A yearn for the terse

I’ve gotten some pretty long-winded spams stuck in the spam trap over the years. Seldom, though, do I see anything like this:

“Hello. And Bye”.

They should all be so short. I mean, think of the disk space it would save.

Addendum: I did finally think of the disk space it would save, and it’s not really that much: the entire system database is only 75 MB, of which 20 MB or so is comments, and actual comments have somehow outnumbered spam comments 4 to 3, so if I’d kept all the spam I’d have a 90-MB database. Considering the fact that the site takes up well over a gigabyte, this should be considered potatoes of insignificant dimension.

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None of that girly stuff

One of the working definitions of “character actor” is “not the hero, but maybe the hero’s best friend”; as I recall, this was a common description of Ronald Reagan, affable on film but not awe-inspiring.

On this basis, almost every working woman in Hollywood is a character actor; she doesn’t get to be the hero, but she might be the hero’s girlfriend. In other words, nothing at all like real life:

We’ve become so used to Opinionated, Strategic Woman = Villain, and Beautiful Women = Piece of Ass With Perhaps Secondarily A Surprisingly Good Brain, that it’s hard to imagine an Oscar-style movie in which women like these are heroes, and in which their interactions have nothing at all to do with men. It’s totally rational that in the real world they could be. Women in the real world regularly kick ass in the sciences. They risk their lives photographing warzones. They spend a great deal of their time having nothing to say about men, weddings, menopause, periods, or their vaginas, and often can be found, you know, analyzing medieval marginalia, drafting policy arguments for politicians, and running through the park thinking about string theory.

You just won’t find them at the local octuplex:

Yet the movie versions of us — the mainstream Award Winning versions of us — are more typically found offscreen, coming on to serve the male world changers coffee, tie their neckties, support their ambitions, and look beautiful. We can be found bending over backwards in heels to show men how well we can shake it, while still maintaining the ability to raise small children, which startling capacity will, of course, help the male main character realize that he should be more emotionally available, and that he should also perhaps take some vengeful action against the things that have hurt the woman he loves.

We are told that this is because the single largest segment of the motion-picture audience is young men, and this is what they want to see, over and over and over again. And it’s not just movies, either:

[W]hen the novelist Mary Gordon spoke at a boys’ school, she learned that the students weren’t reading the Brontës, Austen or Woolf. Their teachers defended this by saying they were looking for works that boys could relate to. But at the girls’ school across the street, Gordon said, “no one would have dreamed of removing Huckleberry Finn or ‘Moby-Dick’ from the syllabus. As a woman writer, you get points if you include the ‘male’ world in your work, and you lose points if you omit it.”

There is, in fact, exactly one television series — not even enough to be a subgenre — in which the lads will turn out to see female characters doing it for themselves, with scarcely any references to males. Not that this is a harbinger of the future or anything; in fact, there are already signs of flankhurt.

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I’ll just sit tight

Friday, you may recall, the top portion of a dying tree decided it couldn’t take it anymore and plummeted to the ground, directly on top of my telephone line, pinning it in place and pulling out just about all of the spare cable in the process. I left it there over the weekend, having misread the phone company’s response to my repair order. I got the “Monday” part correct; what I didn’t catch was which Monday. Turns out to be, not yesterday, but a week from yesterday.

Curiosity is, of course, considered a major cause of feline death. Having guesstimated that the line voltage was probably about 48 volts, and being stupid enough to consider that quantity trivial, I took it upon myself to separate line and tree. This actually proved to be fairly simple: the offending branch was not actually connected to the enormous trunk section that came down. (Smashed on impact, I suspect.) About forty-five seconds from OMGIMGONNADIE to “Take that, you miserable hunk of deadwood!” The line is still about 18 inches off the ground, but there’s not much left to fall on it.

Actually, this was motivated, not by my wanting to save the Death Star some work, but to clear some space when and if my lawn guy, who bailed last week because of stormage, shows up. (We’re tentatively scheduled for Wednesday. The lawn after 18 days is verdant to the point of nausea.)

There are downed branches here and there throughout the neighborhood, but the worst casualty was the Little Free Library, which was, after all, a wooden box on a pole; it took a swan dive. It has (temporarily, I presume) been replaced by a rural-style mailbox.

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Greece is the word

Celebrating her 31st birthday today, Her Royal Highness Princess Theodora of Greece and Denmark:

Princess Theodora

She comes by this complicated title naturally: she’s the younger daughter (fourth child) of former King Constantine II of Greece and Anne-Marie of Denmark. Constantine, as it happens, is connected to the Danish royal family on his own — he’s a lineal descendant of Christian IX — so the abolition of the Greek monarchy did not diminish his royalness in the slightest.

Theodora, born in London, attended Brown University under the name “Theodora Greece,” the same name she’s used for 52 episodes (so far) of the CBS soap The Bold and the Beautiful, playing Alison Montgomery.

Princess Theodora

She’s also dipping a toe into feature films.

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That’s a switch

The General Motors ignition-switch incident is growing like the Blob, and the part that perplexes me is that so much of it seemed avoidable. Yes, GM’s part-handling procedures seem dubious; yes, this debacle should have been dealt with before the rest of the world stuck its nose in. I admittedly never have owned one of the cars in question. But it never occurred to me that having the switch slide over from ON to OFF or ACC in the middle of the road was a death-dealing scenario.

Car and Driver’s July issue checks out the claims. They got themselves a Saturn Ion, one of the vehicles being recalled, and then rigged it to kill power assist to steering and brakes to simulate the problem. The results were not surprising: steering effort went up markedly, though not to a point where it couldn’t be dealt with, and braking effort quadrupled — once the vacuum was gone. It wasn’t on the first panic stop, because there’s a check valve in the line.

Still, neither of these is a problem if you simply restart the car, no trick if you remember that there’s an interlock and you have to shift the lever into neutral. Somewhere around ninety percent of panicky drivers, I suspect, will not remember that. (Trini, who actually owned one of these Ions, and was almost certainly aware of the vagaries of the car’s ignition switch, having replaced one once, would have; then again, she’s one of the least-panicky individuals on the planet.)

There remains the question of why the airbags didn’t deploy when Mr and Mrs Panicky hit the wall, but since there’s no legal specification other than “test dummies must not be subjected to this much force,” it’s difficult to compare notes among individual incidents. And I am reminded of my one and only Major Crash, out on a two-lane state highway in 2006, in which my car and a doe came to mutual death blows at an appallingly high speed. The airbags didn’t budge. Then again, I didn’t get so much as a scratch.

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Everything you always wanted to know about security

Regular reader and tech whiz Teresa Hummel has begun a small project called “Itty Bitty Security Podcast,” dedicated to the proposition that there’s something you can do to improve your position vis-à-vis the black-hatted guys out there on the Net. Three episodes — sensibly, numbered 0, 1 and 2 — are out there now, and listening to all of them will take a whole 16 minutes. It took me a little longer, but I was swooning at her voice, crisply Midwestern — yes, she lives in New England, but she didn’t always — and, to me anyway, awfully persuasive.

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Just another girl

She never really wanted to be anything else.

Update, 9 July: Everything apparently came off well.

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Strange search-engine queries (436)

Google, eventually, will encrypt all search requests, which will mean that the people who ask for this weird crap someday will be secure in the knowledge that it won’t show up here. In the meantime, though:

phil spector mono vinyl:  Mostly, yes. Why this matters on a Wii U, the device which requested this, I do not know.

the song there dosnt seem to be any one around:  Because, you know, one is the loneliest number, and all that jazz.

sarah michelle gellar double jointed legs:  Hmmm. Now I’m going to have to rewatch all those old episodes of Buffy.

http://sexy.mobi/watch-hidden-camera-videos-showing-girls-in-the-changing-room-doing-kinky-things.html?interstitial:  Probably none of them are double-jointed, and what will your mom say?

erotic video kid turns table on mom by turning invisible:  Yeah, like that’s really gonna press Mom’s hot buttons.

non nude pictures of girls in panties:  I suppose that would qualify for “non nude,” yes.

what happened between rebecca black and alexa losey:  I’m not sure, but I don’t think it involved panties.

is the 2001 mazda 626 automatic unleaded gas only:  Hint: Leaded gasoline was banned in the States in 1996.

1930 chevrolet roadster seats spanish grain fabric core 1930 explained:  What do you care? You can’t even run leaded gas in it.

animal and giral fual xxx pechar:  That “xxx” doesn’t make me feel any better about it, let me tell you.

Roger Miller song which mentions Baltimore Colts:  Um, that was Bobby Russell’s “1432 Franklin Pike Circle Hero.” And, of course, the Colts moved to Indianapolis.

www.empty scrotum.com:  Now that took some balls.

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Oscillation sensation

If the Best Popular Song of 2014 is going to come out of the second half of the year, this is what it has to beat:

And no, that’s not Sia herself in the video. (There’s also a separate lyric video, and she’s not in that either. Much.)

“Chandelier” topped out at #48 in the Billboard Hot 100, a chart position that belies its greatness. (Similarly stalled: “Lucky Man,” “Get Out Now,” “Street Fighting Man.”)

And if you’ve never been a party girl in serious denial — well, perhaps you should consider yourself fortunate.

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Huge hugeness

This is startling for a couple of reasons:

Inga Eiriksdottir began modeling in her native Iceland when she was just 14 years old. But as her body changed, the modeling industry didn’t change along with her. Although she had appeared in campaigns for brands like Dolce & Gabbana and Max Mara and had worked with esteemed fashion photographers including Patrick Demarchelier and Steven Meisel, her agency, Ford Models, switched her over to its plus-size division when she was 21 years old. The 5’10” Eiriksdottir was a size 6 at the time, having started her career as a size 2. Though she saw other models taking extreme measures to stay thin, Eiriksdottir, who is also a trained yoga teacher, refused to put her body through unhealthy regimens in order to be superskinny.

From the Department of Syntactic Quibbles: Icelanders don’t have surnames. This is Inga, who is the daughter of Eirik.

But I have to wonder: what color is the sky in a world where size 6 — size six, fercrissake — is deemed “plus”?

(Via this Dan McLaughlin tweet.)

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Space program

Something from the spring of ’06, which I’d pretty much forgotten about:

Seagate is readying a 750 GB external hard drive that connects via FireWire or USB and ships with backup software for both Windows and Mac.

There remains approximately 750 GB of space on my current internal drive, also by Seagate, capacity 1000 GB, seventy bucks at Newegg when it’s not on sale. (Right now, it’s on sale.) That eight-year-old bruiser? $559.

Then again, I’m old enough to remember this, and I’m hardly alone:

Radio Shack hard-drive ad from the 1980s

I ripped half a dozen songs — not full CDs, just individual tracks — to MP3s yesterday. I’d have to have two of those Radio Shack drives to store them.

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La cage aux Fido

In fairness, it should be pointed out that he’s not nailed to the perch:

Medium bird cages

Cue the Everly Brothers.

(From Bad Newspaper via Miss Cellania.)

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One or two lumps?

Make it three, and keep your sexist remarks to yourself:

Sweetness is code for feminine. It’s code for not being able to handle “reality” and having to cover it up. Because people really need to read that much into a desire to eat or drink something that tastes good/actually listen to your palette when it says that you do or don’t like something.

There is an odd cult of masculinity around things that taste like shit and being able to eat things that taste like shit and/or hurt you when you eat them (cinnamon challenge anyone?). Oddly, putting oneself in situations that require pain or discomfort is seen as good and manly and powerful and strong, whereas actually doing things you enjoy is seen as girly (unless it’s eating a steak which gets a pass because killing things and eating their flesh is also manly). And for that reason, eating things that are sweet is considered feminine. It’s delicate, because only weak ladies feel the need to consume things that go down easy.

I have long suspected that said “cult of masculinity” originally coalesced around a group of guys who couldn’t tell you which end of a stick of butter you shove into the toaster. (How big this group is, I’m not sure, though it’s surely not insubstantial.) By general cultural agreement, the Confirmed Bachelor lives on an indiscriminate diet rivaled only by the jackal’s, which explains that part of his beer belly that isn’t actually attributable to beer. But this, too, is a stereotype.

Food is an important cultural signifier. We use it to communicate our values (see veganism and vegetarianism), to communicate our in-groups (through ethnic food or family traditions), to bond with each other (group meals), and to communicate how we fit into the world (eating disorders are a good example of this, but many people choose their food to signify what kind of a person they are). We don’t often look to food consciously as a way to reveal our prejudices or assumptions, but it’s woven into every day of our lives (even when we’re not eating it).

Or, as I once said:

Nobody eats arugula for the taste. It’s a status indicator, pure and simple. If you could get it in a salad at Wendy’s, no one would pay however many dollars a pound for it.

Why, yes, I think I will have another strawberry daiquiri.

(Via this @syaffolee tweet.)

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Negatory on that Pontiactivity

This seems straightforward enough:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: Does Pontiac still manufacture cars?

And then this amazing statement followed:

I’ve rarely seen any Pontiac cars on the road lately. Are they still manufacturing cars? I need an answer OTHER THAN YES OR NO, I WILL NOT accept those as answers.

In which case, the most reasonable answer is “Bite me, Bat Boy.”

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Now with extra P

Support for PHP 5.2 by The PHP Group ended in January 2011. Despite that:

Starting June 24th, we will be upgrading domains on shared hosting running PHP 5.2* to our recommended version of PHP 5.4.

This is what you get if you’re still running 5.2:

Time to upgrade

Before you ask: of the six domains I own, three were running 5.4, two were running 5.3, and one doesn’t use it at all because it’s all static pages.

And actually, 5.5 has been out for a year already, which I guess is like five Internet years.

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The one-way thumb

Disqus, the commenting system favored by some of the bigger sites, has gone on one of those “If you can’t say something nice…” kicks and has deprecated the downvote — though the upvote remains. Will Truman is okay with that:

I used to like the idea of upvotes and downvotes, but the more I saw them in action the more skeptical of them I have become. It was my hope, when I was introduced to the concept, that generally polite and well thought out comments would get upvotes and pointless snark would get downvotes. At least on the sites that I read and participate on which tend to have commenters that are more polite and thoughtful.

However, even “good” commenting sections have their bad apples, of course, who seem to be there to disrupt the discourse. They also tend to have lurkers who don’t comment but do vote who may veer hard on one side or the other. In either case, voting seems to attract people looking for “Boo-yah” comments instead of carefully considered ones, because the upvotes and downvote tallies I see tend to lean towards which side of the argument they’re taking instead of the actual content of their message.

Yep. Stephen Stills anticipated this in 1967: “A thousand people in the street / Singing songs and carrying signs / Mostly saying, ‘Hooray for our side’.” It’s hard to expect much more from them under the circumstances.

And I can’t argue with this:

If wanting a more positive commenting atmosphere makes me a namby-pamby feminized dude or whatever, I am pretty okay with that. Heaven knows there are more than enough sites that are battle arenas. So eliminating downvoting makes a lot of sense from their point of view. Obviously, Hit Coffee doesn’t generate the sort of comment traffic to make such an endeavor worthwhile, though if it did I would try to go in the upvote direction.

It would be better if Disqus gave siterunners the option of upvotes only, downvotes only, or both. But absent that, I would prefer upvoting only over a requirement for both.

Some nonblogs have comment systems based on thumbs. Yahoo! Answers allows for up- and downvotes on any answer given to any question. I don’t pay the slightest bit of attention to them, except when someone has reported me for excessive snark. (There have been two such incidents; I won one on appeal and blew off the other.)

And then there’s Fimfiction, where I post my pony tales. I am extremely sensitive to downvotes there, and I have noticed that they come a lot more quickly than do upvotes. The most reasonable explanation for this, I think, is that some people simply object to some subjects being covered and won’t actually read the story before thumbing it down. Certainly The Sparkle Chronicles, which ventures into some territory a substantial percentage of the fandom finds disquieting and perhaps distasteful, followed this pattern: after a month or so, the thumb ratio was 15 up, 5 down. Today it’s 82 up, 6 down. (For all the stuff I’ve posted there, it’s 278 up, 22 down.) Still, I’m bound to take these particular votes personally, since they represent, or pretend to represent, a referendum on whether I have any talent or not. (Most days, I lean toward “not.”)

IntenseDebate, which I see mostly at Equestria Daily, is upvotes only; weirdly, if you’re registered with them at the outset, you get +1 on a comment the moment it’s posted.

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