Sentimental on my mind

Glen Campbell, now in the final stage of Alzheimer’s, will soon leave the stage entirely. He has left us one last song, with the ironic title “I’m Not Gonna Miss You”:

The melody is somber and contemplative, but the lyrics show Campbell’s ability to find irony in his disease. The result is a beautiful combination of sadness and joy, which ends much too quickly.

At least the man from Delight goes out on a somewhat-happy note.


Quote of the week

We open with a paragraph from Wikipedia, in case you missed what was going on:

Malala Yousafzai (born 12 July 1997) is a Pakistani female education activist, who became the youngest ever Nobel Prize recipient in any category. She is known mainly for human rights advocacy for education and for women in her native Swat Valley in northwest Pakistan, where the local Taliban had at times banned girls from attending school. Yousafzai’s advocacy has since grown into an international movement.

All this, says Pakistani journalist Kunwar Khuldune Shahid, makes it easy to hate her:

Do you think it’s easy for me to accept flag bearers of my religion as my enemy? Do you believe that it’s easy for me to accept the fact that a 16-year-old girl fearlessly took a stand against the biggest threat facing this country while men like me were busy being apologetic on the behalf of the “freedom fighters”?

Do you honestly believe that it’s easy for me to accept that a young girl from our neck of the woods, with all the societal handicaps that one can think of, can singlehandedly orchestrate a global rude awakening? The thought rips the bigoted, discriminatory and misogynistic ideals that I’ve grown up with, into tiny little shreds.

How can I accept Malala to be a hero, when her speeches do not have any Islamic or nationalistic agenda? How can I consider her to be my future leader when nothing she says or does imbues a false sense of superiority in me as a Muslim or a Pakistani? How can I accept that a young girl was able to highlight who our actual enemies are, when grown up men in our parliaments are still hell bent on befriending them?

How can I rejoice at Malala’s global achievement when I’ve been taught all my life that a girl’s place is in the kitchen? I just can’t.

The religion I follow is inherently misogynistic. The society I live in is quintessentially patriarchal. And I’m supposed to manifest ideals of gender equality and women empowerment out of the blue?

Tough questions. But in the long run, the penalty for a wrong answer is infinitely tougher.

(Via Blazing Cat Fur.)

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Let the other be Papyrus

Others face the music. ISIS faces the type:

Oh, for some (Times New) Roman warriors right about now.

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Fark blurb of the week


Straining the argument

Last month, we found out that Oklahoma apparently does not have a problem with a driver’s-license photo featuring the traditional headgear of the Pastafarians. British Columbia, by contrast, has a problem:

Here in one of the most religiously diverse communities in Canada, it is possible to obtain a driver’s license wearing a kipa, hijab, habit, turban or Amish cap — really, any piece of religious headgear that does not obscure the face.

But lifelong Surreyite Obi Canuel is currently unable to drive because he has refused to remove a spaghetti colander from his head for his driver’s license photo. He does it, he claims, because he believes the world was created by an intoxicated Flying Spaghetti Monster.

The FSM soused? Perish the thought.

Last November, Mr. Canuel posed for his driver’s license photo while wearing a blue toga and plastic spaghetti colander.

The unusual photo was deemed fit for Mr. Canuel’s provincial I.D. card, but after lengthy review by the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia — the province’s official licensing agency — it was ultimately deemed insufficient for his driver’s license.

This may be a mission-creep issue: the ICBC was originally created as a Crown Corporation to provide auto insurance, and only later was handed the responsibility for licensing drivers. And drivers don’t think much of their insurance these days.

Still, British Columbia could legitimately be seen as a laggard:

U.S. soldiers have had “FSM” listed as a religion on their dog tags, a town councilmember in Pomfret, N.Y., was recently sworn in while solemnly wearing a plastic pasta colander, and colander-wearing pastafarians have been able to obtain driver’s licenses in Austria, the Czech Republic, California, Texas, Oklahoma and New Zealand.

And I suspect Victoria won’t stand for that for long.

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Evolution in action

Species survive because they adapt. The Gulf Coast is not likely to run out of birds any time soon:

On our first evening here, we dropped into a local supermarket to pick up a few essentials. When we came out, we noticed a flock of small birds hopping from car to car. They were carefully inspecting headlights, radiator grilles, etc. for dead insects and eating all they found. It was very businesslike behavior. Thinking about it, it was entirely logical, of course. Many people drive hundreds of miles to get here, and accumulate lots of dead insects on the front of their vehicles in the process. What better source of food for a hungry bird? I wonder how long it took them to learn to look there?

We’re not exactly a tourist destination here in the Big Breezy, so our major example of bird adaptation can be seen most easily in big box store parking lots: roughly four-and-twenty black birds for every dropped bag of popcorn. Ground Zero might be the Crest Foods store at 23rd and Meridian: not only does it sell a lot of to-go stuff to people who will actually eat it walking back to their cars, but in front of it are a Burger King and an A&W/Long John Silver’s combo.

Then again, we’re not talking picky diners here:

Crows have been reported to eat over 1000 food items, including insects, worms, berries, birds eggs and nestlings, small mammals, bats, fish, snakes, frogs, salamanders, animal dung, grain, nuts, carrion, fried chicken, hamburgers, Chinese food, french fries, and human vomit.

Then again:

They can be weirdly picky though — an experiment showed crows prefer French fries in a McDonald’s bag over those in a brown paper bag. To top it off, a nestling can eat 100 grasshoppers in 3 hours.

You can’t tell me that a crow can’t recognize the Golden Arches.

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Watch that wallpaper

I suppose what I really want to know here is why this clod expects to have his phone seized:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: To the women if a guy has a naked woman as his phone background do you make him change it/r u offended enough to leave him?

Which naked woman, you ask?

I want to have Anna Nicole as my background but I fear the loss of a future gf if I start dating & she grabs my phone.

“Honey, she’s been dead for seven years!” will not help you in this case.

I admit to having once had a picture of Debbie Gibson as phone wallpaper, though she was not unclothed. (At least, not completely.) Never you mind what’s there now.

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Close-order drill

The Thunder, who were shorthanded in Denver, were more so in Dallas, with Mitch McGary, wounded at the Nuggets game, out for six weeks, Sebastian Telfair out with something or other wrong with his ankle, and Reggie Jackson, after 17 minutes retired with a wrist injury. So former Europlayer Michael Jenkins wound up running the Thunder offense — no way was Russell Westbrook going to play in the second half — and Jenkins did a pretty decent job, with seven points and five assists. This is, after all, why one has a preseason, right? Fortunately, the shorthandedness went in both directions: Dallas was Dirkless for the evening, Monta Ellis was unwell, Raymond Felton was hurt early on, and Mavs-Thunder ended up as the usual see-saw, with OKC up by one with 1:33 left and gradually opening up that lead into a 9-point win, 118-109.

Things to note:

  • Anthony Morrow, who was hired as a long-distance sharpshooter, was pretty much that: 2-7 from inside the circle, 4-7 from outside of it.
  • After a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad night at Denver, Jeremy Lamb recovered enough to come up with a double-double: 19 points, 11 rebounds. Guards, you may remember, don’t usually get 11 rebounds.
  • If they don’t pick up Talib Zanna and at least assign him to the 66ers Blue, I will be most disappointed.

There were 85 foul shots tonight, 45 by the Mavs (who made 32). Dallas also put up 36 treys, of which 11 actually hit. This is standard Maverick procedure, but it’s easier when you have the starters to work with.

First home game at OKC will involve the Grizzlies, on Tuesday. Fasten your safety belt.


More patience than I would have had

The Friar actually answers one of those automated telephone polls from a state-senate campaign:

But now I’m confused, because I don’t understand what an election to a state legislature has to do with what religion I think the President is, whether or not he is effective in leading the nation against terrorism and whether his health care reform initiative has been a plus or a minus.

Which suggests that this was a Republican campaign calling, since state Democrats hardly ever mention that Obama fellow, who apparently isn’t all that popular in this neck of the woods.

Still, the relevance of this material is questionable:

What that has to do with who represents this part of the state in a crumbling capitol building and state political leadership that has at best one adult in the room when the heads of the executive and legislative branches gather together is beyond me. Maybe I’m just a low-information voter.

The best kind, according to campaign types.

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MAD at Bex

The current issue of MAD pokes fun at TMZ — perhaps not the most difficult target, I concede, but sometimes low-hanging fruit is tasty — and works in a reference to our “Friday” friend that I’m not sure I want to contemplate:

Panel from Mad magazine #530

Thanks (I guess) to Desmond Devlin and Tom Bunk.

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A plugin to be desired

A couple days ago, Jack Baruth was sorely vexed with the sort of literal-minded schnook who can’t detect satire no matter how obvious it is. A commenter responded with this programming note:

I am in the final testing of a program that I will be offering for sale to the operators of blogs and any other website that allows comments. It will be known as the Butt Hurt Detector XP-9 and will work as follows;

When Butt Hurt is detected in a post, an immediate message will be sent to the poster’s device that consists of the following, a full screen flashing extended middle finger with the invitation to “Pull on your big girl panties and get over yourself” and immediate termination of posting privileges. Any attempt to establish another posting account from the same device, will result in a self destruct command to be sent back, hopefully resulting in a fiery explosion of said device(I’m still working on that part).

I have but a single objection: “butthurt” really needs to be one word.

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Downtime a-comin’

The surfer dudes who host my sites have advised that said sites will be down for at least part of Sunday evening:

We’re continuing our roll-out of Ubuntu 12.04 Precise to an additional 150 web servers this Sunday, October 12th. As we’d like to get all of our customers over to this new OS, we will be upgrading 2 batches per week. While the total estimated maintenance is 5 hours, we expect actual downtime due to the upgrade to be around 45 minutes. A large part of the maintenance window will be spent testing all of the servers post-upgrade to ensure everything is in order.

And it is indeed a new OS for them: far back as I can remember — and I’ve been there almost 13 years — they’ve been running some flavor of Debian.

Of course, the major thrill with any such announcement is the list of actual machine names to be upgraded, which includes such august designations as “augusta,” “coweta,” “king-william,” “snowstorm” and “tricia-mcmillan.”


A site old enough to vote

Still like that old-time Robert Dole? Jonathan Blake advises that the Dole/Kemp 1996 campaign Web site is still up in more or less its original format, maintained by political-history site

I must tell you, it looks every one of its eighteen years. (Like I should talk, right?) Still, it’s no Space Jam, as Bob Dole would tell you if you were talking to Bob Dole.

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Shroom for one more

If there hadn’t been a fungus among us beforehand, there certainly is now:

A 1.7m long and 1.2m wide reishi mushroom weighing 220 kilogram has been found by a local man in Ea Kar District, the Central Highlands province of Dak Lak.

The mushroom has been sold to Dao Duc Dai in Ban Me Thuot City at VND200 million.

A 500-pound mushroom is not something you see every day. (And 200 million dong works out to $9500 US, so this wee beastie brought around twenty bucks a pound.) Let’s have a look:

Humongous reishi mushroom

The buyer apparently hiked into the forest to get a look at it, and:

Mr. Dai said that at the time he purchased the mushroom, it was clinging on a big stump in the forest. He had to mobilize nearly ten men to remove and take it home.

I don’t doubt it. This looks even less maneuverable than the contents of Utah Phillips’ Moose Turd Pie.

(Via Interested-Participant.)

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Fox-y lady

I could not let this pass by:

Well, she wants to believe.

Addendum: Here’s the quiz.

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The new water rates

They go into effect today, and there was a slip included with my water bill detailing the changes. There are only two tiers, but they’re simple: (1) 10,000 gallons or less; (2) more than 10,000 gallons. Up to now, it’s been a flat $2.65 per thousand, but no more:

  • Today: $2.73/1000 gallons up to 10,000; $3.14/1000 gallons thereafter.
  • October 2015: $2.81/1000 gallons up to 10,000; $3.32/1000 gallons thereafter.
  • October 2016: $2.89/1000 gallons up to 10,000; $3.50/1000 gallons thereafter.

There will also be small increases in sewer fees and the base customer charge. The bill I received yesterday, for 2000-gallon consumption, was $56.05; under the new rates next month, it would be $58.11. (This assumes there’s no increase in the price for trash-collection service, since none was mentioned in the announcement.)