Baring up

From 1994, a Not Particularly Special Episode of Murphy Brown:

Accompanying Miles (Grant Shaud) on a shopping excursion, Murphy (Candice Bergen) inadvertently gets a glimpse of Miles’ “privates” as he tries on a new suit. News of this incident spreads like wildfire throughout the “FYI” office, subjecting poor Miles to a million-and-one bad jokes about his family jewels.

Twenty years later, Yahoo! Answers is awash in people all telling the same story: “OMG [individual(s)] saw me nude!” In vain will you, or will I anyway, tell them “No big deal”; they’re convinced that they are Forever Branded, and “What must they think of me?”

This fear extends even to people who routinely eschew clothing: for some — not all — there’s a compulsion to behave like choirboys, albeit sans robes, lest their reputations be shot. Even the American Association for Nude Recreation, itself occasionally viewed as hopelessly square, has acknowledged this:

[E]ven within the nudist lifestyle there are a lot of people who cannot separate the idea of being nude with the sexual act. Going from club to club, it’s truly amazing the different attitudes concerning what is sexual and what is not.

There are clubs that will not allow anyone to hold hands while being nude. There are clubs that will not allow tattoos or piercings for fear of being too sexual. At some clubs you cannot repeat an “off color” joke, no matter how funny it is. Then there are clubs that require clothing to be worn while dancing. And, of course, there are clubs that promote themselves as sexually open and have no problem with overt sexual activities. Yes, there is a third type of club that has found that balance between being overt sexually or scared to show any sexuality. The fact that you have these three different types of clubs makes it more confusing to separate the idea between being nude and having sex.

Talk to most anyone who is not a nudist and they will automatically assume that there are some sort of sexual implications associated with being a nudist. Some nudists go overboard trying to deny any sexuality with nudism.

It’s about time AANR admitted it, says Nudiarist:

AANR has stuck to their “family values” mantra, declaring that their clubs “foster a wholesome, nurturing environment for members and their families”. Certainly there are clubs that do indeed adhere to this strict definition, but there are many which cater to adults or couples only.

So this AANR blog post today is a first step in recognizing that the “one size fits all” idea is being consigned to the trash heap of history. Just the simple statement that some nudists “go overboard trying to deny any sexuality with nudism” is a clear indication that the days of the old guard are nearing an end.

I mean, wasn’t the whole idea of discarding your wardrobe to de-stress yourself?

Which is why the best line in that Murphy Brown episode was uttered by Corky Sherwood. Asked what was going on, she shrugged and said, “Oh, Murphy saw Miles’s wiener.” No big deal.

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Whose vault is this?

Part of the Coca-Cola legend is its quadruple-secret formula, allegedly known to only a few:

After Dr. John S. Pemberton invented Coca-Cola in 1886, the formula was kept a close secret, only shared with a small group and not written down. In 1891, Asa Candler became the sole proprietor of Coca-Cola after purchasing the rights to the business. Then, in 1919, Ernest Woodruff and a group of investors purchased the Company from Candler and his family. To finance the purchase Woodruff arranged a loan and as collateral he provided documentation of the formula by asking Candler’s son to commit the formula to paper. This was placed in a vault in the Guaranty Bank in New York until the loan was repaid in 1925. At that point, Woodruff reclaimed the secret formula and returned it to Atlanta and placed it in the Trust Company Bank, now SunTrust Bank, where it remained through 2011. On December 8, 2011, the Coca-Cola Company moved the secret formula to a purpose built vault in a permanent interactive exhibit at the World of Coca-Cola in Atlanta.

Headquartered just up the road from Coca-Cola, in Sandy Springs, Georgia, is an eatery whose recipes, until this week, were owned by somebody else:

It might seem completely irrational for a fast-food company to not own the recipes that it uses every day, but that’s exactly what fried chicken place Popeyes has been doing for the last 23 years. The company has been paying an outside company $3.1 million per year in royalties for certain recipes that are crucial to its business, and recently paid $43 million for the rights to them.

If you’re wondering how this happens and how you can get into the rent-a-recipe business, it helps to know that the company that owned the recipes was started by the chain’s founder, Al Copeland, in 1984. Diversified Foods and Seasonings is a separate entity that sells most of the food that a Popeyes franchisee needs, from biscuit mixes to chicken batter to premade soups and macaroni and cheese.

In 1994, the company filed for bankruptcy and reorganized, and Copeland was ousted from the company he founded. He got to keep some Popeyes franchises … and DFS, the company with the contract to supply Popeyes restaurants with, well, food and seasonings.

Al Copeland didn’t live to see this development; he died in 2008 at sixty-four.

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Oy

There exists an app called Yo. What does it do, exactly?

Yo is the hottest new app that will leave you scratching your head. The entire premise of the app is to send other users a single word: Yo.

Yo currently has over 50,000 active users, after launching as a joke on April Fools’ Day. Users have sent over 4 million Yo’s to each other. Without ever having officially launched, co-founder and CEO Or Arbel managed to secure $1.2 million in funding from a list of unnamed investors, except for co-founder, angel, and Mobli CEO Moshe Hogeg, who participated in the round.

If you think you need this like the hole in the head you just scratched, well, the idea here is not so much the Yo, but the context of the Yo:

You’re at a bar with your best friend and a love interest. Both put a hand on your shoulder when they talk to you. From the outside, it all looks the same. But there’s a big difference between the comfortable touch of a close friend and the explorative graze of someone you may very well have sex with soon.

The next morning, your friend and your crush send you the exact same text. It says simply “Hey.” From your old pal, “hey” just means hey. But from your sexy friend, “hey” can mean anything from “last night was fun” to “I’m still thinking about you this morning.”

As with anything, a “Yo” can just be a yo. But you’ll feel a very real difference between a “Yo” you get in the morning from a friend and a “Yo” you get at 2 a.m. from a friend with benefits. Trust me.

Last night after I’d drafted this, I got a one-word spam, and that one word was “hey.” I have no idea what it means.

If we have to have a single syllable that’s fraught with meaning, I nominate a better one: “Dude.”

(Via this Nancy Friedman tweet. It should be noted here that the Knights Who Say “Ni” were not consulted.)

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Man, that’s deep

It is a measure of something, I am sure, that if you Google “deepak chopra quotes” you’ll definitely see this generator, which explains itself thusly:

It has been said by some that the thoughts and tweets of Deepak Chopra are indistinguishable from a set of profound sounding words put together in a random order, particularly the tweets tagged with “#cosmisconciousness”. This site aims to test that claim! Each “quote” is generated from a list of words that can be found in Deepak Chopra’s Twitter stream randomly stuck together in a sentence.

“Your desire reflects total acceptance of chaos,” it tells me.

(Snarfed from Erin Palette’s Facebook page. I have no doubt she enjoyed it greatly.)

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Still mounting up

April ’14, the White House:

President Barack Obama said the government will expand job-training and apprenticeship programs with a $600 million effort to equip workers with the skills sought by employers.

June ’14, Pawtucket:

The MY LITTLE PONY franchise remains a cherished brand worldwide by fans of all ages. Behind a successful global entertainment, licensing and retail strategy which re-launched the brand in 2010, MY LITTLE PONY has grown to represent approximately $650 million dollars at retail across all consumer products in 2013.

Not that I have a problem with spending more money on pony than on job training, mind you.

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Seams to me

Socks are not exactly mysterious — I put on a pair at least six days a week — but every now and then I notice that they’re not perfectly lined up. It doesn’t really matter, except for that little area between trouser hemline and shoe top, and probably not there either, but I do get exercised over such things.

Which makes me wonder how in the world women were able to put up with seamed stockings. One answer, circa 1953:

Larkwood hosiery ad from 1953

But seams were on the way out, what with the arrival of circular knitting machines, which had existed since the 1930s but were not perfected until after World War II.

Chadbourn, the Charlotte-based manufacturer of Larkwood, wound up also owning the Hudson brand.

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Or about $69 each

The Guinness people were called upon to certify it as The World’s Largest Videogame Collection — some 11,000 items — and it was auctioned off for $750,250.

The exact number of items is not clear:

The collection consists of all 10,607 games that were verified by The Guinness Book of World Records during the official count performed on December 3rd, 2012, as well as four hundred plus more games that I have acquired since. In total, OVER 11,000 GAMES!! Guinness did not count duplicates, so every game is unique with no repeats.

Ars Technica reports:

Seller Michael Thomasson has said in interviews that he set a “regimented budget” averaging about $3,000 a year for the past 20 years to build up his collection of more than 11,000 games and 100 consoles. That’s a pretty good return on investment for a part-time hobby and should hopefully go a long way toward helping Thomasson with the unspecified “family obligations” that led to the sale in the first place.

Apparently, though, he’s keeping all the consoles, in anticipation of a fresh start.

The buyer will pay a premium of 5% — $37,512.50 — to the auction house.

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Times is on my side

“Times New Roman is not a comedy font.”

It does, however, have the ability to get out of its own way:

Then again:

Two satirical readings were selected from the New York Times. These readings (one addressing government issues, the other education policy) were each printed in Times New Roman and Arial fonts of the same size and presented in randomized order to 102 university students, who ranked the readings on a number of adjective descriptors. Analysis showed that satirical readings in Times New Roman were perceived as more funny and angry than those in Arial, the combination of emotional perception which is congruent with the definition of satire.

As always, not to be confused with Times New Viking.

(Suggested by Laughing Squid.)

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Keeping the green in the greenhouse

A TTAC commenter, only slightly more caustic than average, on an inconvenient future:

The controversy will die instead, and people with a certain world view and agenda will invent another crisis, and deny they ever believed in catastrophic man-made global warming. Nothing effective is being done about carbon emissions, and, realistically, nothing can be done.

People do not want to be poor, so hydrocarbons are burned as fast as they can be pulled out of the ground. The more you burn, the wealthier you are. Al Gore burns a sh*t-ton. This will continue until hydrocarbons become scarce, which is not happening any time soon. Fracking is spreading across the world, and after fracking may come something else to get at even more hydrocarbons.

The apocalypse illusion is costly, because of the economic cost of farcical pinprick “carbon reduction” schemes, but ultimately moot. People will always burn as much hydrocarbon as they can get their hands on because they do not want to be cold and hungry. For the vast majority of applications, nothing else makes economic sense. The proof is in the numbers. Even the US partial conversion from coal to natural gas is meaningless. We just export the coal somewhere else, and they burn it. Debate all you want, climate religionists, you are p*ssing into the wind.

We will, of course, run out eventually. For the last hundred years or so, we’ve had maybe 10-15 years of the stuff left; I won’t be around for all of the next hundred, but I suspect the situation will be similarly dire. The supply of farcical pricks, however, will never, ever come close to being exhausted.

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UnCooperative

Have you ever been spammed by an auto dealer? Rob O’Hara has, and he’s tired of it:

I’ve had a gmail address for a long time — I got it back when gmail was invite-only, in fact. Shortly after signing up for gmail I began getting spam e-mails from a Mini Cooper car dealership located in Peabody, Massachusetts named Mini of Peabody. Just to be clear: I have no interest in Mini Coopers, have never owned one, never plan to, and never signed up for Mini of Peabody’s e-mail newsletter.

The monthly e-mails from Mini of Peabody are big and colorful and hard to miss. I deleted the first one and the second one and the third one. The e-mails suggested that I add [address redacted] to my address book to ensure that I received their e-mails, but instead I did the opposite and added [same address still redacted] to my spam list. I also clicked on the “report this e-mail as spam” button in gmail. Still, somehow, the e-mails get through.

You don’t suppose this might be some of Google’s doing, do you? I mean, gmail is at least as important to their world-domination schemes as the tracking cookie.

Anyway, their ideas are not intriguing to him, and he does not wish to subscribe to their newsletter:

Back then I was naive enough to believe that clicking “unsubscribe from this newsletter” worked. It doesn’t, or at least didn’t in this case. I clicked their “unsubscribe” button, followed the weblink, entered my e-mail address to remove it from their mailing list … and still, the newsletters came. I have tried this multiple times.

And finally:

In October of 2013, a representative of Mini of Peabody contacted me personally and said they would remove my e-mail from their mailing list. They didn’t.

I wonder if escalation might be useful here. Anyone had any experience dealing with BMW of North America?

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Writerly speaking

All four of these came in within 45 minutes of one another, all bearing the same email address, all linking to a Wikipedia page in Finnish, and each with a different IP address. Still, they make a sort of coherent query, so let’s have a look:

What are some good wordpress themes/plugins that allow you to manipulate design?

If you know what you’re doing, you can manipulate the design just by editing your existing theme. Of course, you can do that if you don’t know what you’re doing, but the results are likely to be suboptimal.

I’m an aspiring writer — of all literary trades (journalism, screen writing, satire, etc) — but I want to start a blog for some adult oriented, romantic fantasy literature. Anyone know how I can start a blog that will allow me to do this? I believe I’ll need a warning page before entrance, and I want it to come up on search engines…

Any old blog platform can do this; setting a splash page — if you’re on Blogger, Google will probably inflict one upon you — is fairly easy.

If I publish my articles to my school paper are they copyrighted or do I have any ownership over them?

I don’t think school-paper stuff counts as “work for hire,” though I hasten to add that I am not any kind of lawyer, copyright or otherwise.

What are good blog posts for a writer who wants to start a blog that even non-readers might want to visit?

If they’re truly “non-readers,” you might consider a photoblog.

There were further items in the series, but by that point it was starting to get repetitive.

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It’s lousy, but at least it’s expensive

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the sickest of them all? You’ve already heard this:

The United States health care system is the most expensive in the world, but this report and prior editions consistently show the U.S. underperforms relative to other countries on most dimensions of performance. Among the 11 nations studied in this report — Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States — the U.S. ranks last, as it did in the 2010, 2007, 2006, and 2004 editions of Mirror, Mirror. Most troubling, the U.S. fails to achieve better health outcomes than the other countries, and as shown in the earlier editions, the U.S. is last or near last on dimensions of access, efficiency, and equity.

So perhaps we should emulate our neighbors to the north? Not so fast:

[T]he second-worst system is Canada’s while the third-worst is France’s. Since Canada is the OECD country that most closely resembles ours culturally and from a lifestyle standpoint, I think that’s a significant finding, suggesting that even if we were to adopt, say, a single-payer system that would be merely the beginning of the reforms that would be needed here if we truly want to have the best of class healthcare system to which we aspire.

It won’t be enough to change who writes the checks. Under the circumstances we might want to consider figuring out what we’re doing wrong and what policies would foster the other changes we’d need to make.

Do we in fact aspire to “best of class”?

Something worth remembering about the Canadian system:

First, the Canadian system didn’t start off as a federal system and still isn’t a federal system. It’s a provincial system. Second, as a JAMA study I’ve mentioned from time to time points out, administrative costs in the Canadian system aren’t as low as some Americans seem to think they are. About 15% IIRC. That’s better than here but it doesn’t provide the savings it would take to cover everybody under a single-payer system without paying a considerable amount more than we do now.

As close as we came to a “provincial” system in the States was, um, Romneycare up in Massachusetts. It cost a godawful sum of money, to be sure; but it didn’t assume that what’s necessary in New England is also what’s necessary in New Mexico or North Dakota, one of the fundamental flaws of just about any Federal program you can name.

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A suicide booth for your old phone

It’s called “ecoATM,” and this is what it’s supposed to do:

ecoATM is the world’s first automated eWaste recycling station. That’s a fancy way of saying that we’re a friendly green machine looking to pay cash for the responsible recycling of your old cell phones, MP3 players and tablets. Sell your phone or other device by placing it in the ecoATM kiosk, and we’ll tell you how much it’s worth. What happens next? You get instant cash. With ecoATM kiosks all over the country, and with your help, we’re working hard to solve the eWaste problem facing our planet.

It probably isn’t a whole lot of cash, but it’s something. And what does it cost you?

I had an old phone hanging around and I was going by a mall which had that machine set up. And honestly, the phone is so old as to be functionally useless. If someone offered me a U.S. quarter for it, morals would dictate that I politely suggest they were about to drastically overpay. But I was curious, and so I dropped in, found the machine, and started with the procedure.

First, it asked for my general category of device. Phone, says I, figuring we’ll sort down to the exact model later.

Next, it tells me to see if it has power and that all my personal data has been wiped. Good on both counts.

Then it asked for my driver’s license and thumbprint.

This is the point where the procedure pretty much stopped.

I gently inquired as to why the machine needed this, and was informed it was to make sure the phone was in fact mine and not stolen. Plus a human would check the other end of the connection to see if my license picture matched the live one. Because I was being filmed, a detail which had not been mentioned up to that point. Oh, plus thumbprint, which it didn’t bother going into.

Hang around to see if it’s worth a whole twenty-five cents? No, thank you.

I suspect that pawn shops and such are required to jump through similar hoops, but frankly, I’d just as soon drive a truck over a device as many times as it takes to render said device unrecognizable. At least that way there’s some return on one’s emotional investment.

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I just can’t recall anymore

Are we at the point where we don’t even notice a recall notice?

So far, 2014 has been a year of automotive recalls, beginning with the General Motors ignition recall. After just one company recalled 11 million vehicles, any other recalls just feel like piling on. Experts worry that consumers are starting to tune out and not pay attention to any recall announcements in the media at all.

Research by USA Today shows that most years, there are 21 million cars recalled in the United States by all automakers combined. In 2014, GM has announced 38 recalls totaling more than 14.4 million vehicles, and we’re not even halfway through the year yet.

Some years you don’t see 14.4 million vehicles sold in this country.

One market analyst for KBB told USA Today, “The typical consumer reaction seems to be, ‘My car’s running fine. Do I need to bother?'”

At the other extreme are the nimrods who hang around automotive message boards hoping, even praying, for new recall news, in the desperate hope that the repairs they need will be covered by the automaker. It almost never works.

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In the meantime, we have weather

A semi-elegant thought experiment on the question of carbon dioxide:

[I]f one goes back to (say) 1850 and spawns a parallel universe in which one instantly and without pollution kills all the humans, then runs the clock forward to today, is there more CO2 in our universe than in that parallel universe’s 2014? In that case, my even-money bet would be “yes”. But I don’t feel hugely strongly about that. I also don’t care or think it is germane to much of anything.

We would like to disclaim, expressly and in full, any responsibility should some farking maniac transport himself back to 1850 and destroy all of mankind. If we wait long enough, we can do it ourselves, thank you very much. And we’ll probably do it with financial derivatives and similar bogus constructs. This is the way the world ends, not with a whim, but a banker.

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You’ve seen one, you’ve seen Amal

Or maybe not. George Clooney’s never had any shortage of girlfriends, but Amal Alamuddin seems different somehow. Born in Beirut in 1978, she’s a brand-name barrister at a major British chamber; she has represented Julian Assange, of Wikileaks fame, and former Ukraine prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko. And here, at the Global Summit to end Sexual Violence in Conflict last week, she demonstrates an unusually pronounced ability to stay awake:

Amal Alamuddin at the Global Summit to end Sexual Violence in Conflict

Rumor has it that the pair will wed at a palace in Venice this fall, after one year together, and that Clooney’s been looking for a lovenest in the south of France.

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