Love — is anterior to Life

Back in Vent #717, I ventured the opinion that Emily Dickinson “looked pretty good in black” — based on the single surviving daguerreotype.

Except “single” may not be the appropriate word anymore. The History Blog reports:

But now there’s a new contender for the title of only picture of Emily Dickinson as an adult poet, and the Amherst College Archives and Special Collections thinks it may just be the real deal. The image is a daguerreotype taken around 1859 of two women sitting next to each other, one with her arm around the other. It belongs to a daguerreotype collector who bought it in a group of items from a Springfield junk dealer in 1995.

“Adult” is specified because Dickinson was still in her teens in 1847, when that previous shot was taken. Here’s a comparison of the two portraits, through the magic of Photoshop:

And here’s a report by the magicians in question.


Addendum: Fark headline: “Second photo of Emily Dickinson found. She appears small, like the wren, and her hair is bold, like the chestnut bur”.

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I knew him when

This Dave Marsh description of Joe South has stuck with me for more than twenty years: “He played [guitar] like a country boy who’d gotten his first instrument as a Christmas present when he was eleven years old, which he was and did.” But I remember him best as a songwriter, starting with “Untie Me,” the Tams’ first hit, fifty (!) years ago. All of Billy Joe Royal’s best pop/rock tunes — in other words, almost everything before the execrable “Cherry Hill Park” — were Joe South creations, starting with class-warfare favorite “Down in the Boondocks” and peaking (on the same LP, yet) with “I’ve Got to Be Somebody,” which contains the following verse:

But then one day she came my way
And I heard a voice within me say
Don’t let her get away
Whatever you do
But I never thought
That this could be
That she would ever
Look at me seriously

Almost everything even remotely romantic I’ve ever written, said or done is informed by those very words.

Still, what people will remember Joe South for is his single “Games People Play,” or perhaps the alternate take released as an LP track. It’s worth it, especially for the line “And furthermore, to hell with hate!” Marsh again: “You think that wasn’t a big deal coming from a Southerner in 1969?” I was there. I know.

That big heart of Joe’s gave out Wednesday at his home in Buford, Georgia. He was 72.

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Quantitative sleazing

I’m sure this requires no explanation:

From the desk of Ben Bernanke Of Federal Reserve Bank,
33 Liberty St New York
NY 10045-0001.

Attn: Esteemed Beneficiary,

This is officially to notify you that We have received a payment credit instruction from the World Bank Swiss to credit your account with your full Inheritance fund of US$4.5Million from the Nigerian reserve account With our Bank because they are having problem with International Monetary Fund (IMF). We the Federal Reserve Bank of New York has taken up the mantle to advocate on your interest for the release of your fund over delayed payment.

I hereby acquaint you with the procedure for the release and transfer of this approved payment fund to you. You are required to furnish to us the under mentioned statutory requisites to enable my office commence actions.

{1}. Your Full Name and Address:
{2}. Your Confidential Tell, Cell and Fax Number for easier and
faster communication:
{3). Your Bank name and address:
{4). Your A/c Name and Numbers:
(5). Your Swift Code / Routing Numbers:
(6) Occupation / Marital Status:

You probably should also send your passport and your car keys.

Incidentally, I seriously doubt that Ben Bernanke is using Outlook Express. (Email headers, how do they work?)

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Transmission error

Gwendolyn’s getting an extended (three-day) spa visit this week, having those dubious mounts replaced, including one of those fancy-schmancy electronically-controlled gizmos that costs a mere 2.5 times as much as usual, and getting a fresh tie rod on one side. Oh, and there’s an oil change involved, but that’s maybe a thirtieth of the bill.

Infiniti has banished the low-end(ish) G25 after two years of so-so business — apparently nobody wants the same car with a hundred fewer ponies — so I’m belted into one of the last ’12 G37s. Truth be told, I liked the G25 better; as I said the first time I drove one: “Only once so far have I been able to befuddle the seven-speed automatic.” In fact, the fuddle has been doubled, because this slushbox is easily confused when confronted with speeds around 20 mph, or when descending to below 60 mph: it will contemplate several gears before finally giving you the wrong one. Fortunately, this thing can be shifted manually, after a fashion, though I suspect this car is happier with a stick. (Not that any dealership is going to lend a stick-shift car to J. Random Driver if it can possibly be avoided.) Then again, they never sold a G25 with a manual, which might have been fun.

One could argue, I suppose, that it’s improper to drive a seven-speed auto the same way as one would drive a lowly four-speed. I contend that with a properly designed automatic, the aforementioned J. Random Driver should never need to know how many gears are in the box. (And my first such was a Powerglide, which had all of two.)

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Tea for one

Jennifer ZeppelinThe Lost Ogle has a nice little story about KTUL (Tulsa) meteorologist Jennifer Zeppelin, who is filling in at KOCO (Oklahoma City) in the wake of Rick Mitchell’s departure for DFW, until such time as a permanent Enigmatic Weather God can be persuaded to take the slot. (Patrick, who wrote the piece, did actually say “weather deities,” and in this town, as much as in any other and perhaps more than most, the phrase makes sense.)

Of course, to yours truly the real surprise is that someone is actually named Jennifer Zeppelin, and that I was not aware of her existence, despite the fact that she’s been in the biz since 1988. And that’s her real name, too. (She married a guy named Jim Berscheidt, and I suspect there was never any question of her continuing to use her maiden name.) Once again, I am indebted to TLO.

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Whither perfection?

Dawn Eden takes inventory of a sort:

Last Saturday afternoon at a New York television studio, watching the playback of the interview I had just taped for Colleen Carroll Campbell’s “Faith and Culture,” I decided to stop fighting and admit to myself that I am funny-looking.

By “funny-looking,” I don’t mean ugly, just … funny. The laziness of my left eye is increasingly pronounced, and my efforts to see with my good eye make me cock my head in a way that makes me look, well, cockeyed. Add to that the fact that my smile is stronger on my left side than my right, and my expression becomes occasionally Picasso-esque.

Hmmm. Well, maybe. Though in the right environments — I have in mind a little Italian place in Hoboken and the living room of the palatial estate at Surlywood — she’s quite fetching indeed, asymmetry notwithstanding.

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EULA be expected to comply

Since I still have an old turn-of-the-century Hotmail account, Microsoft was kind (or whatever adjective may apply) enough to send me a link to the Brand New Services Agreement. I give them credit for (mostly) avoiding legalese.

And I did like this paragraph, onerous as it may seem to some people:

2.2. What if I can’t access my Microsoft account? If you’ve forgotten your password or otherwise can’t access your Microsoft account, you can recover your Microsoft account by visiting the Reset your password webpage. Microsoft doesn’t guarantee that your Microsoft account will be restored or your content (as defined later) will be safeguarded.

Especially since in 2.1 they tell you that you have to sign in at least once every 270 days, you miserable laggard.

Disclosure: Yes, it’s an old Hotmail account. However, it is used daily, now that Windows Live Mail is allowed to retrieve via POP3. (I despise IMAP.)

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Left unsaid

Sometimes I don’t know what to think. Or I do, but ought not to.

One of the customer-service types wandered into the shop yesterday to advise me that yet another idjit had failed to comprehend the corporate Web form — as the saying goes, even if you make it foolproof, you can’t make it damnfoolproof — and since it was already a bad day, I went into Full Spew Mode, Stage 2. “How hard can this possibly be?” I said. “Every half-hour, it’s ‘I just don’t know what went wrong!’ It’s like our target market is Derpy freaking Hooves!” (In Stage 3, “freaking” is replaced by, um, something else.)

The guy over in the corner working on the broken printer came up with the most enigmatic smile just then. Oh, yeah, he knows.

Addendum: A particularly incisive post by Roberta X on the Fifty Shades of Grey phenomenon drew this comment from the estimable LabRat:

I’ll give Fifty Shades this much, it’s an absolutely hilarious instant personality test in female-dominated social circles. I have not had to keep my teeth locked to my tongue so hard as when the subject went around the Roller Derpy league ever.

Roller Derpy? But of course.

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All those blocks look alike

A pretty good piano player links to a story about one of the greats:

Have you ever wondered why they call it “writer’s block?” After all, non-writers get stumped and blocked from time to time, in whatever work they do. But writers get to name things, and, true to form, they named this universal affliction after themselves. That got me thinking about the composer Sergei Rachmaninoff.

Rachmaninoff reminds us that there really are two kinds of writer’s block. One is saying you don’t have any good ideas. Another is decreeing that the good ideas you have aren’t good enough.

Traditionally, I’ve been closer to the first kind than the second, though the second is gaining credibility as I write more and discover that I’m not getting any better at it. (Which is not quite true, perhaps, but I’m not yet ready to embrace the idea that I’m the worst judge of my own material.) What’s more, I am on record as considering myself to be “non-creative,” though this might be as much a shot at Richard Florida as at myself.

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A feather in their caption

Oh, what a story this tells, without having to tell us a thing:

Jeff Foster Tired of Birds

A whole bunch more like this at Ask My Little Dashie.

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Brown paper sack

Why one employer in California will now fire you for working through your lunch break:

California has a crazy law that allows employees to collect substantial ex post facto compensation if they claim they were denied a 10 minute break every four hours or a thirty minute unpaid lunch break after five. Suffice it to say we have spent years honestly trying to comply with this law. The 10-minute break portion is less of a compliance hurdle, but the lunch break portion has caused us no end of trouble. Theoretically, under the law, the employee has a choice — work through lunch paid, eating at the job post (e.g. in a gatehouse of a campground) or leave the job post for 30 minutes for an unpaid lunch break. As background, every one of our employees have always begged to have the paid lunch because they are from a poorer area and need the extra 30 minutes of pay.

Unfortunately, it does not matter what preferences the employee expressed on the job site. In the future, the employee can go to the labor department and claim he or she did not get their break, and even if they did not want it at the time, and never complained to the employer about not getting it, the employer always, always, always loses a he-said-she-said disagreement in a California Court or review board.

Not that anyone cares, but I haven’t been paid for a lunch break in the last twenty-two years. I’ve worked through it now and then, but I’ve always made up for it the same day, and nobody says a word. Then again, I’m not in California anymore.

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Guys, as a rule, do not complain much about brassieres. (And when they do, it’s usually something like this.) Then again, they’re not the individuals who have to wear them. (And when they do, it’s usually something like this.) The actual customers, meanwhile, have actual complaints:

I realize that a bra is a tricky contraption to design. There are a lot of details to consider as well as conflicting needs. But here’s the thing; there are bras that get almost everything right, but just one thing is wrong and there doesn’t seem to be any reason for that thing to be wrong; it just is. Like the lightweight nylon Playtex bra that is perfect except for the elastic band. And the cotton one that was perfect before washing. I really wish I could talk directly to designers and say to them, “Why can’t you ever get everything right? It wouldn’t be that hard. Really!”

Well, sure, if you let them charge five times as much. (And when they do, it’s usually something like this.)

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If you liked it you should have put a tarp on it

I am, in general, enthusiastic about the concept of Freaking Amazing Marriage Proposals, if only because if they’re done well, they’re almost certain to draw a positive response.

This one, however, was not done well:

A wealthy Russian businessman who wanted to propose to his girlfriend decided to test her love for him before popping the question — by faking his own death.

After working with a stuntman, a make-up artist, a screenwriter, and a director to stage a phony car crash, 30-year-old Alexey Bykov of Omsk told Irina Kolokov to meet him at a certain place at a certain time so she could witness the accident.

“When I arrived there were mangled cars everywhere, ambulances, smoke, and carnage,” Kolokov told Russian media. “Then when I saw Alexey covered in blood lying in the road a paramedic told me he was dead and I just broke down in tears.”

I have to side with Christopher Johnson on this one:

I have to think that if I ever dared to attempt anything like this, the most positive response I’d receive from my girlfriend would be to get stabbed in the throat.

No jury would convict her, either.

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Talk to me after November

The browser extension Social Fixer is now positioning itself as the solution to all that damn politics on Facebook. A sample filter:

Here is an example to start with:
(If you want details on exactly what this means, read more below.)

Now click “Move to Tab” and enter a tab name, like “Politics”. All posts that match this filter will be moved to this new tab in your Facebook stream. If you want to just hide the posts altogether, you can click the “Hide” box instead.

I’m not about to claim I speak regex like a native, but I can generally comprehend what it’s trying to do.

Still, this doesn’t strike me as something I really need. I have FB friends to my left and to my right; I figure if they’re yelling across the aisle at one another, it might prevent me from falling into the nearest echo chamber.

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And not a single cupcake was eaten all day

I am never, of course, going to be the Great American Novelist. However, I do seem to be beavering away at the distinction of being one of the Less Absurd My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Fanfic Scribes — I don’t think I want this on my tombstone necessarily, but what the hoof — by having just turned in my third story, which, in classic grind-em-out high-concept publishing style, could be considered a sequel to the first. (The second, which begins after the death of the lead character, doesn’t really lend itself to sequelization.)

I really didn’t want to revisit that first story, which ended in glorious ambiguity, but the fans — inexplicably, I seem to have drawn a handful of fans — seemed to want some sort of resolution to the tale, so I spent the weekend conjuring one up. Some of it I actually like. I wouldn’t have thought myself capable of jerking the occasional tear, but there you go.

And since I figure most of you don’t wish this sort of jerking, especially from the likes of me, here’s a scene with Ponies Being Catty:

“At least loyalty counts for something,” Dash said. “But there’s a whole lot here that nopony is telling us. Why didn’t Twilight tell us anything about this?”

Rarity nodded. “It does seem odd of Twilight not to mention something so potentially life-changing as a new coltfriend.”

“Maybe she was scared,” said Fluttershy. “If I had a new coltfriend I wouldn’t be telling everypony in town.”

“Why the hay not?” Applejack asked.

“Suppose our first date went badly and we never had another one.” Fluttershy dropped her voice to just above a whisper. “If everypony knew about it, maybe no other pony would ever want to date me.”

“Oh, that’s just silly,” said Dash. “I’ve had lots of first dates go badly. I still get hit on.”

“Have you ever had a second date?” Fluttershy asked.

Applejack roared. “She’s got you there, Dashie.”

For some reason I had entirely too much fun with that section.

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Now with less Amber

Nowadays, long after Saved by the Bell and Beverly Hills, 90210, she’s just Tiffani Thiessen, still doing plenty of TV work — her current gig is voice actor for Disney’s Jake and the Never Land Pirates, a sort of post-Peter Pan Peter Pan. She probably doesn’t wear this to work:

Tiffani Thiessen

Thiessen’s side project is Petitnest, a joint venture with Lonni Paul (Design Star) that produces nursery furniture.

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