Never trust an algorithm

First, Steve Sailer put this graph on Twitter:

Subsequently, Sailer was asked if “Niger” was meant to be an abbreviation of “Nigeria”; no, he said, Niger is a country unto itself, and Nigeria wasn’t on the graph because its population in 2100 is projected to be around 800 million, which wouldn’t fit the scale. This explanation ended up on Facebook, and then was quickly stricken:

A Steve Sailer status, removed from Facebook

Sailer explained this away:

[D]on’t discuss UN forecasts of Niger’s population growth on Facebook. That violates community standards.

Facebook may not believe that anybody could possibly be interested in Niger, but, as Trotsky would say, the upcoming 192,000,000 Nigeriens are, like war, interested in you.

He gives too much credit to Facebook, I think; the most likely explanation is that while “Nigeria” passes muster with the site’s dictionary, the algorithm read “Niger” as something it isn’t. (In fact, as a result of the country’s history as a former French colony, its name is pronounced à la français: “nee-ZHAIR.”)

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Strange search-engine queries (596)

If you live in the United States, there’s at least a measurable chance you got the day off today. I didn’t. But I’m not complaining. (Much.) And the usual Monday-morning routine contains the usual trip through the search strings, looking for things that, as they say out here on the Plains, “just don’t look right.”

box in mazda 6 that sends signal to transmission:  It’s not like you can fix it yourself; hell, you don’t even know the name of the part.

ijxgbpkknko -site:youtube.com:  Yeah, that’s easy for you to say.

reptiles express:  It does, after all, take a long time for them to crawl.

cum salad dressing:  You told me this was Thousand Island.

nudewithfriends.tumblr:  There must be a thousand Tumblrs full of naked people, and they all reblog each other.

elizabeth kucinich tongue ring:  Better her than Dennis, I suppose.

according to the tree diagram below, what is the probability that someone buys a book that is hardcover and nonfiction?  We’re sorry, but we had to cut down that tree to print a book that is hardcover and nonfiction.

slowly turning sissy:  Go ahead and shave your legs, Dave. Who’s gonna know?

nude recreation:  What’s that, Dave? You can’t go skinny-dipping because you just shaved your legs?

my fb account is disabled how to enable:  Ask Facebook. You obviously can’t do it yourself.

used realdoll™ $200…$400:  You had your fun with her, now you throw her away. Typical.

tweetdeck who muted me:  The last person you pissed off.

phuyuck james bond:  Bite me, Blofeld.

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For the benefit of British cyclists

This is beautifully MacGyver-ly:

On Sunday’s ride, about 8km from Saffron Walden, I hit a patch of completely trashed road. All the tarmac had been scraped off in preparation for resurfacing, leaving the concrete slab base and lots of sharp stone chips. I hit one with the rear wheel, resulting in an instant puncture and a centimetre-long gash in the tyre.

All around me were fields. It looked like a long walk to the nearest village, and a quick look round yielded no roadside debris that I could use as a tyre boot.

And then a solution presented itself:

When the Bank of England put its new fiver into circulation on 13 September last year, one of the proudly touted advantages of the new plastic note was that it was stronger and more durable than the previous paper version. The Bank said: “Each new polymer note is expected to last at least 2.5 times longer than the current paper notes. This is because polymer is stronger than paper so the notes can better withstand being repeatedly folded into wallets or scrunched up into pockets.”

Surely a banknote intended to withstand that sort of day to day abuse could also hold my inner tube in place enough to get me home.

And it did, too — over better than 30 km.

(Via Finestkind Clinic and fish market.)

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The joys of a little list

Once upon a time, Professor Tom Lehrer set the names of the chemical elements to a possibly recognizable tune:

This may or may not have prompted Allan Sherman to rework a David Rose number into “Holiday for States”:

And there things stood for quite a while, until Yakko Warner took it upon himself to sing about the whole doggone world. It came out something like this:

Wakko, of course, would get his own list.

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Not their first 24-hour rodeo

FamilyNet television is no more. Say hello to the Cowboy Channel:

The cowboy’s lifestyle has long been one of fanciful dreams. Wide open spaces, lifelong friendships and shared experiences along with the special code of ethics that have made the cowboy a symbol of our American heritage and the West.

The cowboy represents a special type of person: fiercely independent, self-reliant, adventuresome, trustworthy and one of the first true environmentalists. His/Her lifestyle embodies many of the attributes we again are striving for in both our personal and professional lives.

There is a growing attraction to this philosophy among a wide cross section of Americans: business professionals, blue collar workers, among all age groups who feel integrity and honesty in business, and our personal lives, have been misplaced.

“The Cowboy Channel” is designed to bring the spirit of the American Cowboy to cable, satellite, and over-the-top audiences through extensive coverage of all western sports, documentaries, events, comedy, music and entertainment.

Projected audience: anyone who knows the words to “Don’t Fence Me In”; anyone who’s ever clambered down to street level, looked back at a rabbit warren of apartments and thought, “You know what? This sucks.”

McG notes:

RFD-TV [the Cowboy Channel’s sister station] has been sponsoring an annual rodeo called The American, the success of which has convinced the corporation there is sufficient demand for Western sports above and beyond what RFD, with its agribusiness and agrarian lifestyle focus, could offer.

I wonder if there’s any interest in cross-marketing with GunTV.

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Running off at the beak

I have never followed Donald Trump on Twitter, and I really don’t have to: sooner or later, anything he tweets will end up in my timeline. But there’s very little reason to care about his little sub-paragraph explosions:

I don’t care about the president’s nasty tweets because I’m more concerned about his incoherent foreign policy, his foolishly protectionist trade policy, his shaky grasp of basic economics, his inconsistency on issues like immigration and health care policies and a host of others. Despite a few bright spots like James Mattis, Neil Gorsuch, Nikki Haley and probably Jerome Adams, President Trump is already building his Democratic opponents a solid case in the 2018 elections. Compared to these things, the tweets mean less than the product that comes out of the other end of the bird.

Fortunately for The Donald, the Democrats are constantly finding new ways to crap all over themselves; it’s not really necessary for him to point them out. And there is one saving — well, not grace exactly: desperate would-be Hillary-humpers like Peter Daou (among others, but he’s about the worst) have been reduced to a mixture of incoherent sputtering and outright whining, providing sporadic entertainment.

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Every TED talk ever

Fillyjonk sent me this, and it’s dead on:

There. Now you’ve seen ’em all.

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In which I repeat myself

Note: In the summer of ought-eight, I submitted a send-off for the late Cyd Charisse for my first-ever Rule 5 contribution, despite not actually including any pictures, only links. This is mostly the same article, less the last paragraph, but semi-lavishly illustrated for once.

In the late 1960s, one of our high-school classes was semi-regularly packed off to see classic films at the old Garden Theater, and one of the films I saw was Brigadoon, an Alan Jay Lerner musical put together by MGM’s famed Arthur Freed unit.

The trick about the town of Brigadoon, you may remember, is that it’s not always there: the enchantment that preserves it does so by bringing it to life only once every hundred years, thereby making sure it’s not influenced by contemporary evils. Which means that when Tommy Albright (Gene Kelly) falls hard for one of the town girls, he’s faced with the sort of choice you wouldn’t give Hobson: either he stays with her, thereby giving up his life in this world, or he returns to New York and never gets another shot. I remember yelling at the screen: “You fool! Go back to her!” (I saw the greatest minds of my generation garner detentions for just such breaches of conduct.)

Cyd Charisse on a big gane hunt

This was my first exposure to Tula Ellice Finklea, known to the rest of the world as Cyd Charisse. At the time, I didn’t know that she’d been primarily a dancer; once I got a chance to see more of her work, I discovered that she’d been one of the all-time greats. As an actress, she was respectable if not noteworthy, and I’d noticed early on that her Russian accent in Silk Stockings was largely indistinguishable from her Scottish burr in Brigadoon. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Cyd Charisse takes the top rung

(Aside: Allow me to recommend the scene in Silk Stockings where she replaces her coarse Communist unmentionables with Parisian finery: the ratio of sheer eroticism to volume of actual exposed flesh is among the highest in motion-picture history.)

Cyd Charisse takes a love seat

There. That’s better.

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Tom is not mentioned in this piece

Or in this one from a Donegal newspaper:

Remember: you didn’t see it here.

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Drop dead already

One year after “ambulatory” was stricken from my vocabulary, I mourn for a moment; and then I contemplate the fate of someone far worse off than I am.

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A Saturday sort of song

Let’s start with the song itself:

Maddie Shy was thirteen when she wrote this song with producer Patrice Wilson, best known for a song which you may already know, called “Friday.” “Stronger Now,” she says, deals with the way she deals with dyslexia.

Next up: “Replay and Rewind.”

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Extra charge for a strap to hang by

If you hated air travel before, you’ll really hate it should this catch on:

Budget airline VivaColombia is considering plans to remove all seats from its planes and make passengers stand.

They hope the move will drive down fares by allowing them to squeeze more passengers into each flight, opening up air travel to working class Colombians and budget holidaymakers.

The Airbus A320, 50 of which the airline has on order, supposedly holds 180 passengers, but this estimate assumes that those passengers are seated.

VivaColombia’s founder and CEO William Shaw told the Miami Herald the airline was looking into vertical travel options. He said: “There are people out there right now researching whether you can fly standing up — we’re very interested in anything that makes travel less expensive.”

He added: “Who cares if you don’t have an inflight entertainment system for a one-hour flight? Who cares that there aren’t marble floors … or that you don’t get free peanuts?”

Marble floors?

Colombian authorities are not smiling:

Civil Aviation Director Alfredo Bocanegra told RCN radio that he does not approve. “People have to travel like human beings,” he said. “Anyone who had ridden on public mass transport knows that it’s not the best when you’re standing.”

Someone please tell that to Irelandia Aviation, VivaColombia’s parent company, also owner of Ryanair, the first airline to contemplate the installation of pay toilets.

(Via Joanna Blackhart.)

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Phone KOmrade-RU12

Niche-market radio station disappears, replaced by station with a different niche. Nothing new about that, with, um, one minor exception in the District of Columbia:

Those who’ve become accustomed to hearing bluegrass music when they turn the dial to 105.5 FM are in for a surprise—the bandwidth now broadcasts Sputnik, a “global wire, radio and digital news service” funded by the Russian government.

“It’s radio that brings you the views that you don’t get from other stations,” says Mindia Gavasheli, the editor in chief of Sputnik U.S.

And surely it doesn’t cost as much to operate as did the US branch of Al-Jazeera, though this makes me wonder:

Sputnik news feeds in English, Spanish, Arabic and Chinese are available around the clock. Regional editorial offices in Washington, Cairo, Beijing and Montevideo work 24/7 to provide a non-stop newscast.

Sputnik has been carried on an HD subchannel of 93.9 WKYS, an urban-contemporary station; the bluegrass programming is now on a subchannel of noncommercial WAMU.

Still, I’m going to find it irresistible to crank up some Cold War parodies of Soviet-style broadcasting. From 1959, “Russian Band Stand” by Spencer and Spencer:

One of those Spencers is King of Novelty Dickie Goodman. (Side note: We had a temp who, after listening to about half an hour of my iTunes install, told me there was one record I couldn’t possibly have: this one. I duly jumped it to the front of the shuffle. He was gone after a few days.)

Eight years later, your favorite Russian disk jockey, Nikita the K:

Which, you’ll note, is the source of this otherwise-inexplicable title.

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It was never only two

(Via @Jimmy (LJ).)

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Thoughts on a root canal

No, not mine. But I suspect I’d probably have a similar complaint:

How did people manage in the bad old days, the days before we got real pain killers? Oh, just like now, because you can’t get real pain killers any more because of some jackasses in congress stirring up shit for some kind of political game. My dentist won’t even write prescriptions for real pain meds any more because of all the paperwork involved. I am really beginning to hate the government.

Maybe I need to make friends with my local pusher. Medical insurance won’t cover the expense, but you can bet there won’t be any bureaucratic bullshit.

The rather minimal upside: the demand is still high, and there are enough manufacturers of the stuff to keep prices down around where they can be afforded by mere mortals, assuming said mortals can get a note from one of the gatekeepers. Out here we are blessed, or cursed, with facilities that specialize in outpatient treatment of chronic pain, or some comparable euphemism; each of them has a gatekeeper on staff.

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Fuzz dispensers

Apparently such things are available at retail, though not identified as such:

I spend the majority of Friday nights washing my towels. I do this because I bought what I thought were nice towels. But they are actually fuzz dispensers. So, when I use these nice, fluffy black towels to dry my body after a shower, they cover me in a layer of fuzz. The internet said that if I washed them with vinegar or baking soda that all would be fixed.

This is false.

I’ve washed them twice with vinegar, and twice with baking soda, and once I even mixed some vinegar and baking soda in the washing machine like I was making a science fair volcano. Still covered in fuzz post-shower. I washed them about 8 times regularly. Nothing is working, so I’m pretty much doomed to a life of washing towels in the vain hope that they will no longer leave me looking like a swarthy muppet when I get out of the shower.

They just don’t make fluff like they used to.

These must be made of that newfangled fabric which, when you finally find the tag for Washing Instructions, tells you simply “Don’t ask.”

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