The undead are uneasy

Are you disturbed by the possibility of the Zombie Apocalypse? Trust me, your anxiety is as nothing compared to that of the “Haitian American Vodoo Association,” which reportedly sent a cease-and-desist letter to a gun-club site that was discussing the matter. Excerpts therefrom:

HAVA has become aware that you have engaged in spreading false, destructive, and defamatory rumors about Zombies. Your defamatory statements involved the article on the website ( dated 11/11/11 called “Zombie Apocalypse”. The article portrayed Undead Haitian Americans (A.K.A Zombies) as dangerous flesh eating monsters that pray on humans and other living creatures during the night. This image of a Zombie is completely inaccurate.

There is, of course, the slight chance that HAVA is engaged in the intra-Americas chain pull:

Modern Zombies are honest hard working undead people. They are just like the rest of Americans, but do not have any pulse nor brain activity. They are productive members of society and have been very successful in the local, state, and federal government. They have become model bureaucrats, and have continually worked toward building a positive reputation.

On the other (grey) hand, if they’re occupying the bureaucracy, that’s an even better reason to give them, um, ungrief.

(Via Bayou Renaissance Man, who finds it risible.)

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Hence the journalistic term “grabber”

This is a news article, but its opening sentence is worthy of the Bulwer-Lytton Contest:

Zot L. Szurgot allegedly walked out of her house naked, turned to five of her neighbors and started wagging her penis.

If that seems slightly, um, contradictory:

According to the First Kingdom Church of Asphodel’s website, “Zot Lynn Szurgot is one of those magical people living between genders; born and raised a boy, she lives part of eir [sic] life as a masculine union-supporting electrician and part as a feminine spiritual being.”

Um, okay. If you say so. It’s not like this has never been heard of before.

Whoever submitted this to Fark, incidentally, evidently thought that first line was better than any conceivable headline, and I wouldn’t disagree with that either.

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Heady Pacers

The Indiana Pacers hadn’t yet had a shot at the Thunder this season, but they knew what to do: run up a big lead and then hold on. By “big,” I mean 12 points after the first quarter, 24 points midway through the third. The OKC never-say-die drill, had it started earlier, might have paid off; but the closest they would get would be three, and they lost it by five, 103-98.

Neither side shot especially well — OKC 44 percent, Indiana 41 — and both were fairly blah from the three-point line (6-19 each). But the Pacers snagged 50 rebounds, 18 offensive, versus 40 and 11 for the Thunder, and seemingly as always, the OKC turnover number, this time 17, was alarming. The usual suspects got most of the points for Indiana — Danny Granger 26, Roy Hibbert 21 (with 12 boards), David West 14 — but perhaps the biggest thorn in OKC’s side was second-year guard Paul George, who before fouling out picked up eight points and a career-high 16 rebounds. (And he played nearly as much time as Granger, which meant that Frank Vogel decided to leave the kid in while he was on a roll. Good call, Frank.)

While the Pacers were spreading the offense around, the Thunder was relying on the All-Star contingent, and they got All-Star worthy numbers — eventually. (Russell Westbrook had only three points at halftime, yet finished with 21; Kevin Durant went off for 44.) Your telltale statistic, though: Derek Fisher was +12, tops on the team, despite scoring zilch and accumulating five fouls. The OKC bench contributed only 18 points, ten from James Harden, eight from Nick Collison, but they had at least some success keeping the Pacers from running up the score even more.

And now follows a trap game: Sunday at the ‘Peake against Toronto, a team with a miserable record, but which had a miserable record last year and still swept the Thunder. Even the Easter Bunny might have his doubts about this one.

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Keep your snoopy eyes on the road ahead

The May issue of Automobile has a three-page article on distracted driving, which features in a sidebar a paragraph from a 1930 magazine article that anticipates our current Nanny State to a remarkable degree:

In some quarters, the argument has been advanced that a radio set in an automobile must necessarily act as a distraction to the driver. There has even been some discussion of the possibility of adverse legislation, or at least legislative control of the use of radio in cars.

Substitute any number of components for “radio,” and this could be a 2012 article.

The title here, of course, comes from “Seven Little Girls Sitting in the Back Seat” by Paul Evans and the Curls, in which said girls are having fun with Fred. Either these girls are a lot littler than I think, or this must be Fred Schneider’s Chrysler, which seats about twenty.

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Over my head, evidently

Some of you may remember the utter ineptitude exhibited by yours truly a while back when I was confronted with a bad bulb in the track-lighting array in the kitchen.

On the off-chance that you were curious, it’s a 50-watt MR-16 halogen bulb, running on 12 volts and casting a 40-degree beam. And apparently they last, at least in this installation, a bit less than four and a half years. (I had three spares on hand last night, because … well, because.)

Tangential note: These particular bulbs cost about five bucks apiece. I looked at one of them and wondered how it compared to automotive headlights, about which I know zilch these days since I haven’t had to change one since the days of sealed-beams. Gwendolyn, says the service info, takes an HB2 bulb, 55 watts (low beam) or 60 (high), for which the dealership will charge me $36, which is probably only about twice what I’d have to pay for the non-OEM product. Not that Nissan makes any of their own light bulbs, mind you. (I do not have the HID lamps, bulbs for which cost somewhere in the low three figures.)

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Inspiration for a Friday

In case you’d like to hear some Friday-related songs besides the one we promote here seemingly every week, Delaney McDonough of Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk High School, south of Albany, New York, has a small playlist for you, complete with videos.

The one song she mentions I hadn’t heard before was NSYNC’s “Just Got Paid,” from their album No Strings Attached, which opens with this line: “Thank God it’s Friday night and I just-just-just-just-juuuuuuust got paid!” Things evidently were happening faster in 2000 than in, say, 1956, when Little Richard announced that it was Saturday night and he just got paid.

Of course, the only person who ever got all his work done by Friday was Robinson Crusoe:

Perhaps we should leave it at that.

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She shoots, she scores

In fact, she dunks, and some people have a problem with that:

Last week Baylor University’s Brittney Griner set the basketball world on fire with 2 dunks in the NCAA tournament. Not that women haven’t always had the ability to dunk, but it was informally forbidden for being “masculine.” When Candace Parker won the dunk contest back in 2004 it set off all kind of outrage from asshats like Jason Whitlock, who, not coincidentally, reaffirmed his opinion on ESPN a few days ago, exclaiming how much it offended him that a girl would do a man thang.

Part of said asshat’s opinion:

And while it might be exciting to see Vince Carter hang on the rim and growl after an alley-oop dunk, I can guarantee you that no one wants to see Candace Parker do it. Consider it another one of those ugly double standards that you’re better off embracing rather than fighting.

Truth be told, I don’t particularly want to see Vince Carter hanging on the rim; I have a limited appetite for that sort of showboating generally.

But here’s (yes!) your telltale statistic: For the last quarter-century or so, the average NBA player has been six foot six, maybe 6’7″. Brittney Griner is 6’8″. She could posterize rather a lot of guys.

And there’s this:

When Griner and Baylor failed to reach the Final Four [in 2010], an ESPN poll was taken before the Stanford-Texas A&M semi-final basketball game saying that 63% of Americans were disappointed that Griner and the Baylor women’s basketball team did not make it past the quarterfinals. Many of the people who participated in the on-line poll said they would very much like to see women dunk in NCAA basketball.

I note that her Wikipedia page is now locked. I blame asshats.

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It’s a turn-down day

Occasionally — not too often — a publisher or a publicist will offer to send me a book or an electronic version thereof, in the hopes of bagging a review. As a rule, I’ll accept these if there’s at least a reasonable chance, in my judgment, that I’ll get something worth reading out of the deal; otherwise, no thank you.

Roberta X, however, is a bit stricter with her standards:

“Get a free review copy of my book!” (No. Tell me where I can buy it and if the price is within my budget, I will review it; I think getting a freebie instead of paying for it affects my ability to give a fair review. I’ve done so once and I lucked out, it was a good book, but I’m not chancing it again. If you shy away from that, then maybe you need to sit down and do some editing.)

This is, pretty much by definition, the no-compromise position, and if she feels that getting the freebie influences her judgment, she’s doing exactly what she ought to be doing.

Which suggests the obvious question: does getting the freebie influence my judgment? At some level, I suspect it must; there’s a lot to be said for not actually parting with $24.95. And I do work to minimize that influence. That said, though, “minimal,” as a general rule, does not equal zero.

Disclosure: I bought her book.

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Imagery 101

LeeAnn’s brand of subtlety is like no other:

It is possible, I learned, to put on a hospital gown the wrong way.

My limited experience with such suggests that it’s not only possible, but likely.

Of course, she can still bring out stuff like this:

I have an appointment with my tiny Scottish doctor tomorrow and he’ll likely turf me out to some gastrowhatchacallit and then the real fun will begin and oh yeah, babies, more riveting “I puked like Pat Robertson at a Courtney Love roast” stories.

Not so subtle, perhaps, but I defy anyone to paint a more vivid picture, even with twice as many words.

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Meanwhile at the Coaster Factory

The standard advice for burning audio CDs for use in old-school CD players — the one in my car, for instance — is to burn at the lowest speed available. (See, for instance, this old Tom’s Hardware thread.)

The last Nero update I installed doesn’t allow for speeds under 8X, so I’d been using that, with mixed results. While I was reading up on something else, an idea occurred to me: what if my burner, which is supposedly capable of doing DVDs already and has had one firmware update, just doesn’t like being slowed to 8X?

So on the next disc, I said the hell with it, and cranked it up to 32X. No problems. Encouraged, I did one at 48X. Halfway through playing Track 2, the player errored out and did not recover; it had to be shown a new disc and given a promise that it wouldn’t have to look at such things anymore.

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I have no idea what this means:

Bilingual Corn Oil

Reminds me vaguely of the Holy Corn Oil used in an old Firesign Theatre sketch, which was obtained (of course) from the corns of a holy man.

(Via, which keeps finding this weird stuff in the papers.)

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Approximately 42 mh

Millihelen, n. That quantity of beauty required to launch one ship.

Samantha BrickSamantha Brick, forty-one, drew over five thousand online comments for this Daily Mail article in which she echoes an old Pantene ad tagline: “Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful.”

I admit to having read only a relative handful of those comments, but one common theme seems to be that they hate her for thinking she’s a looker. Based on the available evidence — see photo and click to enlarge if desired — I’m willing to accept Roxeanne de Luca’s judgment here, up to a point.

[F]or a normal woman (i.e. one you are likely to encounter while walking to the supermarket), she’s lovely, and for over 40, she looks damn good.

The smile looks somewhat forced to me, but otherwise, I’ll go with “damn good for over 40,” if nowhere near, say, Helen of Troy.

The key here, I think, is “supermarket,” since I have previously admitted to scoping out the babes in the frozen-food aisle. On any given Saturday afternoon, there’s probably someone at least as high on the millihelen scale as Samantha Brick, somewhere within the Homeland at May and Britton, and while she’s not going to pay any attention to me — odds are she’s spoken for anyway — I am always grateful for the view.

Well, almost always grateful. Somewhere in this sea of pulchritude might be someone like this:

There is a certain type of middle-aged woman who is just so unhappy with her lot in life that she’s not going to rest until every other woman around her is miserable, too, and her prime targets are younger, successful, well-proportioned, happy women.

And Lewis Grizzard isn’t around to take them off our hands anymore, either.

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Dogged pursuit

They’re yelling “Play ball!” at the Nickel Slots Ballpark tonight, and Greg Ezell notes in the Gazette that the concession food has been substantially upgraded from last year. For example, Franx, a hot-dog vendor, has this offering known as the “Memphis”:

[It’s] a grilled dog covered in pulled pork and cole slaw. That doesn’t just hit the spot; it carpetbombs the whole area in case there are other spots around.

There is no higher praise for the humble America wiener.

Speaking of Memphis, their evil Redbirds, Triple-A farm club of the Cardinals, will be the visiting team tonight, and they have a new manager in tow: Ron “Pop” Warner, who ran the Double-A Cards affiliate in Springfield the last five years. (The S-Cards are in the Texas League, which makes even more sense than Memphis and Oklahoma City in the Pacific Coast League.)

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Chilled factor

The trouble with being at the top of the conference, the Thunder are discovering, is that everyone else will try that much harder to knock them off. Of course, if you’re stumbling, you can knock yourself out in a matter of seconds, and OKC tripped up several times at Miami, handing the Heat a 98-93 win despite better shooting and more rebounding.

The difference: perimeter defense — the Heat actually had some — and LeBron James, who presented his case for MVP with considerable aplomb, rolling up 23 points in the first half on his way to 34, distributing the ball with dispatch (10 assists!) and pulling off four steals. Dwyane Wade, who’d been unwell, was declared okay at gametime, and he came up with 19 points. What broke the Thunder’s back, though, was Shane Battier’s two consecutive treys in the fourth quarter, running exactly the same play. If you ask me, this is exactly the point where the cause was lost, though stats guys will note that OKC was within three with 46 seconds left and hadn’t missed a free throw all night, whereupon Kendrick Perkins clanged a pair off the rim.

Perk, incidentally, got his 12th technical for about the fourth or fifth time tonight. (He’s had several rescinded, so the count varies.) Batman and Robin got decent numbers, though Kevin Durant’s 30 points were offset by nine turnovers — half the team total — and Russell Westbrook shot 9-26 to get his 28. At various points they were seemingly manhandled by the Heat; radio guy Matt Pinto’s “How is that not a foul?” turned into a second-quarter mantra. Miami expat Daequan Cook, back in the Thunder lineup, only put up one trey, but it went; the rest of the team went 4-16 from Coral Gables.

The Spurs edged the Celtics tonight, which means that the gap between first and second in the West is down to one game (OKC is 40-14, San Antonio 38-14). Being drubbed by #2 in the East obviously did not help, and the next game up is with #3: the Pacers, in Hoosieropolis Friday night.

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One particular place to go

Normally I shy away from those humongous infographics you see here and there, but this one raised a couple of points I’m sort of willing to discuss:

Killer Commute
Created by: College At Home

As it happens, my normal commute runs 18 minutes each way, though recent construction on I-44 near the Broadway Extension adds two minutes to the return trip, bringing me up to, yes, 38 minutes a day.

Of the “anger” responses, I prefer the simple digitus impudicus, as it seems pointless to yell, and if you’ve heard one horn, you’ve heard them all.

As a rule, I keep the seatback at about 110°; there’s a movable lumbar support which feels remarkably like a piece of, um, lumber.

I do, however, question that bit about “when a car steps on its brakes.” If a car is doing its own braking, either it’s a megabuck sedan with some high-priced alleged “safety” option, or it’s one of Google’s automated autos.

And by the way: last cholesterol reading (late last month) was 163. Nyah.

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Land Run 2.0

I’m typing this from a point about four miles from the epicenter of the 1.0 version in the spring of 1889, so my interest in an updated version is perhaps keener than most.

Here’s the pitch:

Today, the Competitive Enterprise Institute released a new study by Adjunct Scholar Rand Simberg: Homesteading the Final Frontier: A Practical Proposal for Securing Property Rights in Space. Simberg argues that the U.S. should recognize transferable off-planet land claims under conditions such as those outlined by the proposed Space Settlement Prize Act, which Simberg renames the Space Homesteading Act.

A legal private property regime for real estate on the Moon, Mars, and asteroids could usher in a new era of space exploration at little or no cost to the U.S. government. As the study explains, space is rich in valuable resources. But without off-planet property rights, investors have little incentive to fund space transportation or development. Simberg proposes that the U.S. begin to recognize off-planet land claims of claimants who

A) establish human settlements on the Moon, Mars, or other bodies in the solar system;

B) provide affordable commercial transportation between the settlement and Earth; and

C) offer land for sale.

These claim rights would transform human perception of space. Currently, the international community treats outer space as an off-limits scientific preserve instead of what it could be: a frontier of possibilities for exploration, resource development, and human settlement.

With regard to that last quoted paragraph, here’s Francis W. Porretto on a slightly nearer faraway place:

Antarctica could be quite valuable real estate, if its riches were properly appreciated and exploited. It conceals deposits of fuels and minerals enough to satiate the human race for a millennium or more. But in its “pristine” state, it’s near to worthless except as an outpost for weather observation… Such a desire is inexplicable upon any basis but utter hatred of Mankind.

It may be simply that the right palms need to be greased. Land Run 1.0 couldn’t take place until residual claims by the Creek and Seminole nations were considered; the Feds ultimately bought them off for about two bucks an acre, a decided gain over the under-four-cent price in the Louisiana Purchase. (I note with some amusement that my own little parcel, according to the taxman, is now allegedly worth over $100,000 an acre.)

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