Archive for Dyssynergy

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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Where all the blights are light

Jack Baruth here is talking about Columbus, Ohio, but some of this could apply to any capital of a state beginning with O:

These people have used the force and power that comes with money to have their dirty work done for them. Via the proxies of developers and city officials, they’ve eminent-domained hundreds of acres and forcibly displaced the people who lived there. They’ve torn down hundreds of homes and businesses to re-create the “Short North” in the image of Williamsburg. (Brooklyn, of course.) They’ve paid for this dirty work to be done and they are unhappy when it’s not done to their complete satisfaction. They want their Disney World, a “downtown” filled exclusively with high-net-worth individuals and a fascinating variety of shopping opportunities staffed by people who vanish into the ether when their shifts finish, and nothing less than perfection is acceptable.

It’s easy to hate them, easy to despise the unthinking, callous way in which they assume that the mere fact of their willingness to pay $500 a square foot for downtown condo space should remove all barriers, human or otherwise, to the SoHo lifestyle. But the real problem is that there aren’t enough of them and that they aren’t parents. The existence of a large group of successful young parents in downtown Columbus would improve everything from the streets to the schools, and those improvements would be shared with the people who live there now.

Unfortunately for that plan, most people with any sense, and certainly most people with any combination of sense and children, wouldn’t move into downtown Columbus if the housing were free. You get all the inconvenience of living in Manhattan with none of the benefits. You can’t park your car anywhere but there’s also no grocery to which you can walk. It’s noisy at night but there’s not a single jazz or blues club open. Most of the shops close at seven or before.

In some regards, we’re doing better: most new downtown housing is $300 a square foot or less, there’s something of a club scene, and there’s the John Rex School. The Native Roots Market in Deep Deuce is smallish as grocery stores go, but it’s close by, and it’s open most nights until 10 pm.

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There will be no new name

The OtterBox is a popular case for Apple’s iPhone. It’s waterproof, keeps out dirt and dust, and protects against scratches. However, it offers no protection against actual otters:

Visitors to the Red River Zoo in Fargo found themselves laughing at a bit of irony unfolding at the popular otter exhibit.

Someone taking a photo of the otters apparently dropped their iPhone in the exhibit. The phone, equipped with an OtterBox case, was picked up by the animal. Zoo-goers watch as the otter rips apart the OtterBox case, dropping the phone into the water. Witnesses say the otter would retrieve the phone, chew on it, and drop it back into the water several times.

I wonder if they could have bribed the animal with Otter Pops.

(Via snipe.)

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Clippings from the dystopiary

Things can’t possibly get any worse. Or can they?

Yahoo Answers screenshot: What to do now that my soul is dead and I have abandoned all hope?

To elaborate:

I don’t know what to do now. The world has now gone completely insane and I’m literally counting down the days until I’m forced to attempt survival in a post-apocalyptic nightmare.

People are excruciatingly nasty and evil. Those who are not are a rare anomaly and very puny and useless.

All of my dreams are dead. There are no resources for the change that I’d like to make in the world. I have no partner and no children. There is no one that can make my heart soft again.

Day and night I drift deeper into hatred for the human race and for all of god’s failed creation.

Now what? Should I just get up and go to work again like a robot?

Based purely on my own experience, I’d say this sounds like a high-school student with no prom date. (Disclosure: I was once a high-school student with no prom date.) Anyone got any better ideas?

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Weird mutant cooties, or something

How is it that these people claim the right to have first crack, so to speak, at Presidential politics?

As though we needed another reason to abandon ethanol as a motor fuel.

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A taxing journey indeed

One might expect the collectors of state income tax to be, at the very least, enthusiastic enough about their work to cash your doggone checks in a hurry. (Refunds? Another matter entirely.) Sometimes, though, the weakest link is the Postal Service:

With the May 1 deadline looming, I decided to call the county.

They processed the check yesterday.

I sent it on the 20th.

It was received on the 28th.

Eight days to go eight miles.

Hmmm. I live about seven miles from the Oklahoma Tax Commission. I mailed my state return on the 30th of March, a Monday, to OTC’s box in the downtown Post Office at 5th and Harvey, four miles from me and three miles from them. According to my bank statement, the check cleared on the 3rd of April, which was a Friday. No laggards here.

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Inconceivably so

Holly Brockwell is 29 and quite determined not to have children; Britain’s National Health Service is equally determined not to sterilize her.

After stirring up that hornet’s nest in the Guardian, she decided to try a different megaphone: the Daily Mail. As usual with the Mail, the photographs are lovely and the comments are unreadable.

She says of the Mail experience:

[T]here are over 2,000 comments already and I did not in any sense read them all, because I still have to find time in the day to glare at children and milk the National Health Service dry. But here are some of my favourites, and my responses. Which I won’t be putting in the comments section, because that’s like trying to debate with a floor lamp.

I note for comparison purposes only that (1) I was sterilized the year I turned twenty-eight, but (2) I was married at the time and had already spawned the next generation, and (3) it was, unsurprisingly, a lot cheaper in 1981, even allowing for the relative simplicity of the procedure I had compared to the one she wants.

Still, I tend to take her side on general principle: biological destiny can go only so far. And the usual deployment of contraceptives made her quite ill, as was the case with the woman to whom I was married. (She’s 60 now and is much relieved not to have to think about such things.)

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Hostel environment

What can we learn from this?

For some reason, it appears that building hotels next to city convention centers is a honey pot for politicians. I am not sure why, but my guess is that they spend hundreds of millions or billions on a convention center based on some visitation promises. When those promises don’t pan out, politicians blame it on the lack of a hotel, and then use public money for a hotel. When that does not pan out, I am not sure what is next. Probably a sports stadium. Then light rail. Then, ? It just keeps going and going.

Two examples are offered, in Phoenix and in Baltimore, where city-owned hotels next to convention centers have dropped tens of millions of dollars. This is, of course, easily explainable:

All the companies who chose not to build a hotel with private money obviously knew what they were doing, and only the political benefits of pandering the the public at large and a few special interests in specific made it seem like an attractive investment to city politicians. Which is all pretty unsurprising, since hotels have pretty much been built off every exit ramp in this country, so there seems to be no private inhibition towards building hotels — just towards building hotels in bad locations.

Which shows you how far behind the curve we are in the Big Breezy: we haven’t even selected our bad location. Yet.

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Toward a hire purpose

Two things you should know here:

  • I haven’t updated my résumé in rather a long time;
  • I have, according to Windows, 247 fonts.

Not that all of those typefaces are equally useful to the job-hunter:

A résumé, that piece of paper designed to reflect your best self, is one of the places where people still tend to use typeface to express themselves. It does not always go well, according to people who spend a lot of time looking at fonts. Bloomberg asked three typography wonks which typefaces make a curriculum vitae look classiest, which should never, ever be seen by an employer, and whether emojis are fair game.

I’m pretty sure I don’t have to tell you which (overly) popular typeface is verboten.

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It was here six hours ago

An occasional recurring theme in my nightmares is the inability to find my car. This actually happened to me once, at the Truman Sports Complex in Kansas City, circa 1979; however, after much backtracking and not so much sidetracking, I did eventually locate the miserable little sled, which puts me one up on this poor fellow:

A marathon runner who parked his car to take part in the Manchester race has been unable to find it — nine days after the event.

Jason Matthews, from Wolverhampton, left his black Saab 9-3 Sport somewhere near Old Trafford, but cannot remember exactly where.

The 40-year-old spent hours searching for the vehicle after running the race on Sunday, April 19, in a time of five hours and 11 minutes.

He even ended up walking back around some of the 26-mile course, before driving around in a taxi for 40 minutes and then going to a police station, all to no avail.

Eventually, he had to give up and get the train home to the Midlands. Mr Matthews has been unable to trace his car since.

Authorities in Manchester say the car has not been impounded or towed. He’s pretty sure it’s around somewhere and hasn’t been stolen.

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Now that’s time management

So this happened in Grand Rapids:

A former Grant High School science teacher has pleaded guilty to having inappropriate sexual contact with a female student with whom she exchanged about 14,000 text messages during a four-week period last fall.

Robert Stacy McCain, on that awfully large-sounding number:

Let’s see: 14,000 messages in 28 days? That’s 500 messages a day or — subtracting 8 hours a night for sleep, leaving 16 hours for daily texting — about 31 messages per hour. One wonders how either of them ever found time to do anything else except, you know, the “anything else” called criminal sexual misconduct.

Perhaps they weren’t getting much sleep.

Then there’s this old routine. Two women at tea. Says one: “Last night with him, wonderful! I came four times.”

Replies the other: “You weren’t screwing, honey. You were counting.

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Same surf, same turf

This turned up over at Interested-Participant, along with the note that “it seems to tell a story:”

Register receipt of some sort

Well, it’s marginally amusing in that the person drawing the line around “EBT FOOD STAMPS” prefixed EBT with a D to indicate “DEBT,” but there’s this undertone of “How dare these poor people eat like this!”

And that rang a bell over in the archives, circa June ’11:

There was some minor grumbling last month after word got out that some guy in Wisconsin had bought $140 worth of lobster, steaks and Mountain Dew with food stamps, and the usual noises were being made about how this was absolutely inevitable or how this was utterly unacceptable. (Best example of the latter, in fact a contender for QOTW here, was by a commenter at American Digest who said that there were only two things you should be able to purchase with food stamps: gruel and diet gruel.)

This is what you’re not seeing on that register tape: five 24-packs of Mountain Dew at 6.79 each, plus twelve bucks worth of container deposit. And it turns out that the actual purchaser, in fact, was not living large — not very large, anyway — at our expense; he was buying this stuff with EBT and then turning it over for cash, to the tune of 50 cents on the dollar. This isn’t what you’d call the highest use of taxpayer dollars, but anyone who is shocked — shocked! — to see this sort of thing going on probably isn’t paying attention: the system that can’t be gamed very likely can’t even be built, and I figure there’s nothing to be gained by paying some Federal agent to peer into people’s grocery carts.

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One out of twelve

The Friar notes that his particular calling might make his selection for a jury rather problematic:

My own profession is also sometimes considered a disqualifier; in the minds of some people the opinion of a clergyperson carries more weight than do the opinions of others. I am pretty well sure that none of those people are close friends or relatives of clergypeople.

Oh, that’s bad:

On the one hand, my low chances of service are kind of sad, because some aspects of the judicial system are pretty interesting when seen up close, as I remember from my previous profession as a newspaper reporter (protected by the same Amendment, just a different clause).

No, that’s good:

But on the other hand, no jury service means a reduction of the number of hours I am required to listen to lawyers, as well as judges — who, more often than not, used to be lawyers.

Like seemingly everything else in life, it’s a trade-off.

I filled out the county’s questionnaire for the jury pool a few weeks back; my guess is they’re starting to run low of potential jurors. Mostly, I was surprised: I’ve been a resident of this particular county for the last 25 years or so and this is the first time I can remember actually seeing this form.

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Career dehancement

Meh.com’s parent company Mediocre Laboratories is hiring, and at this writing they’re looking for a “Member Engagement Specialist (Evenings / Nights / Weekends, PT or FT),” which boils down to this:

Do you enjoy receiving soulless, robotic emails? Do the typical customer service experiences you have make you happy? Do you loathe the opportunity to take ownership of a new process? If yes, stop reading now. But if you truly enjoy engaging with people, creating unique and memorable experiences and generally spreading sunshine and happiness with creative flair, you may have what it takes to join our mediocre staff as a member engagement specialist. If you can do all that while enduring gracefully the unavoidable rants, cranks, and jerks you’ll encounter, and say NO when required without being a jerk yourself, we should talk. Oh yea, and you’ll need to have the ability to work some unconventional hours — the mediocre shifts, if you will.

I’m not in this particular field myself, but I know from rants, cranks, and jerks; they’re dialing in more or less continuously from the moment the phone system starts letting them in to just before they get dismissed to voice mail.

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The most annoying name in sports

Boston is competing for the 2024 Olympics, and a Son of the Bay State explains why this is such a miserable idea:

I am of the opinion that all Olympics should be held in otherwise authoritarian countries. (Or, to be open-minded about the whole thing, in Barcelona.) A good, established dictatorship is usually the way to go. This is because agreeing to host the Olympics is agreeing to turn your city into an authoritarian state anyway, and we might as well just hand the work of organizing one over to the people who do it full time. The Olympics control your traffic. The Olympics control where you can walk or ride your bicycle. The Olympics overwhelm your infrastructure for their own purposes; a plague of be-blazered buffet grazers descend on your finest restaurants. For two weeks and change, every host city transforms itself into an armed camp with corporate sponsors. In 2004, the Democratic Party held its national convention in Boston. (You may recall that a jug-eared rookie from Illinois gave a helluva speech.) People howled. The city was rendered logistically inaccessible, and that was for less than a week. The Olympics are four times as long, vastly more sprawling, and infinitely more inconvenient. The local committee proposes, for example, to hold the canoeing and kayaking events way out in flannel-shirt country in the Berkshire foothills. People are going to be stranded so long on the state roads out there that they’re going to have to buy houses.

But this sort of thing would happen even in semi-sleepy burgs in Utah. In Beantown, things are infinitely more complicated:

And then there’s Boston itself, which was laid out in the 17th century and hasn’t changed a lot, except that it’s harder to get around than it used to be. There are parts of downtown that have survived relatively unchanged since the days when Samuel Adams himself was a brewer. The expressway situation has improved dramatically since they finished the mother of all money pits, the Big Dig — and, it must be said, since the Big Dig has stopped killing people. But the city itself remains an unwieldy beast to traverse. Let’s say, for example, that you want to watch a little badminton at Agganis Arena at Boston University, and then figure you’ll catch a little modern pentathlon at Franklin Park. You’d best leave your dental records with your loved ones back in Amsterdam so they can identify your desiccated corpse when it’s found in an abandoned cab halfway between the two venues.

Then again, Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter was laid out sometime around the 4th century.

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At the mercy of the F connector

“I’m calling you on Sunday and the earliest that someone can come fix this is Thursday?”

Last year, it was reported that cable-TV prices were rising at the official rate of inflation times four, and perhaps one reason for this is sheer ineptitude:

“Well, yes, that’s the earliest one is available.” After telling the technician that he has done a good job trying to help me but his company is pathetic and a four-day delay in a service call is the kind of thing that makes customers of other companies, I say go ahead and schedule it, my choices being limited.

This means that I will not receive the service for which I pay CableOne, but I know better than to ask if they will discount my bill. It’s not because I believe they are unconcerned with the reality that I will pay for something I don’t receive. They are, but that’s not the reason.

It’s because I believe that no one working at CableOne could handle the necessary math. Not that they couldn’t handle the math of trying to pro-rate everyone’s bill who has an interruption of service. I mean I don’t believe anyone there could handle the actual pencil-and-paper math of figuring out what fraction of channels I pay for were working, how long they weren’t working and apply that discount to the amount I pay for their service.

I wonder if they read their reviews.

(If “F connector” means nothing to you, have a look at this.)

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Dots rite

Even practitioners of Minnesota Nice can be sorely vexed when you misrepresent them:

For decades, the cheerful twin dots had hovered over the “o” in Lindström on the green highway signs that welcomed visitors to the small hamlet — population, 4,442 — that had been settled by Swedish immigrants in the 1850s.

After a highway project in 2012, the signs came down and were replaced with new ones. According to a city official, the Minnesota Department of Transportation denied the town’s request that the umlauts remain, citing a rule that road signs have only letters in a standard alphabet. So in a change that irritated some Sweden-adoring people here, Lindström became Lindstrom.

But in an announcement that was indignant, a little quirky and very Minnesotan, the governor intervened on Wednesday, releasing a statement that promised that the umlauts on the signs would be restored, and fast. “Nonsensical rules like this are exactly why people get frustrated with government,” Gov. Mark Dayton, a Democrat, said in the statement. “Even if I have to drive to Lindström and paint the umlauts on the city limit signs myself, I’ll do it.”

In other news, The New York Times apparently thinks a town of more than four thousand people is a “small hamlet.” (Are there large hamlets?) Still, props to Governor Dayton for getting the message.

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What light with yonder price breaks?

Meh.com offered some LED floodlights yesterday, and while I didn’t buy, I was heartened by the front-page description:

Description of Optiled LED lights offered by meh.com

They asked four bucks extra for the bulb that dims.

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Better watch those English muffins, too

What do we know about Danish butter cookies? They come in this enormous metal tin, they contain no shortening ingredient other than butter, and you should probably keep them away from me.

One of the major distributors of Danish butter cookies is, surprise, Campbell Soup Company, which acquired Denmark’s Kelsen Group in 2013. And Campbell’s was not pleased to see a competitor named Danisa moving into their territory, since Danisa’s manufacturer, “Danish Specialty Foods,” allegedly in Copenhagen, is apparently actually in Indonesia.

Takari, US distributor for Danisa, argued before the National Advertising Division that they’re just the importer and have nothing to do with the contents, and besides, First Amendment. The NAD was not impressed with this argument, and Takari will revise the packaging and advertising.

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Open book, it isn’t

I came up with some weird ideas for exam preparation when I was a schoolboy, but I don’t think I could have even imagined a scheme like this:

A German schoolboy has taken exam preparation to ingenious new levels by making a freedom of information request to see the questions in his forthcoming Abitur tests, the equivalent of A-levels in the UK.

Simon Schräder, 17, from Münster, used the internet platform fragdenstaat.de (“ask the state”), to ask the education ministry of North Rhine-Westphalia for “the tasks of the centrally-made Abitur examinations in the senior classes of high school in the current school year.” He was specifically invoking his state’s freedom of information law.

One provision of that law, though, may yet foil his scheme:

Schräder set the ministry the legally allowed one-month deadline — falling on 21 April — to comply, though his first exam is on 16 April.

“If they answer in time it might fit for one exam,” Schräder told the Guardian.

(Via Fark.)

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Enabling escape

We begin with a quote from Oleg Volk:

I’ve followed the development of this mess for a couple of years now. A former competitive air gun shooter, Stacey modeled for several of my RKBA posters, and I got to hear a bit about her situation. My advice was “get out now!” but the reality proved more difficult.

And this is the reality:

In 2001 I married a man I believed to be the one who would love and protect me for the rest of my life. He had a volatile temper, but I just chalked it up to us being fairly young and didn’t worry about it much. A couple of years went by he began to not only punch holes in the walls and doors of our apartment but he also started to be physical toward me. While I was pregnant with our second son in 2004 my husband went out drinking with his friends and came home drunk.

After that, things got worse. And now it’s come to this:

He was arrested again but he has his attorney again and will probably get another light sentence. I tried to get help filing a divorce through the Legal Aid Society but they have not done anything to help. I recently started working outside the house again to be able to support my children and myself but have not been able to make enough to cover all the attorney fees and divorce filing fees so we can finally escape this completely. A few friends of mine have used gofundme.com in the past and suggested I try it. I hate asking for help, especially help with money, but I need it badly right now to get my children and myself out of this mess. So I’m setting my pride aside and humbly asking for help from my friends and family. I love you all and appreciate you more than you could ever know. Bless you!

This fundraiser went up this afternoon, and has already reached nearly more than a third of its goal.

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Not your tags to pop

I hadn’t heard this argument before:

Recently a lot of rich kids in my town have started shopping at the local thrift shop looking for cheap hipster clothes. I think this is wrong as thrift shops only have a limited amount of clothes and they should go to people who need them.

To me it seems like going to a thrift shop is like going to a food bank.

Patti, a thrifter for a decade and a half, begs to differ:

There is no used clothing shortage, as far as I can see. Our thrift has a back room piled with donated clothing to be sorted, priced and hung up. We are never going to be caught up, no matter how many “rich” people come in to shop. Used clothing, we has it.

And what’s more:

Well-off customers not only shop at our store, they donate. A lot. And they donate many items that less fortunate people don’t often buy, like pricey silverware and china sets, and valuable furniture and art. Hooray for that — and for the “rich” folks who buy them. They pay for a lot of cat food.

Besides, one grouch’s trash is another grouch’s outfit:

Awesome.

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Backstage at Security Theater

The Transportation Security Authority has guidelines it uses to determine if someone is more suspicious-looking than someone else. Quelle surprise:

The checklist is part of TSA’s controversial program to identify potential terrorists based on behaviors that it thinks indicate stress or deception — known as the Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques, or SPOT. The program employs specially trained officers, known as Behavior Detection Officers, to watch and interact with passengers going through screening.

Cute names for government operations almost always indicate something controversial is afoot.

The checklist ranges from the mind-numbingly obvious, like “appears to be in disguise,” which is worth three points, to the downright dubious, like a bobbing Adam’s apple. Many indicators, like “trembling” and “arriving late for flight,” appear to confirm allegations that the program picks out signs and emotions that are common to many people who fly.

Stripped of point values, here are some of the behaviors that may trigger Double Secret Screening:

Things TSA is looking for

A sample SPOT form is here for your inspection.

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Weed killer on the rocks

Whatever the opposite of “well played” is, that’s what this incident was:

Dr. Patrick Moore tells the host that glyphosate, an active ingredient in Roundup that was recently linked to cancer by the World Health Organization, is not linked to Argentina’s increasing cancer rate.

“You can drink a whole quart of it and it won’t hurt you,” says Moore.

At which point, the host actually offers Dr. Moore a glass of glyphosate. He declines, of course.

The standard for stunts of this sort, you should know, was set back in the early 1980s by, um, me:

All of a sudden this workaday chemical became a Major Hazard, and there was enough water-fountain chatter about it for me to justify a prank. This would require a confederate who was in on the gag: no problem there. The mystery fluid is furnished in brown bottles, the same shade used for hydrogen peroxide. (Whether it’s for the same reason or not, I couldn’t tell you.) We bought the stuff in case lots. We sabotaged one case: took one bottle, drained it, replaced the contents with tap water, marked the edge in some inconspicuous way, and resealed the case.

When the discussion came:

[S]omeone asked about whether this … stuff was really, you know, safe. The confederate chimed in with the opinion that it was highly dangerous and that we should switch to, for instance, some sort of correction tape. I scoffed. (Even then I was a good scoffer.) “You think this stuff is dangerous?” I fetched the rigged case, seized the faked-up bottle, and chugged its six-ounce contents. People stared at me as though I were Bruce Banner about to undergo Hulkification.

Now that’s how it’s done. Monsanto says it wasn’t paying Dr. Moore to speak on behalf of Roundup; whoever was, however, clearly didn’t get his money’s worth.

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Joining in

The old Orkut social network, put to sleep by Google last year, had one lasting effect on me: it got me on several Brazilian mailing lists, none of which I particularly wanted to be on.

A couple of the regular senders reference the city of Joinville, about which I knew nothing. Off to Wikipedia I go:

Joinville is the largest city in Santa Catarina State, in the South Region of Brazil. It is the third largest municipality in the southern region of Brazil, after the much larger state capitals of Curitiba and Porto Alegre. Joinville is also a major industrial, financial and commerce center.

The South Region is slightly smaller than Texas — about 230,000 square miles — and has a similar population: just under 30 million.

Now how about that name?

Even though it is considered a German-Brazilian city, its name is French (Joinville was named after François d’Orléans, prince of Joinville, son of King Louis-Philippe of France, who married Princess Francisca of Brazil, in 1843).

Speaking of the Germans, many of whom settled in this area of Brazil back in the 19th century, one of their auto companies is now settling in:

The latest BMW Group production site is located in Araquari, a town in the southern Brazilian state of Santa Catarina. This allows the BMW Group to draw on the structures established in Joinville, located about 20 kilometers north of the new plant. At Joinville’s Perini Businesspark, the BMW Group is presently setting up a training center for the new plant. The centerpiece of this facility is an assembly line for training purposes, which is in keeping with the global BMW Group production standards.

And how’s the weather?

Although Joinville lies outside the tropic zone, and because of its low altitude and proximity to the Atlantic Ocean it sees little temperature variation throughout the year, with every month seeing average highs in the 20s C.

This picture of beautiful downtown Joinville is somehow enthralling:

Central Joinville, Wikimedia photo by Unmoralisch

At least from this angle, this town doesn’t look like it’s a mere 14 feet above sea level. And one expects a whole lot more traffic. Then again, Joinville’s 550,000 inhabitants are spread over 400 square miles — kind of like a Texas town.

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