Music for the people

Free Air Guitar

It’s not quite the same as the simulator you’ve been using with Air Guitar Hero, but you’ll catch on quickly enough.

(Via Dax Montana.)

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Strange search-engine queries (211)

For the uninitiated, this is an exercise wherein we look through the last week’s logs, jot down the funny stuff on one hand on the other side of the screen, and copy it over here in an attempt to create the impression of fresh Monday-morning content. This works better than it has any right to, really.

well endowed at nudist:  I should think that such individuals would be rather conspicuous.

being invisible is now almost possible with this nifty:  cloak you swiped from that Potter kid, who is now going to turn you into a yak with suppurating pustules, if you’re lucky.

facelift for a ranch style home:  You’ll notice no one ever suggests Ranch Style Beans, and that’s sad.

beautiful wodget will not load skins on my eris:  Eris does not like to be skinned, especially if Trojans are involved.

virgin socially inept:  Is this the last stereotype?

sierra mist shrink’s male penis:  Not so. He’s just socially inept.

don’t start sentences with to:  To which rule of grammar does this admonition refer?

fonts for preteenagers:  Give ‘em Comic Sans and hope they grow out of it.

no offensive farting words:  And they say I’m no fun.

Buy Toyota Save Japan:  And just when I was waiting for Fiat to get here, too.

fudge the guinea pig on the mobile phone:  This is one of those phrases that sounds dirty but really isn’t.

how to have a polite political discussion:  This is one of those phrases that sounds clean but really isn’t.

I think you need a beer:  I think you may be right.

Obligatory Rule 34 content: dakota fanning’s panty and bra pics. (Maybe in 2012.)

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Who’s the unfairest of them all?

Why, Life, of course:

About 30 years ago, during the Carter administration, feminists noticed that airline flight attendants — who were called “stewardesses” back then — tended to be young, attractive and cheerful.

This was clearly unfair, so there was a federal civil-rights lawsuit and now all U.S. airline flight attendants are either ill-tempered, middle-aged, homely women or snarky unhelpful gay men.

However, during the Reagan years, Ed Meese put a stop to such shenanigans before the courts could apply that social-justice principle to the strip-club industry, which is why most strippers don’t look like Joy Behar, Whoopi Goldberg or Andrew Sullivan.

Yet.

Not that the Meeseketeers were so conservation-minded as to want to preserve the strip-club industry as it was, of course: their policy was more like “If anyone is going to persecute strip clubs, it’s going to be us.

Still, expecting life to be fair is rather like expecting Lucy will actually hold the football for you, Charlie Brown.

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For love or money

Well, isn’t this sweet: Sixteen percent of respondents to a Fair Isaac survey would not consider dating anyone with a FICO score of 700 or less. (One percent, in fact, will insist on 800 or more.)

And this question came up: “When dating, when should you disclose your financial situation?” Says this same survey:

While the majority wait a while to discuss finances with their partner, men were nearly twice as likely as women to discuss finances right away.

Especially, I suspect, if they show up with a FICO below, oh, 699 or so.

(Via Sex and the 405, which I’m pretty sure refers to the San Diego Freeway, not the Oklahoma City area code.)

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From the Land of Bad Ideas

Facebook thinks it would be a really swell idea for us to be friends, and by “us” they mean “me” and “my ex’s current husband.”

Not that I have anything against the guy — he’s way better suited to her than I ever was — but FB really needs a “Oh, hell no” button on some of these options.

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You call this a party?

The Republicans, Marcel says, have lost their way:

Today’s party is nothing but a boring fund-raising apparatus, instead of the Grand Old Party it should be. We need to return to our roots, rediscover the foundation of legitimacy. We need to be a party again — a real party, with a club house, beer, and hot wings.

A club house?

Buy the old Ungulate’s Club. Charge modest dues, and have steak night on Tuesdays. Get local businesses to subsidize it in exchange for good will. “All you can eat for $4.99, thanks to the guys at Megatrode, who hope you’ll vote for Smith.” What’s the point shaking down the corporations if we just spend it all on ads to persuade the rank and file to vote? Just spend it on the rank and file.

Of course, this gets a bit more complicated the farther you go with the plan, but when is that not true?

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We’ll never turn you away

But that was then. The ferry ‘cross the Mersey immortalized by Gerry and the Pacemakers won’t take any passengers these days, because it’s taking on water and sinking into the Thames.

The Royal Iris, built in 1950 and retired in 1991, was towed away from Merseyside, and after plans to refurbish the vessel in Cardiff failed, wound up a decade later abandoned in the Thames. Gerry Marsden, his heart torn in every way, said:

It is such a shame, but every year there are reports of it getting more and more dilapidated and every year we all try to do something to save it but to no avail.

The Merseyside Maritime Museum hopes to salvage artifacts from the Royal Iris before it disappears entirely, but it seems unlikely the ferry itself can be saved.

Meanwhile, there are still ferries crossing the Mersey: a new Royal Iris of Mersey, and the Royal Daffodil. No new songs, though.

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Dating myself

“Why, I wouldn’t go out with you, even if you were me.”

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Does this tax ever end?

The practice of Tax Increment Financing in Oklahoma is remarkably controversial, given the fact that it doesn’t involve actual tax increases; what happens in a TIF district is that revenue over and above a specified baseline figure is then spent on improvements in the actual district. (Michael Bates explained the process in Urban Tulsa Weekly some years ago.) Poster child for these things is the downtown Oklahoma City district set up around Devon Tower, expected to bring in about $225 million once the tower is in place; objections stem from the fact that this money is designated for upgrading that specific area, rather than spread around to all the usual open hands.

We also have something called Business Improvement Districts, which are financed by an additional assessment on property owners within their district. Since this does require a tax increase, approval by the majority of property owners is required. The Downtown OKC BID was approved in 2001.

While the BID is ongoing, TIFs tend to have an expiration date: Oklahoma TIFs are limited by law to 25 years, though most of the TIFs in Tulsa expire in 15 years. And Oklahoma City’s MAPS sales taxes have all had expiration dates, though you’d likely not have noticed it unless you read the small print on the ballot; each new collection began the day after the previous one expired. In general, people seem to like the idea that a tax can run out, which explains the actions of this guy in St. Louis County, Missouri:

The campaign for a sales tax for an emergency communications system in St. Louis County is not over although 67.74 percent of county voters approved a 0.1-cent sales tax for the system on Nov. 4.

State Sen. Jim Lembke, R-south St. Louis County, has introduced a bill (SB 638) in the state Senate that would limit the tax to five years, exempt food from the tax and prohibit the county from ever proposing the measure again.

The bill would protect taxpayers, he said. The tax needs a sunset, he said. “I don’t want to thwart the will of the taxpayers,” the senator said. The tax “should not go on in perpetuity,” he said.

I am surprised that the ballot measure didn’t specify an expiration date, since this was a one-time project. Or maybe I’m not so surprised:

Former County Councilman Skip Mange, chairman of the campaign committee for the tax, said Lembke’s bill would kill the system. “There is no other available tax revenue,” he said.

Does this constitute an admission that the measure as written would not produce the amount of revenue needed — or that the county was looking forward to that tenth-of-a-cent extra once the new system was paid for?

I don’t have a problem with dedicated sales taxes per se; apart from MAPS, OKC collects 0.75 cents on the dollar for public safety, and 0.125 cents to support the zoo. But those are ongoing activities, not one-shot projects, and they don’t have expiration dates, unlike the MAPS taxes. Jim Lembke seems to grasp the concept:

Lembke said he is willing to work with supporters to calculate a sunset for the tax. After that, the county should pay for the system’s operation and maintenance out of its general fund, he said. Or supporters should go back to voters for a special tax to maintain the system, he said.

Doesn’t sound so complicated to me.

(Triggered by a reference in this piece by Brian J. Noggle.)

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Gaseous play

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So chilly in here

I’m not quite sure what to make of this:

Sue recently purchased a new home. She writes that she closed on the house … and then learned that the previous owner had committed suicide somewhere inside it. She wouldn’t have bought the house had she known. The real estate agents claim that they weren’t aware of the situation, but if they had, did they have any moral obligation to tell her?

They didn’t have any legal obligation. The pertinent Massachusetts General Law (Chapter 93, Section 114):

The fact or suspicion that real property may be or is psychologically impacted shall not be deemed to be a material fact required to be disclosed in a real estate transaction. “Psychologically impacted” shall mean an impact being the result of facts or suspicions including, but not limited to, the following:

(a) that an occupant of real property is now or has been suspected to be infected with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus or with Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome or any other disease which reasonable medical evidence suggests to be highly unlikely to be transmitted through the occupying of a dwelling;

(b) that the real property was the site of a felony, suicide or homicide; and

(c) that the real property has been the site of an alleged parapsychological or supernatural phenomenon.

No cause of action shall arise or be maintained against a seller or lessor of real property or a real estate broker or salesman, by statute or at common law, for failure to disclose to a buyer or tenant that the real property is or was psychologically impacted.

Notwithstanding the foregoing, the provisions of this section shall not authorize a seller, lessor or real estate broker or salesman to make a misrepresentation of fact or false statement.

The Oklahoma law (O.S. Title 59, Section 858-513) is similar, at least as regards items (a) and (b). (Soonerland presumably ain’t ‘fraid of no ghosts.) In California, however, crimes within the past three years must be disclosed, and the result is often a lower price:

For example, the condo residence in the Los Angeles area where Nicole Simpson and friend Ronald Goldman were murdered was initially on the market for $795,000. It eventually sold for $595,000. The house where O.J. Simpson lived in Brentwood couldn’t be sold and was finally torn down.

The property where 39 Heaven’s Gate cult members committed suicide in San Diego County sold for less than half its listed price.

Nicole Simpson’s house, in fact, took two years to sell; the new owner remodeled it extensively and petitioned for a new street address to be assigned. (This is not unheard of in Los Angeles. Ronald and Nancy Reagan, after leaving Washington, moved into Bel-Air, at 666 St. Cloud Road; Nancy didn’t like the number at all, and eventually it was changed to 668. Across the street, if you’re curious, is 657.)

I once suspected one of the CrappiFlats™, perhaps the very one I lived in at the turn of the century, had been the location of some sort of killing; but hey, that was a rental, and geez, look at the neighborhood, what was I expecting? It wasn’t exactly Bel-Air.

I don’t know what I’d do were I in Sue’s circumstances. Officially, I snicker; late at night, though, every little noise speaks something to the contrary directly into my subconscious.

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Significant other songs

Valentine's Day MixA latter-day (well, 1977, anyway) single by the Carpenters advances the notion that “it’s a dirty old shame when all you get from love is a love song.” I certainly don’t expect anything more than that. On the other hand, a good love song is worth hearing on the 364¼ days each year that aren’t Valentine’s Day, and since JenX was kind enough to put up a playlist of some of her favorites, I figure this might be a good time to point you once again to my infamous V-Day mix, now six years old and not even slightly dated. (Then again, I’m fifty-six years old and not even slightly dated these days.) One of these years I’m going to have to knock out a Volume Two.

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Way below the McJob standard

I’ve had some fairly crummy jobs in my day, but nothing that even approaches this:

Back in the olden days (about 25 years ago), my job du jour was delivering balloons and singing telegrams. No, I can’t carry a tune in a bucket but people tend to cut you some slack if you’re wearing a bikini or leotard when you warble.

I had to work Valentine’s Day delivering multitudes of pink and red balloons, singing “You Are My Sunshine” to dozens of people whose significant others thought this was just what their partner wanted. I wore our traditional Cupid outfit… a pair of white tights, a white leotard with a big pink heart on the tush and pink heart pasties, and wings, and pink ballet slippers. When you imagine this, remember how long ago it was and that Time had not yet beat me to bits with the Large Cast Iron Skillet Of Reality And/Or Gravity. I looked pretty damn good.

And what’s the weather like in mid-February? Right:

That Valentine’s Day was the day we had blizzard warnings. That Valentine’s Day was well-digger’s-ass cold. That Valentine’s Day gave us over three feet of snow in about two hours. And that Valentine’s Day I still went to work because I was at the time married to a complete and utter waste of oxygen and I would have gone to work in a shark tank wearing a chum bikini rather than stay home with him.

So I got in my little bitty antique VW and picked up my balloons and drove/waddled off into the blizzard.

Frankly, I prefer a more scientific approach. Sometimes.

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Lacktion sequences

“Lacktion” means exactly what you’d think it means, and nobody has been more enthusiastic about getting the word into the vernacular than the Basketbawful guys; in fact, they have regular lacktion reports on underachieving NBA players.

Of course, if you have a whole squad full of underachievers, you have — well, no, not the New Jersey Nets, even with their four-and-infinity record. But there’s one way to find out what you do have, and that’s what they did: a game, created with 2k Sports’ NBA 2k10, featuring the Null-Stars (!) of both conferences. The game was played, says Dan B., “with five-minute quarters because referees could not be expected to stay awake for that long.”

Lacktion or not, it’s massive fun to watch, with amazing airballs, suboptimal shot selection, and, via the 2k10 canned announcers, every roundball cliché of the last ten years. I thought it was flat wonderful, even especially when it was thoroughly horrid.

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Vintage Vicodin?

Drugs have expiration dates. But do they actually expire? Maybe not:

[M]edications in the US generally are stamped with a really, really conservative “expiration” date. Some foodstuffs that don’t actually expire have expiration dates stamped on them as well. The legal points for meds are that FDA regulations (which I’m sure the pharma industry didn’t fight too hard against) require the medicine manufacturers to stamp their products with a date to which they “guarantee the full effectiveness” of the medicine. For marketing reasons, they generally stamp them at the 2-3 year mark, not because the medicines lose effectiveness that quickly, but because they sell more meds if people don’t realize the things are good (with proper storage) up to 10 years.

During the days when I was having lots of dental work done, I’d be prescribed, say, 10 units of a painkiller after a procedure; usually the discomfort was gone after two or three, so after a while I had a decent-sized store of variations on the theme of Lortab. This came in handy during last year’s Horrible Farging Pain, and you may be sure that I took the oldest pills first. They weren’t quite ten years old, but they’d have gotten there quickly enough.

Then again:

On the one hand, if the manufacturer is required to “warranty” the efficacy of their product, it’s probably best for them to limit their liability by not guaranteeing it for too long. On the other hand, by mislabeling that date as an “expiration” date, they’re tricking unwary consumers.

Food products lately are often labeled “Best if used by [date]“; perhaps this is a reasonable statement for drugs as well.

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Kerry the one

“Kerry Washington,” said noted asshat John Mayer, “will break your heart like a white girl.”

I have no idea what he meant by that, so here’s a picture of Kerry Washington in a little navy-blue dress by Luella, circa 2007.

Kerry Washington in Luella

Eat your heart out, John.

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Quote of the week

This month in Playboy, singer John Mayer steps on his schwanz. (The heavier steps have been reproduced all over the place, including the HuffPo.) Those who track the Zeitgeist more effectively than I do, which is almost everyone, seem to be split on whether Mayer is some sort of racist for disdaining black women and blaming it on the Little Head, or whether he’s simply an asshat with a Big Mouth.

Aaryn B. leans toward the latter explanation:

Honey, you are an affront to frat boys everywhere and that’s a damn near impossible feat. You are not smart. You are not cute. You are not deep. You are not intellectual or witty or cool or hip or dope or fly or whatever it is you fancy yourself to be. You have a small, small, small brain and a very big mouth. You are a self-important asshat raised to the 11th power, quadrupled by dickheadery, topped with three servings of phony and one heaping scoop of overcompensation.

I’m glad I didn’t piss her off.

Warning: That page from which I quoted incorporates some photos that some people — those with taste — may find disturbing.

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Subtle T’s

Sara Blakely, inventor of Spanx, explains why she’s started making men’s garments:

Men’s undershirts have been underperforming for as long as they’ve been around, with stretched out necks and bulky cuts that do nothing for the male physique. The men in my life (and in Hollywood) have been asking me to make Spanx for men for years, so I was inspired to create comfortable and powerful undershirts that provide instant gratification without gimmicks.

Well, I suppose it’s a hell of a lot better than wife-beaters, which still hold the record for Worst-Named Garment.

As with Snuggies, there will inevitably be competition. I blame Steve Carell.

(A wave of the sleeve to the Left Coast Cowboy.)

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364

This week’s Carnival of the Vanities, the 364th, is titled “Snowpocalypse (except in Maine).”

Which, I suppose, means that it’s not difficult to get out to the Maine Mall in South Portland, located at 364 Maine Mall Road.

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Brother tongues

“In German, or in English, I know how to count down,” said Tom Lehrer in his Wernher von Braun voice, “and I’m learning Chinese.”

The good Doctor perhaps should consider Smitty’s advice as an alternative:

[I]f I wasn’t using my spare language time learning German, I’d focus on Spanish. Among that blessings the country enjoys today is the English language. It’s as important to the country as the opposable thumb to the flesh. But it was born after Hastings, when Norman French ran roughshod over Anglo-Saxon.

I predict, by the power of the rectal pluck, that in another 400 years or so the slow merger of English and Spanish shall be shown to have been an overall win.

By then, of course, we’ll have adopted just as many words in lolcat. (“¿Puedo tener una hamburguesa con queso?” just seems too formal.)

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