A bit of illumination

This is Canadian singer Lights, and yes, that’s her legal name:

Lights on the sofa

Admittedly, it says “Valerie Anne Poxleitner” on her birth certificate. She’s twenty-five, and she got married a couple of weeks ago to Blessthefall lead singer Beau Bokan.

I am deeply fond of her song “Second Go,” from the 2009 album The Listening:

A couple of notes:

  • Tats aside, she looks remarkably like Rebecca Black, and indeed RB could sing this song if she did this kind of song;
  • The whole video was done in one shot.

Bless you, O God of Random Discoveries.

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Small French fry

We have been favored this weekend with photos of both Tam and Roberta X seated inside a cute little Vespa 400 — not simultaneously, I hasten to add — which prompted me to take a peek under this carlet’s not-exactly-oversized nose skirt:

Engine bay of Vespa 400

The teensy mill is an I2, 63 x 63 mm, around 393 cc, hence the “400” tag. It’s a two-stroke, with all the irritations of that breed, less one: later examples have a separate oil reservoir, and would attempt to mix the oil and gas together on the fly, saving the driver a little bit of work. The suspension, remarkably, was independent at all four corners, with coil springs all around; there was even an anti-roll bar up front. A contemporary test by a British magazine came up with a top speed of just under 52 mph; 0-40 (forget 60) was a stately procession of 24 seconds, or about what I tend to expect from someone in front of me climbing one of Oklahoma’s idiotically short onramps.

From the Art for Art’s Sake department, here is an example of a car bringing back memories you never actually had:

“She was so pretty,” he mused.

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Inconstant craving

Saturday morning I had the urge for cinnamon rolls, and made a mental note to grab some at the grocery store. But cinnamon rolls somehow manage to be both wildly variable yet consistently blah, so said mental note slid down the priority list — until I had actually schlepped my shopping bag into Sunflower and had begun my usual path, which starts in the corner with the baked goods.

On display I found small loaves of cinnamon bread, bearing the Sweet Paradise brand, from remote Hayward, California. They were small, but hefty: a full twenty ounces, the same weight as an inflated loaf of Mrs Baird’s. I decided that not having a whole faceful of icing was an advantage, and slid a loaf into my bag.

I got the thing home, sliced off a corner, and went into Beaming Mode: the urge was more than satisfactorily dealt with, and I said something to the effect that “Well, this was certainly worth the —” breaking off when I realized I hadn’t ever looked at the price, not even at the checkout lane. I duly went back to my desk, pulled up the register tape, and scanned down the list.

Five ninety-nine.

I was a trifle put off for a moment — “I just paid six bucks for a loaf of bread?” — but that passed quickly, and I sliced off another chunk. As they say on eBay, “A++++++ would buy again.” Even at $5.99.

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Strange search-engine queries (330)

It’s time once again to see if anything in the week’s search logs will rustle our collective jimmies. (I admit, after doing this for over six years, my jimmies remain largely unrustled, but you can’t have everything.)

train travel from houston to tulsa:  Rotsa ruck. As close as you’ll get is Oklahoma City — and you’ll have to ride all the way to San Antonio to make the northbound connection. How are you at hopping freights?

sin tax failure:  For instance, the tobacco tax, which brings in less money every year because there are fewer smokers, which wouldn’t be a problem except that there are various health agencies (so to speak) which rely on those revenues. Not that the agencies will declare victory and disband or anything.

uc santa cruz clothing optional campus:  You wish. At least they don’t have a dress code.

twilight sparkle birthday:  The only thing I know for certain is she’s old enough to drink cider.

dihydrogen monoxide oklahoma:  Parts of the state are awash in the stuff; Oklahoma City has over a dozen square miles of it.

why do i feel like crap when the novocaine wears off:  Funny thing about novocaine: it can’t be timed to last exactly as long as the pain it’s masking. Pop a painkiller and wash it down with a tall glass of dihydrogen monoxide.

forced sex free download website yahoo answer:  I don’t know what’s sadder: that this guy is trying to hoover up smut on his ‘droid, or that he manifestly couldn’t find an elephant with a nosebleed in a snowstorm.

mercedes benz fragrance competitors:  For instance, BMW’s “Eau de Roundel,” or Porsche’s 911 Turbo-inspired “Wallsmack.”

roll back odometer 2006 nissan armada:  Shall we publish your IP address, so the buyer knows where to find you when he discovers the fraud?

You are damn smart:  But mostly, I’m damn tired.

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On this Memorial Day

Last respects

(American soldiers burying their dead, Bois de Consenvoye, France, 8 November 1918. A reprint from 2007, via the very much missed Susanna Cornett.)

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Mano-a-Manu

All the Oklahoman sports guys predicted the same outcome: Spurs in seven. The one non-guy, Jenni Carlson, says Thunder in six. Through 36 minutes, I was all ready to believe Jenni, what with OKC up by nine with momentum out the wazoo. But wazoos are fragile, and in nine minutes San Antonio had turned that nine-point deficit to a seven-point lead. The Spurs ultimately won it, 101-98, to go up 1-0 in the series.

You wouldn’t think of Manu Ginobili as a secret weapon — I mean, everybody knows what he’s capable of — but the Thunder hadn’t seen him this year, so maybe it was a case of out of sight, out of mind. Ginobili provided a jolt to the memory in the last minute of the first quarter, during which he scored seven points, and through the fourth, when he racked up 11 of his 26 points. With this much Manu, neither Tony Parker nor Tim Duncan had to be exceptional, though Duncan did log a double-double (16 points, 11 rebounds), and Parker did outscore Russell Westbrook, 18-17.

What happened to the Thunder, apart from Ginobili, was a spectacular fourth-quarter offensive drought: in those nine minutes the Spurs went 29-13, responding to a total lack of ball movement. (The Thunder logged exactly one assist in that final frame.) They got themselves somewhat righted in the last couple of minutes, but by then it was already out of reach. Kevin Durant did lead all scorers with 27, and while the Beard was hard to get started, James Harden did finish with a respectable 19. Still, when your sharpshooter is Derek Fisher (6-8 for 13), you have to figure that something’s a trifle askew.

Next game is Tuesday. I’m sure Scott Brooks is reminding the troops that it, like tonight’s game, will run 48 minutes.

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Undeath and taxes

No, really, this is a serious piece of research:

The U.S. stands on the precipice of a financial disaster, and Congress has done nothing but bicker. Of course, I refer to the coming day when the undead walk the earth, feasting on the living. A zombie apocalypse will create an urgent need for significant government revenues to protect the living, while at the same time rendering a large portion of the taxpaying public dead or undead. The government’s failure to anticipate or plan for this eventuality could cripple its ability to respond effectively, putting us all at risk… This article fills a glaring gap in the academic literature by examining how the estate and income tax laws apply to the undead.

After all, the IRS is used to its existing definitions. What happens when those definitions don’t mean what they used to anymore?

Citation: Chodorow, Adam, Death and Taxes and Zombies (April 23, 2012). Iowa Law Review, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2045255

(Via io9.)

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To this we have sunk

The subject is Texas House Bill 41, which contains the following as caption text:

Relating to prosecution and punishment for the offense of official oppression by the intrusive touching of persons seeking access to public buildings and transportation; providing penalties.

Matthew Dowling explains:

Earlier this year, Rep. David Simpson (R-Longview) authored HB-41, with the support of 100 something co-authors, to punish screeners who made inappropriate sexual contact with people trying to fly or enter public buildings. The bill was authored on the heels of the young, old and everyone in-between being forced into (and many times unnecessary) invasive full body searches by TSA screeners. This bill wouldn’t prevent further pat-downs or searches, but would prevent federally sponsored groping of someone’s private areas unless there was reasonable suspicion to search there.

Now if you’re Simpson’s primary opponent, and for some reason you want to make an issue out of this — well, read it yourself:

Political mailer by Tommy Merritt

Opposition to being groped means the terrorists have won. Sheesh.

Historical note: Tommy Merritt, under whose name this scurrilous balderdash was sent, occupied the District 7 seat in the Texas House through 2010, at which time he was defeated in the GOP primary by, um, David Simpson. Can you say “sore loser”?

(Via this Carly Rose Jackson tweet.)

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About time someone took this on

I may have to start an Epic category for stuff that transcends Entirely Too Cool.

Anyway, you know the song:

No pipe wrenches, but what the hay. (And it really looks better when it’s not scrunched down to fit this design theme.)

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Another vector

Scammers never run short of pretexts. Bank accounts, PayPal accounts, webmail — all have been invoked in an effort to separate you from your personal information.

Now it’s your operating system:

Dear Windows User,

It has come to our attention that your Microsoft windows Installation records are out of date. Every Windows installation has to be tied to an email account for daily update.

This requires you to verify the Email Account. Failure to verify your records will result in account suspension. Click on the Verify button below and enter your login information on the following page to Confirm your records.

This allegedly came from update@windowssecure.eu, which should have been a dead giveaway: what, if anything, is actually secure in the EU these days?

And Microsoft doesn’t care about your email account. Really. The only reason they know mine, if they bothered to keep it, is that I’ve had a couple of dealings with MSDN, and that I once paid for a CD of Service Pack 3 for XP rather than wait for several hours for the whole unwieldy thing to download. I do have a Hotmail account, which Microsoft, as owner of Hotmail since the late 1990s, would know, but that’s not the account to which this was sent.

Surprisingly, Windows Live Mail didn’t catch this as a phish.

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Don’t be so PSI

Let the record show that (1) I have carried a tire gauge — in fact, the same tire gauge — for about thirty years, and on occasion I bring it to the local tire shop, which will happily verify its accuracy. My car is not quite that old, but it dates to well before the widespread adoption of tire-pressure monitoring systems, which are now mandatory on passenger cars sold in the States. And up to now, I’ve never regretted not having one, but that was before I saw TPMS v2.0:

This neatly solves the one annoying aspect of old-style pencil gauges: you have to stop filling, apply the gauge, start filling again if you’re not up to where you’re supposed to be, lather, rinse, repeat.

Of course, by the time I’m ready for this, I hope I can also get my own in-house nitrogen supply.

(Via Autoblog.)

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Superlativer than thou

If you looked at that title and immediately thought you’d seen similar constructions before on these premises, well, let it be known that Nancy Friedman might not approve of sloppily assembled comparatives like that:

Sticking an -er or an -est on an adjective doesn’t tell me you’re creative. It’s no longer a way to stand out from the competition. All it says is that you’re too lazy to do some truly original thinking about what your brand means.

She may have me deader to rights than I anticipated.

And I must quote from her footnote about the perfectly cromulent (it’s the cromulentest!) word “embiggen”:

[Its] coinage is usually attributed to Simpsons writer Dan Greaney, who used it in a 1996 episode. In fact, the first citation for “embiggen” appeared in 1884.

Of course, she’s right:

The verb previously occurred in an 1884 edition of the British journal Notes and Queries: A Medium of Intercommunication for Literary Men, General Readers, Etc. by C. A. Ward, in the sentence “but the people magnified them, to make great or embiggen, if we may invent an English parallel as ugly. After all, use is nearly everything.”

The idea that “use is nearly everything” is controversial to this day.

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As we cheer

Because, you know, we would:

A 61-year-old German woman has been fined €800 for blowing a whistle down the telephone at a call-centre worker and damaging her hearing — after she got fed up with constant cold-calls to her house.

Said the Fark submitter: “Whatever the fine was, put me down for two.” Personally, I’m in favor of nuking the boiler-room operations from orbit, that being the only way to make sure.

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Conclusion jumped to

I just read this totally wrong: “How do i build an android application that will generate a date?”

Visions of fembots danced in my head before it dawned on me that no, you idjit, he’s making a phone app that requires calendar input.

Too bad, too, because I would have wanted to know the answer to that wrong question.

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He’s an ordinary guy

Burning down the Home Depot:

A Tacoma man apparently angry that a friend’s hardware store is being driven out of business has been charged in an ill-conceived arson attempt at a Shoreline Home Depot.

King County prosecutors contend Randol W. Stebner, 53, started two small fires near the Aurora Avenue North superstore on May 14.

According to charging documents, Stebner admitted to lighting the fires and said he’d do it again.

Stebner’s friend operates a hardware store in — wait, Rockford, Illinois?

(Via the Consumerist.)

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They say we’re young and we don’t know

Once again, Rebecca Black finds a button of mine to push. In a two-part interview on MTV’s Act Blog [part one] [part two] the fourteen-year-old reveals that she’s not prom-bound this year:

“I’m only a freshman. Freshmen don’t even get the privilege of going to a prom, unless they’re asked.”

This matters to someone whose 45th high-school reunion is coming up and who is not yet sixty. Or at least it matters to me.

Also, RB is wearing one of these.

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