Because all must suffer

Meet James Farmer of WPMU.org, and listen to his tale of woe:

In case you don’t already know, we’re the folk not only behind this site and WPMU DEV, but also Edublogs … the oldest and second largest WordPress Multisite setup on the web, with, as of right now 1,451,943 teacher and student blogs hosted.

And today, our hosting company, ServerBeach, to whom we pay $6,954.37 every month to host Edublogs, turned off our webservers, without notice, less than 12 hours after issuing us with a DMCA email.

Because one of our teachers, in 2007, had shared a copy of Beck’s Hopelessness Scale with his class, a 20 question list, totalling some 279 words, published in 1974, that Pearson would like you to pay $120 for.

Which is, I mention in passing, two dollars and 32.5 cents per word.

TechDirt notes:

One of several problems in copyright law is the fact that what appears to be fair use to the layman is usually illegal. And the unintended consequences of actions taken in good faith tends to include a ton of collateral damage — damages which usually far outweigh any perceived losses from non-commercial infringement. Because of this, hosting companies tend to prefer harming a relationship with a paying customer to finding their safe harbors under attack. For the sake of a $120 paper, ServerBeach was more than willing to drop a $75,000/year customer. Despite all the whining, copyright still has plenty of power. Too bad it’s so easily abused.

Intellectual property: even when it’s “property,” it’s scarcely “intellectual.”

(Tweeted by @cgreen.)

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Preparing for our clown-car future

“Kickin’ in the front seat, sittin’ in the back seat” — how about we just wedge you all in sideways?

Melanie Minnie, a teacher at a South African nursery school, was fined by police for cramming 19 kids into her Renault Clio, a small hatchback roughly the size of a Ford Fiesta.

Minnie was pulled over after a concerned passerby noticed all of the children climbing into the car after an excursion to a local burger bar. When she was stopped by police, there were 6 kids in the trunk, at least 3 in the front seat and 10 in the back seat.

Which I think would answer this question pretty definitively:

It’s unknown if the children were wearing seat belts.

How about “no”? Does “no” work for you?

The fine was R 1500, about $175, or less than ten bucks per kid.

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Recycling of a sort

Sacramento Kings guard Jimmer Fredette describes a slightly weird incident:

“When I was in Salt Lake this summer, a boy asked me to sign a pair of shoes. When I saw the shoes, I realized they were mine from my freshman year of college and he had gotten them out of the dumpster outside my dorm where I had thrown them away.”

The only thing better than trash is authenticated trash.

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Meh-ness to society

Even mighty Prada, alas, can go wrong:

Prada Bicolor Rubber Oxford

Shoewawa’s Abi Silvester explains this better than I could:

Almost a blend of two shoes, it looks as though one perfectly attractive menswear-inspired shoe has been dropped in a large vat of molten candle wax — and pulled out just too late!

If that sort of thing floats your boat, it’s $950 at Nordstrom.

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Fleecing as white as snow

This is normally the day I get my online billing notification for the landline, and the amount thereof varies very little: the taxes creep up now and then, but that’s what taxes do. Today’s arrival was startling, but there is, of course, no way that I’d owe $2,328.05 on a landline, and the handy links for online payment go straight to a scammer.

Curiously, my homeowner’s insurance bill, which also arrived today, is for almost exactly the same amount, a 44-percent increase from last year, which in turn was a 35-percent increase from the year before. (Last time I switched carriers was 2009.)

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Layers of fact-checkers

All of whom evidently had the day off:

MSNBC screenshot: Fearless Felix traveled faster than speed of light

There is, of course, ample precedent for this sort of thing.

(Via Twitchy.)

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For the touch of your whips, dear

I’m guessing that this guy’s Safe Word was MOAR:

BERLIN (Reuters) — A German court has ordered a dominatrix to pay 200 euros ($260) to a local charity as a penance after a client accused her of hurting and robbing him.

Cologne district court spokesman Dirk Esser said the plaintiff had accused the woman he hired for sex last month of holding a kitchen knife to his throat before demanding his debit card and PIN number.

The plaintiff, a 49-year-old undertaker, also said the woman had detained him against his will for five hours.

What the hell kind of dominatrix lets you come and go as you please?

Oh, and their failure to convict her of anything didn’t mean they weren’t going to punish her:

The court decided that it was impossible to know for sure what really happened because both parties had consumed too much cocaine during their encounter. It dropped the charges but ordered the prostitute to pay the “penance money” to a charity that supports crime victims.

Ah, cocaine. She don’t lie. But she BSes with the best of them.

(Via Icepick.)

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Happier endings

Or at least recognizable ones. I’m not as picky as I used to be.

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Pesky children

I run several sites besides this one, devoted to even narrower niches. I was working on one Saturday night when WordPress spun the black circle at me, telling me there was an update — to the theme, fercrissake. Now I hadn’t done a whole lot of modifications to that theme, though I’d deployed half a dozen widgets in the sidebar, so I figured nothing much would happen.

And, of course, I was wrong. They’d added some nav buttons to the sidebar which duplicated the widget arrangement — and which pushed said arrangement a couple hundred pixels down the page. It wasn’t particularly difficult to restore the functionality I had, but it was something of a jolt. (The theme in use here is pretty much dead, development-wise; I screw around with it more or less ad lib with no ill — other than aesthetic — effects.)

So it looks like I’m going to have to study up on child themes, to prevent this sort of thing from happening again.

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Strange search-engine queries (350)

From around the world, across the nation, and up your street, here are the latest goofy search strings from straight out of the server logs.

i dont begin any sentences with:  Capital letters, anyway.

your ponderous seemed to me inteed much more to emphasize your own brilliance:  Some call me the Ponderous of Love.

“this is the sort of man we mean when we use the word playboy”:  I presume this caption was not attached to a picture of Mitt Romney.

knickerless girl:  As seen in the Dickens classic “Knickerless Knickerby.”

what other problems can occur when transmission goes:  For one, bankruptcy.

how long do earthquakes last:  Until the ground stops shaking. (This does not include any aftershocks.)

her naked silhouette shown thru the window:  So back away from the window, Tom. Sheesh. You want to get yourself in trouble or something?

your girlfriend does not look like Zooey Deschanel:  Neither does anybody else’s.

is it common for squirrels to chew weatherstrip on garage door:  It is common for squirrels to chew anything, with the possible exception of anvils.

how to draw an anvil:  Figure out how to draw a coyote plummeting off a cliff. The anvil will appear, as if by magic.

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The Band of ’59 in triumph

Smashing Songs of Stage and Screen survives stall, succeeds successfully:

Kickstarter Screen for Big Daddy

I got the word from Roger at 8:54 Central, and Kickstarter’s official notification spot-on at 9.

So there will be a new Big Daddy album, circa 7/13. And once again, my presence on a Kickstarter backers list guarantees success. (Hey, I lead a charmed life.) What’s more, in the four minutes between that screenshot and the closing, three more backers signed on, adding $100 to the take.

Life is good sometimes.

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Hate to say I told you so

But hey, I told you so. Yours truly, May ’11:

Convention business isn’t exactly booming, and the grisly pas de deux of government policies and energy prices insures that the nation’s once-vaunted mobility is trampled underfoot: whether by design or merely by default, travel is rapidly becoming as inconvenient and as expensive as is humanly possible. There will always be some convention business, but it’s going to be confined to the handful of top-tier cities with which we already arguably fail to compete. If it is deemed necessary to remind the rest of the nation that Oklahoma City actually exists, a quarter of a billion dollars would buy a hell of a lot of Kevin Durant backpacks.

The Wall Street Journal, October ’12:

The nation’s slow-growing economy has hurt attendance. With budgets tight, companies and associations aren’t holding as many conventions or sending as many employees or members to them. And a glut of convention space has sharpened the competition among cities.

Between 2000 and 2011, convention-center exhibit-hall space expanded by 35% nationally while attendance fell 1.7% in the same time, said Heywood Sanders, a professor of public administration at the University of Texas at San Antonio, and an expert on convention centers. Attendance is down 5% since 2007.

Yet we’re going to spend $280 million (or so) on trying to get a bigger piece of a smaller pie. Dr Sanders knows why:

He blames cities’ hired consultants, who he said predict “all these people are going to come and do wonderful things to your economy.”

As they did here in the Big Breezy for Roy Williams and the OKC Chamber:

The Greater Oklahoma City Chamber commissioned a study [in 2009] to determine how much convention space the city needs. The results showed the Cox Convention Center to be inadequate. Worse still, the building is landlocked by major streets and can’t be expanded. The Cox Convention Center brings in an estimated $30 million a year to the local economy, including $10 million in salaries and 400 jobs, Williams said.

“Essentially the new convention center would triple that,” Williams said. “The impact would go up to nearly $80 million. Salaries and wages would go to about $30 million and employment would go to 1,100.”

Unless, of course, they don’t, as Dr Sanders predicts:

“But the problem is they aren’t coming anymore, because there are lots of other convention centers … that desperately want that business,” he said.

We are, of course, going to build this monstrosity. I just hope they’ll come up with a more plausible justification for it: the elevation of civic pride, the desire for shiny new stuff, the ability to attract a higher class of hookers — anything but actual return on investment. Because that’s not happening.

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I’m a duckling and what is this

Why, it’s H-two-O:

Previously hoarded by a Crazy Bird Lady, these ducks had never even been within quacking distance of a place to swim. They’ll adjust.

(Via Tim Blair.)

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Somebody oughta Sue

The Nightfly discovers that Johnny Cash and Shel Silverstein anticipated Information Technology. First verse (you’ll want to see, and maybe sing, them all):

Well, my boss left the company when I got hired
Gave me a cubicle and then retired
My training was a stack of post-its in a drawer
Now I don’t blame him that he run and hid
But perhaps the meanest thing he did
Was before he left, he hung “IT” on my door

Somebody did that to me, I’d kill the [BLEEP].

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Honda wants to buy you some gas

Some compressed natural gas, anyway:

Honda just released an incentive, a big one, for those interested in buying the Civic Natural Gas. American Honda has an alliance with Clean Energy Fuels to provide a debit card pre-loaded with $3,000 that can used at Clean Energy fueling stations around the country. Another perk, for those living in California, is the ability to drive a 2012 Civic Natural Gas Vehicle in the High Occupancy Vehicle carpool lanes through January 1, 2015.

If you’re in my neck of the woods, the downside to this, apart from the fact that the Civic Natural Gas (formerly the Civic GX) is the priciest Civic, is that Clean Energy has only about 180 stations, more than a third of which are in California. We have something resembling an actual CNG infrastructure in Oklahoma, but none of it is owned by Clean Energy. On t’other hand, Honda is claiming an average $2.05 per gallon-equivalent at CE stations; the going rate around here is more like a buck-fifty.

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Eternal Beverly

Today marks the 60th birthday of Beverly Johnson, champion swimmer turned criminal-law student turned model, who smashed a color bar in September 1974 with her appearance on the cover of Vogue’s US edition, the first time an African-American woman had ever been there.

On the off-chance that you might think it unkind to slip a picture of a sixty-year-old into the weekly roundup of Major Babe pix, we’re turning the clock back just a little for this:

Beverly Johnson in 2009

This shot comes from designer Tracy Reese’s show at Mercedes-Benz New York Fashion Week, Spring/Summer 2010, which of course took place in the fall of 2009, just before Beverly Johnson’s 57th birthday.

For comparison, let’s go back thirty years more. Here’s the jacket (minus a corner, this being a cutout) from her 1979 LP Don’t Lose the Feeling, issued as Buddah BDS 5726.

Beverly Johnson LP sleeve from 1979

Dayum, girl.

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