Three

If the pony content seems even higher than usual, there’s a reason for it: it was three years ago today that My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic was unleashed upon us unsuspecting humans, and while I admit to not having noticed it until nearly the beginning of Season Two — well, you know what they say about the ardor of converts.

This song closed out Season Two, and more than once I’ve called upon it to dispel the blues. It’s not the actual last scene, but a video compilation of various scenes in that episode. And if two pony fans meet, perhaps through a dating service, and fall in love, you can be absolutely certain this song will be played at their wedding. So let’s get this party started:

May we all live happily ever after.

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Splurge overkill

Ars Technica, on the debacle that was, and continues to be, healthcare.gov:

The result of the headlong rush to October 1 was a system that had never been tested at anything like the load it experienced on its first day of operation (if it was tested with loads at all). Those looking for a reason for the site’s horrible performance on its first day had plenty of things to choose from.

First of all, there’s the front-end site itself. The first page of the registration process (once you get to it) has 2,099 lines of HTML code, but it also calls 56 JavaScript files and 11 CSS files. That’s not exactly optimal for heavy-load pages.

I know from “not exactly optimal,” inasmuch as I look at it every day. In my own defense, I never expect hundreds of thousands of visitors a day — the all-time record is 13,636 — and while it varies somewhat from day to day, the front page at this writing has 1,281 lines of HTML code, calls four scripts, and has a single CSS file.

(Via Daily Pundit.)

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You’ve got everything now

When last we left This Charming Charlie, Universal Music’s licensing types were making threatening noises about the horribleness of sticking Smiths lyrics into Peanuts panels.

Perhaps they should have asked the guy who wrote those lyrics:

Morrissey would like to stress that he has not been consulted over any takedown request to remove the Tumblr blog named ‘This Charming Charlie’.

Morrissey is represented by Warner-Chappell Publishing, and not Universal Music Publishing, (who have allegedly demanded that the lyrics be removed).

Morrissey is delighted and flattered by the Peanuts comic strip with its use of Morrissey-Smiths lyrics, and he hopes that the strips remain.

This is worth noting, if only for the phrase “Morrissey is delighted” — how often do you hear that?

Said the keeper of the blog:

I’m deeply honored that Morrissey spoke out on behalf of This Charming Charlie, although not surprised. Morrissey is not a stranger to fair use, and it was my extreme respect for his appropriation of words and images that led to this project in the first place. I’m glad he is able to see the humor in all of this, even if lawyers could not. Hopefully, this example will set a precedent for copyright laws in the future, and encourage others to express themselves and enrich our culture through free speech, parody and social critique.

Stop me if you think you’ve heard this one before.

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I don’t know, I’ve never furfled

There is now, for some inscrutable reason, an online-dating site for pony fans:

BronyMate is a dating site and social network for the Brony community who are fans of the cartoon show My Little Pony (MLP).

Now the last time anypony collected statistics on the matter, the fandom was about 80 percent male and 75 percent unattached — and about 25 percent INTJ. To me, this looks like a catastrophe waiting to happen. (Then again, almost anything involving dating looks to me like a catastrophe waiting to happen.)

Interestingly, at least to me, their blog link, for the moment, redirects to the blog of FurFling, an existing dating site for furries. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I probably should have looked over their questionnaire, just to see if they asked “Do you even yiff?”

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Unadjusted expectations

There’s a reason they’re called Clients From Hell:

I'm not looking for a website - I was actually hoping to get $500,000 for my domain name. How can you help me with that?

To tell you the truth, I don’t think you could get five hundred K even for ZooeyDeschanelWardrobeMalfunctions.com.

(Via this AlesiaKaye tweet.)

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Never saw her as a college-mare type

This turned up, uncredited for some reason — listed source is a Dropbox account — at Derpibooru:

Rainbow Dash's GED

“Jennifer”?

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Fleet’s out

Mark Alger asks:

Now I wonder … does anybody besides me notice how much nicer and lighter the traffic is since the .gov shutdown?

Down here in my neck of the woods, it’s not quite so noticeable, possibly because of whatever metalaw it is that says that lighter traffic creates more opportunities for bad drivers. I admit, though, that I haven’t seen a whole lot of appliance-white motor-pool flex-fuel Chevrolets of late.

And then there’s this: over the same period, gasoline prices have fallen about 15 cents a gallon, while crude remains over $100 a barrel. Diesel hasn’t budged a bit, though, which tells me that the Feds are probably still using the big trucks to get to yet-unbarricaded parks.

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Somewhere below “hall monitor”

In view of events like this and this, one might reasonably ask:

Does the employment application for the National Park Service actually include a place where prospective rangers can indicate they were the little power-tripping suck-up who always got picked to watch the class when the teacher stepped out into the hall, and if so, is it a trigger for automatic hiring?

Even given the priorities of government generally and this government in particular, there are far more of those, um, people than can possibly be absorbed, unless some kind soul unleashes the Blob.

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Cuter than kudzu

And just as hard to eradicate, evidently:

With it being so dry the last several years we’ve not wanted to tempt the wrath of the fire department that is right around the corner so it’s been building up and making fertile ground for all manner of weeds and jungley vegetation. And the honeysuckle that I posted a picture of awhile back just kept expanding, taking over everything.

I know from drought. Then again, this year has been unusually wet — 18 inches above normal at the moment — and in soaking conditions, jungle welcomes you.

The next step, of course, is to call the Expert:

I got a landscaper out to assess and estimate. He said that the honeysuckle wasn’t honeysuckle. It was Chinese/Japanese honeysuckle, which the Missouri DNR classifies as an invasive species and mandates the removal thereof. He quoted an insane amount for removal of all vines on the fence, meandering through the yard, razing the jungle and completely leveling the bed at the side of the house with a huge conglomeration of vine, poke weed and ancient bush that had seen better days.

I think I could run up a five-figure landscaping bill without even breathing hard — or opening the gate, even.

And if you ask me, mulberry is pretty invasive; it’s already gotten all kissy-face with the cottonwood out back. (Although it kept the lint this spring down to almost nil, so perhaps dues have been paid.)

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High temerity

One of Monday night’s hit-and-run comment spams originated, it claimed, at something called — well, you look at it:

[domain name redacted] /bot-creation-service-2/recaptcha-ocr-with-60-accuracy-rent-available

I think I’m more annoyed that there was once a Bot Creation Service 1, which had to be, um, upgraded.

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Hanging on

Sometimes life is one damn thing after another; other times it’s several damn things at once.

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Across the Atlantic sea

The Thunder took on the Sixers in Manchester, England (England!), and from the pregame chatter, you’d probably conclude that this didn’t figure to be a hairy competition. Indeed, Kevin Durant took the fourth quarter off, OKC having gotten to an 83-74 lead after three. “Do not take us lightly,” Philadelphia replied during an 11-2 run to start that final frame, tying the game at 85-all. “Can too,” sniffed Reggie Jackson, who scored the Thunder’s next two buckets and assisted on the third; the Sixers never got within two again, and OKC gets to come home 2-0 in the preseason with a 103-99 win.

If Reggie had something to prove, I think he did: he rolled up 29 points on 10-17 from the field and 8-8 from the line, though he and his 3-point shot weren’t on speaking terms. (OKC generally was blah from beyond the arc, hitting a mere six of 22; Philly went 12-30.) Jeremy Lamb piled up more minutes than anyone, starting at the two instead of Thabo Sefolosha; he got seven points, which sounds Thabo-ish, and five turnovers, which doesn’t. And Serge Ibaka recorded the game’s only double-double: 18 points, 11 rebounds. Weirdly, KD didn’t get fouled all night; he got his 21 points on 9-18 shooting. More interesting, perhaps: Steven Adams, starting in the middle, and moving faster than Kendrick Perkins dreams of.

The Philadelphia starters were game, and four of five finished in double figures, but the guy who kept them in the game was sixth man Tony Wroten, who had a team-high 20 points including four of eight treys. Stalwart Evan Turner turned in a 19-point line, marred only by a 5-10 showing at the stripe. (Wroten hit all six of his freebies.) There are those who say this team is destined for the bottom. I have my doubts about that.

And so ends the European experiment for this season. The Thunder will be back at the ‘Peake a week from today, to greet the new-look Nuggets. As though the old-look Nuggets weren’t scary enough.

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It was a slow news day, or something

Top story in the Sunday Oklahoman was the disclosure that one county commissioner and the county assessor owned certain properties that were exempt from property tax, inasmuch as those properties were leased to qualifying nonprofits. Somewhere down in the guts of the article, you could find that yes, this is legal: exemptions are not based on who owns the property, but the use made of it. Scandal-mongering? Someone up the line thought so, and the paper was contrite this morning:

From the publisher …

We have published The Oklahoman 365 days per year for 110 years. Thousands of elements and hundreds of employees come together to bring you news stories, photos, graphics, sports scores, obituaries, advertising and more.

Many judgment calls go into this daily equation, and we are hopeful that more often than not our judgment is sound. But it wasn’t Sunday morning when we gave front-page billing to the story about two elected officials and tax exemptions for property owners who lease to nonprofit entities.

As reported in the story, Oklahoma County Assessor Leonard Sullivan and County Commissioner Ray Vaughn did not violate any laws; the referenced exemptions are legal, and their actions were not particularly newsworthy. Our placement on the first page of Sunday’s edition did not comport with the worthiness of the story and we have no one to blame but ourselves.

This was a poor decision on our part and it is our responsibility to our community, and ourselves, to say so. We are mindful of the Purpose Statement below which we publish every day and intend to live by.

Commissioner Vaughn and Assessor Sullivan have been gracious about the article and have our apologies.

The paper’s Paul Monies posted an image of the page-2A meae culpae to Twitter.

When I read the piece Sunday afternoon, I had exactly one reaction: “Big deal.” Then again, one does not expect much from the Sunday front page.

And this was the link; the article has since been plunked into the memory hole.

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Scan do

You already know what I think about supermarket self-checkout lanes — “Meh” seems to sum it up — but now there seems to be Actual Data to support this conclusion:

In a recent research paper called “Dancing With Robots” [pdf], the economists Frank Levy and Richard Murnane point out that computers replace human workers only when machines meet two key conditions. First, the information necessary to carry out the task must be put in a form that computers can understand, and second, the job must be routine enough that it can be expressed in a series of rules.

Supermarket checkout machines meet the second of these conditions, but they fail on the first. They lack proper information to do the job a human would do. To put it another way: They can’t tell shiitakes from Shinola. Instead of identifying your produce, the machine asks you, the customer, to type in a code for every leafy green in your cart. Many times you’ll have to look up the code in an on-screen directory. If a human checker asked you to remind him what that bunch of the oblong yellow fruit in your basket was, you’d ask to see his boss.

Forty eleven. (Unless it’s organic, then it’s 94011. Yes, I’ve scanned some bananas.)

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Virtuoso serious

The OKC Philharmonic, to promote an upcoming concert, posted this picture of violinist Jennifer Koh to their Facebook page:

Jennifer Koh

(Photo by Juergen Frank.)

Jennifer Koh String Poetic artworkNow I admit that I adore that dress, but this is definitely a few clicks away from the way she usually looks, which is perhaps a bit more soccer-mom-ish than glam. See, for instance, the artwork for String Poetic, a collaboration with pianist Reiko Uchida, which won a Grammy nomination for Best Chamber Music Performance in 2009.

Jennifer Koh will appear with the Phil on the 19th of October; she’ll be playing Samuel Barber’s Violin Concerto. Later this month, a new album:

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They didn’t open with a prayer

The Friendly Atheist at Patheos tells of a campaign event he perhaps didn’t expect:

Dr. Ed Shadid, a current Oklahoma City councilman, is running for mayor and has a bit of an uphill climb ahead of him since he’s running against the incumbent, popular Mayor Mick Cornett‎.

It’s worth noting, though, that Shadid is courting the atheist vote. According to a now-deleted Tweet, Chas Stewart of the Oklahoma Atheists Godcast mentioned that Shadid attended one of his group’s events.

Outreach, y’know. And if this race turns out to be close … well, you can see where this is going. Oklahoma Atheists claims about 1500 members, which is not an inconsiderable number by any means.

It doesn’t mean Shadid is an atheist himself, but so far, his visit doesn’t seem to have hurt him. Progress!

Now if only Shadid would stop talking about how he wants to raise property taxes and taking pictures with children wearing shirts with the words “Penis” and “Vagina” on them, he might have a better chance of winning this thing.

Yeah. At the very least, those words belong on pants.

(Via The McCarville Report.)

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