Unmentionables mentioned

Angela is swearing off the thong:

I’m still not sure if there ever is an age range in which wearing a slim strip of cotton up one’s bum is truly acceptable. Now that I’m turning thirty-six, well on my way to old ladyhood, it’s way past the time that it feels appropriate to wear dental floss as undergarments. I also realize that nobody, including me, wants to see a pair of granny panties. The problem, however, is that there seems to be only two ends of the spectrum: underthings fashioned out of spider web silk or underthings fashioned out of bed sheets. Neither one of these options is optimal.

And so begins the search for Suitable Underwear. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a bit of inexpensive experimentation:

I’ve definitely attempted the low end of the spectrum, standing in Target staring at the wall of sad, packaged panties, trying to talk myself into a six-pack of Fruit of the Loom. Here’s how the process plays out: “They’re bikini cut, that’s got to be okay,” I reason with myself. I toss the package in with the Swiffer Wet Jet refills, eye makeup remover, eight roll pack of Bounty, and $5 bargain DVD. I push the cart away from the undies section. I quickly stop short, say aloud, “Oh hell no!”, surreptitiously remove the offending package from my cart — ashamed to be seen with them — and shove the pack of over-dyed cotton back on the rack. Fact: Nobody wants to get busy with a girl in Fruit of the Looms, and frankly, no one should.

Well, if they’re using too much dye, you don’t want them trailing off your caboose anyway, just on general principle. Then again, one should not listen to me on this subject, since (1) I tend to render the plural form as “Fruits of the Loom,” by analogy with “attorneys general” (which is correct) and “Astons Martin” (which is not), and therefore obviously don’t know squat about underwear, and (2) I’ve bought basically the same drab (no, not olive drab) boxers for twenty years, and therefore obviously don’t know squat about underwear. Not that anyone expects any better from a guy as old as I am, but still.

A step upward, then:

I’ve tried buying low level “designer” undies: DKNY, Calvin Klein, and the like, and those are no better that the random brands I find on the rack at TJ Maxx for $2.99. I’m not willing, at this juncture in my financial life, to drop the kind of cash required to stock up on La Perla.

Now I have advised against the hyperexpensive stuff before:

I belong to the school of thought that says that expensive lingerie is good for show, not so good in actual use: Harvey, caught up in the sheer passion of it all, suddenly rips off Sheila’s antique lace, and Sheila, instead of thinking, “Oh, yes, take me, take me now,” is thinking “You miserable son of a bitch, I paid eighty-nine fifty for that.” To say the least, this is not the sort of thing that strengthens a relationship.

On the other hand, one should not listen to me on this subject.

Still, what’s a girl to do? I can’t in good conscience recommend she go commando.

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Another girlmobile

Motor Trend calls this one for the ladies in their New Car Buyer’s Guide. It’s the Volkswagen Eos ragtop convertible, and, says whoever was in charge of the one-line summary: “Your daughter will love it.”

Well, maybe. My daughter is not so BFFy with VW these days, having driven her Jetta into one of metro Kansas City’s craters d’avenue, following which she was presented with a repair bill that made her nose bleed. On the upside, she’s surely grateful for no longer having to deal with some of the craptacular vehicles from her past, including an early-90s Oldsmobile Bravada whose doors apparently could be opened only with burglar’s tools or divine intervention.

(Previous “Girlmobile” posts: this one and that one.)

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Think vintage

Martha O’Driscoll, a Tulsa lass born in 1922, might be remembered for playing Daisy Mae in the 1940 film of L’il Abner, in which she didn’t dress like this:

Martha O'Driscoll

So far as I can tell, this still is connected with House of Dracula (1945), in which she plays Miliza Morrelle, assistant to the not-at-all-mad Dr. Franz Edelmann, sought out by both the Count and Larry “Wolf Man” Talbot, seeking cures for their respective, um, distinguishing characteristics. (If I remember correctly, it’s Talbot who gets the girl in the end.)

Philanthropic note: O’Driscoll left show biz in 1947 to marry Arthur Appleton, Florida-based breeder of thoroughbred horses and collector of art; in 1987 they built and endowed the Appleton Museum of Art in Ocala, now operated
by the College of Central Florida.

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Metropolis threatened by radioactivity, maybe

Usually it’s kryptonite that besets the home of the Man of Steel, but not this time:

The uranium can be found at the Honeywell plant, located just west of town and, as is frequently pointed out these days, just upwind. The plant — an unremarkable, hulking mass just off the highway — has been around more than five decades. It rarely registers much of a thought here, except as a provider of hundreds of good-paying jobs handling dangerous material. That was, until June 28.

That’s when Honeywell locked out its 220 union workers over a contract dispute. The union of production and maintenance workers picketed outside. The company hired replacement staff. The plant ran in slow motion for weeks, staying clear of any difficult work. But Honeywell recently announced it plans to restart full production early this month.

Much of the replacement staff, says Honeywell, comes from the Shaw Group, an experienced nuclear-power operator, but some townsfolk — and apparently the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which is watching the situation — are worried about something going wrong at the plant, what with all that radioactive material and all.

The Metropolis facility is the only one in the States that converts raw yellowcake to uranium hexafluoride. A similar plant in eastern Oklahoma, operated by Sequoyah Fuels, operated through 1986, then switched to recycling of depleted UF6. The reason:

On January 4, 1986, Sequoyah Fuels Corporation experienced a rupture in an overfilled uranium hexafluoride cylinder that contained an estimated 29,500 pounds of gaseous uranium hexafluoride. The incident led to the death of a 26 year-old worker, James Harrison, and the hospitalization of 37 of the 42 onsite workers. Health care providers examined up to 100 people, many from the local community, for health effects and 21 were hospitalized for short periods.

That plant was permanently shuttered in 1993.

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None of that noise

FIBA, having presumably watched the World Cup coverage earlier this year, has already moved to eliminate one potential source of bother:

FIBA has banned the vuvuzela from the forthcoming basketball World Championship in Turkey.

The sport’s international governing body is urging fans not to bring the controversial instruments to games and warned that security staff will confiscate them. Supporters also face expulsion from the tournament’s five venues if they flout the ban.

However bad the Horrible Horns were at the football matches, they would be infinitely worse for basketball:

Patrick Baumann, the Secretary-General of FIBA and a member of the International Olympic Committee, said: “We want fans to enjoy themselves and make lots of noise but not at the risk of spoiling it for others.

“The vuvuzela is simply not appropriate in a confined space such as a basketball arena. It’s a very loud instrument and some medical experts believe the decibel level and frequency can be harmful to hearing.

“Besides our responsibility to protect the well-being of our athletes and fans alike, the sound level in an indoor sport arena could create communication problems between the referees and that could have a direct negative impact on the game.”

Regular visitors to OKC’s Loud City commented: “Huh? Wha’d he say?

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The unhappy whistler

He made his happy sounds on Sullivan’s Island, and now he’s busted:

Town Council approved an ordinance last week that added whistling, hooting, hollering and singing on a public street to a list of potentially disturbing noises.

According to the proposed law, it would be illegal to yell, shout, hoot, whistle or sing on public streets especially overnight from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. or at any time or place if it’s annoying people nearby, in an office or in a home.

The place has obviously changed since Edgar Allan Poe was there:

This island is a very singular one. It consists of little else than the sea sand, and is about three miles long. Its breadth at no point exceeds a quarter of a mile. It is separated from the mainland by a scarcely perceptible creek, oozing its way through a wilderness of reeds and slime, a favorite resort of the marsh-hen. The vegetation, as might be supposed, is scant, or at least dwarfish. No trees of any magnitude are to be seen. Near the western extremity, where Fort Moultrie stands, and where are some miserable frame buildings, tenanted, during summer, by the fugitives from Charleston dust and fever, may be found, indeed, the bristly palmetto; but the whole island, with the exception of this western point, and a line of hard, white beach on the sea-coast, is covered with a dense undergrowth of the sweet myrtle so much prized by the horticulturists of England.

Now that I think about it, it hadn’t changed much from that the last time I was there, which would be early 1969.

Of course, there’s an explanation for this:

[L]ike it or not, Charleston is a town of transplants. A destination town. A lot of expatriate New Yorkers, people from Ohio looking for a warm place to sit, and a bunch of escapees from Atlanta’s rat race. Mostly east coast people, though. I was once considered an oddity because of my California roots (although that’s considered to be plenty odd anywhere). Now, there’s a bunch more like me. Maybe I should apologize for kicking that door open; everybody wants to be the last person to move to a new area … write this down. People who move to another area tend to want a couple of things: First, they’re seeking a new life. And, once that’s achieved (or not), they seek to make that new town Just Like Home …

Or at least just like North Charleston, whose anti-noise ordinance was largely copied by the present-day island fathers.

(Inspired by this post by Fishersville Mike.)

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Blackberries to be squashed

It’s a control thing, you wouldn’t understand:

Two Gulf states have announced bans on some functions of the Blackberry mobile phone, claiming security concerns.

The United Arab Emirates is to block sending emails, accessing the internet, and delivering instant messages to other Blackberry handsets. Saudi Arabia is to prevent the use of the Blackberry to Blackberry instant messaging service.

Both nations are unhappy that they are unable to monitor such communications via the handsets. This is because the Blackberry handsets automatically send the encrypted data to computer servers outside of the two countries.

You know who else would like to monitor communications? Yep. Just about everyone in a position of power, it seems.

The UAE ban is to start in October, while the Saudi move will begin later this month.

I expect workarounds to be in place rather quickly.

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Strange search-engine queries (235)

As noted yesterday, some two million people have filed through the gates and into the wondrousness of this site. It is the function of this weekly feature to single out about ten who arrived bearing goofy search strings.

shooting down the walls of heartache:  Have you ever tried to shoot down a wall? Tons of ordnance, not much of a hole. Next time, try the pole vault.

slippery sidewalk in high heels:  Tons of liquid, not much traction. Next time, try the winter boots.

thora birch wears converse monkey trouble:  Not on slippery sidewalks, I bet.

churchs must study cience fiction:  See, for instance, Paul’s second epistle to the Cardassians.

the fashion has turned out otherwise:  See, for instance, Paul’s second epistle to the Kardashians.

a war where nothing matters:  ”Not dying” would seem to matter at least a little.

hot to tell if someone is a swinger:  Push ‘em. If they sway back and forth like a pendulum do, they swing like England.

pissed off apac customer service employees:  Have you listened to some of those customers lately? Sheesh.

opposite of hype:  Um, lope?

“not unlike the wind itself”:  Which phrase will come in handy if ever you see someone sweeping down the plain.

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The heat is on, and then some

How hot is it? Nate caught this with his iPhone in Tulsa:

205 degrees

(Original here.)

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Death wish, or something

My laundry sorting tends toward the perfunctory: I don’t wear much white, before or after Labor Day, so I don’t pay much attention to colors as I load up the tub. (Fabrics, yes: I don’t want the socks with the slacks, because they take twice as long to dry.)

I hadn’t done any wash since the preceding Sunday, so the hamper was fairly full, and in it I discovered three red shirts. Not a problem for sorting, but I had to wonder: was I expecting to beam to the surface and die?

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Two million

On the 22nd of July, I asked: “Can we make it to the two-millionth visitor by the end of the month?”

Well, no. But we only missed it by eleven hours or so:

two-millionth visitor

It strikes me that this “unknown” ISP is one worth having, given SiteMeter’s manifest inability to determine anything from the IP address, which I have partially redacted.

And actually, I do know who this is — starting out with a Vent is a sure sign of a regular — but on a day when 60 percent of my traffic is coming from SurvivalBlog, I think it’s highly inappropriate to name names.

Incidentally, we went over three million page views yesterday afternoon.

I do thank all of you for dropping by, be it once or several hundred times, and I hope to see you again during the next million. (The first million was reached on the last day of March 2005.)

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Loose change

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Checkcashing Charlie

The jury is still out on whether the SEC charges against the Wyly brothers were intended to run interference while Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) was facing the (light) music, but there remains a question of why Rangel isn’t up against an actual jury on his own account:

[W]hat is all this talk about deal with ethics committee? Is he guilty or not? Did he do these things? (he did, and more) Then he should be brought to court, made to return public & private money and sentenced according to law.

How come an ethics committee became a substitute for due legal process?

Why they have an authority to forgive or punish crimes on behalf of the people? Isn’t it a violation of constitutional principles?

When similar questions were posed here, I punted, pointing out that so far, no action had been taken outside the House of Representatives. The question therefore becomes: Could Rangel be charged with violations of federal law, outside House rules? A reading of the 40-page “Statement of Alleged Violation” [link autoloads a PDF file] indicates that yes, he could, though only for some of the specific counts.

Which leads to the next question: Would a prosecutor outside the House actually bring charges against Rangel for, say, tax evasion? Probably not:

New York State law classifies filing a false city or state tax return a felony punishable by up to four years in prison, but Kathleen M. Pakenham, a tax lawyer at the law firm of White & Case, said criminal prosecutions are rare and in most cases, the taxpayer is simply fined 20 percent of the back taxes owed. Under federal law it is a felony to “willfully” evade payment of taxes or file a false return, and sentences can include prison terms and fines of up to $100,000. But Daniel Goldberg, a tax law professor at the University of Maryland School of Law, said that the I.R.S. rarely pursued criminal prosecution or imposed fines in cases where no back taxes were owed.

So don’t look for Rangel to serve any time. On the other hand, I wouldn’t expect the authorities to cut you or me the same amount of slack.

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Unmapped territory

There exists a theory to the effect that we never actually forget anything: we merely misplace it. It goes something like this:

Near as I can figure, it only gets “lost” because we stop keeping track of it. There’s so much knowledge stored in that vast, disorganized warehouse of knowledge both useful and not, that the only way to get hold of any one piece of it when you want it is to keep the index up and running. But the way the brain works, the index consists of associations rather than actual location addresses like on, say, a computer hard drive.

Which is why when I’m trying to remember something and having trouble, I usually have to go back through what I was thinking about when the information got filed. Other times I may just have to give up and wait for something else to accidentally spark an association (which often happens just about the time I stop trying to remember it).

For a highly-unreliable system, this is actually pretty reliable. If there’s something I need to do tomorrow, I don’t write a note to myself; I leave something out of place. The next day, when I happen upon the anomaly, the connection is made.

I might also suggest that this propensity is of particular value to the blogger. There’s no way I can recall on demand the contents of the last 15,000 posts (which would go back to the fall of ’02 or so). But if something current happens to match up with something I once said, there’s the accidental spark, and the words will start to flow. You thought I was quoting myself for the sake of search-engine standings? No, just rebuilding my own internal not-really-an-index.

There’s one further complication, at least regarding my own memories: certain of them are tagged as Bad, things I’d just as soon not think about at all, and if one of them happens to be activated, the whole lot can come crashing down on me at once. Under those circumstances, the best I can do is to invoke the Scarlett O’Hara Temporal Displacement Method.

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Transportable cooler

Yesterday the Twitterverse was filled with snark about the Chevrolet Volt, the best of which was provided by Iowahawk. (“The Electric Government Kool-Aid Battery Acid 40 Mile Trip” is choice, maybe even prime.) I have no doubt that GM can move 10,000 of these in the first year: the last Chevy dealer in Hollywood probably has that many names on a waiting list. But inevitably, there are some things that this car — most contemporary cars, says Jonny Lieberman — won’t do well:

The Mercury also performed one other amazing feat, one that 99.9 percent of other modern cars simply can’t do as well. I went ahead and prepaid for a tank of gas. Meaning that if we returned the Grand Marquis on anything more than an eighth of a tank, they’d be getting both my money and my gas! As it happened, Connecticut experienced record-breaking heat that weekend — 100 degrees Fahrenheit and 100 percent humidity. So, we left the car idling all day with the A/C set to Max. Whenever any of us felt a heat stroke coming on, we’d simply dip into the near-frozen Grand Marquis for a quick cool down. And this may have been the sun talking, but after a few hours I swear the windows began icing up.

I am heartened by the fact that this took place in New England; had it been in Texas, the Thou Shalt Not Drive Much crowd would have dismissed it as being, well, Texan.

Personal note: My ex used to own a Grand Marquis, but traded it for a Ford Five Hundred, which line became the new Taurus. Why, yes, she was born in Texas. Why do you ask?

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Life during wartime

Scott “The Fat Guy” Chaffin, over at Facebook:

I miss the Cold War. Mutually-assured destruction focused the mind and put Americans on the moon, a still-unsurpassed achievement. Now, I have the luxury of listening to lectures about eating my broccoli and driving electric cars from My Betters. What I need is a damned frontier.

Don’t you worry about the Cold War. The Comintern is coming back. Unfortunately, it will be based in the District of Columbia. Lots of red-diaper babies out there.

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How to name your blog

Because, you know, it’s important:

Nothing against Glenn Reynolds or anything, seems like a good enough chap, but far as I can tell, he’s just some law professor from Tennessee. And he barely writes any actual commentary. Seeing his blog, and the traffic it gets, it’s entirely fair to shrug and say “I don’t get it”. So you’re left with the conclusion that his blog’s success has very little to do with any of the actual blogging, and everything to do with the fact that, way back when, he fortuitously and/or shrewdly decided to call his blog “Instapundit”, rather than, say, “Links From Tennessee” or “Law School Guy”. Because “Instapundit” was the hook that made that site what it is; seemingly, that’s all it took.

Heh. Indeed.®

There have been, over the years, names that were subtly functional: The Presurfer comes immediately to mind. And then there are those which seem to require an explanation, such as TYWKIWDBI, or perhaps Rhymes With Cars & Girls:

What does that even mean? And how on earth does it relate to the content? Doesn’t seem to. Doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue or easily conjure any images.

On the other hand, there are those that conjure plenty of images, such as Violins and Starships.

And I’m sure the name of this place has bewildered a few folks over the years, even though there’s an explanation posted, which was written in, and which reeks of, 1997.

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A sip of the new wine

For this one, I blame Brian Ibbott.

The genial host of the Coverville podcast almost always finds at least one track each episode that causes massive secretion in my WTF gland. In #692, it was “Billie Holiday” by Warpaint, which opens with a simple guitar tune and, of all things, the spelling out of the title. Dismissable, perhaps; the Bay City Rollers did the same shtick one Saturday.

But it wasn’t like that at all. A little more orchestration, really lovely three-part harmonies, and about two minutes in, the words seemed awfully familiar. I backed up the track, started again, and yep: Smokey Robinson, via Mary Wells. Clearly the most idiosyncratic take on “My Guy” since Sister Act. Since iTunes was already up and running, I dialed over to the store and found the six tracks of their Exquisite Corpse EP.

“Billie Holiday,” of course, had had a spike in sales, but I figured $5.94 wouldn’t break me, so I bought the entire shebang, and then basically sat there amazed for half an hour: Exquisite Corpse didn’t sound like anything else I’d ever heard. The band’s MySpace page describes them as “Psychedelic / Ghettotech / Melodramatic Popular Song,” and that will have to do for now. By no stretch of the imagination can this be considered background music: the band weaves fascinating sonic textures from deceptively-simple instrumental threads, and the sort of wretched excess that normally draws in the critics is blessedly absent. I’m not even going to pretend I understand all the words: even the stuff I already knew by heart seems inchoate, ethereal and vaguely threatening. While watching the video for “Elephants” it hit me: these are the anti-Mediæval Bæbes, however many centuries in the opposite direction, somehow projected into our own time for reasons unknown. If “beautiful” and “scary” seem to you to be part of the same continuum, you probably heard about this record before I did.

(Reviewed from purchased AAC files.)

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Now Acme pursues Wyly

The SEC gets medieval on a couple of non-Wall Street operators:

Sam and Charles Wyly, billionaire Texas brothers who gained prominence spending millions of dollars on conservative political causes, committed fraud by using secret overseas accounts to generate more than $550 million in profit through illegal stock trades, the Securities and Exchange Commission charged Thursday.

The Wylys, who have been generous contributors to the Republican Party and GOP candidates, have spent the past several years facing questions, including from a Senate investigative committee, about whether they hid millions of dollars in tax shelters abroad. Through their lawyer, the Wylys denied all charges.

Jenn questions the timing:

Six years of investigation but the SEC doesn’t bring charges until the day that Charles Rangel is charged? I don’t think so. If they really had anything they would have charged sooner or they would wait a week to avoid the appearance that they were trying to distract from the Rangel investigation.

And what’s the point of tax shelters, if not to hide money? The tax system we have encourages — hell, practically demands — them. Of course, Treasury wants you to use their approved shelters rather than those horrible offshore operations, but the demand for shelters manifestly exceeds the supply, and we all know what the government understands about supply and demand. (Short version: well, technically, there can’t be a long version. Laws of physics, doncha know.)

Besides, the two situations aren’t strictly comparable. The Wylys occasionally create jobs; the Rangels of the world create only patronage.

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Escaping the double-bind

Scene from Topper Returns

In this scene, Roland Young is befuddled by Joan Blondell’s floating unmentionables in Topper Returns (1941). Admittedly, Cosmo Topper was rather easily befuddled, but you’d think after Thorne Smith’s novel and two previous films, he’d be used to invisible women by now.

And besides, how likely is it that they’re going to ask “Does this dress make me look fat?”

After the jump, a very visible Joan Blondell wearing rather less.

Read the rest of this entry »

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