This guy’s shui is fenged

Or something:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: Can I request a new SSN because I object to digits used?

Sorry, Bunkie, all of them use digits. And the Social Security Administration does not take requests: a reissued card will have the same number as the original.

Comments (5)




Read faster, dammit

Okay, maybe not this fast:

Ray Kurzweil, a smart guy who talks a lot about what may (or may not) happen in the future, suggests that human beings will develop computerized personal assistants that will be able to read hundreds of millions of web pages in just a few seconds.

Twilight Sparkle is a few seconds ahead of you, Ray:

Although a computerized personal assistant probably should not be the size of a Costco.

Comments (1)




I has a Supersad

Specifically, Lancelot Supersad Jr., not for his run-in with the law in New Hampshire, but simply for his name alone:

In March, we ran out a field of 64 names and instructed our readers to whittle that field down to one. What followed was a two-month period filled with heartwarming stories, examinations of Southeast Asian cultures, and revelations about highly-paid (and splendidly-named) public employees. Ultimately, 62 of our competitors came up short, and we are left with two accused thieves who will battle it out to see who can swipe our 2015 Name of the Year crown.

The left side of our bracket had no answer for Lancelot Supersad, Jr. Over the first five rounds, Mr. Supersad dropped his opponents with ease and picked up plenty of momentum along the way. He took down LaAdrian Waddle, did away with Dallas Ennema, dispatched Jazznique St. Junious, thundered past Dr. Electron Kebebew, and then, in a Final Four masterstroke, outlasted the plural noun attack of the Bulltron Regional’s one-seed, Cherries Waffles Tennis. With his latest and greatest victory in his rear-view mirror, Lancelot has snowballed his way into the championship match.

And from the right side of that bracket:

His final quest will require another heroic effort, because his opponent has steamrolled through her matchups as well. Amanda Miranda Panda began by thumping Shanda Licking before taking down Tunis van Peenen in round two. She continued her assault through the Chrotchtangle Regional by felling Beethoven Bong in the Sweet Sixteen and Miraculous Powers in the Elite Eight. Her Final Four showdown with Infinite Grover wasn’t particularly close; she ended the Staten Island man’s deep run by collecting nearly two-thirds of all votes.

Last I looked, about eleven hundred votes had been cast, probably not including yours. Get with it.

Update, 19 May: Amanda takes it all.

Comments off




All about that bassoon

You remember the Boston Pops, don’t you?

Arthur Fiedler would have approved, I think. (Meghan Trainor definitely does.)

Comments off




Ruse the day

Some years back, Italy enacted a mandatory seat-belt law, bringing them into compliance with European Union dicta. However, it was a grudging compliance at best:

What is now racing off the shelves however, is a fake seat belt buckle, no belt, which placates the vehicle’s alarm system. The company selling these gadgets notes on its website, “an alarm is useful because it reminds us to wear an accessory that most likely, in case of collision, will save lives. But if we care little about our lives and don’t mind flying through the windshield, we can purchase a Null Seat Belt. Once inserted, the alarm will stop bothering us and allow us to die in peace’.”

And I suggest that it’s a lot less intrusive than the horrid Automatic Belts inflicted on US customers back in the 1980s. At least modern-day airbags leave you alone when they’re not exploding in your face.

(Via Bayou Renaissance Man.)

Comments (1)




Commence this, pal

Okay, I’ll bite: what’s with the high-dollar commencement speakers these days?

Colleges use big-name speakers to help build brand identity, one theory goes, although it can backfire if the profile of the speaker is something that ticks off donating alums. It can also garner some negative publicity when the precious little snowflakes who make up the graduating class believe their graduation experience will be ruined because the speaker espouses causes in which they do not believe or otherwise fails to measure up to some arcane standard of university perfection. Of course, their employment experience after college will be ruined the first time they expect the world to conform to their standards, as employers frequently insist on things being the way they like them. This is if whatever micro-specialized subset of social theory in which they earned their degree allows them to secure employment, that is.

It would have been perfect, in other words, for someone like Kurt Vonnegut to come out and exhort a bunch of MIT grads to wear sunscreen — which, incidentally, he didn’t, which I know because I read the Mary Schmich essay that actually did contain such an exhortation, which somehow got attributed to Vonnegut. Baz Luhrmann, for his part, heard it as a spoken-word song:

That’s Australian voice actor Lee Perry actually speaking.

And that said, you really should wear sunscreen on certain days. If it ever stops raining for more than 48 hours this month, even I will.

Comments (4)




Among the things I never thought of

“Do you eat smooth or crunchy peanut butter with jellyfish?”

My first thought is simply “No,” but somehow that seems inadequate.

What I should have thought of: the consequences of posting this around breakfast time.

Comments (2)




Clair and sunny

So I’m rolling down the message board, and here comes one of the regular contributors with something I wasn’t expecting these days:

Phylicia Rashad with her 1989 People's Choice Award

I waited for my eyeballs to slide back into my head, and then tried to match up this picture with an event. Easy enough: the People’s Choice Awards for 1989, which reminded me that Phylicia Rashād at forty-one was pretty darn unforgettable.

Add a couple of decades, and The Actress Formerly Known As Clair Huxtable still stays on your mind:

Phylicia Rashad in jewelry by David Harris Designs

She’s just finished filming Creed, the seventh Rocky movie, in which she plays Apollo Creed’s widow Mary Anne. In this one, Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone, of course) takes Creed’s grandson Adonis Johnson Creed (Michael B. Jackson) under his well-worn wing.

Note: Working title for this was “Hi, Phylicia,” which I dumped after contemplating the ramifications thereof.

Comments (1)




Active stupidity is for real

So this showed up earlier today:

In actual English, this can mean only one of one thing. If he follows “almost all the same people” she does, and he follows no women at all, one is forced to conclude that she must not follow very many women herself — or that she’s running behind on her Bad Example quota.

One more nail sticking up, for someone who wields only a hammer.

Comments (3)




Low-information drivers

I spar with such on Yahoo! Answers on a regular basis, so I know they exist. I did not know, however, that they were now writing actual ad copy. Chevrolet is running a print ad with the heading “Our Range Just Exceeded Your Expectations,” and the text contains this howler:

Cruze boasts 46 MPG highway and can take you 717 highway miles on a single tank of gas with an available diesel engine.

I’ll accept that 717 figure — Car and Driver once got 747 miles on a single tank on a Cruze — but absolutely no gas was involved, and if you dump so much as half a liter of gasoline in that diesel mill you’re going to be buying a whole lot of engine parts. I expect one of those Y!A losers to attempt to replicate these results, and then to whine about the consequences.

(Seen on the inside back cover of InStyle, 6-15, with the charming Mindy Kaling in spaghetti straps on the front.)

Comments (2)




And never darken my timeline again

Apart from the forty or so I dumped last week for lack of participation, I can’t imagine why anyone would unfollow anyone on Twitter, unless it was for one of these reasons:

I wouldn’t say they were “dead” accounts, but they were barely breathing. And actually, I think my self-presentation is pretty good compared to some, though I’m not about to claim that I’ve never had a typo.

I am blocked by one person that I know of, and perhaps several others. I’m not sure if I want to know why.

Comments (13)




Contains 10% genuine zip

“Borrow between $100 and $15,000 by tomorrow!” says Zippy Loan, sender of this particular spam. The hidden text, visible if you turn off HTML, is as follows:

The Roman world was divided for the time between these two men, Antony receiving the government of the East, Octavian that of the West. In the year which had preceded this division Cleopatra had wavered between the two opposite factions at Rome. In so doing she had excited the suspicion of Antony, and he now demanded of her an explanation. One must have some conception of Antony himself in order to understand the events that followed. He was essentially a soldier, of excellent family, being related to Caesar himself. As a very young man he was exceedingly handsome, and bad companions led him into the pursuit of vicious pleasure. He had scarcely come of age when he found that he owed the enormous sum of two hundred and fifty talents, equivalent to half a million dollars in the money of to-day. But he was much more than a mere man of pleasure, given over to drinking and to dissipation. Men might tell of his escapades, as when he drove about the streets of Rome in a common cab, dangling his legs out of the window while he shouted forth drunken songs of revelry. This was not the whole of Antony. Joining the Roman army in Syria, he showed himself to be a soldier of great personal bravery, a clever strategist, and also humane and merciful in the hour of victory. Unlike most Romans, Antony wore a full beard. His forehead was large, and his nose was of the distinctive Roman type. His look was so bold and masculine that people likened him to Hercules. His democratic manners endeared him to the army. He wore a plain tunic covered with a large, coarse mantle, and carried a huge sword at his side, despising ostentation. Even his faults and follies added to his popularity. He would sit down at the common soldiers’ mess and drink with them, telling them stories and clapping them on the back. He spent money like water, quickly recognizing any daring deed which his legionaries performed. In this respect he was like Napoleon; and, like Napoleon, he had a vein of florid eloquence which was criticized by literary men, but which went straight to the heart of the private soldier. In a word, he was a powerful, virile, passionate, able man, rough, as were nearly all his countrymen, but strong and true.

This particular block of text was swiped from Famous Affinities of History, Volume 1 by “Lyndon Orr,” one of several pseudonyms used by scholar Harry Thurston Peck (1856-1914), who after losing his major academic gig shuffled his way to the Slough of Despond, and ended his sorrows therein.

Still, that’s a better fate than I’d wish on a spammer, even a spammer with an email address of imbecility at calmreload.info.

Comments (2)




Decidedly unparalleled

There are regular street grids, and there are street grids that are not so regular. An example of the latter:

Apparently 4th Street turns sharply northwestward from 6th Avenue, and eventually runs into 12th Street. Not neat, perhaps, but comprehensible from a map. Similarly, if not so dramatic, is the corner of NW 23rd Street and Meridian Avenue in Oklahoma City: crawling off to the southeast is NW 19th Street. This makes more sense in the grid context when (or if) you remember that 19th was a streetcar route back in the day.

Turn this premise several degrees, and you have the next scenario. The big blue dot represents 4900 Springdale Road, Austin, Texas:

Bing Maps segment from east Austin

This is, on first glance, perfectly sensible: were the grid extended this far east, 4900 would be about two blocks south of 51st. But Martin Luther King used to be 19th Street, and it’s practically on your doorstep: you can see segments of 16th and 12th, right where they’re supposed to be. From 4900 to 1200, it’s only a mile. But 1200 to 700 (at 7th Street, natch) is 1.8 miles, because the east Austin street grid is convoluted in such a way you almost wonder if those crazy New Yorkers had something to do with this.

For the record, I have bicycled the entire length of Springdale, which disappears into Manor Road near US 290, resumes on the far side of the freeway, and peters out into insignificance a couple miles farther north; I eventually threaded my way to Pflugerville, which in those halcyon days of 1970 had 550 people instead of its current 55,000.

Comments (2)




You didn’t teach that

And I reply, “Well, no, I assumed you would figure this out on your own.” And I was wrong:

Youth nowadays believe they don’t need to know anything, because they have what educational bureaucrats call “learning skills.” As long as they are capable of finding something with a Google search, what does it matter whether or not they ever actually do Google it? Their entire mental life is built around the idea expressed by every apathetic student taking a required course in college: “Is this going to be on the exam?”

So we have many millions of allegedly “educated” Americans, people with college degrees who haven’t opened a book since they received their diploma. They went to college in order to obtain a credential that would qualify them for an office job with a salary, benefits, paid vacation and everything else deemed necessary to middle-class life. Once they got the requisite credential, their interest in “education” ended, and so they spend their leisure watching Netflix or playing XBox or in some other amusement. Read a book? Why would anyone want to read a book?

Which explains why so many of them are upset at the fact that said credential hasn’t opened up the desired doors, leaving them, as the buzzword says, “underemployed,” serving up lattes and such to people they despise. It boils their fundaments that life might actually require work, and that their piece of sheepskin and their $73,000 in debt won’t magically produce a life of leisure.

I probably spent less time in a classroom than any post-adolescent you’re likely to meet. As a result, anything I’ve needed to know over the years, I’ve had to find out on my own. Fortunately, the one thing I did learn in those few classroom days is how to find things out. And if I’ve learned anything in non-classroom life, it’s that a test of some sort can come at any time, whether I’m prepared or not.

Comments (4)




The wrong side of something

KitsuneRisu is here talking about Singapore, but it’s almost a Universal Truth:

Everyone has a place like that in their town (or the entirety of your country if you live in Russia), where there’s a whole shopping strip which is pretty cool and suddenly there’s just this one area emitting a black cloud of fear from it, like vicious anger-breath from the lungs of an irate mongoose.

It’s as sketch as the result of a crying elderly woman’s attempt to recall her mugger to the local police district’s new profile artist who doesn’t have a degree in good sketching. It was kinda like the north part of the Strip in Las Vegas. The further up you go, the more uncomfortable things feel, and suddenly you realise you’re standing in Circus Circus and there’s 15 wrinkled slot-grannies staring at you over their cigars and liter-bottles of rum, and everything has this weird clown motif that doesn’t carry.

Especially true where I live: the character of a neighborhood can undergo half a dozen changes in a single mile.

Comments (1)




Wednesday, Thursday, Friday?

Quoth George Witzke: “Yeah, so the marketing director for this mega church … he’s fired.”

Questionable church banners spelling out WTF

I’m not so sure. This is clearly an inspiration to prayer, given that most people are going to see that and think “Oh, my God!”

Comments (5)