Skin in the game

Rebecca Black for Flaunt MagazineAn uncle of mine was fond of quoting the old adage — wait, aren’t all adages old by definition? — “If you got it, flaunt it,” which may be more than enough to explain the existence of Flaunt magazine, which, judging by this Instagrammed portrait, did a modest photoshoot with Rebecca Black. At least, I thought it was modest. One of the commenters on her Instagram account — click the picture and you can see the whole thread, if you’re so inclined — wasn’t having any of that:

“Just don’t get why musicians think it’s always a good idea to have bits showing off, women moan that they’re always sexualised and yet they walk around looking like that? Would you walk to the shops wearing only your bra? I doubt it. Would you go to a formal dinner in only your bra? I doubt it.”

“And yet women moan about being made into sex icons etc etc yet they still walk around with their tits hanging out moaning they only attract scumbag guys.”

Up to that point, I hadn’t noticed the way this outfit was cut. And RB’s done lots of fashion stuff of late — see, for instance, this quickie video for Twist magazine, one of several 16 replacements — and this is pretty much of a piece with her recent appearances at various openings: trendy without being particularly spendy. As for “hanging out,” well, she’s eighteen and nowhere near an A-cup, and I don’t think she needs to be, um, bound down.

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A bad sign up there

William Bell came up with the classic lyric:

Born under a bad sign, been down since I began to crawl
If it wasn’t for bad luck, I wouldn’t have no luck at all

The late Albert King cut it first, for Stax; it’s since become a blues standard. (The tune, by Booker T. Jones, is notable for, among other things, not being the standard twelve-bar blues.) Since we brought it up, here’s King with someone else very much missed, Stevie Ray Vaughan:

What triggered this thought? Yet another Jack Baruth musing:

I’m just unlucky, in tolerable but frustrating ways. In the past thirty years I’ve found a way to break about half the bones in my body and crash motorcycles and bend the unibody on a race car and blow a $14,600 Mugen-R engine and lose my chance at getting my doctorate and have someone knock my brand-new CB1100 over in the parking lot and drop things and lose amazingly valuable things and so on and so forth to the point where, whenever I find myself enjoying something too much, I feel compelled to ask of myself, “When will the bad thing happen?”

Been there, thought that. Constantly. The other day, I noted that for some inscrutable reason, the premium on my homeowner’s insurance went down a few percentage points; about half an hour after I posted that, I was poking around the County Assessor’s place trying to see how much the property tax would be going up, since usually the new tax rates come out in October. “November,” they’re saying. Somehow that sounds ominous.

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Meanwhile on 287

“Yep. That’s exactly how it is.” And by “that,” I mean this:

Miss D. and I arrived in Wichita Falls this afternoon after a pleasant drive from Amarillo. We were warned about the speed-trapping proclivities of various towns along the route, some of which appear to balance their budgets by means of tickets issued to those passing through. For that reason we kept our cruise control locked on to the speed limit, and took care to observe the progressively lower limits every time we entered a town.

This seemed to cause some … concern … to other motorists. You see, our rented car is a model used by a large number of police forces, and it’s painted black, and we were driving exactly at the speed limit. Almost every vehicle that came steaming up behind us (and there were many) slowed down and matched our speed for a while, drifting closer very carefully. It was clear the drivers thought we were an unmarked cop car. As soon as they got close enough to identify our Tennessee license plate, one could almost hear the exasperated exclamation from inside the cab as they put the pedal to the metal once more and rolled past us. It was rather amusing (at least from our perspective).

If rental agencies were in the habit of ordering dog-dish hubcaps — well, you can see how this would affect other occupants of the road.

Up here on the other side of the Red River, the unmarked cop cars tend to look like something other than cop cars, but every town has at least one decommissioned Crown Vic Police Interceptor somewhere. (We’ve had a rash of cases of impersonating the police of late, too.)

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Presumably no one will use jelly

And it won’t be happening in this town, you may be reasonably certain:

Miley Cyrus and the Flaming Lips are hitting the road next month and — according to an Instagram post by Lips frontman Wayne Coyne — they’re planning one show with the performers and audience appearing completely in the nude.

Doffing the duds is old news for both Cyrus and Coyne, but audience participation has been nonexistent so far.

And this appears to be Miley’s idea:

According to his post on Thursday, Cyrus is planning a show where she, the Flaming Lips and the audience are all completely naked and where “white stuff that looks like milk” will be “spewed” everywhere. The concept is for a video, he continued, for the song “Milky Milky Milk.”

Can I get an “Ew”?

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A lede beyond the others

If you saw a setup like this in a short story, you might reasonably suspect someone was readying an entry for the Bulwer-Lytton contest:

A former meerkat expert at London Zoo has been ordered to pay compensation to a monkey handler she attacked with a wine glass in a love spat over a llama-keeper.

But no, it’s real, or at least as real as we get from the AP these days:

A judge at Westminster Magistrates’ Court said Wednesday that Caroline Westlake must pay 800 pounds ($1,235) to Kate Sanders for assaulting her in a dispute over colleague Adam Davies, who had dated both women.

Of course, what I want to know is what it’s like to have women fighting over you.

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We have sunk to this

Somebody evidently thought that was clever. The horrible aspect of it, though, is that said somebody probably still has a job.

(Via @inthefade.)

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An Equestria Girl at heart

Lindsey Stirling IS Sunset Shimmer:

Comparison of Lindsey Stirling and Sunset Shimmer

Didn’t see a rainboom in the video, but what the heck.


One of your own

“How much does it cost to have a site like yours?” asked nobody, nowhere.

What they really want is to know about a really spiffy-looking site, and if they’re interested in running WordPress, this is the most pertinent information I’ve seen:

If you do it yourself (which you totally can if you know how to use the internet, can point and click, can follow instructions and have a little cash and a little patience), you are eventually going to become a WordPress Expert. Maybe not a ninja-level-can-work-on-any-site expert, but you’ll learn enough to know exactly how to maintain everything about your own site. To do it RIGHT and set yourself up for success and future growth, it’s going to cost you a few hundred dollars.

If you are going to hire someone, you either marry a unicorn OR you hire WordPress Expert AND a designer. Your WordPress expert sets up your site for you (and they should ask TONS of questions about your business so they build everything you don’t even know you need), and hire a graphic designer to create your brand for you, and your WordPress Expert will implement the brand on the site for you.

The unicorn of my dreams, of course, wouldn’t have me on a bet.

That said, I did DIY this place, and it didn’t cost a whole lot of actual cash, but headaches and sweat surely count for something on the ledger.

Still, an Expert with her shingle out might come in at any conceivable price point. There’s a local production house with a WP Expert and a graphic designer in-house, and they’re really, really good, but they ain’t exactly cheap, if you know what I mean, and they have enough experience to be able to charge you for it.


Random footwear

One of the side effects of writing about shoes is that people send me links to shoes, sometimes gorgeous, sometimes the very antithesis of gorgeous. I’ve received these this week, and I’m not quite sure what I think about them, so I’m turning them over to you guys:

Portuguese shoes supposedly characteristic of the nation's exports

Cover of Biker Babes

Not ugly, really; still, they don’t grab me. You?

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Decreasingly dear

Last year’s homeowner’s-insurance lament:

Obviously this downward trend could not be allowed to continue, so this year it’s going to nearly $3000. This, mind you, on a house insured for a mere $130,000. I can only conclude that they expect a visit from Godzilla, or that they’re wanting to get their hands on some of those sweet, sweet government bucks the way the health-insurance guys have.

Well, the escalator clause each year has two effects: it increases the total amount of coverage, and it jacks up the deductible for wind and hail, which is a percentage of the total amount of coverage. I’m thinking these two numbers don’t combine neatly, which may or may not explain the $170 decrease in the premium.


We’re surrounded

As a survivor of quadraphonics, four decades ago, I can certainly relate to this:

Seems there are two common audio standards. One is known as 2.0 and the other is known as 5.1. If you have an older system like mine, 5.1 doesn’t work, you need to use 2.0. The language selection menu on the DVD offers four selections (as noted above). English 2 is the only one that uses 2.0, the others all use 5.1, which sort of explains why English 2 is the only one that would give us any dialog last night. Well, that’s nice to know, but it doesn’t really help. So I look at the DVD player menu, which is different than the menu that comes from the DVD. I poke around and finally find the HDMI audio switch that controls whether the audio is sent out to the TV or not. The TV is connected to the DVD player with an HDMI cable, which is capable of handling both audio and video. Since the DVD player is also a home theater sound system, there is no reason to send the audio to the TV, EXCEPT THAT TURNING IT ON FIXES THE PROBLEM.

In those heady days of quad, we had three different audio standards, none of them even marginally compatible. I’m thinking things have improved over 40 years, give or take, oh, any digital-protection scheme you can name.

Me, I have a tendency to mess with things. I have, for instance, one of these contraptions:

Soundmatters’ tagline, “One box, two wires, and $300 make any TV a home theater,” sums up the Mainstage’s appeal. This set-top powered speaker is refreshingly simple to install and use. For big sound anywhere in your home or office, just add the Mainstage to a digital or analog source, such as a DVD player or a TV — you’ll have a complete virtual-surround system. We like the $299 Mainstage’s trim good looks and hearty audio, but don’t expect the unit to deliver surround effects like a true multispeaker ensemble. In cramped quarters, however, where a 5.1 setup is out of the question, the Mainstage will serve with distinction.

A 5.1 setup is definitely out of the question in my usual viewing room, which turns out to be the master bedroom.

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Laser less frickin’

Well, this is awkward. That Kickstarter for the laser-powered razor? Kicked to the curb for a rule violation:

A crowdfunding campaign for a razor blade which its US creators claimed could remove facial hair with a laser beam has been suspended by Kickstarter.

The device had attracted more than $4m (£2.6m) in funding — but reportedly did not have a working model.

Backers received an email from Kickstarter saying the Laser Razor was “in violation of our rule requiring working prototypes of physical products that are offered as rewards”.

Apparently undaunted, Skarp Technologies, the manufacturer, moved its campaign over to Indiegogo, where it took in $40,000 in four hours. Backer rewards seem to be about the same.

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You leave our revenue stream alone

Is anyone truly surprised at this?

Fixed, a mobile app that fights parking tickets and other traffic citations on users’ behalf, has had its parking ticket operations blocked in three of its top cities, San Francisco, Oakland and L.A. after the cities increased the measures they were taking to block Fixed from accessing their parking ticket websites.

Quelle surprise. How was this supposed to work, anyway?

Using its app, Fixed customers could snap a photo of their parking ticket using their phone’s camera, and then Fixed would check against a variety of common errors before writing a customized letter to the city on the user’s behalf. The app also cleverly tapped into Google Street View to check to see if the city had the proper signage in place in the area a ticket was received … Founder David Hegarty once noted that over half of tickets have an issue that would make them invalid.

And we can’t have that, can we? You might assume that cooperation from municipalities would be marginal at best, and you would be correct:

[T]he cities haven’t been welcoming to an app that was aimed at helping locals not pay their tickets by automating the process of jumping through legal loopholes. When Fixed began faxing its submissions to [San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency] last year, the agency emailed the startup to stop using their fax machine. When Fixed pointed out that it was legal to do so, the agency simply shut off their fax.

Things escalated after that, but Fixed has finally thrown in the towel — at least in those three cities. Other Fixed functions continue, for now.

(Via @fussfactory.)


Big D X’ed in T-town

This, of course, is a preseason game, and the Dallas Mavericks were not at full strength — Dirk didn’t make the trip, and Chandler Parsons was unwell, just to name a couple — but the Mavs hung tough and took a three-point lead in the fourth quarter. We’ve all seen preseason games where this was considered No Big Deal. Billy Donovan begs to differ. The Thunder, down three, went on a 19-2 run to take it away from the Mavs, prompting Rick Carlisle to bring on the new kids for the last few minutes. The Thunder got their third straight non-counting win, 100-88, in front of a very full BOk Center. Downside: Enes Kanter, after a double-double (17 points/11 rebounds), messed up his ankle and did not return. Next outing: Friday in Memphis.


Zooeypalooza 23!

Yes, it’s been too long since we did a proper Zooeypalooza. (I am actually getting queries about it.) And so, without (much) further ado:

Zooeypalooza 23!

Embiggenment comes with clickage.

Paloozas previously: ZP 1, ZP 2, ZP 3, ZP 4, ZP 5, ZP 6, ZP 7, ZP 8, ZP 9, ZP 10, ZP 11, ZP 12, ZP 13, ZP 14, ZP 15, ZP 16, ZP 17, ZP 18, ZP 19, ZP 20, ZP 21, ZP 22.

Neither Zooey nor husband Jacob Pechenik has yet divulged the name of their daughter, born in late summer.

Update, 20 October: She has a name, and it’s Elsie Otter.


Separation of text and footnote

Actually, Roberta X’s footnotes are better than some people’s articles, and I single out this one for both economy and precision:

The American Revolution can be cast as a kind of dialogue between the Enlightenment/Age of Reason ideas that pushed it and the Great Awakenings that bookended it. From that angle, the Establishment Clause of [the] First Amendment represents a brilliantly common goal: neither party was desirous of a State church. Thus the United States was explicitly made a safe place for believers and nonbelievers of every stripe. This is a delicate balance and has been maintained with varying degrees of elegance and civility though the years. We should fear any politician who feels a mandate to Do Good — especially if he or she believes it was granted by Divine authority.

Not bad for a little over 100 words, if I say so myself, and I do so say.

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