One down, entirely too many to go

The Consumerist reports on the busting of a telemarketer:

The FTC settlement announced [Wednesday] morning bans L.A.-area company SBN Peripherals, doing business as Asia Pacific Telecom Inc., from telemarketing and requires the company to hand over about $3 million in assets.

For those not familiar with the scam, here’s how it works. The company’s auto-dialing system calls you and a prerecorded message says there is urgent information you need to know about your vehicle’s warranty (they also ran a similar set-up regarding credit card interest rates). You would be prompted to press “1” for more information, at which point the call would be transferred to telemarketers who “used fraudulent practices to sell inferior extended auto service contracts or worthless debt-reduction services.”

SBN is reported to have made 2.6 billion robocalls of this sort, which means that they’re being penalized to the tune of 0.1 cent per offense. The FTC apparently didn’t once mention ritual disembowelment, which I suspect is the only way to stop this sort of thing.

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More variable optics

“[A]ny and (almost) all specifications are negotiable,” I had said a couple of days ago. If this seems unnecessarily cryptic, well, the Advice Goddess can explain it better:

If a guy thinks a girl’s hot, he’ll buy into whatever her trip is for as long as he can. My steak-loving boyfriend once dated a militant vegan. (He’d hit the Burger King drive-through on his way home.) Obviously, it’s a problem if you go out with some engineer dude, tell him you’re an “Occupy girl,” and he says, “Wow, my company designs the water cannons the police use to spray you people.”

Perhaps this does not bode well for a long-term relationship, but, as the phrase goes, weirder things have happened.

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Mistletoe expressed

News Item: The House adopted a measure Monday that would officially give the state a motto: “Oklahoma — In God We Trust!” HCR 1024, by Rep. Danny Morgan, D-Prague, now goes to the Senate.

Top Ten proposed state mottoes rejected before publication of the House Concurrent Resolution:

  1. “Are we in Texas yet?”
  2. “Try the lamb fries”
  3. “A part-time legislature — and it shows!”
  4. “Wind. Skirts. Do the math.”
  5. “Some of our roads are still free”
  6. “We had blogs before we had indoor plumbing”
  7. “Plains and fancies”
  8. “Even older than New Mexico”
  9. “Fines double in work zones”
  10. “Stay with News 9, we’ll keep you advised”

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It’s cursed, I tell you

And by “it,” I mean “Jeep.” TTAC commenter “skor” explains the whole sordid affair:

Jeep was developed by the American Bantam Car Company. The design was purchased by the US Government from American Bantam and given to Willys-Overland with large orders going to Ford. Immediately after WWII American Bantam went bankrupt.

At the conclusion of WWII, Willys-Overland and Ford fought it out over who owned the Jeep design … a court ruled that the rights to the Jeep name and design were owned by Willys-Overland. Although the Jeep sold well in the post war years for Willys-Overland, they struggled with the rest of their auto business, and in 1953 Willys-Overland was purchased by Kaiser Motors.

The Jeep sold well for Kaiser, but the rest of their car biz sank like a stone. In 1963 Kaiser renamed itself Kaiser-Jeep. Business only got worse for Kaiser-Jeep through the 60’s, so in 1969 Kaiser-Jeep was acquired by AMC.

The Jeep sold well for AMC, but their car biz went from bad to worse during the 70’s, and in 1979 AMC was purchased by Renault.

The Jeep sold well for Renault but the rest of the AMC line-up didn’t do so well. In 1986 Renault’s chairman, Georges Besse, was murdered by the communist terrorist group, Action Directe. In 1987, AMC was purchased by Chrysler.

The Jeep sold well for Chrysler, but the rest of the AMC products were canned. During the 90’s Chrysler’s fortunes were starting to wane. In 1998 Chrysler hooked up with Daimler-Benz AG in a “Merger Of Equals”.

Jeeps sold well for DaimlerChrysler AG, but soon problems sprung up with the rest of the Chrysler line. Bleeding money, the Germans unloaded Chrysler/Jeep, at a huge loss, on Cerberus Capital Management in 2007. The Germans actually paid Cerberus to take Chrysler/Jeep.

The hell hound almost never lost money on any of its business deals, but in 2009 they were forced to take Chrysler into bankruptcy. The American government essentially paid Fiat to take Chrysler/Jeep.

Today the Jeep brand continues to sell well, but it appears that Fiat is in some major trouble.

That’s what they get for naming a vehicle “Cherokee,” right? Probably not; the first Cherokee appeared for 1974, during the AMC years, by which time Jeep had already destroyed two automakers.

In an earlier article for TTAC, Rich Truesdell attempted to explain the phenomenon this way:

[Its] core strength — go-anywhere capability — has always been its weakness. In other words, whether serving the military, farm owners, off-road enthusiasts or Soccer Moms, Jeep is a niche brand. As recent history has shown (e.g., Aston Martin, Jaguar, Land Rover, Saab, HUMMER, Volvo, etc.), large companies and niche brands make terrible bedfellows. Big companies seek volume above all; a tendency that tends to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs.

This particular goose, though, seems to be killing its ostensible masters.

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I find your lack of ponies disturbing

Easily remedied, however:

Incidentally, Applejack shot first.

(Swiped from Equestria Daily.)

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The Virgin Allocation is coming up

“VIRGIN GRANT!” said the title. Is this the first time such a grant is being given? Is this a subsidy for some form of refloration?

No, and no. It’s just spam:

Dear Beneficiary,

This is to notify you that you have been chosen By the Board of trustees of Virgin Group Foundation based in Ireland, as one of the final recipients of a Cash Aid for your own personal and Community development, Virgin Group was Incorporated in 1989,In line with our 22 years anniversary program, this year the Virgin Group and its foundation in conjunction with the United Nations (UN) and the European union (EU),is giving out a yearly Grants to lucky local and international recipients worldwide in different categories for their personal Business development and uplift of their environment. These funds are freely given to you to use for your business, educational and personal Development and at least 30% to be used by you to develop a part of your environment, as this is a yearly program, which is a measure of universal development strategy, and eradication of poverty. It’s your chance to spend the donation wisely on something that will last you a long time. And please do not bother following up this email, if you have benefited from this donation in previous years.

I have not so benefited, of course, but “please do not bother following up” seems like good advice.

The amount in question is a trifling, by spam standards anyway, £750,000. And please note:

Kindly be informed that the Virgin Group Donation Board of trustees do not know you in person, you are therefore required to send your C.V along with your Facial means of Identification on your contact with the Secretary for documentation and processing of your payment.

By “Facial means of Identification,” they want “Drivers License or International Passport.”

Oh, but I may just have blown it:

You are by all means hereby advised to keep this whole information confidential until you have been able to collect your donation, as there have been many cases of double and unqualified redemption, due to beneficiaries informing third parties about his/her donation.

Um… oops?

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Emergency flats

Are those damnable heels killing you? The answer — or at least an answer — has come to Los Angeles:

Salvation has come to the high-heeled hordes of L.A. nightlife, in the form of the city’s first flat-shoe vending machine. Squat, unobtrusive, the size of a dresser, the thing is currently located beside the women’s restroom at the Colony in Hollywood… Called Rollasoles, they cost $19.95 (or “an easy $20″). They are basically ballet flats. Soft and squashy, they drop out of the machine rolled up in a plastic can.

The reception has been cordial:

Club owners like the shoes because girls who wear them stay out later (an average of 40 minutes longer, according to a survey [the vendors] commissioned), dance more and, one assumes, drink more. Guys like the shoes because it keeps girls out partying for the night. Girls like the shoes because, well, they’re shoes.

(Snagged from Joy McCann’s Facebook page.)

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Everybody loves a recap

Despite Zooey Deschanel’s public disdain for the band, I have always been a fan of Gary Lewis and the Playboys, though in terms of what we laughingly call “authenticity,” in terms of playing on one’s own records, they fall somewhere in the general vicinity of Monkeeville, despite the fact that like the Monkees, the Playboys could actually play reasonably competently, and had been doing a live gig at Disneyland (with Lewis’ surname left off) at the time they were picked up by the Liberty label.

Producer Snuff Garrett was having none of that. He brought in members of the Wrecking Crew, top-rank L. A. session players, and singer Ron Hicklin, and anywhere the Playboys were deemed inadequate, the pros were employed. Which explains the tympani, for instance, on “This Diamond Ring.” (And maybe on the answer record, Wendy Hill’s “(Gary, Please Don’t Sell) My Diamond Ring,” which, said Dawn Eden, had “the loudest, scariest tympani I ever heard.”)

I did know that Leon Russell played on several of those Playboys sessions, especially “She’s Just My Style,” which he cowrote. (Complete credits: Al Capps, who sang the bass part; Russell; Lewis; and “Thomas Leslie,” which is almost Snuff Garrett’s real name.) I did not know, though Roger did, that this was drummer Jim Keltner’s first session. (Keltner would go on to play with three of the Beatles, albeit not simultaneously.)

Knowing that Ron Hicklin was spelling Lewis on vocals explained neatly why Lewis sounded so much like his dad on the last half of “Time Stands Still” (B-side of “Everybody Loves a Clown”) and nowhere else. What I never did quite figure out was how it was that neither of my LP copies of “Sure Gonna Miss Her” sounded anything like the 45. Steve Kolanjian, who wrote the heavily-detailed liner notes for the Legendary Masters compilation in 2000, didn’t find out why either.

After “Where Will the Words Come From”, Lewis was drafted and packed off to ‘Nam; his last big hit was a cover of “Sealed With a Kiss,” which barely scraped into the Top 20. After that, he opened a music store, and after a few years eventually settled comfortably into the nostalgia circuit.

Disclosure: One of these songs is uncomfortably close to my heart. No fair guessing which one.

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O, the hazards of lawns

The prettiest whistles, said the Decemberists, won’t wrestle the thistles undone.

For that, you need an industrial-strength mower, or access to Eeyore.

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Corner of 55th and Jump

Rather a lot of the pictorial material here involves women in very pricey garments, though as a practical matter, what I’m more likely to see in Real Life is a simple top, a jacket over it, and a pair of jeans. (Trini mastered this look a long time ago, come to think of it.) Now this ensemble can still be pricey — I’m pretty sure Sela Ward didn’t pick up these threads at JCPenney — but when properly exhibited, it’s devastating:

Sela Ward at the 21 Jump Street premiere

Now she’s not actually in the film of 21 Jump Street, but how could you not invite her to a premiere? It’s not like she has nothing to wear.

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The end of that particular trail

One does not simply walk — oh, wait, I’ve already used that. Anyway, despite their sub-.500 record and a recent slump, the Trail Blazers came into this game 16-8 at the Rose Garden, and it would have been a grievous mistake to take them lightly. The Thunder got a reminder of this in the third quarter, watching their 18-point halftime lead shrink to five. This is usually the signal to tighten up already, which they did; with three minutes left and the Thunder up 19, the benches were emptied, and OKC finished off the Blazers, 109-95.

We didn’t see a repeat of whatever it was between Russell Westbrook and Raymond Felton; Felton was excused for personal reasons and did not dress. Rookie point guard Nolan Smith didn’t make much noise. Then again, the usual thorn in OKC’s side was and is LaMarcus Aldridge, and J. J. Hickson, retrieved by Portland after being waived by Sacramento, was similarly pointy tonight. (Hickson had 21 points, Aldridge 20.) Still, the Blazers weren’t going to make much headway on a night when OKC was hitting 57 percent — it was 60 percent before garbage time — and Westbrook, enjoying his unFeltoned self, rolled up 32 points to lead everyone. (Kevin Durant picked up 25; James Harden, who missed only one shot all night, had 21.)

Still, that third-quarter run of Portland’s was scary, and I can’t say I’m going to miss these guys the rest of the season. (The series ends 3-1 OKC.) It would be nice if Golden State could knock the Lakers down a notch later tonight, but if they don’t, well, the Thunder will get their chance Thursday night, or maybe Friday morning. Damn West Coast games.

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I assume someone will read this

Way back in the last century (well, okay, 1999):

The chief executive officer of Sun Microsystems said Monday that consumer privacy issues are a “red herring.”

“You have zero privacy anyway,” Scott McNealy told a group of reporters and analysts Monday night at an event to launch his company’s new Jini technology. “Get over it.”

Sun is long gone — assimilated into Oracle — but most assuredly, nothing has changed:

“Dammit, your employer can make you take a physical. They can run a credit check. They can make you urinate in a Dixie cup. They can make you wear orange spandex short shorts and a crop top, and you’re worried that they might see those pictures of you naked at that pool party with a lampshade on your head and shotgunning Ernest & Julio’s best straight from the spigot on the box?

“Honey, thirty seconds after you put those pictures on the internet, some teenager in Latvia was wanking to them and /b/tards were using them to make lolcats. The privacy horse is out of the barn, down the road, over the horizon, and the Visigoths have burned the barn, and NOW you’re worried about it? Just for that, you ought to get a groping AND a porn-o-scan the next time you’re at the airport!”

This is not to say that your only hope in this day and age is to be as boring as I am, but it probably wouldn’t hurt. Much.

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Automatic patella machine

Clothing retailer Forever 21 apparently thinks its customers all have legs like Barbie, inasmuch as they routinely remove telltale traces of kneecap through the magic of Photoshop.

Then again, there is no practice so heinous that somebody, somewhere won’t defend it, even (maybe) in jest:

To be fair, kneecaps are pretty gross. All bumpy. With their … bones. You know who look better? People who have no discernible bones protruding of any kind. So, the people that exist in Forever 21’s fevered, photoshop happy imagination.

I had knee surgery in 2004, and it did not much improve the appearance of my knees. Not that anyone is wanting to see them or anything.

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One-shot style

The goal: shoes to wear to son’s wedding “that don’t have ten-inch heels.” Asked about that, she allowed that five inches was about her limit, but she didn’t want to risk something that high, either down the aisle or at the dance.

Since presumably this shoe is only going to be worn once, there’s no point in paying a ton of money for it, and this is apparently what she bought:

Melinda by Jacqueline Ferrar

You’re looking at “Melinda” by Jacqueline Ferrar, a department-store brand prominent in the $40-50 class. The rhinestones are some sort of plastic, the upper and the heel wrap are satin, and there’s a 3/8-inch platform to go with the 2½-inch heel. Think of it, not as $40, but as seven bucks an hour for a special event at which you’re not the center of attention anyway.

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What is this I don’t even

All I know is that it was dropped into my tweetstream yesterday:

Bogus Walmart tweet

Oh, and that the Walmart-ish ID is fake. (Subsequently, Twitter saw fit to nuke that account; however, “Sharron” is still spreading wharrgarbl.)

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Variable optics

The blogger formerly known as Roissy tweeted this yesterday:

Scientists rediscover obvious: men focus on girls’ bodies for short term flings, and prefer pretty faces for LTRs.

He linked to this article, which I abstract here:

Because women’s faces and bodies carry different cues of reproductive value, men may attend to different perceptual cues as functions of their long-term versus short-term mating motivations. We tested this hypothesis in three experiments on 135 male and 132 female participants. When influenced by short-term rather than long-term mating motivations, men’s attention was captured by (Study 1), was shifted to (Study 2), and was distracted by (Study 3) the waist/hip area rather than the face on photographs of attractive women. Similar effects were not found among the female participants in response to photographs of attractive men. These results support the evolutionary view that, similar to the attentional selectivity found in other domains of life, male perceptual attention has evolved to selectively capture and hold reproductive information about the opposite sex as a function of short-term versus long-term mating goals.

Given my own predilections — show me a sweet smile and a nice pair of legs and I’m happy — I suppose I should infer that (1) I am not looking for a one-night stand, but that (2) my attention span is not encouraging. Then again, I think it’s pretty obvious by now that any interest I have in this topic is purely theoretical, and I should point out that any and (almost) all specifications are negotiable.

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