Quote of the week

Jack Baruth hits up the health-care exchange:

Strictly speaking, I should have signed up for my “Obamacare” when the last dregs of my “COBRA” ran out last year, but after seeing that the best “Bronze option” plan I could find charged ninety-seven dollars per week and didn’t kick in until I’d spent $6500, I decided to wait until I had a new day job.

My new day job was with the same contracting company for whom I’ve done half-a-dozen gigs since 2003. They explained to me that they no longer offered healthcare for full-time employees, but that I was welcome to use their ACA exchange. So now I’m paying five grand a year for coverage that doesn’t kick in until I spend $6500 a year. This is, apparently, Mr. Obama’s miracle. Once upon a time I paid $2000 a year for coverage that kicked in once I’d spent $250. The good news is that, uh, well — every poor person I know doesn’t pay enough taxes to see the ACA penalty, and even if they did it wouldn’t change their decisions regarding healthcare because poor people have low future time orientation. That’s why they are poor.

Unless, of course, they were driven to the poorhouse by medical expenses. Then again:

I have the same problem. The only reason that I am not desperately poor is because I know how to make money in a hurry. Someday I will be desperately poor. I have the mentality of a poor person. That’s why I didn’t sign up for ACA until last month, which meant that I wouldn’t receive any benefits until May, so my dental and healthcare expenses related to this Utah Ebola would be entirely paid by me. Well, they would have been anyway — but now they won’t even count towards my $6500 deductible. Sucks to be me.

Note: He was in Utah; he didn’t exactly contract Ebola.

CFI Care (not its real initials) offers no clue as to the level of metal for which 42nd and Treadmill is probably paying $6000 a year on my behalf, only a certification that the policy adheres to the new rules; but the numbers seem to fall between bronze and silver.

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S-ness

The May InStyle arrived last night, and when I finished my expected Reese Witherspoon-induced palpitations, I plunged further into the book, and found a brief fashion layout featuring a woman identified as SZA. These pix aren’t from that photoshoot, but they ring true:

SZA in orange

SZA headshot

First question answered: not related to Wu-Tang’s RZA, but she derives the name from the Supreme Alphabet. She’s twenty-four. She has freckles. And she’s had three EP-length releases: See.SZA.Run, S, and Z, though Z’s ten tracks run 41 minutes, decidedly long for an EP. (Up next: A.) “Julia” is a track from Z, which came out last year; “Tender” is a fragment from an as-yet-unreleased work that starts about 3:41.

To the iTunes Store I go.

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Support your local pony fan

Now here’s a perfectly reasonable question:

I can imagine a Brony scholarship … where maybe I get to give scholarships to the people who drew the cutest fanart or made the fan-drawn comic that made me laugh the hardest. Darn it, why isn’t that a thing?

Well, of course you can make it a thing. But you won’t be the first:

The Brony Thank You Fund is now raising funds to start a permanent animation scholarship to Calarts, the school where such people as Lauren Faust, Craig McCracken, and Tim Burton got their start, among many, many others.

It took a little over a year, but it happened:

Pony makes things happen.

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Apocalypse may be imminent

What we have here is a sport-utility vehicle. From MG. Yes, that MG, kinda sorta:

MG CS concept

SAIC, the Chinese automaker which has owned MG for the past decade, showed off this concept at the Shanghai Auto Show in 2013, and now it appears they’re going to build it:

[The MG CS is] set to debut just after the Geneva Motor Show in March 2016 and will be MG’s first ever entrant into the hotly-contested small SUV segment dominated by the Nissan Qashqai.

It’ll measure up to compete against the larger offerings in the segment like the Kia Sportage and Honda CR-V, and more than likely be offered with a 2.0-litre diesel and a 1.8-litre petrol with two- or four-wheel drive.

Of course, we don’t get the Qashqai here either, ostensibly because Nissan thinks it’s too small for the US market, though I suspect Nissan doesn’t want to have to teach us how to pronounce it. (Hyundai is “HYOON-dye” everywhere but in the States, where we’re considered too dumb to handle Korean names.)

If you’re asking “But where are the sports cars?” here’s your answer, or at least an answer:

MG’s new focus on SUVs has come at the cost of a new MG two-seater roadster. Since the demise of the MG TF in 2010, fans have been crying out for a new sports car harking back to the MGA, MGB, MGF and TF. [MG] told us that a new sports car would arrive in the future, but not for the next five years at least as the brand concentrates on more profitable sectors like the SUV market.

That TF, of course, is nothing like this TF, except for minor details like having four wheels.

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Expansive thinking

This prodigiously cool Armour Dress comes from an Etsy shop, and yes, I suppose I have a weakness for simulated chain mail:

Armour Dress Feirefiz by Mitmunk

What may be more remarkable, though, is that the sizes don’t stop with a smallish Large:

Armour Dress Feirefiz by Mitmunk

Says a happy customer, closer to Figure 2:

My jaw dropped. The print job is gorgeous. The design is fantastic. AND IT’S ON A PLUS SIZE MODEL. I have gotten used to not even bothering to look at cool geeky print stuff because it NEVER comes in a decent plus. It’s usually juniors, or very small straight sizes. But this sexy, warrior woman dress: it came in MY SIZE.

If I’m reading the charts correctly, she’s a 2XL, and this is a stretchy fabric, but hey, it does look pretty good on her. And realistically, one should not expect a warrior woman to be a waif.

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Fark blurb of the week

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Turn off the bubble machine

This wacky track just came up on the shuffle the other day (Capitol F-3815), and now that Stan Freberg has passed from the scene, and everyone is going to mention “St. George and the Dragonet” or “Green Chri$tma$” or the obligatory “Elderly Man River,” I figured I’d go for the sheer farce of “Wun’erful, Wun’erful,” the sad story of an accordion-playing bandleader. Since this was recorded on both sides of a 45-rpm record, there are no visuals; however, the chap who YouTubed this gave us a look at, well, an accordion-playing bandleader:

And even when he was trying to make a serious point, Freberg knew funny. I refer you to “The Old Payola Roll Blues,” in which we discovered that (1) he was no fan of that rock and/or roll stuff and (2) we really didn’t mind.

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Hey, nineteen

This here Web site is old enough to vote, though it’s not old enough to drink. Whether this makes any difference or not, I’m not entirely sure.

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Um, not just yet

But you know somebody had to have bitten on this:

Has your credit card been stolen?

(Swiped from American Digest.)

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That empty feeling

If you drive an electric vehicle, you may have had flashes of range anxiety: “Do I have enough juice left to get home?” It may not have occurred to you that drivers with gas-powered vehicles sometimes suffer from that same syndrome:

I have really bad Quarter Tank Paranoia. If I am driving a vehicle and the gas gauge shows even a hair below a quarter of a tank of gas I cannot — CANNOT, you understand — continue without seeking out the nearest gas station and filling up. Never mind that I know at that point that it can go another 100 miles or even more; it’s down to a quarter tank so I must buy gas immediately.

My own QTP is not quite so bad, though the moment the horrid orange Low Fuel light goes on, I go into conniptions. It’s happened twice on the World Tours, once in the Bronx, once in west Texas. And I honestly don’t know how much range I have left once it appears. On that Texas run, it had been on for nearly 35 miles when I got to the farthest-east gas station in El Paso, and the tank was refilled with a hair over 14 gallons. Supposedly this tank holds 18.5 gallons (70 liters), so I presumably had at least four gallons of premium left, which would carry me, at the very least, 75 more miles. I was unwilling to trust the signaling mechanism enough to test that presumption.

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Maybe we knew

Lesley Gore’s last album, Ever Since, came out in 2005 on Blake Morgan’s Engine Company label. (I reviewed it here.) He’d known her for some time: when they first met, he was eleven years old. And she had much to teach him:

More than anything, she taught me … or rather she showed me what being a professional musician really looked like. She showed what taking a Red Eye flight back from somewhere felt like. No matter where she was coming from, she’d refer to as the Land of Cleve — as in Cleveland — even if that’s not where she was returning from.

It was being on the road. She showed me what went on there. What happened backstage at a big show as much as what it looked like at a little one. All of it. The routine. The work that went into it. Not just flashy parts, but the sweat and grime, the not-so-pretty parts of the job; the full range of what this life entailed. I love her for that. I love that she did it. The lesson was invaluable.

She had much to teach us all, I suspect.

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Take a walk on the West side

Oklahoman scribe Brianna Bailey this week is walking the entire length of Western Avenue within city limits, which runs from about NW 199th to SW 179th. This is an epic walk, about twenty-seven miles, and you can scarcely blame the paper for scheduling a stunt like this, since it gives her, and her employer, an opportunity to interact with a staggering number of small communities along the way, and besides the Tulsa World did something like this last year.

A single example of said interaction:

I need hardly point out that Bailey is the one in the walking shoes.

The #walkonwestern hashtag will be running all week. After two days, she’d gotten to NW 41st, near where VZD’s used to be, losing me a side bet. (I figured she’d knock off around the Chesapeake campus, a mile and a half to the north.) It’s not been an easy trip, with temperatures about ten degrees above normal and wind, if not howling, certainly growling a bit. Besides, the dearth of sidewalks in the exurbs meant occasional stretches of wet dirt. Mud. Red mud, of course.

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I beg your padron

Rather a lot of would-be jesters have been making this joke for some time now, but it took the deadly serious British Broadcasting Corporation to make it stand up:

BBC News: Large Hardon Collider

This is the first time the machine has been restarted since 2013, the sort of situation which you hope is not immediately followed by “That’s what she said.”

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We wuz strolled

There are only three inevitabilities in life, says Scott Brooks: death, taxes, and the Spurs winning 50 games. That latter has certainly been true for the last 16 seasons, and San Antonio had already won 51 when they arrived at the Peake tonight to trash what was left of Oklahoma City’s playoff hopes. Which is not to say that the black-suited blackguards didn’t have any help from the boys in home white, and all you have to see to prove that is the first-quarter score: San Antonio 29, Oklahoma City 10. Ten. The Thunder managed 31 points in the second, but still lost ground, and after 16 in the third — well, let’s just say it was over long before that. The final was Spurs 113, Thunder 88, the worst thrashing administered to OKC since, well, the last time they played the Spurs, in late March.

Andre Roberson returned to the lineup, though not to his usual starting position. He came up with five points, halfway between the two starting forwards, Enes Kanter (9) and Kyle Singler (1). The starting guards, Dion Waiters and Russell Westbrook, managed 10 and 17; the mostly forgotten Jeremy Lamb and Perry Jones collected 11 and 10 respectively, mostly in the fourth quarter. The Thunder, after shooting at a decidedly untorried sub-40-percent clip for most of the game, finished with 41; but 5-19 from downtown is not good, and 15-28 from the foul line is a couple of steps into the Horrible range.

Meanwhile, San Antonio strolled through this one with relative ease, what with Kawhi Leonard matching his career high (26 points) and the team shooting a spiffy 53 percent. The Spurs made only nine free throws, but then they took only 13. Tony Parker (two points) did not return after halftime, having gotten some sort of owie; however, Boris Diaw and Manu Ginobili happily took up the slack. (Diaw played the most minutes of any Spur, at 26; he scored only six, but he was +26 for the night.) If there’s a saving grace in any of this, it’s that the Spurs are already on the plane, heading for Houston, where the Rockets would like to give them a bit of red glare.

While all this happened, or failed to happen, the New Orleans Pelicans moved into the eighth and final playoff slot, half a game ahead of the Thunder, by dint of having beaten the Golden State Warriors 103-100. (And the Birds own the tiebreaker over OKC, should it come to that.) With four games to go, I think the operative word is “tired.”

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Iveta

Czech singer Iveta Bartošová was born on 8 April 1966, and I think we’ll begin with the song (from 1998) this time:

Three times she won the Zlatý slavík — “Golden Nightingale” — music poll, though arguably it was more for her stage presence than for her musical chops:

I would say that to a large extent, Iveta was so successful because she was an extraordinarily beautiful ordinary girl who could sing. It doesn’t mean that she had some serious flaws as a musician; but I would say, she was no genius, either. People like me still loved her songs (which was arguably due to the composers) and the way she performed them (it’s about her).

And she did photograph well, regardless of her age:

Iveta Bartosova in her younger days

Iveta Bartosova circa 2002

About the turn of the century, Bartošová somehow became fair game for the tabloids, which are as annoying in Central Europe as they are here. Coping with them became increasingly difficult for her, though apparently it didn’t affect her performance:

Around 2010, she had a concert at the (main) Republic Square here in Pilsen. I came there and saw an Iveta that was incredibly full of energy and was making fun of the younger boys, dancers etc. on the stage, who were not. Her singing was still OK. What I saw was completely incompatible with the image of a zombie that has been served by the tabloid press virtually on a daily basis (I wasn’t searching for these articles but I was still drowning in them). She was in a much better shape than a typical successful teenage and post-teenage singer who surpasses 40 years of age.

Still she despaired, and in April 2014 she threw herself under a train on the outskirts of Prague. Said her husband: “Blame it on the media hyenas.” Which I shall.

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A phish too far

First there was this:

RE: Account Number ACX85766463

This is to remind you of a payment from SpeedPay on 04/06/15.

>> Claim Your Money Here << Details regarding the transaction appear below: Payment Date: 04.06.15 Payment Amount: $3353.25 Fee Amount: $49.00 Card Number: *************** >> Claim Your Money Here << You haven't been charged anything.. Someone has just sent you money!

Um, no. Under “Claim Your Money Here” are standard-level (I presume) evil links.

Which wouldn’t have perturbed me, except that while that particular item was scoring just a hair too low to be caught in the mail filter, this one was trapped below:

Hey!

I wanna pay you to do simple stuff online.

==> Click Here to GO

You can make hundreds per day with nothing more than your HOME PC or MOBILE phone!

Contact me here please:

==> Click Here to GO

This is a PRIVATE message so please hurry as I’ll have no choice but to take it down soon…

==> Click Here to GO

The standard-level (I presume) evil links in that once, under (of course) “Click Here to GO,” are exactly the same as in the first spam, except for the very last character: these were obviously sent in sequence. Same alleged sender, too: “Mark Miller” (members -at- mylaptopblueprint.org). “Mark,” you old sonuvagun, you fail. Big time.

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