Archive for Dyssynergy

For certain values of “year”

Not the ones with which you’re familiar, though:

An ill-bred and uninformed individual, blinded to their own ignorance by the Dunning-Kruger Effect, might foolishly conclude that purchasing a product that is good “All Year” would indicate that said product is implied to be good for between 365 and 366 days, or, alternatively, is valid for the rest of the calendar year.

Of course, a person of sophistication and nuance such as, say, an academic, understands that these two words are not so provincially constrained in certain contexts … such as the Old Dominion University Parking Services Department. As I’m sure you are aware Gentle Reader, a person of letters is astute enough to appreciate that an “All Year” parking pass is, in fact, not actually valid during the summer semester for reasons so obvious as to render any inquiry into the matter a troubling indicator of low intellect, as well as a degenerate worldview centered around the retrograde and problematic notion that words mean things.

Words mean what the authorities want them to mean. Everything else is doubleplusungoodthink.

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Getting snippy with the bucks

“Every man,” states Howe’s Law, “has a scheme that will not work.” Here’s one of many from Bill de Blasio:

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has proposed a solution to Staten Island’s burgeoning deer population. To keep numbers in check, de Blasio plans to authorize a three-year experiment in which all bucks are given vasectomies, then released back into their urban environment. Price tag: an estimated $2 million.

The logistics of this misguided form of wildlife management alone show the plan is doomed to fail. The number of deer in Staten Island has jumped from two dozen in 2008 to more than 700 in 2014 — certainly well north of that figure two years later. Capturing every buck is practically impossible, despite the intended use of air-dropped nets and tranquilizer darts.

And even if they could catch ’em all, it still wouldn’t work:

A researcher at The Deer Laboratory at the University of Georgia — because of course a university in the south is going to have at least one department connected to hunting — suggests that even if the city were able to trap and vasectomize all of the Staten Island male deer, the females would simply go back into heat once they proved to be not pregnant. At which point some non-Staten Island bucks would stroll in and say, “Hello, ladies,” cheap guitar music would begin playing and Staten Island bucks would all stand around and discuss how many painful deaths they could inflict on a certain group of veterinarians.

One per doctor, maximum. Trust me on this.

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Freedom within

Consider, if you will, the humble sewing machine:

A sewing machine, a pattern, a small degree of skill with them both, and personal fashion style is your oyster. One will never again be held hostage to the fashion trend of the moment, especially if said fashion trend is desperately unflattering, unfitted to make a good impression for the profession or occupation that you are in, otherwise unsuitable, and expensive. What brought this on was a discussion on another author website regarding certain fashion preferences, and a lamentation that it was so hard to find exactly what would be suitable, fitting, comfortable and all … and I am remembering how this was so not a problem for me, when I was working in an office and business professional was the order of my day and wardrobe. If I could not find exactly what I wanted — a black lightweight wool slightly-below-knee-length pencil skirt, to give one example — I could just buy a yard of suitable fabric and a seven-inch zipper, and go home and make it in an afternoon.

There’s an enormous freedom in being able to make exactly what I wanted, and make it to fit, and in a flattering color. Oh, usually it costs something to sew an outfit yourself, considering the costs for the pattern, the notions and the fabric — usually as much as just purchasing it off the rack on sale, but not near as much as full price from a quality outlet like Talbots or Neiman Marcus, and for a pittance in relation to having it tailored individually.

With fashion becoming ever more eccentric and sizing becoming ever more inconsistent, you might think more people would be persuaded to make their own. It doesn’t seem to be happening, though.

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He was never a kid

Just the same, Thomas Thwaite was a goat, kinda sorta:

In 2014, the 33-year-old British freelance graphic designer was in debt, living with his father, and sending out résumés to no avail. With so much worry on his mind, he thought it would be wonderful to “step away from the complexities of the world and have a lovely holiday, not just … away from your job (if you have one), but away from your very self.”

After ruling out life as an elephant, he planned his entrance into goatdom:

After research, including embarrassing conversations with specialists, he constructed a goat outfit. He found doctors who work with prosthetics to help him construct legs that gave him a quadruped form, and placed 60 percent of his walking weight on his front limbs, which is how a goat walks. He made hinged arms that extended his forelimbs, wore a waterproof jacket made by his mother, and donned a helmet and chest protector, in case any goats should decide to head-butt him.

There was also — since digesting grass for nutrition, as goats do, is impossible for humans — an artificial stomach of sorts that, he decided as a compromise, he would spit chewed grass into, so he could heat the grass later in a pressure cooker to eat.

I’m hoping this is all just a giant scam. Not everyone is buying the story:

The Post notes parenthetically:

(It should be noted that his last project, 2012’s “The Toaster Project,” found him assembling a toaster completely from scratch, which entailed spending 250 times what a toaster costs and traveling two thousand miles to secure, and sometimes create, the parts. Malaise aside, he has an inclination for such projects.)

You gotta wonder what he’ll try next.

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Go peddle your papers elsewhere

This would be intrusive at any time of day, but at half past eight, it’s downright rude:

I decided that perhaps cleaning my toilet was more important than TV, so I was arm deep in the throne when it happened. The doorbell rang twice, not the ding dong of a normal person ringing my doorbell, more like ding a donga ding a donga. In a panic, I tried to rip my rubber gloves off but they were just stuck. The doorbell rang again. I proceeded to attempt to rush out of the bathroom but realized I had locked the door so the kids couldn’t come in while I was cleaning the toilet, and my gloves, that had decided they were all of a sudden my second skin, were too damn slippery to open the freaking door. Someone knocked loudly. I could hear it through the bathroom and my children’s bedrooms are right across from it. I was panicking. PLEASE DON’T WAKE UP MY KIDS, I screamed internally. The dog was pacing around, she hadn’t barked yet, but it was only a matter of time before she put on her “protection pants” and started warning me that there was someone that didn’t get the message the first time when I didn’t answer, incessantly trying to get my attention at the front door.

And for what? Of course, they were selling something.

My own rule is something like “If you come calling at 8:30, you better be delivering pizza.” Admittedly, this hasn’t happened a great deal in my neighborhood, and probably won’t be happening much: we are rather tightly networked around here. And I admit to occasional disproportionate responses, due to my somewhat-mercurial moods, though I haven’t done anything lately quite as drastic as, say, flashing the Jehovah’s Witnesses. (And hey, that was way back in 1977.)

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Presumably feeling their oats

Absurdity? But the steel-cut variety:

Apparently Quaker Oats is not busy enough handling the lawsuit disputing its “100% natural” claim, or busy enough recalling Quaker Quinoa Granola Bars “due to a possible health risk,” or busy putting out PR fires about rejecting an 80-year-old man’s recipe for a contest because it was handwritten. Now Quaker Oats is trying to sue actual Quakers for infringing on the company’s trademark.

The notice “Quaker Oats threatens to sue us” was posted on the Orange County Friends Meeting, which is a religious society of Quakers. Quaker Oats objects to the business name “Quaker Oats Christmas Tree Farm” and demanded the Quakers immediately stop all use of the “Quaker Oats name” because it says using the trademark is misleading.

Um, no. For one thing, they got the business name wrong, as the society tried to explain to Quaker Oats:

[Y]ou have misspelled our company name which is Quaker OAKS Christmas Tree Farm. Our farm was so named because religious services were held outdoors on this farm under a great oak tree until about ten years ago when we were able to move into our new Meetinghouse on another corner of our farm.

Our business is 100% owned and operated by Quakers. I suspect that your firm employs considerably fewer, if any, Quakers. We trace our Quaker ancestors back 320 years and they were mostly farmers, but I don’t know how many of them grew oats for your company. My guess is that you may be selling far more Lutheran oats, Methodist oats, or maybe atheist oats. Could your company be guilty of product source misrepresentation?

Shouldn’t have taken more than 3 minutes to clear this up.

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Tomorrow the wrinkles

I had to look twice at this to believe it even once:

Underarm sweat is one of life’s annoyances that we’ve pretty much come to accept as inevitable. But a New York-based dermatologist named Whitney Bowe thinks she might have found the solution. It’s called “microwaving,” and if you’re picturing someone sticking their arm and shoulder into a microwave, you’re not too far off.

The practice actually involves a device called MiraSmooth, which uses the same technology as a microwave to help prevent both underarm hair and sweat from creeping out at inopportune moments. We’ve heard about people getting Botox in their armpits to prevent excessive sweating (called hyperhidrosis) and this seems like the same idea.

It is, of course, pricey:

Microwaving our armpits certainly sounds like a miracle procedure for those of us who choose to shave or are frustrated by our underarm sweat, but we’re not sure we’re ready to shell out thousands of dollars for it. We have more important things to microwave (like popcorn).

Then again, badly-microwaved popcorn smells as bad as, if not worse than, your underarms.

(Title swiped from Stan Freberg.)


It’s magically malicious!

After a horripilating session of “Meet the Beetles!” I ordered up a grub treatment for the lawn, and there was spritzed upon the turf a product called, um, Malice. It fit my mood of the moment, and it’s claimed to be relatively non-nasty for an industrial-strength insecticide, but while the flowers and the trees can deal with it, the birds and the bees aren’t keen on the stuff at all.

In the case of bees specifically:

Experts believe that imidacloprid is one of many possible causes of bee decline and the recent bee malady termed colony collapse disorder (CCD). In 2011, according to the United States Department of Agriculture, no single factor alone is responsible for the malady, however honey bees are thought to possibly be affected by neonicotinoid chemicals existing as residues in the nectar and pollen which bees forage on. The scientists studying CCD have tested samples of pollen and have indicated findings of a broad range of substances, including insecticides, fungicides, and herbicides. They note that while the doses taken up by bees are not lethal, they are concerned about possible chronic problems caused by long-term exposure.

Apparently not doing this all the time, as I don’t — this is the first time I’ve had the stuff on site in several years, and I may well wait for several more before doing it again, because it’s kinda pricey — was the right thing to do, or not do, all along.


All nice and smuggly

The illicit-bullion business, it appears, is full of assholes:

At least three airline passengers have been caught smuggling bars of gold in their rectums in recent days, say authorities in Bangladesh.

One man had eight gold bars concealed inside his body, while an X-ray revealed four bars inside a man who was in a great deal of pain, said customs officials.

This case from Friday sounds, um, excruciating:

[C]ustoms officials detained a person who had eight gold bars hidden inside his body at Dhaka’s Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport, the Daily Star reported.

The man had just stepped off a flight from Dubai and admitted to carrying the bars after being challenged at border control.

Later, at the airport toilet, he pushed out eight bars worth nearly £40,000.

If nothing else, now we have a better understanding of the phrase “shit a brick.”

(Via Interested-Participant.)

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Not that they’d try at this point

The workplace has long since learned that my standard-issue scowl is at least as permanent as the buildings we occupy, and has lasted at least as long. It doesn’t stop them from trying to ward off my baleful influence on new arrivals, not that we have that many new arrivals to begin with. The law, however, is on my side:

More managers than ever are striving to create a happy workplace culture brimming with enthusiasm, rainbows, and increasingly obscure perks. But can a company actually require that employees be positive at work?

The National Labor Relations Board has weighed in on this question, and their answer is that you are free to be as grumpy or disagreeable as you please. Or, in other words, your employer can’t force you to be happy at your job.

And I suggest that this is doubly true when an Emergency Project comes up at 4 PM on a Friday. Maybe even trebly.

State law, at least in this state, holds that you can be sacked for something as trivial as picking your nose with the wrong finger. I don’t anticipate being a test case, but the future, generally, is not something I’m especially good at predicting.

(Via Shayna.)

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Even bigger pharma

I was apprehensive when Target sold off its in-store pharmacy business to CVS, partly because the big drugstore chains have never given me any compelling reason to shop there, but mostly because I expected prices to rise. Late last month, the Target store nearest me — a third of a mile from the freestanding CVS store nearest me — underwent The Change, and I decided not to move any prescriptions for at least a month, so I could gauge what was going on. Having now received the first batch, I report.

Upside: is less dumb than Target’s pharmacy site was, and way less dumb than the idjits to whom Target briefly tried to outsource the function. Once I learned the flow, which didn’t take long, ordering refills took about half as long. What’s more, CVS, if requested, will send text messages; at best, Target could have a disembodied voice in Minneapolis call you. Prices, at least for the moment, have changed hardly at all.

Downside: The polygonal Target pill bottle was a lot easier on the hands and eyes than is the standard-issue CVS (and everywhere else) cylinder.

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This much and no lower

Meanwhile in London, they worry over whether you’re wearing shoes of the correct height:

I’m not quite sure how I feel about this. The British naturist Lady God1va, from whom I got this report, doesn’t think much of the petition:

After noting that it would be just about as useless to petition for nudity on the job, she added:

I can manage only so much empathy here: I can remember exactly one instance of a woman wearing heels to work on any day after her first, and I remember that only because — well, never mind.

In the meantime, this is the petition in question.

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That wasn’t so easy

Staples and Office Depot will not be merging after all:

Office Depot and Staples called off their plans to merge, triggering a trading halt for the companies’ stocks Tuesday.

The retailers made the announcement after a federal judge granted a preliminary injunction Tuesday that had been requested by the Federal Trade Commission, which opposed Staples’ plan to acquire Office Depot for $6.3 billion.

Now the companies “plan to terminate their merger agreement,” Staples said in a statement.

The FTC’s position is simple enough [warning: autostart video]:

The agency pointed to the market for large business customers, where Staples and Office Depot are often the top two bidders.

“By eliminating competition between Staples and Office Depot, the transaction would lead to higher prices and reduced quality,” the FTC said in a statement.

At 42nd and Treadmill, we buy from both, and we have no qualms about playing both ends against the middle.

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In lieu of a business model

Is my face insufficiently spited? Here, let me take a blade to that proboscis there:

Wired magazine's popup box

Here’s the thing with us paying magazine subscribers: we hate being presented with crap like this on the mag’s Web site, and if you really don’t want us around, we can take a hint, and you may never get another dime from us for the rest of your miserable lives.

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Taking four years off

And fercryingoutloud, get your passport in order:

Whether it’s luck or fate, we’re starting Dispatches Europe at the very time an increasing number of Americans are considering their expat options for the next four years or so. In fact, there’s a new poll out indicating one in four Americans would consider leaving if Trump is elected. Others claim they will leave if Hillary Clinton is elected. In terms of trend lines, more Americans are renouncing their citizenships.

From a recent Forbes post:

“[T]he number of published expatriates for the first three months of 2016 was a record 1,158. In 2015, there were approximately 4,300 expatriations. Comparing present to past suggests that Americans renouncing citizenship have risen 560 percent from their Bush administration high. There are now 18 times as many renouncers as in 2008.”

The discerning reader will already have discerned that 4,300 is a hell of a long way from “one in four.” Still, if you’re on your way out of here, we wish you well, and don’t let the door strike you as you leave.

(Via Cameron Aubernon.)

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Which explains the sudden urgency

TechDirt reports, in the classic TechDirt manner:

The FCC recently announced that it plans to craft rules requiring that cable operators deliver their existing content (at the same price and with the same copy protection) to third-party hardware without the need for a clunky CableCARD. The cable industry has been having an incredible, epic hissy fit over the announcement, not only because it would endanger $21 billion in captive annual revenue from set top box rental fees, but it would drive consumers to hardware delivering a wider variety of legacy TV alternatives than ever before.

Part of the cable industry’s ingenious plan to stop the FCC has involved funding an ocean of misleading editorials that try to claim the FCC’s plan will somehow boost piracy, hurt privacy, “steal the future,” and even harm ethnic diversity. Spend a few minutes perusing the news wires and you’ll find hundreds of such editorials, all penned by a wide variety of cable industry-tied consultants, think tankers, and others, suddenly pretending to be objective analysts just really worried about the welfare of consumers. It is too much, as usual, for news outlets to bother highlighting any financial conflicts of interest these authors might have.

Meanwhile, our local cable provider has rushed out a new, or new-ish, box which will have to be installed before the FCC can possibly complete its rulemaking, and which, after 12 months or so, will cost $36 a year. Per TV set. I have two of them sitting here in the living room, and I figure in a day or two I will get a nastygram from them for not having installed them yet. At least they’re providing an HDMI cable with each box.

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Insufficiently Boaty

Well, it didn’t work out quite the way we hoped:

The UK’s new polar research ship is to be named RRS Sir David Attenborough, despite the title “Boaty McBoatface” previously topping a public vote.

A website inviting name suggestions had attracted huge interest, with Boaty McBoatface the runaway favourite.

But Science Minister Jo Johnson said there were “more suitable” names.

On Friday, days before Sir David turns 90, it was announced that the £200m vessel will be named after the world-renowned naturalist and broadcaster.

Sir David said he was “truly honoured” by the decision.

On the upside:

Score this as “better than nothing.”

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Let it ring

I have yet to replace my aging Samsung flip-phone. There are very good reasons why I’d want to replace it, though the main reason I haven’t yet is simply that I have yet to settle on something that costs less than half as much as the Smartphone of My Dreams.

That said, the secondary reason is fairly compelling in its own right. Once the phone has determined that there is a Missed Call, returning that call becomes its priority; several keystroke combinations that used to do something else now dial that number for you. If you just ignore it, a few hours later it will put up a Missed Call dialog box that, yes, defaults to redialing this number. And it never gives up: I let one go by for three days once, and the damned number would not go away. The only way to avoid it is about three menus deep, where it can be deleted manually.

Perhaps it’s never occurred to some phone manufacturers that there was a perfectly good reason why a call might not be answered. (My usual reason: “Who the frack are you? Go away.”) Misbehavior of this sort, alas, is not disclosed in the usual specification sheets.

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Death of a newspaper

And another one gone, and another one gone, another one bites the dust:

The Tampa Bay Times announced on Tuesday that it had purchased the Tampa Tribune and its related publications. The Tribune will no longer be printed.

Tribune subscribers will receive the Times starting Wednesday. The resulting paper will have the fifth-largest Sunday circulation of all newspapers in the country, according to Poynter, which owns the Times.

The Tampa Bay Times CEO and chairman, Paul Tash, held a press conference Tuesday afternoon. Tash said the competition between the two papers was putting both “in peril.”

“It’s been a rough stretch for newspapers during the last 10 years,” Tash said. “There are very few cities that are able to sustain more than one daily newspaper, and the Tampa Bay region is not among them.”

Up until 2012, the Times was technically the St. Petersburg Times; the owners of the Tribune had once owned, and killed, a paper called the Tampa Times, and Poynter had actually sued them for the right to use both Tampa and Times in the same name. This tells me that vengeance may have been a motive for some time.

There was, for about twenty years, a St. Petersburg Times in Russia; it has since been folded into the Moscow Times.


Weasel words retracted

Why, it wasn’t a weasel at all:

You may have seen some headlines floating around the world wide web (irony) last week indicating that a weasel took down the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the largest and most powerful particle accelerator in the world. It turns out, many publications (and even a spokesperson for CERN, the organization that runs the LHC) implicated the wrong animal at the scene. According to a CERN press release issued [Monday]:

“At around 5:30 am on Friday 29 April 2016, a small beech marten found its way onto a large, open-air electrical transformer situated above ground at CERN, causing a short circuit and cutting the power to part of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC).

“The concerned part of the LHC stopped immediately and safely. Since then the entire machine has remained in standby mode.”

One might perhaps argue “Close enough,” since the beech marten (Martes foina) is a member in good standing of the family Mustelidae, alongside other martens, otters, badgers, ferrets, minks, wolverines, and, yes, weasels. This particular critter, though, can take or leave the outside:

They prefer open landscapes, being less dependent on forested habitats than other Martes species. Martes foina is frequently found living near human habitation, where they may den in buildings. Natural den sites include abandoned burrows, hollow trees, and rocky crevices.

Very adaptable, I’d say.

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Not a shelf date

I happened to be standing at an odd angle when I replaced the roll of toilet paper — in the correct direction, you may be sure — and a stray ray of light caught the inside of the roll, where I saw some actual printing.

Curious, I looked at the empty roll, which bore the same markings; I sliced it in two and plopped it on the scanner.

Inside of a toilet-paper roll

I remember nothing about the original package other than that it was a store brand that I had picked up because my usual name-brand product seemed unduly expensive for some reason.

I think we may safely assume that when kept dry, this product remains usable for over a year.


It’s not even walking

Remember this charming fellow?

The Zombie of Montclaire Moors

Amazingly, he’s not always welcome to the neighborhood:

If you walked up to one Nashville area family’s home, you may think it was Halloween due to a zombie statue climbing out of the ground, but now the family’s homeowner association says their zombie needs to go.

The Grinstead family has had their zombie, named “Clawed,” in their yard near Percy Priest Lake for [the] past five years.

“We could have gone with the traditional spelling, but C-L-A-W-E-D just really fit his personality and told you as much as you really needed to know about him.” Jim Grinstead said.

The nastygram arrived last week:

On Friday, Grinstead received a letter from the homeowners association that caught him off-guard.

“It had said, ‘during a recent inspection of the neighborhood, we noticed that you have a zombie in your front yard that must be removed’.”


You can still get your own zombie, assuming you don’t live down the street from the Grinsteads.

(Via Rebecca Schleicher.)

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The craven little toaster

This machine doth vex Roberta X:

My toaster has betrayed me for the last time. It has developed an unnatural hunger for Pop-Tarts; it’s sad enough I can only find the one flavor without frosting, sadder still that it’s not blueberry — alas, Babylon! Alas, vaccinium corymbosum! — and saddest of all that the toaster merrily pops up a pair of ’em with enough force that one leaps out of the bottom support (which is, I swear it, barbed), falls past it and jams in the crumbs at the bottom and the heating element at the side. Being a Pop-Tart, it’s got less structural integrity than wet tissue paper, so every attempt to free it results in more and more hot, sugared filling being smeared into unreachable corners, nooks and crannies. That evil machine has got to go!

Unfrosted blueberry is, of course, the Pop-Tart of choice.

My own semi-reliable machine, now closing in on 35 years, has a quite different issue: it occasionally balks at downward propulsion, meaning you have to push the lever down more than once to get it to budge. (Worst case so far: three iterations.) On the upside, so to speak, its ejection capacity remains undiminished after all these years.

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Unnecessary complexity

I didn’t think so, but then I’m not the guy writing the software:

My income consists of a pension, Social Security, and not much more. It’s generally pretty cut and dried. So I’ve usually done it myself. But this time I had a royalty check for a book I and some others wrote in 2002.

When I entered the figure — about 50 dollars — TurboTax got all high and mighty, refusing to do my taxes for the regular sum of about $40. I had turned out to be a very special taxpayer, one which would strain the algorithm and probably crash the entire system. So complex was my income that TurboTax stopped in its tracks. It shied like a horse who was asked to jump a deep ditch. I was informed that my royalty check made me an unusual taxpayer and I needed an extra $50 for them to continue my return.

OMG, another form! This is apparently how they subsidize e-filing for people who don’t actually earn enough to file.

I would now be paying a hundred dollars in fees for earning an extra $50. For a couple of hundred I could hire a live accountant.

I pondered the problem for a couple of days and then decided to file for a six month extension, thus evading the problem until the leaves turned color and started to fall from the trees.

Under the circumstances, I don’t blame her in the slightest.

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Stench warfare

Used to be, guys were expected to go easy with the whole fragrance thing. (I dabble in Ralph Lauren Polo, which is not the subtlest scent in the store, but I use it sparingly.) No more, it seems:

[N]o one is writing, shouting, or trying to criminalize the most offensive thing in our modern society. Yes, faithful readers, I’m talking about perfume and cologne. There is, until the coming change in weather (warmer/colder/wetter/drier/fires/ice/storms/drought) plenty of soap and water. Try a shower. You don’t need to bathe in man-perfume. You may like it, but most of us think you smell like a Parisian whorehouse, and not in a good way.

Just this morning, I was deep undercover in the hinterlands of eastern Cheeseheadistan, choking down my Hampton Inn powdered eggs and watery oatmeal, when a dude plopped down at a table a few feet away. The wave of odoriferous scent slapped me in the face. It was as if Channel 3, 5, 7, and 9 tagged teamed with a musk ox to roll in the shattered detrious of a flower shop. Man, was it offensive.

I’m not sure whether he meant “detritus” or “deleterious,” but neither of those is exactly good, you know?

Of course, it’s not just the guys:

And how about the women who find the need to surround themselves with a Pepe le Pew-like cloud of fragrance just to buy bananas and hamburger down at the local Kroger?

Le mew.

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Off the bus

The problem with the bus is the problem with every form of mass transit: dealing with, well, the masses. One of several complaints:

You are out in public so you are liable to run into a lunatic. They might be harmless, or they might decide you are the object of their affection, or disdain, or maybe they just want to talk about aliens or their schemes or their in-laws. They might be drunk or sick or filthy and they may be depositing their debris on you. The odds of any of this happening on any one trip are very low, but if it ever happens it can really sour you on the whole going out in public experience.

Phrased that way, it’s almost an argument for a car. Said Paul Milenkovic in 2008 (linked here):

The signs on the sides of Madison Metro buses show people enjoying expensive warm-weather vacations, asking “What would you do with the $7k a year you could save by taking Madison Metro?” Even after therapy, I’d take that $7000 and make lease payments on a nice, roomy SUV so I won’t have to park my backside in a too-narrow transit seat and travel to work in bodily contact with a stranger.

Or, to put it slightly more bluntly:

Chevrolet Cavalier ad mocking bus riders

The VL trim level was about as low as you could go in Cavalierdom, but it’s still better than the bus — or the train. We won’t even mention the plane.

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The late residents of Venezuela

They’re late because their government is hell-bent on screwing up standard time:

Venezuela’s government is changing the clock again as part of its efforts to stave off an electricity crisis.

The move comes nine years after former President Hugo Chávez created Venezuela’s own, unique time zone in a stroke of anti-imperialist independence.

The current Venezuelan Standard Time is UTC-4:30, a time zone used by absolutely no one else on the planet, though I’m willing to believe that Chávez came up with this scheme after having a stroke.

President Nicolas Maduro said Thursday that the new change will take effect May 1. He didn’t provide details about how much or in what direction the clocks would move, saying only that it’s an additional emergency measure to prevent power outages as a severe drought reduces power output by lowering water levels at hydroelectric dams. As part of the energy-saving drive, he also declared Monday a public holiday.

“It’s a very simple measure that represents an important savings,” Maduro said about the shift in the time zone.

If you’ve lived for any substantial length of time under the strictures of American Daylight Saving Time, you might well believe that President Maduro is full of crap. And he’s not going to give you any reason to think otherwise:

The move follows Maduro’s decision requiring cinemas to close early and shopping centers to generate their own electricity and his call for women to ease up on hair blowers in a bid to reduce energy consumption by 20 percent.

See what I mean?

(Via Fark, which tags this story “Strange.”)

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Technically, it’s a highbrid

Two bad tastes that probably taste bad together, but who cares?

A Brooklyn-based lab has successfully bred the world’s first Kale x Cannabis hybrid. The company, Williamsburg Wonders, announced today that the new cross, called Kaleabis, would be available as a superfood juice shot in Oregon dispensaries this summer.

The successful cross is the culmination of a two-year project that began with a Kickstarter campaign by Williamsburg Wonders’ founders, Mark and Todd Takota. When the Takota brothers announced their desire to breed a plant with the dietary benefits of kale and the therapeutic properties of cannabis, funding poured in. The project reached its investment goal in less than a week, significantly outpacing other local investment opportunities like DIY mustache wax and kombucha colonics.

Where do they go from here?

The Takotas plan to launch a line of Williamsburg Wonders Kaleabis superfood drinks. A spokesperson confirmed the beverages will be available in dispensaries but acknowledged the ultimate goal of being the first cannabis product sold at Whole Foods.

It’s certainly more likely than a kombucha colonic.

(Via Christopher Johnson.)

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Reputations at stake

Remember when seemingly minor incidents drove people to buy up — or steal — all copies of the local newspaper, to prevent the world from finding out? Now scale that to a non-minor incident in the Internet Age, and this is what you get:

UC Davis contracted with consultants for at least $175,000 to scrub the Internet of negative online postings following the November 2011 pepper-spraying of students and to improve the reputations of both the university and Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi, newly released documents show.

The payments were made as the university was trying to boost its image online and were among several contracts issued following the pepper-spray incident.

Some payments were made in hopes of improving the results computer users obtained when searching for information about the university or Katehi, results that one consultant labeled “venomous rhetoric about UC Davis and the chancellor.”

Venomous? What, did someone not like being pepper-sprayed or something?

And maybe this needs to get around, too:

The release of the documents comes as Katehi is once again under fire, this time for her acceptance of seats on private corporate boards, including a textbook publisher and a for-profit university that was under scrutiny by the Federal Trade Commission. First revealed in The Bee, her outside board positions have sparked calls for her resignation as well as student protests.

Students have occupied the reception office outside Katehi’s office since March 11 in a sit-in that they say will last until Katehi resigns.

(Via Lindsay Beyerstein.)

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Presumably not working for tips

A small group of anti-circumcision protesters turned up at Penn Square around midday yesterday, the same group that had hit Springfield, Missouri on Friday:

The protesters here pulled out fake blood, splattered it on their pants and posters, and stood on the corner here for the past hour.

Despite the blood, and graphic pictures, they say the point is not to scare people, but to get you to see their signs which they say point out what they say is cruelty to boys.

The group “Bloodstained Men and Their Friends” are behind the protest. They’ve been traveling across the country with the same message against infant circumcision.

The protesters call circumcision torture to babies, and wear the blood to represent that. Protesters say boys should be able to choose whether or not to get circumcised when they become an adult — instead of being forced at birth.

When it hurts even worse.

Seriously, though: I am not particularly put out about my own foreskin, which hasn’t been seen in six decades or more, but I can’t help but wonder if this particular group has a problem with Jews, though nothing on their Web site suggests so. And to be upfront about it, female genital mutilation strikes me as even worse, but the Men don’t seem especially concerned about that.

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