All alone on the rack

Dave Schuler is asking: “What was the first record album you purchased with your own money?”

Cover art for Something New by the Beatles 1964The parental units weren’t about to fork over any coin of the realm for me to squander on vinyl — or styrene, as appropriate — so this is my first record album, period. Something New is one of those Frankenalbums Capitol persisted in issuing in those days, partly due to the fact that British LPs tended to have 13 or 14 tracks, while we Americans were dumb enough to settle for eleven. The track list includes eight songs from the UK A Hard Day’s Night album, though not the title track; two cuts from the British Long Tall Sally EP, and a German version of “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” The track ordering is not bad, actually, and for the most part, we were spared Capitol’s infamous mono-reprocessed-for-stereo mixing, though I wouldn’t have known that at the time, having bought the mono version on the basis that (1) I had a fairly crummy record player and (2) stereo would have been a buck extra. Something New peaked at #2 on the Billboard album chart and stayed there for nine weeks; what kept it out of first place was the United Artists issue of the soundtrack to A Hard Day’s Night, another dog’s-breakfast compilation with eight actual Beatles tracks, plus four instrumentals presided over by George Martin.

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As he nibbled at her ear

And can you blame him, really?

Sushi earrings by Hatanaka

The backstory:

My husband asked me a few days ago what I wanted for the holidays and I told him I didn’t know. But after seeing these fake food jewelry designs by Japan-based company Hatanaka, I think I just may want a Beef Bowl necklace, dammit!

I hate these and I kind of love them at the same time. Ain’t nothin’ wrong with wearing a bowl of fake beef around your neck, okay? I mean it’s not like they’re selling something weird, like salami necklaces or bacon earrings…

(From Caitlin D.’s contribution to the Saturday Links yesterday at Rookie.)

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There once were some self-righteous asshats

A young woman wrote a satirical limerick about Michael Brown, at least slightly tasteless and definitely weak in the scansion department. Unsurprisingly, some people found something wrong with that, and are threatening her because hey, social justice, otherwise known as “Freedom for me, but not for thee.”

The only truly satisfactory solution to this would be for the whole sorry lot of them to be rocketed into the Sun, though I suspect the Sun would complain briefly along the lines of “Well, there goes the neighborhood.”

Reminder: Social justice is to justice what social disease is to disease.

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Focused attack

Usually comment spam is just slopped onto the place without any particular regard to where it may land. Which concerns me when it isn’t:

Spam screenshot

I mean, really, what did McGehee do to deserve this?

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Upward mobility

So, Lisa Quam, you’ve won $90 million playing Powerball. Do you quit your job?

She said she would quit her job at plane maker Boeing Co.

Do you buy new wheels?

Quam said she expected to travel more and had already identified her next new car: a Subaru Forester.

Which, for Washington state, will fit right in.

Although this is the part that gets me:

Quam and her husband bought two Powerball tickets on a Thanksgiving Day run to buy a newspaper and pumpkin spice.

For those of you who thought pumpkin spice, barely spice and not even close to being pumpkin, was the creation of Beelzebub — well, even the devil has an off-day now and then.

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Laziness knows no bounds

Exhibit D-plus:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: Does turnitin.com check translation?

Further detail:

If I read an article in spanish and translate it to english will turnitin know that I copied it from the spanish article? Because I mean they’re not the exam same words because they’re in different languages but this technology **** is crazy so you never know idk

Based just on that paragraph, I think it’s safe to assume that just about any reasonably well-written passage in your paper will be challenged just for being reasonably well-written.

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Vague pleasantry

Found this little squib under the title bar at Creative Minority Report:

These days, people say “Season’s Greetings,” which, when you think about it, means nothing. It’s like walking up to somebody and saying “Appropriate Remark” in a loud, cheerful voice.

[nodding in apparent assent]

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Wende time comes

December 7, 1941, said FDR, was “a date that would live in infamy.” This probably doesn’t say anything about Wende Wagner, who was born the day before. With both parents sports-minded — Mom was a champion skier, Dad a swimming/diving coach turned career Navy officer — she gravitated toward doing those things herself, and it’s said that Billy Wilder, then filming Some Like It Hot at Coronado, California, saw Wagner swimming and invited her to take a screen test. “Not while you’re still in high school,” declared the parental units. (Later, she did the test, but turned down a role in Wilder’s The Apartment.)

And so she became an underwater stunt player on Sea Hunt and The Aquanauts:

Wende Wagner on the rocks

After her first marriage broke up, she decided that maybe standing in front of a camera might not be such a bad thing after all, and signed with 20th Century-Fox, where she had small roles in Rio Conchos and Rosemary’s Baby (on loan to Paramount), and a larger one in the TV series The Green Hornet.

Wende Wagner on the sofa

She retired in the early Seventies, and was seldom heard from thereafter, until her death from cancer in 1997.

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Quote of the week

It helps, says Bill Quick, to think of Eric Garner as a small businessman:

One of the side effects of the legal/regulatory state has been to cut off poor people from small-scale entrepreneurship. Want to open a roadside taco stand? Offer cab services with your private car? Braid hair in your living room? Clean houses without a license or OSHA inspection? Work for less than minimum wage?

Add in a host of other restrictions and requirements that effectively function as a moat to competition that protects larger, better funded businesses, and you block an entire class of people (by income) from entrepreneurial work.

Remember the history of Jews in America? Remember the pushcarts and rug peddlers and all the other modes of self-employment that kept them and their offspring warm, fed, and well enough educated to become the next generation of doctors, lawyers, scholars, and businessmen?

We don’t do that any more. And if you try, you risk your life. Because that makes you a vile criminal.

“You must play by the rules,” say the people who invented those rules to benefit themselves and their cronies.

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Deep Sixing

Kevin Durant, asked if the Thunder might overlook the 1-17 76ers tonight, is reported to have quipped: “Nah. We feel like we’re 1-17 too.” And really, however ragtag the Philadelphia roster may appear to be, you won’t persuade me that they’re tanking: they demonstrated considerable skill closing out quarters, something the Thunder didn’t do until the fourth, and I don’t recall any of the Sixers looking lost or bewildered. Indeed, if anyone looked lost out there, it was Durant, who was off his feed or something; he went 3-11 for 10 points. It didn’t matter, though: OKC wins it 103-91 and goes up to, um, 6-13.

This game, I think, was a good example of complementary efforts. Steven Adams scored seven points but collected no rebounds; Kendrick Perkins pulled nine boards (and a Flagrant 1 foul) and no points. And where you’d expect KD to be playing hero ball, there was Jeremy Lamb, knocking down two treys in the final three minutes to seal the deal. Russell Westbrook led all scorers with 27.

But still there were anomalies. The Thunder bench scored 38; the Philly bench scored, um, 38, including a team-high 21 from Robert Covington. Luc Mbah a Moute, who can’t shoot a trey to save his life, knocked down two of them, easy as pie. Michael Carter-Williams (16 points, 14 assists) and Nerlens Noel (11 points, 10 rebounds) posted the only two double-doubles tonight. And give the Sixers credit for going after the damned ball: they outrebounded OKC 44-40, and held a 19-6 edge off the offensive glass. They might yet break their record for futility (9-73, 1972-73), but I’m finding it hard to see that happening.

One more game on this road trip, Sunday against the low-compression Detroit Pistons — who, I remind you, beat OKC at home last month — and then a couple of interesting home games: with the Bucks (who beat OKC in Milwaukee last month), followed by the Cleveland Cavaliers. (Two words: “LeBron James.”) Assuming the Cavs dispatch the Raptors tonight, they’ll be 11-7.

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Snot what one aspires to

Tam has been suffering with some wretched disease this week, and I think it was worse than what I have, based on this observation:

About the middle of the afternoon yesterday, I became one of the world’s leading exporters of mucus. It’s tapered off greatly this morning and is no longer coming out in festive colors, so everything should be good and copacetic by nightfall, but that was really unpleasant.

You probably don’t want to spend any time wondering who might import the stuff.

It occurred to me that we really need some new drugs to replace the wimpy stuff they sell over the counter at Rite-Aid: the bloody dismembering of NyQuil is still fresh in my mind.

Or maybe we need some old drugs:

One Night Cough Syrup

I defy anyone to cough after a tablespoon of that.

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Dawning is the day

When this appeared in the media a couple of days ago, noises were made to the effect that we might be seeing a Whole New Era:

Gas price at OnCue, 44th and Shields

Of course, for this to be true, everyone else would have had to rush out and match this price, seen at the OnCue Express at 44th and Shields. As of today, the Duo at 59th and Blackwelder will sell you E10 at $1.999, if you’re paying cash — add a dime for plastic — and the 44 Food Mart, just east of that OnCue, has dropped to $1.989. That’s it. This is not, I shouldn’t have to point out, a Whole New Era. And GasBuddy counsels caution:

GasBuddy anticipates that some motorists in Texas, South Carolina, and Missouri may see $1.99 show up soon as well. Areas of Houston, Spartanburg, and St. Louis are the only metro areas within “striking distance” of less than 20c/gallon.

We should make clear that at this time, we do not believe any city or state will see average prices under $2/gal, but yes, a handful of stations across the United States may see these prices. Should oil prices continue to decline, as some of our analysts have predicted, it will open the door to motorists in more cities seeing a few $1.99 prices.

I’m still paying $2.619 for premium, of course.

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One weird (and costly) trick

Although you can’t blame them for wanting to preserve the business:

Prostitutes in the Russian Arctic port of Murmansk have unexpectedly hiked prices for their services by up to 40%, blaming the tumbling rouble exchange rate for their decision, it seems.

They also want to peg the cost of services to the dollar in the longer term if the situation doesn’t improve, sources at one brothel tell the local FlashNord news agency. Two hours with a prostitute in Murmansk cost 3,000-7,000 roubles ($57-132; £36-84) before the price rise, the agency says. The management of another brothel says it’s “trying to keep prices down, but the cost of living is rising and the girls can’t work at a loss”. The rouble has lost more than 40% of its value against the dollar and 60% against the euro since the start of the year, as a result of Western sanctions over Russia’s involvement in the eastern Ukraine insurgency and a fall in oil prices.

Vladimir Putin surely never anticipated this.

(Via Interested-Participant.)

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Unevenly matched

After noting in a post that Reese Witherspoon is threatening to become the next Meryl Streep, Robert Stacy McCain explains the apparently unfortunate dynamic at work:

Here’s the thing about Out of Africa: The girls get to see Robert Redford, one of the most handsome leading men in cinematic history. The guys get … Meryl Streep.

You see what I’m talking about? It’s like every Barbra Streisand movie, ever.

There’s this feminist fantasy film formula where the ugly duckling is paired with the impossibly handsome man. Somehow, with her feisty ways and her quirky sense of humor, she manages to make this sexy hunk of a man fall passionately in love with her. It’s basically Chicken Soup for the Unattractive Girl’s Soul, except it’s toxic.

This kind of fantasy encourages unrealistic romantic aspirations in quite the same way as all those movies where the clumsy schlub magically lands the Playboy Centerfold Dream Girl.

As a clumsy schlub in my own right, I must point out that Streisand actually pulled it off, in Peter Bogdanovich’s What’s Up, Doc? Granted, this was 42 years ago, and she was playing opposite Ryan O’Neal, a large sheet of drywall, but nonetheless, she pulled it off. It’s possible to make a case for The Way We Were, with Redford, but I think Arthur Laurents’ screenplay was always more of a political piece than a love story, and the film suffers as a result.

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Defending the rush

There are two types of people who object to Black Friday, says Bark M., and he has a refutation for both:

First, you have the “don’t ever spend a dime because you’re going to be old someday” people. Let me think … would I rather die with $5M in the bank, or would I rather enjoy my youth? Has anybody ever been sad that they bought their dream car? Has anybody ever regretted a trip to Europe? There’s a difference between charging yourself into oblivion and simply enjoying your money while you can. I’ve been guilty of overspending a bit at times, but I have priceless memories that made it worth it. Yes, I put my kids’ Disney trip on a credit card (SHOCK). No, I didn’t pay it off immediately (DOUBLE SHOCK). Do I regret it? Not one bit.

I’m already old. And while I didn’t go shopping that day, I am allergic to crowds, and I’m still working on getting myself out of the hole. Still, I can’t dispute this premise: the only person who regrets buying his dream car is the one who overspent to get it. See next paragraph.

Second, you have the “I don’t need or desire material things” crowd. Sorry, but for ninety-nine percent of people, that’s nonsense. The people who say that are mostly the people who can’t afford the material things. Yes, I know you have an uncle who looks dirt poor but could pay cash for a Maybach anytime he wanted. Yes, I know what you think of people who make $40K a year and lease 320is. But you can’t tell me that there isn’t something that you could buy RIGHT NOW that would make you happier, even if only short term. Other than non-emotional things like toilet paper, everything I buy, I buy it because I enjoy it.

If you ever run out of toilet paper, it suddenly becomes emotional. Trust me on this.

I wrote this three years ago:

Now admittedly there are a few gadgets I covet now and then, and I still buy the occasional book or “record” album. But, to rework a phrase of Barack Obama’s, I’m starting to believe there’s a point where you’ve accumulated enough stuff. I have a whole room full of stuff that I haven’t been able to get organized in eight years, and I am loath to add to it if I can help it. (Is it really necessary for me to have every issue of Entertainment Weekly? It didn’t matter so much for the first few years, but with issue #1200 imminent — well, you get the idea. I blame Jeff Jarvis.)

Note: EW is now well into the 1400s.

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Not one viewer more

For some time now, “Gangnam Style” by PSY has been the most-viewed video on all of YouTube. Now lesser-viewed videos — which is all of them — tend to run into difficulty after 301 views:

After a video reaches a certain number of views … YouTube tells the database to freeze the view count until YouTube can manually verify the correct count to protect against botting attempts — using automated computer processes to artificially inflate the number of views. YouTube view counts are initially tracked by servers near the end user. By looking at reports from these individual servers, YouTube engineers can detect suspicious patterns in the data.

“At some point the decision was made that we need to draw a line between what is innocuous and the database can handle and all of a sudden serious business … The proportion was calculated to be at about 300.”

So why 301? Blame it on one YouTube programmer’s errant less-than-or-equal-to sign. The code tells the database to keep counting views up to and including the time when the count is equal to 300, allowing one final view to get counted before it freezes.

At the other end of the spectrum, there’s PSY:

We never thought a video would be watched in numbers greater than a 32-bit integer (=2,147,483,647 views), but that was before we met PSY. “Gangnam Style” has been viewed so many times we had to upgrade to a 64-bit integer (9,223,372,036,854,775,808)!

Incidentally, since YouTube made this announcement (Monday), there have been six million more views.

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