Quote of the week

A report Carl Cameron of Fox News — or indeed any of the tools at any of the cable newsers — would never have given, as imagined by Robert Stacy McCain:

“Top strategists for so-called ‘front-runner’ Mitt Romney, the worthless RINO flip-flopper who is trying to buy the Republican nomination, today gave reporters in Boston what I can only describe as The Mother of All Spin Jobs. Presenting the gullible national press corps with a transparent flim-flam about the delegate count, a top Romney adviser laid down such a thick layer of putrid dishonest bullshit I nearly vomited.”

Which is a shame, because I can’t remember a single day in this election year when some form of putrid dishonest bullshit wasn’t being propagated.

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Value-subtracted manufacturing

Last month I grumbled a bit about a rather lengthy piece of spam that embedded a paragraph from Wikipedia in its otherwise-nondescript verbiage, the better to get past Bayesian filters and such. It would, I admit, never have occurred to me that this practice had been raised to a higher level, so to speak:

Last October 24 the brilliant Daniel Kahneman’s book Thinking, Fast and Slow was published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. And on the same day another book was also published, by an alleged publisher called CreateSpace: It was called Fast and Slow Thinking, and advertised as having an author named Karl Daniels. Only it is not really a book. It is a compilation of snippets from Wikipedia articles and the like, dressed up like a book.

Amazon reviewers so far have been unanimous in their scorn for the book — nine reviews, a total of nine stars, as low as you can go — though one fellow did find some redeeming social value in it:

What you really need is a book you don’t care about, that’s worthless, and ideally, is a convenient size for squishing spiders with.

That’s where this paperback edition of Fast and Slow Thinking by Karl Daniels really shines. It’s a small size with a decent amount of weight, perfectly sized for medium to small hands. It’s reasonably well balanced for emergency throws (when you can’t be bothered to get off the sofa, for those hard-to-reach spiders, or for “runners.”) I appreciated the glossy cover, which makes it easy to wipe the legs and squishy innards off later. Since you’ll never want to read it, you won’t feel bad for soiling it.

At this writing, the Daniels “book” is out of stock. Must be a lot of spiders in the nation’s living rooms.

Addendum: Perfect Fark blurb: No, no, Dickens wrote David Copperfield with two Ps. This is David Coperfield with one P by Edmund Wells.

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So here it begins

Is it just my imagination, or does Shining Armor look like he’s awaiting instructions from the Borg?

Shining Armor with Princess Cadence before the Royal Wedding

And now that I think about it, given vaguely similar circumstances, I probably had exactly the same expression way back in nineteen mumblety-mumb.

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Not getting any cheaper

Somehow this seems like a ton of money:

According to TrueCar.com’s data, the average selling price of a new car sold here in the U.S. last month was $30,748, marking an all-time record (last year’s figure was just $28,771). While buyers are currently looking toward smaller, less expensive and more fuel-efficient models, overall vehicle sales have jumped ahead of the rest of the slowly recovering economy. In addition, manufacturers are keeping production more in line with demand, resulting in significantly scaled-back incentives.

That new number looked strangely familiar, so I dug into the archives and came up with $30,519, the original sticker price of my ride. Then again, that was in 2000; adjusted for inflation, that’s more like $40,348.

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A lower higher-education bubble

Santa Monica College, a two-year school in the California Community Colleges system, came up with a way to continue to meet student demand while dealing with budget cuts: offer high-demand core classes at a higher tuition rate. A typical three-credit-hour course might run $150; under the SMC plan, the courses most in demand would be repriced to $600. This went over about as well as you think it would:

The Board of Trustees at Santa Monica College voted Friday to postpone a two-tiered fee increase that led to angry campus protests where students were pepper-sprayed… The trustees had approved the two-tier fee scale last month.

Students called for a referendum on the measure, and California Community Colleges Chancellor Jack Scott asked [President Chui] Tsang to put the plan on hold, expressing concerns about its legality. The school has said its lawyers have concluded the plan is legal.

The California Assembly had considered, but did not pass, a bill to make such plans legal.

(Via Joanne Jacobs at Community College Spotlight.)

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Stop me if you’ve heard this one

John Johansen’s Mummers Theatre in downtown Oklahoma City has always had its detractors; it is said that upon its completion, civic booster Stanton L. Young ran a campaign to plant enough foliage to hide it.

Mr Young probably never saw this:

Orange County Government Center

Now that’s Brutalist. Paul Rudolph designed the Orange County [New York] Government Center in 1963; it was completed four years later.

Does this sound familiar?

The Orange County Government Center, closed all last week because of water damage and a power outage caused by Hurricane Irene, shut down again Thursday — indefinitely this time — for the county to remove water and mold attributed to the continued rainfall.

“The unrelenting rains have caused considerable building-related issues which have impacted the operations of the County Government Center,” County Executive Ed Diana said in a statement after the 3 p.m. closure. “As a result, I have ordered that the building be closed until further notice as we evaluate and remediate the situation.”

Demolition is being pondered. The New York Times asks:

Many want to preserve it, even though, like many examples of Brutalism, it has not aged well. Do even ugly, unpopular buildings deserve to be saved if they are significant? Or should a community, or owner, be allowed to eliminate architectural mistakes?

I think you know where I stand. But I’m not the guy who has to sign the checks for the preservation money.

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Larger than lint

I’ve never quite believed that there’s an alternate dimension which occasionally swallows up a single sock, but what other explanation is there?

Research has been proposed:

Maybe it was my idea to end the plight of the refugee sock orphans? All I suggested was that we take a picture of every sock orphan and tape them to the sides of all the laundry hampers and baskets. Like they used to do on milk cartons. Let’s face it. Laundry for 7 means a LOT of hampers and baskets! Then, if no family members were found, we could decide their fates as needed.

Personal observation suggests that sock orphans increase with the square of the number of sock wearers on the premises, so if I lose one sock a year, they lose one just about every week. Come to think of it, I haven’t lost one this year, though I can think of two that could probably be dropped into the rag bag. Do they match? Not a chance.

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All things Kernsidered

Filing for state political offices began yesterday, and I’ve already been dealt my first surprise: Sally Kern is being primaried.

Curtis Moore, filing as a Republican in House District 84, lives in Bethany; I am not entirely certain if he’s the same Curtis Moore who sells insurance and who represents Ward 1 on the Bethany City Council, but if so, at least he’s not a political novice, as is often the case with sacrificial lambs in both parties.

I have little personal stake in this race, since I don’t live in 84 and I expect the GOP will hold a comfortable margin in the House anyway, but this race is always interesting. The 2010 Democratic candidate, Brittany Novotny, has moved out of the district; at this writing no Democrat has filed in 84. There’s still plenty of time, though: filing ends Friday at 5 pm.

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L.A.ed to rest

You’re forgiven if you weren’t thinking of the Los Angeles Clippers as a defense-minded outfit. I mean, yeah, they have Blake Griffin, though he’s known more for dunkaliciousness. But Blake was hauling in the rebounds left and right tonight — he finished with 12 — and Chris Paul, held to seven points in the first half, exploded; the Clips held the Thunder to a mere 13 points in ten minutes and took a five-point lead at the two-minute mark. Then Serge Ibaka did one of his patented Air Congo dunks, and Kevin Durant fired a three-pointer right over Griffin’s scalp, and suddenly with 32 seconds left, it was tied at 98. CP3 was not done yet: he managed to use just over 23 seconds to drive to the rim for a layup, Durant backrimmed a trey, and the Blakers, who always seem to have the Thunder’s number, pulled off a 100-98 win.

By “exploded,” incidentally, I mean “24 points in the second half.” That’s 31 for Paul. Then again, the Clips’ big push in the fourth started with the second unit, while Paul rested for the stretch run. Reserve swingman Nick Young, in fact, had the highest plus/minus of the night: +11. The Clips outshot the Thunder, 47-41 percent, though OKC had two more rebounds. (And the Thunder made 12 of 26 treys, though the question remains: why are they trying 26 treys?) L. A. didn’t get to the foul line that often, but they made 19 of 21, not bad for a team that is known for clanking them. (Even Griffin, arguably the worst, only missed one.)

The problem for OKC was too many shots that didn’t go anywhere useful, although you can probably thank the Clippers for some of that. Durant went 7-21; Russell Westbrook was 3-14. (Westbrook did put up 15 free throws, making 13 of them.) I mean, when your most efficient offense comes from Derek Fisher — 3-5, 2-2 from three, 8 points in less than 15 minutes — someone needs to raise the You’re Doing It Wrong flag. All the role-playing guys played their roles; it’s just that the stars were misaligned, or out of position, or something.

The Kings will be here Friday night. Saturday night, it’s off to Minnesota. As Scott Brooks might say, these guys can play. We’ll see the Clippers once more, at the Staples Center, as if having to play the Lakers there once more wasn’t bad enough.

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Bugging in

The city says it’s bugging out, but what do they know? From City News, attached to the monthly utility bill:

Bring your little ones to the Myriad Gardens May 11-12 to help release thousands of hungry ladybugs into the Crystal Bridge Tropical Conservatory. Games, crafts and other hands-on activities will make for family fun. Bugs available on a first-come, first-served basis starting at 9 a.m.

Emphasis added, simply because I’m amused by insect-availability statements. There are times during the year when we’re awash in the little buggers.

If you’re not familiar with the Tropical Conservatory, or “Supertube” as no one calls it, this is what grows in there.

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It couldn’t be simpler

Marko, riffing on a search-engine query — apparently some people actually curate these things — explains how to write a military novel:

Just write whatever novel you want, and then make an editing pass and insert ranks in front of every character name. Presto!

“Corporal Bella woke to find Lieutenant Edward watching her from the foot of her bed…”

Twilight: Breaking Camp at Dawn? I would so read that.

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Straight outta Mumbai

Model Poonam Pandey, twenty-one this year, has enjoyed, or perhaps not enjoyed, the distinction of someone posing as her: apparently a fake showed up at a function in Ujjain, prompting this response:

“I’m aware of it and have already sent a legal notice to the event organisers. In fact, I was taken aback when the media of Ujjain informed me about this and soon after that I decided to take legal action against the organisers.”

The real Poonam Pandey looks something like this:

Poonam Pandey by the pool

Which is not to say she hasn’t invited controversy on her own. In 2011 she said she’d strip for the public if India won that year’s Cricket World Cup, drawing this response:

Speaking to The Hindu, Maharashtra BJP Mahila Morcha [women’s group] chairperson Neeta Kelkar said: “I have written a complaint to the Sangli Superintendent of Police. He has forwarded it to the Mumbai Police Commissioner. We all know this is a cheap publicity gimmick. The honourable President is going to be present in the stadium tomorrow (Saturday) to watch the match, along with the Sri Lankan President and the Prime Minister of Bangladesh. What impression will they have of our country if something like this happens in front of the huge crowds there? Ultimately, it is for the police to take action against her. The responsibility of maintaining law and order lies with them.”

India did win, but Pandey kept her clothes on.

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Hence the term “cocksure”

Roosters, as a rule, are not easily cowed. (See, for instance, Lisa’s story of the Phantom Chicken of Sonoma, just about this time last year.)

Now comes this Tennessee-bred bird, who arrives every morning to hang with his breaded relatives:

A red rooster sauntered down South Street in Collierville three months ago and now makes daily visits to Gus’s Fried Chicken at 215 S. Center, cock-a-doodle-doodling to herald his arrival.

Can they get him to go? Not a chance:

Collierville Animal Services has tried for months to catch the rooster before he gets attacked by a raccoon or other predators the plucky, wily rooster may face. They want to take him to a farm where he can be with fowl that still have a pulse.

“I’ve tried reasoning with him,” said shelter manager John Robinson. “I told him it’s not good for him to be hanging around Gus’s and that he might get himself in trouble. He doesn’t listen. He fears no man or Gus.”

(Via Fark.)

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Clean as a whistle

Lubbock’s Fantasy Maid Service will clean your premises — $100 an hour for one staffer, $150 for two — dressed in as little as you desire. “There is nothing illegal going on,” says owner Melissa Borrett.

Sgt. Jonathan Stewart of the Lubbock PD says otherwise: it’s a sexually-oriented service, he says, and the maids don’t have the appropriate permit for such. Of course, he’ll have to see the operation for himself, and they will cut him some slack on the price:

We offer discounts to law enforcement and other public servants(heros), including but not limited to paramedics, fire fighters, and military (active and vets). We know how busy y’all are, so let us do your housework for you while you sit back, relax, and scope out the eye candy. :)

I would have to think long and hard before engaging such a service.

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Following the Trend

Edward Loh’s editorial in the May Motor Trend is called “#bravenewworld,” and I admit to not taking it particularly seriously — until I looked over at the editorial masthead, as Loh suggests, and discovered that at least half of the names thereupon are accompanied by Twitter IDs. (Loh is @EdLoh.) At the very least, they’re not going to hide from us wired folk, which has got to be worth something these days.

This is what made me smile, though: they’re also on Pinterest.

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Those were the days, my friend

McGehee, who’s been pounding a keyboard about as long as I have, wonders if it’s worth the effort anymore:

I really don’t think we’re making things happen anymore. Obviously I’m not, but the bigtime bloggers under their corporate umbrellas have become scared shitless of rocking the boat, lest the advertisers who fund their incomes become too jittery about the resulting controversy. And their worries are not altogether unfounded.

The early double-oughts were the Golden Age of new media. Ten years later it’s a Gilded Age where the former reformers are all smug, sluggish mugwumps.

Then again, I may retain just enough idealism to believe this still:

Few of us are big-time operators, and that’s not likely to change; but we’re right on the edge of the Era of Decentralization. Why else would the Bolshevik 2.0 crowd in Washington — which isn’t just government, by the way — be working so hard to build up their forces? Because they know they can be replaced. In such an environment as this, even the least of us matters more than he thinks.

Probably why I’m still here after sixteen years and a day.

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