Meanwhile on the goblin front

Mayfair Heights SpooktacularSo this year I decided: rather than have the goblins come to me, I will go to the goblins. Two adjacent neighborhoods took over the business end of Smitty Park in the late afternoon and filled it up with all sorts of things to attract the younger set, up to and including a bounce house, and by the time I showed up — pushing sixish — the place was wall-to-wall kids. (“And they weren’t even on my lawn,” sighed the empty-nester.) I dropped my supply of goodies into the community bowl and watched as mischievousness was channeled into something almost controllable. My one moment of alarm came when several dozen rolls of toilet paper were produced for an event I hadn’t seen on the agenda: the youngsters were going to TP each other. “Wrap Your Mummy,” it was dubbed. Some of these kids have a future sealing packages at UPS.

Neighborhood Association officials pronounced themselves pleased with the turnout, and things started to run down at sundown. There’s a lot to be said for being halfway between downtown and the ‘burbs.

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Neo-neologism watch

Smitty comes up with a “shiny new word”:

hypodrachmaphobia (n.) The fear that somebody else might be making more money than you, triggering a strong urge to covet, followed next by hate and then a compelling need to get a tax law passed that will help redistribute some of that bad, bad capital your way.

This is, I suspect, even more widely distributed than hypochondria (q.v.), and with generally comparable results.

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Tinkling symbolism

Marcel, not too obliquely, on the state of the electorate:

Saint Paul told the truth, and everywhere he went he got run out of town by a mob, until finally the government had him killed. If he’d been advocating a Ponzi scheme he could have made a competitive run for public office in the AD 68 elections.

“…but the greatest of these is security.” Um, no.

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Meanwhile in White Harlem

Not everyone is keen on renaming a stretch of 121st Street in Morningside Heights after the late George Carlin:

“‘Carlin St.’ Resisted by His Old Church. Was It Something He Said?” is the [New York Times] headline. And the answer, of course, is, “Yes.”

We’re not sure why anyone is surprised that the Corpus Christi School (Carlin’s grade school on 121st St.) would oppose such an honor. And we’re not sure why anyone would see this opposition not as vindictive but as entirely logical and consistent.

Carlin’s 1972 album Class Clown, as the parish pastor Rev. Raymond Rafferty says, “made mockery of Corpus Christi parish and its priests.”

An online petition, like almost all such, is going nowhere, although this bit says it all:

Perhaps the comment from “Mark Ryan” of Long Island put it right when he said, “No, Carlin wouldn’t like the idea of a street being named for him, but it’s not for him, it’s for us.”

First thought: “Who the hell asked some schmuck from Lawn Guyland for his opinion?”

And you can imagine Carlin’s reaction to that: seven words, none of them (in 1972, anyway) at all utterable on television.

(Via Kathy Shaidle.)

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But she’s a great cook

Basil sums up Michele Bachmann:

She’s like the hot chick you wanted to date, then while sitting in the restaurant, you realize that she talks to the silverware. She’s still hot, but you keep thinking she’s going to go all Glenn Close on you and you’ll find your rabbit in the kitchen.

And while we’re at it, here’s his characterization of the Ronulan Empire:

Ron Paul has really crazy followers who either take too much drugs or not enough medication. He’s got like 3 really good ideas and 800 really nutty ones. His followers focus on the 3 good ones when they argue, then slip up and tell you how evil Jews are and how the Twin Towers were blown up by George Bush.

Let’s see how fast I have to kill comments on this.

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Strange search-engine queries (300)

This feature is based on a sound Hollywood principle: if it works once, it’s bound to work again and again and again.

lads nude in backyard:  Not for long, what with winter breathing down their necks. (Offer varies in Southern Hemisphere.)

is pet sounds better in mono or stereo?  Brian Wilson says mono. Then again, he’s never heard it in stereo.

“i was just following orders”:  The first refuge of the unimaginative.

my transmission clunks at 55?  Today’s automatics are computer-controlled; it was just following orders.

striper license in north dakota?  I wasn’t aware that North Dakota required a license to stripe.

solutions to kansas city’s bad roads:  Complete restriping. Get some licensed stripers from North Dakota.

why don’t they make navy blue pumps?  They don’t go well with either t-shirt/jeans or the Little Black Dress, and who wears anything else?

why was zooey deschanel holding a yogurt poster:  I didn’t even notice. Was she wearing navy blue pumps or something?

mr. clean sexist:  Naw. He just discriminates against dirt. (Does this make him a Dirtist?)

seinfeld mopery:  Actually, George Costanza was far more likely to mope.

“particularly finicky” split infinitive:  I am not one to loudly complain about such things.

do it now! chaz:  Hey, I’m busy.

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Oh, it is ON

Plucked from the Yahoo! Answers bin:

Is it strange that I’m both a brony and a NIN fan?

I mean, on the one hand, I’m a fan of this dark, nihilistic industrial rock act whose songs are often quite pessimistic (Nine Inch Nails), but on the other fan, I’m also a fan of this cute children’s cartoon with a positive, optimistic message and a huge cult following online (My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic). Is this strange?

Balance in all things, young one.

Actually, I didn’t say that, preferring a less-metaphysical approach:

Not so strange. What NIN and MLP:FIM have in common is that they’re both quite matter-of-fact about their respective universes, however unreal they may seem to the outsider. (And really, can’t you see Nightmare Moon aka Princess Luna listening to “Pretty Hate Machine”?)

Score a hit for the Orbital Friendship Cannon.

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We should be so lucky

Germany seems to have found some money under the sofa cushions:

Germany is 55.5 billion euros ($78.7 billion) richer than it thought due to an accountancy error at the bad bank of nationalised mortgage lender Hypo Real Estate (HRE), the finance ministry said.

Europe’s largest economy now expects its ratio of debt to gross domestic product to be 81.1 percent for 2011, 2.6 percentage points less than previously forecast, it said.

Wait, what? An “accountancy error”?

“Apparently it was due to sums incorrectly entered twice,” said a ministry spokesman on Friday, adding the reason for the error still needed to be clarified.

The official German reaction is, you’ll note, wholly unrelated to the protocol followed in the US, which requires three steps:

  1. The government releases a figure;
  2. The government releases a corrected — and invariably worse — figure;
  3. Some spokeshole explains that the disparity was, um, “unexpected.”

So that’s one thing they do better in Europe. One part of Europe, anyway.

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Today’s brain-cloud generator

It’s not exactly “Define the universe and give three examples,” but it’s closer than it looks:

Statistics question

(From FlowingData via Coyote Blog. I have cropped the photo slightly to fit into this design theme; I believe no information of value to the solution has been removed.)

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While the season dissolves into nothing

Thunder center Nazr Mohammed, in a series of tweets, comments on the NBA lockout (first one is here):

In all honesty … anyone who gets paid to play a sport for a living is blessed and probably overpaid. But we’re getting paid because we possess a set of god given talents coupled with hard work that provide entertainment and produce revenue. That’s what makes it a business. In business there’s #Supply&Demand. There’s a high demand and a limited supply for what certain athletes can do. We don’t put the price on how valuable we are … the market does. As an athlete were just trying to figure out what that is. Personally I think we owe it to the athletes of the near future to get a fair deal for them.

Not everyone in the Twitterverse was happy with this assessment, you may be certain.

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Quote of the week

A national biometric ID database? Bad idea, says Tam:

“Keep it from falling into the wrong hands”? It’s a government database! It’s starting out in the wrong hands! I don’t know if you were keeping track in the 20th Century, dude, but Governments out-pointed Nigerian 419 Scammers by several hundred million to zero on the big International Dead Guy Scoreboard.

It technically may not be the Mark of the Beast, but there’s no sense in giving the Beast easy access to it.

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Working for scale

Jenn continues to slog through the Occupy Wall Street verbiage, and turned up this text marked as “Deceased”: perhaps the writer had a better idea later on. Or maybe a worse one.

Pasted here 10/12 by RalphM

New Salary Range Recommendations
Based on Concepts of Economic Sustainability and Right Livelihood

Bankers $20,000
Lawyers $27,500
Realtors $25,000
Doctors $28,000
Nurses $27,500
Teachers/Librarians/Train Engineers/Bridge Maintenance/Ship Pilots, etc. $35,000
Police $36,000
Public Servants $28,500
Laborers $20,000
Other public sector $30,000
Other private sector $29,000
Technical/Research/Academic $36,000
Entrepreneurs/Business Owners $10,000 (this annual payment by the government will serve to fund and support private businesses, which, if successful, can create needed and sought-after products. If the products are worthy and valuable, people will buy them, and entrepreneurs will be able to amass fortunes. Warning — products, such as derivatives, will probably not succeed in the new, fair economy)
Congress $30,000
President 40,000
Soldiers N/A
Defense workers $25,000

All jobs include full health benefit for worker and family, full retirement benefits, full free education for children.

Taxation — to run the government
The only tax will be a sales tax for all goods and services, which will be fixed at: 4%.

I assume all this would be implemented via a Five-Year Plan.

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Woman at her keyboard

Out here in blogdom, where classical music is definitely a minority taste, what everyone seems to remember about Yuja Wang is That Orange Dress. I mentioned, not long afterward, that I was perplexed by offerings of her recordings: her label, Deutsche Grammophon, is asking top dollar, but the downloads they vend are at least technically superior to those offered elsewhere.

Then last night, I was busy snagging A Very She & Him Christmas (on sale!) from Amazon when their Robot Suggester told me that I could get Wang’s 2009 Sonatas & Études for a mere $7.98. I jumped. The timing seemed odd, but then it occurred to me that the first sonata in the set is Chopin’s No. 2 in B-flat minor, the third movement of which is the famous “Marche funèbre,” a useful piece of music to have on hand around Halloween.

Buying the download got me only a tiny square of artwork, which is to be expected. And since it doesn’t scale upward very well, I clipped this photo (by Chen Chii-quan) from a Taiwanese news site:

Yuja Wang

A little more modest, but no less lovely.

What’s on the album, besides the Chopin: two études by Ligeti, Scriabin’s “Sonata-Fantasy” in G-sharp minor, and the Liszt Sonata in B minor. Obviously she’s not going for the “easy” stuff.

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Not a beater

Icon Derelict 1952 Chevrolet Business CoupeYou have to figure that by now pretty much everybody knows the 1955-57 Chevrolets. (And if you don’t, well, this is Chevy’s centennial year, so they’re going to remind you of them every chance they get.) Anything before ’55 is just, well, back there somewhere. For no reason I can think of, my father once scooped up a ’54 Bel Air, which sat in the back yard for a year or so — this would have been about 1967 or thereabouts — before disappearing as quietly as it arrived; this is the only way I knew that the vehicle you see here was not a ’54.

But it’s not quite the ’52 it looks like, either:

Behold the latest Icon Derelict: a 1952 Chevrolet Deluxe Business Coupe hiding a full arsenal of modern engineering beneath over half a century of patina.

The vehicle uses a complete powder-coated Art Morrison chassis with a front independent suspension and a four-link rear. An all-aluminum, fuel-injected 6.2-liter General Motors LS3 V8 sits between the frame rails and cranks out 430 horsepower. The engine is mated to a 4L65E automatic transmission and a full set of six-piston brakes with anti-lock control ensures that the whole party can come to a stop in a timely fashion. Despite looking like junkyard relics, the wheels are actually custom CNC-machined pieces shod in ZR-rated BF Goodrich rubber.

There’s a mention later on that “both seats have been recovered,” which means, there being a bench seat up front, that there’s presumably a back seat, in which case it’s not technically a business coupe, which had only a front seat and storage space behind. (See, for instance, this ’51.) On the other hand, the business coupe, regardless of manufacturer, was invariably the absolute bottom of the line, so the name has resonance even if it’s not precisely accurate.

This Icon Derelict will be on display at the 2011 SEMA Show, and no, you can’t see it there unless you’re in The Industry.

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Here’s the skinny

What can we learn from this?

  • 2008 Consumer Reports Buying Guide: 360 pages.
  • 2009 Consumer Reports Buying Guide: 320 pages.
  • 2010 Consumer Reports Buying Guide: 304 pages.
  • 2011 Consumer Reports Buying Guide: 304 pages.
  • 2012 Consumer Reports Buying Guide: 221 pages.

By 2015 at the latest, you’ll have to be subscribing to their Web site and/or installing their app to get any of this information. Count on it.

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Serfing the Web

There are those who argue that the Internet is making us stupid.

Lynn’s heard that one before:

[O]ne could plausibly make the same claim for writing. Before the invention of writing people had to remember everything they needed or wanted to remember and they had to talk face to face with other people to pass on information. But I think most people would agree that what we gained more than makes up for what we lost.

I’d go one step further. Writing didn’t suddenly become a standard part of the human skill set; it started at the top of the species, so to speak, and gradually made its way downward. And along the way, there were those who objected to that sort of thing: “What do the peasants have to write about, anyway?”

Human nature being what it is, there are those who wonder just what present-day peasants need with the Internet. Stupidity benefits the folks at the top: it presumably cuts down the number of difficult questions they have to deal with. And an awful lot of people just naturally assume that they were born to be the gatekeepers to this library of libraries, though Lynn need not beg a boon from any of them:

If I want to know something — from the name of an actress to the price of a kitchen appliance — I can look it up immediately, right then and there. I have the world’s biggest library in my pocket. Also, a notepad, a calculator, a camera, games, a GPS unit … and what else? Oh yeah, a phone.

So those who would guard the gates will have to assert their authority over the next level, whatever it may be — and they will fail once more.

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