Not so quiet on the set

“Sooner or later,” I said, “a strain relief doesn’t,” which was the reason I was shopping for a new cassette adapter to plug my little music player (Sansa Clip Zip, modified by Rockbox) into the big Bose box in the car. I had planned three steps, all of which proved to be unsuccessful: contact the individual manufacturer (the US distributor is dead in the water), consult with other users (most seem to have ripped out the head units by now), and resolder the cursed thing myself (which will require much thicker glasses, I’m afraid).

So I’m buying a book on Amazon this past weekend, which is hardly news, and as always, Amazon remembers everything I’ve bought and everything I ever thought about buying, which is also hardly news. While I’m working on the sale details, they toss up a photograph of a cassette adapter now being offered by one of their myriad of merchants, and except for an obviously glued-on label and a 90°-angle plug, it’s the same one I used to have. I anted up ten bucks plus shipping, and waited a week.

It’s here, it’s a little bit noisy, but it works. (And who’s gonna hear the noise with the stereo cranked up?)

Oh, the book? It’s coming in from Jolly Old, so it probably won’t be here until next week.

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Oh, but we insist

This particular scenario seems inevitable with Windows:

Of course there’s no “I don’t want an automatic update, thanks” and my computer has gone into Nag Mode, where it periodically throws up a “Hey, I’m’a gonna update in 15 minutes unless you expressly tell me that’s not OK” which is really annoying and I’d love to make it go away. I’d love to tell it “NO. I am the user, you are the computer. You will only install updates when I expressly tell you to install updates” but as far as I can tell, that’s not an option. (I found a way, but because I don’t have “full administrative privileges,” I can’t turn off the auto-download. Dang.)

I know of one XP machine, pushed off into a corner to perform a particular server task, which downloaded just as many updates as it wanted — but didn’t get rebooted for five months. (The longest I’ve yet gone with a Win7 box is three and a half months.)

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Quote of the week

Tam explains the debt ceiling, starting with the reason why “debt ceiling” is an inaccurate term:

Why do they even call it a “limit” or “ceiling”, anyway? In aircraft terms, a “ceiling” is an altidude beyond which the plane cannot climb; in political terms, a “ceiling” is just any one of a series of ever higher points on a curve that went asymptotic long ago.

In the world of personal finance, credit card limits work because your credit card magically stops being able to buy stuff when you reach them. Congress, on the other hand, just tells the cashier “Run it again, it’ll work,” and it does!

Come to think of it, we have customers who believe in that mantra with all their flinty little hearts.

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Not to be hemmed in

The fellow from the Telegraph was interviewing pianist Yuja Wang, in London for a concert series, and he brought up a distinctly nonmusical subject:

It seems as good a moment as any to raise her fondness for riskily short, clingy dresses, which have generated even more comment than her fabulous playing.

[A] certain determination, not to say stubbornness … shows in the exasperated shrug that greets my question. “It’s just natural for me. I am 26 years old so I dress for 26. I can dress in long skirts when I am 40.”

I’m betting she won’t. In the meantime, here she is in a Little Black(ish) Dress:

Yuja Wang in LBD

“Little” is evidently played sforzando.

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The ride never ends

“Life is a roller coaster that we all ride,” 10cc once declared.

I never did like roller coasters.

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Cents and sensibility

More of the former than the latter in this case:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: Can I pay my car payment in pennies?

Justification:

I recently purchased my first vehicle from a used car lot in LeFlore County Oklahoma. They promised me it would be a great truck for the price and will not fail me when driving to and from work. The 2nd day I had it the brakes went out, and one week after I drove it off the lot, it broke down for the first time. It has now broken down 4 times, and this last time the rear differential locked up on me ($500 for the part) I’ve owned the truck for 2 weeks now. I signed papers that said ‘As is’ and ‘No Warranty’ My first payment is coming up and is $250 and I wanted to pay in pennies. I put $2000 down. Do they have to accept my payment even if its in pennies? is there any way I can send it through the mail so I dont have to sit at the office while they count it all? These guys are real scumbags that cheat any ol person dumb enough to buy a used vehicle from them (me)

“Send it through the mail”? Twenty-five thousand pennies at 2.5 grams each = about 138 pounds. It’s going to take several trips to the Post Office. Good thing there’s a truck available.

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Escape from L.A.

Who are these Lakers? There were only eight of them: old guys, D-League castoffs, and Chris Kaman. And yet they thoroughly dominated the Thunder for three quarters, shooting over 50 percent and taking a ten-point lead — it had been as much as fifteen — into the fourth.

Halfway through that frame, Los Angeles had rolled up nine turnovers, and the Thunder got their first lead of the game. The Lakers would not, however, go away willingly; with 22 seconds left, Kaman slid past Serge Ibaka for a bucket, but missed the and-one opportunity that would have tied the game. With 11 seconds left, it was Thunder 107, Lakers 103; Los Angeles had one more possession, but the ball ended up in Reggie Jackson’s hands, and Jackson calmly dribbled it out.

Six of the eight Lakers hit double figures, but none made it to 20: Kaman and Wesley Johnson had 19 each, and Kaman added 10 rebounds for the double-double. Most impressive, at least to me, was Kendall Marshall, a second-year man starting at the point for L.A., who turned in a stirring performance, scoring 14 and delivering 17 assists.

Against all that, what could the Thunder bring? The answer, as seemingly always, is Kevin Durant, who knocked down 19 points in that fourth quarter, finishing with 43. Oh, and 12 rebounds too. What the Thunder did best was take away the ball: L.A. wound up with 22 turnovers, 14 of which were steals by the Thunder. (Jeremy Lamb had four of them, along with 11 points, before fouling out.) And there were eight blocks, five by Ibaka.

One question, at least, was settled: does this ragtag collection of misfits deserve to call themselves Lakers? Damn right they do.

And the season is “halfway” over: it’s the All-Star break. See you on the other side.

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No higher accolade exists

No more need be said, at least by the likes of me.

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Attaining a grasp of the obvious

Admittedly, some of us are better at it than others:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: I'm buying a 94 geo prizm but it don't have a starter do that mean it wont start?

Perhaps he should ask the ever-lovin’ 8-ball.

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Where the Boise are

Is your homeowner’s insurance bill vaguely, or perhaps not so vaguely, reminiscent of the national debt? Tough noogies, says Robert Hartwig, president of the Insurance Information Institute:

Oklahoma ranks No. 5 in the nation for the price of homeowners insurance premiums — an average of $2,386 in 2011, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. Oklahoma is the most expensive landlocked state for homeowners insurance premiums, Hartwig said.

If Oklahomans don’t like what they pay for homeowner’s insurance, moving to Idaho is always an option, Hartwig said.

“Nothing ever happens in Idaho, so they pay about a third of what people in Oklahoma do for their homeowners insurance,” Hartwig said.

Thanks, Bob. If a glacier comes to Coeur d’Alene, I’m going to point in your general direction.

Oh, and the graphic that accompanied this article said that the average Oklahoma premium was $1,386, so one of the two is wrong. Maybe both.

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Still there, but barely

Stuart Weitzman has come up with a shoe he calls “Nudist,” and it does seem to have a certain lack of adornment to it:

Nudist by Stuart Weitzman

Definitely meets my spec for Insubstantial. In a rare concession to reality, this flavor is Goose Bump Nappa; there’s also a black version, similarly textured. The heel is 4½ inches. Price is $398.

I can’t imagine any nudists actually wearing this, except to the occasional formal. (If the next question is “How would you know?” I just point to the shoes.) Certainly the shoe has little potential as beachwear. I plan to spend the next several hours not thinking about how I’d react were someone to show up at my door wearing these and these only, though I’m pretty sure I have a better chance of being struck by a meteorite, and indoors at that.

(Via this nudiarist tweet.)

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Pavane pour un enfant surmené

You might remember the “Mozart Effect,” the notion that babies given a regular dose of Amadeus come out smarter. Suppose it had been other composers? What then? Greg Hlatky tells us what then:

  • Liszt Effect: Child speaks rapidly and extravagantly, but never says anything of importance.
  • Bruckner Effect: Child speaks slowly and repeats himself frequently. Gains a reputation for profundity.
  • Mahler Effect: Child continually screams at great length and volume that he’s dying.
  • Wagner Effect: Child becomes a megalomaniac. May eventually marry his sister.
  • Raff Effect: Child becomes a bore.
  • Shostakovich Effect: Child becomes very nervous when his parents discuss sending him to camp.
  • Vivaldi Effect: Child says the same thing 600 different ways.
  • Glass Effect: Child says the same thing 600 times in a row.
  • Ives Effect: Child says 600 different things simultaneously.
  • Schoenberg Effect: Child never repeats a word until he has used all the other words in his vocabulary. Sometimes talks backwards. People stop listening. Child blames them for their inability to understand him.
  • Babbitt Effect: Child talks complete gibberish. People stop listening. Child doesn’t care because his friends think he’s cool.

Side note: Firefox spellchecker choked on only one of those names. Sorry about that, Dmitri.

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Human nature in action

Thirty-four distraught Michael Jackson fans demanded compensation:

The fans brought their suit against Jackson’s doctor, Conrad Murray, who served a two-year prison sentence for his role administering the singer what turned out to be a lethal dose of the anaesthetic propofol. The plaintiffs claimed in court they had suffered “emotional damage” from Jackson’s death at the hands of Murray.

Were the plaintiffs told to beat it? Not all of them:

On Tuesday, five of those fans actually claimed victory, albeit a symbolic one, in French court, which ruled that they had successfully proven they had endured emotional suffering as the result of the King of Pop’s death and were awarded damages — of one euro each (about $1.36).

Then again, they apparently weren’t after actual money:

[Their lawyer told Agence France-Presse] the distraught fans weren’t planning on seeking payment from Conrad Murray, but “they hoped their status as recognised victims would help them gain access to Jackson’s gravesite in Los Angeles, which is closed to the public.”

A decidedly off-the-wall idea, if you ask me.

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Offensive rebound

Firefox is about to send you ads:

Mozilla made itself the villain of the online ad business early last year by announcing that the latest version of Firefox would block third-party ad technologies by default, a move the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s top lobbyist called “a nuclear strike” on the industry.

A year later, the non-profit Mozilla is launching an ad business, at the IAB’s annual meeting in Palm Desert, Calif., no less.

The ads will appear within the tiles of Firefox’s new tabs page, which will also begin to suggest pre-packaged content for first time users. Mozilla is calling the new initiative “Directory Tiles.”

Not being a first-time user … oh, wait, what am I saying? They’ll get me soon enough.

And “tabs page”? I don’t quite like the sound of that at all.

(Via Consumerist.)

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You don’t mess around with Raj

Joe dials up customer service, and is not happy with what he hears:

The guy who answered was clearly Indian (subcontinent, not reservation). He told me his name was Jim. He had a very thick accent and I was instantly pissed off. Not because he was answering from India, but because he claimed his name was Jim. Had he told me to call him Ganesh, or Raj or Anoop, or even Dhruv, I would have been fine.

By my own highly unscientific estimate, about a third of our 20,000 or so local residents with Pacific Rim ancestry — we don’t really have a lot of Indian-type Indians — have sort-of-English-sounding first names, and nobody thinks anything about it. Then again, they’re here and not a couple of continents over.

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This is an ex-foliant

Way back in the before-there-were-multiple-versions-of-Clearasil era, my brother happened upon a product called something like MegaScrub, which contained nine parts standard face goo and one part plastic beads, the better to scour one’s jowls with. Not wishing to appear to have an interest in, God forbid, cosmetics, he referred to the stuff as “True Grit.”

As has often happened with plastics over the years, we gave no thought to what happened after we tossed them out:

Legislation … introduced by Assemblyman Robert K. Sweeney of Suffolk County [NY] on behalf of Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman would prohibit the sale of cosmetic and beauty products that contain the beads, which are added to aid exfoliation and abrasion.

The beads appear in the tens of millions in the Great Lakes, according to scientists’ estimates, with high concentrations along the New York shores of Lake Erie. They become coated with toxins like PCBs and can be eaten by fish and other marine life. Scientists suggest that those toxins could be working their way back up the food chain to humans.

The beads and other bits of tiny “microplastic” debris slip through wastewater treatment plants and have also been found in the Los Angeles River and in the Pacific Ocean. Antipollution activists argue that limiting the use of cosmetics, which can have hundreds of thousands of beads in a bottle, can help limit the environmental risk.

I suppose it might be theoretically possible to make these little bits of polygravel decompose after some period of time, but this would almost certainly limit shelf life, and if there’s anything your local dollar store loves, it’s a five-year-old product they can sell for a few percent off list.

(Via Consumerist.)

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