Dintier than thou

Hormel’s Dinty Moore beef stew was long ago made available in a plastic microwavable tub: cut a slit in the cover, nuke for 90 seconds, and there you have it. I pick up one of these now and then just to break up the cycle of frozen stuff (usually Stouffer’s or Boston Market, occasionally Healthy Choice if I’m not paying attention), and besides, they spend less time in the reactor: like it says, a mere 90 seconds.

Until, apparently, now. I snagged one of them and another Hormel variety last weekend, and now they’re claiming 60 seconds, even merer than before. I wondered: did Hormel do something different, or is this simply a reflection of the fact that contemporary microwaves are a bit stronger than they used to be? (I’m on my third: the first two were rated at a meager 650 watts, the latest 900, and I’m seeing 1100 on newer models.)

A look at Hormel’s Brand Wall may, or may not, have given me a clue. The package portrayed that’s closest to the one I have on hand is marked 10 oz/255 g; however, the one I have is marked 9 oz — but still 255 g. (Nine ounces is indeed about 255 grams.) All the other nutrition information is the same.

Historical note: Dinty Moore, as a brand name, goes back to 1935; I’m guessing it had something to do with Dinty Moore, the character in the comic strip Bringing Up Father, which seems less unlikely than the Dinty Moore sandwich (corned beef layered with lettuce, tomato and Russian dressing) from Detroit. Hormel was clearly on a roll in those days, though: in the next two years, they introduced both their famous chili and the legendary Spam.

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#getdressed

One analyst swears that Twitter is about to de-smutify itself:

According to SunTrust Robinson Humphrey tech analyst Robert Peck, Twitter is preparing to purge an estimated 10 million porn-posting users. Ditching such a large chunk of users sounds drastic until you do the math: Twitter claims to have 302 million monthly users, so getting rid of the explicit posters will only account for about 3 percent of its total—although that’s just counting the users and not their followers.

Why would they do such a thing? Perhaps because of this incident:

Nielsen, the television and digital measurement company, was forced to halt one of its paid-for Promoted Tweets campaigns this week after its ads were served against profile pages dedicated to pornography, according to Adweek.

The Nielsen paid-for tweet, reading “Am I getting the most value from my media buy? Learn what other questions you should ask in our webinar recording,” appeared on the “Homemade Porn” and “Daily Dick Pictures” profile pages, Adweek reports. The trade magazine says ads from other brands including Duane Reade, NBCUniversal, and Gatorade also showed up in feeds next to pornographic images and videos. The problem appears to be tied to a new ad format “Suggested by Twitter,” which only first rolled out in March.

Which suggests that this is indeed a bug and not a feature.

And there’s always the problem of defining porn beyond “I know it when I see it,” because, well, you probably don’t, and I can’t imagine how you’d automate Miller v. California.

Just for the record, I follow three individuals with porn, or at least porn-y backgrounds: one current performer, one retired, and one who possibly aspires to stardom. The retired one posts nothing questionable at all. Then again, I am not one to look down my nose at sex workers, who in some ways could be considered, um, manual labor.

I also follow a handful of naturists, most of whom post nothing untoward, though I’ve seen some, um, odd retweets pop into my timeline. (Last night presented a fairly unique experience: how do you compliment someone on her new dress when you’ve hardly ever seen her in any kind of dress at all?)

Twitter’s media policy is simultaneously clear and murky:

If you upload media that might be considered sensitive content such as nudity, violence, or medical procedures, you should consider applying the account setting “Mark my media as containing sensitive content.” We do not mediate content. All content should be marked appropriately as per our guidelines.

After all, “should” is a long way from “must,” and there are an awful lot of people out there who, if asked, would come down on the side of “must.”

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Porcine on the dotted line

Sy Montgomery writes in The Good Good Pig: The Extraordinary Life of Christopher Hogwood:

I never met a pig I didn’t like. All pigs are intelligent, emotional, and sensitive souls. They all love company. They all crave contact and comfort. Pigs have a delightful sense of mischief; most of them seem to enjoy a good joke and appreciate music. And that is something you would certainly never suspect from your relationship with a pork chop.

And contrary to auto-journalist mythology, they do not understeer.

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Freshly scrutinized

The new auto-insurance policy has arrived, and it’s $24.20 pricier than the previous one, broken down as follows:

  • Liability (injury): up $3.10.
  • Liability (property): up $16.20.
  • Uninsured motorists: no change.
  • Comprehensive: up $3.30.
  • Collision: up $1.70.
  • Road service: up $0.90.
  • Rental reimbursement: no change.

Not quite offsetting this is an extra buck worth of discounts. As before, uninsured-motorist coverage is the single largest expense on the bill, though property liability, which took a big jump, is coming close.

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A brave little toaster user

Adam Lapetina sampled twenty-seven varieties of Kellogg’s Pop-Tarts — no small task in itself, and downright astonishing in a single 24-hour period — and then ranked them from worst to best.

My personal favorite finished a hair below mid-pack:

16. Unfrosted Blueberry
This Pop-Tart wouldn’t look out of place behind the glass case of a European pastry shop, but that also means that it’s one of the MOST out of place in terms of blending in with its fellow P-Tarts. As with before, there’s something unnerving about seeing a Pop-Tart without its clothes. It feels vaguely scandalous, yet underwhelming, like hearing yet another new rumor about Charlie Sheen. The blueberry filling actually contains blueberries, which is nice, and it’s tart like a blueberry-flavored thing should be.

Add frosting, and it goes up only two notches, so it’s the blueberry-ness that makes this one fly. And my local store is carrying it again, so I don’t have to order from Amazon.

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Bimmer bummer

One practically guaranteed source of Schadenfreude is the nimrod who decides to pony up for an aged Teutonic sled without giving the slightest consideration to what it’s going to cost him to maintain it.

Which, in this particular case, is several times the purchase price:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: I have a 2001 BMW 740I timing chain broke where can i get her fixed cheap real cheap?

Oh, it gets better:

At the end of April I paid $1500 for her 3 days later her timing chain snapped what am I to do

Fifteen hundred for a 7-series? The guy dumping it knew the engine was about to grenade, and, well, as George Hull once noted, buyers for old BMWs are born at the rate of sixty per hour.

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No place for a face

Lindsay Ellingson, thirty and tall, meets the general definition, as once specified by David Letterman, of “leggy supermodel.” But this sentence from her Wikipedia page, describing her work for Victoria’s Secret, somewhat messes with my head:

In 2011, she became one of the brand’s signature Angels, as well as the face of its perfume line VS Attractions and its new bra, Gorgeous.

I really, really don’t want to imagine someone being the face of a bra. Really.

The actual introduction, however, seems kind of prosaic:

Lindsay Ellingson introduces the Gorgeous bra for Victoria's Secret

Um, okay. (By the way, her eyes are up there.)

Last week at Cannes, by comparison, she was downright futuristic in Ulyana Sergeenko:

Lindsay Ellingson at Cannes 2015

Says Heather of the Fug Girls:

I like the liquid-look fabric. This whole outfit looks to me like a special-effect — like when Robert Patrick in Terminator 2 would be in the middle of morphing from metal into human. In that vein, I like the middle of the dress and am waiting for the rest of it to catch up.

And then it doesn’t happen:

Lindsay Ellingson at Cannes

Heather again:

Naturally, I hate the back. She looks like a very expensive circus performer.

Normal guys will be delighted to hear that Lindsay married a normal guy last year, quite uncharacteristic of leggy supermodels.

(Photos: Gorgeous bra, Adam Bielawski; Cannes, Getty Images.)

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Meanwhile in Area 41

Jeb Bush is running for President, and I have had no trouble curbing my enthusiasm up to this point: “Read my lips,” I once said. “No more Bushes.” And indeed, a year and a half before the actual election, Jeb hasn’t exactly set the world on fire. What could change the electorate’s indifference? Will Truman makes the dark calculation:

I think he has a better chance than any other individual candidate, but if I were betting for or against him, I’d bet (lightly) against him.

Unless, that is, his father dies sometime between now and then. Which gets me to the point of this post. His father is somebody that it’s become kind of hard to say much negative about, generally speaking. Republicans see him as one of their own and from the Reagan era at that. Democrats see him as fundamentally different from the current lot of Republicans. It’s considered poor taste to speak ill of the just dead, but I think there will be less tongue-biting.

Which makes his father’s death, if it occurs between now and next November, a potentially important thing.

George H. W. Bush turns 91 next month. I say with all sincerity that I hope he makes it at least to 93.

(Side note: Typing “Bush 41” into the Wikipedia search box does indeed bring up the article for Papa George; “Bush 43” will do the same for W.)

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Over several barrels

Only the nittiest of nitwits will claim to be able to forecast the price of oil more than a few hours in advance. That said, this is supposedly OPEC’s thinking on the matter:

Those hoping for a return to $100 per barrel of oil are in for a long wait, as OPEC says oil will remain below the price point through the 2020s.

A report by the group forecasts oil will trade for around $76/barrel in 2025 under optimistic conditions, The Wall Street Journal reports, with $40/barrel under more dire straits. The forecasts take into account the group’s competitors in the United States coping through low prices amid increased production.

To combat this, the report recommends OPEC return to the production-quota system it ditched in 2011 amid conflict over how much each member state would be allowed to produce.

A system, you may remember, which was honored mostly in the breach, hence the ditching.

Myself, I prefer to stick with the mildly alarmist viewpoint: there’s only about 10 years’ worth of oil left on the planet, and there always will be.

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Max does not have PMS

There’s been some sparring in social media over the feminism, or lack thereof, that obtains in Mad Max: Fury Road, and since I have not yet seen the film, I’m going with the Friar’s assessment [possible spoilers]:

The he-man tough-guy warrior schtick of both Joe and the Humungus fall to a society that values both genders. That idea, by the way, seems to be the extent of the back-and-forth about Fury Road being a “feminist movie.” Pro- and anti-feminist blatherers made a lot about [George] Miller using playwright Eve Ensler as a coach to help the models playing Joe’s wives understand the mindset of someone basically held as a sex slave. That’s fine. My main worry was that he’d hired Ensler to write some of the movie; I’ve read The Vagina Monologues.

I’m still waiting for the inevitable sequel It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Max.

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Ann and Lane, BFFs

Whether this portends anything else, I can’t tell just yet:

How many women’s suits and dresses could you buy for $2.2 billion? For Ascena Retail Group, Inc. the answer is all of the suits and dresses sold in all of the Ann Taylor and LOFT stores.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Ann Inc., the owner of stores Ann Taylor and LOFT, has agreed to sell itself for $2.2 billion to rival Ascena Retail Group, which operates Lane Bryant and Dressbarn.

Both companies … have reportedly struggled recently when it comes to the weak retail environment for their target group of women 20 to 40 years of age, the WSJ reports.

Meanwhile, Dressbarn is mutating, or is being remodeled, into “Dressbar”: apparently the Dressbarn name will be reserved for garments that are, um, not dresses. Okay, fine. As long as Lane Bryant doesn’t hook up with Kobe.

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Google just being Google

It’s been a long time since “Don’t be evil” was supplanted by “Don’t be unobtrusive,” so I wasn’t entirely surprised to see this come down the timeline:

I scoffed for public consumption, then hit up the surfer dudes who host this site for suggestions, since broadside isn’t even a mail server fercrissake. Said they, did you know that the WordPress wp_mail() function, as used in emailing subscribers, is totally devoid of authentication?

[facepalm]

They suggested a plugin to route the mail through a proper SMTP server, and since I have one of those servers, they were happy to tell me all the settings that would be necessary. I had everything in place by four-thirty. So if you’ve been having to fish updates out of the Gmail spam folder, perhaps this will persuade Google to quit acting like the grand high muckety-mucks of the frigging Internet just this once. Maybe.

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A slightly flatter planet

The earthquake in Nepal last month evidently realigned some of the bumpier spots on the globe:

New satellite topography of the Himalayas mountain range has revealed that they sank by three feet as tectonic plates reacted to pressure.

The European Space Agency’s Sentinel-1A radar satellite snapped before-and-after images of the terrain hit by the earthquake, which killed more than 8,000 people. The image … reveals how the Eurasian plate shifted, with the land falling in the places marked yellow, and rising in those coloured blue. In the Langtang range, it sank by as much as three feet, while Mount Everest, which was further away from the epicentre, is now one inch shorter.

One should not assume, however, that this realignment is at all permanent:

The Himalayas will eventually regain the height that they lost over a long period of time, as geological forces continue to influence them. The mountain range was formed as a result of the Indian and Eurasian plates pushing into each other, and the constant pressure at the fault line means the mountains are always growing.

Tim Wright, professor of satellite geodesy at the University of Leeds, explains further:

Between earthquake events, Nepal is being squashed and the part (including Kathmandu) nearest the big fault underneath it is being dragged down by the Indian plate, and [areas] further back are being lifted up as you imagine squashing something is going to push things up.

Now, during the earthquake itself what happens is the opposite. The part that was dragged down because it was stuck at the fault — that slips freely and rebounds up, and the part that was being squashed upwards drops down.

Similar events occur in other seismically active regions, such as California and, um, Oklahoma, though Soonerland has yet to experience a quake above magnitude six: the April quake in Nepal was estimated at 7.8, with an aftershock last week at 7.4.

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Metered out over the years

There’s one distinguishing characteristic of Emily Dickinson’s poetry, says former US poet laureate Billy Collins:

“[Walt Whitman] was really the first poet in English to abandon both rhyme and regular meter. And for me and you, probably reading poetry in school, he became more popular because he was more radical in terms of form. But Emily Dickinson seems rather tame because she pretty much uses the same meter every time. It’s called ‘common meter.’ It’s a line of four beats that’s followed by a line of three beats. So a typical one would be: ‘Because I could not stop for Death / He kindly stopped for me.’ And there’s actually a kind of pause at the end of the first line, a kind of fifth beat. This is the meter of a lot of ballads. It’s the meter of Protestant hymns. It’s the rhythm of many nursery rhymes. So you have a very conventional cadence in most of these poems. It’s widely known that almost every one of her poems can be sung whether you like it or not to the tune of ‘The Yellow Rose Of Texas.'”

I am surprised she didn’t come up with this one herself:

Just sit right back — and you’ll hear a tale
A tale — of a fateful trip
That started from — this tropic port
Aboard — this tiny ship

(Via Barbara J. Taylor.)

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Wheeled of dreams

The late guitar-picker Jerry Reed once did the math:

Well, I figured it up, and over a period of time
This four thousand-dollar car of mine
Cost fourteen thousand dollars and ninety-nine cents.

For that matter, I’ve done the math myself, and I conclude that you need to be damned sure what you’re buying before you write the check.

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Strange search-engine queries (485)

You’ve seen it before, you’re seeing it again: a wholly unscientific sampling of the search strings that brought people to this very site, biased toward whether we could get a joke out of them or not.

steve allen cuando calienta el sol picture cd:  Because you’d never recognize the recording if it had nothing but writing on the case, am I right?

when no one wants you:  Sing a couple verses of “Cuando Calienta El Sol.” It will warm up your cold, cold heart in a matter of … well, years, actually.

1. Tonight you can do anything you want, no penalties, no reprisals, and the cost is unimportant:  Or as Bill Clinton calls it, “Monday.”

July 9 1980 Fire in the hole:  Preparation H works, where Preparations A through G inclusive didn’t.

sextube small girl:  She will not make your objects appear larger, if that’s what you had in mind.

government-mandated 85-mph speedometers:  Now nearly as quaint as landau bars, and only marginally more functional.

barges to use as temporary housing owners:  This may not work well during a flash flood.

transportation fund lock box:  Once jimmied open, it proved to hold a fistful of IOUs, a couple of dustbunnies, and a half-chewed Starburst.

invisible spirits seducing women movies:  They had to be. Before they were invisible, they all looked like Joe Pesci on a bender.

“toe rings under”:  Under what? Under hosiery? Under $10? Insufficient data for conclusion.

2009 state law seattle porpety owner must bear expense of cost over runs:  I imagine a lot of people sold their porpety as a result.

sadamhusain pechar free:  You trying to tell me they cut off Saddam’s pechar?

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