I’ll be hornswoggled

Guy in N’Hampsha says he wants to sell two unicorns:

We are selling 2 purebred unicorns. Male is 3 years old named Pagasus. Female is 5 years old and named Daisy. Price of $930,000 USD is per unicorn.


Oh, and he’s not above blowing his own horn, so to speak:

We are the only fully licensed unicorn breeder in North America, and are NUBAA certified.

A quick Googlage of “NUBAA” turns up the Northwestern University Black Alumni Association, which is obviously even more diverse than we thought.

This, however, makes me ever-so-slightly suspicious:

We also offer unicorn eggs for purchase.

Eggs? Is there something Twilight Sparkle isn’t telling me?

(Via the Daily Dot.)

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What was never promised

I admit to having been something less than hopeful tonight, what with the Thunder barely squeaking by Sacramento last night and the Blazers having the night off, having dispatched their previous opponent the night before — and that previous opponent being the mighty Indiana Pacers, who’d lost only one game all season before that ill-fated trip to the Rose Garden Moda Center. And then I looked at the halftime score, OKC 59, PDX 48, and I exhaled a bit. Unfortunately, so did the Thunder: the Blazers ran all over them, up, down and through them, turning that 11-point deficit into a 3-point lead in twelve minutes. Things slipped further in the fourth, the Blazers going up seven; but the Thunder stayed close, even occasionally claiming a one-point lead. Nicolas Batum put it out of sight with a trey, the Blazers’ eighth, with 30 seconds left; LaMarcus Aldridge finished the job with two free throws. (A technical followed, which we will never speak of again.) The final: Portland 111, Oklahoma City 104, and the Blazers go two up in the Northwest.

Seldom have the Thunder ever had much of an answer for Aldridge, who had a spectacular line: 38 points (a season high) on 17-28 shooting, 13 rebounds, and five assists in 37 minutes. All five Portland starters finished in double figures, and all but Batum were +10 or better for the night. The Blazers led in rebounds, 47-43, and perhaps more tellingly in assists: 22-11.

So a 33-point Kevin Durant explosion went for naught, as did a Serge Ibaka double-double and 21 points from Russell Westbrook. As is always the case these days, Reggie Jackson and Jeremy Lamb led the second unit; Jackson had 12 points in 29 minutes, Lamb 10 in 26. Radio guy Matt Pinto did some grousing about the officiating, but bad calls, of course, remain calls.

If the West Coast has been a bruiser this season — well, the Big Easy beckons: the Thunder take on the Pelicans Friday night, before returning home to deal with, um, those mighty Indiana Pacers.

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Get a new copay on your Chevrolet

In vain you will explain to those “low-information” voters that auto insurance and health insurance are wholly different kinds of products.

And this guy apparently has the lowest information of all:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: My car is sick. Is there any Auto Mechanic repair service that will take something like Medicare or Medicaid?

On the other hand, if this is trolling, it’s pretty good trolling:

If not, are there any insurance that will cover the repair without having to pay out of my pocket?

I mean, this requires a level of dumbness on a cosmic scale.

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A piece of astronomy

At the point where erotica turns into erratica, there’s the Literary Review’s Bad Sex prize, awarded for the most cringe-inducing love scene of the year. Manil Suri wins for this bit from The City of Devi:

Surely supernovas explode that instant, somewhere, in some galaxy. The hut vanishes, and with it the sea and the sands — only Karun’s body, locked with mine, remains. We streak like superheroes past suns and solar systems, we dive through shoals of quarks and atomic nuclei. In celebration of our breakthrough fourth star, statisticians the world over rejoice.

Unexpected contender: the late Woody Guthrie, whose 1947 novel House of Earth was finally published in 2013. This machine kills passion:

Back and forth, side to side, they moved on their bed on the hay. Back and forth, side to side, they moved their hips, their feet, their legs, their whole bodies. Their arms tied into knots like vines climbing trees, and the trees moved and swayed, and there was a time and a rhythm to the blend of the movement.

Of course, if there’s no rhythm … but let’s not go there. In fact, let’s not even acknowledge that “there” exists.

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I suppose it’s better than “Jughead”

Nancy Silberkleit, co-CEO of Archie Comics, apparently doesn’t think too much of guys, especially white guys:

In papers filed in Westchester Supreme Court, Nancy Silberkleit’s lawyer says a gender discrimination lawsuit filed against her earlier this year by a group of Archie Comics employees should be tossed in part because white guys aren’t members of “a protected class.”

The embattled co-CEO’s filing also mocked the five employees’ claim that she’d used her “gender as a weapon” by yelling “Penis! Penis! Penis!” during a business meeting.

So far as I can tell, it is not true that Mr. Weatherbee will have sexual-reassignment surgery in a future story arc.

(Via this Kathleen McKinley tweet.)

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You owe us stormage

The National Center for Public Policy Research, a conservative think tank, has called for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to give up the hurricane-forecasting business, on the basis that, well, NOAA’s not been very good at it of late:

In May, the agency predicted an “active or extremely active” hurricane season, forecasting that there would be 7-11 hurricanes, 3-6 major hurricanes, and 13-20 named storms.

The year’s final tally: 2 hurricanes, no major hurricanes, and 13 named storms… not even “close enough for government work.”

This marked the 7th time in the past ten years that NOAA’s hurricane forecast has been wrong and its epic failure this year rivals even its disastrous forecast in 2005, when it predicted there would be 7-9 hurricanes and there ended up being 15.

There is, of course, a “climate change” angle:

NOAA isn’t alone in undermining [its] credibility by suggesting a greater level of certainty than it possesses.

For years now, we’ve been told that there is a scientific consensus that our burning of fossil fuels is creating dangerous warming of the planet.

Now the public has learned that we’re in the midst of a 17-year “pause” in global warming that not one of the 73 climate models used by the U.N. Intergovernmental Climate on Climate Change in its Fifth Assessment Report predicted.

Now I see this as more of a hierarchical problem: the higher up you go, the more likely your results are going to be somewhat politicized. The National Weather Service, down a level from NOAA, works hard not to become emotionally involved with its models.

Still, if the National Center is so upset with dubious government-approved numbers, they should be going after the major Washington dissemblers like the Bureau of Labor Statistics, whose books have been cooked for so long they’re downright mushy.

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No snoozing on the Sleep Train

For about twelve minutes, the Thunder looked utterly stunned: the Kings, despite the absence of both DeMarcus Cousins and Carl Landry, pounded OKC into the wood in the first quarter, 31-19. Jet lag? Who knows? We do know this: the Thunder put together a 31-16 second quarter to go three up at the half, and scored 14 straight at the end of the third to make the lead 13, plus the first four points in the fourth. The Kings, clearly not done, ran off the next 13. Scott Brooks, hoping to rest the starters for Portland tomorrow, found himself having to reinsert them, and OKC escaped with a 97-95 win.

Chuck Hayes, perhaps the shortest center in the league (6’6″), was happy to pick up nine rebounds, though he was the only King starter to miss double figures. Then again, none of the King starters were quite as fearsome as reserve point guard Isaiah Thomas, who got 21 of his 24 points in that fourth quarter. Jason Thompson posted the only Sacramento double-double: 10 points, 10 boards. And you have to figure that Brooks, on the plane if not before, is going to want to know how the Kings got off to a 14-2 lead before the first five minutes were up.

Kevin Durant, as usual, led the OKC attack, though it took him 39 minutes to roll up 27 points and 11 boards. Russell Westbrook was the playmaker rather than the scorer tonight: 17 points, seven assists, and, um, seven turnovers. (The Kings, all ten of them, coughed it up only eight times.) Royce Young over at Daily Thunder has been making a little game out of “Reggie Lamb,” as though Jackson and Jeremy were joined at the hip, but it actually makes a fair amount of sense, since they’re so often on the floor at the same time. For the record, Reggie Lamb picked up 27 points. (Split ’em down the middle, give the odd one to Jeremy.)

And there’s still the question of how, if you can let the Kings beat you 14-2 in five minutes, you’re going to deal with the seriously-hot (15-3, tied with the Spurs at the top of the West) Trail Blazers in twenty-one hours or so. I guess we’ll find that out when it happens.

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Till the end of time

Got a twin-spin for you today: the same song in two distinctively different arrangements. Andrew Gelman prompted this:

I love reading the kind of English that English people write. It’s the same language as American but just slightly different. I was thinking about this recently after coming across this footnote from Yeah Yeah Yeah: The Story of Modern Pop, by Bob Stanley: “Mantovani’s atmospheric arrangement on ‘Cara Mia’, I should add, is something else. Genuinely celestial. If anyone with a degree of subtlety was singing, it would be quite a record.'”

Definitely sounds English (and Mark Liberman confirms). Below the jump, the two best recordings of this song: Mantovani’s 1954 version, without David Whitfield’s voice — though it was the Whitfield recording with Mantovani’s accompaniment that was the UK hit — and a 1965 American version by, um, Jay and the Americans.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Datsunny dispositions

In thirty-five states, the Ford F-150 pickup truck is the single best-selling motor vehicle. This of course means that something actually outsells the F-150 in the remaining states, but I have to admit, I wouldn’t have figured this: Oklahomans buy more Nissan Altimas than anything else.

Then again, maybe I should have. If everybody actually shows up to work, the parking lot will be awash in Nissan products: apart from my Infiniti, you’ll find a Frontier pickup, a Maxima, and two — sometimes three — Altimas. (El Jefe has, or at least had for several years, the massive Armada SUV, and I’ve seen him in a Z.) Only Chevy comes close. I’m guessing this is because none of us, El Jefe included, are getting rich.

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And she’s not even a Pisces

Since this is Richard Branson’s scheme, he gets to make the opening statement:

An image can sometimes speak a thousand words, which is the thinking behind Fishlove — a radical photographic project which is spearheading the campaign to end over-fishing in Europe.

Fishlove invites personalities across the globe to raise awareness of how over-fishing is destroying the marine environment. They aim to end over-fishing in Europe by 2015 so that fish stocks can recover to above levels that can produce the maximum sustainable yield by 2020.

(See also this brilliantly titled post.)

The personality across the globe for today is Gillian Anderson:

Gillian Anderson for Fishlove

Somewhere in a corner, Fox Mulder is carping about something.

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The sharp stick of politics

Dave Schuler quotes Megan McArdle:

[I]f you want to make the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act viable for the long term, you’re going to need the support of folks like Hobby Lobby as much as you need low premiums. There are many religious people in America, and if you want to keep stirring up active opposition to the law, one good way is to suggest that this law forces them to pay for something they are convinced is morally wrong. (Hobby Lobby’s objection is not to contraception in general, but specifically to products that could prevent a fertilized egg from implanting.) If you want to still be fighting Obamacare in the trenches 40 years from now, the best way I can think of is appending it to the argument over abortion.

But McArdle, says Schuler, is missing a very pointed point:

… which is that part of the problem with our political system today is that accomplishing something material doesn’t necessarily produce political gain but poking a stick in your opponent’s eye does. And it feels so good.

There is a hierarchy of values at work here. Having an issue is better than solving a problem. Hurting your political opponent is better than reaching a mutually agreeable solution. Holding tough is better than compromise.

With that hierarchy in mind, it’s clear that appending Obamacare to the argument over abortion is a feature rather than a bug.

Of course, with sticks flying in every direction, we should not be surprised to find incidence of blindness.

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Set abrasives to stunned

This actually does seem to work:

How to offend four groups of geeks with a single photo

It’s all over the place, but I picked it up from StarTrek.com.

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It’s easy not being Green

For some reason known but to God, or to Jeff Bezos, who’s arguably the next step down from God, Amazon.com this past weekend posted a listing for John Green’s bestselling YA novel The Fault in Our Stars as being the work of one “Holt McDougal,” which is in fact the name of a textbook publisher.

Fans of Green jumped right in to praise the mysterious McDougal in the Amazon review section. Said one enthusiast: “In addition to writing your ordinary astronomy and calculus textbooks, he also dabbles in young adult fiction. He’s been wildly successful in both genres (can I say that his algebra 2 textbook was especially fascinating).” Green himself published several of the McDougal reviews on his Tumblr blog; Amazon finally got around to fixing the matter late today.

(Tweeted in my general direction by the lovely and talented Annemarie Dooling.)

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Or it might have been the right one

Back in the Seventies, I actually heard a guy say he’d give his left nut for a Datsun Z.

I’m pretty sure it wasn’t this guy, though:

Mark Parisi declared on CBS’s show The Doctors he will be donating one of his testicles to medical science for US$35,000 so he can buy himself a new Nissan 370[Z].

I’m not even going to ask what I’d have to give up for that new Maserati Ghibli.

(Via Autoblog.)

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You misspelled “degraded”

Not that you’d notice, of course:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: What are key words to use when trying to find cars with upgraded rims?


I am trying to search for vehicles on many different websites, that have upgraded rims. Not anything to do with the suspension though I am looking for a dodge charger, for example words such as bagged, low profile, and donk would work but are not professional. I have used the word upgraded but it doesn’t seem to find much. I am using auto trader the most but what are some other words?

A hundred pounds of extra weight, deteriorating chassis performance, and blithering bad taste. Yeah, that’s an “upgrade” all right. And “professional”? It is to laugh.

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Bite my shiny metal birds

In four years on Twitter I have managed to pick up a bit over 850 followers, which may not sound like much, but it’s about 750-800 more than I had any reason to anticipate.

In about four years more, I might be able to claim a thousand more followers, just doing whatever the blazes it is I’m doing now. Or, if I’m impatient, I could just write a check:

One day earlier this month, Jim Vidmar bought 1,000 fake Twitter accounts for $58 from an online vendor in Pakistan.

He then programmed the accounts to “follow” the Twitter account of rapper Dave Murrell, who calls himself Fyrare and pays Mr. Vidmar to boost his standing on the social network. Mr. Vidmar’s fake accounts also rebroadcast Mr. Murrell’s tweets, amplifying his Twitter voice.

This, of course, violates Twitter’s Terms of Service, but this is probably not a major consideration for buyers and sellers of fake followers.

How many of these people aren’t actually, you know, people? Not so much, Twitter insists:

In securities filings, Twitter says it believes fake accounts represent fewer than 5% of its 230 million active users. Independent researchers believe the number is higher.

Italian security researchers Andrea Stroppa and Carlo De Micheli say they found 20 million fake accounts for sale on Twitter this summer. That would amount to nearly 9% of Twitter’s monthly active users.

Personally, I myself have never had a sudden influx of followers so massive as to make it impossible to check their papers — unlike some people I could name.

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