All nice and smuggly

The illicit-bullion business, it appears, is full of assholes:

At least three airline passengers have been caught smuggling bars of gold in their rectums in recent days, say authorities in Bangladesh.

One man had eight gold bars concealed inside his body, while an X-ray revealed four bars inside a man who was in a great deal of pain, said customs officials.

This case from Friday sounds, um, excruciating:

[C]ustoms officials detained a person who had eight gold bars hidden inside his body at Dhaka’s Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport, the Daily Star reported.

The man had just stepped off a flight from Dubai and admitted to carrying the bars after being challenged at border control.

Later, at the airport toilet, he pushed out eight bars worth nearly £40,000.

If nothing else, now we have a better understanding of the phrase “shit a brick.”

(Via Interested-Participant.)

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Without filtration

At first, I thought this was just another Sign of the Times:

The Houston Chronicle has apologized after publishing an article that directly quoted broken English from Houston Astros outfielder Carlos Gomez.

In the article written on May 4, Brian T. Smith placed much of the blame for the Astros’ early struggles on Gomez.

And what did Smith say Gomez said?

“For the last year and this year, I not really do much for this team. The fans be angry. They be disappointed,” said Gomez as he roamed center field against the team with which he spent 2008-09.

I suppose I could point out that baseball been berry, berry good to Gomez, but actually we’ve been here before, a hell of a lot earlier than any SNL catchphrases. The setup:

We pick up the story from H. Allen Smith, live from 1934:

You may remember that Mr. Baer struck Mr. Carnera with great force and great frequency around the face and head. When the Italian giant reached the dressing room he had large lumps all over his forehead, and his jaws were swollen. They took his ring clothes off and propped him up on a rubbing table, and he kept looking around the room without apparently seeing anything. His handlers faded back and left him sitting there beneath the light. Nobody made a move to do anything, so I stepped up to him.

“Did he hit you hard?” I asked him.

He stared at me for a full minute. Then his lips moved.

“Holy Jesus!” he said.

“Do you want to fight him again?”

“Holy Jesus!” mumbled Carnera.

“Do you think you could lick him if you fought him again?”

“Holy Jesus!”

“Does your head hurt?”

“Holy Jesus!”

“Do you think Baer can lick Schmeling?”

“Holy Jesus!”

At this point half a dozen or so of Carnera’s proprietors came crashing in, and the press was ordered out of the place. I was well satisfied. It was one of the most revealing interviews I had ever had. I was quite startled, however, the next day when I picked up the papers to see what the sports writers had to say about it. One of them quoted Carnera as having said:

“Max’s blows were very hard. He hurt me several times — I have to admit that. But I sincerely believe that I could defeat him and I would like to have another chance. I want to regain the championship.”

Carnera couldn’t have uttered those thirty-eight words in that sequence if he had gone four years to Harvard. Yet the other sports writers had composed the same sort of sheep dip with slight variations.

Boxing been very, very good to Primo Carnera. And Baer had licked Max Schmeling — the year before.

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Na

Rather early in chem lab that first year, we were told to keep water away from metallic sodium, because the resulting reaction, which produces both free hydrogen and caustic sodium hydroxide, is, um, not something you want to see.

Well, of course we want to see it, ya numbskulls…

The only thing missing is “Here, hold my beer.”

Clearly calmer instruction methods are called for:

There should be no further questions.

(Via Fark.)

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Curry disfavored

Come out and play? Of course the Warriors did. That’s what they do, and that’s what they did better than anyone else for 82 games, or at least 73 of them. And going into halftime, they had a nice ten-point lead — until Steph Curry delivered one of his patented buzzer-beaters. So make that a nice 13-point lead. This was apparently Russell Westbrook’s wakeup call: after a three-point first half, he scored half of the Thunder’s 38 points in the third quarter and was a factor in most of the others. At the beginning of the fourth, Golden State was up only three; halfway through the fourth, the Warriors were down four. The Thunder ran that lead to eight, only to see the Warriors trim it to three in two possessions. And then, there things sat for a couple of minutes; at 1:12 it was 101-100 OKC. Over the next 40 seconds, there followed two Steven Adams free throws — he hit six of nine! — and a Kevin Durant rebound, leading to a pullup jumper. Andre Iguodala came back with a layup to bring the Warriors back to within three; Westbrook sank one of two free throws to make it a four-point spread. The mighty Steph Curry somehow missed, Westbrook got two more free throws, Curry sent up another air ball, and all California is stunned: Oklahoma City 108, Golden State 102.

What happened? Defense, something the Thunder apparently had to nudge into position over an extended period, threw a very damp blanket over the Warriors’ offense in that second half. This is not to say that the usual suspects didn’t get their points — Curry finished with 26, Klay Thompson 25, Draymond Green 23 — but they got them early: 60 in the first half, only 42 in the second, while the Thunder squeaked out, um, 61. Durant’s terrible, no good 10-30 night yielded up 26 points; Westbrook closed out with a game-high 27 and 12 assists; but no one stood taller than Steven Adams, 5-8 from the floor, a 16-12 double-double, and +19 for the night.

Notably, Billy Donovan didn’t uproot people from the bench in a desperate search for some combination of five that might work: the only reserves who saw any playing time were Dion Waiters (10 points), Enes Kanter (8) and Randy Foye (3). I read this as Donovan’s conclusion that the Kanter/Adams Real Big combo wasn’t going to be ideal against the Golden State Small Ball unter Alles routine. Which is why he’s the coach and I’m going to stare at the box score in disbelief for a few more minutes.

Game 2 is day after tomorrow in Oakland. Cardiac patients should probably take precautions.

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Pointillist but never pointless

It took two years or so for Georges Seurat to paint Un dimanche après-midi à l’Île de la Grande Jatte:

A Sunday on La Grand Jatte by Georges Seurat 1884

And it took about eight hours for Jane Labowitch, sitting in front of Seurat’s painting, to turn it into an Etch A Sketch drawing:

A Sunday on La Grand Jatte by Georges Seurat for Etch A Sketch by Jane Labowitch 2016

The device has only so much resolution, so she didn’t get every last square inch of it, but her editing points seem well chosen to me.

Oh, and she says she’s not going to shake this one — we all know what happens when you shake it — and I don’t blame her.

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Literary inversion

Now here’s a pitch I’m surprised I hadn’t seen before:

Currently:

  • Classic literature is filled with memorable male protagonists
  • These works of art contribute to patriarchal gender norms
  • Everyone grows up reading about worlds where men have the knowledge, adventure, power, and personal struggle

It doesn’t have to be that way!

“Call me Trishna,” begins their Melville rewrite. And rewriting is what they do: they take an old classic (and, of course, public-domain) novel with a male protagonist and flip the genders throughout. I spent a few bucks on their inversion of H. G. Wells’ The Invisible Woman, so to speak, and while there was an occasional failure of whatever search-and-replace scheme they were using, it’s still a very good story, and it’s not really any less believable with Grisella instead of Griffin. I would expect this to be the case with others in their ongoing series, though I expect the main audience to be the hardcore feminist for whom everything on earth is the fault of those tall guys with the dangly bits. Consider this an amusing side theater in the Gender Wars, and feel free to give the stories a try if you’re curious. (Frankly, I’m keen to see A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Woman, probably not by Joyce James, due out this summer.)

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Not sophomoric

Cover art Meghan Trainor Thank YouMeghan Trainor’s Title album ran up such amazing numbers — exactly eight albums in the entire world outsold it in 2015 — that I was prepared for a major letdown with her second effort, Thank You. The story goes that Epic Records bossman L. A. Reid was not overly impressed with the album as it was presented to him, dismissing it as “an album of Nice Meghan,” prompting M-Train to go dash off a badass anthem with serious attitude. “No” was a hit, reaching #3, and at least some of the concerns were allayed.

The late-Fifties doo-wop feel of Title has been ruthlessly excised, replaced in most cases by R&B beats: “Watch Me Do” invokes, musically and lyrically, the spirit of James Brown, and “No” out-Britneys Britney. The slow acoustic songs don’t quite fare so well, except for “Kindly Call Me Down,” a visit to Adeleville that tugs at the heartstrings with the strength of a meathook. Sophomore slump? Maybe, to some extent. “Champagne Problems,” to be sure, isn’t a patch on Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Boy Problems.” But when something goofily upbeat like “Dance Like Yo Daddy” comes along, you get moving so quickly that you forget what a nifty lyricist Trainor really is. (“Simon says, go touch your nose / Meghan says, touch your toes / But like, I still can’t touch my toes.”) So long as the next album is not a double-length live set, I’ll keep on paying attention.

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Strange search-engine queries (537)

Every Monday morning we shake the dew off the lily, wash and dry, and then sort through a thousand or so log entries, looking for the inspirations of people out there who are looking for things. Some of the things they look for — well, take a look for yourself:

+meaning of are you in to big titis or a huge ass:  If you have to ask, you’re not going to encounter much of either.

2016 hyundai azera spanish fork:  Optional when you order the Romance Languages Flatware option ($295).

terrell’s science class volunteers at the pet shelter each week and assists with keeping the puppy cages clean. combining academic work with a community project is an example of:  A desperate plea for extra credit.

warren spends all his income on dvds and beer, currently consuming three dvds and ten beers. suppose the price of beer rises. we can infer that:  Warren will switch to Neflix and hopes to be able to chill.

bonds womens pantyhose 70d opaque electric blue average/tall:  Okay, you have my attention. Unless you’re talking about Bobby Bonds.

when bob noticed a pain in his thigh, he was convinced it was a sign of bone cancer. although x-rays revealed no sign of cancer, bob sought the opinions of a dozen other physicians who agreed with the original opinion. what:  Bob did not know is that eleven of those doctors were out of network and he was billed for $63,000.

tg://resolve?domain=stalin_gulag:  For some reason, the Solzhenitsyn function has fallen into desuetude.

bratty sisters converted to sex bots:  You have more faith in contemporary debrattification techniques than I do.

brian is very creative. if he goes a week without seeing another person, he doesn’t even notice. he likes to garden and is currently redesigning the entire landscape around his property. according to holland’s theory, what type of person is brian?  The sort of person who forgets to pay his property taxes for three years and ends up on the street drinking RoundUp.

gigger bites:  “Gigger”? Please.

barely-melted capacitor:  Connect the power supply just one more time. Let’s see if we can melt that sucker for good.

i love her yahoo answers:  Wait until you find out the reason why she was posting as Anonymous.

which one is beavis:  The one who looks more like Ted Cruz.

powered by gossamer links perversity:  Is that the new name for Tumblr?

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Now that’s a destroyer

The very first of the Zumwalt-class destroyers is, duh, the USS Zumwalt (DDG-1000), due to be commissioned in mid-September. It’s an impressive beast, to say the least:

USS Zumwalt stealth destroyer

The Zumwalt has stealth capabilities of a sort:

Although it’s huge, the Navy says this thing is surprisingly stealthy. Much of the ship is built on angles that help make it 50 times harder to spot on radar than an ordinary destroyer. “It has the radar cross-section of a fishing boat,” Chris Johnson, a spokesman for Naval Sea Systems Command, told CNN last year.

Captain James A. Kirk, commander of the USS ZumwaltIt’s not exactly a Romulan cloaking device, but it will do for now. Certainly you’ll get no argument from Captain Kirk.

Wait, what?

Capt. James A. Kirk will be commander of the Navy’s new USS Zumwalt, the first of the DDG-1000 class of destroyers. It is longer, faster and carries state-of-the-art weapons that will allow it to destroy targets at more than 60 miles away, according to the Navy.

You can’t tell me this isn’t nominative determinism, once removed.

Elmo Zumwalt (1920-2000) was Chief of Naval Operations in the early 1970s, appointed by Richard M. Nixon; Admiral Zumwalt had previously served as Commander Naval Forces, Vietnam.

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Stopping after none

I was one of five children, my mother one of seven. A friend has eight, with a ninth on the way. Surely there’s room for someone who doesn’t wish to have any.

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Not that they’d try at this point

The workplace has long since learned that my standard-issue scowl is at least as permanent as the buildings we occupy, and has lasted at least as long. It doesn’t stop them from trying to ward off my baleful influence on new arrivals, not that we have that many new arrivals to begin with. The law, however, is on my side:

More managers than ever are striving to create a happy workplace culture brimming with enthusiasm, rainbows, and increasingly obscure perks. But can a company actually require that employees be positive at work?

The National Labor Relations Board has weighed in on this question, and their answer is that you are free to be as grumpy or disagreeable as you please. Or, in other words, your employer can’t force you to be happy at your job.

And I suggest that this is doubly true when an Emergency Project comes up at 4 PM on a Friday. Maybe even trebly.

State law, at least in this state, holds that you can be sacked for something as trivial as picking your nose with the wrong finger. I don’t anticipate being a test case, but the future, generally, is not something I’m especially good at predicting.

(Via Shayna.)

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Hard luck, your lordship

As Cher Horowitz might have said, “As if”:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: I had to purchase a transmission less than 2 months of getting the car. The vehicle was repossed today. Can i retrive my transmission?

Yeah, like they’re going to just hand it to you.

At the time Sandy, my second Mazda 626, was totaled out after meeting up with a doe on a rural road, she was wearing spiffy new high-performance tires with barely a thousand miles on them. $650 down the chute. C’est la vie.

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On being merchandise

Pretty much everyone is agreed that slavery is a heinous thing, and we’re all better off without it. (I’d just as soon not hear from anyone who thinks we’re not better off without slavery, thank you very much.)

Then again, none of us actually lived in those days, so it’s all kind of theoretical to us — until we stumble upon something like this:

1855 slave sale poster

Typography aside, this could be an auto-dealer ad today, except for the lack of rebates.

Debra Monroe observes:

[P]osters like this were as common as dirt. They should be in history books in school — not college. School. One month of black history.

It doesn’t even have to be in February.

Side note: Lewis County, Kentucky is just south of the Ohio River. It’s 98 percent white; over 40 percent of county income is government benefits of one sort or another.

(Poster from the Facebook page Black Knowledge.)

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We are not delirious

Mexican actress Anahí Giovanna Puente de Velasco — you can just call her Anahí, everyone else does — occupies a rather uncommon spot near the intersection of Pop Culture and Politics: in her thirty-three years she’s been an actress, a member of a musical girl group, and a solo singer/songwriter, and last year she wed Manuel Velasco Coello, governor of the Mexican state of Chiapas.

One might expect from this CV that she’d have a certain visual appeal, and you’ll get no argument from me:

Anahí out in front

Anahí sitting in the back

A thousand kisses from Anahí and Pepsi

In 2009, Anahí came up with this poppy tune called “Mi Delirio,” which I think was her first entry into the Billboard US Latin chart, peaking at #29. Parts of the video are perhaps disturbing:

Then again, you don’t need Google to translate “Mi Delirio.”

Feliz cumpleaños, Anahí.

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McQuestion McAnswered

In the wake of Boaty McBoatface, Katy Waldman — not, you’ll note, Katy McKaterson — traces the origin of this odd bit of name construction:

By the time Adam Sandler introduced a creature called Fatty McGee on his double platinum comedy album They’re All Gonna Laugh at You in 1993, the parodic “Mc” had absorbed some bite from its association with McDonalds. In the ’80s and ’90s, a dismissive Mc often prefaced “something that is of mass appeal, a standardized or bland variety,” says the OED. In 1986, the sociologist Amitai Etzioni coined the word “McJob” to describe what the novelist Douglas Coupland would later immortalize in Generation X as “a low-pay, low-prestige, low-dignity, low benefit, no-future job in the service sector.” Like a McDonald’s hamburger, such positions were cheap, ubiquitous, and un-nourishing. A glib and pandering best-seller was a “McThriller.” A meretricious construction project was a “McMansion.” (Even today, couples in Hong Kong can get McMarried at a fast food outlet for about $1,300.)

But the Internet didn’t take up the “X-y McXerson” construction in earnest until 2001, according to lexicographer Ben Zimmer: “The first [Usenet] appearance of Hottie McHotterson (on rec.games.video.sony),” Zimmer writes, beat out “Fatty McFatterson, Stiffy McStifferson, Drinky McDrinkerson, Jewy McJewerson, etc.” Zimmer also notes a cornucopia of deprecative McNicknames for George W. Bush, including “Chimpy McBunnypants,” “Drinky McCokeSpoon,” and “Smirky McWarHardon.”

Apparently I picked up on this construction for the first time in 2010, in a reference to James Lileks:

Of course, if you do as much scanning as Lileks — but no. No one does as much scanning as Lileks. He’s the original Scanny McScannerton. He could probably justify an industrial-strength scanner that would make Great-gramma throw up her dentures in despair, but they’d make him pay industry-level prices for it, and I suspect he’d like to feed the family once in a while.

I’m surprised nothing along these lines has showed up in the cloud of effluent surrounding the 2016 general election; apparently Donald Trump prefers the name “John” [warning: autostart video], but that’s about it so far.

(Via Heather Froelich.)

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When the right name is still wrong

I mean, yes, it fits, but no, you shouldn’t:

Maybe a hyphen between the two words?

For the curious, area code 858 covers northern sections of San Diego County in California.

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