Snappy ginger

Another find — almost — from the Zappos heat map:

Ginger by Gabriella Rocha

This is “Ginger” by Gabriella Rocha, which demonstrates that some people never quite get tired of the Mary Jane look, though on this one the strap is a little closer than average to the toe, and the stacked 1¾-inch heel is not as clunky as some. Zappos sells this in thirteen different colors, the one portrayed here being Bone, though the person who actually ordered it at the time I saw it on the map got hers in black patent. Then again, she’s from New York.

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Strange search-engine queries (299)

Monday morning, in contemporary American culture, seldom has anything to recommend it. I’m not at all sure this list of recent search strings will help, but it’s worth a try, right?

why are people just too zoned out:  Hey, it’s Monday morning. I’m zoned out.

my own demands:  Sounds like someone is keeping himself Occupied.

pre rejected credit card:  Don’t think of it as having been rejected; think of it as having incurred no additional fees.

“oklahoma kitsch”:  Roughly speaking, anything that looks perfectly at home in Stockyards City, after you’ve set it on your mantel in Philadelphia.

is there a down side to high speed rail?  Other than the billions of dollars it costs to acquire right-of-way and to build, and the further billions it costs to operate, not really, no.

supply and demand for abercrombie and fitch:  I’m not so sure about Abercrombie, but there is no shortage of people fitching about something or other.

oscar wilde dining alone:  It’s the lunch that dare not speak its name.

females between 4ft 9in and 5ft 1in and men who are 6ft 1in or more are the most likely to marry and have children:  My apologies to the Bureau of Questionable Statistics for messing with their graphs.

zooey deschanel is not a nerd:  She can be a nerd if she wants to, if you ask me.

porn site:  Um, no. Not that everything here is safe for work, but if you’d get in trouble for reading this site, I suggest you move.

squirrel porn:  Well, okay, there’s that.

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Karma on four wheels

For some reason, not everyone is happy about it.

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Forty or fight

Before the question, here’s my answer: I haven’t.

Now, the question: “Does anyone actually get 40 mpg on the highway?”

[E]ven as “40 MPG” becomes more and more important as an industry benchmark, it inevitably raises a perennial question: do EPA numbers mean anything in the real world? Hyping the highest possible number rather than a “combined” figure is a classic marketing move, but one that risks exposing the EPA highway number as a meaningless metric. And if nobody actually gets the rated efficiency, it’s only a matter of time before the market begins to demand more accurate reporting.

29 mpg city 41 mpg highway 1983 Mazda 626There was a time when the EPA wouldn’t let an automaker hype the highway number without also mentioning the (back then, usually quite a bit lower) city number. (The numbers you see at right are from the 1983 Mazda 626; this is the complete ad.) It surprises me that Washington, which has been pounding the fuel-economy drum for decades now, would let this rule fall by the wayside, but obviously it has: nobody even whispers the city rating anymore, except for the makers of hybrids, which often get better numbers in the city than on the highway.

My own best numbers came on World Tour ’05, the last WT undertaken in a Mazda 626, albeit a 2000 model, rated at 22 city/28 highway. The trip average was 30.7, with one tank reaching 34. (My current ride, 20/28 according to EPA, has been on two WTs, averaging about 28 if you factor out sitting in Austin traffic in ’08; a couple of tanks did break 30.) This tells me that I might get 40 on the highway out of one of the current crop of 40-mpg cars — maybe.

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Meanwhile in Tupelo

First, a mission statement:

Extraordinary Women’s mission is to host Christian women’s events and provide resources that equip women to handle life’s difficulties while enriching their hearts, encouraging their souls and expanding their ministries.

That doesn’t mention anything about providing high-quality promotional pictures, so all I have at the moment is this one shot, courtesy of “Recovering Liberal” M. Joseph Sheppard, of Sarah Palin rocking a not-too-scandalous outfit:

Sarah Palin at Extraordinary Women conference in Tupelo October 22

I must point out that not all of Mr Sheppard’s commenters liked her garb.

(Shot my way by Smitty, since he knew I’d use it.)

Update: Mr Sheppard advises that this shot actually came from the conference in Lynchburg, a couple of weeks earlier. (More info.)

Further update: Missy Stewart has the word from Tupelo.

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We never wanted you anyway

First-world problem: Occasionally we give our children unusual, even peculiar names. As a general rule, though, we don’t go this far:

More than 200 Indian girls whose names mean “unwanted” in Hindi chose new names Saturday for a fresh start in life.

A central Indian district held a renaming ceremony it hopes will give the girls new dignity and help fight widespread gender discrimination that gives India a skewed gender ratio, with far more boys than girls…

“Now in school, my classmates and friends will be calling me this new name, and that makes me very happy,” said a 15-year-old girl who had been named Nakusa by a grandfather disappointed by her birth. She chose the new name “Ashmita,” which means “very tough” or “rock hard” in Hindi.

I expect to see an Ashmita fighting for the UFC title before too long.

That sex ratio is indeed skewed: barely 900 girls for every 1000 boys. And the reasons aren’t at all biological:

Such ratios are the result of abortions of female fetuses, or just sheer neglect leading to a higher death rate among girls. The problem is so serious in India that hospitals are legally banned from revealing the gender of an unborn fetus in order to prevent sex-selective abortions, though evidence suggests the information gets out.

Part of the reason Indians favor sons is the enormous expense of marrying off girls. Families often go into debt arranging marriages and paying for elaborate dowries. A boy, on the other hand, will one day bring home a bride and dowry.

Meanwhile, we kvetch about the glass ceiling.

(Via this Dan Collins tweet.)

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This is why we can’t have nice laws

Jenn finds several loads of codswallop in the OWS-related American People’s New Economic Charter, one of which we’ll single out here:

ECONOMIC AGENDA OF THE OWS MOVEMENT Item 4 – … Members of the Congress and Senate should not be allowed to debate economic problems. The lawmakers must seek economic advice from economic experts from leading universities.

Last I looked, Congress included the Senate, but what I want to see is their list of “leading universities”: I’d bet you several pre-tax dollars that they don’t include the University of Chicago.

Now if I were in an Occupying mood, I would rewrite Item 4 this way:

“Members of the Congress should not be allowed to create economic problems.”

And if they actually took the Constitution seriously, it would never even occur to them to try.

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Shelby released

Today is Shelby Lynne’s forty-third birthday, and this bit should tell you everything you need to know about the music biz: she made a record with George Jones (“If I Could Bottle This Up”) way back in 1988, and she put out six full albums before winning a Grammy for Best New Artist — for 2000.

She also has a certain visual appeal:

Shelby Lynne

But what I really wanted to mention is this: in 2008, Shelby put out Just a Little Lovin’, a tribute to the late Dusty Springfield that garnered decent reviews. Did her label put out a single from it? They did: “Anyone Who Had a Heart,” a song which Dusty did cut but which is much more strongly associated with Dionne Warwick. More music-biz brilliance, right? Except that Shelby’s sparse, stripped-down, aching version packs just as much of an emotional wallop as Dionne’s — and more than Dusty’s. Sometimes the music biz gets it right.

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More Doobieous than ever

The last time we brought up the Doobie Brothers in this space, we noted that they seemed like a totally different band with Michael McDonald out front, which may have been a factor in the group’s disbanding in the early 1980s.

But if you’ve been following the Doobies, you probably know that they didn’t stay disbanded: they had a Top 10 single in 1989 (“The Doctor”), and last month they put out a new album, World Gone Crazy. The first single therefrom is a reworking of their very first single from forty-one years ago: Tom Johnston’s “Nobody.”

Sounds quite a bit like 1970, doesn’t it? And it doesn’t hurt that Ted Templeman, their producer from the very beginning through the golden years, is back at the helm.

(Obviously aimed at Jeffro.)

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The Dread Pirate [your name here]

Earlier this year, publisher HarperCollins came up with new license terms for libraries lending ebooks, which were duly mocked in this space. Apparently that wasn’t hilarious enough, since this maneuver is nearly as perverse:

Warner Home Video is forcing DVD distributors to:

  • place a 28 day embargo on sales of Warner feature titles to libraries
  • discontinue providing libraries with DVDs that contain all the bonus features, but instead only sell us the “rental” version that is just the movie

Will this actually work? Probably not:

[T]he law gives libraries several tools to lawfully combat this kind of policy, according to Brandon Butler, director of public policy initiatives at the Association of Research Libraries.

“The first-sale doctrine allows libraries to buy DVDs lawfully in any channel and then lend them without asking permission,” Butler said. “If a library wants to circumvent the 28-day delay or buy a full-featured DVD, for example, there is nothing to stop them from buying DVDs from regular stores like Amazon or Target,” he said.

I note with some amusement that Amazon is now considered a “regular store.”

Lest we think that they’re just picking on libraries, be it noted that Warner’s rental discs will be similarly delayed and decontented. As always, if there’s anything that content providers really hate, it’s providing content.

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Happy and glorious, I assume

Before you ask: no, I’m not in this film, nor should I be.

Here’s a list of who is, though.

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Dinner Rolls

In the process of denouncing yet another futile extension of the Lexus brand, Jack Baruth explains why it is that everyone seems to have become a foodie all of a sudden:

[I]t’s because the only God-dammed thing that you can legitimately brag about in any upscale party nowadays is how much you’re spending on food. If you’re trying to impress a woman in Manhattan or Newport Beach, don’t talk about your $295,000 Ferrari F430. She’ll think you’re a douchebag, a braggart, and a solid candidate for surgical penis augmentation. If, on the other hand, you talk about how you’re spending $500 a week on food, she will get the message — you’re stacking bank — and approve on multiple fronts. It’s conspicuous consumption, redefined.

(Aside: Firefox 3.16.x insists that “douchebag” is two words, with or without a hyphen between them.)

I don’t spend $500 a month on food, so obviously I’m getting nowhere with the Coastal Babes.

Incidentally, Baruth recommends that you spurn that particular low-end Lexus and spend the same money — $40k or so — on Toyota’s nascent Prius Plug-In Advanced. I think he makes his case.

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Wouldn’t this be handy?

Deprived of context, the phrase “contradictory affirmative” will elicit something like “Yeah, right” from me. But it’s a handy little idiom, which English unfortunately lacks:

Even those of us who don’t know French all know that “oui” means “yes.” But French actually has two words for yes; oui gets used most of the time, but there is also si which you use when answering yes to a negative question.

So if the question was “do you want cake?” you would just say “oui” — but if the question was “don’t you want cake?” you would reply with “si.” I guess it has something of a tone of “well, actually, yes I do want cake!” But it’s all summed up in one little word! It’s not really formal language, but it’s used a lot in spoken French.

I wonder if the French have a comeback for “the cake is a lie.”

(Tweeted, and suggested, by Nancy Friedman.)

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Quote of the week

Lynn’s conclusion regarding the Occupation:

I honestly don’t think corporations are evil. They might be “Big Brother” but they make our way of life possible so I guess you could say that I do “love Big Brother.” Corporations, or the people who run them, are greedy. So am I. So are you. Greed is why we have an economy at all. And Wall Street? I really fracking hate that the entire economy is so deeply affected by the daily panic attacks of a handful of wealthy investors. But that’s just the way it is and I don’t know what can be done about it. Neither do the Occupy Wall Street protesters and that’s why they’re wasting their time. You really want to make an effective statement? Go home and write to your congressman and tell him that you’re not going to vote for him unless the unemployment rate drops below 6% by election time. And then follow through on your threat.

That ought to empty out the House (and a third of the Senate) pretty quickly.

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Not to mention that smell

It’s not quite up there with Murphy or even Godwin yet, but yes, this is a metalaw of the universe:

“At some point at every live show, someone will, ironically or otherwise, vocalize a request for the Lynryd Skynyrd song, ‘Freebird’. The volume of this request will be equally proportional to the lack of sobriety of the individual making it.”

Sean Murphy, who wrote up that particular version of the law, decided to ask local musical and ancillary acts what they did when faced with this situation. Lots of good responses, but the one I’m going to quote here is from Ferris O’Brien of The Spy FM:

“If it’s in the studio or a live DJ gig, I simply say… ‘I’ll get it on next.’ Then promptly play ‘How Soon Is Now’ by The Smiths.”

Nobody will ever accuse Ferris of shyness, criminally vulgar or otherwise.

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Looking forward to the ATM

Rebecca Black reminds you that it's Friday, FridayThis week’s Rebecca Black update is brought to you by Maxim, and yes, I mean the lad mag. In the November issue, there’s a one-page factoid cluster devoted to Black Friday, “America’s favorite shopping day,” which of course falls in November; and one of the numbers bandied about therein is $24,900, which is, says Maxim, the “cash Rebecca Black banks a week thanks to her song ‘Friday’.”

I reacted to this revelation with a very Rebecca-esque “LOL NO,” but hey, they had to have gotten that number from somewhere, right? And that somewhere is Billboard, which calculated:

Here’s the math: 43,000 tracks at 70 cents to the artist minus a 9% distribution fee, minus 0.91 cents apiece for mechanical royalties equals $24,900.

“Mechanical royalties,” in case you just walked in and/or are jargon-resistant, are due to the composer(s) and publisher. (Black didn’t write “Friday,” after all.) The catch here is that this article is dated March 22, near the crest of the sales curve; while she may have been banking 25k a week then, sales presumably have since subsided a bit.

Then again, perhaps it’s not just sales anymore:

Rolling to a stop one afternoon in my car, I flipped on the radio to hear the familiar chorus of “Friday” by Rebecca Black. I really wanted to hate that song, but somewhere in the middle I found myself singing along.

The startling news here, of course, is that somewhere an actual radio station is playing “Friday.” That’s a whole different revenue stream.

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