Count the legs and divide by eight

On second thought, don’t, if we’re talking millions:

Millions of spiders have taken over a Memphis neighborhood, building a web in a field that is a whopping half-mile long.

It’s a nightmare for residents, and just imagine how scary it is for those who cope with arachnophobia — the fear of spiders.

“I’ve never seen anything like this,” Frances Ward told Action News 5. “It’s like a horror movie. Never seen nothing like this before. They’re in the air, flying everywhere. They all on the house, on the side of the windows.”

The obligatory Scientific Explanation:

“It could be juveniles, millions, in a big emergence event, or adults of a tiny species, probably a sheetweb spider — leaving for some reason possibly knowable only to them,” Memphis Zoo curator Steve Reichling tells the station. “In fields and meadows, there are often literally millions of spiders doing their thing, unseen and unappreciated by us.

“I would not want to live in a world where such things were no longer possible,” he continued. “The presence of these spiders tells us that all is well with nature at that location.”

Then again, if these are really Stiphidiidae, it’s news: these spiders are generally found in Australia and New Zealand, not in Tennessee.

(Via Chris Lawrence.)

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Trailers for sale or rent

There are apparently two rules for the music in a motion-picture trailer: make it sound as rousing as possible, and if you can make it sound like Carl Orff’s O Fortuna, so much the better.

Cover art for Illusions by Thomas BergersenMusic for trailers, it appears, is a whole ‘nother industry from music for film soundtracks, mostly because the score will likely not be completed until after post-production, and by then two, maybe three, trailers will be circulating. There exists a market for this stuff besides Hollywood, and after being swept off my feet by one particular track, composed by Thomas Bergersen for his Two Steps From Hell production-music house, I decided I’d try out a full album of the stuff. In retrospect, I probably should have thought this through a little longer. Eighty minutes of trailer music, perforce, is going to sound like eighty minutes of trailers, less the stentorian voice that says “In a world where…”

Still, Illusions is fascinating because of those limitations: in a couple of minutes, the composer has to create something that will make you want to see whatever film is being promoted. And Bergersen knows his craft: he picks the musical textures, the vocal bits, the heavily echoed percussion, from a crammed-to-the-top bag of tricks, and if once in a while you hear something you think you’ve heard before, well, that, too, is part of the craft. (“Age of Gods” is the obligatory O Fortuna variation.) I’m not sure you want to drive to Dallas with these nineteen tracks as accompaniment: you’ll likely have aggravated your hypertension long before you reach the Red River. But as proof of concept — Two Steps from Hell offers a 37-track version to producers, to show you they mean business — it’s remarkably successful.

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Beat on the bot

How many of you would be delighted to see someone like this suspended?

Yahoo Answers screenshot: How to auto tweet without getting your account suspended?

A bit of self-justification here:

My twitter got suspended though they were not specific why. They just said multiple violations to the twitter policies. Yeah really big help. I assumed it was because I was auto tweeting from google alerts. How am I suppose to tweet a lot of news from google when I don’t want to sit here all day doing so? How do some people get their accounts suspended for auto tweeting and some don’t? I have a life and don’t want to sit here all day long tweeting news from google alerts manually. Do they automatically tweet stuff just once in a while, one a day, once a week or what?

Darlin’, if you’re tweeting nothing but news from Google, by definition you have no life. And the likelihood that you’d get any followers is pretty close to zip.

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Ol’ Blank Flank is back

Quelle surprise:

Hillary Clinton in pony form

Note the total absence of a cutie mark. As teacher Cheerilee explains:

A cutie mark appears on a pony’s flank when he or she finds that certain something that makes them different from every other pony.

Not gonna happen in her lifetime: never a leader, always a follower, and what she follows mostly are the twin scents of money and power. Like most of the competition, in fact.

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Bebopped into submission

It’s a full(ish) moon, but I think more likely what affected this game was the return (yes!) of Kevin Durant, who came out doing very Kevin Durant-like things. The Jazz stayed close through a quarter or so, but OKC opened up in the second, outscoring Utah 40-26, and the Thunder maintained a 20-point lead, or close to it, the rest of the night. “Offensively challenged,” suggested radio guy Matt Pinto, and indeed the Jazz had trouble knocking down shots. The Utah defense, however, showed signs of stoutness, winning the rebound battle by five; the Thunder ended up just shooting over them. (Seriously. OKC made 11 of 27 treys, six of them from the reserve wingmen, Anthony Morrow and D. J. Augustin.) Downside for the Thunder: losing Mitch McGary to an ankle ailment in the last 100 seconds, giving up a 12-0 run to the Jazz in the waning moments, and letting the Jazz get 40 foul shots. Then again, they missed 12 of those freebies. The final was 111-89, the first time OKC has won in Salt Lake City since late 2013.

Batman and Robin, together again, were appropriately dangerous, KD collecting 27 points and Russell Westbrook turning in a 20-7-9. Once again, the Thunder reserves got busy, contributing 44 points to the cause. Only one oddity jumps out of the box score: Durant played 30:10, while Gordon Hayward, who had a team-high 19 for the Jazz, played — 30:10. At least we knew who was guarding whom, right?

Next opponents come from the East: Brooklyn on Wednesday and Detroit on Friday at the ‘Peake, followed by road games at Atlanta and Miami. I think right now what most people are thinking is “Please don’t let anything happen to KD.” Whether KD himself is thinking that, I couldn’t tell you.

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But you must monetize

I expect to be staring down this particular situation before too awfully long:

The theme I’d worked so hard to look just right got all effered up when I applied an update the developers told me was necessary. Too many issues, not enough patience, and too tired to care, I just went with another theme. Unfortunately, these days, finding a WordPress theme geared for actual blogging rather than rabid capitalism is nearly impossible.

True that. Sunday night’s #blogchat on Twitter is just overrun with people who are desperate to get Maximum Personal Branding, or some such hooey, out of their $75 Premium Themes, if only to earn back that $75.

I have not yet begun my full-fledged search for the new 20th Anniversary Theme. I am, however, deeply suspicious of any theme which mentions SEO in the first two lines of its description.

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Just can’t commit

To be honest, I can’t figure how one’s choice of hosiery affects this sort of decision:

Sheer Energy pantyhose ad

Then again, what sort of guy hangs on for three whole years under these conditions?

I don’t have a date for this ad, but it clearly has to be older than 1991, when L’eggs gave up their trademark plastic containers. And if there’s any concept I understand, it’s “I don’t have a date.”

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Cut ’em off at the sneeze

One Louisville Metro office is apparently overrun with snot:

The administration of Mayor Greg Fischer has sought to tackle many problems plaguing Louisville over the last five years, such as violent crime, homelessness, traffic congestion and illegal dumping. But according to a recent email sent to city employees by their manager, there is a new scourge in Louisville that is housed inside Metro Government’s own offices.

Boogers. Lots of them.

Metro Planning & Design Services manager Joe Reverman sent an email to department staff and administrators on Tuesday, calling attention to the little yellow terrors proliferating unchecked within their own office restroom, warning the pick-happy perpetrators of retribution, and advising everyone to be on the lookout for suspicious nostril activity.

And then this email came down the line:

“At no point should anything that comes out of or off a person’s body be wiped/poured/spit or in any way put on any Metro-owned surface (with the exception of items commonly and appropriately flushed down toilets/urinals or rinsed down a sink drain), including surfaces in both public areas and offices,” wrote [Develop Louisville exec Heather] Plowman. “Anyone caught doing so will be punished fully and immediately. If you have any questions as to what constitutes an offensive substance, or if you need assistance determining an appropriate method of disposing of such substances, please see a member of management or human resources.”

Management has yet to finger the culprit(s).

(Via Maggie McNeill.)

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Leave the salt mine behind

Apparently some employers are being perceived as having abandonment issues or something:

[M]ore employees want to take vacations, but are fearful of the backlash they could incur among co-workers. While they plan and schedule trips, they have found another method to cope with potential conflict by waiting until the last possible minute to inform them that they will be out of the office.

Adopting a strategy of taking a “stealth” vacation, taking off last minute or not requesting or announcing an official vacation at all, is likely the product of a workplace culture which not only encourages, but rewards employees for putting in long work weeks. Of course, this method can affect project deadlines or client meetings.

Managers are noticing and frowning upon this trend since their employees are not committing to vacation days ahead of time.

Of course, this can work in reverse too: if you schedule a vacation too far ahead, they’ll forget about it, and then wonder where the hell you are when you don’t show up.

Over the last five years, I’ve taken maybe seven weeks of vacation. (I was, I calculate, entitled to nineteen during that timeframe.) I suspect there will be much consternation the next time I take off for an extended period, which happens, oh, starting a few hours ago.

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Strange search-engine queries (512)

If you’re not familiar with this Monday-morning feature, please allow me to explain. This site is very large, as personal sites go — roughly thirty thousand articles on all manner of subjects — so there’s a good chance that J. Random Googler (or Binger or whatever) might actually land here, or at least be shown something here, while searching for something off the wall. If it’s far enough off the wall, I’ll notice it, and I’ll post it here.

blog A dying culture invariably exhibits personal rudeness. Bad manners. Lack of consideration for o:  Trust me, this culture was dying before I started putting personal rudeness and bad manners on a blog.

the who see me:  You better behave yourself, then. Especially in front of Townshend.

can a 20 year old take viagra:  If he’s sufficiently pathetic, yes.

if the purpose of this paragraph is to persuade readers to eat tortillas:  Then readers should not look at it until tomorrow, which is Taco Tuesday.

when sheila arrived at the gym on tuesday morning:  She knew not to overwork herself, because she wanted to be ready to go for Taco Tuesday.

candice routinely blows every little setback out of proportion. for example:  Last week, they had Taco Tuesday on Thursday, and she pitched a hissy fit.

when the floor rusted through on her old car:  She realized that Fred Flintstone didn’t know jack about brakes.

kermit without mascara:  Frogs wear makeup?

paul and peter disagree:  As they have been, ever since we decided to rob Peter to pay Paul.

lolitas 7-15 whores collection archive:  And we’d better not find out that Paul has been spending Peter’s money on this kind of crap.

intj stare of death:  If this actually worked, I can think of several people who wouldn’t be here now.

flying anvil foundation:  Run by Acme officials as a tax dodge.

best way to catch a coyote:  Have you tried the new line of Acme anvils?

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Going unDirked

Through the first 44 minutes or so, Dirk Nowitzki had taken only five shots, making three. And then he made two in a row, evading Serge Ibaka’s AutoSwat technique, and suddenly the Mavericks were up four and seemingly in command. This could not be allowed to stand, and for once it didn’t: the Thunder went on a 9-0 run to go up five. Dallas responded with a quick five to tie it, and things went back and forth until the 24-second mark, when a Russell Westbrook pullup jumper pushed OKC to 117-114. Deron Williams had a good look, but not a great one, and Westbrook took the ball away; the Mavs got a couple more chances, everyone knew that Dallas was going for the trey in those waning moments, and the Thunder, which hadn’t defended the trey well recently — the Mavs made 10 of 19 tonight — seemed to remember how perimeter defense worked. It may not have mattered: Wesley Matthews’ final attempt didn’t come within four feet of the cylinder, and at the horn Westbrook took that ball away to secure the win.

All five Dallas starters scored in double figures, with Zaza Pachulia collecting 10 rebounds; Pachulia, unfortunately for the Mavs, bricked three of four free throws late in the fourth. (Perhaps in sympathy, Steven Adams whiffed two of his own.) And Dirk, 5 of 7 after 44 minutes, didn’t get any more shots; Deron Williams led the scoring with 20.

“We move the ball,” remarked Dion Waiters, “we’re a dangerous thing.” Waiters, who started at the two, knew the drill: he had five points in that 9-0 run, which included a couple of Westbrook assists. Russell finished with 31, eleven dimes, and five steals. It was nice to see Ibaka score again: 8-15 for 16 points. And the Thunder bench, often underachieving earlier in the season, contributed 43 points tonight.

Maybe there’s enough Mojo Reserve now to face the Jazz tomorrow. One can only hope.

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Quote of the week

Said I earlier today: “You can’t hide from Possibly Upsetting Things all your life, though God knows some people try awfully hard.”

I yield to this man’s superior knowledge of the subject:

Like a lot of black folks in my generation, I felt that it was my responsibility to become more attuned to racial sensibility — to achieve a higher level of sensitivity to those people and conditions that might lead to oppression. It was a constant theme in my youth during which the very term “black” was coined and people questioned having been “Negro”. During that time as well, many of us went from passive observation to active participation in both directions. In 1967 many of us were adamant about looking for “safe space” and determined that could not be found anywhere at all in the USA. We looked to Cuba, to Brazil, to Ghana. Similarly during the Vietnam war, many looked to Canada as an escape route. But in the end we found, even through assassinations and jailing, that racial integration in America was the far superior road for practical and moral reasons. It was not simple, it was not easy. It was worth it.

Said James Brown in 1969: “I don’t want nobody to give me nothing; open up the door, I’ll get it myself.” Today, that position has been completely inverted:

It is frighteningly disturbing that this generation of students has chosen to ignore the achievements of crossover and gone to greater extremes of racial sensitivity in their demands for resignations. I can’t imagine college universities now having the stomach to even listen to Richard Pryor or George Carlin, two of the many whose humor brought us together in the 70s. Indeed today’s students seem to have lost all sense of humor. I can only speculate this comes from a poor interpretation of what they expected that we went through or what others before us did. We sought the guarantees of the Constitution and we also wanted to escape small places and move about freely. Listen to the students at Little Rock High School. Remember Charlayne Hunter. Study James Farmer. They worked to end segregation, not to hide from insults or even injuries. What is clear to me is that far too many Americans expect from oppositional politics what can only be achieved from actual friendship, which is mutual respect and admiration. What a sad result. Finally calling someone a “racist” has nothing to do with what someone actually believes, but one’s position in an artificial political war. This fight is not about crime and punishment, it’s not even about the law. It’s a tawdry catfight over bourgeois privileges between bourgeois actors who desperately seek to inherit the imprimatur of Civil Rights struggle. My ass.

Which is, of course, not to say that all the brouhaha on campus is wholly unprovoked. But contemporary claims by college students of being oppressed and downtrodden sometimes seem downright laughable.

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Isolation play

There are times when you simply have to get away from it all:

[A] lot has been made of the whole “safe spaces” thing on college campuses. And yeah, I see the ridicule for people wanting the entire world to be a safe space, because there’s no way that that’s possible. And yet, at the same time: don’t we all have places or things we retreat to for a while, when the world gets to be too much? I mean, Camp David exists. There was a “Fortress of Solitude” for Superman (at least in the movies). One of my circles of friends jokes a lot about “blanket forts” even as we recognize we do have to go out into the world and be adults and do the hard things. I’m not sure there’s anything so awful about once in a while retreating to a blanket fort (or the equivalent). The problem comes when you want to be there all the time.

Yea, verily. You can’t hide from Possibly Upsetting Things all your life, though God knows some people try awfully hard.

Regarding the Fortress:

The concept and name “Fortress of Solitude” first appeared in the Doc Savage pulps in the 1930s and 1940s. Doc Savage built his Fortress of Solitude in the Arctic and retreated to it alone in order to make new scientific or medical breakthroughs, and to store dangerous technology and other secrets. Superman’s original Silver Age Fortress, as it appeared in 1958, was also located in the Arctic and served similar purposes. Built into the side of a steep cliff, the Fortress was accessible through a large gold-colored door with a giant keyhole, which required an enormous key to open it. The arrow-shaped key was so large that only Superman (or another Kryptonian such as Supergirl) could lift it; when not in use, the key sat on a perch outside of the Fortress, where it appeared to be an aircraft path marker. This was until a helicopter pilot followed the direction of the arrow straight to the entrance of the Fortress, forcing Superman to develop a cloak to camouflage the entrance and key (which now hung on brackets on its side beside the door) and to ensure the Fortress’s secrecy.

Perhaps not as nifty, or as photogenic, as the Fortress in the first Superman film, which rises from a single crystal carried by Clark Kent to an ice field for no reason he could comprehend at the time, but it’s a premise I have to respect.

Twilight Sparkle, of course, has a Book Fort.

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The knuckle-buster discount

It costs less to assemble furniture yourself, provided you value neither your time nor your sanity:

[I]t’s a glass-topped computer desk I bought at Staples. The instructions were entirely in cartoons. Several of the puzzle pieces were unlabeled. I had to take a partial assembly apart three times. Perhaps the most aggravating aspects of the thing concerned a pair of mislabeled legs and two TOP stickers that were attached to the bottoms of the pieces so labeled … but with nearly invisible arrows pointing to their other sides.

In a rare sop to the sardonic side of such torments, there was a package in the kit that contains two miscellaneous bolts of different sizes and a self-tapping screw, none of which have any part in the assembly. It’s labeled EXTRA HARDWARE. Clearly, someone at the factory has both a sense of humor and a relative who’s endured this sort of agony.

So basically, IKEA without the legendary Scandinavian whimsy.

My own desk is an ancient castoff from someone’s garage, perforated on its right by several mysterious circles which I sometimes think are bullet holes. Certainly moving it into this house twelve years ago, which required a great deal of disassembly to get it through the front door, motivated some of us to want to shoot the damned thing.

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One step toward Red

I don’t know anyone who’s signed up for YouTube’s Red service, which allows consumption of, one assumes, mass quantities of media for a monthly subscription fee. And up to this point, YouTube’s actual revenues from yours truly equaled the proverbial goose egg. Still, some things are worth paying for, and as an experiment — and in my capacity as a longtime non-subscriber to Discovery Family, which the cable company has pushed out to some far-distant Nosebleed Tier — I put up some coin of the realm yesterday to watch the newest episode of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, a show-business fable titled “The Mane Attraction,” ever-so-slightly based on George du Maurier’s Trilby. (The manipulative manager is named “Svengallop,” fercryingoutloud.) We’re talking $1.99, or $2.99 for actual HD. Mostly, I was curious to see how convoluted paying for an episode would be.

As it happens, the answer to that was “Not very,” since I already had a Google Wallet specified: two buttons, and the deed was done. (Your mileage may vary.) They are offering a season ticket — 26 episodes for approximately the price of ten — so I may do that for Season Six. After all, one must support the content creators at some level, and paying the cable company an extra $200 a year is not a level I’d consider useful.

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I wouldn’t have thought this possible

Did the iTunes Store actually run out of Adele’s 25?

I’m guessing this is from Apple’s UK outpost, what with the price quoted in sterling. But this still doesn’t explain how it could be sold out; I mean, it’s not like digital files take up so much warehouse space. Is there a specific allocation of licenses to each iTunes operation? (I checked the US location last night, and it was willing to sell, albeit at $10.99.)

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