A keen grasp of the obvious

The title gives it away: “Many felons don’t heed ban on guns.”

I mean, just imagine: criminals committing criminal acts! Whoever heard of such a thing? Apparently it’s a whole new concept in North Carolina:

[In June] Ricky Earlton Woods received a suspended sentence and was put on probation for receiving a stolen vehicle and felony breaking and entering.

On Monday, Greensboro police say, Woods accidentally shot his 13-year-old brother in the neck.

It’s not uncommon for convicted felons to carry firearms, even though they are prohibited by law from possessing such weapons, law enforcement officials say.

“But… but that’s illegal!” sputter the Bradyoids and their ilk. Well, duh. These are criminals. They break laws. That’s how they got to be criminals in the first place, y’know?

(Via Xrlq.)

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The righteous pirate

Found on Yahoo! Answers:

I cannot reach “thepiratebay.org” on any browser after updating a computer I just reinstalled XP on?

In fact , it seemed it was just after I installed IE8 or net framework.
Wherew would I look for something that would blacklist a website from all browsers (Firefox,opera)??

And please,no one give me a lecture on “why I shouldnt download from them, or that is illegal, …….so was not getting off the bus for rosa parks, and no one thanks the 1000 guys in jail for it before her. If your one of them, I appreciate your time, but Ill figure it out.

Future politician. Bet on it.

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Freon bored (again?)

He’ll huff, and he’ll puff, and he won’t blow anything ever again:

Mona Casey’s 15-year-old son, Charles Gray, was found slumped over the air conditioning compressor outside their home. He died after huffing or inhaling the refrigerant right out of the AC compressor, investigators said. The refrigerant had displaced the air in his lungs, and Gray suffocated.

Charles Darwin, asked for comment, merely smiled.

It occurs to me that families of R-22 huffers might be the first non-trivial supporters of that twit who thinks we ought to get along without air conditioning.

(Via the Consumerist.)

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Fark blurb of the week

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385

Well, what have we here? The 385th Carnival of the Vanities is titled “CoTVing while I think of a clever title to put here.” Now what kind of person spends that much effort on trying to think of a clever title?

Oh. Right.

Scene from eastern Colorado

This is an unused photo from World Tour ’04, taken on my little point-and-shoot 35mm camera, just a random shot from the side of the road. And the road? US 385, through a seemingly-desolate area of eastern Colorado.

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The flesh, it overwhelms them

The lede as written:

Washoe County Sheriff’s Office investigators have gotten more information to help piece together what happened before a woman was found nude and injured Saturday in Hidden Valley.

The first reports:

On Friday, witnesses saw a white woman wandering in the Hidden Valley Hills with what appeared to be improper hiking attire, the sheriff’s office said.

I can just imagine a group of skinny-dippers being busted for “improper hiking attire.”

Special Bonus Problem:

Sheriff’s investigators do not believe this case is related to the attacks reported on women by the Reno Police Department.

Say what? The Reno Police Department is attacking women?

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For want of a boot

Gwendolyn, in the past few weeks, has been suffering from torn boots, which aren’t at all good for her (CV) joints. The dealership offered to replace the boots for a mere $600. Now everything I’ve ever heard about CV joints is that replacing the boots is a stopgap measure at best; the proper way to handle this is to replace the entire axle, which gets you a fresh boot. Nissan, unfortunately, wants over $600 for a single axle; installing a pair comes too close to $1500 to suit my blood.

And then it hit me. I’ve had to have this done before, on my first Mazda. And the actual Mazda dealership was happy to install a rebuilt axle for me for $199. This was, yes, a dozen years ago, but the results were quite satisfactory, and I’m not emotionally wedded to OEM suspension parts anyway, so I sought out an independent shop, which installed a pair of new-to-me axles for a modest $350.

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640 acres, no mule required

Here on the Heat Island, it’s really hard for me to find any disagreement with Lynn:

I’ve always said that if I ever win the lottery I want to buy a square mile and build my house in the exact center of it so I would have a minimum of half a mile between me and my nearest neighbor but here where I am now is not bad at all.

I haven’t gotten to this point yet, perhaps due to my comfortable (all things considered) position on the block: smallest house, largest lot, therefore most substantial buffer zone.

Advocates of the Urban Lifestyle (Or Else) will of course be appalled at such attitudes, but then the name of their game is high density. (I’ve known a few who were indeed highly dense.)

And besides, there’s this:

[I]f the neighbors get out of hand I’ll just buy their houses too.

Then again, this might be a uniquely-Oklahoman viewpoint; in New Jersey, for instance, it would be cheaper just to hire someone to whack them.

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Mildly absurd

Maison Martin Margiela Slouch BootiesWomen’s shoes are not a high priority at Instapundit, unless they’re on sale at Amazon, so finding this statement from him was rather startling: “Are these actually the most ridiculous shoes ever, or just really, really ridiculous?”

Short answer: No, and maybe. There are worse shoes than this just about every day at If Shoes Could Kill. And I am generally inclined to cut some slack to Maison Martin Margiela, whose slouch booties these are, if only because they recently turned out some Cinderella-worthy glass slippers.

Still, why would Glenn Reynolds single out this particular pair of shoes for (admittedly mild) invective? He updated his post with the following Mark Behnke quote: “Forget the shoes Glenn, focus on the legs! Wowzers.” And Robert Stacy McCain has suggested that Reynolds is in fact a leg man, citing as evidence “the stems on Dr. Helen.” I’ll take McCain’s word for it, in the absence of any reason not to, but now I’m wondering if maybe the backstory here involves the InstaWife: perhaps she saw them somewhere and offhandedly said something like “How would these look on me?” And when he regained his composure — well, what else would he do?

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You’re right, it’s left

Mandy Vavrinak on Google Wave, last fall:

Without a mechanism to tell me something has happened, activity has occurred, SOMEONE WANTS MY ATTENTION, Wave feels like one half of a really great pair of shoes. Love the look, stylish, classy, hip! Feels great on… can see myself wearing them out and about… Goes with most anything… nearly perfect pair of shoes. Except I only have one of them.

My “new shoe” looks great, but without the mate of notification functionality it’s not very practical to actually wear (use). In the hyper-connected world that I live and work within, a better way to connect holds much promise and a definite allure. But I think Wave will never be the medium of choice unless it finds a way to successfully draw attention to what is happening in a user’s personal universe in real-time.

Rumors to the contrary notwithstanding, I am not particularly hyper-connected, but this seems quite a reasonable analogy; except for maybe (deedle, deedle, dumpling) my son John, nobody goes about with one shoe off and one shoe on, though I figure it’s just a matter of time before Lady Gaga gives it a try.

Speaking of time, Google Wave is out of it:

Wave has not seen the user adoption we would have liked. We don’t plan to continue developing Wave as a standalone product, but we will maintain the site at least through the end of the year and extend the technology for use in other Google projects.

I will be most distressed if I start getting bulk quantities of Wave invitations now.

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Lateral arabesque?

No one seems to know why Republican National Committee chair Michael Steele is looking for meetings with foreign diplomats. When I first read about this, I assumed it was an extension of the Peter Principle:

Peter suggests that a manager who finds himself saddled with an incompetent employee has the ability to get rid of that employee without firing him. Peter suggests a lateral arabesque, or giving an incompetent employee a longer title with less responsibility. This way the employee still feels important, but is kept away from the flammable material, so to speak.

On the other hand, Steele is the chairman; how likely is it that he’d pass this judgment upon himself?

So there has to be something else at work here. In the absence of a better explanation, I’m going with E. M. Zanotti’s take:

[F]oreign dignitaries and diplomats can’t vote and definitely can’t give money to American elections. Steele should at least know that, considering my mom used to receive direct mail from the RNC during the Clinton years showing Al Gore surreptitiously taking game show checks from monks in China. Unless Steele’s planning on honing his connections so that once he takes over as President the transition is smooth (or, worse, trying to confuse the sh*t out of people who don’t speak English), we’ve got an unnecessary waste of funds here. Or, of course, he could just be forming up the Justice League.

Typical DC-centric approach. Where are the Avengers when we need them?

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Your VoPo is showing

In Germany, says Jack Baruth, the derisive term “VoPo” was applied to the Volkswagen-Porsche 914 in its four-cylinder form:

With just eighty horsepower, this was not a rapid car even by the standards of the day, and it cost plenty of money. The original cars turned a 19-second quarter-mile, and that got worse once the big bumpers and smog equipment of 1972 arrived. By 1974, the 914 2.0 cost $6000 in an era when a 911S cost twelve grand and the almighty Carrera cost $13,500. Put another way … a 1974 Z28 could be had with ALL the goodies for $4500, and it would smoke a seventy-six-horsepower emissions-compliant 914 six ways to Sunday.

The 914s were branded strictly as Porsches here in the States, so it was essential that they be priced like Porsches. A few 914/6 models with a six-cylinder engine emerged from the venture, and so did something even rarer:

A flared-fender, balls-out variant, the 916, exists mostly in myth. Six were produced and only two hundred of those survive today.

God bless those aftermarket parts suppliers.

Incidentally, “Vopo” could have meant something else:

“As West Germany debated last week whether it should have an army, East Germany was unmasking one.

“Five thousand jackbooted, blue-uniformed toughs swarmed into the border districts to put down disturbances by farmers trying to save their homes as the Reds bulldozed a three-mile-deep isolation corridor between East and West Germany. The blue-uniformed men, part of a 100,000-man force, are called the People’s Police (Volkspolizei, or Vopos, for short).”

About which, Baruth snarks:

Oh, just the tone of that article (from TIME) makes me nostalgic for the days when American journalists kind of, you know, liked baseball, hot dogs, apple pie, and freedom. Nowadays, the Times would probably “embed” somebody with the Vopos and he would enthusiastically shoot farmers while talking about the need for social justice.

This seems a bit unfair. For all we know, the journalist might actually be reluctant to shoot farmers.

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Taking care of business

Andrew Gilstrap, in search of redeeming social value in the classic-rock universe, finds, of all things, sound quality:

This stuff just sounds fantastic. Part of it is surely the Darwinian passage of time, in which less beloved songs fall out of the playlist, but just about any song you hear on classic rock radio sounds great. Lynyrd Skynyrd’s three-guitar attack is as clear as day. You couldn’t ask for a clearer sounding song than Heart’s “Crazy On You”, and all those Steve Miller hits coat the ears like honey. Maybe that’s one good thing that came from the massive studio bills that bands used to rack up, maybe no one knows how to mic instruments like they used to, or maybe it’s the price newer albums are paying for participating in the loudness wars. Whatever the reason, I’m hard pressed to think of many new recordings that have the warmth or dynamics that seem so plentiful in classic rock.

Shoulda heard ‘em on vinyl.

There seem to be exactly two recording techniques in use today: semi-minimalist and kitchen-sink. The latter needs no explanation: we’ve got 32 tracks, and we’re gonna use them. Often as not, they get used for people who fly in, play their few bars, and disappear again. But even if you have no guest artists, the temptation to piddlefart around with all those extra tracks is well-nigh irresistible. (Trust me on this one. In the middle 1970s, I had actual four-track recording capabilities at home. Things got thrown in just so I could see all four VU meters jumping around.)

Simplified recording techniques may yield better-sounding results, but better-sounding results may not necessarily be the goal. The quest for airplay usually results in something that sounds like everything else on the playlist, just so it will fit in better. And these days, everything else on the playlist is loud, louder, loudest: it is now understood that you cannot exceed 0 dB in the digital domain without horrendous distortion, so everything is cranked up as high as possible, with a hard limiter shoved in right below the distortion point. Dynamic range is conspicuous by its absence. And once we’ve compressed the life out of it, we compress it some more to save disk space.

Few things today jump out at you like the opening grooves of Bachman-Turner Overdrive’s Not Fragile LP. (This YouTube version almost manages to do it justice.) At no point do you have to wonder what’s going on: it’s all there, loud and proud but never blurry. Perhaps we can blame this on Randy Bachman, who sometimes wanted to play arena-rock hero and sometimes wanted to do Wes Montgomery licks; either way, he wanted you to hear what he was doing.

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Brünnharold

Just breathing the syllables “e-card” will get you bounced by the spam filter around here, which usually means you’ll go unnoticed. Not so for the alleged “Dave Anderson,” who presented me with the following presumably-fake email address:

dervalkyrie-at-gmail.com

Der Valkyrie? Der?

Evidently Siegfried here is a little unclear on the concept.

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Hard times in Hockeytown

Depending on whose estimate you want to believe, roughly half the 30 teams in the NBA are actually making money. One of those teams is the Golden State Warriors, which sold earlier this year for about a third more than anyone estimated, and by “anyone” I mean Forbes, which spends a lot of time analyzing NBA finances.

Also profitable: the Detroit Pistons. After longtime owner Bill Davidson’s death last year, ownership passed to his wife Karen, who has decided to sell. Forbes thinks the team will sell for about a third less than they think it’s worth:

As it relates to location, the Detroit MSA faced a 15.4 unemployment rate as of June 2010 compared to the national 9.5 rate. This would cause any potential investor to seriously question whether fans would continue to support the team at the level of avidity they have historically, especially given that the team is in major rebuilding mode and not likely to challenge the current Beasts of the East (Orlando, Boston, Miami) anytime soon.

Furthermore, in light of the climate of ‘guilt’ that surrounds corporate spending on sports sponsorships (especially in a city whose main industry has been the beneficiary of significant TARP money), a prospective buyer would be justifiably anxious over the likelihood of short term corporate support (e.g. buying luxury suites, paying for facility signage, etc…).

I don’t expect to see the Warriors in the playoffs next year either.

Still, Pistons attendance was off last year: the Palace of Auburn Hills averaged 18,751 paying customers, eighth in the league, which doesn’t sound so bad, but the Palace happens to be the largest of the 29 NBA arenas, with a capacity of 22,076. (The Warriors, in 11th place, sold 18,027 seats of 19,596 at Oracle Arena; for comparison, the 12th-place Oklahoma City Thunder averaged 18,003 out of 18,203 during the regular season.)

And there’s the timing issue:

[N]ot only is Ms. Davidson unlucky to be trying to sell the team during the current economic climate, but additionally she has to deal with the uncertainty of the NBA’s labor situation. With the current CBA set to expire after the upcoming 2010-11 season and with the prevailing sentiment being that without major player concessions — given that between 12-15 of 30 NBA teams reported operating losses last season — owners are poised to lock players out prior to the 2011-12 season.

This would of course also affect Golden State and any other team changing hands. (George Shinn’s deal to sell the New Orleans Hornets is seemingly in constant flux.)

On the upside, Ms Davidson also owns the Palace, so if the Palace and the Pistons go as a package deal, the new owner won’t have to worry about his arena lease.

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And now, the Dirty Vicar sketch

On second thought, not even Monty Python would have come up with this:

Reverend Michael Land, 67, said Christians needed to adopt swearing in their everyday language because it is how Jesus would have spoken.

He said too many people put Jesus “on a pedestal” and failed to realise that he was poor, relatively uneducated and preferred not to mix with the elite of his day.

He added that the Church risked becoming out of touch with ordinary people if its clergy did not become “streetwise” and failed to use earthy language.

Asked for comment, Jesus said: “Well, I’ll be Goddamned. Temporarily, of course.”

(Via Christopher Johnson.)

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Radio silence

Or something vaguely similar. Actually, my main email account is hosed up, as are several thousand others on the same server box, so I will not be responding to any reader queries via email, and comment moderation will of necessity be quite a bit slower.

Update: It worked! Within 90 seconds of posting this, the email was fixed. Although anything sent earlier today probably bounced.

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Follow the bouncing ball (encore)

Among other things, Mitch Miller devised the Greatest Hits album, which some view as a cynical way to repackage old material. With Miller’s passing this past weekend, it seems sensible — to me, anyway — to rerun my Mitch Miller article from December 2004.

It was probably too much to expect that Mitchell William Miller would have been a rock and roll fan. For one thing, he was born in 1911; for another, he studied the oboe at Eastman, inspired by Pablo Casals’ cello work, long, fluid melodic lines that melted into the air. By 1936 he was playing with the CBS Symphony Orchestra; he left in 1948 to take an A&R job at Chicago’s Mercury Records under VP John Hammond.

In 1950, former classmate Goddard Lieberson lured Mitch Miller back to CBS, this time to run A&R at Columbia Records; Miller brought one of his Mercury stars, Frankie Laine, with him. At Columbia, Miller’s tenure was a mixture of brilliance and banality. An example of the former: the invention of the Greatest Hits album. Johnny’s Greatest Hits, a compilation of Johnny Mathis singles, entered the Billboard album charts in 1958. It was still there in nineteen sixty-eight. An example of the latter: Frank Sinatra’s “duet” with Dagmar, “Mama Will Bark,” which was thrown on the B-side of a real Sinatra single, “I’m a Fool to Want You,” but still garnered enough airplay to make #21 on the charts.

That rock and roll stuff never did impress Mitch Miller much; “The reason kids like rock and roll,” he said, “is that their parents don’t.” He did have more than a passing familiarity with country music, though, and when Sam Phillips put Elvis Presley’s Sun contract on the market, Miller thought Elvis had enough potential to justify putting in a bid. And in one of the weirder ironies of pre-Beatles pop, one of Mitch Miller’s biggest stars at Columbia was, yes, Mitch Miller, who put nineteen singles on the Hot 100, including one Number One (“The Yellow Rose of Texas,” 1955). In 1960, the TV variety series “Ford Startime” gave him a one-shot special, titled “Sing Along with Mitch”; it became a series on NBC and ran for four years.

In the 80s and 90s, Miller returned to classical music, conducting the London Symphony on record, including a highly-regarded Gershwin collection — no surprise, really, since Miller had played with George Gershwin on his 1934 American tour.

But when I think of Mitch Miller, being the crass pop-culture sub-maven I am, I’ll probably remember his 1958 hit (it scraped the bottom of the Top 20) waxing of the Colonel Bogey March, the whistled tune that appeared in the film of Pierre Boulle’s novel The Bridge on the River Kwai, and which, contrary to popular belief, did not originally accuse Hitler of monorchidism.

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Obligatory Bieber shot

“Nobody under 50 has any business writing a memoir,” said I. And this is one reason why:

Harper Collins announced today that Bieber is publishing a memoir with the colon-heavy title Justin Bieber: First Step 2 Forever: My Story that will be released in October. The book promises to reveal all the details of his “amazing journey to stardom,” a journey that, it should be pointed out, has lasted all of 16 years.

Well, it certainly seems heavy to my colon; I’m pretty sure I’d find this fairly indigestible.

Highly Hypocritical Disclosure: I have a copy of Debbie Deborah Gibson’s Between the Lines.

(Via The Other McBieber.)

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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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