Porous another one

The very word “sundress” suggests that it’s going to be worn, um, out in the sun, which prompts this simple question:

On the off-chance any clothing designers are reading this, let me say: if it’s hot enough to wear a sundress, it’s too damned hot to wear rayon, polyester, or any other artificial fabric that does not “breathe,” so why the hell do you use such fabric to make your sundresses? My theory: you are motivated by sheer hatred of your customers, a hatred so intense that if your IQ were a mere 50 points lower, you’d probably work for TSA.

Conspiracy theorists are encouraged to pass along the idea that synthetic fabrics are more easily seen through by airport body scanners.

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Houston, we have a heat wave

How hot is it? The National Weather Service actually put this out in Thursday’s Drought Information Statement:

THE CITY OF HOUSTON AND COLLEGE STATION HAVE REACHED 100 DEGREES EVERY DAY IN AUGUST. IT WAS ONLY A YEAR AGO (AUGUST 2010) THAT THE FOUR PRIMARY CLIMATE SITES RECORDED THEIR WARMEST AVERAGE MONTHLY TEMPERATURE. THE RECORD WILL BE SHORT LIVED. AUGUST 2011 WILL CRUSH… SMASH… OBLITERATE… DESTROY AND ANNIHILATE THE PREVIOUS WARMEST AVERAGE MONTHLY TEMPERATURE BY AT LEAST 2.0 DEGREES AND IN A FEW LOCATIONS BY 3.0 DEGREES.

I checked the August 2010 F-6 for Bush Intercontinental Airport, which turned up a monthly average of 87.7 degrees. If they break this by more than a degree and a half, they’ll get past the July 2011 record set in Oklahoma City, which was 89.2. Then again, poor Lawton posted a July average of 92.3, which exceeds almost everyone’s level of tolerability.

Forecasters being generally reserved by nature, I have to assume that they’re going at least slightly crazy from the heat and/or drought.

Then again, huge quantities of water can also produce vivid imagery.

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Semi-nice try

But it won’t get your spam into the system. Akismet caught this one:

I have been absent for some time, but now I remember why I used to love this web site. Thanks, I’ll try and check back more often. How frequently you update your web site?

If you really loved it, you’d understand the update schedule. (sniff)

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Quote of the week

Fillyjonk gently rebukes the Food Police:

I’m fine, thanks. I’m a freaking adult. I can make my own decisions. If you want someone to dominate and fill with your food anxieties, please have a child. (I’m being facetious here: we don’t need more humans being raised with screwed-up ideas about food).

I think part of the problem is we don’t understand risk levels and risk tolerance. For example: Some additive in food gives people who eat it a 2% greater risk of, I don’t know, massive kidney stones. Does that mean the additive should be banned? Does that mean everyone should be told not to buy it? What if the additive does something other that is useful, like making the food not harden up before its time or taste good? Still, that 2% risk WOULD have some people calling for banination.

(A blogger I like to read often refers to the fact that we all have a 100% chance of dying. So something like a 2% risk of kidney stones, meh)

And that’s the thing that gets to me: I don’t like being hounded. I don’t like being told that my personal choices, which I came to based on my understanding of and tolerance for risk, are BAD and WRONG and DUMB and I need to do whatever the other person is doing because it WORKED FOR THEM and therefore is the best and right and really only choice.

Or even if it didn’t work for them, but they have a wholly-imaginary mandate to force you to clean up your act.

There is only one sensible response to these people. (Well, okay, there’s a second, if you want to bring coprophagia into the conversation.) Look them in the eye, yawn, and say “When I say ‘You bore me,’ that doesn’t mean that you’re my mother.”

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Feigned nonchalance

There’s a thread going on in Amazon’s discussion area which seeks to identify the “most compelling line in a song,” though as a practical matter, it usually takes two lines, maybe more, to complete the thought.

I briefly entertained the idea of contributing “Kickin’ in the front seat, sittin’ in the back seat / Gotta make my mind up, which seat can I take?” Pithy as it is, though, it’s not all that compelling, and after thinking about it for a few minutes — and spinning a few tunes to gauge emotional response — I decided on this old favorite, first quoted here back in ’03, which still packs a wallop:

I close my eyes for a second and pretend it’s me you want
Meanwhile I try to act so nonchalant
I see a summer night with a magic moon
Every time that you walk in the room

Jackie DeShannon came up with this in late 1963, and it’s been regularly expropriated ever since: the Searchers got a British Invasion hit, and Bruce Springsteen often plays it live. Still, this is a song that practically demands a female vocal — guys seldom admit to this level of yearning — so I’ll direct you to the 1994 Pam Tillis version, which is a country song mostly because the marketing people said it was.

(Discovered at Pop Culture Junk Mail.)

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Stocking the Jerk Store

I’ve tried out several variations on the theme “If you’re so X, why aren’t you rich?” So far, though, this is the only X that really seems to describe me:

A new study finds that agreeable workers earn significantly lower incomes than less agreeable ones. The gap is especially wide for men.

The researchers examined “agreeableness” using self-reported survey data and found that men who measured below average on agreeableness earned about 18% more — or $9,772 more annually in their sample — than nicer guys. Ruder women, meanwhile, earned about 5% or $1,828 more than their agreeable counterparts.

“Nice guys are getting the shaft,” says study co-author Beth A. Livingston, an assistant professor of human resource studies at Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations.

Well, screw ‘em. As Leo Durocher didn’t actually say of the ’46 Giants, nice guys finish last.

(Purloined — on my own time, mind you — from The Director. Now STFU and GBTW.)

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Italian style

An offhand observation from the spring of 2010:

Presumably owing to business considerations, the picture of [Laura] Soave being circulated by Chrysler is carefully tuned for maximum blandness. In person, she’s much more striking.

In case you’d forgotten, Laura Soave, a former Volkswagen exec, was hired by Sergio Marchionne to head up the Fiat brand in the US. Somewhere in this photo is a Fiat 500:

Laura Soave with Fiat 500

Incidentally, the current Cinquecento is supposedly available in 14 colors, but every last one I’ve seen on the roads in this town has been this shade of Cinnamon Red Hot(s).

(Photo snitched from Autoblog.)

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Just keep on dreaming

The curious phrase PREPARE FOR LAUNCH showed up on Rebecca Black’s Facebook page, along with yesterday’s date. Since it wasn’t a Tuesday, I have to assume it wasn’t the release of the new EP, which, Team Rebecca insists, will come out this month. (Facelift for the Web site, apparently.)

Speaking of dates, she told Parade she’s allowed such things:

I’m allowed to. I mean, I’m sure if my dad was in the room he’d be like “Uh, no you’re not.” But I’m allowed to. It’s hard because I’m always in L.A. and I’m always busy. So I’m single, but I kind of like it.

Fourteen and single. Who would have known?

I spent part of last night reading her Tumblr page, which seems to have attracted a few unwelcome elements. No surprise there, I suppose. Still, she seems to be taking it all in stride, which is more than I could do at that age.

And then there was this on Yahoo! Answers:

Does anyone know where I can get the music to Friday by Rebecca Black for a marching band?

I need it for the basic marching band instruments, clarinets, flutes, saxophones, tubas, baritones, trumpets, horns, percussion, etc.

Let’s hope somebody YouTubes (TheyTubes?) the performance.

Addendum: Doonesbury weighs in. (Via Peter J. Rudy.)

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The receptionist at Skynet

Artificial intelligence is getting more intelligent; the trick, of course, is to somehow make it less artificial.

Denise from Guile3D StudioMeet Denise, an “advanced Virtual Assistant Software” from Guile3D Studio:

She comes with our real-time proprietary graphic engine, a high quality English Text to speech voice and a Voice Recognition (Command Mode) engine. Denise works with an adaptive Artificial Intelligence Brain, that can learn by itself and be customized by user. Her main function is to assist users in human-computer interaction, like searching the web, checking e-mail, scheduling appointments, getting latest news, run computer applications by voice and much more, all these using natural language, as the user was “talking to a real person.”

And apparently she’s going to be a disc jockey:

Wednesday August 24, 2011 from 1pm till 4pm CST KROV [San Antonio, Texas] will be making history by becoming the first radio station in existence to have an artificial intelligent radio personality. KROV is an HD-2 radio station. Which means an HD radio is required to listen to the station. However there are ways around such an obstacle for people who do not own an HD radio. KROV can be streamed on the station’s web page at www.krovfm.com and also with a smartphone application called “TuneIn”.

I know I should be appalled by this, but really, how is this substantively different from, say, the smartass promo inserts on Jack FM? Jack doesn’t talk back, but Denise does:

And even in version 1.0, she’s a lot less annoying than your average morning-show jerks.

(Via Fark.)

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Not to mention the pressure drop

Most of the time when Glenn Reynolds says “Faster, please,” I shrug and say “That’s nice.”

This one, however, hits me a little harder:

Researchers at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine have found a protein normally involved in blood pressure regulation in a surprising place: tucked within the little “power plants” of cells, the mitochondria. The quantity of this protein appears to decrease with age, but treating older mice with the blood pressure medication losartan can increase protein numbers to youthful levels, decreasing both blood pressure and cellular energy usage. The researchers say these findings, published online during the week of August 15, 2011, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, may lead to new treatments for mitochondrial–specific, age-related diseases, such as diabetes, hearing loss, frailty and Parkinson’s disease.

Hmmmm. I’m not a mouse, old or otherwise, but as it happens, I switched my hypertension medicine to a losartan/hydrochlorothiazide combo a couple of years ago, shortly before it became available as a generic. Did this buy me any time? Who knows? But for once, I’m (slightly) ahead of the curve.

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Drone for a loop

We have always been at war with — um, who was that we were at war with?

Someone needs to tell the president about torpedoes. Upgrade the Mark 48 and sell it to whoever is in charge of the US drone war as the Mark I Sea Drone. Then we could gloss over headlines like “Drone Reportedly Kills Thirty Pirates” or “Drone Sinks Syrian Navy.”

Now I’m basically in favor of the drone strikes in Pakistan, or sinking the Syrian navy, for that matter; in for a penny, in for a pound. I mostly support the drone strikes because Pakistan says they hate them, and Pakistan is our enemy. Ergo, drones are good. On the other hand, reports say privately Pakistan supports the drones, so drones are bad, unless you believe Pakistan is our ally, then drones are good. That’s two goods to one bad, so I’m two-thirds okay with the drones.

A lot of my T-shirts, it seems, come from Pakistan, so mark me down as slightly below 66-point-something percent okay with the drones, assuming these are the drones we’re looking for.

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And theft is illegal, after all

Apparently this guy is sufficiently distraught to consider shuffling off this mortal coil entirely:

Well, I mean, I snort coke, right. I keep having to argue with my son because he goes down to the basement and steals my coke and uses it himself or sells it to his friends. I’m sick of him stealing my coke, and it’s making me just want to end it all. It’s so frustrating having to spend all my time finding coke and having to find new hiding places for it.

He’s ready to be shot into space, wouldn’t you say?

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My name is Larry

This title could be a more-or-less autobiographical song by the late Wild Man Fischer; or it could be a statement which might be made by Twitter’s little logo bird.

Yes, really. Twitter says so.

Now does this mean that Larry was named for, um, Larry Bird? It’s possible.

(Via Nancy Friedman.)

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They prefer “anchored”

But you know what they really mean, and if you don’t, well, Andrea Harris does:

[T]he evidence is all around you that we are turning into plants, or lazy, complacent apes, who would rather be entertained by fantasies about space exploration than actually doing it. Because exploration, going to new places, figuring out how to live in alien environments — all of that is hard work, and there are tv shows to catch up on, and good things to eat and fatten up on, and our fellow monkeys in the Earth cage to throw feces at when they get out of line.

Some of these orangutangerines will argue with a straight face that we have no right to do much of anything while J. Random Leech suffers from whatever it is he’s suffering from — can’t afford both HBO and Cinemax, would be my guess — in his Section 8 digs. I’d be in favor of shooting them and their Protected Ones into orbit around [not Uranus, that's too easy a joke].

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With a little restraint

Typically, the city calls a bond election every seven years or so; the last one was in 2007, authorizing $835.5 million in General Obligation Bonds, a portion of which go on sale each year.

This year, they didn’t move a lot of bonds: the sale on the 8th of March brought in only $43.5 million, and the official reason for the crummy-looking number is that property values are more or less stuck in a rut. Since the city’s cut of the local property tax, the only legally-permitted source of funding for debt service of this sort, is not going up any time soon — city policy is to keep it at 16 mills or less — it is considered Bad Form to borrow more than we can reasonably expect to pay back. Besides, it might jeopardize the city’s AAA rating from S&P if we started to go crazy with debt instruments, and if it did, we wouldn’t have time to whine about it on the evening news.

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Not to get snippy or anything

Robert Stacy McCain (may his tribe increase, one generation forward) is, as always, appalled, but at least he’s consistently appalled:

Nearly 1 in 5 American women of childbearing age has undergone surgical sterilization. This ought to be genuinely shocking, the subject of sociological study. What does this incredible statistic say about a society so vehemently hostile to human procreation that it spends many millions of dollars each year to permanently extirpate the reproductive capacity of its women?

Yet the very fact that this practice is so widespread prevents anyone from daring to comment critically about it, for fear of seeming to be “intolerant” or “judgmental” toward the victims of this surgical war against human fertility.

It was thirty years ago today — okay, give or take a week or two — that I went under this particular knife. Better I than she, right? And besides, we’d generated our replacements: we had two children, who are now busy having children of their own. (Sixth grandchild is due in the spring.)

As for women to whom I am not married, which is, for the moment, all of them, I am loath (and unqualified) to provide surgical advice, even if you’re 83 and simply want greater rack projection.

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