Too young they awaken

“Nature hike,” they said. Those Cub Scouts had no idea what they were in for:

The troop was hiking in Torrey Pines State Beach in California last month when they “encountered some individuals who were inappropriately dressed,” according to a statement from Karl Shelton, the camping director for a San Diego chapter of the Boy Scouts of America.

“Inappropriately?”

Local news reports identified the beach the troop had mistakenly ventured onto as Black’s Beach, a naturalist or nude beach located below the Torrey Pines bluffs.

Oh.

You may be certain that the Scouts were diverted rather quickly after the discovery.

(Via Sophie Rolstad.)

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Origaming the system

Another example of the method of protest being more entertaining than the actual circumstance being protested:

According to a report from the Times Record News, police say a Wichita Falls, TX man refused to leave the county courthouse while trying to pay his tax bill.

Paying your bill is totally legal, of course, but a county tax official accused him of disrupting the operation and efficiency of the tax office because he handed over his $600 payment with $1 bills folded so tightly, each one “required tax office personnel approximately six minutes to unfold each bill,” police say.

Staff attempted to eject him; when he wouldn’t go, they hauled him off to jail. They didn’t say what he used to post $500 bail. Me, I just want to know how someone in Texas has a property-tax bill of only $600.

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Teenage dream marked for dashing

There’s one in every crowd:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: How to get enough money for a lamborghini 3 years?

Well, that depends on your earning potential, and whether you can come up with $70-100k a year for the next three years, and … wait, what?

Ok I’m 14 and my dream car is a Lamborghini. How can I get enough money for a Lamborghini in 3-4 years. Thank you so much.

Fourteen?

Estimated lifespan of a teenager whose first car is a Lamborghini: 30 minutes/60 miles, whichever comes first.

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A whole new class of victims

There are apparently people who sit alone in the dark of night, muttering to themselves: “God damn it, I want to be a victim too!” Because, you know, sympathy. And federal programs that have dollars attached.

There can be no other explanation for this:

According to Bella DePaulo and Rachel Buddeberg, the singles activists and authors who wrote a Truthout.org piece titled “Do You, Married Person, Take These Unearned Privileges, for Better or for Better?” discrimination against single people is a problem so huge that it’s actually “jarring” that our culture doesn’t talk about it the way it talks about racism and sexism.

The piece defines “singlism” as “the stereotyping, stigmatizing and discrimination against people who are not married” and “marital privilege” as “the unearned advantages that benefit those who are married,” an “emotional privilege” where “other people express happiness for people who marry but pity for those who stay single.”

“Someone is happier than I am, and it can’t possibly be my fault.”

And apparently there are Jim and Sheryl Crow(e) laws thwarting their happiness:

One example: Under the Family and Medical Leave Act, married workers can take time off to care for their spouse, but single people can’t take time off to care for a person “just as important to them, such as a sibling or close friend.” Note that they did not just describe this as “unfair,” but specifically as “discrimination.”

I surmise that there is a world-wide shortage of big-girl and/or big-boy pants, as no one — no one in the spotlight, anyway — seems to be able to put them on anymore.

Lileks observes:

[E]veryone and every state and every condition needs to be celebrated, or it is not validated; if it is not validated, it is marginalized. If it is marginalized, it is oppressed. If it is oppressed, it is virtuous. Then again, if it’s celebrated, it is virtuous as well. So either way you’re covered.

I think we can just about retire the word “marginalized”: with everyone and his half-sister’s llama crowding into the margins in search of that sweet, sweet victimhood, those of us who stay the hell off the edge are slowly becoming official nonpersons. Obviously it’s discrimination.

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Pinch that beak

Were this the end of the season, instead of just before the All-Star break, you’d think the schedulers rigged it: the Thunder are two games behind New Orleans, and the next two games are with, yes, New Orleans. Better yet, it’s a home-and-home deal. But the battle here is for ninth place, still out of the playoffs, and jaded Thunder fans noted that hey, Nick Collison signed up for two more years, and is Kevin Durant still out with that toe sprain? (Yes.) Besides, the Pelicans won the last two times these teams met.

And it looked like they’d do it again. The Sea Birds were up six at halftime, 57-51, thanks to a Quincy Pondexter trey at the horn; OKC recovered in the third quarter, to take a 77-76 lead. Said lead passed back and forth for six minutes or so, until a three-minute-long 9-0 OKC run put the Thunder up by seven, 98-91, with 2:25 left, and the defense, previously stiffish, became even stiffer: the Pelicans would not score again. The final was 102-91, setting the stage for one hell of a fourth game at the Peake Friday night.

How stiff, you ask? New Orleans shot 39 percent, 28 percent from Way Out There; Anthony Davis collected 23 points, but it took him 21 shots to get there; Tyreke Evans got 11 points from 20 shots. Perhaps the least-intimidated of the Birds was Ryan Anderson, who scored 19 on a relatively efficient 17 shots, and he still finished -14 for the night.

Meanwhile, Westbrook watchers were treated to Russ at his literal best: 45 points (18-31), tying his season high, with six rebounds, six assists, a steal, and, just for the hell of it, a late-fourth-quarter block. (Blocks for the night: Serge Ibaka 6; other Thunder players 4; New Orleans 3.) Dion Waiters, starting in place of Perry Jones, who ordinarily would start in place of Kevin Durant, scored 12 in his second Thunder start. Ibaka, scoreless in the first half, came to life in the second, finishing with 13; ex-Pelican Anthony Morrow led the bench with 14.

Friday night: The Rematch. After that, the Thunder will hang at home through Sunday, with a matinee against the Clippers, followed by a quick trip to Denver.

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Quatre-vingt

A Monopoly set in France contains €20,580. (This is consistent with the US version, which as of 2008 contains $20,580, thirty of each denomination.) However, this being the 80th anniversary of Monopoly in France, Hasbro has decided to drop actual euros into 80 boxes:

Only one set will land the major jackpot, in which every game note is replaced by real money — for a total windfall of 20,580 euros ($23,268).

In addition, 10 sets will contain five real 20-euro notes, two 50-euro notes and one 100-euro note.

A lesser prize can be scooped in 69 sets, which will have five 10-euro notes and five 20-euro notes.

Oh, that “as of 2008” reference? Before that, the standard American set contained $15,140, or about sixty quadrillion old-style Zimbabwean dollars.

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Embiggenment resisted

The March Consumer Reports has a page called “How to Win at E-Mail,” which struck me as odd: the only way to win, says the server looking over my shoulder, is not to play. Still, some of the statistics seemed valid, especially this one:

2 in 5 Americans have received email in the past year promising to enhance their libido or certain parts of their anatomy. (It annoys women more than men.)

I thought nothing annoyed women more than men; I know I’ve annoyed several.

But I understand why women object to this sort of thing, since the “certain part” most commonly specified is one they genitally generally lack.

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Comfort is for closers

“If you liked it,” declared Beyoncé, “then you should have put a ring on it.” It’s a sentiment Robert Stacy McCain can appreciate, having observed some very likable types who were nonetheless ringless:

They kept wasting time in “relationships” with men who refused to close the deal. These romantic involvements would last anywhere from a few months to several years, and it was always — always — the guy’s aversion to a permanent commitment that prevented these relationships from becoming marriages. The real problem, it seems to me, is not merely the widespread phenomenon of “Peter Pan Syndrome,” but that (a) young women unwittingly enable such male immaturity because (b) they miscalculate the economics of love, and therefore (c) they waste one of a woman’s most valuable resources, her youth.

How this works:

If you graduate college at 22, you have eight years before you turn 30. Those are very valuable years. However smart, beautiful and nice she may be, a woman is more attractive to the average male when she’s 22 than when she’s 30. You can complain that this double standard that places a premium on female youthfulness is unfair, but you can’t avoid the fact that it is nevertheless real. A woman who is very attractive may think she can defy the odds and that it will be no problem for her to find Mister Right when she’s 30, but what if she’s wrong? She fritters away her 20s in a series of pointless relationships — six months with this guy, two years with that guy, etc. — and before she even notices the pattern, the clock is ticking down.

Similarly, the smart, beautiful and nice Garfunkel and Oates [NSFW]:

Of course, anything I would have to say on the subject would be totally irrelevant.

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Trefoiled yet again

Prepare to peel off more dollars for your Thin Mints:

Secure in the knowledge that the general public is always jonesing for cookies and their position as purveyors of said revered items, Girl Scout councils in some cities are charging more for their cookies this year, reports the Wall Street Journal.

Because it’s up to each local council to decide how much to charge per box, prices could vary depending on how far you’re willing to drive: Cookie inflation is coming to Southern California, for example, where councils in San Diego, Orange County and Greater Los Angeles have hiked the price from $4 to $5, after San Francisco’s council did so.

Local Scouts have quoted me $4 — up from $3.50 — for this year’s trefoils and Samoas and whatnot.

But hey, say the Girl Scouts of Orange County, $5 a box is still a bargain, especially compared to the $5.84 they could be charging if cookie prices had advanced apace with inflation.

File that under Cold Comfort.

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Not a happy song

Apparently there exists a band called NǽnøĉÿbbŒrğ VbëřřĦōlökäävsŦ, a name I’m not about to convert to proper HTML entities, so this may look even funnier in your browser.

Discogs says about them:

Also known by the more optically-appealing and readable name of “Nanocyborg Uberholocaust”, NǽnøĉÿbbŒrğ VbëřřĦōlökäävsŦ claim to be an “ambient cosmic extreme funeral drone doom metal band” consisting of one Canadian and one British individual known as Wavanova and Dark Dude.

Legend has it that these two scientists met in 2006 at an Antarctic research station on Ross Island “while studying carnivorous Antarctic predators” where they “soon realized that they had very similar musical tastes and were both experienced bass players” and recorded “the sounds of the universe between its phases of life.”

Their 2014 album, Goodbye, Sol: A Voyage To The End Of Spacetime And Back, was released digitally only, perhaps because it runs 7:37. That’s seven hours and thirty-seven minutes. One track, “God Is A Systems Architect And The Multiverse Is An Infinitely Recursive Architectural Simulator,” is listed at 7:27:11; after looking at the other 32 tracks, I suspect this track is exactly as long as the similarly experimental “There’s a Riot Goin’ On” by Sly Stone, listed as 0:00. I don’t think I can possibly audition the whole seven-hour intravaganza at once, though I’m sure it’s up on YouTube; I did give a listen to “(The Sculptor),” from the 2009 EP (Supervoids) (parentheses as specified by the band), and it’s genuinely creepy in an inchoate sort of way.

(Provoked by this list of band names at Louder Than War.)

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I, pincushion

From earlier this week:

Also in decline: my ability to avoid restrooms. This has not yet been diagnosed, but the only likely causes seem to be some sort of urinary tract infection, or a prostate grown to the size of a Hyundai. (I am steering clear of advisory sites such as WebMD, inasmuch as almost every conclusion they reach seems to suggest imminent mortality.) Admittedly, I do gulp down a lot of liquids, but kidney function, which is checked regularly, has been up to snuff. For the moment, though, it’s bad enough that I expect it to cause an increase in night terrors, assuming I can sleep at all with this condition.

The diagnostic process has begun, despite an inability to coax this old body to give up any fluids. (It took two sticks to obtain blood; the bladder that felt full couldn’t fill a third of the cup.) Kidney function has been cleared; says the doctor, these conditions are consistent with a prostate ailment, though his personal inspection didn’t yield much more than an Accent. I was, of course, expecting a Sonata, or maybe an Azera.

So, in addition to my beta blocker, I now get an alpha blocker. At this rate, eventually there won’t be anything left to block. And in case there is an infection of some sort after all, there is an antibiotic. The last three antibiotics I’ve been prescribed have been different, which I attribute to whining about amoxicillin, which gives me something resembling diaper rash, except on the face. I am comforted, mildly, by the fact that while I’m being prescribed more damn drugs, they’re cheap damn drugs.

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How many roads must a man walk down?

If he has to walk several hours a day to and from work, you may assume rather a lot of them. And he’s been doing it for for more than ten years [warning: autostart video]:

The story of a Detroit man who has been walking 21 miles a day to get to and from work for over a decade inspired a Michigan college student to launch an online campaign to buy him a car. Thanks to the generosity of strangers, the campaign has raised more than $60,000 in a day.

Since buses don’t cover the entire 23-mile route, 56-year-old James Robertson spends nearly all of his free time during the week commuting to his $10.55 an hour factory job in Rochester Hills. According to the Detroit Free Press, which published a front-page story about him Sunday, Robertson begins his trek at 8 a.m. to catch buses that take him to a Troy, Mich., mall before he walks 7 miles to Schain Mold & Engineering, where he begins his 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. shift. And according to his boss, Robertson has a perfect attendance record.

And after work, it’s more of the same, and the operative word is “more”:

His commute home takes even longer. Leaving work after 10 p.m., Robertson walks the 7 miles back to the mall, where he catches the last bus of the day, just before 1 a.m., taking it as far as it goes: the State Fairgrounds on Woodward, just south of 8 Mile. From there, he walks roughly 5 miles back to home through what he describes as a dangerous section of town.

Not only did the GoFundMe campaign raise over $60k, a local Chevy dealer has offered Robertson a car:

“He gets to choose,” Angela Osborne, customer service specialist at Rodgers Chevrolet in Woodhaven, Mich., said. “We were just impressed with his determination.”

He’d had an ’88 Accord, which died on him in 2005.

Still undetermined: why a guy with this track (and attendance!) record is working for $10.55 an hour.

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And it wasn’t even Caturday

These two items landed next to each other on my Twitter timeline yesterday:

TweetDeck screenshot 2/2/15

Purely coincidental, I’m sure.

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Not that we’re busy or anything

News Item: Gov. Scott Walker said the University of Wisconsin could ask its faculty to teach more classes and do more work to offset funding cuts in Walker’s state budget proposal.

Why this will not go over well with the faculty, from Professor James Hanley, who does not teach in the UW system:

My department completed our program review document last week. On Tuesday I spent most of the day just writing the one page executive summary. (Have you ever tried summarizing a 100 page document in one page, while emphasizing your own tremendous awesomeness and how any imperfections could be solved easily if somebody outside your department would do the right thing while not offending that person who could do that right thing by making it sound like it’s their fault?) On Friday I spent 5 hours reviewing and editing the final draft. And today, Sunday, I am working on a new assignment for my American Government class that will require them to work with real data, which requires long pauses in writing while I think about how to make the directions clear to non-data oriented students.

There are, of course, worse ways to make a living:

This is not to say “pity us poor college profs.” It’s not a bad gig. I worked a lot harder, at much greater personal risk, and for much less pay as a bike messenger. One of my own profs had previously worked at a nitroglycerine factory, until the old guys there — who all had occupational-induced emphysema — told him to get out and go to college so he didn’t end up like them. It’s just to say that the job takes time; that classroom hours are not synonymous with workload; and that Walker can only get what he wants by damaging the impressive reputation of UW-Madison and thereby diminishing the reputation of the state as a whole.

As is often the case with politicians, Governor Walker got this idea into his head, and just having that idea proved to be so invigorating that worrying about things like mere consequences got pushed to the side.

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Romantic illusions made simple

Yours truly, from November 2013:

It is said that you will be perceived as much more desirable if you are perceived as taken. I’ve never noticed any such thing, but then it’s been rather a long time — about half a lifetime — since I’ve been taken.

At the time, there was the announcement of an app that would create that perception. That app is now a reality:

Invisible Girlfriend and Invisible Boyfriend offer one way of dealing with this situation. The apps promise to “give you real-world and social proof that you’re in a relationship — even if you’re not — so you can get back to living life on your own terms.” Plainly put, these apps, created by Matthew Homann and Kyle Tabor, help you lie about being in a relationship by providing believable social proof of significant others in the form of crowdsourced selfies, text messages, voice mails and even written notes.

If you’re already horrified, this may not change your mind:

Having an imaginary relationship can be a lot easier than explaining why you’re not in a real one. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve had to explain to bosses and friends why I’m not bringing a date to weddings, parties, company picnics and holiday events.

It’s not like I don’t want to find true love. But I have stuff to do. I like my freedom. I want to be in charge of the TV. My dog is usually first priority. And well, dating is a lot of work. I’m cool with being single. But after a while, it gets tiring to tell your mom that grandkids won’t be happening soon or ask your well-meaning friends to stop setting you up on blind dates with their newly divorced pals or friends who clearly just want a casual bed buddy. Sometimes white lies make everyone involved a little happier than the truth does.

There is a survey on that page — “Would you ever date an imaginary girlfriend/boyfriend?” — and as of last night, only 6 percent of respondents said they would. Then again, this is 5 percent higher than it was in the first hour after that report was published. (Disclosure: I follow author Bonnie Burton — @bonniegrrl — on Twitter, and she tweeted it the moment it went up.) Seventy-five percent said No, and I’m pretty sure at least some of them really mean it.

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Everything you wand

So much is said by this simple tweet:

OKC was in fact up as many as 22 during the third quarter, but the Magic didn’t start to fade until halfway through the fourth, when Nikola Vučević fouled out. At the time, he was Orlando’s leading scorer, with 20; Victor Oladipo eventually passed him. Just the same, the Magic kept pressing, and pulled to within seven in the waning moments. Still, it was an Oklahoma City win, 104-97, a sweep of the season series, though the Blowout call obviously never came.

The Magic, who’ve lost nine straight, were not punchless: they outrebounded OKC 44-40, including 14-8 off the offensive glass. During that late run, they pulled their scoring percentage up to 42 percent, and of their six treys (out of 23 attempts), four came in the fourth quarter. Five Orlando players reached double figures, led by Oladipo with 22; Tobias Harris came up with 18, and Willie Green added 13 from the bench. Still, the Magic blocked only one shot, and thereby hangs a tale: Mitch McGary, in his first appearance since ever, came on in the last minute, put up one shot, and Kyle O’Quinn (11 points) knocked it away.

Still, the Thunder did a decent job of scoring, despite the absence of Kevin Durant, whose toe is acting up again. Russell Westbrook got most of the glory with a triple-double, 25 points, 14 assists and 11 rebounds. Dion Waiters got the start in place of KD, and turned in a 24-point performance. Both Serge Ibaka and Steven Adams were hitting tonight, 16 points and three blocks from Ibaka, 12 points (on seven shots!) from Adams. Anthony Morrow led the reserves with 15; for the first time in recent memory, Reggie Jackson scored zilch.

So it’s back to .500 again, two games behind the Pelicans. By some quirk of scheduling fate, the next two games are against the Pelicans, Wednesday night in New Orleans, then Friday back at the ‘Peake. And you have to figure that the Sea Birds will be on an emotional high, having tonight cleaned Atlanta’s clock, 115-100, to end the Hawks’ 19-game winning streak. It doesn’t get any easier, folks.

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