There’s always second place

Which, in a two-player card game, is last:

There’s a card game called casino, where one of the objectives is to get the aces. There are four cards on the table, and each player has four cards in hand. My college girlfriend was playing me, and there’s an ace on the table. She went first, the ace remained, so I picked it up on my next turn. But I quickly discover she had an ace IN HER HAND, with which she could have picked up the ace on the board. “Why didn’t you pick up the ace?” “I wanted you to have it.” I was really ticked off; love was one thing, but one does NOT throw the game.

It’s too small a sample to be statistically valid, but I can tell you that the women I dated back in the day — we won’t discuss “back in the night” — were more than delighted to beat the crap out of me at card games, board games, (almost) whatever.

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Frock vs. frolic

Unlike a few young actresses you could probably name, Dakota Fanning would rather you thought of her as strait-laced:

“I don’t do enough adventurous things, because I’m like, ‘I might get hurt.’ But when we were doing Night Moves, Peter [Sarsgaard], Jesse [Eisenberg], and I went to these hot springs in Oregon, and I didn’t have a bathing suit. The woman who worked there said, ‘Oh, not a problem. Clothing’s optional after 8pm.’ And I was like, ‘Whoa. No, no, no! Not doing that. Here. With any of you!’”

And she didn’t, either.

(Via Nudiarist.)

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This is not your grandfather’s Night Mare

“It is my duty,” Princess Luna told Scootaloo, “to come into your dreams.”

Princess Luna and Scootaloo

And that applies even if you’re a guy who sells comic books:

[I]n this dream, I was at the shop, looking at the sales of My Little Pony #1, and how quickly it had sold out, and I was lamenting how I didn’t raise the orders when I had the chance, the stupid thing had multiple covers on it, didn’t I realize people were going to want to buy full sets of all the covers? Plus, the Bronies. THINK OF THE BRONIES.

I awoke from this horrible nightmare, immediately sitting straight up and gasping for breath, heart racing, just like people never do when waking from nightmares except in movies, but that dream brought my concerns about the My Little Pony orders to the forefront of my thoughts. Yeah, there are multiple covers, and this is just the thing where the fans would buy one of each cover, and besides, this pony thing’s huge, it may be worth the risk to order crazy numbers on this thing. And, after talking it over with folks at the shop, and putting out feelers for customer interest, when it came time to do the couple-o-weeks-prior-to-release adjustments, crazy numbers were placed, nearly quadrupling our original order.

As it turned out, MLP:FiM #1 turned out to be the largest-selling title in publisher IDW’s 23-year history. How much of our dreamy comic-book guy’s triple-digit order was left? “About a half-dozen copies,” he says.

Somepony in Canterlot — no manes names mentioned — ought to give Luna a raise.

(Roger sent me that story, for which I thank him.)

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Beginner’s cluck

At first, I was going to dismiss this as just another plaintive wail from a clueless newbie:

Yahoo! Answers screenshot: I just bought a domain name to make a website, but now I need to make my website. Is there any web host that I can transfer my domain to, and get a free site? I do not want to pay anymore than I did. I am looking for a site builder and I want to transfer the domain. Once again I need a free web host, that will transfer my domain.

But that was before I noticed the user name — “First Choice Computer Services,” indeed — which suggests, or wants to suggest, far more in the way of technical chops than is in evidence. I’ve heard of starting businesses on a shoestring, but most of those guys actually had shoes.

Alternatively, this may be “choice” in the cattle-business sense: one grade below prime.

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Focus on the product

The Belle-Sharmeer approach here is to show you the goods, the whole goods, and (almost) nothing but the goods:

Belle-Sharmeer hosiery ad

There were about a dozen ads in this series — this one appeared in 1954 — which promoted the availability of the product in four sizes. The largest size, for some reason, is called “Classic,” which at least has the advantage of not sounding particularly pejorative.

Wayne Knitting Mills, as suggested by the name, grew up in Fort Wayne, Indiana; the shots, however, were called by Munsingwear, which bought them out in 1923.

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You’ll feel better in the morning

Will Truman has the best one-liner of the week, even if it does exceed a single line by a hair:

People with low self-esteem rush to the defense of damaged brands. That might explain my continued — albeit waning — affiliation with the Republican Party.

I sympathize.

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The interminable Cute Factor

Conventional wisdom has it that men grow distinguished, while women merely grow older, and at least one contemporary doctrine contends that this is an inevitable consequence of patriarchal privilege; I tend to believe that we guys simply give less of a damn. But this may be changing:

I think the historical discrepancy between men and women’s level of concern for their own attractiveness may be shrinking. A woman with money and power and a life she enjoys may be interested in her appearance, but less so than if everything in her life depended on being attractive to men, particularly after a certain age. No highly experienced professional woman really gives much of a hoot whether she can look like Eva Longoria, any more than a successful man wastes much time wishing he were a young Brad Pitt. A powerful woman in public life just hopes her looks are respectable enough that we can change the subject and consider something else; Elizabeth Warren easily passes this test, while Hillary Clinton, unluckily for her, does not.

Of course, if actual physical appearance mattered all that much in politics, Sarah Palin would be starting her second term right about now, and she’d surely have a wardrobe consultant at taxpayer expense. I suspect that a substantial portion of the electorate — maybe half, maybe more — doesn’t care.

Update/Disclosure: After I first read the passage quoted above, my first thought was “Yeah, but look how much younger Warren is.” Eight, ten years? Two. Which proves, I suppose, that I can jump to conclusions at least as well as someone half my age.

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Just south of Twenty-Fecund

Odd little story in yesterday’s Oklahoman:

One particular two-story house in the 200 block of NW 17 has two sets of porch steps. They call it “The Twin House.”

Who calls it that? The last three families to live there. These families either moved into the house with twins, found out they were expecting twins while living there, or found out and had twins born while living at 209 NW 17.

Of course, what we’re all dying to know is this: How will that affect resale value? Quips a former resident (and father of twins): “I have buddies that won’t even drive down that block anymore.”

Addendum: Fishersville Mike recalls:

Reminds me of my family’s first house.
We had three boys.
In 1977, we sold to a family with three boys.
They sold to a family with two boys.
The wife said — no more kids.

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Feel the steak

This particular utterance by Francis W. Porretto seems unusually pertinent to me and to the fictional realm in which I’ve been working:

A sound story will illuminate one or more of the eternal verities. It’s an element as necessary as a cast of characters: the “steak” of the fictional product. But the entertainment value of the story will arise from how cleverly and imaginatively the writer casts the conflicts that envelop his protagonists: the “sizzle” that will draw the reader into the tale, and will cause him to seek out that writer’s works in the future. Though he would spurn a writer who failed to provide a goodly portion of “steak,” the intelligent reader becomes a fan of a particular writer almost entirely because of the “sizzle.”

And we who write are fully aware of it.

Over in the ponyverse, a subset of said sizzle is referred to, perhaps ungrammatically, as “feels”: the implication is that we respond robotically in the absence of same. Forty percent of the way through The way she used to be, I drew this reader comment:

Even at this stage in the proceedings, the feels are starting to flutter. Not full, tear-jerking feels, but I have a feeling that they’ll be getting there.

Even though due attention was paid to certain eternal verities — kindness is eventually rewarded, sex for the sake of sex is not necessarily a bargain, and broken hearts are at least somewhat mendable — I’d likely have lost this reader, and undoubtedly several others, were it not for regular tugs at the heartstrings. (No, not you, Lyra.) And this isn’t purely a function of the romance genre, either: Dead Pony Flying, which opens after the funeral of one of the Mane Six, seems like it ought to be immeasurably sad, yet the ending is downright triumphant, and sometimes I think I actually hear the smiles.

And the more I think about it, the happier I am about it. I’m sure, given proper instruction and a metric ton of reference materials, I could construct an intricate plot involving characters who’d rather be doing something else but are needed to impart a Great Moral Lesson — but who’d want to read it?

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Trefoiled again

Jonesing for some Girl Scout Cookies? There’s an app for that:

The Girl Scouts of the USA has just relaunched its Cookie Finder app, a tool that can help you locate the sweet treats in your area.

The Cookie Finder app uses your location to help you find where and when Girl Scout cookies are being sold in your area. The app also includes lots of details about the various cookies available and users are encouraged to vote on their favorites. The app encourages sharing and lets you post your favorite cookies and where they are being sold to Facebook and Twitter.

Like I’m going to admit to eating three boxes of Samoas.

Apparently the Android version lags the iOS version in features, for now.

And this filly showed up in this past weekend’s My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic:

Girl Scout pony

No name yet, though reddit is working on it. (Via Derpibooru.)

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#interdit

Le Commission Générale de Terminologie et de Néologie has now taken l’umbrage over the word “hashtag,” and while French Twitter users will not necessarily have Le Commission looking over their shoulders as they type or text, the government-approved term is now “mot-dièse”: “sharp word.”

This doesn’t sound so sharp to me, but hey, it’s France; they’ve got a language to preserve, after all, and un-French terms like “email” and “Quarter Pounder with Cheese” are just so déclassé.

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No accounting for Word

Not too long ago, I tossed up a remark about Microsoft Word’s word-count feature, which I admittedly have never used. I assure you, I had no idea it was this bad:

If you go through File | Properties and choose the Statistics tab, you get a word count, but it omits all of the footnotes (or endnotes). As far as I can see, there is no way to customize it to make it count the notes.

There is, of course, an alternative:

There is another way to get a wordcount, which is to go through Tools | Word Count, and this has the stupid behavior as its default: it will omit footnotes and endnotes unless you check a box.

But wait:

Although checking that box makes the latter wordcount include the notes, this makes it incompatible with the other way of getting a wordcount, so that the two give different numbers.

It’s a sad day when the premier (supposedly) word processor is more concerned with the process than with the words.

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In future America, car drives you

Some of the way, maybe. James Lileks finds instances when this might not be such a good idea:

GPS and sensible routes cannot take into account Strategy. For example: When I come out of Trader Joe’s and head north on France, there’s four lanes. Just about everyone is heading for Target. Just about everyone gets into the right lane six or seven blocks ahead of their destination. The most efficient way to get to Target is to get in the left lane, cruise ahead of everyone, and make a series of safe, signaled turns that take me into the right lane ahead of everyone who’s starting and stopping and poking along. I never have to make a cruel merge and wedge in — something that would require The Wave of Thanks — because there’s space. If there isn’t, I stick to the left lane, turn left — the opposite direction I wish to go — and swing around a parking lot so I come at the street from the other direction. Computers cannot make that sort of decision. It’s illogical.

But driving is illogical, because it’s intuitive. You get a feel for the streets. You read the traffic; you forecast behavior.

And is Google going to pony up because their algorithms decided you didn’t really need to make a Cruel Merge some morning and you wound up with a garland of guardrail? Hold not thy breath, O Future Driver.

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Strange search-engine queries (365)

It’s Monday morning, so it’s time to dance our way through the system logs, picking up search strings as we go. Does it make any difference? What if it does?

“too picky” “men to work out”:  Given the widely reported current state of American health, perhaps we should be grateful they’re working out at all.

she turns invisible when in water:  Which made her attempt to make the Olympic tryouts somewhat anticlimactic.

how to vanish hello kitty from the face of the earth:  Immerse her in water, maybe?

diane lane sex:  I think it’s a fairly safe bet that she’s had it.

“matt pinto” “creepy”:  Well, maybe, if you’re dreaming of Diane Lane and suddenly you hear “Cha-ching, a Thunder money ball!”

nifty perforce not working in 2101:  I suspect very little of what we have now will be working in 2101.

“it’s friday, friday” “b major”:  And b looking forward to the weekend.

salty iguana gay receipt:  As a rule, if someone sends me an iguana, my first concern is not going to be its sexual orientation.

waste of oxygen joke:  And yet people do go on about carbon dioxide.

did the political fools hear rachel bull from boston lincs tell the rotten truth of their dam handy work:  It was a dam site worse than they said it was.

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And a star to steer it by

“It,” in this case, being a ball of dung:

Once a beetle (Scarabaeus satyrus) has constructed its dung ball, it moves off in a straight line in order to escape from rival beetles as quickly as possible, lest they try and steal its carefully crafted ball. This behaviour doesn’t sound complicated, but several years ago, Marie Dacke of Lund University in Sweden and colleagues showed that polarised light from the moon is important for dung beetles to keep to a straight line.

Take away the moon, and the beetles should careen wildly down the trail, right? Wrong. It’s not the moon at all:

By switching stars on and off, Dacke discovered that the glowing strip of the whole Milky Way was what guided the beetles’ movement. “Before it was assumed insects could not use the stars because their eyes don’t have the resolution to see them,” she says. Navigating using the whole of the Milky Way does away with the need to see individual stars.

There’s something sort of enchanting about this, as though the stars were going out of their way to make life easier for bugs.

(Via Bayou Renaissance Man.)

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Lakers apparently refreshed

You think the Lakers have learned that they do better when it’s not a one-man show? The new-look Los Angeles offense — let Kobe run things, but insist that he pass if he’s double-teamed — worked almost to perfection today, and it doomed the Thunder, who’d played the Lakers more or less even through three and a half quarters but could not keep up the rest of the way. The final was 105-96, and it would have been much worse if Dwight Howard could actually hit free throws.

Seriously. The Lakers actually shot better from the floor (55.4 percent) than they did from the stripe (55.2). Still, D12 came up with eight points and ten rebounds, and half a dozen of his teammates hit double figures. Kobe Bryant was downright three-dimensional, coming up one rebound short of a triple-double (21 points, 14 assists, nine boards). What was most remarkable, though, was that Pau Gasol’s recent demotion to the bench — Earl Clark has been starting at power forward — didn’t make any difference to Gasol’s line: 16 points in 35 minutes. (Clark scored 11 in slightly less than 23.)

For a moment there, I thought Russell Westbrook was going to land a double-double without ever hitting any shots: he went one-for-everything early on and couldn’t buy a bucket to save his life, despite getting some good looks. He wound up, like Kobe, a board short of a triple-double; unlike Kobe, Westbrook shot a feeble 6-22 for 17 points. Kevin Durant did what he could to take up the slack, snagging a solid 35 for the day, but there was entirely too much “If all else fails, hoist a trey,” since those treys were falling everywhere except through the net. OKC did manage to hold on to the ball most of the time, logging only nine turnovers, but too often they didn’t do anything with it after not losing it.

It will take a few days to live this down, and guess who’s coming to town on Thursday? Yep: the Grizzlies. There’s a distinct lack of gimmes in this part of the schedule.

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