Not guaranteed Styx-proof

The road to hell, we are assured, is paved with Good Intentions, which inexplicably is the name of this Seychelles wedge:

Good Intentions by Seychelles

The Seychelles brand, says their manifesto somewhere, is “designed for a girl with a different point of view. Her soul is romantic and her spirit is independent. She has a keen eye for style and she mixes classic and modern style with effortlessness.” Fortunately for me, I know a few such.

“Good Intentions” is three inches tall plus one inch of platform, and it’s here because it’s orange, or so they say. Lindsay of Broke & Beautiful likes the silver version, and she thinks this color is really more of a fire-engine red; she may have the better of the argument. There are blue, black and tan variants as well, all with this stacked heel, and they run $110ish, though Zappos will let them go for $87.99 for, as the phrase goes, a limited time.

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For the sake of diversion

Robert Stacy McCain, in case you hadn’t noticed, is “a highly-skilled news industry professional,” which explains this particular item:

I must suppress my narcissistic impulse to share my personal opinions on these topics, in order to give readers what they really want: Meghan McCain talking about her breasts.

Having never been a news-industry professional at any skill level, and seldom having been inclined to give readers what they really want, here’s a non-bewb shot of Meghan McCain:

Meghan McCain on a talk show showing no cleavage but a whole lot of leg

Accordingly, you should hit his freaking tip jar before thinking about mine.

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Just off Rapture’s roadway

In the Mughal gardens Florida town of Shalimar, not everyone is keen on the new arrival:

A proposal to open a Dollar General store on Eglin Parkway has angered some residents, who say it will attract an unsafe element to the small town.

At a Town Commission meeting Feb. 28, more than a dozen people voiced concerns that ranged from increased traffic to air conditioner noise and trash odors. Some questioned whether the store would hurt Shalimar’s “upscale” image.

For instance, from the minutes of the meeting:

Jeff Dorr … feels that the Dollar General Store will be inviting a different class of people into Shalimar. He is afraid, in the present economy; these people will be driving down Plew Avenue and Shalimar Drive looking for opportunities to steal things. He would like to see the entrance on Plew Avenue closed off. He thinks that plans should be made for a worst-case scenario.

Other upscale amenities at this intersection: Great Wall Chinese restaurant; R&R Furniture. There used to be a Starbucks there, but it closed.

The commission will hold another public meeting this week.

(Via Fark. Title from Amy Woodforde-Finden’s “Kashmiri Song.”)

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Perhaps not a progression in the strict sense

A couple of years ago, I noted that rather a lot of popular songs used the same four chords, and posted a video which illustrated this fact rather dramatically.

In fact, I was to discover, almost the entirety of Taylor Swift’s oeuvre relies on those four chords, as demonstrated below:

And there’s a Facebook page called All Taylor Swift Songs Sound the Same!

Tim McGraw was not available for comment. (You knew this was coming, right?)

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Ever so slightly misplaced

You’d think, with the bazillions of terabytes of reference material available to us at the click of a mouse, we wouldn’t have to rely on all-too-fallible memory to get us through our stories.

And yet:

I flipped the page and a rogue FBI agent, off to shoot porn movies in Mexico with Jack Ruby (yes, the book is just that cat-litter gritty) snaps an (innocent, for once) picture with a Polaroid and the snapshot whirrs out —

No it didn’t! BLAST YOU, ELLROY! You just stuck an SX-70 from 1972 into a guy’s hands in 1959 — and 13 years might look small from where you’re sitting, but it’s a huge leap from “set the iris, snap the shutter, pull the tab, wave the film around a little, pull out the fixing-compound sponge and coat the shot, then stick it to a pasteboard backing so it won’t curl” to “just push a button and, hey-presto! out pops the snapshot,” and that’s the difference between a 1959 Polaroid Land Camera and an SX-70.

That dull thud? That was my disbelief, padded cuffs broken, dropping right onto the unpadded floor.

Then again, James Ellroy’s American Tabloid came out in 1995, so it’s not likely the author did a whole lot of Googling.

The producers of Downton Abbey, of course, have no such excuse.

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What is this Sith?

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Don’t wake the colorless green ideas

For many years, people who fancied themselves hipper than thou — or at least hipper than I, which is less of a challenge — insisted on owning only “authentic” cultural artifacts; Frank Zappa, who took a dim view of this sort of thing, satirized it by asking: “Is that a real poncho … I mean, is that a Mexican poncho or is that a Sears poncho?” Eventually the idea showed up in TV commercials — what the hell kind of picante sauce is made in New York City? — at which point the meme would have been deemed to have jumped the shark, had any sharks been jumped at that point.

Still, some people cling to the notion, though I have yet to see anyone demand, say, a burger with artisanal mayo; as Cheryl Lynn says, it’s got to be real. Eric Scheie reports that his text apparently lacks authenticity:

Could all four bloggers here be writing inauthentic text? I tried entering randomly selected news articles, and even an editorial piece by Glenn Reynolds. (All were called inauthentic!)

Is it possible that the “Inauthentic Paper Detector” (which I found linked at the Wiki entry on the subject) is itself less than authentic?

The stated purpose of the Detector:

This web site is intended for detecting whether a technical document is human written and authentic or not. Predictions may work for documents intended for entertainment (novels, news articles etc.). The main purpose of this software is to detect whether a technical document conforms to the statistical standards of an expository text. You can easily take a human written technical document and add some nonsense text somewhere in the middle, or paste a document generated by an automatic paper generator. We are trying to detect new, machine written texts that are simply generated not to have any meaning, yet appear to have meaning on the surface.

As a test, I fed the Detector my write-up of the Thunder/Bobcats game Saturday night; it was deemed to have a 14-percent chance of being “authentic” by the Detector’s criteria, worse than any of Scheie’s test documents. I suppose I should consider myself fortunate I’m not asked to do any scholarly research.

(Title adapted from Noam Chomsky.)

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Strange search-engine queries (319)

Time again for the weekly roundup of search-string weirdness, although it might be an hour late. Or an hour early. Who the hell knows at this time of the morning?

firm girl in bra:  If she’s that firm, does she really need a bra?

girls locker room vent:  Well, they have to vent somewhere, right?

victoria secret trading cards:  Karen Mulder’s rookie card is now worth over $10.

gray shoes with neon laces:  As seen in absolutely no Victoria’s Secret catalogs.

i don’t know where to get a hello kitty bikini:  You may have to go direct to Sanrio; I’m pretty sure they don’t sell them at Victoria’s Secret.

what does it mean when the transmission whines:  It’s complaining that you have too much money, and it’s going to do something about it very soon.

there are mountains and hillsides enough to climb:  Assuming, of course, we don’t rip the tops off of them in search of coal.

you’re too pretty to work here:  I mean, considering this is a coal mine and all.

by night I make the bars:  Do too much of that, and by morning you’ll be behind bars.

guess who come to me softly:  I’m guessing it’s not William “Refrigerator” Perry.

i rember everything:  Except how to spell.

word with the letters f a r t c o i n:  I’m sure I haven’t so much as a fraction of a clue.

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The semiannual DST rant

You’ve probably seen several of those from me over the years. Here’s one from Doug Mataconis, titled “Bad For Your Health, Not Good For Much Else”:

The only benefits that can conceivably attached to Daylight Saving Time would seem to be ones that cannot be quantified, such as the psychic benefit of having daylight last longer into the late afternoon/early evening, meaning that people have more time after normal work hours for outdoor activities. Today’s sunset here in Virginia, for example, is at 6:15pm rather than 5:15pm. By mid-April, we’ll have daylight until well after 7pm. Is that a good thing? I suppose it is. Of course, if we just stayed on Standard Time, or for that matter made DST itself Standard Time it really doesn’t matter, we’d get longer days anyway since the days will become longer as we get closer to June 21st. Is there really all that much benefit from manipulating the clock every six months like this? I don’t really see it.

So there you have it. Moving the clocks ahead an hour, and then back again seven months later, is bad for your health, it increases the risk of road accidents, it increases energy use, and it has little if any real benefits to the economy or the environment. So, tell me again why we still have it?

Because the government can never, ever admit that it was wrong about anything: the whole freaking house of cards would collapse. Not that it’s standing particularly tall these days anyway.

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Quit looking at my bishops

Just what tournament chess needed: a dress code. No, really:

The European Women’s Championship is the first where the new ECU Dress Code regulations apply. They are quite specific: regarding décolletés (in the US “cleavage”): “the second from the top button may be opened.” And skirts may be no shorter than 5-10 cm above the knees.

Has this actually been a problem? Sava Stoisavljevic, General Secretary of the European Chess Union, says there has:

We came up with that idea because we noticed that during the games many of the players were not wearing proper clothes. There is dress code in many different sports, and we decided to establish our rules as well. This is the first European tournament where we are applying those regulations. I was here during three rounds and I’ve got an impression that we have to work much more on those regulations.

So the rules are subject to change, though I suspect the ban on B.O. will be maintained.

(Via Fark.)

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Why, we knew Ned Ludd personally

Despite the fact that on the date this Web site first appeared Rebecca Black hadn’t even been conceived yet, it is an article of faith among some of the Younger Folk that those of us who remember things like UHF antennas and “electronically rechanneled for stereo” can’t possibly know anything about any current tech stuff.

Lynn, however, totally groks the Net:

When I was a kid there was no Internet, no video games, no DVDs or VCR, and, until the time I was 13, we got only one TV channel. I’m sure the kids would just roll their eyes at this. What value can there possibly be in such deprivation? Why would anyone actually be proud of that? Stupid old people. Okay fine. I can’t explain it to them in a way they would understand. Don’t get me wrong; I love the Internet. I love my cell phone and I love texting. I think it would have been great to have had all that when I was a kid, but I think having experienced a time when those things didn’t exist enables me to appreciate them more and also put them in their proper place. They’re tools. To live online is like living in a shopping mall. It’s a great place to hang out and you can probably get everything you need there to sustain life but if you don’t ever leave it you miss a lot.

Not to mention the fact that there are going to be times when you can’t even get across the parking lot.

I wrote this while eating a peach — the return of so-called “summer” fruits does wonders for my sense of well-being — and on an impulse I dialed over to Amazon to see what they offered in the way of peaches. They had canned peaches, dried peaches, peach-flavored tea, but nothing you’d have to wash the fuzz off of, nothing containing so much as a stone. They do, however, stock coffee spoons, should you be inclined to measure out your life.

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Unlike a boss

Almost all of us, I suspect, have a very specific idea of what should happen, and to whom, once The Revolution™ comes. Me, I would definitely support Bill Peschel’s proposal:

When the time comes that my genius is recognized and I’m installed as supreme dictator, one of the first laws I plan to make will be that CEOs will be required to use the products they make. Airline CEOs would have to fly on their planes instead of using private jets. Senators who pass health-care regulations would have to be covered by them. Dog food manufacturers would have to eat their product — although by dictatorial fiat — they won’t have to use the plastic bowls that skid across the floor as you’re trying to get the last nugget.

This is something we’ve needed for a long time, and by “a long time” I mean at least eighteen years, since Michael Moore’s TV Nation introduced something called the CEO Corporate Challenge, in which various CEOs were asked to make proper use of the products made by their companies on camera. The wheels at Philip Morris, IBM, and Colgate-Palmolive declined, thank you. But then:

One of the CEOs targeted was Ford boss Alexander Trotman: Moore met him in Dearborn and challenged him to change the oil in a Ford truck. Trotman, to Moore’s surprise, was a pretty fair shadetree mechanic, and finished up the task in less time than your local Spee-D-Loob; Moore, to his credit, left the segment in, and announced that Trotman had indeed passed the CEO Corporate Challenge.

The reason for this sort of thing should be obvious. Says Peschel:

See, as companies get bigger, the top levels of management become distanced from what the company sells. To gauge how well the company is doing, they have to rely on reports from mid-level weasels who will eagerly pass along the good news such as “profits are up!” and not the bad news such as “our customer service ranks a little higher than being devoured by feral cats.”

So a CEO who has to use the product his or her company makes will get a similar experience to what the customers get.

Incidentally, current Ford boss Alan Mulally can actually sell cars.

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Move along, dammit

Yes, it’s called the Garden State Parkway, but no, that doesn’t mean you get to park there. A New Jersey legislator has sponsored a bill to jack up the penalties for left-lane banditry:

State Senator Donald Norcross (D-Camden) has sponsored a bill that would toughen the penalties for clogging the left lane.

“Being trapped behind a slower vehicle is one of the biggest triggers for road rage,” he told the Philadelphia Inquirer last week. “Some people have told me the fines we’re proposing are not high enough. They said, ‘It should be execution.'”

Norcross won’t go quite that far, but the fines will be boosted from the $50-100 range to $100-300. Last year, New Jersey police busted members of the Anti-Destination League 5,127 times, so this has the potential of dropping a quarter-million dollars or more into Trenton’s depleted coffers.

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LOL, cats

After the debacle last night, you had to figure the Thunder would take out their frustrations on Charlotte, and the Bobcats somehow stayed in contention for thirteen, fourteen minutes, before the hammer came down and the blowout began. OKC, up by a mere three after the first quarter, cranked up the tempo enough to take a 58-40 lead at the half — and then had the audacity to speed it up. Defense? How much do you need when you’re shooting 63 (!) percent? So the ‘Cats got a respectable 55 points in that second half and still lost ground, and all 13 active Thundermen got minutes. Yes, even Ryan Reid. It was 122-95, and even radio guy Matt Pinto seemed relieved when the shot clock was finally shut off.

Workhorse Corey Maggette, who never seems to age, was good for 21 points, and the two ex-Thunder players on the Charlotte roster acquitted themselves well: Byron Mullens had 12 points on 6-8 shooting, and D. J. White 10 on 4-7. In fact, when you add D. J. Augustin’s team-leading 22, you discover that more than a third of Charlotte’s offense was generated by guys named D. J. And when you realize this means nothing, you forget about it and go on to the one area where the Bobcats shone: offensive rebounds, of which they had 15. The Thunder had only six, but then how many offensive rebounds can you get when you shoot 63 percent?

James Harden, who’d gone one whole game without a new career high, made up for that tonight with a sparkling 33-point performance, hitting 11 of 16 from the floor and 4 of 9 for distance. And this on nights where Kevin Durant (26 on 8-12) and Russell Westbrook (23 on 10-14) were hitting on all cylinders, no less. In fact, everyone scored except Reid, who played only five minutes. Former Bobcat Nazr Mohammed — turnabout is fair play, y’know — manned the middle for 13 minutes and scored four, rebounded thrice, pulled off two steals and blocked two shots. The Thunder still put up a heck of a lot of three-balls, but they actually made ten of them (out of 23), so no one’s complaining.

The last game of the home stand is Tuesday, against the Rockets, after which it’s off to Denver. Already I miss the East.

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Deep dark desire

Or in Hindi, “Bipasha.” Last name is Basu. She’s been doing Bollywood for a decade, and will make her English-language film debut in Roland Joffé’s Singularity, set for release this year.

Bipasha Basu

Bipasha has Jism on her résumé, and not everyone can say that. Retitled Body: The Dark Side of Desire for English-language consumption, Jism seems to be homage to Double Indemnity with a side order of Body Heat.

This wasn’t at all what she’d planned to do with her life:

I actually wanted to be a doctor. But doing all those horrid rat dissections made me faint. I studied science till the 12th standard and later took up commerce. I was planning to do chartered accountancy, but fate had something else in store for me.

For “fate,” read “Ford,” the model agency, which declared her “Supermodel of the World” in 1996, when she was seventeen.

And Singularity looks, um, perplexing. The official synopsis:

After a dangerous dive to save his wife Laura trapped while exploring an colonial British merchant ship wreckage, Jay Fennel, a rugged and attractive marine archeologist lies brain dead in a Boston hospital. Fennel’s dream-like coma takes us back in time to Pune, India in 1778. The British East India Company is invading the palaces and a young captain named James Stewart, who bears a striking resemblance to Fennel, is about to embark on a dangerous mission. Along the way he encounters murder, deceit, betrayal and revenge. He falls deeply in love with an Indian She-warrior named Tulaja, an impossible love which he must fight for. Only the power of a ring can transcend time and save a life.

For “rugged and attractive,” read “Josh Hartnett.”

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Antelope Freeway, 1/262144th mile

Peter Bergman, founding member of the Firesign Theatre and one-time purchaser of a fabulous new car from Ralph Spoilsport Motors, has now reached infinity: he died Friday at a Santa Monica hospital following a battle with leukemia.

He might have smiled at the working title for this piece: “Why, he’s no fun, he fell right over.” I suspected, though, that nobody else would.

Nick Danger, uncharacteristically, was not available for comment.

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