You can probably guess the menu

Bell Buckle, Tennessee, population 500, is known for two things: the Webb School, the oldest continuously-operating boarding school in the South, due for its sesquicentennial in 2020; and the twenty-year old RC Cola-Moon Pie Festival:

[O]n June 21st this quiet little town will become a bustle of excitement and activity when it celebrates the 20th Anniversary of its wildly popular RC-Moon Pie Festival. This year’s festival will spew forth the biggest Box Office news of the year — The return of your favorite Synchronized Wading Characters! After two decades of dry humor on a wet stage, the beloved characters will once again reunite. The stage will be a little different, the story may have changed, but your favorite characters are reuniting to celebrate in a way no one else could ever celebrate marshmellow and carbonation glory!

Known as the first “fast food” meal, these two Southern traditions, RC and a Moon Pie, are brought together for a grand celebration Bell Buckle style. The idea for the Festival first began in 1994 as a way to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Moon Pie and to bring tourists to Bell Buckle. Bell Buckle called the Chattanooga Bakery to see about throwing a Birthday Party for Moon Pie. Little could anyone have expected what a huge event this would become!

Wikipedia claims the Moon Pie actually was invented in 1917, and therefore would have been 77 years old that first year in Bell Buckle; Royal Crown Cola (home town: Columbus, Georgia) dates back to 1905.

Incidentally, the Webb School was actually founded in Culleoka, Tennessee, but William R. “Sawney” Webb, founder and headmaster, uprooted it:

[I]n 1886, the town of Culleoka incorporated, making the sale of liquor legal within the city limits. This was too much for Webb, an ardent prohibitionist. Sawney and his boys packed up and headed to Bell Buckle, a village thirty-five miles west on the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad. On six acres of beech forest, about one-third of a mile from the depot, Webb dug a well and built a bigger and better schoolhouse than that in Culleoka. Leading citizens of Bell Buckle supported the move by raising $12,000 for the new school.

Today, according to Google Maps, Bell Buckle is 50 miles east of Culleoka. Go figure.

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Fill those holes with money

A survey conducted by the American Automobile Association says that drivers would be willing to pay more in fuel tax:

Two-thirds of Americans (68 percent) believe the federal government should invest more than it does now on roads, bridges and mass transit systems, according to a new AAA omnibus survey of 2,013 adults. Only five percent of respondents believe the federal government should spend less on transportation. These results come as AAA urges members of Congress to increase the fuel tax, which will address significant transportation safety and congestion issues nationwide.

Survey Highlights:

  • About half of Americans (52 percent) are willing to pay higher fuel taxes per month on average for better roads, bridges and mass transit systems.
  • Nearly three times as many people (51 percent) are more likely to vote for a member of Congress who supports increased federal spending on transportation than would be less likely (19 percent).
  • Approximately two-thirds of Americans (67 percent) agree that taxes on gasoline and diesel consumption are appropriate for transportation funding.
  • More people believe that roads, bridges and transit systems have declined in quality over the previous three years (43 percent) than those who believe the quality has improved (32 percent).

Not mentioned here, but not hard to find, are those who believe that any increase in the fuel tax will go, not to improving the state of transportation, but into general governmental slush funds: they’d support the tax if they thought it would actually do some good.

I suggested a plan about three years ago:

[I]ncrease domestic production enough to cause a noticeable decrease in the price at the pump, increase the tax enough to take up the slack, lather, rinse, repeat as necessary. It would never fly, of course.

Certainly not. In Glenn Reynolds’ immortal phrase, “insufficient opportunity for graft.”

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This needs to happen

I suppose it’s redundant if your editor stores, or at least references, an actual date for each line, but if not, this is the way to go:

How about an editor that color codes the age of particular lines of source code? You have a piece of source that has been around for a while, either it’s under development or it needs some changes. Wouldn’t be nice if the older lines, lines of code that have proven themselves to be useful and correct were given a dark gray background, newer lines could be given a white background, and lines that have been changed umpteen zillion times a red background?

“Piece of source,” at least in some shops I could name, is usually shortened to “POS,” as in “Who the hell added that extra loop into this POS?”

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Circular dialog

Somebody somewhere understands this. Not me.

Wonder what happens if you just press the X?

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Dialed in to ponies

We have here a Mazda MX-5 with the Mane Six gauge package:

Custom My Little Pony gauges for Mazda Miata

With thanks to the fandom:

The MLP fandom is awesome. Artwork exists for just about anything you can imagine. Cutie marks for the main characters? How many different file formats would you like? Exact color codes for every aspect of anything ever in the show? Yup, those are plentiful too. The fans really made this custom gauge design come together quick.

Apart from “WANT,” all I can say is “You should see these at night.”

And no, I don’t know where you could work in an Applejack reference. The Malfunction Indicator Light, maybe? “Sugarcube, Ah don’t know just how to tell ya this, but yer emissions are worse than Big Mac after a bucket of broccoli.” Eeyup.

(Via this @LazyGrayBrony tweet.)

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Bunch of overactive snatches

Of course, it’s government’s doing:

The federal government has seized a record $360 million from household bank accounts that have been dormant for just three years, prompting outrage in some quarters amid complaints that pensioners and retirees have lost deposits.

Figures from the Australian Security and Investments Commission (ASIC) show almost $360 million was collected from 80,000 inactive accounts in the year to May under new rules introduced by Labor.

The new rules lowered the threshold at which the government is allowed to snatch funds from accounts that remain idle from seven years to three years.

The ultimate goal — the same-day snatch — is probably still weeks away.

(Via Fark.)

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Boroughing further

Retired Thunder point guard Derek Fisher, we learned this week, is the new head coach of the New York Knicks; not only does he get paid four times as much as he did as a veteran role player, but he gets to wear a natty suit. (I mean, seriously, can you imagine Fish dressing like, oh, let’s say, Men’s Wearhouse escapee Scott Brooks?)

The Knicks, as I may have mentioned before, are in New York; they play at Madison Square Garden in midtown Manhattan, which basically kills Jenni Carlson’s attempt to be funny here:

So, now that Fisher is taking his talents to Manhattan Beach, it’s safe to assume the Thunder is on the lookout for someone to take over that role.

Yes, there’s a Manhattan Beach up that way, but it’s in Brooklyn, which has its own NBA team, also coached by a former point guard (Jason Kidd). There’s also a Manhattan Beach in California, but maybe we shouldn’t bring up California in the presence of someone who works for Phil Jackson, as Fish now does.

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Some spring in your step

Are these “the most comfortable heels ever”?

Kinetic Traces by Silvia Fado Moreno

Here’s the pitch:

[T]here’s a new heel in the works that looks pretty spectacular, and promises to break many of the negative shoe stereotypes that I hold dear. They’re equipped with hydraulic springs and shock absorbing rubber balls, so that you literally feel like you’re walking on air.

The Kinetic Traces collection by London College of Fashion alum Silvia Fado Moreno offers intriguing looking shoes with all of the support that we need to walk healthier. Every step is cushioned by springy heel technology, designed to ease foot pain, and minimize the feeling of walking in heels. And did I mention how cool they look? Seriously. These are totally the shoes of the future. Judy Jetson would probably wear them daily.

Far be it from me to frown at Judy Jetson. (The style you see is not, I assure you, the only one under development.)

And this statement from the designer caught my eye: “The mechanism can be bespoke according to bodyweight.” Variable, um, load-carrying capacity? I’m impressed.

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Wetter up

The city hasn’t published the new water rates yet, though William Crum of the Oklahoman has been keeping tabs on them, and the new proposal as a whole sounds plausible to me:

Significant provisions include:

  • A pricing strategy that produces 5 percent more revenue each year, with an overall reduction of 4.3 percent in water use after five years.
  • A three-year plan to increase the charge to hook up a new home — known as the “impact fee” — from $100 to $1,000, in $300 increments.
  • A strategy to make sure surrounding communities pay equitable rates for water bought from Oklahoma City and that they share in system improvement costs.

Crum reported yesterday:

The average customer, who uses 7,000 gallons of water per month, will pay $19.11, up 55 cents; a customer using 15,000 gallons would pay $43.00, up $3.25.

This indicates the implementation of usage tiers: the more you use, the higher the price per thousand-gallon unit, which is consistent with the city’s ongoing water-saving program.

Most of the time, I’m billed for 3,000 gallons a month; sometimes it’s just 2,000. I figure I’m probably using 2,700 or so. I expect the new rates, which will undoubtedly include tweaking of service, sewer and refuse fees, will go into effect in October.

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A yearn for the terse

I’ve gotten some pretty long-winded spams stuck in the spam trap over the years. Seldom, though, do I see anything like this:

“Hello. And Bye”.

They should all be so short. I mean, think of the disk space it would save.

Addendum: I did finally think of the disk space it would save, and it’s not really that much: the entire system database is only 75 MB, of which 20 MB or so is comments, and actual comments have somehow outnumbered spam comments 4 to 3, so if I’d kept all the spam I’d have a 90-MB database. Considering the fact that the site takes up well over a gigabyte, this should be considered potatoes of insignificant dimension.

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None of that girly stuff

One of the working definitions of “character actor” is “not the hero, but maybe the hero’s best friend”; as I recall, this was a common description of Ronald Reagan, affable on film but not awe-inspiring.

On this basis, almost every working woman in Hollywood is a character actor; she doesn’t get to be the hero, but she might be the hero’s girlfriend. In other words, nothing at all like real life:

We’ve become so used to Opinionated, Strategic Woman = Villain, and Beautiful Women = Piece of Ass With Perhaps Secondarily A Surprisingly Good Brain, that it’s hard to imagine an Oscar-style movie in which women like these are heroes, and in which their interactions have nothing at all to do with men. It’s totally rational that in the real world they could be. Women in the real world regularly kick ass in the sciences. They risk their lives photographing warzones. They spend a great deal of their time having nothing to say about men, weddings, menopause, periods, or their vaginas, and often can be found, you know, analyzing medieval marginalia, drafting policy arguments for politicians, and running through the park thinking about string theory.

You just won’t find them at the local octuplex:

Yet the movie versions of us — the mainstream Award Winning versions of us — are more typically found offscreen, coming on to serve the male world changers coffee, tie their neckties, support their ambitions, and look beautiful. We can be found bending over backwards in heels to show men how well we can shake it, while still maintaining the ability to raise small children, which startling capacity will, of course, help the male main character realize that he should be more emotionally available, and that he should also perhaps take some vengeful action against the things that have hurt the woman he loves.

We are told that this is because the single largest segment of the motion-picture audience is young men, and this is what they want to see, over and over and over again. And it’s not just movies, either:

[W]hen the novelist Mary Gordon spoke at a boys’ school, she learned that the students weren’t reading the Brontës, Austen or Woolf. Their teachers defended this by saying they were looking for works that boys could relate to. But at the girls’ school across the street, Gordon said, “no one would have dreamed of removing Huckleberry Finn or ‘Moby-Dick’ from the syllabus. As a woman writer, you get points if you include the ‘male’ world in your work, and you lose points if you omit it.”

There is, in fact, exactly one television series — not even enough to be a subgenre — in which the lads will turn out to see female characters doing it for themselves, with scarcely any references to males. Not that this is a harbinger of the future or anything; in fact, there are already signs of flankhurt.

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I’ll just sit tight

Friday, you may recall, the top portion of a dying tree decided it couldn’t take it anymore and plummeted to the ground, directly on top of my telephone line, pinning it in place and pulling out just about all of the spare cable in the process. I left it there over the weekend, having misread the phone company’s response to my repair order. I got the “Monday” part correct; what I didn’t catch was which Monday. Turns out to be, not yesterday, but a week from yesterday.

Curiosity is, of course, considered a major cause of feline death. Having guesstimated that the line voltage was probably about 48 volts, and being stupid enough to consider that quantity trivial, I took it upon myself to separate line and tree. This actually proved to be fairly simple: the offending branch was not actually connected to the enormous trunk section that came down. (Smashed on impact, I suspect.) About forty-five seconds from OMGIMGONNADIE to “Take that, you miserable hunk of deadwood!” The line is still about 18 inches off the ground, but there’s not much left to fall on it.

Actually, this was motivated, not by my wanting to save the Death Star some work, but to clear some space when and if my lawn guy, who bailed last week because of stormage, shows up. (We’re tentatively scheduled for Wednesday. The lawn after 18 days is verdant to the point of nausea.)

There are downed branches here and there throughout the neighborhood, but the worst casualty was the Little Free Library, which was, after all, a wooden box on a pole; it took a swan dive. It has (temporarily, I presume) been replaced by a rural-style mailbox.

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Greece is the word

Celebrating her 31st birthday today, Her Royal Highness Princess Theodora of Greece and Denmark:

Princess Theodora

She comes by this complicated title naturally: she’s the younger daughter (fourth child) of former King Constantine II of Greece and Anne-Marie of Denmark. Constantine, as it happens, is connected to the Danish royal family on his own — he’s a lineal descendant of Christian IX — so the abolition of the Greek monarchy did not diminish his royalness in the slightest.

Theodora, born in London, attended Brown University under the name “Theodora Greece,” the same name she’s used for 52 episodes (so far) of the CBS soap The Bold and the Beautiful, playing Alison Montgomery.

Princess Theodora

She’s also dipping a toe into feature films.

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That’s a switch

The General Motors ignition-switch incident is growing like the Blob, and the part that perplexes me is that so much of it seemed avoidable. Yes, GM’s part-handling procedures seem dubious; yes, this debacle should have been dealt with before the rest of the world stuck its nose in. I admittedly never have owned one of the cars in question. But it never occurred to me that having the switch slide over from ON to OFF or ACC in the middle of the road was a death-dealing scenario.

Car and Driver’s July issue checks out the claims. They got themselves a Saturn Ion, one of the vehicles being recalled, and then rigged it to kill power assist to steering and brakes to simulate the problem. The results were not surprising: steering effort went up markedly, though not to a point where it couldn’t be dealt with, and braking effort quadrupled — once the vacuum was gone. It wasn’t on the first panic stop, because there’s a check valve in the line.

Still, neither of these is a problem if you simply restart the car, no trick if you remember that there’s an interlock and you have to shift the lever into neutral. Somewhere around ninety percent of panicky drivers, I suspect, will not remember that. (Trini, who actually owned one of these Ions, and was almost certainly aware of the vagaries of the car’s ignition switch, having replaced one once, would have; then again, she’s one of the least-panicky individuals on the planet.)

There remains the question of why the airbags didn’t deploy when Mr and Mrs Panicky hit the wall, but since there’s no legal specification other than “test dummies must not be subjected to this much force,” it’s difficult to compare notes among individual incidents. And I am reminded of my one and only Major Crash, out on a two-lane state highway in 2006, in which my car and a doe came to mutual death blows at an appallingly high speed. The airbags didn’t budge. Then again, I didn’t get so much as a scratch.

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Everything you always wanted to know about security

Regular reader and tech whiz Teresa Hummel has begun a small project called “Itty Bitty Security Podcast,” dedicated to the proposition that there’s something you can do to improve your position vis-à-vis the black-hatted guys out there on the Net. Three episodes — sensibly, numbered 0, 1 and 2 — are out there now, and listening to all of them will take a whole 16 minutes. It took me a little longer, but I was swooning at her voice, crisply Midwestern — yes, she lives in New England, but she didn’t always — and, to me anyway, awfully persuasive.

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Just another girl

She never really wanted to be anything else.

Update, 9 July: Everything apparently came off well.

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