Going like sixty

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Played for Zucker’s

The idea of Facebook giving away actual cash is so ludicrous I almost didn’t read this spam:

Your profile has won the sum of ONE MILLION Pounds in the ongoing Facebook Promo.

We are pleased to inform you of the result of the just concluded quarterly Draws held by the worldwide association of internet service user and provider lottery Promotions, your email was among the 10 lucky winners who won the sum of One Million Great Britain Pounds (Ј1,000,000.00 GBP) in THE TAGGED FACEBOOK PROMOTIONS However, Your email was attached to data file number (UK/9420X2/68) and grant Number (CCC/0080648302/07) with Winner No.005.

You know, it would be nice, or at least a tiny bit less unconvincing, if the people running this thing — ostensibly from 17, Upper Grosvenor Street, London, W1K 7PJ — had bothered to send it to the actual email address I use on Facebook.

Then again, it may not matter:

The online draws was conducted by a random Selection of email addresses and phone numbers of regular users of Internet web and communication facilities like Tagged, Tweeter, Facebook, Blackberry, Myspace, Skype, Globe7, blackplanet, biip.com, bolt.com, cake financial, cafemom, caringbridge, cellufone, care2, classmate.com, italki.com, lafango, muxlim.com, paltree, Hi5, Grooveshark, Orkut, Bebo, Multiply, Flickr, Fotolog, Delicious, Digg, LinkedIn, Platalk, Friendfinder, Badoo, Technokrati, Skyrock, Last.fm. Ning, Xing and many other Social Networking websites that is affiliated with the worldwide association of internet service user and provider.

In other news, Orkut has regular users.

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Somewhat sans serif

We’ve all been through this before: we’re sick of the Same Old Fonts, and the Spiffy New Fonts just aren’t serious enough for correspondence. What we need, apparently, is something in between.

Averia fontWhich brings us to Averia, which is the average of all the fonts — or at least, of all the fonts installed by its designer. Your mileage may vary. (I have 563 fonts on the work box, with perhaps more WingDings and such than could possibly be justified, and no, I don’t think they figure into the calculated average.)

The designer — who, by the way, insists that he’s not really a designer — explains:

A Google on the subject [of “generative typography”] brought up little, and I put the idea to the back of my mind until it occurred to me that perhaps the process of averaging, or interpolating, existing fonts might bring up interesting results. Luckily at this point I didn’t do any more web searching — instead I grabbed my laptop and came up with an initial idea for finding what the average of all my fonts might look like — by overlaying each letter at low opacity.

To simplify the task:

{S]ince my aim was to average a large number of fonts, perhaps it would be best to use a very simple process, and hope the results averaged out well over a large number of fonts. So, how about splitting each letter perimeter into lots of (say, 500) equally-spaced points, and just average between the corresponding positions of each, on each letter?

I think I want to use this font of his. Fortunately, he’s willing to see it spread around a bit.

(Via Felix Salmon.)

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All you need is wub

The amazing thing is that this little bit of goofiness was made entirely outside Official Channels — and yet it’s arguably good enough to be in the show:

This tells me that even if episode 65 (they’ve shown 52) is the last, the show is a long, long way from being ancient history.

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Warped out of existence

You might think that science fiction that disallows such counterfactual stuff as faster-than-light travel is more scientifically rigorous, therefore better for us, in basically the same sense that wheat germ is better for us than a Wendy’s Double. Lynn has a problem with that — the SF convention, I mean:

One thing I have a problem with is the “no hyperspace” rule. I don’t think science fiction necessarily needs to be 100 percent plausible. Was Star Trek 100 percent plausible? Hardly. But it inspired a generation to support space exploration and invent things like cell phones. FTL ships are vehicles for the imagination and it saddens me that many writers have abandoned them and consider themselves smarter for doing so. To me that’s just another brand of pessimism.

I can appreciate Neal Stephenson’s objections to this sort of thing — rigid adherence to stock SF tropes is a really effective way to produce stiff-sounding stories that no one likes — but I’m not about to declare myself unalterably opposed to FTL.

Someone wiser than I once posited the notion that the most effective SF environments are those which closely mirror our own, except for one thing which is accepted as a given and/or handwaved away, which may or may not prove to be a crucial plot point. In Mary Gentle’s Orthe series, for instance, the “one thing” is the redefinition of puberty: children are literally genderless until puberty, which can take place overnight or take several years — or in the case of some unfortunate few, might never happen at all. A few incidents hang on this, but they’re not at the center of the story; nonetheless, the premise establishes the Ortheans as sufficiently alien to warrant our interest. Otherwise, we might as well be reading about a post-apocalyptic Topeka.

Meanwhile, I must give thumbs up — Ortheans have two of them, along with ten other fingers, which matters hardly at all — to this statement:

Is the world today really more scary and gloomy than it was in the 60’s when we watched scenes from the Vietnam war and race riots on the news every night and we all feared that a nuclear war with the Soviet Union could happen at any time? And yet, in that environment we managed to find hope that the future would be better.

And if we’ve been ambivalent about that optimism — “I have to admit, it’s getting better,” sang Paul, though “can’t get no worse” hangs on the end of the line, thanks to John — well, we’re never completely sure, are we?

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Shaking it for yourself

Melissa goes to her first YNA event, and the word “enabling” comes to mind:

Now, I don’t dance. Mom made me take tap dancing as a child and I was both no good at it and didn’t like it. I have zero music sense and just don’t know how to dance. Yet somehow, someway this group of people managed to get me on the dance floor. I won’t be quitting my day job anytime soon to become a professional dancer, but I truly did enjoy it. And as I danced, I kept thinking that I wished I could have that moment videotaped and sent to my doctor. You know, the one who said a year ago that I’d likely never walk again (somehow dancing wasn’t mentioned).

I surmise that this is the event she attended. Never underestimate the power of simply letting it all hang out, so to speak.

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O2 go

An operation called H2 Technologies is planning a hydrogen-refueling station for Carson City, Nevada. Are there any vehicles that run on hydrogen anywhere near Carson City? It would be nice, but it’s not necessary for the business plan:

The electrolyzer technology at the station will separate water into its component elements, hydrogen and oxygen. While hydrogen-fueled vehicles are all the rage as a method of reducing tailpipe emissions, H2 Technologies is contracting with a supplier of industrial gases to sell oxygen — the waste product — at wholesale for medical and industrial uses.

“That secondary market makes the station profitable from day one,” says Gary Lord, a principal in H2 Technologies. “We create copious amounts of oxygen.”

What probably is necessary for the business plan is a $1.1 million loan from the Nevada State Office of Energy.

Expected price for hydrogen is $10/kg; if hydrogen-powered cars can do 60 to 70 miles per kilogram, they’ll be competitive with gas-powered cars, and their major emissions product will be water vapor — which is a greenhouse gas, but don’t say that too loud.

(Via Autoblog Green.)

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Strange search-engine queries (325)

It’s time once more to poke around in the system logs for the last week and see if anybody’s search strings will serve as the humorous part of your complete Monday-morning breakfast. (Hey, it could happen, right?)

credibility of biogift anatomical:  As with bio-anything, if it smells funny when you open the package, it’s credible.

sandy posey born a woman chauvinist:  I doubt Sandra Lou would have had any truck with the likes of M. Chauvin, who by most accounts was a real (or a fake) asshat.

brakdown of a 1999 cd4e transmission:  That’s why modern freeways have a breakdown lane.

rainbow dash guitar:  Whatever the song, she can play it in ten seconds flat.

stop dreamhost installer robot from upgrading wordpress:  If you did these upgrades yourself, the Installer Robot would completely ignore you.

bat cracker:  So apparently there are some, um, unexpected branches on Bruce Wayne’s family tree.

i had a dream last night with stuart ashton staples:  Was it good for you? Because I’m sure it was good for him.

nofaces n ass modules:  Already compiled for the next Kardashians reality series.

picture of scratches on girls nice legs:  Aren’t you the same guy who wanted the mustache on the Mona Lisa?

thomas kinkade prince of peace worth anything:  Surely it must be worth something. All those vendors who sell paintings by the square foot seem to be surviving.

why is mitt romney wooden:  Purely a chemical reaction: he’s allergic to nonprecious metals.

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From the Easily Impressed files

The wire services quote some Greg Packer type — hell, if they’d waited a few minutes, Greg Packer himself might have shown up — who comes up with this stirring bit of wharrgarbl:

“It’s nice, much more manageable,” said Mark Timko, who paid less than $4 per gallon Wednesday in the Chicago suburb of Burr Ridge, Ill., for the first time since March. “I wasn’t sure how high they were going to go this year.”

I tell you what, Marky Mark: if you were sure how high they were going to go this year, you either (1) had thought you’d gotten the fix in or (2) have been just now busted to the position of Steven Chu’s dog-walker.

Or, more kindly, from Brian J.:

Someone who says that $3.99 a gallon is more manageable than $4.05 a gallon is either not very smart or wants to see his name in the paper.

Ulp. He’s right. My apologies, Senator Timko.

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War on the West Coast

“I just want this game to end before someone dies,” tweeted @TheLostOgle with about four minutes left, and shortly thereafter, Kobe Bryant and Serge Ibaka spilled into the first row trying to snag a loose ball. That’s the kind of day it was, starting with 1:37 left in the first half, when Metta World Peace, belying his placid surname, threw an elbow at James Harden’s head. Harden went to the locker room to be checked for concussion; Peace-y went to the locker room with an ejection and a Flagrant Two. The Thunder, irked, ran up the score over the next fifteen minutes, eventually taking an 18-point lead; but the Lakers gradually whittled it away and finally took control in the waning moments on back-to-back Kobe treys. Russell Westbrook dropped a couple of free throws to tie it at 91, and overtime ensued. Four minutes and forty-five seconds later, it was still tied, 97-all, and overtime continued; the Thunder couldn’t buy a bucket in the waning moments, and the Lakers finally won one against OKC, 114-106.

“Steve Blake,” said radio guy Matt Pinto, “has been an influential influence.” Well, yeah; he contributed three treys, all coming in the fourth quarter or in overtime, and became something of the go-to guy when Thabo Sefolosha had Bryant in a box. With Andrew Bynum phoning it in, bigness was contributed by Pau Gasol (20 points, 14 rebounds) and Jordan Hill (14 and 15). L.A. was utterly dominant on the boards (67-54, 25-14 offensive). But nobody is likely to be impressed with the offense of either club: the Lakers put up 106 shots and missed 65, the Thunder sent up 101 and missed 64. (OKC was slightly better than L.A. beyond the arc, if 8 of 24 is actually better, other than in sheer percentage points, than 5 of 16.)

Batman and Robin again seemed to be working at cross purposes: yeah, they got 49 points between them — Kevin Durant 35, Westbrook 14 — but they went a combined 14-56 from the floor. That’s 25 percent, boys and girls. You have to figure Harden would have made some of these, had he been able to play in the second half. If there’s an upside, it’s that Durant will sneak ahead of Bryant in PPG by a fraction of a point. At least OKC has regained its swag at the free-throw line, nailing 24 of 28. (The Lakers hit 27 of 40.)

So the likely #3 seed wins one against the almost-certain #2 seed. The people I feel for are the Staples Center crew; after this thing ran well past all understanding, they have to de-Lakerfy the joint to make ready for Hornets/Clippers in a few hours. Let James Harden be well — and let Ron Artest (I can’t say “World Peace” with a straight face) be thrown to the NBA’s regulatory hounds. It’s time to go home.

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A gentleman to be envied

I was wavering on the question of “Do I need to wash this damn car?” yesterday, when a Shell self-serve pump answered it for me by failing to shut off at Maximum Tankfulness, dribbling about a quarter’s worth down the quarter-panel.

My normal routine, should you be curious: let it shut off; squeeze in just enough more to bring the dollar/cents amount to a multiple of five cents; then replace the handle and stare in disbelief at the receipt. I’d claim that this maintains a standard test bed for mileage computation, though it’s actually a relic from the days when I could give the attendant a $20, fill up the tank, and retrieve my change without having to deal with pennies. (Incidentally, I had 21.4 mpg for the past week, which included trips to Norman and Edmond as part of the Architecture Tour.)

I was one mile away from the Extreme (!) Car Wash, and betook myself thence. The garrulous old operator asked me if I’d used that particular bay before. I hadn’t — I generally preferred the manual bays — and he said that they’d installed some new nozzles on the spray mechanism that pushed something like twice the previous volume of liquids. “Sounds like you’re in a thunderstorm,” he said, “but don’t worry.”

Then again, in this part of the country, thunderstorms are often accompanied by “fine sleepin’ weather,” and, said the operator, “This bay does not have the alarm system we use in the other one. We had a fellow actually fall asleep in there this morning; we had to crawl in there and wake him up to get him out.” By now things were getting creepy. Fortunately, the SUV ahead of me was pulling out, and so I crept my way into the bay. Up came the spray apparatus, and holy crap it’s like being under a goddamn Boeing 737 in here. And I marveled that some man with probably no more sound insulation than I had at that moment — it rather easily drowned out 200 watts of Bose stereo — was actually able to snooze through this. Having battled insomnia from time to time, I was downright jealous.

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Exit the matador, stage left

Jack Baruth wants to tell you why Lamborghini is way past its shelf date, but to do that, he has to explain why there’s a shelf in the first place. And this is why:

It occurred to me many years ago that the Venn diagram of “actual bad-asses” and “people who spend all their time trying to look like bad-asses” has a very low overlap. The actual “man’s work” of the world — winning wars, building businesses, feeding families, protecting the weak from the strong — is generally accomplished by men who can’t bench three hundred pounds. That’s not how Hollywood likes to play it, but that’s the way it is.

Which is why if someone needs to play me in Blog: The Movie, they’ll cast Paul Giamatti instead of, say, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

Then again, there’s a catch:

Of course, “man’s work” isn’t what it used to be. Forget the “war on women” you’re hearing about right now, although it may well exist. There’s been a “war on men” for the last fifty years, and it’s been more successful than any of the Middle Eastern adventurism which has burned up the lives of American men like so much unwanted firewood at the end of winter. A war against the ideas of manhood, fatherhood, responsibility, dependability. The traditional American man — think Gregory Peck in To Kill A Mockingbird — has been parodied, denigrated, humiliated, ironized, written out of existence. It’s no longer pleasant or even feasible to emulate our grandfathers and their unashamedly masculine lives.

Ironized Yeast advertisement from 1935When our grandfathers were far too young to be grandfathers, longer ago than some of us might like to admit, “ironized” described something that was done to yeast to turn it into a miracle tonic for the chronically wussy, a sort of proto-Geritol for the younger set. But J. Random Wuss, Senior, buying this potion, knew in his heart of hearts — he was allowed to have one in those days, even if he wasn’t about to talk about it — that it was a cosmetic job at best: bulking up a bit might get his foot in the door, but it would take much more to win the heart of fair lady. In this century, though, JRW III frets about his BMW, his BMI, and whether he’s sensitive enough, and fair lady, not unreasonably, holds him in utter contempt.

Of course, this is the very definition of decadence: the trappings of masculinity are now valued more highly than the behaviors once associated with it. Covers are judged without regard to the actual books within. Just as all restaurants are now Taco Bell, all cars are now Pontiac: the same old bits with an overlay of plastic surface excitement. Lamborghini, now safely tucked into the bosom of Volkswagen Group, is just another brand, being sold, not to people who can fight the wild bull, but to people who can write the large check. The younger Mr Wuss says he’d like to buy one once his child-support obligation runs out.

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Recombinant BNA

The Nashville Network is planning a comeback:

Lorianne Crook and Charlie Chase of the long running hit radio show The Crook & Chase Countdown and TV series Crook & Chase, have joined Luken Communications and Jim Owens Entertainment in Las Vegas at the 2012 NAB Show to announce the return of The Nashville Network. The legendary powerhouse and America’s country home, TNN, will resume its country music and lifestyle programming as a digital broadcast network in late summer 2012.

The original TNN, you may remember, went through a transitional period as The National Network and eventual rebranding as The Nads Network Spike TV.

Somebody once said that the job of a TV host is to look good and point at stuff. With that in mind, here’s Lorianne Crook pointing at Taylor Swift:

Taylor Swift with Lorianne Crook

In case I need, you know, a reason to watch this once in a while.

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Springtime for pimply-faced jerkoffs

Found this on a side-project blog, sitting in the spam trap:


PAYPAL PAYPAL DONATE ME MOTHER PHUCKER NOW OR I WILL HACK YOUR WEBSITE – Scraped Media Pty Ltd MY PAYPAL IS PAYPAL@5t8.com – Scraped Media Pty Ltd – PAYPAL IS support@scrapebox.com Payment Sent to: MY PAYPAL IS support@scrapebox.com

Ha. (Also: ha.)

There is an actual Scraped Media Pty Ltd, and they are happy to dismiss this guy as a crank. (I sent them the IP address, on the off-chance that it might be useful.) And there’s a WordPress.org thread, now closed, which encapsulates the experience nicely.

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Among us grizzled old-timers

Mark Alger contemplates his decade at BabyTrollBlog:

[S]ometime around 9/11, I heard Rush Limbaugh talking about these things called blogs. He mentioned Andrew Sullivan and a few others. I started reading them. And, in seeming no time, got the bug myself.

Now I’ve heard plenty of tales in which Person A inspired Person B to take up the Orbital Keyboard Cannon, but this is the first one I’ve seen that cites El Rushbo. I suspect, though, there are many others.

I haven’t had an Instalanche, but I have had a couple of Kim-a-lanches and linky love from other Big Name Bloggers. I’ve been a Large Mammaried Individual in the TTLB Ecosystem, so BTB isn’t exactly chopped liver, albeit without the bag of chips. And I’ve been stalked for fifteen minutes by Media Matters, so I guess, in some small way, I arrived awhile back. And I’m content with the slow-and-steady approach to growth.

Of the nearly-a-thousand registered members (and even that is a modest number, I’m given to understand), there are more than a lot who are spammers, I’m sure, but also more than a mere handful who are faithful visitors and readers of varying intensity, and they are, I believe, gems beyond price, so represent some success, even if my own terminal laziness might hold me back from greater things.

It’s not laziness, I suspect. The time we have is finite, and we can’t possibly spend 100 percent of it on any one activity, especially if it’s some other activity that actually pays the bills. It would be nice to be able to sit here at the keyboard all day and watch the money roll in, but it would be just as nice, and nearly as likely, to have the Slurpee franchise for Hades.

I have about twenty registered members: after implementing a registration system in 2008, I rapidly grew weary of it, and threw the doors open, hoping the formidable array of WordPress spam tools would protect me. (Akismet has dealt with 25,000 comments since then; it missed just over 100 — though maybe one or two actually made it to the site — and false-alarmed on about 140. I should be this precise in my own work.)

The good news, of course, is that Mark and Dolly are going forward:

Once I get comfortable there (I’m practicing by helping my employer get set up in WordPress, as well as sandboxing new designs at markphilipalger dot dreamhosters dot com), this blog will move to the new system and host and become the center of a modest media empire centered around my writing and artwork. Stay tuned.

More than this, we cannot ask.

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Our gain

Robert Stacy McCain accepts the blame for Tina Korbe’s moving out of the dextrosphere and into the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs (just down the road at 13th and Lincoln). Not that we consider this a problem here on the prairie, of course.

I might suggest, though, that Stacy might want to add Inter Alia, OCPA’s blog, to his Occasional Reads. I have to figure that sooner (sorry) or later, she’ll be posting stuff there.

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