Before the Platform Committee

Ideological differences, if any, aside, HuffPo’s Fashion Whip says there’s one reason to prefer Sarah Palin over Michele Bachmann: better shoes.

Michele Bachman announcing her candidacy for PresidentOkay, that’s technically two reasons, or at least two at a time. Chunky sandals in this context, declares the Whip, are just so last century:

Women’s shoes still speak volumes in the political arena, whether or not we like to admit it. In 2005, then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice conveyed U.S. power in knee high boots at a time when America was facing a global PR crisis. More recently, Sarah Palin traipsed from Wasilla to Washington punditry on glamorous stiletto heels, while Michelle Obama encouraged women to feel dressed-up in a pair of pointy flats. The perpetually stylish Jill Biden show how to elongate one’s legs with her daring, nude stiletto heels.

One wonders whether Bachmann’s schlubby shoes are merely her latest political calculation — a two-and-a-half-inch signifier of the everyday mom turned national candidate. Perhaps Bachmann’s jumbled look conveys the aura of a person who can dress for success after more than a decade in elected office, yet is not so pointy-toed as to have stepped beyond her Minnesota roots.

Political calculation is not, of course, impossible, but I don’t think that’s the issue: I’m going out on a limb here and guessing that the same malevolent force that gives Bachmann her migraines might also cause her massive pain at any heel height deemed fashionable.

(Tweeted in my general direction by Michael Bates; a tip of her choice of headgear to Tabitha Hale.)

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Au, shucks

Robert Stacy McCain has a slightly-startling statistic to relate:

On Feb. 17, 2009 — the day Obama signed into law his $787 billion stimulus bill — gold was selling at $970 an ounce. For a mere $600 billion, we could have bought two ounces of gold for every man, woman and child in America, and the value of that investment would today be more than $1 trillion, or $3,514 per capita, a net gain of 81 percent.

Not a bad return on one’s investment, if I say so myself. My second thought, though, was “Is there that much gold in the world?”

Let’s see. Gold is quoted in troy ounces, which run about 31.1 grams apiece. Securing 62.2 grams for each of 310 million people would therefore require 19,282,000 kilograms, or, as the pundits say, 19,282 tonnes.

One research operation asserts that there is “above ground” — we have no idea what’s left to be mined — “somewhere between 120,000 and 140,000 tonnes.” So we’d have to buy up about 15 percent of the world’s supply of gold without (literally in some cases) getting up in someone’s grill. But, theoretically anyway, it could be done.

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Nick and Val

Finding the right words to give a proper sendoff to the late Nickolas Ashford, who died this week at seventy, has been unusually difficult, perhaps because I kept coming back to, or perhaps stumbling over, “Let’s Go Get Stoned,” an ode to drinking in the afternoon (and maybe earlier) cut by Ray Charles in 1966 before Ashford and wife Valerie Simpson became integrated into the mighty Motown machine. Brother Ray got a #1 on the R&B charts from it, but you never hear it on the radio. (Here’s a nifty live version by Chicago’s very own Chris Gelbuda.)

I admitted on Twitter, though, that my favorite Ashford & Simpson song was “California Soul,” a big hit for the 5th Dimension — on Johnny Rivers’ Soul City label — in ’68. Not that Berry Gordy was going to let that go unanswered: Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell put out their own version, sort of — except that Tammi was already spiraling downward, and if she’s on that record at all, she’s being spelled by Valerie Simpson herself.

What we need here in this space, though, is A&S together. Let’s dial back to 2008:

A basic state of matter, indeed.

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A case of the gimmes

Well, maybe not a whole case, but one at a time over a period of several months:

A woman who is accused of stealing thousands of dollars worth of items from Quail Springs Mall in recent months said Tuesday she is “addicted to money and clothes” and has been stealing for almost three decades.

Well, actually, there were two of them. Teamwork, doncha know.

And who do you think is enabling this antisocial outburst? Why, the merchants, of course:

“That’s the store letting us get all that stuff. They didn’t do their job. I’ve been boosting stuff since I was 15.”

The cops, fortunately, were doing their job.

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Trackside at the Great Race of Yith

And yes, the article is longer than this: “Reading This Loathsome Article Regarding A Tedious Yahoo Press Release About Autobytel’s Ridiculous Featured Article Concerning AutoPacific’s Meaningless Awards May Inadvertently Summon Cthulhu”.

It’s worth reading for the fake press releases, which are well-nigh indistinguishable from real press releases.

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Would you drink this fracking stuff?

Evidently somebody would:

In a speech at the conference presented by the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, Halliburton Co. CEO Dave Lesar talked about addressing public concerns about hydraulic fracturing, which extracts natural gas by blasting a mix of water, chemicals and sand underground.

He raised a container of Halliburton’s new fracking fluid made from materials sourced from the food industry, then called a fellow executive to demonstrate how safe it was by drinking it, two attendees said.

What the person drank apparently was CleanStim, which when Halliburton announced it in November was undergoing field trials. A Halliburton spokeswoman didn’t respond to a question asking how that executive is doing now or who he is.

Not that anyone would ever fake up a demonstration like that or anything.

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It’s a Mr Death, he’s come about the reaping

Is this Hyundai spot, reportedly banned in the Netherlands, the creepiest automotive advertisement ever? (I’m sufficiently spooked to put it after the jump.)

Read the rest of this entry »

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The Blount truth

Something I found rather amusing, from Roy Blount Jr.’s amazing wordfest Alphabetter Juice: or, The Joy of Text (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2011):

Gnu is probably from the Hottentot. But then Hottentot is considered (OED) “both archaic and offensive: the word Khoekhoe is now usually used in its place.” Hottentot may have come from a Dutch word meaning stammerer, stutterer — typical imperialistic insensitivity. To be fair, that can work both ways. According to Dennis Tedlock, editor of 2000 Years of Mayan Literature, the name Yucatán came about when a Spanish explorer asked some locals what the name of that area was, and he misheard what he took to be their reply. “What they actually said was k’iu’tan, which means ‘The way he talks is funny’.”

But the niftiest aspect of this paragraph? It falls in the middle of an exploration of the word knee. And I thought I went off on odd tangents from time to time.

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Poseur alert

This pretty well speaks for itself:

Would it be possible to do a 2003 to 2008 G35 sedan rear end conversion?

I’m looking at getting a 2003 G35 sedan but I want the back to look like a 2008 model. I would just buy a 2008 model but I’m on a budget. Also could I swap the 2003 G35 sedan front end with a 2010 G37? If it’s possible to do either of these conversions what part’s would I need and what would be the estimated price not including labor?

Were I this hard up to impress my friends, I hope someone would have the audacity to tell me to get new friends.

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Blurbese waxing

The Universal Translator is applied to book reviews for the first time:

Ever wonder what editors, publishers and critics mean when they describe books as “lyrical,” “provocative” or “ripped from the headlines”? Let industry veterans explain it to you.

“lyrical” = “not much happens” (Peter Ginna, publisher, Bloomsbury Press)

“provocative” = “about race/religion” (Mark Athitakis, critic)

“ripped from the headlines” = “no original plot line” (Jacqueline Deval, author and publicist)

At least three dozen more await you at the link.

(Via this Nancy Friedman tweet.)

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Strike that pose

I may have mentioned once or twice that I browse the fashion mags, sometimes for blogfodder, sometimes for background, and sometimes just to look at the pictures.

And in those pictures, there are women (and occasionally men) contorted into positions that, were you to see actual people in them, you’d find curious or peculiar or perhaps even alarming, as Yolanda Domínguez demonstrates here:

Stills and background (en español) here.

(Via this Carly Rose Jackson tweet.)

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The best-unlaid plans

Some nimrod spammed Roberta X with this tedious example of just-below-the-navel gazing:

I am an American man, and I have decided to boycott American women. In a nutshell, American women are the most likely to cheat on you, to divorce you, to get fat, to steal half of your money in the divorce courts, don’t know how to cook or clean, don’t want to have children, etc. Therefore, what intelligent man would want to get involved with American women?

American women are generally immature, selfish, extremely arrogant and self-centered, mentally unstable, irresponsible, and highly unchaste. The behavior of most American women is utterly disgusting, to say the least.

This blog is my attempt to explain why I feel American women are inferior to foreign women (non-American women), and why American men should boycott American women, and date/marry only foreign (non-American) women.

Yeah, yeah, we get it. Your anaconda don’t want none. (Little worm’s probably in hibernation due to lack of nourishment.) As you might expect, this was preceded by a URL which I see no reason to mention here, though he’s easy enough to find. (Hint: It’s not

There are, I propose, precisely two ways in which he could have reached this conclusion:

  • It corresponds to his own actual dating experience, in which case he should probably wonder how come he’s consistently attracted to all these unworthy individuals; or
  • It does not correspond to his own actual dating experience, in which case the data were presumably obtained via rectal extraction.

More subtle than I’d ever be, Roberta X simply replied: “Boycott away, dood! Please.

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Meanwhile in Arkansas

This story is disturbing for several reasons:

An 18-year-old named Kymberly Wimberly graduated from McGehee Secondary School in Arkansas several weeks ago. Even though she had the highest G.P.A. in her graduating class, she wasn’t allowed to be the sole valedictorian — perhaps because she’s black. The school named a white student with a lower G.P.A. as co-valedictorian. Kymberly is now suing the school district.

This case is formally Wimberly v. McGehee School District et al. Plaintiff’s name is given as Kymberly L. Wimberly; I’m guessing her middle name isn’t “Limberly.” Do not confuse with Kimberly Wimberly or Kimberley Wimberley, or anyone you know named McGehee.

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The desktop is dead

Or maybe it’s just headed for niche status:

There are many who still use typewriters and listen to vinyl (which has even enjoyed a resurgence of late) and just this week a music group released their material on VHS tape (OK that’s just nostalgia for a past they never experienced similar to the rise in small music labels that release music on compact cassette only). These items have moved from the mainstream to the niche. Few are ever truly dead.

So what becomes of the old tower?

The home server for those that prefer not to trust the cloud? The dusty home of digital memories?

I have admittedly little faith in the cloud, which is why I feel compelled to back up this site on a regular basis: the WordPress database (about 52 MB right now) is backed up once a week and right before any version changes, and I have copies of every static page and (I think) every single graphic. (We’re talking a couple of gigabytes, max.) I’m currently revising the backup plan for all my other stuff. For the moment, commodity drive space is cheaper than fancy mobile contraptions.

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For all you speed demons out there

USA Today purports to list the five fastest highways in the States, as determined by INRIX, “a traffic firm that analyzes GPS data.” The second-fastest of the lot is Oklahoma 33 “In both directions Northwest of Oklahoma City,” where 95th-percentile traffic is running at 83 mph and INRIX has recorded a top speed of 87.

Jeffro, who sent me this, expressed some doubts. I noted that I’d routinely seen 75-plus on 33. Still, something here doesn’t add up. INRIX cites a corridor of 24 miles. SH 33 runs well over 200 miles, so the trick here is to find a 24-mile section that runs close to OKC. The most likely candidate would be the stretch from I-35 to US 177, Guthrie to south of Stillwater, which isn’t technically northwest of OKC, but perhaps close enough.

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Vicky with a Y

Allow me to present Vassiliki, Baroness von Ruffin, who turns sixty-two today:

Vicky Leandros

A recording artist at sixteen, Vicky Leandros, daughter of Greek composer Leo Leandros, took fourth place in the Eurovision Song Contest in 1967, representing Luxembourg, with a song you probably know better in an instrumental version:

She would win five years later with “Après toi.”

From 2006 to 2008, she was deputy mayor of the Greek city of Piraeus. More recently, she appeared in the Euro Friends Song Contest, billed as “a search for the ultimate Eurovision song.”

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