License to blind

The Department of Palpable Silliness Preposterous Symbolism Public Safety is gearing up to inflict these upon us:

Sample Oklahoma driver's license

A designer in the neighborhood has vowed to come up with something better. And really, do we need this much eye broccoli — opposite of “candy” — just to discourage twenty-year-olds from sneaking into Edna’s?

On the upside, Ms Sample doesn’t look half bad for sixty-one.

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Jet lag for fun and profit

Rebecca Black on stage in Wildwood“I always feel like I’ve never finished unpacking,” said Rebecca Black after returning from what was by all accounts a semi-successful concert appearance on the Jersey shore: despite a long list of attractions, it was far from a sellout, and there was a grumble or two here and there about the general organization of the show, but judging by the scant available evidence, a splendid time was had by, if not all, certainly enough to generate some noise. (There was, briefly, a video of a sound check, but it vanished nearly as quickly as it appeared.) Said Pop City Life of RB’s appearance:

She had the crowd on their feet singing her songs “My Moment” and of course “Friday”. I don’t think there was a soul there who wasn’t belting out the megahit with her. She was having a blast and owning the stage. We are now a fan.

Like I said, they’ll be singing it at baseball games fifteen years from now.

(Photo by Debra Baum.)

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Semi-protip

We demand an explanation, and by “we” I mean Lynn:

What makes a pro tip a pro tip, as opposed to just a plain, ordinary tip. Most of the “pro tips” I come across don’t seem to be related to any particular profession nor are they professional in any way. But of course I’m just assuming that “pro” is short for professional. Maybe it’s short for progressive? Profound? Probable? Or maybe just pro, as opposed to con?

Having seen the term inserted in front of some fairly unsanitary-sounding concepts, I can say only that I’m pretty sure it’s not short for “prophylactic.”

However, Know Your Meme offers an actual explanation:

PROTIP is a term often used in forums and comments to preface snarky, obvious, counterintuitive, or sometimes genuine advice for the novice. Its usage is derived from the laughably obvious and even inadequate gameplay suggestions originally found in video game magazines published in the 1990s. While it implies an offer of friendly suggestion similar to FYI, “protip” is commonly used online as a false preface to obvious or sarcastic comments that are generally unhelpful.

KYM has an actual 1995 citation for the term.

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Could have fueled me

Whatever happened to sticking an actual stick down the fuel filler?

Infiniti’s new luxury three-row crossover is being recalled due to a problem with a fuel line that can block the fuel level float that could yield an incorrect reading on the fuel gauge. With the gauge stuck at the same level, JX owners could run out of gas thinking they have more fuel than they do.

I don’t have a JX and don’t need three rows, but the fuel gauge in my old I30 gives a poor approximation at best: the descent of the needle is nonexistent for the first 40 miles or so after filling up, followed by a spectacular plunge to just below the ½ mark, after which things slow up again until just above ¼, and then back to Plummet City, followed by the dreaded orange light, which I got to see in living color halfway between Carlsbad and El Paso.

And allow me to point out that the JX seats seven and weighs 2.3 tons before any of those seven climb aboard. The tank holds a mere 19.5 gallons; if you’ve gone 400 miles and you’re looking at a needle still at the halfway point, your reality check is about to be cashed.

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Quote of the week

I am not yet finished with Comic-Con and the Business of Pop Culture: What the World’s Wildest Trade Show Can Tell Us About the Future of Entertainment [New York: McGraw Hill, 2012], Rob Salkowitz’s business-y (as distinguished from “fanboyesque”) take on the annual San Diego event, but early on I found this brace of paragraphs which I deemed worth mentioning:

[Stephenie] Meyer’s unconventional take on the whole vampire thing (the fact that vampires sparkle in daylight instead of turning to dust, and that they spend most of their time moping around and looking cool instead of tearing people’s throats out) has not earned her much love from horror/fantasy enthusiasts who like their brew a little bit stronger. I must admit that I have not cracked the cover of any of these books and don’t have much interest in doing so. I wouldn’t watch the movies for free if they were the only available entertainment on a 12-hour plane flight. I’m not sure I’d watch them if the alternative were a week’s stay at Gitmo.

And you know what? Who cares! I’m a 44-year-old guy with no kids. I am not the audience for Twilight in any way, shape, or form. But I’m all for any material that generates enough passion to get a completely new pop culture audience to stand in line for 40 hours and sleep on concrete for two nights just to bask in the presence of the actors who portray these characters in a film. That enthusiasm is the rocket fuel that drives the industry and the artform forward, and it doesn’t pay to be too picky about where it comes from.

I trust I don’t have to explain why this is here.

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Drip advisor

I have not yet bitten the bullet: my industrial-strength shower head moves the wet stuff around with something resembling vigor, even in these days of drought, and my toilet would please Al Bundy. And I don’t particularly care, since my water consumption is barely meterable: I think I’ve hit the 4,000-gallon mark one month in the last hundred.

double shower headMind you, I’m not going out of my way to use up the world’s precious supply of dihydrogen monoxide: the sprinkler has not been taken off its shelf in the garage in about a year. But one of the few joys afforded by Federal regulation is looking for ways to adhere to the letter thereof while whizzing all over the putative spirit, as we see here:

The last three hotel rooms I have stayed in have had double shower heads, to make up the lost flow from wimpy government-approved single heads. This process of cutting back on how much a single head can flow and then adding extra heads is incredibly dumb and wasteful.

But predictable, if you have even a passing familiarity with the Law of Unintended Consequences. (And if you do, consider yourself disqualified for any position in the executive branch.)

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Hooves-on training

Reasonable questions (mostly unanswered in canon) about education in Equestria:

I wonder if they’d have different sites of higher education for the different types of ponies … because there are different skill-sets there — dealing with flight and weather conditions, or building/planting/growing stuff, or using magic. Or would there be some social-engineery type who would point out that separating the pony races for education was harmful, and perhaps impose some sort of [George Reavis's] The Animal School model, where all Pegasi were required to at least attempt both magic and gardening, and all Earth ponies were required to try flying? (I can see the lawsuits coming.) Of course, if it was like typical American universities, rather than lower-level schools, there would be different “majors” for different skill sets. (Hrm. Kind of like our aviation school, and the more applied of the sciences programs, and … I don’t know what would map best with Unicorn Magic as a major. Art and Theater, maybe?)

I don’t think that there’s a whole lot of segregation in Equestria, except to the extent that it’s a function of actual physical differences. Everypony in Cloudsdale is, of necessity, a pegasus; the only way a unicorn or an earth pony is setting hoof in that town is by means of a temporary spell. There exists a string of mountains called the Unicorn Range to the south and west of Cloudsdale, and unicorns are apparently dominant in Canterlot, but there’s no physical limitation involved: pegasi can certainly fly to these heights, assuming adequate wing power, and earth ponies can walk or take the train.

Educational opportunities, I infer, work the same way. Princess Celestia’s magical protégée of necessity would be a unicorn (Twilight Sparkle). Musical talent, however, may be distributed among the tribes: stringed-instrument specialist Lyra Heartstrings is a unicorn, but cellist Octavia appears with two different quartets in two different episodes, all comprised of earth ponies, and Scootaloo, a pegasus filly, apparently can play the piano.

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Rodents of usual size

In 1948, they were still considered Utterly Frightening to the fair sex, as this Hanes ad suggests:

Vladimir Bobri for Hanes

Just one of many fashion illustrations done by Bobri, born Vladimir Bobritsky in Ukraine in 1898. (I am informed that it is no longer acceptable to refer to the country as “The” Ukraine.)

Bobri, incidentally, was one of the founders of the first Classical Guitar Society in New York, which began in 1936; he served as editor and art director of The Guitar Review until 1985. (He died in 1986 in a fire at his home in Rosendale, New York.)

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I laugh at your silly filter

So corporate got themselves a shiny new firewall appliance, and everything went, let’s say, semi-smoothly. In retrospect, I suppose, I should have been suspicious immediately.

Then this happened:

Screen shot from Sonicwall

And here’s the text of the objectionable page:

The only hate I get is from people who don’t even understand what I’m doing. They assume they know. So, before you even think about sending hate to me, or anyone else really, make sure you know what they’re talking about and why. It’s just irritating when all the hate you get isn’t based on facts.

Blind judgment without context. Which is essentially how content filters work, come to think of it. No wonder they blocked MLD: she’s on to their game.

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Looking in Alderaan places

Luke Skywalker blew up the Death Star? Not a chance, says Brian J.:

Come on, reason it out: Skywalker was a seventeen-year-old moisture farm boy suffering from post-concussion syndrome whose experience piloting a small attack craft was cruising along the surface of Tatooine in a hovercraft and a couple of hours riding on the Millennium Falcon. Lucas wants you to believe he just suited up, hopped into a short range attack fighter, fought dogfights in the three-dimensional and zero gravity environment of space, and blew up an attack station?

Of course, Noggle has The Answer — for now. I figure, if George Lucas lives to be 100, he’ll have revised the story six times more, and Jar Jar Binks will have served at least one term as Emperor.

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Modern research techniques

Ever since US News & World Report ceased to be an actual magazine, their stock in trade has been lists: top colleges ranked by percentage of graduates not going on welfare, top hospitals ranked by the ability to ignore sepsis, top cars ranked by the number towed from New York City streets for malparkage. You name it, usnews.com has a list for it.

Well, maybe with one exception, it appears:

SiteMeter screen shot

Obviously, for their next project, they’re working on top babes ranked by the number of appearances in Rule 5 Sunday. Robert Stacy McCain should be proud.

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Mount Costly

Not a place on the map, but a fact of life. Last time I took Gwendolyn in for a spa day, the techs declared that one engine mount and one transmission mount were not long for this world. That was 1600 miles ago. As usual with stuff like this, there’s not going to be much change from a $1000 bill.

Still, what’s the alternative? Ditch her and buy someone else’s problems? It is a fact of life that no one ever traded in a car because it was running too well.

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Illuminatus Bank and Distrust Company

I found this revisionist history of PayPal in a Consumerist comment:

PayPal started as a religious extremist anti-government money laundering scheme. It’s hard to figure out why it was not shut down after 9/11 as the traditional Hawala money transfer method was in the arabic world were. Now PayPal stands as the New World Order bank, above the law, that the founders claimed to be against.

Although hawala persists, and the 9/11 Commission says that most of the funding for the attack came, not through hawala, but through ordinary wire transfers to actual banks.

Still, some people find it easier to see fnord than others.

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This is your final opportunity

Of course, it never really is. Ask Virginia Postrel:

I’m getting tired of these illegal telemarketing calls from “Card Services” offering to “work with the banks” to get me a 6% credit card rate. Instead of hanging up, I’ve been trying to waste their time by asking them questions about their operations, name, address. They claim to be in Miami. I suspect they’re not only illegally calling people on the Do Not Call list but also scamming the gullible. They seem to have credit bureau info (except not the part about how we don’t carry a balance), which is annoying.

Dear Dante: Is there room for a tenth circle?

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The late Mrs Dingle

Technically, this is English actress Sheree Murphy, thirty-seven today, who might be best known for playing Tricia Dingle for six years on the British soap Emmerdale. This photo by Sven Arnstein dates to 2006, by which time Emmerdale was two years behind her:

Sheree Murphy

Murphy left the series to spend more time with her family, and they wrote her out of the show in spectacular fashion:

After discovering that her husband, Marlon Dingle, had a drunken one night stand with Charity Tate whilst she was in India, Tricia intended to leave Marlon and Emmerdale. Upon leaving, Diane Sugden gave Tricia a letter from Marlon, it was a list of 101 reasons why Marlon loved her. After spending hours in the phone box, sheltering from a storm and trying to get a taxi, she decided to give Marlon another chance and returned to the Woolpack [pub] to see him. Just as she reached the Woolpack, lightning struck a tree. She tripped and a second bolt struck the roof of the Woolpack, making it collapse on top of her. She was found by Diane and Marlon and taken to hospital by helicopter. She was put on a life support machine until Marlon finally agreed to let her go after realising that there was no hope of recovery. She died on 8 January 2004.

Marlon, I understand, has never really gotten over her.

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Grasp this, pal

It’s hard to tell, but I think this spammer would like to subscribe to my newsletter:

I will immediately grasp your rss as I can’t find your email subscription hyperlink or newsletter service. Do you’ve any? Please allow me recognise in order that I could subscribe. Thanks.

(Found in the spam trap yesterday. I’m reasonably certain you’ve before.)

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If you’re going through hell

Screenshot from the OklahomanThis Oklahoman story [warning: autostart video] was all over the place yesterday, and most of the people distributing it noted that Prague High School’s mascot is in fact a Red Devil, who presumably knows something about, and perhaps has personal experience with, the hot nether regions. Hypocrisy, maybe? No worse than the norm for this species. As George Carlin said, forty-odd years ago:

I got fired last year in Las Vegas from the Frontier Hotel for saying “shit,” in a town where the big game is called “crap.” That’s some kind of a double standard, you know? I’m sure there was some Texan standing out in the casino saying “Aw, shit, I crapped!” They fly those guys in free.

Sometimes, of course, they say “shoot.”

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Pony tales

Considering I rather expected it to be an abject failure, The Sparkle Chronicles is being reasonably well received: over 400 have read the first chapter, and more than 900 were willing to go beyond that point. Some hated it and said so, but three times as many actually seemed to like it.

I didn’t know what to expect from Dead Pony Flying: the title might be considered off-putting to some, but it’s perfectly in character. This is a true short story, at a hair over 2000 words, and it pulled in about 70 reads in the first 24 hours with only one declared detractor.

Positive reactions, however, leave me with a quandary. (Had they been entirely negative, I could just take my stories and go home.) I have no particular objections to playing in this sandbox for a while longer — it’s familiar sand, which helps — but I have yet to decide whether I can accept being a 51st-percentile fanfic writer as easily as I’ve accepted being a D-list blogger.

If 51st is even where I belong. Someone put this up today, and I copied it over to my own area as a reminder:

[Y]ou do have to always be very careful when reading comments on your story on this site, as 10 positive comments to 1 bad one usually mean you did something wrong here; that’s how “nice” the community here is. I put that between quotation marks because I feel it actually stiffles the growth of some writers, as they become conditioned to believe their sub-par work is actually quite ok, and subsequently ignore anyone trying to point out the mistakes in the work by labelling them as a “hater”, and thus they never improve.

If I did everything right, I’d be figuring out how to spend my Nobel Prize money.

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Unsingle girl

The death of Helen Gurley Brown, who brought the ancient Cosmopolitan magazine (born 1886) from the depths of the industry to its heights, spawned a lot of discussion, some sane, some less so. The most pertinent commentary, I think, came from more than a decade ago, in this David Plotz report on HGB’s 2000 memoir I’m Wild Again, simply because she never really was all that, you know, wild:

I’m Wild Again is a strangely inapt title and a poor description of Brown’s life. She’s not wild again (and she may never have been very wild in the first place). This is the autobiography of a puritan. Wild chronicles how Brown exercises obsessively; doesn’t drink, smoke, or eat; has remained utterly faithful to her husband of 35 years; and lives for her job. The Cosmo girl’s dirty little secret isn’t sex. It’s work.

Which you’d have known if you’d read Sex and the Single Girl, which doesn’t really get into the sexy stuff until Chapter 12 — and there are only thirteen chapters in all.

(Via Kathy Shaidle.)

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New and maybe improved

Roger’s got a new question up: your favorite cover by the original artist. He cites as an example Lesley Gore’s remake of “You Don’t Own Me,” recorded in 2005 for the Ever Since album, which inevitably was reviewed here:

“You Don’t Own Me,” recast as a torch song, is darker and more emphatic than you remember it being four decades ago.

This is tricky for me. Del Shannon cut “Runaway,” one of those Songs in the Key of Me I’ve been talking about, twice for Big Top, the second time so they’d have a stereo master to put on the album. It’s almost, but not quite, indistinguishable from the 45.

For some licensing reason, “Runaway ’67,” cut after Del had moved to Liberty, isn’t YouTube-able in this part of the world. It’s radically different from the 1961 original, slowed down a bit and surrounded with the sort of vaguely menacing orchestration he bestowed upon Brian Hyland (!) for a cover of the Impressions’ “Gypsy Woman” in 1970.

In fact, if you fuzzed up “Runaway ’67″ a bit and boosted the midrange past all understanding, you’d get something very close to ELO’s cover of Shannon’s “Little Town Flirt,” which showed up as a bonus track on the reissued Discovery album.

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