Superlativer than thou

If you looked at that title and immediately thought you’d seen similar constructions before on these premises, well, let it be known that Nancy Friedman might not approve of sloppily assembled comparatives like that:

Sticking an -er or an -est on an adjective doesn’t tell me you’re creative. It’s no longer a way to stand out from the competition. All it says is that you’re too lazy to do some truly original thinking about what your brand means.

She may have me deader to rights than I anticipated.

And I must quote from her footnote about the perfectly cromulent (it’s the cromulentest!) word “embiggen”:

[Its] coinage is usually attributed to Simpsons writer Dan Greaney, who used it in a 1996 episode. In fact, the first citation for “embiggen” appeared in 1884.

Of course, she’s right:

The verb previously occurred in an 1884 edition of the British journal Notes and Queries: A Medium of Intercommunication for Literary Men, General Readers, Etc. by C. A. Ward, in the sentence “but the people magnified them, to make great or embiggen, if we may invent an English parallel as ugly. After all, use is nearly everything.”

The idea that “use is nearly everything” is controversial to this day.

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As we cheer

Because, you know, we would:

A 61-year-old German woman has been fined €800 for blowing a whistle down the telephone at a call-centre worker and damaging her hearing — after she got fed up with constant cold-calls to her house.

Said the Fark submitter: “Whatever the fine was, put me down for two.” Personally, I’m in favor of nuking the boiler-room operations from orbit, that being the only way to make sure.

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Conclusion jumped to

I just read this totally wrong: “How do i build an android application that will generate a date?”

Visions of fembots danced in my head before it dawned on me that no, you idjit, he’s making a phone app that requires calendar input.

Too bad, too, because I would have wanted to know the answer to that wrong question.

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He’s an ordinary guy

Burning down the Home Depot:

A Tacoma man apparently angry that a friend’s hardware store is being driven out of business has been charged in an ill-conceived arson attempt at a Shoreline Home Depot.

King County prosecutors contend Randol W. Stebner, 53, started two small fires near the Aurora Avenue North superstore on May 14.

According to charging documents, Stebner admitted to lighting the fires and said he’d do it again.

Stebner’s friend operates a hardware store in — wait, Rockford, Illinois?

(Via the Consumerist.)

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They say we’re young and we don’t know

Once again, Rebecca Black finds a button of mine to push. In a two-part interview on MTV’s Act Blog [part one] [part two] the fourteen-year-old reveals that she’s not prom-bound this year:

“I’m only a freshman. Freshmen don’t even get the privilege of going to a prom, unless they’re asked.”

This matters to someone whose 45th high-school reunion is coming up and who is not yet sixty. Or at least it matters to me.

Also, RB is wearing one of these.

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Morsed again

I described this piece on Twitter as “D&B meets acoustic piano, to great effect,” which makes sense if you read D&B as “drum & bass,” not so much if “Dun & Bradstreet.”

And actually, it doesn’t conform to the brain-churning BPM standard (170ish) that typifies drum & bass, but in this tempo, “Remorse” lives up to its title: it’s jagged, and it throws you back and forth, playing dots and dashes with your synapses.

Here’s their Bandcamp page, with credits and a purchase link.

Addendum: More streamable stuff at Soundcloud.

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A new face on stage

Christie Brinkley, who I had no idea had turned into a stage actress, is in fact starring in Chicago, the musical, in Hollywood. If you squint a bit, you can see this video clip.

Apparently these days she looks something like this:

Christie Brinkley at Pantages

For the sake of self-justification, a concept every blogger learns before hitting the Publish button the fourth time, I mention here that Christie Brinkley is in fact younger than I am.

By six weeks.

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Quote of the week

Dan Collins, on some of “domestic terrorist and legal tar baby” Brett Kimberlin’s recent activities:

That Kimberlin lied repeatedly in his sworn charges isn’t a surprise, but it is a deep disappointment that the Maryland prosecutor seems to think there’s no substantial public benefit to be procured by making wannabe mass murderer Kimberlin pay for his false testimony in trying to frame blogger Aaron Worthing. My opinion is that people who attempt to use the law and the legal system as a means of tortious aggression towards other citizens should be summarily sentenced on conviction to penalties at least twice as high as those they’ve contemplated for their targets.

Inexplicably, not one of the 57 states prescribes “being dropped into a Bessemer converter” as a suitable punishment for the likes of this guy.

(Via Michelle Malkin.)

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Haven’t we already not seen this?

I mean, it’s not like nobody’s ever thought of this before:

In a move certain to leave art traditionalists apoplectic with rage, one of the country’s leading galleries is to charge £8 for entry to a summer exhibition of works which cannot be seen.

London’s Hayward Gallery will gather together 50 “invisible” works by famous artists including Andy Warhol, Yves Klein and Yoko Ono for an upcoming exhibition, thought to be the first of its kind in Britain.

Curators argue the collection of pieces will demonstrate that art is about “firing the imagination” rather than simply viewing objects. “Invisible: Art about the Unseen 1957-2012″ opens on 12 June and includes an empty plinth, a canvas of invisible ink and an invisible labyrinth.

When I was younger, this was about firing the guy who came up with the idea.

May we assume they’re playing John Cage’s 4’33” in the background?

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Brown-thumb mode

Bermuda: Vacation, yes. Triangle, not sure. Grass, definitely no:

Bermuda grass should be used to make rope to hang anyone who actually plants the stuff on purpose. I’m always a little bit shocked and dismayed when I see bags of Bermuda grass seed at Atwoods. I think I got most of it out of the flower bed in back where it was taking over.

Funny how it has no problem occupying the flower bed, but isn’t worth a flip at crowding out weeds.

Most of the flowers I planted there a couple of weeks ago aren’t doing very well which kinda makes me wonder if I should even bother. I saw some kind of red flower at Lowes that was very tempting but it cost $19 so I’m thinking maybe I should just plant a $20 bill instead. It would probably grow just as well.

If that Jackson actually grows, expect a lot of visitors, and I don’t mean blog traffic.

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Space considerations in Rock and Roll Heaven

Rich Appel, with a nod to the late Betty Everett, says it’s getting mighty crowded up there:

When you consider that most of popular music’s best and brightest, from what was arguably its most fruitful period — the 1960s and 1970s — are now in their 60s and 70s, it makes you wonder if we should expect more tearful exits on a more regular basis from here forward.

During those two decades, there were more hit recordings by more artists than ever before or ever since. That’s because the music and radio worlds were less controlled: there were more labels and more station owners, and therefore, a better shot at getting your song played on the radio. There were also more listeners for longer periods to a hit music stations, so much so that the average shelf life of a hit song was 7-9 weeks.

That means there were also more top-flight artists who came out of that period — artists who are now, alas, a lot older. While the focus has always been on acts who left us too young, the fact is most of pop’s biggest stars are still with us. Even if you go back further — to the 1950s and rock ‘n roll’s early days — it’s worth noting that Elvis and Buddy Holly aside, all of rock’s pioneers — Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Fats Domino and Jerry Lee Lewis — are still here. So is another pop giant of that era — Tony Bennett — although I’m starting to sense that he’s going to outlive all of us.

It’s jolting to look at this video and remembering which of them is no longer with us.

The ones I’d been sweating, due to their extreme proximity to my own age (five days), were Shuggie Otis (son of Johnny, who died in January) and June Pointer — and June is already gone.

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A little less left

There are Democrats, and then there are Democrats. Tom Cole, the Republican representing Oklahoma’s 4th Congressional district, is familiar with both flavors:

“Obama fares poorly in states like Oklahoma, Kentucky and Arkansas because he has nothing in common with them. They are rural, he is urban. They are populist, he is elitist. And in case anyone hadn’t noticed, they are conservative while he is liberal. That isn’t just true of Republicans in these states. It is true of Democrats as well.”

Which is not to say we have no one in Soonerland yearning for a bit more blueness, but consider this: Former Democratic state senator Andrew Rice, probably the only politician in this state’s history ever to name-check Antonio Gramsci in an interview, regularly got an A from the National Rifle Association. As did his opponent, most years. (Rice has since left the state, to allow his wife to do that career-advancement thing. Sounds vaguely bluish to me.) And with few exceptions, state Democrats are sterling folks who will endeavor not to embarrass themselves in office, something you’d never say about [lots of names can fit here].

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Worn beyond a frazzle

Yesterday someone left the television on in the break room, and rather than go look for the remote, I chose to try to ignore the screeching box. Then up pops this story about a 911 dispatcher falling asleep on the job.

Now I’m not going to say I’ve never gone into snooze mode at work, but then again, my job is a bit less critical. Bill Quick, however, has been a 911 dispatcher, and he says he’s surprised there are as few such reports as there are:

The job itself is enormously stressful. And in a lot of jurisdictions, staffing levels are determined by law. Which means that there is a lot of involuntary overtime. Which means twelve—eighteen, even 24 hour shifts, abrupt schedule changes, and people who are perpetually exhausted. People eventually quit, and generally at a higher rate than new trainees are put onto the floor, which only exacerbates the problems.

The dispatcher in the story had apparently been on the job for 17 hours. I think I’ve worked 17-hour shifts maybe four times in my entire life, and I have no desire to do it again, even doing something relatively trivial.

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A lot of John Smiths these days

There’s that word “cyberbullying” again, and as always, politicians, lest they find themselves on the receiving end of it, are demanding that Something Be Done:

Proposed legislation … would require New York-based websites, such as blogs and newspapers, to “remove any comments posted on his or her website by an anonymous poster unless such anonymous poster agrees to attach his or her name to the post.”

Um, yeah. Good luck with that.

Republican Assemblyman Jim Conte said the legislation would cut down on “mean-spirited and baseless political attacks” and “turns the spotlight on cyberbullies by forcing them to reveal their identity.”

Sen. Thomas O’Mara, a Republican who is also sponsoring the measure, said it would “help lend some accountability to the internet age.”

Remember when the GOP actually went to the effort of pretending to be interested in the preservation of free speech? Me either. (And we all know the Democratic Party perspective: absolute freedom so long as you toe the party line, otherwise screw you.)

There is, of course, a punchline:

The bills also demand those sites to have a contact number or e-mail address posted for “such removal requests, clearly visible in any sections where comments are posted.”

Oddly, the bill has no identification requirement for those who request the takedown of anonymous content.

Now why would anyone think that to be odd?

(Seen at The Camp of the Saints.)

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Even newer math

It was Tom Lehrer who derided New Math way back when: “It’s so very simple that only a child can do it.”

Diana Senechal notes that things haven’t improved that much:

I was recently looking at AMSCO’s Geometry — better than many in terms of presentation. Very little clutter. But even AMSCO has word problems like this: “Amy said that if the radius of a circular cylinder were doubled and the height decreased by one-half, the volume of the cylinder would remain unchanged. Do you agree with Amy? Explain why or why not.” There is no reason to bring Amy into this; Amy’s presence does nothing for the problem. Also, turning this into a matter of opinion (“do you agree or disagree”) confuses the matter. Instead, the student should be asked whether the statement is correct or incorrect.

Then again, this might hurt the student’s feelings. Or Amy’s.

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Like a player

Found this on a celebrity photo board last night:

Screen shot featuring nonce word pre-madonna

Actually, Madonna’s first album (called, with disarming simplicity, Madonna) came out two years before LeBron James was born, but hey, you can’t expect King James to do everything alone.

A kind soul — not me — showed up a couple minutes later to provide the correct word.

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