Trump needs plumbers

There must be some reason why the White House seems to be leaking like a big sandstone sieve, and the President must accept the responsibility:

After some thought, based on things I’ve read and heard about how Trump likes to do business, I realized that one of his main approaches is to take opinions and advice from all sides of an issue, and then make a final decision himself. He’s been doing it this way for decades, generally successfully.

So it may be nothing more than habit, a matter of not fixing something that doesn’t seem broken. But what I now fear is that Trump doesn’t understand that inviting Deep State swamp creatures into the pool, merely to get their sides of an issue, is being viewed by them as the President stupidly exposing his jugular to their long knives, which they then cheerfully wield to leak his political lifeblood in gushers to the NYT.

Frankly, Trump’s protests about the leakers seem a bit hollow to me, given that apparently he has invited many of those leakers into his own house and invited them to fill’er up from his own veins. I guess the short version is that I’ll believe he is really concerned about leaks when he starts acting as if he is concerned about leaks, and not just talking about how concerned he is.

Which, inevitably, means that some of the sneakier staff members will have to be flushed. You’d think that Donald J. Trump, of all people, would know how to fire someone.

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Seriously, we do not discriminate

A local medical group sent me a flyer on behalf of one of their member physicians, who apparently is taking new patients. I was curious enough to pull up their Web site, and across the very bottom was the de rigueur Notice of Nondiscrimination. And by gum, they want you to be able to read it:

Lots of languages

You’ll probably have to embiggen it — click on it to blow it up to twice the size — to read all of those. My browser blew off the Burmese, rendering it as a row of ten squares. And the Cherokee entry is not rendered in the standard Cherokee syllabary, but in a phoneticized version. I guess I’m surprised they didn’t give us a version in Esperanto. (Not that we have any native speakers of Esperanto in the neighborhood.)

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A new low for Florida Man

As fuzzy thinking goes, this is some of the fuzziest:

A Florida man killed his fellow neo-Nazi roommates after he converted to Islam and they did not respect his new faith, police said.

Devon Arthurs led cops to the bodies of his former friends on Friday, but not before he also allegedly held two customers and an employee of Tampa’s Green Planet Smoke Shop hostage with a pistol before he surrendered.

Jeremy Himmelman, 22, and Andrew Oneschuk, 18, were discovered dead of gunshot wounds to the upper body and head, police said.

Arthurs said that he and the pair had “shared a common neo-Nazi belief,” but that he recently converted to Islam.

If anyone ever deserved to be buried in six feet of chitterlings, it’s this guy.

“You’d have to kill him first.”

Your point being … ?

(Via Daniel Tobin.)

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Let’s not call her “Catgirl”

Three minutes into this project, I had two problems. The first was purely a matter of identification: she’s not Carmen, but Camren Bicondova. (Dyslexia can warn without striking.) The second, propriety: she’s eighteen years old today, which means that anything I might post about her dates from a time before she was eighteen. Noting that she has steady work — she’s Selina Kyle on Fox’s Gotham, going into Season Four this fall — and that the mean streets of Gotham City presumably would age anyone prematurely, I decided I’d go for it. Besides, she’s been working since she was six, when she took her first dance classes.

Camren Bicondova at Wizard World Comic Con Chicago 2014

Camren Bicondova waits by the gate

Camren Bicondova at AOL Build 2016

Camren’s dance troupe, 8 Flavahz, took second place in season seven of MTV’s America’s Best Dance Crew. Here, she busts some solo moves while Pharrell wails:

And hey, if you’re going to be Catwoman some day, you need moves like that.

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Should spirits lurk, upon whom shalt thou call?

Ministers of Grace book coverNow this is how you remake Ghostbusters:

The original 1984 Ghostbusters film is an absolute gem. Some would go as far as calling Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis’ script brilliant. But is it possible that someone has found way to make it even more brilliant? Author Jordan Monsell has turned the Ghostbusters script into a work of Shakespearean proportions. That’s to say he translated the entire thing into iambic pentameter and period prose!

His recently released book, Ministers of Grace: The Unauthorized Shakespearean Parody of Ghostbusters, fuses the amazingness of Ghostbusters’ structure, plot and characterization with William Shakespeare.

This definitely goes onto my next book order, and should do much to expunge the memory of the recent film remake, which was a disaster of Biblical proportions.

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Where the scales fail

A friend of long standing — coming up on twenty years — delivered this plaintive wail on Facebook:

I despise clothes shopping.

Most people are between sizes. I am between that “This is so my style and I love it and want it but it’s for 25 year olds” and “This is probably what I should wear but I’m not ready to fast forward 25 years because OMG these prints are so freakin’ dowdy but they’re for women your age” stage.

So I bought an umbrella.

Eminently sensible, she is.

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Online abandonment issues

Is it just me, or does this guy seem awfully damn needy?

I’m the kind of person that likes to communicate with others, especially my friends. I feel very anxious when I come face to face with a “seen”. In some cases I can understand, example when the last text kinda ends the subject or conversation.

But when there’s an opportunity to continue the conversation or my last text was something that required to be answered, I just start over thinking and start wondering things like “Did I do something wrong?”, “Was I too boring?”, “Did they have to leave and just didn’t have time to tell me?”, etc.

Notice that he leaves off things like “Will you just shut up fercrissake?” This is the most futile kind of attention whore: the one who doesn’t notice that he’s not actually getting paid.

If someone from the Department of Getting a Life left him one on the porch, he’d probably toss it into the trash without even opening it.

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Strange search-engine queries (590)

If you’re new around here, let us fill you in on what happens in this weekly feature. A substantial percentage of traffic to this site consists of searchers, be they from Google, Yahoo!, Bing, DuckDuckGo, or any of several others. What they may be searching for, we don’t know until we look through the logs; and if we’re lucky, we’ll find something worth passing on. (And yes, I suppose we’re always lucky; we wouldn’t be in the 590th installment if we hadn’t been.)

my cadillac 2005 sts makes a snapping sound coming from the rear and leans what could it be:  A very large repair bill.

devon knows that there are 3 teaspoons (tsp) in 1 tablespoon (tbsp). his cookie recipe calls for 6 tbsp of honey. which expressions can be used to find the number of tsp in 6 tbsp?  Enough of a frown to get parental attention.

the things that michelle gave up from her decision are called the:  Tablespoons of honey.

aprilbugs:  Immature form of junebugs.

brad pitt astrology:  He’s a Sagittarius, just like me. (Well, he’s a Sagittarius, anyway.)

tumblr bimbo milf:  You don’t ask much, do you?

quoth the raven 404:  Lenore must have been more lost than we thought.

spoony’s brother killed a man:  Just to watch him die?

the cramped quarters migrant boat:  Well, yeah. Migrants seldom can afford cabin cruisers.

new six:  For when those old V8s are banned.

amazon service error 1002:  It’s your fault. Amazon is never wrong.

a manufacturer wishes to make tee-shirts for the band dixie chicks. they sell for $12 each:  Not in the real world, they don’t.

armadillo syphilis:  They’re gonna love this down at the clinic, I just know it.

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Not what you’d call a losing streak

From People, 9 June 1975:

Jagger and the Stones have endured at the top longer than any other rock band, but as for the future, Jagger admits that it could all suddenly end. “I only meant to do it for two years. I guess the band would just disperse one day and say goodbye. I would continue to write and sing, but I’d rather be dead than sing ‘Satisfaction’ when I’m 45.”

Sir Mick Jagger, one month short of his 70th birthday:

I’m thinking he’s changed his mind.

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Déjà scrutiny

Six months ago, I got my newly-increased auto-insurance bill; five months ago, I was advised of a decrease (by $24.70) in the semiannual premium. I figured the next time around, they’d raise it back to the previous amount.

Well, they didn’t. It’s just the same as the final version of the last bill. It’s still a trifle pricey; but then, being a defensive person by nature, I tend to load up on the coverages.


Resurrection songs

Cover art for The Dolls of New Albion: A Steampunk OperaMark Swetz had been asking himself for some time: “How do you open performance to those with low, no and full vision?” The question of “blind spectatorship” became a topic for research, and eventually a thesis. Part of Swetz’ research, though not formally a part of that thesis, was a musical he commissioned from composer Paul Shapera, first performed in 2012. The Dolls of New Albion: A Steampunk Opera runs just under an hour and a half, and of necessity it’s on the wordy side, so that it’s not necessary to have access to the visuals to comprehend the story.

Brief overview, so to speak:

The 1st Act is concerned with a scientist, Annabel McAlistair, and her attempt to bring back her dead love, placing him within the body of a mechanical mannequin. The 2nd Act follows her son Edgar, the 3rd Act his son Byron and the 4th Act Priscilla McAlistair. Each generation’s meddling with these Dolls contributes to the gradual fall of New Albion itself.

Jasper, Annabel’s object of fixation, only once actually noticed her; it turns out that he was already committed to another in an arranged marriage. That marriage did not go well, and when Jasper died, Annabel put her scientific (and beyond, perhaps) knowledge to bring him back, bring him to her.

This gets seriously complicated over the four generations of McAlistairs, as Annabel’s work, the work she’d tried to suppress, was eventually discovered by Edgar, who decided to go into business as the local re-animator. It made him a fortune; unfortunately, his wealth went to his head. Meanwhile, more and more Dolls were being created from the souls of New Albion’s deceased.

You can follow this rather easily from the audio. (Paul Shapera has put it up for sale at Bandcamp; he’s asking $10, and he got it from me.) And yes, you can watch a performance.

(With thanks to Roger Green.)

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Let the chips name the paint

Seemed like a good idea at the time:

So if you’ve ever picked out paint, you know that every infinitesimally different shade of blue, beige, and gray has its own descriptive, attractive name. Tuscan sunrise, blushing pear, Tradewind, etc… There are in fact people who invent these names for a living. But given that the human eye can see millions of distinct colors, sooner or later we’re going to run out of good names. Can AI help?

For this experiment, I gave the neural network a list of about 7,700 Sherwin-Williams paint colors along with their RGB values. (RGB = red, green, and blue color values) Could the neural network learn to invent new paint colors and give them attractive names?

Short answer: Yes, but no.

Slightly longer answer: Look at these and judge for yourself:

Paint colors invented by a neural network

Neither Sherwin nor Williams, I suspect, has much to worry about.

(Via Ars Technica.)

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Word salad with no dressing

Most comment spams are incomprehensible.

Most personal ads are incomprehensible.

Now combine the two and you have this thing, dropped into my mailbox this week:

Smart, crazy, funny, wanting and eventually still mature. I’m 5-3 midium built with stunted wavey black hair. I smell good. I pet good and yes, I am attractive. With very light peel (IRISH) and Honeybrown eyes (Mexican) I have a greats ense of humor and when your sad or up-end, I will shape you laugh. Looking looking for joy and excitment, would infatuation to arrange pleasure I am finishing up my considerably in college, dearth to have nonsense in between. Not looking in the direction of A LTR.

The rest is sufficiently disquieting to justify throwing it under the jump:

Read the rest of this entry »

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A definitive femme fatale

Scene: Beside a roulette wheel.

Jeff: That’s not the way to win.
Kathie: Is there a way to win?
Jeff: There’s a way to lose more slowly.

You need to explain film noir to someone, you could practically do it with those three lines from Out of the Past, a 1947 thriller starring Robert Mitchum and Jane Greer. You may be certain that what goes around eventually comes around.

Jane was originally “Bettiejane,” but truncated her name shortly after turning 21. “It’s a sissy name,” she said, and maybe it was for someone who was already doing darkish films.

Jane Greer in late November

Jane Greer in late October

Jane Greer in a good mood

Jane Greer by the pool

A pertinent scene from Out of the Past:

Speaking of things coming around, Out of the Past was remade in 1984 as Against All Odds, perhaps best known for its weedy Phil Collins theme. Jane Greer was in that too, as the mother of the femme fatale character played by Rachel Ward. Still a working actress, she went on to do three episodes of Twin Peaks (!), in which she played the mother of Norma Jennings (Peggy Lipton). Alas, she won’t be in Twin Peaks: The Return, which starts on Showtime tomorrow; she died of cancer in 2001, aged 76.


Keepers of the sacred tablets

Welcome to Rare Disease Month. (Actually, I think that was February, but no matter.) This should make the producers of the few remaining soap operas very, very happy. Look what it did for ABC’s General Hospital:

A recent plot twist … had one character not just getting any cancer, but polycythemia vera (PV), a myeloproliferative neoplasm (MPN). In other words, a rare form of blood cancer for which the standard treatment is blood-letting and anticoagulants.

The TV patient, not satisfied with this prognosis, demands of the doctor, “This protocol sounds like you are treating the symptoms of this cancer; how do we beat it?” “I have to keep going to bloodlettings for the rest of my life?”

Now that’s the beginning of a story arc for the ages. And there’s technical assistance to be had:

Why is GH highlighting this incredibly specific cancer? It’s ostensibly the culmination of a partnership between a company called the Incyte Corporation and the producers of the show to raise awareness for MPNs as part of rare disease month.

Or, you know, not:

But in an opinion piece published this week in medical journal JAMA, Dr. Sham Mailankody of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Dr. Vinay Prasad of Oregon Health & Science University argue that this is really just stealth advertising for Incyte, which just so happens to make only one FDA-approved product, ruxolitinib, which (you can probably see where this is going) is used to treat MPNs, including PV.

Doesn’t sound like an off-label usage. What’s the problem?

But the fictional circumstances could make it seem like ruxolitinib is a first-line therapy for PV, which it is not, the doctors note.

“Instead it has a precise and narrow indication,” they write, explaining that the drug is approved only for patients with an inadequate response or intolerance to chemotherapy, who are dependent on blood-letting, and who have an enlarged spleen.

“Thus, if PV is rare, appropriate use of ruxolitinib in PV should be rarer still,” the doctors say.

On the other hand, you’re not going to see routine stuff like mere strep on General Hospital, fercrissake. And you don’t want to know how much Jakafi (the brand name under which ruxolitinib is sold) is going to cost.

Oh, you do? I checked prices in my neighborhood, and we’re talking $2,800.

For fourteen tablets.

Two hundred bucks, give or take a dollar or three, per tab. If you’re going to be able to afford that, it probably helps to have a steady gig on an ABC soap.


Gotta have my bowl, gotta have cereal

If this describes you, and you’re somewhere near Los Angeles, polish up your personal custom spoon and go for it:

[N]ow, LA residents can enjoy a bowl of cereal in a brand new cereal bar in the Virgil Village neighborhood. The bar is called Cereal and Such, and was opened by musician, producer, and fashion designer Theo Martins, who moved to LA just five years ago to get more involved with the city’s art scene.

Martins opened up Cereal and Such in a refurbished shack in the back patio of a clothing store called Virgil Normal, Eater reports. Cereal and Such opened on May 5 and started selling bowls of cereal at $4 a pop, along with a menu of coffee, tea, and t-shirts. The cereal menu will move in a rotation of six different cereals, and there will always be one vegan and gluten-free option for those with diet restrictions to enjoy. While on tour in Japan this month, Martins says he will bring back cereal from his trip to sell at the bar.

L.A.’s best-known cereal-eater is not likely to put in an appearance, having (on video!) admitted that she doesn’t really like cereal.

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