She’s right, you know

You’re out of superglue. Really, you are:

Superglue is the kind of thing you see on the impulse buy rack while you’re patiently waiting in line at Walmars and silently judging the fashion choices of the landwhale in front of you and taking stealthy pictures with your cell phone, or you would if you could just for fuck’s sake remember to silence the little picture-taking noise so we don’t have yet ANOTHER incident. Then you get the superglue home and you carefully open it to glue that ceramic ostrich’s beak back on, and by the time you get your fingers unstuck from each other, the superglue has turned to granite inside the tiny tiny oh so tiny tube. So you never already HAVE superglue. You have to go get it.

To verify this, I went to yon Junk Drawer and extracted my precious bottle of superglue. The contents were seemingly as dense as osmium and about as permeable. I think I’d used it — wait a minute, has anyone in the history of the world ever managed to get two uses out of a single bottle?

Hint: If this first paragraph is true, probably not. In which case, this business model suddenly looks viable:

Someone needs to open up a business where you can come in with your broken stuff and pay a small fee to use THEIR superglue.

Endorsed heartily.

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Perhaps a tad less well

Welsh singer Duffy, born on this date in 1984, burst onto the scene in 2008 with two dynamite singles, the forceful “Mercy” and the pensive “Warwick Avenue”; the Rockferry album won her a Grammy in 2009 for Best Pop Vocal Album. She also, I am informed, puts on a heck of a live show:

Duffy in concert

Then this happened:

Cover of Endlessly by Duffy

Perhaps the blame lay with the one and only single released from the album, which seemed to go over well but which charted low in Europe and not at all in the States:

That was October ’10. The following February, her new management announced that there would be no further singles from Endlessly, and that Duffy would be taking a two-year break from the music biz. I haven’t heard from her since.

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Flinging the door open

State Democrats are contemplating abandoning the closed-primary model:

Oklahoma’s 261,000 independent voters would be allowed to cast votes in Democratic primary elections under a proposal state party delegates are expected to support in a meeting next month.

The move is intended to show the party is inclusive of differing viewpoints and is aimed at boosting support for Democratic candidates in a state dominated by the GOP.

I’m not quite sure how this would work to the party’s advantage. Most of the people I know around here who are registered Independent did so because (1) the Democrats weren’t far enough to the left or (2) the Republicans aren’t far enough to the right. (Yes, Virginia, it is possible for Republicans to be even farther to the right, though I believe this is due to repositioning of the center.) Still, that’s more anecdote than data.

On balance, given the generally horrible way the state treats independent candidates, the widening of the Democratic tent might prove to be a good thing in the long run, provided the GOP doesn’t get the same idea, and I’m thinking they won’t:

Randy Brogdon, the tea party favorite who is chairman of the state Republican party, has no interest in allowing independents to participate in GOP primaries.

“A majority of the independents have come from the Republican party primarily because we haven’t done an excellent job of promoting Republican principles of limited government and lower taxes,” he said. “We want to give them a reason to come back.”

I’ll give Brogdon this: he’s right about the lack of excellence. And there’s an issue for the GOP at the national level as well:

Whereas the Democrat Party is run by people who actually share the same beliefs as the people who vote for the Democrat Party, the GOP is run by people who do not remotely give a fuck about GOP voters. Karl Rove hates Republican voters. All elite GOP operatives share a profound disdain for the party’s grassroots electoral base.

There’s one tent that won’t be expanding.

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Just a tad ungrounded

A lot of people undertake DIY projects which, in retrospect, should have been outsourced to someone who knows what the hell she’s doing. I suspect that’s the way this story ends:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: Why does my solar panel junction box have 3 terminals surly it only needs 2 positive and negative?

He’d really be surly if he encountered four wires.

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Watching Kitty land

About three years ago, I did a brief piece on a Hello Kitty-branded jet, courtesy of Taiwan’s Eva Air. I did not anticipate it might ever fly to the States at all, let alone to Houston, Texas [warning: autostart video]:

When Taiwanese carrier Eva Air, which Friday launched its nonstop service between Taipei and Bush Intercontinental Airport, promises your flight will have plenty of Hello Kitty, it is not kidding.

The outside of the plane, newly painted, is emblazoned with Hello Kitty and related characters.

Inside the jet, Hello Kitty is queen. Carrots and fruit are cut in the shape of her face and into star shapes for in-flight meals. Hello Kitty keeps you company in the bathroom with printed toilet paper and helps you sleep soundly on a Hello Kitty pillow.

How much of this will Houston be able to take?

Eva Air’s Taipei-to-Houston route will initially have flights three days a week, all on the themed jet. The frequency jumps to four days in July, with the fourth flight on a regular plane. The Boeing 777-300ER has 333 seats, consisting of 39 business class, 56 premium economy and 238 economy.

Truth be told, the concept of “premium economy” perplexes me more than Hello Kitty ever did.

(Via Fark.)

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Reptiles in motion

Akiyoshi Kitaoka, way back when, created a fearsome optical illusion which he called “Rotating Snakes.” At full size (1024 x 768), it will make your head spin. And if it creeps you out, think what it does to an unsuspecting kitten:

This sort of thing ought to be in a scientific paper, should it not? Well, it is.

(Via Viralnova.)

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Don’t touch my junk bonds

I want to say up front that when they say “we,” they don’t mean me:

Maybe it’s a kind of pension envy. We worry that our retirement account is just not big enough, especially when compared to the those of the big savers. And the younger we are, the more we fret.

Almost one-third (29%) of respondents to a new Merrill Edge survey admitted they would be embarrassed if their close friends or family knew the intimate details of their finances — especially their retirement savings, checking account balance or credit score. They’re even a bit shy about how much they spent on their wedding and how much they blow every month on discretionary items.

Then there are those of us who wonder why the hell it’s anybody’s business how much was spent on my wedding. (Hint: Not much.)

[S]urprisingly, those with the most time to prepare for retirement are the most concerned. More Gen X-ers (74%) and Millennials (67%) say they expect a “stressful retirement” in their future, based on what they are currently able to save. Meanwhile, about six-in-ten (59%) of current “mass affluent” retirees — having $50,000 to $250,000 in investable assets — aren’t concerned about their finances.

“Mass affluent?” GMAFB. Mass effluent, maybe. If I got eased into the Lonely Financial Zone this week, $50,000 would last me maybe through the 2016 election, after which anything left would probably be confiscated. (For all I know, it might be confiscated before the election; Washington is not to be trusted on such matters.)

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And this is our prestige product

Motor Trend, a magazine over 60 years old, sells about twice as many copies as Automobile, a magazine just turned thirty which became a corporate sister to MT a couple years back, and more recently a live-in relative: both magazines work out of the same office in El Segundo, because, you know, synergies.

MT, despite its senior status, is apparently not considered the flagship of the line. The most recent subscription offer was 2 years of MT for $24, two years of Automobile for $30, though MT has the higher single-copy price: $5.99 versus $4.99. “Official” subscription rates, as hidden away in the magazines: MT, $18/year; Automobile, $19.94 a year.

Meanwhile in Ann Arbor, Car and Driver and Road & Track have different, um, issues: both sell for $4.99 on the stands, but R&T puts out only 10 issues per year. Hearst Magazines tends to fuzz up the rates by offering to throw in something else — in my case, usually Esquire — for next to nothing.

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No threat presented

Yesterday afternoon, I pulled on my bathrobe and set off down the driveway to fetch the Sunday paper. This is generally a fairly long haul, inasmuch as the Sunday paper weighs two or three times as much as the usual daily edition and the chap lofting it from the middle of the street can only exert so much force on it.

About halfway down, a robin approached, and proceeded to follow me down the driveway for a couple of yards. On foot. Not so much as the flap of a wing. The bird stood there as I retrieved the plastic bag and started back up; he waited until I was within a meter or so of him, then emitted one note and took off for the top of the nearest holly.

This isn’t the first time the robins have put somebird on guard duty — turf must be protected, after all — but they don’t often make it so obvious. (And I, as the possessor of a mulberry tree, have provided a food source, which they are loath to let go without a fight.)

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Meanwhile, back in 1989

I mentioned last week that the first three months of Apple Music would generate no royalties for musicians, and that Taylor Swift’s 1989 would not be available on the service. Sunday Swift issued her own statement via Tumblr:

This is not about me. Thankfully I am on my fifth album and can support myself, my band, crew, and entire management team by playing live shows. This is about the new artist or band that has just released their first single and will not be paid for its success. This is about the young songwriter who just got his or her first cut and thought that the royalties from that would get them out of debt. This is about the producer who works tirelessly to innovate and create, just like the innovators and creators at Apple are pioneering in their field … but will not get paid for a quarter of a year’s worth of plays on his or her songs.

These are not the complaints of a spoiled, petulant child. These are the echoed sentiments of every artist, writer and producer in my social circles who are afraid to speak up publicly because we admire and respect Apple so much. We simply do not respect this particular call.

About two decades ago, I wrote an unnecessarily long piece about a sampler-album series issued by Warner Bros. starting in the late 1960s. Included was a squib from the company’s advertisements for the series:

We can get away with that low price because these celebrated artists and this benevolent record company have agreed not to make a profit on this venture. We (and they) feel it’s more important that these samples of musical joy be heard.

At least 100 people have written me asking why these albums were never reissued on CD. The answer, of course, is that they’d have to renegotiate all those agreements, including those with acts who were no longer active or had moved on to rival companies. It wasn’t going to happen.

What’s different today is the nature of the music business. In 1970, if you heard a track you liked from one of those samplers, you pretty much had to go shell out $4.98 for the LP on which it was released, and the musicians still got something out of it, even after rapacious record-company contracts made the usual deductions. Today, CD sales are in seemingly terminal decline, and sales of downloadable tracks are stagnant; everyone’s flocking to streams (which pay hardly anything) or YouTube (which pays hardly anything unless you have enormous view counts). The biggest artists, like Taylor Swift, will of course survive, but it’s rough sledding for anyone a long way from the A-list.

Swift’s manifesto continues:

Three months is a long time to go unpaid, and it is unfair to ask anyone to work for nothing. I say this with love, reverence, and admiration for everything else Apple has done. I hope that soon I can join them in the progression towards a streaming model that seems fair to those who create this music. I think this could be the platform that gets it right.

But I say to Apple with all due respect, it’s not too late to change this policy and change the minds of those in the music industry who will be deeply and gravely affected by this. We don’t ask you for free iPhones. Please don’t ask us to provide you with our music for no compensation.

And you know what? It wasn’t too late. An Apple exec tweeted late last night that they were giving in:

Whatever Taylor wants…

(Disclosure: I have a copy of Swift’s 1989 — purchased on CD from Target.)

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Strange search-engine queries (490)

The days are now getting shorter, at least on this half of the globe, but there’s no evidence to suggest that people looking for weird stuff on the Intertubes are in any way reducing their volume.

a young woman who formerly had a fairly high sex drive:  Eventually met me.

why dont we feel the earth move:  Maybe your sex drive isn’t what it used to be.

brain teaser: i am something:  No, you’re not. You are Nothing. Do you hear me? NOTHING!

when the floor rusted through on her old car:  It was the first time she’d had any proper ventilation since the A/C compressor froze up that day in Lubbock.

shoes that look like food:  I live in constant fear that some day Crocs will produce a special Taco Edition.

oversized male genitalia disorder:  Surprisingly, the guys have not been complaining much.

shall i compare thee to a summer’s day hot as balls:  You’re new at this sonnet stuff, aren’t you?

rock man from fantastic four:  That would be Benjamin J. Grimm, who’s tired of being treated like a Thing.

is jailbait legal:  Perhaps you’re not comprehending that word jail.

cover photos for facebook timeline for girls attitude 399 pixels wide:  My, but aren’t we picky today.

oreo tits:  Hold out for the Double Stuf if you can.

things just happen what the hell:  Now you’re catching on.

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Word on the street

For several years now, I have been watching in dismay as some grubby offshoot of Gresham’s Law became the law of the urban street corner:

People whose hearts bleed red with simulated compassion will no doubt chide me for my lack of sensitivity. “Walk a mile in their shoes,” they’d say. Actually, most of them seem to have better shoes than I do, and I’m pretty sure they didn’t walk from the shelters, which tend to be west of downtown, all the way to Penn freaking Square.

But causing me annoyance is hardly a hanging offense. (Otherwise, there’d be a worldwide rope shortage right about now.) What’s happening here is that people who do need help, and I presume there are a few such on the streets, are going to be spurned because we can’t distinguish between who’s really begging and who’s really bogus. And locking up everyone who asks for spare change runs into serious First Amendment issues, which is not something to be encouraged.

Cover of The Curbside Chronicle Issue 4I wrote that six years ago. I was not at all expecting that it might be possible to come up with a marker to distinguish the actual homeless from the unreasonable facsimiles thereof; the city was trying to license individual panhandlers, but all else being equal, I’d prefer a private-sector solution, were one possible.

This is where The Curbside Chronicle came in. It’s a street paper, a publication by and for people who live in the streets, an idea with at least 100 years of tradition under its tattered belt. (See, for instance, Hobo News, which flourished around 1915.) The Chronicle started last year, and publishes bi-monthly.

The operation is fairly simple. Vendors are staked to 15 copies of the magazine, which sell for $2 “suggested donation.” After that, they can get more for 75 cents each. How many can they sell in a couple of months? I’m not sure, but the Chronicle says that “To date, we have helped six vendors find and sustain housing!”

Issue 11, out now, contains a startling pictorial called “How I See OKC”:

We paired local photographers with Curbside Chronicle vendors and friends experiencing homelessness. These pictures seek to open people’s eyes to what the homeless see on a daily basis, as well as share parts of their stories… Vendors titled and captioned all of their photos in their own words with what they want the community to take away from their images.

Some of those captions may well break your heart — even mine. (I came entirely too close to joining their numbers three decades ago, which helps to prevent cynicism — and which informs my irritation with those few poseurs whose panhandling conceals a perfectly ordinary suburban lifestyle.)

What can a 32-page color glossy do that years of activism and scores of governmental actions can’t? It’s perhaps too early to tell. But if the Chronicle is accomplishing anything at all, it’s way ahead of the activists and the politicians.

Incidentally, my copy of Issue 11 (two bucks) was sealed in a freezer bag, an acknowledgment of the fact that the weather by the side of the road is capricious at best.

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Controlled chaos

If the mere thought of going to the Department of Motor Vehicles fills you with existential dread, you could always move here, where you’ll only have to do that sort of thing once. Maybe.

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Nor was much popcorn sold

Once in a while, the Karma Police get one right on the first try:

FIFA, the world’s most powerful soccer organization, is embroiled in criminal accusations and charges against a number of senior executives. Longtime FIFA President Sepp Blatter (and owner of a name that bears repeating … Sepp Blatter) recently announced he was stepping down only days after being re-elected. Meanwhile, soccer fans around the world are in the throes of both the FIFA Women’s World Cup and the 2015 Copa América in Chile. In spite of all this in focus on FIFA and football right now, United Passions, the $30 million, FIFA-backed vanity film about the organization’s brilliant leadership has managed to bring in about as much money as a Kevin Federline concert.

If you are suffering from symptoms of Sepp Blatter, seek medical attention at once.

I’d say “Don’t go see United Passions,” but people are already staying away in droves:

The Hollywood Reporter says that United Passions has raked in a whopping $918 at the box office, making it the worst box office opening ever in the U.S.

Well, not exactly. If I read the THR piece correctly, it’s the worst box office opening ever in at least ten theaters. Below that threshold, there is … well, there’s Zyzzyx Road, which opened in a single theater and took in $30. (Technically, $20, since two patrons were given refunds.)

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Hey, big spenders

According to HoopsHype, these are the final payroll numbers for the NBA season just ended:

Top ten NBA payroll numbers for 2014-15

Who’d have thought that the Thunder would be outspending the Lakers at this point?

About 60 percent of that vast sum goes to three players: Kevin Durant ($20 million), Russell Westbrook ($15.7 million), and Serge Ibaka ($12.2 million). About $1.3 million was paid to Sebastian Telfair, acquired by Oklahoma City last summer and then waived in November. The rest went to a lineup fairly described as “bargain-basement,” the priciest member of which was Enes Kanter, who earned $6 million this season and will presumably be offered $7.9 million to stay one more year.

The luxury-tax threshold this season was $76,829,000, so the Thunder organization will be paying the tax for the first time. The betting, though, is that next year’s cap will be substantially higher, in which case the team will likely avoid the harsher penalties for going over the threshold two years in a row.

(Since you asked: Kyle Singler was the lowest-paid member of the team, drawing $1.09 million for the season.)

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Because standards

I remember doing stuff like this in sixth grade:

We are well and truly boned.

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