Your moment of Zen

The New York Times comes up with exactly the headline you’d want for a send-off for Yogi Berra:

Well played all around.

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No extra screws in the package

What’s the opposite of a pimp? Let’s see:

A Japanese-based company Softbank, which has created Pepper the robot, has forced customers to sign a document forbidding its owners from using the humanoid for sexual purposes, as well as creating sexy apps.

To tell you the truth, she doesn’t do a thing for me:

“Pepper is a social robot able to converse with you, recognize and react to your emotions, move and live autonomously,” the developer’s website states.

Well, some of your emotions, I suppose. The phrase “I am not programmed to respond in this area” comes immediately to mind.

Pepper is now available for use at home, though people have found that communication is really her only asset, as her domestic skills, such as cleaning or cooking are severely lacking.

Who’s buying this humanoid?

Currently Pepper is available for purchase for Japanese residents only and they must be older than 20.

And they must have the yen equivalent of $2,000 US, and perhaps an indulgence from the Space Pope.

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The aftermath of Dieselgate

TTAC editor-in-chief Mark Stevenson puts it bluntly: “Everyone will lose … except the lawyers.” Quelle surprise:

We are less than a week into this fiasco and class-action attorneys all over the United States are licking their lips before the feast.

Class-action lawsuits are inevitable in the United States in cases like these. Unfortunately, all the parties involved in a class action of this scale — save the lawyers — end up losing. Volkswagen and the attorneys will come up with an “agreeable” civil penalty, current VW diesel owners will be given what amounts to pennies on the dollar for whatever losses — real or otherwise — they’ll experience because of the emissions mess, and the lawyers will walk away with millions of dollars in fees.

The only thing yet undetermined, really, is how ridiculous the ultimate “settlement” will be.

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A man with a horn

One of my favorite soul singles from 1967:

The year ended in tragedy: the Bar-Kays were headed to Madison, Wisconsin with Otis Redding, when Otis’s little Beechcraft plane plunged into Lake Monona. The luckiest men on the face of the earth at that time: trumpeter Ben Cauley, who somehow survived the crash, and bassist James Alexander, who was taking other transportation because there was no room for the whole band plus Otis and his manager.

Alexander still leads the current version of the Bar-Kays, but Ben Cauley, who gave up the road to spend more time with his family, has just left us for good.

Oh, the white guy on the organ? Ronnie Caldwell. In Memphis in those days, this was no big deal.

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Get off my driveway

Technology is not an unalloyed delight. (From the “It is written” widget in the sidebar, Alice Kahn: “For a list of all the ways technology has failed to improve the quality of life, please press 3.”) But each person has her own “This much, but no farther” limit, and this is Lynn’s:

What new or proposed technology goes beyond your willingness to adapt? What would make you say, “That’s it. I’m done. From now on I’m gonna be a stubborn old geezer, forever living in the past. Screw you, modern world.”?

So far I haven’t seen anything that makes me feel that way but I am really not liking the idea of self driving cars. That might be it for me.

I think my threshold is in that general vicinity. The biggest enthusiasts, I suspect, are people who would rather not drive in the first place; they’d just as soon sit on a train and read Facebook. Nothing wrong with either of those endeavors individually, but the combination seems somehow lame.

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How could I leave this behind?

Hmmm. I suppose I should check this out:

Natasha Wagner has a secret weapon … it’s her butt. For fourteen years this anatomically-gifted woman has been trying on jeans for designers, and getting paid for it.

Natasha is thought to have the best butt in the world because of its “ideal blend of curves and flat”. Because of her curvy-flat butt, designers can see if a pair of jeans will look good on everyone. She’s been the butt stand-in for all kinds of brands, too, including Levi’s, Paige Denim, 7 For All Mankind, and Citizens of Humanity.

Upside: She’s got to be at least 30.

Still, I don’t quite comprehend how jeans that will look great on Ms Wagner will look great on someone with a non-perfect butt — or, for that matter, with no butt at all.

(Title from track 7 of This Is Spinal Tap.)

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We shall overcomb

Artist Pixelkitties tweeted this picture a couple of days ago:

New tax on bad hairpieces by Pixelkitties

Still makes me smile.

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Kanter attacks

Even more turmoil in Turkey these days:

In yet another government-orchestrated operation targeting the faith-based Gülen movement, popularly known as the Hizmet movement, counterterrorism police units accompanied officers from the Anti-smuggling and Organized Crime Bureau (KOM), raiding and searching Samanyolu schools on Monday. Officers involved in a raid on one branch asked the administrators to deactivate all of the school’s security cameras while they searched for drugs.

“Gülen” comes from movement founder Fethullah Gülen. “Hizmet” means “service,” but the name is unofficial: Gülen apparently didn’t want any particular name on it, especially his own. He departed Turkey for the US in 1999, ostensibly for medical reasons; he has not gone back, and the government of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan tried him in absentia but failed to obtain a conviction.

Samanyolu — “Milky Way” — is an umbrella name for Gülen-related private schools. Oklahoma City Thunder center Enes Kanter attended one such school, and he is not happy about the raids:

“I never witnessed bad habits or even rudeness at these schools. It is really shameful to raid such a school with counterterrorism police,” Kanter tweeted on Monday. “The accusation of supporting terrorism befits those who carry out these raids, not the schools,” he added.

There is a village called Samanyolu, in Batman province, but it is not involved.

Note: The newspaper Today’s Zaman, whence comes this story, is operated by Gülen sympathizers.

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On being yakety

Lesson One: It does not require an actual sax.

Tangential: Ray Stevens’ infamous Gitarzan “ordered Chet’s guitar course, C.O.D.,” suggesting that Chester B.’s influence reaches as least as far as the jungle.

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The older woman

Well, okay, if you say so, but it still sounds strange:

They are supposed to be twins, but Princess Leia would actually be nearly two years older than Luke Skywalker because of Einstein’s theory of relativity, say scientists.

Wait, what?

Students at the University of Leicester made their calculations based on the twins’ journeys to Cloud City. Leia travels from the neighbouring system of Anoat and arrives at Cloud City in around 6.72 hours, while Luke travels from the much more distant planet Dagobah, which takes around one week.

Additionally, as Leia travels in the Millennium Falcon, a much larger ship with more powerful engines than Luke’s X-Wing Starfighter, the students assumed that it reaches a higher speed.

Leia’s journey yields a time dilation of 62.6 days; however Luke experiences a time dilation of 700.8 days.

The students concluded that Luke is therefore 1.75 years younger than Leia, possibly rendering them the first twins ever to have more than a year between their ages.

A second scenario investigated produces an even greater age gap.

I think I need to lie down.

(Via Miss Cellania.)

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Shallow deep inside

After Robert Stacy McCain posted this news item, Thread Drift set in, and somewhere in the midst of it RSM offered this observation:

We should be ashamed of things that are shameful. Our aversion to feelings of shame is part of what prevents us from engaging in shameful behaviors, in the same way that feelings of pride and honor encourage us to strive for achievement. We need to step back and examine objectively the popular notion that there is a “true self” whose needs and desires always trump whatever we owe to others. I’ve noticed that the “true self” usually turns out to be a very selfish self, with no sense of social obligation or duty. Whereas the guy holding down a humdrum job to pay the bills for his wife and kids is not celebrated by the therapeutic culture, if he ditches it all to go in search of his “true self” — which quite often involves kinky sexual adventure — then this is applauded as personal growth.

The “true self” is usually imagined as living a more exciting life than the normal, ordinary person. And the Internet encourages the imagination of such a “true self” by providing forums where these Walter Mitty types gather to share their sense of excitement over their fantasies.

They might well learn from the example of Walter Mitty himself, who was, shall we say, decidedly unsuccessful in achieving his own fantasies. Mitty, in fact, is perhaps second only to Horatio Alger in misunderstood cultural memes; often as not, Alger’s heroes reached their goals by the application of good old-fashioned Dumb Luck.

The idea that one’s True Self is someone remarkably special is just about as specious as the claim by various fans of reincarnation that they themselves are the current version of someone famous; simple math and/or history should tell them that the vast majority of them spent their previous lives among the serfs, if not lower. A very wise man with a pipe and ridiculously sized forearms set forth the truth of the matter: “I yam what I yam and that’s all what I yam.” So are we all.

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More sensibly

I can’t argue with any of this:

We need a constitutional amendment prohibiting presidential campaign activities and fundraising more than six months before the November election. When you set out to separate the wheat from the chaff, and end up with only chaff, you’re doing something wrong.

I’d like to think this would be approved by the states, 48-2. (You need not guess which two.)

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No royalties due, no royalties due

You can sing “Happy Birthday,” no royalties due:

In a stunning reversal of decades of copyright claims, a federal judge in Los Angeles has ruled that Warner/Chappell Music does not hold a valid copyright claim to the “Happy Birthday To You” song.

Warner had been enforcing its copyright claim since it paid $15 million to buy Birch Tree Group, the successor to Clayton F. Summy Co., which owned the original copyright. The song brings in about $2 million a year in royalties for Warner, according to some estimates.

Judge George H. King ruled Tuesday afternoon that a copyright filed by the Summy Co. in 1935 granted only the rights to specific arrangements of the music, not the actual song.

“Because Summy Co. never acquired the rights to the Happy Birthday lyrics,” wrote King, “Defendants, as Summy Co.’s purported successors-in-interest, do not own a valid copyright in the Happy Birthday lyrics.”

(Via Roger Green. Previous “Happy Birthday” coverage here.)

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There is the physical, and there is the mental, and some of us try to keep the two discretely, even discreetly, apart — to our eternal humiliation. Not even Frank Sinatra can help us.

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She doesn’t have to shoot you now

National Lampoon Death IssuePerhaps the most famous National Lampoon cover of them all was January 1973, the Death Issue, in which the threat was made: “If You Don’t Buy This Magazine, We’ll Kill This Dog.” Of course, nobody in those halcyon days of 1973 would ever consider actually shooting a dog.

But that was then in New York City, and this is 2015 in Troupe, Texas:

The ad began, “I need someone to come shoot my dog.” It went on to lament, “no one here has the heart to do it.”

The owner finished off by offering to help, adding, “we will provide the gun.”

So generous, this owner. Who, mercifully, is no longer the owner:

Three-year-old Cinnamon isn’t dead, but she does have a new place to stay.

Animal control officers alerted to the message quickly picked up the Saint Bernard/English bulldog mix. KHOU reports the animal’s owner told them the large dog had become too much to care for and wouldn’t stay out of the trash.

No charges will be filed, since no shooting was actually performed. And frankly, a Saint Bernard/anything mix is likely to be a bit, um, unsmallish.

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Still no slouch

Last week, while gawking shamelessly at Kerry Washington, I allowed that maybe Bellamy Young was no slouch. In retrospect, this seems awfully dismissive. We’ll begin with another shot from the same photoshoot that yielded up that EW cover:

Bellamy Young and Kerry Washington draped over Tony Goldwyn

And by herself:

Bellamy Young fashion spread

Bellamy Young on the carpet

Minor point of interest: the name “Bellamy” came about because there was already an Amy Young on the rolls of the Screen Actors Guild.

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