Heading for the front seat

What can we learn from this? In her TV interview in Australia, Rebecca Black is the very picture of “we so excited.” (“I’m here in Australia! It’s so cool!”)

Closer to home, with her mom and her manager in tow, she’s not so excited:

It occurs to me that Black may just be sick of talking about “Friday” or her nascent-yet-possibly-over-maybe-never-was singing career. Sitting at this table, she’s making it perfectly clear that she’d rather not have her day consumed by the adults around her, the way any kid her age would feel. Or perhaps what Ark Music Factory and Black’s parents, publicist, and manager have unwittingly created is a much savvier player than they could have imagined. Black seems to have fully internalized, probably subconsciously, a reality that may elude other recording artists: This interview will have no impact on her career. She doesn’t need this, or any other traditional outlets, for that matter, to get people’s attention.

And maybe that’s the difference, more than being on another continent: she’d much rather speak for herself.

Which suggests to me that the date to watch for is 21 June 2015, which is her 18th birthday. (No, it’s not a Friday.) If she’s still on the radar, I’m betting she shakes up everything and heads off in a whole new direction.

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Why’s everybody always picking on us?

The Hyacinth Girl is visited by a time-traveling jerk:

I suppose, if I were a gigantic baby I could claim to have been “bullied” on Facebook as well. Running into an old nemesis from high school on that social networking site seemed like a great way to mend fences. We’re both adults, I thought, we’ve got kids and whatnot. It quickly became apparent that she wanted to pick up where we left off when we were 16. The hilarity continued as she mentioned talking to an old friend of mine, (now a crackhead in Bakersfield who called me almost 10 years ago out of the blue to literally cry about her woes with CPS). After wiping tears of laughter from my face, I promptly told her to eff off, banned her from my account and carried on.

As I once said:

[I]f you’re going to demonstrate your superiority to such, the only effective techniques are either (1) to ignore them altogether or (2) to go full Cee Lo Green on them.

You have just observed an instance of #2.

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Quote of the week

Glenn Reynolds on capital punishment:

The best argument against the death penalty, of course, is what Charles Black called “the inevitability of caprice and mistake.” But that argument, taken seriously, is an indictment of the entire criminal-justice system, not just the death penalty. It may be a valid indictment, but few are willing to go that far.

The worst argument against the death penalty, of course, is that it’s somehow awful for the state to kill people. Nation-states are all about killing people. They exist solely because they’re better at that, on a large scale, than any other form of human organization. Everything else is superstructure, and if they lose that edge it will fade away.

Note that this function is independent of, and perhaps irrelevant to, so-called “good intentions.”

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Smells like mid-life crisis

Mercedes-Benz, an auto brand with both male and female names, has decided to get into the fragrance business. Bertel Schmitt quotes from the press release:

“‘Mercedes Benz Perfume. The first fragrance for men’ has been created in partnership with the INCC Group and it will be available from selected specialist retailers from the first quarter of 2012, as an eau de toilette, after shave, deodorant and shower and body gel.”

Not that this ploy worked for Cadillac two years ago. Then again, Daimler has been here before:

“The world of fragrance is not new to Mercedes-Benz: the company already offers exclusively developed perfumes for the atomisers in its Maybach models and in the Mercedes-Benz S 600 Pullman.”

Sheesh. Pass the cabin air filter.

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No accounting for this sort of thing

Angie Dickinson turns 80 tomorrow, which gives me a reason to put up this curious 1961 artifact:

Angie Dickinson with Form 1040

If the IRS actually had forms like hers we wouldn’t hate them quite so badly. (Maybe.)

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Gall beyond mitigation

Robocallers to one’s landline are bad enough. But to a cell phone?

Since ’91, it’s been illegal for telemarketers to use autodialers and other robot-like devices to call your cellphone. Last week, a bill was introduced to change that. While in the past email hoaxes have gone around saying that your cellphone could be opened up to telemarketers, HR 3035 seeks to let businesses contact your cellphone “for informational purposes.”

Congress is almost a cinch to pass this, since the miserable bastards would get one more channel to pester the electorate.

The jerkwads responsible for introducing this thing are Edolphus Towns (D-NY) and Lee Terry (R-NE). I’d say hanging is too good for ‘em, but for Congressmen, that’s hardly a distinction these days.

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It would have to be really fine print

Elysa Rice of GenPink floated an idea up to the Twitterverse yesterday:

thinking about adding disclaimer to my bizcards “your possession of this card does not give you permission to opt me into your mailing list”

I like the idea, but I probably wouldn’t be able to read such a disclaimer without heavy magnification. And could this even work? What are the chances that card collectors might actually honor such a statement?

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Fill ‘er up and make it snappy

You don’t hear that around gas stations anymore, and you definitely won’t hear it in connection with electric cars.

Oh, wait:

[A] gas station in Tennessee has become what we think is the country’s first gas station to offer a chademo rapid-charging station alongside its gasoline pumps.

Murphy Express Gas on Lee Highway in Chattanooga, Tennessee has installed the charger as part of a test program into electric car charging. If successful, it will install rapid charging stations at some of its other gas stations.

“Chademo,” usually styled CHAdeMO, is a specific quick-charge protocol — not quite a standard — which uses high-voltage DC to charge electric vehicles in a fraction of the time it takes when they’re pluged into typical wall outlets. The only current (sorry about that) vehicles that can take advantage of this protocol are Nissan’s Leaf and the upcoming Mitsubishi i, which can juice up to 80 percent of maximum in half an hour.

For now, Murphy isn’t even charging people for the charge.

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Please be seated, but not here

I suspect many offices are like this:

A quick survey of our newsroom revealed most of my colleagues are unenthusiastic about the quality of their seat. But ask a few cubicle denizens who owns the nicest chair, and strong opinions emerge.

Many of my colleagues acquired their current chair after a co-worker departed. While some just take the chair they are offered — and I found more than a few sitting in seats that date back two decades — others feel strongly about their personal furniture.

Outside the executive chambers at 42nd and Treadmill, there is only one Really Good Chair, and I have it. It is large, as I am, and it dominates the room, as I do not. (Various bits of corporate hardware dwarf me in height and occasionally even in width.) It was something like $400, and was purchased to match, within reason, my personal dimensions.

I don’t spend the whole day there, though:

[O]ne-third of office workers spend eight or more hours a day at their desk in front of a computer. That’s longer than the average adult spends in their bed each night.

That I couldn’t do. For one thing, I’d have a hell of a time getting up again. (Questionable knee joints.) Better to pop up and down several times an hour.

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None dare call it productivity

There exists a perky little Daft Punk track called “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger.” As a dance number, it’s great. As a mantra for one’s work or one’s life, it’s not so great:

I’ve talked before about my frustration with the DO MORE BETTER FASTER NOW tone that exists in this country: if you’re eating five servings of vegetables a day, why not eat eight? Or if you’re doing an hour of exercise, why not ninety minutes? Or if you’re working a 60 hour week, why not an 80 hour one… And I just want to put my head down on the desk and SOB, because I feel like I’m at the absolute limit of what I CAN do without totally losing my stuff.

My reflexive response to such “encouragement” runs along these lines: “Instead of taking a twenty-foot walk off a ten-foot pier, why not go forty?”

I look at it this way: nobody’s looking after numero uno, so that job falls to me, and I give it higher priority than I do to, say, that stack of crap that suddenly shows up late on a Friday afternoon.

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It’s amazing how its sales have grown

“It would just confuse most people,” says Lynn:

There and Their They're Not the Same

Me, I consider that a selling point.

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Die Sludgerflöte

Some sorcery you may not have expected from The Magic Flute:

Operators of a sewage treatment plant in eastern Germany have saved around €10,000 over the last year — apparently by playing Mozart to their microbes. They are now calling for scientists to come and investigate.

Roland Meinusch, manager of the plant in Treuenbrietzen, Brandenburg, said the plant some 70 kilometres southeast of Berlin produced 1,000 cubic metres less sewage sludge than normal last year — and the only thing he had changed was the music. “We play them Mozart’s Magic Flute, on a half-hour loop,” he told The Local.

The better the microbes work, the more they digest the sewage, producing more clean water and less sludge.

Which is an improvement, given the typical resemblance of a sewage-treatment plant to the Temple of Ordeal.

Addendum: “Heaven alone knows what Wagner would produce! The Ride Of The Valkyries, repeated ad nauseam on a tape loop, ought to make any self-respecting microbe positively mutinous!”

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For all you hydrophobes out there

Today is World Rabies Day, which is celebrated, if that’s the word, every year on the anniversary of the death of Louis Pasteur.

In keeping with the seriousness of this day, should you pass a stray animal on the street, do not let it hear you say “Bite me.”

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Summing up The Situation

Opinions vary about Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey. Some, notably commentator Ann Coulter, think he’s the bee’s knees; others see him as basically Mitt Romney minus Nutrisystem.

The middle ground seems to be right about here:

I’m not a Republican, so I wouldn’t have a chance to vote for him unless he won the nomination, which I don’t think he will since he doesn’t seem to plan on running in 2012. But should he run in the future, his telling the front runners for the gold medal in bad behavior that they can do whatever they want as long as they don’t expect New Jersey taxpayers to foot the bill would merit a vote. Heck, I may even vote for him for New Jersey governor, depending on how lax NJ voting law enforcement tends to be.

Similarly, Justice Antonin Scalia, well before the rise of Jersey Shore, concurring in National Endowment for the Arts v. Finley:

Avant-garde artistes such as respondents remain entirely free to épater les bourgeois; they are merely deprived of the additional satisfaction of having the bourgeoisie taxed to pay for it.

Which sentiment may play well west of the Delaware, I’m thinking.

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Begun, the loudness wars have

Florida used to have a law against blasting loud music from a motor vehicle. It has now failed a Constitutional challenge:

A Florida law prohibiting the blasting of loud music from automobiles violates the first amendment, the Florida Court of Appeals, Fifth District, ruled on September 16. Shannon Montgomery had been driving in Marion County with his tunes “plainly audible” from a distance of twenty-five feet, contrary to the statute. He was pulled over and police eventually discovered he was carrying cocaine and marijuana.

Montgomery moved to suppress the evidence against him, arguing state law used to justify the traffic stop was overly broad and that “plainly audible” is an arbitrary standard.

Where Florida failed, apparently, was in its effort to fine-tune the law:

In 1998, the appellate court first ruled that a law prohibiting plainly audible music from 100 feet was not vague. In 2005, the legislature responded by reducing the distance to 25 feet… the legislature also added an exemption for amplified business and political speech, which doomed the law in the court’s view. The judges found that this provision inverted the proper constitutional principle that non-commercial speech be given greater protection than advertising.

Whether this means that “political speech” qualifies as “advertising” — it’s certainly invoiced as such — I leave to someone with a more thorough grounding in the law.

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Take a deep breath

Provided, of course, that the government will let you:

People who use Primatene Mist to control their asthma symptoms may want to build a stockpile of the over-the-counter medicine now or start looking for other treatments.

The FDA issued a reminder that the drug will no longer be available after Dec. 31 due to the fact that the inhaler it uses as a delivery system uses chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). Those compounds have been shown to damage the ozone layer and are being banned as part of an international agreement, the Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer.

Alternatives? Well, yeah, if you can afford them:

Only the prescription inhalers containing albuterol will be available. This will triple the cost for the occasional asthmatic that needs relief, forcing them to use drugs they will not have immediate access to at prices many cannot afford. Seriously, if someone is treating their asthma with Primatene, they probably are poor and can’t afford albuterol, much less a doctor’s visit. Keep in mind that the epinephrine inhalers have been used for decades and are known to be safe for patient use. It is the infamous “ozone layer” the FDA is concerned about.

And there’s only one ozone layer, whereas:

In one of the most outrageous displays of callous disregard for human beings I have ever seen, Badrul Chowdhury, the director of the FDA’s pulmonary division, said “…in the worst case scenario we are looking at 1 to 2 million people using Primatene.” I think he meant that 1 to 2 million people was not a significant number of people.

Now if snail darters had asthma … but no, let’s not go there.

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