A certain lyrical economy

Silver Convention, a couple of West German guys, first hit the Eurodisco scene in 1975 with “Save Me,” which contained the following lyrics: “Baby, save me, save me, I am falling in love.” That was it, except for a few scattered incidences of “woo-hoo.”

For the next two singles, they hired some full-time singers and cut two songs with exactly six different words each: “Fly, Robin, Fly” (“Fly, robin, fly, up, up to the sky”) and “Get Up and Boogie,” which, in its 4:05 single edit and 2:45 radio edit anyway, began “That’s right!” before actually saying “Get up and boogie.”

My late brother Paul objected most strenuously to that configuration. “What’s right?” he’d yell at the turntable. “You haven’t said anything we can test for rightness!” On that basis, I conclude, he’d have hated Meghan Trainor’s big hit, which begins “Because I’m all about that bass”: how dare she dangle a phrase like that! Then again, I think I could have sold him the Siren’s Crush cover, maybe: he did have a certain respect for a cappella. (I owe Roger for that link.)

Random stuff picked up during research:

One of my favorite late-Nineties dance numbers was “Better Off Alone” by Alice Deejay, which contains ten words: “Do you think you’re better off alone? Talk to me.” But long before that, “Weird Al” Yankovic had done the definitive six-word song.

The very first Silver Convention album, Save Me, was released in several countries, including the States, with a vaguely risqué cover — and in others with a really risqué cover. (The latter might not please your boss.)

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Treadmill extensions

On the off-chance that automakers are going to push self-driving cars with the idea that “Look how much work you can get done during your daily commute!” — well, thanks, but no thanks.

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The amazing Snyderman

NBC medical editor Nancy Snyderman (MD, University of Nebraska Medical Center, 1977) is probably better known these days for blowing off an Ebola quarantine than for her frequent TV appearances or her actual work as a physician. Those of us who believe that one learns more from television news by turning the sound down, however, focus elsewhere:

Dr Nancy Snyderman on the Today Show

Dr Nancy Snyderman on the Today Show

Dr Nancy Snyderman on the Today Show

The shoes, of course, are just for show:

At this writing, she’s been banished off-camera for the next month, presumably so NBC can hack up something resembling damage control.

(Note: Sometimes you have the title long before you have the post, and by “you” I mean me.)

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The keys to the executive washroom

Embedded in a largish Bookworm omnibus post is this item:

While it’s quite possible that the CEO of a big American company gets paid 331 times as much as the part-time janitor working weekends (especially the part-time janitor working weekends in the company’s Delhi office), it’s not true that, on average, American CEOs make 331 times more than ordinary employees.

Selective sampling, of course. From WSJ:

The AFL-CIO calculated a pay gap based on a very small sample — 350 CEOs from the S&P 500. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 248,760 chief executives in the U.S. in 2013.

The BLS reports that the average annual salary for these chief executives is $178,400, which we can compare to the $35,239-per-year salary the AFL-CIO uses for the average American worker. That shrinks the executive pay gap from 331-to-1 down to a far less newsworthy number of roughly five-to-one.

I have no idea how much the CEO for whom I work is paid, but I’m pretty sure it’s less than five times what I get, and he puts in at least as many hours as I do, if not more.

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Doctor’s ordure

First, the setup:

Let’s make no mistake: the current Ebola epidemic is a terrible humanitarian disaster in Africa. We should be doing everything we can to help alleviate the suffering on the ground there. As a parent, it’s hard to bear images of children orphaned and parents bereaved. As a physician, I would hop on a jet and lend my hand — if I wasn’t such an insufferable, pampered wuss.

Feel free to sing along with the punchline.

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It’s a proper noun

Derpy HoovesPejman Yousefzadeh performs the useful task of ragging on Paul Krugman, as raggable an egghead as exists in our time, and while I applaud such activity in general, Yousefzadeh chose to close the raggage with this observation:

Nota bene: If the word “derpy” could be excised from our vocabulary, no one would be more pleased than me.

I would be somewhat distraught at the loss, if only because “Nameless Pegasus No. [whatever]” doesn’t have quite the same ring to it. If Krugman happens to misuse it on occasion, well, this is almost certainly true of several other words he uses, including “of,” “several” and “other”: one does not rise to such heady heights without risking oxygen deficiency — or maybe just strabismus.

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The thirteenth is due

Because look what happened to the twelfth:

Doctor Who with ebola?

To quote Doug Mataconis: “Doctor Who has Ebola? Now we’re really screwed.”

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It Fappened just that way

Francis W. Porretto gets in the final word — well, it ought to be final — on that celebrity-nude-photo business:

The “she ought to have known better” crap is exactly that: crap. The companies that promote the use of their “cloud” services are forever telling us about the depth and power of their security measures. Is a very young professional actress, highly unlikely to have been schooled in the technologies and their vulnerabilities, supposed to be more aware of the risks than the average non-technical American? If the same thing were to happen to any of her detractors, would they enjoy the degree of opprobrium that they’ve heaped upon Jennifer Lawrence? Would they feel their naivety had earned it?

And the cloud doesn’t care what its proponents say about it, either:

Besides, there are non-technical issues to be dealt with:

Let’s not neglect the other aspect of the matter: that Lawrence photographed herself in the nude so her boyfriend would have a sensuous reminder of her when the two of them were far from one another. There are “conservatives” reproaching her for that, too. Apparently that Lawrence would permit someone — someone other than themselves, that is — to see her in all her unclothed glory grates unbearably across their neo-Grundyish sensibilities.

This is approximately where someone comes in and completes the circle by saying “But she should have considered the risks involved.” Well, yeah. But life itself is a prolonged exercise in risk management. If you haven’t noticed this by now, you’re either 8 years old or you’ve been appointed to a high government post.

And the little dweebs who spent their data allotments for the month begging for download links for these pictures? Morally indistinguishable from the little dweebs who spent their data allotments for the month pirating software.

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Monetizing the egregiousness

Lynn has an idea for dealing with comment spam, and like most such ideas, it springs from frustration:

Comment spam has been really horrendous lately. I used to get, usually, no more than 20 a day. Since last Saturday it’s been 300 – 500 a day! The first time comment moderation is stopping it all but I still have to take the time to delete all of them.

That certainly qualifies as “horrendous.” (I’ve had just over 600 this month. Then again, I have several thousand IPs blocked on general principle.)

Someone once said that spammers should be crucified alongside the highways. Right now that seems like a pretty good idea.

That someone was Eric Scheie of Classical Values, about 11 years ago. The original post has vanished from Blogspot, as posts will sometimes do, but I excerpted the money quote here.

But then I think, why litter the countryside with so much garbage. Let’s just publish their real names and addresses. But then I think, no I have a better idea. Let’s make them pay. Literally. Someone needs to come up with a system to automatically charge spammers by the minute, with the proceeds going to the website owner, minus a small percentage to maintain the system. Five cents for each minute until the spam comment is deleted, even if it is held in the moderation queue for that time. I would be wealthy!

Hmmm. If this ever comes to pass, I’m going to have to unblock several thousand IPs on general principle.

Note: The wp-ban plugin, used here, has turned away approximately 530,000 attempts to dump stuff here before it ever gets to Akismet, which has rejected 36,000 on its own. It is not infallible — no software is — but I’m not getting 300-500 spams a day either.

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Apparently it’s just this simple

Bark M. explains how to retain one’s job in the Ed Biz:

When I was a Music Education major at The Ohio State University, we had a guest speaker, the district Music supervisor from the Columbus Public Schools, come speak in our Introductory Music Ed class. He gave us the secret to keeping our jobs forever:

  • Don’t steal money from your district
  • Don’t have sex with your students

“They must not be teaching you that anymore, because we keep firing teachers,” he said.

I’m just trying to imagine Robert Stacy McCain’s response to that.

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Time for another Unfortunate Juxtaposition

The ad placement to the right evokes a single sentiment: “Gee, ya think?”

(Via SwiftOnSecurity.)

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All the wrong junk

There needs to be a formal deward — polar opposite of “reward” — for convincing yourself that you’re clever despite abundant evidence to the contrary. A timely example:

By employing Joe Buck to call games, Fox Sports pretty much automatically wins the race for the worst baseball coverage ever. But they decided to gild the lily by airing several members of both World Series teams miming along to Meghan Trainor’s brainless ode to female esteem based on male approval, “All About that Bass.”

At least it wasn’t BASEketball.

Now if someone had actually sat down and rewritten the song from a proper baseball perspective, that would constitute shaking it like they’re supposed to do. (“I’m all about third base, no shortstop”? Not funny, but more effort than has been put forth up to now. )

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Unbugged

As opposed to “debugged,” since the annual termite inspection here at the palatial estate turned up nothing that wanted to chew on the structural wood, the same clean bill of health I’ve received every year since I took possession of the place eleven years ago. I doubt it, really, but I’d like to believe it’s the abundance of spiders outside, who will happily chow down on many six-legged creatures; there exists at least one web spanning eight vertical feet. (We watched its occupant making really good time heading upwards.)

Surprisingly, the trees on the premises didn’t seem to be harboring any of the critters either, and the deadest one — the one containing the most detritus, anyway — might be far enough away from the house to make reconnaissance missions problematic, since they’d almost certainly have to get through SpiderNet.

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It’s only natural

It’s a really good catalog, with a few howlers now and then:

The onslaught of Christmas catalogs is slowly beginning. I got two in the past 10 days from Victorian Trading Company. I love the products they sell, I love looking at the catalogs, but sometimes their descriptions are way too precious or even outright wrong. But sometimes they make me laugh. Like this one. Here’s the relevant sentence: “A number of years ago we aligned ourselves with an avid naturist who meticulously retrieves intricate web and preserves them under glass”

Yes. Naturist. (NB: very small photo of naked people — it’s a wikipedia page). And yes, I know, there is the alternate definition of the term that means “naturalist,” but if they MEAN “naturalist,” they should say it. I daresay a lot of us, when we hear “naturist,” we think of what that wikipedia page is about, first. If I am talking about someone who studies nature, I always say “naturalist.”

Which makes more sense to me. (Arkansas, the Natural State — says so on the license plates — is the one state least hospitable to naturists, though they have no problem with naturalists.)

As for the creators of those intricate web samples:

(I wouldn’t be around spiders naked on a bet. I’m not an arachnophobe but if I’m about to get in the shower and I see one in the tub, it has to go before I will get in)

I have had this happen only twice, so I can’t generalize except as follows: On my own premises, I will attempt to coax the creature to relocate itself. In a bathroom in a motel in Albuquerque, I will fetch a shoe and do my worst.

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It’s all about the Benjamin J. Grimms

In shakier times, Marvel, having regained the film rights to the Fantastic Four comic, promptly sold them off to 20th Century-Fox, and Roger suspects that this is the reason why the comic is being killed off:

So, it would seem, if Marvel cancels the comic book, the movies won’t do as well. If Fox stops making movies, the rights to the movie portrayals revert to Marvel. THEN Marvel can (and probably will) bring back the FF, because, as someone who read the four-color items for three decades, almost nothing is permanent in the comic books.

FF has been sort of snakebit in theaters, anyway. The 1994 film version, breathed upon by Roger Corman, was made mostly to avoid losing the film rights, which a German firm had picked up for a mere handful of Deutsche Marks. (It was not, you may be sure, a special-effects fest, and Stan Lee claimed, well after the fact, that the producers never really intended to release it at all.)

Fox is rebooting the film franchise in 2015, probably for the last time: there’s supposedly a sequel scheduled for 2017, but if this thing bombs as badly as I think it will … never mind, I can’t even bring myself to think about this. FF was my favorite comic for a long, long time; I actually bought a bound volume of the first 40 issues for something like $100. Ostensibly, it was because I fancied myself a scientist almost on par with Reed Richards, but eventually I figured it was because I wanted to get my far-too-inflexible hands on Sue Storm.

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Just a few blocks ahead of you

One of the locals who believes fervently that there need to be enough traffic lanes to convey him — the hell with the rest of us — from Point A to any subsequent point without any discernible delay, once made the mistake of calling, in my presence, for the widening of Interstate 35 between 40 and 44, a five-mile stretch that is only two lanes in each direction for four of those miles. I have to drive those four miles twice a day, and when things are moving the way they’re supposed to be moving, there are, in fact, no discernible delays; the highway accommodates its capacity at the indicated speed limit — 60 mph — or perhaps a little over, with ease.

What’s slowing things down, of course, is this guy:

Do you know someone whose confidence in his driving strikes you as unwarranted? Who swishes back and forth among the lanes like a matador showing off before a packed stadium? Who routinely takes his eyes off the road for frivolous reasons, for example to send a text message? Who removes both hands from the wheel to grope through the snacks in his center console or the CDs on the passenger side floor? Have you ever said to yourself “He’s an accident looking for a place to happen?”

You’re right. The odds are that he, or someone very like him, will cause the next highway accident, and possibly a few lives in the bargain. But there’s no telling that to him. He takes the mere mention of risk as a mortal insult. He probably has one of those idiotic “NO FEAR” decals emblazoned on his rear windshield, where it can conveniently obstruct his road vision.

And even if he hasn’t caused an accident this time, he’s certainly caused discombobulation among his fellow motorists, who will slam on the brakes lest they encounter him more closely; the next 3.5 miles, the pattern repeats, and all of a sudden there’s a traffic jam despite perfectly ordinary levels of traffic. This is probably inevitable in an area where 75 percent of the drivers consider themselves to be above average.

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