Punch in, punched out

Most weeks I put in 45-50 hours, usually arriving early to clean up any lingering issues from the day before. This is arguably a lot of time, though it’s nothing compared to what some staffers have to put in to keep the workload from piling up.

One could reasonably ask, though: Cui bono?

I am wondering if maybe we are not just victims of our own success, and our ability to produce. Many people work 40, 50, 60 hours a week not because they need the money, but because they can and because they like the money. I suspect we could probably get along just fine if we were all only working 20 hours a week. Problem then would be finding something to do for all those people who used to be working 60 or 70 hours a week, something besides sitting around and cooking up trouble, which is what the unemployed do now, don’t cha know?

Liking it, sooner or later, mutates into needing it.

The problem, as I see it, is that’s it’s so damned expensive to employ people in the first place, what with payroll taxes, government regulations, and occasionally something resembling benefits. I could see splitting my position into two, but paying two people plus all the associated vig would cost even more than it does to pay me, and I ain’t especially cheap. The front office is reluctant to add any more bodies to the payroll, and I really can’t blame them; that said, we’re in dire need of someone who can spell me in my absence, if I’m ever absent, and at my age, I have to assume there are going to be some absences coming up.

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Lessons from life (one in a series)

Showing up at the tag agency half an hour before closing on the 26th of the month: in and out in eight minutes flat.

Showing up at the tag agency half an hour before closing on the 30th of the month: just asking for trouble.

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By the time we got to wood shop

We were half a species short:

Forty years ago, President Richard Nixon signed Title IX, which said no person shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from any education program or activity. Vocational education courses that barred girls — such as auto mechanics, carpentry and plumbing — became available for everyone. But it’s still hard to find girls in classes once viewed as “for boys only.”

Zoe Shipley, 15, has a passion for cars and tinkering with engines.

“It’s just kind of cool to learn how to fix a car or learn about it,” she says.

Zoe’s school in Maryland offers a dozen different vocational tracks. Four girls have signed up for construction management, which includes electrical and plumbing courses; Zoe is the only girl in autoshop. That’s it: five girls doing allegedly “boy stuff.” Now admittedly, changing a timing belt is not so great for one’s manicure, but I’ll bet that ten years from now, when some weaselly service writer is trying to figure out some way to get $1000 out of her for $90 worth of work, this girl is going to be glad she followed this track.

(Via Joanne Jacobs.)

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No rest for the llama

I have spoken before of my marginally massive iTunes installation on the work box, now somewhere around 6700 tracks. But the major reason I’m using iTunes at all, other than to shop at the Store, is because I’ve long since figured out how to work up “smart playlists” and how to let it handle the streams — because I don’t have time at work to pick this stuff out myself. At home, my iTunes install is maybe a tenth as large, and most of my music listening is done through, um, Winamp.

Winamp screenshot featuring Sing It by Rebecca BlackYes, folks, the Largely Forgotten Music Player still gets some use. It has a small footprint, as anyone who’s ever loaded iTunes should be able to appreciate, and I don’t even have to bother with a playlist; I just pick ’em off an Explorer screen when the mood hits. It will even play Apple’s AAC files — the non-DRMed ones, anyway — my small collection of FLAC files; and my musical work files, most of which are WAVs. Besides, I’ve paid for the Winamp Pro license, and I’d hate to think I shelled out that much money — okay, not that much — on something I wasn’t going to use. I’m in version 5.56 right now, with one of the oldest skins on earth; in the picture you can see a recent purchase.

Oh, and we use it at work, too: it’s been pressed into service to dish up the Music On Hold at 42nd and Treadmill. I forget how long the playlist is, but if you’ve heard all of it, you’re calling too often.

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Smart response

Literally so, in several senses of the word. Here’s a screenshot of the original Twitter discussion:

Twitter conversation between Clayton Hove and smart cars USA

They did indeed do the math:

How much crap does it take to damage a smart car?

“Tridion,” incidentally, is described this way:

Inspired by racecar roll cages, the reinforced high-strength steel tridion safety cell is engineered to be a barrier between you and pretty much anything else you might encounter. It evenly distributes crash energy so you’ll have peace of mind.

There are, as you might have guessed, three layers of steel involved.

As for Mr Hove, he was duly impressed with the response.

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A bit of the old ultra-pinkness

I stared in disbelief at this for several minutes:

Pinkie Pie in an Anthony Burgess parody

Derpibooru will be the death of me yet.

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Idiocracy approacheth

And now, “Ow! My Balls!” sponsored by Ford:

One thing a few German companies have taken note of is the hands-free tailgate, a particularly brilliant feature now available on the new Mercedes-Benz SL550, for instance. Walk up behind the Escape with the key on your person, swipe your foot under the bumper, and voila! It opens. But be warned: After you swipe your foot, take a step backwards or the liftgate will whack you in the crotch. No joke! All joking aside, my wife couldn’t believe that all cars don’t have such a smart feature.

Of course. She’s not the one standing there waiting to get whacked. (Maybe she’s up front, watching your discomfiture on the backup camera.)

I haven’t seen this particular issue highlighted in any other reviews of the ’13 Escape, so maybe the other motor-noters were lucky, or they’re the wrong height, or something.

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I will not turn out

So far as I can tell, there’s nothing for me on the primary ballot tomorrow: there are two races — Corporation Commissioner and County Clerk — to determine Republican candidates for the fall election, and that’s it. Not being a Republican (well, I’m not), there’s no reason for me to show up.

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Irony overload: priceless

Just what the world was waiting for: the Karl Marx MasterCard.

Karl Marx MasterCard issued by Sparkasse Chemnitz

Issued by Sparkasse Chemnitz — Chemnitz is a city in eastern Germany, in the state of Saxony — the Marx card has proven to be popular: ten designs were proposed by the bank, and more than a third of the customers opted for Marx.

Then again, this could be just nostalgia: Chemnitz was turned into a parking lot in WWII and was subsequently rebuilt, its Soviet-sector overlords renaming it “Karl-Marx-Stadt,” a name it retained until the fall of the Berlin Wall and the German Democratic Republic behind it. There remains a bust of Marx in the city’s core, the very one portrayed on the card. The local economy is a mixed bag, faring reasonably well until recent troubles in the Eurozone. And there’s this:

A 2008 survey found 52 percent of eastern Germans believed the free market economy was “unsuitable” and 43 percent said they wanted socialism back.

The devil you know, as it were.

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One hurdle jumped

Saudi Arabia has decided to send a female participant in the 2012 Olympics, mostly due to pressure from without:

“It’s very sensitive,” a senior Saudi official told the BBC. “King Abdullah is trying to initiate reform in a subtle way, by finding the right balance between going too fast or too slow.

“For example, he allowed the participation of women in the Shura council [an advisory body] so the Olympic decision is part of an ongoing process, it’s not isolated.”

The official acknowledged that to refuse to let women take part would have looked bad on the international stage.

And Saudi Arabia was one of three countries — the others were Qatar and Brunei — who in 2010 were threatened with being barred from these Olympics if they did not allow women to compete.

Dalma Rushdi MalhasSaudi women will of course be expected to dress according to religious norms, though this shouldn’t be a problem for the one Saudi competitor who has already qualified: showjumper Dalma Rushdi Malhas. The other two countries, it would appear, aren’t quite so worried about lustful glances from the crowd. Qatar, in fact, is sending a swimmer: Nada Akraji will compete in the women’s 50-meter freestyle. And while she is not expected to win a medal, Brunei’s runner Maziah Mahusin, who finished last in her qualifying heat for the 400-meter dash, will be participating.

Updates in comments.

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Strange search-engine queries (334)

Once again, it’s time to subpoena the logs for the last week and demand that all the funny search strings be located and posted. (No, don’t thank me; it’s my, um, privilege.)

“where the babes are”:  Don’t you think that if I knew that, I’d be there instead of sorting through a week’s worth of server logs?

can ants crawl up a drain:  They can, but they usually wait until you’re actually in the shower before showing themselves.

lizards in texas:  Keep one near the drain, to watch for ants.

to wipe out hair in vagina:  Better hair than ants, if you ask me.

Manic Pixie Dream Girl emotionally immature:  Ha. You should see the boy who pursues her.

new york times manic pixie:  This must be a reference to Maureen Dowd, in which case you shouldn’t see the boy who pursues her.

free cam oklahoma:  You mean, like a single overhead cam?

prom dressing:  It’s like ranch dressing, only sparklier.

Marilyn Monroe fluttershy:  I like it. How about Sissy Spacek for Applejack?

purpose of denunciation:  Hmmm. Someone’s wanting homework help in Blogging 101.

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A splotch, a blotch

Get a load of this:

EMP Museum by Frank Gehry

California Home + Design selects 25 Buildings To Demolish Right Now, and among them is this Frank Gehry eyesore in Seattle, formerly the Experience Music Project, now the EMP Museum. Vanderleun, among others, calls it “The Blob,” hence our title.

Yes, there is a John Johansen structure on the hit list, but it’s not the one you thought. It’s the Morris A. Mechanic Theatre in Baltimore, which since the last time I brought it up now actually faces a visit from the Happy Fun Wrecking Ball.

So I don’t want to hear any more goddamn complaints about Stage Center. Got that?

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On having it all

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What can Little, Brown do for you?

If nothing else, you’ll be able to avoid a situation like this:

FEDEX GUY: I can’t send this.

MAUREEN stares, waiting for further explanation. When none is forthcoming, she spins the package back around and looks at the label, because apparently she is going to have to figure out what it is that she didn’t put on it. Because it’s not just a delivery service — it’s a TEST OF WITS. Finding no blank spaces, she feels like a bit of a FedEx failure.


FEDEX: (very disapproving look) I can’t send this to a random house.


FEDEX: I can’t send this to a random house. You need an address.

Now MAUREEN gets it. She can barely believe this wonderful thing is happening, but she gets it.

MAUREEN: Oh! No, no. It’s a publisher.

Mr. Abbott? Mr. Costello? Line two, please.

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Pressurizing the cabin

Cheryl Cole’s first album was called 3 Words, and she would like you to know that those three words were not “silent but deadly”:

The singer, 28, claims she is always being accused of breaking wind — as people think she’s too famous to bother holding it in.

The Girls Aloud star says that travellers letting off bad smells on planes is one of her pet hates.

Perhaps someday a solution will be at hand:

“There should be a sort of aerosol that can be sprayed into the air and it would pinpoint the guilty person. You can get a similar thing to go into swimming pools to discourage people from peeing. I think it would be a winner on a long flight.”

Personally, I blame LeBron James.

(Via this Jeffro tweet.)

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Hungry freaks, grandpa

The first twelve Frank Zappa/The Mothers [of Invention] albums will be rereleased next month, and the rest will follow:

Back home where it belongs, the music of Frank Zappa is now back in the hands of the Zappa Family Trust.

To celebrate this, the estate has signed a global license and distribution deal with Universal Music Enterprises to release 60 of the iconic composer’s recordings. The roll-out kicks off July 31 with 12 recordings, with another dozen recordings to be released monthly through the end of 2012.

The initial release covers everything from Freak Out! (1966) through Just Another Band From L.A. (1972), all the Verve stuff plus the early Bizarre material. I’m hoping that they’ve gone back to the original tapes from Cruising with Ruben & The Jets (1968), the legendary fake doo-wop album (“Is this the Mothers of Invention recording under a different name in a last-ditch attempt to get their cruddy music on the radio?” says the jacket); in a previous reissue (on Rykodisc) the tracks were remixed and in some cases overdubbed, with FZ’s blessing.

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