Deposit insurance

There is natural selection, and there is this:

I learned that only 1 to 2% of men who offer to donate to sperm banks are accepted as donors, and of those that are accepted, some donors are much popular among the donees than others.

Women who use sperm banks are looking to make a perfect baby: Handsome and brilliant. Talented and charming. Loving and kind. A match one might only dream of finding in the flesh.

“Donee,” apparently, is not some twentieth-century portmanteau construction intended to be the obvious opposite number to “donor”: Merriam-Webster traces it back to 1523.

“Many women see this as another way to give their child a head start in life,” says Lori Andrews, a professor at Chicago-Kent College of Law who has studied the sperm bank industry, of the high stakes of sperm selection.

And increasingly, say the banks, women want proof of perfection before buying a dream donor’s sperm. They ask for SAT scores and personality test results.

Actual men meeting their standards, one assumes, are few and far between. And according to legend, women spurn them anyway: better someone who can sweep you off your feet than someone who’ll happily sweep out the garage.

Furthermore, I’m not entirely sure the selection criteria exercised by the banks will be optimal. In 2011, Cryos International, a major worldwide sperm bank, began rejecting redheads as donors, claiming a surfeit thereof.

And are SAT scores actually available anymore?

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This side of parasites

Meanwhile, just south of the Kansas border:

Kanza Travel Plaza, Braman, Oklahoma

Please ring for assistance. The poor, unloved manager is out back eating them.

(Via John Fullbright.)

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Strange search-engine queries (439)

Here we are, nearly halfway through the year, and the talk has changed from “Hurry up, summer!” to “Damn, is it supposed to be this hot?” The one thing that hasn’t changed, of course, is your Monday roundup of funky search strings.

helle thorning-schmidt shoe size:  Who is this, the EU Foot Patrol, looking for statistical outliers?

replace selector cable on 2003 mazda tribute:  Another shade-tree mechanic, on a day when there’s no shade.

dustbury 626 gear ratio:  At the moment, I’m geared for minimum acceleration.

joe webber married to diane webber:  Yep, they were. Sorry, no wedding pictures.

Grandma 85yrs.old nude and fucking free:  And probably tired of you boys peering into her parlor window, I’d bet.

room101 bags:  Don’t go looking in there, if you know what’s good for you.

sheila tea for two hundred:  Two hundred? Take a bow, Sheila.

allintext: Allen OR OR  And please hurry. I need to spam this guy before that damn Nigerian prince shows up.

charles basotti you may already be a weiner:  Well, as long as you’re not some damn Nigerian prince.

1995 mondeo with a vehicle speed sensor fault. car won’t go into 5 gear:  So are you bragging or complaining?

comic strip about invisible potion:  Apparently it only works on ’95 Ford Mondeos.

all language .dustnury:  All except that one, anyway.

are movincool classic loud?  Say what? I can’t hear you over this racket.

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Less of a Hoot

I’ve looked into HootSuite once or twice, to the extent that Google’s ad tentacles managed to shovel promotions for it into my Web surfing for several weeks, but I never quite bought the premise, or the package. And after hearing Mack Collier’s story, it’s just as well:

Now normally I hate these “give us a tweet and we’ll give you this” offers, but I do use and like HootSuite, and I have been curious about trying out HootSuite Pro, so I decided to send the tweet. And as promised, I immediately received my email telling me how to get my 60 days of HootSuitePro for free.

Whereupon they told him: it would be added onto his existing HootSuite Pro account — you know, the one he didn’t have yet.

Mack Collier says:

I see this sort of stunt all the time, and it doesn’t build brand loyalty, it builds brand distrust.

And it motivates customers to write about how they were shafted by the deal, which in turn builds brand distrust among non-customers.

Subsequently, HootSuite’s Offer Manager came on to explain what was supposed to be happening, and admitted that maybe the wording wasn’t ideal. All new users of HootSuite, he said, were routinely offered a thirty-day trial; this promotion was intended merely to double the length of the offer.

If there’s a lesson in this, it’s perhaps that firms with mad tech skillz are not equally adept at presenting their products — and that a “What does this mean?” note, sent to the correct person (if you can find the correct person), goes a long way toward avoiding misunderstandings.

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Hard cells

Apart from a general lack of range, Tesla’s Model S notwithstanding, the major objection to electric cars seems to be the price of replacement batteries, and battery packs for full electrics like Nissan’s Leaf would cost much more than packs for hybrids like the Toyota Prius. Some recent (well, within the last two years, anyway) estimates:

Lithium-ion battery costs will fall to about $400 per kilowatt hour by the end of the decade, more than double the $150 per kilowatt hour the U.S. Advanced Battery Consortium says will be required for battery-electric vehicles to be affordable to most of the car-buying public. So says a new report from Lux Research.

Estimates of battery costs have varied as automakers and tech analysts have looked into ways to make them cheaper. The Nissan Leaf EV’s battery pack has been reported to be as cheap as $375 per kilowatt hour, while Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk said last month that battery costs may fall to less than $200 per kilowatt hour “in the not-too-distant future.”

But that was two years ago. How about now? How about $270?

Battery replacements are now available for purchase at your certified Nissan LEAF dealers in the United States. The suggested retail price of the Nissan LEAF battery pack is $5,499. This price includes and requires a return of your original battery pack (valued at $1,000) to the dealer in exchange for the new battery. This price does not include tax, installation fees or an installation kit required for 2011 and 2012 vehicles. The MSRP for the installation kit (which includes brackets and other minor parts required to retrofit the newer pack to original vehicles) is approximately $225. Nissan expects the installation to take about three hours. However, dealers set the final pricing, so we recommend confirming with your local retailer.

Figuring $6500 as a worst-case estimate, the 24-kWh replacement battery pack for the Leaf comes in at $270.83/kWh, and comes with the same warranty as the pack installed in new cars — 8 years/100,000 miles against failure, 5 years/60,000 miles against loss of capacity. (A new battery pack at full charge shows 12 bars on the Leaf’s display screen; capacity is deemed insufficient if it won’t charge up to at least 9.)

The smaller NiMH battery packs in Toyota hybrids sell for $2300 and up, depending on application; however, the 2015 Prius will switch to lithium-ion cells.

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The glucose is clear

There are basically two treatments for Type 2 diabetes: a whole lot of tablets, or shots plus a whole lot of tablets. It’s about time something new came along:

Los Angeles billionaire-inventor Alfred Mann’s almost decade-long quest to develop an inhalable form of insulin for diabetics won approval Friday from U.S. regulators.

His company, MannKind Corp. of Valencia, got the OK on Friday to sell the drug called Afrezza, although regulators warned the product shouldn’t be used by those diabetics with asthma or a serious lung disease.

The Food and Drug Administration said it cleared Afrezza for Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. The drug is a powder that is inhaled. It would be most often used to help control blood-sugar levels at mealtime, a quick puff replacing an injection before a meal.

Individuals who don’t much care for injections — commonly referred to as “everybody” — will be delighted to hear this, at least until the price is revealed.

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Quote of the week

Francis W. Porretto, on the country’s rapidly expanding “non-military” military:

In a nation where “laws” (and “regulations” enforced as “laws”) have proliferated so voluminously that even the most astute legal specialists cannot know them adequately, does “law and order” constitute a sufficient justification for a fully militarized police system?

An effectively nationalized police system?

Armed and armored by the Department of Defense?

Equipped with tools of surveillance beyond Orwell’s imagination?

Whose myrmidons are indemnified for any acts of wrongdoing no matter how dramatic?

If so, how do these United States differ in principle from North Korea?

After reading up on the DPRK’s Ministry of People’s Security, I’m inclined to think that the only substantive difference is volume.

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1000 words = 140 characters

I have to admit, this comes off as fiendishly clever:

If nothing else, doing this forces you to think a little harder about what you’re, um, writing, which almost certainly is a Good Thing.

And if one of her sentences should run a little long, well, who’s going to know?

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Where’s my quest?

Every day is a good day to celebrate Felicia Day, but today is her birthday — her 37th — and she’s out of town, so she won’t notice this. In fact, she’s been in Europe for the last week, meeting up with that sector of the fanbase.

Now that The Guild has run its course, she’s shown up on Geek & Sundry and done several episodes of Supernatural on the CW. Perhaps the biggest event in her year is Comic-Con in San Diego, coming up in late July. Here’s how she looked for last year’s SDCC:

Felicia Day at Comic-Con 2013

I am quite certain that dress is not microwavable.

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You can’t make me eat this

Nobody, and I mean nobody, makes a face like an eleven-year-old girl:

Laney in a hospital bed

Poor Laney. It apparently was several hours after her appendix went south, late Sunday or early Monday, that she actually noticed it. (High threshold of pain, or at least of admitting pain, runs in the family.) And by then, of course, the miserable little worm had already spewed garbage all over her insides, turning a simple surgical procedure into a potential Major Sepsis Emergency.

Painkillers and antibiotics have been brought to bear. Her dad (who is, you may remember, my son) quoted the surgeon as saying she was doing “inappropriately well,” given how bad she looked when she got there. And she was apparently well enough Thursday to stick something up on Pinterest. Friday brought solid food and, as you can see, grimaces. Barring catastrophe, she’ll survive quite nicely, but she won’t get out until today or tomorrow.

Update: As of now, she’s out.

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Three questions

The groundwork was laid back in the spring, when Jami Mattox, editor of Tulsa-based Oklahoma Magazine, began following me on Twitter. I couldn’t think of any reason why, but hey, a follower’s a follower, and at least she’s not going to spam me.

Shortly thereafter, I got an email from local writer Paul Fairchild, who had been deputized by Mattox to get an interview with me. After a brief round of “What are you people thinking?” I decided that there were worse things I could do than sit for an interview, and further, that I’d probably already done them.

Anyway, the mag has a department called 3Q, and in the July issue, the three are posed to me. I should point out that about half an hour of chatter was distilled into what amounts to two-thirds of a magazine page, but the quotes are accurate and the picture — yes, they sent a photographer — isn’t at all bad. I still don’t know why their 120,000 or so readers would be interested in my less-than-ranty rants, but as the unpaid wretches at HuffPo say, “Hey, it’s the exposure.”

This is the entire July issue in Issuu. The article is actually on page 18, but the display shows it at 20, mostly because the display includes the cover. There’s a direct link somewhere, but I figured the very least I could do is make you guys look at some of their ads.

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Make me feel so good

Some things you need to know about Gloria and about “Gloria,” as explained by Dave Barry:

She comes around. She is not playing hard to get. We later learn that she comes around “just about midnight,” and “she knock upon my door.” In other words, she is the perfect woman if you’re a teenage male, which is what Van Morrison was in 1963 when he wrote “Gloria,” and what I was in 1965 when I first heard it performed by Mr. Morrison when he was with the band “Them.”

(Yes, to be grammatically correct, the band should have been called “They.” But hey: rock ‘n’ roll.)

Three-chord songs, of course, are in the repertoire of every band known to man — and, for that matter, to woman. Which makes me wonder about female cover versions of “Gloria.” Of course, girl-on-girl action, as it were, is No Big Deal these days, and anyway Sixties revivalists like the MonaLisa Twins would sing it, you should pardon the expression, straight: no change in the lyrics. In the actual Sixties, though, maybe not:

The Belles, circa 1966

I bet a couple of them might be taller than five foot four.

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Currently Freon bond

An Ohio man who contrived to steal industrial air-conditioning units from around Columbus will serve time for violating the Clean Air Act:

Martin C. Eldridge III, 35, [address redacted], pleaded guilty … to one count of violating the Clean Air Act. He agreed to a 31-month prison term and 200 hours of community service as part of a plea deal.

According to court documents, Eldridge and others stole 49 air conditioners for parts in 2013. During the thefts, Eldridge cut tubing that ran from each unit to the building it serviced, and that released the refrigerant HCFC-22, also known as Freon [22], into the air. HCFC-22 is a threat to the ozone layer and is regulated under the Clean Air Act.

Let this be a lesson to those of you who believe the Environmental Protection Agency is of no use at all.

(Via Consumerist.)

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Console the lonely

In fact, right on top of the console, if necessary:

Here’s a sobering statistic for you: according to this study, almost 16% of midwestern college students have had sex while driving (SWD), and nearly half did so while driving at speeds of 61-80 mph(!). And no, these numbers didn’t include masturbation. As you might guess, SWD was reported by more men than women, and usually consisted of oral sex, although 11% of SWD participants had actual intercourse. Amazingly, none of those surveyed reported having an accident, though 1.8% “nearly had a crash.” I guess there’s not much else to do during those long boring drives through the cornfields?

Well, yeah, but at least they’re not texting.

(Via Fark.)

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Dead man running

There’s really not much one can add to this:

Political opponents accuse each other of lying all the time, but one Oklahoma congressional candidate took his accusation to a new level this week when he claimed his opponent was actually dead and being represented by a body double.

KFOR in Oklahoma reports that Timothy Ray Murray believes Rep. Frank Lucas (R-Okla.), his opponent in the congressional Republican primary, was executed three years ago and is being represented by a look-alike. Because he believes Lucas is really dead, Murray said he will challenge the results of Tuesday’s Republican primary, in which Murray received 5.2 percent of the vote. Lucas won the primary with 82.8 percent of the vote.

“It is widely known Rep. Frank D. Lucas is no longer alive and has been displayed by a look alike. Rep. Lucas’ look alike was depicted as sentenced on a white stage in southern Ukraine on or about Jan. 11, 2011,” Murray said in a statement posted on his campaign website. The statement claimed Lucas and “a few other” members of Congress from Oklahoma and other states were shown on television being hanged by “The World Court.”

Not that I object to Congressmen being hanged or anything, but “The World Court”? What, did the Illuminati have the week off?

And we’ve had dead people on the ballot before, but you can usually assume that they were alive on the filing date.

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So-called “childish things”

“I won’t grow up,” says the Disneyfied version of Peter Pan. In real life, we do, even if others don’t think so:

I will admit, I wonder sometimes “how long can you keep this up? It’s already ridiculous for a 40-something to still keep stuffed toys on her bed.” And I still occasionally hear in my head the echo of the incredulous response of someone whose opinion I valued at the time: “You’re buying a watch with Eeyore on it? What are you, EIGHT? That’s not going to help you at all when you go for job interviews.”

Well, I don’t know. I got a job, and tenure, and made full professor, all while wearing an Eeyore watch. And maybe, I don’t know, maybe the rules of what’s appropriate are being rewritten and no one will think it a big deal in the future that someone in her, I don’t know, fifties, still likes to watch cartoons or wear t-shirts with Snoopy on them or things like that.

As is often the case, C. S. Lewis has anticipated the issue, and finds it no issue at all:

Critics who treat adult as a term of approval, instead of as a merely descriptive term, cannot be adult themselves. To be concerned about being grown up, to admire the grown up because it is grown up, to blush at the suspicion of being childish; these things are the marks of childhood and adolescence. And in childhood and adolescence they are, in moderation, healthy symptoms. Young things ought to want to grow. But to carry on into middle life or even into early manhood this concern about being adult is a mark of really arrested development. When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.

(From the essay “On Three Ways of Writing for Children,” 1952.)

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