It’s like Entertainment on ESPN

Kathleen Parker gets herself all twerked up over that Miley Cyrus incident:

This is not the first offensive display — and probably not even the worst. I pretend to no authority but have seen enough to know that MTV videos often resemble soft-porn mini-movies. Children marinating in a culture of online porn, sexting, rainbow parties and worse have little experience with other ways of relating emotionally.

Someone actually pretending to authority, I suppose, would have known that MTV doesn’t show videos and hasn’t for years. (Not that their “reality” shows are any less noxious.) And has anyone ever actually attended a rainbow party? Snopes seems skeptical.

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Drools of the road

The very model of a low-information driver:

Is it normal for a 4 hour drive to use half of tank of gas?

I mean, don’t you watch television? Anything that takes four hours calls for immediate medical attention.

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Aio, Aio, it’s off to court we go

November 2007: T-Mobile claims trademark on the color magenta.

August 2013: Out come the lawyers:

Chances are you probably don’t even know about AT&T’s Aio Wireless prepaid service, as it’s currently only available in a handful of markets. But the folks at T-Mobile have sued the subsidiary now before the world gets confused by two phone companies that use similar colors.

In a lawsuit [pdf] filed last week in a U.S. District Court in Texas, T-Mobile alleges “trademark dilution, trademark infringement and unfair competition with regard to T-Mobile’s trademark rights to the color magenta in the field of telecommunications services.”

T-Mobile claims that Aio was a deliberate and immediate response to its decision earlier this year to do away with phone subsidies and allow customers to get wireless plans without two-year contracts.

So far as I know, Pantone has not been asked for a statement, or even a color sample.

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Don’t even think of calling here

One of the winners of the FTC’s anti-telemarketer campaigns has posted a demo video, and I must say, it looks a bit more promising than I thought it might be. Take a look for yourself:

I should note that the price of conditional call forwarding, upon which this system relies, is the sort of thing that phone companies guard zealously.

Now if only we had this option:

In November 2011 Lee Beaumont paid £10 plus VAT to set up his personal 0871 line — so to call him now costs 10p, from which he receives 7p.

The Leeds businessman told BBC Radio 4’s You and Yours programme that the line had so far made £300.

Regulators are, as regulators will be, snippy:

But the premium number regulator Phone Pay Plus says the public should think twice before setting up their own lines.

They say phone line providers must meet consumer protection standards, which include transparency, fairness and complaint handling, which would mean clearly setting out the cost of each call to any organisation that rang: “Premium rate numbers are not designed to be used in this way and we would strongly discourage any listeners from adopting this idea, as they will be liable under our code for any breaches and subsequent fines that result.”

This is why the machine should get it: “Thank you for calling 1-900-ME. This call will be billed at 99 cents per minute, with a two-minute minimum, taxes not included. How may I direct your call?”

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You want that to go?

Insert “Thanks, I’ll eat it here” joke here:

Switzerland opened its first drive-in sex garages [Tuesday], amid a debate over the moral and cost implications of the controversial initiative.

The nine “sex boxes”, in a walled, park-like area on the outskirts of Zurich, enable clients to have sex in their cars with prostitutes. The sex workers will line up on a road leading to the drive-in car ports, where they will be able to negotiate fees with their customers.

On the upside, a cursory examination of the premises indicates that at no time will the customers be asked to pull ahead to the next window.

(Via Interested-Participant.)

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Built like lumberjacks

The Russian government, it appears, does not conduct slumber parties:

Police seized a painting of Russia’s president and prime minister in women’s underwear from a gallery in St Petersburg, saying the satirical display had broken unspecified laws.

The painting showed President Vladimir Putin wearing a tight-fitting slip and brushing the hair of Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, who is wearing knickers and a bra.

In other news, apparently Medvedev stuffs.

And this probably wasn’t intended as a punchline:

Russia does have a law against insulting authorities — an offence that carries a maximum one-year prison term.

Fortunately, we don’t have anything like that. Yet.

(Via Daily Pundit.)

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And thus time is taken

Jack Baruth, for some time now, has been FedUp with FedEx Ground:

Last year, FedEx realized that it was just potentially, possibly, maybe the case that not everybody in the world could take a day off from work without a shower to receive a package. So they initiated a program that allowed you to redirect your incoming package to a Kinko’s FedEx Store, where you would then have the privilege of driving 10 miles each way in traffic to wait for the Kinko’s employee to finish making a thousand copies by pressing the green button on the copier once for each copy. At that time, you would have a chance to explain the program to the employee, and the employee’s manager, and the person at the FedEx 800 number. Some two to three hours later, you would be able to leave with your package.

Although the above process is specifically prohibited by the Geneva Convention, it apparently works too well, because they’ve stopped doing it. If you request that your package be delivered to the FedEx Store, they won’t do it until the next day. They’ll try a home delivery first. Even if you’ve specifically asked on the phone for that to not happen. Despite the fact that the FedEx Ground truck goes to the FedEx store every night as the last thing it does, they still can’t give you the package until the following day.

I pity the fool who sends him something via SmartPost, which is FedEx Ground right until it’s handed off to the US Postal Service.

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Back atcha, but not like this

Once in a while, beneath a YouTube video, you’d see a Video Response: sort of a comment, but it also had its own page somewhere else.

Well, you’re about to stop seeing them:

Helping you connect with your fans is extremely important for you and for us. This includes replacing little-used features with better ones. Currently video responses have a click-through rate of .0004% — in other words, only 4 out of every 1 million users who sees a video response clicks on it. So, on September 12 we’re going to retire this little-used feature as we work to develop more effective fan engagement tools for creators. The team is focused on enabling you to share video links in comments. Doing this in comments will let creators and viewers add more context to a video, and more context should drive more engagement.

Or, you know, not. We’re talking uncharted waters here: nobody really knows what will work.

I think I’ve clicked on Video Responses maybe four times altogether. I don’t think I’ve actually viewed one million videos, though.

(Via TechCrunch.)

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Pegasus alert

It’s been a while since I’ve seen a Mobil station, and I’ve never, ever seen one of these:

Flying Horse ride at Mobil stations

Robert Mars at Ghosts Of The Great Highway reports that only five of these were actually placed at Mobil stations.

While following up, I discovered that some other oil company had this winged wonder first, and in Texas no less:

The Magnolia Petroleum Company … was founded on April 24, 1911 as a consolidation of several earlier companies. Standard Oil of New York (Socony) exchanged its stock for all of the Magnolia stock in December 1925 though it continued to operate as an affiliate of Socony. Later in 1959 Magnolia was fully incorporated into the Mobil division of Socony. Magnolia’s Pegasus logo, clad in red, has been the emblem of Mobil since the 1930s.

Cinnamon SwirlEquestria, for some reason, doesn’t seem to have a whole lot of red pegasi: Cinnamon Swirl here, who’s done two walk-ons (fly-ons?) in three seasons, may be the closest approximation. This is a shot from the second-season episode “A Friend In Deed,” which is the one where Pinkie Pie encourages everypony to smile already, darn ya. Alternatively, there’s Juicy Fruit, who resembles a winged Berry Punch: her color is described as “light plum.”

(The proud Mobil steed turned up Found in Mom’s Basement.)

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Mediabistro has the Nielsen numbers for the first few days of Al-Jazeera America, and they are, shall we say, not promising:

Not surprisingly given the low-rated channel it replaced (Current TV), and the fact that it lost a few million homes from AT&T before launch (it is currently in just over 40 million homes), AJAM’s launch ratings were pretty low by traditional cable news standards.

The highest rated show on AJAM last week was the Thursday evening edition of “Real Money with Ali Velshi,” which drew 54,000 total viewers.

The 2 PM Saturday edition of “News Live” averaged 48,000 viewers, while “Inside Story” Thursday at 12:30 PM averaged 41,000 viewers. “News Live” Thursday from 12-12:30 averaged 40,000. The debut edition of “The Stream” on Tuesday averaged 38,000 viewers, below Nielsen’s accuracy threshold, while the debut of “America Tonight” averaged 34,000 viewers.

Of course, it’s an uphill battle with any new cable channel, although you have to figure they’re not happy with drawing one-eighth the audience of a random My Little Pony rerun.

AJAM bought the inside front cover and Page 1 of The Week this past week to try to drum up some business, brandishing this slogan: KNOW MORE ANGLES / NO MORE SIDES. Wouldn’t work in an audio ad, I suppose, but that’s not a bad little shibboleth. And they’re still listing a channel number on AT&T U-verse (189), though a ZIP search for AJAM around here produced the usual “Request from your provider” link for AT&T. A scan of the local Cox channels produced nothing; then again, they didn’t carry Al-Gore Current TV either.

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The whole 8.23 meters

A guy at Scientific American says it’s time to get off our imperial butts (105 gallons) and go metric.

Not everyone is rushing to hop on the bandwagon, though:

As a personal aside, if one of my friends insisted on conversing with me only in Celsius and liters and meters, I would consider him a total dickwad, a typical liberal snob, and an all around pompous ass. The author comes across as an elitist, the sort who only buys carrots fertilized in the shit from wild coyotes and tofu processed with the sterilized piss of rare albino squirrels. I suspect he drives his Prius 30 miles round trip to buy only free range pesticide free organic corn for $6.00 an ear. I have no doubt the author is chagrined and angry that the farmer won’t take his Euro in place of the good old US dollar. After all, the Euro is the currency of Europe, a billion people use the Chinese Yuan, why should we use something different in America?

In other news, albino squirrels are rare.

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Blogging 102

Assuming you don’t want to take advice from assless AIs, here’s an actual blogging course being taught by an actual name-brand blogger:

Whether you’re a hobby blogger, corporate blogger, seasoned mommy blogger or someone just starting out, Blogging Bootcamp will teach you how to launch & maintain a successful blog. This course will highlight blogging platforms, branding your blog, current trends, how to integrate social networks, and useful writing tips & tricks.

The instructor’s credentials, incidentally, are as good as they come:

Jennifer James McCollum, APR, is an American mother and Oklahoma writer. She began blogging in 1999. Her blog,, has been featured in the Washington Post, MSNBC Entertainment, National Associated Press, The Oklahoman, Tulsa World, San Francisco Chronicle, and many more traditional media outlets. Jennifer serves as Executive Director of Oklahomans for the Arts, a nonprofit arts advocacy organization. An accredited public relations practitioner, Jennifer also provides part-time executive coaching and consulting in digital and public relations strategies.

This is a five-week Mini-Session at Oklahoma Contemporary, State Fair Park, easily worth your seventy simoleons. And besides:

Participants will receive original notes and presentations on all the topics presented, none of which are available online.

Shrewd, she is.

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Advice from the peanut gallery

A gentle reproach from a tosser of word salad, as received in the spam bucket:

I think that everything posted made a ton of sense.

But, what about this? what if you added a little content?

I mean, I don’t want to tell you how to run your website, however suppose you added a title that makes people desire more? I mean [post for which this comment was intended] is kinda boring. You should glance at Yahoo’s front page and note how they create news headlines to grab viewers interested.

You might try adding a video or a picture or two to get people interested about everything’ve got to say. In my opinion, it might make your website a little livelier.

Which proves this is an artificial unintelligence, since no one on planet Earth has ever used Yahoo!’s front page as a model for anything.

And it’s a shame that, as an AI, our visitor has no actual ass, else I’d invite him to blow it out same.

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Can we get that paneling in tortoise-shell?

Sure, if it’s death paneling:

Federal funds are running out at the Desert Tortoise Conservation Center and officials plan to close the site and euthanize hundreds of the tortoises they’ve been caring for since the animals were added to the endangered species list in 1990.

“It’s the lesser of two evils, but it’s still evil,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service desert tortoise recovery coordinator Roy Averill-Murray during a visit to the soon-to-be-shuttered reserve at the southern edge of the Las Vegas Valley last week.

Not evil enough to get him to refuse to take part in this charade, obviously.

And you have to figure, the Feds historically are a lot more concerned with endangered species than they are with the likes of you and me, so when our time is deemed to have come — well, let’s just say that it gets hot out there in the middle of noplace.

(Via the still-alive Brian J. Noggle.)

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You could walk a mile in her shoes

I am somewhat distressed to see Shoebunny, once the definitive resource for celebrity footwear, now reduced to a single “Hello world!” type post.

Now SB has taken time off before, but never have I seen her go back and wipe the archives. Her Twitter feed hasn’t been updated in a month. At least her Pinterest stuff seems to be intact.

The last two posts she made, in case you’re curious, concerned this pair of Jimmy Choos on Kate Beckinsale and these nicely insubstantial Manolos worn by Connie Britton.

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Because you’re worth it

Know what’s really great about being wealthy? Being able to buy brand names:

Know what I would do if I won the lottery? I’d buy genuine Windex and honest-to-God Pledge. Not WinDowEx or “Lemon Polish” from the dollar store. And God help me I’d never buy pine oil again. It would be Mr Clean Summer Citrus all the way. Spic and Span all the way. America’s greatness rests on dependable brand names. Maybe if the jackpot was really sizable, I’d indulge in the purchase of Comet Cleanser — the gritty kind that makes a mess in your drain pipes but leaves your stainless steel so squeaky clean.

I have only recently discovered that the store brand Pam-a-like imposes a soapy mouthfeel that the genuine article never has.

There are two brand names which I will likely never abandon, no matter what absurdities may be taking place in their back yards: Heinz ketchup and Fritos corn chips. (No substitutes are accepted, at least at the checkout counter; I may not have the option at a lunch counter.)

And I’m not emotionally wedded to Shell V-Power gasoline, but it’s never let me down, except when I look at the receipt to see how much I paid.

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