We never wanted you anyway

First-world problem: Occasionally we give our children unusual, even peculiar names. As a general rule, though, we don’t go this far:

More than 200 Indian girls whose names mean “unwanted” in Hindi chose new names Saturday for a fresh start in life.

A central Indian district held a renaming ceremony it hopes will give the girls new dignity and help fight widespread gender discrimination that gives India a skewed gender ratio, with far more boys than girls…

“Now in school, my classmates and friends will be calling me this new name, and that makes me very happy,” said a 15-year-old girl who had been named Nakusa by a grandfather disappointed by her birth. She chose the new name “Ashmita,” which means “very tough” or “rock hard” in Hindi.

I expect to see an Ashmita fighting for the UFC title before too long.

That sex ratio is indeed skewed: barely 900 girls for every 1000 boys. And the reasons aren’t at all biological:

Such ratios are the result of abortions of female fetuses, or just sheer neglect leading to a higher death rate among girls. The problem is so serious in India that hospitals are legally banned from revealing the gender of an unborn fetus in order to prevent sex-selective abortions, though evidence suggests the information gets out.

Part of the reason Indians favor sons is the enormous expense of marrying off girls. Families often go into debt arranging marriages and paying for elaborate dowries. A boy, on the other hand, will one day bring home a bride and dowry.

Meanwhile, we kvetch about the glass ceiling.

(Via this Dan Collins tweet.)

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This is why we can’t have nice laws

Jenn finds several loads of codswallop in the OWS-related American People’s New Economic Charter, one of which we’ll single out here:

ECONOMIC AGENDA OF THE OWS MOVEMENT Item 4 – … Members of the Congress and Senate should not be allowed to debate economic problems. The lawmakers must seek economic advice from economic experts from leading universities.

Last I looked, Congress included the Senate, but what I want to see is their list of “leading universities”: I’d bet you several pre-tax dollars that they don’t include the University of Chicago.

Now if I were in an Occupying mood, I would rewrite Item 4 this way:

“Members of the Congress should not be allowed to create economic problems.”

And if they actually took the Constitution seriously, it would never even occur to them to try.

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Shelby released

Today is Shelby Lynne’s forty-third birthday, and this bit should tell you everything you need to know about the music biz: she made a record with George Jones (“If I Could Bottle This Up”) way back in 1988, and she put out six full albums before winning a Grammy for Best New Artist — for 2000.

She also has a certain visual appeal:

Shelby Lynne

But what I really wanted to mention is this: in 2008, Shelby put out Just a Little Lovin’, a tribute to the late Dusty Springfield that garnered decent reviews. Did her label put out a single from it? They did: “Anyone Who Had a Heart,” a song which Dusty did cut but which is much more strongly associated with Dionne Warwick. More music-biz brilliance, right? Except that Shelby’s sparse, stripped-down, aching version packs just as much of an emotional wallop as Dionne’s — and more than Dusty’s. Sometimes the music biz gets it right.

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More Doobieous than ever

The last time we brought up the Doobie Brothers in this space, we noted that they seemed like a totally different band with Michael McDonald out front, which may have been a factor in the group’s disbanding in the early 1980s.

But if you’ve been following the Doobies, you probably know that they didn’t stay disbanded: they had a Top 10 single in 1989 (“The Doctor”), and last month they put out a new album, World Gone Crazy. The first single therefrom is a reworking of their very first single from forty-one years ago: Tom Johnston’s “Nobody.”

Sounds quite a bit like 1970, doesn’t it? And it doesn’t hurt that Ted Templeman, their producer from the very beginning through the golden years, is back at the helm.

(Obviously aimed at Jeffro.)

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The Dread Pirate [your name here]

Earlier this year, publisher HarperCollins came up with new license terms for libraries lending ebooks, which were duly mocked in this space. Apparently that wasn’t hilarious enough, since this maneuver is nearly as perverse:

Warner Home Video is forcing DVD distributors to:

  • place a 28 day embargo on sales of Warner feature titles to libraries
  • discontinue providing libraries with DVDs that contain all the bonus features, but instead only sell us the “rental” version that is just the movie

Will this actually work? Probably not:

[T]he law gives libraries several tools to lawfully combat this kind of policy, according to Brandon Butler, director of public policy initiatives at the Association of Research Libraries.

“The first-sale doctrine allows libraries to buy DVDs lawfully in any channel and then lend them without asking permission,” Butler said. “If a library wants to circumvent the 28-day delay or buy a full-featured DVD, for example, there is nothing to stop them from buying DVDs from regular stores like Amazon or Target,” he said.

I note with some amusement that Amazon is now considered a “regular store.”

Lest we think that they’re just picking on libraries, be it noted that Warner’s rental discs will be similarly delayed and decontented. As always, if there’s anything that content providers really hate, it’s providing content.

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Happy and glorious, I assume

Before you ask: no, I’m not in this film, nor should I be.

Here’s a list of who is, though.

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Dinner Rolls

In the process of denouncing yet another futile extension of the Lexus brand, Jack Baruth explains why it is that everyone seems to have become a foodie all of a sudden:

[I]t’s because the only God-dammed thing that you can legitimately brag about in any upscale party nowadays is how much you’re spending on food. If you’re trying to impress a woman in Manhattan or Newport Beach, don’t talk about your $295,000 Ferrari F430. She’ll think you’re a douchebag, a braggart, and a solid candidate for surgical penis augmentation. If, on the other hand, you talk about how you’re spending $500 a week on food, she will get the message — you’re stacking bank — and approve on multiple fronts. It’s conspicuous consumption, redefined.

(Aside: Firefox 3.16.x insists that “douchebag” is two words, with or without a hyphen between them.)

I don’t spend $500 a month on food, so obviously I’m getting nowhere with the Coastal Babes.

Incidentally, Baruth recommends that you spurn that particular low-end Lexus and spend the same money — $40k or so — on Toyota’s nascent Prius Plug-In Advanced. I think he makes his case.

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Wouldn’t this be handy?

Deprived of context, the phrase “contradictory affirmative” will elicit something like “Yeah, right” from me. But it’s a handy little idiom, which English unfortunately lacks:

Even those of us who don’t know French all know that “oui” means “yes.” But French actually has two words for yes; oui gets used most of the time, but there is also si which you use when answering yes to a negative question.

So if the question was “do you want cake?” you would just say “oui” — but if the question was “don’t you want cake?” you would reply with “si.” I guess it has something of a tone of “well, actually, yes I do want cake!” But it’s all summed up in one little word! It’s not really formal language, but it’s used a lot in spoken French.

I wonder if the French have a comeback for “the cake is a lie.”

(Tweeted, and suggested, by Nancy Friedman.)

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Quote of the week

Lynn’s conclusion regarding the Occupation:

I honestly don’t think corporations are evil. They might be “Big Brother” but they make our way of life possible so I guess you could say that I do “love Big Brother.” Corporations, or the people who run them, are greedy. So am I. So are you. Greed is why we have an economy at all. And Wall Street? I really fracking hate that the entire economy is so deeply affected by the daily panic attacks of a handful of wealthy investors. But that’s just the way it is and I don’t know what can be done about it. Neither do the Occupy Wall Street protesters and that’s why they’re wasting their time. You really want to make an effective statement? Go home and write to your congressman and tell him that you’re not going to vote for him unless the unemployment rate drops below 6% by election time. And then follow through on your threat.

That ought to empty out the House (and a third of the Senate) pretty quickly.

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Not to mention that smell

It’s not quite up there with Murphy or even Godwin yet, but yes, this is a metalaw of the universe:

“At some point at every live show, someone will, ironically or otherwise, vocalize a request for the Lynryd Skynyrd song, ‘Freebird’. The volume of this request will be equally proportional to the lack of sobriety of the individual making it.”

Sean Murphy, who wrote up that particular version of the law, decided to ask local musical and ancillary acts what they did when faced with this situation. Lots of good responses, but the one I’m going to quote here is from Ferris O’Brien of The Spy FM:

“If it’s in the studio or a live DJ gig, I simply say… ‘I’ll get it on next.’ Then promptly play ‘How Soon Is Now’ by The Smiths.”

Nobody will ever accuse Ferris of shyness, criminally vulgar or otherwise.

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Looking forward to the ATM

Rebecca Black reminds you that it's Friday, FridayThis week’s Rebecca Black update is brought to you by Maxim, and yes, I mean the lad mag. In the November issue, there’s a one-page factoid cluster devoted to Black Friday, “America’s favorite shopping day,” which of course falls in November; and one of the numbers bandied about therein is $24,900, which is, says Maxim, the “cash Rebecca Black banks a week thanks to her song ‘Friday’.”

I reacted to this revelation with a very Rebecca-esque “LOL NO,” but hey, they had to have gotten that number from somewhere, right? And that somewhere is Billboard, which calculated:

Here’s the math: 43,000 tracks at 70 cents to the artist minus a 9% distribution fee, minus 0.91 cents apiece for mechanical royalties equals $24,900.

“Mechanical royalties,” in case you just walked in and/or are jargon-resistant, are due to the composer(s) and publisher. (Black didn’t write “Friday,” after all.) The catch here is that this article is dated March 22, near the crest of the sales curve; while she may have been banking 25k a week then, sales presumably have since subsided a bit.

Then again, perhaps it’s not just sales anymore:

Rolling to a stop one afternoon in my car, I flipped on the radio to hear the familiar chorus of “Friday” by Rebecca Black. I really wanted to hate that song, but somewhere in the middle I found myself singing along.

The startling news here, of course, is that somewhere an actual radio station is playing “Friday.” That’s a whole different revenue stream.

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File under “if only”

Because you know this might actually work:

Outkube boasts thousands of articles and forums carefully crafted to draw in dim-witted web users and effectively quarantine obtuse, uninformed comments on topics such as gay rights, Ryan Gosling, the threat of Sharia law in the U.S., health care reform, whether Kobe is better than LeBron, Jewish control of the government and media, the New York Jets, the Second Amendment, and professional wrestler John Cena.

Most stories on the site are reportedly preloaded with several witless and profanity-laden comments specially designed to incite retaliatory remarks.

Alas, this hasn’t actually happened, much to my dismay — and possibly to Andrea Harris’ dismay as well.

Fark linked this under “RIP Fark Politics Tab 2006-2011″; the resulting thread suggests that fake trolls are simply not as inventive as the real ones.

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That would hurt

None of that killing him softly with one’s song, either:

Screen shot from WBTV Charlotte

Not necessarily related: Murder by Death.

(Seen here.)

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Possibly unseasoned

Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett, on the current NBA impasse:

“If forced to take a side, I would side with the owners in this deal. If anyone believes commissioner [David] Stern or the owners want to start canceling games, I just can’t imagine where that line of thinking is coming from. That’s the last thing anybody wanted to do.

“They [owners] obviously are serious about getting a better business deal with the players. The players are going to have to see that the economics have changed, and they’re still getting a good deal, even if it is not as good as it was.”

Fourteen mayors of cities with NBA teams sent a letter to the league asking that Something Be Done; Cornett declined to participate.

I’m not sure what I think of that, even after having read the letter. I am, however, perplexed that I couldn’t find it anywhere on NewsOK.com, though the Oklahoman did print it in the sports section Thursday morning. (Any of you Black Tower guys who have a NewsOK link, feel free to chime in.)

Then again, I’m pretty sure it is less than swift to announce you’re not taking sides, and then take sides.

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Drink different

The city of Tulsa is contemplating, presumably for cost reasons, adopting the use of chloramine as a secondary disinfectant for the water system: it’s effective against microbial contamination, but unpleasant side effects might be waiting in the wings, and Michael Bates, generally the least-alarmist person in the state, says that “there may be reason to worry.”

One of the nastier by-products of chloramine use is n-nitrosodimethylamine, usually abbreviated to NDMA, which can play hell with one’s liver. The CDC’s Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry has published some suitably scary information, with the admission that “the levels of NDMA in air, water, or food that result in health effects in people are unknown.” The EPA has no official standard for NDMA in water supplies, though they recommend lakes and streams be kept to below 0.00069 ppb, a distinctly tiny amount, because fish don’t function well in it.

Since Oklahoma City uses chloramine, I checked the current water-quality report [pdf], which states that current chloramine levels run about 10-12 percent below EPA’s Maximum Residual Disinfectant Level. Wikipedia reports that a California study found minimal, if nonzero, concentrations of NDMA in water systems using chloramine.

My thinking: Caution is indeed advisable. On the other hand, frying bacon can produce NDMA, and nobody’s giving that up. If there’s any good news here, it’s that NDMA has no particular tendency to accumulate in one’s body.

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It’s not easy selling green

OPI, which has vended slightly idiosyncratic nail-polish colors for a quarter-century, has issued a collection of Muppet-related colors in connection with the Muppet movie due out next month. The only actual green one is “Fresh Frog of Bel-Air”; you’ll also find “Warm & Fozzie,” “Divine Swine,” and nine more. You can see the lot at OPI.com.

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