Quote of the week

Africa need not be a pestiferous hellhole — except that folks of the David Attenborough stripe seem to prefer it that way:

The dirty little secret of Africa is that if you got rid of the TseTse fly and allowed irrigation, that Africa could become another Kansas (an area that was once called the “great American desert”, and where there was once a severe famine … now with irrigation, and modern variations of wheat developed in the Ukraine, it can feed the world).

Of course, David wouldn’t like that: it would mean prosperous farmers where his beloved animals now live.

As for all those starving children: David has an opinion about them too: “And we are blinding ourselves. We say, get the United Nations to send them bags of flour. That’s barmy.”

yeah. It was similar British Malthusian thinking that led to the millions of dead Irish in the potato famines of the 1840’s, where grain was exported and locals starved to death or died trying to migrate to other lands on “coffin ships”.

Of course, mankind is a blight upon the landscape — well, some of mankind, anyway. And it’s always amusing to see people trying to explain how it is that they, personally, are not.

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Old-school illin’

This concerned me for a moment:

Not an existential crisis, no: she was just, um, unwell.

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Like a Bosphorus

Spam, one should assume, comes in every language known to man and a few others I don’t even want to think about. I don’t remember ever getting one from the Turks. But here ’tis:

Merhabalar,

Şirketimizin organizasyonunu üstlendiği 05-06 Ekim 2013 Tarihinde Titanic City Otel / Taksim de gerçekleştirmeyi planladığımız Alanında uzman konuşmacı sayın Tolga Sasık tarafından verilecek olan “Bayi / Franchise Ağı Kurulumu ve Yönetimi” Konulu seminer bilgisini sizinle paylaşmak isterim.

Seminerde ele alınacak konu başlıkları aşağıdaki gibidir. Seminerimiz iki gün sürecek olup detaylı bilgi almak için 0850 225 61 30 numaralı telefondan bize ulaşabilirsiniz.

More or less:

Hi all,

5 to 6 October 2013, at the Titanic City Hotel in Taksim Square, we plan to feature expert speaker Tolga Sasik in the “Dealer / Franchise Seminar on Network Setup and Management” seminar, should you like to share information.

Below are the topics to be discussed at the seminar. It is a two-day seminar; for more information contact us at 0850 225 61 30.

Followed by pretty much the expected list of topics. The mailing is signed by Selma Uyar of Yeditepe University; I have no idea if it’s this Selma Uyar. And this might be Mr Sasik.

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A little more traveling music

Earlier this week, Jeffro put up a stack of songs which he says make his right foot get heavy. I was at a loss how to respond, since I have never bothered to make up any automotive playlists, although I did once upon a time gather some anecdotal evidence:

“Kick Out the Jams”, MC5: 14 mph over speed limit
“Happenings Ten Years Time Ago”, Yardbirds: 10 mph over
“7 and 7 Is”, Love: 9 mph over
“Get Me to the World on Time”, Electric Prunes: 7 mph over
“Purple Haze”, Jimi Hendrix: 5 mph over
“Sugar and Spice”, Cryan’ Shames (control): 2 mph over

“Next road trip,” I said, “Enya stays home.”

The little Noise Cube, my reworked and jailbroken Sansa ClipZip, contains at this writing 4,907 songs, which are shuffled into no discernible order. I note purely for historical interest that the last two times I decided I was going too damn fast for conditions, I was playing “Any Way You Want It,” the noisiest Dave Clark Five record, and “If I Could Fly,” a Joe Satriani number that has perhaps inspired others.

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In search of justification

I think we can pretty well imagine the answer this guy wants:

Should I pirate adobe after effects and flash cs6?

He continues:

I refuse to pay the high prices, I can’t afford it!!!! So, do you think I’d get caught if I pirated them?

One can only hope.

After CS6, there is only CC — the cloud-subscription version, for which you pay an annual fee — so if he’s planning to steal it, he presumably should do it now.

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Fark blurb of the week

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Three fingers, no waiting

Mordecai Brown had a good year for the Chicago Cubs in 1908: he finished with a 27-9 record and an ERA of 1.47. He was not in the rotation for the most important game of the season, though: Jack Pfiester, who’d just come back from a tendon injury, was selected to face the New York Giants and Christy Mathewson. But Pfiester faltered early, and Brown came on to shut the Giants down and win the NL pennant; Fred “Bonehead” Merkle, who’d made that game necessary, was not available for comment, and the Cubs subsequently went on to their second consecutive World Series victory, 4-1 over the AL’s Detroit Tigers.

I have to wonder what Brown, nicknamed “Three Finger” for the most obvious of reasons, might have thought about the signature feature of Microsoft Windows. Bill Gates regrets it:

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has finally admitted that forcing users to press the Control-Alt-Delete key combination to log into a PC was a mistake. In an interview at a Harvard fundraising campaign, Gates discussed his early days building Microsoft and the all-important Control-Alt-Delete decision.

“It was a mistake,” Gates admits to an audience left laughing at his honesty. “We could have had a single button, but the guy who did the IBM keyboard design didn’t wanna give us our single button.” David Bradley, an engineer who worked on the original IBM PC, invented the combination which was originally designed to reboot a PC. “I may have invented it, but Bill made it famous,” Bradley said in an interview previously, leaving Bill Gates looking rather awkward.

Of course, no one ever has to reboot a PC anymore, right?

Still, Ctrl-Alt-Del persists into Windows 8. And the Cubs haven’t won a World Series since, um, 1908.

(Via this Adam Gurri tweet.)

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Frost in the air

Yesterday I picked up the new version of iTunes and sampled one of Apple’s preset stations on iTunes Radio: the one billed as Chill Out-Ambient. This is not a genre with which I have a great deal of expertise, but it’s one of which I’m growing increasingly fond.

The first time through, I decided I would stick around through the first three commercials. (I am not a subscriber — yet — to iTunes Match, so I get the occasional promotional message. I may yet spend the $30 a year.) The third commercial arrived after one hour, forty-two minutes, so it’s not like Apple is cramming them all together like auto dealers on a Saturday.

The stream sounds pretty darn good; I can’t be sure if it’s the same quality as the actual for-sale tracks (AAC 256), but it’s close. And Apple, of course, gives you a buy button on each track as it goes by, should you be so motivated.

The one advantage of iTunes Radio, apparently, is that anything in the Store can also come down the stream. That’s a whole lot of selection.

I’ll try some other stations, and maybe make up some, later on.

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Leaving the junkyard behind

They’re not out of the woods yet by any means, but one of the Big 3 ratings firms — Moody’s — has upgraded General Motors’ corporate debt from junk status to investment grade.

It’s the bottom rung of investment grade — Baa3, in Moody’s parlance — but it’s above the psychological barrier, and that’s almost certainly going to matter the next time GM needs to borrow a few bucks.

The other two ratings firms, S&P and Fitch, still rate GM as junk, but fairly high junk.

As for the rest of Detroit, Ford made it out of Moody’s junkyard in the spring of 2012; Chrysler is not traded on public exchanges, but has filed for an initial public offering, mostly at the behest of the Voluntary Employees Benefit Association of the United Auto Workers, which would like to turn some of its 41.5-percent ownership of Chrysler into actual cash. (Fiat owns the other 58.5 percent.)

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Long live the King

First, an artifact which originated in the First (some claim “only”) Great Progressive Rock Era:

Now technically, this was not King Crimson, but a band of Crimson expats under the name “21st Century Schizoid Band”; however, all of them except the singer were at one time members of King Crimson, and Mellotron man Ian McDonald played on the original version in 1969. (If that’s Michael Giles on drums, and it looks like him, so did he.)

Apart from the fact that I absolutely adore this song and always have, this matters for one particular reason:

Prog magazine report that Robert Fripp has announced the reformation of King Crimson.

It will be the first time the band have been in action since 2008, and comes in contrast to a declaration made by Fripp last year that he would be retiring from the music industry.

And if you look at the new lineup, you’ll see the name of Jakko Jakszyk — and that’s who sang on that clip of “Epitaph.”

For Crimson 8.0 (I think), Fripp is deploying three drummers. Make of that what you will.

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Both sides of the news

I get enough traffic on this page to persuade me that there is lingering interest in that brief period (1964-1980) when there were competing newspapers in this town.

And to prove it:

OKCTalk has been working with the Atkinson Heritage Center and Rose State College to publish their entire library of old Oklahoma Journal newspapers. The center and college are the repository of these archives.

So far, they’ve digitized six days a week (no Sundays yet) starting with the first of October ’64, which was Volume 1, Number 41. The PDFs are not, of course, as clean as the Oklahoman’s current Print Replica, which is a model for the way these things should be done, but then nobody in 1964 was thinking that far ahead.

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Looks like breakfast

This one pretty much writes itself:

Visitors to a Surrey safari park have been asked not to wear animal print clothes after concern emerged that fake leopard print and tiger stripes might be confusing or even frightening the animals.

Zookeepers at Chessington World of Adventures noticed a change in behaviour of animals after the launch of a new attraction which allows visitors to be driven off-road through a 22-acre Serengeti-style reserve, where animals roam free.

Spokeswoman Natalie Dilloway said: “Animals are getting confused when they see what looks like zebras and giraffes driving across the terrain in a 7.5 tonne truck.”

Keepers reported that some animals had tried to communicate with visitors, while others had run away, fearing they were predators.

Although this may be the bottom line:

“Movement is also a key trigger. Big cats will start getting interested if someone limps past their enclosure because they look weak. Possibly the worst thing you could do is limp past the lion or tiger enclosure in a zebra print outfit.”

You are crunchy and go well with hummus.

(Via Fark.)

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A little something more

“Luxury,” says this vintage advertisement, “is that which completes the enjoyment of life.” Which is undoubtedly why we (for certain values of “we”) seek it out.

Advertisement for Prestige Hosiery

The manufacturers of the Prestige brand learned a hard lesson about market positioning. Prestige Ltd, based in Australia, had started up in 1922 as a manufacturer of top-quality goods; the company’s bankers and certain members of its board wanted a downmarket line for higher volume, and got it. In less than two years the company was foundering. Founder George Gotardo Foletta, who’d given up his seat on the board in protest, came back to mend their ways. The brand would survive until 1978, five years longer than Foletta did.

And once again, I contend that these old drawings have a distinct personality that fashion photography often lacks.

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And it’s after Labor Day, too

Teresa did some people-watching while on the road, and came up with a wide variety of one-liners, only one of which I’m going to quote here:

White Cotton sundress with spaghetti straps? It’s only about 50 degrees outside … you look ridiculous!

We can count on an incident like this every September or October, invariably on a day where it was about 70 that morning and the cold front that was supposed to come through that evening somehow managed to bust its way down the map before 3 pm, giving the poor woman the cold shoulder. (Or two.)

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Their number-one priority

Ed aims to please, and he’d damned well better, because he can be ticketed if he doesn’t:

Apparently, the new national character problem that’s being purged in China is men missing the toilet when urinating. This has been an issue for many years, and has usually just resulting in signs being posted above toilets reminding users to hit the mark or janitors armed with mops who clean up after each pisser who doesn’t quite get it all in the bowl. But Shenzhen just instituted a new law decreeing that any man who pisses outside the pot will be fined 100 RMB (around $16).

I followed that second link, and now I wish I hadn’t:

Chinese toilet discipline can be notoriously wayward, with pictures of people defecating in public sometimes appearing on weibo.

At the very least, they should fine someone twice as much for that.

(Via Hit Coffee.)

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No costumes

And they mean that in the old-fashioned sense of the word “literally”:

Shocktoberfest, a “haunted scream park” in Sinking Spring, Pa., has added an attraction called the “Naked and Scared Challenge.” For $20 per person, participants can experience the haunted house while being completely naked.

Now that’s a new wrinkle. But why?

“It’s the first time it’s ever been done anywhere in the world,” Shocktoberfest president and owner Patrick Konopelski told TODAY.com. “The whole idea is to create this vulnerability and get their defenses down. It can be hard to scare groups, and you usually have to get louder, more chaotic, and more tense, but now if they’re not wearing clothing, it can be more intimate. You can scare with a whisper rather than a scream because people will only huddle so close to one another.”

Would I go through this thing? Maybe. I’m squeamish about haunted houses anyway. Then again, the lighting is probably not so good, a decided advantage if you’re not used to nude venues, which I am not. (It’s one thing to chat up the neighbors in one’s back yard; it’s quite another to take on a dark room full of tan strangers.) It would be an easier decision, I suppose, if I could actually talk someone into going with me.

(As you might expect, from out of the tweetstream.)

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