Save the date

Good news, everyone: Mercury goes retrograde on Election Day.

The overall effect, I predict, will be the equivalent of discovering, two weeks after you went off to the pound to get a puppy for the kids, that it was a direct descendant of Cerberus and had already started sprouting its second head, with a third presumably on the way, and furthermore, that there’s a worldwide shortage of gin.

Discuss amongst yourselves.

Comments (6)




Worst intersection ever?

The clusterfark that is Northwest Distressway at Belle Isle Boulevard is now considered the most dangerous intersection in town, with approximately one crash every other day. (Lucky me, I go through that intersection ten times a week.) One particular incident is cited to demonstrate the junction’s insatiable appetite for souls:

Adam Steele, 35, a land surveyor and marathon runner, was riding his new motorcycle to meet some friends that evening.

He took the Interstate 44 westbound off-ramp to Northwest Expressway. As the curve brought him to the intersection at Belle Isle Boulevard, he collided with Colleen Argue, 48, of Vian, who was driving a Jeep west on Northwest Expressway.

The two lanes they were in are separated by a 3-foot-tall concrete barrier leading to the intersection. Argue’s lane is intended for drivers to go straight on Northwest Expressway only, and a traffic sign indicates this with an arrow pointing straight ahead. However, Argue turned the Jeep right into the path of Steele. His motorcycle hit her Jeep. He wasn’t wearing a helmet and suffered fatal injuries.

Now if your next question is “Why would she turn right, in front of a Jersey barrier?” here’s your answer:

Argue told a police officer her GPS voice command told her to turn right, and she did so, crossing into the path of Steele’s motorcycle.

O wicked demon of GPS, luring the unwary into the realm of destruction!

Though after nine years of commuting through this concrete hellhole, I believe the real problem is not so much people failing to comprehend the barrier, but people thinking that just one more car into the intersection after the light turns red couldn’t possibly make any difference. It’s at the point now where if I’m at the head of the line when the green comes on, I count up to three Mississippi before hitting the gas, just in case one of those dillholes runs the light.

Comments (3)




Sailor Moon is full

Anastasiya ShpaginaWhat’s this? A young lady fresh from the pages of a manga? It would so seem. But no: this is not some escaped character from what used to be called Japanimation, but an actual 19-year-old, born in Ukraine, who has gone to considerable lengths to look like an anime girl, with the oversized eyes and the nipped-in waist and a general appearance of wispiness.

Anastasiya Shpagina is five foot two and weighs about 90 lb — more like 85 without all the eye makeup.

Although this is the part I find slightly alarming:

It is thought Shpagina may go even further in her efforts to achieve her desired look, with some reports claiming she intends to undergo surgery on her eyes to make her resemble her anime idols even more closely.

Well, okay, if you say so.

(From a Steven Den Beste comment to this Zoopraxiscope post.)

Comments (1)




Nutty talk

Whatever you do, don’t mention the bilateral orchidectomy:

Italy’s highest court [has] ruled that telling a man he has “no balls” as an insult is a crime punishable with a fine because it hurts male pride in a ruling on a curious row between two cousins.

The case was brought to the supreme court by a lawyer named only as Vittorio against his cousin Alberto, a justice of the peace, for the phrase uttered during a heated courtroom exchange in the southern Italian city of Potenza.

Hitler, having exceeded the threshold by one, declined comment. Not sure about Castro, though.

(From Dave Barry via Finestkind Clinic and fish market.)

Comments off




Relieving excess diversity

I griped about my tag-handling abilities a month or so ago:

What bothers me is that there are nearly 10,000 tags, and I didn’t start tagging stuff until 2009. I’ve done several consolidation sessions — there didn’t, for instance, need to be a dozen different Chevrolet tags, and I cut them down to five — but until we start getting some 36-hour days around here, I’m not going to have time to clean up this mess.

In the absence of 36-hour days, there exists a WordPress plugin which I swear I didn’t see before. In about twenty seconds, it removed 192 tags that were never attached to posts. This still leaves me with 9800, but somehow that doesn’t look so bad.

Comments off




Faithful and Strong

Equestria Daily used to have a tag reading “Twilight Sparkle is Truly the Cutest and Most Bestest Pony.” Well, maybe. This much I do know: Tara Strong, voice actor for Twilight and certainly cute, was guest of honor at Canterlot Gardens this weekend, and she had the temerity to show up actually sort of cosplaying Twi:

Tara Strong is best unicorn

The crowd, of course, was delighted.

To all you wordsmiths: “Most bestest” was their term, not mine.

Comments (4)




That ship has sailed

In fact, you can’t even pick it up on radar anymore.

Something called the Campaign to Defeat Barack Obama sent me this little tidbit, buried in (of course) a plea for donations:

the Susquehana Polling & Research survey of 800 voters in Pennsylvania showed Obama up over by Romney by only 2-percentage points (47%-45%) with the margin of error of 3.5% – so the race in the delegate-rich swing state of Pennsylvania is a tie!

Two points here:

  • “Susquehanna” has two N’s.
  • The conventions are over. Nobody gives a flip about “delegates.”

On the upside, at least CDBO is a PAC with a name that matches its mission: too many of them have designations like “Americans for a More American America,” or some similar tautological twaddle. Then again, CDBO once endorsed Newt Gingrich, which may explain the clutching-at-straws flavor of their fundraising mail.

Comments (2)




Clique-y

This is kind of creepy, when you think about it:

Miss Cellania’s explanation:

Thirty-two metronomes are started off in pretty much random beats. Over time, they sync up with each other, sort of like the positive feedback resonance people on a walking bridge experience, which has caused troubles in the past. See, the surface they sit on is suspended, so that each device’s “bounce” affects the others. Watch the pink metronome on the right, second row from the front. It tries to maintain its individuality, but even he eventually bows to the pressure of the sympathetic vibration on the suspended surface and falls in line with the horde.

Obvious metaphor is obvious.

(Via The Daily What Geek.)

Comments (5)




Thoughts on a rainy fall day

Actually, judging by the enormous number of subjects I haven’t saved up, it would appear as though I have no thoughts at all. In an act of sheerest desperation, I am proclaiming an Open Thread, under the assumption that some of you do not have this problem.

Comments (7)




Hipstermobile

I still think of myself as a blue-collar sort of guy, which probably explains my delight with this commentary hiding in a Murilee Martin automotive review:

When I got this car, I was all set to make a very clever comparison between Apple and Audi, based on my observations that the crossover between owners of products from both companies is so high. However, that idea crashed like a Quadra 650 showing a Sad Mac when I saw the head-spinning complexity of this car’s controls and displays… Steve Jobs figured out that ordinary users of electronics (e.g., your grandma) don’t want complexity. They don’t even want on/off controls, it turns out, because they don’t want to learn new stuff. If Jobs had consulted on the design of this car, it would have about six controls and one big primary-color gauge showing Driving Situation Quality or some such Cupertinonian metric.

Which is what you need to know, right?

However, the thing that Audi products do have in common with Apple products is compelling design. The A7 is beautiful, of course (just as the packaging around your new Macbook is beautiful), and it features intimidatingly correct ergonomics throughout. At this point, we need to think about the person the A7 buyer wants to be; in my mind, this person is a man with cruelly small rimless glasses who works as a “creative” in some discipline that requires him to be conversant in the work of impenetrable philosophers like Lacan, while demonstrating insider knowledge of obscure facets of urban popular culture (say, the acid house scene of Minsk). He lives in an edgy neighborhood in some unearthly expensive city (Helsinki, Singapore, etc.) and he experiences physical pain when exposed to a piece of bad design. In other words, the kind of guy who always made me feel like a total ignorant, mouth-breathing schlub in grad school and even today reduces me to a state of excessive italicization.

In other news, Minsk has an acid-house scene.

Comments (1)




In which it is turned up

Well, we got a Behind the Scenes video from that Rebecca Black concert, which looks like this:

At least we now know the set list, which includes all four of her singles, a cover of “Friend” from the soundtrack of A Cinderella Story, and a new song which seems to be called “In Your Words.”

And I have to admit, she’s having a whole lot more fun than I did at fifteen.

Comments off




Moral derpitude

Can’t tell if trolling or just completely insane:

Hello, as a concerned citizen I would like to say how shocked I am at the state of children’s television programing today. Specifically, the animated girl’s show My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. Last week, my niece was over and we were both on the couch watching television when her favorite show came on. It was the exact show in question. After watching a few episodes with her, I was dumbfounded and appalled at how blatantly right wing it was. Especially how much racism was in the show. First off, we have the character named “Princess Celestia”. She of course is the “good leader” of pony land. She is a unicorn with wings, and is white all over. And the way she is portrayed, you almost get the sense that she is a reflection of George Bush or Mitt Romney. And then we have the villain, “Nightmare Moon”. She is also a flying unicorn, however since she is the villain, she black! And not just African American black mind you, she’s black black! She even sounds like she’s voiced by an African American! I wouldn’t have been surprised if the animators had put a bucket of fried chicken next to her! Then there’s the stereotypical conservative farmer pony, Applejack. On the show she owns a farm and sells apples for a living. Of course this is a pro-predatory capitalism character when compared to the other ponies in Ponyville, who are portrayed as lazy. Instead of promoting the act of sharing and equal ownership like other children’s shows, Applejack preys on the other ponies by providing the only source of food to the town, all of course for profit. No sharing and tolerance here!

Behold, the last practitioner of the Royal Canterlot Voice. And doesn’t Applejack get any credit for providing locally grown organic fruit?

(Tweeted at the fandom by M. A. Larson, who has written several episodes of the show.)

Comments (8)




Undear sir

Robert Stacy McCain gets a trollish email, and responds in kind:

Who the hell are you, and why are you sending me this e-mail? Do you have nothing better to do with your life than to scour the Internet, looking for people you disagree with, so that you can send them insulting messages?

What manner of foul hatefulness or psychiatric disorder inspires your antisocial habits? Are you addicted to dangerous drugs or in the thrall of some bizarre sexual perversion?

Seek professional help, before it’s too late.

I have yet to send something like this to one of the characters offering to write blog posts for me on some arcane subject, but I am sorely tempted to copy McCain’s text into a macro. (With, of course, a link back to his original.)

Comments (2)




In which I decline to do the math

The Presurfer celebrates 12 years on the Web with the following factoid:

User experience site FatDUX once calculated the length of an Internet year. The result was that 1 Internet year is like 4.7 years in real life. Which means the Presurfer would be 56 years and 3 months old if the site was a person. Which also means that in two years time this blog will be older than I am. You do the math.

I dare not. If I did, I might learn that I was supposed to have retired around the third week of April. (That’s the third week of April 2010.)

Anyway, congratulations to Gerard Vlemmings, for surviving 12 years in blogdom and for coming up with one of the definitive blog names.

Comments (1)




Scents of disaster

Some time last weekend, the garage started smelling like pancake syrup. Since I haven’t been carpooling with Mrs. Butterworth or anything like that, I concluded that there was a coolant leak, which I ultimately traced to the very top of the radiator, where the cheap plastic crimping was behaving in a manner characteristic of cheap plastic.

The engine hadn’t overheated or anything — no trips over twelve miles were taken, which probably helped — but I am disinclined to allow threats to a fancy-schmancy aluminum engine to get beyond NISCOM 5, and the dealership was booked solid for several days, so I sought out a local shop, preferably one not overly far from me.

And so I landed at Priebe’s Auto Clinic, tucked away on a side street near the Habana Inn, qualifying as “not overly far.” I was armed with the handy rationalization that Nissan knows this engine of theirs hardly ever breaks and therefore charges mucho dinero plus a body part to be named later for any of the ancillary equipment. Last price list I had showed $515 for the radiator plus an hour and a half labor, which comes to somewhere on the wrong side of $700 before you do anything else.

Obvious leak was obvious. I also had the hoses replaced on general principle, and, having calculated that based on prior experience Nissan’s OEM battery would go dead probably this weekend, had them bolt in a fresh Interstate Mega-Tron Plus, which costs about the same and offers about 200 more of those mysterious cold-cranking amps. Total tab for all this: just on the wrong side of $700.

I admit to having forgotten one minor detail: what with the new battery and all, I figured I’d have to redo the radio presets, but it did not occur to me that the fob for the door locks would not work until the car was presented with the proper key and started at least once.

Incidentally, if you patronize this establishment, and I suggest that you do so if you need their services, you’re likely to encounter a fellow named Steve Miller. Do not mention anything about the not-even-slightly-related band.

Comments off




Quote of the week

A history lesson courtesy of Roberta X:

Y’know who really won the Second World War? Mussolini. Yeah, the Italians strung him up from a streetlight, but he was first across the line with the Leader Principle, and by the time The Last Good War was over, Mr. Roosevelt, Mr. Stalin, Mr. Churchill and Mr. Hitler had established this damfool notion that the guy runnin’ a country was the boss of everyone who lived there. (Mr. Tojo took advantage of something similar by proxy.) I guess the nitwits were starved for Kings; whatever, the friggin’ fascists colonized the zeitgeist and we have been stuck with it ever since.

As her roomie is wont to say, “Vobis non me dux.”

Comments (2)