Unbalance sheet

Not all income inequality is created, um, equal. Dave Schuler explains:

[M]y greatest concern on this subject is how rent-seeking drives income inequality rather than on income inequality per se. Michael Jordan’s or Tiger Woods’s wealth do not concern me. The Kennedy family trust does. In a society as complex as ours with a government as pervasive as ours these rents take a vast number of forms — they encompass everything from royalty income to physicians’ wages to the subsidies received by bankers or GM executives and workers in the late recession. When you use the wealth you’ve gained through these rents to promote increases in your rents, as the late Sonny Bono manifestly did, it presents an assault on liberal democracy.

Not surprisingly, tax rates — effective tax rates, anyway — won’t be going up any time soon:

[W]hen the highest marginal tax rate was over 90%, effective tax rates were little higher than they are now, i.e. marginal tax rates are virtually irrelevant to income inequality. Also, consider how many millionaires are sitting in the U. S. Congress. Does it actually seem likely to you that Congress will enact a tax on wealth? IMO a significant number of them are there to ensure that such a tax is never enacted into law.

And the rest, I’d be willing to bet, are willing to prevaricate about it in order to shore up their own positions.

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A series of tubes

Ever visit a house where the TV was on more or less constantly, even when no one was watching? I must admit, I find that seriously offputting, though perhaps not as much as Bill Peschel does:

The television is so much a dominating force that it doesn’t get turned off even when company arrives. I have visited many households where the TV is never turned off. The noise is irritating and difficult to for me to hear over. Even more annoying are the constant ads. Worst of all is the realization that the person I am speaking with is trying to watch the TV at the same time. Clearly, I am boring compared to the television. This just seems rude.

I’m quite dull in my own right, but I have a capacity for generating irritating noise even without the TV going.

Incidentally, the last time I used the set in the living room — the official Big Set, though it’s only a twenty-inch Sony Wega — was on the last day of last May, while contemplating my imminent doom.

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Extortion at a distance

TechCrunch reported on Monday:

You can now add Typepad, the blogging service owned by SAY Media, to the growing list of technology companies that have undergone DDoS (distributed denial-of-service) attacks, which crash websites and other online services for what are now days a time. In Typepad’s case, the company is entering its fifth day under attack, after a series of on and off again hits began on Thursday night, just ahead of the long Easter holiday weekend.

The attack appears to be similar in nature to those which have hit several other high-profile tech companies in recent weeks, including Meetup, Basecamp, Vimeo, Bit.ly and others. Though Typepad has not yet publicly shared much information about its attackers, the typical scenario involves an attacker knocking the victim’s site offline using a flood of traffic, then refusing to stop the barrage until the victim company pays a small amount of “ransom.” The initial amount is usually fairly insignificant, but once the victim agrees, it tends to go up, as they’ve now confirmed themselves as an easy mark.

TypePad’s response is here. Last night, I was able to reach the current post on Nancy Friedman’s TypePad blog, but TypePad HQ would not let me sign in to post a comment. I was, however, allowed to comment using the manual-input fields. This suggests that parts of their network, if not all of them, were under control at that time.

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I’m waiting for a Pixy Stix version

The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau has approved, and then suddenly disapproved, the line of Palcohol powdered cocktails produced by Lipsmark LLC of Arizona.

The individual packets weigh one ounce and should be mixed with five ounces of water or your favorite mixer. And they are not snortable:

To take precautions against this action, we’ve added volume to the powder so it would take more than a half of a cup of powder to get the equivalent of one drink up your nose. You would feel a lot of pain for very little gain. Just use it the right way.

This technique could make for a truly dry martini. (Current methodology: pour the gin, open the bottle of vermouth just long enough for the gin to sense its presence, and then close the bottle.) At least, it ought to be worth a, um, shot.

(Via Consumerist.)

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Now this is a tag

I have about ten thousand tags applied to various posts here, from A&E to ZZ Top. I admit, though, to having nothing like this:

The media is mostly made up of semi-pretty faces attached to the rear ends of people that don’t want you to know they exist.

Even though it’s true.

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And no light was shed

If there’s one thing tobacco companies are really, really good at, it’s finding ways around a seemingly endless series of government rules. For instance:

Some time ago, the FDA announced that they were going to ban tobacco-makers from using the word “Light” on their light product lines. The rationale was that people are smoking these things under the false impression (an impression encouraged by tobacco companies) that they were a healthier alternative to full flavor cigarettes.

To comply with this regulation:

Manufacturers substituted “Gold” for “Light” and “Silver” for “Ultra-light” in the names of Marlboro sub-brands, and “Blue”, “Gold”, and “Silver” for banned descriptors in sub-brand names. Percent filter ventilation levels, used to generate the smoke yield ranges associated with “Lights” categories, appear to have been reassigned to the new colour brand name descriptors. Following the ban, 92% of smokers reported they could easily identify their usual brands, and 68% correctly named the package colour associated with their usual brand, while sales for “Lights” cigarettes remained unchanged.

Fortunately, this doesn’t work with beer, or they’d start serving Bud Beige.

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Wyler than thou

In this scene from the 1955 Broadway run of Cole Porter’s Silk Stockings, Gretchen Wyler demonstrates that first, you have to get their attention:

Gretchen Wyler as Janice Dayton in Silk Stockings

As Janice Dayton, America’s Swimming Sweetheart, Wyler is attempting to persuade Russian composer Peter Boroff (Philip Sterling) to work his magic on her next picture: a musical version of, um, War and Peace.

Wyler, born Gretchen Patricia Wienecke in Oklahoma City in 1932, was also Chita Rivera’s replacement in Damn Yankees. Appropriately, the first track on this 1959 LP is “Whatever Lola Wants”:

Gretchen Wyler on Jubilee Records

She died in 2007 from complications of breast cancer.

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It’s the FML valve

This event with the Malfunction Indicator Light was a pain in the wallet, as they always are, but for the first time in eight years, it managed to cost less than $600: a meager $431, in fact.

Lasted nineteen miles before throwing another — or perhaps the same — code.

A discussion with the service consultant suggested that it will be, yes, around $600, if it’s what he thinks it is.

Of course, the guy who came up with the idea that it should require Specialized Equipment just to read these damnable codes is, one hopes, doing synchronized swimming in the river Phlegethon. And truth be told, I don’t much care with whom he’s synchronized. I am sorely tempted to set up a GoFundMe or some such.

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Actuarially speaking

A new task for Britain’s Pensions Minister:

Steve Webb, the Pensions Minister, said retirees need to gain a sense of how long they might live to help make such financial decisions.

He said many people underestimate how long they will live. “If you are thinking about this, what do you do? For best guidance you probably think about how long your grandparents lived. But that is two generations out of date.”

The minister is asking pension providers to give people an estimate as part of guidance which will be rolled out in April next year.

Some estimates have already appeared:

Glasgow City has the worst life expectancy, 72.9 years, compared to Kensington and Chelsea in London on 82.4.

Report co-author Professor Danny Dorling said he could not be certain what had caused the increase, but it was most likely to be poverty.

He said: “As with all these things it is hard to explain why it is happening, but we know that income inequalities have increased and it seems this has been mirrored by health inequalities.

“If that is true, we might see a narrowing of the gap as the latest income figures show that has narrowed recently.”

I, of course, am taking no bets as to the date of my Ultimate Demise.

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Finely ground

The Grizzlies obviously worked on two concepts between Game 1 and tonight: hit the damn free throws already — they knocked down all of their first twelve — and keep the ball as long as possible. And by “as long as possible,” I’m talking 21-23 seconds into the shot clock. This lugubrious pace is Memphis’ signature style, and the Thunder typically has a great deal of trouble dealing with it. They certainly did tonight, trailing most of the way, finally squeezing out a one-point lead with 1:14 left when Zach Randolph, pestered by Kendrick Perkins, gave up the ball to Thabo Sefolosha, and Kevin Durant was waiting at the door to Dunk City. Mike Miller, brought in for long-ball marksmanship, replanted a Mike Conley miss from 24 feet, burning, yes, 21 seconds. The next two Thunder possessions came up empty, Conley hit three of four free throws, and the crowd nodded off. Then Durant knocked down a trey, accompanied by a body bump by Marc Gasol, and the subsequent foul shot made it 98-97 Griz with 13.8 left. Next Memphis possession, Conley hit one of two free throws; Russell Westbrook missed a trey, Perkins slapped it back in at the horn, and suddenly there was overtime.

Apparently that was all the Department of Miracles had available: the Griz struck first, and also second, in overtime. Perkins, attempting to block a Randolph shot, drew his sixth foul; Z-Bo obligingly missed the free throw. With 1:15 left, a Durant trey pulled OKC to within one; a Sefolosha steal gave the ball back to the Thunder, Gasol, guarding Durant, fouled out, and Durant tied it up on the second free throw. The Griz took over from that point, with a Randolph layup, two freebies by Courtney Lee, two more by Randolph, and that was it: Memphis 111, Oklahoma City 105, and the series — like the last three MEM-OKC playoff series — is tied at 1-1.

Griz ball movement was excellent: 30 assists and only nine turnovers. Z-Bo had lots of points (25), not so many rebounds (six), but Memphis wasn’t hurting for boards, what with Tony Allen collecting 8, Gasol and Conley seven each. (Conley also had 12 assists to go with his 19 points. Why does this man get so little respect as a point guard?) Tayshaun Prince, not ill tonight, was still not a factor; Beno Udrih did most of the bench scoring, with 14.

On the Thunder side, you figure Durant with 36, Westbrook with 29, Ibaka with 15 — and then it rapidly tails off. Shooting 39 percent will do that to you. Both Durant and Ibaka snared 11 rebounds; Serge blocked five shots and bothered a few others. None of the reserves played much, and only Derek Fisher made as many as two shots.

Game 3 is in Memphis Thursday night. Expect things to be boisterous.

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No, they don’t eat bunnies

Personally, I wouldn’t have thought that these would have been much of a draw, but what do I know?

After-Easter Tarantulas

This store also carries crickets, rats, and bearded dragons.

(Via Bad Newspaper.)

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The dreaded Friend Zone

By now, you know the territory, or at least you’ve figured out the map:

Venn diagram detailing location of the dreaded Friend Zone

One Christopher Tognotti, evidently a full-time resident, decided to cry into a HuffPo microphone about it:

You’d be shocked how easily the thought I really like you as a person but I’m not attracted or interested in dating you can be conveyed with just the flicker of an eyelid.

Trust me, I wouldn’t be shocked. I know this land like the back of my hand.

Perhaps you’ve heard this story before, of a self-proclaimed “nice guy” who feels miffed by the romantic inattention of a close female friend. But assumptions that the alleged “nice guy” may be making — feeling aggrieved, maybe even angry, that she couldn’t be more open-minded, or see how great a couple they’d be — fall perilously short of anything describable as “nice.”

Vehemently complaining that a woman is dating somebody else instead of you hinges on the assumption that she’d want to date you otherwise. I understand the impulse, even the drive to convince oneself that such a romance could flourish.

Self-described “nice guys,” as a rule, have a tendency to fall back on that old saw about women being attracted only to bad boys | douchebags | asshats [select one or more]. It does not occur to them that the problem is not in the stars, but in themselves, that they are underachieving.

Robert Stacy McCain suggests that it’s an act, not of desperation, but of sheerest cynicism:

The problem is not their superficiality, but his.

He’s basically a stalker, a romantic voyeur, dishonestly using the “friend zone” as an excuse to get close to women in a non-sexual context, secretly hoping that he can then exploit this proximity to convert a girl friend into a girlfriend. But when he finally works up the gumption to express his secret purpose, not only are his overtures unwelcome, but his female friend feels understandably betrayed: If she had known his interest in her was erotic, she never would have let this pitiful scrub into her “friend zone” to begin with.

One might reasonably ask if there’s any substantive difference between Mr Tognotti, author of that wail, and yours truly, author of several dozen such. Well, there’s one that comes most immediately to mind: I know who’s to blame for my predicament. And unlike Tognotti, I don’t, in McCain’s phrase, “overestimate my range”:

Suppose a guy’s overall attractiveness — including all possible factors, including income, personality, etc. — is 5 on a scale of 10.

As a general rule, a 5 male’s romantic prospects are seldom going to include women who would rank as high as an 8. The best such a guy can realistically hope for is to catch a 7 in a vulnerable moment and if he doesn’t want to be hopelessly lonely while waiting for that lucky shot to come along, Mr. 5 would be wise to seek companionship among females ranking 5 or below. The very nature of Chris Tognotti’s “nice guy” complaint tells you that he’s not playing that way.

Faced with these daunting odds, I opted for the only rational choice: I gave up hope altogether. And I feel better, though admittedly not to the extent I’d like.

(Venn diagram via Notre Lien Quotidien.)

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The ride-height report

You say you can’t stand sport-utility vehicles? Amateur. Here’s a guy who can’t stand sport-utility vehicles:

You’ll search long and hard to find someone else as firmly committed to the removal of the SUV from the American road as your humble author believes himself to be. Although I drove four different Land Rovers during the company’s BMW and Ford periods (a ’97 five-speed Disco, a ’99 Rangie 4.0S that I talked my father into buying, an ’00 Freelander, and an ’03 Discovery 4.6) I had what I felt to be a valid excuse: a BMX and mountain bike hobby that found me on dirt roads and fire trails nearly every weekend. As soon as my knees fired me from those sports, I fired the Rovers and got a Phaeton like decent people do.

The bulk of SUVs foisted on the American public have been irredeemable pieces of garbage, misshapen and deeply offensive embarrassments, gravid with the moist spawn of limitless profit yet crawling with the maggots of brand destruction, long-term customer disappointment, and, occasionally, violent death at the hands of a collapsing roof.

Not that a roof has hands, but you get the idea.

I figured that the shark was jumped, or at least driven over, once General Motors deemed that Saab should have SUVs, and brought forth three unsuccessful models, built from the Chevrolet, Cadillac and Subaru parts bins.

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Strange search-engine queries (429)

It’s Monday morning, and you all know what that means: time to poke around in the server logs until such time as we turn up something that might marginally qualify as amusing. Blather, rinse, repeat. Leaves your hair — pretty much alone, actually.

overlord of the flies:  Surprisingly, it’s the kid who pins them down and pulls off their wings.

teacher story locker numbers IQ:  What they don’t tell you is that the kid in locker #172, thinking himself a genius, proclaimed himself Overlord of the Flies.

prono ghique photo:  It’s not all ghiques; sometimes you see kneards and dorques.

94′ mazda 626 1st shift rpm high:  Yeah, like you know anything about gear ratios.

can i replace automatic gearbox with manual gearbox on mazda 626:  It would be cheaper just to fix the damn automatic.

i change two transmission in my 03 ford escape 4.4 because no shift and spdometer no work why:  Because you’d rather spend $5000 on part-shuffling than pay someone $3000 to actually fix the bloody thing.

are women sunbathing in her backyard naked woman sunbathing in her backyard naked:  Yeah, we get it. I assure you, if she’s doing it, she’s not doing it for your benefit.

ipop-neo results chart picture:  Why, yes, charts tend to be pictorial. Does this surprise you?

light green bicycle Sena on Latuda advertisement:  That’ll work, sure. “Why did you choose this brand of bicycle?” “I saw it in an ad for antipsychotics.”

is a 86 lx mx 6 a 6 cylinder:  You tell me. Does a BMW 3-series have three cylinders?

stocking jerk:  Good way to cause a run, if you’re not careful.

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Captain, we are not being hailed

Everything you wanted to understand about Oklahoma weather was contained in a 30-second radio commercial yesterday, when Fiat of Edmond (which isn’t precisely in Edmond, but no matter) announced a Pre-Dent Sale.

Wait, what?

“The hail’s coming, everyone knows it, let’s just get the promotion cranked up and go with it.”

I’m sort of hoping this works the same way my snow pusher did: rendered itself unnecessary for two years just by my going out and acquiring it.

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It’s the same old story

Last October, Roger, having observed the signs of Imminent Death in his wife’s computer, ordered a new one, though for some reason he didn’t open it until March. And when he did, he may have wished he hadn’t:

I turn it on, and the first thing I say is: “Where the heck is the Start button?” I had to Read The (Online) Manual to figure out where it was, and that Windows 8 was installed on my computer. (A few days after I turned on the machine, someone told me, “Whatever you do, DON’T download Windows 8.”)

But then, of course, it was too late. And it gets better, for some definition of “better” that doesn’t actually imply improvement:

Anyway, I figure out, kinda, how this thing is supposed to work. I go to the Office suite button. It asks me if I want to buy the product. I have to BUY the product separately? Suffice it to say, it took another week before I could FINALLY use the contraption correctly. This involved, among other things having someone uninstall one of the security products I installed, because it actually made the computer LESS secure. Product A thought Product B was taking care of the bugs, so neither one actually worked.

I expect stories of this sort to continue for all eternity at least for another year.

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