Came back YouTubed

I mentioned this five years ago, and while it can still be had at the old location, it’s now turned into a very static video for your embedding convenience, enough reason to bring it back here:

The mark has been made.

[Warning: Audio may not be safe for work.]

Comments off

Vintage genes

I got a letter Saturday from Anne Wojcicki, cofounder and CEO of 23andMe, a genetic-testing company more or less down the street from Google, offering me their Personal Genome Service, once a cool thousand dollars, now for a mere 99 bucks.

Wojcicki’s pitch:

I believe preventative health information should be accessible to everyone. It’s been my personal mission to empower people with tools to help prevent illness, not just treat it.

They offer a home kit: basically, you spit in it, send it back to them, and tons of genetic information comes back to you.

And by “you,” they don’t mean you if you live in two certain states. From the fine print:

23andMe’s services are not available to Maryland residents and restrictions apply for New York residents.

New York says you can’t have this sort of testing done except at a clinical laboratory licensed by Albany. The solution to this is a quick trip to Jersey, so as to avoid the dreaded New York postmark. Maryland won’t even allow them to advertise their services, and if somehow you find out, you’re still disqualified because they require an actual medical professional — or, since it’s Maryland and you’ve seen The Wire, a court order — to take the sample.

I just might have enough curiosity to send off for their kit. It’s not like I know every last twist and turn of my DNA by heart. (Although “the pony genome and the human genome match up about 98 percent,” according to a story I wrote last year. How is it that my life is following my fiction, and not the other way around?)

Comments (4)

I don’t get it (third base)

Yet another collection of things I don’t entirely comprehend because they’re so damned screwy.

Comments (4)

Targeting outflow

The 66th Annual Meeting of the American Physical Society’s Division of Fluid Dynamics features this symposium:

In response to harsh and repeated criticisms from our mothers and several failed relationships with women, we present the splash dynamics of a simulated human male urine stream impacting rigid and free surfaces. Our study aims to reduce undesired splashing that may result from lavatory usage. Experiments are performed at a pressure and flow rate that would be expected from healthy male subjects.

“Aims,” they say. As if.

(Via this Jennifer Ouellette tweet.)

Comments (2)

Bel Air du temp

She bought it new in 1957. It’s been her daily driver ever since:

Routine maintenance is, of course, a must: she has the oil changed every 1000 miles, twice as often as GM specified in those days.

(The whole story from The Truth About Cars.)

Comments off

Strange search-engine queries (402)

Visitors who arrive here via search string seem much like Christopher Columbus: he had no real idea where he was going, and he misinterpreted what he found when he got here.

Autoculture Girls Yore:  The curved-dash Oldsmobile, for some reason, was widely considered to be a girly car.

supporthosiery hazards:  Take them off too fast and they fly across the room.

apparently everything causes cancer:  Except cancer treatments. They create bankruptcy.

Geezer fogey codger curmudgeon coot fart:  You’ve just heard the final moments of a Congressional roll call. Thank you for watching C-Span.

61/2 oz coca-cola bottle, bottom says coca-cola shoulder says coca-cola side says Dennison Ohio bottling works:  Do I look like friggin’ Antique Roadshow? Take it back to the store and get your nickel.

jailbait nude naturists:  Only if they’re underage.

does mazda still have trans:  No. The new 3 is powered by a ball of glowing light under the hood.

You are Scheie:  Actually, no, I’m not. Although Scheie comes here occasionally.

the boston rag newspaper:  The Globe, being a broadsheet, makes a better rag than the tabloid-sized Herald.

hello miriam this dee dee the one came saturday to get the micro twist. just took my hair out the ponytail today n cumulative to find out that i got big micro twist in the middle don’t:  look anything like a tired call girl so I guess I wasted my money.

are Americans getting clumsier?  They be trippin, mon.

Comments off

A few words at the bottom

With David Foster Wallace gone, who will undertake the task of providing footnotes equal to, sometimes even superior to, the text at hand? I nominate Roberta X:

Oh, woe is us, we are martyrs, hated and feared and misunderstood… Er, a-hem. No; that’s a dopey notion no matter who puts it forth. Looky, whatever you believe, the diversity of human thought is such that a lot of people will loathe you for it. When you pop outta the echo chamber and discover this, you can either assume you’re such a singularly special snowflake that you simply must be right because they all hate you, or you can wise up and realize that it makes you pretty much the same as every other little flake, falling, falling from the darkness to the dirt, and the snowplow’s gonna sweep them all away with nary a blink at their uniqueness. Sure, you’re special and so’m I, but so’s everybody else crammed into this too-short bus. Get over it.

And that would seem to be that.

Comments (1)

A few words at the top

I saw a link to this last Friday and promptly forgot about it — Firefox’s snotty “Problem displaying page” has that effect on me — but Sundays have a way of reinstating dismissed memories, and besides I can always use the material, so here’s some of what Prof KRG has to say about post titles:

Readers decide immediately whether they are going to use their valuable time to read your blog post. They decide by scanning your blog title and determining whether it appears to be worth their minutes.

Most certainly.

A good blog title:

  • Attracts attention,
  • summarizes the post,
  • organizes content, and
  • depicts the post’s tone.

Just a few words should be simple to write, but titles often are difficult. It’s challenging to capture tone, voice and content in a unique and short manner.

Unless, of course, you have the temerity to exhibit the same tone, the same voice, and pretty much the same content, twenty-one thousand times in a row.

Of KRG’s 23 (!) title tips, the one I find most pertinent is #14, “Consider meanings”:

Look for other, unintended meanings in your post’s title.

Not a problem. If there’s any meaning whatsoever in one of my titles, you may rest assured that it was intended.

Comments off

Attention horror

This being the Era of Unrelenting Umbrage, almost every Halloween costume you can imagine can and will offend someone. Repeat: “almost.” Not all:

Most Halloween costumes are actively upsetting to someone or another. My costume this year is Drowned Titanic Passenger. That’s in hella bad taste. I’ve seen costumes at parties which would freak one or other of my friends out — and badly — because of their triggers and phobias. But when you look over [Julia] Serano’s three reasons, actually they do not make sense in these cases. Upsetting and troubling, yes, but they are not bringing offence and disrespect to an important group in society; they are not appropriative. My costume doesn’t erase the original tragedy — it’s not rewriting what happened or being inaccurate. It’s not making any money. And it’s not demeaning to deceased passengers either. Finally — there isn’t a large group of people who will be harmed in the real world as a result of my dressing up. The passengers are all dead; as are their relatives; and the Titanic sinking has very little to do with present-day issues (in contrast, I would have a problem with a Jack The Ripper/Ripper victim costume, because sex workers are still disadvantaged, and intermittently murdered, in our society).

Despite this bit of innovation, it’s a whole holiday full of potential active upset:

Halloween is just not a great day for sensitive people. Isn’t that awful? A fun day like that, can’t help but shut out a whole lot of people.

Still, if the trend holds up, in twenty years every kid with a bucket, from Glasgow to the Galápagos, will be done up as R2-D2, simply because the only controversial aspect of the little vacuum-cleaneresque droid is that he (do droids have gender? Besides C-3PO, I mean) puts coins in George Lucas’ overstuffed pockets.

Comments (8)

Inalienable writes

Being prolific isn’t exactly an unalloyed joy:

My blog has multiple personalities. There’s the mommy blog where I write about birthday parties. The blog where I feature posts about Oklahoma. And, then there’s all the stuff I write about Generations X, Y and Z. All these topics vie for first position and I get frustrated and end up not writing anything at all. This has been happening a lot lately! There is no way to pull the competing topics together under one umbrella, which is why I’m considering adding sub-domains to

Of course, she’s organized and motivated. Being neither of those things, I accumulate tags and categories. There are fifty-six categories and over ten thousand tags; to give you an idea of how perplexing this can be, neither My Little Pony (166 posts) nor Zooey Deschanel (88 posts) rates a category. Yet.

And there’s this:

I don’t want to worry about whether or not every post is useful or entertaining.

Obviously I’m not worried about such things at all.

Comments (6)

And the harmony isn’t bad

Yours truly reporting in 2004:

NPR’s All Things Considered had an obituary for Billy Davis, 72, whom they identified as an advertising executive. Which indeed he was; he created that “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing” bit for Coca-Cola that grabbed the attention of the tragically-hip types at NPR, and the “If you’ve got the time…” spot for Miller Beer.

The bit, yes; the song, not so much. And in fact, it wasn’t originally written as a Coke commercial:

And we should also credit adman Bill Backer, like Davis then attached to the Coca-Cola account at McCann-Erickson, who’s responsible for wanting to buy the world a Coke.

Roger Cook and Roger Greenaway, of course, you know from zillions of hit records; they wrote “True Love and Apple Pie.” Susan Shirley made half a dozen singles before disappearing on the far side of the hill; you might like the wonderfully overproduced “Too Many Tears,” cut three years earlier, which was apparently her second single for Mercury UK, following a version of “The Sun Shines Out Of Your Shoes,” a cute Tony Hatch/Jackie Trent song I know from Petula Clark’s recording.

Comments off

It’s like a cold call, only cooler

From out of the blue comes an email from this fellow:

Hello, my name is Matthew Lane and I’m a Graphic + Web Designer in Los Angeles, originally from Portland, Oregon (yes, it is as strange and amazing as you’ve probably heard). I would love it if you checked out my work at and let me know if I can ever help out with any projects you might have use for me on (design related, no house cleaning or car washing requests, although I’m certainly not above it in an off month).

Dear Mr Lane: While your portfolio is pretty darn nice, I have to admit that if I happen to need any design work from someone originally from deepest Portlandia, I know just the person, just down the block. However, I’m happy to pass along your link to the readership, just in case.

Comments off

The girl next door

About five years ago, New York’s Nassau County decided to pitch itself as “The Island Next Door,” and appointed several tourism ambassadors, one of whom was singer/songwriter Ashanti, who was born 13 October 1980 in Glen Cove and grew up in Roslyn. This is what she wore to the announcement ceremony:

Ashanti back home

Not sure which is brighter: her smile or that dress.

Ashanti has also done a fair amount of acting: she joined the cast of Lifetime’s Army Wives for its seventh and final season (2012-13), playing Latasha Montclair, spouse of an Army corporal.

Comments off

Besides, deer can’t read

Officials in Minnesota are thinning out the herd of traffic-advisory signs:

The image of a leaping buck or the words “Deer crossing” on a ­yellow sign are so familiar on rural ­Minnesota roads that many drivers don’t even notice them. The same goes for “Slow, Children at Play” signs on city streets.

In Carver County, officials are removing them because, they say, there’s no evidence that they cause motorists to slow down, and could give parents a false sense of security.

“The signs that are out there need to be useful,” said Kate Miner, the county’s traffic engineer. “If we clutter our roadways with signs, it just kind of all becomes background noise after a while.”

And it’s not like you can get deer to cross where they’re supposed to, anyway.

MnDOT follows similar practices on state roads:

The reason, said MnDOT state signing engineer Heather Lott, is because there’s no evidence that they have reduced deer-vehicle crashes or caused drivers to slow down. The same is true for “Children at Play” signs, she said.

“Use of the signs in some areas would give the false impression that areas without signs do not have children and deer,” Lott said.

I can see that. If a deer takes out your car on a country road, two miles short of a deer-crossing sign, you’re probably going to think “How was I supposed to know there were deer here?”

(Via Fark.)

Comments (1)

Yo soy WaPo

Who knew? The Washington Post is actually getting a handle on how to deal with Twitter snark:

Washington Post Twitter screenshot

Here’s the full thread. (Via this Nu Wexler tweet.)

Comments (2)

Quote of the week

Street Fight’s Terry Heaton, on the assumptions made by those who would sell to us:

In their effort to influence and produce results, marketers are simply unable to demonstrate even a modicum of restraint when it comes to the line between useful and nuisance.

Operating within the soul of every marketer is the ridiculous assumption that people want or need to be bombarded by advertising, and that any invasion of their time or experience to “pass along” an attempt to influence is justified. If this were true, there would be no looming fight over DVRs, which allow viewers to skip ads. You have no inherent right to my eyeballs, and it is precisely this axiom that makes today’s instruments and gadgets so powerfully disruptive to the culture.

How so? We’re weary of running a relentless gauntlet of jumping, screaming, frantic warnings, hands grabbing, voices shouting, noise-making, disjointed movements, and the almost demonic reaching for our wallets coming from advertising. This is Madison Avenue’s idea of perfection, and the only way you can get there is to completely ignore the effect of advertising on the very people you’re trying to influence. The Web is, at core, a pull mechanism, not one that pushes. It’s why all those big projections of advertising “potential” have turned into a commodified “pennies for dollars” reality.

Lamar Outdoor, most often referenced here for referencing me, plays the DVR card pretty well: they have a billboard which reads “Can’t >> This Ad,” where the “>>” turns out to be the fast-forward button on a remote.

Still, billboards are purely a push medium, since the shortest distance between Point A and Point B puts them right in front of you. The Web does its best to push, but it doesn’t push very well: those thousands of slots that Veeblefetzer Industries bought on Bing won’t matter if your eyeballs are glued to Yahoo!

(Suggested by Doc Searls.)

Comments (1)