Archive for Dyssynergy

It all comes out in the wash

Laundry: a problem that needs solving? Not to Nancy Friedman:

I confess I’m mystified by the obsession with laundry as a problem to be solved. Of all the necessary household chores, I find laundry to be the most satisfying — the newer machines are wonderfully efficient, and you end up with a clean, fragrant product!

Even some of the older machines — mine date to 2003 — aren’t so bad. But nothing will make you appreciate your laundry room quite like several years of having to bundle up your stuff and shlep it down the street.

I draw the line there, however:

I enjoy ironing, too, but in this as in so many other areas I am evidently an outlier.

Yet it must be conceded that not everyone’s idea of “permanent press” either constitutes a press or endures permanently.

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Meanwhile in Shropshire

I saw a turtle, but I didn’t see it leaving:

Tortoise theft leaves owner shell-shocked

(From Pleated-Jeans via Miss Cellania.)

Addendum: Why, yes, this is World Turtle Day.

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Close your eyes and pick a target

Congressional Republicans, miffed that their Democratic counterparts got to screw up an entire industry — health care — with the least possible GOP input, are now looking for an industry they can screw up themselves. The lucky recipients of this attention? The nation’s songwriters:

Last week, Senate Republicans introduced their version of the Songwriter Equity Act, with much ado, at Nashville’s famous Bluebird Cafe. Some well-known Nashville songwriters were there to promote the legislation. So were music-publishing and royalty-collection companies. Everyone used carefully poll-tested phrases like “level the playing field,” “road to fairness,” “fair market value,” and “unsung heroes.”

And what will this act actually do?

The proposal in Congress would do two things, primarily, both aimed at increasing the amount that accrues to songwriters (and thus music publishers and [performing rights organizations] like ASCAP and BMI). The first would be to expand the criteria the rate court judge could consider when determining the fair performance royalty rates, notably adding the performance rates paid to musicians and record labels (though SoundExchange).

The second thing would be to urge the three-judge Copyright Royalty Board to scrap the 9.1 cent mechanical royalty in favor of rates that “most clearly represent” the fair market value. The CRB currently is asked to determine rates based on what “would have been negotiated in the marketplace between a willing buyer and a willing seller.” The new language would add that the CRB should also take into account “marketplace, economic, and use information presented by the participants,” as well as the royalty rates paid out for “comparable uses and comparable circumstances under voluntary license agreements,” like film and television.

The CRB already has an essentially impossible task: that theoretical “willing seller” does not actually exist. Once a songwriter has permitted one use of her song, the compulsory license kicks in: anyone who pays the mechanical royalty, the 9.1 cents (up to five minutes), gets to use that song. Throwing in “marketplace information” will almost certainly mean a variable scale based on existing sales, meaning that the new kid starting out will get less, while the old pro collects more. (Why, yes, it does sound like the [cough] Affordable Care Act, except in one regard: it’s possible to read the whole thing.)

Still, there are some things that can’t be permitted to stand:

And yet Pandora is hardly rolling around in a roomful of gold. (Incidentally, that’s the wrong Twitter ID for Pandora.) Let’s hope these GOP guys and The Industry can come up with something that works — but if I’m writing songs, I’m not putting a down payment on anything until I see something tangible coming in.

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There’s a sausage joke here somewhere

In the future — which, I suspect, means some time in the next half-hour — everything will be explained in infographic form. For instance:

An argument for marriage equality using breakfast as a metaphor

This series of syaffolee tweets, which began with a retweet of the above (from Jeffrey Levin), provides some, um, food for thought:

I don’t think the apt comparison is between pancakes and fried eggsit’s probably more like an actual breakfast vs. a cup of yogurt. Or skipping breakfast entirely.

And for the people miserable with hunger pangs, they want other people to be as miserable as they are.

I routinely skip breakfast, but you probably already guessed that.

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In the early morning rain of bullets

Now that Oklahoma, with a single execution, has managed to quadruple the number of Google results for “botched,” other methods besides lethal injection should be considered on the table, and one of those methods is the firing squad:

In the wake of a botched lethal injection in Oklahoma last month, a Utah lawmaker says he believes a firing squad is a more humane form of execution. And he plans to bring back that option for criminals sentenced to death in his state.

Rep. Paul Ray, a Republican from the northern Utah city of Clearfield, plans to introduce his proposal during Utah’s next legislative session in January. Lawmakers in Wyoming and Missouri floated similar ideas this year, but both efforts stalled. Ray, however, may succeed. Utah already has a tradition of execution by firing squad, with five police officers using .30-caliber Winchester rifles to execute Ronnie Lee Gardner in 2010, the last execution by rifle to be held in the state.

And technically, the firing squad is still authorized in Oklahoma — if both lethal injection and the electric chair should be found to be Constitutionally impermissible. This was a semi-clever maneuver by the legislature to make sure they had something to fall back on if the courts took issue with the drug cocktail.

Speaking of “botched executions,” there are plenty of examples from the last three decades.

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Midnight Pharma

Every day I take at least two tablets, legally prescribed, that fall under Schedule IV of the Controlled Substances Act — now and then, I may have to get something up on Schedule III — and it’s sort of amusing to see the hoops through which the pharmacists have to jump. Then again, I’m not the pharmacist doing the jumping, and I suspect that they too wonder if it’s all worth it just to keep the product out of the hands of Unofficial Distributors:

There are a whole lot of people who are making a whole lot of money out of the drug business, and most of them are not flashy gang bangers wearing gold chains and driving pimped out Escalades. They wear nice conservative clothes, keep a low profile, probably have some kind of legitimate business that they use as a front. “Consulting” would be good. As long as drugs are illegal profits will remain high and life will be good. The much vaunted war on drugs only busts those who are foolish, have flaked out, or have pissed off upper management.

Since an Escalade is basically a pimped-out Tahoe, we’ve got pimpage upon pimpage. Not a pretty sight.

As for the argument that the stuff should be legalized for purely pecuniary purposes:

We talk about how drugs should be legalized, how if they were legalized they could be taxed, and we could use those taxes to pay down the national debt or reduce income tax. Problem is that wouldn’t happen. Give the government another source of tax revenue and they will just add it to their current taxes. They won’t pay down the debt and they won’t reduce any existing taxes. And all those people who were making boat loads of money off of illegal drugs will be looking for new ways to make money, and I doubt they will have many qualms about what kind of work they turn their talents to.

As long as there is a demand for something the government doesn’t want you to have, you may be assured that someone can, and will, arrange for a supply.

“Pay down the national debt”? Ha. Good one.

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Sort of organized law

This is, as the young people say, a thing:

So, on the one hand, we have the skilled-trade laborer, inheritor of a justifiably-proud tradition. You may not like his union’s politics — he might not, either — but it does stand for more than picket lines and hard-fought contracts. He (or she) works with hands and brain. On the other, professionals with post-graduate degrees. They may labor in genteel poverty (law school isn’t cheap and the vast majority of legal work doesn’t pay all that well; the rich lawyer is a real thing but he rests upon a vast pool of J.D.’d scriveners who make less than a journeyman plumber) but it is indeed genteel. The heaviest tool an attorney lifts is a pen. They couldn’t be more different, could they?

Not in New Jersey! Deputy ADAs there have, after a long fight, got themselves a union. Not the Teamsters (amazing, really — this is New Jersey we’re talking about), not some “Worshipful Guild of Barristers,” conjured from whole cloth to serve their special needs, nope, they’ve joined the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers!

Of course, public-sector unionization is nothing new, but this isn’t normally in the IBEW’s wheelhouse: most things their members work with actually have some connection to electrical power. However, I suspect the lines will continue to blur: the Communications Workers of America, of which I was a member for about a decade, has since subsumed the Association of Flight Attendants.

And “Worshipful Guild of Barristers”? I’d just love to see that on a picket sign somewhere.

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Starting point

What strikes me as odd about the call for bumping the minimum wage to $10.10 is the seeming arbitrariness of the sum. And apparently I’m not alone in this:

What has always troubled me about this is how do the people setting the number know what the right number is? Why $10.10? Why not $10.38? Or $9.71? Or $15.00 or $35.00? Or $5,000.00? If $10.10 is good wouldn’t $5,000.00 be 495 times better?

There aren’t, I suspect, a whole lot of jobs that pay 5k an hour. Certainly I’ve never had one, and don’t anticipate getting one.

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Discharged with battery

No, wait. The lawyer was charged. The battery was discharged:

A California attorney has been fined $3,000 for zapping a witness with a trick pen during a Utah trial over whether electrical currents from a power plant are harming cows.

Fourth District Judge James Brady this week ruled Los Angeles-based lawyer Don Howarth’s conduct amounted to “battery of a witness.”

Literally so, it appears:

While testifying against dairy farmers who claim currents from the Delta power plant harm cattle, expert Athanasios Meliopoulos said 1.5 volts couldn’t be felt by a person.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports Howarth, who represented dairy farmers, gave a child’s gag pen to Meliopoulos, told him it contained a 1.5-volt AAA battery and challenged him to push it.

Brady says Meliopoulos “received a strong electric shock” because the pen also contained a transformer that boosted the battery up to 750 volts.

Which, if correct, undercut Howarth’s premise, unless he’s prepared to argue that the cattle are actually being subjected to 750 volts.

No penalty was stated in the article, though I suggest the wayward solicitor be required to lick the tops of a case of 9-volt Duracells.

(Via Fark.)

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No horsing around

I admit to being something of a fan of Sarah Jessica Parker, for reasons best expressed here. At the very least, I don’t think she deserves this sort of thing:

Actually, it’s a rule:

The following classes of names are not eligible for use:

1. Names consisting of more than 18 letters (spaces and punctuation marks count as letters)

6. Names of living persons unless written permission to use their name is on file with The Jockey Club

There are seventeen rules in all. And even if SJP were to grant permission, her name takes up twenty letters and spaces.

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But it’s not causation

Still, the science would seem to be settled:

Actually, it would seem to indicate a need to cut the price of potato chips.

Either way, expect Frito-Lay to present a spirited defense.

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Who’s that lady?

A lament by Samantha Escobar at The Gloss:

Sometimes, I wonder if the people editing these photos even know what the celebrities they are doing Photoshop work on actually look like. If they did, they would probably not remove all their facial texture or turn them into triple-jointed aliens.

She offers the example of Shailene Woodley (Divergent) on the cover of the April Marie Claire, which is category A: “remove all their facial texture.”

Shailene Woodley on the cover of Marie Claire

For reference, a red-carpet shot of Woodley:

Shailene Woodley at the Independent Spirit Awards

Now that’s probably closer to, if perhaps not entirely, “unfiltered.”

Woodley’s on the cover of InStyle for June, and I adored the Dolce & Gabbana dress and the orange Prada shoes, but something seems a bit off here too:

Shailene Woodley on the cover of InStyle

Is it my imagination, or is one arm distinctly thicker than the other?

Addendum: InStyle has released a Behind the Scenes video for this shoot. (Warning: brief commercial plus interstitial survey.)

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Not invented there

Yesterday, we were talking about absurd patents. If you need another example, here you go:

Hundreds of home builders in the Pacific Northwest have been put on notice that if they use a dehumidifier to dry rain-damaged projects, they are infringing on a patent recently issued to a father and son who claim they invented the process.

And, speaking of the Pacific Northwest, Oregon seems to be interested in doing something about that sort of thing:

[Oregon] recently passed a patent reform law that penalizes patent trolls — entities that purchase patents with the intent of issuing demand letters seeking license fees rather than marketing or developing a product — by making their practices a violation of the Unlawful Trade Practices Act.

Inasmuch as he’s not actually in Oregon, this gives Warren “Coyote” Meyer an idea:

I wonder if I can patent “the reduction in grass height using a sharpened, spinning blade” and drive all of my competitors out of business?

I think he should try, just to see what Murray and Toro and Honda would do.

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Something less than inventive

“Patently ridiculous” is closer to the mark, but perhaps overly obvious:

Today a photography blog unearthed another strange development in America’s ongoing patent train wreck: Amazon was recently awarded the intellectual rights to taking pictures of people in front of seamless white backgrounds.

Critics of the deal from the tech and photography worlds are split on what they see as the bigger affront: the gullibility of the US Patent and Trade Office, or the genius of Amazon’s patent lawyers.

I see it as yet another example of how our much-adored “intellectual property” really isn’t all that damn intellectual.

The US patent system makes it quite easy for people to lay claim to intuitive, easy processes, which so-called “patent trolls” have used to throw wrenches into the cogs of actual innovation (an issue that some in the US Senate are trying to address). However, as TechDirt writer Tim Cushing points out, it’s unlikely that Amazon is actually going to go this route. Instead, he thinks, they just want the credit for dreaming it up.

So here’s what we do about Ukraine: parachute 500 patent lawyers into Crimea. If Vladimir Putin is half as smart as I think he is — approximately one-sixth as smart as he thinks he is — he’ll have Sevastopol evacuated in a matter of hours.

(Via Mark Cuban.)


Spade identification and recognition

There is, it appears, an innate human desire to make things sound less heinous than they are. Francis W. Porretto describes what happens when one man refuses the euphemism:

One of my parish priests described a conclave of our region more than a decade ago, called together by the presiding bishop of our diocese, to discuss the “problem” of clerical sexual abuse of children. A visiting bishop gave a long lecture to the assembly in which he deplored such sexual assaults as inappropriate behavior.

Yes, you read that correctly. Worse, all but one of the priests listening to him applauded his take on the atrocity. The one — Father Edward J. Kealey — stood up and dissented vigorously. “Inappropriate behavior,” he said, is using the wrong fork at dinner; the sexual abuse of children is assault and rape. The Church should do the most vigorous, abasing penance — he suggested that all the priests in America should converge in Baltimore and walk barefoot all the way to St. Mary’s in expiation — and petition for divine guidance about how to cleanse such evil from the Catholic clergy, such that it might never, ever recur.

The bishops present were not pleased, but Father Ed stood his ground. It’s cost him heavily in the years since that conclave, but he’s refused to relent.

To solve a problem, you first have to recognize what it is, not what it’s called.


Take me to your liter

For the most part, the US has resisted the metric system, perhaps, I suspect, to avoid looking like a seven-stone weakling on the world stage when the conversion inevitably takes place. (Which it will; future politicians will be keen to curry favor with the rest of the world, inasmuch as current politicians have been busily reducing their capacity to exert any meaningful force.) One aspect of metrification I hadn’t considered, however, is its potential effect on prose: once the population is assimilated, dozens of formerly standard idioms would perforce require either footnotes or inline translation.

Francis W. Porretto takes it one step further, because that’s what he does:

Millions of books already in print are lousy with Imperial units. Consider especially the horror that would be “metrified porn”: “Deftly he slid his twenty-five-centimeter joystick into her welcoming love tunnel, buried his face in her velvety hundred-centimeter bosom, and began to newton away.” Unthinkable!

Note: The liter, as seen in the title, is not a proper SI unit: they’d prefer you referred to cubic meters, each of which contains 1000 liters. Also, they’d prefer you spelled those words “litre” and “metre.”

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For whom the tolls accumulate

And boy, did they:

[O]ne taxi driver … for nearly two years sneaked through toll plazas by “piggybacking” on the driver in front of him and pocketing payments totaling more than $28,000.

Queens prosecutors on Thursday charged the driver, Rodolfo Sanchez, 69, with grand larceny, theft of service and criminal possession of stolen property for a scheme that began in August 2012 and ended Wednesday at 3:40 p.m.

Keep in mind that they never actually caught Mr Sanchez rushing to get out of the lane before the barrier dropped:

Rather, investigators for the authority noticed that someone using an E-ZPass with no money on it got through at no cost — over and over. Using the tracking data on the E-ZPass, which prosecutors said was reported lost in 2011, the investigators found that it passed over the bridge 1,061 times and through the tunnel a total of 3,071 times.

Toll plaza video connected the E-ZPass, which still emitted a signal, to different cabs that piggybacked through the gates.

After which, it was a simple matter to go through cab-company records. NYC taxi drivers, apparently, are required by law to carry E-ZPass.

(Via Autoblog.)

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A series of tubes

Ever visit a house where the TV was on more or less constantly, even when no one was watching? I must admit, I find that seriously offputting, though perhaps not as much as Bill Peschel does:

The television is so much a dominating force that it doesn’t get turned off even when company arrives. I have visited many households where the TV is never turned off. The noise is irritating and difficult to for me to hear over. Even more annoying are the constant ads. Worst of all is the realization that the person I am speaking with is trying to watch the TV at the same time. Clearly, I am boring compared to the television. This just seems rude.

I’m quite dull in my own right, but I have a capacity for generating irritating noise even without the TV going.

Incidentally, the last time I used the set in the living room — the official Big Set, though it’s only a twenty-inch Sony Wega — was on the last day of last May, while contemplating my imminent doom.

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And no light was shed

If there’s one thing tobacco companies are really, really good at, it’s finding ways around a seemingly endless series of government rules. For instance:

Some time ago, the FDA announced that they were going to ban tobacco-makers from using the word “Light” on their light product lines. The rationale was that people are smoking these things under the false impression (an impression encouraged by tobacco companies) that they were a healthier alternative to full flavor cigarettes.

To comply with this regulation:

Manufacturers substituted “Gold” for “Light” and “Silver” for “Ultra-light” in the names of Marlboro sub-brands, and “Blue”, “Gold”, and “Silver” for banned descriptors in sub-brand names. Percent filter ventilation levels, used to generate the smoke yield ranges associated with “Lights” categories, appear to have been reassigned to the new colour brand name descriptors. Following the ban, 92% of smokers reported they could easily identify their usual brands, and 68% correctly named the package colour associated with their usual brand, while sales for “Lights” cigarettes remained unchanged.

Fortunately, this doesn’t work with beer, or they’d start serving Bud Beige.

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It’s the FML valve

This event with the Malfunction Indicator Light was a pain in the wallet, as they always are, but for the first time in eight years, it managed to cost less than $600: a meager $431, in fact.

Lasted nineteen miles before throwing another — or perhaps the same — code.

A discussion with the service consultant suggested that it will be, yes, around $600, if it’s what he thinks it is.

Of course, the guy who came up with the idea that it should require Specialized Equipment just to read these damnable codes is, one hopes, doing synchronized swimming in the river Phlegethon. And truth be told, I don’t much care with whom he’s synchronized. I am sorely tempted to set up a GoFundMe or some such.

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A halal bark

This isn’t ha-ha funny, but sort of rueful funny:

I have a vision of what the suicide bomber’s version of Jumble would look like. It would look just like the regular version of Jumble, but the “SOLUTION” to the puzzle would always be “ALLAH AKBAR”.

Okay, maybe a little ha-ha.

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Unfuzzy logic

Jennifer is not impressed by your armpit hair:

Neither feminism nor some photographer is going to make me see hairy armpits as beautiful. Sorry, not gonna happen. You want to grow them out, fine. They’re your armpits to do with as you like. I’m sure it’s because I’ve been brainwashed by the patriarchy, but I don’t find that attractive and no amount of edgy photography or handwritten signs is going to change that.

Working definition of “edgy photography” is “Good Lord, don’t let Emily see this, she’s only seven.”

And this particular tango, like most, requires two:

Beauty and attraction take at least two participants, the actor and the audience. If the actor wants to be attractive to a particular audience they will have to conform to the beauty standards of that audience. If person x’s definition of a beautiful woman is tall, blond with big boobs, I’m never going to reach that standard. I’m at peace with that. I fit just fine into other standards of beauty. I will never fit them all and neither will you.

Should I see someone who matches up 100 percent (or even 99.5) to my list of desiderata, I will (1) become immediately suspicious, and then (2) depart hastily, before I start paying attention.

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Something of a hurry

We roundball fans tend to whine about back-to-back game scheduling, especially when it comes to our home team tiring late in that second game. But we can’t imagine what’s about to happen to an NHL team:

The [Columbus] Blue Jackets play their final home game [today] against Phoenix, then fly out immediately to Dallas, where their March 10 contest was suspended when the Stars’ Rich Peverley collapsed on the bench. Per NHL rules, the suspended game will start completely over — only with the Blue Jackets retaining the 1-0 lead they had about seven minutes in when the medical emergency ended play.

Adding to the curious nature of the replayed game, the Blue Jackets’ Nathan Horton might not play because of a lower-body injury. So since his goal from the game is retained, he might get credit for a score in a game in which he did not officially play.

Which is mind-numbing enough, but this is what follows:

After the rematch with the Stars is completed, the Blue Jackets take their charter jet to the Sunshine State, where they play Tampa Bay on Friday and Florida on Saturday.

To earn the franchise’s second postseason trip in its 13 seasons, the Blue Jackets must survive four games in four cities over the span of 99 hours.

At least they have Thursday to, um, practice, unless that’s a really slow plane.

One is forced to wonder: “What would Gregg Popovich do?”

(Via this Costa Tsiokos tweet.)

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Imagined unsightliness

For reasons having to do with demographics, I assume, this was all over (meaning “I saw it three times”) Facebook and Twitter yesterday:

Women feel invisible to the opposite sex at the age of 51, it emerged yesterday.

A detailed study of 2,000 women revealed a large percentage felt they no longer received the level of attention they once did after hitting 51.

Many even went as far as to admit they felt “ignored”.

The women claimed their confidence plummeted after hitting 50 and blamed greying hair, having to to wear glasses or even struggling to find fashionable clothes.

The lifestyle study, commissioned by herbal remedies company, A.Vogel, also found more than two thirds of women over 45 had walked into a room and felt “completely unnoticed” by the opposite sex.

Which only proves the wisdom of the old saying “First you have to get their attention”:

Screenshot from The Invisible Woman 1940

You may be absolutely certain that Charles Lane is hanging on Virginia Bruce’s every word. (She was actually 30 at the time, but who’s going to know?)

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Matthew Riley MacPherson, a developer at Mozilla, posted the following factoids regarding “[Brendan] Eich, queers, and Mozilla”:

I Like EichWe added trans benefits and a Code of Conduct with Brendan in a leadership position.

I have spoke to no queer Mozilla people who feel Eich has ever made them uncomfortable. I have never heard of Eich attacking homosexuals at Mozilla.

Conversely, Gerv posted a call to action against Gay marriage to Planet Mozilla, which prompted the creation of a Code of Conduct at Mozilla, which Eich worked on.

Mozilla has amazing benefits for same-sex couples everywhere possible, including in many US states where it is not legally required.

Mozilla as a company donated more for equal marriage rights than against.

This was posted before Eich stepped down. Subsequently, after Eich’s departure, MacPherson posted this:

I think if Eich had apologized, expressed regret, and attempted to repair the negative image painted of Mozilla, he might still be CEO. He could’ve shown that he could put Mozilla first, that he could swallow his pride to appear fair, and that he cared about the mission more than preserving his privacy over a public donation.

So while the mob might feel like it won, proving that there is some kind of zero-tolerance for homophobia in America, Eich’s departure from Mozilla tells a slightly more nuanced story than that.

In the best of all possible worlds, of course, Eich would have responded to the Inquisition with — but forget that. Were this the best of all possible worlds, there never would have been an Inquisition in the first place, would there?

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Perhaps she thought it was easy

Or maybe it was the only tool she had:

The Carter County [Tennessee] Sheriff’s Office says a substitute teacher is behind bars after allegations surfaced that she stapled three students at Central Elementary School. The incident happened Monday, according to Sheriff Chris Mathes.

Deputies arrested Alisha Lynn Cook, 43, of Elizabethton and charged her with three counts of simple assault Tuesday afternoon. According to Sheriff Mathes the victims were physically stapled by the substitute teacher.

This is why she’ll never climb above substitute status: for a full-time gig, you need to learn how to use duct tape.

(Via Interested-Participant.)

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Can your Barbie do this?

The trouble with dolls might be not so much that they give a distorted view of Real Life, but that they don’t:

I didn’t like toys as representations of people. Was I a budding misanthropist? I don’t think so, but I’m sure back then, I probably couldn’t have been able to articulate exactly why I disliked those sorts of toys. In hindsight, it had far more to do with my personality and my priorities for play rather than cultural baggage or any feminist notions.

So what the heck do I mean by “priorities for play”? It means my reasons for playing with toys. I wanted to have fun, of course, but my idea of fun involves imagination and curiosity. Robots and microscopes and, yes, even ponies are toys built for imagination and/or curiosity. Dolls (and to some extent, action figures) don’t fit those two purposes so well. When you’re playing with a doll in the typical way (and not setting fire to it to figure out its combustible properties), you are mimicking real life. And personally, when I play, I look for the extraordinary, the wonderful, the fascinating. Not the mundane.

Setting fire to a doll, incidentally, isn’t necessarily easy. And sooner or later, most of our cultural baggage is going to go up in smoke simply because it’s no longer supportable.

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Let us stipulate that no one wants to see further endangerment of elephants. That said, the Feds blew another one:

New federal rules aimed at blocking the sale of ivory to protect endangered elephants are causing an uproar among musicians, antiques dealers, gun collectors and thousands of others whose ability to sell, repair or travel with legally acquired ivory objects will soon be prohibited.

An example:

To illustrate the confusion ahead, experts gave the example of what would happen under the new regulations if someone attempted the interstate sale of a 100-year-old Steinway piano with ivory keys. Such a sale has long been permissible, because the piano qualified as an antique that contained ivory imported long before the mid-1970s, when officials began proscribing the material.

But the new regulations would prohibit such a sale unless the owner could prove the ivory in the keys had entered the country through one of 13 American ports authorized to sanction ivory goods.

Given that none of those entry points had such legal power until 1982, the regulations would make it virtually impossible to legitimize the piano’s ivory, the experts said. That predicament would apply to virtually all the antique ivory in the country, barring millions of Americans from ever selling items as innocuous as teacups, dice or fountain pens.

The Feds are not backing down, because smugglers:

[T]he eight-member advisory panel that formulated the new restrictions is aware they impose insurmountable hurdles. But … the efforts by some smugglers to disguise recently poached ivory as antique material have made the additional restrictions necessary.

My own suggestion — place a bounty on smugglers, and when they’re brought in, feed them to animals — apparently has not been considered.

(Via a Steinway owner.)

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It would be worse with a minibar

A possible disadvantage of vacationing in Vegas with an infant in tow:

[I]f you’re going to “rent” a crib at Mandalay Bay for more than a single day, it’s actually cheaper to buy one off Amazon and have it sent to the hotel than it is to actually rent theirs.

Wouldn’t want to look too family-friendly in America’s Gomorrah, would we?

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Dunces assembled

This is probably as accurate an assessment of corporate meetings as we can find:

I personally have always considered committees as proof that human beings evolved from animals that had tails and liked to chase them. Since the shrinkage of the tail into our stunted coccyx, we were not able to engage in this behavior anymore, and had to develop a new method of doing so. Being as we were a pretty cooperative species prior to the invention of reality television, we created a system whereby we could help one another engage in an activity that was just as useless as tail-chasing: The committee meeting.

And it’s probably just a bit less suggestive than Dave Barry’s:

Meetings are an addictive, highly self-indulgent activity that corporations and other large organizations habitually engage in only because they cannot masturbate.

Bunch of coccyx suckers, the lot of them.

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