The unfairness of it all

Ed Rasimus, telling the story of Texas in the wake of those wicked right-wingers, homes in on one scary phenomenon from Dallas:

Like so many places suffering the legacy of the Bush administration’s evil policies, the place was populated by middle-aged men accompanied by leggy, busty, stylish women who were all apparently turned down by “Real Housewives of Somewhere” casting calls as being too beautiful, too well-mannered, too polite and too sophisticated to be real housewives.

Damn you, W., is there no end to your perfidy?

(Suggested by Joan of Argghh!)

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Strange search-engine queries (331)

Monday morning, we drop what we’re doing — which, if we’re fortunate, is not a whole hell of a lot — and we plunge into a week’s worth of logs to see if there’s anything worth mocking therein. Fortunately, there always is.

a man’s reach must exceed his grass:  Yeah, they expect you to edge around here too.

“Eighteen hour girdle”:  You’re telling me that you’re going to strap into this thing at 7 am and still have it on at one in the morning? That’s scary.

chez chaz ploor plan:  I must here admit that I’ve never once planned for ploor.

population of oklahoma city yep:  About 600,000, uh-huh.

Femme she’s got images:  None of which match the one in your fantasies, so get over it already.

bare butts archive:  Sort of an educational asset?

japan farewell pussy:  Hello Kitty’s evil twin, I presume.

Tomorrow is June is trending because Twitter is filled with a bunch of Rebecca Blacks, apparently:  Just wait until the 21st, when it’s her birthday.

bill whittle brony:  Um, no. Bill Whittle is not a brony. He wouldn’t know a unicorn from a unibrow.

breaking benjamin blow me away annoying girl singing:  That would be Valora. I think Bill Whittle would have sounded better.

does a mazda 1992 626 sport hatch have 3 gears in auto transmission:  Well, yeah, if it’s broken. Usually it has four.

mazda transmission pringle switch:  Yep, it’s broken. Dropping potato chips down the linkage is never a good idea.

meaning of prettier than a red wagon going up a steep hill:  If it’s going down a steep hill, “pretty” is overridden by “panicky.”

incredible hulk drinks:  You’d drink too, if you had that wussy Banner guy breathing down your neck 24/7.

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Kind of a Wrigley voice

How Auto-Tune is supposed to work, according to inventor Andy Hildebrand:

The program’s retune speed, which adjusts the singer’s voice, can be set from zero to 400. “If you set it to 10, that means that the output pitch will get halfway to the target pitch in 10 milliseconds,” says Hildebrand. “But if you let that parameter go to zero, it finds the nearest note and changes the output pitch instantaneously” — eliminating the natural transition between notes and making the singer sound jumpy and automated. “I never figured anyone in their right mind would want to do that,” he says.

How Auto-Tune is not supposed to work:

Europopped, on the origins of this, um, work:

[J]ust about everyone in town offering up a variation of the top You Tube comment on the video: “I’m not proud of being Norwegian now.” But they should be! “Chewing Gum” is so bad it’s good. Iselin, btw, was on some reality show on Norway’s TV3 called “Paradise Hotel.” The tune (her debut, naturally) was written by Trond Hillestad, and other former “Paradise” cast members. The forthcoming trainwreck was filmed in Trondheim, and participating in the video include a bunch of people from the TV show.

The Fark submitter summed it up nicely: “Norway’s answer to Rebecca Black divides autotune by zero”.

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Walking on gold

Writer/People editor Janet Mock, whom I’ve been following on Twitter for about a year now, was headed for the GLAAD Awards in San Francisco yesterday, and she sent up a shot of her new shoes: “Living 6 inches taller,” she said.

I of course inquired, and this seems to be the shoe in question:

Tea Party by Chinese Laundry

At first I misidentified this as a Badgley Mischka shoe — they have several sandals of similar stature and strappiness — but no, this is “Tea Party” from Chinese Laundry, and yes, the heel is six inches high, though the inch-and-a-half platform mitigates that a bit. And at $89 or so, it’s way cheaper than anything Badgley Mischka is likely to come up with. Besides, the shoe is a perfect match, sparklewise, for the black dress she wore.

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Up to and including K8

The notion of Dog as Man’s (and, occasionally, Pony’s) Best Friend apparently goes back farther than we’d thought:

Although the prevailing idea was that humans domesticated dogs sometime around 17,000 years ago, scientists analyzed the different fossil sites and now think that figure may be too late. The earliest finds offer a strong possibility that the human-canine partnership may have begun during the overlap period with Neandertals.

True dogs, as distinguished from wolves, may show up later in human history, but the earlier fossils show a number of doggish characteristics and have been called “incipient dogs.”

Not yet canine, but close enough for evolution to work. And there’s this:

I would lose my Dave Barry fan club card if I did not point out that “Incipient Dogs” would make a good name for a rock band, or in singular, a good name for a Pink Floyd album.

And Dave Barry, once a member of something called Federal Duck — though he quit before they cut their one and only LP for Musicor — knows band names.

Along those lines, the vocal-group era had lots of bird names — Orioles, Ravens, Crows, Swallows, Flamingos — but only one major dog act: the Spaniels. Since then, the woofers have outnumbered the tweeters, with the Bonzo Dog Band, Snoop Dogg, Bow Wow Wow, the Fabulous Poodles, and Three Dog Night. (We will not count the Pointer Sisters.)

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Sad songs say so much

It was Elton John’s idea — okay, technically Bernie Taupin’s, though it took John to reify it — that when you’re feeling down in the dumps, those old, depressing songs actually help.

Which may or may not explain why so many more of them are being written these days:

Researchers from Canada and Germany report pop music recordings have become progressively more “sad-sounding” over time, as characterized by slower tempos and increased use of minor mode — that is, scales that evoke the same feelings one experiences when pondering orphan puppies or long-weekend gas prices.

The study found the proportion of minor-mode songs has fully doubled since the mid-1960s.

And this shift is apparently in response to popular demand:

“Many people assume pop music is banal in its happiness. But most songs now are actually in minor key,” says lead author Glenn Schellenberg, a professor of psychology at the University of Toronto. “Composers write in minor because it sounds smarter on some levels, and more complicated. And consumers like it for the same reason — although I don’t think that’s conscious.”

For some of them it might be, though I’m pretty sure I knew nothing from key signatures when I discovered pop radio by way of Del Shannon’s “Runaway,” which was written in A minor, though the recording comes out closer to B-flat, suggesting that the producers sped up the tape just a little, a common practice in the early 1960s.

There is, of course, precedent from days gone by:

“The baroque and classical eras were consistent in terms of their cues to happiness and sadness: faster pieces tended to be major and slower pieces tended to be minor,” says Schellenberg, recalling the musical periods between 1600 and 1820. “But in the Romantic era [1820 to 1900] that switched, creating mixed emotional cues.”

And I do love my mixed emotional cues.

The study is being published in the journal Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity and the Arts. Despite the fact that it’s Sunday, I think I’ll go crank up Rebecca Black’s “Friday,” which, not incidentally, is in B major, so sunny a key you might not want to walk on it.

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Britannia spurns the waves

Remember when Britannia used to rule? Apparently that sort of thing has gone out of fashion:

Allowing for inflation, Britain’s GDP is four times greater than in 1953 but the country appears incapable of maintaining a viable fleet.

This was the scene at Her Majesty’s coronation in, yes, 1953:

The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh, a career officer before marriage, must look back ruefully on June 15 1953, when they boarded the frigate Surprise to review the armada gathered off Spithead to mark the Coronation. The Navy was anything but short of carriers then, benefiting from the surge in construction during the Second World War. Eagle, Indomitable, Illustrious, Theseus and Perseus, lined the way, together with Canada’s Magnificent and Australia’s Sydney. Other carriers were away on operations, from the Mediterranean to the Far East. In all some 300 ships, cruisers, destroyers, frigates and minesweepers, took part in the review, overflown by some 300 aircraft of the Fleet Air Arm.

And what could the Royal Navy muster today for a fleet review, with Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee imminent?

Today it comprises two helicopter carriers, 1 active assault ship, six destroyers, 13 frigates, 42 minor vessels and 13 auxiliaries.

They could probably defeat the nascent Wyoming navy, but they’re a long, long way from ruling today’s waves; as Kipling complained, “All our pomp of yesterday / Is one with Nineveh and Tyre!”

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On the road to Eldorado

If coffee is for closers, Kevin Durant deserves the tallest latte anyone’s serving: he rolled up 18 of his 36 points in the last quarter. And while you’re at it, pour one for Serge Ibaka, who didn’t miss a shot all night — and he took eleven of them, plus four free throws, for 26 points. The Thunder dominated most of the numbers: 41-31 in rebounding, 27-17 in assists, 56-50 percent shooting, 76-63 percent free throws, and the one that actually matters: 109-103 at the horn, evening the series at 2-2.

You have to wonder who’s out there wearing Tony Parker’s jersey; the guy wearing #9 for the Spurs went 5-15 from the floor and drew exactly one foul. Tim Duncan looked more like himself, scoring 21 despite clanking four of seven from the stripe; Stephen Jackson and Manu Ginobili, the Spurs’ most reliable last-minute threats, both fouled out in the waning moments. And tonight’s telltale statistic: rookie forward Kawhi Leonard, who hit for 17 points, including two three-pointers from exactly the same spot twenty seconds apart with time running out, finished -12 for the night, worst of anyone on the court. Talk about frustration.

Better yet, talk about Kendrick Perkins, offensive force. Perk hit seven of nine (no, not that Seven of Nine) for 15 points. In fact, everyone shot well except Russell Westbrook (7 points) and Derek Fisher (scoreless in 16 minutes). Evidently it wasn’t a good night to be a point guard.

I am deeply suspicious of the concept of momentum, especially to the extent that it is believed to exist over multiple games. Nonetheless, if I’m Gregg Popovich, I’m stocking up on steak knives, just in case.

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Now for that third wish

The Walt Disney Company agonizes so over copyright infringement that I practically giggled upon discovering a 2009 Bollywood film called Aladin. Now obviously the story of the kid with the magic lamp is old enough to be public domain, though I suspect someone in Mouseburg was probably perplexed to find a Sri Lankan beauty queen named Jacqueline Fernandez playing the role of, um, Jasmine, who wasn’t, I’m pretty sure, in the Thousand and One Nights version of the tale.

That was Fernandez’ first film role; it got her a smallish part in Housefull, directed by Sajid Khan (not this Sajid Khan), and a bigger one in Housefull 2, in which she looked like this:

Jacqueline Fernandez in Housefull 2

She may be signing on for an English-language film: James Simpson’s Definition of Fear. However, apparently nothing’s graven in stone just yet.

(Posted to celebrate Fernandez’ twenty-seventh birthday.)

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On this uncharted desert isle

Seventy-five years ago, Amelia Earhart, navigator Fred Noonan, and their Lockheed Model 10 Electra vanished in the central Pacific. And perhaps now we know where:

The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR), a non-profit foundation promoting aviation archaeology and historic aircraft preservation, reported new details Friday leading researchers to this conclusion: Earhart and Noonan, low on fuel and unable to find their next scheduled stopping point — Howland Island — radioed their position, then landed on a reef at uninhabited Gardner Island, a small coral atoll now known as Nikumaroro Island.

Using what fuel remained to turn up the engines to recharge the batteries, they continued to radio distress signals for several days until Earhart’s twin-engine Lockheed Electra aircraft was swept off the reef by rising tides and surf. Using equipment not available in 1937 — digitized information management systems, antenna modeling software, and radio wave propagation analysis programs, TIGHAR concluded that 57 of the 120 signals reported at the time are credible, triangulating Earhart’s position to have been Nikumaroro Island.

TIGHAR, please: you’ve got to follow up on this.

And apparently they will:

In July, TIGHAR researchers will return to the area where Earhart and Noonan are thought to have spent their last days, using submersibles to try and detect the famous aircraft they believe to have been swept off a Pacific reef in 1937.

The only way this could be more exciting would be if they turned up Judge Crater.

(Seen at Outside the Beltway.)

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First there is a mountain

Then there is no mountain, and that’s fine with West Virginia state Senator Art Kirkendoll:

I was listening to the testimony from Logan County Sen. Art Kirkendoll, a staunch proponent of the coal industry in general and mountaintop removal in particular. And here’s what he was saying, if I followed him: That he supports mountaintop removal in part because flattening off mountains provides a place people of his community can live without fear of floods. Here’s what he was saying:

“We’ve gotten through two tremendous floods in Logan county in the last few months. Millions of your dollars coming to our area, Army Corps, everybody in there, the troops, cleaning up our area. If those people had been on some of these surface mined areas that we have, that wouldn’t have happened.”

Assuming, of course, someone actually wanted to live on one of these blasted-to-hellandgone artificial plains in the sky. Given the typical residue from coal mining generally, I suspect developers might not be queueing up for permits.

(First seen here.)

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Blessed are the paranoids

For they will be made aware of the Streisand Effect:

Christian book and music publisher Tate Publishing & Enterprises fired 25 people on Thursday amid rumors the company plans to lay off most of its staff in favor of outsourcing work to the Philippines.

Tate Publishing President Ryan Tate said the company is opening an office in the Philippines, but denies there are any layoffs planned. He said the 25 workers who lost their jobs Thursday were terminated for breaching confidentiality agreements in their employment contracts after leaking rumors about the outsourcing.

Which rumors, of course, are now all over the Internet, hence all over the world, thanks to Tate’s efforts at damage control.

Although I’m willing to bet that Barbra Streisand never said anything this wacky:

“Good people are going to lose their jobs — it’s not fair,” Ryan Tate said in the recording. “It’s not right, but that’s the reality of the situation. Jesus himself is the perfect mix of mercy, grace and justice. I have probably failed you in that I have been a little too lenient and a little too on the side of mercy and grace and not on the side of justice.”

I’m sure he could make amends with, say, thirty pieces of silver.

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Unjam, damn you

Thomas Stanley tweets that he hung this sign next to a new office device:

Voice commands for copier

“Nobody has caught the joke yet,” he says, the presence of an Obvious Clue notwithstanding.

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Just down the street

A recent before & after on Design*Sponge features a neighbor whose tastes run to “dark mid-century bohemian.” And chronologically at least, this is the perfect neighborhood for it, given its late-1940s origins.

(She also, as is seemingly required these days, has her own blog.)

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Toward a unified theory of ponies

F. Scott Fitzgerald in The Great Gatsby:

“For a while these reveries provided an outlet for his imagination; they were a satisfactory hint of the unreality of reality, a promise that the rock of the world was founded securely on a fairy’s wing.”

You need not read my reveries, but you really ought to take a peek at this:

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Quote of the week

LeeAnn’s forecast for the next ninety days:

My point is, I know, we know, everyone knows, summer weather sucks the high hairy one, Sister Katherine, and no one no one NO ONE needs the fact of the upcoming annual spontaneous undie-combustion festival thrown back in their face when they innocently complain about current unpleasant conditions. But we all know someone who does just that. I bet somewhere in the Great White North (NOT a waisis term, climb down off your Sharpton-sponsored soapbox) there is an Eskimo flinching as his SIL bleats “You think THIS is cold? Wait until November/December/January gets here.” The difference is most Eskimos are readily armed with rabid baby seals, so I hear, and can beat anyone they want to a furry pulp with one and scarcely break a sweat. You know, because it’s cold.

It’s said that the Inuit have forty different words for “This weather sucks.” Or something like that.

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