Punch in and shut up

Robert Stacy McCain leads off the Case of the Aggravating Actress with a grandly general — and pretty damned accurate — summary of the way workplaces are supposed to, well, work:

People must be judged strictly on their ability to get the job done. It doesn’t matter whether you “like” somebody or not. It’s not about friendship or popularity. The key to survival is to focus on the task in front of you — cranking it out day after day on deadline — while ignoring all merely personal considerations.

This is one of those big Life Lessons that young people have to learn the hard way, if they are ever to succeed at the highest levels. The real world isn’t like high school. A childish fascination with “popularity” is counter-productive in most real-world work environments. People who attempt to manipulate their way to undeserved success by playing office-politics games will ultimately produce harmful effects to the organization.

I generally don’t claim to be especially “successful,” deserved or otherwise, but I probably have less fear of being sacked than most of the population, simply because I have a good grasp of the nose/grindstone interface: I crank it out, day after day, and my deadlines are only slightly less inexorable than McCain’s.

Have I always been this conscientious? No. However, I have more than a passing acquaintance with the consequences for failing to be.

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Don’t let Bloomberg find out

A phytobezoar is a mass of fibrous plant material trapped in the stomach because it resists the normal digestive process. (Major offender: persimmon skins.) Several treatments exist, but I suspect the most cost-effective one is this:

New research has shown that Coca-Cola has a success rate of more than 90 per cent in treating the condition.

This is because it has chemical ingredients that do a similar job to gastric acid — in helping to digest fibre — while the bubbles help speed up the process.

Of course, if this catches on as a standard treatment, the 1.25-liter bottle that sells for 98 cents at the Hy-Vee will be billed to your health-insurance carrier to the tune of $600 or so.

(Via Interested-Participant.)

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Sunrise over Labrador

KingShamus has what should be the final word on the President’s new nominee for Secretary of Defense:

[I]t’s not like Chuck Hagel is some beloved conservative stalwart. Yeah, I guess he helped spike the Kyoto Treaty back in the day. When pondering that, it’s also important to remember that the sun shines on a dog’s ass every once in a while.

And if the GOP imagines that it might someday want to grow a spine, it would help if the party had some vague familiarity with vertebrae, doncha know.

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All Wikiness is but little

Something wrong with the Wikipedia article you just read? Fix it yourself, says the conventional wisdom. Bill Quick says it may be conventional, but it’s hardly wise:

[W]hat this is actually advocating is a supposed unbiased reference work that is the product of the outcome of contests of strength between two warring factions.

In other words, Wikipedia is a perfect example of an intellectual tyranny of the majority.

Rather a lot of topics are marked with the little padlock that means “semi-protection,” which limits edits to presumably trusted individuals. One such page is the one devoted to Elizabeth Warren, where much of the current dustup originated.

A few observations from me:

  • I am “presumably trusted,” having contributed at least the minimum number of edits; what’s more, I’m cited as a source on a handful of pages. I am as impressed with this as you are, which presumably is Not Very.
  • “Weird Al” Yankovic’s claim to being “White & Nerdy” is partially based on editing Wikipedia (around 1:49).
  • I once edited something on Megan McArdle’s page because she asked me to.
  • Political controversy is not the only thing that will get one’s page locked, as Rebecca Black can tell you. (And this is all the RB update I have for the week, as the poor girl has had the flu.)

I admit to citing Wikipedia rather a lot in these pages, but it’s more a form of shorthand than it is a means of deceit, at least for me.

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Zooeypalooza 17!

It took the Baseball Crank to remind me that I have been remiss:

Tweet by Dan McLaughlin

Crank links to this. With that in mind:

Zooeypalooza 17!

Mousing about may prove enlightening, or at least enlargening.

Paloozas gone by: ZP 1, ZP 2, ZP 3, ZP 4, ZP 5, ZP 6, ZP 7, ZP 8, ZP 9, ZP 10, ZP 11, ZP 12, ZP 13, ZP 14, ZP 15, ZP 16.

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I got plenty of nothing

And nothing, evidently, is plenty for all of us:

Nothing

(Via Dating Fails.)

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Sustain this, pal

Brian J. quotes a letter to the editor of The Wall Street Journal:

While most studies show that certain organic crops, such as corn, would have slightly lower yields and lower total production than conventional crops, the studies also show organic farming can feed the world, and in developing countries organic methods would increase food production and self-sufficiency.

Or maybe wouldn’t:

Both of these things cannot be true. Well, they cannot be true unless there’s an unspoken premise in the second that the world eat organic bean burritos per day and give up their steaks and chicken. Which is not so unspoken in other parts of the movement.

While I am generally at least somewhat enthusiastic about organics, I suspect that the best part of the bean burrito is the pesticide residue.

And we could save a hell of a lot of the corn crop if we’d quit squeezing it into the nation’s gas tanks.

Side note: The nearest Crest store occasionally carries Dole-branded organic bananas, clearly marked, albeit at a 75-percent price premium (98 cents a pound versus 56, subject to minor variations). But the last three times I picked some up at this store, they ignored the little “ORGANIC” tape and rang up the lower price. I have no idea what they’re thinking.

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A truly noble gas

Even if you haven’t read the TwiBrush trilogy — and let’s face it, most people haven’t — you may have seen this passage therefrom in Vent #794, in which the earth pony-to-be addresses the unicorn he loves:

“Twi, honey, there’s only one thing wrong with you: you can’t stand the idea that there’s one thing wrong with you. You seem to be able to put up with my flaws just fine. Can’t you cut yourself a little slack now and then? I don’t want to come home some day and find you’ve put a Starvation Spell on yourself because you farted in the bathtub the night before. But you make me worry about things like that, and it scares me.”

It did not occur to me at the time that she might be harvesting the stuff for semi-medicinal purposes.

(Via Belhoste.)

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Texas messes with you

Alaskan couple arrives in the Permian Basin — bless you, energy boom — and local rep notes that wildlife is a bit different just off I-20:

Her: You … have rattlesnakes?

Me (hoping to defuse the situation): Oh, but don’t worry about them. The scorpions generally kill them before there’s a problem.

Well, I feel better.

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Putting the curse in cursive

Jack Lew, who headed up the Office of Management and Budget before becoming Barack Obama’s Chief of Staff — which makes a certain amount of career sense, since the President is known far more for staff than for either management or budget — is reportedly being considered for Secretary of the Treasury when Tim Geithner steals away into the night. I think we can say that Turbo Tax Timmy had his drawbacks, but he never presented a problem quite like this:

Facsimile signature of Jack Lew

That delicately Photoshopped shot from nymag.com’s Daily Intelligencer shows you what Jack Lew’s signature looks like. And you thought defacing American currency was illegal.

(Via Fark.)

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Dry wood

The last new episode of MLP:FiM — see, I can work pony into anything! — featured a scary creature called the Timber Wolf, which, remarkably, was made of actual timber, sort of a cellulose-based Transformer. Tonight at the Peake, the usual sellout crowd got to witness lots of wooden performances in the first quarter, which ended a stolid 16-16. Thunder fans who were sweating the possibility of Wizards 2: Electric Boogaloo were relieved to see the home team shift into something closer to high gear, dispatching Minnesota’s strange woodland creatures, 106-82.

It didn’t hurt that Kevin Love and J. J. Barea — and, for that matter, coach Rick Adelman — were no-shows. Still, slack was uptaken, and the Wolves logged the only two double-doubles tonight: stalwart center Nikola Peković (17 points, 10 rebounds) and reserve forward Derrick Williams (14 points, 11 rebounds). I continue to be impressed by Luke Ridnour at the point: he’s definitely improved from his Sonics days. On the other hand, I can spare an eyebrow to raise over backup big Greg Stiemsma, who racked up six fouls in less than thirteen minutes. Still, that’s what he does.

The astonishing Serge Ibaka offensive show took the night off: six points and two Shaq-quality free throws. I never know what to think when Kevin Durant beats Ibaka in points, rebounds and blocks (26, eight and four respectively). Russell Westbrook has rediscovered efficiency, going 7-14 (3-4 on treys). And Kevin Martin was only 4-12 — but all four makes were 3-pointers. In fact, OKC was 11-20 from Lower Bricktown, a sterling 55 percent, better than the 47 they shot overall, and way better than the 28 they shot in the first quarter. (The Wolves improved from 33 in the first to a final 43.)

Coming up: three road games in four days against Pacific foes. It’s the Lakers on Friday, the Trail Blazers on Sunday, and the Suns on Monday. Watch that jet lag, guys.

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The non-laughing gnome

Thomas Forget’s 2002 biography of David Bowie contains this fairly inarguable statement:

Because he has succeeded in so many different styles of music, it is almost impossible to find a popular artist today that has not been influenced by David Bowie.

Note that Forget is not limiting this to musical artists, either: given Bowie’s seemingly infinite capacity for self-reinvention — Madonna only wishes she were so protean — the Thin White Duke’s influence is all over the map. (ObPony: late in the first season of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, there appeared three surly canine miners dubbed “Diamond Dogs.”) For his 66th birthday, which was yesterday, Bowie showed off yet another persona: the boulevardier turned perhaps immobile and definitely melancholy.

“Where Are We Now?” heralds the arrival of The Next Day, due in March, Bowie’s reunion with longtime producer Tony Visconti. I admit to being a little uneasy about the prospects. Then again, it took me twenty years to warm to Ziggy Stardust.

(With thanks to Michele Catalano.)

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Stocking up

The slogan of the Van Raalte company was “Because you love nice things,” a bit of commercial whimsy I found quite persuasive: “[I]t cuts straight to the chase; only L’Oreal’s ‘Because I’m worth it’ exceeds it for ego massage.”

A lot of their advertising proved to be (somewhat) collectible, as late as the middle 1960s:

Van Raalte ad from 1964

As always with these, you get a dollop of historical commentary, this time from the Van Raalte family themselves:

In the late 1920’s (1927?) the decision was made to sell the company to Goldman Sachs and Lehman Bros. There are several theories as to what prompted the decision to sell, but no definitive reason has survived the years. The Company was still a leading manufacturer in its field and its name and products were highly respected. The new owners kept the name, product lines, and slogans and it became a publically traded company with shares on the American Stock Exchange.

The company prospered through the years and was the first to produce stockings made with Dupont’s new “nylon” fiber in the late 1930’s. By 1965 the company had sales of over $70 Million. In 1970 VAN RAALTE was sold to the Cluett, Peabody & Co (the Arrow shirt company) and then again in 1977 to the Kellwood Company. In 1994 Warnaco acquired the Van Raalte trademark for apparel, and the following year sold Van Raalte bras and products exclusively through Sears stores. Production of Van Raalte products eventually ceased by the end of the century.

I admired this picture enough to make a CD jacket out of (some of) it.

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When they was post-fab

Roger speculates on how things might have been different had Mark David Chapman been somewhere else that night in 1980:

John and Yoko’s album Double Fantasy comes out in the fall of 1980. It does all right [not as well as it did in response to Lennon’s death]. They put out Milk and Honey a year later; ditto. They tour for a few months.

Around 1982, George, whose career was in a bit of a downturn — no “All Those Years Ago” hit single — plays on a John and Yoko album. John and George play on Ringo’s comeback album.

Live Aid in 1985 becomes the venue in which the Beatles get together for a one-off reunion. But they enjoy it so much, they put together an album a year later. They get together periodically, but primarily continue with their solo careers.

Roger doesn’t say so specifically, but it sounds to me like the stumbling block, had John lived, might have been Paul. (How does he sleep?)

As long as we’re fiddling about with timelines, you might have a look at “The plane that didn’t crash,” based on an earlier catastrophe.

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Code squawkers

What some people will do for a teensy speed increment:

Like the title, I installed Universal OBDII Oxygen Sensor Simulator for 2007 corolla to get rid of P0420 because I installed a racing header. Can someone help me solving these codes? Or any other good way to get rid of P0420?

I suspect this may be against the manufacturer’s advice: how likely is this guy, or any guy, to be racing a 2007 Corolla, fercrissake?

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Quote of the week

Megan McArdle slips this zinger into a piece about that hypothetical (so far, anyway) trillion-dollar coin:

When I was reporting on Wall Street, I used to be told with some regularity that government was needed to counteract the short-term thinking of the business sector, who never thought much beyond the next quarterly earnings report. This now seems as quaintly adorable as picture hats and daily milk deliveries. An ADHD day trader with a cocaine habit and six months to live has considerably more long-term planning skills than our current congress.

Speaking of that chimerical currency, it fits perfectly into the story we told in first grade — which was more than 50 years ago, hence the seemingly modest pricing — about the youngster who sold his puppy to some kid up the street for a thousand dollars.

Well, he didn’t actually sell the puppy for $1000: he traded it for two $500 kittens.

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