Choosy beggars

As long as we’re talking about panhandlers, and we were, not so long ago, here is the encapsulated experience of our man on the downtown streets:

He continues:

I do think our society does way too little and has a poor understanding of issues involving poverty, mental illness and substance abuse. And I will acknowledge that some panhandlers are either poor or struggling with illness or abuse — but I believe they are the minority.

I used to carry a packet of free bus ride tickets, etc. to give to panhandlers who claimed they needed money for transportation, food… The passes, etc., were turned down all but one time — and the guy who took the pass still wanted money.

I have long suspected that some variation on Gresham’s Law was taking place: the truly needy are being crowded out by the scamsters. Not that this would be entirely unpredictable, of course: there is, as I always say, no system that can’t be gamed. Still, a few hardy souls persist:

A year ago today, Calvin was sleeping outside in a tent. TODAY Calvin is sleeping in his very own apartment! Congratulations, Calvin! We are so proud of your hard work! Calvin uses the income he earns from selling Curbside to afford all of his rent and expenses. Thank you Journey Home OKC and OKC Housing Authority for helping Calvin find affordable housing and making this possible. And thank YOU for helping Calvin achieve his financial goals by supporting him through sales. Calvin has worked extremely hard to reach this goal. You can find him selling at NW Expressway and Classen on the daily.

I’ve bought from Calvin before, in fact. And I’d just as soon not see him put out of a job, however tenuous it may seem, just because some people find it easier to beg than to work.

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Unbespectacled

I’ve seen just enough Gossip Girl to be able to recognize Yin Chang as bookworm Nelly Yuki; she did the first two seasons, departed, and returned in the sixth, having become a fashion reporter, as does every Merit Scholar, right? (Hmmm. I won … um, never mind.) There is, of course, no reason a bookworm can’t look like this:

Yin Chang in a director's chair

Yin Chang for Mochi

I had a few more pictures in the archive, but in each and every one, “the girl behind the glasses” was not wearing glasses, which perplexed me enough to go looking for screenshots where she was. And so we have:

Yin Chang in Nelly Yuki's spectacles

This humongous metal contraption around her neck is, I am told, from Oscar de la Renta, and a budding fashionista would of course have to wear such a thing, am I right?

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Now don’t be a species-ist

About three years ago, I wrote an overly long short story about a man and a unicorn and the love they came to share. The reception it got was better than I had expected; still, I concluded from this experience that inter-species romances of this sort were not ready for prime time.

But that was then, and this is now:

Becky is a young woman living in the Los Angeles area in the 2015 TV series The Muppets.

Beginning with the pilot, she is dating Fozzie Bear, and introduces him to her parents for the first time. Holly and Carl have a hard time understanding how the relationship can work, questioning how they’ll raise their children.

At San Diego Comic-Con 2015, Bill Prady stated that Becky’s relationship with Fozzie would continue to be explored in the series.

Becky will be played by Riki Lindhome, the taller half of Garfunkel and Oates, and it occurs to me that this might make some sort of sense after all: in the all-but-forgotten Hell Baby (grossed about $5000 total), Lindhome has a brief (three minutes) scene with Rob Corddry, who looks a bit Fozzie-esque, or at least would if you put a hat on him.

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Wielder of the monkey wrench

Author Deborah Harkness (A Discovery of Witches and two sequels) finds herself sitting in the dark:

“Power poles and lines down”? That’s some big damn animal.

It gets weirder. Reports the SCE Outage Center:

As we continue to improve, SCE.com will be undergoing maintenance starting at 8:00 p.m. on Thursday, September 17 through 6 a.m. on Friday, September 18. Please note that during this time you will not be able to view pages and will be unable to complete transactions. Thanks for your patience while we work to improve your experience!

No comment from Mr. Edison himself, though reports from outside his home in West Orange, New Jersey suggest that he’s doing about 1200 rpm.

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This should not be considered nostalgia

From fifteen years ago, something I did not want to come home to:

Two guys from the property-management office corralled me as I pulled into the parking lot and announced that they were bearing bad news: someone had kicked in my front door.

It was a pretty efficient kick, given the size of the deadbolt; the jamb was nicely splintered. The perp’s efficiency, however, stopped there; not only did he overlook the camera hanging right beside the door, he didn’t get much of anything other than frustration. I calculate my losses at $3.25, from a dish of quarters I was saving up for laundry, and about five minutes’ time to tidy up. The onsite staff will take care of the repairs. Still, this is a frightening sort of thing to contemplate just the same — suppose this dirtball had been interested in something other than ready cash?

There has been much said of late about “non-violent” offenders and how they’re occupying too much expensive space in the corrections system. This was about the point where I decided that it might be better just to hang them on the spot. Defenders of the putatively downtrodden took umbrage at this idea, of course.

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Hardware issues

“Shopping, sex, and shopping for sex,” said Penn Jillette once upon a time, “propel all new technology.” Today, gender-swapping is cumbersome and expensive; tomorrow, maybe not so much. In the meantime, there’s always Adobe Photoshop.

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Block that ad!

Blocking of online ads, says TechCrunch, is on the rise:

There are now 198 million global active users of ad blocking software, up 41 percent from 12 months ago, according to a recent report by PageFair and Adobe. The report also estimates that ad blocking will cost publishers $22 billion in revenue this year.

Some caveats: PageFair isn’t an objective industry observer, since its business revolves around helping publishers circumvent these blockers. Also, the impact on mobile may be reduced as more content is distributed on apps and social networks. Lastly, there have been arguments that ad blocking won’t hurt publishers as badly as you might think, because the ad business has always been “lossy,” with lots of wasted money, whether you’re talking about TV or print.

See, for instance, department-store magnate John Wanamaker: “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”

There are sites for which I gladly turn off the blocker. Equestria Daily is one; I shut it down on Fark for a while, but found that some of their sneakier ad-placement suppliers had found ways to crash my browser with horribly designed garbage.

And there are sites for which I will probably never turn it off, such as NewsOK.com, on the basis that I give their parent company somewhere upwards of $200 a year and should be exempt from that crap for that reason alone.

Besides, there are people in desperate need of an object lesson here:

Harry Kargman, the founder and CEO of mobile ad company Kargo, agreed that in many cases, online ads have created “a bad consumer experience — from an annoyance perspective, a privacy perspective, a usability perspective.” At the same time, he said that as the industry works to solve these problems, it also needs to convince people that when you use an ad blocker, “That’s stealing. It’s no different than ripping music. It’s no different than pirating movies.”

Horse doodles. You want an analogy that fits? It’s pushing the next station on the car radio the moment you hear that douchebag from [much-hated auto dealership].

(Via Daily Pundit.)

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Low-information buyers

If I didn’t see at least one of these every damn day I might have a smidgen of sympathy:

Me and my fiancé were in the market for a new (used) vehicle. We went to a dealership and found a great car, decent price, and with a down payment that was a little more than we were comfortable with. Now after we have signed and driven off the lot, we KNOW for a FACT that we made the wrong choice and that we aren’t going to be able to afford the car along with its insurance and all of the other bills we already have. –Yes we should have thought this out more thoroughly but we are about to have our wedding next month and need more time to get through that and save more for a newer vehicle. It has only been one and a half days since the purchase and we are wanting to just take it back and tell them we are in over our heads and we will eventually have to default the loan and won’t be able to pay for the car. Will the car take back our car? Also note: the down payment was dated for Tuesday and has not yet been processed. Is there anything else we can do to convince them to allow us to return the car and not continue through with this purchase?

Oh, yes, let’s begin the marriage with a seven-year black spot on our credit!

“Good judgment,” said Will Rogers, “comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.” They probably won’t make this mistake a second time — but they’re going to have to eat the consequences of the first.

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Is this still good?

I don’t go through a whole lot of canned goods: maybe a third to a half of what I buy ends up at the Food Bank before it reaches its expiration date. I was looking at one of those dates a couple of nights ago while cranking the mighty Manual Can Opener, perhaps the last such in town, and it was, albeit twisted like too many CAPTCHA characters, still readable: 17 JANUARY 2017. At least I can still read it.

But what of someone who can’t read it at all? Meet Bump Mark:

Bump Mark is a food expiry label that reacts to the environment around it, just like fresh food does and updates itself.

The label is checked by touch, so when it’s smooth — your food is fresh. If you feel bumps — then it’s time for the bin. The label only goes “bad” when your food does too.

And how does that work?

Gelatine is set over a plastic bumpy sheet — because jelly is solid when it sets, you cannot feel the bumps underneath at first. When the gelatine expires, it turns back into a liquid and then you can feel the bumps underneath, letting you know that your food is bad.

Patent pending, as they say. Whose idea was this, anyway?

The Bump Mark label is the brainchild of Solveiga Pakštaité, a 23-year-old industrial design and technology graduate of Brunel University, and it was … announced as winner of the UK round of the prestigious James Dyson award.

Elsewhere, she describes herself as “Lover of terrible jokes, rubbish at being serious.”

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Strange search-engine queries (502)

Comes around another Monday, and with it, the need to poke around in the back room until we find what people are looking for that brings them here. We may yet regret it.

what happens when you hold your breath:  Try it and see. Report back in about an hour.

latina nudists who is a dead ringer of patty (the manager of the terra cotta inn):  You look at enough nudists, and eventually they all start to look alike.

mark never stops ranting about the dangers of pornography. he gives endless examples of smut he has seen in movies and on tv:  And then goes online looking for pictures of nudists.

if you were a fifteenth-century american indian living in the region of modern-day ohio:  You’d get stuck in downtown Columbus with no idea which way to go.

teen shows asshole on webcam:  This is hardly news; webcams are just full of assholes.

why dont we feel the earth move:  Um, poor choice of partners?

the planned extermination of an entire race of people is known as:  Tuesday.

shoes that look like food:  Loafers, maybe?

octopus bimaculoides for sale:  Well, you certainly can’t lease them.

spiderman and twilight sparkle:  It would never, ever work out. For one thing, J. Jonah Jameson is allergic to pony hair.

non nude crossdresser:  Well, yeah. Were they nude, how could you tell?

how to hump a stuffed animal step by step:  If you have to ask, perhaps you need a different hobby.

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I don’t know, I’ve never Shepled

Sheplers is being merged out of existence:

A 116-year-old name in retail and one of the oldest continuously operating western wear brands, is going away this fall.

Sheplers stores are being rebranded as Boot Barn and the changeover is expected to be completed by Thanksgiving, said Boot Barn vice president Jayme Maxwell.

Irvine, Calif.-based Boot Barn purchased Wichita, Kansas-based Sheplers in June for $147 million to create the largest western wear retailer in the U.S.

How large would “largest” be?

Before the companies merged, Boot Barn had 152 stores in 23 states. Sheplers, a chain of 25 stores in 10 states with a healthy e-commerce business, had sales of $157 million in its last year, including $66 million online. Together the two chains represent more than $550 million in annual sales.

Sheplers dates back to 1899, kinda sorta: J. W. Gibson’s Harness Shop, founded in Wichita back then, was subsequently acquired by Harry L. Shepler (1914-1976), who put his own name over the door.

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Thighs matter

Who wears short shorts? Not you, if you want to live in Dadeville, Alabama:

After first proposing an ordinance banning saggy pants, the Dadeville City Council is now considering banning short shorts and mini-skirts.

Why? Because equality:

Dadeville City Councilwoman Stephanie Kelley said it shouldn’t just be men who are singled out on their attire.

“My concern is it should be for everybody,” Kelley said during Tuesday’s council meeting, the Alex City Outlook reported. “I think for the girls, with these shorts up so high looking like under garments and dresses so short, I don’t want us to be showing favoritism.”

And they really, really hate saggy pants:

“We have people walking down the street with their hand in front of them holding up their pants,” [Councilman Frank] Goodman said. “Then they have the nerve to walk into a place of business and ask for a job. If you come to my house you are going to pull them up before you get on my property, much less in my door. I prayed about this. I know that God would not go around with pants down.”

When the Recording Angel finishes my entry — not too soon, I hope — I pray that there be a note to the effect that I never once speculated as to the position of God’s trousers.

(Via Fark.)

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Squeeze for the Spurs

It’s not even October yet, and the San Antonio Spurs have sold all their season tickets:

For the first time in club history, the Spurs will institute a waiting list for season tickets next week after selling out of their allotment of 13,200.

Current season-ticket holders will be given first priority, should they want to add to their personal inventory.

The AT&T Center is being renovated, and the seating capacity is likely to change from its current 18,581. Then again, it was 18,797 when the arena opened in 2002.

But take heart, non season-ticket holders: The team will still set aside 3,000 tickets per game for individual and group purchases.

It’s hard to imagine those seats not selling out rather quickly.

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Continuing miseducation

One is expected to pony up for stuff like this in order to maintain one’s professional credentials, or some such business:

Today I started a CE course in Construction Management in one of NY universities. It takes 6 Saturdays and gets me a certificate I can use in commercial team project applications.

On the basis of the first class day, our student is not impressed:

The thing is a travesty of grandiose proportion. To give you a taste: for the first class we (engineers, architects, PMs, construction inspectors and such: not 20yo subjects of community organizers) were expected to sit through 2hrs (it felt like 10) of self-aggrandizing propaganda that is a film by Al Gore (Algore, Carl!!!) An Inconvenient Truth. Then we’re given a homework: to write a summary of this masterpiece.

Actually, the film itself runs a mere 96 minutes: the rest of it is, um, additional greenhouse gas.

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The Parthenon of Puke

The new Bentley Bentayga, which presumably almost rhymes with “Talladega,” as seen by the never-even-slightly-jaded Jack Baruth:

[I]t will be a way to spend $200,000 or more on a VW Touraeg. Another way to think of it is that it will be a Lincoln Navigator for people who have more money. As such, it has a guaranteed place on the Mount Olympus Of Loathsome Objects. The MOOLO. I just made that up. But you already know what’s on there, don’t you? Clothing by “Vineyard Vines”. The new subdivision they’re putting up down the street, the one where the homes have crown moldings made of Styrofoam and names like “The Dorchester”. The Hublot Big Bang.

The MOOLO rises in its tin-plated majesty above the Venn intersection of expensive and meritless. Its Aphrodite is Paris Hilton and its Zeus is probably a pre-political-aspirations Donald Trump. We live in its shadow and we are hunted by its residents, who earn bonuses eliminating our jobs then back their whale-shaped Infiniti SUVs over our children. In this company, nothing could be more welcome than a vehicle conceived, designed, and marketed as a mobile intimidatory fortress and statement of one’s recent arrival to confounding wealth. Look for one in the rearview mirror of your four-cylinder Fusion soon, pressing its supplier-milled cross-eggcrate into your mind like Laurence Olivier with a set of dentistry tools.

Of course, this sort of vehicular monstrosity was inevitable: it’s just totally unreasonable to ask someone who owns actual Bentley cars to point themselves downmarket to a Range Rover or, God forbid, a Jeep Grand Cherokee, just to have something to haul Missy and her friends to the lacrosse match.

Still, I will defend to the death, if not necessarily my death, your right to blow a quarter-million dollars on any damn motor vehicle you please. But that purchase does not include an automatic — or even a manual — mandate to be taken seriously.

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Staring blankly

The Male Gaze, to hear some people tell it, is about a quarter of a tick, if that much, short of Actual Sexual Assault. If you think about it, this stance trivializes physical assaults: if everything is rape, then it’s no longer possible to take a rape charge seriously. I don’t think anyone, with the possible exception of the serial rapist, really wants that.

Some gazers, inevitably, are more annoying than others, particularly if they’re trying to engage the gazees. How to foil them? A sharp rebuke ought to be enough, but there’s something to be said for reducing the potential payoff as well.

In 2001, writer Larry Young and artist John Heebink put together a four-part comic-book story called The Bod, about a young woman rendered invisible by an accident with special-effects gear. Her newly acquired state gains her fame and fortune; it also brings out her worst qualities.

And it essentially deprives her of the ability to say “Hey, jerk, my eyes are up here!”

Panel from second episode of The Bod

Still, this might work better as a meme.

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