As Friday comes around again

There is actual news on the Rebecca Black front:

This will be their second collaboration. (The first, a nice acoustic reworking of Miley Cyrus’ “We Can’t Stop,” came out two years ago.)

Oh, and there’s this:

Um, no.

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Déjà entendu

What, another 13-year-old singer with an implausibly catchy tune? Absolutely:

Hala Al Turk lives in Bahrain. When she was nine she appeared on Arabs Got Talent, though she’d been singing in public for a couple of years already. Signed to Dubai’s Platinum Records, she’s recorded lots of stuff, though “Live in the Moment,” released earlier this year, has proven to be her biggest hit.

How did I find this? Watching Rebecca Black’s “Sing It,” I glided briefly down the comments — I know, I know, you never read the comments — and saw someone’s remark to the effect that Black, then fourteen, looked like the adult version of Hala Al Turk. Which, you know, she does, kinda sorta.

And to what does Hala aspire? According to Wikipedia, she wants to be a dentist.

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Bless you, Ottawa

Hmmm. Maybe I need an “Entirely Too Warm” category. Or, you know, not:

A coffee cup from the Great White North

(Handed down through the years from Todd Wilbur’s Facebook page. Probability of Photoshop: greater than 50 percent.)

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Captain Obvious drops me a line

Fake PayPal email is so common I barely notice the real PayPal email. And if they’re going to use subject lines like this, it’s just as well:

Balance Notification: You have funds in your PayPal account.

Well, duh. That’s what it’s for, you knuckleheads. I assume you’re wanting me to go forth and spend more, but hey, that’s not your call — unless, of course, I don’t have funds.

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They spent big

The National Basketball Association has announced the winners of the Most Overpriced Roster award:

Remember when people said Thunder management was cheap? And now they’re faced with either matching a maximum offer (four years/$70 million) for Enes Kanter, which will put them deep into Taxland next year, or letting him walk to Portland.

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What do you got?

Jon Bon Jovi was asking this a few years back, and it occurs to me that the question probably ought to be asked of subscribers to streaming-music services:

Even as recently as five years ago, people would have had quite a bit of music stored on some device that they carried with them. I have a tiny little iPod Shuffle that I can clip to my sleeve when I work out that will play music long past the point I have fallen face-first into the treadmill. And thank you for asking, but that statement does actually imply an amount of time measured in more than minutes. But since streaming the music is easier, people don’t bother to stop and store it, especially when the process is kind of complicated.

I have spoken before of my SanDisk/Sansa ClipZip, its four gigabytes swollen to 36 and its operating system replaced by something entirely different. It contains 5,000 or so tracks specially selected by — well, by me, actually, from the several collections I maintain. Then again, I’ve been storing music for, literally, fifty years, so I’m used to the concept. Not so some of your young streamers, which fact accrues to the benefit of the services themselves:

They do much better financially when people link up to them every time they want to hear a song and they get no new money if someone listens to that same song held instead in a file on a device’s own data storage.

Then again, how many streams will it take to bring in ninety cents — 70 percent of a $1.29 single at the iTunes Store, once Apple takes its cut — in revenue? Maybe I’ll have to ask Jon about that.

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Now post me a sandwich

The only way this could be better would be if you could actually download a grilled-cheese sandwich:

Cheese Posties is a new initiative by the folks behind hot sauce subscription service Lick My Dip.

In other news, there exists a hot-sauce subscription service.

The idea is pretty straightforward: you subscribe and they send you a toastie every week. Well, the ingredients for a toastie. You do obviously have to toast it yourself. I’m pointing this out because some very pedantic killjoys have repeatedly made the point that a toastie isn’t a toastie unless it’s toasted, and therefore they’re “posting you a sandwich.” I think these people need to find some love in their lives.

You don’t need a grill or a George Foreman to toast your toastie, because it comes with its own toaster bag. All the ingredients arrive in a letterbox-sized package, safely separated up so you can construct your toastie the way you like it.

Our author samples the wares:

Varieties, you ask?

Other recipes include Chocolate Cheesecake (cream cheese and Nutella), Mascarpone & Biscuit Butter, Blue Stilton & Raspberry, Balsamic Blueberry & Cream Cheese and Gouda & Tigernut Relish (no, I don’t know what that is either).

On reading the recipe list, I noticed a distinct lack of the world’s best cheese — halloumi — and asked the question. They assured me that a Halloumi & Honey variant is in the pipeline. Praise cheesus.

Admittedly, this is a bit lower-tech than, say, faxing a beer, but it has its charms.

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Make me a match, already

Does this need explanation?

To quote the guy (29, Harvard Biz grad):

[I]f you work 12 hours/day, how would you want to spend the few waking hours you have left? Probably not standing around in a bar with your fingers crossed. This is way more fun for me.

If the relationship holds up for six months, he writes the check. I, for one, wonder how anyone can have anything resembling a relationship with a person who works twelve hours a day for a few weeks, let alone half a year.

Disclosure: I work about 9.5 hours a day.

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Altitude adjustments

Most of the time, what I wear to work doesn’t have a collar to speak of, as most six for [sale price] T-shirts don’t, but it’s always understood, at least by me, that if I did have a collar, it would be blue: I may have a tech job of at least moderate complexity, but I don’t sit around and watch things happen either.

This particular ethic seems to have settled fairly well upon the next generation as well, and that’s good, because I couldn’t pull off that whole helicopter thing:

Those who inhabit the affluent uplands of 21st-century America have problems the rest of us cannot imagine. When you’re near the top of the mountain, it’s a long way down, and there are limits to what elite parents can do to prevent their child from suffering the stigma of downward mobility. Money can buy a lot of things, but money alone will not inoculate your child against failure, especially if your idea of “success” requires your kid to have perfect grades, be senior class president, win the state science fair, be solo violinist in the school orchestra, and spend her summers helping famine victims in a Third World country. This results in an over-scheduled childhood, with parents in the role of Doctor Frankenstein and their child as a sort of laboratory experiment to produce the future Harvard student.

It’s probably just as well, then, that I applied to only one of the Ivies, and subsequently did not attend it.

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Give ’em enough grope

TTAC head honcho Mark Stevenson reviews the V6 version of the Dodge Charger, and in so doing contrasts it with another largish sedan with sporting pretensions: Nissan’s Maxima. One particular data point that wounds me to the quick:

If you are looking for a driver-oriented cockpit, the Maxima wins this round as well, with an interior feeling very similar to the [Cadillac] CTS Vsport in the way it encapsulates you. The Charger is much more open up front and lets you put your hand on the leg of the lady next to you.

I am required to point out here that (1) my current ride is basically a three-generations-ago Maxima and (2) if the passenger seat is occupied, my hand does not stray east of the shift lever. Which is not to say that I’ve never thought about it.

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Don’t want to rush things

For the most part, I can support this decree:

When I become King of the World, Arbiter of Good Taste, and Prince of Land and Sea I shall decree that the Monday following a long holiday or vacation shall be a shortened work day, six hours instead of eight, so that one can ease back into the turmoil.

Just one question: are we chopping those two hours off the beginning of the day, or off the end? (Or are we trimming one hour on each side?)

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Not from Federation stock

Flip phone chassis designed to look like a Star Trek communicatorThe argument for the flip phone, of late, has been pretty much limited to “Hey, they were good enough for Star Trek, weren’t they?” Well, things just got a little bit more complicated:

Structured-light 3D scanning allowed the Wand Company to ensure that every line and curve of the original communicator was perfectly captured. And while the Wand Company’s latest product won’t be able to call a starship orbiting the planet, it will pair with Bluetooth-enabled mobile phones to answer calls with a flick of the classic antenna grille.

The Communicator will include a sleek stand, using an invisible magnetic catch to hold the Communicator securely in place. It also has a built-in wireless charging capability, so that the Communicator will always be fully charged and ready for use.

Diecast metal, stamped and machined aluminum, specially made microphone and antenna grilles and a painstakingly reproduced housing texture further ensure that the Communicator is a serious prop that will delight collectors.

“Serious prop.” I like that. It’s not really a phone itself, of course, but it will let you talk to one.

The Star Trek Web site is taking preorders at $149.95. The Wand Company has already begun producing phasers, kinda sorta.

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Trumpetuously so

Bill Quick finds some redeeming social value in the Presidential campaign of Donald Trump:

The GOP lineup is desperately trying to find some way to not piss off the base so much that it bolts or stays home, and yet at the same time keep the oligarchs who are financing their campaigns happy. Trump is blowing all that straight to hell.

Still, The Donald is only slightly more Republican than I am, and has actually tossed a few dollars into the massive Clinton money hole, which suggests a position for him on the outside, shooting in:

I hope he ends up going third party. I’m not sure who it would hurt the most — the GOP or the Dems.

You know, just once in my life I’d like to see a Presidential election actually thrown into the House. (And there are, not 435 votes, but fifty.)

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The siblings of Big Brother

Woot yesterday was selling a home security system, festooned with no fewer than four video cameras, and this was their pitch:

Big Brother is absolutely watching. You might as well stop fighting it and just watch him right back.

Look, that Orwellian nightmare has come and gone. We’re in a place Georgie-boy never even DREAMED about. Privacy is gone, and we gave it up willingly for likes and stars and upvotes. So why fight it? This is the world we want! Get some cameras and join in!

With a security system, you’ll be able to see the world around you. Your friends, when they’re line-of-sight. Your family, when they wander around the yard. Total strangers, when they walk within range. It’s the very same power every government has, only on a smaller scale. Why, with a little practice, maybe you can even zoom in and read the paper over your spouses’ shoulder!

Don’t be afraid of Big Brother. Be his ally! Lament the privacy that’s now long gone by treating yourself to a nice security system and become part of the system. It’s not so bad, as long as you stay out of Room 101.

This is of course snark, as Woot cranks out for every product it sells, but that one line in the second paragraph is just a hair chilling: “Privacy is gone, and we gave it up willingly for likes and stars and upvotes.” Now you know what we truly value.

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Roll them all over

Few shout “We are a legitimate business!” louder than your friendly neighborhood payday-loan joint. Maybe it is. I haven’t been there. But certainly this particular operation threw away its bid for legitimacy:

The operators of a payday lending scheme that allegedly bilked millions of dollars from consumers by trapping them into loans they never authorized will be banned from the consumer lending business under settlements with the Federal Trade Commission.

The settlements stem from charges the FTC filed last year alleging that Timothy A. Coppinger, Frampton T. Rowland III, and their companies targeted online payday loan applicants and, using information from lead generators and data brokers, deposited money into those applicants’ bank accounts without their permission. The defendants then withdrew reoccurring “finance” charges without any of the payments going to pay down the principal owed. The court subsequently halted the operation and froze the defendants’ assets pending litigation.

According to the FTC’s complaint, the defendants told consumers they had agreed to, and were obligated to pay for, the unauthorized “loans.” To support their claims, the defendants provided consumers with fake loan applications or other loan documents purportedly showing that consumers had authorized the loans. If consumers closed their bank accounts to stop the unauthorized debits, the defendants often sold the “loans” to debt buyers who then harassed consumers for payment.

So weasels and jackals can crossbreed. Who knew?

(Thanks to Roger Green.)

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Unsmart cookie

First we find out that Double Stuf falls short of being truly Double. Now we’re getting an Oreo in which you can barely see the Stuf:

Oreos are getting a skinny new look, and its maker says the new cookie is a “sophisticated” snack for grown-ups that isn’t meant to be twisted or dunked.

Mondelēz International Inc. says it will add “Oreo Thins” to its permanent lineup in the U.S. starting next week. The cookies look like regular Oreos and have a similar cookie-to-filling ratio, except that they’re slimmer. That means four of the cookies contain 140 calories, compared with 160 calories for three regular Oreos.

For those who will sit there and eat half the package at a sitting, this is essentially meaningless.

And apparently the Thins are (quelle surprise!) fragile:

[I]t took months for the company to perfect manufacturing for the Thins. Early on … 60 percent of the cookies were breaking, but that the rate eventually came down to 3 percent.

Perhaps this could be alleviated with a Double Stuf Thin, though I suspect that isn’t happening. In the meantime:

You can twist the Oreo Thin, but three out of every four cracked when we tried — unlike the original, which as we all know, usually separates with ease.

So clearly the manufacturer is invoking the original first definition of “sophisticated”: “deprived of native or original simplicity.”

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