Apocalypse soonish

Um, okay:

Revelation 17:10 (New International Version):

They are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come; but when he does come, he must remain for only a little while.

Unless we’re using Galactic Standard Time or something, this would seem to eliminate the President, who’s remained for six years already and surely isn’t going anywhere in the next two no matter what noises emanate from the GOP.

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Young blood

I’d be lying if I said I never had thoughts like this — and the least you can do is let me fib a bit, right?

You’re maybe twenty-seven years old now and you’ve done nothing worth remembering or noting in your life besides food and travel. Your opinions on everything, such as they are, are sourced directly from your friends and/or Jon Stewart. At an age when our ancestors had already conquered nations or produced great art or invented world-changing ideas, you’re still figuring out who you are and what you’re going to do. You live in an overpriced apartment, you go to LA Fitness, you’re out of money at the end of the month, you have no clear recollection of most of your days.

And yet, you’re so beautiful. You’re like the most gorgeous and alluring woman I ever loved in college, but turned up two more notches, an AMG Black Series version of my favorite physiological features, constructed from the unstable isotopes of my deepest fantasies and presented to me on a thoroughly steam-covered phone screen, your tongue poking flirty between your saucy lips. I want to put you in the passenger seat of a Ferrari 458 Speciale and take you around VIR Full Course for ten laps before dragging you into the women’s restroom and bruising the front of your hipbones on a sink. I want to run into the ocean holding your hand and float on the six-foot waves with you while we laugh like children sharing a secret. I want to wake up next to you twenty years from now, startled by our mutual favorite ringtone because our son is calling home from his first week at Yale.

Except that I know it wouldn’t be like that.

Of course it wouldn’t.

What’s most remarkable about this, I think, is the time it takes to concoct a fantasy at this level: 400, maybe 500 milliseconds for it to be conceived, and then a couple of seconds for the narrative to unspool before the whole thing unravels in a whirlwind of 70 percent lust, 30 percent self-loathing. (Your percentage may vary.)

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We imperialists

This glorious land yacht has been James Lileks’ Bleat banner for this past week:

1961 Chrysler Imperial

This is almost certainly a 1961 model: the headlights are mounted on little stalks, one of Virgil Exner’s more precious ideas, and the Forward Look fins were carried over from the previous generation. (Mopars were finless starting in ’62.)

Imperial, it always seemed to me, was Chrysler’s red-headed stepchild, albeit with a perfect coif. Some years, such as ’61, Imperial was a separate make; before 1955 and after 1990, it was simply the top-line Chrysler. It never came close to upsetting Cadillac’s hold on the American luxoboat market in any of those years, though once or twice it did approach Lincolnesque numbers. In 1993, the brand was put to sleep, though Chrysler did paste an Imperial badge onto a 2007 concept car based on the 300, with a bling-to-horsepower ratio you wouldn’t want to calculate.

I don’t think they could sell a car called Imperial anymore, for fear someone would take the name as passive microaggression. Heck, I don’t remember seeing Imperial margarine lately. But this ’61 tank, fortified with Mopar’s 413 wedgehead V8, one of very few engines ever mentioned in a song, still has The Look.

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PDA

When I was in school, back in the Old Silurian times, they hadn’t come up with the term “Public Display of Affection,” probably because we wouldn’t dare do such things in class. I remember the siblings discussing it, so it apparently filtered in during the 1970s. Truth be told, I’m not sure if my own negative reaction to the concept is based on some sort of devotion to order — or on sour grapes, inasmuch as I was never in a position to engage in such a thing myself.

Aw, heck, let’s put it as flatly as possible:

I’m not the prudiest prude who ever pruded, but seriously, it’s GROSS to be trying to teach and out of the corner of your eye see two people practically feeling each other up.

Especially two people who, if pressed, will argue that they’re actual adults despite their teenage-crush mutual fondle session.

And while I’ve seen “prude” turned into an adjective before, this is the first time I can remember seeing it verbed.

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Bheer

When I was a bit younger and no less inclined to spout off, albeit at slower speeds — 300 bps sounds horrible, looks worse — I dealt with the concept of bheer, which was beer with a time value: it was actually present and therefore consumable. (“Beer here,” they explained.) Three decades or so later, while I’ve dealt with craft brews brewed by crafty individuals in places almost all over the map, I’ve still paid only one visit to an old-fashioned macrobrewer, and that was in 1972. You’re familiar with them, I’m sure:

In St. Louis, Anheuser-Busch was never Anheuser-Busch; it was always The Brewery. The Brewery was the reason why the Cardinals still play here. The previous ownership was all set to sell the team to a group which would have moved the Birds to Dallas until The Brewery bought the team, finally convincing owner Bill Veeck that his St. Louis Browns were doomed in this town.

When I played church softball, we took turns bringing the beer. And the only beer that we were allowed bring was AB; nothing else. Granted, none of us were beer konna-sewers back then. Post church-softball beer had one purpose, only one and taste didn’t figure in.

I had turned 18 in 1971, so I was legal in those days. And I figured, hell, if I’m in St. Louis, I might as well drop in on the monolith on Pestalozzi Street. In my capacity as a serviceman on a day pass, I thought this was a swell idea, and so did my traveling companions of the moment.

We were offered Actual Samples; I did not admit that I could not easily distinguish between Bud and Michelob. Then again, I was one of the few teenagers who hadn’t been sneaking drinks all those years. (I paid for that inexperience over the next couple of years, finding tables over my head after desperate attempts to drink someone under them.) And they handed out actual samples of beechwood, with which Bud was famously aged. (More surface area for the yeast, apparently.)

It’s probably not so special today, though:

AB beer really wasn’t that good.

The only difference between Bud Light and club soda is alcohol; if you drink enough of the former, you can get drunk. And when InBev bought AB, The Brewery became just another Big, Multinational Corporation.

Still, that’s a lot of damned beer, even if none of it, for the moment, qualifies as bheer. And as for the St. Louis Browns, you know them today as the, um, Baltimore Orioles.

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Certification blues

I love this. Robert P. Murphy, on whether professionals really, truly need to be licensed by government:

It is a paradox of our age that the interventionists think the public is too stupid to consult Angie’s List before hiring a lawyer, and so they need politicians to weed out the really bad ones by requiring law licenses. Yet, who determines whether a person (often a lawyer!) is qualified to become a politician? Why, the same group of citizens who were too stupid to pick their own lawyers.

Then again, the amount of faith I have in the public of late — look at the yutzim they keep voting for! — suggests that we might not want to go totally laissez-faire all at once.

(Via Coyote Blog.)

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Either oar

Apocryphal picture of Shit CreekThe paddle dealer portrayed here is probably enhanced by Photoshop — what isn’t these days? — but there is, in fact, a television series called Schitt’s Creek:

The series stars Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara as Johnny and Moira Rose, a wealthy couple who are forced, after losing all their money, to rebuild their lives in their only remaining asset: the small town of Schitt’s Creek, which they once purchased as a joke.

Even more à propos, Chris Elliott is in this show, playing a descendant of the original Schitts.

And apparently the phrase “shit creek” is old enough to have this sort of history, as Nancy Friedman reports:

Shit creek or shit’s creek (“an unpleasant situation or awkward predicament”) is no shitty-come-lately, according to the OED. “Up shit creek” first appeared in print in 1868 in no less august a publication than the Annual Reports of the (U.S.) Secretary of War: “Our men put old Lincoln up Shit creek, and we’ll put old Dill up.”

Who knew? But this is the part that gets me. From that Wikipedia piece:

Schitt’s Creek is a Canadian television sitcom which premiered on CBC Television on January 13, 2015… On January 12, 2015, CBC renewed the show for a second season.

Renewed the day before first airing! Now that’s confidence. (In the States, Schitt’s Creek debuted Tuesday on Pop, which used to be TVGN.)

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Dreammobiles considered

Charles Pergiel drops by the auto shop, spies a ’94 Lamborghini with 26,000 miles on the clock, and muses on the possibilities:

What do you do with a supercar? It’s not something you want to fetch groceries in. The pain of just getting in and out of the car is going to discourage that. Commuting to work in bumper to bumper traffic? That doesn’t sound like much fun. The whole point is to go a thousand miles an hour around hairpin corners, and where can you do that? There are lots of back roads in Oregon and once you get a hundred or so miles away from Portland and the I-5 corridor, traffic drops to nil.

There are a few folks who actually have daily drivers in this class, but most supercars, it seems to me, get trotted out as weekend toys, and the most logical reason for this, I think, comes from a California owner of a ’96 Ferrari F355 Berlinetta, interviewed for a Car and Driver feature in the March issue:

Set aside $5000 a year for maintenance and you should be fine. Some years you’ll skate by with $1500; other years it’s $6500.

The Ferrari guy, incidentally, has 23,800 miles on his F355. A thousand miles a year, and five bucks a mile to take care of it. If you’re that bucks-up, more power to you. If you’re not — say, if you’re a 14-year-old with gauzy dreams of speed — you might want to adjust your aspirations downward.

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Retaking the pledge

In 2005, Patterico called for bloggers to take the same pledge he was taking:

If the FEC makes rules that limit my First Amendment right to express my opinion on core political issues, I will not obey those rules.

It took me a day or two, but I eventually saw the wisdom of his approach.

And the Federal Election Commission wisely kept its big yap shut about the matter, until now:

In October, then FEC Vice Chairwoman Ann M. Ravel promised that she would renew a push to regulate online political speech following a deadlocked commission vote that would have subjected political videos and blog posts to the reporting and disclosure requirements placed on political advertisers who broadcast on television. On Wednesday, she will begin to make good on that promise.

“Some of my colleagues seem to believe that the same political message that would require disclosure if run on television should be categorically exempt from the same requirements when placed in the Internet alone,” Ravel said in an October statement. “As a matter of policy, this simply does not make sense.”

Take your “policy” and shove it, Annie dear. In the best of all possible worlds, there would be no such thing as a Federal Election Commission, and the limit of your public utterances would be “You want fries with that?”

So Patterico is renewing the pledge, and so am I: “If the FEC makes rules that limit my First Amendment right to express my opinion on core political issues, I will not obey those rules.”

Period.

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Care Bears scared

One weird little contretemps reflected the tone of the entire game: imagine, if you will, a jump ball between Zack Randolph and Russell Westbrook. Now imagine Westbrook winning the jump. It happened, and the mighty Grizzlies, the one team that can be counted on to try to grind the Thunder into multicolored paste, took one more of a seemingly endless series of body blows from an Oklahoma City team that damned well wanted to go into the All-Star break on a high note. The Thunder were up 18 at the half; the Griz fought back to within 11 halfway through the fourth; despite the sudden absences of Dion Waiters (who stepped on Tony Allen’s foot) and Kevin Durant (probably a precautionary measure), Memphis gained no more ground, and Dave Joerger finally cried Uncle. The final was 105-89, and the Griz are now up 2-1 for the season.

How decisive was this thrashing? Memphis shot 37 percent, missed 10 of 12 treys, and picked up four fast-break points. Still, this is the statistic that stings: 14 Thunder turnovers produced only two point for the Griz. Z-Bo, of course, led the squad with 16 points and 11 boards; Jeff Green picked up 11, nine in the second half; amazingly, Marc Gasol wasn’t much of a factor, 8 points on 2-10 shooting and five rebounds.

One reason Gasol wasn’t getting anywhere was total Thunder rebound dominance, 49-42. Everyone was snatching boards: Durant had 10 (with 26 points), Russell Westbrook nine (with 24 points and nine assists), Nick Collison nine (with 15 points). Mitch McGary, after two consecutive double-doubles, got a dose of suckage: the Griz keyed on him, and in 15 minutes he managed two boards and six fouls. The Dueling Sixth Men were fairly evenly matched, Waiters collecting 11 points before turning his ankle, Reggie Jackson cashing in eight.

The Pacers put the hurt on the Pelicans tonight, so the Thunder have sole possession of ninth place, and trail the eighth-place Suns by a mere half a game. Assuming we didn’t lose a couple of players tonight, this is a promising position to be in before the next 29 games.

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Version 19.8.41

If you were already somewhat miffed by the blithe assumption by Samsung that you’d keep your mouth shut in front of their Smart TVs, miffage is now intensified:

After Samsung calmed us all down, users of smart TV app Plex noticed a Pepsi commercial playing in the middle of content streamed from their own media server within the house. Plex simplifies using your home computer as a media server for smart TVs, streaming devices, tablets, phones, and game consoles. It is not supposed to inject ads in the middle of the program you’re enjoying. Yet that’s what users report happening: Pepsi ads pop up during shows streamed to their sets using Plex.

A spokesperson for Plex told GigaOm that they weren’t adding ads to users’ video streams. Users reported Pepsi ads interjected in other programs while playing programs directly on the TV from their computer, so the app wasn’t serving up the ads. This was caused by the TV, and only users of Samsung smart TVs have reported it.

Q. E. Farking D.

Temperature of hell when you buy a Samsung Smart TV:

  1. 32 °F
  2. 0 °F
  3. -40 °F
  4. 0 °K

Surely no good can come of schemes like this, even if you like Pepsi.

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Late at nitrogen

You might remember this observation from last spring:

[T]echnically, the firing squad is still authorized in Oklahoma — if both lethal injection and the electric chair should be found to be Constitutionally impermissible. This was a semi-clever maneuver by the legislature to make sure they had something to fall back on if the courts took issue with the drug cocktail.

Add to these two options the possibility of a third:

With no debate, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 9-0 Tuesday to authorize “nitrogen hypoxia,” which depletes oxygen supply in the blood to cause death.

The bill’s author, Moore Republican Sen. Anthony Sykes, says it’s likely the bill will be amended before the session is over.

Three lethal injections remain on hold in Oklahoma while the U.S. Supreme Court considers whether Oklahoma’s three-drug method is constitutional.

At least they wouldn’t have to sweat supplies: half the tire shops in town have nitrogen-generating devices.

Last I looked, the title of SB 749 had been stricken, which requires some explanation:

Strike the Title: to change the title of a bill to a few words which are briefly descriptive but constitutionally unacceptable. The major intent of this action is to ensure that the bill will go to a conference committee. The same effect may be achieved by striking the enacting clause. Any Senate legislation being reported out of a Senate committee, with the exception of an appropriation bill, must have an enacting clause or resolving clause and a Senate and House author.

The opponents you might expect are, as expected, opposing:

Ryan Kiesel, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union argues there is no humane way to kill someone and a bigger question needs to be discussed.

“These types of bills really miss the point. They miss the opportunity for Oklahoma to have a much broader and deeper conversation about if we should be in the business of executing people at all,” Kiesel said.

Say “gas chamber” to me, and the first thing I think of is Susan Hayward as Barbara Graham.

That’s “gas chamber.” With an S:

You may track the bill here.

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Outward buckpass

Why, yes, your personal information was jeopardized. Want to know what we’re going to do about it? Take a guess:

[B]ecause I have BC/BS health insurance … well, I wasted a good part of Friday morning on the phone with the credit bureaus getting holds/fraud alerts placed on my accounts, because apparently our information was among that in the Anthem breach. Now someone is telling me I need to contact the IRS and tell them not to process any address changes put through in my name in the next x period of time … and I just can’t. I can’t call that awful phone-tree and try to figure out whom I need to talk to and get kicked out three separate times and have to go through it again like I did the last time I had a problem. I’d hope that Anthem would do something towards taking care of that for us, or if they won’t, I guess I just file as early as I can and hope no one is going to try to use my SSN for nefarious purposes.

It would be most unkind to point out that, no thanks to a far bigger scam than mere identity theft, the IRS and the health-insurance industry are now joined at the hip. This is like Cthulhu hiring an adjunct.

We’ve also been warned to watch out for e-mail scams offering us credit monitoring, supposedly in the name of Anthem. It’s like, “You ALREADY have my personal information, this just adds insult to injury.”

A two-for-one deal! Expect Leviathan to promote the hell out of it on social media.

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Yellow Peril 2.0

God help you if you void where prohibited:

A water manager is facing discipline after he was caught urinating in an empty reservoir that supplies drinking water for the San Francisco Bay Area.

San Francisco Public Utilities Commission spokesman Tyrone Jue said Monday that the agency confirmed anonymous complaints that maintenance planner Martin Sanchez had urinated in the 674-million-gallon reservoir in the Sierra Nevada foothills early last month.

Wait a minute. Did they say “empty”?

The reservoir had been drained for maintenance, and officials say public health wasn’t in danger.

Oh. Well, throw the book at him anyway. This is California, after all. Thinking about a crime is itself a crime.

Sanchez, who earns $111,000 annually, was in line for a promotion before the incident. He now faces a maximum penalty of a weeklong suspension without pay.

Some book, huh?

(Via Daily Pundit.)

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You’re on your own

Rather a lot of us live alone, not that there’s anything wrong with that:

Mic just gathered some scientific research that claims living alone boosts your social skills, chills out your overactive brain, and forces you to get in touch with yourself.

Yeah, I can see some of that:

Spending time by yourself helps you value time with friends. And the time you spend with other people is all by choice, not forced.

You’re becoming the chillest person that ever was: When you live with roommates or a significant other, there’s always some sort of clamor: your roommate’s Spotify playlist, your other roommate vacuuming his bedroom for the third time this week. Not so when you’re alone. (Well, assuming your apartment is blessed with thick walls.)

Which is why I live in the middle of a largish lot and share walls with no one.

Still, this poses some additional challenges:

It’s a weird thing, not having someone double-check that you’re legally prepared for the outside world. That is on you, when you live alone. Of course, you’re probably not going to forget to wear clothes, but the thought that you could tends to cross your mind for a second. Because, technically, you could walk out of the house wearing nothing but a headband, sipping a cup of coffee, and nobody would say anything until you left the house. It’s like a childhood nightmare come true.

Two words: car keys. Fumbling around for them will make me excruciatingly aware of my condition.

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Decimalpractice

Yours truly, back in ’07, griping (with the help of WiseGeek) about that nine-tenths of a cent grafted onto the price of a gallon of gas:

They took it one step further: what if the price were jacked up, not by $0.009, but by $0.0099? Another $14 million for the month, another $170 million for the year, and besides contrarian cranks like me, hardly anyone would even notice.

What if, indeed?

Fractions of a penny aren’t a significant amount of money, so we don’t really pay attention to them. That might be what the dollar store chain 99 Cents Only is counting on. They don’t exactly hide that everything in their stores costs 99.99¢ rather than 99¢, putting that information on customer receipts and even on shelf tags. Does that make the store’s name misleading, or is it okay to round down?

One customer decided “misleading”:

One customer noticed and was annoyed enough to file a lawsuit against the company, which ended with them posting signs explaining the additional .99¢ price hike. The company blamed the need to raise their prices almost imperceptibly on inflation.

But of course.

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