Joe called it

And Steve Sailer reminds us of it:

I’m always fascinated by how often Stalin is vindicated in his observation that something bad happening to one person is a tragedy while it happening to a million is a statistic. For example, 500,000 black and Latin young men getting stopped and frisked annually for the last decade in New York City is a statistic that has mildly troubled some of the more sensitive souls in the New York elite, but hasn’t really been much of a story even locally, much less nationally, while Oprah not getting shown a $38,000 handbag is Breaking Global News. It’s like the vast outpouring of sympathy that greets the President of the United States whenever he recounts how his grandmother wanted a ride to work one day. You might think that being black in America has, on net, been good for Obama or Oprah, but that’s not a widespread impression.

More generally, human beings feel sorrier for immensely privileged people than they do for nobodies like shopgirls and grandmas.

Lest you think this phenomenon is somehow ethnic in origin, look who’s on the cover of Vanity Fair this month: Princess Diana. Sixteen years gone, and she still commands a magazine cover. It’s time for Playboy to haul out more Marilyn Monroe pictures, I suppose.

In the meantime: Boo. Frickin. Hoo.

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One pill makes you [insert adjective here]

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t understand the motivation here:

Argentina has begun distributing a free state-produced version of the erection-boosting drug Viagra for the first time, in a move intended to curb its misuse, health authorities announced Thursday.

They said 200,000 doses of sildenafil, better known under the Viagra brand name, is to be distributed free of charge through the public health network of the province of Santa Fe.

The drug is being produced in Santa Fe by the state-owned pharmaceutical firm LIFSE, which plans to eventually distributed it nationally.

Drug can be misused. Solution: distribute free version. Why can’t they do this with meth? The tweakers will expire faster than a Pfizer patent, and we’ll be able to get proper cold medicine again.

If you’re thinking about flying down to Buenos Aires, though, Fausta has a word of caution:

Those of you interested in medical tourism will like to know that Santa Fe is 467 km from Buenos Aires.

If your trip exceeds four hours, consult a physician. Or a travel agent.

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Tech distort

I was working on a sound-card problem last night when I stumbled across this page, which offered me a “repair tool.”

I am deeply suspicious of the “tool” offered, since the nominal home page looks exactly the same, and since the site is running an old WordPress (3.5.1) with one obvious plug-in: one of those SEO things. No tech site worth a damn runs obsolete software unless it’s a custom job that would take a room full of coders to fix. I suspect that their major goal in life is to get you to download malware. Not that I’m going to try any of their links.

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Rock erosion

The new, pitifully shrunken KRXO, sandwiched in at 104.5 between Magic 104.1 and Wild(ish) 104.9, is delivering, at least at my location, the sort of reception I’d expect. The Cambridge 88s have no problems pulling it in. The Big Receiver, now 39 years old, awards it a 4 on its arbitrarily calibrated signal-strength meter; the maximum realizable in practice is about 4.8. (Minimum bearable stereo signal is about 2, which is what I get from Power 103.5, a 100-kilowatt stick stuck out in Anadarko for the usual spacing reasons.) The little portable I keep on the fridge for emergency purposes couldn’t find it at all.

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Eyeballs are cheap

But television producers are cheaper:

When National Geographic was a magazine produced by the National Geographic Society, it was a valuable resource for people who wanted to learn about the world and see things in it that they might never see otherwise. Once it became a TV channel, it quickly turned into the same exploitative trash signaling our downward cultural spiral as every other piece of reality show ordure.

It occurs to me that we’re long overdue for the Scientific American channel.

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Groovy glasses

In this case, literally so:

Vinylize began because we wanted to make eyewear on a recyclable basis. We experimented by making old vinyl records into frames. The process has been refined over a number of years into a stylish and sophisticated product. We have our own special method of joining vinyl with cellulose acetate which took many years of trial and error to perfect.

Oh, and they have their own record label, too. Though those records don’t get turned into glasses. (Not all of them, anyway.)

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Even under the lights

When Karen Black lost her battle with cancer last week, what everyone wanted to talk about was either Five Easy Pieces or that damn Zuni doll. The last thing I remember seeing her in, circa 1988, was the low-budget comedy The Invisible Kid, playing said kid’s mom. But the one memory that stood out was this bit of Seventies advertising:

Karen Black for Hanes

Hanes ran, so to speak, with this campaign for a couple of years, with results I, at least, found memorable. If only I’d remembered that tagline before I dug around in the archives.

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Commemorating evil

Tulsa, says Michael Bates, is planning to rename Brady Street and the associated Brady District to something else starting with a B — why not “Bates”? — because of Tate Brady’s involvement with, among other things, the Ku Klux Klan. Certainly no one wants to honor those dumb Klux, but Bates says that the measure doesn’t go far enough to clean up the city map:

Rather than handle these renamings piecemeal, with the potential of a new renaming (and a four-hour long public hearing) at every week’s City Council meeting, the City Council should appoint a diverse commission of historically minded citizens to research the histories of all names under the control of the City of Tulsa and its boards and commissions.

This commission — perhaps to be called the Commission for the Sanitation of Politically Incorrect Names (C-SPIN) — would report back with a comprehensive recommendation to rename certain streets, an estimate of the cost to rename, and a revenue proposal (sales tax or general obligation bond issue) for funding the recommended renamings, including city expenses like street signage and grants to affected businesses and residents to cover signage, business cards, letterhead, and other street renaming expenses.

The commission would have to consider whether a person’s misdeeds rises to the level of deserving the removal of his or her name from a public place. They might wish to set criteria that would be applied consistently to decide thumbs up or down.

A commission like this would strike fear into the hearts of Oklahoma City historians, who have for years been sitting on stories like that one time Harvey Everest kicked a cat, or that Delos Walker actually sat on the school board, and we all know about school boards, don’t we?

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Text CARBS to 511

With the guys over in Food and Medical issuing New Truths to replace the Old Truths on a regular basis, I can’t say I’m surprised to see this assertion being challenged:

For almost 20 years, it has been a wide-held belief that talking on a cellphone while driving is dangerous and leads to more accidents. However, new research from Carnegie Mellon University and the London School of Economics and Political Science suggests that talking on a cellphone while driving does not increase crash risk. Published in the American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, the study uses data from a major cellphone provider and accident reports to contradict previous findings that connected cellphone use to increased crash risk. Such findings include the influential 1997 paper in the New England Journal of Medicine, which concluded that cellphone use by drivers increased crash risk by a factor of 4.3 — effectively equating its danger to that of illicit levels of alcohol. The findings also raise doubts about the traditional cost-benefit analyses used by states that have, or are, implementing cellphone-driving bans as a way to promote safety.

“Using a cellphone while driving may be distracting, but it does not lead to higher crash risk in the setting we examined,” said Saurabh Bhargava, assistant professor of social and decision sciences in CMU’s Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences. “While our findings may strike many as counterintuitive, our results are precise enough to statistically call into question the effects typically found in the academic literature. Our study differs from most prior work in that it leverages a naturally occurring experiment in a real-world context.”

Keep in mind that this is just talking: stuff like texting or Google Maps or Facebook has not been shown to be anything but hazardous. And I consider just talking too much of a distraction for myself, so I seldom (as distinguished from “never”) pick up if someone calls while I’m on the road.

Meanwhile, Jack Baruth explains the furor:

This is government in the modern (and perhaps any) age: create a fear that shouldn’t really exist, manipulate the public into hysterics, extract cash from the public and divert it to the most favored recipients. It’s a tactic with an exceptional success rate and an appeal that spans the entire spectrum of political beliefs.

I mean, there were laws against distracted driving long before there were mobile phones, and the attention span of J. Random Driver has never been exemplary.

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Strange search-engine queries (393)

Time once more for another dip into the fetid pool of log data, hoping something funny, or at least snarkable, will float to the top.

can a bad censor cause the indacation light to come on alot:  A really bad censor would strike words like “indacation.”

lesley gore sometimes featuring the brothers johnson:  And sometimes not. (Historically, she has not had a great deal of use for johnsons.)

What percentage of mazdas have automatic transmissions?  Most of them, MX-5/Miatas excepted. Why do you ask?

is a mazda 626 16 valve engine a 4 cylinder?  I’d like to see you try to get 16 valves into, or out of, a V-6.

chrysler aspen vents smell like urine:  Well, it’s probably not the valves.

fifty first take of a miracle:  It’s like making a movie, only with fewer witnesses on set.

we built this city on basketball and kings:  Well, that lets out Sheboygan.

this time they were right:  Does this make up for all the times they were wrong?

what’s with the screaming round thing meme:  Even those without mouths occasionally must scream.

ryan braum penis size:  You know that round thing meme? He makes it scream.

boys permanently femmed:  And yet the girls still spurn them.

stilettos and stockings:  Permanently femmed boys should remember to order the appropriate women’s size.

flickr old layout:  Really most insincerely dead.

death to left lane bandits:  Now that seems sincere.

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You really hate me

After a bunch of feigned-enthusiasm spams, it’s almost a relief to see something like this in the spam trap:

When I read your site, I hope that that doesnt dissatisfy me up to this one. I am talking about, I know it had been my replacement for read, but I actually imagined youd have something fascinating to say. Almost all I listen to is a lot of whining about something that you can fix should you werent too busy seeking attention.

I did, however, ban the IP whence it came. Because, you know, I can.

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The take-charge woman

Libby Gelman-Waxner, inventor of contemporary feminism — she says so in “Hooked on Heroines” in Entertainment Weekly‘s double Fall Movie issue — definitely is an advocate for female strength:

In Sheryl [Sandberg]’s book, she tells women to stop being so wishy-washy, and to demand leadership equality. I agree, and I once told my dear friend Stacy Schiff to march right into her boss’ office and say, “I may not be the best marketing analyst on the planet, but I’m still a whole bunch better than all of those drippy guys who work here.” I also suggested that whenever Stacy met a handsome, successful single man, she should tell him, “Look, buster, you’re obviously going to be threatened by the fact that I’m smarter and more capable than you, so unless you enjoy feeling emotionally castrated, get lost.” If a man is visibly aroused by this, he’s a keeper.

I admit to being amused, if not aroused, by this. Then again, I’ve been a Libby fan since — well, it’s been a long time:

Let’s face it, Jesus would have been the best husband of all time. He was gorgeous, he was incredibly compassionate, and he was a carpenter, so none of your cabinets would ever stick.

For sure.

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A minor miracle

I trust this requires no explanation:

Never could get the hang of this piece on the piano.

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Tales from the Conversion Bureau

A survey of non-pony fans — I am assured that there are such — yielded these interesting conclusions:

1) Exposing people to episodes of MLP does NOT automatically turn them into Bronies or fans of MLP

2) People who MAY develop into fans DISPLAY a distinct set of characteristics that correspond to a curious, open and less traditional approach to life

To contribute a single data point: two weekends ago, I exposed someone — Future Daughter-in-Law — to an episode. (Specifically: “Call of the Cutie.”) I also pointed out where on Netflix the other 64 episodes could be found (in the obvious place), and noted that I’d actually written some fanfic.

Results: Not clear at this time, though somehow she read the entirety of The Sparkle Chronicles. Based on point 2, however, I am hopeful, if only because I’ve seen her bookshelves, and they rival mine for sheer variety.

(Almost a title explanation.)

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The next Twinkie report

Yesterday’s trip to the supermarket yielded up no actual Hostess Twinkies, though there was a whole shelf of Donettes to be had.

Next to the vacancy where the Twinkies are supposed to live, there was something new: Sara Lee Golden Crème Cakes, billed as “Baked · fresh · to go!” And indeed, they’re delivered in a flat box that suggests actual baked goods, though the absence of a lift-off top spoils that illusion. The product itself is pretty good; they get the mouthfeel right, the aftertaste is correct, and the texture is a trifle airier — let’s call it spongier — than the competition.

The only disadvantage, if you ask me, is the suggested retail price, tucked away on the box edge: $3.99 for a box of eight. (Crest was asking 2/$5.)

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Girly in the morning

We’re a long way from getting past automotive sexism, it appears:

Yeah...so I got my wife an Infiniti G37 because she really liked it and still loves it. I ride it in sometimes not a lot but from what I tell its just a car. The acceleration is better in it is better than my brothers crap Acura TL and feels and sounds better than an Acura. But I saw this new Infiniti I liked called the JX. It's big, sits high of the ground, and has some good looks to it. I'm about tired of my pilot and it has some problems I'm not in the mood for so I think it's time to replace it. Is this a good, reliable car and are Infiniti's for guys as well?

If you ask me, this guy should:

  1. Buy the biggest, baddest, pickup truck with as many option packages as he possibly can;
  2. Drive it into the farging sea.

It’s the only way to clean up the gene pool.

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