Put-ti-put-ti

Meanwhile in Denmark, this would seem to be concrete evidence for some sort of malfeasance:

National authorities have shut down a company that produced food for nursing homes and hospitals in a cement mixer.

The Danish Food and Veterinary Administration (Fødevarestyrelsen) discovered that the food company Nordic Ingredients violated hygiene rules by producing gelled foods in a cement mixer. The food was delivered to public nursing homes and to hospital patients who have difficulty swallowing whole food.

Thereby confirming your worst fears about hospital food, no doubt. And furthermore:

A Food and Veterinary Administration official said that in addition to producing food in a cement mixer, the hygiene levels at the company’s production facility were abysmal.

“It wasn’t just a bit of mess from the most recent production, and we determined that the cleaning standards were completely inadequate,” Henriette Mynster told DR.

I suspect government procurement rules, and all that lowest-bidder jazz. It will happen here soon enough.

(Via Bayou Renaissance Man. If you don’t get the title, get this.)

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Let this be a Wanning to you

China has banned puns:

Chinese is perfectly suited to puns because it has so many homophones. Popular sayings and even customs, as well as jokes, rely on wordplay.

But the order from the State Administration for Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television says: “Radio and television authorities at all levels must tighten up their regulations and crack down on the irregular and inaccurate use of the Chinese language, especially the misuse of idioms.”

Programmes and adverts should strictly comply with the standard spelling and use of characters, words, phrases and idioms — and avoid changing the characters, phrasing and meanings, the order said.

If you ask me, this is Fuqing ridiculous.

(Via Interested-Participant.)

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Here a nibble

Susan Boyle, asked if she’d consider online dating, came back with this:

“Are you having a laugh? Knowing my luck I’d go out on a date and you’d find my limbs scattered around various Blackburn dustbins! I believe in letting things happen naturally and not shopping for a man on the Internet. If my soulmate is out there then I will find him but it won’t be on a computer.”

That was two years ago. And apparently the old-fashioned way still sort of works:

“I met a nice guy in America, who shall remain nameless. All I’ll say is he’s a doctor from Connecticut… It’s early days but we enjoy each other’s company.

“I met him at the Safety Harbor Resort in Clearwater, Florida, where I had a concert. We just got talking in the hotel and I thought he seemed friendly enough. He wasn’t a fan but he knew who I was. He invited me out for lunch the next day.

“We had a nice chat and spoke about lots of things including our careers. He was the perfect gentleman and even paid the bill. Afterwards we exchanged details.”

Too early to bring out that “soulmate” business, to be sure; but for someone who dates slightly less often than I do, this is the stuff of hope. Hope, incidentally, is the title of her newest album.

For the “Who’d go out with someone who looks like that?” crowd, this is what happened when Harper’s Bazaar got hold of her a few years back:

Susan Boyle following a Harper's Bazaar makeover in 2009

Apparently this isn’t the first time she’s been approached, but this is the first time I can remember that she actually talked about such things.

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Perhaps this is not the time

(Working title was “No noose is good noose,” discarded for obvious reasons.)

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Dreamy redefined

Somewhere, where romantic and whimsical collide, you’ll find this:

While the screen is taken up by Zooey and a very palpable nothingness, it would mean nothing without the music, and as I commented on YouTube: “If there’s ever a reason to make a movie about me (and there probably isn’t), I want M. Ward on the soundtrack.”

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We’ll show those hatches

Guitarist Jennifer Batten, fifty-seven today, has put out three solo albums, though she’s probably best known for her axe work on tour with Michael Jackson, supporting Bad, Dangerous and HIStory, and in MJ’s Super Bowl appearance in 1993. She’s a bit wild and unruly in appearance, though this can be toned down a notch:

Jennifer Batten at rest

Or, you know, not:

Jennifer Batten at work

One of Batten’s influences is Jeff Beck; she appeared on his Who Else! (1999) and You Had It Coming (2001) albums, and toured with him for three years. In this amateur video — the picture is good, the sound not so much — she takes on a Beck original from the Who Else! album, “Brush with the Blues”:

She can definitely wail.

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You can’t get rid of me that easily

Just renewed the hosting package with the surfer dudes: you’re stuck with me for another year.

As is often the case, about a quarter of the tab was picked up by kickbacks, since I get a smidgen of the take when someone signs up for services of their own and drops my name. I’ve had this account since the very end of 2001, and it was twice as pricey back then; I could knock off 10 percent if I prepaid two years in advance, but I never seem to remember that until the invoice shows up.

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Life and death in twelve bars

Cobb tells us the story of Schrödinger’s Black Panther:

Black orthodoxy is an echo of the blues, and I have come to believe it is stuck in a key that hasn’t been transposed much in 30 years. The orchestra is maintained by a conspiracy of facts purposefully arranged to incite. I have, over the years, become adept at recognizing the signature tones of its moaning chorus. Anybody black can solo, if you hit the right notes, but there are certain soloists who are sought out over others. These days, the sounds of the imprisoned and the dead round out the top 40. We’ve been here before, these blues are old standards now.

I’m talking about some place in Missouri. But I wasn’t there and neither were you. Nor were you in Cosby’s boudoir or OJ’s driveway. You weren’t in Clarence’s office and you weren’t in Rice’s elevator. You weren’t in Rodney’s car and you weren’t on Diallo’s street. You weren’t in Tupac’s crew or R. Kelly’s video. But you wanted to be. You wouldn’t want to if you had your questions answered, how to think about America from the eyes of its darker brothers. You had to have a black man question settled once and for all, sorta. You gather facts that conspire to incite, because questions demand answers and answers demand action. Such curiosity cannot kill enough cats. You have to keep asking. The cats of racial theorems are in a superposition of states. You open the Pandora’s box of race and either the black cat scratches your eyes out or it’s just dead. It will always be that way, so long as you keep opening the box. And you do.

Brentwood. Rosewood. Jena. Howard Beach. Ferguson. Your eyes got scratched and you’re singing the blues. What did Flip Wilson say? He loved the blues because when the record wears out, it still sounds the same.

And we go on thinking the world is a place far worse than it is, because some damned fools always want to be seen on television opening that box — mostly, I suspect, because they want to be seen on television. It’s not like they bring anything other than noise to the proceedings.

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Try it, you’ll like it

You can lead a horse to water, but — well, you know the rest of it. Especially if the horse is deeply suspicious of this whole “river” business.

How to overcome those fears? Just like this:

All sorts of lessons come to mind, but the one that matters is the one that came to you first.

(Via Bayou Renaissance Man.)

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A New York state of grind

This looked like a Battle of the Also-Rans until word came down that Carmelo Anthony was going to miss another game with a back ailment, and that Russell Westbrook would actually be back. “Holy crap,” thought Loud City, “we might win this one in a walk.” More of a gallop, really, and all you need to know is the lineup with four minutes left: Ish Smith, Anthony Morrow, Jeremy Lamb, Lance Thomas and Grant Jerrett. Repeat: Grant Jerrett. Number Seven spent all of last year in the D-League, and the first 16 games of this season glued to the Thunder bench. Tonight, Jerrett got three points on a single trey (out of five tries), an assist, and a rebound in eight and a half minutes, a luxury made possible by the enormous margin the Thunder enjoyed en route to a 105-78 win over the Knicks.

And that win, in no small part, was made possible by Westbrook, who in just under 24 minutes rolled up 32 points, seven rebounds, eight dimes, and wasn’t needed at all in the fourth. Yeah, he had that glove thing on his hand. Didn’t seem to bother him in the least. Reggie Jackson, back in his sixth-man role — though there were moments when both Jackson and Westbrook were on the floor — performed creditably, with 10 points, six boards and four assists. And Jeremy Lamb had something of a hot hand, leading the bench with 13 points. Serge Ibaka kicked in 14; Steven Adams managed six, but retrieved a career-high 13 rebounds. That word “rebounds” seems to be coming up a lot, but it ought to: the Thunder owned these boards, 57-33.

These Knicks are known better, as it happens, not for their rebounding, but for their three-point prowess, so far this season the best in the league. The Thunder response was not to let them get any, and indeed New York scored only twice from beyond the arc, once in the third quarter, once in the fourth, despite putting up 19 tries. (One of those was scored by the comparatively diminutive Shane Larkin, five-eleven, whom I assume no one figured would need blocking at that distance.) None of the Knick starters made double figures, though both Amar’e Stoudemire (20) and Tim Hardaway Jr. (11) did so from the bench. “A work in progress,” said radio guy Matt Pinto.

So this homestand ends on an upbeat note, 2-2. Four games on the road follow: at New Orleans on Tuesday, at Philadelphia Friday, at Detroit Sunday, and at Milwaukee the following Tuesday. Almost certainly Kevin Durant — remember him? — will be back for some or all of these.

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Things I learned today (32)

Has it really been two years since I did one of these? (As always, “today” includes some hours from yesterday, since I tend to write these several hours in advance.)

And no, actually, it’s been four and a half years since I did one of these.

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You’ll buy it anyway, suckers

When Matt Rutledge founded Woot back in the early 21st century, he chose to refrain from the usual fawning product descriptions: often, in fact, the merchandise was described with references to small flaws or implications of unsuitability for the intended purpose.

But Bags O’ Crap aside, I don’t remember anything as ferocious as this paragraph at Rutledge’s meh.com today:

The only headphones in the world where you can drop the price by $60-$80 and they’re still overpriced. Unlike most Beats deals on Black Friday, these are the current model, the Solo2, not the old Solo or Solo HD models. We’re told they get the bass balance better than the notoriously bottom-heavy original Beats headphones. But you can get better headphones for the same price or less. We still wouldn’t pay this much for Beats even if Dre himself threw in a quarter of chronic from his personal stash. Let some other chump pay for those relentless Beats ad campaigns. They’re just headphones. Not good enough? We’d say we hate to disappoint you on such a special day … but the truth is we actually sort of enjoy it.

For the record, they were selling these nominally $200 headsets for $120, and as of this writing, had moved 572 of them, meaning there were about 50,000 site visitors who weren’t interested.

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Regression to the meanest

We’ve all seen them: cars barely worth $500, thumping along with $1000 worth of audio equipment. It never occurs to us that the reverse could ever be true:

Yahoo Answers screenshot:

You have to figure that every dime he has is tied up in that S-Class. And the only generation of S-Class that had an S320 is the W220 series, roughly 1998 to 2006, so I’m betting he doesn’t have an AUX input or a USB port and is desperate for anything that will incorporate them but won’t actually break him. Given this example of Walmart pricing, though, I’d suggest he shop elsewhere.

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Sneaked in

Rebecca Black by now has done enough shoefies over the last few years, on Facebook and Instagram, to make it possible to identify her just from an ankle shot — providing she’s wearing Converse. This one from a couple years back testifies to her loyalty to Chuck Taylors:

Rebecca Black from here down in Converse high-tops

This one, however, threw me for a loop. She put this picture on Facebook with the tag “if only you knew how i took this”:

Rebecca Black from here down in Converse low-cuts

Phone in her third hand, am I right?

No?

Assuming she did take it herself, I’m thinking the most plausible explanation — I’ve worked with timers, and you never get yourself back into position exactly the way you wanted to be — is that one of those two hands actually belongs to someone else, and I see what I think is just enough disparity in wrist diameter to confirm.

Oh, and one more thing:

Make that two more things:

After three years, it still elicits the giggle.

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Quote of the week

Theodore Dalrymple, in Taki’s, muses on a major deficiency of democracy:

Modern politicians, having been given the mandate of heaven (vox populi vox Dei), do not accept limitations of their authority or their moral competence, even if, in practice, only a third or even a quarter of the eligible voters have voted for them. Procedural correctness is all that is necessary for such a man to feel justified in pursuing his own moral enthusiasms at other people’s expense.

But the more firmly the politicians believe in their heavenly mandate, the more the political class is divided from the sacred people from whom that mandate allegedly derives. (I have noticed with astonishment recently how increasingly many of the potential candidates in the perpetual American presidential race are close relatives of previous candidates or at least of high-flying politicians.) Indeed, many a monarch and even dictator has been more physically accessible to the populace than modern democratic politicians, suggesting a deficiency of real rather than assumed or theoretical legitimacy. Democracy in the modern sense encourages monomania in the population, in which every citizen is viewed as, and many actually become, a potential assassin, from whom the democratic politician must be protected like gold in vaults. Where politics is the location of all virtue, politicians are the lightning conductors of all discontents.

They’ll make a monarchist of me yet.

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Lots of emptiness

Most cities have something resembling parking mandates, usually saying that there must be some formula-derived X number of spaces provided in a surface lot, based on the anticipated worst day of the year. About five years ago I quoted a member of the Tulsa Board of Adjustment on how these things tend to reinforce one another:

“A shopping center will have 10 different uses, and the zoning code looks at each use individually and applies the parking requirement on the assumption that each use could need its minimum parking at the same time… When it comes to parking, we look at every piece of property as if it’s on an island.”

Which is utterly ridiculous in a strip mall, even if there are people lazy enough to park near JCPenney at one end, shop, and then drive the 1500 feet to the T. J. Maxx at the other end, and unfortunately there are.

Tomorrow being among the worst days of the year, I figure this is an idea whose time has come.

Join us this Friday for #blackfridayparking, a nationwide event to draw attention to the ridiculousness of minimum parking requirements.

Minimum parking requirements are often justified by the notion that there needs to be enough parking for the peak shopping day. Under that theory, America’s businesses are required to set aside large amounts of land and make enormous capital investments in asphalt and concrete for the sake of a few hours each year. If the theory were true, parking minimums would still be a bizarre misallocation of resources. Unfortunately, our ability to predict peak parking demand is woefully inadequate.

What #blackfridayparking exposes is the systematic way in which cities across the country do harm to our businesses, our neighborhoods and our economy by enforcing arbitrary parking requirements. This practice needs to end.

If the next question is “But what if I have to walk?” feel free to give ‘em the old sideways glare. It’s not a violation of your rights if you can’t park within 50 feet of your destination.

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