Clutch this, pal

This item dropped into the spam trap late Friday night:

I’ll immediately clutch your rss as I can’t to find your e-mail subscription link or e-newsletter service. Do you have any? Kindly let me understand so that I may subscribe. Thanks.

No, she doesn’t find my ideas intriguing; the link she gave me goes to some place where you can buy Instagram followers.

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Where have all the Hummers gone?

Not every one, but certainly a lot of them, wound up in Ulaanbaatar, capital of Mongolia:

I saw dozens of Hummers every day in UB and no, it was not the same doing the rounds, I checked.

All models are represented, with the H2 being the most frequent. When riding my bike to Terelj National Park, I was even passed by a hugely huge H1 Alpha Wagon and it took both sides of the road to pass my tiny mountain bike! Scary. I also spotted a few pick-ups. One interesting fact in Ulaanbaatar is that a majority of these Hummers are driven by women. With 80% of the highest-ranking jobs in the capital held by women it makes sense that they drive one of the most expensive American vehicles around.

Is this the answer to “What would Genghis Khan drive?”

In 2010 Terbish Bolor-Erdene, a 30 year-old entrepreneur president of the Mongolia Hummer Club, said there are around 300 Hummers in Ulaanbaatar, a quarter of them sold through his dealership. This number could well have jumped to 500 or 600 today. “The Hummer started out as a military vehicle and we Mongols still think of ourselves as warriors. It’s just a perfect fit for our country and our people,” he said.

And if it’s not a Hummer, it’s a hybrid:

If the very high ratio of used right-hand drive Japanese imports in the streets of Ulaanbaatar was a logical continuation of what I had progressively observed as I traveled further East in Russia, the big difference is the extremely high occurrence of hybrid models, namely the first two generations Toyota Prius. It turns out that imported used hybrid cars are exempt from import taxes, but the very harsh weather Ulaanbaatar experiences during winter still makes it a puzzling choice.

Somehow hybrid cars and temperatures going down as low as -40° to -45°C seems to be an odd combination. But speaking with a few drivers in the capital city, they all told me one of the main advantages of owning a hybrid car and particularly a Toyota Prius is that they always start without a fault each morning in winter, no matter how crazy the temperature is. That is definitely not the case for non-hybrid cars, in particular the hordes of used and battered Hyundais I spotted all across the country.

There are, says the roving reporter, “thousands” of Prii in the Mongolian capital, and, to his surprise, rather a lot of these contraptions.

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But enough said about that

Eve Hewson, quoted in the July Vanity Fair: “I dress pretty much like a nine-year-old boy.”

My inner nine-year-old girl was immediately curious, and I hit up the search engines, but found nothing really persuasive. Perhaps this is how she avoids paparazzi, and therefore there are no pictures.

I did, however, find several items like this:

Eve Hewson semi=prone

I certainly don’t remember any of that sort of thing when I was an actual nine-year-old boy.

Eve is her middle name: her first name is Memphis, and her parents are Bono (yes!) and Ali Hewson. Despite serious parental disapproval, she started acting in 2005 at the age of fourteen in Erica Dunton’s short Lost and Found alongside older sister Jordan. (Bono, said to be the uncredited producer, presumably is responsible for Eve’s billing as “Brenda M. Stankard.”) Dunton brought her back for the 2008 feature The 27 Club; she’s also appeared in Enough Said (as the daughter of the James Gandolfini character) and This Must Be the Place. In none of these, so far as I can tell, does she look like a subtween boy.

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Now pay attention, dirndl

Amazingly, Say Yes to the Dress has run for ten seasons on TLC. I haven’t watched much of it, but I suspect there were moments when someone might have said No, though they may not have made it into the final edit.

There are, of course, other things one might say to a dress:

3. “Why don’t you have any pockets?”

10. “That is an unreasonable place to put a zipper.”

13. “It’s freezing. Please stop exposing so much of my skin. I feel like you’re doing this on purpose. It’s at least a little passive-aggressive. Your fabric is so sheer! What are you even made of, whispers?”

“No,” it turns out, is number 15.

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Something, um, happened

Can’t find your tax-return documentation? Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX) to the rescue:

Taxpayers who do not produce documents for the Internal Revenue Service will be able to offer a variety of dubious excuses under legislation introduced by Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX 36) a week after the IRS offered an incredibly dubious excuse for its failure to turn documents over to House investigators.

Under Stockman’s bill, “The Dog Ate My Tax Receipts Act,” taxpayers who do not provide documents requested by the IRS can claim one of the following reasons:

  1. The dog ate my tax receipts
  2. Convenient, unexplained, miscellaneous computer malfunction
  3. Traded documents for five terrorists
  4. Burned for warmth while lost in the Yukon
  5. Left on table in Hillary’s Book Room
  6. Received water damage in the trunk of Ted Kennedy’s car
  7. Forgot in gun case sold to Mexican drug lords
  8. Forced to recycle by municipal Green Czar
  9. Was short on toilet paper while camping
  10. At this point, what difference does it make?

Stockman’s bill likely faces an uphill battle in Congress, whose attention has been distracted of late by the annual Invertebrate Festival (January 2 until gaveled to a close).

(Via this Smitty tweet.)

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Beware of geeks bearing GIFs

Why, they might not actually be GIFs at all:

Twitter started supporting animated GIFs. But there’s a catch! What Twitter ends up showing you isn’t actually a GIF at all. EVERYBODY PAAANIIIIIIC.

Note: don’t actually panic. This isn’t a bad thing. Quite the contrary.

As noticed by the folks over at Embedly, the “GIFs” that end up in your Twitter feed aren’t actually GIFs at all. They’re technically not even really image files in a strict sense — they’re more like video files without sound. They’re MP4s, embedded with the HTML5 video tag. Even if you upload a GIF, it’s converted into an MP4.

And why is this good? Embedly explains:

GIFs are terrible at compression… A GIF is literally a sequence of independent images squeezed into the same file. An mp4 video can take advantage of all kinds of fancy compression techniques like keyframes and forward-predictive frames.

If most of your users are on mobile, this is a huge win. Even desktop users will notice better performance on a page with many GIFs.

(Via this Adam Gurri tweet.)

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Leader of the laundromat

A little bit of turn-of-the-century history:

It was a pretty efficient kick, given the size of the deadbolt; the jamb was nicely splintered. The perp’s efficiency, however, stopped there; not only did he overlook the camera hanging right beside the door, he didn’t get much of anything other than frustration. I calculate my losses at $3.25, from a dish of quarters I was saving up for laundry, and about five minutes’ time to tidy up.

Thirteen quarters out the damaged door. This is precisely why I am not going to mock this startup outfit that will ship you (in a mere two days) a $10 roll of quarters for $15:

Laundry pickup services are expensive and often have long turnaround times. For many folks, the biggest pain point is simply finding enough quarters. Banks have long lines and close early. Grocery and convenience stores aren’t always willing to give out more than a few dollars worth of quarters at a time. We put getting quarters on autopilot so you never have to worry about it again.

I need hardly point out that someone who is routinely visiting the local laundromat (which term used to be a trademark of Westinghouse) probably doesn’t have time to visit all those other places on a regular basis, and also probably doesn’t have three weeks’ worth of clothes on hand. And considering what a roll of quarters weighs — half a pound, unless you have the old silver coins on hand, in which case you’re probably not shoving half a dozen of them at a time into the nearest Speed Queen — a lot of that $5 markup is going just for shipping costs.

A decade ago, I spent $800 on laundry equipment so I wouldn’t have to do that again, plus God knows how much in subsequent years to keep the machines powered up and running. I don’t regret it for a moment. But if I hadn’t, I’d probably be sending off for a roll of quarters every two weeks.

(Who’s that banging on the piano? I don’t know.)

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We don’t read in this town

“This town” being Leawood, Kansas, hard by State Line Road and therefore practically in Missouri. The 30,000 or so residents are generally wealthy and possibly happy, and the authorities are decidedly anal:

Over the last year or so, Little Free Libraries have been sprouting up across the Kansas City metro. The idea is pretty simple: You construct a birdhouse-like box, paint it up, put it in your yard, and fill it with some books. Anybody who passes by is free to take a book, swap a book, or add a new book to the little library. It’s an informal thing that’s meant to promote literacy and community in a cute, friendly way.

Leawood ain’t about that life.

Brian Collins and his son, Spencer, built a Free Little Library as a Mother’s Day gift this year, at their home in north Leawood, near 89th Street and Ensley Lane. They went out of town for a few weeks and arrived home recently to find a letter from the city informing them that the structure ran against city codes. “Your take a book leave a book structure must be attached to the house,” the letter read.

Collins has since taken down the box, to the delight of at least one person:

KCTV 5 found a neighbor who is glad the city is forcing Collins to remove the library because it’s an “eyesore.” That person chose to speak anonymously, probably because he or she did not wish to be outed as the most boring/crotchety/joyless human in the metropolitan area.

If there’s a Homeowners’ Association in the neighborhood, this jerk(ette) is almost certainly on the board.

Note to Oklahoma City: Don’t even think of doing this. We’re doing fine.

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Quote of the week

Roberta X has had enough of our little pissing contests:

Once again, Larry Correia, John Scalzi and some nitwit I never heard of much are spatting. In a better world, I’d be able to say, “Boys! Go to your rooms,” but until I am elected Empress of All For Life, here’s a stopgap for the cheering hundreds, specifically those writing comments along the order of, “Yeah! $BAD _STUFF should happen to $GUY_I_DISAGREE_WITH! He’s bad and he should feel bad about it.”

Yeah, y’know what, Bucko? No. Not. This here is the United States of America and people are allowed to be right out there being WRONG, walking around and talking and spreading wrongness and bad advice everywhere. And dammit, that’s actually how most of us like it. Oh, we don’t want to sit next to ‘em on the bus, those wrong people who disagree with us, but if it’s the last seat left, we will, and most of the time, they’ll even scooch over a bit.

And unfuck you Left, Right or Center if you don’t like that. No, seriously: that attitude is The Real Problem. It’s the very same exact damn thing that led to riots by chariot-team boosters in Byzantium. I don’t expect it will change, really.

You can read some of the spattage for yourself if you’re so inclined. In the meantime, I await the rise of her empire.

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But does it taste like chicken?

The Chinese division of Walmart is taking steps to improve packaged-food quality:

Wal-Mart plans to triple spending on food safety in China, where fox meat was found in packages labelled as “Five Spice” donkey meat in January.

The masquerading meat came from a local supplier. After the discovery, the company said it would increase checks on vendors to ensure they have the necessary permits and do DNA testing of meat sold in China.

I don’t know which possibility is more worrisome: that people can’t tell the difference between fox and donkey, or that they can.

(Via Interested-Participant.)

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Proper post-Soviet flats

A Russian lawmaker is pushing a measure which would ban high heels anywhere in the Russian Federation:

Oleg Mikheyev, a lawmaker with the pro-Kremlin A Just Russia party, says high heels, as well as trainers, ballet flats and men’s loafers, are bad for people’s health, and it’s time to take action, the Agence France-Presse reported.

“Footwear should have heels that are two to four centimeters high, five centimeters high at the most,” Mr. Mikheyev said in a proposal to the Customs Union, which also includes ex-Soviet states Belarus and Kazakhstan, AFP reported.

“The harmful effects of wearing extremely high heels and flat shoes have now been recognized by experts of the entire world,” it read. “It’s necessary to change this trend.”

Ninotchka, pick up on line two, please.

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Fark blurb of the week

Therapist arrestedafter reportof sexualassault.

(Linked to this [warning: irritating popup survey].)

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My tears are falling

And of course, you came in with ’cause you’ve taken her away, the opening to “Take Good Care of My Baby,” recorded by Bobby Vee in 1961, the second Number One hit for Brill Building stalwarts Carole King and Gerry Goffin. The first, you may remember, was the prodigiously influential “Will You Love Me Tomorrow,” cut by the Shirelles in late 1960. Carole did the music, Gerry did the words; Eva Boyd, who did their baby-sitting, sang their third.

Goffin and King broke up in 1968; both stayed in the business and made lots of hits.

Then King tweeted today:

She was never the words person, but she came up with a few:

“Gerry Goffin was my first love. He had a profound impact on my life and the rest of the world. Gerry was a good man and a dynamic force, whose words and creative influence will resonate for generations to come. His legacy to me is our two daughters, four grandchildren, and our songs that have touched millions and millions of people, as well as a lifelong friendship. He will be missed by his wonderful wife Michele, his devoted manager, Christine Russell, his five children, and six grandchildren. His words expressed what so many people were feeling but didn’t know how to say.”

When they wed, Gerry was twenty; Carole was seventeen. He made it to seventy-five; she’s still working. And you know, she could knock out a lyric if she really wanted to.

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Baring up

From 1994, a Not Particularly Special Episode of Murphy Brown:

Accompanying Miles (Grant Shaud) on a shopping excursion, Murphy (Candice Bergen) inadvertently gets a glimpse of Miles’ “privates” as he tries on a new suit. News of this incident spreads like wildfire throughout the “FYI” office, subjecting poor Miles to a million-and-one bad jokes about his family jewels.

Twenty years later, Yahoo! Answers is awash in people all telling the same story: “OMG [individual(s)] saw me nude!” In vain will you, or will I anyway, tell them “No big deal”; they’re convinced that they are Forever Branded, and “What must they think of me?”

This fear extends even to people who routinely eschew clothing: for some — not all — there’s a compulsion to behave like choirboys, albeit sans robes, lest their reputations be shot. Even the American Association for Nude Recreation, itself occasionally viewed as hopelessly square, has acknowledged this:

[E]ven within the nudist lifestyle there are a lot of people who cannot separate the idea of being nude with the sexual act. Going from club to club, it’s truly amazing the different attitudes concerning what is sexual and what is not.

There are clubs that will not allow anyone to hold hands while being nude. There are clubs that will not allow tattoos or piercings for fear of being too sexual. At some clubs you cannot repeat an “off color” joke, no matter how funny it is. Then there are clubs that require clothing to be worn while dancing. And, of course, there are clubs that promote themselves as sexually open and have no problem with overt sexual activities. Yes, there is a third type of club that has found that balance between being overt sexually or scared to show any sexuality. The fact that you have these three different types of clubs makes it more confusing to separate the idea between being nude and having sex.

Talk to most anyone who is not a nudist and they will automatically assume that there are some sort of sexual implications associated with being a nudist. Some nudists go overboard trying to deny any sexuality with nudism.

It’s about time AANR admitted it, says Nudiarist:

AANR has stuck to their “family values” mantra, declaring that their clubs “foster a wholesome, nurturing environment for members and their families”. Certainly there are clubs that do indeed adhere to this strict definition, but there are many which cater to adults or couples only.

So this AANR blog post today is a first step in recognizing that the “one size fits all” idea is being consigned to the trash heap of history. Just the simple statement that some nudists “go overboard trying to deny any sexuality with nudism” is a clear indication that the days of the old guard are nearing an end.

I mean, wasn’t the whole idea of discarding your wardrobe to de-stress yourself?

Which is why the best line in that Murphy Brown episode was uttered by Corky Sherwood. Asked what was going on, she shrugged and said, “Oh, Murphy saw Miles’s wiener.” No big deal.

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Whose vault is this?

Part of the Coca-Cola legend is its quadruple-secret formula, allegedly known to only a few:

After Dr. John S. Pemberton invented Coca-Cola in 1886, the formula was kept a close secret, only shared with a small group and not written down. In 1891, Asa Candler became the sole proprietor of Coca-Cola after purchasing the rights to the business. Then, in 1919, Ernest Woodruff and a group of investors purchased the Company from Candler and his family. To finance the purchase Woodruff arranged a loan and as collateral he provided documentation of the formula by asking Candler’s son to commit the formula to paper. This was placed in a vault in the Guaranty Bank in New York until the loan was repaid in 1925. At that point, Woodruff reclaimed the secret formula and returned it to Atlanta and placed it in the Trust Company Bank, now SunTrust Bank, where it remained through 2011. On December 8, 2011, the Coca-Cola Company moved the secret formula to a purpose built vault in a permanent interactive exhibit at the World of Coca-Cola in Atlanta.

Headquartered just up the road from Coca-Cola, in Sandy Springs, Georgia, is an eatery whose recipes, until this week, were owned by somebody else:

It might seem completely irrational for a fast-food company to not own the recipes that it uses every day, but that’s exactly what fried chicken place Popeyes has been doing for the last 23 years. The company has been paying an outside company $3.1 million per year in royalties for certain recipes that are crucial to its business, and recently paid $43 million for the rights to them.

If you’re wondering how this happens and how you can get into the rent-a-recipe business, it helps to know that the company that owned the recipes was started by the chain’s founder, Al Copeland, in 1984. Diversified Foods and Seasonings is a separate entity that sells most of the food that a Popeyes franchisee needs, from biscuit mixes to chicken batter to premade soups and macaroni and cheese.

In 1994, the company filed for bankruptcy and reorganized, and Copeland was ousted from the company he founded. He got to keep some Popeyes franchises … and DFS, the company with the contract to supply Popeyes restaurants with, well, food and seasonings.

Al Copeland didn’t live to see this development; he died in 2008 at sixty-four.

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Oy

There exists an app called Yo. What does it do, exactly?

Yo is the hottest new app that will leave you scratching your head. The entire premise of the app is to send other users a single word: Yo.

Yo currently has over 50,000 active users, after launching as a joke on April Fools’ Day. Users have sent over 4 million Yo’s to each other. Without ever having officially launched, co-founder and CEO Or Arbel managed to secure $1.2 million in funding from a list of unnamed investors, except for co-founder, angel, and Mobli CEO Moshe Hogeg, who participated in the round.

If you think you need this like the hole in the head you just scratched, well, the idea here is not so much the Yo, but the context of the Yo:

You’re at a bar with your best friend and a love interest. Both put a hand on your shoulder when they talk to you. From the outside, it all looks the same. But there’s a big difference between the comfortable touch of a close friend and the explorative graze of someone you may very well have sex with soon.

The next morning, your friend and your crush send you the exact same text. It says simply “Hey.” From your old pal, “hey” just means hey. But from your sexy friend, “hey” can mean anything from “last night was fun” to “I’m still thinking about you this morning.”

As with anything, a “Yo” can just be a yo. But you’ll feel a very real difference between a “Yo” you get in the morning from a friend and a “Yo” you get at 2 a.m. from a friend with benefits. Trust me.

Last night after I’d drafted this, I got a one-word spam, and that one word was “hey.” I have no idea what it means.

If we have to have a single syllable that’s fraught with meaning, I nominate a better one: “Dude.”

(Via this Nancy Friedman tweet. It should be noted here that the Knights Who Say “Ni” were not consulted.)

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