See you later, aggregator

Something I’ve always wondered about:

A goal of mine … is to write down my thoughts so that I can get a grip on my life and get my crap together. Speaking of crap, I’m not sure who coined the term “get your crap together”, as if having all of your crap in one big pile is far superior than having crap all over the place.

Well, it works for garbage, as Arlo Guthrie once noted:

Until we came to a side road, and off the side of the side road there was another fifteen foot cliff and at the bottom of the cliff there was another pile of garbage. And we decided that one big pile is better than two little piles, and rather than bring that one up we decided to throw ours down.

Beyond that, I decline to speculate.

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New depths of ingenuity

Let’s see if I have this straight: I can get the two-year product-replacement plan for $6.24 — or I can not get the two-year product-replacement plan for a mere $4.99. That’s what it says, anyway:

Office Depot screenshot

Actually, this is an example of bad design, not of bad faith, but still, my first thought was “Charging people to decline an option! Brilliant in a sick and twisted way!” And when I think with exclamation points, there’s a reason for it.

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The Kings will not rest

The Kings are evidently prepared to endure all manner of indignities to remain in Sacramento. It was a matter of time before the “Power Balance Pavilion” name came off the door, Power Balance itself having gone bankrupt. Now Kings ownership is looking for a new naming-rights deal, and one of the contenders, reports the Sacramento Bee, is Sleep Train Mattress Centers.

Sleep Train! So much for the Kings’ fast break. If they paint this on the floor, and you know they will, first time a Sacramento player gets that deer-in-the-headlights look anywhere in the vicinity of the logo, he’s going to be image-macro’ed into infamy.

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Speaking of spam

From Coyote Blog, an old idea that I wouldn’t mind seeing renewed:

My sense is that this is one of those classic tragedy of the commons issues, which happens when valuable resources are essentially free. I had an idea years ago, that I still like, that charging a tenth of a cent to pass each sent email would shut spam down. You and I might spend five cents a day, but spammers would be hit with a $10,000 charge to email their 10 million name lists, which would kill their margins. Don’t know if there is a similar approach one could take for bots.

Exactly how this would be implemented remains to be seen. I can assure you, though, that back in the middle 1980s, when I was on MCI Mail, which charged 50 cents for every email, the only Spam® we knew was a pork product in a can. (At the time, both sender and receiver had to be subscribers; you could send to someone off the network, but it would be printed at their facility and then sent snail-mail, for a buck fifty. This was still probably cheaper than a stenographer.)

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Further evidence that bots can’t read

Deposited here on a wholly unrelated post, and trapped by the despaminator:

thank you for your advice. I was taking a speech class and you helped me overcome my fears of nervousness.

Expecting me to help with stage fright is like expecting [name of politician] to have principles: not too likely.

A gratuitous link followed, and then this:

I really don’t see how Twitjobsearch have solved any spam issues. Almost every job I click on is from… a job board. Do they let some job boards in and some not? What kind of reputation system are they using to filter jobs? I don’t know how they filter, so I could be off but… for me this is an even worse kind of filtering – at least job boards are transparent on how they control spam (simply by requiring $$).

Okay, show of hands: how many of you are actually looking for a twit job? And what are the requirements? (Besides the obvious ones, I mean.)

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Just a few sips

Ford’s C-Max hybrid people mover, on the standard EPA mileage test, scored 47 city and 47 highway, for a combined figure of, wouldn’t you know it, 47. (Why, yes, this does sound rather like the results for the Honda Civic Hybrid.)

After several years of reading automotive message boards, I am persuaded that there are two types of drivers: those who beat the EPA numbers by a little, and those who fall short by a lot. The few hybrid owners I know tend to fall into the former group; perhaps hybrid drivers, who more or less by definition are seeking better mileage, are a trifle more conscientious than some of us.

I consider my conscientiousness in such matters to be no better than average. I avoid, for instance, so-called jackrabbit starts, though my motivation is less about saving fuel and more about avoiding torque steer, an inevitable consequence of having a couple hundred ponies pushing the wrong drive wheels. Nonetheless, I have beaten the EPA numbers by a little, three cars in a row.

And I suppose I need to ask our Canadian friends: Is it still called “mileage” even if you measure in kilometers?

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Sentimental heart

It is not necessarily a good thing to get article ideas from Zooey Deschanel.

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What does “orange” mean?

Well, yeah, it’s the color of an orange; but if you’re in the business of putting together a dictionary, that definition might seem remarkably unspecific. For comparison, Kory Stamper of Merriam-Webster on “coral”:

[S]ense 3c yielded up the fresh wonder, “a strong pink that is yellower and stronger than carnation rose, bluer, stronger, and slightly lighter than rose d’Althaea, and lighter, stronger, and slightly yellower than sea pink.” Carnation rose was clearly the color of the pinkish flower on the tin of Carnation Evaporated Milk, and Rose d’Althaea was clearly Scarlett O’Hara’s flouncy cousin, but it was the last color that captivated me. “Sea pink,” I murmured, and incurred the harumphing wrath of my neighbor. As he stalked off to find a quieter corner, I wanted to stand up and shout, “I grew up 1500 miles from an ocean! I didn’t know the sea was pink!”

Depends on how early in the morning you see it, I suspect. (Then again, I live 1500 miles from an ocean, and I sleep late when I can.)

Oh, and “orange”?

“Orange” in our Learner’s Dictionary is not a color between red and yellow, as it is in the Collegiate. It is the color of fire or carrots.

Or, presumably, carrots on fire.

(Via this Nancy Friedman tweet.)

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Broadcast news

For some reason, people think I’m in a position to promote stuff. Or maybe they figure I’m starved for content, which might be closer to the truth.

Anyway, this landed in the mailbox yesterday:

My name is James Pelton, I am a member of Indian Hills Community Church in Lincoln, NE.

My church has been looking around for some time for a ‘Text Alert System’ to allow the church to send out SMS text messages to its members cell-phones letting them know about upcoming events, choir rehersals, weather closings, etc. We looked and looked but have not been able to find this kind of a system for less than $50-$60 per month.

So, I have developed my own text alert system. I thought I would check around with other churches and organizations to see if they are in need of a similar system.

Contacting people this way is ideal for churches, especially high school and college groups, as well as choirs and orchestras.

This is not something that I need, particularly, but I’ll post the link, just in case you might. (And hey, people will think I’m in a position to promote stuff.)

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At this point I should probably retire

The last of the six chapters of The Sparkle Chronicles has been posted on FIMFiction. Unless something remarkable happens — for instance, getting promoted to the Featured Box, which seems exceedingly unlikely given its less-than-superior reception — I can pretty much leave it alone from here on out.

Which leads to the next dilemma. This is my first actual piece of fiction, ever, to go beyond short-story length. (Word count: 18,582.) Do I have another one inside me anywhere? I honestly don’t know. I am, for now, putting off the question with a jest: “This is my first story in 58 years. I liked it so much I’m going to do one every 58 years from now on.”

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Uno, dos, tres, vaya

You can listen to this town’s two and a half (one’s an AM daytimer) Spanish-language radio stations for days and never hear a single note of Mexican electropop. Not that I would have noticed, since I had no idea Mexican electropop even existed.

To further your education, or mine anyway, I give you Mexican electropop band Belanova, doing a tune from their 2007 album Fantasía Pop which for some reason was given an English title.

Denisse Guerrero Flores has been the voice of Belanova for twelve of her thirty-two (as of Wednesday) years. And most of the time, she was dressed something like this:

Denisse Guerrero

I have relatives surnamed Guerrero, though I suspect Denisse Guerrero is not one of them.

Note: Firefox’s spellchecker actually does not choke on “Guerrero.” Bravo.

Further note: I also have relatives surnamed Bravo.

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Decision-making simplified

I really should put this up as a Lesson From Life: “No matter what you do, there’s someone else who’s done more of it.”

Several summers ago, I mentioned that after a charity donation, I’d pared my shoe collection down to a mere eight pairs; it’s now further shrunk, to seven.

Did I find someone with six pairs? Five, even? Would you believe — two?

(And you know, if you own only two pairs of shoes, at least one of them really ought to be Docs.)

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Built unaffordable tough

Steven Lang comes up with a tough question here:

Who is more capable of gathering the long-term returns? A manufacturer who plans for the demise of a machine somewhere between years 12 and 15? Or one that can make that year 12 car drive like it is nearly brand new, and gets that customer back in the door for regular maintenance with spouse, children and friends in tow.

That extra profit up front and long-term commitment can make all the difference. A $7000 net profit push in North America can be immediately invested in the products for the emerging markets of the here and now. The manufacturer eliminates competition for that customer as well, receives a far higher profit than before, and the apathetic owner gets to solve another financial uncertainty.

Said customer, I submit, would need to be coming through the door on a regular basis to make those twelve years possible. Even the Toyota Corolla, a near-bulletproof box containing absolutely no untried and untested technology, can’t stand years and years of neglect.

Would I pay an extra $7000 to get twelve years out of a car? My current ride is a 2000 model; it’s already twelve years old. I’ve had it for six of those years. And maintenance on it has cost me, well, around $7000. Still, it’s in decent shape: another two or three grand would make it almost indistinguishable from a new car, except for the fact that it doesn’t have the de rigueur droop-snoot/butt-in-the-air stance mandated by CAFE — or a Bluetooth connection, but I don’t want to talk to you when I’m driving anyway.

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Only available in Demo

Hot Air has been fulminating about an iPhone app developed for the Obama campaign which can identify registered Democrats in any given location, possibly excluding Chicago-area cemeteries.

The end-user types in his current location. The app returns a Google map of the area that flags households with one or more registered Democrats. Clicking on one of the blue flags reveals the first name, last initial, age, and gender of Democratic voters who live there.

Inasmuch as this information is hardly secret, and campaigns get lists from the Election Board on a regular basis, I’m not sure what Hot Air is steamed about, though they did say this:

The question is why Obama for America thinks the average man on the street should have it at his fingertips.

Were the average man on the street a Republican, he too could have an app like this, were it not for the fact that your average GOP higher-up has the technical smarts of — well, your average GOP higher-up, who still marvels that a VCR can change to Daylight Saving Time in the spring. And I question any and all GOP get-out-the-vote strategies, based on personal experience: I always get a visit from the Democratic candidate for our House district, while the Republican politely leaves me a card, and is never heard from again. It’s as though the GOP is too embarrassed to sell the product.

(Via Don Quixote.)

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Mrs Butterworth, line one, please

I don’t know what’s more remarkable: the punchline at the bottom of the demotivational, or the fact that the device in question actually exists.

Keyboard Waffles

(Originally from Very Demotivational; several friends have circulated it in recent weeks.)

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At least it wasn’t fruit-flavored

If you ask me, testosterone ain’t what it used to be:

Jonathan Weaver and his colleagues at the University of South Florida report that threatening a man’s sense of manhood makes him myopic and more prone to take risks, particularly in a public situation. The findings suggest that being surrounded by their sweaty, swaggering alpha-male peers may have provided just the kind of threatening environment to encourage bankers to become short-sighted risk-takers.

For an initial study, the masculinity of 19 heterosexual male university students was threatened by having them product test a pink bottle of “Sweet Pea” fruit-scented hand lotion; 19 others acted as a comparison group and tested a power drill. Ostensibly as part of a separate study, all the men were then filmed playing a gambling game. They started with $5 and had five chances to bet between $0 and $1 on whether a die roll would turn up odds or evens, with the potential to win or lose the amount they gambled. Over the course of the first four bets, the men who’d had their masculinity challenged tended to bet larger amounts; they also bet the maximum possible amount more often.

Let me see if I have this straight. A bottle of fruit-scented hand lotion is now sufficient to threaten a male university student’s masculinity? What would a Hello Kitty power sander do to those poor boys?

No wonder the Y chromosome is threatened with extinction.

(Via the presumably studly Will Truman.)

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