All static, all the time

Two years from now, there will be no FM radio in Norway:

Norway’s Minister of Culture announced this week that a national FM-radio switch off will commence in 2017, allowing the country to complete its transition over to digital radio. It’s the end of an era.

As Radio.no notes, Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) will provide Norwegian listeners more diverse radio channel content than ever before. Indeed, DAB already hosts 22 national channels in Norway, as opposed to FM radio’s five, and a TNS Gallup survey shows that 56% of Norwegian listeners use digital radio every day. While Norway is the first country in the world to set a date for an FM switch-off, other countries in Europe and Southeast Asia are also in the process of transitioning to DAB.

The US can be expected to lag behind, mostly because the three major commercial radio formats — Rascal Flatts, Bachman-Turner Overdrive, and Sports Guys Yelling — aren’t willing to give up their existing playgrounds.

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Strange search-engine queries (481)

The reason this weekly feature exists is simply that one day I was glancing at the logs, noting that some of the URLs contained embedded search strings, and that some of those search strings were slightly weird. (Not that the things I search for aren’t weird, but that’s another matter.) I figured the least I could do is get some blogfodder out of it, and here we are, about a decade later.

Голая слилин дион:  So far as I can tell, this is “naked Celine Dion.” More than that, I don’t want to know.

wile e. coyote breakaway mug:  So Acme’s getting into housewares now. Hmmm.

cavitational force:  In the new Disneyfied Star Wars universe, this is part of the Dark Side, in which Darth Decay sends forth his minions to infiltrate your gums.

“bobby russell” cd “go chase your rainbow”:  Is there a place you can buy it on Franklin Pike Circle?

personal items from estate of late karen carpenter:  Including six sets of drumsticks, a case of Chloraseptic, and birds who suddenly appear.

what happens when you hold your breath and bite your tongue:  You survive yet another presidential campaign.

how do i know if my transmisson is going on my 2000 mazda 626:  It’s 15 years old. Of course it’s going.

cast your fate to the wind the original hit:  This is not the one you were expecting, but it’s the correct one:

Black Orpheus by Vince Guaraldi

That Sounds Orchestral British Invasion version was still a couple of years away.

enjoy blues ocaine boggie my way home messing with the blues:  Sounds to me like you’re messing with something already, and it rhymes with “ocaine.”

imagine the us congress is considering legislation that will ban mtbe:  You get enough people whining about it, you could get Congress to consider legislation that would ban stretch marks, peach pits, or the heartbreak of psoriasis.

it didn’t down on me that there might be a few holes in my education:  For instance, how to spell “dawn.”

“bob licht” basketball divorce:  It was inevitable, once he caught her Spalding.

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With bluebonnets on it

You may wish to grow Lupinus texensis, the Texas bluebonnet, yourself. You may even be in Texas. But you will probably not succeed:

You want a yard full of them? Good luck with that.

You see, bluebonnets prefer well-drained places that are untouched, unmowed, un-stepped-on, un-anything. Texans want to grow them in their yards, and they are consistently foiled in this endeavor. These rascally little plants want to bloom in places nobody messes with.

And I’ll just ‘fess up right here — my mother is the only human on this earth who has successfully gotten bluebonnets to grow in her yard — at least, the only human I know personally.

But it was only in flowerbeds that she LEFT ALONE.

Bluebonnets do not like to be messed with. EVER.

And you can’t get a whole lot more Texan than that, right?

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Loyal plastic robots

“Brown shoes,” observed Frank Zappa, “don’t make it.” How prescient he was [warning: autostart video]:

One of St. Louis’ oldest public companies, Brown Shoe, is stepping out with a new name, Caleres.

Brown has been part of the corporate name since the company’s founding in 1878. Next month, however, that name will be dropped once shareholders approve the change on May 28.

“Brown Shoe doesn’t conjure up the image of who we are today,” Brown Shoe’s CEO, president and chairwoman Diane Sullivan said in an interview. “Our name has to be more than a name — it must be managed as a brand. It’s hard to be emotional about a brown shoe.”

Late last year, Brown Shoe announced plans to pursue the Stuart Weitzman brand, which was eventually sold to Coach.

On the rebranding, I’m with Brian J. on this one: “‘Caleres’ conjures up what, exactly?” And what happens to Buster Brown?

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First meal: snap

Followed, inevitably, by crackle and pop:

A young woman says she lives on almost nothing but Rice Krispies — and insists she is still healthier than most people.

Natalie Swindells, 26, eats four bowls of the cereal every day. She can’t face eating much else and has not tasted a vegetable for nearly two decades.

The bank worker, who says she has never taken a day off sick, stopped eating most other foods from the age of two. She now believes overeating causes more health problems than having a very restricted diet like her own.

Well, the key word here is “almost”:

She will also occasionally eat milk chocolate, ready salted crisps and chips. Although she consumes fewer than half of the recommended 2,000 calories for women Miss Swindells still has an active lifestyle. She lives in Macclesfield with her boyfriend Daniel Walsh, 26, who she says has grown accustomed to her strange eating habits.

Maybe it’s just one of the quirks of being Maxonian. Macclesfield is the only English mill town that was not bombed in World War II, and their current MP is a Mormon. Further, it’s the home of Mr. Methane, a flatulist. I’ll bet he doesn’t live off Rice Krispies.

(Via Interested-Participant.)

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Can two be as bad as one?

Remember the old “Advice to the Lovelorn” columns? Useless in the Internet age, says Robert Stacy McCain:

Whereas in the Dead Tree Age, it was possible to be clueless about sex and relationships, in the Information Age, the only clueless people are (a) stupid or (b) quasi-autistic nerd types with impaired social perception. Everybody else is able to Google up their own particular issue and figure it out. By 2006, all potential relationship problems (“Is my penis too small?” “If you have to ask, the answer is yes.”) had already been answered somewhere on the Internet.

The only reason anyone would still be publishing an online Relationship Advice column in 2015 is to serve that niche readership of Pathetic Nerds Who Just Don’t Get It.

A sample of PNWJDGI:

Q. I think the attractive woman in the next cubicle likes me. How do I find out for sure?

A. No, she doesn’t like you. Nobody likes you. You are an ugly man with Asperger’s Syndrome and nobody likes you. This woman on whom you have a sick fixated obsession doesn’t like you. If she smiles at you, that’s because you’re creeping her out. You make her nervous, staring at her constantly. Her smile is a sort of defensive shield. She has nightmares about you stabbing her in the parking lot, you disgusting weirdo. Leave her alone. Leave women alone, period. Don’t even look at a woman.

No, I didn’t ask that. For one thing, there is no “next cubicle” involved.

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Murrah plus twenty

If you were anywhere within four or five miles of downtown Oklahoma City on this date in 1995, it’s a pretty safe bet that you heard it. Felt it. First you wondered what; then you wondered why. We’ve pretty much settled the first question.

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Career dehancement

Meh.com’s parent company Mediocre Laboratories is hiring, and at this writing they’re looking for a “Member Engagement Specialist (Evenings / Nights / Weekends, PT or FT),” which boils down to this:

Do you enjoy receiving soulless, robotic emails? Do the typical customer service experiences you have make you happy? Do you loathe the opportunity to take ownership of a new process? If yes, stop reading now. But if you truly enjoy engaging with people, creating unique and memorable experiences and generally spreading sunshine and happiness with creative flair, you may have what it takes to join our mediocre staff as a member engagement specialist. If you can do all that while enduring gracefully the unavoidable rants, cranks, and jerks you’ll encounter, and say NO when required without being a jerk yourself, we should talk. Oh yea, and you’ll need to have the ability to work some unconventional hours — the mediocre shifts, if you will.

I’m not in this particular field myself, but I know from rants, cranks, and jerks; they’re dialing in more or less continuously from the moment the phone system starts letting them in to just before they get dismissed to voice mail.

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For those who think Jung

Girls' Generation

This was SNSD, circa 2012. SNSD — So Nyeo Shi Dae, “Girls’ Generation” — is a K-pop group assembled over the last eight years. The first member, sixth in line, in the dress the color of dried ketchup, is Jessica Jung, who had signed her first contract with S. M. Entertainment in 2000 when she was eleven; S. M. named her as the first member of SNSD in 2007. And seven years later, Jung was the first member of SNSD to be sacked, apparently for having too many outside interests conflicting with group activities, starting with her appearance in a Korean production of the musical Legally Blonde. (How blonde is she? Not very, I suspect.)

Jessica Jung not brushing her hair

I have no idea what that black box is for, unless it’s to obscure a brand name that didn’t pony up for promotional money.

Jessica Jung looking vaguely domestic

There were also a number of non-SNSD singles, including this song from the TV series Dating Agency: Cyrano, which ran for 16 episodes in 2013:

Incidentally, Jessica Jung was born in San Francisco, and didn’t actually relocate to South Korea until 2000, when she and younger sister Krystal, then on a family vacation, were offered tryouts by the S. M. conglomerate. Krystal, now 20, is a member of singing group f(x), which was the first K-pop act to appear at SXSW.

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A photographic addendum

Trini, my perennial companion for the Architecture Tours, sent me a folder full of pictures she’d taken on her phone during the 2015 Tour. A lot of the subjects we snapped were the same, but for no good reason I can imagine, I got no shot of the courtyard at the Buddha Mind Monastery. She did, and with her permission I bring it to you here:

Courtyard at Buddha Mind Monastery

This will embiggen with a click, but it’s about 2.5 megabytes: 4320 pixels wide.

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The most annoying name in sports

Boston is competing for the 2024 Olympics, and a Son of the Bay State explains why this is such a miserable idea:

I am of the opinion that all Olympics should be held in otherwise authoritarian countries. (Or, to be open-minded about the whole thing, in Barcelona.) A good, established dictatorship is usually the way to go. This is because agreeing to host the Olympics is agreeing to turn your city into an authoritarian state anyway, and we might as well just hand the work of organizing one over to the people who do it full time. The Olympics control your traffic. The Olympics control where you can walk or ride your bicycle. The Olympics overwhelm your infrastructure for their own purposes; a plague of be-blazered buffet grazers descend on your finest restaurants. For two weeks and change, every host city transforms itself into an armed camp with corporate sponsors. In 2004, the Democratic Party held its national convention in Boston. (You may recall that a jug-eared rookie from Illinois gave a helluva speech.) People howled. The city was rendered logistically inaccessible, and that was for less than a week. The Olympics are four times as long, vastly more sprawling, and infinitely more inconvenient. The local committee proposes, for example, to hold the canoeing and kayaking events way out in flannel-shirt country in the Berkshire foothills. People are going to be stranded so long on the state roads out there that they’re going to have to buy houses.

But this sort of thing would happen even in semi-sleepy burgs in Utah. In Beantown, things are infinitely more complicated:

And then there’s Boston itself, which was laid out in the 17th century and hasn’t changed a lot, except that it’s harder to get around than it used to be. There are parts of downtown that have survived relatively unchanged since the days when Samuel Adams himself was a brewer. The expressway situation has improved dramatically since they finished the mother of all money pits, the Big Dig — and, it must be said, since the Big Dig has stopped killing people. But the city itself remains an unwieldy beast to traverse. Let’s say, for example, that you want to watch a little badminton at Agganis Arena at Boston University, and then figure you’ll catch a little modern pentathlon at Franklin Park. You’d best leave your dental records with your loved ones back in Amsterdam so they can identify your desiccated corpse when it’s found in an abandoned cab halfway between the two venues.

Then again, Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter was laid out sometime around the 4th century.

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Saturday gets a little smaller

You can hear el Chacal de la Trompeta fading in the distance:

After more than 53 years, the popular Univision program Sábado Gigante will end on September 19, the Spanish-language broadcaster announced Friday.

The variety show, which stars Mario Kreutzberger (known on the show as Don Francisco), first launched in 1962 on Chile’s Channel 13 and has routinely been one of the most-watched show among Hispanics.

Which is not to say that Don Francisco, now 74, is retiring or anything:

Kreutzberger will continue contributing to the Univision Network with new projects and by hosting entertainment specials and campaigns such as TeletónUSA, which is held every year on behalf of disabled children. He will also take part in Univision’s ongoing efforts to look for and develop new on-air talent and professionals.

Actually, Kreutzburger’s first variety show of this sort was Gran Show Dominical, on Sundays; after a year or so it moved to Saturday.

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Big enough for two lodges

Will Truman, discussing the One Pharmacy problem — what if you have to go way out of town to get your prescription filled because the local pharmacist refuses on moral grounds? — makes a side reference that triggered something in the back of my head:

The population of Twin Peaks was originally only supposed to be 5,120. However, there was a backlash against rural-themed shows at the time, as networks were fearful that the burgeoning urban and suburban population of America would not be able to sympathize with shows set in small farming or industrial towns, so ABC requested that the sign read 51,201. In a Visitor’s Guide to Twin Peaks tie-in book authorized by creators David Lynch and Mark Frost, a note tells readers that the population was indeed 5,120, but that the sign had a “typo.”

Certainly Twin Peaks seemed a whole lot smaller than Eerie, Indiana (population 16,661).

And then something else hit me: Haven’t I brought up something like this before? Of course I have. Twice, even.

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At the mercy of the F connector

“I’m calling you on Sunday and the earliest that someone can come fix this is Thursday?”

Last year, it was reported that cable-TV prices were rising at the official rate of inflation times four, and perhaps one reason for this is sheer ineptitude:

“Well, yes, that’s the earliest one is available.” After telling the technician that he has done a good job trying to help me but his company is pathetic and a four-day delay in a service call is the kind of thing that makes customers of other companies, I say go ahead and schedule it, my choices being limited.

This means that I will not receive the service for which I pay CableOne, but I know better than to ask if they will discount my bill. It’s not because I believe they are unconcerned with the reality that I will pay for something I don’t receive. They are, but that’s not the reason.

It’s because I believe that no one working at CableOne could handle the necessary math. Not that they couldn’t handle the math of trying to pro-rate everyone’s bill who has an interruption of service. I mean I don’t believe anyone there could handle the actual pencil-and-paper math of figuring out what fraction of channels I pay for were working, how long they weren’t working and apply that discount to the amount I pay for their service.

I wonder if they read their reviews.

(If “F connector” means nothing to you, have a look at this.)

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Dots rite

Even practitioners of Minnesota Nice can be sorely vexed when you misrepresent them:

For decades, the cheerful twin dots had hovered over the “o” in Lindström on the green highway signs that welcomed visitors to the small hamlet — population, 4,442 — that had been settled by Swedish immigrants in the 1850s.

After a highway project in 2012, the signs came down and were replaced with new ones. According to a city official, the Minnesota Department of Transportation denied the town’s request that the umlauts remain, citing a rule that road signs have only letters in a standard alphabet. So in a change that irritated some Sweden-adoring people here, Lindström became Lindstrom.

But in an announcement that was indignant, a little quirky and very Minnesotan, the governor intervened on Wednesday, releasing a statement that promised that the umlauts on the signs would be restored, and fast. “Nonsensical rules like this are exactly why people get frustrated with government,” Gov. Mark Dayton, a Democrat, said in the statement. “Even if I have to drive to Lindström and paint the umlauts on the city limit signs myself, I’ll do it.”

In other news, The New York Times apparently thinks a town of more than four thousand people is a “small hamlet.” (Are there large hamlets?) Still, props to Governor Dayton for getting the message.

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Quote of the week

If “Why do all the candidates suck?” has crossed your mind of late, you might want to take a look in the nearest mirror:

Just as people like the semblance of getting a “real” glimpse into the Real Housewives of Wherever’s lives, we like the semblance of a genuinely approachable, relatable, human, real-keeping presidential candidate. But when the candidate says something a little too raw or real or sarcastic or even eccentric (as real people might) about abortion, or entitlements, or cronyism, or civil liberties, or foreign policy, we freak out.

When we have a choice between the more open, straight-talking candidate or the one that does everything through self-managed media so that they can control the message to the maximum conceivable degree, we go for the latter.

When we have a choice between uncomfortable substance and truth on the one hand, and reality or feel-good talking points and make-believe on the other, we reject the former.

When we have a choice between airbrushed images in magazines or seeing the way people actually look, we want the Photoshop.

When we have a choice between meeting people in real life, with all the potential awkwardness that might entail, or just sitting around texting and Facebook messaging, more and more, we seem to go for the “virtual.” We don’t want the sacrifices or pain entailed to really achieve; we prefer the comfort of telling ourselves that we are excelling, even when any objective analysis would show that is at best a half-truth. We don’t actually want reality, whether in our entertainment, our jobs, our education, our lives, or our politics. We just want something that kind of looks like it.

What’s that? You say we’re not like that at all? Too bad you missed President Santorum. Or Sanders. Or any of those folks we were told are “unelectable” for whatever reason.

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