Quote of the week

The last page of The Atlantic these days is devoted to the Big Question, posed to various luminaries, and for October 2013, it’s this: What was the greatest speech, historical or fictional, ever given?

The usual suspects — Shakespeare, Churchill, JFK — are duly listed, but the last one throws us a bit of a curve. You probably know it better than you do most of the others, too:

General Stanley McChrystal, former commander of American forces in Afghanistan:

“Great speeches can inspire nations, armies, and teams to win against the odds and to take action when things seem hopeless. In that tradition, an entire generation can recite the simple message delivered by a slovenly fraternity brother: ‘What? Over? Did you say over? Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no!'”

Thank you, General McChrystal; and thank you, Senator Blutarsky, wherever you are.

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Something old

The third of August — the third of August 2012 — was the last time there was an Ask Rebecca video, until this week:

Two observations: her comic timing is fairly decent, though it’s hard to tell with the extremely close editing, and her makeup bill probably looks like a Pentagon procurement order. And the latter, I suspect, might really be unnecessary, based on this selfie in which she says she’s not wearing any.

In other news, I actually used the word “selfie.” Two months extra purgatory for that.

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The phone has been doubled

I spotted this on Derpibooru, tagged “Seems Legit,” and went hunting.

Nokia phone promotion

And the following turned up at Windows Phone Central, supposedly in an email to a forum poster:

I’m getting highlights for the upcoming Nokia Press Conference:

1. The Nokia Tablet will named “Nokia Harmonia” and it’s powered by Windows 8.1.

2. The Nokia Lumia Phablet and it’s powered by Windows Phone 8 GDR3.

Why the Nokia Phablet still part of Nokia Lumia series? it’s because of Nokia Lumia 625.

3. (For the brony fans.) It will unveil the MLP:FiM Season 4 Nokia Exclusive Trailer showing Nightmare Moon Returns.

4. Your favorite apps such as Instagram, Vine and My Little Pony will coming to Windows Phone.

5. Nokia Lumia 1020 will promote MLP:FiM Season 4.

Guess whose wireless contract just ran out?

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Keep your crummy slides

Allow me to endorse this stance wholeheartedly:

Give me the task to be done, let me do it to the best of my ability, and then let me scram. I don’t need to be cajoled into it, I don’t need dancing ducks and explosions on a PowerPoint presentation to tell me how it’s important. I just need the guidelines of how to do it and to be turned loose to do it. (One way I know I’d never survive the corporate world is that all those enforced-fun and team-building things bring all my cynicism and bad attitude to the fore. I become a combination of Daria Morgendorfer and Raven from Teen Titans).

Actually, I don’t care if you allow me or not. As the phrase goes, there is no I in “team,” but there are three U’s if you spell out “STFU.”

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Lynn read over the Peculiar Paint Colors item from earlier this week, and challenges with even less-palatable palettes:

Now if you want to talk about weird color names you gotta look at nail polish.

Well, you don’t gotta, exactly:

I had to look and see what I have in my collection. I don’t pay a lot of attention to the names. Maybe I should so I don’t buy something embarrassing. Most seem pretty tame. I have colors like Fire Opal, Copper Glamor, White Diamond, and Virtual Violet. One of the more imaginative ones is Poetic, a bright pink. The weirdest I have are Solid Rock, weird mainly because it’s a very delicate pale pink which does not make me think of rock of any kind, and Feelin’ Hot, a peach frost, not a “hot” color at all. Oh, and there’s Pumping Iron, a silver metallic.

By “something embarrassing,” she perhaps means “raunchy.” [Probably not safe for work, at least some of them.]

Not that anyone needs to care what I think on this subject, but I’ve pretty much made my peace with most of these colors, with the notable exception of blue.

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In your face, as it were

You should know that there is a film called Kamasutra 3D, and this is from the IMDb summary:

Set in the backdrop of the ancient, Kamasutra 3D is about the journey of a beautiful Indian Princess, who sets sail in the search of her husband. In her voyage, she undergoes through the transformations in her body, mind and soul with a fellow passenger who takes her by the forbidden world of sexual love and sensuality.

Takes her by, but not into? Let’s assume something was lost in translation.

The Princess in question:

Sherlyn Chopra

That’s not, I should note, a still connected with the film. And there’s a reason for that:

Director of Kamasutra 3D, Rupesh Paul, is considering to replace Sherlyn Chopra with Hollywood stars Eva Longoria or Mila Kunis for the film.

According to a report in a leading daily, Rupesh Paul decided to replace the actor, after Chopra left him miffed by uploading a video clip of the photo shoot of the film on her YouTube channel without seeking his permission.

“I was shocked to see the video. While sharing the video, I had specified it’s not for public viewing, but she still went ahead and uploaded it without our permission. We were so upset with her unprofessional behaviour that we decided to start considering other heroines. So far, we have shortlisted Eva Longoria or Mila Kunis.”

I’m guessing that the video in question is this one, which I’m not even about to embed (so to speak) here. However, Wikipedia notes:

Sherlyn Chopra has reportedly patched up with director Rupesh Paul and after her apology to Mr. Paul with a writing, stating that she will not say or write anything about the film without the consent of the producers.

Which is not to say she’s shyly retiring to the background or anything like that. Says this headline about a recent Twitter pic: “Sherlyn Chopra goes on a horse ride wearing nothing”.

Not so, tweeted Sherlyn: she was wearing “Guilty” by Gucci.

(Photo via Bollywood Mantra.)

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I think they’re stretching it

InStyle (October ’13) is reporting the results of an online reader poll: fully 53 percent of respondents said yes, at least once they’ve shaved their legs at the bathroom sink.

This sounds implausible to me, for one of the following reasons:

  • I don’t know the grooming habits of very many women;
  • I have a very small and/or ill-placed bathroom sink.

Or possibly both.

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Cover of Hesitation Marks by Nine Inch NailsOn the basis of Hesitation Marks, the first Nine Inch Nails album since 2008, I conclude that Trent Reznor has decided melody might actually be slightly more important than noise, a decision possibly based on the prodigious success of his soundtrack work with Atticus Ross. Nothing here actually hurts my ears on the level of, say, the crescendo near the end of “Hurt.” And let’s face it, “Various Methods of Escape” is the definitive NIN song title, in which Reznor sounds just as desiccated as he did around The Downward Spiral, accompanied by this-side-of-glitch backing and some genuinely creepy guitar work by Adrian Belew. “I cannot trust myself / I gotta let go,” indeed.

The track that reminds me most of “classic” NIN, oddly, is “Copy of A,” which spills out of the 50-second opening thrash “The Eater of Dreams” with a pounding Depeche-Mode-at-78-rpm rhythm pattern and a reminder that “Everything I have said has come before.”

The least typical track here has to be “Everything,” for lack of a better description “Pop Industrial.” It’s downright upbeat: “I survived everything,” Reznor sings at the beginning. But the repetitions of “I am home/I am free” and such toward the end seem less and less convincing with every bar, until the whole thing grinds to a halt. Maybe this is Reznor’s attempt to deal with the unfamiliar concept of life not sucking.

And if that isn’t, surely this is: Hesitation Marks came out on Columbia Records. Columbia, fercrissake. This is not exactly like Anthony Bourdain showing up at Arby’s, but it’s close.

(Review copy ordered from NIN.com at the standard price. Different editions may have different cover art.)

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Tanks for nothing

One of the more fuelish practices of the global auto industry:

Now who remembers those 1970s models with the filler behind the license plate?

And I recall some heroically finned Fifties sleds which hid the filler in one of the fins.

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That uncertain je ne sais quoi

Tim Blair’s sojourn in la belle France has produced a long list of cultural observations, of which this is not at all the most salient:

I haven’t translated the health warning on my packet of French cigarettes, but I think it says: “We are here for but a short time. Please, go right ahead.”

If only. I’m guessing he drew this one: Fumer peut diminuer l’afflux sanguin et provoque l’impuissance.¹

¹ “Smoking can cause low blood pressure and impotence.”

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It’s a G3 thang

Federal responses to the Freedom of Information Act range, generally, from lethargic to nonexistent. Once in a great while, there’s even a justification, sort of, for the latter:

[T]he Pentagon will not be honoring any of your requests until at least mid-October.

This is not because they have a hold on their encyclopedia of budget information until they’ve voted on their building-wide Halloween costume theme, but rather because it receives all of its FOIA requests over a single fax machine, and like most fax machines, this fax machine has officially hit the end of its life cycle. And like most governmental bodies with a bureaucratic process that needs to be undertaken in order to purchase even the simplest office supplies, it’s possible the Pentagon will not replace this fax machine for at least two months because of some sort of complex bidding and application process.

I’d be happy to offer my lightly-used fax machine to the cause, at a price that is probably far less than Pentagon procurement would obtain on its own: $2,450.

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But I repeat myself

Not as much as spammers do, though. The following paragraphs, with different garbage links, were received within a few seconds of each other yesterday:

I have been surfing online more than three hours lately, but I by no means discovered any fascinating article like yours. It is beautiful value sufficient for me. Personally, if all website owners and bloggers made excellent content as you did, the web might be much more useful than ever before.

Compare to:

I’ve been surfing online greater than 3 hours lately, but I by no means found any attention-grabbing article like yours. It’s beautiful value enough for me. In my opinion, if all web owners and bloggers made just right content material as you did, the internet might be a lot more useful than ever before.

Totally different fake URLs, but the same fake email address and the same IP (, which you can safely assume will never send you anything useful).

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Come soil away

A bit from a Lileks Captain Video recap:

Atoma is the planet on which the bad evil but disarmingly casual Tyrant lives. As with most science fiction, the entire planet has one (1) political system. As with 50s science-fiction, it has an science-type name, although “Atoma” is like “Earth,” in the sense that the planet is named after the material it’s made of. I always thought that calling this place “Earth” was like calling it “Dirt.”

He’s not the only one thinking that way. From the Hearth’s Warming Eve pageant, starring Pinkie Pie as Chancellor Puddinghead and Applejack as faithful secretary Smart Cookie:

Pinkie Pie: The air! The trees! The dirt! This dirt is the dirtiest dirt in the whole dirt world!

Applejack: And fertile, too. Perfect for growing food.

Pinkie Pie: In the name of the Earth ponies, I think I’m gonna call this new place … uh … Dirtville.

Applejack: How about “Earth”?

Pinkie Pie: Earth! Congratulations to me for thinking of it.

Don’t even think about Uranus.

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No more miles per gallon

Scotland has unveiled an ambitious plan to get rid of the internal-combustion engine entirely:

[A] newly released plan, called Switched On Scotland: A Roadmap to Widespread Adoption of Plug-in Vehicles [pdf], encourages the uptake of plug-in cars and calls for an end to petrol and diesel-burning cars in its cities by 2050.

With only 235 new electric vehicles registered in the country last year, the government has decided to take a leadership role and is putting up 14 million pounds ($22.26 million at today’s rates) over the next two years towards a number of carbon-lowering measures. For instance, its own fleet will see some plug-in additions and charging points are to be installed around main public buildings. Later, they also intend to install “rapid charge points” at 50-mile intervals along Scotland’s main roads. Other envisioned enticements include rebates on vehicles, half-price ferry rides for EVs and free charge point installation at EV buyers’ homes.

This is the schedule on which everything is supposed to happen:

Scottish plan to eliminate petrol-powered vehicles

And considering they’d have to rework an area only about the size of South Carolina, they might actually pull it off. Whether they’ll still want to, two or three decades hence, obviously remains to be seen.

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Time to Sherawat

Last time we looked in on Mallika Sherawat was two years ago, and, well, as is no secret, I have a soft spot for some of our finer Bollywood imports.

At the time, she was attempting to advance her career beyond India, and she made a couple of American indie films, most notably Politics of Love, set in 2008, in which she plays a low-level operative for the Obama campaign who falls hard for a chap working for John McCain. (This, boys and girls, is how you know it’s fiction.)

What I did not know was that she’d also done a Hong Kong martial-arts film, The Myth, opposite (yes!) Jackie Chan. Herewith, a sticky scene therefrom:

Apparently this picture was taken at a photocall before the premiere:

Mallika Sherawat in 2005

Oh, she plays off Bruno Mars pretty well, too.

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Dubious intint

I’ve mumbled before about incomprehensible color names, which means, like most people working this whole blog thing, I’ve beaten BuzzFeed to a topic.

Then again, they’ve found some truly weird colors out there, including Practical Beige — just once I’d like to see a fanciful beige — and Dragons Blood. And what color do you think “Seduction” would be?

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