Reporting from hell’s 0.2 hectare

That Sunday quickie about the metric system has generated a concurrence:

I’ll let you in on how I feel about the metric system: it’s great for stuff that is too small to see and for stuff that is too far away to touch, but for everyday existence, I prefer American. A foot is a foot, a mile a minute is a good speed for getting somewhere by car. One hundred degrees is hot, zero degrees is cold. What are the values for these in the metric system? Prime numbers from the planet Xylorcanth. And before you go trying to tell me that we could have a kilometer a minute as a good speed, if we only changed the length of a second to a more metric-centric value, let me remind you that your heart beats once per second, or it would if you were a real human and not some Eurocentric cyborg wanna-be.

If we must have metric, let us have Metric, a Canadian band whose 2012 album Synthetica has been boiled down to a bunch of lyric videos, including this one:

The guy who’s singing with Emily Haines? Lou Reed, in what might have been his last studio performance. He sounds downright upbeat at times.

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Faye accompli

Faye Emerson, born on this date in 1917, sticks in my mind because she did all manner of television in the 1950s: variety shows, game shows, you name it. Of course, she didn’t start out that way: in the 1940s she was on the Warner Bros. studio payroll, and while she never made it up to the A-list, she was pretty much always working, and pretty much always pretty:

Faye Emerson, starlet

Curiously, while I was out looking for additional photos, I encountered this phenomenon:

Faye Emerson wardrobe malfunction

This 1950 clip, once you get past the Pepsi promotion, illustrates how such a thing could be possible in that sanitary age:

Bonus: Steve Allen in his late twenties.

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When we wuz broke

We are told that really terrible living conditions, which today might be defined as having a two-generation-old iPhone, are dehumanizing and lead to violence. It wasn’t always so, says Ol’ Remus:

The Great Depression of the 1930s showed that hardship by itself produces little crime and may reduce it, contrary to ideological drum beating and the sensationalist press. One effect of hard times was to solidify family life, especially where holding the family together wasn’t a goal so much as a means, agricultural piecework for instance, or self-provided daycare. But in our time, career welfare has atomized millions of families by becoming the de facto head of household for several generations running. One conspicuous result is anonymous paternity, or at least uncertain paternity, a rarely mentioned result of which is a high rate of inadvertent inbreeding. Bottom line, a viable population was experimented upon because they could. And they did it badly.

Not that it could have been done well, the existing structure was too fragile to bear redirection. Nor did it need redirecting. In most things of importance it was both admirable and admired, at least by reasonable persons of good will. Improvements were happening, halting and incremental, but improvements nonetheless. In the event, it capsized, taking a lot of genuine progress with it. “Assistance” is now defended as an escalating bribe paid knowingly, if not cheerfully, to contain the wreckage.

As I’ve said before, the worst thing about the War on Poverty is that nobody bothered to plan an exit strategy. It might even have worked, had it been possible to administer it outside the bureaucracy; but bureaucracy, we have learned, cares only for its own perpetuation.

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Meanwhile beyond the sky

Tim Blair quotes a writer on the environmental beat:

“The Anglican Church has told the Abbott government to change its approach to climate change, urging it to respect and base its policy on scientific evidence.”

The comic power in that paragraph is equal to several kilotons of the finest plutonium. Here we have an organisation founded on belief and faith now demanding that selected scientific opinions inform government policy. These same people think they can talk to the planet’s inventor just by putting their hands together.

I demur somewhat on that last sentence — apparently there are Anglicans of a sort who don’t even believe in God — but one thing I have learned is that false prophets are generally trying to generate profits. (See, for instance, Saint Albert the Gaseous.)

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Ground-rule dullness

I didn’t see the Red Sox play the Yankees on the 13th of April, but then neither did this guy, and he was there:

A baseball fan who dozed off during a Yankee-Red Sox game sued the Yankees, ESPN and its announcers for defamation, claiming they broadcast photos of him asleep in his chair, calling him “fatty, unintelligent, [and] stupid.”

Andrew Robert Rector sued Major League Baseball Advanced Media, ESPN New York, the New York Yankees, and ESPN announcers Dan Shulman and John Kruk, in Bronx County Supreme Court. He demands $10 million in damages for defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Rector claims he was filmed, and defamed, at the April 13 game between the Yankees and Red Sox, at Yankee Stadium. “In the course of watching the game plaintiff napped and this opened unending verbal crusade against the napping plaintiff,” the complaint states.

It could have been worse. They could have been showing that day’s Rangers/Astros game, during which the fans had a good reason to sleep.

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You bet it’s solid

It was a modest crowdsourcing request: ten bucks to help make a batch of potato salad.

That was the third of July. By now, it’s grown far, far beyond that. At $1000, it was announced that the actual production of the potato salad would be livestreamed. What can they do at $30,000? It’s a shame the Ross Sisters are gone; they’d be perfect for this event.

Speaking of the Ross Sisters, the last couple of frames of their magnum opus remind me of the last couple of frames of this.

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Good God, that’s a lot of blather

I mean, really:

50,000 tweets

I snagged that screenshot Sunday evening; I have no idea which of the several dozen tweets I disgorged that day was actually the 50,000th. Maybe the whole idea is not to care.

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Too silly; didn’t click

Grammar Girl has decided that the semicolon that bisects “tl;dr” is in fact ironic:

Semicolons appear in long, complex sentences — they’re a hallmark of writing that would likely earn the tl;dr label. I can’t think of another acronym or initialism that includes a semicolon (or any other punctuation mark), so whoever included the first semicolon in tl;dr was bucking abbreviation conventions. He or she took an abbreviation meant to endorse brevity and made it longer and more complex by adding a semicolon.

And furthermore:

Some people have speculated that programmers put the semicolon there because some programming languages end lines with semicolons. Others have pointed out that using the semicolon is grammatically correct because if you were to write tl;dr as a sentence, it is two clauses that could be properly joined by a semicolon. But, if you view the semicolon as a symbol of long, perhaps pedantic writing, it would be funny to include the semicolon in the barb you’re directing at writers of such works—ironic because it’s the opposite of what you would expect in an abbreviation.

Although “too long; didn’t read” seems to lack something, complete sentence-wise.

Still, it’s true, you don’t see punctuation in most such constructions, except for the exclamation point — see, for instance, OMGWTFBBQ!!1!

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Tossing and turning

“I couldn’t sleep at all last night,” says the song. I, of course, know it too well.

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Because cradles were designed to be robbed

“Nabo-who?” asked a puzzled Twilight Sparkle:

“Vladimir Nabokov. Human writer from the last century. Best known for a smug little tale of foalcon.” He coughed on that last word. “Bastard was probably in love with her, too.”

“Underage filly?”

“Let’s just say she wasn’t on her way to earning her cutie mark, and leave it at that.”

That may have been the whole point for that bastard Humbert, who’d managed to convince himself — and maybe the girl — that there was something sweet and natural about their perverse relationship. It certainly fits with this guy’s worldview:

Ken Plummer is emeritus professor of sociology at Essex University, where he has an office and teaches courses, the most recent scheduled for last month. “The isolation, secrecy, guilt and anguish of many paedophiles,” he wrote in [1981’s] Perspectives on Paedophilia, “are not intrinsic to the phenomen[on] but are derived from the extreme social repression placed on minorities …”

“Help, help, I’m being repressed!”

“Paedophiles are told they are the seducers and rapists of children; they know their experiences are often loving and tender ones. They are told that children are pure and innocent, devoid of sexuality; they know both from their own experiences of childhood and from the children they meet that this is not the case.”

“Hey, they’re already despoiled. Fair game, you know what I mean?”

Actually, I think I do. And I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t like what I think about it.

This is not, I hasten to add, a matter of universal agreement among the general run of tweedy academic pervs:

After a fierce battle in the American Psychiatric Association (APA), which produces it, a proposal to include hebephilia as a disorder in the new edition of the [DSM] has been defeated. The proposal arose because puberty in children has started ever earlier in recent decades and as a result, it was argued, the current definition of paedophilia — pre-pubertal sexual attraction — missed out too many young people.

Ray Blanchard, professor of psychiatry at the University of Toronto, who led the APA’s working group on the subject, said that unless some other way was found of encompassing hebephilia in the new manual, that was “tantamount to stating that the APA’s official position is that the sexual preference for early pubertal children is normal.”

Axes were duly presented for grinding:

Prof Blanchard was in turn criticised by a speaker at the Cambridge conference, Patrick Singy, of Union College, New York, who said hebephilia would be abused as a diagnosis to detain sex offenders as “mentally ill” under US “sexually violent predator” laws even after they had completed their sentences.

Because whatever else a kiddie-diddler might be, well, he certainly can’t be sick.

But perhaps the most controversial presentation of all was by Philip Tromovitch, a professor at Doshisha University in Japan, who stated in a presentation on the “prevalence of paedophilia” that the “majority of men are probably paedophiles and hebephiles” and that “paedophilic interest is normal and natural in human males.”

Come the revolution, the first ones with their backs up against the wall will be the idiots who claim that majority support legitimizes everything.

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We compel your click

I spotted this ad on Fimfiction Saturday night. This isn’t exactly a replica of the site’s new-direct-message indicator, but I’m thinking it’s close enough to lure in the unwary:

Ad for MailViewer

And Saturday night being what Saturday night usually is, unwariness was probably rampant.

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Strange search-engine queries (440)

If you’re groggy after the long weekend, well, trust me, you are not alone in your suffering. Fortunately, the Web surfers don’t take the days off, so I still have something to post on Monday morning.

ce inseamna o/d off:  I’ve only known one woman whose inseam seemed to be in overdrive.

mrs butterworth rule:  “Don’t lick the top of the bottle” will do for starters.

1996:  A year in which no one has partied like it’s.

We at the Internal Revenue Service would like to inform you that: you have qualified for 2014’s subsidy benefit. scam light houses:  In fact, scam all the houses. Everyone wants a subsidy.

who is don alverzo:  If there’s ever a steampunk version of Sábado Gigante, he’s the host.

Duratec and ATX Rebuild Pages/CD4E FAQ.html:  You know, when Ford announced this particular transmission as “light-duty,” that should have been a clue.

www.pakistan colig garl pechar in burqa:  That’s a switch. Usually we get requests for them out of burqa.

zappos female models:  I dunno. Does Zappos sell burqas?

lou reed shawn colvin:  The very antithesis of a Perfect Day.

why does the engine fuse blow up on a 1994 mazda 626:  They generally don’t do that, so we shall assume that it’s Your Fault.

erotic stories of boy using invisibility potion on his mother:  I think you just pinned the Creepy Meter.

fixing mazda remove hold mode flashlight:  Um, it’s gonna take a lot more than a flashlight to fix this.

851 vents:  Pay attention. You’re about six months behind the times.

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Right in the ectoplasmic reticulum

Neil Kramer has temporarily turned the Citizen of the Month blog to the cause of flash fiction, shorter-than-short stories, in this case taking place in the city of New York, a place once said to have eight million stories.

Number twenty-two begins with a mind-bender:

If you want proof of the existence of ghosts, just look at logic. A person is more complex than a brick, but a building can last for thousands of years. This means that a human being, based on his innate superiority, must exist longer than a brick. And since we all know that death occurs for people, the only reasonable explanation is that the “person” or “entity” continues to live on as a ghost — at least for longer than the lifespan of a brick.

This may be the most salient thing said of bricks in fiction since Douglas Adams: “The ships hung in the sky in much the same way that bricks don’t.”

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Meanwhile among the Haligonians

What most of us Down Here know about Nova Scotia boils down to some vain guy flying his Learjet up thataway to see a solar eclipse. Obviously we’re not getting the whole story, so it’s time to dispatch a trusted emissary:

I must agree with all the locals that I’ve, that we’ve talked to, that Halifax IS CANADA’S BEST KEPT SECRET. In a week, we’ve explored the coastline, crept the forests, the very quaint city herself, Halifax.

I don’t know where to begin, to describe the reception that we’ve enjoyed so much while here: Warm, friendly locals, the staff here at Heritage Hideaway Inn, the (cheap) prices on everything, the ease in getting around … Leticia and I fly home next Saturday morning early, and there will be a part of me that doesn’t want to leave. I have felt relaxed from minute One here. These folks are the essence of “laid back”. It’s like they won’t be happy unless you, the guest is happy, too.

Then again, “most of us” obviously does not mean “all of us.” A local woman was once heard to say: “If I weren’t happily married and tied down with all kinds of material debts, I would run off to Nova Scotia with him.” More amazingly, by “him” she meant me.

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An ounce of wisdom

Spotted over at Topless in Tupelo:

there are two types of countries in the world:
1) ones that use the metric system.
2) ones that have been to the moon.

Several conclusions are available, but I know which one I like.

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The essence of sixty

British writer/critic AA Gill points out that contrary to popular sloganeering, sixty is not the new anything:

A contemporary of mine, after a number of marriages, found a girlfriend less than half his age of a transcendent pneumatic beauty who hung on his every word — and dumped her after a couple of months. Why, I asked — she was perfect! “Too many things we didn’t have in common,” he said sadly. Like what? “Well, the Eighties.”

There’s rue for you. And here’s some for me:

Last year, for the first time, a young girl, French, offered me her seat on a crowded bus. I was surprised at how deeply I resented her. Health looms over the elderly like a threatening monsoon. No ache is innocuous. No lump or discoloured, sagging patch of body is ignorable except our toenails, which become the most sordidly repellent things in all nature. We covertly examine ourselves and our effluvia for the premonition of the dark humour that will carry us away. There is no such thing as a routine checkup. They are all life-or-death appointments.

Doctors start all their sentences with “It’s only … ” But we’re not fooled. This generation is also the one that lingers longest over its departure. Death came to our grandparents with a clutched chest and a searing pain. For us it’s a slow, humiliating series of it’s onlys. What we worry about is dementia, a condition that did not exist in the popular lexicon when I was a child. Mind you, we also thought cancer was as shaming as divorce. Now Alzheimer’s is our abiding fear, the thing we can’t forget.

I have often wondered if I am “prolific,” as they say, as the inevitable consequence of a desire to maximize my output before the time comes when I cannot put out anything.

(Via Kathy Shaidle.)

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