Marginal political content

The following rantlet was found in the spam vault last night:

McCain has gone off the deep end! Must be drinking the same crap Al Gore does. If he’s looking for a traitor all he has to do is look in the mirror!

I might have let it onto the site, had it not been for the following minor details:

So long, suckah.

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The parasites change course

It certainly seemed so, and now a study confirms it:

As email clients get better at detecting and filtering spam, spammers are moving to social networks, where they have better chances of going undetected. That’s why, on a typical social media account, spam has risen 355% in the first half of 2013, according to a new study.

Spam is spreading on social networks so much that 1 in 200 social media posts is spam, and 5% of all social media apps are spammy (meaning they promise a potentially useful service and then send spam updates instead). These are some of the numbers revealed by Nexgate’s State of Social Media Spam Report [pdf], which was released last week.

About one in every 60 or so items dropped into my Twitter Mentions turns out to be spam. Sometimes I report them; about half the time, Twitter responds to the effect that the user no longer exists, which means that someone else has filed a report already. And I see one or two spams a week on Facebook fan pages, only a few of which I actually read.

(Via Consumerist.)

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Now who’s surprised by this?

Our emails are a dead giveaway. The words we use in the messages we send can reveal not just our gender but also our emotions and maybe even our personality traits.

Saif Mohammad and colleagues from the National Research Council Canada, used sentiment analysis to uncover the feelings buried inside email. “It’s an efficient way of generating data about the emotional content of huge amounts of text,” says Mohammad. “There’s been a lot of research based on positive and negative emotion, but with all this data available it makes sense to understand what we can learn from all the emotions.”

I’ll save you the trouble of reading mine:

[O]n a few occasions, I’ve emailed Charles to ask his professional opinions on computer stuff, and once to say “Happy Easter”, and never have I received anything even closely resembling a personal reply; his reply emails have, for all the world, a perfunctory and completely hygienic outline to them, copying my questions or comments, adding his answers, then with a frosty CGH closing, he’s gone.

If it’s any consolation, I’m much nastier on the phone.

(Via Fark.)

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The blowhole truth

For years, we’ve believed that dolphins were just about as smart as we are. (Smarter, if you follow Douglas Adams.) Persuaded as I am that humans are not so damn smart — an hour of C-Span will demonstrate that to the 99-percent confidence level — I suppose it’s gratifying in a perverse way to find out that maybe dolphins aren’t so damn smart either:

For more than 50 years, the dolphin has been viewed as an especially intelligent creature, grouped together with human beings and great apes. But now a dispute on the subject has erupted among scientists, and the smart aleck of the seas may end up being just an average mammal. “We put them on a pedestal for no reason and projected a lot of our desires and wishes on them,” says neuroethologist Paul Manger of the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa. According to the professor, the claims that dolphins have a particularly complex brain, use a sophisticated language, are self-aware and can use tools are nonsense.

In some cases, says Manger, dolphins — which are small whales — are even outdone by goldfish. When goldfish are placed in a bowl, he explains, they at least try to escape by boldly jumping out, whereas dolphins that have been captured in nets won’t even think of jumping to freedom. “The idea of the exceptionally intelligent dolphin is a myth,” Manger concludes.

There is, of course, opposition to this notion:

[I]s the dolphin actually the dummy of the seas? Most dolphin researchers are offended by such remarks. “To put it bluntly, most of that is bullshit,” says Karsten Brensing, a marine biologist with the organization Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC). Manger and [biologist Justin] Gregg are losing sight of the “total package” when they compare the marine mammals’ individual abilities with those of mealworms or bees, he says. “You can use similar arguments to prove that people aren’t intelligent.”

Or, as I mentioned earlier, C-Span.

(Via neo-neocon.)

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Stuck up says what?

There’s almost enough material on this site to enable me to begin four out of five posts with a quote from the archives, as I’m doing here:

Everybody plays the fool sometimes, as Cuba Gooding, Sr. used to say, but it was Woody Allen who played the Fool in Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sex, and who, faced with a directive from his father’s ghost to seek sexual favors from Her Majesty the Queen, sputtered, “I can’t screw above my station!”

This is one of the few times in my existence I’ve actually empathized with a Woody Allen character; I assume by default that anyone who appears on my radar is out of my league, or at least in the wrong conference.

Now: is it a problem if they assume they’re out of my league? Jennifer, citing, among other cases, my sort-of-defense of the so-superior Kate Mulvey, contends that yes, it is a problem:

You know, if you were half as clever as you think you are, you’d realize that it’s just plain rude to flaunt your perceived superiority and belittle your date. They aren’t dumping you because of your mind, they are dumping you because of your caustic personality. I promise you, you are not smarter than every man out there. It’s just that those men are smart enough not to date a self-important, narcissistic bitch. You see, intelligent, confident women don’t need to wear their superiority like some kind of show-girl’s headdress. Nor do they need to tear people down to feel better about themselves.

Cue Lehrer’s Masochism Tango: clearly they’re getting some dates.

And I’ve defended this type before:

At the very least, she’s upfront about what she has to offer, and it’s up to you to decide whether she matches your particular priorities; rather a lot of folks hide their light under a bushel. (Ask me about my grain elevator.) She doesn’t happen to hit mine especially well, as it happens, but that’s hardly a reason to criticize someone. And while I tend to be wary of an elevated sense of self — rather a lot of people have defined themselves as Good while doing their best to hide from the advance of Evil — I suspect she’s closer to the Ayn Rand side of the spectrum, where love and romance are transactions like any other, and hey, it’s a tough market out there. Besides, I’m older than her target age group, and I suspect that the clash of dissimilar libidos would result in either heartbreak or heart attack, neither of which is on my list of Desired Outcomes. Still, I am a firm believer in holding out for what you want, and I can’t fault her for doing the same. Bottom line: I think I’d like her; I have no reason to think we ought to be dating.

But hey, that’s just me. Your mileage may vary. And my interest in these matters is, I remind you, purely academic.

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Not bad for four bucks

The chap who runs Scouting New York had a brainstorm the other day: hey, here I am in south Jersey, why not dash into Atlantic City and see all the Monopoly® properties as they are today?

Near 2000 Baltic Avenue Atlantic City by ScoutingNY.comAnd so he did — at least for the residential properties, anyway. (If you were hoping for a glance at the Water Works, well, you’re out of luck.) The snippet to the side is Baltic Avenue; you can see a T-Mobile store at the left, and that rotunda-ish thing at the far right is the semi-grand entrance to the Tanger Outlet Stores. The store right before the corner is J. Crew, and who would have thought there’d be a J. Crew on Baltic? Maybe Kentucky or Illinois, but certainly not Baltic. And if I remember correctly, there’s no free parking anywhere in Atlantic City.

(Swiped from Joy McCann’s Facebook wall, because if there’s anyone I trust implicitly to give me the East Coast scoop, it’s someone from Los Angeles County.)

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The next one will be born in 60 seconds

Once again, we have someone who can’t bear the thought of actually paying for whatever is in that Mystery Download:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: how to bypass surveys from filespeedy?

He continues:

i want to download a file from filespeedy but i need to download the filespeedy survey bypass application first, but theres even a survey just to download the filespeedy survey bypass application, anyone know where i can download it without any surveys?

Five will get you ten he’s being baited, and if he actually somehow gets that file, it will enlist his machine in the Evil Bot Army.

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Unwelcome advice

I get back from a routine medical appointment, and what’s waiting in the spam queue? This:

Everything arrives down to self-control. Should you be making the most of the benefits of using tobacco weed and you happen to be making an attempt to look at your %anchor%, really don’t go nuts on treats, or smoke in advance of a meal once you now have portions established. I generally have much healthier snack solutions offered if I smoke and i count my energy. Obtaining blazed then ingesting an entire pizza? Nah. I reach for fruit. Just because you’re substantial would not suggest you have to consume.

Just because you’re insubstantial would not suggest you have to spam.

Incidentally, the proffered link goes to some place that vends “slimming pills,” presumably guaranteed to lighten your wallet on contact.

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Not a household word

In 1976, Cliff Richard put out an album — his twentieth, not including compilations and side projects — cheekily titled I’m Nearly Famous.

Which, coincidentally, is about the way I’d describe myself.

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Sheikhy reasoning

A couple of years ago, a hardened Saudi criminal — a woman who insisted on driving a car — pointed out that “There’s nothing in the Islamic religion that prevents women from driving.”

Unable to get around that minor detail, a sheikh has come up with another pretext:

Sheikh Salah al-Luhaydan has warned them that their health could be at risk if they get behind the wheel.

He told Saudi news website “[Driving] could have a reverse physiological impact.

“Physiological science and functional medicine studied this side [and found] that it automatically affects ovaries and rolls up the pelvis. This is why we find for women who continuously drive cars their children are born with clinical disorders of varying degrees.”

Best response to this came from a friend on Facebook:

Umm, yeah. Thanks for letting me know. Oh, and hey — the year 1200 called and they want their science back. [eye roll]

Bunch of damn air bags.

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Still I believe in wonder

Taking it easy on the not-so-high sea is singer Zlata Ognevich:

Zlata Ognevich taking it easy

Born in 1986 in Murmansk, Zlata grew up in Ukraine; in 2010 and 2011, she sought to represent Ukraine in the Eurovision Song Contest, but did not make it through the competition. In 2013, she did:

Ukraine finished third in the final, behind Denmark and Azerbaijan. Interestingly, the three top songs were all in English.

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Training the Congressional Budget Office of tomorrow

Why we hate Common Core instruction, Part 4,307:

Actual arithmetic homework question

Well, okay, fine — but if you already have the answer, why would you need a simultaneous estimate of the answer? Do we have such little faith in ourselves? And when I fill out my tax return, can I round $291 in income down to $200?

Once again, Tom Lehrer proves prescient: “In the new approach, as you know, the important thing is to understand what you’re doing rather than to get the right answer.”

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Fanboy protests notwithstanding, there’s always something wrong with the new release of just about anything. Here, Teresa scolds Apple:

The new fonts in iOS 7. If you are over a certain age, let’s just say (kindly) the default font sucks pond water. Apple really needs to have people over the age of 30 doing font development for them. *sigh*

If you’re having this issue, follow her directions.

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Strange search-engine queries (400)

A crisp fall Monday morning — your weather may vary — and another stack of weird search terms, harvested from our own super-high-quality, better-than-bad (they’re good!) logs.

1969 john deere model 60 tractor carburetor linkage diagram:  Really, tractors in that era were as simple as, um, farm implements.

“schools” “white flight” “force whites”:  Why do I suspect this is someone’s school assignment?

how to add an aux input to a 1998 626:  Trust me, you’d be better off adding a new head unit.

scam “check for buying a car”:  You should assume that anything whatsoever that appeals to your sense of greed is a scam.

man deliberately amputated penis after diagram:  Boy, I’d hate to see that diagram.

eric burdon and drug abuse:  Not to mention the occasional wine spillage.

will ford bring back the probe:  Not likely. Your loins will have to go on aching on their own.

hoon it might consern:  Careful. You might be setting yourself up for a Probe.

post menopausal closet communist hag:  Are you serious? None of our communist hags are in the closet anymore.

www. what is cyclical phenomenon?  Say, didn’t you ask this last week?

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0.9-hit wonder

The Playboys of Edinburg, as per their name, originated in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley, and eventually took up residence in Houston. They cut two 45s for the small Pharaoh label; the second, “Look at Me Girl,” was picked up by Columbia (43167) for national distribution. It was, if you ask me, a pure AM hit, because the sizzling sibilants were somewhat diminished by AM’s comparatively narrow bandwidth.

Playboy James Williams wrote the song. The Columbia waxing bubbled under the Hot 100 for a couple of weeks; a cover version by Bobby Vee topped out at #52. Columbia kept them around for two more singles, after which they signed with 1-2-3, distributed by Capitol, which issued three more singles; the last of them, a cover of “La Bamba,” was promoted to the parent label. They then regrouped as POE, and came up with a concept album, Up Through the Spiral, about Edgar Cayce (!), which appeared on Uni 73099; the almost-title song, “Up Up Through the Spiral,” was issued as a single but did not chart. (The weird outro reflects the song’s placement at the end of Side One.)

There exists footage of the Playboys’ “Low Expectations” Tour in 2012. And most of the Playboys’ original recordings can be had on the ’60s Essentials compilation, issued in 2011. They still sound overly sizzly.

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Brain E10 away

Day before yesterday, a young lady was asking about Creeping Ethanol:

When I bought the car [’98 Dodge Caravan] new, called Chrysler and they said it would be best to not use ethanol gasoline. There are getting to be more and more gas stations where you can’t even get pure gasoline without the ethanol and if they have it, it’s priced 15 cents (or more) a gallon over the price of the gas w/ethanol. Am I just being paranoid? My car’s been running well with no problems other than regular maintenance and the body’s in good shape so it’s worth it to hold onto a while longer.

I answered this, as I am wont to do, to the best of my ability:

Ten percent is not necessarily a killer; I’m doing well with E10. (It’s no good for things like lawn mowers, though.) Automakers don’t like it and will always recommend against it.

If you see any E15, however, it’s over the line, and in fact the EPA warns against it.

Several others answered along similar lines, and we all got exactly one downvote, probably from the person who sent me this nastygram:

People that claim that world food price BS , mistate the facts ,,,the truth is corn produces 7 gallon of alcohol per bushel of corn ,,,,,the kill the world guys say 2 gallons

I live in the corn belt of michigan , and before the FFV we were paid by the federal government millions per year to NOT GROW CORN , yep that is right I was paid a full wage to do nothing for years , yep YOU paid me to NOT plant a 1000 acres ,,,now how dumb is that ???

and I burn 50% alcohol in a car that is not supposed to burn it ,,,and it works fine and gets better milage and the E85 is $1 per gallon cheaper ,,,so what the hell is going on with you libs and big oil ,,,,do you realize Brazil cars burn ALL ethanol ,,,those vechiles were designed in Michigan , why the hell can’t we do it as well ??

I suspect that the other 50 percent, she’s actually drinking, or converting directly to commas.

And the Renewable Fuels Association, which presumably is not likely to understate its numbers in matters of this sort, claims a mere 2.8 gallons per bushel.

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