But Syriasly, folks

Rammer’s perspective, at a safe distance from Damascus:

This is a good time, prior to the unfolding of the upcoming horror there, to think about how this came to be. At the end of the Great War, the victorious allies partitioned the former Ottoman territories, and one of them was Syria, to be administered by the French. Yes, the same French who administered Vietnam, Algeria and Casablanca. Yet at that time all those disasters were in the future. Syria today is just a century late blooming flower of the sowing of those same seeds.

Is anyone truly surprised at what is being reaped?

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Avon calls on Ponyville

The Avon Glimmersticks Diamonds line of eyeliner sticks comes in ten colors: Brown Glow, Flashy Copper, Golden Diamond, Sparkling Silver, Black Ice, Emerald Glow, Sugar Plum, Twilight Sparkle, Smoky Diamond, and Brown Sugar.

Twilight Sparkle O.OWait a minute. Twilight Sparkle?

That’s what it says on the product page, and here’s the official pitch: “Your favorite retractable, self-sharpening liner — now with a touch of twinkle. Glimmer on!”

And once again, just about all those names would serve for background ponies, although I suspect Flashy Copper is the stallion who washed out of Royal Guard school and is now spending his evenings trying to pick up mares over at the North Canterlot T. G. I. Pinkie’s, with, I think we can presume, varying degrees of success.

If you wonder how it looks, here’s an actual review, with not a single pony reference, at Everything That Matters.

(Vector by BR-David at deviantART.)

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Strange search-engine queries (338)

Yet another collection of peculiar search strings from the logs of this very site. Lest there be any question: I built this.

rainbow dash hoof in mouth:  That’s not like Dash. For one thing, she talks too fast.

“if you’re not in business for profit or fun”:  Then you may qualify for a waiver of Obamacare.

lexus RX 360 n harrier cars arouse women sexually:  Do not use this as an excuse for buying a car. She’ll dump you and take your car with her.

girls in gummi aprons:  “I told you, no snacking until dinnertime.”

“fbi director usa”:  He’s the guy who didn’t actually send you that spam.

naboo hoox:  Possible name for Zooey Deschanel’s first child.

cameltoe nothing on:  This is a contradiction in terms, since the whole idea of the toe is that it’s visible through one’s garments.

asian female unaware she is wearing invisible clothing:  The exception to the above rule about cameltoe.

longest a slipping transmission lasted:  If it’s slipping, “lasted” is no longer valid; it’s already good as dead.

rivendell okc gang activity:  It’s those damned half-elves. Count on it.

“people who disagree with me are:”  Everywhere.

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Renda bails

Renda Broadcasting, a small group owner out of Pittsburgh, is becoming smaller, having unloaded their four-station Oklahoma City cluster to the local Tyler group.

Tony Renda’s first station here was KMGL (Magic 104.1); he later added the Diamond group, KOMA-AM-FM/KRXO. Mostly, Tony left things alone; the only serious miscue was trying to turn that AM blowtorch (now KOKC) into a news/talk juggernaut without spending any actual money on news and/or talk. I’d bet Tyler goes back to the simulcast with KOMA-FM.

Tyler, over the ownership limits for a single metro area, is spinning off AM talker KTLR (and its FM translator on 94.1) and KKNG, the little 1000-watt FM in Blanchard that used to be Jack FM. I know from nothing about WPA Radio, the buyer, except that it’s controlled by Stanton Young, CEO of Graymark Healthcare, who used to be in the radio business as Monroe-Stephens Broadcasting, last seen moving Anadarko’s one and only AM station into the Dallas-Fort Worth market. Young’s sidekick at Monroe-Stephens, incidentally, was Ty Tyler.

I’m not sure what’s harder to believe: that Tyler would pay $40 million for Renda’s stations, or that Tyler could get $1.6 million for those two little nonentities.

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Made for walkin’

The idea of Tam not wearing boots is about as plausible as the idea of Geraldo Rivera not saying something stupid: it’s theoretically possible, but who would believe it?

Enter the Merrell Pace Glove:

Merrell Pace Glove in Lavender Lustre

Tam’s own report on this apparently amazing shoe:

Oh. Emm. Gee. I’ve been wearing them since Friday morning (well, except when I’m asleep,) and it’s the next best thing to going barefoot; you could stand on a quarter and tell if it’s heads or tails. I walked to Zest for breakfast and hiked all over the Indiana World War Memorial yesterday with no ill effects. Being able to move my ankles and flex my feet as I walk has un-knotted my calf muscles and fixed the constant incipient cramping in the arch of my feet with the speed of a miracle cure.

I can see myself wearing this particular Merrell. As for Geraldo, well, we’ll just leave him on his side in a darkened basement.

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I can so be a chooser

Yours truly, in Vent #642:

What’s happening here is that people who do need help, and I presume there are a few such on the streets, are going to be spurned because we can’t distinguish between who’s really begging and who’s really bogus. And locking up everyone who asks for spare change runs into serious First Amendment issues, which is not something to be encouraged.

For an example of who’s really bogus:

According to the police report, an officer spotted Shane Warren Speegle, 45, panhandling near Interstate 40 and MacArthur Boulevard earlier this month.

When the officer approached Speegle and told him it was illegal to panhandle without a permit, Speegle asked if he could get a permit that day and implied the $200 fee was not a bad price.

According to the report, the officer asked Speegle why he didn’t just get a job and Speegle replied, “I’m lazy, and I made $60,000 doing this last year. Why would I go get a job?”

I still believe my solution is the most reasonable yet proposed:

[I]nvoke the specter of the Internal Revenue Service. Instead of giving someone a buck, we hand over 60 cents and a 1099-MISC. “By law, we’re withholding forty cents for taxes. Be sure you report this on your return next year.” Odds are, the guy won’t even hang around to get his change, let alone give out his Social Security number.

Don’t hold your breath waiting for it to happen.

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Pre-sneakview

There are some great opening passages in the literature of the world. This is not one of them:

Finding a glass bottle in the driveway was nothing particularly unusual, though it’s far more common to turn up a bottle made of plastic, typically reeking of the sort of cheap booze appreciated only by cheap boozehounds on foot. I shrugged, picked it up, noticed that there was no screw-on cap and no place to screw it onto if there had been, and then dropped it — slowly — into the bin. The recyclers would pick it up Tuesday.

About an hour later, I noticed that I’d forgotten to close the garage door, and hit the remote switch. The door had reached the halfway point when I saw it: another bottle, same place as the previous one. I hit the switch again, the door reversed its descent, and I walked out to the driveway. Before I could pick up the bottle, it vanished. Disappeared. The whole classic into-thin-air bit, in about one second, and not a magician in sight. I was ready to write this off as pure hallucination, but it had been something like 18 hours since the last time I’d popped an Ambien, and anyway I was pretty sure I wasn’t asleep, since if I had been asleep I wouldn’t have been wearing these old khakis and a T-shirt. Still, no other explanation presented itself, so I decided I would come back out in an hour or so and see if Bottle Number Three had made an appearance.

For those of you who might be wondering about My Little Writing Project, well, those are the first two paragraphs. I expect this thing to end up somewhere in the neighborhood of 20,000 words; as of last night I had rolled up, or pounded out, around 9400. This is not the kind of pace routinely maintained by NaNoWriMo participants, who have to knock out close to 1700 words a day for a whole month, but it’s actually faster than I anticipated.

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Think linear

On the late Dick Clark’s musical scale, I would rate my dancing ability at about a 45: I will probably not knock anyone over, but that’s about as much praise as I can muster. (That said, there exist people in this very town who have seen me dance, and I don’t think I’ve bribed all of them. Yet.) That said, I’m not inclined to resort to the Easy Alternative:

Line dancing is to “real dancing” as checkers is to chess, or as Go Fish is to five card stud. It’s repetitive and takes up valuable space on the dance floor. I do understand its attraction though. Line dancing is easy enough to do after you’ve had a few too many beer-a-ritas, and it’s also a dance that ladies can do without having to worry about klutzy guys grinding on their toes. Having said that, I must confess a certain fondness for the Cumbia — or at least the Mexican version that’s popular in our area — which is really just line dancing that moves around the floor, although it provides more improvisational freedom than the strict choreography of line dancing.

Well, maybe I’d consider the Madison.

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Definitely real

If Amy Winehouse were still with us, and if she could have been pushed about a half-step toward Aretha-style gospel, we might have wound up with Rebecca Ferguson, born this date in 1986, the runner-up on the seventh season of the British series The X Factor, losing to Matt Cardle but beating out latter-day boy band One Direction. She sounds something like this:

And she looks pretty good in almost-orange:

Rebecca Ferguson at the premiere of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Speaking of One Direction, Ferguson briefly dated Zayn Malik of 1D, six years her junior.

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I want one in black metallic

The new issue of Automobile has a feature on Singer Vehicle Design, whose slogan says it all: “Restored · Reimagined · Reborn.”

Statement of purpose:

Our work involves taking a customer’s existing vehicle and performing both restorative work and cutting-edge modifications to update the car’s performance, aesthetics and modern-day usability in an attempt to optimize its strengths while preserving the essence and magic of the original.

The vehicle featured in the magazine article (apparently not yet posted on automobilemag.com) was a 1991 Porsche 911 (type 964), Singer’s fourth restoration job, featuring a blueprinted flat six custom-built by Cosworth, complete with a bespoke engine-control unit, and a carbon-fiber bodyshell that all by itself runs over fifty grand. (Only the steel doors remain.) At $375,000, this is a tad rich for my blood, but there’s something viscerally delightful about a twenty-year-old car that can run with its newest brandmates.

And Singer’s Web site is likely the only automotive site on earth with background music written by the owner: “Don’t Change” is from Rob Dickinson’s 2005 album Fresh Wine for the Horses, his first solo effort after five albums as front man for alt-rock band Catherine Wheel. (“Singer,” of course, was Dickinson’s previous occupation.)

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Individually packaged

Stereogum reports on a curious statistic from the record industry:

As of two weeks ago, old albums outsold new ones for the first time since Nielsen Soundscan started tracking U.S. album sales, back in 1991. The first half of 2012 brought sales of 76.6 million catalog albums (i.e, albums released more than 18 months ago) as opposed [to] 73.9 million current albums. Some of the best-selling catalog albums are fairly recent beasts that won’t go away (Adele’s 19, Taylor Swift’s Speak Now); some are ancient classics that should be carved into Mount Rushmore (Dark Side Of The Moon, Licensed To Ill).

The interesting aspect of this, to me anyway, is the idea that anything released over a year and a half ago is by definition no longer current.

James Furbush of the Sly Oyster, fascinated by these numbers, wonders:

Are younger people just resorting to streaming music on Spotify, illegally downloading it, or purchases directly from places like Bandcamp or Kickstarter?

I can’t speak for younger people, not having been such for many years, but I buy stuff from Bandcamp all the time — most recently this — and I’m pretty sure the SoundScan guys don’t pay any attention to it.

But the most-likely explanation for this phenomenon, I suggest, is that the singles culture that existed in the pre-Beatles era has clawed its way back. Used to be, you heard a track you liked, you went out and bought the 45, because you knew the album was likely to consist of two singles, the B-sides thereof, and half a dozen filler pieces — if the single was on the album at all, which it wasn’t always. Sinatra’s usually weren’t. A lot of acts never even got an album until they’d managed a hit single.

The Presleyterians complicated the matter. After “Heartbreak Hotel” broke big for Elvis, RCA Victor planned an album, which turned out to be part new filler material, part unreleased Sun stuff, and “Blue Suede Shoes” as the lead track. “Hotel” wasn’t on it. Furthermore, RCA got the bright idea of releasing the entire album as six simultaneous 45s, and on the same day a new single. Kids with meager budgets, which at the time were all of them, bought “Blue Suede Shoes,” bringing it up to #20, and ignored the other singles, including the new one, a cover of Jesse Stone’s formidable “Shake, Rattle and Roll.” The album eventually sold a million, because after all it was Elvis fercryingoutloud.

And now, of course, you can cherry-pick the tunes you want and leave the rest of the album tracks on the virtual shelf. Good for your collection; perhaps not so good for the guys compiling album-sales statistics.

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I hear TSA is hiring

And this guy sounds like he’s perfect for the job:

A registered sex offender from Brooklyn has been arrested on charges he groped a New Jersey woman aboard a PATH train on two occasions, Port Authority police said.

Gian Verdelli, 61, was arrested Monday in Jersey City by undercover officers, who identified him by using a cell phone photo the 28-year woman took of her alleged attacker after a July 3 incident. She said the same man had also groped her on June 30.

And talk about your dedication to duty:

Verdelli had 168 prior arrests, the majority of which were for sexual offenses, officials said.

Thank God he didn’t do something horrible like buy a Big Gulp.

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Somehow less than cool

The motion picture Frozen won’t be released for another 16 months, though the IMDb listing will tell you that it’s a Walt Disney production based on a story by Hans Christian Andersen.

Disney, in fact, will tell you everything about the movie except why they changed the original title, which Laura will explain:

The … film was given a boring generic name, like Tangled (2010), because of the fear little boys wouldn’t want to see a movie called The Snow Queen.

Lauren Faust was not available for comment.

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Somewhere west of Laramie

Exactly where you don’t want to be, supposedly, if your car breaks down:

According to a summertime state-by-state ranking of repair costs researched by auto diagnostic company CarMD, Wyoming drivers “paid 17 percent more than the U.S. average for overall repairs, including 19% more for labor and 15% more for parts.” The average cost in the state: $389.18, about $100 higher than the cheapest states.

This makes no sense until you note that “overall repairs,” in this context, will include only those repairs motivated by the dreaded Malfunction Indicator Light. (“Check your engine, sir?”) And the next four most expensive states are also out West, which gives away the secret:

The higher average out West can partially be attributed to higher amounts of airborne dust: by putting off replacing air filters in Western states, vehicle owners put their vehicles’ mass air flow sensors at risk. On average, this is a $400 repair.

On my car, the air filter is a 15k replacement item that costs about $20; the MAF sensor runs a cool $488.

The title, of course, comes from this famous 1923 auto ad:

1923 Jordan Playboy as seen in the Saturday Evening Post

I have no idea what an air filter for this thing might cost.

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Fashion girl

It says so on YouTube, so it must be so: The Platform has issued a video called “Sh*t Fashion Girls Say on the Internet,” and the two fashion girls involved are the estimable Man Repeller and the increasingly visible Rebecca Black, interviewed briefly by the sui generis P’Trique. Becky (!) is game, but she’s going to have to up her game to get into the Repeller’s league.

Also this week, RB announced that she’d recorded the final track for that upcoming album, which she says is probably her favorite song of the bunch, and answered the Twitter hashtag #MyLastWordsBeforeIDie with the following: “I left a million dollars in the…”

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Fark blurb of the week

Dong hopes huge blow job will attract Siemens.

(Linked to this. And take a look at the end of that URL.)

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