Another project to fund

I hate to see a Kickstarter I backed go up in flames, but there’s always another one, right? And this one might be a little closer to my heart, even if it doesn’t involve any copyrighted characters:

Pewter Ponies

Seven days in and 70 percent funded. I am hopeful.

(Erin Palette mentioned this on Facebook and tagged me because she knew I’d buy in. Girl knows me too well.)

Update, 27 September: Made it!

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Narrative to be established

The thing about ObamaCare is this: it’s never going to lose the name. If it’s a success, Democrats will be promoting it all the way to their graves, and if it’s a failure, Republicans will be reminding us of it all the way to theirs. (Repeal? Not a chance. The GOP is rife with invertebrates.)

Aside from that, there is the mandatory spin, and it will go something like this:

The depressing possibility is that since nobody knows for sure what’s going to happen, everyone still is actually trying to frame the narrative. While the dangers … are real (each side setting expectations where a middling result will make people feel the opposite of how each side wants them to feel), in all likelihood the results are going to be muddled. Some people will save money in even the most pessimistic scenario. Some people will have to spend more even in the most optimistic scenario.

So then it’s ultimately about thwarting the truth, whatever it is. Laying the groundwork so that if costs go down and people save money, conservatives will be vindicated by whatever minority of people finds themselves in a worse spot and suggesting that said minority is actually the typical case. Likewise, if almost everybody ends up having to spend more, the liberals will have laid the groundwork to argue that we shouldn’t believe our lying eyes and bank accounts.

And this seems like the most reasonable stance to take:

I offer no hard prediction on what is going to happen. I am preparing for the worst. Perhaps because in the end I couldn’t get on board with PPACA and so want to be vindicated. But mostly, I think, so that I will be pleasantly surprised if I am wrong and won’t be too disappointed if I am right.

Let the festivities begin.

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Like sisters

There was much gushing in the tweetstream Sunday night when Kerry Washington and Diahann Carroll emerged as presenters at the Primetime Emmys, mostly along the lines of “Dayum, girl, but you do look good for 80!”

Actually, Diahann’s only 78. And if you’d been paying attention, you’d have seen this shot of the two of them, which came out earlier in the month when they were added to the presenter list:

Diahann Carroll and Kerry Washington

Dayum.

I’ll happily refer you to previous shots of Kerry Washington, while I produce this oddity from the Annals of Time, or at least of Dynasty:

Read the rest of this entry »

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Hold your chuckles

Let the idea of a $70,000 Kia sink in for a moment.

Now it may be that nobody is going to shell out seventy large for a Kia, especially one with a goofy name like “K900.” (The Korean home-market version is called “K9,” which would never fly here, though it might dig under the fence.) Hyundai’s similar Equus starts at $59,250 and can surely reach 70k if you check all the boxes on the order form; they move maybe 300-400 a month. I know nobody who owns one, or I’d have begged for some seat time by now, if only to see if this Korean steed lives up to its sticker.

Still, I can see one market segment that might go for the K900: folks who identify themselves as antisnobs, the presumed antithesis of those whose self-image is largely derived from driving something with a roundel or a three-pointed star or whatever the hell that thing is on a Lexus grille. Of course, being an antisnob requires just as much attitude as being a snob, but you’re not supposed to notice that.

Maybe the thing to do is buy an older Audi, from the Peter Schreyer days, and fit it with Kia indicia and hardware, from the Peter Schreyer days. There is a precedent of sorts.

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Room to breathe

Brian J. reads a book about Hearst Castle, and opines:

For those of you who don’t know what Hearst Castle is (how can you live with yourselves?), it is a palace built by newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst in the 1920s and 1930s. It is huge, it has many buildings (what modern newspapers call a compound if they don’t like the owner), and it has lavish architectural details, antiquities, and pretty much everything I dreamed about when I thought I’d earn fabulous amounts of wealth.

My aspirations were never quite so lofty, but I have no disagreement whatever with this:

You know, when faced with opulence of this nature, some people want to firebomb it and take it away from those who have it. Perhaps I was born in a different century, but I find this inspirational. Hearst came from a wealthier background, surely, but he built a publishing empire and earned the capital to build this place that he had half in mind to make a museum — which it is now, of course. Good on ‘im. Let the rich have theirs, and let us all have a system that allows us to get rich if we can.

I’ve never been far enough north in California to see Hearst’s, um, compound, but I did drop in one day — and it takes at least a whole day, believe me — at the Biltmore Estate, one of the few houses in the nation that rivals Hearst’s, and I was similarly impressed. What’s more, while Biltmore is a National Historic Landmark, it’s not tied into any museum system: it remains privately held, and it’s worth every cent of the $59 day pass.

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Not as a renter

A fellow I follow on Twitter has set up a blog called 1845 Park Place, which is the address of the house he just bought — “Right between Chance and Luxury Tax,” he says, which grabbed my attention right there. (Technically, it’s between Kentucky and Indiana, but you don’t have to know that.)

And actually, that’s a promising location, between NW 10th — a corridor that’s been improving of late, at least in this area — and the Plaza District, which is rapidly becoming the place to be.

This subdivision — Classen’s Cream Ridge — dates back to 1916; the house in question is your basic one-story bungalow.

It’s the guy’s first house, so I imagine he’ll have lots to say as he turns it into his Dream Home.

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The view never changes

A Brit this week explained why he’d just as soon not see any more Page 3 girls, which prompted some thoughts, and admittedly unexcited thoughts at that, about the current issue of Playboy.

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Snips, snipes, Snopes

It is not true, say the Mikkelsons, that John Steinbeck’s magnum opus is known in Japan as The Angry Grapes.

However, a similar situation they covered in the same article is just a little bit off:

Titles of translated works are often chosen by publishers (rather than translators), and a publisher’s goal is more likely to be to try to come up with a short, catchy name that will appeal to the target audience rather than to provide a faithful translation of the original title. A perfect example of this phenomenon is the case of the Japanese pop song “Ue O Muite Aruko” (literally “I Look Up When I Walk”), a hit in both the UK and America in 1963 in a cover version by jazzman Kenny Ball and the original version by Japanese singer Kyu Sakamoto, respectively. Both versions were sung in Japanese, but the British record label that released Kenny Ball’s recording was concerned English-speaking audiences might find the original title too difficult to remember and pronounce, so they gave it a new title: “Sukiyaki.” (The American record label retained the British title when they released Kyu Sakamoto’s version a few months later.) Of course, sukiyaki (a sauteed beef dish) had absolutely nothing to do with the lyrics or meaning of the song; nonetheless, the word served the purpose well because it was short, catchy, recognizably Japanese, and familiar to most English speakers (very few of whom could understand the Japanese lyrics anyway) — even if, as Newsweek quipped, the re-titling was akin to issuing “Moon River” in Japan under the title “Beef Stew.”

All of which you’d know, if you’d seen my Single File piece on Sakamoto’s original, plus one other detail Snopes probably unintentionally botched: Kenny Ball’s version was not sung in Japanese, or any other spoken language. It’s purely an instrumental.

Assuming you know Sakamoto’s own recording, which was a major hit in 1963, I’m throwing in a link to the lovely post-surf version of “Sukiyaki” as performed by Big Daddy, two verses translated, one sung in the original Japanese.

(With thanks to Lauren Gilbert, who had no idea she was sending me off on one of my tangents.)

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They’re happier in Smallville

And some guys just try too hard:

A man from southern Colombia had to have his penis amputated after he allegedly overdosed on the erectile disfunction medication Viagra, officials said.

The 66-year-old man from Gigante, whose name has not been released, told a local newspaper that he intentionally overdosed on Viagra to impress his new girlfriend, Colombia Reports reported Wednesday.

“Gigante,” indeed. Don Francisco shall hear of this.

[T]he penis-enhancing drug caused the man, who said he was a former member of the Gigante municipal council, to experience a constant state of erection for several days, the report said. He then sought medical help.

Several days? What happened to the four-hour rule? Oh, right. He was a politician. Rules don’t apply to politicians.

Doctors in Gigante referred the man to a medical facility in Neiva, where doctors noted that the man’s penis was inflamed, fractured and showed signs of gangrene, and opted to amputate to prevent the inflammation and gangrene from spreading to other parts of his body.

I am so tempted to text this link to Anthony Weiner.

(Via Fark.)

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Strange search-engine queries (399)

“Three hundred ninety-nine? So you’d say you’ve done a lot of these?”

“It would so seem, yes.”

(If you missed it, here’s #1, from eight years ago, before I ever envisioned numbering them.)

who sells tastykakes near greenback tn:  You mean there isn’t an app for that?

seebigpenises:  There are probably too many apps for that.

SCORPIO DATE OF BIRTH 16 NOVEMBER 2002 GIRL ZODIAC ASTROLOGY THEY HAVE BORN BROTHER ON THIS STAR OF GIRL:  I suggest that maybe you ought not to be looking for ten-year-old girls on the Net.

can you put 14″ tires on a 1997 mazda 626 ES?  That depends. Does it have 14″ wheels?

words no longer used at work:  Among others, “full-time.”

mazda 626 1996 auto has always been jerky since new i suppose this is normal is it any body o:  On the upside, consider that you’ve made it seventeen years without a rebuild.

262144th notes in music:  You can’t play that fast, or that slow. Trust me.

sitting on a bench body language:  Pretty well stylized, unless you’re on the Group W bench.

misery compromise:  More simply expressed: “Meh.”

since every piece of matter in the universe is in some way affected by every other piece of matter in the universe is it in theory possible to ex:  You can ex all you like. What you can’t do is why or zed.

after wearing seat belts became mandatory drivers reacted by driving faster and less carefully this is consistant with what principle of economics:  The one where Krugman thinks you should take the bus.

withi thieves I consort with the vilest in shorts I’m quite and Eve in depravity get all the vine use me and service can’t lose me for I am the center of gravity:  Calm down, Senator. It’s just the drugs talking. Did we mention they’re changing your co-pay?

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Fark blurb of the week

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Wuther or not

You make the call:

The cover in question:

Cover of Wuthering Heights after MTVization

Now this MTV take is so old — ten whole years — Amazon still lists it on VHS. I’m surprised they didn’t just hire someone to write a quick and dirty novelization. Then again, it’s not like they had to pay anyone for the rights to the original.

Some follow-up tweets to Sam Bowman’s original speculate as to the current rotational speed of the late Emily Brontë.

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FCC awakens

Does this smell funny to you?

Cumulus Media has sold 104.1 KTDK Sanger, TX to Whitley Media.

The station currently rebroadcasts Sports “1310 The Ticket” KTCK to the northern suburbs of the Dallas/Fort Worth market.

The sale price will come in two parts. At closing of this sale, Cumulus will receive $100. Whitley will then turn around and resell the station at which point Cumulus will receive all proceeds from that sale minus all expenses incurred in the operation of the station and from marketing and reselling the station.

The FCC has now decided it wasn’t going to allow this sort of thing under its collective nose:

[This transaction], by providing for Whitley to be reimbursed out of the sale proceeds for any losses and expenses he incurs in operating the Station, makes it clear that all of the economic risk of operating the Station would remain with Cumulus. Likewise, because Whitley is required to remit to Cumulus all of the proceeds from the sale of the Station, less his expenses and his brokerage fee, Cumulus would retain all of the risk of loss and potential for profit from the sale of the Station to a third party. Whitley will receive his brokerage fee and no more, whether the Station is sold for $1 million or $10 million. Given these “economic realities,” we conclude that the agreement between Cumulus and Whitley cannot be reasonably characterized as a proposed $100 sale of the Station to Whitley and that Cumulus would remain the owner of the Station.

Oh, and Cumulus was just about to close on a local marketing agreement with another local sports station, pending the approval of this sale. Uh-oh.

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More visor than super

We open with a brief bit of pony dialogue, for the simple reason that it (almost) fits the subject of this post:

“I could arrange for you to meet with the Crusaders,” Twilight teased. “They’re bound to come up with something someday.”

Brush snorted. “I thought you said they weren’t obsessed with getting their cutie marks.”

“Well, they’re not, really, but they wonder, and I don’t blame them, how some filly like Diamond Tiara already has hers and the only talent she seems to have is annoying everypony.”

“We have individuals like that too. They’re called middle management.”

In response to this post, which endorsed Fillyjonk’s plea to be left alone to do her job, we have this report from the front lines by Francis W. Porretto:

Whenever I’ve been in a hiring position, which is most of my forty-five years in my trade, I’ve looked for two things: raw intelligence and a kind of joyful aggression. You can’t manufacture the former, but you can elicit the latter and embed it in conditions that will bring it to fullest flower. Those conditions require mainly that management at all levels stay the hell out of the employee’s way.

Management, as you may expect, doesn’t respond well to this sort of thing:

In consequence, most middle managers purely hate me and wish I were dead. I’m okay with that, as I have no desire to enter middle management. (Frankly, I’d rather drive needles into my eyes than spend my time doing what they seem to do all day, every day. Meetings. Conference trips. Reports. PowerPoint presentations. Ick!)

I thrive in my current position, partly because of raw intelligence, maybe a little of that joyful-aggression thing, but also because 42nd and Treadmill is small enough not to have meddlers of this sort: I may be on the lowest level of the org chart, but there are only two people between me and the CEO. That doesn’t leave a whole lot of room for middle-management malfeasance.

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It’s geometry all the way down

“I have no doubt,” said J. B. S. Haldane, “that in reality the future will be vastly more surprising than anything I can imagine.”

And the existence of this wondrous bit of Shimmer Incarnate is pretty doggone surprising:

Amplituhedron illustrated by Andy Gilmore

Just what is that?

Physicists have discovered a jewel-like geometric object that dramatically simplifies calculations of particle interactions and challenges the notion that space and time are fundamental components of reality.

The revelation that particle interactions, the most basic events in nature, may be consequences of geometry significantly advances a decades-long effort to reformulate quantum field theory, the body of laws describing elementary particles and their interactions. Interactions that were previously calculated with mathematical formulas thousands of terms long can now be described by computing the volume of the corresponding jewel-like “amplituhedron,” which yields an equivalent one-term expression.

Needless to say, it took some serious number-crunching to find this all-purpose object, and I have to figure that Richard Feynman would have been delighted:

Encoded in its volume are the most basic features of reality that can be calculated, “scattering amplitudes,” which represent the likelihood that a certain set of particles will turn into certain other particles upon colliding. These numbers are what particle physicists calculate and test to high precision at particle accelerators like the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland.

The 60-year-old method for calculating scattering amplitudes — a major innovation at the time — was pioneered by the Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman. He sketched line drawings of all the ways a scattering process could occur and then summed the likelihoods of the different drawings.

There was just one little hang-up with this method:

A seemingly simple event, such as two subatomic particles called gluons colliding to produce four less energetic gluons (which happens billions of times a second during collisions at the Large Hadron Collider), involves 220 [of Feynman's] diagrams, which collectively contribute thousands of terms to the calculation of the scattering amplitude.

The idea that all these things can be contained in a single object — a spectacularly complex object, yes, but still just one object — is hugely overwhelming yet deeply satisfying: there might actually be something resembling order governing the wild quantum frontier.

(Via Daily Pundit. Illustration by Andy Gilmore.)

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First one goes to Lazarus

Saab has built two cars this past week.

Yes, Saab, most sincerely dead Saab, the (former?) Swedish automaker which hadn’t been able to build any cars in a couple of years, has briefly gotten the original assembly line in Trollhättan going:

At an internal event hosted by the NEVS management and with some specially invited guests, [Saabs United] being one of these, people gathered at the end of production-line and witnessed this historic event. A silver colored Saab 9-3 sedan had its engine started and systems tested before it left the final station of the production line and was rolled off with admiration by the spectators. A lot of people had gathered in the final assembly building and everyone felt that the Saab-spirit truly was alive.

NEVS — National Electric Vehicle Sweden, a Pacific Rim operation which acquired the remains of Saab last fall — doesn’t plan to sell this car, or the one which followed it down the line: this was a test run only, and production vehicles, which will vaguely resemble the last 9-3, are expected to use Saab’s presumed-stillborn Phoenix platform instead of leftover GM bits.

Still, those of us who’d bet against NEVS ever getting even so much as a pre-production line started are dining on stir-fry crow.

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