The once and future hybrid

The Telegraph sent off the late Terry Pratchett — may his soul repose with whatever God may find it — with a list of fifty first-class quotes, several of which I hadn’t heard before. This is the one that struck me hardest, though: “Personally, I think the best motto for an educational establishment is: ‘Or Would You Rather Be a Mule?'”

We turn now to an anonymous Wikipedian:

Songwriter Jimmy Van Heusen was at [Bing] Crosby’s house one evening for dinner, and to discuss a song for the movie Going My Way. During the meal one of the children began complaining about how he didn’t want to go to school the next day. The singer turned to his son and said to him, “If you don’t go to school, you might grow up to be a mule. Do you wanna do that?”

Van Heusen thought this clever rebuke would make a good song for the movie.

For “good,” read “Best Original Song” at the next Academy Awards. Bing cut it as a single, of course, and it was a hit. But “Swinging on a Star” has shown up several times since, perhaps most amusingly in a 1963 waxing by Big Dee Irwin, aided and abetted by Little Eva.

And if you don’t like that one, try the Hudson Hawk version:

Truth be told, though, if I burst into this particular song, I’m usually going into the adaptation used in the opening of Out of This World, a late-1980s TV series considered by some to be the Worst Sitcom Ever. I, of course, watched it religiously. Then again, critics reviled Hudson Hawk.

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You can’t spell “die” without IE

I really can’t blame Microsoft for going this route:

While Microsoft has dropped hints that the Internet Explorer brand is going away, the software maker has now confirmed that it will use a new name for its upcoming browser successor, codenamed Project Spartan. Speaking at Microsoft Convergence [Monday], Microsoft’s marketing chief Chris Capossela revealed that the company is currently working on a new name and brand. “We’re now researching what the new brand, or the new name, for our browser should be in Windows 10,” said Capossela. “We’ll continue to have Internet Explorer, but we’ll also have a new browser … codenamed Project Spartan. We have to name the thing.”

Being no fan of Google’s competing product, I’m just hoping it has no face like Chrome.

However, I don’t expect IE to go gently into that good night; Microsoft still hasn’t been able to kill off Windows XP.

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Shadier than ever

Five years ago, I was telling you this:

Now we have ShadyURL, which says: “Don’t just shorten your URL, make it suspicious and frightening.”

As often happens, this service fell into disuse and was abandoned. It has now been revived through the kindness of @snipeyhead:

What’s more, it’s been substantially improved:

So if you need, for whatever reason, to give someone a scary-looking URL like, this is your first choice.

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Is this science settled?

Maybe it is. Take a look:

We may not know what is “correct,” but clearly we can see the inventor’s intentions.

(With thanks to Chris Lawrence.)

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Droning toward oblivion

Hillary Clinton is following a political path we’ve seen before, and it’s likely not the one she thinks she is:

As she enters the Bob Dole phase of her career, she is slightly more interesting. Instead of the bitchy middle-aged “professional” woman, she is a a boozy old gal that is a feature of the Washington cocktail circuit. These are the women who have been married to politicians their whole lives and have a cultured cynicism that comes from years of disappointment.

Like Bob Dole, she is probably a hoot after a few drinks, but you can always sense why no one in the political class thought enough of them to put them in charge of anything. They are the sort of people who never ask, “What if this doesn’t work?” As a consequence, they get jammed up on minor stuff.

Like, for instance, this whole email thing, which wiser pols would have found it relatively easy to avoid. And what the bloody hell was she thinking, having the presser at the freaking United Nations? Yeah, I know, she was giving a speech that day, but this bit of scheduling insured that no one paid attention to the speech except for whatever individuals might have been named therein.

I remain skeptical about her chances to be president. There’s a Bob Dole ’96 vibe here. The party does not have anyone ready that they trust and it is not looking like [a] good year to run anyway. May as well let the old broad have her day in the sun as the first female nominee. Otherwise, everyone will just go through the motions.

The one problem with that scenario is the GOP’s prodigious gift for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Were I the typical Republican operative, I’d be pushing for bringing back Bob Dole, on the basis that Bob Dole now uses a wheelchair, and hey, look how well that worked in Texas!

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Thou shalt not skim

Marcel gets a credit card with a chip embedded in it, and he wonders if it’s remotely readable by the Bad Guys:

After reading about the potential risks, it seemed like some shielding wouldn’t hurt anything. But how to know if the shielding worked?

At one work site, I get access to the facility by putting my id card against a scanner. This works even if I just hold my wallet up to the scanner. This seems like a reasonable basis for testing. The first thing I put in my wallet was a piece of what seemed to be metalized paper from a coffee package. Holding up my wallet still activated the door, so a coffee bag probably will not block the scanners the men in black would carry if there were men in black following me.

And so to DEFCON whatever is next:

Next time I went out to that site, I folded up four layers of regular aluminum foil and put that in my wallet. The scanner didn’t work. A week or so later I tried it again, and this time scanner did read my card through the foil. Thinking it might be because the foil had compressed, I opened up the foil and interleaved a piece of paper.

Give the man credit for being thorough. Considering how easy it is to hack the old magnetic stripe, though, the chip almost has to be some sort of improvement.

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Further illumination

The artist formerly known as Valerie Anne Poxleitner — she’s been simply “Lights” since she turned eighteen, about a decade ago — has been creeping into my playlists since I stumbled across “Second Go” a few years back.

Lights in a magazine photoshoot

Her 2014 album Little Machines won the Juno for Pop Album of the Year. This was the lead single:

And this is what she wore to pick up that Juno:

Lights at the 2015 Juno Awards

While “Up We Go” didn’t chart in the States, Little Machines did make it to #34 in Billboard, the best showing to date of any of her three albums.

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Some day all transit will be like this

Dave Singer shows us the next step in public-transit noise control:

This is an STFU carriage

Well, actually, this is the next step, but it’s a logical progression, am I right?

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Taint necessarily

You know those used-panty vending machines in Japan? Well, forget about them:

When foreigners gush about finding a used panty vending machine, they’re usually referring to a gachapon machine. While many of the machines advertise the contents as used, anyone who can read Japanese knows that this isn’t the case…

Above the price … are the words “super used kakou.” Kakou, in this case, means that the panties were manufactured to appear used — kind of like the Abercrombie jeans that are sold with holes and frayed edges straight from the factory. The addition of [the] two kanji characters makes it instantly apparent to a native speaker that the panties are not, in fact, used. Perhaps an enterprising gachapon machine salesperson realized that they could trick non-Japanese into believing the urban legend by slapping a single English word on the sign.

If this restores your faith in humanity, do not proceed below the jump.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Easily collapsible

The Thunder were up ten at the half, fifteen shortly thereafter — and then it all unwound in a big hurry, with the Mavs tying it up after three (a 39-point quarter!) and then holding OKC to eight points in seven minutes. Even radio guy Matt Pinto seemed dispirited for a while there:

But the Mavs didn’t run away with it either, and at 4:18 the Thunder closed the gap to zilch. They’d never regain the lead, though, and with both Steven Adams and Russell Westbrook fouling out late, Dallas pulled ahead by six; OKC shaved it to three, then to two; a pair of Monta Ellis free throws put the Mavs up four, and that’s the way it ended, 119-115. Dirk Nowitzki wasn’t even on the court at the time.

Then again, Dirk wasn’t needed at that moment: matters were well in hand. Chandler Parsons went off for 10-14 and 31 points; those last two freebies from Ellis gave him 24; Rajon Rondo recorded a double-double (11 points, 13 assists) and two Dallas reserves, Charlie Villanueva and Amar’e Stoudemire, had 10 each. About the only thing the Mavs didn’t do was rebound: they pulled down only 37, versus 59 for the Thunder. Oh, wait: the Mavs also didn’t turn the ball over a lot (13 versus 21).

Meanwhile, OKC was failing to connect on half-court shots (7-26 from Three Point Island) and failing to get stops in the second half. Westbrook, before he departed, was 24-8-12, not too far off his regular pace or late; Enes Kanter and Mitch McGary posted double-doubles. (McGary, in fact, got there in the first half.) But even six players in double-figures would not be enough to save the Thunder tonight.

Much was made of the fact that this was the Thunder’s 21st road loss, meaning that there was no way the team could finish with a winning road record. Then again, look who’s coming to town: the Celtics (Wednesday), the Hawks (Friday), and the Heat (Sunday). No way will OKC lose 21 at home — they’re 23-9 at the Peake — but that last playoff slot is most assuredly not going to be handed to them.

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Genial in France

Even if you think, as I do, that Paris’ reputation as the City of Romance is horribly overstated — I might vote for Venice, but then I might vote for Duluth, because [reasons] — you might like this little number by a singer who’s currently putting together an EP:

I’m keeping an eye, and an ear, open for what she does next.

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Who was that unmasked man?

I have always been a firm believer in What You See Is What You Get. Or, you know, not.

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Creaking track

Yoast, producers of commerce-oriented WordPress products, have issued their first three WP themes, none of which have sliders — because sliders suck:

Seriously, whatever makes people think that having stuff move on your website is ever a good idea is still beyond me. You can create awesome collages through which people can browse at will. The pictures won’t be forced onto them (if they even notice them in the first place), they’ll just notice the ones they like. And trust me, that will sell better.

This is, perhaps surprisingly, especially true for photoblogs:

Ok, so you’re a photographer. You should be allowed to use a slider, right? Wrong. People tend to act as if there’s no other way to show their images anymore but by sliders. This just isn’t true. If you couldn’t have a slider and you’re a photographer, would you just give up having a website altogether? Of course not, you would look for other options, such as the revolutionary idea of showing static pictures. If you want moving pictures, you should change careers and become a filmmaker.

That said, about 2-3 percent of recent questions on Programing & Design at Yahoo! Answers have to do with the implementation of sliders, usually in terms of how the questioner didn’t get them to work. This is approximately equal to the percentage of recent questions on Cars & Transportation asking about installing 20-, 22-, or even 24-inch wheels on workaday sedans, and the response is much the same: “You may like the looks of it, but believe it or not, nobody else will.”

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The lines are drawn accordingly

The best wisecrack Dave Schuler has heard lately, from an 85-year-old woman:

Men are like parking places. The good ones are taken. The ones that aren’t taken are handicapped.

That’s gonna leave a long, painted mark.

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Strange search-engine queries (476)

Thirty years into the domain-name system as we know it, it’s obvious that there isn’t yet a domain for every single conceivable interest, and there probably never will be. Which is just as well, since I wouldn’t want to be the person running, say,

calera oklahoma prostitute ring:  Calera’s not a big town; it’s more of an ellipse.

what does strictly enforced mean on Creek Turnpike:  Run through the tollgate at 80 mph and you’ll find out for yourself quickly enough.

mazda transmission troubleshooting:  At this point, about all you can do is shoot it.

can i put a ford contour transmission in my 2003 mazda 626?  No. Now get your gun.

nancy snyderman net worth:  NBC sent her off with six months’ separation allowance and a year’s supply of Band-Aids.

embrace the many colored beast:  Um, that’s “beast of color.”

jimmy flintstone kit 1963 peterbilt pickup truck finished:  As distinguished from the Fred Flintstone kit, which looked barely begun.

is rustproofing a car in washington state worth it?  It’s probably worthwhile, though you should question the dealer’s desire to charge you $1500 for it.

fred herrera los angeles california:  Which, you have to admit, is a more likely location for a guy named Fred Herrera than, say, Reykjavik, Iceland.

it’s a beautiful day litigation:  Says the lawyer before the mirror every morning.

kiwi vs shinola:  No one will ever accuse you of not knowing shit from Kiwi.

face of a hill:  You don’t need to be seeing my face.

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Maybe a single Rah

The latest addition to the Girl Scout Edible Addiction Cookie line is Rah-Rah Raisins, described as “Hearty oatmeal cookies with plump raisins and Greek yogurt-flavored chunks.” While I remain loyal to my usual choices — and when are you girls gonna come up with some Thick Mints? — I figured the least I could do is sample the new ware.

And it’s okay, if a trifle uninspiring. I was expecting a bit more contrast between the raisin and yogurt bits, and the oatmeal base suggests something more chewy than crunchy, but it’s certainly a different approach to an otherwise-overworked theme, and they do manage to get fourteen of the little discs, two inches in diameter and 3/8 inch thick, into the six-ounce box, which might be enough to discourage you from polishing off the entire box at a single setting, a problem I have pretty much always had with the traditional shortbread trefoils.

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