Quote of the week

Robert Stacy McCain instructs us in Contemporary Logic 101:

Now, it happens that I am quite lazy in my rhetorical methods. That is to say, I understand that the object of the argument is to win the argument. In politics, we find that most people have profound partisan prejudices, so that there is no hope of persuading a Democrat to support, say, tax cuts or a larger defense budget. Therefore, when we find ourselves confronted with an antagonist in public argument, the simplest way to win is to ask ourselves, “How do I demonstrate that this person is a fool?”

My methodology in this regard was developed from years of youthful studies of military history: Locate the weakest point of the antagonist’s argument and pile onto that point with everything you’ve got. Deliver a crushing blow at the point of attack, and then wait for the response. The antagonist will invariably make some new error in attempting to defend the point you’ve attacked and — rather than continue your previous attack — you then shift to attacking his new error. “Unfair!” the antagonist will shriek, but as they say down home, “I ain’t never heard of no fair fight.”

These tactics work best against arrogant fools. I’m always on the lookout for such people, who always begin with the presumption that they are smarter than me and, when the argument is over, never can figure out how they got beat by a dumb hillbilly.

For some of them, it will take the equivalent of a deathbed conversion to bring the light to their eyes.

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Work and no play

Toy collector? Nut-uh, says Jack Baruth. You’re a box collector:

It’s the boxes that really matter because you want the toy to be new in the box and such a condition has the dual conditions of

  • new
  • in the box

which means that even the best-condition action figure or Shogun Warrior or Star Bird™ isn’t worth a whole lot unless you have the box. Note that children, for whom toys used to be made, don’t care about the boxes and throw them out immediately. The box is a sort of meta-item for adult collectors, the secondary market. As such, box collecting is a prime symptom of disconnection from the true purpose of the toy. The child plays with the toy; the adult collects the box. It should be immediately apparent to anyone with any soul left whatsoever that the child is the moral and intellectual superior of the adult in this case and that collecting boxes is a miserable, repugnant pursuit in which your humble author only engages pretty much, um, all the time.

This suggests two alternative methods of saving your soul: making your own, in which case there is no box, or buying fanwork — say, a custom pony — whose only box is an anonymous shipping container.

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DST explained

You know the phrase “It’s all good”?

You’ve just seen its antithesis.

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Food is here

This is something I never saw when I was a kid: a youngster waxing rhapsodic about broccoli. I didn’t much like the stuff myself, though I have since done a 180; the parental units were mystified, since I had no trouble polishing off a serving of Brussels sprouts, which were similarly green and only marginally more symmetrical.

The Association (remember them?) had a spiffy little tune on the subject:

Now that I think about it, I started eating broccoli in earnest about the time this song came out, which would have been 1969.

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Meanwhile at Freckleface Strawberry’s place

This would be the logical place to insert a Still Alice reference, inasmuch as Julianne Moore just won an Academy Award for her performance in that film, but I work diligently at being illogical in these matters, and so I’m invoking the series of children’s books launched by Moore in 2007. “Freckleface,” like Moore herself, wanted nothing more as a child than to get rid of those awful marks on her face; eventually she learned to accept them.

You’ll have to try awfully hard to see anything resembling a freckle in these softish-focus fashion photos, first seen in L. A. Confidential this spring:

Julianne Moore in L. A. Confidential

Julianne Moore in L. A. Confidential

Then again, you have to figure that this is Standard Operating Procedure when the subject of the photoshoot is a woman of fifty-four.

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Evidently it’s not about the base

Paging Inigo Montoya: I do not believe this word means what she thinks it means.

I’m pretty sure she has one, but I’m willing to bet that it wasn’t swollen that night in Toronto — unless she’s really serious about “best night ever.”

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Fark blurb of the week

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Your grandmother’s phish

It’s been a while since something this blatant came down the wire:

Sorry for the delays towards making the payment, Please see attachment for proof of payment by verifying your email and password through the attached outlook duc transfer page to access the POP. Kindly confirm payment. Thanks CFO Sharon Williams

The “transfer page,” cleverly named “Wire Receipt.htm,” is some Base64-encoded garbage that I am not about to look at.

Weird aspects of this mailing:

  • Sender is identified as “Sharon Smith,” not “Williams,” though the email address given is sharonw at stantrade.com.
  • This line appears in the header:
    X-Source-Args: /usr/bin/php /home/tcfofcha/public_html/mc.php

Is it possible that these folks have been hijacked?

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So what’s the big deal?

So this guy is listening to NPR on the weekend, and this draws his attention:

NPR’s Weekend Edition listeners have had enough of sentences that begin with the word so. When asked to nominate the ten most annoying grammar mistakes they’re tired of hearing, starting sentences with so came in at second place!

So what? I mean, really, is this the second-best they can do?

I went and looked up the rest of the Top Ten, and I find it difficult to believe that starting a sentence with so is considered more heinous than the total destruction of the word “literally.”

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Friday plus four

Four years after “Friday” went viral, Rebecca Black talks to Entertainment Weekly:

The Orange County high school senior currently focuses on her million-plus subscriber YouTube channel, where she does comedy bits, answers fan questions, and performs the occasional song. “What I love and have loved about doing YouTube is that I have complete creative control,” she says. “That was a thing that I lacked with the people I was working with and had surrounded myself with. I realized that they didn’t care as much about what I wanted to do as much as what they wanted to see me do. I really felt like I could be myself, and people really got to know me for who I am as a person instead of just this girl who sang songs.”

That phrase “what they wanted to see” has particular resonance with me, since earlier this week I went searching for Black-related material on Bing, and this is what I got on a submenu:

Bing submenu from a search for Rebecca Black

It was originally nine items across; I’ve reformatted it into three by three, but this is what I got. You’ll no doubt notice that a couple of these items are identical — and that some of these pictures are not Rebecca Black at all.

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They can’t go for that

No can do, say the plaintiffs:

Hall and Oates are suing a Brooklyn-based cereal firm, claiming its granola Haulin’ Oats infringes their trademark.

The case accuses Early Bird Foods & Co of breaking the law with its “phonetic play on Daryl Hall and John Oates’ well-known brand name”.

Lawyers for the singers filed the case in Brooklyn federal court.

The duo claim the company is attempting “to trade off of the fame and notoriety associated with the artist’s and plaintiff’s well-known marks”.

This would seem to be at least slightly inconsistent with the duo’s thinking. Said John Oates a few years back:

There isn’t one album that says Hall and Oates. It’s always Daryl Hall and John Oates. From the very beginning. People never note that. The idea of “Hall and Oates,” this two-headed monster, this thing, is not anything we’ve ever wanted or liked.

Yet it’s something they’re willing to protect. I’m thinking maybe I’m just out of touch.

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Watch that punctuation

Yes, even on Twitter:

He’s not the only one.

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Hazel doesn’t get squat

Those of us who are comfortable having brown eyes — see, for instance, Chuck Berry’s “Brown Eyed Handsome Man,” who just incidentally was a black guy, but you’re weren’t supposed to notice that — may have those eyes glaze over at this news:

Apparently there’s a medical procedure that can permanently turn brown eyes blue.

Pioneered by Stroma Medical, the laser procedure works by eliminating the brown melanin that’s present in the anterior layers of the iris.

Dr Gregg Homer told CNN that the fundamental principle is that under every brown eye is a blue eye — he added that there is no actual blue pigmentation in the eye.

Crystal Gayle was not available for comment.

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It’s windy out there

Screenshot from the Oklahoman previewing the game with the Chicago BullsHow good are these Bulls? Yes, they started the day ten and a half games back of Atlanta, but everybody else in the East is at least ten and a half games back of Atlanta. The loss of Derrick Rose (again!) surely hurts: this man collects injuries the way Warren Buffett collects companies. Still, you have to admire a team that, according to that little squib in this morning’s Oklahoman, pulled off four wins against two losses before reaching the fifth and final game in this homestand. For something not at all connected to electoral politics in Chicago, that’s pretty damned impressive. Still, the Bulls, for the moment, are short on guards, though Aaron Brooks is no slouch, and besides there’s Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah to tower over anyone in the neighborhood. The Thunder jumped out to an early lead, which the Bulls entirely erased by the third quarter, but they couldn’t get a lead of more than one, and inside the 2:00 mark the Bulls were down only one at 100-99. Russell Westbrook (of course) drew a foul at 1:07, hit the first free throw, and when the second one didn’t fall, Enes Kanter stuffed it back in. Nikola Mirotić, who’d been firing treys all night, got his second (in nine tries) to bring the Bulls back to within one; a Westbrook jumper made it OKC 105-102. Mirotić, much more deadly at the stripe, knocked down two free throws, and with 4.9 seconds left, the Bulls got the shot of the night: a jumper by E’Twaun Moore. OKC came up empty, and Mirotić finished the job with one more free throw. Chicago 108, Oklahoma City 105, and that’s how good those Bulls are.

If your first question is “Another triple-double for Westbrook?” the answer is no. Still, in the third quarter Westbrook put up ten points in a mere 1:41, and he wound up with a better-than-respectable 43-7-8. Serge Ibaka, who had two points last night, had 25 this time; D. J. Augustin led the bench with 10. Uncharacteristically, the Thunder were seriously outrebounded, 48-41, and while they didn’t shoot badly — 47 percent, one better than the Bulls — their misses seemed that much more exasperating.

Chicago had three players over 20 — Mirotić, off the bench, was team-high with 26, fourteen of them from the stripe (one fewer than the entire Thunder team), and both Gasol and Mike Dunleavy checked in with 21. The man of the moment, though, was Moore, whose 19 points set a new career high, not to mention the fact that it was ten times his per-game average.

One of those other teams who were ten and a half behind Atlanta, the Toronto Raptors, will be in OKC Sunday evening.

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Eight arms, one shutter

This had to be the experience of a (fairly quiet) lifetime:

Ben Savard was photographing an octopus at Middlebury College in Vermont on Monday when the animal suddenly grabbed the camera and snapped some photos of its own.

Savard, a digital media producer, wanted to capture some photos of the octopuses the school’s neuroscience students have been studying.

“I put a GoPro in a waterproof casing, set it to take a rapid number of photos per second and, with the help of the neuroscience student behind me in the photos, placed the camera in the octopus tank,” he told MNN. “We did this a few times with different octopuses and one of the more cheeky cephalopods grabbed the camera and turned it around on me for a quick couple of pictures.”

The cephalopod in question is Octopus bimaculoides, the California two-spot octopus, renowned for its friendly temperament:

Middlebury neuroscience students have been observing to see if the species can open boxes of food more quickly after seeing other octopuses do it.

I’m guessing they’re probably fast learners.

(Via Fark.)

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Mehthod acting

I’ve now placed two orders with meh.com, and two things seem worth mentioning:

  • One’s order “number” is not a number at all, but three random words. Harder to fake, I’m guessing.
  • While they get a credit-card authorization the moment you place an order, they apparently don’t actually finalize the charge until the product ships.

Well, that and the fact that the product descriptions are about 40 percent nastier than Woot’s ever were.

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