With all my whirly goods

Dr. Marc Faber explains why massive intervention by the Federal Reserve does not, and cannot, fix the economy:

In this whole inflation and deflation debate investors have to realize that in a system — say you have a room like this and then the money is dropped from helicopters into this room, it can flow into real estate; it can flow into equities; it can flow into precious metals; it can flow into the art market or it can flow out into other currencies or into commodities that the Federal Reserve doesn’t control. They only control essentially how much money they will drop from the helicopters.

Funny thing about money: it flows where there’s a reason for it to flow, and “Because we say so,” as a reason, is something less than compelling.

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Set with ESET

As a coda to my denunciation of an antivirus package earlier this year — I won’t mention any names, but its initials are CA — I mentioned that I’d installed ESET’s NOD32 product on Toshi, the Road Warrior, my trusty (and, at nine years old, ancient) notebook. Late last night I remembered that this was the weekend that my subscription expired, and figuring that I didn’t want to see the consequences if it did, I quickly (if that’s the word) booted up the machine, sat through the Microsoft Patch of the Week routine, and discovered that ESET had bumped up a full version since the original install, though they were still providing updates for the older version.

Do your worst, I sighed as I signed up for another term and checked their Knowledge Base, which said, as I had feared, that I’d have to uninstall the whole version 3 shebang before even thinking about installing version 4. Their advice, though, was actually precise: use their uninstaller, not the Add/Remove Programs contraption in Control Panel, and delete a couple of directories when it’s done. Reboot and run new install.

And unlike the case with some other AV programs I could name, there were no hitches at all. I suppose you could consider this an endorsement.

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Buzz Lightyear goes for a dip

One sort of expects NBA stars — well, maybe not Kevin Durant — to spend enormous sums on blingulous lifestyles, but this report threw me for a loop:

It’s a slam dunk for North Bay Road. The ultra-luxury Miami street is now home to the Heat’s Chris Bosh, who just bought a $12.5 million waterfront ultra-modern manse with an infinity pool, reports The Post’s Jennifer Gould Keil. We hear that his superstar pal Dwayne Wade also signed a contract for an $11 million home just down the street — while LeBron James is still renting.

Well, okay, it’s “Dwyane,” but that’s not what caught me off guard. WTF is an “infinity pool”?

This is an infinity pool. They tend to be located in überswank places simply because of the expense. But the technology apparently is not so difficult:

In reality, the edge of the pool ends in a weir that is one-half to one inch (12 mm to 25 mm) lower than the required median pool water level. There is a trough or catch basin below the weir. The water spills into the catch basin, from which it is then pumped back into the pool.

With all due respect to Elly May Clampett, this is way beyond a cement pond.

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About three years ago, I bought one of Sony’s MP3 Walkmans (Walkmen?), with the intent of using it as a supplemental audio source for the car.

The catch, of course, is that OEM head units circa 2000 generally were not blessed with Auxiliary jacks, and I was loath to replace the entire Bose system at one fell swoop, though not as loath as I was to go drilling into the box and install a jack of my own. (Besides, a new head unit might contain a CD player that handled MP3 files, or an actual hard drive of its own, which would make the little Sony cuttlefish irrelevant anyway.)

So I acquired a couple of FM transmitters. They did not work particularly well, for a couple of reasons:

  • Available frequencies are rapidly being filled up by translators for stations I wouldn’t have listened to had they been local;
  • The power connections are near the front of the car, but the antenna is on the backlight, just above the rear-defroster wires, meaning reception is less than ideal.

So I shelved that idea, though I continued using the Walkman around the house, occasionally updating it with newly-acquired tracks. (Currently I am using a bit more than 3.9 of the 4 GB: about 760 songs.)

And one day Amazon decided, based on God knows what, to recommend this little gizmo. There were more expensive variations on this theme, but none of them, according to the customer reviews, seemed to be a whole lot better. So far, so good.

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This old man, he played out

See here what that’s all about.

(This isn’t at all the piece I was intending to write, but it’s what I wound up with. Maybe next week I’ll do the one I thought I was doing.)

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Goggie can has cheezburger

This morning’s newspaper came with a six-ounce sample of dog food, “burger with cheddar cheese flavor.”

Now it’s not like they’ve never had product samples in the bag before, although usually it’s something like laundry detergent. And unlike the usual barrage of coupons, it’s impossible to ignore an actual box of something, even if it’s something you don’t need.

I am wondering, though, if Purina, which produced this sample and which has lots of specialized pet foods, might somewhere have a “burger with Jarlsberg cheese flavor” for those picky Norwegian elkhounds and such.

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Not exactly plate tectonics

Baseball, says Sonic Charmer, is “intricately complex,” and so it is, but there are a few simple concepts at its core, and this is one of them:

[W]hen you play a baseball game, regardless of your strategic acumen, it is a metaphysical impossibility to win that game if you don’t score any runs.

The new management at the Brick, I hope, knows this: the RedHawks ended the season with a 4-11 drought and were swept in the first round of the playoffs.

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Flying the coupe

“I haven’t had any tickets since I bought a four-door sedan and moved a few miles from work,” she said. Doesn’t prove causation, technically, but:

I wonder if there is something to the 4-door sedan thing. Cause the car I got in the most trouble it was a red car, which are supposed to be bad. I didn’t generally speed as much in that car as in others, though. The worst car was my grandmother’s car, The Trawler. That car drove very comfortable at rather high speeds and no cruise control. After a back-to-back car accident and ticket, my folks threatened to put me back in The Trawler, which I told them would be fine (I wasn’t particularly deserving of generosity at that point) but that I was more at risk in that car than any other. The thing is … I never once got a ticket in The Trawler. Not once. The fact that the car was a land barge and older than I was and a granny’s car in more than just the sense my grandmother gave it to me is probably not a coincidence.

The reduction of commute distance is probably more of a factor, but … come to think of it, I’ve never gotten a ticket while driving a four-door sedan.

I’m thinking that it might be a function of conspicuousness: most cars, as distinguished from trucks and vans, seem to be four-door sedans of many different sizes, and their sheer ubiquity makes it hard for any particular four-door sedan to stand out, unless it’s painted some implausible color or its driver is doing things to attract attention to himself — or if it’s a Maserati Quattroporte, which you just don’t see every day around here.

One of my rules of the road: whenever possible, strive to be the third-fastest. The first two positions — and the last one — incur the greatest risk of annoying the Highway Patrol, and if they’re sufficiently annoyed, it costs money and points.

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The Days continue frabjously

And on the third Day, we find: a wedding dress.

This is Laraine Day, who played Nurse Mary Lamont in a bunch of Dr. Kildare pictures, and eventually found herself ill, in a sense: she was sick of the role. The producers decided to let her marry the good doctor (in Dr. Kildare’s Wedding Day), and then perish tragically.

A couple years later — we’re now up to 1944 — Day found herself in this little romcom called Bride By Mistake, which seems to be a reboot of 1934′s The Richest Girl in the World, minus the Titanic references. She does seem a bit perplexed here:

Laraine Day in Bride By Mistake

This particular still was spotted at Doctor Macro’s, along with a nice synopsis of whatever plot was to be found in this film.

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For now, we will pretend not to look

Harry Reid’s assessment of Kirsten Gillibrand as “the hottest member” of the Senate was not exactly well-received, because one’s appearance is purely superficial, doncha know. The trouble with that stance is that it’s not in the nature of beauty to remain purely superficial:

We’re more complicated than that. We are too sensitive to other cues. We get to know people in too many other ways. We fall in love. In The Beauty Myth, Naomi Wolf describes a conversation between a couple. The man is saying, “You’re so beautiful.” And the woman is frustrated because she thinks he thinks that mostly because he loves her. And once he loves her, “you’re beautiful” just means “I love you,” and is therefore devalued. Because all of the value has been co-opted by the idea of objective, loveless beauty. The kind that can be universally recognized. The kind that makes the man fall in love in the first place, without knowing anything else about the woman.

The relationship between Reid and Gillibrand, I assume, is based purely upon need, as in “I need your vote.”

Jane Austen, of course, has been here before:

When Mr. Darcy sees Elizabeth Bennet for the first time in Pride and Prejudice (one of the funniest, most sarcastic, and most playful books ever written), he doesn’t think she’s very attractive. “She is tolerable,” he says. “But not handsome enough to tempt me.” Her sister, everyone agrees, is much, much better looking. But then Mr. Darcy sees a little more of Elizabeth’s personality. He hears her laugh a few more times. He encounters her after she’s been running through the mud in a very unladylike (but very daring and excitingly independent-minded) manner. And he begins to change his mind. By the end of the book, he thinks she’s the most beautiful woman in the world. Who cares if Darcy thought Elizabeth was hot when he met her? Well, I do, because that would make for a much less interesting story.

And when you get right down to it, we are attracted to different things, a fact lost on the promoters of beauty pageants, who have an unerring knack for finding several dozen women who look almost exactly alike.

When I saw Lord of the Rings, I thought that Samwise Gamgee was the hottest guy in the movies. Hands down. There were a bunch of girls who kept talking about Legolas, and I had no idea why. I mean, he was fine looking, but Sam — he was on a totally different level. Sturdy, manly, sweet, kind, expressive. And I have friends who think that skinny, practically malnourished, slightly bedraggled hipster look is the sexiest look that has ever been invented, and wonder aloud why it took guys so long to start wearing really, really tight jeans. We can’t seem to agree.

Then again, I figure I would have stood the best (by which is meant “least bad”) chance with Mary Bennet — until she actually opened her mouth.

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A man’s reach should exceed his grass

As a matter of fact, I am trying out a new lawn service.

It ain’t these guys, though:

(Despite a recommendation from TLO, even.)

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Noises on

I have yet to see a Chevrolet Cruze in the flesh sheetmetal, but I am assured that the sound system therein is at least adequate, because a GM audio engineer has a ten-song test routine to give it the maximum workout.

Three of these tracks I own, and could use to test Gwendolyn’s Bose box, but truth be told, I get most of my stereo evaluation from a single song: “Point of No Return” by Nu Shooz — you already knew I was a fan of the Shooz — which I acquired on vinyl via the Poolside LP, and later on a 12-inch single. Both tormented my phono cartridge, with seemingly every high-frequency percussive known to man and a solid bottom end from the usual synthesized sources. Getting this on CD, of course, was a no-brainer.

This squoze-down YouTubed version doesn’t quite do it justice, but it gives you the idea. And it beats the hell out of having to hear “Hotel California” again.

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An unusually large Carnival of the Vanities, the 392nd in the series, bears the title “Thank CoTV autumn is finally here.”

After a particularly-wearying summer, I have to agree. Not that everyone is all that crazy about the fall: it was in the fall, in fact, that Sir Walter Raleigh’s head tumbled into the basket. Sir Walter, it appears, was accused of connivance in the so-called Main Plot against James I; James, rather than order his execution, instead imprisoned him in the Tower of London. Upon his release, Raleigh assembled a expedition which attacked a Spanish outpost in Venezuela; the Spanish ambassador, Diego Sarmiento de Acuña, 1st Count of Gondomar, demanded Raleigh’s head as a price for keeping the peace with Spain, and James, who by then was quite cozy with Gondomar, acceded to the demand. It was the fall of 1618, which was, of course, 392 years ago, and 350 years before John Lennon got the idea of cursing Raleigh.

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Rich guys? We got some

We got your billionaires right here: seven of them, according to the current Forbes 400 list. One fellow who hasn’t been there before: Joseph W. Craft III, CEO of Alliance Resource Partners, a Tulsa-based coal producer. (They don’t actually produce any coal in Tulsa.)

Our wealthiest Oklahoman remains George Kaiser, the bigger half of Kaiser-Francis Oil and the force behind Bank of Oklahoma: the K-Man comes in at 29th on the list with $9.4 billion. (BOk Financial, last I looked, was a top-50 bank holding company.) And before you ask, exactly one of the seven is not engaged in energy production: David Green, founder of Hobby Lobby.

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One of these must be you

All the text is in the title: Squiggles, Trees, Ribbons and Spirals: My Collection of Women’s Health, Beauty and Support Group Logos as the Stages of Life in Semi-Particular Order.

Shana Moulton put this together for a series called [IMG MGMT], and if your first thought is “Damn, it took a long time to load a whole bunch of graphics that look pretty much alike,” then she’s done her job.

(Via the Consumerist.)

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What is this $#*!?

Actually, the more pertinent question is “Where is this $#*!?”

In an effort to turn a popular Twitter feed into a broadcast comedy, CBS has given $#*! My Dad Says a rather un-DVR-friendly title.

It seems DVR designers quite understandably never suspected that a network would launch a TV show that started with the word “$#*!.”

There may be a way to find such symbols within the DVR interface, but a casual survey of customers subscribing to a few different video services found nobody who could manage to type the first word of the title.

Are people going to have to watch this show live, so to speak? Holy $#*!

(Via Population Statistic.)

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Attention fail

Apparently men aren’t quite as observant as they’d like to think they are:

Researchers at Northumbria University in England conducted a study using 3-D motion-capture technology. During the experiment, males observed the figures of females between the ages of 18 and 35 walking with or without high heels on.

Despite the fact that wearing heels changes a woman’s posture and height in a way that presumably amps up their attractiveness, the men in the experiment couldn’t tell the difference between a woman who was wearing heels and one who was not (unless the heels themselves were visible).

First question: Which way are they walking? Unless they’re headed right for you, it seems to me you’re bound to notice something like this.

Or maybe that’s the catch. After all, I’ve never seen them headed right for me.

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The Bach of numbers

This paragraph sent me off in several directions at once, which I suppose proves that I spend too much time thinking about too many things that may or may not be related to one another.

I once had a friend who disdained Bach, who claimed his music was “too mathematical” for them. I don’t know about that — it was the precision and the order that I always loved so much. Maybe I’m excessively left-brained (to use a concept that’s apparently recently been discredited), but I like that order.

For some reason, this called to mind a rant — I forget the ranter, but it was a classical reviewer contributing to Stereo Review — objecting to the electronic transcriptions of piano works by Debussy recorded by Isao Tomita in 1974. (The album, given the unidiomatic title Snowflakes are Dancing, was an enormous hit, which likely annoyed the reviewer even more.)

The music of Bach is indestructible, argued the reviewer, no matter what horrible things are done to it with synthesizers. (I assume this was a shot at the staggeringly-popular Switched-On Bach and sequels by Wendy Carlos.) You can’t do that with Debussy, though: it’s all mood and emotion, and the machines can’t replicate that no matter how many transistors are pressed into service.

But then you have to ask: is there no mood or emotion in Bach? Is this the origin of the complaint that he is too mathematical? Or is it a response to something else entirely? Baroque composers occasionally would write out only the basic outline of a piece, assuming that the performer would add embellishments and whatnot on the fly. Bach, as a general rule, didn’t do this: he spelled out lines and counterpoint very carefully. (But then there’s the second movement of Brandenburg Concerto No. 3, in which he provides only two chords; you’re on your own after that.)

And there’s the fact that so much of what Bach wrote was religious (Lutheran, mostly) in nature. Not everyone is going to be comfortable with that sort of thing: someone walked into the office today while I was blasting Bernstein’s Kaddish, and gave me this horrified “I had no idea” look. And I suspect that for the listener who views God as a concept by which he measures his pain, Bach’s calculus might actually be painful.

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Another frabjous Day

In case Felicia Day didn’t do it for you, we’ll back up a couple of generations:

Doris Day doing her best Ruth Etting

This of course is Doris Day, circa 1955, in what appears to be a shot from Love Me or Leave Me, a somewhat-fictionalized version of the life of singer Ruth Etting. This particular portrait seems to be flopped from a poster of the time — or the poster was flopped from the portrait.

Are there more Days to come? Stay tuned.

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Stylish nihilish

Andrea Harris has known people like this, and so have you, and so have I:

Their most important relationship is who they are sleeping with (not necessarily a spouse) or if they have kids that’s the most important relationship. Friendships come and go, none of them serious or dependable. If you aren’t having sex with that person or they haven’t come out of your womb/issued from your seed you don’t have to really care about them. However, status is very important. Friendship is replaced with constant jockeying for power. Among Obama’s crowd of rich liberals it’s the sort of SWPL games like who has the best collection of folk art to show how multicultural they are, or how many ethnic restaurants they go to per week, or have they traded in their Volvo for a Prius yet. Really rich people of this group get a pass, though; they can own all the land yachts they want because they have enough money to donate to the right Dem pols.

On the off-chance that you’re the last person on the Net who doesn’t comprehend “SWPL,” this is where it came from.

Most of the leftish people I know aren’t like this, but then they aren’t particularly rich, either. I’m wondering if income beyond X, where the value of X is open to debate, should be considered a risk factor for asshatitude.

And I also wonder how it is that the Obama administration managed to come up with such a dense (in several senses) concentration of these folks — “fellow travelers,” you might say. They’re definitely susceptible to this syndrome:

It’s all about high school in the end. Also you can impress your fellow not-jocks with your bravery and toughness without actually doing something disturbingly physical like fighting.

For a time, anyway. Maybe two times, if you’re awfully lucky.

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