12/12/12 open thread

I mean, it’s not like we’re going to have a day like this next year.

Possible objective: In the last five open threads, the largest number of comments received has been, um, 12.

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A timely broom

NewsOK.com has revamped its comment system again, this time for quality-assurance purposes:

[F]ar too often in far too many stories, the comments contain vitriolic, hateful and attacking language. Far too often, those comments overwhelm those attempting to have constructive dialogue.

So beginning today, NewsOK is making changes designed to improve the nature and tone of the dialogue for its audience. We’re switching to Facebook commenting, requiring users to login with their Facebook account in order to make a comment on an article.

Facebook, in my experience, is a hair stricter than Disqus. (I’m quite used to both, and I have my real name tied to both, so this bothers me not in the least.)

The ultimate motivation, it appears, is to disperse the crowd of loudmouthed blithering idiots:

We care about the conversation. We care so much about the conversation that we are willing to give up quantity for quality. We expect this change to result in fewer comments on our site. But we also expect this change to encourage more users to participate. And we’re confident that we will see more constructive discourse about issues in Oklahoma.

Why? Because all the comments will be tied to a real person’s Facebook profile, making users accountable for what they post and eliminating the veil of anonymity.

There are, of course, reasons why one might want to remain anonymous on the Net. But commenting on a news site isn’t one of them. (If you aspire to be a whistleblower, you’re going to accomplish more by tweeting a reporter than you will by throwing up a comment.)

And besides, this is the way they do it on Oklahoman.com already, not that anyone ever comments there.

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Decruiting station

Nudism, as an institution, perhaps has passed its shelf date:

[I]t only hinders progress. Because history has shown us that the original goal of nudism has run its course and has impacted society as much as it could. So let’s move on. Let’s not label ourselves with titles that shove us into boxes. Are you gay? Is your entire identity consumed with being attracted to people of the same gender? See? Labels are silly. The same is true with nudism.

In general, it’s not useful to define yourself in terms of any one single characteristic, unless said characteristic is actually how you make a living. But even then, one hopes for something more. An off the cuff, so to speak, interview with Susan Weaver, president of the American Association for Nude Recreation, basically tells me nothing other than that she’s in her early sixties and probably doesn’t have any clothes on right this minute. Of course, that’s all she wanted to say right then — business is business, after all — but it’s an awfully narrow portrait. And shouldn’t she be sitting on a towel? But I digress.

(Nudiarist relayed this without further comment.)

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Perhaps you’d like one of these

Meryl Yourish researches a book, and all sorts of people are looking over her shoulder:

I was trying to find an Egyptian cat pendant in a museum or antiquities collection. I had to use advanced search methods and then some in order not to get results that showed cat pendants in museum stores (or not in museum stores — Google was trying desperately to get me to buy a cat pendant, it seemed).

And if not Google, then who? Amazon, that’s who:

Last night, I ordered a few things on Amazon. And in my “People who bought this would also like” list was — Egyptian cat pendants. The very same links that kept showing up in my search attempts. Clearly, Google and Amazon are trading information.

At least they didn’t get any revenue out of it — this time.

And oh, she was researching for her second book. Here’s the first.

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Those shadows aren’t so tall

Once again, it’s that time of year:

Classic rock radio stations — both on terrestrial and satellite radio — will present their “Greatest Rock Songs of All Time” list, also known as “Why Do We Even Have You Send In Your Votes When The List Is The Same Every New Year’s Eve?” holiday playlist. You know, the one where the listeners send in their top five or ten classic rock songs, the station tallies up the votes and you get a bunch of people rocking into New Year’s Eve to “Stairway to Heaven.” Sometimes a new song will poke its head into the list but more often than not it’s something like Nickelback, which tells you all you need to know about the people sending in their ballots.

Is there anyone over the age of twelve who does not already have a copy of “Stairway to Heaven”? The older ones probably ponied up for the fourth Zeppelin album, the younger ones probably heisted it from some Web site with “mp3″ in its URL; but regardless of demographic, nobody can possibly have been waiting a whole year to hear this drippy Druid chestnut.

If I have to count down to the New Year with classic rock, I’m starting at 11:51:30 pm on the 31st, with a single song — which, albeit in butchered form, was actually issued as a single, which “Stairway” generally wasn’t, except for a handful of DJ promo 45s — that ends with a proper burst of noise instead of a plaintive solo voice lost in the dropping of the ball. Meet the new year, same as the old year.

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Textual obeisance

If you’re working on the backend of official North Korean Web sites — although if you can read this, you’re probably not — you already know this rule:

There’s a curious quirk on every official North Korean website. A piece of programming that must be included in each page’s code.

Its function is straightforward but important. Whenever leader Kim Jong-un is mentioned, his name is automatically displayed ever so slightly bigger than the text around it. Not by much, but just enough to make it stand out.

The US being more or less overrun with officials with similarly high opinions of themselves, I suspect this practice will become common on dot-gov sites in the near future.

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Microevolution

This is a vintage photo of Yasmine Bleeth:

Yasmine Bleeth

And this is why.

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Role models?

There exists a site called I Write Like, which offers, in exchange for a brief commercial message about a software package, to read your text and compare its style, if any, to that of a Well-Known Author. I sent up three different chapters from three different stories and got three different results, which suggests, if nothing else, a general lack of stylistic consistency.

For the curious:

  • Chapter 6 of The Sparkle Chronicles: Dan Brown.
  • Chapter 1 of The way she used to be: Neil Gaiman.
  • Entirety of Dead Pony Flying: Anne Rice.

Then again, there are likely only a dozen or so possible responses by the algorithm: it’s unlikely that anyone using the site will be told that she writes like E. L. James or Sinclair Lewis or Laurence Sterne.

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Strange search-engine queries (358)

Google has a function called SafeSearch, which supposedly removes from your results anything that might cause you to gasp in horror. Fortunately for me, they have yet to implement a SaneSearch, which would presumably filter out all the material that shows up here on Monday morning.

What book is Sela Ward reading or read leatle?  I have no idea. And stop calling me Leatle.

“hype is the death of all sub-culture”:  True. But it’s also the birth of all sub-culture. What goes around, comes around.

gillian anderson chin:  In compliance with the standard for humans, a few inches below her mouth. (Jay Leno has an exemption.)

nadja auermann gal:  Well, she’s certainly not a guy.

say you love me you don’t have to mean it:  Department of Heartaches. Please hold.

where can i find tweety bird air fresheners in saint louis:  What are the chances this guy has a Sylvester decal on his quarter-panel?

14ee bust:  Something just seems wrong about that.

she didn’t like it:  Yeah, that’s what she said.

626 transmission whine no movement:  That would certainly make me whine.

96 mazda 626 transmission fails when?  The moment it hears you whine.

what makes 82 cents:  You or I, after taxes.

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Back to Circleville with you

You never know with these Indiana Pacers. They can’t score, supposedly; yet they shot a stirring 60 percent in the first half. Then you look at the Oklahoma City defense, and in those two quarters, you could see holes as bad as anything perforating May Avenue pavement. “Don’t do that,” Scott Brooks presumably said at the half, and for most of the second half, OKC didn’t do that, holding the Pacers to 37 points and nailing down a 104-93 win.

Despite the second-half defensive clampdown, all the Indiana starters made double figures, led by David West with 21. The bench, however, didn’t accomplish much, contributing only 20. Roy Hibbert, who isn’t having the kind of year you’d hope for from someone who expects to be the next Dwight Howard, had a ten-point night, right at his average, though he did make both his free throws, something Howard doesn’t always do.

To be fair, the Thunder didn’t shoot that much better: 49 versus 46 percent. But OKC spent a whole lot of time at the foul line, making 25 of 30. (The Pacers were 11-13.) And this season, you can generally assume that either Russell Westbrook or Kevin Durant is going to take over in the fourth quarter. Tonight it was Westbrook, who recorded 21 points, seven rebounds, six assists and only two turnovers. (Ball control was better than average on both sides: OKC coughed up the rock nine times, the Pacers only seven.) Durant, despite hitting 9-24, still finished with 27. And Kevin Martin, who was all over the place in the first half, cooled down a bit in the second but still collected 24 for the night.

Next matchup is Wednesday, with the Pelicans Hornets coming in, followed Friday by the Virginians Kings. I should be able to catch at least one of those.

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The tragedy of the Fourth Font

What’s tragic about it, of course, is that it never should have happened in the first place:

Using more than three fonts is not a sign of talent; using more than three fonts is a sign of laziness and a sign that you simply own a “1,000 Great Fonts” disc. Using so many fonts doesn’t create more visual interest in a website or in a publication; it causes your eye to flit from font to font, never giving the eye a chance to take in what any of it says. A good designer allows the eye to rest and a rested eye can read, can appreciate.

Who knew there were a thousand great fonts?

(Disclosure: I have at hand, counting each variant and weight as one, 751 fonts. In practice, I may dig out twenty in a year’s time. On this page, I use, um, three.)

Obviously, something set me off. It was a professional organization’s newsletter. Completely assembled by an “experienced graphic designer”. Said designer does not even have their own website to display their handiwork or I’d send you there so you could point and giggle or shriek in horror. Said designer has another website, though, but I refuse to link to it since it’s so poorly designed (with all sorts of embedded players that start at the same time) it’ll crash even the hardiest of computers. It frightens me to think someone somewhere is paying such a person good money for work that has not evolved since 1985.

Of course, anyone can hang out his shingle as a “designer.” Then again, anyone who’s ever eaten in an Army mess knows to be suspicious of shingles.

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Classic motor cars

Some of these chassis require ancient Greece:

I was chatting with our bloggeress who mentioned she had rented a Honda Odyssey, and I wondered aloud why Honda had not made the Honda Iliad while they were at it.

Wouldn’t they have had to do the Iliad first?

A few other cars were similarly motivated: the now-defunct Pontiac Patroclus, and of course the trusty old Toyota Priam.

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Letting things slide

Cue Jack Jones and “Wives and Lovers,” and hear the Hyacinth Girl:

I know a lot of girls who think that it is their right and prerogative to relax their standards a bit after they’ve “secured” a male, and they could not be more wrong. You don’t have to maintain your birth weight throughout your entire life, or even look as “good” as you did in high school (I am so much better looking in my thirties than I was in my teens), but acting like you give a shit whether your partner finds you attractive is imperative. It’s a matter of respect. It says, “I still care what you think.” But a lot of women don’t really care what their partner thinks after a certain point, because a lot of women in our society feel they are entitled to do whatever the hell they want, and that no one — not even their partner — can say otherwise.

Then again, one could invert the gender references without necessarily changing the validity of the observation: Mr Davenport J. Spud, clutching his beer and watching the Bengals, is surely no more appealing than the becurlered hausfrau in the flannel robe.

And I suspect that if I’d maintained my birth weight — around 4 kg — for longer than a few months, I’d never have seen my first birthday, let alone my fifty-ninth.

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No cents whatsoever

“All my life I wanted to be someone. I guess I should have been more specific.” — Jane Wagner

A more-specific example of this:

Many years ago (1,413 to be exact), I worked for a small plastics company. I was up in the office wasting time and told the lady doing payroll to see if she could add a couple of extra zeroes to my paycheck that week. She laughed at my poor joke. Friday came and there to the right of the decimal were two perfectly penned zeroes in the third and fourth decimal places.

As anyone who’s heard the old joke about the genie and the three wishes can tell you, be careful what you ask for.

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Same old chestnuts to roast

The Christmas music on the radio starts in November, which means you have ample opportunity to get sick of it before the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. (Which, just incidentally, was today.)

And it’s pretty much the same old thing:

A friend noted on Facebook this evening the following: “Listening to christmas music on the radio I realized that every carol and song has been recorded in every style and genre possible.”

It got me thinking — why ARE there no new Christmas songs? Why am I listening to the exact same Christmas music that my dad (and probably my grandfather) listened to at my age, and much younger? I’m pushing 40 and I can definitely tell I haven’t heard any new songs since I was five.

As one of my favorite Jews once said: “Tradition!” The holidays are not a time for pushing the envelope; the holidays are a time for retreating to the safe and comfortable.

But yes, there’s one relatively recent Christmas song they probably won’t play on the radio, and that would be this one:

It’s the new reason for the season.

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Life is so unFerragamo

Francis W. Porretto answers the question I’ve been asked several times: “What’s the deal with women’s shoes?”

It’s got nothing to do with Freud. The shoe is the quintessential outward expression of female sexuality, at both its highs and its lows. Note the trend in shoe purchases by any woman of ordinary means, married or unmarried: the more interested in (and amenable to) sex she is, the more shoes she’ll purchase per unit time, and the more overtly sexual they’ll be. When she’s “on the prowl,” she’ll go for the highest heels, the most daring cuts, and the most eye-catching materials. Once she’s mated, her shoe choices on any day will signal her man to what extent she’ll be receptive to his amorous advances. As she ages and her interest in sex wanes, she’ll take to wearing ever less sexy shoes, regardless of what her Significant Other might have to say about it.

Not having been on anyone’s romantic radar for any significant period of time in the last quarter-century, I can offer no personal data either to support or to refute this notion.

Apparently much of the shoe chatter this weekend was provoked by Ann Althouse’s analysis of a Katie Roiphe piece in Slate. Having only recently finished Roiphe’s essay collection In Praise of Messy Lives, I am persuaded that Roiphe likely went through all that tsuris in Slate to justify a purchase of her own; and having examined at great length the obligatory author photo on the flyleaf, I think it was a fine thing indeed that she did.

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