Advice to the reader

“Always,” says Donna B., “read the Amazon reviews.” If she had, she’d have been spared this experience:

The book I bought — Intervention [by Robin Cook] — garnered 62 (out of 99 total) 1 star reviews. At least one of those reviewers said it got one star because Amazon doesn’t allow zero stars. Several reviewers echoed my thought exactly: The worst book I’ve ever read.

It occurs to me that had every other reviewer given the book five stars, the overall average would be only about two and a half.

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They’ll never figure this one out

It’s long been my experience that the supposedly “child-safe” medicine bottle it takes me two or three minutes merely to comprehend, a toddler can crack open in seconds.

Da Techguy points out that this applies to areas other than mere medicines:

When my youngest was about 3 he had an annoying habit of crawling out his bedroom window and onto the roof.

We tried taping the windows, locking the windows etc. Nothing worked. Finally we had a window company come in. They brought in a window and set it up in the Kitchen, and said it was “full of wonderful safety features that children wouldn’t be able to circumvent.”

If you have kids of your own, your immediate thought is probably “Hah!” And, of course, you are correct.

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Original Blogsta

Dynamo Dave Sherman celebrates ten years of bloggage, almost all of which I have read, even the stuff about me when I wended my way to Great Falls during World Tour ’04.

Geez, that’s a long time.

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It’s a car, dammit

The Swagger Wagon, it ain’t.

(Via TTAC.)

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And the doctor said “Don’t do that”

Robert Stacy McCain has a whole article on What Not To Do if you have a blog, and at least in one area, I meet his standard:

Never assume that whatever it is you’re writing about is so damned important that people have no choice but to read it.

I don’t think this has ever been an issue around these parts.

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The left stuff

KingShamus argues (over at Juliette’s) that Robert Gibbs’ most relevant qualification for head of the Democratic National Committee is that he’s never done anything like that before:

You gotta wonder what Bob Gibbs has done that makes anybody think he’s ready to shake down Democrat-leaning donors for big money donations. I had no idea making unfunny patronizing digs at members of the White House press corps could snag you an executive job at one of the two major US political parties. Unless looking and acting like your least favorite high school algebra teacher is somehow a prerequisite for the job, homeboy really doesn’t have much going for him.

Then again, he’s the New Guy, and Democrats, KS asserts, are obsessed with the New Guy:

There were probably more qualified candidates running for the Democrat Party presidential nomination of 1960. Somehow the Democrats managed to nominate a noob Senator named John Kennedy. Nearly any Democrat could’ve been CEO of America in the 1976 election. Who did the Dems pick? A relative unknown southern dude named Jimmy Carter. Before being the mack daddy of the Oval Office Intern Bang Competition, Bill Clinton was ‘The Man From Hope’, a charismatic Baby Boomer governor who hadn’t made a name for himself outside of the parochial world of Arkansas politics.

This isn’t, of course, the way the GOP does it:

This is all about entitlement, and the “we did our grunt work, we served our time in the field, now reward us” nonsense that keeps getting damaged Republican candidates their party’s nominations, because “it’s his turn” and “his guys” have taken control of the party’s city, county, and state operations center.

On balance, this may be an advantage to the Democrats, on the off-chance that New Kid on the Block actually hangs tough — or at least that he doesn’t have a paper trail. (In the case of the latter, see Obama, Barack H. If you can.)

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Check your trenchcoat, sir?

Pay hefty baggage fees when you fly? What for? Stuff everything in your pockets:

Debenhams says that budget travellers are “picking the pockets of airline thanks to a loophole in the baggage rules”.

The shop has seen sales of its big coats and lots of pockets rise by 350% over the summer, and it thinks passengers are doing it to avoid expensive baggage charges.

“Rather than pay expensive charges for stowing cases in the hold of the plane, canny holidaymakers are using their free hand luggage allowance and ‘wearing’ the rest of their baggage.”

Then again, Debenhams is a British store. Will this sort of thing work in the States? Peter says it will:

I flew [Saturday] from Tennessee to Alaska, to visit Miss D. and help with the closing stages of reassembling her aircraft’s wings. Instead of taking my normal cabin carry-on bag, I took a smaller unit, and filled the pockets of a military-surplus winter parka that I brought along.

Of course, once they catch on they’ll charge you for having the temerity to own garments with deep pockets.

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Ethel the Aardvark Goes Quantity Surveying

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Veil fail

France has banned the niqab veil, effective next year, and this is what’s in store:

Scarves covering the face were banned in schools and hospitals, as well as on public transport. Women, who violate this requirement will be fined €150 and given a course of lectures on the basics of the secular foundations of the French Republic. Men who force women to wear burqa will face up to a year in prison.

In the meantime, there’s this:

Two French female students have made a film of the pair of them strolling through the streets of Paris in a niqab, bare legs and mini-shorts as a critique of France’s recently passed law.

Calling themselves the “Niqabitches,” the veiled ladies can be seen strutting past prime ministerial offices and various government ministries with a black veil leaving only their eyes visible, but with their long legs naked bar black high heels.

Only one of the two is actually Muslim. The reaction from passers-by was predictable:

At one stage in the film, the two women approach the entrance to the ministry of immigration and national identity, only to be told by a policeman to go elsewhere. However, a policewoman also present is delighted by their clothes. “I love your outfit, is it to do with the new law?” she asks. “Yes, we want to de-dramatise the situation,” one girl replies. “It’s brilliant. Can I take a photo?” asks the policewoman, who will soon be required to fine public niqab wearers.

(Via Tom Maguire.)

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On the street where you live

Well, actually, this probably isn’t the street where you live:

Nofing Way

On the other hand, if it’s the street where you’d like to live, for a limited time only, here’s your chance.

(Via FAILBlog, tweeted by Nancy Friedman.)

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Shenzi’s calling for take-out

Mother Gaia, left to her own devices, is a major biatch, and the next time some self-righteous greenozoid tells you that mankind is a blight on the ecosystem, you might want to remind him of this:

Not being eaten by hyenas every time you get a sufficiently slowing case of the sniffles is one of those major motivating forces for having civilizations, which is a point that has usually never been fully appreciated by people writing posts about the dangers of thimerosol in vaccines on an iPad. Not being eaten by hyenas is also a rarely recognized but truly essential ingredient for producing people whose full-time profession is philosopher or pundit.

Of course, if after hearing this, he wants to be eaten by hyenas, there’s no reason on earth why you’d want to stand in his way.

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Help wanted, in a manner of speaking

A number of Actual Reporters read these pages, so I figure they’ll nod and go “Yep” when they see this ad posted by the Illinois Valley News of Cave Junction, Oregon:

How bad do you want to be a reporter? Bad enough to work nights and weekends? The poor glutton for punishment that’s chosen will cover city and county government. Sports and general interest feature stories.

In exchange for your long hours and tireless efforts you will be rewarded with low pay and marginal health insurance. Please send resume, and 3 writing samples to [email address redacted]. This is a full time salaried position located in the beautiful northwest.

I suspect the next thing they’ll say is what I said: “There’s an Illinois Valley in Oregon?” (Answer: Yes.)

This is, says Gawker, The World’s Most Honest Journalism Job Ad.

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Not something to hoot at

Boobie-Thon 2010 is under way, and as always — this is the ninth version — it’s a surprisingly simple drive that raises more money than you’d think. (The take for the first eight years ran upwards of $60,000.)

As part of the deal, you get to see some perfectly nice racks and some imperfectly-nice racks, and you get to pass some cash to Susan G. Komen for the Cure. (There is a parallel drive for cleaning up the Gulf Coast; you can donate to either or both.) It’s very easy to be snide about “raising awareness,” but I figure there’s no better way to raise awareness than to show you just what it is you’re trying to help: it’s more than just another pink ribbon, folks.

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Strange search-engine queries (244)

We want to assure you, up front, that the person who takes care of this function every week has no plans to resign and run for mayor of Chicago.

Beautiful day out there:  And you’re inside, playing on the computer. What’s wrong with you?

you call that a party:  It’s all fun and games until someone ends up on the computer.

sam walton was a miser:  Which is the best kind of ancestor to have, if you think about it.

the thriving for corruption:  A political history of — well, just about anywhere, really.

what is the back wing of a car called:  SPOILER WARNING: It’s called a spoiler.

persistence is futile voyager:  Harry Kim probably thought so, after repeatedly striking out with Seven of Nine.

montgomery ward enema pages:  “Hey, Squigster, I think I’ve got the new name for the band!”

testicular cup introduced in 1874:  “Unless you like this one better.”

why isn’t chalant a word?  Seems like a perfectly cromulent word to me.

house “101 seats” “up for grabs”:  Caution: not everyone’s seat is going to be one you’d want to grab.

Dust ladened filter:  Got one of those in my vacuum cleaner. It sucks. Or, more precisely, it doesn’t suck.

men’s magazine watch air filter:  I wonder if it’s laden with dust.

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Dino would never tell

And besides, Betty was way cute.

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Je pars avec toi

Kevin Walsh, proprietor of Forgotten NY, occasionally posts classic hits (via YouTube) on Facebook, and the other day he got around to an old favorite from 1963: “I Will Follow Him,” by Little Peggy March.

Still, when I got around to compiling a Valentine’s Day Mix several years ago, I passed Peggy by in favor of the original French-language version by Petula Clark, which you can see here in what appears to be a Scopitone film.

These days, of course, most people probably remember the 1992 adaptation in Sister Act, which was splendid in its own right. But I’m here to tell you, Petula has been singing this song for almost fifty years, and she still sounds pretty darn good:

The Charlie Chaplin reference near the end is to “This Is My Song,” written by Chaplin for his 1967 film A Countess from Hong Kong, starring Marlon Brando and Sophia Loren; it was a smash hit for Petula and presumably was the next song on the program. It sounds something like this.

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The [blank] beneath my wings

Evidently, it’s a platform:

Prada wingtips from 2011 Spring-Summer

I haven’t quite decided what I think about this item from Prada’s 2011 Spring/Summer collection. From here up, this is a traditional wingtip, with all the traditional detailing in all the traditional places; from there down, it’s, um, less so. And as ShoeBlog says, “If Prada’s shoes don’t jump start the dreary weather, at least the colors will.” Whatever you may think of that orange stripe, it’s certainly not drab.

Maybe. After the jump, what they saw on the runway above those shoes:

Read the rest of this entry »

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The giant doodle flute

Remember that business about a picture being worth more or less a thousand words? It would probably take me a thousand words to explain this in full, so I’m pointing you to the appropriate picture.

If “appropriate” is the appropriate word, that is.

(Suggested by Breda.)

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The buck doesn’t even slow down these days

How is it that we have all these apologies floating around and not so much as a hint of actual repentance?

I hate it when a public official is forced to confront a scandal and says something like “I claim full responsibility” or “The buck stops here”. Much as I hate it when a celebrity faux-apologizes, a defendant reads off a lawyer-written bullet-list of regrets, anything that uses the rhetoric of apology to try to cap the well after a crime or misdeed, to “move on”.

“Boy, I’m glad that’s over.” Um, no, actually, it isn’t:

“Claiming full responsibility” should be a lifelong sentence. Not to wear a sackcloth and ashes or a scarlet letter, not to stand abashed before a hostile crowd repeating a memorized confession under the watchful eyes of minders. It should be a sentence to work tirelessly to make it right, and never give up until it is.

The worst thing about a society that has fully monetized liability is not that people lawyer up and withhold apologies until the attorneys have worked out just how much cash the guilty party owes. The worst thing is that we’ve amputated everything else from the idea of responsibility.

As though all aspects of guilt could be washed away by the writing of a sufficiently-large check.

At the link, Professor Burke suggests appropriate forms of penance for certain contemporary miscreants, including, yes, those two jerks who tormented Tyler Clementi.

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Umbrage by proxy

Britain’s grandiosely-named “Equality Act” has scores of provisions, some probably dumber than this:

It creates the controversial legal concept of “third party harassment”, under which workers will be able to sue over jokes and banter they find offensive — even if the comments are aimed at someone else and they weren’t there at the time the comments were made.

They can sue if they feel the comments “violate their dignity” or create an “intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment”.

Home Secretary Theresa May, Her Majesty’s Government’s enforcer, maintains:

“In these challenging economic times it’s more important than ever for employers to make the most of all the talent available. When a company reflects the society it serves, it’s better for the employer, the employees and the customers.”

Have you seen British society lately, Madame Secretary? What in it, exactly, is worth reflecting? Certainly not this effort to blow secondhand smoke up the kingdom’s ass.

This being from the Daily Mail, however, it seemed reasonable to seek out a second source, and the Beeb sums up several of the Act’s provisions, including the one under discussion:

“Can I now be held liable for harassment of an employee by the third party, such as a customer?”

Yes, but only “if you have failed to take reasonably practicable steps to prevent the harassment occurring,” explains [Matthew Tom, employment partner at Candey LLP].

He says that a “three strikes” rule applies, so you can’t be liable unless you know the employee has experienced third party harassment on at least two prior occasions, although not necessarily from the same source.

Jeebus. To insulate our customer-service personnel from the rudeness of customers, we’d have to disconnect the phones entirely, shut down the email server, and conduct everything via legal counsel. Not practical in a retail-services context. Customers, of course, are protected by (1) the fact that we’re supposed to stick to the script and (2) the fact that I don’t take their calls.

Still, the Law of Unintended Consequences suggests that the upshot of all this, rather than the “death of the office joke” as predicted by the Mail, will be the elevation of the thin-skinned to protected-class status. Barack Obama, whose depth is measured in nanometers, would probably like this just fine.

(Via Fark.)

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