Archive for Dyssynergy

Shut up and give us what we want

Which for some people is Everything. Severian relates a tale from grad school:

The chicks in our department — who were the clear majority of our department — started bitching that women didn’t have enough leadership positions. So, as always, the PTB convened a blue-ribbon commission, staffed by these chicks themselves…

… which found out that not only did women hold the majority of leadership positions in the department, they held every single blessed one of them. The report stated this…

… and in the very next sentence started bitching about how the disproportionate burden of occupying all these leadership roles was keeping them from pursuing their training, thus holding them back from completing their degrees.

There was a time in academia when coming up with something this stupid was anathema. Now it’s mandatory.

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With the new Anti-Thrash mechanism

Actually, Simmons has been using pocketed coils in this line for over 90 years, but hey, I don’t argue with something that works:

I take delivery of one of these today. No bowling equipment, though.


For Friday night lights to come

Ron Poe was the football coach at McKinney High School in northern Texas; in thirty years he amassed a record of 221-106-4, which is nothing to sneer at. The McKinney Independent School District now has three high schools, and they’re building a new stadium in honor of Coach Poe, but sneers are forthcoming hither and yon:

At $62.8 million, McKinney ISD’s new high school stadium was already considered among the most expensive in the country.

Now, it might be No. 1 after school board trustees learned last week that higher building costs have pushed the price tag to $69.9 million — $7.1 million more than what voters approved in May.

The new price of the 12,000-seat stadium, which includes an attached events center, shocked some trustees.

Seventy million dollars for high-school sports!

I mention purely in passing that the original version of the Ford Center Chesapeake Energy Arena, before all the NBA-inspired improvements, cost less than $90 million.

The District, however, will not retreat:

McKinney school officials decided not to scale back or postpone the project. Nor will they go back to voters for more money. Instead, they are tapping into about $8 million in undesignated 2011 and 2016 bond funds to make up the cost difference.

“What we told the voters we’d build, we need to build that,” board trustee Amy Dankel said, adding that the unforeseen price hike is concerning.

Well, yeah, there’s that.

(Via Midwest Conservative Journal.)


Because convenience

At least, that’s what they tell me:

I think I need to lie down.


We don’t need no stupid icons

We need steel-belted radials:

Charcoal Oven signA tire company has entered into contract to buy the Charcoal Oven property at 2701 NW Expressway and build a new facility on that site.

The historic structure and charming grounds and drive-through will be completely demolished to make room for the new use. It had been actively for sale for several months.

This is the original and also the last of the remaining Charcoal Ovens, with the previous locations in Edmond and at Northwest Expressway and MacArthur having been sold off some time ago.

At the time it was built in 1958, it was one of the first drive-through restaurants and has remained in continuous operation since that time by the Wilson family.

Its 52-foot high neon sign has been an Oklahoma City landmark for decades.

Which is something you’ll never say of a Discount Tire sign.

(Via Judge Radar.)

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Turd world problems

For now, anyway, there’s only so much you can do to automate cleaning house without having to maintain eternal vigilance:

If you have a Roomba, please rid yourself of all distractions and absorb everything I’m about to tell you.

Do not, under any circumstances, let your Roomba run over dog poop. If the unthinkable does happen, and your Roomba runs over dog poop, stop it immediately and do not let it continue the cleaning cycle. Because if that happens, it will spread the dog poop over every conceivable surface within its reach, resulting in a home that closely resembles a Jackson Pollock poop painting.

It will be on your floorboards. It will be on your furniture legs. It will be on your carpets. It will be on your rugs. It will be on your kids’ toy boxes. If it’s near the floor, it will have poop on it. Those awesome wheels, which have a checkered surface for better traction, left 25-foot poop trails all over the house. Our lovable Roomba, who gets a careful cleaning every night, looked like it had been mudding. Yes, mudding — like what you do with a Jeep on a pipeline road. But in poop.

So if your Roomba runs at 1:30 in the morning, well, make sure your puppy isn’t, um, running about the same time.

(Via Midwest Conservative Journal.)

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From the “Screw you, pay us” files

I think we can take it as a given today that a sole-source vendor, given an opportunity, is going to stick it to its customers and then some:

The cost of saving your child’s life has gotten a lot more expensive.

Parents getting ready for back to school season have another item to toss in the basket along with Trapper Keepers and boxes of pencils and they’re facing sticker shock at the latest price increase.

Doctors and patients say the Mylan pharmaceutical company has jacked up the prices for an EpiPen — the portable device that can stop a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction — from around $100 in 2008 to $500 and up today.

That’s a hike of over 400 percent.

And it’s not because the drug itself is so gosh-darn expensive, either:

The wholesale cost in the developing world is between US$0.10 and US$0.95 a vial.

I tell you what, that little injector gizmo containing a buck’s worth of medicine had better be able to survive a freaking zombie apocalypse.

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Gratification still delayed

Around the first of the year, the deal was offered: you can have the Playboy Mansion for a mere $200 million, provided you put up with the presence of Hugh Hefner for the remainder of his pajama-clad days.

This being August already, you might have guessed that the price had sagged a bit, and you would be correct:

The deal is done, and the Playboy Mansion has a new owner. Daren Metropoulos, who lives next door, said Tuesday that escrow has closed on his $100 million purchase of Hugh Hefner’s man cave.

The 33-year-old principal in the investment firm Metropoulos & Co. won’t necessarily be moving in any time soon. Under the terms of the deal, Playboy’s 90-year-old founder may stay there for the rest of his life.

After Hefner leaves, Metropoulos plans to connect the 5-acre Playboy estate to his 2-acre digs next door.

Which makes sense, since apparently it was all one big estate to begin with. And one probably shouldn’t bet againt Metropoulos, who wheels and deals with the best: he bought Pabst Brewing in 2010 for $250 million and sold it four years later for around $700 million, and he is one of the principals in Hostess Brands, the Twinkie folks, who just did an IPO last month.

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Thereby causing a brouhaha

This is perplexing:

I suspect that this is a regional phenomenon, and that this product can be purchased elsewhere as “Healthy Hoo-Ha.”

Wait, twat?

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A long way from Neptune, New Jersey

Also from Jupiter, Florida:

Actually, it’s not technically a town:

Uranus Missouri, often called simply “Uranus,” is a tourist attraction located in the rural area of Pulaski County, Missouri along Route 66. It is a shopping mall consisting of a Fudge Factory and General Store, a sports bar, a nightclub, a tattoo shop, a festival food truck lot, and an outdoor store with a gun range and pro-shop. All the business owned by a single individual, Louie Keen, who proclaims himself the “Mayor of Uranus”. While Uranus Missouri is marketed as a city or town, the commercial development is unincorporated and even proclaims on the entrance sign, “It’s Not a Town, It’s a Destination.”

If you’re looking, it’s near St. Robert, Missouri.

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Otherwise known as “school supplies”

Rob O’Hara saves fifteen thousand dollars, maybe:

Below my desk is a plastic briefcase full of “blending” markers. A couple of years ago, I watched someone on YouTube draw using a set of blending markers. It fascinated me. The next day I went to Hobby Lobby and bought a wide assortment of blending markers. Good blending markers, like Copic brand, cost $6 each, and according to every thirteen-year-old girl on YouTube you need at least 2,583 markers to draw anything. I went the “cheap” route and bought a 32-pack of off-brand markers for around a hundred dollars. I came home and drew a picture of Malachai from Children of the Corn. Then I put the markers in a plastic briefcase and pushed it under my desk. My foot is resting on the briefcase under my desk right now, where it will remain until I die.

For what it’s worth, Vi Hart, my favorite disembodied hand, seems to get by just fine with Sharpies.

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Rodents of, um, unusual size

The guys in Rio running the Games are finding that yes, they do exist:

Wildlife is taking over the Olympic golf course just before the sport makes its official comeback to the Games after 112 years.

Capybaras have been seen exploring and settling in on the green, in sand traps and near water hazards, according to The National Post.

The animal, native to South America, is a semi-aquatic rodent that can weigh up to 100 pounds and can stand about 2 feet tall. It’s the largest rodent in the world.

Add this to the “What else can happen?” files.

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Seduced by the rings

Everything you hate about NBC’s fawning-yet-inept coverage of Those Games Down There is neatly encapsulated in this tweet from their San Jose affiliate, which they promptly deleted once the clues started arriving:

NBC Bay Area tweets about Katie Ledecky's nail polish

I mean, geez, guys.

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It gets worse as you go along

As Australia completes its 2016 Census, Tim Blair speculates as to what might be asked ten years from now:

Question 1: Where is this dwelling located?

  • In an area threatened by flooding due to global warming.
  • On illegally occupied Aboriginal land.
  • At a PokeStop.

Nor is this likely to be the most perverse question.


It was 15 years ago today

From this very site, 8 August 2001:

Thumbs up to this moderately-newfangled chip-repair service for automotive windshields. As World Tour fans will recall, I caught a meteorite or something while passing between the Carolinas on I-95. A Charleston glass shop balked at repairing the hole, saying that it was too close to the line of sight; South Carolina law is apparently fairly finicky about repairable and non-repairable zones. I balked at replacing the windshield, reasoning that I had a couple thousand miles to go, and what’s to prevent me from catching another freaking projectile? There were no further falling rocks, and I resolved to ignore the little dent — until today, when I watched a repair job being performed on a coworker’s vehicle, and I was sufficiently impressed to ask the young lady doing the deed if she could make time for my car next. She could, and all that remains is a faint semicircle surrounding a tiny zit, low enough on the glass that I actually have to look for it to see it. A shorter driver might not be so lucky, but while I’ve lost an inch or two off my waist, I’m not likely to lose that much off my height, so that’s not my problem.

Thumbs down to whatever demons are automagically summoned when you have to install a HP DeskJet on an IBM ThinkPad, especially if it’s going to be running through a USB port. (No, it’s not a Windows 95 box, but thanks for asking.) I am sorely tempted to blow off this USB stuff and make the end user deal with a parallel port, the way God (or at least Centronics) intended.

I mention that because of this:

It’s kind of weird to think that the Web’s been around for just 25 years, and InstaPundit has been around for 15 of them.

And I’m glad for that, even as I muse that I’ve been around for 20 (and a fraction) of those years.


Dildo, dildo duck

At the very least, this is disconcerting:

A Mandurah woman’s post this week on a popular Perth Facebook page has drawn widespread interest — and no shortage of hilarity — after she thought she’d spotted a “black duck” on a grassed area near a lake.

On closer inspection it turned out to be a large sex toy.

In her defense, there did seem to be ducks in the general vicinity, though none of them were made of black plastic.

(Via Bayou Renaissance Man.)

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Ain’t that a kick

Talk about painting a target on yourself:

Draymond Green is no stranger to peoples’ privates, and now the world is privy to his.

The Golden State Warriors star — who was suspended for a game in the NBA Finals for repeated shots to opposing players’ groins and was arrested for assault in mid-July — found himself in controversy once again Sunday after a picture of his penis was posted to his Snapchat.

Of course, Green claimed he was hacked, but nobody bought it:

“It was a situation where it was meant to be a private message,” Green said at Team USA’s practice at the Toyota Center in Houston, via ESPN. “I kinda hit the wrong button and it sucks. It was meant to be private. We’re all one click away from placing something in the wrong place, and I suffered from that this morning.”

Still unknown: the identity of the intended recipient.

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Meanwhile in the Wiregrass

Dothan, Alabama TV station WTVY reports:

A man was shot to death early Saturday in the parking lot of a Dothan nightclub. At least one other man is being sought for murder.

The shooting occurred at 1:30 a.m. in the parking lot of Plum’s Lounge, a popular late night bar that sits along Montgomery Highway.

Accompanying photo:

Plum's Lounge sign

What I want to know is this: how many of you saw that sign and immediately thought “BURGER CHEF”?

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By the slab

An excerpt from Second Act:

Twilight stared. “The Princess said she thought she’d detected a measure of fear.”

“A measure?” Brush replied. “With all due respect to Her Royalness, it was perfectly obvious. I was shaking like a leaf, all the way down to the ground. Even I would have noticed something like that, and I normally have the intuition of a slab of drywall.”

“Drywall?” she repeated.

“Sort of prefabricated plaster. Makes for a good, inexpensive wall. Not at all good at psychoanalysis.”

Twilight beamed. “Now, you see? This is what you’re good at. Concepts that you know, but that are new to us. You should have a cutie mark to reflect that skill.”

“Come on. Drywall? Lowest of the low-tech. If you’re going to promote my technological brilliance, such as it is, you might as well stencil a hammer on me. Or an abacus. Something at the bottom of the list.” He laughed. “Won’t that look sweet? The most advanced practitioner of magic from sea to shining sea, walking with a big, goofy-looking oaf with a row of beads on his butt.”

Meanwhile, among the humans, drywall is not so highly regarded:

Drywall was invented in 1916. The United States Gypsum Corporation, a company that vertically integrated 30 different gypsum and plaster manufacturing companies 14 years prior, created it to protect homes from urban fires, and marketed it as the poor man’s answer to plaster walls. A 1921 USG ad billed drywall as a fireproof wall that went up with “no time [lost] in preparing materials, changing types of labor, or waiting for the building to dry.”

Though ideal for construction, gypsum is not known for its environmental friendliness. Workers in gypsum mines — either above-ground quarries or pasty-white caverns — inhale a lot of gypsum dust, which the Occupational Safety and Health Administration recommends must be limited to 15 milligrams per cubic meter during a typical workday. And areas with disused mines are prone to ground collapse when surface developments disturb the cavities below. (The upside? Gypsum mines bring jobs to communities in states that produce the most gypsum, like Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Indiana, Nevada, and California.)

If only the stuff weren’t so damned adaptable.

(Via Fark.)


We got your slaves right here

Another high point in the history of socialism:

International human rights activists are complaining that new laws have introduced forced labour in Venezuela.

“A new decree establishing that any employee in Venezuela can be effectively made to work in the country’s fields as a way to fight the current food crisis is unlawful and effectively amounts to forced labor,” Amnesty International said in a statement released on Thursday.

President Nicolás Maduro signed a decree at the end of last week that gives powers to the labor ministry to order “all workers from the public and private sector with enough physical capabilities and technical know-how” to join a government drive aimed at increasing food production.

They can be required to work in the agricultural sector for a 60-day period that can be extended for another 60 days “if the circumstances require it.”

I expect Bill O’Reilly to drop by and see that the enslaved are at least kept warm and well fed.

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Too good for retail

“Give me spots on my apples, but leave me the birds and the bees.” — Joni Mitchell

Yeah, let’s dive in to the big basket of Defective Fruit:

Really, people need to get used to accepting slightly imperfect produce all of the time — so the producers can use fewer chemicals in its production! I’m not saying ABUSE the produce, but one thing I’ve learned is that the big shiny red “Delicious” apples are woody and tasteless, and the smaller, misshapen ones tend to be better … and at any farmer’s market you’re going to get less-perfect produce. And the idea of “Hey, we’re saving food from the landfill by selling it cheap to “po’ folks,” which is the spin some news stories have put on it, is more than a little offensive.

It doesn’t have to be that way, of course:

[M]y grad school, back when they actually had a functioning university farm (with cows and everything) would collect a lot of the food waste — the uneaten salad and the like — and boil it up and feed it to the cattle. And I remember learning in, I think it was Economic Geology? About a city somewhere — I want to say it was in Colorado — that gave its residents an extra waste bin and asked them to put expired produce and peelings and stuff in there, and the stuff was then boiled up and sold to a hog farmer, who fed it to his animals. And so the city made a bit of money — staving off price increases in garbage collection, food didn’t go to waste, and the farmer got a cheap and abundant source of pig food.

But that made sense, and marketing today is not allowed to make sense:

[T]o me, there seems to be something very “2016” about walking in the store, seeing a big bag of bruised-and-dented produce, and being told to buy it because it’s a good thing and this is what we merit as consumers, anyway … that the New Normal means we need to be satisfied with the increasingly less-good.)

The better-than-good, in the meantime, will find its way to the people willing to pay twice as much. It was, I suspect, always such.


Health dissurance

Whatever my issues with CFI Care (not its real initials) during this Era of Massive Medical Treatment, I can’t imagine them getting this bad:

On July 1st, my wife had surgery. It was not the end of the world, but they did have to knock her out and, well, it was surgery.

As the phrase goes, surgeons gotta surge.

Afterwards we stopped by the pharmacy to pick up medication and almost everything was denied. Not “pending decision” denied but “Nopenopenope” denied. It turned out the issue was that our health insurance had, at the end of June, changed something-or-another and so we had to fill out a completely different form and had a different account number.

Our problems only started there. As it happens, the surgery itself was no longer covered at the hospital where it was performed. We live in a tri-state area where a lot of our services are provided across state lines. New policy is nothing non-emergent can occur across state lines under any circumstances. We can’t go to the hospital that’s twenty minutes away, or the one that’s thirty minutes away. The nearest major hospital in the state is actually three hours away. This new policy of course took effect July 1st, the day of the surgery.

We quote Mr Devious, the insurance agent:

Devious: Here we are. It states quite clearly that no claim you make will be paid.

Vicar: Oh dear.

Devious: You see, you unfortunately plumped for our ‘Neverpay’ policy, which, you know, if you never claim is very worthwhile, but you had to claim, and, well, there it is.

Once again, Python anticipates life.

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Didn’t even check her shoes

Parents beware:

It gets worse. At midnight the résumé turns into a strip of Charmin.

(Via Daily Pundit.)

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Lessons from life (one in a series)

(Medical facility) + (new computer system) = two-hour delay, minimum.

In this specific instance, the new appointment handler overbooked by a factor of 1.5, maybe worse.

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And then there were, well, none actually

Earlier this week, Roger gave us a history of the rise and fall of Betamax, the Sony home-video format that eventually fell before the mighty VHS machine. (The professional Betacam news-gathering version lasted longer.)

But now VHS itself is coughing up blood:

Funai Electric, the last remaining Japanese company to make the units, has announced that the company will cease production on its VCR units, due to declining sales and difficulty acquiring parts.

Their VCRs are made in China and sold in many territories, including North America, under brand names like Sanyo, but last year’s figures reported just 750,000 sales worldwide.

And that would seem to be the end of that. Amazon still carries blank VHS tapes for $4-5 each in package deals; a single Sony Betamax tape will run almost $9, and last I looked they had only one left.

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A song of japes and mocks

Blatantly stolen from LeeAnn:

Why do the Lannisters have such big beds?

Still to come: how to keep Cersei and Jaime off each other, once and for all.

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It had to be you, so to speak

This seems both way cool and somewhat scary:

Soon anybody with a high-resolution camera and the right software will be able to determine your identity. That’s because several technologies are converging to make this accessible. Recognition algorithms have become far more accurate, the devices we carry can process huge amounts of data, and there’s massive databases of faces now available on social media that are tied to our real names. As facial recognition enters the mainstream, it will have serious implications for your privacy.

A new app called FindFace, recently released in Russia, gives us a glimpse into what this future might look like. Made by two 20-something entrepreneurs, FindFace allows anybody to snap a photo of a passerby and discover their real name — already with 70% reliability. The app allows people to upload photos and compare faces to user profiles from the popular social network Vkontakte, returning a result in a matter of seconds. According to an interview in the Guardian, the founders claim to already have 500,000 users and have processed over 3 million searches in the two months since they’ve launched.

As one might expect, benign uses can be easily outnumbered:

FindFace is already being deployed in questionable ways. Some users have tried to identify fellow riders on the subway, while others are using the app to reveal the real names of porn actresses against their will. Powerful facial recognition technology is now in the hands of consumers to use how they please.

Still, it’s (almost) here, and we’re probably stuck with it.


Enough of that crap

This must be counted as a small but significant victory:

Through a dogged campaign to build toilets and educate Bangladeshis about the dangers of open defecation, the densely populated South Asian nation has managed to reduce the number of people who defecate in the open to just 1 percent of the 166 million population, according to the government — down from 42 percent in 2003.

“Once it was our habit to go to the fields or jungles. Now, it is shameful to us,” [Rashida] Begum said in Bormi, a cluster of poor farming villages just outside Dhaka, the capital. “Even our children do not defecate openly anymore. We do not need to ask them; they do it on their own.”

Bangladesh’s success in sanitation — something so far unattained by its wealthier neighbor to the south, India — came from a dogged campaign supported by 25 percent of the country’s overall development budget.

Next stop: San Francisco.

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We, the experts

I have to remind myself of things like this now and then:

[I]n any sane world nobody would pay any attention to the opinions of completely unqualified individuals on any given topic. There’s a reason I write for Road & Track and not Men’s Health, for example, and it has something to do with the fact that I’ve literally had more racing wins in my life than I’ve eaten salads. If I started pontificating about whether a particular protein supplement built more muscle mass and got you more ripped than another one, the readers would be entirely right to point out that I am not a doctor and that I have never been seen to bench press more than 255 pounds, not even once.

I’d buy this guy a salad any day — to accompany a proper steak, of course.


As usual, I’m late

But you already knew the drill, right?

Remember: one of these days is Centaxday.