Hindmost being taken

Tickets for a Civic Center Music Hall presentation of a Black Mass go on sale today, and, well, the event is not going unnoticed:

A group called Dakhma of Angra Mainyu is holding a Black Mass at the Oklahoma City Civic Center on September 21. The permittee for the event is Adam Daniels, a registered sex offender. The Civic Center is owned by the city and funded by a foundation that includes a city government official and the head of a Catholic hospital on its board. The event has been condemned by the Archbishop of Oklahoma City. (I first read about this on Fr. Z’s Blog.)

The group itself seems to be sort of anti-Zoroastrian:

Dakhma of Angra Mainyu is about freedom from any religion that chooses to bind you to some type of dogma the forces you to restrain your natural animal instincts. They say desire and “sin” move you away from the ultimate consumer of souls through fire. Ahura Mazda is the slave driver that forces laws onto mankind that completely against man’s nature. Only through spiritual and chaotic destruction of this enslavement, will one become spiritually free from not only mortal/ethical enslavement, include freedom from Atar which is the Holy Fire that will consume your soul to recharge Ahura Mazda. The truest form of freedom is brought about by evil speech (blaspheme). 3 ways define the human existence: thought, speech, and action. Knowing that mankind is judge off this paradigm, does it make sense to inhibit your animal desires because some “God” said they were evil? No, the inhibition is to build internal pressure, like a teapot without a valve. Upon death this gives the Ahuras (angels) that much more energy to consume as they live off of pain and blood. Thus requiring sacrifice and becoming a mayrter.

Which I suppose is being (accidentally?) like a martyr, only with bells on.

I note here for record that I do follow the BaphometOKC Twitter account, though this is mostly for amusement purposes.

If you object to this sort of thing, Dawn Eden suggests some ways to make your objections heard. Attendance will not be high regardless, simply because the event is booked for the downstairs City Space Theatre, which is geared to Equity Waiver/Showcase Code-sized audiences: fewer than 100. Last time, apparently, they drew zero.

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Niner zero

The old-timers among you will remember the Joan Claybrook Memorial Speedometer, inflicted on American car buyers during the Malaise Era: it drew Special Attention to the much-derided 55-mph speed limit, and topped out at a meager 85 mph. Both the regulation and the double-nickel itself are gone, but there’s only a single road in the nation where you can do 85 legally: a toll road in Texas.

With a nod to the late Jimi Hendrix — “Ninety miles an hour, girl, is the speed I drive” — there’s apparently an internal pool at Car and Driver on, well, just about anything, and one of the developments under discussion is “First state to set a highway speed limit at 90 mph or higher.” (They disclosed rather a lot of these in the August issue.) Here are the current odds:

    Texas: 1-1
    Utah: 2-1
    Wyoming: 3-1
    Idaho: 4-1
    Montana: 20-1

Of course, Montana got burned, despite an enviable safety record, during a period when there was no numerical speed limit at all; you can blame the appeal of State of Montana v. Rudy Stanko, Mr Stanko being the recipient of three tickets, all at triple-digit speeds, to which he objected on the grounds of vagueness. The State Supreme Court agreed about the vagueness while upholding two of his three busts.

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The flowers of despair

I have always been wary of the Lost Ogle’s Monday Morning Tweets feature, and I became more so when their @TLOMMT account started following me. After several weeks of being ignored, I began to breathe a little easier.

Then they picked up on this one:

I can only conclude that it was chosen for double-entendre potential:

I don’t know about your esthetician, but when you’re having your rosebush pruned, you should really have her wear gloves. Especially if the wax is hot!

Or were you really talking about flowers?

For some reason, I felt compelled to set the record straight:

In retrospect, this may not have been the wisest move.

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Don’t go home with the armadillo

In days of old, when knights were bold, et cetera, leprosy was thought to be highly contagious, justifying warehousing its sufferers as far away from the rest of the world as possible. This, of course, was wrong:

The illness can now readily be cured through a sustained course of antibiotics, yet the basic nature of the microbial culprit, a waxy, rod-shaped character called Mycobacterium leprae, is still being sketched out. New research suggests that the leprosy parasite is a paradox encapsulated — at once rugged and feeble, exacting and inept.

One research group recently proposed that leprosy may be the oldest infectious disease to go specifically for human beings, with origins dating back millions of years, certainly suggesting a pathogen of formidable persistence.

Yet scientists have also found that the leprosy bacillus is remarkably poor at migrating between human hosts. It dies quickly outside the body — a couple of hours on a lab slide, and that’s it — and about 95 percent of people appear immune to it.

One less thing to worry about — for nineteen of you, anyway.

Wikipedia yielded up this gem:

Leprosy was once believed to be highly contagious and was treated with mercury — all of which applied to syphilis, which was first described in 1530. It is possible that many early cases thought to be leprosy could actually have been syphilis. Effective treatment first appeared in the late 1940s.

This, though, is the bit that worries me:

Armadillos are now a reservoir for the disease, and in coastal marsh habitats where population densities of the animal can be high, 20 percent or more of the armadillos are thought to be infected with M. leprae and capable of passing it on to susceptible people. Of the 200 cases of leprosy diagnosed annually in the United States, most are thought to stem from contact with armadillos, although the precise route of transmission remains unclear.

I can only hope that it’s not the same route of transmission one usually finds with syphilis.

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Like a Bosphorus

I usually don’t bother to show you jeans advertising, especially Turkish jeans advertising, but one thing led to another, and besides, it’s in Istanbul, which remains one of my favorite cities despite the fact that I haven’t been there in nearly forty years.

Anyway, this is the spot:

The chap is named Francisco Lachowski, as un-Turkish a name as you’re likely to find in beautiful downtown Byzantium, but it was, I must admit, the young lady who caught my eye: Serenay Sarıkaya, twenty-three today, first runner-up in the 2010 Miss Turkey pageant, representing Ankara, the capital. (She was born in Antalya.) Before I saw the TV spot, I saw this still, which someone apparently snagged from a Flash piece:

Serenay Sarıkaya for Mavi Jeans

What prompted all this, actually, was happening upon a reference to Mavi Jeans, a Turkish denim brand: “Mavi” being the Turkish word for “blue,” I got a bit giggly for a moment, and maybe more so when I found their American storefront — which is built on a Tumblr blog.

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Mehcanized for your protection

The invaluable Nancy Friedman treats us to an explanation of the handy Japanese term “fukubukuro,” which turns out to be basically a Woot Bag O’ Crap that lacks actual crappiness.

Speaking of Woot, if you’ve been thinking that it’s been a lot less fun, or at least a lot more complicated, since Amazon bought them out, you’re not the only one who thinks so:

How come every time something simple gets popular, people want to make it more complicated? And less fun? And then eventually less popular? Like how raw, energetic rock ‘n’ roll turned into pompous, sluggish stadium rock. Or how superhero comics mutated into a baffling mess of retcons and reboots. Or how daily deals turned into … well, whatever the hell you call it when an online store has too much selection to be easy to use, but too little to find what you want.

That’s why the guys who invented the daily-deal thing are embarking on a grand experiment to bring it back. Back to its simple roots. Back to when one deal every day meant one deal, not a compacted mass of overstock matter plugging up the Internet like that stuff they found inside Elvis. Back to when a trained chicken could literally have done your shopping for you.

So saith Matt Rutledge, head honcho of Meh, which drew 147 percent of its Kickstarter goal in a mere four days. Mr Rutledge is also known for creating, um, Woot. And somewhere in the Mehzzanine, I sort of hope there’s a fukubukuro with a silly name.

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Let the sunshine in

You remember the old saying, right? “The Internet: where men are men, women are men, and children are FBI agents.” Sometimes I wonder if I remember it too well.

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Run it off now

Way back in 2006, Michael Bates made a pretty persuasive case for Instant Runoff Voting.

How would this have worked in, say, the recent Mississippi Senate primary? Roger Green explains the process:

In the Mississippi GOP scenario, after the June 3 primary, Thomas Carey’s votes would have been distributed to [Thad] Cochran and [Chris] McDaniel, based on who was Carey voters’ second choice. Majority would have been reached. There would have been no need for the June 24 runoff, and no chance for the Democratic party supporters to vote in the Republican primary without foregoing their opportunity to vote in their OWN primary.

Which would have avoided that whole debacle rather neatly.

I once questioned how this could be implemented on this state’s optical-ballot system, but that doesn’t really seem to be much of an issue, and besides we’ve replaced the entire fleet of scanners since then.

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Away from it all

A pole of inaccessibility, explains Wikipedia, marks a location that is the most challenging to reach owing to its remoteness from geographical features that could provide access. In North America, that pole, the farthest from any coastline, is in Bennett County, South Dakota, about twelve miles from the hamlet of Swett.

Which, it so happens, is up for sale:

Lance Benson, the sole owner of Swett, an unincorporated hamlet in Bennett County about two hours southeast of Rapid City, is putting the whole town up for grabs: including its bar, workshop, three trailers, single house, and 6.16 acres of prime prairie real estate.

Benson, the owner of a travelling concession business, said that while he would love to keep the town, he wanted to focus on his core business.

And the town, we are told, is really not as rough as it used to be, when a visiting Oklahoman said of the single tavern that “you need a Bowie knife to get in this place and a chainsaw to get out.”

The population of Swett is two: Benson and his wife. Selling price is $400,000.

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Watch where you’re pointing that thing

Conventional wisdom holds that you don’t turn away an online ad, because you might not get another. I wouldn’t have turned down this one, but …

And it’s not like nobody at the World has heard of Dong’s, which has been in business since 1946.

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Al in a day’s work

“Weird Al” Yankovic would like to set the, um, record straight:

I did a print interview recently where I talked about how I only had one more album left on my current record contract, and how after that I would be weighing my options. I talked about how at that point I might be more inclined to focus on digital distribution, since theoretically that would allow my releases to be more timely and topical. I talked about how quickly the industry is evolving, and how perhaps it might not even make sense to continue releasing conventional albums at that point. In fairness, my quotes in the article seemed pretty accurate. But the headline screamed, “WEIRD AL SAYS HIS NEXT ALBUM WILL BE HIS LAST!” Well, um … no, I didn’t. That’s inaccurate, and extremely misleading, and has caused more than a few fans to freak out. But I guess “WEIRD AL IS CAREFULLY WEIGHING HIS OPTIONS AND ISN’T ENTIRELY SURE WHAT HE’S DOING AFTER HIS NEXT ALBUM!” isn’t quite as catchy, headline-wise. So again, to be clear … if you were led to believe that I’m planning on retiring anytime soon, I’m not (sorry, haters). I truly love what I do, and if I ever stop working, it won’t be of my own free will.

Mandatory Fun by Weird Al YankovicThat album — Mandatory Fun — ships on the 15th of July, a mere two weeks from now. And, says Al, don’t look for a single to lead the way:

Well, here’s the thing … there IS no “lead single” for my new album. I’ll be releasing 12 “singles” all at once on July 15 — so you can decide for YOURSELF which songs are the hits!

By the way, I’ll have 8 — that’s right, 8 — brand new music videos … and I’ll be world-premiering one every single day for eight days straight, starting on July 14!

No, I don’t understand the Cartoon Communist graphics. However, I always assume Al knows what he’s doing.

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Deposit insurance

There is natural selection, and there is this:

I learned that only 1 to 2% of men who offer to donate to sperm banks are accepted as donors, and of those that are accepted, some donors are much popular among the donees than others.

Women who use sperm banks are looking to make a perfect baby: Handsome and brilliant. Talented and charming. Loving and kind. A match one might only dream of finding in the flesh.

“Donee,” apparently, is not some twentieth-century portmanteau construction intended to be the obvious opposite number to “donor”: Merriam-Webster traces it back to 1523.

“Many women see this as another way to give their child a head start in life,” says Lori Andrews, a professor at Chicago-Kent College of Law who has studied the sperm bank industry, of the high stakes of sperm selection.

And increasingly, say the banks, women want proof of perfection before buying a dream donor’s sperm. They ask for SAT scores and personality test results.

Actual men meeting their standards, one assumes, are few and far between. And according to legend, women spurn them anyway: better someone who can sweep you off your feet than someone who’ll happily sweep out the garage.

Furthermore, I’m not entirely sure the selection criteria exercised by the banks will be optimal. In 2011, Cryos International, a major worldwide sperm bank, began rejecting redheads as donors, claiming a surfeit thereof.

And are SAT scores actually available anymore?

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This side of parasites

Meanwhile, just south of the Kansas border:

Kanza Travel Plaza, Braman, Oklahoma

Please ring for assistance. The poor, unloved manager is out back eating them.

(Via John Fullbright.)

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Strange search-engine queries (439)

Here we are, nearly halfway through the year, and the talk has changed from “Hurry up, summer!” to “Damn, is it supposed to be this hot?” The one thing that hasn’t changed, of course, is your Monday roundup of funky search strings.

helle thorning-schmidt shoe size:  Who is this, the EU Foot Patrol, looking for statistical outliers?

replace selector cable on 2003 mazda tribute:  Another shade-tree mechanic, on a day when there’s no shade.

dustbury 626 gear ratio:  At the moment, I’m geared for minimum acceleration.

joe webber married to diane webber:  Yep, they were. Sorry, no wedding pictures.

Grandma 85yrs.old nude and fucking free:  And probably tired of you boys peering into her parlor window, I’d bet.

room101 bags:  Don’t go looking in there, if you know what’s good for you.

sheila tea for two hundred:  Two hundred? Take a bow, Sheila.

allintext: Allen 2014@yahoo.com OR hotmail.com OR aol.com  And please hurry. I need to spam this guy before that damn Nigerian prince shows up.

charles basotti you may already be a weiner:  Well, as long as you’re not some damn Nigerian prince.

1995 mondeo with a vehicle speed sensor fault. car won’t go into 5 gear:  So are you bragging or complaining?

comic strip about invisible potion:  Apparently it only works on ’95 Ford Mondeos.

all language .dustnury:  All except that one, anyway.

are movincool classic loud?  Say what? I can’t hear you over this racket.

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Less of a Hoot

I’ve looked into HootSuite once or twice, to the extent that Google’s ad tentacles managed to shovel promotions for it into my Web surfing for several weeks, but I never quite bought the premise, or the package. And after hearing Mack Collier’s story, it’s just as well:

Now normally I hate these “give us a tweet and we’ll give you this” offers, but I do use and like HootSuite, and I have been curious about trying out HootSuite Pro, so I decided to send the tweet. And as promised, I immediately received my email telling me how to get my 60 days of HootSuitePro for free.

Whereupon they told him: it would be added onto his existing HootSuite Pro account — you know, the one he didn’t have yet.

Mack Collier says:

I see this sort of stunt all the time, and it doesn’t build brand loyalty, it builds brand distrust.

And it motivates customers to write about how they were shafted by the deal, which in turn builds brand distrust among non-customers.

Subsequently, HootSuite’s Offer Manager came on to explain what was supposed to be happening, and admitted that maybe the wording wasn’t ideal. All new users of HootSuite, he said, were routinely offered a thirty-day trial; this promotion was intended merely to double the length of the offer.

If there’s a lesson in this, it’s perhaps that firms with mad tech skillz are not equally adept at presenting their products — and that a “What does this mean?” note, sent to the correct person (if you can find the correct person), goes a long way toward avoiding misunderstandings.

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Hard cells

Apart from a general lack of range, Tesla’s Model S notwithstanding, the major objection to electric cars seems to be the price of replacement batteries, and battery packs for full electrics like Nissan’s Leaf would cost much more than packs for hybrids like the Toyota Prius. Some recent (well, within the last two years, anyway) estimates:

Lithium-ion battery costs will fall to about $400 per kilowatt hour by the end of the decade, more than double the $150 per kilowatt hour the U.S. Advanced Battery Consortium says will be required for battery-electric vehicles to be affordable to most of the car-buying public. So says a new report from Lux Research.

Estimates of battery costs have varied as automakers and tech analysts have looked into ways to make them cheaper. The Nissan Leaf EV’s battery pack has been reported to be as cheap as $375 per kilowatt hour, while Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk said last month that battery costs may fall to less than $200 per kilowatt hour “in the not-too-distant future.”

But that was two years ago. How about now? How about $270?

Battery replacements are now available for purchase at your certified Nissan LEAF dealers in the United States. The suggested retail price of the Nissan LEAF battery pack is $5,499. This price includes and requires a return of your original battery pack (valued at $1,000) to the dealer in exchange for the new battery. This price does not include tax, installation fees or an installation kit required for 2011 and 2012 vehicles. The MSRP for the installation kit (which includes brackets and other minor parts required to retrofit the newer pack to original vehicles) is approximately $225. Nissan expects the installation to take about three hours. However, dealers set the final pricing, so we recommend confirming with your local retailer.

Figuring $6500 as a worst-case estimate, the 24-kWh replacement battery pack for the Leaf comes in at $270.83/kWh, and comes with the same warranty as the pack installed in new cars — 8 years/100,000 miles against failure, 5 years/60,000 miles against loss of capacity. (A new battery pack at full charge shows 12 bars on the Leaf’s display screen; capacity is deemed insufficient if it won’t charge up to at least 9.)

The smaller NiMH battery packs in Toyota hybrids sell for $2300 and up, depending on application; however, the 2015 Prius will switch to lithium-ion cells.

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