DeBarge traffic

Kristinia DeBarge, twenty-six today, is the daughter of James DeBarge, of that well-known musical family. (James was married, briefly, to Janet Jackson, but this isn’t Janet’s daughter: that marriage was annulled several years before Kristinia’s birth in 1990.) About the time her 2009 album Exposed came out, she looked something like this:

Kristinia DeBarge in 2009

“Goodbye,” the hit single from Exposed, climbed to #15 on Billboard’s Hot 100 and moved enough copies to be certified platinum: despite its kiss-off nature, it’s kind of fun, and it’s powered, so to speak, by Steam:

It’s possible to imagine someone not singing along with the chorus, but it’s not easy.

Kristinia DeBarge in 2014

She hasn’t sustained the success of “Goodbye,” but she’s stayed busy; she’s featured on “Let Go,” a 2014 hit in Scandinavia by Finnish rapper (!) Redrama.

I have no doubt we’ll hear from her again.

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You’ve probably never heard of it

And I imagine there’s only one place on earth you can get it:

Of course, what I wanted to know was how small a batch, inasmuch as my tank holds 70 liters (18.5 gallons).

This operation is, I am reasonably certain, not related to Oakland Petroleum Operating Company, on Yale south of 73rd in Tulsa.

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Not approved by Mayor Mare

Someone following Ted Cruz around before the Iowa caucuses filed this report:

I’ve just jumped from a hay bale to the upper rung of a bleacher seat — it’s the only way I can see Cruz, surrounded by fans, cameras and boom mics. Now I’m looking down, and the Texan with slicked-back hair, a rugged outdoorsman’s jacket and hiking shoes is talking about ponies. “What’s your favorite My Little Pony?” Cruz asks his tiny supporter, a little girl who is wearing a Rainbow Dash beanie. “Twilight,” she says.

“I have two daughters, and they love Twilight,” Cruz says, before adding, with a grin: “My favorite, though, is Applejack. I just think she’s funny.”

You know, sugarcube, that Rarity isn’t going to play so well in Des Moines, or however the buck they pronounce it.

I missed that piece when it first came out, but local political whiz Peter J. Rudy was happy to toss it in my general direction. Of course, I was ready:

Of course, this only extends so far: it wouldn’t matter, for instance, if Mike Huckabee not only could identify all three Dazzlings by name but also knew all the major plot points of My Little Dashie.

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Your mind is mined

The truth is often even worse than you think it is. I quit hanging around once they got whiny about ad blockers and promised, if you turned them off, an “ad-light” experience. It is, of course, nothing of the kind:

The “ad-light experience” employs 38 trackers consuming 83.1 MB of memory. What does the non-light experience look like? For reference, Google Maps’ scripts take 52.7 MB and they actually do something useful.

Well, so do the trackers, if your definition of “useful” stretches enough to include “follows me around like a lost puppy”:

The tracking isn’t done with cookies; those are too easy to delete. Trackers identify you with a browser fingerprint: Your operating system, browser version, time zone, plug-in versions, screen resolution, installed fonts, IP address, and other things you thought were private.

Or if not private, certainly irrelevant, right? Wrong:

The more uniquely-configured your system, the more identifiable you are. (How identifiable? Check here.)

Which I did. Apparently my browser fingerprint is unique among the 130,000 or so that have been tested, and I ought not to be surprised by that.

It doesn’t matter if you use incognito mode and block cookies; that’s just another data point to add to your profile. It’s called a fingerprint because every one is unique. And each time you load a tracker, your fingerprint is captured and the activity is added to your browsing profile.

Hardly seems worth the bother for NSA to monitor me, if the private sector is already gathering this much data.

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Nothing on the porch

This showed up in my tweetstream this morning:

For an explanation, we turn to Terry Kroeger, publisher of the Omaha World-Herald and head of Berkshire Hathaway’s Media Group:

Publishing both a morning and afternoon edition is referred to as an “all-day” publishing cycle. That idea lost popularity over the years, and you might find it interesting to know that the Omaha World-Herald, as near as we can tell, is the only remaining “all day” subscription-based newspaper in the world.

So the next sentence is really hard for me to write. We will become an all-morning newspaper, effective March 7.

It’s not hard to understand why:

For years our morning and afternoon editions have been more similar than different. Our newsroom aims to produce a daily print report full of interesting news, analysis and features. Nearly all of those enterprising articles begin in our morning edition. The afternoon paper is updated with all the latest breaking news, as is throughout the day.

In recent years our print readers have voted for their favorite delivery time — preferring mornings over afternoons by two to one. It’s a ratio that has flipped over the past 25 years, when subscriptions to the afternoon paper had dominated our metropolitan-area circulation.

As one of only a handful of people remaining who prefer an afternoon paper — to the extent that I don’t read the morning paper until afternoon — I mourn.

Perish the thought.

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Welcome to New York, sort of

Popsugar writer (and Taylor Swift fan) Samantha Sutton had a brainstorm the other day:

[A]nother thing I admire about this leader of the fiercest girl group ever? Her ability to pull off a plethora of different styles, from cutout jumpsuits to feminine day dresses.

So when I realized that my own wardrobe was filled with similar pieces, I put myself to the test. Would I be able to re-create a few of Ms. Swift’s best looks on my own 5’0″ body then rock them for a week? Well, I tried my best and later snapped some photos in Taylor’s TriBeCa ‘hood in New York for the full effect.

The striped shirt/black shorts look worked pretty well for her, I thought, though this was the most immediate feedback she got:

If there was ever an outfit that screamed Taylor Swift, it would be a black pair of overalls and a white crop top — because that’s exactly what happened when I stepped out wearing them. A random guy on the street jokingly yelled her name at me, which made me blush — and also beam with pride.

Then again, random guys on the street in New York might not always be joking.

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Not at all hiding in plain sight

The “security question,” as an institution, is “superbly moronic,” says Jack Baruth:

[T]here is no reason for the security question to exist. Not the way it’s implemented at most websites. A security question, when used properly, can be helpful. PEER1 and Rackspace, as an example, use security questions to authenticate requests for phone support. The security question, in those cases, is one that you provide. As an example, your Rackspace security question could be, “What’s the pinkest brown?” and the answer could be “867-5309”. It’s a true shared secret. Of course, it’s stored on the Rackspace systems, which means its vulnerable. But as a good way to authenticate a voice on the phone that’s asking you to reboot a server or add a credential, it’s not bad.

The typical security question implementation, however, is not anything like that.

Oh, hell no. Instead, it’s something you’ve probably already posted on Facebook that anyone keen on stealing your identity has already read and filed away for reference.

I admit to having outsmarted myself once, with the requested item being the “name of your high-school sweetheart.” Like rather a lot of women of this era, she has a first and a middle name; unlike most, she was going by the middle name back then. So I plugged in the first name, which I’m pretty sure I’ve never mentioned anywhere, even here on this site. (Don’t mention this: it’s pseudonyms all the way down.) You can guess what happened next, or more precisely after a year or two.

Incidentally, I live in what has been known in the neighborhood as the Brown House. But it’s the pinkest brown you’ve ever seen.

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Taken for a ride

This menacing-looking block appeared on page 4A of the Sunday Oklahoman:

Avoid Ride Sharing Vehicles - Public Is At Risk

Not hard to guess who put this up, I thought, and duly hauled myself over to the Web site in question. I was, of course, correct:

We are an initiative of the Taxicab, Limousine & Paratransit Association (TLPA). TLPA has been the leading source of for-hire vehicle industry knowledge since its founding in 1917.

But I was curious as to the pitch they’d make, so I read on:

Whether Uber and Lyft are referred to as “ridesharing” or “Transportation Network Companies,” the simple truth is that these companies provide for-hire transportation services. Understanding the methods by which Uber and Lyft undercut for-hire vehicle safety — via inadequate insurance, background checks and more — requires knowledge of the for-hire transportation industry. “Who’s Driving You?’ explains the safety components Uber and Lyft are evading and why they are vital for the wellbeing of passengers and communities.

There’s a whole page of “rideshare incidents,” linked to various local news sources, although the section that gives me pause is “Imposters”: incidents involving individuals who were posing as Uber (never Lyft) drivers.

In other words, it’s a trade association protecting its turf, as trade associations will do. I’ve ridden in lots of cabs, but never in one of these gig-economy entities, so I can’t tell you what they’re like. But you have to figure the cabbies realize they have competition now, and it’s a fairly safe bet they don’t like it.

Weirdly, at almost the exact moment I finished the first draft, this appeared in my tweetstream:

I know the tweeter in question, and she’s not one to trump up things, so I’m guessing people she knows have stories to tell. “Be careful out there” is always good advice.

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Strange search-engine queries (527)

“Come Monday,” Jimmy Buffett sang, “it’ll be all right.” I’m not so sure. Maybe this sample of search strings might help.

i want my boyfriend back:  In the meantime, though, let’s watch your reputation become tattered.

mr. gander has long been distressed by frequently recurring urges to enter areas of department stores displaying women’s undergarments in order to become sexually aroused. his experience is most indicative of:  Needing a swift kick in the balls.

what do longer periods mean:  Frightened women.

cuttlefish of cthulhu codpiece:  Which will frighten them even more.

suppose that, at an official ticket price of $480, there are 6,000 justin timberlake fans wanting to attend his concert, but only 4,000 ticketed seats are available. which one of the following statements is then true?  C. There are more Justin Timberlake fans than you ever imagined.

saddam hussein body doubles:  Look nothing like Justin Timberlake.

would you like us to send you a daily digest about new articles every day heracles:  Maybe later, after I get these frigging stables cleaned out.

cootie shot:  Provides only temporary immunity from someone who has cooties.

debbie gibson playboy pictorial:  I can assure you, she didn’t have cooties.

you are dispatched to a residence where a middle-aged man was found unconscious in his front yard. there are no witnesses who can tell you what happened. you find him in a prone position; his eyes are closed and he is not moving. your first action should be to:  Get off his lawn. You know the rules.

bee stung lips:  For best results, use genuine bees.

what kind of sexualized, audacious, political, and scatological comedy was considered fit material for translation or publication only in recent times:  The Presidential aspirations of Donald J. Trump.

3.39 inches:  Sorry, we allow only one Trump joke per episode.

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Near a Y intersection

Katies Crotch Road Embden MaineIn almost any place large enough to have local history, which is almost any place, there are things that nobody seems to know, and one of them is why this road is called what it is:

A Maine town that spends hundreds of dollars annually to replace stolen street signs is again asking residents to consider renaming one of the frequent targets: Katie Crotch Road.

The Morning Sentinel reports a referendum to rename Katie Crotch Road to Cadie Road is being considered in Embden in Somerset County.

Residents are sorting out the matter with a vote Friday and a town meeting Saturday.

At the very least, they should decide whether it’s Katie, as it says in the article, or Katies, as it says on the sign, and if the latter, whether there should be an apostrophe. No one seems to know for sure. And a similar measure in 2012 was not approved by voters, to the apparent dismay of local government:

Board of Selectman Chairman Charles Taylor says the thefts occur so frequently that “you would think every dorm room in the state of Maine should have one by now.”

Don’t encourage them, Mr Taylor, sir.

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Entirely too Deer

After twelve minutes in Milwaukee, the Thunder led the Bucks 32-12, which is fairly odd; OKC was 11-19 on shooting, which is not too weird; but neither Kevin Durant nor Russell Westbrook made any of those 11 shots, which is unheard of. (Westbrook, in fact, took no shots at all, and KD only one; but they’d combined for 11 assists and six rebounds during the quarter.) The Bucks, of course, weren’t going to lie down and die after that quarter, and outscored the Thunder 67-52 over the next two quarters, eventually pulling to within a single possession early in the fourth. Oklahoma City then proceeded to “struggle to embrace prosperity,” in the phrase of radio guy Matt Pinto, and did close out the Bucks, though not efficiently; Milwaukee ran off ten points in a row to pull within six in the last minute, but OKC picked up the win, 104-96, sweeping both games from the Deer and salvaging a 2-2 mark for this road trip.

Billy Donovan, despite having a roster spot filled — veteran big man Nazr Mohammed, a member of the Thunder Finals team in 2011-12, returned this weekend — has cut the rotation further: only nine men played until the last three seconds, when Anthony Morrow was brought in for God knows why. As usual, the starters shouldered most of the heavy lifting, with a Durant double-double (32 points/12 rebounds) and a Westbrook triple-double (15/10/11). The bench scored 27, two-thirds of which were accounted for by Enes Kanter. And that Milwaukee frontcourt is indefatigable: Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker split 52 points between them on 43 shots. Not so much the backcourt: Khris Middleton methodically knocked down 18 points, while O. J. Mayo took only three shots and missed them all. (Jerryd Bayless did the hard work at point for the Bucks.)

So it’s back home and bloodied. The Clippers will be waiting on Wednesday, followed by the Timberwolves on Friday, and then things get hairy again in a hurry: to San Antonio on Saturday, a brief stop at home to welcome the Trail Blazers, and then off to the East, the Celtics, the Sixers and the Pacers, those three games in four days. Given the Thunder’s lack of efficiency against Eastern teams, that stretch could be more than merely hirsute.

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‘S marble-ous

Rube Goldberg smiles from beyond at this crazed music machine:

I’m pretty sure it wasn’t all done in one take, but the amazing thing is that it was done at all.

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Premium accommodations

Where does this rate on the Desperation Metric?

U.S. authorities say a Brazilian man tried to sneak into the country from Mexico by hiding in the gasoline tank of an SUV.

Customs and Border Protection says inspectors found the 38-year-old inside the modified tank of a 2001 Toyota Sequoia early Tuesday at a crossing in Calexico, California. An imaging device spotted anomalies in the SUV’s gas tank and back seats.

The agency says the man acknowledged he wasn’t allowed to enter the United States. Deportation proceedings will begin following criminal proceedings against the driver.

Wonder if Toyota sells this as a package.

But mostly, I wonder about this:

The driver is a 40-year-old U.S. citizen from Calexico. Customs and Border Protection says he will face federal charges.

Wait a minute. We threw him out, and he’s coming back for more?

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Outlook not so good

In fact:

Cover art for No by Meghan Trainor

Further evidence that you do not mess with Meghan Trainor:

“I sat down with [Epic CEO] L.A. Reid and said, ‘I have my album done,’ and he said, ‘No, you don’t, you don’t have a single,'” Trainor tells Billboard. “And I looked at him like he was crazy — I was pissed off. And I said, ‘All right Mr. Reid, I’m going to write you a single right now. And I went to the studio and said, ‘I need a big, angry anthem’ and it turned into an awesome woman anthem about being independent.”

In terms of sexual-cultural positioning, it’s the next step beyond TLC’s “No Scrubs”; you don’t even get the opportunity to holla at her.

Thank You, the album on which “No” will appear, is due in May. (My pre-order is in.)

Assuming “No” makes the charts, it will be the second hit with this title: the first, the lone chart item for Bulldog, a band featuring ex-Rascals Gene Cornish and Dino Danelli, appeared in 1972. It is, of course, the male reaction to being dismissed: “That’s a hell of a thing to say,” complains vocalist Billy Hocher. You can’t tell me Meghan Trainor didn’t know this one, even if it was way before her time.

No video for “No” as yet, though you can listen to it at that first Billboard link.

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Fark blurb of the week

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One of those minor milestones

I have no reason to assume he was actually looking at it, but McGehee would have been the first person to be able to see this little callout over in the sidebar last night:

Fifty thousand comments

And actually, that’s 50,000 just since September 2006, after the first Movable Type database was closed down and all the posts converted to static pages. (The second one was successfully imported into WordPress two years later.) So this figure includes the last two years of MT and all the years of WP; there are about five years of comments — 17,000 or so — which are not included in this count.

Before you ask: of those fifty thousand, about 9200 were written by me. And I have no idea if this little gadget, not formally a widget, is capable of six digits. Maybe we’ll know in ten years.

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