As if some day their Prince might come

“Wonderful,” sniffed McGehee. “Designer metatarsals.”

Five years later, it’s a thing:

“It didn’t help that my feet were a huge size eight, which meant shoes looked ungainly, and my second and third toes were longer than my big toes. I would squeeze my feet into shoes two sizes smaller, so my toes were always sore and covered in corns. I knew I was making my feet look even worse, but I couldn’t bear to wear big, ugly shoes. Because I work in the beauty industry, I spend all day looking at people’s feet, which made me even more unhappy with my own.”

So Paulina, 30, hit upon a drastic solution: so-called “Cinderella surgery”, a range of controversial new cosmetic procedures that alter the shape and size of a woman’s feet to improve their appearance.

Paulina being British, she’d wear a size 10 over here, which doesn’t strike me as huge. (Then again, my daughter wears a 10, so perhaps I’ve had time to adjust, and besides, most quotidian footwear is offered in at least 5 through 10 inclusive.)

The British Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society would like you to know that they don’t endorse this sort of thing for “purely cosmetic reasons.” And I can’t imagine any shoes so utterly wonderful that you’d pay a price far exceeding any reasonable shoe price — Paulina said she forked over £4500 — to be able to wear them.

Which, come to think of it, makes the “Cinderella” name kind of silly; she was the one who actually could wear the slipper proffered by the Prince. Then again, if it really fit, why did it slip off her foot when she was making her midnight escape?

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Price competition, sort of

The covers of yesterday’s Daily News and New York Post (courtesy of newseum.org, which is in Washington and therefore presumably out of firing range):

New York tabloids, 23 June 2014

The Post would rather you didn’t remember they went up from 75 cents to $1 two years ago, though the price is clearly stated — in the far corner.

The Times, you ask? Two-fifty. Then again, it’s a broadsheet.

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Burning not too bright

Meanwhile in Albany, the concern over Big Game grows:

State legislators in both houses have passed a bill banning people from posing for photos while hugging, patting or otherwise touching tigers in New York state.

Manhattan Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal explained that she introduced the legislation to increase safety at traveling circuses and county fairs that allow the public to get up close and personal with their big cats.

Which is a major problem in New York, what with, um, two tiger-related incidents at such exhibitions in the past ten years, suggesting that there might be ulterior motives for this measure:

But the Upper West Side Democrat acknowledges proudly that the bill would also destroy a trend now prevalent among users of dating apps — men snuggling with tigers in reckless attempts to look brave or cuddly or, even more implausibly, both in their dating-profile photos on online services like Tinder and OKCupid.

Remember when a woman could point and laugh, and that was the end of it? Now apparently she has to have the Assembly backing her up.

(Via Consumerist.)

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A minor blast from the past

On this date in 2000:

There comes a point in the life of every Webmaster when s/he wonders out loud, “Why am I doing this?” In my case, it was about the third day this site was up. And while it has been relatively well-received during the four years of its existence, by which is meant that no one has sent me any live explosives just yet, the possibility of stagnation constantly lurks and occasionally even looms.

What to do? I thought it over for less time than I probably should have, and decided that what dustbury.com was lacking (apart from personality, tastefulness, and utility, but that’s another story) was a sense of immediacy. Pages got updated when I got around to them; some things got lost in the shuffle. And while I have no problem blaming some of this on the vagaries of the workplace — at best, long hours make for short tempers — at least one of the tailbones needing a suitable kick was my own.

Thus, Version 7 (you’re soaking in it) introduces my Sort Of Blog, a way for me to get some stuff on the table without regard to the semi-regular Vent schedule or the ongoing necessity to update the other sections.

There’s been something new every day since. Literally. In the literal sense of the word. (Current version is 15.6.)

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The patience of a St.

Every now and then I have to haul out the postal database — comes on a DVD nowadays — and I notice the standardizations: “Cove,” if a street descriptor, is cut back to “CV” (though “Glen Cove Drive” would be GLEN COVE DR), and things like FORT and SAINT are always spelled out.

This latter annoys the townsfolk of Saint St. John, Kansas:

John Pierce St. John was governor of Kansas from 1879 to 1883 — most noted for his prohibitionist stand against liquor and for welcoming and encouraging Exodusters, former slaves from the Deep South who were settling on the Kansas prairie.

As Stafford County’s boundaries were being organized in 1879, there was a county seat war between Stafford and Zion Valley. Residents in Zion Valley suggested to the new governor that if the county seat could be in their community, they’d be willing to change the name to St. John. So today St. John is Stafford County’s seat.

The name of the town is on everything as St. John — the local post office, the water tower, the newspaper and signs leading into the community.

Except for that post office computer thing.

There’s now a petition asking that the Postal Service fix its damn database already.

(Found on Matt Drachenberg’s Facebook page.)

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It continues to be written

When I converted this place from Movable Type to WordPress in the fall of 2008, I stumbled around a bit trying to find an appropriate replacement gizmo to display random quotes in the sidebar, and found an extremely simple one: feed it an ASCII text file, and it will pluck a line therefrom. (Not only is it old and outdated, the guy who wrote it has given up his domain to a placeholder.)

While dropping in a new quote this past week, I got to wondering how many actual quotes were in the file, now a whopping 170,269 bytes. Figuring maybe 100 characters per line, I guessed 1,700, and then imported the whole thing into a spreadsheet to see how many lines it took. The answer: 1,609.

For your amusement, the five most recent additions:

“Eventually it comes to you: the thing that makes you exceptional, if you are at all, is inevitably that which must also make you lonely.” — Lorraine Hansberry

“Engineering is the art of modeling materials we do not wholly understand, into shapes we cannot precisely analyze, so as to withstand forces we cannot properly assess, in such a way that the public has no reason to suspect the extent of our ignorance.” — Dr. A. R. Dykes

“I don’t know how to travel to a future that I can’t see.” — Twilight Sparkle

“I’m so sick of these little white girls acting as if they’re so high and mighty and know everything about culture. Starbucks is not culture.” — Rebecca Black

“It’s not so much how busy you are but why you are busy. The honey bee is praised. The mosquito is swatted.” — Molly F. O’Connor

As always, make of that what you will.

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Some semblance of a ballot

Oklahoma Democrats are in about the same sad state as California Republicans: outnumbered and then some in state offices, they’re more than decimated but less than demoralized. Maybe. At any rate, Tuesday’s primary gives me, as an actual Oklahoma Democrat, a very short ballot to contemplate.

Four Democrats — and, for that matter, two Republicans — would like to chase Janet Barresi out of the Superintendent of Public Instruction office. Of the four on my ballot, I’m leaning toward Freda Deskin, who founded a charter school (ASTEC) in the east end of the old Shepherd Mall back in 2000. It’s not a selective school, either: “ASTEC does not test students for admittance, require only students eligible for AP courses or ask students to leave if test scores are low. We believe all students can grow from where they are.” Evidence of same: the middle school gets a blah D-plus on the most recent state ratings, but the high school scores an A. At some point, it appears, they’re indeed growing.

For US Senator (Unexpired Term) — in other words, Tom Coburn’s seat, Dr. No having decided to retire two years early — we have three candidates, one of whom (Jim Rogers) I’ve seen on a ballot before. My pick here is Connie Johnson, who just finished up her fourth full term representing Senate District 48, on the city’s northeast side, mostly because she’s pretty good at thinking outside the box. (She worked to knock down one of the state’s perennial Fetus Personhood bills; I generally tend to favor such things, but the amendment she offered was a classic of its kind. That bill never made it to the House, let alone the governor’s desk.)

For House District 5, vacated by James Lankford, who’s running on the GOP side for Coburn’s old seat, we have three Democrats. From the Old Guard, there’s Tom Guild, retired college professor, making his third try; from the Far Corner, there’s Leona Leonard, chair of the Seminole County party apparatus; and somewhere in between, there’s Al McAffrey, who served three terms in the State House, representing District 88, and then a term in Senate District 46. Truth be told, what I’m hoping for is for McAffrey to prevail in the primary and then take on Republican Patrice Douglas, former Edmond mayor most recently on the Corporation Commission, just to see who gets the most out-of-state money.

My rule for County Commissioners has been honed down over the years to “Is the incumbent under indictment?” Willa Johnson, who came to District 1 after years on the City Council (Ward 7), is not under indictment, and I know from nothing about her opponent, one Ron Henry from Luther, so Johnson gets the nod.

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It’s never too late to shut up

You’d think Wesley Crusher, of all people, would have realized that:

Recently, Mister [Wil] Wheaton committed the heinous crime of referring to someone as his “spirit animal.” Spirit animals, based on totemic beliefs, come from a number of different cultures throughout the world, but Tumblr seized on this and shredded Wheaton for appropriation of Native American culture. So of course, he did the smart thing by acknowledging people’s concerns privately and moving on with his life.

Nah, I’m kidding. He picked one of the less irate messages and replied to it with (and I hate using these words) copious amounts of White Guilt™, wallowing for forgiveness and cursing his ancestors. And of course, Tumblr saw how remorseful he was, and forgave him.

Nah, I’m kidding. His apology was dissected, and he was vilified even more with his own words. And so he got up and yelled back, and told people not to be a dick again, despite continuing on being a dick himself. This continued until a voice of reason, an actual Native woman herself, spoke up and politely asked all the White Saviours™ of Tumblr to stop telling her how to be offended, apologized to Wheaton for the kerfuffle, and explained that “Native Americans of all tribes pride themselves on being generous with our cultural iconography.”

Nah, he’s kidding. She denounced the living crap out of the White Saviours™ (below the jump for language considerations):

Read the rest of this entry »

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Strange search-engine queries (438)

This feature has appeared more or less uninterrupted for over seven years, and unlike the case with some ventures I could name, I have the archives to prove it.

cheap pimped 90s 323s forsale hatchbacks:  Fortunately, pimping a vehicle tends to reduce its resale value, so “cheap” might actually be possible.

rebecca black “saturday” “synthpop”:  Well, it certainly isn’t death metal.

hertzlinger doritos:  Available only during certain times of the year.

How much does a engine weigh in the 1988 Mazda 626:  People asking this are really asking “Do I have to have an engine hoist?” Yes, you do.

origin of the term dirt bag:  Well, it certainly can’t be older than dirt.

jury rig 90 geo prizm oil cap:  Of course, ever last one in the junkyard is gone, because everyone else did the same damned thing.

surlier:  A combination of “surly” and “earlier,” this describes my mood after being told I have to go to work two hours before the usual start time.

penislenthoil:  Probably expensive, like all synthetics aimed at the desperation marketplace.

drowned ferraris:  Funny thing: they can’t swim.

yaris sixy gairl rapes xxx you tube:  See how you like it if you’re raped with a Yaris. Or, indeed, any small Toyota.

Intructions making antidote to reverse the action and visible within an hour instead of a day:  Unfortunately, it’s printed in invisible ink. Maybe tomorrow.

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Papa’s got a brand new Baghdad

So what happens next in Iraq? What will the US do?

Based on recent experience, something feckless and incompetent that makes America look stupid and does nothing to stop the killing. Worst case, something so blisteringly stupid that the Muslim fanatics take a temporary break from killing each other to kill Americans.

I know that sounds harsh and mean and unsympathetic, but really there is no action the US government can take to stop the killing in Iraq or any other Muslim nation. For a significant fraction of Muslims, killing is what they do.

And, of course, they should be allowed to do exactly that. Because culture. Beheadings? Female genital mutilation? Forced marriages? Well, at least they don’t say anything about having to pay for contraception.

It’s easy and not unreasonable to call out the feckless incompetence of the Obama administration on foreign policy. But in the case of Iraq, it seems to me that it’s mostly the fault of the Iraqis.

Save a slice of that fault for George W. Bush, who tried to follow something sensible — deposing Saddam Hussein — with something essentially impossible: so-called “nation-building.” That’s done from within, not from without. Always.

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Out of sync

How can you be subjected to peer pressure when you don’t have any peers?

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Walk this way, or else

TSA scanner usage is on the wane, says Jack Baruth:

Use of the scanners is decreasing, slowly but surely, as TSA holds out exemption from them as a piece of candy to be given to the subservient. Are you a child? You don’t have to go into the scanners. After all, no child has ever carried a bomb anywhere. Are you the parent of a child? You also get to skip the scanners, because no parent anywhere has ever sacrificed themselves or their children for a political ideal. Are you old? You can skip them, because old people never do anything rash.

The most recent exemption, which I’ve witnessed twice in the past week, boggles the mind. If you are traveling with an emotional comfort dog, you can skip the scanner. That’s right. Carry a dog, skip the scanner. This is where we are as a country: we value the emotional comfort of an emotional comfort dog over the safety of Americans on a plane. Of course, since the scanners are just there for theater, it doesn’t really matter if you’re carrying a dog or not, they’re useless and the metal detector is to be preferred for all reasons that are grounded in reality — but what does this say about the ridiculousness of the TSA? Do they really think that Al-Qaeda can’t get their hands on a small-breed dog?

Perhaps they’re thinking that the traditional Muslim eww-dogs-have-cooties doctrine would stay the hand of the jihadi — in which case, perhaps you should obtain an emotional comfort piglet and be sure.

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Something about unlimited support

There are actual alpha males, and then there are males who imagine that they’d be alpha if only they had [obviously absent characteristic]. I suspect this guy of being one of the latter:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: Why doesn't Bill Gates have a hotter wife?

To amplify:

I mean he’s a multi billion dollar inventor. Basically all the hottest women would want him. Why doesn’t he have a hotter wife and why have he never had one who is hotter?

Melinda Gates headshotThis assumes two things: that guys with multiple billions are as a matter of course expected to land someone in the Leggy Supermodel class, and that when they don’t do so, it’s a matter of interest to the rest of the world. It would never occur to this guy that Bill Gates might have won the heart of exactly the woman he wanted.

Besides, as anyone who’s ever worked at Microsoft undoubtedly knows by now, you can’t force an upgrade on someone without causing major heartbreak, or at least a major pain in the hindquarters.

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Clutch this, pal

This item dropped into the spam trap late Friday night:

I’ll immediately clutch your rss as I can’t to find your e-mail subscription link or e-newsletter service. Do you have any? Kindly let me understand so that I may subscribe. Thanks.

No, she doesn’t find my ideas intriguing; the link she gave me goes to some place where you can buy Instagram followers.

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Where have all the Hummers gone?

Not every one, but certainly a lot of them, wound up in Ulaanbaatar, capital of Mongolia:

I saw dozens of Hummers every day in UB and no, it was not the same doing the rounds, I checked.

All models are represented, with the H2 being the most frequent. When riding my bike to Terelj National Park, I was even passed by a hugely huge H1 Alpha Wagon and it took both sides of the road to pass my tiny mountain bike! Scary. I also spotted a few pick-ups. One interesting fact in Ulaanbaatar is that a majority of these Hummers are driven by women. With 80% of the highest-ranking jobs in the capital held by women it makes sense that they drive one of the most expensive American vehicles around.

Is this the answer to “What would Genghis Khan drive?”

In 2010 Terbish Bolor-Erdene, a 30 year-old entrepreneur president of the Mongolia Hummer Club, said there are around 300 Hummers in Ulaanbaatar, a quarter of them sold through his dealership. This number could well have jumped to 500 or 600 today. “The Hummer started out as a military vehicle and we Mongols still think of ourselves as warriors. It’s just a perfect fit for our country and our people,” he said.

And if it’s not a Hummer, it’s a hybrid:

If the very high ratio of used right-hand drive Japanese imports in the streets of Ulaanbaatar was a logical continuation of what I had progressively observed as I traveled further East in Russia, the big difference is the extremely high occurrence of hybrid models, namely the first two generations Toyota Prius. It turns out that imported used hybrid cars are exempt from import taxes, but the very harsh weather Ulaanbaatar experiences during winter still makes it a puzzling choice.

Somehow hybrid cars and temperatures going down as low as -40° to -45°C seems to be an odd combination. But speaking with a few drivers in the capital city, they all told me one of the main advantages of owning a hybrid car and particularly a Toyota Prius is that they always start without a fault each morning in winter, no matter how crazy the temperature is. That is definitely not the case for non-hybrid cars, in particular the hordes of used and battered Hyundais I spotted all across the country.

There are, says the roving reporter, “thousands” of Prii in the Mongolian capital, and, to his surprise, rather a lot of these contraptions.

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But enough said about that

Eve Hewson, quoted in the July Vanity Fair: “I dress pretty much like a nine-year-old boy.”

My inner nine-year-old girl was immediately curious, and I hit up the search engines, but found nothing really persuasive. Perhaps this is how she avoids paparazzi, and therefore there are no pictures.

I did, however, find several items like this:

Eve Hewson semi=prone

I certainly don’t remember any of that sort of thing when I was an actual nine-year-old boy.

Eve is her middle name: her first name is Memphis, and her parents are Bono (yes!) and Ali Hewson. Despite serious parental disapproval, she started acting in 2005 at the age of fourteen in Erica Dunton’s short Lost and Found alongside older sister Jordan. (Bono, said to be the uncredited producer, presumably is responsible for Eve’s billing as “Brenda M. Stankard.”) Dunton brought her back for the 2008 feature The 27 Club; she’s also appeared in Enough Said (as the daughter of the James Gandolfini character) and This Must Be the Place. In none of these, so far as I can tell, does she look like a subtween boy.

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