Ripping through the past

“Why are they doing this?” I asked myself when I first read about Amazon’s Auto-Rip. It became obvious quickly enough: they want me to sign up for their Cloud Player’s premium service at twenty-five bucks a year. But how much do I, personally, have that’s Auto-Rippable?

While I loaded up the Player to find this out, I found this caution:

Auto-Rip goes back to purchases made in 1998, and the late ’90s and early 2000s are pretty close to the Golden Era of Terrible Musical Decisions. We didn’t just badly photoshop Celine Dion into The Shining because it was funny: 1998 was when “My Heart Will Go On” shattered chart records and somehow drove Celine Dion to stop eating. There are a lot of people who never want to admit that they bought that album, but once it falls to Auto-Rip, they’ll get a reminder when they least expect it.

Think about all the CDs you bought. All the crappy Top 40 bands where you bought the album because you couldn’t get the song out of your head. All the gifts you bought for teenage nieces and loving grandmothers. All the cassette replacements for your dad who just would not stop listening to the f*cking Eagles.

For the curious, the oldest item I have in my new 366-track bounty is Worldes Blysse, the second album by Mediæval Bæbes, acquired in September 1999. I am not the least bit embarrassed by it — or, for that matter, by the Shaggs’ Philosophy of the World.

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Bots asking for help

This spam disguised as a comment, trapped by Akismet, might actually make sense in the right context:

First off I would like to say excellent blog! I had a quick question that I’d like to ask if you don’t mind. I was curious to find out how you center yourself and clear your mind before writing. I have had a hard time clearing my thoughts in getting my thoughts out. I truly do take pleasure in writing however it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are wasted just trying to figure out how to begin.

Any ideas or hints? Cheers!

Any day I can get by with only 10 or 15 minutes wasted is rare indeed.

I should point out, though, that this observation, whatever its level of (in)sincerity, is a poor fit for most of my posts, especially the one about the Korean toilet theme park.

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You might as well dream big

Usually I put up screenshots of Yahoo! Answers stuff, but this one was so long I figured it would be easier to read as Actual Text:

I used to hate Aston Martins and just recently i started to love em. They are my favorite car and i really want to know how i could possibly own one in the future. the Aston Martin DB7 1997 is about 30 thousand dollars or less. And the Aston Martin i really want is an Aston Martin V8 Vantage Volantile 1980’s but they are about 120,000 dollars. And my dream Aston Martin is Aston Martin DB5 and those are about 500,000 dollars. But i am only 16 and i know that i can’t afford any of those cars yet. I want to become a computer programmer and build my own company become CEO and make millions of dollars off a revolutionary idea i am now thinking about while i am taking AP Computer Science in High School. I don’t have good grades i have like about a 2.5 in high school. Which is complete ****. I plan to work my @$$ off in college. i plan to go to a community college for 2 years get my life in order because i am clinically depressed and i had a hard time in high school because of my suicidal thoughts and my depression. My parents fail to acknowledge my depression. But once i am 18 i want to go out and seek help. I might pay money once a month to see a therapist. And take some medication to get my life back in order. Then i want to after community college to go to a University and get my PHd. yes thats right i want a PHd in Computer Science its my life goal and i want to be called Doctor. I want to work for Google making about a 100 thousand dollars a year possibly my 2nd year in a University i apply for this job. I also want to be part of an Orchestra and be part of Orchestrated Soundtrack. Then i want to build my own company like a software company to make gaming computers. I want a sweet house in Hawaii like one of those villas but i want a car to go with it, What do i need to get these cars and by what age according to my plan can i get the cars. Also before my job at Google i want to play Jazz at places and for a real job during the time of community college / begining of University, i want to work at Lego. I am fine commuting with a 2,000 dollar Mercedes Turbo Diesel until i get an Aston, but i want one. When do you think i can get my first Aston Martin, and i only mean from the 3 i listed above.

The most heartening aspect of this, I think, is that he’s willing to suffer with a Mercedes-Benz until he’s in a position to own that Aston.

And I’d rather not throw water on his dreams, you know?

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Lakers dried out

It did not look good for L. A. even before the tipoff: both Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol were ailing, and the announcement that Jordan Hill would likely be getting season-ending surgery did not help matters. And then the Lakers had to play the actual game. Down 25-14 late in the first quarter, they put together a quick 11-0 run to tie it at the horn, but it was pretty much all Thunder after that: 64-48 at the half, 110-85 when the starters were pulled (4:26 left), and 116-101 at the end. By any reasonable definition of the term, this was a blowout.

The Lakers did what they could with the players they had. Earl Clark, starting in place of Gasol, pulled off a double-double (10 points, 10 rebounds), and Antawn Jamison, coming off the bench, had 19 points and 10 boards. You should know that Kobe Bryant had a Kobe Bryant-like night: he put up shot after shot, and enough of them went to give him 28 points. (Then again, Kobe also drew a technical, which never happens at Staples.) Steve Nash was quiet: seven points, seven assists. And this says something: the Lakers made not one three-point shot in the first half. They did better in the second — Devin Ebanks got two of them in four minutes — but 6-28 wins you no games.

Not that OKC was much better on the long ball, going 9-29. But they did break 50 percent on shooting overall, while the Lakers didn’t quite make it to 40. Kevin Durant was a whopping +35 for the night, racking up 42 points before garbage time set in. Russell Westbrook knocked down 27. Kevin Martin led the bench with 15. And Serge Ibaka exited early with contusions to his torso; I’m guessing he’s doubtful for Sunday at Portland.

I apologize for the lack of Metta World Peace jokes. Mr. Formerly Known As Artest did wangle 12 points, though he put up nine treys and missed eight of them. (The box score gives him a non-whopping -34.)

A back-to-back coming up on this road trip: Blazers on Sunday, Suns on Monday.

(Title swiped from @OKCNightCourt.)

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Punch in and shut up

Robert Stacy McCain leads off the Case of the Aggravating Actress with a grandly general — and pretty damned accurate — summary of the way workplaces are supposed to, well, work:

People must be judged strictly on their ability to get the job done. It doesn’t matter whether you “like” somebody or not. It’s not about friendship or popularity. The key to survival is to focus on the task in front of you — cranking it out day after day on deadline — while ignoring all merely personal considerations.

This is one of those big Life Lessons that young people have to learn the hard way, if they are ever to succeed at the highest levels. The real world isn’t like high school. A childish fascination with “popularity” is counter-productive in most real-world work environments. People who attempt to manipulate their way to undeserved success by playing office-politics games will ultimately produce harmful effects to the organization.

I generally don’t claim to be especially “successful,” deserved or otherwise, but I probably have less fear of being sacked than most of the population, simply because I have a good grasp of the nose/grindstone interface: I crank it out, day after day, and my deadlines are only slightly less inexorable than McCain’s.

Have I always been this conscientious? No. However, I have more than a passing acquaintance with the consequences for failing to be.

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Don’t let Bloomberg find out

A phytobezoar is a mass of fibrous plant material trapped in the stomach because it resists the normal digestive process. (Major offender: persimmon skins.) Several treatments exist, but I suspect the most cost-effective one is this:

New research has shown that Coca-Cola has a success rate of more than 90 per cent in treating the condition.

This is because it has chemical ingredients that do a similar job to gastric acid — in helping to digest fibre — while the bubbles help speed up the process.

Of course, if this catches on as a standard treatment, the 1.25-liter bottle that sells for 98 cents at the Hy-Vee will be billed to your health-insurance carrier to the tune of $600 or so.

(Via Interested-Participant.)

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Sunrise over Labrador

KingShamus has what should be the final word on the President’s new nominee for Secretary of Defense:

[I]t’s not like Chuck Hagel is some beloved conservative stalwart. Yeah, I guess he helped spike the Kyoto Treaty back in the day. When pondering that, it’s also important to remember that the sun shines on a dog’s ass every once in a while.

And if the GOP imagines that it might someday want to grow a spine, it would help if the party had some vague familiarity with vertebrae, doncha know.

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All Wikiness is but little

Something wrong with the Wikipedia article you just read? Fix it yourself, says the conventional wisdom. Bill Quick says it may be conventional, but it’s hardly wise:

[W]hat this is actually advocating is a supposed unbiased reference work that is the product of the outcome of contests of strength between two warring factions.

In other words, Wikipedia is a perfect example of an intellectual tyranny of the majority.

Rather a lot of topics are marked with the little padlock that means “semi-protection,” which limits edits to presumably trusted individuals. One such page is the one devoted to Elizabeth Warren, where much of the current dustup originated.

A few observations from me:

  • I am “presumably trusted,” having contributed at least the minimum number of edits; what’s more, I’m cited as a source on a handful of pages. I am as impressed with this as you are, which presumably is Not Very.
  • “Weird Al” Yankovic’s claim to being “White & Nerdy” is partially based on editing Wikipedia (around 1:49).
  • I once edited something on Megan McArdle’s page because she asked me to.
  • Political controversy is not the only thing that will get one’s page locked, as Rebecca Black can tell you. (And this is all the RB update I have for the week, as the poor girl has had the flu.)

I admit to citing Wikipedia rather a lot in these pages, but it’s more a form of shorthand than it is a means of deceit, at least for me.

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Zooeypalooza 17!

It took the Baseball Crank to remind me that I have been remiss:

Tweet by Dan McLaughlin

Crank links to this. With that in mind:

Zooeypalooza 17!

Mousing about may prove enlightening, or at least enlargening.

Paloozas gone by: ZP 1, ZP 2, ZP 3, ZP 4, ZP 5, ZP 6, ZP 7, ZP 8, ZP 9, ZP 10, ZP 11, ZP 12, ZP 13, ZP 14, ZP 15, ZP 16.

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I got plenty of nothing

And nothing, evidently, is plenty for all of us:

Nothing

(Via Dating Fails.)

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Sustain this, pal

Brian J. quotes a letter to the editor of The Wall Street Journal:

While most studies show that certain organic crops, such as corn, would have slightly lower yields and lower total production than conventional crops, the studies also show organic farming can feed the world, and in developing countries organic methods would increase food production and self-sufficiency.

Or maybe wouldn’t:

Both of these things cannot be true. Well, they cannot be true unless there’s an unspoken premise in the second that the world eat organic bean burritos per day and give up their steaks and chicken. Which is not so unspoken in other parts of the movement.

While I am generally at least somewhat enthusiastic about organics, I suspect that the best part of the bean burrito is the pesticide residue.

And we could save a hell of a lot of the corn crop if we’d quit squeezing it into the nation’s gas tanks.

Side note: The nearest Crest store occasionally carries Dole-branded organic bananas, clearly marked, albeit at a 75-percent price premium (98 cents a pound versus 56, subject to minor variations). But the last three times I picked some up at this store, they ignored the little “ORGANIC” tape and rang up the lower price. I have no idea what they’re thinking.

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A truly noble gas

Even if you haven’t read the TwiBrush trilogy — and let’s face it, most people haven’t — you may have seen this passage therefrom in Vent #794, in which the earth pony-to-be addresses the unicorn he loves:

“Twi, honey, there’s only one thing wrong with you: you can’t stand the idea that there’s one thing wrong with you. You seem to be able to put up with my flaws just fine. Can’t you cut yourself a little slack now and then? I don’t want to come home some day and find you’ve put a Starvation Spell on yourself because you farted in the bathtub the night before. But you make me worry about things like that, and it scares me.”

It did not occur to me at the time that she might be harvesting the stuff for semi-medicinal purposes.

(Via Belhoste.)

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Texas messes with you

Alaskan couple arrives in the Permian Basin — bless you, energy boom — and local rep notes that wildlife is a bit different just off I-20:

Her: You … have rattlesnakes?

Me (hoping to defuse the situation): Oh, but don’t worry about them. The scorpions generally kill them before there’s a problem.

Well, I feel better.

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Putting the curse in cursive

Jack Lew, who headed up the Office of Management and Budget before becoming Barack Obama’s Chief of Staff — which makes a certain amount of career sense, since the President is known far more for staff than for either management or budget — is reportedly being considered for Secretary of the Treasury when Tim Geithner steals away into the night. I think we can say that Turbo Tax Timmy had his drawbacks, but he never presented a problem quite like this:

Facsimile signature of Jack Lew

That delicately Photoshopped shot from nymag.com’s Daily Intelligencer shows you what Jack Lew’s signature looks like. And you thought defacing American currency was illegal.

(Via Fark.)

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Dry wood

The last new episode of MLP:FiM — see, I can work pony into anything! — featured a scary creature called the Timber Wolf, which, remarkably, was made of actual timber, sort of a cellulose-based Transformer. Tonight at the Peake, the usual sellout crowd got to witness lots of wooden performances in the first quarter, which ended a stolid 16-16. Thunder fans who were sweating the possibility of Wizards 2: Electric Boogaloo were relieved to see the home team shift into something closer to high gear, dispatching Minnesota’s strange woodland creatures, 106-82.

It didn’t hurt that Kevin Love and J. J. Barea — and, for that matter, coach Rick Adelman — were no-shows. Still, slack was uptaken, and the Wolves logged the only two double-doubles tonight: stalwart center Nikola Peković (17 points, 10 rebounds) and reserve forward Derrick Williams (14 points, 11 rebounds). I continue to be impressed by Luke Ridnour at the point: he’s definitely improved from his Sonics days. On the other hand, I can spare an eyebrow to raise over backup big Greg Stiemsma, who racked up six fouls in less than thirteen minutes. Still, that’s what he does.

The astonishing Serge Ibaka offensive show took the night off: six points and two Shaq-quality free throws. I never know what to think when Kevin Durant beats Ibaka in points, rebounds and blocks (26, eight and four respectively). Russell Westbrook has rediscovered efficiency, going 7-14 (3-4 on treys). And Kevin Martin was only 4-12 — but all four makes were 3-pointers. In fact, OKC was 11-20 from Lower Bricktown, a sterling 55 percent, better than the 47 they shot overall, and way better than the 28 they shot in the first quarter. (The Wolves improved from 33 in the first to a final 43.)

Coming up: three road games in four days against Pacific foes. It’s the Lakers on Friday, the Trail Blazers on Sunday, and the Suns on Monday. Watch that jet lag, guys.

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The non-laughing gnome

Thomas Forget’s 2002 biography of David Bowie contains this fairly inarguable statement:

Because he has succeeded in so many different styles of music, it is almost impossible to find a popular artist today that has not been influenced by David Bowie.

Note that Forget is not limiting this to musical artists, either: given Bowie’s seemingly infinite capacity for self-reinvention — Madonna only wishes she were so protean — the Thin White Duke’s influence is all over the map. (ObPony: late in the first season of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, there appeared three surly canine miners dubbed “Diamond Dogs.”) For his 66th birthday, which was yesterday, Bowie showed off yet another persona: the boulevardier turned perhaps immobile and definitely melancholy.

“Where Are We Now?” heralds the arrival of The Next Day, due in March, Bowie’s reunion with longtime producer Tony Visconti. I admit to being a little uneasy about the prospects. Then again, it took me twenty years to warm to Ziggy Stardust.

(With thanks to Michele Catalano.)

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