Meanwhile at the front

WW2 Tweets from 1943 is just like it sounds: history, 140 characters at a time. An example from last week, offset 72 years:

By the 10th of March, the Allies were well on their way to seizing the Mareth Line, and what with Germany having suffered heavy casualties, Rommel had departed Africa:

The Axis retreated to the Wadi Akarit, but were eventually routed.

(Seen by GLHancock before I got to it.)

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I don’t care if it’s one-way

Then again, it’s almost certainly too early to start packing:

Then again, where would they put an airport? Canterlot’s built onto a mountain, fercryingoutloud: no place for a runway. Cloudsdale? Naw, the planes would just crash through the clouds. Or perhaps that long stretch of nothing southwest of Canterlot on the way to Ponyville…

(Via Equestria Daily.)

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Watson says bite me

Okay, maybe not that specifically — but why the hell not?

Although curse words make up only 0.5% to 0.7% of all of the words we speak, they are rich in nuance and play a variety of roles. Said IBM research scientist Eric Brown, “As humans, we don’t realize just how ambiguous our communication is.”

In 2011 Brown’s team tried to train Jeopardy-winning supercomputer Watson to use more natural-sounding vocabulary by feeding it the entirety of Urban Dictionary. The result was a foul-mouthed machine that learned terms such as “ass hat” and “front butt” but didn’t understand when it was appropriate to use them, once responding to a researcher’s query with “bullshit!” Watson’s failure to distinguish between profanity and polite language meant that Brown’s team had to develop filters to screen out the profanity and eventually ended up wiping Urban Dictionary’s entries from Watson’s memory.

Yeah, but suppose Watson was right? We are awash in bullshit these days.

And “asshat” is a single word. Even Urban Dictionary says so.

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And still nobody rides for free

From this very space in 2011:

There was a pilot program conducted in Oregon several years ago, which was intended to determine whether it might be more useful, or more remunerative, or anyway more something, to drop the gas tax entirely and replace it with a per-mile fee. Not everyone was enthusiastic about having their every trip logged and reported via GPS, it turned out.

So no GPS in the new bill. Instead, someone will have to develop a gizmo that can read your odometer and report the details back to Salem — since they’re sure as hell not going to take your word for it.

It turns out that this wasn’t even its final form:

Automotive News reports the state will offer two options to its motorists: pay at the pump, or pay a 1.5-cent rate per mile traversed. The latter will be conducted through a device that plugs into a vehicle’s OBD port, then gathers mileage data to determine how much the motorist will pay in tax.

Right now, the program — set to begin July 1 — will be implemented by the Oregon DOT in partnership with Sanef ITS Technologies America and Intelligent Mechatronic Systems, the latter supplying the aforementioned OBD mileage reader.

I lean toward pay at the pump, though I must remind myself that there are no self-service pumps in Oregon.

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No better than graffiti

This is, I think, the most sensible stance to adopt in this age of Damn Near Anything Goes:

I’ve been told my campus has a YikYak “community” or whatever you call it. I don’t want to know. I’m not interested in participating or even hearing what goes on there. I feel like, if people are going to say awful things about me, and aren’t brave enough to criticize me to my face? I don’t want to hear what they’re saying about me anonymously, that that kind of posting doesn’t deserve my time or my attention and my often fragile self-confidence doesn’t need to obsess over the venting that someone may have done in a moment of upset (earned a bad grade, was told to put the cell phone away, whatever). Also, I figure a lot of people who do that kind of posting don’t every really think the object of it will read it. (So I’m happy to oblige by NOT reading it.)

Sort of a variation on the theme of “Don’t read the comments.”

There used to be quite a bit of spam, on Twitter and similar places, to the effect of “Did you read what they said about you?” followed by a link to God knows what. The jerks who left it never hung around for the answer, which was “Hell, no, and why should I?” The fact that there are now “reputation-protection” services tells me that there are an awful lot of people out there with awfully thin skins. If your response is “But what if people will think less of me?” I’ll tell you there’s no possible way I could think less of you.

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A little Sprite told me

Coca-Cola is testing new branding of its flagship products in Spain, and if all goes well, they may go worldwide with it:

Until now, the different varieties of Coca-Cola family functioned as three independent brands (Coca-Cola, Diet Coke and Coke Zero) in the design of their packaging and advertising. From today, as part of the new strategy of “single brand,” all variants of Coca-Cola will unite under a common identity.

The most visible change in this new strategy is that the packaging design will be unified. All cans and bottles have the same style, based on the iconic original brand of Coca-Cola.

What they’re not saying — but they’re showing in the packaging design — is that Diet Coke, or at least the name, is dead, at least in Spain. (Some European countries have been getting Coca-Cola Light, the new name, for several years now.) I don’t think this part of the plan will materialize in the States.

On the other hand, there will now be Coke Zero and Coke Zero Zero, the latter with neither calories nor caffeine. And I detect no trace of the ill-fated Coke II.

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Fresh from Lake Minnetonka

“That ain’t Lake Minnetonka,” said Prince, and didn’t take off on his motorcycle without the dripping-wet Apollonia Kotero, second-billed in Prince’s film Purple Rain back in 1984. She had, shall we say, a certain visual appeal:

Apollonia in the 1980s

And she could sing, kinda sorta. The ad hoc group Apollonia 6 performed a song called “Sex Shooter” in the film; a separate music video was issued to promote both the film and the one and only Apollonia 6 LP.

Apollonia 6, the album, might be more famous for the songs that were left off than for the seven that were included. (“Sex Shooter,” released as a single on Warner Bros. 29182, managed to clamber to #85 in Billboard.) All left on the cutting-room floor: “Manic Monday,” later a Bangles hit; “The Glamorous Life,” subsequently a hit for Sheila E.; and “17 Days,” cut by Prince himself and stuck on the B-side of the “When Doves Cry” single.

After leaving Prince behind, Apollonia appeared in the TV series Falcon Crest, cut a solo album, and set up a production company. She’s 55 now. And apart from a touch of the usual middle-age spread, she doesn’t seem to have changed much:

Oh, and she was nominated for a Razzie for Worst New Star, but lost to Olivia d’Abo.

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Solid psittacine

Good evening. Here is the news for parrots:

Bobby Pacino, our blue and gold macaw, will be ten years old this spring. He was hatched somewhere in the United States and sold to us at a pet store in Oklahoma City when he was just a pup. Err, baby? Kitten? Chick. When he was just a chick. A small, quiet one.

The first few days he was home with us were a lot like having a newborn infant, especially with regard to feeding and bonding. It was actually a very sweet time.

Then the next solid, unrelenting decade was a lot like having a dysfunctional toddler, especially with regard to, well, pretty much everything. A loud, messy, screaming, demanding, attention seeking, affectionate and VERY smart, un-CANNILY smart, but also disruptive and destructive, toddler. It’s been a whirlwind. A loving whirlwind.

And if ten years sounds like a long way to put up with a toddler, well, macaws often live 50 years or longer, so a lot of feathers are going to be ruffled.

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Everyman speaks

And this is what he says:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: How to get REAL and ACTIVE Instagram followers?

Before you suggest a method, though, he wants to make this clear:

is there a way to get real n active followers without following other people and for free?!?! I want to get a lot of followers without doing much work and without paying. any ways?

The scary part, of course, is that eventually he’ll be old enough to vote.

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Let’s be inclusive!

Even when it’s right, it can still be wrong:

Press Any Key to continue.

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Why we are doomed

Time was, every young American was equipped with, as Hemingway is supposed to have said, “a built-in, shockproof crap detector.” And they would keep that invaluable device all their lives — until they ran for political office.

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Strange search-engine queries (475)

Once again, it’s time to take a cool, refreshing dip into the search strings piling up over there in the corner, in the hopes of finding something worth singling out. It is not always easy; then again, it is not always entertaining, either.

what happened to Kali Altrox:  It wasn’t my week to watch her.

Blessed are the Pessimists for they hath made backups:  Ah, yes, from the Sermon on the Mounted External Drive.

2001 mazda 626 transmission shifts hard from reverse to forward:  The replacement won’t do that, of course.

qustions about changing transmission in a 92 ford probe from a mazda:  Don’t bother. There are only nine transmissions left in the country, and the one you’ll get is the one you had six rebuilds ago.

mazda 626 1986 automatic transmission:  Talk to that Ford guy who just went by.

how to get free beer from hooters:  Trust me, anything you get from hooters will cost you in the end.

apple ht204268:  This was not the B-side to “Hey Jude,” no matter what you heard.

ford festive hold function:  I can’t recall any incident of being held in a Ford that was in any way festive.

hoosier twang:  Larry Bird always talks like that.

flatratetech dealers first to feel tech shortage pinch:  Don’t be silly. If the dealer thinks he might feel a pinch, the first thing he does is figure out a way to pass the pinchage on to you.

mazda 626 weight ratio:  One Mazda 626 weighs approximately as much as 3,000 lb of ground round.

selective blinders:  Will keep you focused on the forest without having to wonder about those treelike entities on the margins.

sexy motherson hamasone:  This sounds either incestuous or … never mind. I don’t even want to think about Hamas.

acknowledging “one’s pluck” a compliement:  No. Now pluck off.

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Slow extinction

The Raptors have not had the easiest time of it of late, having fallen to third in the East after winning only three of their last ten. Still, Toronto is one team that can always be counted upon to give the Thunder a hard time, be they in third place or thirteenth, and they lived up to expectations tonight, following Terrence Ross’s hot hand with the long ball and the general DeStruction wrought by DeMar DeRozan to a 61-58 lead at halftime. OKC responded by cranking up the defense in the third, holding T.O. to 18 points; the Raptors rallied in the fourth, cutting a 12-point Thunder lead to three. This is not the sort of thing Loud City wants to see, and with two minutes left, an Enes Kanter free throw ran the lead back to seven at 103-96. DeRozan, who hadn’t scored since the first half, nailed a jumper, fouled Serge Ibaka, and delivered a layup, but it was still a six-point game with 44 seconds to go; DeRozan then rang up two more buckets. Finally Russell Westbrook, Mr. Triple Double, knocked down two freebies; DeRozan’s streak abruptly ended, D. J. Augustin missed two freebies inside the two-second mark, but the Raptors were wrapped up, 108-104.

Six of nine Raptors, nonetheless, hit double figures, with DeRozan (24) and Ross (20, including six of nine treys) leading the way. Toronto only took nine free throws, but made them all, and delivered 24 assists against only eight turnovers. (The Thunder had 30 assists, a season high, but also coughed up the ball 18 times.)

Scott Brooks played ten tonight, with Steven Adams backing up Enes Kanter in the middle. Kanter collected a double-double, with 21 points and ten rebounds, but Adams, playing 16 minutes, scored six and retrieved six. Westbrook? 30-11-17. His lines are starting to converge toward that. OKC owned the boards, 49-33. And while the Thunder made 42 shots, same as Toronto, it only took them 87 tries; the Raptors had to put up 98.

A four-game homestand continues with the Clippers (Wednesday), the Timberwolves (Friday), and the Bulls (Sunday), followed by a quick trip to Dallas on Monday.

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Foiling photographers

The “candid” celebrity photo is not yet a thing of the past, but perhaps this scheme will catch on:

Thanks to DJ Chris Holmes, celebrities can now ward off those pesky paparazzi and their intrusive photography with ease. They just need to wear pieces from Holmes’ new “Anti Paparazzi Collection” — a line of clothing made from a reflective material [that] completely ruins flash photographs.

The collection currently consists of a hooded jacket, an infinity scarf, suit pants, a blazer, and a hat. While they look like regular clothes, the fabric is actually coated with glass nanospheres. This coating makes the clothes act like mirrors when hit with bright light, so the resulting images are horribly underexposed and the wearer is practically invisible.

For example:

Result of photographing a chap in the Anti-Paparazzi Blazer

The line is actually being crowdfunded, and not all the items are currently completely funded yet.

(Via American Digest.)

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Meanwhile in the City of No Illusions

A grievance aired too late for Festivus:

A petition filed on calls on the City of Buffalo to change its name.

The petitioner, identified in the post as Mark Beasley, a proclaimed member of the Navajo Nation, says the name “Buffalo” is, “offensive and racist.”

Beasley argues that the name promotes genocidal imagery towards Native Americans because American Bison, also known as buffalo, were slaughtered in order to move Natives off the land.

The petition also calls on Berkshire Hathaway, the owner of The Buffalo News, to drop the term from its name.

Beaslier said than done, Marko. I noticed your little petition doesn’t mention the Buffalo Bills. Then again, with exactly 29 postseason appearances in 55 seasons, the Bills themselves have been routinely slaughtered.

(Via Fark.)

Update: Um, maybe not.

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Quote of the week

Robert Stacy McCain instructs us in Contemporary Logic 101:

Now, it happens that I am quite lazy in my rhetorical methods. That is to say, I understand that the object of the argument is to win the argument. In politics, we find that most people have profound partisan prejudices, so that there is no hope of persuading a Democrat to support, say, tax cuts or a larger defense budget. Therefore, when we find ourselves confronted with an antagonist in public argument, the simplest way to win is to ask ourselves, “How do I demonstrate that this person is a fool?”

My methodology in this regard was developed from years of youthful studies of military history: Locate the weakest point of the antagonist’s argument and pile onto that point with everything you’ve got. Deliver a crushing blow at the point of attack, and then wait for the response. The antagonist will invariably make some new error in attempting to defend the point you’ve attacked and — rather than continue your previous attack — you then shift to attacking his new error. “Unfair!” the antagonist will shriek, but as they say down home, “I ain’t never heard of no fair fight.”

These tactics work best against arrogant fools. I’m always on the lookout for such people, who always begin with the presumption that they are smarter than me and, when the argument is over, never can figure out how they got beat by a dumb hillbilly.

For some of them, it will take the equivalent of a deathbed conversion to bring the light to their eyes.

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