Taking care of the little things

With My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic just beyond halfway through Season Five, with the sixth season already graven in stone and probably already storyboarded, this is about the point where you start to wonder: do they start going through the motions, or are they going to try to keep cranking up the brilliance?

“Rarity Investigates!” pretty well answered that question, for now anyway, in favor of that second alternative: I continue to be delighted by the show’s sheer audacity. This isn’t the first time MLP:FiM has tried to solve a mystery, but I wouldn’t have expected it to go almost totally noir — though Rarity, Celestia knows, is as fatale a femme as you’ll find in Equestria. William Anderson’s background music, as always, was on point, and while I had turned to take a sip of a minor libation, I heard the subtle strains of a muted trumpet. Perfect, I thought, and turned back to the screen to see this:

Screenshot from Rarity Investigates

Of course they did. (Anderson played it himself, I’m told.) And they even replaced the outro theme with more of the same. The subtween girls at whom the show is officially pitched are getting all sorts of unexpected cultural familiarization beyond merely “buy these toys”; the rest of us simply smile a lot.

Comments (1)

Beyond mere timepieces

You say “wearable technology,” and people think you’re talking about either (1) a watch or (2) some weirdly designed dress riven with circuitry. This time, or at least one out of two times this time, it’s different:

Chromat’s new line includes two garments powered by Intel Curie, an incredibly small low-power chip that’s the perfect base for responsive wearables. These garments are a 3D-printed dress that structurally reacts to a rise in your adrenaline levels, and a new sports bra that responds to changes in breathing, perspiration and body temperature by opening vents to keep you cool.

I’m ever-so-slightly put off by a dress controlled by adrenaline, but the sports bra sounds actually useful:

The sports bra, full title Chromat Aeros Sports Bra, is made from Lycra, neoprene, mesh, and a 3D-printed carbon-fiber frame. It will open vents to cool down your body when it senses increased levels of heat and sweat, allowing you to exercise harder for longer periods of time. So long boob sweat, you shall not be missed!

Price goes unstated for now, as it probably should, but I can’t imagine that there will be only one of these on the market for too awfully long.

Comments off


I am currently having issues with the icemaker with my 12-year-old Sears Kenmore fridge, though otherwise the machine works fine; one of these days I’ll get a new icemaker put in, but for the meantime old-fashioned — well, plastic, not those godawful metal things with the pull-lever — ice trays are meeting the need.

Not so fortunate is this Kenmore owner:

This is is my 9 month old Kenmore 22.3 cu. ft. Counter-Depth French Door Refrigerator in Stainless Steel. It’s so shiny! Unfortunately, it doesn’t work anymore. Some seal broke so now it just looks pretty. And oh boy doesn’t it shine! It matches perfectly with my Kenmore stove, microwave; and dishwasher.

I do need to eat food though and quite often food has to be refrigerated and not held in a shiny room temperature box so I called for repair. Originally they told me I would have to wait 2 weeks for someone to come fix it. I told them I would probably be tired of eating spaghetti by then. The nice lady put me on hold and said they could send someone today. The even nicer gentlemen came today and tried to fix it. He told me the part he needed wouldn’t come in until October 7th. That’s a lot of spaghetti! He told me that my lovely refrigerator was “a piece of shit” and that I should sell it. How sad! It’s so pretty!

Like someone’s going to buy a fridge that doesn’t work, unless you knock a whole bunch off the price.

Thus began the Sears Kenmore Refrigerator Diet, easy recipes for people who have no way to keep stuff cold. The sarcasm is deep, but you have to figure it’s appropriate.

Comments (4)

Overnight insensation

The one characteristic that applies to all sleep medicines: if they work at all, eventually they stop working. Trying a new one, therefore, is fraught with peril:

It’d been a while since I’d tried anything new because, frankly, after a bunch of decades at this, you get USED to being exhausted and running on “dim” or, as I like to call it, “energy-saving mode.” True, I sometimes think, “I bet I would have cured cancer already, had I been able to get plenty of quality sleep every night, all during my life. And had I not gotten the D in chemistry and been at all interested in science.” My doctor has given me STERN warnings that I need to sleep because this will “kill” me. Ok doc then gimme some good drugs. Not drugs with butterflies. I need drugs with velociraptors.

Alas, butterflies are all you get:

The Lunesta … oh how I wish it had worked. It looked so promising. The marketing! See the pretty diaphanous butterfly? The website says it’s very “fast-acting” and warns that you shouldn’t even TAKE this pill unless you’re strapped into bed in your strait jacket and have hired a home nurse or Joe Don Baker to stand vigil. All this because you will be completely zonked out in a fucking minute, you skeptic you, and you will likely be trying to paint your home’s exterior overnight, ALONE, in your deeply restful dream state.

Pfft. No piñata confetti. Not so much as a plastic drink umbrella in the bedding this morning.

The doctor will be sending over a script for Belsomra (suvorexant), a totally new concept in sleeping pills, with a totally new level of TV-commercial creepiness:

If the little cloud creatures don’t scare you to death, the warnings will.

Comments (7)

Strange search-engine queries (503)

In case you’ve been spending all your time in the Real World — or worse, in the Political World, which is much the same except that everyone lies about the price of everything — this is a standard Monday-morning feature, wherein we disclose some of the wackier motivations people have for reading this site, based solely on the search strings they used to get here.

why is the gearbox hunting for gears in the mazda 626:  Same reason fruitbats hunt for fruit. Except more expensive, of course.

shiftless individuals:  Well, yeah. Their gearboxes are out hunting for gears.

ringjob sex:  Few mechanics I know will allow you to work off your repair bill.

world tour fishing couldn’t connect to gate server:  A poor choice of bait, perhaps?

all purchases until march 2016 10.9%-18.9% capital one classic platinum credit card:  Said the guy who thinks he’s actually going to get ten point nine.

isis lures women with dank memes:  Yet this sort of thing never seems to work for you. Why do you think that is?

wrench dressing:  All you really need is a light penetrating oil.

donald davis developed a nutrient quality index:  While sitting in the drive-thru at Taco Bell.

huey lewis penis:  Happy to be stuck with it, were you?

george shrinks car:  And yet it still wouldn’t get over 19 mpg, whereupon George threw himself to the ground and shrieked for several hours.

ariana grande covered in sperm:  Um, that’s not actually an area we cover.

did you ever have the feeling:  Why do you think we drink?

the most lewd and vulgar video webcam jailbait girls:  Someone’s auditioning for a sequel to The 40-Year-Old Virgin.

Comments off

Tin whistles are made of tin

“Svatební průvod” means something like “wedding march” in Czech, but this song somehow doesn’t sound particularly matrimonial, if you know what I mean, and I think you do:

The lyric, by Czech composer Jiří Grossmann (1941-1971), is set to a possibly recognizable tune. I include the 45 sleeve of the single for reasons of Cute Overload.

Naďa Urbánková - Svatební průvod 45 sleeve

Comments (2)

Standing athwart time

I was as flabbergasted as anyone, I suppose, when I heard that John Tyler (1790-1862), 10th President of the United States — he was William Henry Harrison’s Vice-President, and succeeded to the office on Harrison’s death in 1841 — has two grandsons still alive today.

Still, there is always Something More Amazing. Apparently an actual motion picture of someone born in the 1700s exists:

From the YouTube description:

This scene is a part of the very first film shot produced by the Manaki Brothers. Despina, Janaki and Milton Manaki’s grandmother, was recorded weaving in one high-angle shot. For no apparent reason, the first shot made in Macedonia, in the Balkans in fact, made by these two cinematography pioneers, contains peculiar symbolics: at the moment when the grandmother Despina spins the weaving wheel, film starts rolling in our country.

The movie from 1905 is created in standard technique, without sound, in black and white and 35mm.

At the time, according to a Manaki memoir, Despina was 114 years old, making her one year younger than John Tyler.

Comments off

Unloved shack

This is 16 DeLong Street in San Francisco’s Outer Mission neighborhood, and it can be yours for a mere $350,000:

MLS photo of 16 DeLong SF

This 1906, um, structure is billed as being “in need of work.” “Why bother?” was my immediate thought. Bill Quick, who lives in SF, is probably closer to the mark:

It’s actually a better neighborhood than my own. And forget that “fixer-upper” stuff. This is a teardown. They’re asking a third of a million for the lot.

How big a lot, you ask? Says the news article, 1,633 square feet. This 765-square-foot house — not really that small, says the guy who looked at a couple of 800-ish homes while house-shopping in 2003 — therefore occupies about 47 percent of the lot; if you did that in my neighborhood you’d be accused of McMansioning.

Still, in my neighborhood land is valued, per the county assessor, at around $100,000 per acre. For this little slice of nothing in San Francisco, all 0.0375 acre of it, they’re asking $9.3 million per acre.

Comments (2)

Family entertainment

Or … is it?

Apparently that’s her real name; certainly the Hawks are a real team. (60-22 last year, losing to Cleveland in the Eastern finals.)

Comments off

Is this the best Facebook status ever?

Comments (2)

Carpe the crap out of this diem

Sometimes a noise wakes you; sometimes the absence of noise wakes you. I stirred this morning, rolled over enough to see the clock, and saw — nothing. The fan in the corner was dead. Great, thought I. Power outage. I duly punched up OG&E on the phone, reported the calamity, and after a few minutes the Brain Ready light finally came on.

You may remember this incident from the spring:

There used to be a metal pole west of the driveway that contained a light fixture; the light would go on at dark and turn off at sunrise, or at least it did for a while. Then the bulb socket broke, and I didn’t rush to have it fixed; when the ground to the west began eroding away, the pole began to lean at an embarrassing angle. Finally, on a day of 60-mph winds, the pole loosened up from what little base it had, and a couple of scavengers hauled it off for scrap metal.

I don’t miss it, exactly, but I’m wondering what I should do with this length of cable the thieves left behind. I am loath to call my usual electrician, since he’s fixated on bringing the whole house up to code, at a price that leaves little change from a $10,000 bill.

At the time, I covered up the bare ends of the wires and tucked the cable behind a shrub. Now, however, was a real opportunity. I threw on just enough clothing to avoid arrest and went at it with a pruning hook. Got the stub down below ground level, and then dropped a large rock over it.

As I was tossing that length of cable into the trash bin, the lights came back on. Had I dawdled three minutes more, you would presumably not be reading this.

Comments (13)

Kerry aloft

So this arrived in the mailbox a few days ago, and all of a sudden I’m thinking Tony Goldwyn as Consummate Actor:

Entertainment Weekly cover issue 1380

I mean, if I have Kerry Washington on my shoulder, her knee at my eye level, I’m sorry, but I’m going to have difficulty looking straight at the camera. (Bellamy Young is no slouch either, but we’re talking Kerry freaking Washington here.)

This led me to wonder if I reacted similarly to dissimilar poses with similarly charming displays, and:

Kerry Washington reads the news

Kerry Washington in InStyle May 2013

Damn, that Goldwyn guy is good.

Comments (3)

Muttered under his breath

Because Bertie Wooster was not given to such utterances if they could actually be heard:

Besides, Jeeves knows everything. Just ask him.

Comments off

Emissions: implausible

You’ve seen this said here before: There is no system that cannot be gamed. This particular example is fiendishly clever, if definitely illegal:

The Obama administration on Friday directed Volkswagen to recall nearly a half-million cars, saying the automaker illegally installed software in its diesel-power cars to evade standards for reducing smog.

The Environmental Protection Agency accused the German automaker of using software to detect when the car is undergoing its periodic state emissions testing. Only during such tests are the cars’ full emissions control systems turned on. During normal driving situations, the controls are turned off, allowing the cars to spew as much as 40 times as much pollution as allowed under the Clean Air Act, the EPA said.

The tradeoff? Better fuel economy, apparently. VW evidently wanted big numbers and was willing to do whatever it took to get them.

In other words, it’s the automotive equivalent of “teaching to the test,” and it’s not at all surprising in a society that values the letter of the law far more than the spirit.

(Via The Truth About Cars.)

Comments (3)

Lookin’ out my backdoor

Cisco is attempting to deal with something called SYNful Knock:

SYNful Knock is a type of persistent malware that allows an attacker to gain control of an affected device and compromise its integrity with a modified Cisco IOS software image. It was described by Mandiant as having different modules enabled via the HTTP protocol and triggered by crafted TCP packets sent to the device.

Security type Blind Seeker opines:

There are really only two host-based artifacts that can give away the implant; the modification of the TLB (Translation Lookaside Buffer) attributes from Read-only to Read/Write, and the fact that the actors will ascertain what features of the IOS are not being used to determine what functionality to remove in order to fit their backdoor into the IOS image, without affecting the size of the image. Your network admins aren’t ever going to care about the memory attributes of the TLB, and unless there is a sudden need to change their entire network, those unused features that were deleted to make room for the backdoor aren’t gonna be missed either. Even assuming that the network admin notices that a particular feature isn’t working on a router, they’re more likely to go “Huh, that’s weird..” and engage Cisco technical support and/or just nuke and re-image the router than they would be to say ZOMG NATION-STATE BACKDOOR.

This is consistent with standard network-admin practice:

Networking gear exists in a realm of if it ain’t broken, save the running config, back it up somewhere, and NEVER TOUCH THIS AGAIN.

Exactly so.

(Via @SwiftOnSecurity.)

Comments (1)

Antique fuel

Not an unreasonable question, this:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: How do you know when gas has gone bad?

And then we launch into Too Much Exposition:

I have a 79 Firebird that has sat for about 5 years and I am starting down the road to running it again. I filled it with the good stuff before parking it. I am assuming that after this long it has gone bad but considering that I paid over $4/gallon for it at the time I hate to just dump it unless somebody has a good idea on how to save it.

Sorry, pal, but old hydrocarbons are not worth saving no matter what you paid for them. (Why do you think we burn ’em in the first place?)

Comments (1)