Meanwhile in Area 41

Jeb Bush is running for President, and I have had no trouble curbing my enthusiasm up to this point: “Read my lips,” I once said. “No more Bushes.” And indeed, a year and a half before the actual election, Jeb hasn’t exactly set the world on fire. What could change the electorate’s indifference? Will Truman makes the dark calculation:

I think he has a better chance than any other individual candidate, but if I were betting for or against him, I’d bet (lightly) against him.

Unless, that is, his father dies sometime between now and then. Which gets me to the point of this post. His father is somebody that it’s become kind of hard to say much negative about, generally speaking. Republicans see him as one of their own and from the Reagan era at that. Democrats see him as fundamentally different from the current lot of Republicans. It’s considered poor taste to speak ill of the just dead, but I think there will be less tongue-biting.

Which makes his father’s death, if it occurs between now and next November, a potentially important thing.

George H. W. Bush turns 91 next month. I say with all sincerity that I hope he makes it at least to 93.

(Side note: Typing “Bush 41” into the Wikipedia search box does indeed bring up the article for Papa George; “Bush 43” will do the same for W.)

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Over several barrels

Only the nittiest of nitwits will claim to be able to forecast the price of oil more than a few hours in advance. That said, this is supposedly OPEC’s thinking on the matter:

Those hoping for a return to $100 per barrel of oil are in for a long wait, as OPEC says oil will remain below the price point through the 2020s.

A report by the group forecasts oil will trade for around $76/barrel in 2025 under optimistic conditions, The Wall Street Journal reports, with $40/barrel under more dire straits. The forecasts take into account the group’s competitors in the United States coping through low prices amid increased production.

To combat this, the report recommends OPEC return to the production-quota system it ditched in 2011 amid conflict over how much each member state would be allowed to produce.

A system, you may remember, which was honored mostly in the breach, hence the ditching.

Myself, I prefer to stick with the mildly alarmist viewpoint: there’s only about 10 years’ worth of oil left on the planet, and there always will be.

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Max does not have PMS

There’s been some sparring in social media over the feminism, or lack thereof, that obtains in Mad Max: Fury Road, and since I have not yet seen the film, I’m going with the Friar’s assessment [possible spoilers]:

The he-man tough-guy warrior schtick of both Joe and the Humungus fall to a society that values both genders. That idea, by the way, seems to be the extent of the back-and-forth about Fury Road being a “feminist movie.” Pro- and anti-feminist blatherers made a lot about [George] Miller using playwright Eve Ensler as a coach to help the models playing Joe’s wives understand the mindset of someone basically held as a sex slave. That’s fine. My main worry was that he’d hired Ensler to write some of the movie; I’ve read The Vagina Monologues.

I’m still waiting for the inevitable sequel It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Max.

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Ann and Lane, BFFs

Whether this portends anything else, I can’t tell just yet:

How many women’s suits and dresses could you buy for $2.2 billion? For Ascena Retail Group, Inc. the answer is all of the suits and dresses sold in all of the Ann Taylor and LOFT stores.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Ann Inc., the owner of stores Ann Taylor and LOFT, has agreed to sell itself for $2.2 billion to rival Ascena Retail Group, which operates Lane Bryant and Dressbarn.

Both companies … have reportedly struggled recently when it comes to the weak retail environment for their target group of women 20 to 40 years of age, the WSJ reports.

Meanwhile, Dressbarn is mutating, or is being remodeled, into “Dressbar”: apparently the Dressbarn name will be reserved for garments that are, um, not dresses. Okay, fine. As long as Lane Bryant doesn’t hook up with Kobe.

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Google just being Google

It’s been a long time since “Don’t be evil” was supplanted by “Don’t be unobtrusive,” so I wasn’t entirely surprised to see this come down the timeline:

I scoffed for public consumption, then hit up the surfer dudes who host this site for suggestions, since broadside isn’t even a mail server fercrissake. Said they, did you know that the WordPress wp_mail() function, as used in emailing subscribers, is totally devoid of authentication?


They suggested a plugin to route the mail through a proper SMTP server, and since I have one of those servers, they were happy to tell me all the settings that would be necessary. I had everything in place by four-thirty. So if you’ve been having to fish updates out of the Gmail spam folder, perhaps this will persuade Google to quit acting like the grand high muckety-mucks of the frigging Internet just this once. Maybe.

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A slightly flatter planet

The earthquake in Nepal last month evidently realigned some of the bumpier spots on the globe:

New satellite topography of the Himalayas mountain range has revealed that they sank by three feet as tectonic plates reacted to pressure.

The European Space Agency’s Sentinel-1A radar satellite snapped before-and-after images of the terrain hit by the earthquake, which killed more than 8,000 people. The image … reveals how the Eurasian plate shifted, with the land falling in the places marked yellow, and rising in those coloured blue. In the Langtang range, it sank by as much as three feet, while Mount Everest, which was further away from the epicentre, is now one inch shorter.

One should not assume, however, that this realignment is at all permanent:

The Himalayas will eventually regain the height that they lost over a long period of time, as geological forces continue to influence them. The mountain range was formed as a result of the Indian and Eurasian plates pushing into each other, and the constant pressure at the fault line means the mountains are always growing.

Tim Wright, professor of satellite geodesy at the University of Leeds, explains further:

Between earthquake events, Nepal is being squashed and the part (including Kathmandu) nearest the big fault underneath it is being dragged down by the Indian plate, and [areas] further back are being lifted up as you imagine squashing something is going to push things up.

Now, during the earthquake itself what happens is the opposite. The part that was dragged down because it was stuck at the fault — that slips freely and rebounds up, and the part that was being squashed upwards drops down.

Similar events occur in other seismically active regions, such as California and, um, Oklahoma, though Soonerland has yet to experience a quake above magnitude six: the April quake in Nepal was estimated at 7.8, with an aftershock last week at 7.4.

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Metered out over the years

There’s one distinguishing characteristic of Emily Dickinson’s poetry, says former US poet laureate Billy Collins:

“[Walt Whitman] was really the first poet in English to abandon both rhyme and regular meter. And for me and you, probably reading poetry in school, he became more popular because he was more radical in terms of form. But Emily Dickinson seems rather tame because she pretty much uses the same meter every time. It’s called ‘common meter.’ It’s a line of four beats that’s followed by a line of three beats. So a typical one would be: ‘Because I could not stop for Death / He kindly stopped for me.’ And there’s actually a kind of pause at the end of the first line, a kind of fifth beat. This is the meter of a lot of ballads. It’s the meter of Protestant hymns. It’s the rhythm of many nursery rhymes. So you have a very conventional cadence in most of these poems. It’s widely known that almost every one of her poems can be sung whether you like it or not to the tune of ‘The Yellow Rose Of Texas.'”

I am surprised she didn’t come up with this one herself:

Just sit right back — and you’ll hear a tale
A tale — of a fateful trip
That started from — this tropic port
Aboard — this tiny ship

(Via Barbara J. Taylor.)

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Wheeled of dreams

The late guitar-picker Jerry Reed once did the math:

Well, I figured it up, and over a period of time
This four thousand-dollar car of mine
Cost fourteen thousand dollars and ninety-nine cents.

For that matter, I’ve done the math myself, and I conclude that you need to be damned sure what you’re buying before you write the check.

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Strange search-engine queries (485)

You’ve seen it before, you’re seeing it again: a wholly unscientific sampling of the search strings that brought people to this very site, biased toward whether we could get a joke out of them or not.

steve allen cuando calienta el sol picture cd:  Because you’d never recognize the recording if it had nothing but writing on the case, am I right?

when no one wants you:  Sing a couple verses of “Cuando Calienta El Sol.” It will warm up your cold, cold heart in a matter of … well, years, actually.

1. Tonight you can do anything you want, no penalties, no reprisals, and the cost is unimportant:  Or as Bill Clinton calls it, “Monday.”

July 9 1980 Fire in the hole:  Preparation H works, where Preparations A through G inclusive didn’t.

sextube small girl:  She will not make your objects appear larger, if that’s what you had in mind.

government-mandated 85-mph speedometers:  Now nearly as quaint as landau bars, and only marginally more functional.

barges to use as temporary housing owners:  This may not work well during a flash flood.

transportation fund lock box:  Once jimmied open, it proved to hold a fistful of IOUs, a couple of dustbunnies, and a half-chewed Starburst.

invisible spirits seducing women movies:  They had to be. Before they were invisible, they all looked like Joe Pesci on a bender.

“toe rings under”:  Under what? Under hosiery? Under $10? Insufficient data for conclusion.

2009 state law seattle porpety owner must bear expense of cost over runs:  I imagine a lot of people sold their porpety as a result.

sadamhusain pechar free:  You trying to tell me they cut off Saddam’s pechar?

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External combustion

Someone named “Bethanie Beason” — no, wait, it’s “Beason Bethanie” — writes me, addresses me by name, and asks: “Have you noticed you set my body on fire?”

It’s just the hives. You’ll get over it.

Oh, by the way, “Bethanie,” if that is your real name, why does your email come with a footer from TEN: The Enthusiast Network, publisher of Motor Trend and Automobile? (The TEN links, however, specify Bike magazine, one of the TEN mags to which I don’t subscribe; the rest of the links go to some obscure Tumblr.) And who is this “Stephany” whose picture I’m supposed to want to see?

The probability of someone actually coming on to me, or someone actually feeling feverish in my presence, is of course somewhere between negligible and nonexistent.

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Fan services

This is one of those things that aren’t taught in schools:

My in-window fan has an option to direct the air outward instead of inward. I have absolutely no idea what the purpose of this is, but I am loving the white noise it creates without making my room cold, since the temperature dropped a bit over the last couple of days (and that it drowns out my neighbor’s child, whose goal in life seems to be to see how loudly and for how long he can pointlessly scream).

If it drowns out a noisy moppet, it’s already justified.

But directing the air outward — the “exhaust” setting — has a purpose besides white noise: it sends indoor air outside, which is useful if that air isn’t all that wonderful. (There’s a reason why all bathroom fans are exhaust fans.) I’ve been known to use a fan for white-noise generation myself; if the room doesn’t need cooling, I turn it away from me. Slightly different pitch, but similar results.

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The age of the Exploding Man

The one guy in the record business I’m going to miss the most:

Stan Cornyn didn’t make music. Rather, the longtime Warner Bros. Records executive made words about music — usually with a literary skill and advanced wit that established an industry standard for marketing and branding.

“He was the Socrates of the music business,” music publicist Bob Merlis, a 29-year WBR veteran, tells Billboard. “He was more analytical about it. He was an Ivy League guy in a ‘dese’ and ‘dose’ business, but his philosophy was really transcendent.”

Cornyn, who was an executive vice president with WBR’s creative services department and a senior vice president with the Warner Music Group, died on Tuesday at the age of 81 in Carpinteria, Calif., after a long battle with cancer. Regarded as a legend by his peers, he leaves behind a legacy of clever advertisements and scholarly — but not stilted — liner notes that scored two Grammy Awards and multiple nominations. Cornyn also penned the revealing 2003 tome Exploding: The Highs, Hits, Hype, Heroes, and Hustlers of the Warner Music Group as well as three genealogy books and two screenplays.

I of course recommend the book:

I’m reading Cornyn’s book … written with Paul Scanlon, and while I knew quite a bit of the backstory, there are still shockers scattered among the pages.

Actually, it was imperative that I read Exploding: if ever there was anyone’s writing style I wanted to absorb and reuse, it was Stan Cornyn’s, the inevitable result of reading dozens of Warner Bros. and Reprise LP liner notes over the years.

In 1998, I got an actual email from Stan Cornyn:

Your page about WB/R’s Loss Leaders was mentioned to me by Billboard’s Gene Sculatti. So, I visited. I became, I recall, #380 of your visitors.

I was pleased that you spelled my name write.

As a point of mild interest to you (why did the series end? was you supposition), it really did just become less popular. The cutting edge had dulled, I’m sure. The fervor was off the vine.

Let me assure you that being read by both Cornyn and Gene Sculatti elicted pure fangirl squee from this then-45-year-old dude.

The Cornyn connection continued for a while, which is where I got the definitive explanation of why those sampler albums were never, ever going to be released on CD. And I always had the feeling that while he wasn’t really looking over my shoulder, he could be summoned if I needed him. More than that, one does not ask from a record-company executive.

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He remarked dryly

Here we have snapshots from the US Drought Monitor for the last four and a half years:

Despite tons of rain this month, we’re not out of the choking dust just yet.

(Via Becky McCray.)

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Can I get a witness?

Because this case looks like it’s going to need some help:

It’s a darn shame Clark Kent doesn’t carry a badge.

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I’ll be there in a Jif

Daily Mail contributor Annabel Cole shaves her legs with peanut butterThere are dozens of things you might consider using as a substitute for shaving cream, though I’m willing to bet that peanut butter isn’t one of them:

Could my favourite breakfast spread also double up as the answer to silky smooth summer legs? I was doubtful — but intrigued.

Following instructions online, I spread the peanut butter on my legs with a blunt butter knife. Smoothing Sunpat [brand] down my shins, instead of my toast, took a bit of getting used to.

The stiff consistency made it hard to apply evenly, and the lumps of peanut rubbed painfully against my skin like a super-abrasive exfoliant.

Shaving was a nightmare. The blades became clogged with the thick peanut butter after one sweep of the razor. Washing them clean took several minutes and covered the bath with yellow clumps of peanut butter.

After three attempts — and with a significant amount of stubble remaining — I gave up and threw the razor away. The only upside was that my skin felt wonderfully soft afterwards.

I can’t help but think this might have worked marginally better with a peanut butter that wasn’t, you know, crunchy.

(Via Fark.)

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Two for Column B

Today, a tab is an open page on a browser. It wasn’t always so:

Does anyone else remember when tabs used to be arbitrary? Back in the good old days, back when we had typewriters, tabs were set individually. There was no automatic every-so-many-spaces tab setting. If you wanted a tab at the 4th position, you spaced over 4 spaces and pressed the tab set key. If you wanted a tab at the 47 position, you spaced over 43 more spaces and pressed the tab set key. Now the first time you press the tab key you go to column 4, and the second time you press it you go all the way to column 47, which means the carriage picks up some speed on the way and arrives with a typewriter shaking thump. Which is how God intended for you to arrive at column 47.

My first typewriter, a Royal Safari rebadged as a Singer, didn’t even use the word “tab”: there were two rectangular buttons on the backsplash above the keyboard, labeled “COLUMN CLEAR” and “COLUMN SET,” though they were tabs in everything but name.

Now that I think about it, I don’t believe I’ve ever even set a tab on my current typewriter (one of those Brother electronics). Then again, it gets used mostly for filling out forms and such.

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