Quote of the week

Jill Filipovic at Feministe, on what seems to be a popular, um, misconception these days:

It turns out that whitening your teeth, dying your hair and using really good anti-wrinkle cream will not in fact extend your fertility. I KNOW. My biology class taught me that if you’re pretty you can have babies forever, so this really blew my mind. Super glad the Times regularly covers the “you think you’re young, ambitious, happy and responsible because you’re waiting until you’re ready to have kids, but you actually have the ovaries of a shriveled old hag so better get to procreating yesterday” beat. Without it, women who are under the impression that they can get pregnant at 86 as long as they look like they might still menstruate would probably never have the chance to be quoted in a reputable news publication.

Dorianne Gray, line two, please.

The only thing I’d criticize here is the characterization of the Times as a “reputable news publication,” though the piece linked therein does contain trace amounts of Actual Reality™, which I attribute to its being placed in Section E, a safe distance from either the front or the editorial page.

Comments (6)




But I know what I like

Several possible lessons can perhaps be derived from this single incident:

As the opening lot of the Deutscher and Hackett auction, a single wad of $20,000 cash — an artwork called Currency — was sold for $17,500. When the 22 per cent buyer’s premium is added, the total cost comes to $21,350.

The artwork? Two stacks of 100 $100 Australian banknotes. The auctioneers had projected a sale price between $15,000 and $25,000.

Artist Denis Beaubois said he had had no idea what to expect from the auction:

“I thought there was a strong chance it would go for below [$20,000] because there’s a lot of suspicion with the work, but it’s also interesting it went for above the financial worth.”

From the purely-mercenary standpoint, the maximum bid would have been $16,393, which would have left the high bidder, after compensating the auctioneers, with a 54-cent profit.

Viewed strictly as an objet d’art, a stack of banknotes is not exactly unique, since it’s essentially indistinguishable from any other stack of banknotes: you could use notes of lower value, thereby making a taller stack, but any other difference, I suspect, is trivial, though Beaubois said that all the serial numbers are recorded to insure authenticity.

What matters most here, though, is this:

The work … [was] brought to life with a $20,000 grant from the Australia Council.

After all, it’s always better to spend Other People’s Money.

(Via Tyler Cowen at Marginal Revolution.)

Comments off




Dodecalogue

Big 12? Big deal:

[M]y truck is older than the Big 12. There is no storied legacy. There are no traditions steeped in years of repetition, no bridges between the eras built when children of the digital age reignite flames first lit by children of the Great War, the Great Depression, World War II, the Cold War, the Summer of Love, the Disco Era, or even MTV. The lifetime of every single student on a Big 12 campus — barring the odd 6th-grade super-genius or two, and they’re probably at MIT — encompasses the entire history of the Big 12, whether you date from the 1996 start of competition or the official formation announcement in 1994.

Of course, the real issue here is something else entirely:

Meanwhile, at the various dogs all these tails are wagging, tuition rises faster than inflation, classes the size of some small towns are taught by adjuncts for whom English may be a third language or by some bored prof committing death by PowerPoint on a battlefield scale, young adults learn that they can act like animals as long as they commit no sins against diversity, graduates hock diploma frames to pay back student loans and seniors learn that employers don’t much care about uncovering the patriarchy-silenced voices of 13th century Lithuanian quilt makers, because your résumé lists your “previous experence.”

Which, if nothing else, suggests a replacement for one of the defectors: Rice University. The Krispies aren’t exactly a football power, but they are in Division I, and the scholastic average for the league, about which the NCAA claims to care once in a while, would lurch upward overnight.

Comments (1)




You can’t handle the tooth

Donald Douglas looks at an easily-avoidable tragedy:

A tooth extraction is not an expensive dental procedure. Indeed, as the ABC News report indicates, “a routine tooth extraction” costs about $80.00. And while it’s a horribly needless waste of life, it’s no one’s fault but the man’s himself, 24-year-old Kyle Willis, the father of a young girl. Willis decided to ride out the pain. When he was overcome by swelling he checked into the emergency room and the doctors gave him prescriptions for antibiotics and pain medication. Willis, apparently because he was “uninsured,” bought the pain killers and blew off the antibiotics. Big mistake. Rudimentary health knowledge says buy the antibiotics and take some (cheap) generic ibuprofen for the pain and inflammation.

Having had “a routine tooth extraction” earlier this year, after which I was prescribed fourteen amoxicillin (about $6) and twenty Lortab (about $6), I’m inclined to think that the motivation here might have had less to do with saving precious coin of the realm than with obtaining an actual opioid without having to go through, um, nonstandard channels. But then I’m cynical about such things.

And besides, “rudimentary health knowledge,” as imparted by too many schools, consists entirely of “Wear a condom,” which would not have helped poor Mr Willis with this particular plight.

Comments (3)




Other than that, how was the play?

There is one distinct disadvantage to crowdsourced opinion:

Yelp Review of Ford's Theatre in Washington

For some reason, this seems to have taken a long time between visit and post.

(Via FAIL Blog’s WIN!)

Comments off




Waterbored

Dick Cheney’s book has landed on Bride of Rove’s Kindle, and she is not what you’d call overly impressed:

His is, quite possibly, the least interesting, least engaging writing style I have ever seen in print. Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t vote for Bush, I voted for Cheney and Rove. I.am.a.fan. But holy hell he’s boring. I have almost made it through the chapters that serve the sole purpose of proving that he was indeed born here on earth to relatively normal parents and that he lived a fairly normal life, managed to finish college even though he flunked out of Yale — because he wanted to flunk out of Yale and not because Yale was too hard for him (heh) — married the Homecoming Queen, managed to reproduce and stuff and not in any romantic way, mind you even though Lynn is a PhD and a great gal, it’s just that she had babies and in some nebulous, undefined way he was involved somehow.

Things apparently level off after that.

Remind me never to write a memoir. (And if I already have, please accept my apologies.)

Comments off




Cummings and goings

The archetype of the Cute Smart-Alecky Girl played a major role in my early development, or lack thereof, and now that the Women Are Not Funny attitude has been (mostly) buried, we’re seeing more of them, which suits me just fine.

This is Whitney Cummings, twenty-nine this weekend, who is responsible for two television shows coming out this fall: 2 Broke Girls (CBS), which she and Michael Patrick King created, and Whitney (NBC), which she created for herself. In this picture, she’s promoting the latter for a Canadian network:

Whitney Cummings at a CTV press conference

Oh, and before you ask: She’s fine.

(Photo source.)

Comments off




Bright outlook

“Keep your face to the sunshine,” said Helen Keller, “and you cannot see the shadow. It’s what sunflowers do.”

No shadows today at the Sunflower Farmers Market, which opened this past Wednesday in Oklahoma City to what was reported to be just this side of a literal crush of shoppers. Certainly this afternoon they were bunched up tighter than retail asparagus.

It didn’t take too long, however, to see who their regular customers are going to be:

  1. People who resist the tyranny of brand names;
  2. People who like the idea of health-food stores but who want to pick up some BBQ fixin’s on the way;
  3. People who have been waiting all their lives for a Whole Foods and couldn’t wait any longer.

And with an actual Whole Foods opening later this year, it was imperative for Sunflower to strike first. With the local grocery market shifting a bit — Walmart, which has roughly half the volume, is not growing much, while people who wouldn’t be caught dead in a Walmart seem to be on the increase — I’m thinking that Sunflower’s odds are good. To see if their goods are odd, I bought fruit both fresh and dried, an item from the meat department (bone-in ribeye, if you must know), and a no-sugar-added pie from the bakery, on the basis that these might be the items over which the local store would have the most control.

But the most telling story right now is parking. (Store staff are being told to park across 63rd in French Market Mall to preserve customer spaces.) I had unusually good fortune today, in that I had almost no wait time for a space; as I took the first turn, there was a Mini backing up. And I don’t mean one of those pricey BMW-built creatures, either: I’m talking a real live British Morris Mini Minor, presumably not blessed by John Cooper. To the three basic types of Sunflower customers, add “3½. People who were retro long before retro was cool.”

Comments (7)




Post needs fresh wood

With sadness, we note the passing of a role model gone too soon:

Joseph Brendan Cunningham, a veteran New York Post copy editor whose sharp, caustic wit produced some of the paper’s most memorable front-page headlines in recent years, died Thursday of complications following a stroke. He was 43.

He joined the Post in 1997 as a city desk assistant. Before long, he began contributing articles to the paper, then was given a tryout as a copy editor.

Over the years, many of his suggestions for the “wood” — the paper’s celebrated lead headline — found their way onto Page One.

Among them: “Let’s Mecca Deal,” about financial questions surrounding the Ground Zero mosque; “Freakin” Flyer,” about the JetBlue attendant who went berserk at JFK; and “Screw U.,” about a professor caught pimping out girls on the Web.

Cunningham’s most famous headline, “Axis of Weasel,” appeared two days after this ScrappleFace piece.

I am reasonably certain Dawn Eden isn’t looking to get her old job back.

Comments (1)




No sale

Every other day or so I spot someone on a message board wanting to know how to make tons of money off a blog. I probably should start referring them to Robert Stacy McCain:

A Venn diagram showing Set A as “people with lots of money” and Set B as “people who want to buy a blog” would show an extraordinarily tiny overlap in Set AB, none of whom have shown any interest in TheOtherMcCain.com — yet.

I figure, the moment this place ever gets any commercial value, the Feds will figure out some new way to tax it.

Comments off




Leave it to the ladies

Donna’s looking for instances where a cover version with a woman’s voice is an improvement over the original recording by a man, and cites some reasonable examples thereof, though I think the better comparison with “Different Drum” — Linda and the Stone Poneys still rule — is with Billy Roy Hodstetter’s somewhat-rushed 1966 version. (The first actual recorded version, by the Greenbriar Boys, seems unduly arch to me for some reason.)

I suggest a possibly-obvious choice: Janis Joplin’s update of “Me and Bobby McGee,” which not only surpasses Kris Kristofferson’s own version but totally eclipses Roger Miller’s, the first version to show up on a sales chart.

And this one, perhaps not so obvious, in which the Corrs, with the able assistance of Ron Wood, manage to upstage the ghost of Jimi Hendrix:

Maybe it’s the whistle. (And if you’d like to discount Mr Wood’s presence, here’s the studio version, in which he does not appear.)

Comments (1)




Back off, man, they’re caffeinated

Nancy Friedman, who was kind enough to send a few folks this way for the Soylent Green story, is happy to point out some similarly imaginary-but-actually-real products, including, yes, Stay Puft Marshmallows.

Oh, and be sure to wash ‘em down with Brawndo.

Comments (1)




Made in the Schadenfreude

Another bunch of green jobs turned brown:

Solyndra Inc., a maker of solar modules that received a $535 million loan guarantee from the U.S. Energy Department, suspended operations and plans to file for bankruptcy, saying it couldn’t compete with larger rivals.

The closely held company will seek Chapter 11 protection, Fremont, California-based Solyndra said [Wednesday] in a statement. It didn’t say how much it owes to creditors.

Down near the bottom:

Solyndra’s backers include Argonaut Private Equity, GKFF Investment, CMEA Ventures, Redpoint Ventures, Rockport Capital Partners LLC, US Venture Partners, Virgin Green Fund, and Artis Capital Management LP, according to the company’s December 2009 IPO filing.

The first two are controlled by George Kaiser. You’d think a Tulsan would know better than to trust something weather-dependent.

(Via Patterico.)

Comments off




Maybe Canada should annex us

Ho-hum. Another day, another ill-informed bureaucrat:

To show her support for American workers, President Obama’s labor secretary, Hilda Solis, has junked the standard black limo and purchased a new Chevrolet Equinox to ride around Washington in. The problem: the crossover SUV is built and assembled in Canada from parts also made in Canada.

Of course, the “domestic-content” figure you see on the Monroney sticker includes, by law, Canadian content, and the Equinox, which is considered 66 percent “domestic,” makes a pretty good showing next to, say, Chevy’s Volt, which checks in with 40 percent.

And anyway, Canadian autoworkers these days make more than their US counterparts:

It’s cheaper to build in Mexico, and thanks to 1994′s North American Free Trade Agreement, it comes with little penalty. Labor rates account for less than 10 percent of overall vehicle cost, [Matteo] Fini [of IHS Automotive] says. But within that, the difference is significant. In 2010, Canadian autoworkers averaged $38.77 an hour in U.S. dollars, including benefits. Their U.S. counterparts averaged $33.46. Mexican autoworkers, in contrast, made just $3.75 an hour.

Pejman Yousefzadeh observes:

Of course, it might have been better for all involved if instead of engaging in economic nationalist showboating, the Labor Secretary — and the rest of the Obama Administration, for that matter — used this opportunity to teach people that the world economy is interconnected, that goods and services have a distinctly transnational aspect to them, and that as a consequence, it would be counterproductive (to say the least) to use economic nationalism as an excuse for destructive policies like protectionism, or the imposition of tariffs that lead to a trade war.

But wouldn’t someone have to teach the Administration first?

Comments (1)




This week in Rebecca Black history

Well, she wasn’t up for an MTV Video Music Award, but she did put in an appearance, so to speak:

Rebecca Black dressed as a dinosaur at the behest of Joe Jonas, but click on this anyway because there's a better picture to be seen

Then there was this odd little dustup, or maybe it’s only odd if you expected Facebook to make sense:

Rebecca Black’s Facebook fan page went from about 800 fans to more than 73,000 in just a few hours, 10TV News reported.

After seeing the mistake, Black, from Westerville, told everyone that Facebook had the wrong girl.

“I’m running a personal training, health-oriented, self-esteem business,” Black said.

The other Rebecca Black is a 14-year-old singer who is famous on YouTube.

Somehow, Facebook figured they were one in the same and merged both Rebecca Black fan page accounts into one, 10TV News reported.

Um, that’s “one and the same,” thank you, 10TV News. To help ease the pain, here’s an interview with Westerville, Ohio’s Rebecca Black.

Finally, there’s this:

Hi. My name is Benni Cinkle, and I was a 13-year old eighth grader when my life changed almost overnight. I am that girl in pink who dances awkwardly in the night scene of the “Friday” video that went viral online in the Spring of 2011. Ever since then, I’ve been talking to people all over the world and working to help raise money and awareness for the causes I believe in!

And, um, recording a single.

Seriously, did anyone imagine that someone could kick off a career by dint of sitting on Rebecca Black’s right, eh?

Comments (2)




Space utilization

Thirty years ago, Fort Dodge, Iowa got rid of its parking meters. In July, the City Council voted to buy new meters, the first of which were installed this week.

While my own home town struggles with a new meter design, I suggest that they could learn something from the Fort Dodge experience, in which these four goals were clearly established:

  • The system must support itself. This includes any maintenance, upgrades or modifications to the system. If not, then the community’s taxpayers bear the burden to support it rather than the users of the system.
  • Generate turn-over in the parking stalls, providing the opportunity for customers to park as close as possible to a business.
  • The parking system must be cost-friendly to all users, including customers and employees, while still providing sufficient revenue to be cost-neutral.
  • The system must be designed so that it is enforceable.

Any system that doesn’t meet these criteria isn’t worth installing, in Iowa, in Oklahoma, or anywhere else.

(Via this RadishTheGreat tweet.)

Comments (2)