Can’t wait

I hadn’t thought about this, but yes, it has the ring of truth:

Back in the old days (as recently as the 1970s), you’d write a letter or a postcard and mail it and figure, at the least, it would take three or four days to arrive. And, then, if the recipient was particularly conscientious, and responded fairly quickly, in a day or so, it would be another three or four days before you got your reply. Call it ten days from message to response. Ten whole days.

Today (drum roll) you send an email or you text a text and what? Are you patient? Do you expect to wait for as many as ten days for a reply? Heck no. In fact, if you don’t hear back in ten minutes, well… An hour, tops.

The same goes for what is still called “mail-order.” Back in the day, as I’m pretty sure they never said back in the day, the offering said “Allow 6 to 8 weeks for delivery.” Today, we’re hitting up the email every half-hour looking for a tracking number. And there’s this:

Shipping’s always $5, and free for VMP members. So yeah, we’re going to ship it the slowest and cheapest way we can possibly find. Usually that’s Smartpost or Surepost, which starts with FedEx or UPS and ends with the post office. It’ll probably be 2 weeks before you get it. And no you can’t get it any faster.

Still beats the heck out of 6 to 8.

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Hair apparent

Apparently this was quite the rage, circa 1904:

The Evans Vacuum Cap for baldness

Although I suspect that like many hair-restoration schemes, it sucked.

(Via Weird Vintage.)

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Easier listening

The second Jazz-Thunder meeting of the season was not quite like the semi-blowout in Salt Lake last week. For one thing, Oklahoma City did not go entirely to pieces in the second half; in fact, the biggest OKC lead, 20 points, was attained with 3:41 left. What’s more, the Thunder defense hung around for basically the entire game: after giving up 29 points to the Jazz in the first quarter, the screws were tightened, and Utah managed only 53 points the rest of the night. The final was 97-82, dropping the Jazz to 5-11 and pulling the Thunder up to 4-12.

There were lots of numbers screaming from the box score. Perhaps the most obvious: Kendrick Perkins outscored the entire Jazz bench, 4-3. In fact, the OKC reserves were good for 44 points, including a startling 21 from Jeremy Lamb in less than 24 minutes, limited only by Lamb’s tendency to reach in, which resulted in his fouling out. Anthony Morrow added 12; curiously, he was 4-9 from three, 0-2 from closer in. Among the starters, Reggie Jackson dropped in 22 points, Serge Ibaka 20 (including 4-4 shooting in the fourth quarter), and Steven Adams came up with six points and 11 rebounds. Lance Thomas inexplicably goose-egged, which I attribute to the strain of answering questions from the Oklahoman (see this morning’s sports page).

Also inexplicable: Gordon Hayward, who led all scorers with 24 points and a career 80-percent free-throw shooter, tossed up seven bricks from the stripe, exactly as many as he made. (Then again, if we mock Hayward’s 7-14, we must mock the Thunder’s aggregate 5-10, which, minus Lamb, leaves 1-9.) Utah had no talent for treys tonight, hitting only three of 16. Still, all five of their starters made it to double figures, leaving, um, three points for the bench, all by Dante Exum. And it’s always fun to watch Enes Kanter work: he was 6-13 for 16 points tonight, and he was the only Jazzman to come close to foul trouble.

The Knicks will be here Friday. Rumors persist that the mighty Russell Westbrook might actually be back. I’ll believe it when I see it — or when I don’t see Ish Smith.

Update: For “Ish Smith,” read “Sebastian Telfair.” Smith was the hardship-exception player; however, they’re keeping him and ditching Telfair.

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Pray for snow, maybe

BC Clark Jewelers, founded (as every Oklahoman already knows) in 1892, instituted a program in 1998 called Pray for Rain:

When you buy your engagement ring from BC Clark Jewelers and it rains (or snows) an inch or more on your wedding day, BC Clark will refund you the price of your engagement ring up to $5,000. Just ask one of our 140+ Pray for Rain winning couples!

Five grand is a lot to have to cough up, but it’s nothing compared to this:

In what one Chicago-area Buick dealership is calling a “White Friday” sale, customers who buy any brand new Buick or GMC vehicle on Nov. 28 and 29 will have the chance to get all that money back come Christmas, reports the Chicago Tribune.

The catch is, it has to snow six inches or more on Christmas Day, a measurement that must be recorded at the O’Hare International Airport weather station.

Snow? In Chicago? Is that even possible?

The chances of getting any amount of snowfall in Chicago on that day are between 40% to 50%, according to the Illinois Climatologist office, much less an entire six inches.

Still, if the dealership had to fork over $32,000 — the average vehicle transaction price these days — for, say, 30 buyers, we’re up towards a million dollars. (Dr. Evil recommends taking out some insurance.)

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It’s gotta be that damn kale

The correlation between health and happiness may not be what you thought it was, even for our herbivore friends:

Australian vegetarians might be healthier than meat-eaters but they are unhappier and more prone to mental health disorders, new research suggests.

The Alere Wellness Index shows vegetarians drink and smoke less and are more physically active than their carnivorous counterparts.

But they are also more likely to have depression and anxiety disorders, according to the Index made up of scores for nutrition, fitness, smoking, alcohol, psychological wellbeing, body mass and medical conditions.

Hmmm. Now how can this be?

Dr John Lang, who developed the wellness index for preventive healthcare company Alere, says the adoption of a vegetarian diet can sometimes follow the onset of mental disorders.

“So the diet isn’t the cause but rather the symptom,” he said. “If you think of people that are committed to being a vegetarian it’s a fairly significant commitment and it picks up people at the fringe of the obsessive-compulsive spectrum.”

Vitamin OCD! The mind boggles. Still, grinding up pork rinds over their quinoa seems unkind, if not downright treacherous.

(Via Tim Blair.)

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And appropriately so

The Internet Movie Database has millions of viewer ratings for hundreds of thousands of motion pictures, all on the standard 1 to 10 scale — with one exception:

Screenshot of IMDb entry for This Is Spinal Tap

Unfortunately, I couldn’t figure out any way to rate the film 11, even using my ten-year-old long-forgotten login. (The average is 8.0, though there are more 10s than 8s.) Apparently the 11 is for decoration only. Still: well played, IMDb.

(From BuzzFeed via Virginia Postrel.)

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Evidently Wank was taken

Something about this announcement seems a trifle off:

Girl, a digital men’s lifestyle magazine, is launching in January 2015. Published by commercial modeling agency Girl Management, the magazine will be aimed at men aged 18-30, and will cover topics including film, music, tech and games, cars, sports and fashion. It will be available as a free app for tablets and smartphones.

No other response makes sense:

I’m guessing that this is where the idea came from:

Lads’ mag publisher Loaded has announced the acquisition of modelling agency Girl Management and will retain the services of its creative director Lucy Pinder and director Adam Sutherland.

The agency has previously worked with brands such as Puma, Boots, EA Games and Ann Summers, supplying models to the TV and film industry.

Paul Chaplin, owner of Loaded, said: “This is the perfect fit for the Loaded brand. Not only do we have men’s lifestyle magazines, we have digital platforms, Loaded TV and Loaded Radio, which will be launched later this year. We will be the one stop shop for glamour models.”

The agreement between Girl Management will also see Loaded take a stake in the Frank White picture archive.

This will end well, or at least quickly. How many such apps can one guy be expected to tote around?

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Degrees of discomfort

Lifted in its entirety from Morgan Freeberg’s Facebook wall:

Furnace just came on. I’m going to go get myself another beer and shut off the furnace.

An idea for an invention that will pay for the seven-building mansion: A secure electronic lock you put on the thermostat, that can only be unlocked with a SCROTUM. Let’s just face it, okay? This time of year, every married man North of Tijuana who pays bills, wishes for something like that.

And if she wants it to be 72 degrees all-the-time-everywhere so badly she’s ready to chop off your balls, you probably weren’t going to keep ’em anyway.

This is probably not the time to note that I keep my house around 74 unless the HVAC is audibly straining to maintain that temperature.

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That crap is dangerous

The year I started grade school, my poor choice of base-running options during a game of kickball landed me about waist-deep in a metal can of raw sewage. I suppose it’s a good thing that at almost seven, I hadn’t started smoking or anything:

A cesspool filled with excrement exploded in a central Chinese city, injuring 15 residents and toppling a building on Saturday, police said.

Police in Zhangjiajie city, Hunan Province, believed it was an accident when a man surnamed Ding was burning waste outside his derelict house and near the cesspool at about 5 p.m.

Police said the fire ignited the methane emanated from the pit and caused the blast. The house has been abandoned since 2006.

Fortunately, China’s sterling environmental record insures that incidents of this sort are few and far between.

(Via Daily Pundit.)

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Time your shopping accordingly

Lynn perhaps dreads doing the routine shopping for this particular week:

Today I need to go to the store and I’m in a bit of a panic about what to get and about remembering everything I need for the whole week so I won’t have to go back out on the day before Thanksgiving, or worse, the day after. Although, the grocery stores shouldn’t be too bad on Black Friday? Also, I’ve noticed in previous years when we drove past Walmart later in the afternoon on Black Friday that the parking lot is almost deserted so I guess all the craziness happens early in the morning then everyone goes home and passes out or something.

I generally avoid anything that smacks of retail on Black Friday myself, but then that’s just me.

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All this and Superman too

By general assent, the number-one pinup among GIs in World War II was Betty Grable; you could make a pretty good case, though, for Noel Neill as Number Two, especially if you had these pix lying around:

Noel Neill smiles for the camera, circa 1944

Noel Neill smiles for the camera, circa 1945

This latter shot came from Paramount’s publicity mill, inasmuch as the studio had just signed her to a contract:

Noel Neill in a Paramount publicity still, circa 1941

She had a brief nonspeaking appearance in An American in Paris in 1951, but she is best remembered these days as Lois Lane, the spunky Daily Planet reporter who never could quite figure out that Kent fellow. She did two Superman serials; Phyllis Coates played the first year of the Adventures of Superman TV series, but had already made other commitments before anyone knew there’d be a second year, so Neill returned to the role. There is, as there should be, a statue of her in Metropolis. Today is her 95th birthday.

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It’s a year, a number of years, and a time to reflect that there may actually be some crying in baseball — and some laughs, too.

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Buncha gubers

The Z Man, I surmise, would just as soon take a cab:

The new buzz phrase is “sharing economy” which is as devoid of meaning and value as the people who like to use it. The vapid hipsters love prattling on about Uber and how it is “disruptive” as if that’s always a good thing. Earthquakes are disruptive. The Black Plague was disruptive. Like everything else today, Uber is about signaling. You’re a beautiful person if you think Uber is the best. You’re a loser if you think it sounds like a handful of sharpies convincing hipsters to be gypsy cab drivers at below market rates.

That’s the thing about the “sharing economy.” It is not new. Ross Perot got rich doing much the same thing in the 70s and 80’s. In the old days, computers were expensive. Companies would sell their idle time to guys like Perot who would find customers in need or processing power, but lacking the money to buy their own mainframe. It was the technological equivalent of the oxpecker bird and rhino. The bird picks ticks and parasites from the hide of the rhino and functions as a warning system. The rhino can live without the bird, but lives better with him.

And when computers became commodity items — well, Perot Systems is now owned by Dell, which has come a long way from the parts-assembly operation Michael Dell ran out of his UT Austin dorm room.

So this is where things are:

Back then, the companies renting the time had an expensive asset they want to maximize. The renter was looking for a lower cost alternative to the million dollar mainframe. Cabs are cheap. No one gets rich driving a cab. How desperate do you have to be to be an Uber driver? How hard up are you if you want to take a ride from some hard up weirdo you met on-line?

Forty years ago a symbiotic relationship between mainframe users was a temporary solution to bridge the gap between the now and better future. Uber represents a desperate attempt to squeeze the remaining juice from the lemon of the modern economy. It is the equivalent of a widow taking in laundry and boarders in order to pay rent. It’s not something signaling a better future. It is a desperate attempt to delay the inevitable decline.

It doesn’t help that technology scourge Al Franken is now pressing Uber’s CEO Travis Kalanick over alleged user-privacy violations.

(Disclosure: My son has occasionally driven for Uber. He is not, I assure you, a hard-up weirdo.)

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Kind of a floaty ride

I’ve seen exactly one of these in my life. The Tupelo Automobile Museum has another one, in decidedly better shape:

Amphicar at Tupelo Automobile Museum

About 3500 Amphicars were produced between 1960 and 1968, priced starting at $3395. One of those coffee-table collector’s books describes it thusly:

Superb neither on water or land, but nonetheless the world’s only amphibious passenger car. Designed by Hans Trippel and powered by a Triumph Herald four-cylinder engine, it did what its maker claimed: run on the road (68 mph tops), sail on water (7 knots maximum) without sinking (rubber gaskets seal the doors; a bilge pump is available if the scupper-level rises). A transfer case handles the drive to twin props, and water navigation is via the steering wheel (the front wheels act as rudders). The sure cure for marina fees, yacht club sharks, and people who want to borrow your boat.

The Museum itself contains about 150 cars from the collection of the late Frank K. Spain, founder of WTWV (now WTVA) in Tupelo, a character in his own right:

Spain hoped to parlay his good relations with NBC officials into getting his new station an affiliation with the network. However, several NBC executives believed Tupelo was not a desirable place for a local station because of its rural location, even though most viewers in northern Mississippi could only get NBC via grade B coverage from WMC-TV in Memphis, Tennessee and WAPI-TV (now WVTM-TV) in Birmingham, Alabama). Nonetheless, they told Spain that if he could figure out a way to obtain a network signal, he could carry it.

Spain allegedly negotiated under-the-table deals with WMC-TV and set up a network of microwave relays and repeater systems to carry the WMC-TV signal to Tupelo. Station engineers then switched to and from the signal when network programming aired. This setup, necessary in the days before satellites, enabled WTWV to bring NBC programming to northeastern Mississippi and northwestern Alabama.

You got to figure a guy like that would appreciate a car that floats.

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Persistence is further rewarded

About a year ago, I finally picked up a clue about a record I once owned and largely forgot, and duly posted the research I’d done so far. The conclusion:

Wingate, it appeared, owned a piece of this independent-ish label called Volkano, with a K, which would issue four singles during its short lifespan, including one by a fellow named Bob Santa Maria. (It is suspected that Bob’s real last name was Seger.) The first issue on Volkano was “The Beginning of the End,” by Little John and Tony; “Tony” was Pete Saputo, also known as Anthony Raye — the more pseudonyms, the better, am I right? — and “John” was producer John Rhys, who co-wrote the song with longtime Detroit bassist Dennis Coffey. Coffey also arranged the record, and, most important from my point of view, still had a copy of it.

Now if I could just find a copy on YouTube — or, better yet, iTunes.

Well, looky here:

While this track definitely meets the description of “60s Garage USA,” the Tombstone Records compilation Die Today, per this listing on RYM, does not contain this track. It does, however, contain a track called “I Love Her So,” by Moby Dick and the Whalers, from legendary seaport Midwest City, Oklahoma.

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It’s not even Scottish

The nation is awash in sports radio stations with silly names. In this market alone, we have to deal with the Sports Animal, the Ref, the Game, the Franchise, and the Pro. I assure you, this sort of naming is not required:

There are lots of sports stations called The Fan, The Ticket, The Score, and tons of those ESPN stations, but there’s only one station that’s Talking Sports KRAP 24 hours a day. It’s Sports KRAP.

Yeah, we know what you’re saying. “Dude, is this for real? A radio station named KRAP? You’re probably some internet-only station broadcasting from the basement of some guy’s Mom’s house.”

No, we’re for real. We’re an FCC licensed radio station broadcasting at 1350 Kilohertz pounding out a whopping 500,000 milliwatts. But we do realize that we’re KRAP. In fact, our transmitter is KRAP. Our signal is KRAP. Our studios are KRAP. Even our staff is KRAP.

KRAP is in Washington, Missouri, the Corncob Pipe Capital of the World, about halfway between St. Louis and Jefferson City. Those 500 watts (yes, we do the math around here) reach to within about ten miles of each, suggesting that the FCC knew what it was doing when it approved this facility. (At night, they drop to 84 watts, which barely gets out of town.)

Station owner Brad Hildebrand speaks:

Hildebrand tells the Post-Dispatch that it’s a set of call letters he’s wanted since he was 12 years old. But to get KRAP he first needed to wait until the call sign was released from an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. “When I tell people my call letters are KRAP, nobody forgets that,” he says.

Twelve. Yeah. Sounds about right. (He’s pushing 60 now.)

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