It’s a small brothel after all

A woman hands a book to the librarian. Only it’s not one of the library’s books:

She pulls out of her bag a beaten-up copy of Eleven Minutes by Paulo Coelho.

Lady: “You are a young girl. You are not an old fogey. Therefore I am not intimidated to tell you what the book is about.”

She leans over and whispers, “It’s … all … pornography.

[Librarian]: “Oh…my.”

Lady: “Do you know why men visit prostitutes?”

[Librarian]: “I don’t…I’m not really…”

Lady: “It’s not about sex. You’d be surprised.”

The librarian duly tweets about the experience.

Which tweet is promptly retweeted — by Paulo Coehlo.

Tipping her hat to this review — okay, I don’t know if she actually ever wears a hat, but work with me here — she announces that she’s going to read the book, once the library’s own copy is returned from loan.

Which got me thinking: do we, here in the Big Sanitary, have this book in our library? Yes, we do: two copies, one at the branch nearest to me, neither of them checked out at the moment.

Maybe I need to read this book, just to keep the momentum going. And no, it’s not pornography.

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The return of the Band of ’59

Way back in 1997, I brought up this curious bit of musical history:

It was August 1959, and the Los Angeles-based musical group known as Big Daddy had finally wangled a recording contract. Their manager, wanting to give the waxing as much of a push as possible, got the band booked on a USO tour of Southeast Asia, hoping for some positive publicity. Unfortunately, the United States had no military involvement in Southeast Asia in 1959, or so the official story said, and therefore the publicity value of the tour would have turned out to be nil — had the band come back at all, which it hadn’t.

Or something like that. Anyway, when the band was ostensibly released by the Chicoms in 1983, still owing one album on their contract, they sought out new material to cover; but, not having heard anything since the 1950s, they duly played it in exactly that style.

As legends go, this is marked by both moderate bogosity and high entertainment value: Big Daddy would go on to record several albums, including a complete (well, perhaps excluding the 20-kHz tone in the runout groove) reimagining of Sgt. Pepper’s, all done in their patented pre-British Invasion style. (An example is this Elvisoid R&B take on a too-familar Sting number.)

Inevitably, rock stars turn to show tunes, and Big Daddy has turned to Kickstarter to help finance a new album, to be called Smashing Songs of Stage and Screen. I, of course, could not resist plugging it here.

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Big Brother gets siblings

WaPo blogger Mike Rosenwald finds this just a little hard to believe:

This is 100 percent One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest crazy. But true. It has to be true: My brain is not sophisticated enough to create something so meta and surreal from scratch.

WTOP’s Ari Ashe is reporting that Prince George’s County [Maryland] is mounting cameras to monitor its traffic cameras. This comes following a half dozen incidents of vandalism and general meanness toward the cameras in the county.

A camera was actually shot with a gun. Another was set on fire. Those attacks mark a step up in looniness from a man who allegedly fired glass marbles at a Howard County traffic camera earlier this summer.

One camera monitoring a camera is already up. Ashe reports a dozen more are planned.

This surprises me less than you think it might: I hear lots of horror stories about PG County, and, well, not taking kindly to traffic regulation is hardly a Beltway phenomenon. On a World Tour a decade ago, I was climbing through northwest Tennessee to the Kentucky Bend, and noted that “the bullet-holes-to-traffic-sign ratio [was] about 12 to 1.”

Note: Working title for this piece was “3936256,” which of course is 1984 squared.

(Via Autoblog.)

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Girl with a Fender

The 16th of this month marks the 51st birthday of Bilinda Butcher of the alt-rock/shoegaze/whatever band My Bloody Valentine, seen here in a shot from Coachella ’09:

Bilinda Butcher

No mention of MBV would be complete without 1991’s “Only Shallow,” the closest they came to a hit in the States, with vocals and rhythm by Butcher and strange guitar noises by Kevin Shields. This song has only grown on me over the years.

(This is the single edit; the track on the Loveless album runs about half a minute longer.)

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At a thousand words apiece

I was scrolling down the front page last night, and thought to myself, Geez, this is a whole lot more graphic content than I used to have, isn’t it?

So I went back ten years, to September of 2002, the first full month of something resembling a content-management system on site — for the six years before that, everything here was coded by hand — and glanced at every single post that month. Number of photos, pictures and embedded whatevers in those thirty days: zero.

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In fact, just don’t leave home

Nice little fake payment confirmation in the inbox yesterday, pretending to be from American Express:

Bogus payment confirmation from American Express

I’m pretty sure I didn’t send Amex $4,564.29. I’m also pretty sure yesterday wasn’t Tuesday. All the links in this thing go to a domain in the Netherlands which is reported as “compromised.”

Addendum: Speaking of Amex, an expired card used (and signed) by Michael Jordan is going up for auction.

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The Gas Game resumes

After a one-year hiatus, Oklahoma Natural Gas has decided to reinstate the Voluntary Fixed-Price Plan, which freezes the Cost of Gas section of one’s bill for twelve months, this time at $4.257 per dekatherm. My long-time readers may recall that this program was first offered in the fall of 2005, with a price of $8.393; I spurned it, and wound up paying out over $60 for having done so, over half of it in one single horrible month.

Last posted price was $4.934, so I’m tempted, especially since we have no way of knowing when they contracted to buy this gas, though the spot price of late has been well below $3, which suggests to me that those contracts are probably two years old and the posted price likely won’t drop below $4.257 until next summer, when I really won’t give much of a damn because the Cost of Gas will make up maybe ten percent of the actual gas bill.

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Pung

Every single time a track comes up in iTunes, a little Ping button appears, suggesting that I share the existence of this track with the rest of the world. Not once did I ever do so, which of course explains why it’s dead:

Introduced at a September 2010 Apple event as “a social network for music,” Ping never really caught on with music-listeners. A kerfuffle with Facebook over sharing activity may have doomed Ping from the start: Facebook blocked access to Ping, which made it impossible to find Facebook friends who were also using Ping.

The Zuckerborg Collective will apparently not be resisted.

Ironically, Ping will be replaced with deep Facebook integration in iTunes 11. When that version of iTunes becomes available in October, you’ll be able to see whenever your Facebook friends “Like” an artist, song or album on iTunes.

Finally, a persuasive argument for Winamp.

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A lot of Fridays ago

One of the things I do in my not-exactly-copious free time is field Rebecca Black questions on Yahoo! Answers. For the first time in quite a while, my standard search criteria (opened in the last three days, unresolved) produced no results yesterday.

Not much going on, in other words, though she’s unearthed a couple of photographs from when she was very young and then Instagrammed them. (Is that even a word?) This shot is almost terminally cute.

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Isn’t it great?

A lesson in self-acceptance, inspired by the wiser-than-we-thought Derpy Hooves:

This is here mostly because I need it from time to time.

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Not to be confused with “sembling”

Smitty has a neologism to offer:

The sense of the word prevaricate seems to be a sequence of fact distortion moving from false to true, as investigation drags facts to light.

Maybe one of the few genuine “accomplishments” of this administration is creation of a new form of lying: postvarication, where the truth is served up for the target audience, and then a pile of hooey follows for the purported rubes. Postvarication goes from true to false.

Not that this necessarily replaces the old forms of lying, which are still getting plenty of use on both sides of the aisle, but hey — progress!

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Free the radicals!

Why, if it weren’t for free-radical polymerization in aqueous solution, we’d never have Orlon:

Orlon hosiery

This particular ad — by DuPont, which no longer produces acrylic fibers — appeared in the summer of 1966, just as people were noticing that kicks just keep getting harder to find.

(I turned 13 that year. Imagine how traumatic this was for me.)

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Semi-instant quasi-feedback

There’s a lot to be said for having the price posted right in front of you:

Quick — in your last fill up, how much did you pay for gas? About how many gallons did you use?

If you are like most people, you can probably come pretty close to this. I paid somewhere just north of $4.00 for about 18 gallons.

Shell V-Power, 9.9 gallons, $3.919 each.

OK, second set of questions: On your last electric bill, how much did you pay per KwH? How many KwH did it take to run your dishwasher last night?

Eight point four cents; and I don’t own a dishwasher.

Don’t know? I don’t think you are alone. I don’t know the answers to the last questions. Part of the reason is that gas prices are posted on every corner, and we stare at a dial showing us fuel used every time we fill up. There is nothing comparable for electricity — particularly for an electric car.

Well, electric meters are fairly easy to read, but you can’t single out any one item: even a so-called “smart” meter won’t tell you if it’s the fridge or the bedroom lamp or the security light that just kicked over a digit.

Addendum: New rates are in play as of the current electric bill, which only just arrived.

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Frontiers in synthetic oil

No, not for your engine. This is another oil entirely:

The olive oil you buy in the store is probably not olive oil. Back when olive oil got to be popular the Mafia got involved. Now what you get is canola oil colored with a little chlorophyll. You can tell the difference by putting it in the fridge. Real olive oil will coagulate, canola oil won’t. There is an outfit in Australia that tests olive oil. They started up a few years ago and so far they have not found any real olive oil.

Well, not a lot of it, anyway, and what they found often wasn’t all that great. Then again, I tend to get suspicious of stuff that can be sold for ten bucks a quart, even if it’s 5W-20.

(Normally this is where I would say something along the lines of “Popeye was not available for comment,” but there are times when I regret my keen grasp of the obvious, and this is one of them.)

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Howard the Doc

In a piece on why the Democrats ostensibly have “no bench,” Steve Sailer asks: “Whatever happened to Howard Dean?”

As you’ll recall, Dean was the Democratic frontrunner for all of 2003 due to his opposition to the Iraq war, but when he finished 3rd in Iowa and gave his supporters a high school coach-style war whoop to keep them motivated, he was immediately discarded in favor of the big stiff John Kerry. As a consolation prize after Kerry lost, the Democrats made Dean chairman of the party for 2005-2009, where he did, by all accounts, an excellent job, bringing his campaign’s Internet sophistication to the party in the service of tying the liberal base to the Democratic brand and helping the Democrats win the House in 2006 and 2008.

To me, Dr. Dean looks like the natural leader of the liberal wing of the Democratic Party. I suspect other people think so, too, which may be why he’s on the shelf.

One of Sailer’s commenters suggested:

Dean pissed off some significant figures, including Rahm Emanuel, during his tenure at the DNC. And I think 60-something white guy is just not the direction the Dems are ever going to go for the foreseeable future.

Dean is 63. And I always figured his problem was anger management. Cam Edwards, now at NRANews.com but then a local radio guy, quipped: “I look at Howard Dean and see a guy who’s going to invade Mexico because Taco Bell got his order wrong.”

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Running Amox

So far as I know, I am allergic to exactly one substance on the face of the earth, and it’s this stuff:

Like a good little patient, I took the week’s work of Amoxicillin. Side effects: rising blood pressure, insomnia, mental confusion, stress.

None of those things is exactly new to me — my blood pressure is usually decently controlled unless I overdo the sodium or something — but I get some distinctive symptoms anyway: I break out in a red facial rash, like I’d spent half an hour trying to use an onion for aftershave, and my hands get unbelievably itchy, to the point that scalding water seems delightful by comparison.

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