Debaser, debetter

Discounts for senior citizens? Black Francis isn’t having any of that. In fact:

Fans of Black Francis who plan to see the Pixies frontman’s solo-acoustic show in New York City next week who are older than 30 — and let’s face it, that’s a lot of us — might want to consider something they haven’t done in a couple decades: investing in a fake ID.

That’s because the venue that the erstwhile Frank Black is playing this coming Friday is charging fans who are older than 30 an additional $30 for tickets. That’s three times the price.

Then again, Francis may not be the one who needs to lighten up here:

A quick glance through the ticket links for Black Francis’ remaining tour dates, as well as some already-completed shows this month, reveals no other such age-based pricing — suggesting he’s likely unaware of this rather unique pricing structure.

As for Symphony Space, which is obviously trying to draw younger fans to next week’s concert, a look at other performances listed at the performing arts center shows discounts for seniors, children or students, but we saw no other price breaks for the 30-and-under crowd.

Mr. Grieves was not available for comment.

(Via Fark.)

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User disexperience

Friday night I happened upon a nifty piece of software called Visual Similarity Duplicate Image Finder, made by MindGems, which looked like just the thing to tame my ridiculous picture archive. I downloaded their demo, ran the installer, and gave it a 10,000-file directory to read. Even on my ancient desktop (2.66 GHz P4), the program turned up 281 duplicates in nine minutes flat. The demo version doesn’t allow you to delete the extras: you’d need to look ‘em up yourself in Explorer, or pay for the full version, which was a reasonable $24.95. So I blew the dust off my American Express card and prepared to start typing purchase information.

Nope. Not with these guys. You must go out to their third-party retail site, complete the purchase there, uninstall the demo and wait for them to send you a download link for the full version, which, they warned, could take up to twelve hours. (In fact, it took six minutes.) I duly installed the full version and ran exactly the same routine, which took slightly less time; deleting the duplicates — the AutoCheck system, unless you select otherwise, marks as deletable the smaller version, either in pixel count or bytes — took about 35 seconds. Very efficient, and it didn’t melt down the CPU.

So I’m still recommending VSDIF, because it by-gosh works, and because they offer multi-license deals if your shop needs such things. But if you’re sure you’ll like it, don’t bother with the demo: show up with plastic in hand and save yourself a bit of aggravation. For the next version, they should work on making this easier to buy.

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Well, that didn’t last long

Earlier this week I professed to be puzzled at the very un-Zooey-esque Tommy Hilfiger dress Zooey Deschanel wore to the Met Ball, which looked for all the world like seersucker, as though ZD were the sucker who bought it at Sears. (Mr Hilfiger would like you to know that this is in fact gingham, which is even haute-r couture.) Perhaps more to the point, though, was the complete absence of bangs, making her look like — well, like her older sister Emily, sort of. Not that Emily is a slouch or anything.

But that was Monday. Here’s Zooey, hanging around outside before her appearance on David Letterman’s Late Show on Tuesday:

Zooey Deschanel at the Ed Sullivan Theatre

I’m almost afraid to hunt down pictures of whatever the heck she was doing Wednesday.

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This ain’t the Cubs

Sometimes basketball is like programming: you work diligently to get rid of all the bugs, and suddenly there are fresh new bugs. After dropping a close one in Oklahoma City to the Grizzlies, the Thunder went to work on getting fast-break points when possible, and offensive rebounds when not. And that’s what they did, or tried to do, today in Memphis. What they forgot to do was actually score. They trailed most of the game; just inside the two-minute mark, they managed to tie it at 81 on yet another unexpected Derek Fisher trey, but that was the end of it, while the Don’t Care Bears calmly dropped in half a dozen free throws to take Game 3, 87-81.

And speaking of free throws, OKC went 12-19. They missed seven. Two of those bricks came from Kevin Durant during that closing 6-0 Memphis burst. It’s almost like learning to get points in the paint made them forget how to get points from the stripe. Nobody wins a playoff game with 36-percent shooting. To their credit, the Thunder did try to coax Serge Ibaka out of his offensive slump; the big guy missed his first three, but did eventually come up with 13 points to go with his 10 rebounds. KD had a reasonably KDish day, despite those two last-minute clanks: 25 points, 11 retrievals. And what’s this? Reggie Jackson with a double-double: 16 points, 10 boards, and only a single turnover. Kevin Martin voted Present with 13 of the bench’s total 23.

What kind of game was this? Tayshaun Prince was relatively subdued (two points, four boards, no blocks), Zach Randolph had a lousy day by Z-Bo standards (eight points, though he did snag ten rebounds), Marc Gasol (20 points) actually got fouls called on him, and Griz shooting was less than stellar at just over 40 percent. But this is the telltale statistic: Memphis went 30-74 from the floor, OKC 32-88. When 14 additional shots get you only five additional points, as Scott Brooks is sure to mention some time this evening, you’re doing it wrong.

Game 4 is Monday night in the Fed Up Forum. The Oklahoman sports dudes (I include Jenni Carlson among the dudes, because why not?) generally think it’s Memphis in six. I’m starting to think it might be Memphis in five.

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Now watch people forward this

Used to be, phishing attempts contained clickable links. This item contained no links whatsoever, and I looked at every last bit of it:

We at the Internal Revenue Service would like to inform you that, you have qualified for 2013, subsidy benefit.

Simply reply to this secure message with the following details below & you will be notified shortly.

Full Name:
Complete Address:
Telephone Number:

Social Security Number:
Date of Birth (mmddyyyy):

ID Type:
Issuing State:
ID Number:

Bank Routing Number:
Deposit Account Number:
Account Type:

Please disregard this message if you have already mailed your response.
©2013 Internal Revenue Service | U.S. Department of the Treasury

The key here, of course, is “reply to this secure message,” since any fool can hit the Reply button, and many do. The ostensible address is IRS.DESK@IRS.GOV; however, the Reply-To address in the header is emailn.irs-office@emailn.de. Who knew the IRS had a branch in Germany?

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Quote of the week

Steve Sailer reviews a section of George Orwell’s track record:

Orwell turned out to be wrong about secret policemen: over the course of the 20th Century, even they tended to get tired of killing and beating massive numbers of people. The KGB stopped shooting political prisoners or working them to death in the uranium mine, and instead just locked them up in psychiatric hospitals.

But Orwell’s real subject, the one he knew best from introspection and socializing, was the intellectual mind (e.g., Eric Blair). And, for his kind, he hasn’t been proven wrong yet about the metaphorical “intoxication of power … the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless.”

Granted, vastly swelling the population of America with disposable diaper-dropping Mexicans in the name of protecting the environment sounds pretty prima facie stupid. But that’s not the point. The point is to grab any available tool to hammer The Enemy: i.e., other white people whom you find disagreeable.

And that never gets old.

The quarter of my family tree that originated in Mexico is actually pretty sanitary, but then they’ve been here quite a while.

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Augusta wind

“As Maine goes,” said ancient political wisdom, “so goes the nation.” Here’s one case where I’d like to see us follow their lead:

The Maine House on Wednesday took a decisive stance against blending ethanol into gasoline, giving initial approval to a bill that would ban the corn-based additive from motor fuel if two other New England states pass similar laws.

The House voted 109-32 in favor of LD 115, a bill sponsored by Rep. Jeffrey Timberlake, R-Turner, that would ban the sale of ethanol-containing gasoline in the state. The prohibition would only take effect if two other New England states passed similar laws.

Opponents united under the “But … but … the Feds!” banner:

“The federal government requires significant use of renewable fuel, and currently ethanol is the only viable option,” said Rep. Joan Welsh, D-Rockport, who is chairman of the Legislature’s Environment and Natural Resources Committee. “There’s no cost-effective source of nonethanol fuel currently available.”

Now what are the chances that two other New England states will follow suit? Probably next to nil. Previous versions of New Hampshire might have, but the current state motto, “Live Free, Or At Least Cheaper Than Boston,” doesn’t allow for that sort of thing. And Connecticut would make you pour Dom Perignon in your tank if they thought it would cut carbon emissions. At least it’s cheaper than inkjet refills.

(Via Autoblog Green.)

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Fark blurb of the week

Florida restaurant pulls controversial lion tacos off the menu after huge uproar.

(Linked to this. Note this prime remark: “Now, however, serving lion meat is becoming a point of pride.”)

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Everybody must get stone

But perhaps not thirty stone:

Tammy Jung, 23, was once a healthy eight-stone teenager who wore skinny jeans, loved playing volleyball and going out with friends.

But in a bizarre reversal of a crash diet, Tammy turned her back on her slim good looks, and spends her days indoors stuffing herself with fried chicken, donuts and whole blocks of cheese.

If the first three letters that popped into your head were WTF, you are not alone.

The once svelte young woman is piling on the pounds to earn money as a Big Beautiful Woman on internet websites and hopes to one day top 30 stone.

This is more than I’ve ever weighed, and I’ve been on the chunky side of the ledger for some time now. Then again, I’m still alive:

Dr Claude Matar, of the Pasadena Weight Loss Center, said: “It’s very straightforward, she is causing her life to be shorter.

“She has taken the risk of dying early. Her potential for dying early was over 100 per cent.”

Over 100 percent? It’s a wonder she can even hold her Bloomberg-disapproved soft drink.

(Via Fark.)

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Get clicking

WordPress, for some reason, prefers to create a new dynamic page when you click on the Comments link, though there’s still some code in the base that supports an actual pop-up window. (Now and then I’ve thought about implementing it, but so many browsers today have pop-up blockers enabled by default that I just couldn’t find it in my heart, which is cold and flinty anyway, to go through with it.)

Bill Quick used to have Daily Pundit set up to do comments inline — click the link and they’d appear under the post automagically — but no more:

The problem is that they are apparently a major security risk. I spent most of yesterday trying to figure out how to do comments inline — all of them automatically appearing beneath the post — but with the newer versions of WordPress, this becomes quite difficult, and is beyond my coding skills.

I hadn’t heard this, but I tend to be suspicious of Ajax stuff on general principle.

So, unless and until I can come up with something that will actually work and not expose my server to constant hack attempts, we’re going to have to do it the way just about everybody else does: If you want to leave a comment, or read them, you’ll have to click through to do it.

Life is like that sometimes.

Oddly, I had inline comments — in read mode, anyway — more than a decade ago, but that was when the whole site was hand-coded and there were fewer black-hatted types trying to weasel their way in.

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Dad, will you please get off the computer?

Once again, something I didn’t notice is noticed:

Funny observation popped up in discussion [on an irrelevant topic]: among man-bloggers who are fathers majority are those with daughters. Women-bloggers, as noted, do not exhibit this particular trait — they are mothers as often to boys as to girls.

Which prompts some speculation:

[U]nderlying connection between man’s ability to write coherent texts and raising a female? what could be genetic condition for this correlation? Etc, etc.

I’m not quite sure what, if anything, I can extrapolate from my own experience. When my daughter was born, I was a terrible writer; today, 35 years later, I am, um, less terrible. Does my son, 32 this year, affect this in any way? How about the grandchildren (four boys, two girls)?

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Google knows best

While Google’s Chrome browser is now firmly ensconced in the top three — some sources actually have it at number one — it’s at best a poor fourth around here. Then again, I have readers like this:

[W]hen I am doing a lot of scrolling it seems to switch into some mode where it keeps scrolling. The cursor changes and this little four-arrowed floating icon appears. Click anywhere and it reverts back to normal mode, usually. I am not sure what it’s for, or how it works exactly. All I know is that somehow it is not doing what I want it to do anymore, it’s doing what it thinks is best. Perhaps someday I will try it out and see if it could possibly be useful, but for right now I cancel it as quick as I can. Do what I tell you, you stupid machine, not what you think I want you to do.

Or what it secretly wants you to do in the first place, which is always a possibility.

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Forever and a day

This forgotten (though not by me) Lesley Gore track from the middle 1970s is perfect for the subject at hand:

Our days are numbered. Must they be?

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You shouldn’t be out in this mess

But since you are, you might as well try to save your neck, or at least the other guy’s:

[P]ull off the road already and wait it out if the weather scares you so badly. No, not on the side of the road, dummy — someone will come along and rear end you, and you might get hurt as well. Nope, find a driveway or a side road and get the f&(k outta the way. If you are on an interstate or some such, do not pull under an overpass and park on the side of the road. For the same reason. Exit the damn road, stupid.

I admit to having breached this protocol once: on I-75 in north-central Florida, where the traffic was moving at a brisk 80 mph despite the fact that you couldn’t see as far as the trailing edge of your wipers. I found the very edge of the pavement — the breakdown lane was nice and wide — and sat there until the storm had passed. There was a little Mazda3 about 100 feet in front of me; I’d been following it since Georgia, but hadn’t been able to see it at all for the past twenty miles, and never saw it pull off.

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Cabinet repairs

Penny Pritzker has been nominated to head the Department of Commerce, presumably on the basis of her cash-bundling abilities. She would replace Rebecca Blank, interim Secretary since John Bryson took ill last year. (That’s “Blank.” With an N.)

Is this worth three hundred words? Perhaps not:

It’s clear that presidents need the Department of Commerce, so they have a place to stash their friends who’ve brought in the cash. But it’s not clear that the rest of us need a Department of Commerce. A bit of research shows Americans were engaged in commerce even before we became a country. Colonists farmed, fished and traded like crazy. And that was more than a century before the Department of Commerce was formed in 1903. Amazing!

Everyone’s supposedly looking for places to cut wasteful government spending. Instead of laying off air traffic controllers, we could turn the knife toward Commerce. Don’t just leave it without a leader, go ahead and shut down the while thing and let’s see what happens. Probably nobody’ll even notice, as is the case with most of the sequester cuts.

Both Rick Perry and Ron Paul, during their 2012 Presidential campaigns, proposed the abolition of Commerce. And so did Barack Obama, kinda sorta:

Mr. Obama called on lawmakers to grant him broad new powers to propose mergers of agencies, which Congress would then have to approve or reject in an up-or-down vote. If granted the authority, he said, he would begin pruning by folding the Small Business Administration and five other trade and business agencies into a single agency that would replace the Commerce Department.

The White House estimated that the consolidation would save $3 billion over 10 years and result in reductions of 1,000 to 2,000 jobs.

Now $3 billion is to the Feds what the change under your sofa cushions is to you; still, the idea of anything in Washington being shrunk has a certain visceral appeal.

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Unkerncerned

You all remember Sally Kern: mid-60s, drives a minivan, represents House District 84 on the west side of Oklahoma County, agonizes constantly over LGBT matters but has presumably learned a modicum of discretion in such matters. Husband Steve has decided to take a few days away from his pulpit to run for Senate District 40 next year, what with Cliff Branan being term-limited out of the office.

Truth be told, I don’t think Reverend Steve ought to give up his day job: District 40 is decidedly bluer than Sally’s turf, extending as it does into old-money Democrat territories south of Nichols Hills. (I’ve lived here ten years; I keep track.) And there are two other Republicans in the race: deputy County Commissioner Michael Taylor and property-management magnate Brian Winslow. Both these guys come from the fiscal-conservative side of the aisle, and surely one of them could force Kern into a runoff. If there are any Democrats in the race, they haven’t filed campaign reports yet.

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