Don’t know much about science books

This ran in a couple of state papers earlier this month:

In a state-by-state review, the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a think tank based in Washington, D.C., found science education standards in most states are “mediocre to awful, placing America’s national competitiveness, technological prowess and scientific leadership in grave jeopardy.”

Oklahoma was one of 10 states that received an F, while 17 states received a D and 11 states got a C.

If Oklahoma gets an F, the federal government should get a whole F-load of F’s:

We have a real serious need for proper scientific education in the Western World. The lack of understanding goes all the way to the top, leading to such things as the banning of the harmless incandescent light bulb as a frankly superstitious gesture towards the problem of overuse of energy. Banning the light bulb does fuckall to save large amounts of energy — it’s like watering a petunia in your front yard while your house is burning. But the scientific ignoramuses we keep voting into the government were fooled into doing this and now if I want to buy 100-watt incandescent bulbs I have to order them over the internet from Germany.

And furthermore:

You can’t teach kids science without teaching them the scientific method and it seems as though both sides of the partisan divide are bound-and-determined to make sure their kids don’t learn it.

Which is, of course, job security for the ignoramuses.

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A lot of Dahomey

“Miss Jennifer Mouka” writes to several undisclosed recipients:

Dearest Friend.

I want to come to your country to stay with you,Dear,please dont be surprise,my parents died by food poison and my uncle sent me out from his house, he is wicked man i hate him and i can never stay with him anymore.

if you promised to send me letter of invitation and will not cheat me when i come to stay with you,i promised you will never regret meeting me, my late father has with his bank $4.860Million in HSBC Bank London-UK,i was his only daughter living nexk of kin,my uncle is wicked thats why i refused to give him my inheritance and he send me out from his house.I am 18 years old from Small country Republic of Benin,i want to be a nurse when i come to your country,the bank remittance director said i am too small to handle such money that i should look for foreign partner to stand for me for easy transfer and investment purposes,that is why i am seeking for your help if you wish. Ofcourse I have the deposit documents of this deposit, I have not travelled to London before, so your maximum assistance will do be a lot of favour.

Pls, Dear, tell me about you? and i want to see your picture how you look like? and also tell me if your ready to assist me so that i will send you further details on how we can go from here … Reply back to me with my private email address, jennifermouka@yahoo.fr OR Jennifermouka@w.cn

Warm Regards

From
Miss Jennifer Mouka

Evidently the Hotmail address stuck into the header is insufficiently private, or something. And apparently she’s changed addresses some time in the last three years.

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Pesky insects

There was some discussion earlier today as to whether the Thunder had anything left after last night’s epic clash with the Nuggets, and the answer seems to be “Enough, but just barely.” Missing two more players — James Harden and Nick Collison were sidelined with (let us hope) minor injuries — OKC ran out to a 60-38 halftime lead over New Orleans, only to see the Hornets, somewhat depleted themselves, battle back to within six with just under a minute left. The final was 101-93, meaning the Bees outscored the Thunder 55-41 in the second half; “We got a little complacent,” said Royal Ivey, and I have no reason to doubt him.

Telltale statistic: New Orleans had five players in double figures; OKC had, well, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. And the Hornets got off 11 more shots, though they shot a mere 36 percent. The Thunder blocked 13 shots — Kendrick Perkins had six, Serge Ibaka nine — and everyone but Perk had at least one steal; but still, the Hornets made seven of 14 treys and had six more offensive rebounds. Jarrett Jack, running the offense for the New Orleans second unit, led the Hornets with 18 points.

As for the Bobbsey Twins, they had similar-looking lines to go with their 31 points each, though Westbrook served up more assists and Durant snatched more rebounds. For some reason, the Thunder put up 26 treys, 18 of which failed to connect; Daequan Cook, who’s maintaining a second home in Slumpville, missed eight all by his lonesome. (Take the missed treys out of the equation, and the Thunder would have shot nearly 52 percent.) Only four bench players got minutes, and in aggregate they failed to outscore Jarrett Jack.

What the Thunder need right now is a day off and then a game against a team from the East. By coincidence, the Celtics will be here Wednesday, minus Rajon Rondo, who drew a two-game suspension for playing Dodge Ball with an official. Yeah, the Lakers follow on Thursday; but you know, that other L. A. team is a lot scarier these days.

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Nuesy Duesy

Want a vintage-appearing luxury car? Why not Duesenberg?

Duesenberg Motors Inc. has bought a building in Baldwin, Wis., and plans to begin producing its Duesenberg II automobile there this summer, said company president Dave Hartje.

“Visually, it’s the same as the original from the 1930s, but it’s on a modern Ford chassis,” said Hartje, adding the reproduction cars were previously built from 1978 to 2000.

Not that you’re likely to run into one: only about 100 of the repli-Js were made. (Then again, fewer than 500 original Duesenberg Js were built.)

Still, the company’s ambitions extend farther than that:

The company also will produce a motorcycle trike this summer and is developing a modern luxury car that Hartje said will be “a considerable step above a Rolls-Royce or a Bentley.”

The luxury car, which is still in the design phase, is the company’s real goal, Hartje added. He said the car is a couple of years from production.

I must say, their Web site does not yet look promising.

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With a capital P and that rhymes with C

And that stands for Cameroon:

Pool table as found in an African village

Photographed near Garoua in north Cameroon.

(From Rita Belle Mbangah via Hal Carim.)

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Yes, we have no pajamas

No Pajamas logoOther problems in Louisiana having presumably been solved, Caddo Parish Commissioner Michael Williams is seeking a ban on wearing pajamas in public:

Williams announced to fellow commissioners his plans to introduce an ordinance, and to start a letter-writing campaign.

“I’m going to do a national letter writing campaign to major department stores, to Targets, to Best Buys, to Wal-marts,” said Williams outside of Government Plaza in downtown Shreveport.

Williams, a self-described conservative in the dress code area, told other commissioners in a fiery speech that there should be respect for law and order, and asked them “Are we going to do let this generation tell us what to do, or are we going to be leaders and lead this community?”

I can assure Commissioner Williams that I don’t own any pajamas, and won’t be seen in them during my next trip to the Shreveport area.

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What the applebuck?

Applejack and the other ponies of Sweet Apple Acres are diligent in their duties, always remembering that their jobs come first. Or is it that Steve Jobs comes first? K. T. Bradford investigates:

I was only a little surprised when watching a recent episode of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic to discover that it is an extended metaphor for the struggle between Apple and the company’s competitors in mobile technology.

Really? Do tell. (The episode in question is S02E15, “The Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000,” because the working title “The Cider Horse Rules” simply would not do.)

[I]t’s the beginning of apple cider season and AJ’s friend Rainbow Dash is determined to get to the cider line before dawn since in previous years other ponies ahead of her drank it all before she could have a drop. But lo, when she arrives there’s already a huge line of tents filled with ponies who camped out overnight in anticipation of the once-a-year cider.

The cider again runs out before Dash can get a cup. So she and the other cider-less ponies begin to complain that this happens every year and why can’t the Apple family make more cider faster? AJ says that their cider is made with care and love and can’t be rushed.

You’ll note that no one has asked for an audit of working conditions at Sweet Apple Acres.

So brothers Flim and Flam bring in the machine described in the title, and:

The machine is initially ahead until AJ’s five friends (including Rainbow Dash) begin to assist. In order to stay ahead, the brothers turn their machine up to 11, which causes it to start ripping trees out of the ground instead of just plucking apples. The machine is supposed to automatically reject bad apples, but they turn that off so cider production will go on unabated. Dash encourages AJ to do the same, but the Apple family won’t compromise the quality and integrity of their cider for anything.

In the end Flim and Flam win by making more barrels, but the people of Ponyville reject them because their cider is nasty and filled with twigs and rocks.

In other news, someone has found people in Ponyville.

This might seem like a reasonable interpretation, provided you hadn’t seen the episode immediately before (S02E14, “The Last Roundup”), in which Applejack, frustrated by never finishing above second place in the Equestria Rodeo, gives up on the apple business entirely and takes a job in a cherry orchard.

And, lest we forget, MLP:FIM is animated in Flash, and we all know what Apple thinks of Flash.

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Strange search-engine queries (316)

Judging by the anguished cries I hear on Yahoo! Answers day after day, many people are not aware that their visits to Web sites are recorded in server logs, and that when they visit major search engines like Google or Bing and then proceed to search results, their search strings are incorporated into those log entries. Good thing they are, too, because otherwise I’d be scratching around for a topic every Monday morning.

(Two-point penalty for “Since when is Bing a ‘major’ search engine?”)

how to draw an anvil:  Start with a picture of yourself plummeting toward the ground. Sooner or later, Bugs Bunny will come along, erase your parachute, and draw an anvil over your head.

wile e. coyote breakaway mug:  Free with the purchase of an anvil, while supplies last.

how to put a ford contour into gear:  There’s a lever for that, right between the front seats.

“invisible staples”:  And Office Depot never figured out why their customers were vanishing.

last friday night two people died:  They stepped into a place where they thought they could buy copier paper, and were immediately shot into the Phantom Zone.

zooey deschanel is not a nerd:  How about “dork”? You like dorks, don’t you?

neon sports bras target:  Presumably they’d be easy to, um, spot.

phishing amazon canceled:  The only way you’re ever going to stop phishing is to charge for outgoing email. Not even Amazon can afford that in any quantity.

what happened to dream academy mattresses?  You can still find them in some northern town.

victoria’s secret employee:  There’s only the one, and you’ll never be able to find her when you’re ready to check out.

explain on “man smart woman smarter”:  Only a man would ask that.

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Downright runny

Runs, runs, runs. For 48 minutes, no matter who took the lead, the opponent came back with a run; at one point the Thunder put together a 20-0 sequence. It was tied after three at 83; with a minute left it was tied at 106. The Nuggets promptly went on a 5-0 run in seemingly no time at all; Kevin Durant put together a 5-0 run of his own, and regulation expired at 111-111.

Maybe KD wasn’t counting, maybe he was. I don’t know. I tend to think he knows everything going on. Either way, the last two points he scored were his 50th and 51st, and they put the Thunder up 124-118 in what Royce Brown said may have been “the best regular-season game in Oklahoma City history.”

Still, the Nuggets have to wonder what the heck they have to do to win in this building. They had seven players in double figures, led by Arron Afflalo with a respectable 27 and sixth man Andre Miller with 21 and 10 assists. Nor was that their only double-double: Al Harrington had 11 points and 11 boards. Denver was plus-7 on the boards and plus-6 on assists, and got seemingly several thousand points in the paint.

But then there was Durant and his 51 points, a career high. And there was Russell Westbrook with 40, one assist short of a double-double. And there was Serge Ibaka with his first-ever triple-double, 14 points, 15 rebounds and 11 blocks. If you’re gonna have career highs, this was the night to have them.

Four games in five nights, one down. The Hornets will be here tomorrow. Hope everyone gets some rest.

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Can this building be saved?

Stage Center photo by SmallArchitects.com

Local urbanists seem to hate it, perhaps for purely aesthetic reasons — it does not exactly blend into the landscape — or because they’d rather this block (or indeed any random block downtown) be filled up with some sort of high-rise anchored by small retail stores that have been there for sixty years or so, which might be theoretically possible some time after 2070. Meanwhile, about the only love John M. Johansen’s original 1970 Mummers Theatre is getting these days is from the architects: the Theatre received an AIA award in 1972, and now the local chapter of AIA has put out an RFP for restoration plans.

One idea that’s beginning to take root, maybe, is conversion to a children’s museum. Certainly the color scheme seems somewhat reminiscent of contemporary playgrounds, which may be the whole point:

One group, organized by Tracey Zeeck with Rees Architects, envisions a children’s museum modeled with a play café, like the soon-to-close Moomah in TriBeCa. The design would need little alteration to capture the imagination of kids. “I grew up here and I remember it as kinetic; I thought it moved,” said Zeeck. She added that the group got Johansen’s blessing to restore the space for kids and support from the Phoenix Children’s Museum. There’s a concern that the rapid development might threaten the building. Directly across the street is the Picard Chilton-designed Devon Energy tower to be completed in 2012. The 50-story glass-clad tower dwarfs the comparatively quaint arts complex. “I think as a city we tear ourselves down to build ourselves up,” said Zeeck. “I just want my son to share the same memories of the place that I have.”

“Not our kind of quaint,” sneer the guys beckoning the bulldozers, hoping that people will notice the nose removal and ignore the face-spiting. Two words, guys: “Biltmore Hotel.”

(Previously: The hall turned inside out; Deform and dysfunction.)

Addendum: The Lost Ogle suggests 10 other possible uses for the structure.

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In case you get weary

Sheila O’Malley was kind enough to point me to a Kim Morgan musing on the late (and very much missed) Otis Redding, from which I excerpt this paragraph on “Try a Little Tenderness”:

Yes, we’ve all heard it, we’ve heard it a lot. But listen to it. Listen to the words. In a world of glib snark, rotten communication, selfishness, narcissism, easy refusals of looking at the other damn side of a situation, walking in another man or woman’s shoes or just being real and kind, and not with extra emoticons attached to a hollow message, but real, the song is not only a gorgeous celebration of trying just that one word, it’s almost shockingly profound. This one could save more conflicts than months and months of couple’s therapy.

According to Dave Marsh, this wasn’t a song Otis wanted to do in the first place:

Sam Cooke cut it on his Live at the Copa album, which is where Redding’s manager, Phil Walden, heard it. Walden was convinced that Otis should sing it and cajoled the singer about it for months. Finally Walden got a call in the middle of the night.

“You know that damn song you’ve been on my ass about recording?” said Otis.

“Which one is that?” a weary Walden mumbled.

“‘Try a Little Tenderness’.”

“Yeah?”

“I cut the damn thing. It’s a brand new song.”

Otis was as good as his word. And, in fact, he cut it twice: the version on the 45 (Volt 141) and the version that made it to the Dictionary of Soul album are entirely different takes. (The single runs 3:20; the LP track, 3:46.) Either one is worth the time to hunt down. (If you’re hunting on YouTube, the version from the My Blueberry Nights soundtrack is the single.) For many years, this was my least favorite Otis record — at least, until I got around to actually growing up and came closer to understanding the truths therein.

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Neither silent nor deadly

It’s been a few years since I set foot in a Taco Bell, but I’ve had broccoli since then, and the digestive system pays me back for both in much the same way, which is why I took a particular interest in this month’s Ask Maxim, inasmuch as it contains a question as to the lethality of said payback. The magazine passed the query to one Charles Crutchfield III, M.D., who came up with one scenario in which, yes, someone could be gassed to death in this manner:

If the perpetrator discharges a particularly potent fart after eating lobster, for instance, and he’s pantless in a small enclosed space with a buddy who’s allergic to shellfish, he could kill him.

Although the poor fellow’s death will be due to anaphylactic shock, not to the sudden onslaught of methane. And really, I don’t want to know the sequence of events that might lead up to this scenario.

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Neighborhood flotsam

Given the height and position of my house, I’m not surprised that odd things occasionally blow into the yard, but yesterday’s debris, obviously beyond the capacity of the wind unless there was a tornado, and I’m sure I’d have noticed if there was, threw me for a loop. On the southern edge of the porch, I found approximately two-thirds of a plastic milk jug containing about half a bowl’s worth of Cheerios (or some generic equivalent thereof), with a kid-sized shirt tied to it. One row of bricks away, a cat was staring at the stuff.

Well, thought I, kitteh didn’t bring this here on its own. I wondered if maybe this is how some unscrupulous humanoid (not human, really, if you ask me) plotted to lose the cat by dumping it at the nearest faraway place. I puzzled over the matter for a moment, then poured out the cereal into a low spot in the yard from which it was unlikely to spread, thinking either the cat (who fled after I picked up the stuff) or the resident birds would polish it off. I threw away the jug, and hung the shirt (which was wet, it having rained much of yesterday morning) on the mulberry tree to dry.

If it seems early for birds, consider that earlier this week, I’d found about forty feathers and/or fragments thereof concentrated in a small area near the driveway. White or very light grey, so it wasn’t the marauding crows from the Target store; I’m suspecting turf wars between scissor-tailed flycatchers, a few of which wandered into the area last year, though I didn’t find any evidence of same. Then again, their ferocity in defending their territory is legendary.

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Every step of the way

For some reason, this annoyed me:

Why do people keep on making tributes to Whitney Houston with “I will always love you” if she didn’t write it?

Shouldn’t they make tributes with her original work? I mean she did a good cover of the song, but at the end of the day Dolly Parton is the one who wrote it. So why don’t they due tributes to Whitney with a song that was written and preformed by her, instead of just one of her covers? It’s like if one of the Beatles died and people started singing “the sound of silence” as a tribute to them. I mean the Beatles did do a cover of “the sound of silence” but it’s one of Simon & Garfunkel’s songs, so it wouldn’t make sense.

Not even if the Beatles actually did cover “The Sound of Silence,” which they didn’t, or if they did they never committed it to wax.

Now what should we have done for Elvis? He wrote no songs at all. (He’s listed as a co-writer for “Heartbreak Hotel,” “Don’t Be Cruel” and “Love Me Tender,” all of which existed in some form or other before Elvis ever heard them; songwriting credits in those days were often handed out as, um, incentives.) I mentioned this in a response to the question.

But the best answer came from Dolly Parton, who said:

My heart is with Whitney and her family as they lay her to rest. I did not know Whitney nor any of her family personally; but she will always be a part of my heart and I will always be grateful for her awesome performance and success with our song “I Will Always Love You”. Rest in peace, Whitney.

Emphasis in the original. And if perhaps she didn’t believe it before — well, she believes it now.

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Sandalous behavior

First there was a @syaffolee tweet:

Correlation does not equal causation, etc. Also, how the heck did someone come up with this idea? #maybeidontwanttoknow

Since as a rule I can count on anything she WTFs at to be eminently WTFable, I directed my attention to the premise in question:

“The authors reviewed historical literature and hypothesized a relationship between epidemics of sexually transmitted diseases and foot fetishism. They tested this hypothesis by quantifying foot-fetish depictions in the mass-circulation pornographic literature during a 30-yr. interval. An exponential increase was noted during the period of the current AIDS epidemic. The authors offer reasons for this possible relationship.”

I should note here that this was categorized by the blog team under, among other things, holy correlation batman!

In an effort to at least pretend to be serious, I’ll also note that the feet are not exactly a disease vector — at least, not for this particular disease.

I’d also offer up the suggestion that the pedicure, formerly a pricey salon service, is now essentially a commodity, what with nail shops in every other strip mall.

Presumably Dick Morris, who has done his own research on related matters, was not available for comment.

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Psychoceramic

The Fug Girls were kind enough to run this shot of singer Porcelain Black, and I spent the better part of three days wondering if I wanted to port it over here.

Eventually, the need for material won out:

Porcelain Black at the Grammys

If you’re thinking “My goodness, that’s a lot of ink,” allow me to direct you to “This Is What Rock N Roll Looks Like”, in which Porcelain, assisted by Lil Wayne, takes revenge upon those Mean Girls who tormented her in high school. This track will be on her first album, which is supposed to be released later this year.

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