Mustn’t be so girly

Somehow I can’t see Agatha Christie going along with something like this:

Scottish crime writer Shona MacLean has been forced to change her name — to S G MacLean — to make her novels more appealing to men.

The change follows the publication of three successful historical crime books under her full name. The title of her latest novel has also been truncated in its paperback form, to make it more punchy and eye-catching. Crucible of Secrets now appears simply as Crucible.

MacLean, niece to Alistair MacLean, professes not to be disturbed by this:

“The thinking was that my name was too soft and feminine and men wouldn’t buy my books. Now they have decided they want to make the covers more masculine and my name less obviously feminine… Crime books are more traditionally male, and my books have a male protagonist.”

Who would have thought there’d still be gender stereotyping in popular culture in 2012?

(Via this @syaffolee tweet.)

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Is it Friday yet?

While you check on that, here’s this week’s Rebecca Black update.

A firm called Visual Measures has developed an algorithm for determining a video’s, um, virulence; “Friday,” they say, is the third most successful viral video ever, beaten out only by Susan Boyle’s appearance on Britain’s Got Talent and the “Kony 2012″ promotion.

Seemingly tangential: In 1997, I put up the very first Web fan page for singer/songwriter Carolyne Mas, now retired and living in Arizona. She’s still communicating with the fanbase, though, and recently she turned up a box of tapes, which she’s busily sending up to her YouTube channel. Recently, she reported on a batch:

These are demos I did in 1987 with Charlton Pettus who is currently with Tears for Fears, and who went on to produce Reason Street in 1992, while he was playing with Sinead O’Connor. He was the acoustic guitar player who sat behind her when she was booed off the stage at MSG … remember that? He flew to Germany to meet me right after that.

Which gave me an excuse to dig out Reason Street myself. Like all her European recordings, it’s worth hunting down. Inexplicably, Pettus doesn’t have a Wikipedia page, though I will tell you here that he produced the “My Moment” and “Person of Interest” singles — he also cowrote “POI” — for Rebecca Black. The fellow’s tastes evidently run fairly close to my own.

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A Daimler’s worth of difference

Usually the fine print in automotive advertising is scarcely worth breaking out the magnifying glass. But then there’s this line, from the current ad for the Mercedes-Benz SL:

No system, regardless of how advanced, can overcome the laws of physics or correct careless driving.

A little clumsy, especially between the commas, but, you should pardon the expression, dead accurate. I’d like to see it spread to other automakers: “In this industry we obey the laws of physics.”

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What the DGTFX?

Recent email, verbatim:

Your e-mail account should be upgraded to our new DGTFX Secure Anti-Virus 2012 version for damages prevent your important files.

Click on your reply, provide the details below or your e-mail account will be terminated immediately to prevent spread of the virus into our webmail log.

Email Address:
Email Password:
Date of Birth:

1024-bit RSA keys for password security to prevent unauthorized users
Technical Support Team
C 1998-2012 Cox Communications, Inc

This is obviously a phishing attempt, and a lame one at that. Then again, it is very likely true that damages prevent your important files.

Incidentally, the ostensible sender of this tissue of organic fertilizer is named “Sueprdave.” And nearly as weirdly, the Reply-To address given is .IO? .IO. (It’s off to work we go.)

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Rhymes with “clogger”

Roberta X, not happy with the new Blogger interface, pulled off a successful rollback — temporarily, anyway. She remains not happy:

I quite dislike the new UI. I’m no good at real HTML and formatting in the new near-WYSIWYG editor baffles me.

When Blogger pulls the rug out from under for good, I am not going to mess with it if it becomes too annoying.

Can we talk her into migrating to WordPress? I’ll call this a No:

I have a WordPress backup — which I kept updated until Google/Blogger, as is their right, decided to pull the plug on that — and I’m not happy with WP’s UI, either.

I’ve made my peace with WP, mostly by avoiding the clunk-o-matic Visual Editor whenever possible; I’m no HTML genius — it says “Bad Example” right over there in the sidebar — but I’ve been doing it long enough to have developed something vaguely resembling technique.

And speaking of Blogger, they sent me a nastygram yesterday to the effect that my old account, used only to maintain a profile, needed to be migrated into the Google hivemind post haste or else. I made two attempts at this. The first errored out; the second, in which I made a point of not checking the “I have read the Terms and Conditions” box, breezed through the system in milliseconds. Lesson learned.

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The hard sell

Now how can you resist a motor vehicle like this?

Seattle craigslist auto ad

If you’re champing at the bit to drive it yourself, here’s the complete pitch.

(Snarfed from Dodd Harris on Facebook.)

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Superior potassium

Kazakhstan, once so annoyed with Sacha Baron Cohen’s “Borat” character that the film was actually banned, now expresses gratitude to the film from the U. S. and A.:

Kazakhstan’s foreign minister on Monday thanked Borat, the Sacha Baron Cohen comedy that the Central Asian nation once banned for lampooning its people, for massively boosting its tourism.

“With the release of this film, the number of visas issued by Kazakhstan grew tenfold,” local news agencies quoted Foreign Minister Yerzhan Kazykhanov as telling a session of parliament. “I am grateful to Borat for helping attract tourists to Kazakhstan,” the foreign minister said.

This does not necessarily mean that Kazakhstan has forgotten that the fake national anthem from Borat was played at the Arab Shooting Championships in March.

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Get a room

Or at least get off the streets of New York:

Frisky clubgoers are treating a Midtown block like their own boudoir, having so much sex in the back seats of their cars that disgusted residents want the city to ban parking on weekend nights.

Neighbors around West 30th between Seventh and Eighth avenues — where stylish apartments rent for as much as $9,500 a month — say their block is littered with condoms and other paraphernalia after horny patrons of Rebel NYC and The Parlour Midtown leave the hot spots on weekend nights. They have now convinced Community Board 5 to support a rare request for a no-parking zone on those nights.

The Parlour (247 W 30th St) is in trouble already: their liquor license has apparently been suspended, though the bar remains open while the state reviews the list of violations. Yelpers give it a solid Meh.

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The bill is too damn high

See if you can figure out why Fark tagged this DUMBASS. Here’s the original story:

An Oklahoma City woman is facing a felony charge after being accused of threatening to blow up OG&E.

It all started with a look at the electric bill. Apparently, it was a bit too high for the customer. So, she picked up the phone, called OG&E and admits things got ugly.

“I remember flipping out, but I don’t really remember what was said,” OG&E customer Deidra Reed said.

Someone testifying for the prosecution might really remember what was said. And anyway, this whole talk of bombs is just totally out of the question:

“I’m struggling to pay $40 a month for rent. How the hell am I to buy some bomb equipment. I don’t even know how to make a bomb.”

Reed’s outlandish bill came to a whopping $14.

Quipped one Farker about the photo: “anybody want to bet that is her satellite dish in the background?”

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The loyal apposition

Apposition, n. A grammatical construction in which two elements, normally noun phrases, are placed side by side, with one element serving to define or modify the other.

For instance, these folks, opponents of a library bond issue in Indiana:

A group that raised more than $5,000 to fight a $30 million bond referendum for a new Franklin library gave those on the other side a reason to snicker. “Citizens Apposed to the Library Project” filed their official financial disclosure documents April 20 with the Johnson County clerk.

Their statement of organization says “Opposed” rather than “Apposed.”

But, from the “Nobody’s Perfect” files:

“That proves our point right there,” said Dru Smyth, treasurer for the pro-referendum group Vote Yes for Libraries. Smyth noted that he has been guilty of similar, albeit less visible, mistakes. “I’ve spelled library as ‘libray’ in one of our email messages,” Smyth said. “So I can’t hold it against them.”

Hmmm. I thought the proper way to misspell “library” was “libary.” Or maybe that’s just in Febuary February.

(Via this Nancy Friedman tweet.)

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Renaissance Woman 2.0

Now this is a CV. Masiela Lusha, born in 1985 in Albania, studied dance in Vienna, wrote poetry in her early teens in Michigan, played George Lopez’s daughter in the TV series George Lopez for five seasons, and runs a film-production company. On the available evidence, she can definitely rock the Little Black Dress:

Masiela Lusha

At UCLA, she majored in Creative Writing; in addition to four volumes of poetry, she’s written two children’s books and one novel (The Besa, 2008). This year you can see her in Of Silence.

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Post-winter wrap-up

So much for resting the starters tonight. Both the Nuggets and the Thunder went full-tilt at one another pretty much the entire 48 minutes, and neither side ever got much of a lead. And at the end of it all — this was the last regular-season game for Oklahoma City — Denver was on top, 106-101.

Just about every Denver player proved to be an offensive threat: seven of the nine Nuggets who saw action scored in double figures, with Ty Lawson team-high at 25. The biggest problem for OKC, though, seemed to be rookie power forward Kenneth Faried, who put together a double-double (13 points, 10 rebounds, six offensive) and generally made life miserable for the Thunder. Denver outrebounded OKC, 42-37, and managed to hold on to the rock better, turning it over 10 times, while the Thunder fumbled it away on 18 occasions.

On the other hand, the Thunder technically shot better by five percentage points, though here’s your telltale statistic: OKC went 39-79, Denver 40-90. Eleven more shots. The Nuggets also put up 30 free throws, though only 16 dropped. (OKC was 13-15 from the stripe.) And as usual, Batman and Robin had the fancy lines: Russell Westbrook scored 30, Kevin Durant 32. For those paying attention to this sort of thing, this gives KD 1850 points in 66 games, an average of 28.030. For Kobe Bryant to grab the scoring title, he’ll need at least 38 points against the Kings tomorrow. (Then again, last Lakers-Kings game, on March 2, Kobe got, um, 38 points.) And James Harden was cleared to play, but Scott Brooks decided otherwise.

So that’s the season: 47-19, and 2-1 against the Nuggets, who currently occupy the 6th seed, a hair ahead of Dallas. (Both have one game left.) It will probably be Thunder-Mavs in the first round. Fasten your seat belts.

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There is no shortage of tall tales about couples from opposite sides of the tracks somehow finding True Love, though Roxeanne de Luca appears to have her doubts about the usefulness of the premise:

[I]t’s a bit of a mistake to date someone whose wealth bracket is something that you have neither grown up with or earned yourself, as you two will simply not understand each other. There are people who firmly believe that you have to budget, save, and buy used cars when you earn $300,000 a year. Those people simply should not marry people who see that and just see a gigantic pile of money and cannot fathom how there isn’t oodles of it left over for fancy dinners out, vacations, or the Buffett Tax.

Disclosure: I have exactly zero wacky heiresses on speed-dial.

Actually, when I got married, back in the Cretaceous period, I was laboring under the delusion that two can live, if not necessarily as cheaply as one, certainly at somewhere around the 1.5 to 1.7 range. I was quickly disabused of this notion, even before the arrival of a third, very small, person. (A fourth would follow.)

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Seeing the true Willard

Got a note from eBay the other day, ostensibly to commemorate my 13 years as a buyer — never sold squat — but more likely to shame me into buying more stuff, that being their raison d’être after all.

And while they had links to several items, they didn’t mention this Dan Lacey painting of Mitt Romney in apparent self-pantsing mode, for which I suppose I should be grateful.

Asked for an explanation, Lacey said:

[T]he Romney is basically a self-portrait. I’m nearly an ex-Christian but have some personal faith remaining but expect nothing — Mitt is certainly coming from a unique place on that issue as well. From a purely self-promotional standpoint he needs to reveal himself to become more likeable, but how does he do that without offending? He’s been blessed by God but others cannot be unless they accept.

Um, okay, if you say so. You might want to avoid those links if you’re at the office.

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The printers, they are against us

James Lileks has no better luck with printers than the rest of us, it appears:

The printer for people who don’t need to print. I use it for scanning, and that’s when the troubles began: it refused to scan because it was out of ink.

This is not unusual. (Just a google search for scanner won’t run without ink.)

What’s more, I wasn’t out of ink. Not really. I’ll bet if I cracked the cartridge open, my hands would be covered with Cyan, Yellow, and Magenta. The cartridges either hit their expiration date — the ink is made of milk, you know — or the sensor detected that 75% had been used, and so it was empty. (Which would be especially perverse: Why not just less ink and give the empty warning at 100%?) The only reason the scanner wouldn’t work was because the people who designed it, under orders from management, entered some code that bricked the machine unless you bought more ink.

Does my own printer/scanner (same brand) do that? I don’t know; I’ve never run out of ink, though I admittedly postpone replacements until the output looks like daguerreotypes overlaid with graffiti.

One of his commenters pointed out something perhaps pertinent:

Having worked for HP at some point in a spotty tech career, I learned that if you buy the printer and never update the software after installation, they work fine for years. I’m convinced that it’s the automatic updates that end up causing ink, scan and print problems.

And it doesn’t make a darned bit of difference as to the brand.

Which may explain why my turn-of-the-century DeskJet, still running on the nearly-orphaned Windows XP, continues to do what it’s told to do with a minimum of fuss.

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The 1 percent don’t sweat

Funny thing about taxing the rich: when all is said and done, everybody except the rich ends up paying. An example from 2009:

A new “super-tax” on bank bonuses will be introduced immediately, the chancellor [of the Exchequer] announced, in an attempt to stop banks using profits to pay large bonuses to bankers.

Alistair Darling attempted to appease critics who feared the tax on bonuses would prompt defections from the City by insisting the 50% tax rate on bonuses of more than £25,000 would be paid by the banks rather than employees.

Fat chance of that:

The ostensible targets of the UK bonus supertax were high-earning bank employees, and since they bore the statutory incidence of the supertax, they did indeed pay more taxes. But since they were able to obtain increases that left their after-tax incomes untouched, they weren’t left out of pocket by the measure: the economic incidence was passed on to shareholders, other employees and bank customers — in short, everyone except the original target. If the goal of the bonus supertax was to reduce the gap between high earners and the rest of the income distribution, it’s hard to see how it could be considered a success.

This lesson has been learned by — well, evidently no one so far:

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty is making a major concession in a bid to save his minority Liberal government by agreeing to impose a new tax on the rich.

Those who earn more than $500,000 a year would be asked to pay a 2 per cent surtax, Mr. McGuinty announced at a news conference on Monday. The new tax would generate revenues of $470 million next year, all of which, he said, would be used to help reduce the deficit.

In McGuinty’s defense, at least he’s promising to reduce the provincial deficit. You won’t hear that kind of talk on this side of the 49th.

(Suggested by Blunt Object.)

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