Deschanelusioned

Kristi Harrison at Cracked.com (what, them again?) apparently suffers from Why Do Guys Fall For This Type When I’m Right Here? Syndrome.

And by This Type, she means, well, this type:

Zooey Deschanel getting out of her car

The plaint:

If “cute” was a commodity Zooey would be the Federal Reserve. Scratch that. She’d be China and the rest of us girls would be used food stamps that once doubled as Clue scorecards. THANK GOD cute is not a commodity is what I’m saying.

Do you remember back when Friends was big, and every girl you knew had Rachel’s haircut? (AC)ZD is the Rachel of girl people right now. If you’re of the female persuasion and you don’t want to dress like syphilis in a tube top, this is who you’re probably getting some fashion cues from. And if you’re a guy, a reasonable facsimile of this girl is who you’re trying to meet, not to have dirty, filthy sex with, but to marry and make babies and dirty, filthy noodle casseroles with.

But you never, ever will. Everevereverever. You have a better chance of meeting a meatball lady and making SpaghettiO babies with her. Here’s why.

There follow various minor issues, but the real one seems to be this:

What made the nerds of the world ever think she was one of them?

At what point did ordinary guys who were maaaaaybe a little too into video games or anime or not-sports look at a girl with perfect skin, a tiny little figure, a face that’s pretty by every measurable standard we’ve got and say, “Yeah, that’s attainable.”

Ben GibbardNow answer me this: What is the color of the sky on that hitherto-undetected planet on which Ben Gibbard, front man of the indie band Death Cab for Cutie, who grew up in the midst of the Pacific Northwest grunge explosion in the Nineties, who has a college degree in Environmental Chemistry fercrissake, is not a nerd? And we know what the Z-girl thinks of him: she married him. For all I know, they’re making filthy casseroles together at this very moment, while Kristin drops another $7 at Panera and sobs into her tea.

(Not surprisingly, a lot of people sent me this link, though Dave was first.)

Comments (4)




Boyle’s law of musical choices

The one thing about Susan Boyle I absolutely adore is that she covered a Lou Reed song. As Track One. For a Christmas album.

Okay, it was “Perfect Day.” She obviously wasn’t going to do, say, “Lady Godiva’s Operation.” Still, she’s never cared a whole lot for genre barriers: her first album contained several hymns, “Daydream Believer” and “Wild Horses.” (I bought both those albums, of course.)

Now (well, the first of November) comes Someone to Watch Over Me, and yes, that Gershwin tune is on it. But the eclecticism continues: covers of Joni Mitchell, Tears for Fears and Depeche Mode. (There exists an authorized audio-only version of “Enjoy the Silence” on YouTube, though the single isn’t out for download yet.)

Incidentally, during the 2010 Grammys, Stephen Colbert reminded the audience: “This year your industry was saved by a 48-year-old Scottish cat lady in sensible shoes.” What Joni once called “the star-making machinery behind the popular song” is now way past its design life, I’m starting to think.

Comments (2)




Also, that’s not a knife

If you’re an aspiring tourist, you’re curious about your intended destination: that’s a given.

A Web site promoting Australian tourism apparently took questions from would-be visitors to Down Under, and then gave them wonderfully-snarky answers. A sample:

Q: Does it ever get windy in Australia? I have never seen it rain on TV. How do the plants grow? (UK)

A: We import all plants fully grown and then just sit around watching them die.

Q: Which direction is North in Australia? (USA)

A: Face south and then turn 180 degrees. Contact us when you get here and we’ll send the rest of the directions.

This gets a stronger-than-usual Read The Whole Thing recommendation, not least for the map of special attractions.

Comments (3)




That mule won’t work

Celine, the Shoe Girl, discovers that one of her idols may have, you should pardon the expression, feet of clay:

EVERY DAY I’ve been checking Vogue.com to see if the latest Miu Miu runway collection had been posted yet. Miu Miu is my current favorite as far as shoes go and I haven’t been disappointed… until… today.

Mule by Miu MiuThere follow pictures of new shoes in the (presumably spring/summer ’12) collection, each one just a little more ghastly than the one before, until finally she just can’t take it anymore:

I’m sorry and I HATE saying negative things about a designer I respect SO much and look up to immensely but I just don’t have any positives here. I don’t like the shape, the colors, the details… I’m so confused!

These ones are the worst! Putty/tan/beige??? A MULE??? Oh say it isn’t so!

Her commenters weren’t particularly impressed either, which suggested that mine would be utterly revolted — or maybe not. We’re an eclectic bunch around here.

Comments (12)




Where ice seems redundant

Now and then things just jump out at you, or at least at me. The opening paragraph here is definitely a grabber:

397 km (247 mi) off the north coast of Norway and 235 km (146 mi) south of Svalbard lies an isolated, lonely 178 km² (68.7 sq mi) chunk of land known in English as Bear Island and in Norwegian as Bjørnøya (we’ll use both terms in this article, as the names are interchangeable in most parlance). Why is such a randomly isolated chunk of land present in this part of the Arctic Ocean and, perhaps more importantly, why is this remote island with a population of nine home to the world’s most northerly skinny-dippers association (one with over 2000 members, at that)?

I looked at a map, and came up with the dubious notion that “Maybe it’s not that cold.” Wikipedia bears me out, so to speak:

A branch of the North Atlantic current carries warm water to Svalbard, creating a climate much warmer than that of other regions at similar latitude. Bear Island’s climate is maritime-polar with relatively mild temperatures during the winter. January is the coldest month, with a mean temperature of -8.1°C (17.4°F) (base period 1961-1990). July and August are the warmest months, with mean temperatures of 4.4°C (39.9°F).

So it’s not exactly ice-cold, but certainly cold enough. About those skinny-dippers:

It wasn’t until 1947 that a radio meteorological station was at Herlighanna. It is this 20-building post that hosts the nine permanent residents of the island; a crew that changes over twice per year (and which maintains an entertaining blog). It is these brave (and occasionally bored) souls who inaugurated the Bjørnøya nakenbadeforening — the Bear Island Naked Beach Club. The only way to enter the club and obtain your membership diploma is to take it all off (in the presence of a member of the opposite gender, they’ll remind you) and brave a dip in the cold Arctic water. Thanks to the twice-per-year staff turnover, visits from the occasional Arctic cruise ship en route to Svalbard, and visits from Norwegian cabinet ministers and government personnel, the membership is well over 2100 people at this point. Even at this latitude, water temperatures can reach 10°C (50°F), but that’s only sometimes; when Minster of Justice and Police Knut Storberget was inducted into the club, his dip was taken at a bonechilling 3.8°C (39°F), which is likely more typical. Keep in mind, this was in August at the height of summer.

Go ahead and shiver. I certainly will.

Comments off




Non sum dingleberry

There are times in these pages when I sound like I think of myself as lower than a fish fart in a flash flood, and readers have occasionally (gently) chastised me for saying so. I assure them, though, that I’ve got nothing on Robert Stacy McCain:

When I publicly blame myself for my failures, when I advertise to the world my inglorious humiliation, it is not in a bid for anyone’s pity, nor is it evidence of a “chemical imbalance,” but simply because to do the opposite — to give in to the temptation to seek scapegoats for my own failures — would be more harmful to me than any unfair dishonor that others might heap upon my name.

Not that anyone’s seeking to heap dishonor upon my name of late, but I figure that if anyone is going to mock me, it might as well be me, since I’m demonstrably good at it, even if I flout a law of grammar in so doing.

Given the opportunities I’ve had, and mindful of the unmerited blessings bestowed upon me, if I fall short of achieving any goal within my boundless ambition, no one else is to blame but me. If others do not recommend or praise me, this is my fault and not theirs, and it would be great folly indeed to think that I deserve any more praise — or any less criticism — than I get. Others more praiseworthy have been ignored, and others less blameworthy have been rejected and condemned.

Here is where we diverge. I chose to impose an upper boundary on my ambition, a far-simpler task: it earns about the same number of difficulty points as, say, trying to teach a dog to appreciate steak.

Everyone thinks they deserve more praise, and no one is so truly modest as to mean it when they dismiss as undeserved such praise as they get.

In my own case, it’s not so much modesty as it is suspicion: why would somebody say a thing like that?

Comments (3)




Dyslexia without being dissed

Over the years, the existence of dyslexia has given us much confusion, several bad jokes, and at least one typeface. What we have not been getting is a compelling reason to prevent ourselves, patronizing as we often are, from looking down on those who suffer from it. Yet they have advantages over the rest of us:

Dyslexic brains are organized in a way that maximizes strength in making big picture connections at the expense of weaknesses in processing fine details.

It’s a huge mistake to regard a dyslexic child as if his or her brain is trying to follow the same pathway of development as all the other kids but is simply doing a bad job of it. In reality, the brains of kids with dyslexic processing styles are actually developing in a very different way. They establish a different pattern of connections and circuitry, creating a different kind of problem-solving apparatus. The difference is global, not just in certain areas of the brain.

As Steve Jobs might have said in a non-necessarily-unrelated context: “Think different.”

Most dyslexics tend to remember facts as experiences, examples or stories, rather than abstractions… These kids have a very strong ability to learn from experience. It’s very common for their families to describe these kids as the family elephant. They’ll be the go-to person when someone wants to remember who gave what to sister for her birthday two years ago. They might be the family historian, but they can’t remember the times tables or which direction the three goes.

These individuals excel in fields where telling and understanding stories are important, like sales, counseling, trial law or even teaching. In addition, a large number of professional writers are dyslexic.

This assumes, of course, that we don’t allow them to get trapped on the short bus on the way to those fields. There are times when I wonder if that’s too much to assume.

(Via I Speak of Dreams.)

Comments (1)




Most. Overused. Ever.

Whiny McWhinerson Gladstone complains at Cracked.com about seeing the same old rhetorical devices all over the Interwebz. Um, thanks for sharing, Gladdy.

Comments (8)




Strange search-engine queries (297)

Sweet dreams are made of this
Who am I to disagree
Travel the world and the seven seas
Everybody’s looking for something…

“Danish Drivers Association”:  Their task is made more difficult by the fact that a lot of the places you’ll stop for your morning coffee don’t have really good Danish.

bud bundy with a tail:  Apparently Al was the first in a series of atavistic genetic throwbacks.

“Strategic leveragability”:  Contemporary synonym for “We have no farging clue what we’re doing, but we’re doing it just the same.”

marginal enhancement:  Contemporary synonym for “totally new.”

carly foulkes “not pretty”:  None so blind as those who will not see.

proper way to wild open twoddle:  I suspect a twoddle that’s open enough is pretty wild already.

exactly the same but totally different shirt:  Congratulations, you’ve decoded the American Apparel business model.

help valleybrook suspended my license because they say i didn’t pay:  Didn’t pay whom? The cop on the beat? The girl at the titty bar? (Come to think of it, that’s all there is in Valley Brook.)

how expensive was your trench coat:  I had to crawl through two trenches in driving rain to get it.

what does the 1 2 3 by the shifter mean in my car:  It means that you’re probably too dumb to own a car.

Comments off




Mighty morphing

Comments (5)




Hoping others will follow

I can understand, sort of, why Blogger went to that “follower” model: these days, it’s mandatory to pay obeisance to the Gods of Social Media, and I have to figure that Google wanted to implement something without causing a massive upheaval. (Rival Tumblr is almost entirely follower-based, and WordPress.com can’t be far behind.)

Still, something about the little Followers widget in the Blogger sidebar has always bugged me, and apparently I’m not the only one:

I’ve always disliked that button, because it seriously changed the world of blogging when they added it. What used to be more of a community turned into kind of a popularity contest, and I dragged my feet even putting it up to begin with. But I wanted people to be able to follow if they wanted, so I relented. Now I’m thinking it’s time to get rid of the number.

Which she did. This does not mean I’m considering getting rid of SiteMeter, but there’s a difference, at least to me: the meter merely counts up visitors, and it would take a fair amount of analytical work to associate any entry in the database with a particular reader — and some readers may not want to be identified thusly. Blogger’s widget didn’t give you much choice: if you followed, your icon appeared in the list, and that was that. Worse, if the number fluctuated, you knew about it every time you looked at your front page. I once had the bad idea of installing a desktop widget that monitored SiteMeter in realtime, but killed it once I realized the dire effect it had on my sense of well-being. And the gizmo that counts the feed subscribers tells me only how many there are and which individual posts, if any, have separate subscriptions: no identities or IPs are disclosed, and I can’t necessarily cross-reference with SiteMeter, because SiteMeter can’t pick up feed readers who don’t actually stop in at the site.

And no, I’m not thinking about dropping the meter, even though it would save me a (fairly small) sum each year, simply because it’s essential to compiling the Monday-morning search-engine roundup, and I’d hate to give that up. Besides, there’s something vaguely reassuring about having had 2.18 million visitors, even if it did take a decade and a half.

Comments (3)




A ripping yarn

Actually, several of them, it appears:

Pelephone, advises Peter, from whom I poached the link, is an Israeli mobile-phone company.

Comments (3)




Really, it’s different

Manufacturers of prescription drugs really hate it when those drugs go off-patent and generic competitors spring up. To avoid this, they’ll often change the original product just a hair: for instance, you can get zolpidem tartrate from any of several generic houses, but only Sanofi-Aventis can produce controlled-release Ambien CR. For now, anyway.

Then again, hairs can be split:

Generic versions of Doryx (doxycycline hyclate), an antibiotic used to treat severe acne and produced by Irish company Warner Chilcott, were slated to hit the market at the end of September. But, argues Warner, its recent addition of a second score to the pill — making it easier for users to divide the pill into three pieces — means that generic versions must also have the same number of scores.

Interestingly, Watson, a major maker of generics, has been selling doxycycline hyclate tablets — and capsules — for several years; only they list it as a generic for Vibramycin, originally developed by Pfizer, and approved by the FDA way back in 1967. Warner Chilcott’s Doryx, it turns out, is indeed a delayed-release version, and according to their current Vermont disclosure form [pdf], it wholesales for upwards of $10 per tab, which puts it in a league with the “industrial-strength” antibiotic I took for pneumonia a couple of years ago.

Comments (2)




Somebody thought this was a swell idea

Funeral invoice in an insensitive font

Restraints to prevent the deceased from rotation about his now-horizontal axis, had he learned that his funeral bill was going to be rendered in Comic Sans: priceless.

(From The Daily What, via this JennQPublic tweet.)

Comments off




Your basic battery bus

The bane of your existence, should you choose an electric vehicle, is waiting for the wee beastie to charge up already fercrissake. It’s almost enough to get you to take the bus.

And if you’re in Tallahassee, some time next year you’ll get the opportunity to take an electric bus. These big boxes have even less range than your car — about thirty miles — but they have one thing you don’t:

Proterra’s system allows a battery electric bus to pull into a transit center terminal or on-route stop and automatically connect to an overhead system that links the bus to a high capacity charger without driver involvement. The bus is then rapidly charged in 5-10 minutes while passengers load and unload. The charging station technology includes advanced wireless controls that facilitate the docking process and eliminate any intervention from the driver. The driver merely pulls into the transit terminal as they normally would, the wireless controls identify that this is the right type of bus and automatically guides and connects the bus with the charging station.

Says Proterra, you get 92 percent of full charge in six minutes. From the looks of things, the charging unit is guided into place by a couple of roof rails. Simple enough. This probably wouldn’t work for cars without some complicated height adjustment, but then again, the car wash seems to be able to figure out automotive width just fine.

Comments (2)




Fourteen fortysomething and counting

Just when I start to think that my approved-by-Andy-Warhol fifteen minutes of fame have expired, they tell me that I’ve been mentioned in a book.

And by “they,” I mean Adam Gurri, who sent this into the stream yesterday:

Tweet by Adam Gurri

Having blithered my way through eighteen thousand or so snippets of tweet text so far, I couldn’t possibly identify anything I said which might be of interest to Mr Jarvis, whose book Public Parts: How Sharing in the Digital Age Improves the Way We Work and Live (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2011) was published a couple weeks ago. Mr Gurri, however, could:

Tweet by me at Jeff Jarvis

It’s referenced on page three, albeit just by the Twitter ID — but then, anyone who looks up that Twitter ID is going to find me. (As regular readers know, I have vanishingly few secrets.)

Of course, this means I’ll have to buy the book, as I did with the two previous books that make some reference to me. And over in the corner, Andy is looking at his watch.

Comments (2)