The final word on ACA

I mean, it’s not going anywhere, and the chances that an upcoming Republican administration will toss it are next to nil. (There are times when I think the chances of an upcoming Republican administration are next to nil; few snatch defeat from the jaws of victory more assiduously than today’s GOP.) That said, here’s a quick postmortem from Dave Schuler:

The good news in the Court’s decision is obvious: millions of people won’t lose their subsidies. The bad news is less obvious. One bit of bad news is that the Court has again taken it on itself to reward the Pelosi-Reid Congress for slovenly work. Don’t be surprised if at some point SCOTUS is forced to throw the Congress a brushback pitch. It can’t allow itself to become Congress’s whipping boy.

From my point of view the worst piece of news in the decision is that the lesson the Congress will learn from this is to minimize its paper trail.

Yep. Future bills will magically appear with no indication whatsoever of their origin.

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A whole Heep of names

There is a very long Wikipedia page which lists various characters in the works of Charles Dickens. It turns out that he had plenty more to come:

Understandably, thinking of names for these characters was quite a task, and so Dickens kept lists to be considered for future use.

George Muzzle and Thomas Fatherly sound particularly Dickensian.

On the distaff side, you’ll find Matilda Rainbird, Birdie Nash, and two names I wish I’d thought of when I was projecting a female persona back in the Bronze Age: Miriam Denial and Verity Mawkyard. (There really needs to be a Verity Mawkyard blog.)

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Memo to the National Football League

Those late-morning pregame shows may be in for some minor audience adjustments:

Ordinarily, I’m a big believer in individual privacy and I don’t like the idea of extensive and intrusive surveillance. But a program called Churchix uses facial recognition software to see who did and didn’t show up at service last Sunday, and I must confess I am intrigued.

This wasn’t, you should know, the intended application for this particular code. Says the head of the company developing the package [warning: autostart video]:

“We didn’t have any intention to get into the church market, but orders started piling up. In a really short period time, we got emails and phone calls from about 10 churches and they all asked us for the same thing, and now we’ve had even more requests.”

Because, you know, nothing enhances one’s reverence like induced paranoia.

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Alsou

Alsou Ralifovna Abramova, thirty-two today, is a Russian singer who is mostly, though not entirely, unknown in the States. This wallpaper with her image dates to about 2004:

Alsou wallpaperized

She made the cover of the Russian edition of InStyle in 2010:

Alsou on the cover of InStyle

Born in Tatarstan, she and her family moved to Siberia when she was a year old. She showed musical promise early, and released her first album in 1999. “Winter Dream” was the first of three singles.

The next year, she turned up at Eurovision with an English-language song called “Solo”:

“Solo” won second place for Russia.

Perhaps her most elusive recording is a duet with Jon Bon Jovi on a 2003 remake of “Livin’ On A Prayer”, which was released to Russian radio with the This Left Feels Right album; for some reason, the Russian CD release contained the same version we got in the States, with Olivia d’Abo instead of Aisou.

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Didn’t help his alibi

We will apparently never, ever run out of Really Stupid Criminals:

Yuba City police responded to Umpqua Bank on Colusa Highway just after 9 a.m. Monday when they received notification a robbery had just occurred.

Bank employees said the robber handed the teller a note which read, in part, “Give me $10,000 dollars or I will kill you”. The note was signed John Chapman.

The man then fled the area, and employees were able to positively identify the suspect as John Chapman.

The only way this could be worse would be if Chapman had posted some reference to the robbery on his Facebook page.

(Via Nothing To Do With Arbroath.)

Addendum: None of the eight John Chapmans I checked on Facebook matched up to this guy.

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Dispatch from Department 72°

You know what I think of thermostats: there is the classic Honeywell Eyeball, and then there is all that other crap.

But hey, nobody has to believe me. Will Truman decided to try something new:

Honeywell made the high-tech thermostat we have in our house. It has wifi, can be programmed on a computer to dates and times. It’s pretty neat.

When you get that high-tech, though, you have to worry about things like software and firmware upgrades. It has sent me three emails informing me that I need to upgrade the software. And in none of those emails has it explained to me how. A quick surfing of the control panel has come up with nothing.

In other news, our power has gone out three times in the last 24 hours.

Life is too short to spend reprogramming stuff.

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Quote of the week

Sheila O’Malley reviews Ex Machina, and comments therein:

There is a deep and very human empathy at work in Ex Machina, startling and strange considering the scientific and spare environment of that house, its chilliness, its intimidating perfection. I don’t need all films to be kind and empathetic towards women. I honestly don’t. I loved Wolf of Wall Street, and was so frustrated with the “It’s misogynistic” commentary. For God’s sake, of COURSE it was, because those guys in the film were misogynistic ass-clowns. What do you want? One of those douche-bags to suddenly spout a regretful monologue, “Oh my God, I am a misogynistic asshole and I am so sorry!” Or to have Scorsese somehow point an arrow at all of them, telegraphing, “This is bad behavior.” Have you seen a Martin Scorsese film before? So what you are saying is, you would have liked Wolf of Wall Street better if it had been a bad film but showed the “enlightened” viewpoint? Get outta here with your bullshit. Showing something is not necessarily endorsement. I want to put that on a billboard.

And while we’re at it, here’s a bit from her review of The Wolf of Wall Street:

People yearn to iron out complexity because it is personally triggering for them to witness said complexity. But complexity like this should be triggering. It’s not there to make you feel comfortable, to re-affirm your own prejudices and beliefs, it is not there to provide solace for you in darker moments. Some art acts that way. I cherish a lot of it. But it is not a requirement that ALL art work that way.

Well, at least not yet it isn’t.

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A bug in the system

And not just any bug, either. It was a fricking wasp:

A Florida wasp provided the latest challenge to Allegiant Air in a difficult month for the airline, crawling into an aircraft sensor Thursday and forcing a flight departing St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport to make an unscheduled landing.

Allegiant spokeswoman Jessica Wheeler said Flight 894 with 159 passengers took off at 7:30 a.m. headed to Niagara Falls, N.Y., but diverted to Orlando Sanford International Airport not long after takeoff because of problems with the sensor.

A retired pilot from some other airline speculated as to what Allegiant meant by “sensor”:

Former U.S. Airways pilot John Cox, who lives in St. Petersburg, said from the airline’s description it appears the wasp was in a pitot tube, which is as narrow as a pencil, on the nose of the aircraft. The plane, a McDonnell Douglas model, has three such tubes measuring airspeed.

Cox said the pilot of Flight 894 may have noticed one of three gauges showed a different airspeed than the other two during the flight, indicating a problem.

“It’s not an uncommon occurrence,” Cox said. The wasps “find a spot on the inside of the tube that they like and they will start building a nest and it impedes the airflow into the tube.”

Passengers will be given a $50 voucher toward future travel on Allegiant.

(Via Consumerist.)

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This high, but no higher

There are high heels, and there are really high heels. The obvious question: how high is too high?

In our search for the answer on how to achieve comfort without giving up our lift, we tapped the brain of Dr. Emily Splichal, podiatrist and human movement specialist, and posed the question: What is the heel height we should be shopping for?

“You shouldn’t walk in heels higher than three inches,” she says. “Anything over the three-inch mark changes the biomechanics of how you walk—your strides are shortened, you can’t walk as fast, your body weight shifts to the ball of the foot, which throws off your center of gravity and stresses the knees and lower back.”

Of course, if you’re not walking — never mind, that was silly. So flats for everyone, then? Nope:

Also harmful is a too-flat shoe, she cautions, especially if someone’s foot is naturally flat (little to no arch versus a high arch): “A little heel, like a one-inch heel, puts the foot into a more stable position.”

The takeaway here is to shop for shoes with heels that range between one inch and three in height. “Avoid heels that are both too flat or too high,” she advises. “Avoid the extremes.”

I suspect there might be just a little bit of leeway at either edge of this continuum, depending on one’s individual tootsies. And there is a small but consistent market for shoes with negative heels.

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How much is that in bits?

Sonic Rainboom at AFK TavernA Seattle drinkery called the AFK Tavern features an utterly fanciful, if perhaps a trifle pricey, libation called the Sonic Rainboom:

Flying against some Wonderbolts, or simply celebrating a friend’s big day? This colorful dropshot ought to help!

“Colorful,” from the looks of things, doesn’t even begin to describe this particular drink. On the off-chance that you’re wondering what the buck goes into this quasi-Equestrian delight:

Um, thanks, M. A. Larson! (Yet another excuse to go to Seattle some day, preferably in a rented car that doesn’t have Oklahoma plates.)

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Mercatoring to a niche market

Oh, look, it’s time for a new shower curtain:

It’s a map curtain. A map of the world. (And eeep, I might have to get a liner, there’s a lot of blank clear curtain there. No, not so that no one can see me, but so that it’s not such a clear sight into my tub when the curtain is pulled, because the tub is often the LAST thing I get around to cleaning.) (And I observe: it seems wrong you would have to CLEAN the place you go to WASH, but there you are)

Imagine how it might be if we had to dry-clean ourselves. (Some of those fluids are, um, nasty.)

Come to think of it, I’m at the point where I need a new liner. The curtain itself is okay, if flimsy. And the liner, I suspect, is probably not going to have a disclaimer like this:

“This curtain is intended for decorative purposes only and does not conform exactly to Global Map Accuracy Standards.”

This should serve as a warning to anyone planning to sail around the world using a shower curtain for navigation.

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Still they persist

Looking through the accumulated StatCounter stuff, which has been piling up for a month now, I’m finding that there are some serious diehards out there:

  • 5.2 percent of visitors are running Windows XP. Still.
  • About 21 percent of visitors are using the Firefox browser, and while the vast majority of them are using version 38, I’ve had two hits from someone still on 3.5.
  • Most of the Internet Explorer users are running version 11, with 8 a distant second and 9 and 10 hardly showing up — but 6 and 7 are still in the log.
  • Almost all the Chrome users are using 43, but there are apparently some hard-core individuals on 10.
  • Google dominates the searchers, of course; but google.ca, all by itself, outdraws Yahoo!

Traffic is ostensibly up by about 15 percent, though this may simply be greater efficiency than was afforded me by my previous tracking service.

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Dam scary

One of the inevitable effects of nine months’ worth of rain in a couple of weeks:

Says the Corps:

This is a normal occurrence when flood waters are released from the reservoir via flood control gates.

But they also say this:

The vortex is approximately 8 feet in diameter and capable of sucking in a full-sized boat, so please heed all safety buoys and caution signs.

The Black Hole of Texoma!

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Not to be confused with National Bohemian

Raise a suitable container of Queen Bohemian Lager:

An official Queen-branded lager has been announced.

Entitled “Queen Bohemian Lager” after the band’s classic hit “Bohemian Rhapsody,” the beer has been released in conjunction with the 40 year anniversary of their 1975 hit single.

It comes just months after the band released their own brand of vodka — “Killer Queen” after the hit single of the same name. That too was celebrating its 40th anniversary.

I’m wondering what we get when “Fat Bottomed Girls” turns 40 in 2018.

Disclosure: I have had exactly one Natty Boh in my life.

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A flower for everybody

About 2007, I came up with this bit of whimsy:

Maybe it’s time for something other than numbers. Example: In the early 1950s, hosiery manufacturers were trying to distinguish among a line of three or four sizes without using accusative terms like, say, “large.” I shuffled through some advertising pieces from this period and happened upon a 1953 ad from Wayne Knitting Mills, who sold stockings under the Belle-Sharmeer brand. They offered four sizes, as follows:

  • BREV (purple edge) for slender or small legs. Sizes 8 to 10½
  • MODITE (green edge) for average size legs. Sizes 8½ to 11
  • DUCHESS (red edge) for tall, larger legs. Sizes 9½ to 11½
  • CLASSIC (plain edge) for largest legs. Sizes 9½ to 11½

You might guess that “Brev” had something to do with shortness, but the others tell you nothing.

Welcome to Manifesta, where there are no sizes, only flowers:

We don’t want there to be an inherent order to the sizes, with women striving to fit into the smallest number possible. And we don’t want women to feel bad for ordering a size that society has deemed “unacceptable.” We just want you to get what fits. So to find your size, use your measurements, not society’s idea of what you should be.

Okay, one gives it away, maybe: “Willow,” for 36-24-36 or thereabouts. (“If she’s five-three,” said Mix-A-Lot.) From there, the range goes from “Poppy” to “Dahlia.” And if this sounds a trifle Garanimalistic, well, who believes numerical sizes anymore?

(Via Fark.)

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Buzzless and overfed

Lileks contemplates the horror that is BuzzFeed:

Ninety-two percent of the content on the site is mediocre; seven percent has a serious subject and relies on other sources rewritten in VERY BIG TYPE yelling at you in between the pictures — there are lots of pictures, there have to be lots of pictures — and one percent might be “long form” stuff that’s supposed to make you nod and say “my, BuzzFeed is really upping their game. Bow. Down.” The rest of it is obviously juvenile, but it’s neither aimed at juveniles or written by juveniles. It’s written by self-infantilizing adults for peers who are equally unaccomplished. It’s a a bunch of chickens running around in circles, and none of them have the skill to get off the ground and fly somewhere higher.

Ever since the flowering of the hated Baby Boomers, the prolonging of adolescence past all understanding has been a priority of this culture; BuzzFeed was inevitable under those conditions.

This is the part that hurts, though:

Here’s the thing: appearing on that site is regarded as a résumé builder.

Well, yeah. It’s not that Serious Journalism is actually serious anymore: it’s a mixture of thinly disguised hit pieces, utterly undisguised hit pieces, and lots and lots of filler. There isn’t an online editor out there who wouldn’t sell her own never-to-be-born children for ten percent more clicks. Forget Strunk and White; today belongs to Titus Andronicus.

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