Hey, defrost this

On the 25th of November, I went out to the garage and located my ice scraper. Amazingly, it was right where I’d left it back in March. Maybe someday I won’t have to do this sort of thing anymore:

Fed up with the dismal winter ritual of chiselling ice off their car windows, a group of engineering students from Waterloo, Ont. came up with a way to ensure they never have to scrape another windshield again.

What began as university project two-and-a-half years ago to solve a pet peeve has evolved into Neverfrost, a startup company that’s developed a transparent film for vehicle windows to prevent frost and deflect harsh elements like snow and freezing rain.

The concept has already grabbed the attention of the trucking industry and its founders are so confident in Neverfrost’s future that one of them brushed off a job at Facebook and another sidelined plans for grad school, to chase their dreams of making the ice scraper obsolete.

And this isn’t some crummy plastic like your neighbor’s kid has stuck on the inside of his windows so you can’t see him picking his nose at the wheel, either:

The film incorporates nano technology, or the manipulation of objects on a molecular level, to prevent the windshield surface from reaching the conditions necessary for condensation and temperatures low enough to freeze.

Neverfrost also claims to be resistant to the impact of stones and insulates the vehicle cabin from outside elements, which its founders say can lessen the scorching heat of the summer sun.

Heck, it’s too bad they can’t make a whole car out of the stuff.

(“The Nobel Prize is such a lock this year,” says the Fark submitter.)

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Lance’s revenge

You may remember Lance Thomas, a Thunder training-camp invite who actually made the team when the injury situation got out of hand. Eventually he was dealt to the Knicks in the three-team deal that brought Dion Waiters to Oklahoma City, with the expectation that New York would waive him. They did. But they signed him to a 10-day contract three days later, and another one when that one ran out. What better way for him to demonstrate his value to the Knicks than to lead them to a victory on his previous team?

It didn’t work out quite that way. Thomas is still, after all, a second-string player. But he had 17 of the 31 points scored by the New York bench, his season high, and the Knicks were up nine halfway through the fourth quarter. This is normally Kevin Durant’s cue; but KD is still sidelined with that toe jam, or whatever it is, and a 7-0 run by Russell Westbrook in just under 60 seconds was followed by ten in a row from New York, and as the phrase goes, that’s all she wrote. OKC would come no closer than five after that, and the Knicks earned their third straight win at the Garden, 100-92.

There’s a brace of Telltale Statistics here. Consider Westbrook’s line — 13-30 shooting for 40 points — and the assist count: NYC 29, OKC 10. It’s not so much that Westbrook was trying to play hero ball, although there were obvious moments when he was, but that nobody else could shoot either. Reggie Jackson had 13 points; Serge Ibaka 10 and 10 rebounds; the rest didn’t matter much. (Dion Waiters, you should know, finished with eight.) Oh, and 5-22 on three-pointers, versus 8-17 for New York.

What’s more, the Knicks, among the sorriest rebounders in the Association, hauled in 51 of them tonight, against 47 for the ostensible league leader. They took six more shots, made six more shots. And Carmelo Anthony was being Carmelo Anthony, racking up 31 points and 10 rebounds. Jason Smith had the other Knicks double-double, 11 points and 11 boards. And Tim Hardaway, the only other Knick reserve to score, got the 14 points that Lance Thomas didn’t.

So it’s back to .500 again, and the Grizzlies waiting Saturday night. Pray for snow. Or something.

Update, 29 January: Lance Thomas will be signed by the Knicks for the rest of the season.

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Whipped into a frenzy

Found this old ad at Miss Cellania’s, and as usual, it sent me off into a tangential tizzy:

Kraft ad for Miracle Whip

Miracle Whip, says the ad copy, combines “the best qualities of good old-fashioned boiled dressing and fine mayonnaise.”

“Boiled dressing” is apparently before my time, so I went hunting for a description, and found one:

A Boiled Dressing can be thought of as sort of a Hollandaise Sauce for fresh vegetables. It draws on the principle that eggs and vinegar will emulsify in a liquid and form a creamy concoction. The base is usually eggs, vinegar, and a liquid such as cream, milk or water. Some recipes also use a small amount of flour or cornstarch as a thickener. Seasonings such as dry mustard, sugar and salt are added. Later versions would include a tablespoon of olive oil, showing that it was becoming available, but was still a luxury item.

The one thing it isn’t, curiously, is “boiled”; it’s actually simmered over a double boiler.

Wikipedia yields up this historical note:

According to Kraft archivist Becky Haglund Tousey, Kraft developed the product in-house using a patented “emulsifying machine” (invented by Charles Chapman) to create a product blending mayonnaise product and less expensive salad dressing, sometimes called “boiled dressing.”

Miracel WhipHowever, this story is disputed.

In Germany, the Kraft Foods spinoff Mondelēz International sells Miracle Whip as, um, Miracel Whip, presumably to match up with pronunciation in der Vaterland, though that WH combination doesn’t look the slightest bit Teutonic. I have no idea if the formula is any different, though it seems at least plausible that Germany, or the European Union as a whole, might actually have regulations affecting pseudo-mayo; says that same Wikipedia article, the modified corn starch and the inevitable high-fructose corn syrup are derived from non-GMO corn, which presumably would be easier than getting a new variety of maize past the EU’s GMO controls.

(Parenthetically: Once upon a time I inquired of my Twitter followers if there were a low-fructose corn syrup; I was directed to the nearest bottle of Karo.)

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Drive them into the sea

Whatzername in Card Services apparently still has a job, but some of her far-flung brethren have been cast aside:

This is a telemarketing fundraising operation: The people who call you up and will exchange decals for some charitable organization or association, and after they collect the proceeds, they give something like 15% to the organization on whose behalf they’re calling.

Believe me. I did this for the space of three weekends when I was twenty-two.

Hopefully, this is an indicator that the business model is collapsing and they’re all going out of business. More likely, though, it probably indicates they’re either moving these calls off shore or going to an automated system, which makes the whole thing even more annoying than it already is.

For what it’s worth, at least one government agency has had it up to here with those jerkenheimers:

[I]n late November … 39 states’ attorneys general basically said to the FCC: telemarketing and robocall telemarketing are giant pains in the butt for our citizens and everyone hates them. There are consumer-side workarounds, but your phone company can’t block a phone spammer from making outgoing calls to you. So why don’t phone companies just block the numbers to start with?

Phone companies, which have been busily not blocking any of these numbers ever, insist that it is the current law that stops them. AT&T [pdf], Verizon [pdf] and the CTIA [pdf] have all filed comments to the effect that the industry is already totally on it, but that existing tools are sufficient. Further, the FCC should stay away from this, since because phones are regulated as common carriers, all carriers have an obligation to move all phone traffic, period, with no exceptions.

The Federal Trade Commission, however, sides with the rest of us:

The FTC comment [pdf] does not actually call robocalls a plague upon humanity, but it does stress that they are in many cases illegal, and now being placed through internet services from foreign nations where the FTC can’t do much about it. Call-blocking technology is a-ok by them, since it would “make a significant dent in the problem of unwanted telephone calls,” even if, “to date [common] carriers have resisted offering call-blocking services to their large customer bases.”

Sainthood awaits the hardy soul who can get the FCC and the FTC onto the same page.

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Horton hears a Boo Fricking Hoo

After Snowmageddon 2015 slid past New York City and made a beeline for Boston, there was wailing and gnashing of teeth and cursing of forecasters; one of them even issued an apology. Bad move, says Lisa:

I think the forecasters who are apologizing are doing a huge disservice to their audiences. No matter how sophisticated our weather tracking systems, a storm can veer off unpredictably as this one did slamming Boston instead of New York City. If your city prepares and dodges a bullet, that’s a win. Certainly better than the other scenario: not being prepared.

We’ve dodged a few here over the years; in fact, we can count on at least one overwrought forecast fizzling out per season. Which is not to say that we behave any more sensibly:

From years of working as a journalist in New England, I learned that people who live in cities — even supposedly weather-savvy cities like Boston and Portland, Maine — are very disconnected from the weather. They simply refuse to believe that weather almost on any given day is probably the most dangerous thing they will ever face. Every time a snow storm was predicted to hit the Portland area, we at the TV station knew where the stories would be. Some bozo would ignore the warnings, get in some ill-equipped little Japanese car without chains and make a completely unnecessary trip such as trying to drive up to the ski resorts to get a jump on the lift lines, or even just driving through deserted streets looking for an open corner store to get cigs. Actually, usually there would be dozens of such dummies. While on the road, some would get stuck, skid out diverting emergency vehicles and police attention from more pressing matters like keeping lanes to hospitals cleared. I remember one such case where an idiot skidded out his car, and blocked an area where an ambulance was trying to get through. Took several diverted snowplows, tow trucks and a critical hour to get that car out of the path and the ambulance with a patient into the hospital.

“Travel is strongly discouraged,” which is usually the worst it gets down here, doesn’t contain any qualifiers; they don’t say it’s discouraged for everyone but you. An outright ban, as enacted by NYC, is the same but more so. Says Norman-based comedian Amanda Kerri:

Is it so hard to make a PBJ sandwich for a day or two? Oh my god, you might not have Pad Thai delivered at three in the morning… This is why the rest of America hates you.

And truth be told, if some of my neighbors wander out on a night that would challenge a Zamboni, well, they better have platinum-plated reasons.

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They wish to register a complaint

The following item, claimed to be from complaints@irs.gov — oddly, it seems to have originated in Italy — landed in my email box, though it had been addressed to someone entirely different:

Dear business owner,

A criminal complaint has been filled against your company.

Your company is being accused of trying to commit tax evasion schemes.

The full text of the complaint file ( .DOC type ) can be viewed in your Microsoft Word, complaint is attached.

AN official response from your part is required, in order to take further action.

Please review the charges brought forward in the complaint file, and contact us as soon as possible by:

Telephone Assistance for Businesses: Toll-Free, 1-800-829-4933
Email: complaints@irs.gov

Thank you,
Internal Revenue Service Fraud Prevention Department

I need hardly point out that were this an actual criminal complaint, you’d get something a lot more emphatic than a badly worded email with a spam score over 5.

I did not, of course, look at the Word document, which presumably carries the payload.

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Offensive, you say?

Two of my least-favorite words, in a headline for the ages:

We’re talking the Moro Islamic Liberation Front; I have no idea what FAP is supposed to be in this context, though MILF, I presume, would regularly be engaged by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), suggesting (as does the slightly out-of-whack background) a bit of Photoshoppery.

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Keeping the rot from the Apple

In the 1970s, says Tam, “New York was a dump and only getting dumpier,” but it wasn’t a permanent feature:

The turn-around of the city in the Nineties was nothing short of amazing. I may find the politics and personalities of the last three mayors despicable, but there’s no denying that they made the trains run on time. An inevitable side-effect of the city’s transformation is a skyrocketing cost of living, and class warfare is always a winning campaign platform in those conditions. The current mayor basically ran a campaign against golden eggs by promising everybody a slice of goose meat.

On the upside, at least this week’s paté patties got a proper chilling for a few hours.

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Size approximate

What is a size 16, anyway? No two manufacturers seem to agree:

[S]itting in my closet are clothes — including jeans — ranging from sizes 14 to 20. Just like no two bodies are ever the same, it would seem no two pairs of jeans are ever the same, either.

So because I’m into fashion/beauty experiments (like finding out how photo editors around the world manipulate my features or gauging reactions to my low-rise bikini), I decided to use my median size of a “16” — which is what I find myself purchasing most often — to investigate what different brands and designers think that number actually means.

Even better, she distinguishes between stretchy and non-stretchy jeans: either “Lycra” or “No Lycra.”

Interestingly, I’d read her Photoshop Me! article when it went viral, so I was ready to take a look at the swimsuit shot. Not half bad, if you ask me.

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If you see this person, block him

He’s the one asking questions like this:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: Why is Twitter saying this?

And by “this,” he means this:

I literally just went to log in my Twitter account. When I logged in it said:

“Something is technically wrong.

Thanks for noticing — we’re going to fix it up and have things back to normal soon.”

Why is it saying that?

Because something was technically wrong.

I guess he was afraid to take it, um, literally.

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Hunan event

Liu Wen, born this date in 1988 in Yongzhou, Hunan, was the first Chinese woman ever to walk the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, which surprised her, she said, because the VS people usually prefer women with, um, “big boobs.” But VS also likes towering height, and at five-foot-ten, she’s got that:

Liu Wen through a doorway

In 2013, H&M, acknowledging her casual-but-not-sloppy street style, featured her in their New Icons promotion, and shot her in some of their modestly-priced stuff:

Liu Wen for H&M

Thirty bucks for those jeans.

Last fall, she wrote a piece for Vogue:

Growing up in southern China, people in my hometown seldom called me piao liang (“beautiful,” informally) because my smaller eyes were a far cry from the wide irises of the most beloved television actresses. Further, I was tall and awkward and tended to dress more androgynously as comfort was always my priority. Towering over classmates, I developed a habit of bending down when speaking to others, as if my back was permanently hunched. Many called me “Mulan,” since I always blended in with the male students much more easily than the female students. Since she was such an honorable and respected character in our culture, I accepted the association quite happily — even if being outwardly “beautiful” was never in my destiny, I at least wanted to personify her confidence.

She describes her personal style as “tomboyish, vintage, and comfortable — with the world.”

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None of that tedious scoring business

Halfway through the first quarter, the Timberwolves took an 8-4 lead. It wasn’t a titanic defensive struggle or anything like that; it was a comedy of errors with elements of farce. (One particularly questionable call on Minnesota’s Andrew Wiggins drew loud complaints from radio guy Matt Pinto, which cost nothing, and from Wolves coach Flip Saunders, which cost a technical.) After three quarters, it was Thunder 65, Wolves 56, at which time Royce Young opined that it was “the worst basketball game you’ve ever seen.” There was a bit more scoring in the fourth, but not enough to impress anyone or to change the outcome: OKC won it, 92-84, to go up 2-0 in the season series.

Kevin Durant, who had the night off after banging up a toe against Cleveland last night, might have been bemused by it all. He wasn’t saying. However, his absence was felt on the box score, where no one in Thunder white broke 20: Russell Westbrook came closest, with 18, though it took him 22 shots to get there. And the bench provided 45 points, to 47 for the starters, with both Anthony Morrow and Reggie Jackson knocking down 14 and Dion Waiters adding 10. (Which leaves seven for Nick Collison, who with Waiters had the highest plus/minus of the night, at +16.) Serge Ibaka had 13 points and 19 rebounds, one short of his career high.

Then again, there were a lot of rebounds to be had, the Thunder collecting 52, the Wolves 50, so you shouldn’t be surprised that Gorgui Dieng, a center playing the four to make room for Nikola Peković was able to haul in 18 of them. (Peković himself had seven.) Scoring honors went to Wiggins, with 23, and Thaddeus Young, with 22. If the Wolves had shot more than 34 percent, they could have made a run at this thing, with the Thunder mired at 42 percent. And treys were hard to come by either way, Minnesota hitting two of 13, OKC four of 20.

The Wednesday-night game with the Knicks may not happen due to #Snowmageddon2015; Sacramento-New York and Portland-Brooklyn, scheduled for tonight, were postponed, and conditions are predicted to go from bad to worse. If there’s no trip to MSG, then the next game is Saturday night in Memphis.

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Un-representative behavior

Los Angeles is taking a harder look at talent agencies:

Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer on Friday announced the launch of a new campaign aimed at warning aspiring actors and entertainers of scams in which managers and agents seek upfront payments and other fees for representation.

Feuer also announced that charges had been filed against a talent manager, Debra Baum, for allegedly charging more than $100,000 to a 19-year-old aspiring singer, Reed Isaac, and her sister, Veronica, an aspiring actress, for management fees and other expenses like vocal training, stylists and recordings.

According to Feuer, Baum allegedly solicited the 19-year-old singer in a hair salon and she signed a $10,000 per month contract to handle her career. Her sister paid $40,000 in management fees as well.

There’s a Reed Isaac video on YouTube, but I don’t think it’s the same Reed Isaac; that one appears to be from north Texas. Then again, she’s been to Los Angeles within the last few months.

Baum is scheduled to be arraigned on Feb. 5 and is charged with four counts of violating the Talent Scam Prevention Act, passed in 2010 and authored by then-Assemblyman Paul Krekorian, now a Los Angeles city councilman. It explicitly prohibits agents and managers from taking advance fees, and talent training and counseling firms from requiring customers to buy photo head shots or websites as a condition for using their service.

And Baum is no uninformed newbie: over the years, she’s managed Paula Abdul, Tears for Fears, and, um, Rebecca Black, although she and RB parted company in 2013.

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A saucy query

Challenging the atheist:

Campbell Soup withdrew this pretty quickly, perhaps fearing negative response; last I looked, the account had actually been suspended. Before Dawkins, or someone else, sticks his foot in it, allow me (and some anonymous Wikipedian) to explain:

The flavors of the original sauces were created with the help of Howard Moskowitz, a practitioner in the field of psychophysics. The process involved the development of systematic variations of specific ingredients in the formula which then were tried by voluntary subjects. After placing numeric values to each tester’s perception on each of the variants, a mathematical model was created to develop the final recipe, which maximized the perceived taste while minimizing the cost of the ingredients needed to produce it.

Still better than Ragù.

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Don’t let the stars get in your thighs

Hikaru SkirtThe young lady on the escalator is wearing the Hikaru Skirt — “hikaru” translates to “shining,” which sort of makes sense in this context — and, says Neatorama, it was “designed to illuminate the thighs of anyone certifiably insane brave enough to wear it.”

Of course, this could only happen in Japan, and here’s how it did:

The brainchild of Japanese designer Kiyoyuki Amano, the skirt is lit from underneath with LED lights equipped with gyro sensors, so that the light colors and patterns change with the movement of the model.

Amano said that he was simply experimenting with lights on skirts when he discovered that they shone a spotlight on the wearer’s thighs, which he found enlightening.

There is, so far, no indication that the Hikaru Skirt will be produced in commercial quantities. There is, however, a Tumblr.

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Strange search-engine queries (469)

Monday always (well, almost always) brings a fresh set of search strings, which we’ve examined for snark potential. Sometimes it’s hard to tell which is funnier: the string from the person who knows how to search efficiently, or the string from the person who doesn’t. We, of course, don’t care.

what’s the purpose of hold in mazda 626:  You’d think possession of an owner’s manual was a felony or something.

98 Mazda 626 4 cylinder automatic erratic shifting and blinking overdrive light:  While you’re being towed to the mechanic’s for a rebuild, give thanks that you no longer have to deal with “hold.”

ford telstar cuts out when shift to drive or reverse:  While you’re being towed to the mechanic’s for a rebuild, give thanks that at least it wasn’t a Mazda 626.

anti-destination:  So you’re the one sabotaging all these people’s cars.

master tape Sally Goes Round The Roses:  Saddest thing on the Internet / People wanting stuff they cannot get.

parella lewis nipples:  And the number of the items shall be two.

ununquaternium:  Now really, Mr. Freberg, that’s a double negative.

is oklahoma city traffic commission broadcast:  Not at this time. I suspect one of the commissioners is stuck on I-44 near I-40.

woolery avant garde fly with me:  Chuck would be happy to fly, but right now he’s stuck on I-44 near I-40.

first thousand years is the hardest:  Yeah, that’s what they said back in 3004 BC.

After wearing seat belts became mandatory, drivers reacted by driving faster and less carefully. This is consistent with what Principle of Economics?  In this case, it’s the one that says I can charge you $100 an hour to do your homework, with a two-hour minimum.

derpy thelonious monk:  Straight, no muffin.

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