Toeing the line

There exists something called wikiFeet, billed as “The collaborative celebrity feet website.” It may surprise you to hear that I don’t actually hang around there, and on those few occasions when I do get there, it’s because Bing or Google sent me to get the full-sized version of a shot I was considering for Rule 5.

What do actual celebrities think of this? At least one is willing to try to get their attention:

Carly Simon sans shoes

This, I submit, takes a certain amount of guts if you’re three months away from your 70th birthday.

That said, Simon is highly regarded at wikiFeet: 59 photos and a 4.5-star rating. That picture isn’t there yet. But this one, from the Seventies, is:

Carly Simon sans husband

Lest we lose focus, the submitter almost, but not quite, cropped out then-hubby James Taylor.

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Will trade winds

Doing nothing is one thing; doing nothing ambitiously is something quite different. Here’s a team-up of She & Him (Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward) and Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys, almost aggressively nonaggressive:

The video is full of in-jokes, not all of which I got. And it’s only 2:16, barely longer than “I Get Around,” a length at which the Beach Boys once excelled.

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No moving parts

The surfer dudes who host this site have started moving to solid-state drives in a big way. Per their monthly newsletter:

We were excited to announce this March that all new customers signing up for our traditional shared hosting will now be placed onto solid state hard drives. Our testing showed that SSDs provide a ~200% increase in data access speeds over traditional hard drives in an identical DreamHost shared hosting environment! Early feedback has been great, and we’re super pumped about this!

Of course, this doesn’t mean that such goodies will be automagically bestowed on us old customers:

If you’re currently a shared hosting customer and would like to see the incredible performance boost for yourself, just contact our support team and request that your account be moved to our SSD platform!

The move won’t be immediate — we’re taking our time to ensure we balance loads carefully and treat your data with the utmost respect! We treat your data like a classy lady! Or a refined gentleman! Or also just a “person” who is “cool”. Whatever you think is fancy, that is what we’re getting at. Your data is a genderless, fancy thing to us. Be cool.

Well, it may be genderless, but it’s binary.

And anyway, I got moved to a faster, if still magnetic, machine in January, so I don’t plan to pester them. Yet.

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It’s been a while

But you may be sure that pitches like this still exist. Behold “STRICTLY BUSINESS FROM SENATOR JAMES”:

Attn: Please,

My name is Larry James, the chairman of the World Bank/United Nations delegates sent to African for auditing on foreign African reserve accounts for controlling the issue of money Laundering, Scam, and Bank Fraud with the African Government that has being going on. I am presently in Africa.

Pardon me for not having the pleasure of knowing your mindset before making you this offer and it is utterly confidential and genuine by virtue of its nature. I write to solicit your cooperation in allowing this sum US$20M be received into your account for our mutual benefits.

This fund was stashed out from the funds we recovered during our auditing with African Banks last year. So far, I have already submitted an approved end of the year report to the World Bank and United Nations and I have since then, placed this amount on a Non-Investment Account without a beneficiary with International Commercial Bank Plc Accra Ghana waiting for this time when the ICB will be having their International pay out bills. And I seek your partnership to humbly and sincerely work with me have this fund received into your account for our mutual benefits.

Upon your response, I will make arrangement with an insider of the Bank to configure your name on the Central Computer database under better arrangement as the holder of the Non-Investment Account and I will then guide you on how to apply for the Account Closure/ bank-to-bank remittance of the funds to your designated bank account.

Note: This Ten-man committee was appointed after the meeting held by the United Nation, African Union, IMF and African Apex Bank. Our assignment was to audit every African Bank foreign reserve accounts to know how much they are fairing with the economic standard and to know how much they owe foreigners of their contracts and inheritance fund which is the most reason we are assigned for this job including the foreign individual petitions and reports against African Government as towards the delays in receiving their funds after investment of much efforts.

Why I have contacted you is because we came across a detailed fund claim in your name without good measures and we were able to discover that this fund does not originally belonged to you after much scrutiny and we also believe that some people may wanted to use your name to claim some funds with African Government but due to their inabilities, they were unable to realize this fund before this event..

Not withstanding, we were able to recovered and return some funds to the United Nations after studding some foreign payment files, which most of their claims are not genuine and clearly stated since they have not good source of origin in the case of some malpractices by some Government officials to siphon Government funds with the help of their foreign partners, Therefore, since you have been established as one of foreign beneficiaries it will be easy to forward this claim in your favour as the true beneficiary , I would want your confidential cooperation to have this fund wired into your account and after that, we will share the proceeds 50-50. If you concur with this proposal, Reply ASAP.

Thanks,
Chairman Committee Mr. Larry James,
United Nations.
World Bank Group.

I’m not quite sure this qualifies as phishing, as neither link nor snail-mail address is given, and James’ alleged email address (though not the Reply-To address) is test -at- friendlessanimals.com. You’d think a weasel pretending to hand out money would have lots of friends.

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Mrs. Cleaver is not impressed

There are, contrary to at least one popular stereotype, some decent folks in the public sector, but you don’t hear quite as much about them:

While there are wise and good men and women holding office — and an awful lot of hard-working minor functionaries making the wheels go ’round on meager pay and less respect, embedded with the time-servers, no-hopers and don’t-carers who make bureaucracy a bother — most of government is dominated by the same Eddie Haskell types, snobs, hollow suits and authority addicts who ran student government back in High School. They are the lowest common denominator, and any sufficiently large enterprise will sink to just that. They are supposed to be uplifting my morals and yours, too? Really?

All I need add is this:

Beaver: How come Eddie’s such a creepy guy?

Wally: He works at it.

It’s a talent, sort of.

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Double O RLY?

This kid apparently aspires to be a secret agent:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: Have anyone heard of Michigan Teenage Secret Agency?

The details:

Their website … http://michiagntsa.webs.com/
So I want to become a spy. I meet all their criteria. But its 2 weeks now after I emailed them and haven’t gotten anything back. Does anyone knows how long it takes?

And you can tell they’re serious about this spy business, since they misspelled “Michigan” in the URL.

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Not yet a destination

Ben Felder is beginning a series in the Oklahoma Gazette on local urban neighborhoods, and about halfway through the middle of the first installment is a point I’ve tried to make:

“The collaboration between the public-private partnership is vital,” said Grant Soderberg of Square Deal Capital — Soderberg is also an investor in The Windsor Hills Station Shopping Center, the hub of the growing Windsor District in west OKC. “Simple investments in lighting, road improvements and other things from the city can make a huge difference in a neighborhood’s revival.”

Soderberg also said that part of the success of The Windsor District is that it continues to serve many of the low- and middle-class community residents who lived there before revitalization efforts began.

“There is a difference that needs to be made between low-income housing and problem housing,” said Soderberg, noting that many working-class residents benefit from recent commercial growth.

Windsor Hills Station sits on 23rd just west of Meridian; in general, 23rd is the boundary between upscale and down. Neighbors from both sides shop at the Crest Foods store at the eastern edge of the shopping center.

About a decade ago, I wrote about a neighborhood closer to downtown:

Now the roads through there aren’t great, and I suspect the rest of the city’s infrastructure is probably an upgrade or two behind schedule, but this struck me as a relatively nice, if obviously not at all upscale, neighborhood. (I spot-checked a couple of houses for sale, and you can still buy in around here for thirty-five to fifty-five thousand.) Professional worriers, faced with a few blocks like this, would undoubtedly start screaming “Blight!” and calling for intervention. And indeed, there’s room for improvement, starting with what appears to be, at first glance, a higher-than-average crime rate. But I am becoming persuaded that the kiss of death for any neighborhood comes at the exact moment when the studies and the surveys and the recommendations start coming out and the focus shifts from “How can we make this area better?” to “How can we get these people out of here?” I, for my part, am loath to tear up an area of affordable housing just because it’s not pretty.

And visitors are often perplexed that upper- and lower-income tracts sit side by side, all across town. A lot of this is simply a function of who did the development, and when. My own neighborhood was developed in the 1940s by Clyde B. Warr, who was relatively, but not ostentatiously, bucks-up; however, we don’t have a full-line grocery store — a Target just up the road comes closest — so often as not, I’m shopping at that Crest store in Windsor.

Addendum: Back in the days when this sort of thing mattered, there was a Windsor telephone exchange covering this area: it reaches just far enough north to include me.

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Close quarters

There was a lot of rumbling in recent days, not so much about holding on to eighth place in the West, but going for seventh place, on the sensible basis that it’s better to play anyone other than the Golden State Warriors in the first round of the playoffs. The current occupant of seventh, the Dallas Mavericks, might have something to say about that, but hey, they’re 5-5 in their last ten and are averaging something like 90 points a game of late. Then those same Mavericks showed up at the ‘Peake shooting 60 percent and collecting something like three points in the paint every 60 seconds. OKC stayed with them, though: it was tied 101-all after three. Dallas then ran off the first ten points of the fourth quarter, but the Thunder came back; at the 2:20 mark it was 125-all. Defense? Nobody had any, but Dallas’ lack of D wasn’t as blatant as OKC’s. With forty seconds to go, it was Mavs 132-129. Russell Westbrook knocked down two foul shots to pull within one; Chandler Parsons burned up most of the rest of the clock and finished with a turnaround jumper; the Thunder came up empty, Steven Adams limped away, and Monta Ellis completed the rout with a free throw. Dallas 135, Oklahoma City 131, and that’s the last we’ll hear about seventh place; the Mavs have beaten the Thunder three times this year, each time by four points.

Of those 135 Dallas points, 72 were earned in the paint, and seven Mavs — all five starters plus Amar’e Stoudemire and Al-Farouq Aminu — scored in double figures. Ellis (26) and Parsons (22) had the most; Dirk Nowitzki nailed 18, and double-doubles were collected by Rajon Rondo (10 points, 10 assists) and Tyson Chandler (14 points, 10 rebounds). The startling figure, though, is this: 56 of 91 from the floor, 61.5 percent, despite a lousy 4-15 from beyond the arc. Rick Carlisle, if you asked him, would tell you that if you make enough two-pointers, you don’t need treys, and of course he would be correct.

And then you wonder what in the heck happened to the Thunder in a game when Enes Kanter had a double-double and a career high in points (30, with 16 rebounds), Russell Westbrook had a triple-double (31-11-11), and Anthony Morrow outscored both (32 on 11-16 shooting). Well, Adams spent much of the evening in foul trouble; the bench, apart from Morrow, didn’t have much to contribute; and OKC’s 11 turnovers handed Dallas 18 points. The Mavs coughed up the rock only six times, costing eight. And maybe if Westbrook hadn’t started out so cold: he finished at 10-32, 2-11 from outside. (The rest of the team managed 12 treys, half of them from Morrow.)

What could be worse than a home loss this late in the season? Answer: a home loss this late in the season followed by a trip to Memphis. The Grizzlies, you should pardon the expression, are always loaded for bear.

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Go with the name you know

There’s a lot to be said, I suppose, for personal branding, but this isn’t it [warning: autostart video]:

A man said he accidentally shot himself when a gun he bought on the street jammed.

Police met up with the 36-year-old after he showed up at Miami Valley Hospital Saturday afternoon, according to the Dayton police report.

He was treated for a gunshot wound to his upper left arm. He told police it happened in a creek area off Norris Drive, according to the report.

The man reported he went there to test fire a gun he had bought from a man named “Crack Head Dave,” according to the report.

Does Dave stand behind his products? I’m betting he sure as hell doesn’t stand in front of them.

(Via Bayou Renaissance Man.)

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Unmagical realism

For those of you who might have thought that academia is overrun with sexual non-binary types and other individuals hard to characterize, well, that might be true in the Ivies, but it doesn’t work out here on the Plains.

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Flexibility is mandated

If this product actually exists, we’re going to have Rockette-level high kicks on every Main Street in the nation:

Perhaps these are repurposed High Tide Heels.

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Quitting time

If I ever again have to leave a job, I hope I have the presence of mind to do it this way:

I actually did give a letter of notice. I wrote it that morning, backdated of course, and shoved it under the rat’s nest of papers on BossMan’s desk. Archaeologists, later on in the millenia, find it and say “What does that mean, die in a crotchfire?” To which another archaeologist will sneer, “Let me Google that for you.”

“Crotchfire,” incidentally, is one of very few words that will reliably trigger involuntary leg-crossing.

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Your piece of the pie

As of yesterday, there were 46,250 comments on the site — that is, comments within the current WordPress database, which goes back to the first week of September 2006. (There were about 17,000 more in the first Movable Type database, from August 2002 to that point, all converted to static files.)

Now this figure seems amazing to some, and by “some” I mean “people who hang out in Twitter chats to bewail their lack of response.” Forty-six thousand sounds like a lot of comments, but that’s a slow month over at Ace’s.

Still, I’m happy with the participation level here. And inasmuch as I have a gizmo that counts these for me, I’m tossing this question to you guys: how many of those 46,000 do you think you wrote? Be sure to show your work.

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Backstage at Security Theater

The Transportation Security Authority has guidelines it uses to determine if someone is more suspicious-looking than someone else. Quelle surprise:

The checklist is part of TSA’s controversial program to identify potential terrorists based on behaviors that it thinks indicate stress or deception — known as the Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques, or SPOT. The program employs specially trained officers, known as Behavior Detection Officers, to watch and interact with passengers going through screening.

Cute names for government operations almost always indicate something controversial is afoot.

The checklist ranges from the mind-numbingly obvious, like “appears to be in disguise,” which is worth three points, to the downright dubious, like a bobbing Adam’s apple. Many indicators, like “trembling” and “arriving late for flight,” appear to confirm allegations that the program picks out signs and emotions that are common to many people who fly.

Stripped of point values, here are some of the behaviors that may trigger Double Secret Screening:

Things TSA is looking for

A sample SPOT form is here for your inspection.

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Questionable titling

And if anyone knows about questionable titles, c’est moi, n’est-ce pas?

Motor Trend’s Big Test in the May ’15 issue covers five luxury compact crossovers, and it’s titled “Diversity Report”: “Mucking around autodom’s hippest segment with the most colorful crew in town.”

Excuse me while I pull out my “Yeah, right” specs. All five of these not-quite cars have 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engines, and by “2.0-liter” we mean — well, the smallest mill of the bunch is 1969cc. The others? One each at 1997 and 1998, and two at 1999, though the latter are basically the same engine (from Ford) with different fitments and tunings.

Perhaps more to the point, how can you call this bunch “diverse” if four of them are white? The Bimmer is perhaps explainable — an X3 in any color other than white or black costs $550 extra — but surely Land Rover, Volvo and Lexus could have come up with something else. The one, um, vehicle of color is the Lincoln, which is a spiffy blue, and it appears that Ford has seen fit to tone down the whale-baleen grille.

Oh, a sixth automaker was invited: Audi, which had no Q5 with that size engine. Instead, they sent a Q5 with a 3.0-liter turbodiesel six. It was faster than all the fours, the humonogous torque standing in for the extra horsepower the diesel doesn’t have. However, it was mutely conformist in one regard: it, too, was white.

Disclosure: I drive a white car, from none of these manufacturers.

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Creativity awakened the wrong way

Sir Ken Robinson, a couple of years ago, boiled down to a single paragraph:

Robinson has suggested that to engage and succeed, education has to develop on three fronts. First, that it should foster diversity by offering a broad curriculum and encourage individualisation of the learning process; secondly, it should foster curiosity through creative teaching, which depends on high quality teacher training and development; and finally, it should focus on awakening creativity through alternative didactic processes that put less emphasis on standardised testing, thereby giving the responsibility for defining the course of education to individual schools and teachers. He believes that much of the present education system in the United States fosters conformity, compliance and standardisation rather than creative approaches to learning. Robinson emphasises that we can only succeed if we recognise that education is an organic system, not a mechanical one. Successful school administration is a matter of fostering a helpful climate rather than “command and control.”

And presumably it would help if the youngsters got enough sleep. Sir Ken Robinson, last night:

The powers that be were profusely apologetic.

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