioning, and they should be dropped, en masse, into a Bessemer converter.

Meanwhile, there are normal people:

I am relying on my window-unit air conditioner in my bedroom to keep it cooler at night. I feel slightly guilty about all the power I am using but I sleep SO MUCH BETTER in a cooler room. When it’s really hot and I have no relief, I wake up feeling like I didn’t sleep, and I have bad dreams when I do. (I wonder how people managed before air conditioning, especially in the South. Did stuff just shut down in the summer and the expectation was you got little useful work out of people?)

Southern houses, at least up until World War II or thereabouts, were generally constructed for maximum potential cool: cross-ventilation was a must, and windows were big and easily opened. Ceiling fans were ubiquitous: a big room might have two or even three. We didn’t have A/C during our eight years in South Carolina, and we weren’t the only ones either. And in Charleston in particular, there’s a lot of rain in the summer: six inches in a month is routine, and I’ve seen over 20.

Oh, and I have no guilt at all about running the A/C; I pay for these stinking kilowatt-hours, and I figure I can do as I please with them. In the summer, my bedroom is the warmest room in the house, so it gets a box fan. Besides, cooler rooms are healthier, period.

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From the producers of Security Theater

We begin with the oft-butchered Ben Franklin quote: “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”

Liberty, at least, is something that exists, or at least that can exist. Safety? Not so much. Said P. J. O’Rourke:

[S]afety has no place anywhere. Everything that’s fun in life is dangerous. Horse races, for instance, are very dangerous. But attempt to design a safe horse and the result is a cow (an appalling animal to watch at the trotters.) And everything that isn’t fun is dangerous too. It is impossible to be alive and safe.

At the political level, they trot out the word “security.” Also a non-starter:

The entire notion of “security” is a phantasm, a shiny bit of colored glass used to lure us away from that which is possible and attainable, and toward that which is not, has never been, and never can be. This is true at any level of organization, from individuals to nation-states. Indeed, the Earth itself is irremediably insecure, as earthquakes, volcanoes, hurricanes, tornadoes, tsunamis, meteorites, near-encounters with asteroids, and the occasional solar flare should demonstrate to anyone’s satisfaction.

There is risk in everything. There are defenses against some sorts of risks, but no defense is “secure” in any sense that holds water. Human life is an ongoing game of rock / paper / scissors.

You have to figure — or at least I have to figure — that if all perils could be prevented, the death rate here at the top of the food chain, and for that matter at all points below, would be something other than 100 percent. Don’t hold your breath.

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Periodical dysfunction

Magazines, says Doc Searls, are “screwing loyal subscribers,” and singles out five to which he subscribes:

My wife, who is more mindful of money and scams than I am, urged me to stop subscribing automatically to all of them, because all their rates are lowest only for new subscribers. So I looked back through my last year’s bills to see what I was paying for each, and then at what they pitched new subscribers directly, or though Amazon.

Only Consumer Reports’ price appears (at least in my case) to be lower for existing subscribers than for new ones. All the rest offer their lowest prices only to new subscribers.

My first thought was “loss leader.” I then went out and looked at Postal Service Form 3526, which in item 6 asks for “Annual Subscription Price.” I’m guessing that the Postal Service has ruled that somebody in the customer base must actually be paying that price.

So I went to check my two oldest subscriptions: Car and Driver (since 1978) and Playboy (since 1983). Hef’s back page, devoted mostly to Coming Attractions, contains the usual magazine boilerplate, and declares an oddly specific-sounding price of $32.97. This is my renewal month, and the bill is here on my desk: $32.97.

Meanwhile C/D, in their boilerplate, is saying $13 a year; last time out, I renewed for two years for $18, so I have no current bill for them.

I seem to recall that years ago, once in a while, a tardy response might result in a reduced rate, but this doesn’t seem to be the case anymore. And I do have a current notice from Consumer Reports, which asks $29 for a year (including, while it lasts, the annual Buying Guide), with discounts for two- and five-year renewals. I have no idea what they’re asking of new subscribers, because the first thing I do when a magazine arrives is shake it until all the blow-in cards fall out.

Oh, and of the four others Searls mentioned, I get two: last time out I paid $32.95 for Vanity Fair and $20 for Wired, which if nothing else suggests that Condé Nast is not entirely monolithic.

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As smartphones get bigger

Amazingly, so do dumb phones:

What goes around evidently comes around, especially if you have a few thousand sitting in a warehouse somewhere. (Binatone’s history goes back to 1958, so it’s not entirely impossible that they might have made this sort, or at least this shape and size, of phone before.)

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Half a paywall

A note from Entertainment Weekly:

As an Entertainment Weekly magazine subscriber, you have full access to all of the great content on EW.com, including 24/7 news, engaging photo galleries, your favorite TV recaps, exclusive videos and more. However like many popular websites, EW.com will now cap the number of articles non-subscribers can access for free.

They didn’t say what the cap would be: I’m guessing five per month. And well, I am the oldest EW subscriber, or at least tied for oldest, ever since issue #1 in 1990.

Now I’m wondering if InStyle, the only other Time Inc. magazine I take, is considering a similar move. (And actually, I read their site more than I do EW.com.)

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Space invaders?

We may or may not be targeted by evil space aliens, but the Richmond (California) City Council has us, or at least their 52 square miles, covered:

After listening to horror stories from more than a dozen people who believe that government agencies and other parties are watching them from outer space — including one speaker who was “targeted” just before arriving at Richmond City Hall — the council voted 5-2 to approve a resolution to discourage the use of space weapons on earth dwellers.

This move is not entirely unprecedented:

The resolution approved on May 19 refers to an attempt by a U.S. Congressman 14 years ago to ban space-based weapons. In 2001, then-Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, introduced the “Space Preservation Act” and “Space Preservation Treaty” that would have banned spaced-based weapons.

The Richmond resolution from Councilwoman Jovanka Beckles doesn’t merely support those attempts to ban space-based weapons, it does so “to ensure that individuals will not be targets of space-based weapons.”

In other news, Dennis Kucinich has a legacy.

Mayor Tom Butt, on the losing side of the 5-2 vote, later got a disturbing letter from a constituent:

“My son suffers from mental illness and believes that Voice-Skull or electromagnetic waves generated by groups who target individuals” plague him, the woman told Butt. “He keeps using [the council’s decision] to support his theory that the reasons he hears voices is that he is being targeted! Of course, I find this hard to believe, but I can’t convince him otherwise. He often refers to and cites the Richmond Police and City Council.” She said the council’s vote is helping her son justify his beliefs and avoid taking his medication.

I suspect this will play out in the time-honored fashion: should you tell the Council majority that there has been a marked absence of earth-shattering kabooms, they will reply “See how well it works?”

(Via Rand Simberg.)

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No new missing planes

So this is what’s left to cover:

In other news, Count Chocula has apparently been busted to Baron.

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Male privilege in action

This spring, I haven’t done a whole lot of relaxing in the sun: the weather has seen to it that I am none too relaxed, and, well, there’s hardly any sun. So I haven’t had a whole lot of odd moments to look over my personal physical plant — not that this matters greatly, since there’s a full-length mirror in the hallway and I pass it often enough to notice that I’m still walking more or less upright.

So I’m pulling on a pair of sandals, my hand passes over my shin, and it dawns on me: this leg (it was the left one) is utterly hairless. I check the other: ditto. Apparently hair has stopped growing everywhere below the knee. It’s not like I make a point of shaving this particular zone, either; I think I’ve taken a razor to my legs three times in the last two decades, mostly for purposes of costumery. It’s like Hair Central just can’t be bothered. I can, of course, believe that, since no effort has ever been made to fill the ever-widening bald spot on top of my head.

In women, this particular phenomenon can apparently be a by-product of menopause, but I’m pretty sure this isn’t the explanation that works for me, given my lack of feminine hardware.

So I’m working with the theory that it’s some combination of drugs and hormonal changes, and I’ll probably go with that, if only because I can’t see any point to sidling up to a woman my age and asking her if she still shaves.

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No Schlitz, Sherlock

The problem with beer commercials is that they’re aimed at guys who fancy themselves in beer commercials, which may do wonders for planting an association but which ignores (we won’t suggest degrades) roughly half the species. This sort of thing worked back in Don Draper’s day. Today, though, it apparently takes technotrickery to try to get women interested in the product:

How it works:

The campaign by advertising agency Philipp und Keuntje, Hamburg, Germany, creates personalised content for viewers, fabricated from 70 unique videos. Additionally, when the ad identifies men, or those who it deems underage, it will tell them to keep on walking.

The installation identifies commuters via a built in camera coupled with facial recognition technology.

Possible downside: if this brand catches on as, say, the Official Beer of Women, the sort of guys who fancy themselves in beer commercials will likely spurn it forevermore.

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Dole it out

It’s hard to imagine — though, unfortunately, not hard enough — how someone could come up with an idea like this:

A dollar bill is a special kind of thing. You can keep it as long as you like. You can pay for things with it. No one will ever charge you a fee. No one will ask any questions about your credit history. And other people won’t try to tell you that they know how to spend that dollar better than you do.

For these reasons, cash is one of the most valuable resources a poor person in the United States can possess. Yet legislators in Kansas, not trusting the poor to use their money wisely, have voted to limit how much cash that welfare beneficiaries can receive, effectively reducing their overall benefits, as well.

The legislature placed a daily cap of $25 on cash withdrawals beginning July 1, which will force beneficiaries to make more frequent trips to the ATM to withdraw money from the debit cards used to pay public assistance benefits.

Since there’s a fee for every withdrawal, the limit means that some families will get substantially less money.

It’s even worse if the machine only dispenses twenties: you won’t be able to get even $25 at a time.

There were, of course, justifications offered:

“There are actual reports posted as to where the ATMs were that cards were used by Kansas residents,” said state Sen. Caryn Tyson (R), the Ottawa Herald reported. She said that beneficiaries were using their cards “at liquor stores, cigarette shops, strip joints. Casinos was another. There was a $102 [withdrawal] from a person in Colorado at a Rockies baseball game. We don’t know that they spent it on the game, we don’t know what they spent it on, but the ATM was at the Rockies facility. Another one was on a cruise.”

I am less inclined to grumble about the profligacy of some Kansans than I am about the assumption that We Gotta Teach These People A Lesson. Believe me, I know what happens when the money runs out before the end of the month, and by no means am I extraordinarily bright.

Let’s see if Governor Brownback ups the ante by setting up, say, a Meals On Wheels-like gruel dispensary.

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I’ll be there in a Jif

Daily Mail contributor Annabel Cole shaves her legs with peanut butterThere are dozens of things you might consider using as a substitute for shaving cream, though I’m willing to bet that peanut butter isn’t one of them:

Could my favourite breakfast spread also double up as the answer to silky smooth summer legs? I was doubtful — but intrigued.

Following instructions online, I spread the peanut butter on my legs with a blunt butter knife. Smoothing Sunpat [brand] down my shins, instead of my toast, took a bit of getting used to.

The stiff consistency made it hard to apply evenly, and the lumps of peanut rubbed painfully against my skin like a super-abrasive exfoliant.

Shaving was a nightmare. The blades became clogged with the thick peanut butter after one sweep of the razor. Washing them clean took several minutes and covered the bath with yellow clumps of peanut butter.

After three attempts — and with a significant amount of stubble remaining — I gave up and threw the razor away. The only upside was that my skin felt wonderfully soft afterwards.

I can’t help but think this might have worked marginally better with a peanut butter that wasn’t, you know, crunchy.

(Via Fark.)

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This guy’s shui is fenged

Or something:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: Can I request a new SSN because I object to digits used?

Sorry, Bunkie, all of them use digits. And the Social Security Administration does not take requests: a reissued card will have the same number as the original.

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I has a Supersad

Specifically, Lancelot Supersad Jr., not for his run-in with the law in New Hampshire, but simply for his name alone:

In March, we ran out a field of 64 names and instructed our readers to whittle that field down to one. What followed was a two-month period filled with heartwarming stories, examinations of Southeast Asian cultures, and revelations about highly-paid (and splendidly-named) public employees. Ultimately, 62 of our competitors came up short, and we are left with two accused thieves who will battle it out to see who can swipe our 2015 Name of the Year crown.

The left side of our bracket had no answer for Lancelot Supersad, Jr. Over the first five rounds, Mr. Supersad dropped his opponents with ease and picked up plenty of momentum along the way. He took down LaAdrian Waddle, did away with Dallas Ennema, dispatched Jazznique St. Junious, thundered past Dr. Electron Kebebew, and then, in a Final Four masterstroke, outlasted the plural noun attack of the Bulltron Regional’s one-seed, Cherries Waffles Tennis. With his latest and greatest victory in his rear-view mirror, Lancelot has snowballed his way into the championship match.

And from the right side of that bracket:

His final quest will require another heroic effort, because his opponent has steamrolled through her matchups as well. Amanda Miranda Panda began by thumping Shanda Licking before taking down Tunis van Peenen in round two. She continued her assault through the Chrotchtangle Regional by felling Beethoven Bong in the Sweet Sixteen and Miraculous Powers in the Elite Eight. Her Final Four showdown with Infinite Grover wasn’t particularly close; she ended the Staten Island man’s deep run by collecting nearly two-thirds of all votes.

Last I looked, about eleven hundred votes had been cast, probably not including yours. Get with it.

Update, 19 May: Amanda takes it all.

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Decidedly unparalleled

There are regular street grids, and there are street grids that are not so regular. An example of the latter:

Apparently 4th Street turns sharply northwestward from 6th Avenue, and eventually runs into 12th Street. Not neat, perhaps, but comprehensible from a map. Similarly, if not so dramatic, is the corner of NW 23rd Street and Meridian Avenue in Oklahoma City: crawling off to the southeast is NW 19th Street. This makes more sense in the grid context when (or if) you remember that 19th was a streetcar route back in the day.

Turn this premise several degrees, and you have the next scenario. The big blue dot represents 4900 Springdale Road, Austin, Texas:

Bing Maps segment from east Austin

This is, on first glance, perfectly sensible: were the grid extended this far east, 4900 would be about two blocks south of 51st. But Martin Luther King used to be 19th Street, and it’s practically on your doorstep: you can see segments of 16th and 12th, right where they’re supposed to be. From 4900 to 1200, it’s only a mile. But 1200 to 700 (at 7th Street, natch) is 1.8 miles, because the east Austin street grid is convoluted in such a way you almost wonder if those crazy New Yorkers had something to do with this.

For the record, I have bicycled the entire length of Springdale, which disappears into Manor Road near US 290, resumes on the far side of the freeway, and peters out into insignificance a couple miles farther north; I eventually threaded my way to Pflugerville, which in those halcyon days of 1970 had 550 people instead of its current 55,000.

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