Archive for Dyssynergy

A perfect night to dress up

Taylor Swift T.S. 1989 sweatshirtAbout five and a half billion people on this plain granite planet will recognize this sweatshirt as being part of Taylor Swift’s new clothing line, intended to promote her platinum / palladium / unobtainium album 1989, in stores now and not streaming very much. That leaves a billion and a half who might see something different in it:

The date — as well as being Swift’s year of birth — refers to her album and live tour of the same name, which she will perform in Shanghai in November.

But the date — and the initials TS — are particularly sensitive in China, as they signify the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989, when hundreds of students were killed in pro-democracy protests.

Bad move? Maybe not. Chinese retailer, which will carry the Swift line, doesn’t seem to have any trouble selling the 1989 CD.

(Via Marginal Revolution.)

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In lieu of actual improvements

Flickr Pro, which was dead two years ago, is now somewhat less dead. Per an email received from their current overseers:

We’re re-launching Flickr Pro and making it available to all Flickr members.

The new Flickr Pro includes:

  • Stats and analytics on your photos and more detailed referral traffic
  • Ad-free browsing and sharing

Yearly subscriptions also receive:

  • FREE standard shipping on Flickr photo merchandise within the US, and 50% savings on international standard shipping ($25 minimum)
  • 20% off Adobe Creative Cloud Photography plan for the first year

All this for only twice the price:

For new subscribers, Flickr Pro is $49.99 per year or $5.99 per month.

And here is where it gets good as a Loyal Flickr Pro Member: You get these additional Flickr Pro features and continue to receive unlimited space, with no change in price for the next 2 years.

“How much does it cost to go back to the old-style, uncluttered embed?” he asked, expecting no response.

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Warm! What is it good for?

There’s a certain irony in writing this while a Heat Advisory is boiling away outside, but what the hell:

Look, warm is better than cold. Plants grow better. Food is more abundant. Plus being cold sucks, just ask anyone who has not yet moved south for the winter. I say we fire up those coal plants, drive the heck out of your SUVs, bring back Freon. Each of us should strive to have a carbon footprint the size of Bigfoot. We all know what happens if it gets too cold.

I figure carbon-based life forms with a morbid fear of carbon are sufficiently self-loathing to make themselves perfect candidates for Voluntary Human Extinction.

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No advance fees, period

California says a talent agent can’t collect money from a client before representation actually begins, as explained here, and one such agent has now been convicted:

Debra Baum, 53, entered a plea of no contest to one count of operating an advance fee talent service. Judge Deborah Brazil sentenced Baum to 36 months summary probation and ordered her to serve 45 days in jail or perform 20 days of community labor. Baum also agreed to pay $91,252.75 in restitution to the parents of the victims…

The City Attorney’s office said that Baum solicited a 19-year old in 2012 who she heard singing in a hair salon and signed her to a $10,000 per month management contract to promote her vocal career. Before terminating the contract in September 2012, the victim’s family paid $70,000 in management fees to Baum as well as thousands of dollars in third party expenses for vocal training, stylists and recordings.

Said Baum on Twitter:

This doesn’t quite sound like someone who just entered a nolo plea.

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Hey, seize this, pal

Taste considerations obviously don’t enter into it:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: Wording a warning message for people with Epilepsy on a Tumblr blog with a rainbow-colored flashing background?

And apparently it’s just this short of a done deal:

I already have the Java Script and everything, I just don’t know how to write the warning in a professional way.

Like there’s anything “professional” about a rainbow-colored flashing background to begin with. How about an autostart audio file to make it worse?

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Crude estimate

Dave Schuler, as he often does, points out something that a lot of the pundit class has missed:

Most commentators seem to believe that as soon as sanctions are lifted Iran will begin selling oil.

At $60 a barrel, what can go wrong? This: Iran has to earn at least twice that to break even on production.

Or, in Schuler’s words:

Iran’s profit-maximizing strategy requires the price of oil to go up or, failing that, for Iran to leave its oil in the ground until it is able to produce oil at a lower cost.

That in turn leads to two observations. First, if Iran sells oil at all it means that it’s absolutely desperate for foreign exchange. And, more disquietingly, expect Iran to foment instability in the Middle East. Stability is bad for business.

That particular business, anyway.

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This stuff can kale you

Avoiding kale, if not exactly a priority, has certainly been a factor on my task list, on the sensible basis that “flavorful,” that popular foodie term, does not, I believe, necessarily imply that the flavor in question is at all desirable.

But some foodies may soon be turning their backs on the stuff, not for flavor considerations, but for something a bit more intensive:

[A]lt-medicine researcher and molecular biologist Ernie Hubbard … began to notice an odd trend among some of his clinic’s clients in California’s Marin County, a place known for its organic farms, health-food stores, and yoga studios. Extremely health-conscious people were coming into to complain of “persistent but elusive problems”: “Chronic fatigue. Skin and hair issues. Arrhythmias and other neurological disorders. Foggy thinking. Gluten sensitivity and other digestive troubles. Sometimes even the possibility of Lyme Disease.”

Hubbard began to find detectable levels of a toxic heavy metal called thallium in patients’ blood samples — at higher-than-normal levels — as well as in kale leaves from the region. Meanwhile, “over and over,” he found that patients complaining of symptoms associated with low-level thallium poisoning — fatigue, brain fog, etc. — would also be heavy eaters of kale and related vegetables, like cabbage.

And he found, in the form of this 2006 peer-reviewed paper by Czech researchers, evidence that kale is really good at taking up thallium from soil. The paper concluded that kale’s ability to accumulate soil-borne thallium is “very high and can be a serious danger for food chains.” And here’s a peer-reviewed 2013 paper from Chinese researchers finding similar results with green cabbage; a 2015 Chinese study finding green cabbage is so good at extracting thallium from soil that it can be used for “phytoremediation” — i.e., purifying soil of a toxin — and a 2001 one from a New Zealand team finding formidable thallium-scrounging powers in three other members of the brassica family: watercress, radishes, and turnips.

Excuse me while I smile at “thallium-scrounging powers.”

Up until about the early 1970s, you could buy thallium sulfate at your local hardware store: it made a good rat poison. Turns out, of course, that it can poison lots of critters besides rats. Still, it’s not like the whole earth is just saturated with the stuff; while thallium is not exactly rare as elements go, the most common sources are industrial. One of those industries, however, is big in these parts: oil drilling.


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One way to lose your ass

I can’t even think of an intro for this:

A woman is in a coma after her butt implants exploded while doing squats at a gym. Serena Beuford, 27, was working out for an Instagram video when she heard a loud pop. Soon after, she fell to the floor screaming in agony … saying that her butt was gone.

According to Beuford’s sister Jackie, Serena had visited an unlicensed clinic to get a 64-inch bottom. She said her sister wanted to become famous on Instagram.

On a scale of 1 to Donald Trump’s speechwriter, how pathetic is this?

And while we’re at it, what if your butt was gone?

Update: Snopes traces this to a fake-news vendor.

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Things to come, maybe

El Nuko celebrates the beginning of his tenth year behind a blog dashboard with a list of ten predictions, two of which I figured I ought to pass on:

  1. The huge NSA data collection center at St Louis will be totally breached, and all of the information will be released into the open. The US economy will be thrown into a deep depression as credit availability evaporates overnight due to lack of confidentiality.
  2. Obama will propose microchip implantation as the solution, which will be agreed to by both parties, with the exception of 2016 hopeful Mike Huckabee, who sees this as the “mark of the beast.”

Expect Mitch McConnell to offer token resistance at first, because that’s what he does best: token resistance.

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Friendlier skies

Flying somewhere used to Not Suck. Really, it did:

Airport (the 1970 movie) portrayed air travel as it was back then; glamorous, bordering on exotic … a thing the hoi polloi could only dream of doing. Okay, put aside the part where the crazy guy exploded a bomb on the plane; that’s not my point. Back then, stewardii were all hot babes, your knees were not serving as backstops for the seat back in front of you, your seatmate was not wearing a Dumb and Dumber tanktop, carrying on luggage was considered tres gauche, and you were served food, on plates with silverware no less. As everyone knows, it’s not like that anymore.

I always spelled it “stewardae,” but then I was somewhat perverse in that era, and besides, I never actually got on a plane until 1972. After that, though, I logged some ridiculous number of miles in the next three years. (Somewhere in the low five digits, anyway.)

Airlines have become the Greyhound bus of the 21st century … and I am not saying that in a pejorative way. Yes, the relative luxury of air travel 40 years ago is gone and we can bemoan that. However, air travel today is fast, relatively inexpensive, and reasonably convenient. The price we have paid is being packed in so tightly with our fellow passengers that, if we were pigs headed for the slaughter house, there would be animal cruelty ordinances to prevent it. The animal analogy is a good one and, again, I am not being pejorative. Realistically, the only way airlines can move millions of people and their stuff around every day is to treat them like cattle. It works.

And we get farther from free-range every day.

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Worst seat in the house

About three years ago, Airbus floated the idea of offering airlines a choice between narrow and really narrow seats. (The merely narrow seats were dubbed “XL,” which proves that even sadists have a sense of humor.)

But this obviously wasn’t enough passenger discomfort, so — well, here’s the Telegraph story: “New plane cabin could force passengers to make eye contact.” Seriously:

A new in-flight seating plan aims to make better use of cabin space — but would see passengers forced to face one another during a flight.

Zodiac Airbus seat arrangement proposal

The designs, proposed by Zodiac Seats France, the airline industry supplier, feature alternating forward and backward facing seats placed side by side.

What could possibly be worse? How about this Airbus scheme from last summer?

Airbus flying donut seat arrangement proposal

Fausta knows where this design came from, though:

Rather than donuts, Airbus is finding inspiration in Dante, which Dante surely would add as the 10th circle were he alive today.

At least it’s temporary; it only seems eternal.

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I haz had Cheezburger

And now, says Ben Huh, someone else can haz it:

After 8 incredible years, I am stepping down from being CEO of Cheezburger today.

I will remain a Board member. Cheezburger’s President and COO, Scott Moore will step in to the CEO role with my full support. Scott has proven to be a skilled operator and a steadfast leader. He has taught me a lot about being strategic, decisive, and positive. He has taught me that I have much to learn, and I am grateful for his dedication to Cheezburger. I will miss working with him daily.

Not that he regrets a minute of lolcattitude:

Cheezburger gave rise to a new category of content, a new industry of global reach, and as some would call it: the downfall of civilization. I say, ‾\_(ツ)_/‾ bring it on, because it looks like a lot of fun.

See ya, Ben.


The siblings of Big Brother

Woot yesterday was selling a home security system, festooned with no fewer than four video cameras, and this was their pitch:

Big Brother is absolutely watching. You might as well stop fighting it and just watch him right back.

Look, that Orwellian nightmare has come and gone. We’re in a place Georgie-boy never even DREAMED about. Privacy is gone, and we gave it up willingly for likes and stars and upvotes. So why fight it? This is the world we want! Get some cameras and join in!

With a security system, you’ll be able to see the world around you. Your friends, when they’re line-of-sight. Your family, when they wander around the yard. Total strangers, when they walk within range. It’s the very same power every government has, only on a smaller scale. Why, with a little practice, maybe you can even zoom in and read the paper over your spouses’ shoulder!

Don’t be afraid of Big Brother. Be his ally! Lament the privacy that’s now long gone by treating yourself to a nice security system and become part of the system. It’s not so bad, as long as you stay out of Room 101.

This is of course snark, as Woot cranks out for every product it sells, but that one line in the second paragraph is just a hair chilling: “Privacy is gone, and we gave it up willingly for likes and stars and upvotes.” Now you know what we truly value.

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They’re not puppies anymore

In fact, they never were:

Wang Kaiyu … owns a banana farm in Jinchang Town, near the border of Vietnam, China News reports. Two years ago, a Vietnamese man was passing by the area with two “good looking” pups, and Wang decided to buy them off the man, he told reporters.

For two years, he lovingly raised the “dogs”, bathing and pampering them every day. Wang said the animals were well-behaved but that their appetites were rapidly growing. He recalled a few times when his beloved pets caught and ate chickens on the farm.

As fate would have it, Wang saw a poster about wildlife protection at an exhibition hosted by the forest police, and the bells started ringing.

Canis familiaris? Nope. Ursus thibetanus, the Asian black bear, which is indeed deemed “protected” by Chinese law. Vietnam, not incidentally, prohibits their export.

(Via Fark.)

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Take that, ya little turdblossom

Some weird goings-on in Wayne, New Jersey:

A township teacher who lost her tenured position and whose teaching license was suspended after she made fun of a curse word in a student’s name has lost her appeal.

Yvette Nichols had appealed an October decision [pdf] by the state licensing agency for teachers — the Board of Examiners — suspending her teaching certificate for a year for posting a screenshot on Facebook of an assignment a student had completed, which instructed students to “practice writing my name the kindergarten way.” Nichols’ Facebook post, however, focused on the curse word in the student’s name.

What is this story missing? Right:

The decision does not specify what the student’s name was, or what curse word it contained.

Theoretically, I suppose, the child could have been named for a marginally famous river, like the Washita.

(Via Strong Language.)

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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.


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.


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.


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?



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.)


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.)


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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