Zuckerberg doesn’t like your name

Facebook demands Real Names, and Facebook thinks itself the only judge of what names are Real:

A young married couple from Arizona are feeling blue, having been banned from Facebook for trying to use their otherworldly last name, Avatar.

Balizar Orion Avatar and his wife of four years, Audry, of Prescott, say the popular social media site has deleted the husband’s Facebook account after having deemed his family name fake.

Balizar, who goes by Boa for short, says his father told him that when translated from Sanskrit, his full name, which he was born with, means: “May the Lord protect the king, son of light in deity human form.”

In order to prove that they have not made up their last name, Balizar and Audry say Facebook has required them to provide copies of their driver’s licenses and other paperwork.

Why, they don’t even have blue skin!

Patrick Phillips observes:

I did a quick search of Anywho.com for anyone with the last name “Avatar.” It turns out that in about a half-millisecond, the site returned pages of results, from people living from California to New York and plenty of points in between.

While I’ve never known anyone with the last name Avatar, it is definitely a valid surname. Facebook could have come to that conclusion at least as quickly as I did, but it’s likely they set some code to watch for suspicious names to automatically flag, and, as anyone who’s had a problem with Facebook knows, once the giant makes a decision, even an automated one, getting to an actual human being to rectify the situation is about as easy as winning the Powerball lottery twice in the same month.

Hmmm. I wonder if they have a Pandora account.

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The audience is unfazed

I mean, it’s not too often I trot out something like this:

I learned that word several decades ago, and never anticipated that I’d ever get a chance to use it. But opportunity knocked, then ran around the corner and bashed in a window, so I couldn’t very well pass it up.

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Saks full

The famed New York store (which has a branch in Tulsa) sent this up Monday evening:

This is not your run-of-the-mill gladiator sandal by any means. I duly went to the Web storefront, and found:

Undulating swirls of crystal climb this dazzling knee-high sandal in a glamorous spin on the gladiator silhouette.

Depends on how high your knee is, I suppose. The, um, superstructure is 24.75 inches tall, sitting on a 4.13-inch heel. The straps — those are straps? — are adjustable. The price, at three grand, presumably is not.

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Wiser guys

From a couple of weeks ago:

Pretty much every issue of Car and Driver — and I’ve seen them all since 1978 — contains at least one bit of prose that simply screams “They’re trying to get nasty letters, aren’t they?”

The 2016 New Car issue, it turns out, is liberally salted with semi-salty stuff. A couple of examples:

Nissan Maxima: “Asking the Maxima to be a sports sedan is like asking Caitlyn Jenner to get back in her decathlon shorts. It just ain’t gonna happen.”

Land Rover Range Rover Evoque: “There’s also a low-speed cruise control for off-road excursions. It will never be used by any Evoque owner, ever.”

Smart Fortwo: “It’s also four inches wider than the outgoing car, finally allowing two adult humans to sit inside without touching in a Duggarly fashion.”

Dodge Durango: “A Brass Monkey appearance package (20-inch burnished-bronze wheels, gloss-black grille, and more odd embellishments) will hit the Durango later in the year and taste of malt liquor and orange juice.”

It’s like Alterman said “Dammit, it says Irreverence on the cover! Now get out there and Irrev!”


It’s only just begun

Scottish singer/songwriter Amy Macdonald first got my attention with the brilliant single “Don’t Tell Me That It’s Over,” from her 2010 album A Curious Thing, which wasn’t released in the States, but that doesn’t matter anymore, does it?

She’s anything but a one-trick pony, it appears: the Daily Record out of Glasgow named her “Scottish Person of the Year” in 2008, and she was nominated twice for Scottish Fashion Icon, winning in 2014.

Amy Macdonald at the 2014 MTV European Music Awards

Amy Macdonald looking pensive

And this amuses me greatly:

In February 2013, she appeared in the Star in a Reasonably Priced Car segment of BBC’s Top Gear, driving a Kia Cee’d to a time of 1:44.4, the fastest lap time recorded for a female star at that time.

Jeremy Clarkson had a habit of pronouncing the name of that car “Cee-apostrophe-dee.” It’s not sold in the States. (Imagine that.)

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All those Antilles look alike

To a guy in a control room in New York, anyway:

Good thing they didn’t ask him to pinpoint Jamaica. He’d probably have stuck it somewhere among Canada’s Maritime Provinces.

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Surely it’s done by now

I mean — shouldn’t it be?

Machines get faster, but files get bigger, and it still takes forever to transfer them. The database that runs this very Web site took nearly 80 minutes to back up on Sunday evening.

Should anyone be curious, cc32e47.exe is the installation file for Netscape Communicator, which includes the Navigator browser (version 4), a newsgroup reader, AOL Instant Messenger, and various other artifacts of a long-departed civilization.

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Wearing off the green

“Is your taco salad healthy? “Of course it is. It’s a salad, isn’t it?

Well, Mr. Real Man of Genius, those few shreds of lettuce don’t mean squat:

Charles Benbrook … and colleague Donald Davis developed a nutrient quality index — a way to rate foods based on how much of 27 nutrients they contain per 100 calories. Four of the five lowest-ranking foods (by serving size) are salad ingredients: cucumbers, radishes, lettuce and celery. (The fifth is eggplant.)

Those foods’ nutritional profile can be partly explained by one simple fact: They’re almost all water. Although water figures prominently in just about every vegetable (the sweet potato, one of the least watery, is 77 percent), those four salad vegetables top the list at 95 to 97 percent water. A head of iceberg lettuce has the same water content as a bottle of Evian (1-liter size: 96 percent water, 4 percent bottle) and is only marginally more nutritious.

It’s worse than that, even:

The makings of a green salad — say, a head of lettuce, a cucumber and a bunch of radishes — cost about $3 at my supermarket. For that, I could buy more than two pounds of broccoli, sweet potatoes or just about any frozen vegetable going, any of which would make for a much more nutritious side dish to my roast chicken.

Lettuce is a vehicle to transport refrigerated water from farm to table.

I’m almost tempted to send back that bottle of Evian and order, yes, a Bud Light.

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Sticking a finger in the news hole

It must have been a slower news day than I thought. From page 3C of this morning’s Oklahoman:

Blowing your nose at the dinner table is disgusting

Or maybe it’s just expressing the need for more greens.


You and I have memories

Finally, a proper use for all that video footage of you as a kid:

I hope they’ll get around to the “One After 909.”


Dining alone

Unless I’m on the road, I eat out once a week, maximum; that leaves six evening meals of varying complexity which I prepare on my own, inasmuch as no one is going to do it for me. And I don’t have a problem with that:

When I was a kid, cooking for singles wasn’t an issue, because you were generally married not long after you got out of high school.

And in the not too distant future it won’t be a problem because you’ll order whatever you want from Amazon Instant Delivery and it will arrive ten minutes later, delicious, steaming hot, and ready to eat.

But in this interregnum with “boys” cowering in basements rightfully fearing commitment, and women shrieking that they need men the way fish need birth control, there are a lot of hungry singles out there.

And almost none of them even know how to boil water.

Trust me, I can boil water. (The trick, of course, is to marinate it in bourbon for several minutes.)

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Behind the unseens

Earlier this year, we brought up the concept of Invisible Girlfriend, a phone app that pretends to be dating you for whatever reason that leads you to believe you require pretense. (Invisible Boyfriend is also available, should you prefer.) One thing we didn’t get into was that either this was some seriously upgraded artificial intelligence, or some poor soul has to sit there and write all those texts to you.

We have now heard from one of those poor souls:

With each job, I would see the person’s first name, last initial and hometown; “how we met”; and my own assigned name, age, and which of six personality types they’d given their Invisible. Now I’m adventurous and fun. Now I’m cheerful and outgoing.

There were 3 major rules:

  • I was always supposed to be upbeat in my messages.
  • I’m not supposed to break character.
  • No sexting. (Photos are blocked on the service.)

I’d get the story of how we met and the last 10 messages we’d exchanged. This setup is designed to create the illusion of continuity; ideally, an Invisible Boyfriend would seem like a steady, stable presence in a user’s life, instead of what it really is: a rotating cast of men and women. And it is both: a woman who works for the service previously told me she prefers playing the role of boyfriend because she knows what a woman wants to hear.

And what price love? Surprisingly little:

If I spent an hour answering texts, and took the full five minutes to write each one, I’d be making 60 cents an hour, far below the minimum wage. This is legal because all the workers on the platform are classified as independent contractors rather than employees. “Contributors have a tremendous amount of control over their decisions — for example, when to perform a task, when to complete it, and even if they want to complete it at all,” said Jeffrey H. Newhouse, an employment lawyer at Hirschler Fleischer, by email. “That means the contributor isn’t an employee and, as a result, employee protections like the minimum wage don’t apply.”

Okay, maybe not so surprising.

(Via Hit Coffee.)

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Your Web form blows goats

Rather a lot of Web forms blow goats, and not necessarily healthy goats either, but this one seems particularly likely to abuse your kid:

This morning I logged into my account to “set my Privacy Choices.” I thought they were already set, but they sent me a letter saying their site is changing in new and exciting ways to make my life EASIER. So I logged in to check on my PRIVACY CHOICES.

First mistake right off the bat. No commercial Web site has ever changed in new and exciting ways to make anyone’s life easier. It’s always (1) change our back end for the sheer hell of it or (2) find more efficient ways to monetize our customers’ personal data or (3) both 1 and 2.

Still, she waded through the quagmire, and finally left this advice for the morassholes:

Your PRIVACY CHOICES pages — all of them, in the entire form — are chock full o’ FAIL. I’d attach screen caps but you don’t allow it. So I’ll try to explain in the 400 characters you allow here.

The helpful “error” message I got when I tried to enter my email address in the form? WTF? It’s the same email address I use to log into the “secure” area of the site and I bet you knew that. It’s the same email the bank uses to send me “Your Statement is Available Now” emails. So this is a huge coincidence, I’m sure, that the Privacy Choices page threw red errors on my email address, but then suddenly ignored them as I continued filling in the form. Testing me, were you? Most people give up at the red messages but I’m an asshole. Shit, it says I only have a few more characters left to tell you what’s wrong with the Privacy Choices pages on the site. I am feeling the stress now. I will just note that your “open a new account” page and your “make a payment” page are working fine as always. Just not the “Privacy Choices” section. Nothing there works. Such a strange coincidence. Like, what are the odds?

A reminder from Consumerist, as though you needed it:

[M]ost privacy policies are terrible. They do not guarantee you privacy; they just outline and detail the ways in which you do not have any.

Which might explain why they don’t give a damn whether you can respond to them or not.

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Strange search-engine queries (499)

People look for stuff. This has been true of the World Wide Web ever since it went, um, World Wide back in the 1990s. I figure, the very least I can do is try to find what they’re looking for, and this is what the logs are for.

how to get rid of texting sound on galaxy prevolt:  Maybe if you don’t actually text.

using your knowledge of the language of the political subculture:  Describe a method of destroying said subculture once and for all.

i hope they serve beer in hell:  They do. However, the British provided the refrigeration system.

we first knew them as the cute:  “Who are the major consumers of cosmetic surgery?”

too large penis:  Yeah, tell me another one, Stubby.

teenagers spend billions of dollars on stereo equipment and compact discs. they have the ability:  To deafen you at great distances.

world tour fishing couldn’t connect to gate server:  Insufficient bait.

how to hump a stuffed animal if your a girl:  Actual girls would never, ever have to ask this.

extreme jailbait:  You’re thinking of zygotes.

four winds revolving restaurant half price:  Must have been the day they could muster up only two winds.

spoony’s brother killed a man:  Doo-dah, doo-dah.

she’s got bite marks on her tongue:  All the doo-dah day.

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Ain’t that a blitzkrieg

In 1988, when Dave Marsh decided to come up with a list of the 1001 greatest singles, he started, for whatever reason, with Marvin Gaye. Specifically, it was Gaye’s version of “I Heard It Through the Grapevine,” a song recorded by many others, not one of whom ever came close to the majesty — and the sheer paranoia — of Marvin’s reading. (I’d put the Creedence Clearwater Revival version second if it weren’t eleven fricking minutes long.)

But from the vantage point of Much Later, it’s a little easier to see Marvin Gaye’s importance to the whole rock-and-soul universe: if he isn’t at the very center of it — think Entertainment Weekly’s “Bullseye” feature — he’s never, ever far away. Heck, he’s been verbed. So it doesn’t surprise me so much that the Ramones (yes!) fit into the same groove of that universe:

(Via Dangerous Minds.)

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Forced, one presumes

Sith happens, and sometimes Sith happens a lot:

[S]ome American parents are apparently making their allegiances known by naming their sons after the most notorious, most evil overlord in sci-fi history: Darth Vader.

According to the official Social Security Administration list of the most popular baby names in America in 2014, a couple hundred Star Wars nerds have opted for the name Anakin as their choice baby name, ranking it No. 957 of 1,000. Naturally, Darth would have been too on the nose.

The nerds knew what they were doing: “Darth” is not a name, but a title.

And “Anakin” is apparently on the upswing: it ranked 1,234th in 2013. Meanwhile, “Leia” is 509th among girls; let’s hope no poor child has been saddled with the name “Jar Jar,” or even just “Jar.”

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