Thanks for the tip

I have been known to complain about Caller ID spoofing, though I have to say that once in a very blue moon it delivers amusement value: yesterday the interceptor picked up a call from 567-248-4400, which was identified as “PHONE SCAM.”

Which I’m sure it was. Others report similar findings.

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Properly justified

If you really, truly want to buy something, you’ll come up with some way to explain it to that still, small voice in the back of your head that keeps trying to talk you out of it. This is one of the more sensible explanations I’ve heard of late:

My 2002 VW Jetta (that was totaled last year by hail) has seen better days. Rather than keep the Jetta all to myself, I would prefer for it to spend the remainder of its time on earth in the hands of a 16 year old that just needs a running vehicle to escape her boring parents. That was a nice way of saying, “I want to get rid of it as soon as possible and drive a shiny new car instead.”

I note here that my daughter drives a Jetta, but sixteen was half her lifetime ago. (Actually, more than that, since she turned 33 last month. I forget what year Vee Dub it is.)

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Located near all major amenities

The late Mr. Adsit was evidently an astute judge of location:

Newspaper clipping from

In case you care, SCI Cambridge Springs is a minimum-security institution.

(Via, which never seems to run out of stuff like this.)

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Meanwhile, far from Samaria

Marcel is wary of “misapplication of a correct principle,” in this case one formulated by Thomas Aquinas:

It’s one thing to say a starving man doesn’t sin by taking bread to keep himself alive for another day. It’s another to say Question 66, Second Part of the Second Part means the US federal government in normal circumstances may take as much of anyone’s income as they please for redistribution.

I jump here to Luke 10:30:

And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.

Examples follow, and then in 10:36:

Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?

You may be certain it was not the one who called for the organization of a task force and the hiring of a phalanx of specialists, assistant specialists, and deputy underassistant specialists, to be paid for by every second person between Jericho and Jerusalem.

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The right to bare everything (junior division)

I have no idea what caused it, really. I’d always been something of a prude up to that point. But shortly after my fifteenth birthday, I came to the conclusion that if no one was going to be around, there wasn’t much point in my getting dressed, though I clearly wasn’t in any position to do anything about it. (It should be noted, though, that when I was packed off to college, I made a point of not bringing along any pajamas.)

So I felt a little twinge when I happened upon this kid with evidently the same idea I’d had at about the same time in his life:

i do it when no ones home i just watch tv play xbox go on my computer.. even do hw.

Ah, the (not especially common) joys of the latchkey child. (And housework in the nude is a lot less annoying, unless you happen to be dealing with Dangerous Household Chemicals.) But then:

im 15.. what do i say to my MOM?

And I froze. I never did tell my mom. The only family member who knew was my younger sister, who apparently had seen me one morning, and then decided to bring it up later when I wasn’t expecting it.

But I had to tell this poor kid something other than “Wait until you get your own place,” so I agonized for a moment, and then came up with this:

I assume you already sleep in the nude. (I started that at 15 myself.) You might try not coming down for breakfast some morning, and when the parental units come up to see why you haven’t come down, they’re bound to see that you don’t have any clothes on, and they’re very likely to ask why.

I’m still debating whether that qualifies as passive-aggressive behavior. Then again, it did get me 10 points for Best Answer.

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At 19 she was the queen of the countryside

Okay, I changed Emily Brontë’s line slightly, mostly because this isn’t a 15-year-old:

Kaya Scodelario at photocall for Wuthering Heights

Kaya Scodelario, shown here in a shot from the photocall for Andrea Arnold’s new film version of Wuthering Heights, is in fact nineteen; she’ll be playing Catherine, opposite James Howson’s Heathcliff.

But wait a minute. What’s the deal with those shoes?

Kaya Scodelario at photocall for Wuthering Heights

Not being a household name just yet, she’s still buying on the High Street: she says the shoes came from River Island (£55) and the dress is from Topshop (somewhere under £100). Somehow that’s something of a relief.

(Previous Scodelario shoe coverage here.)

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Now at popular prices, we think

In his description of the Edsel debacle, Michael Kaplan makes a point that might seem obvious to you or me, but which never quite dawned on the Detroit auto moguls:

Detroit has always been as doctrinaire in the matter of marques and price points as the Vatican is on dogmatic truths. Lincoln must line up with Cadillac, Mercury with Pontiac. Between these, therefore, gaped a critical $700 price gap — suitable, not just for a new model, but a whole new division with new dealers. Ford, always embarrassed by its dearth of brand names, would now have a genuine stable of them. The thing is … people outside Detroit had never really understood this subtle cherub-to-archangel ranking of the badges; they simply bought as much prestige or sportiness as they could afford. The Edsel was not a bold new departure as far as they could tell; it was simply a confusion.

Both Mercury and Pontiac, you’ll note, have recently been euthanized. And Ford, which bought a bunch of brand names — Jaguar, Land Rover, Volvo, and Aston Martin — in an effort to cover all conceivable price points, wound up selling them off for a comparative pittance to keep the wolf from the door. If Lincoln lines up with anyone today, it’s not Cadillac but Acura: both vend dressed-up versions of lesser cars with incomprehensible, indigestible alphabet soup for badging. Yet Ford is, we are told, the Smart Guy in the Room, for managing not to go bankrupt alongside GM and Chrysler.

In the future, we will all be grateful to Fiat’s Sergio Marchionne, for selling exactly the same car as both Chrysler 300 and Lancia Thema — and for having enough sense not to send them to the same market areas.

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Until inconvenience us do part

In which I declare that this is no time to stand Pat, and I’m not all that crazy about Newt either.

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Blame it on the staph

This can’t be good. Mike McCarville has had a dickens of a time getting past this summer’s open-heart surgery, and it turns out that he’s had an unfortunate encounter with the methicillin-resistant flavor of Staphylococcus aureus, and about the only antibiotics that stand a chance against this stuff are served up via a peripherally-inserted central catheter, aka a Picc line.

Let us hope that they indeed will work this time.

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A whole lot of blinker fluid

Gwendolyn has now been semi-comfortably ensconced in my garage for more than five years now, and while she’s generally well-behaved, keeping her in condition is pricey: I figure that some time in year seven, maybe eight, I’ll have spent as much on maintenance as I did to buy her in the first place.

Then again, as Ezra Dyer points out in the October Automobile, I should probably consider myself fortunate:

My Saab’s leather shift knob became frayed, so I ordered a new one from the dealership. The dealer quoted me $165 — borderline criminal but worth it for a leather knob that would probably last for the remaining life of the car. I went to the dealer to pick it up, and to my surprise, the parts guy arrived at the counter with a rubber shift knob.

A rubber shift knob for $165? Was this the work of the famed rubbersmiths of Börgflappen, a hand-hewn piece crafted from virgin stock carefully chiseled from the secluded Arctic-rubber mines of Gnorkflug, predistressed by the calloused hand of Stig Blomqvist himself? No. It was a piece of crap with nasty flash lines and a shift pattern glued on top. If I’m paying $165 for a piece of rubber, it better be a Catwoman costume containing Michelle Pfeiffer.

Similarly, Doc Searls on a ’00 VW Passat wagon:

Bought for $5k from a friend who was moving out of the country. Put another $3k into it, to bring it up to top shape. Wish it was a stick, but otherwise it’s a great little car. [Summer 2009 update: I have since put another $10k into it. I've never known a better-made yet more repair-intensive car.]

Which sums it up nicely. And even when Gwendolyn’s repair bills equal her purchase price, she’ll still be $5k below her original sticker. Depreciation — when someone else has to eat it, anyway — is your friend.

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The colonists take the lead

Screen shot from The OklahomanSteve Lackmeyer had a story in the Sunday Oklahoman about the topping out of the Devon Energy Center, aka The Big Drill Bit in the Sky, and accompanying the story was a sidebar full of random factoids, including the one you see here. I remember thinking, “Well, thank God for that! I am so tired of being beaten out by the Royal Family all the damned time.” And then I went back to dinner, because I sounded dumber than usual.

(No, I didn’t read it in the morning. It’s the Sunday paper, and I have all day to look at it, and besides at the time I might reasonably be expected to read it, I was having brunch with these two guys.)

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I felt so low down deep inside

First, we pose a question: “Can blue men sing the whites?”

Well, yeah, kind of. There are rules for such things. One such rule proclaims:

Writing a complete Blues verse is simple. After you get the first line right, repeat it. Then write another line that follows and almost rhymes:

“Got a good woman with the meanest face in town / Yes, I got a good woman with the meanest face in town / She look like Janet Reno, and she weigh 800 pound.”

Twelve bars, no waiting.

Because we’re all about the comic relief, let me tell you about “Corrine, Corrina,” which dates to the late 1920s and which was in the repertoire of every halfway-decent Western-swing band, up to and including Bob Wills’ Texas Playboys. Nobody ever forgot its blues roots, however, except Phil Spector:

Think of this as the follow-up to “Tell Laura I Love Her” — which it was — and it begins to make sense.

Also recommended: Martin Mull’s “Ukulele Blues”; “Weird Al” Yankovic’s “Generic Blues.”

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It’s the same old story

You know the one: boy meets girl, boy laboriously taps out love poem to girl on his iPhone, iPhone goes into brick mode.

And this is why the service counter at the Apple store is called the Genius Bar:

“I have some good news and some bad news,” he said. “First the good news. I have fixed your iPhone and have recovered your poem.”

“That’s great!” I announced. “So, what’s the bad news?”

“I read the poem.”

For the implications of this, you’ll have to read the whole thing.

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Strange search-engine queries (294)

Even if they don’t travel the world and the seven seas quite so much these days, everybody’s looking for something, and some of what they were looking for is featured here each week. (Who am I to disagree?)

brave drawers:  As opposed to those cowardly knickers worn by others.

legacy mr.g:  One must, of course, include Mrs. G and all the little Gs.

will transmission fail after three cut offs:  Sounds to me like it’s already failed.

sharpie shankie staunion skerple:  This spell enables Harry to draw a mustache on a picture of Lord Voldemort.

blame reed richards:  You do not want to see Sue PMSing.

do i have to sit here?  Think positive. Think Rebecca Black: “Which seat can I take?”

david holmes shape, bounce, firmness and symmetry:  No, he’s not at the greengrocer’s evaluating melons.

funny ice hole picture:  These days, most of those ice holes aren’t all that funny.

oklahoma unsafe vehicles:  For example, the one in front of you in the left lane going 7 under the speed limit.

there was a woman who was a peddler back in the 1900′s around the eastern part of okla. or henryetta area. can i find anything out on this?  According to legend, she peddled it all over town.

jealous 357:  At the absolute minimum. You can’t get much revenge with .223 Remington.

offensive words and phrases that are no longer offensive:  Forget that, Jack. These days, there isn’t a word in the language that won’t offend someone, and people will go whining to the government on any pretext whatsoever.

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Sometimes a banana is just a banana

Yeah, that’s just what they’d like you to believe:

Dole and other banana growers have turned the creation of a banana into a science, in part to manipulate perceptions of freshness. In fact, they’ve issued a banana guide to greengrocers, illustrating the various color stages a banana can attain during its life cycle. Each color represents the sales potential for the banana in question. For example, sales records show that bananas with Pantone color 13-0858 (otherwise known as Vibrant Yellow) are less likely to sell than bananas with Pantone color 12-0752 (also called Buttercup), which is one grade warmer, visually, and seems to imply a riper, fresher fruit. Companies like Dole have analyzed the sales effects of all varieties of color and, as a result, plant their crops under conditions most ideal to creating the right “color.”

Not that anyone is going to buy Banana Crepe (Pantone color 13-0815).

Perhaps I just don’t understand the system, because I buy bananas on the basis of greenness: I buy once a week, on Saturday, and if I have one left by Friday, I’d just as soon it didn’t vaguely resemble a mahogany machete handle. (They are stored in a bowl on the breakfast bar.) To this end, I buy organics when they’re offered; in my experience, they hold up better. And if everything in the store is yellow, regardless of specific Pantone shade, I end up buying fewer. Simple as that.

(Via American Digest. Due to differences in hardware, colors specified may not appear exactly as intended or as on official Pantone samples.)

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The dreaded Dust Snake

Haan shot first:

Stephanie by Cole Haan Air

Once we checked out Fightin’ Mad Mary’s shoes, and she promptly won an Emmy award. I didn’t ask her if she was up for an award this year, but these seem to be the shoes she covets for the moment. Once again, it’s Cole Haan with Nike Air technology, this time in a pump dubbed “Air Stephanie,” which is seen here in a color called Dust Snake Print. (There are two versions in black, one with the reptilian texture, one without, and a reddish-brown, or brownish-red dubbed “Woodbury”; there’s also a sling-back variant with an otherwise-identical upper.) I like the shape, generally, though the pattern seems vaguely mechanical, as though it had been sliced off a robot snake. And it’s on sale, which never hurts.

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Mrs. Howell is looking pretty good about now

Athol Kay comes up with an explanation of why Brad Pitt is with Angeline Jolie and not with Jennifer Aniston, just in time for an issue of Entertainment Weekly with Pitt on the cover.

Although more interesting, I think, is Kathy Shaidle’s conclusion from that explanation:

[O]bviously, in real life, few men would brush off Jennifer Aniston.

But I’ve heard enough men call her a “butterface” to know she wouldn’t be their first pick in a perfect world. Certainly not if Jolie is the other option.

In fact, Jolie and Aniston give the lie to the typical response to the “Ginger or Mary Ann” question. If Athol/the reader [who submitted the question to Athol] are correct, every guy who has dutifully answered “Mary Ann” for 30 years — “cuz she looks more approachable/less likely to tell me not to mess her hair up/less likely to tell me to **** off” — are full of crap.

Aniston wasn’t even my first pick on Friends, but it’s hard for me to imagine anyone turning her away, with the possible exception of John Derbyshire.

I cheerfully admit to being full of crap on the Ginger/Mary Ann question, since I’d anticipate getting nowhere with either of them; at this level, the question of whether Ginger is pickier is pretty much moot.

And as “Weird Al” Yankovic pointed out:

Mrs. Howell got it goin’ on
But Mr. Howell was meaner
Ginger and Mary Ann coulda used
Some Funky Cold Medina.

Just so, Alfred. Just so.

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And Hamlet never said a word about Yorick

Charles Pergiel is happy to quote a tweet by Jess Day, the character played by Zooey Deschanel in the Fox comedy New Girl, as follows:

If you get a memory foam mattress, make sure you sleep really comfortably that first night. Otherwise, it’ll never let you forget.

Now this line (which you may remember from here) was attributed to the character, and although it does sound relatively Zooeyesque — spellcheck wants “picaresque” or “romanesque” or even “statuesque” instead — we have no way of knowing who actually came up with it, which prompts this question from Mr. Pergiel:

[S]omeone wrote this line for someone else to say in a TV show, so it was said by an imaginary character. Does that mean the words are imaginary too?

Um, no. I just read them out loud, so now they officially exist.

For comparison, here’s the opening paragraph of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn:

You don’t know about me without you have read a book by the name of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; but that ain’t no matter. That book was made by Mr. Mark Twain, and he told the truth, mainly. There was things which he stretched, but mainly he told the truth. That is nothing. I never seen anybody but lied one time or another, without it was Aunt Polly, or the widow, or maybe Mary. Aunt Polly — Tom’s Aunt Polly, she is — and Mary, and the Widow Douglas is all told about in that book, which is mostly a true book, with some stretchers, as I said before.

Huck, of course, was an imaginary character, though we can presume that this paragraph was written by Mr. Mark Twain in a flurry of truthfulness.

Stipulating for the moment that no one connected with New Girl is likely to be considered alongside Twain in the Pantheon of American Writers, I ask: would Jess Day’s one-line tweets be less “imaginary” if we knew exactly who wrote them?

And just to make this a little more meta: There is a @realhuckfinn Twitter account, though its purpose is to deflect attention away from expurgated versions of the original Adventures and toward the Genuine Article, as written by Mr. Mark Twain, who told the truth. Mainly.

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A dish served cold

You know the story: group A humiliates group B, the wound festers over the centuries, and at the top of B’s list, even today, is getting back at A.

No, this isn’t who you think:

Osceola, a community of about 950 people in St. Clair County [Missouri], has a message for the University of Kansas: It is time to consider dropping the mascot name “Jayhawk” and ending the school’s association with “a group of domestic terrorists.”

In a resolution the Osceola Board of Aldermen passed Tuesday — on the eve of the 150th anniversary of a Civil War raid by Kansans that destroyed the town — the city condemned “the celebration of this murderous gang of terrorists by an institution of ‘higher education’ in such a brazen and malicious manner.”

“Murderous gang of terrorists” is probably not too far off the mark. Steven J. Starr, in his 1974 book on a group of Jayhawkers, noted:

“Nowhere else, with the grim exception of the East Kentucky and East Tennessee mountains, did the Civil War degenerate so completely into a squalid, murderous, slugging match as it did in Kansas and Missouri.”

Makes you wonder how they ever managed to coexist in the Big Eight 12 Whatever.

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Sweating joints instead of exams

Last night water pressure here at the Estate dropped alarmingly, which we will define here as “Five freaking minutes to fill up a toilet tank?” I duly went out looking for leaks, and didn’t find any; a couple of hours later, things were back to normal, which suggests a problem at the supply end. And given our drought-stricken condition — even after half an inch of rain, the soil is about as porous as manganese — I would hardly be surprised to hear of a main break up the road.

This is not to say that I could actually fix such a leak, but there are people who specialize in such things, and while we’re awash in people with degrees in Grievance Studies, what we really need is more plumbers:

[B]y all means if someone doing plumbing wants to take college classes, they should. But there are enough guys (and women) who DON’T want college classes, and would be happier doing something like apprenticing to a plumber and learning the trade. And boy darn, do we need good plumbers … I know I couldn’t have taken care of this problem at all.

A nation full of nothing but white-collar workers means a nation where the toilets leak and electrical wires are frayed and streets aren’t repaired…

I have often thought that if this IT thing ever blows away, I should probably invest in several cases of hand cleaner and go study automotive repair at CareerTech. If nothing else, I’d feel about 0.5 percent better when some damn warning light comes on.

And yes, they still have apprenticeships: the guy who did my last garbage disposer brought along a young lady who was learning the fine art of wrenching.

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