Congratulations are in order

Mark Alger’s first completed novel (59k words!) is on the way to the Alpha reader.

If it should come out in a format I can read — like, say, an actual book — I am, of course, buying.

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One step below the concern troll

You, too, may have heard from this curious entity:

An open note to the person who keeps e-mailing me to ask if I am the “site manager.” Yes, I am. I am getting your e-mails. But I am loath to respond without more detail — I get so much spam that I am fearful this is just an attempt to verify that my e-mail address is “live” by some bot. The e-mails are far too general for me to want to respond to them. If you really are offering something I might want, you will give me more detail.

How often is something you might want offered in unsolicited email? Choose one:

  1. Once in a blue moon
  2. Once in a great while
  3. Once in a lifetime
  4. If I live to be a thousand I’ll never see it


I do not accept ads, nor do I pay for “guest” posts (I’ve never had a guest post, paid or not. I might consider letting an actual friend do a guest post, but not a stranger). So most likely what you are looking for, you will be disappointed. (I occasionally get people e-mailing me and asking me to hire them to write a post for my blog. Uh-huh. Good luck with that career.)

I used to reply to these characters on a regular basis. As the volume of requests increased, my desire to be nice to them diminished. (I have — literally — twenty thousand posts here. Do I look like I’m hard up for material?)

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On the far side of the hill

So when you were younger, you were all that and a bag of chips. What are you now?

(Hint: Probably happier.)

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Century marked

A few days ago, NewsOK was asking online visitors if they’d ever driven over 100 mph. I duly checked the Yes box and moved on.

Now comes the very model of a modern slow-news-day above-the-fold feature: Oklahoma law seems to give 100 mph speeders a pass. A brief glance at the article will tell you that it’s not that they’re getting a pass; it’s just that the state hasn’t been ratcheting up the penalties in a manner acceptable to the Oklahoman.

Some of the paper’s complaints, after analyzing a couple years’ worth of records:

  • In one out of four cases, violators either avoided prosecution, pleaded to lesser charges or received probation, which in some instances allowed them to have the citation removed from their public record.
  • Authorities filed reckless driving charges only in about 10 percent of the cases. Some states mandate the often harsher penalty of reckless driving for those who exceed certain speeds. Oklahoma has no such mandatory requirement.
  • In Oklahoma, drivers caught traveling at excessive speeds do not automatically lose their licenses. Some states have taken a tougher stance.

“Other states do it,” I must point out, does not mean it’s a good idea. The Oklahoman knows this, having insisted that Governor Fallin’s rejection of an Obamacare-style insurance exchange is the right thing to do no matter what those other states do.

And “reckless” is meaningless unless there’s a threat. Captain George Brown of DPS:

“If somebody’s on the turnpike with 9-foot shoulders and there’s no traffic and they’re just speeding, well that’s just speeding unless there’s some circumstances that make it dangerous to the public.”

I expect some government agency to invent a threat. Call it “secondhand speed.”

In the meantime, until I see some criticism of Life Members of the Anti-Destination League crawling along at twenty under the speed limit, I refuse to take seriously any whining about going twenty over.

Addendum: AMA on reddit about the article and its findings.

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Fudge upon fudge

An engineer with the EPA’s fuel-economy team says, not unreasonably:

“Everybody wants a label that tells you exactly what you’re going to get, but obviously that’s not possible. A good general rule of thumb is that real-world fuel economy is about 20 percent lower than the lab numbers.”

This despite the 2008 fudge factors, which lowered the existing estimates by 10-20 percent. For instance, see this sample, with which I am rather familiar. Contributors are claiming that they’re beating not only the new, lower numbers, but the old, higher numbers as well. Which I believe, since I’m beating them myself.

So why is “real-world” fuel economy higher on this model than on so many others? I continue to believe that the X factor here is whether or not the automaker tried to build to the test, to produce a vehicle that would do well on the test and let the real world go hang.

If I’m asked, I will happily quote this EPA guy. And I will remind the asker that nine times out of ten, the ads are quoting the somewhat-nebulous highway figure, which you will never, ever achieve on your way to work.

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It’s February all the way down

In The Sparkle Chronicles, I ventured the notion, based on “equality of sun and moon,” that the land of Equestria has thirteen months of 28 days, plus the undated Summer Sun Celebration at the end.

This was, incidentally, well before I read this, which is somewhat similar but starts the year on what we think of as the 26th of July. And I’m pretty sure I didn’t mention anything about chakras.

(Via Fark.)

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Strange search-engine queries (368)

Monday morning means another trip through the logs to search for items of possible interest and/or high snark potential. This was well within the skill set of Star Swirl the Bearded, so I don’t expect to be promoted to royalty for having done it here.

yogurt plus las vegas 1981:  Well, if any yogurt from 1981 has survived, it would likely be in Las Vegas, where lots of old cultures persist.

how does desyxlia:  It does almost exactly that way.

pedestrian killed march 2002 highway 666 new mexico:  And now you know why they changed it to 491 the next year.

audi a3 cello:  Were I going to haul around an instrument of this size, I’d insist on an A4.

scamation ocular:  Send us your current myopic eyeballs and we’ll send you brand-new ones at no cost from our laboratory in Nigeria.

how does sherilyn fenn do her eyebrows:  Carefully. Very, very carefully.

lionel richie butterhead:  You’ll have to verify that with the Commodores.

85yrs.old granny and still having sex:  I tell you, that Lionel Richie fellow is kind of a turn-on.

think the most crappiest day ever:  The fifteenth of April, for reasons I need not explain.

ann coulter nude playboy dec 2004:  Um, no. They’d have been afraid to let her fill out the Playmate Data Sheet.

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We’ll never know

Somehow this seems painfully prophetic now:

You’ll never know
How much I miss you
You won’t see it in my face
You’ll never know I’ll never find another
That could take your place
Cause I’ll be smiling when I see you
No my tears won’t ever show
Yeah I might always love you
But you’ll never know

Mindy McCready took her own life today. She was all of thirty-seven.

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Uneven subdivision

“You know what would be really cool?” asks Troglopundit. “A prime number made up of a prime number of digits.”

On his second thought, he revised his adjective, from “cool” to “nerdy.” But by that time, I’d come up with a cool/nerdy notion of my own: “Prime Park,” a single-street gated community somewhere in the ‘burbs with half the property — the half where even-numbered houses would go — reserved as parkland, and the houses opposite the park assigned prime numbers consistent with the area street grid. For instance, the 3000 block would run 3001, 3011, 3019, 3023, 3037, 3041. (I figure that this subdivision, so to speak, would likely contain imposing, overly-large homes, and that maybe six to the block is pushing it.)

Passersby outside the gates, of course, would never know, at least not until Google Earth showed up.

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Potent quotables

Maxim, the magazine, is noted for girlie pix, sports snark, gadgets for guys, girlie pix, beer references, rude noises, and girlie pix, not necessarily in that order.

There were chats this month (3/13) with Joan Rivers and Anne V. (Joan wore considerably more.) A couple of excerpts:

Maxim: How do you prepare for red-carpet season? Do you have a training regimen?
Joan Rivers: I just collect hundreds of pictures of Helena Bonham Carter and then don’t wear anything she’s got on.

Maxim: Have you ever dated an American guy who correctly pronounced your last name, Vyalitsyna, the first time?
Anne V: No. They always need a few weeks.

I mention in passing that Joan Rivers’ original last name was Molinsky; she was the daughter of Russian immigrsnts.

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On the getting of wings

Despite predicted suck potential of well over 9000, the season finale of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic turned out to be downright moving: Twilight Sparkle’s ascension to royalty, a notion I was bound to distrust, given its obvious mercenary motivation, seemed not only reasonable but inevitable.

Still, the best after-the-fact commentary was dropped onto this screencap of Night Light and Twilight Velvet attending the coronation:

Parents of Twilight Sparkle

Twi has her mom’s eyes.

And everything will turn out all right. I think.

(Via this tweet by RainbowVelocity.)

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Downtown once more

The introduction to last fall’s “Pet Project”:

It occurs to me that I ought to do something for Petula Clark, who turns 80 (!) next month. Despite being ten years older than everybody else in the British Invasion, she sold a whole lot of records here in the States, starting with “Downtown” in 1964, though she’d been recording for at least a decade before that. So between now and the 15th of November, I’ll be tossing in the occasional Petula classic for your dancing and dining pleasure.

Cover art for Lost In You by Petula ClarkAnd now Petula has done something for us: a new album! Lost In You, due out in Britain on the 25th of this month, is the first I’ve heard from her since she turned up on the Saw Doctors’ 2011 remake of “Downtown.” The first track, “Cut Copy Me,” has already been announced as a single: heavily synthed and Auto-Tuned, it comes off, to me anyway, as something less than wonderful, although the Guardian says that “Lana Del Rey would no doubt trade her David Lynch box set to have written [it].” In fact, since it’s the leadoff track, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the whole thing is a feeble whimper augmented by electronic fudge factors.

Until you get to the second track, the title song, and you realize that the game plan was to pay obeisance to the marketing department early on and get it out of the way. From this point on, it’s the sound of a woman who has been there, done that, and isn’t jaded about any of it. The covers of “Imagine” and “Love Me Tender” are okay, maybe a little better than that, but the real revelation is her reinvention of “Crazy.” Yes, the Gnarls Barkley tune. And if Petula’s singing isn’t quite as all-over-the-staff as Cee Lo Green’s, it’s every bit as soulful.

Inevitably, there is a version of “Downtown,” but it’s a radical revision: instead of bouncy 4/4, it’s a languid, dreamy waltz. On its own terms, it’s nearly as startling as Lesley Gore’s 2005 reworking of “You Don’t Own Me” into a torch song.

We won’t be getting this album Stateside until April, but assuming you can’t wait and you don’t want to deal with, you can have the entire album streamed in your general direction, courtesy of the Guardian music blog. I’ve already turned in my preorder for the CD.

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Notes from the Department of Chaos

A modern Theory of Bureaucracy, expanding upon the seminal work by C. Northcote Parkinson:

Why do things have to be changed? So much change lately has been for the worse. If something’s working okay, trying to “fix” it just makes it broken… [T]hat is how bureaucracies work: they justify their existence by changing things and by claiming to “fix” things that weren’t broken in the first place, and they often wind up breaking stuff in the process. Or someone implies that Something Must Be Done, and it is, without carefully contemplating whether the Thing that Something is being done about is a problem in the first place. Or that the beatings are not causing sufficient rise in morale. Or something.

This is why the technocrats’ vision of More Efficient Government is so disturbing: the areas in which government legitimately operates are never the areas that are designated for “improvement.”

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Walking happy

A statement by CYDWOQ, Burbank, California’s leading shoe manufacturer:

In business now for over a decade, we have grown solely through the word-of-mouth endorsement of our customers around the world. We have consciously chosen not to advertise or solicit PR for our line, preferring to focus 100% of our investment into the products themselves.


Because an ecstatic customer is the best advertisement of all.

I learned this, of course, after finding a suitably delighted customer, Patti at Not Dead Yet Style:

I might pop for a truly fun, soul-stirring pair of shoes like these, ’cause a woman has got to have a great shoe.

Liquid by CYDWOQ

CYDWOQ calls this “Liquid,” and it’s part of their Vintage line, “slightly more formal” than their Classic line. Patti considers it a spring shoe, but I tend to think of it as more of a fall item, perhaps because of its candy-corn colors. Besides, it would take me until fall to save up $308.

And about that name: it’s pronounced — almost — SIDE WALK. Nancy Friedman has yet to rule on whether that’s a Good Name or not.

Addendum: Ms Friedman rules, in Comments.

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Los Cobolleros

It’s arguably the least sexy computer language in existence, but that’s not the reason why you should probably brush up on COBOL:

I predict that over the next few years, new COBOL programmers are going to be in high demand and very possibly paid a premium for their efforts. Generally speaking, the COBOL programming skill set resides in baby boomers that have been programming in COBOL their entire career. The issue is that these baby boomers have begun retiring in enormous numbers. Additionally, new college recruits have neither the skill set nor the interest in replacing them. The problem for companies employing these COBOL programmers is that if the software stops, so does the company.

And if that seems a bit much, hey, there’s always Fortran.

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Argyle and deceit

Once in a while, one of those pesky “e-cards” that clutter up Facebook elicits a small chuckle from this quarter. This one, though, has definite neologism, or at least euphemism, potential:

E-card: A dyslexic hooker just offered to cook my socks for $40

(Found at Kat’s Kozy Korner.)

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