A small break

Last year, the bank declared that I somehow had way too little in escrow, and duly commanded me to fork over an extra $130 a month to bridge the gap — or send them a check for a rather large sum I didn’t happen to have at the time. I did some calculations, because that’s what I do, and after some third-grade arithmetic I determined that the escrow shortage would have been cleared with a mere $80 a month, but there’s no arguing with the bank on these matters. Perhaps, I figured, they will drop it next year after they’ve taken a few dives into the vault, à la Scrooge McDuck.

Comes the notification. Payment is dropping by $75 a month. In response, I spent rather a long time in Told You So mode, though it didn’t seem useful at the moment to tell them so.

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Your daily requirement of Eurodance

It’s Saturday night in 1994, and say hello to Whigfield:

Whigfield in red

“Saturday Night” went straight to Number One in the UK and did well generally on the Continent, though follow-ups were not so successful, and after five albums, the last one in 2012 titled W, she retired from the limelight.

Whigfield a little farther along

Sort of. Reclaiming the name given her when she was born in 1975, Sannie Charlotte Carlson, billing herself as Sannie, has come up with a new song:

Before you ask: Sannie is behind the bar.

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And then you die

The suicide rate has gone off the scale among members of a Canadian First Nation:

The chief and council for the Attawapiskat First Nation on remote James Bay have declared a state of emergency, saying they’re overwhelmed by the number of attempted suicides in the community.

On Saturday night alone, 11 people attempted to take their own lives, Chief Bruce Shisheesh said.

Shisheesh and the council met Saturday night and unanimously voted to declare the state of emergency. That compels such agencies as the Weeneebayko Health Authority in Moose Factory, Ont., and Health Canada to bring in additional resources.

Including Saturday’s spate of suicide attempts, a total of 101 people of all ages have tried to kill themselves since September, Shisheesh said, with one person dying. The youngest was 11, the oldest 71.

On the upside, that’s a 99-percent failure rate among those attempting suicide, which must be considered a Good Thing. A 13-year-old girl was apparently the only one who died:

[Jackie] Hookimaw’s great-niece Sheridan took her own life in October. She was 13 years old. Hookimaw said Sheridan had a big heart, but she was plagued with multiple health conditions and was bullied at school.

More recently, Hookimaw said, she was at the community’s hospital where she saw a number of teenage girls being treated after purposely overdosing on drugs. As she was leaving, a man came in for treatment. Later, she would learn that he, too, had tried to take his own life.

Saddest of all, perhaps, is that this really isn’t anything new:

Overall, First Nations individuals have some of the highest rates of suicide globally. Suicide rates are more than twice the sex-specific rate and also three times the age-specific rates of non-Aboriginal Canadians. Residential Aboriginals between ages 10 and 29 show an elevated suicide risk as compared to non-residential Aboriginals by 5-6 times.

One theory for the increased incidences of suicide within Aboriginal populations as compared to the general Canadian population is called acculturation stress which results from the intersection of multiple cultures within one’s life. This leads to differing expectations and cultural clashes within the community, the family and the individual. At the community level, a general economic disadvantage is seen, exacerbated by unemployment and low education levels, leading to poverty, political disempowerment and community disorganization. The family suffers through a loss of tradition as they attempt to assimilate into Canadian culture. These lead to low self-esteem in the individual as First Nations culture and tradition are marginalized affecting one’s sense of self-identity. These factors combine to create a world where First Nations individuals feel they cannot identify completely as Aboriginal, nor can they fully identify as mainstream Canadians. When that balance cannot be found, many (particularly youths) turn to suicide as a way out.

The nearest major employer is De Beers, which operates a diamond mine about 90 km from the settlement of Attawapiskat. De Beers pours some money into the community, but generally they employ only about 100 members of the First Nation, which is not exactly overrun with experienced miners.

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Calling on the party line

It was the last home game of the season, which was one event: it was Kobe Bryant’s last-ever road game, which was another. The combination of the two was a bit baffling at times, but the desired results were obtained: Kobe knocked down 13 points in the first quarter, in Kobe-like fashion, and the Thunder, after a 10-point lead at halftime, went on to trounce the Lakers 31-13 in the third quarter on the way to a 112-79 blowout. And there was lots of purple and gold in the house, an appreciation for a man who almost always played like he had his eye on the Hall of Fame. Sentimental value, even in a 33-point loss.

Also evocative: a decent line from Metta World Peace. The Artist Formerly Known As Ron Artest hasn’t been taken seriously since returning to the NBA from China, but World Peace played a darned good game, 12 points and six rebounds in 23 minutes. Like all the Lakers, he shot relatively poorly: at 3-10, he was actually ahead of the team average for the night; but once again, sentimental value, despite his checkered past. And those 12 points were second only to Bryant.

The Thunder contributed to the festive atmosphere by jacking up a ridiculous 37 treys, managing to make 12. (L. A. was 7-31.) Kevin Durant went over 20 by, um, 14, and Russell Westbrook put together a triple-double in a stirringly negligible 18 minutes, one off the league record. Kyle Singler hit two treys; Josh Huestis missed one. Just another night at the ‘Peake.

At this point, of course, nothing really matters. There’s one more game in the regular season, tomorrow night at San Antonio, where the Spurs finally got beaten — by, of course, the Warriors. (Golden State now has 72 wins. Will they get a record 73? Their last game is at home, against the Grizzlies, and any year other than this I’d go with Memphis.) For all I know, both Gregg Popovich and Billy Donovan will rest everyone possible. If you’ve nailed down your playoff spot, you’re like the Armed Forces short-timer: at this point, nothing really matters.

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Overlooked too often

This particular story is somewhat disturbing:

Lauren Buniva explains what’s going on here:

The video, originally posted on YouTube, featured emotional anecdotes of “leftover women,” or those unmarried after 25, in China. These “leftover women” receive shameful treatment as well as intense familial and societal pressure for not being married as they “should be.” The video shows the women interacting with their families and includes some of the brutally harsh and hurtful comments that parents of these “leftover women” spit out regularly. The storytelling is enhanced by compelling visuals, contrasting scenes from the young women’s modern lives with images of traditional China: families, parading dragons and the marriage market.

The marriage market becomes the an important feature of the video; it is both the scene that epitomizes the women’s frustration, embarrassment, and societal isolation, but also where they eventually stand up to their parents and reaffirm their own lifestyle choices. The marriage market is where Chinese parents display their children as marriage potential, detailing intimate information like their height, weight, salary, values and personality.

A meet market, or maybe something that just sounds like “meet market.”

SK-II, headquartered in Japan but owned by Procter & Gamble, decided to do something about it:

SK-II took over a marriage market, and did so beautifully, by posting photos of hundreds of “leftover women” accompanied with simple statements that assert their desire for independence and self-driven happiness. Viewers are then shown the parents’ tearful acceptance of their daughters, coming to the realization that these “leftover women” are actually outstanding, confident, beautiful and something to be proud, not ashamed, of.

Apparently this campaign is running through the Singapore office; the SK-II US site has no mention of if whatsoever.

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Meanwhile at the coffee bar

They now have actual bars of coffee:

GO CUBES Chewable Coffee by Nootrobox

It’s a matter of portion control, says the manufacturer:

How much caffeine is in your regular cup of joe? 25 mg? 200 mg? You have no idea. It depends on many variables, including, bean varietal, process, and barista skill. Know exactly how much caffeine you consume so you can stay perfectly in the zone.

Nootrobox, the creators of GO CUBES, are experts at cognitive enhancement and nootropics. In addition to caffeine, GO CUBES contain precise amounts of other safe, effective supplements like L-theanine, B6, and methylated B12 that improve caffeine for enhanced focus & clarity.

They don’t seem expensive, either: the four-pack includes the equivalent of two cups of coffee, and a box of 20 four-packs from Amazon is $59. You don’t get latte decoration and such, but what the hey. And it’s got to be more interesting than Vivarin.

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For some inscrutable reason, the supermarket I was visiting Saturday requires that any actual Hot Food from the deli counter be paid for at that counter: you can’t just carry it over to the regular checkout stand. The person in front of me, a chap about my age, had bought a rack of ribs and various side dishes, coming to around $32, and slid his debit card — I recognized it as belonging to the bank just down the road — through the machine.

The machine told him no.

He tried again, and got the same result. “I don’t understand this,” he said. “I made a deposit just this morning.”

Well, yeah. It was Saturday. You’ll be lucky if that deposit posts by Monday. We have customers on our storefront who have yet to comprehend this fact.

He handed the package back to the clerk, and walked away. Apparently that basket in the middle of the aisle was his also, and it contained a lot more than $32 worth of stuff. He said he might go try the ATM. Yeah, good luck with that.

Once or twice in my life, I’ve sprung to cover a shortage of this sort, but never for more than $10. And even if I’d bought him the darn Ribs ‘N Stuff, he was never going to get through the line with that basket. Still, I felt lousy about the whole incident, a lousiness that will subside the moment I have to start slapping down deadbeats at work for creating basically the same situation. There’s no angle in doing them any favors.

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Strange search-engine queries (532)

Last Saturday, this site celebrated (sort of) its twentieth anniversary; this particular feature began about halfway through those two decades. The format is pretty much unchanged: find search strings that brought people to the site, and make fun of them if at all possible. Fortunately, there’s enough traffic — and there are more than enough wackos out there — to make this task relatively simple most of the time.

discreet search engine:  Oh, come on, you’re taking all the fun out of this.

bonds womens pantyhose 70d opaque electric blue average/tall:  If nothing else, this tells you that fetishists can be awfully darn specific.

according to research on the so-called 10-year rule, superstar achievers are distinguished by their _____:  Prodigious genitalia.

david ruffin memes:  My whole world ended the moment you read this.

by publishing information packed articles, you’ll soon enjoy unservicing:  I do this every week. When are you guys gonna quit servicing me?

artillery shell cases for sale:  I suppose they’d be pretty tricky to rent.

cool to be a fool:  This year, we must be experiencing the arrival of a glacier.

inseams on pants:  You notice nobody ever asks about the outseams.

police stole my car feliz navidad:  Well, you’re certainly taking it well.

wp-config.php i need to find a gas station:  And what better place to find a gas station than in a text file full of PHP instructions?

fourbucks:  Formerly the price of two bottles of Two-Buck Chuck.

batman bill:  Surely several million a year, which Bruce Wayne pays without complaint.

my life is ruined yahoo answers:  Yeah, that’s the way it happens. You start trolling to get recognition, and before too long you’ve told the entire world that you’re too stupid to live.

in 2004, congress passed a corporate tax relief bill with 276 provisions for tax breaks to groups such as restaurant owners, hollywood producers, and nascar track owners. this is an example of the:  Way things are, always have been, and probably always will be.

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Presumably not working for tips

A small group of anti-circumcision protesters turned up at Penn Square around midday yesterday, the same group that had hit Springfield, Missouri on Friday:

The protesters here pulled out fake blood, splattered it on their pants and posters, and stood on the corner here for the past hour.

Despite the blood, and graphic pictures, they say the point is not to scare people, but to get you to see their signs which they say point out what they say is cruelty to boys.

The group “Bloodstained Men and Their Friends” are behind the protest. They’ve been traveling across the country with the same message against infant circumcision.

The protesters call circumcision torture to babies, and wear the blood to represent that. Protesters say boys should be able to choose whether or not to get circumcised when they become an adult — instead of being forced at birth.

When it hurts even worse.

Seriously, though: I am not particularly put out about my own foreskin, which hasn’t been seen in six decades or more, but I can’t help but wonder if this particular group has a problem with Jews, though nothing on their Web site suggests so. And to be upfront about it, female genital mutilation strikes me as even worse, but the Men don’t seem especially concerned about that.

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Someone planted a page in the score

Led Zep meets Ludwig Van:

Of course, the cello is a quintessential metal instrument — see, for instance, Apocalyptica — but it also works well on that classical-era stuff.

(Via Laughing Squid.)

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Salami hiding

Not surprisingly, they’re looking for him:

Thanks to tips from the public, Dallas police say they have identified an indecent exposure suspect who allegedly exposed himself in front of the victim and began masturbating twice in two days this week.

Now they’re asking the public if they know where the alleged suspect, Jibril Salami, is hiding.

At the very least, this guy needs to get a grip.

(With thanks to Kris Wood.)

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The body in rebellion

And you wonder if it’s ever going to behave itself again:

I have a much higher pain threshold than a lot of people I know, but it’s a skill rather than an inborn trait.

I can train myself for this, if it lasts long enough, but this far into an ordeal that is costing me so much sleep, the long term is not high on my list of priorities.

This is not to say that he’s just sitting there and taking it:

I move around and stretch out as best I can to work the knots out, and for a man of my age and weight class I’m finding I can make my hip and knee joints do things that could probably have gotten me a spot on Johnny Carson, back in the ’70s or so.

It turns out I have to do those things to keep up with my younger (and quite a bit heavier) self. And I have yet to adjust myself to thinking of “trick” as an adjective: “trick knee.” Which it is; though the nervous system seems to be tricker, and the brain interpretation of that nervous system may be the trickest of all.

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From the Oxford files

Not everyone has an opinion on the Oxford comma; some people simply don’t give a fark. Still, there are times when you absolutely need that extra little bit of punctuation, and Michael Barone’s Friday column was one of them. As it appeared in the local paper on Saturday:

Ted Cruz showed an ability to adapt to terrain and vary his approach from his usual college-debater style. Appearing with his wife, mother and supporter Carly Fiorina, he spoke of the achievements and tragedies of women in his life.

I admit to a certain fondness for Carly Fiorina, but I had no idea she was that busy.

Someone at the Washington Examiner, Barone’s home base, has since rewritten the paragraph.

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Nobody sleeping here

The last NBA game ever at Sleep Train Arena, formerly Arco Arena, might well have been every bit as loud as the games during the Good Old Days, one of which made it into Guinness, and the Sacramento Kings took full advantage of that noisy crowd to administer a thrashing to the Thunder, 114-112, evening the season series at two games each (1-1 in both Oklahoma City and Sacramento) and making some folks wonder how OKC is going to get through a whole playoff round if they can’t beat a team with 48 losses. It was mostly close all night, with the Thunder managing to win the first and third quarters, the Kings the second and fourth. This is not to say that the Kings had it easy in that final frame: with 24 seconds left, the Kings were up seven, but seventeen seconds later, that lead was cut to three, and Russell Westbrook knocked out three free throws to tie it. After “the longest five-count” radio guy Matt Pinto said he’d ever seen, a foul was called, Rudy Gay, who’d obligingly missed a few free throws in those waning moments, hit two of them, and that was the end of that.

Part of the problem for the Thunder was Curry. No, not Steph, but his younger brother Seth, coming off the Kings bench to collect 20 points, hitting six of ten treys. Darren Collison, running the offense while Rajon Rondo got some rest, had 27 points, his season high, and those Rudy Gay freebies brought him up to 22. The Kings, as noted, had problems from the stripe, hitting only 11 of 20, but they more than made up for that with actual field goals, 45-94 versus 39-80. (Weirdly, both teams were 13-32 from outside the arc.) And as has been often the case, the glaring number was 21: the number of turnovers given up by the Thunder. The Kings coughed it up only 11 times. Westbrook ended up with 24 points and 10 assist, the game’s only double-double; Kevin Durant made it up to 31, but he had to make 29 shots to get there.

None of this changes the playoff picture. OKC, third in the West, will play the #6 team; both Portland and Memphis lost tonight, leaving the Blazers in fifth, half a game in front of the Griz. The Rockets are in ninth, one game behind the Jazz with three to play. The marquee game tomorrow, of course, is Golden State at San Antonio: no team, not even the mighty Warriors, has beaten the Spurs at home all year. It says something about this season that even that game doesn’t change the playoff picture.

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Why Microsoft doesn’t rule the Web

People trying to save Word documents as HTML end up with garbage like this:

And that’s before you ever get to any of the actual document.

Upside: at least it isn’t Flash.

(Via @SwiftOnSecurity.)

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Meteoric rise

Canadian singer Lights, who won me over several years back with the crisply upbeat yet weepingly sad “Second Go,” continues to perplex and amaze. She circulated this photo earlier this week:

Thank you, Mom.

Lights finds a seat

Yesterday she unleashed upon us Midnight Machines, a new album containing acoustic versions of six songs from her previous album Little Machines plus two new tracks. The lead single is the revised version of “Meteorites,” and all of a sudden it’s haunting. A bit of photographic trickery merely makes it seem more so:

This is, incidentally, the third time she’s followed an album with an unplugged version. (How many albums has she done? Three, plus three acoustics.) Perplexing, perhaps; but also amazing.

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