This would seem to go without saying

Nonetheless, it was said:

Jonathan Gruber was not available for comment.

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Bring out the Musketeers

3 Musketeers barThe legendary 3 Musketeers bar, reconfigured and downsized many times since its humble beginnings in 1932 — hint: there’s a reason for the “3” other than the obvious literary reference — may be threatened, along with most of the rest of the candy bars on earth, for the simplest (and scariest) of all reasons. To put it bluntly, we may be running short of chocolate:

Two global chocolate giants, Mars, Inc. and Barry Callebaut, are warning that global demand for one of the world’s most popular commodities will outpace supply by one million metric tons by 2020, Bloomberg reports.

Is there growing demand? Yes, but there’s also a supply issue. More precisely, there’s another supply issue:

As CBS Moneywatch reported last month, Ebola has been the most recent culprit. West Africa produces nearly three-quarters of the world’s cocoa — with the nations of Ivory Coast and Ghana responsible for 60 percent of that supply. Those nations’ proximity to Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone — the current epicenters of the Ebola outbreak — have fueled worries that the virus could ultimately stall production, and trigger another spike in world cocoa prices.

Meanwhile, the existing supply issues continue:

The lack of rain has continued to wreak havoc on crops in Ivory Coast and Ghana. That means smaller, lower-quality cocoa beans that must be processed more to produce the same amount of chocolate.

The International Cocoa Organization estimates that pests and diseases — with menacing names like Witches’ Broom and Frosty Pod Rot — have cut up to 40 percent of global cocoa production.

“Frosty pod rot” doesn’t sound that menacing. But both those ailments come from similarly destructive fungi: Moniliophthora roreri for a case of the frosties, and M. perniciosa for witches’ broom. And having looked at a list of diseases that attack cocoa, now I wonder how I ever managed to get a single Mr. Goodbar.

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If I may horn in for a moment

Miss Swift’s experience as a unicorn being somewhat limited, I must point out that it really depends on what you’re used to and what shape your head is in:

DJ Pon3 wearing a headset: I'm all about that bass cannon

(Original by ezoisum.)

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All about that guilt reflex

At least twice a day something like this comes up:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: 
Will my parents come to know about my net history from the MTS internet bill?

Oh, you poor, porn-obsessed adolescent!

Actually, they’ll probably figure it out the moment you come down with a malware infection from chasing down stuff you thought was “free.”

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The return of the winter blues

Does this time of year actually suck, or is it just me?

Addendum: A second opinion:

Snow and inclement conditions aside, I think winter gets a bad rap. Believe me, I’m the first to complain when I am forced to grab a plastic shovel and dig my way to freedom. However, if you take away the ice, snow, and slush, winter can be a lazy person’s ticket to paradise. Although it may appear that I am trying to find the silver lining, trust me when I say: I lean more towards lethargic than evolved.

I’m definitely down with that latter point.

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Somewhat pertinent today

This quote from Tina Fey’s Bossypants (New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2011) has become somewhat timely again:

I think the first real change in women’s body image came when JLo turned it butt-style. That was the first time that having a large-scale situation in the back was part of mainstream American beauty. Girls wanted butts now. Men were free to admit that they had always enjoyed them. And then, what felt like moments later, boom — Beyoncé brought the leg meat. A back porch and thick muscular legs were now widely admired. And from that day forward, women embraced their diversity and realized that all shapes and sizes are beautiful.

Ah ha ha. No. I’m totally messing with you. All Beyoncé and JLo have done is add to the laundry list of attributes women must have to qualify as beautiful. Now every girl is expected to have Caucasian blue eyes, full Spanish lips, a classic button nose, hairless Asian skin with a California tan, a Jamaican dance hall ass, long Swedish legs, small Japanese feet, the abs of a lesbian gym owner, the hips of a nine-year-old boy, the arms of Michelle Obama, and doll tits. The person closest to actually achieving this look is Kim Kardashian, who, as we know, was made by Russian scientists to sabotage our athletes.

I can’t keep up.

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Strange search-engine queries (459)

We had snow this past weekend, and of course were lectured about it by the same buffoons who blamed us for the “hottest October on record.” Which is one reason I continue to do this series: at least it’s meaningful and verifiable. latrine kapok video com:  Clearly this guy doesn’t understand the implications of the term “latrine.” (Or worse, he does.)

john bair tulsa world hatchet man:  Replaced by a lobbyist, now that the Whirled is owned by Berkshire Hathaway.

xcx roman numerals:  Doesn’t mean a thing, unless your name is Charli.

1986 mazda 626 reliability:  Um, it’s 28 years old. Be grateful it starts.

mazda 626 1988 1992 tyres manual:  Of course they are. There aren’t any automatic tyres to be had anywhere.

green giant jingle source:  Did you check the valley?

bacon helper:  Harrumph. Bacon doesn’t need your help.

plus Matthew will make lives a little easier which includes everyone he challenged as this was the internal Matthew challenge fade which is came about Matthew was:  “Oh, no,” shouted Matthew, backing away. “You’re not gonna drag my name into this!”

justin hayward karaoke bar my funny valentine:  Tuesday afternoon, was it?

live large drive small:  And strive for mediocrity elsewhere.

before bedtime last night, four of veronica’s relatives (including her brother) helped her act out the story of the three bears. veronica played goldilocks and:  Was promptly eaten in the second act, because she was just right.

junk food last supper:  “Judas, did you order the onion rings?”

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Can’t anyone here play this game?

Houston came into the ‘Peake with Peak Swagger; not only were they 5-0 on the road, but James Harden was scoring something like a bazillion points a game. And indeed, they dominated the first half of the game, leading 42-33 after two. Then great strangeness manifested itself: the Thunder scored a lousy 18 points in the third quarter — and briefly took the lead. The two free throws Harden sank in the final moments of the third were Houston’s eighth and ninth points of the quarter. Stifling Oklahoma City defense did it: the Thunder had blocked 14 shots in the first 36 minutes. But they couldn’t make any shots on their own, either.

Three minutes into the fourth, there was a bizarre little incident in which Patrick Beverley was trashtalking one of the zebras. Scott Brooks took the opportunity to point this out to the crew; Kevin McHale jumped up because he’s Kevin McHale, and for a moment there, it looked like a hockey game was about to break out. After a lengthy discussion, a tech was called on Sebastian Telfair, which drew a muted “Wow” from radio guy Matt Pinto.

With 78 seconds left, a Harden trey put the Rockets up 68-65; Houston did their best to run some clock, the Thunder managed no further threats — Reggie Jackson sent up a 30-footer over Dwight Howard which went nowhere — and the Beard cashed in one of two free throws for the final four-point difference, 69-65. If that sounds like a high-school score, well, consider: neither side shot over 30 percent; fully 54 treys were attempted tonight, and 44 of them failed; Harden, who scored the last four points in the game, was -2 for the evening. If anyone on earth was thinking “Oh, Mama, I want to see the bricks tonight!” she should have been in downtown OKC.

Harden led all scorers with 19 despite going 5-17 from the floor; Dwight Howard (4-12) and Patrick Beverley (4-10) had 12 each; Trevor Ariza, who drew a tech for some unknown reason, got 11 points from 4-11. Reggie Jackson and Lance Thomas had 15 each for the Thunder, with the Reg hauling in 11 boards; Serge Ibaka had 10; Steven Adams scored one solitary foul shot, though he contributed six blocks to the cause. OKC at least remembered how to do foul shots, making 22 of 28. (The Rockets were 16-30, largely due to Howard, who is to free throws what Shaq was to, well, free throws.)

Seems like a good time to get out of town. So it’s a trip halfway out West, to meet the Jazz on Tuesday and the Nuggets on Wednesday. The Nets will be in OKC Friday night.

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That third year is the killer

I’m filling out the renewal for MAD, and while I noticed almost immediately that the magazine’s subscription pitch hasn’t changed in the past two years, the actual pricing contains a trap for the unwary:

  • 1 year (6 issues) — $19.99
  • 2 years (12 issues) — $29.99
  • 3 years (18 issues) — $44.99

They’ll let you have that second year for ten bucks, but the third one costs fifteen? Why, that’s … that’s utterly MAD.

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Looks better from the inside

Says Fillyjonk: “I wouldn’t buy an aggressively ugly car, like the bad old Aztek, even if it was highly rated.” I’m not sure that Pontiac really, truly wanted a mobile eyesore, but the command came down from the General — “Turn this minivan platform into a proper SUV, and don’t spend a lot of money on it” — and the Aztek was the unfortunate result. Buick sold the same basic vehicle as the Rendezvous, and while it didn’t assault the eyes the way the Aztek did, it was still ungainly and ill-proportioned.

That said, in this age of wind-tunnel conformity, automakers have had to come up with styling that separates them from the crowd, and some of those efforts paid negative dividends: the idiot grin on last-generation Mazdas; the “spindle grille” being affixed to current Lexus models; the chrome beak from which Acura is slowly backing away.

Still, some cars are, well, cuter than others: the VW New Beetle (New New Beetle, simply styled “Beetle,” is less cute than its predecessor), the Fiat 500, various Minis. Of course, “cute” suggests “small,” and all these cars are: the only large vehicle I’d think of as cute is the Ford Flex wagon, whose bricklike appearance suggests it was built up from LEGO blocks.

And then there’s the Dodge Neon, introduced in the middle 1990s. It was all about that cute: typical advertising showed the car making eye-to-headlight contact and saying “Hi.” After a decade or so of this, Dodge decided that their next small car would be the very antithesis of cute:

Now that’s aggressively ugly.

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pH 7+

And once again, I drift back to high-school chemistry — with a contemporary bounce:

Meghan Trainor, what hath thou wrought?

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Not Meow Mix

She has no mouth, but she can apparently feed you:

North American fans of the mouth-less Sanrio feline can now rejoice as the first ever Hello Kitty Cafe will finally land on their continent!

Announced in the form of a bright pink food truck at the Hello Kitty Convention held in Los Angeles, fans were elated to learn that Hello Kitty will finally get her own cafe in California! Judging by the extreme cuteness of the pictures released so far, it seems like this cafe will take kawaii to a whole new level!

There’s a placeholder site for now. And didn’t they tell us that Kitty is not in fact a cat?

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No size is Fun Size

Nathan Gunter found this at the local Sprouts:

Alive & Radiant Organic Kandy Kale

I’m having trouble trying to figure out what “holiday” is involved. April 15th, maybe?

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Beyond gossamer

An (almost) actual necklace made out of nothing:

NECLUMI is the first projection-based interactive necklace. We’re posing a question if we’re willing to abandon atoms of gold for the waves of light? At the current stage the whole setup is based on iPhone running custom app and a picoprojector connected via hdmi cable and attached to the wearers chest. Given the rate of miniaturisation of the picoprojector technology and observing the trend of wearables treated more as jewellery and fashion accessories rather than just gadgets, we predict that wearable projection and projection-based jewellery become a reality in a few years. We’re currently committed to create a standalone version of the project and we’re opened for funding and collaboration.

Watch the video at the link. It’s spellbinding, and maybe more than a little scary.

(From Wearable Technologies via Dan Gordon.)

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Chicks unfilleted

If you thought “What Does The Fox Say?” was a bit too, um, cerebral, here’s a Chinese video that makes approximately one zillionth as much sense:

(Via Incredible Things. They didn’t believe it either.)

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Those of us who routinely outsource computer maintenance to younger folks will probably not be too surprised at this:

A boy from Coventry has become the youngest computer specialist in the world.

Ayan Qureshi is now a Microsoft Certified Professional after passing the tech giant’s exam when he was just five years old.

Ayan, now six, whose father is an IT consultant, has set up his own computer network at home.

He told the BBC he found the exam difficult but enjoyable, and hopes to set up a UK-based tech hub one day.

The Fark blurb for this: Five year old boy passes exam to become Microsoft Certified Professional in spite of being younger than most Microsoft bugs. And, I might add, way younger than this one.

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