Up setting

My last two attempts at short fiction were admittedly on the talky side. This is because I can’t possibly write descriptive passages this good:

The skies were blue, blue, blue. I saw only one very small puffy white cloud … to the east. It was slightly mushroom in shape, indicating that perhaps a group of extremist mountain goats had detonated a suppository-sized nuclear device. But I didn’t see anything on the news about it.

The permanent link is here, once the first of the month arrives; for now, go here and scroll to the 27th.

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Approximately six Devons

The downside of building up, up, up? More stairs than you ever imagined, not to mention the potential problem with elevators:

A mile-high skyscraper, for example, is possible with modern design techniques and some small projected advances in building material. But the elevator to the top would have to be a speed demon in order to make the trip in a useful time frame. Remember, it has to go a full mile. At 10 mph, it would take six minutes. Not so long, perhaps, but I’m going to bet not many people are keen on the idea of standing in an elevator for six minutes. If the elevator ran at 20 mph, then it would make the base-to-summit trip in about three minutes, and according to the infallible internet, most elevators in tall buildings run about 22 mph with slowdowns as they approach the destination floor.

Given the general reaction of people stuck at 10 mph horizontally — I-35 south provides numerous examples of same every workday — I suspect they will not like it much going vertically.

For myself, I don’t get seriously claustrophobic — Trini can verify this — for about the first thirty stories. Anything much above that, though, and I expect the subconscious to dig up something primal and wave it in my face, with results no one wants to observe. Especially me.

And you know, “Approximately Six Devons” might have been a good Bob Dylan title, circa Bringing It All Back Home.

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Probably lacking in bodaciousness

Something just landed in my inbox from “TATA LOAN SERVICE.” Immediate thought: you can borrow those now?

I suspect there is no connection to India’s Tata Group, manufacturers of the Tata Nano. (Say that fast three times.)

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Of course, you already read about this

This may seem like an inauspicious beginning:

My boss has a blog. The little girl down the street has a blog. A local medium is typing my dead grandmother’s blog from beyond the grave.

Tam started there, seven years ago, and she gets better at it every day.

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When a guy’s trying hard to steal signs in your yard

That’s amore politics as usual:

[P]olice Sunday morning arrested a man accused of taking “Dean Martin for County Clerk” signs off of private property. Lee Belmonte, 58, of Bixby, was arrested just before 8 a.m. and booked into the Tulsa Jail on a complaint of knowingly concealing stolen property. He was released Sunday afternoon after posting $1,500 bond.

Pat Key, Martin’s opponent in Tuesday’s Republican Party runoff for Tulsa County clerk, described Belmonte as a volunteer on her campaign. “I did not authorize or instruct him to take down signs,” Key said Sunday.

How did they catch the guy?

Frustrated by weeks of seeing Dean Martin signs disappear — and nearly catching someone in the act last week — Jared Martin [Dean's son] said he got to thinking.

“I was like, you know what, I am just going to get a tracking device,” Jared Martin said. “So I bought this dog-tag tracking device. It was about $100.”

That was Friday. Martin said he used duct tape to attach it to a sign and placed it in a yard he knew had signs taken from it before.

Bingo.

(Via Mike McCarville.)

Update: The Martin campaign sent me a notification to the effect that they were requesting a recount, having lost by a mere 179 votes.

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The craft is ebbing

Robert Stacy McCain reminds us that Leopold von Sacher-Masoch was a journalist:

There are times when it seems as if the universe is organized as a sadistic conspiracy to inflict psychological punishment on me, to make my life an endless series of hassles and humiliations, to render excruciatingly difficult my attempts to earn a living as a journalist.

Life within this sadistic universe — really, could so many things go so completely wrong by coincidence? — might be pleasant for masochists, who enjoy suffering. But I lack that perverse appetite for punishment, and so am compelled to complain about the routine abuse that I seem unable to avoid, no matter how much I try.

At least it’s summertime, so he’s probably not going to have to deal with, say, [random female scribe] in fur.

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Yearning experience

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Little resistance

When Tesla announced a 300-mile range for the Model S sedan with the top-drawer battery pack, you might have been forgiven if you said “Yeah, right”; the EPA subsequently guesstimated the range at a more modest 265 miles. Still, this is way more than anybody else’s pure electric can give you, and this motivated Motor Trend to put an S — Elon Musk’s personal S, in fact — to the test.

Considering that they ran the car on a test track (zero to sixty in 3.9, quarter-mile in the mid-twelves) at the beginning of their mileage run, 238 miles is not at all shabby. But the number isn’t as important as the geography, they say:

We drove from Fontana on the eastern edge of the L.A. basin to San Diego and all the way back to L.A.’s Pacific edge on one charge. Five hours of continuous driving. This is a breakthrough accomplishment that ought to knock down the range anxiety barrier that’s substantially limited EV sales.

And if that doesn’t, this might:

During our drive, we used 78.2 kW-hrs of electricity (93 percent of the battery’s rated capacity). What does that mean? It’s the energy equivalent of 2.32 gasoline gallons, or 100.7 mpg-e before charging losses. That BMW 528i following us (powered by a very fuel-efficient, turbocharged, direct-injected 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine) consumed 7.9 gallons of gas for a rate of 30.1 mpg. The Tesla’s electrical energy cost for the trip was $10.17 (at California’s average electrical rate); the BMW’s drive cost $34.55.

Of course, the Tesla as tested was twice as pricey as the Bimmer, but still: ten bucks for a couple hundred miles. About the only vehicle using less energy is a sailboat, and it’s not going to be moving much on the Pacific Coast Highway.

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Neither roly nor poly

But nonetheless, fish heads:

Fish Head Ornament

Eat them up at Archie McPhee’s for twelve bucks apiece. Warning: they’re not good dancers.

(Via Finestkind Clinic and, um, fish market.)

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Excessive diversity

There are something like 12,200 posts in this WordPress database, which begins in the second week of September 2006. (The URL says “15050,” but as anyone who runs WordPress finds out quickly enough, the autosave function eats up several numbers all by itself, which irked me enough to install a plugin whose sole function is to tell it not to do that.)

What bothers me is that there are nearly 10,000 tags, and I didn’t start tagging stuff until 2009. I’ve done several consolidation sessions — there didn’t, for instance, need to be a dozen different Chevrolet tags, and I cut them down to five — but until we start getting some 36-hour days around here, I’m not going to have time to clean up this mess.

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U mad, bro?

This landed in the mailbox last night from contact at banana-hanger.com, and I reprint the entire text thereof:

you there? What happened last night? Are you mad?

Of course, this was from viewing it in plain text, the way God and/or RFC 822 intended. With HTML toggled on, up popped several dozen words in the sort of sequence you’d expect if someone had thrown a faxed stock tout in the air, sliced it into little pieces, allowed them to fall, and then typed them in the order of retrieval.

And we all know what I think about stock touts.

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Sock jocks

A reader complained, not unreasonably, that all the preceding vintage-hosiery ads included portrayals of women, and suggested a source for shots of the guys. It may have even included this one:

Men in Interwoven Esquire Socks

Although frankly, I was partial to the Gold Toe brand.

(Source: Found in Mom’s Basement.)

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Strange search-engine queries (343)

Neither rain, nor snow, nor heat, nor gloom of night, nor tropical storms in tropical-storm season, nor even the computer’s failure to boot six times out of seven, stays this weekly feature from its regular Monday-morning appearance.

rule34 dakota fanning:  Um, no. Not here. And any you find is likely to be fake. Then again, you don’t care, do you?

“six to five against” +meaning:  You have five chances in eleven, or a probability of 45.5 percent, of finding whatever the heck it is you’re looking for, and I hope it’s not what that guy in the previous item was looking for.

i can’t remember who i was back then:  Behold, the serial identity thief.

mass of conflicting impulses:  It’s positioned around the periphery of the cranium, and once set in motion, creates the condition popularly described as “My head is spinning.”

bad romance jokes:  Are there good romance jokes?

what is a few inches later:  The beginning of the punchline in a bad romance joke.

1988 mercury mystique transmission wont go forward unless:  The car is atop Pikes Peak and heading downward.

who proved germs don’t come from water:  Probably a German.

mitt romney’s father…an auto industry visionary:  Anybody who had to drive a ’62 Rambler halfway across the country might have reasonably questioned that vision.

wile e. coyote breakaway mug:  Who knew that Acme was building stuff for ThinkGeek?

charlie hill comic stroke:  Because what could be funnier than someone having a stroke?

woman pantsless flight:  Never seen that. And it’s just as well, because I would probably have a stroke, and that would be hilarious.

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Those February/October romances

Iran has lowered the age of consent — as in “We consent to our daughter’s being taken away by a man three times her age” — to nine:

Iranian Christian news service Mohabat News reports a member of the Iranian Parliament (Majiles) Mohammad Ali Isfenani [as saying], “We must regard 9 as being the appropriate age for a girl to have reached puberty and qualified to get married. To do otherwise would be to contradict and challenge Islamic Sharia law.”

He argues, “Before the revolution girls under 16 were not allowed to marry. Parents determined to get around the law would often tamper with their daughter’s birth certificate. Under the previous constitution, people were legally regarded as adults when they were 18. After the revolution the age at which children were regarded as going through puberty was lowered to 9 for girls and 15 for boys.

The Saudis had announced in spring that the minimum age for girls to wed would be lowered to 10.

SteveF says it’s polygyny, and he says the hell with it:

[They're] creating a severe shortage of unmarried women. The men, and you may infer any degree of sneer quote, don’t have the balls to go out and kill off enough of each other so that there are four women for every man, so instead they pull their beards and convince each other that a nine-year-old is “a woman grown”.

Context, people, context. Think of Muhammad and Aisha. Or, better yet, think of the US in 1880, where the age of consent was usually 10. Seven in Delaware.

Now if we were actually connecting this up to maturity, we’d be talking about an age of consent somewhere between eighteen and forty. (Or, in my case, perhaps sixty.) We don’t do that, of course, because in contemporary American society there is no shame greater than not getting laid.

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Presumably approved by Patrick Bateman

Billboard for American Psycho

Paul Allen, of course, was not available for comment.

(Via FAIL Blog’s WIN!)

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Digits failing to accumulate

Norm Geras reports on his issues with SiteMeter:

(a) Visits for today are regularly updated as per normal, while the overall total remains static. So instead of these two figures growing consistently – as in n + 15 being matched by m + 15, n + 412 by m + 412, and so on – m (the total visits) remains at m all day while there are regular increments to n: n + 15, n + 412, n + 802 etc.

(b) At midnight, the total figure, m, does increase but not by the number of visits for the day just ended; rather for the same day a week ago. So, for example, if yesterday was Saturday 25 August, the increment to the total is the number of visits for Saturday 18 August.

(c) The shortfall in the total caused by the initial ‘loss’ at the beginning of August remains; it hasn’t been made good.

Which, I opined at the time, is probably due to the multiple databases involved getting out of sync.

These results were first observed on my own Sitemeter, but I have now also studied those of six other bloggers, with ‘open’ Sitemeters, and the results for them are identical (except that I don’t know the extent of their initial ‘loss’). That doesn’t, of course, show that the results hold good for all Sitemeter accounts, but it does suggest that the malfunction I describe is somewhat general.

I am one of the six Norm studied. My own observations are generally consistent with his. Today’s “Summary” will show 2,297,230 all day, though the actual meter at this writing indicates 2,328,640. This is a difference of 31,410, which has varied very little in the last four days. I continue to believe that the higher figure is correct, and that the lower ones resulted from failure to post changes during a period of site “upgrades.” The weekly report emailed me on Saturday had the correct Saturday total. Of course, I can’t prove it, and usually the only way to get through to tech support is to have your payment go troppo.

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Meanwhile down at the Snooze Bar

I’ve had enough issues with insomnia over the years to know better than to complain about sleeping late, but I feel at least vaguely guilty on weekends. Weekdays I can roll out at 5:59, and I’ll be groggy for a while, but at least I’ll be some semblance of functional. If I’m up by nine on a Saturday … well, we’ll wait until this actually happens before coming up with a metaphor.

Part of my problem is the three-headed cocktail that usually knocks me out at night: it’s unseemly that it should require three tablets, not expensive tablets but still three frigging tablets, to turn the noise in my head down below 11.

Furthermore, I have a very bad habit of coming up with very good ideas at something like 10:30 or 11 pm, when I should be winding things down. (Although last night I had no ideas at all and still didn’t come down until 1:30 or so.) And I don’t see any way around this other than heavier drugs, which I’d prefer to avoid.

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Cord uncut for now

Last time I felt like griping about the cost of cable TV, I pointed out that the alternatives were not likely to save me a great deal of money, and besides there’s always the chance that I might want to watch something on the spur of the moment, moments being unusually spur-rich these days.

And there’s this angle which should be obvious, but probably isn’t:

The thing about these “cut the cord” (cancel cable) articles is they all act like they are righteously retaliating against greedy providers. With the obvious exception of illegal downloading, who exactly do they think is giving them the means to do so? One way or another, they’re going to get their money. Or we’re going to stop getting content.

You can hardly blame the owner of a cash cow for looking askance at someone who threatens to pound it into Swiss steak.

What’s more, the urge to get television over the Net may lead to discouraging-sounding scenarios like this one:

[Television] is moving off the air and over the top of cable and telephony. Still, the Internet is sold as a service already by cablecos and telcos that hate the thought of remaining a “dumb pipe.”

If things go the way [Michael] Crossey expects, the Net’s carriers will likely expand Net service offerings in ways that fracture the Net into pieces, each with hard-wired dependencies on the carrier. The result will be the biggest body-snatch in the history of business. Standing where the Net used to be won’t be Telco 2.0, but TV 2.0, with lots of marketing gravy.

And being in a disfavored demographic, as I am, means any gravy I get will be cold and congealed and generally disgusting.

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The bear doesn’t care

Sometimes it’s your turn to be breakfast, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

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Let us Selabrate together

Usually when I come up with a photo for Rule 5, I will also come up with some sort of explanation (read: “justification”) for its being here. Then again, when I come up with a photo of Sela Ward rocking a little black dress, well, it’s here because it’s Sela Ward rocking a little black dress, and that ought to be enough reason right there.

Sela Ward at 2012 TCA Tour

This shot comes from this year’s Television Critics Association tour, held last month, shortly after Sela Ward’s 56th birthday.

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