Dubious testimonials

Once in a while, the spam trap will garner something like this:

“Thank you for this invaluable information. I have been looking for a way out of my loveless marriage. Now I know what to do. Before there was never any opportunity for me to escape this relationship, now because of Ashley Madison, I have an outlet.”

Which was utterly irrelevant to the post for which it was intended, but no surprise there. Ashley Madison, incidentally, is a dating service for people already in a relationship.

I was updating some subsidiary sites to WordPress 3.1.2 yesterday and found a treasure trove of glowing crap in one of them. A few samples:

“This is often what I am looking for. This is what I ask value. The information provided right here is usually to the best. I need to say you must have put in your time in putting all these material collectively. They are relevant to your theme. I will recommend this to any or all and also to all of my acquaintances. I am going to come back here to experiment the quantity of give good results. Thank you for making these happen.”

“Undeniably believe that which you stated. Your favorite reason appeared to be on the internet the simplest thing to be aware of. I say to you, I certainly get irked while people consider worries that they just don’t know about. You managed to hit the nail upon the top and also defined out the whole thing without having side effect, people could take a signal. Will likely be back to get more. Thanks.”

“Stumbled on your web site through Delicious. You already know I am subscribing to your rss.”

And this one was particularly irksome:

“Hello! I know this is kind of off topic but I was wondering if you knew where I could get a captcha plugin for my comment form? I’m using the same blog platform as yours and I’m having problems finding one? Thanks a lot!”

Anybody who can’t find a captcha plugin will need a third hand to locate his posterior.

Then again, I’m probably doing better than the person in that old country song:

I might as well give up this blogging
There are days when I can’t give a damn
I can’t post ’cause my brain won’t stop fogging
And the comments I get are all spam

Okay, it’s not that old. (I’d identify the source, but, you know, protected tweets.)

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Not a Roman chariot race, now

Car and Driver (June) has a collection of 100 factoids about the Indianapolis 500, first conducted 100 years ago. A couple of them caught my eye:

Qualifying [in 1911] consists of sustaining 75 mph for a quarter-mile down Indy’s front straight.

Even the lowliest off-brand buggy can do that with ease these days. And speaking of brands:

Of the 23 car makes represented in the inaugural 500, only three survive today: Buick, Fiat, and Mercedes.

One of those Buicks, incidentally, was driven by a Chevrolet: Arthur Chevrolet, who got a DNF after 30 laps. He drove once more at Indy, in 1916, and was trying again in 1920 when he spun out and was badly injured. Younger brother Gaston won the 1920 Indy, but was killed in a 250-mile race on the West Coast later that year. And in 1911, older brother Louis was busy establishing a car company.

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That name again is Mr. Bra

“There is,” he says several minutes in, “no recession or depression in the bra industry.” I dunno. I find this rather depressing:

And you know, I’d just as soon not hear about a “blowout sale” on nursing bras. Just saying.

MrBra.com, like Mr. Bra himself, seems to be a relic of an earlier, if not necessarily prettier, time.

(Via Nancy Friedman.)

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I hear Denver is nice this time of year

And we hope the Nuggets enjoy their trip home. We’re quite sure that the Thunder will enjoy not going back with them, having dispatched Denver for the last time. And we’re also quite sure that we’re having palpitations of some sort, because OKC was down by nine with a little over four minutes left yet pulled out a 100-97 win. This sort of thing can cause cardiac incidents.

Then again, there’s plenty of heart to go around. The Thunder couldn’t buy a bucket most of the night — abominable 36.6 percent shooting, 25 percent from beyond the arc — but defense won this one. (Telltale statistic: Serge Ibaka scored only one point, but pulled down eight rebounds — and blocked nine shots.) On the other hand, Kevin Durant, who’d scored 25 through three quarters, added 16 more in the fourth. And if Russell Westbrook is still having problems with his shot — he went 3-15 tonight, though he cashed seven of 10 freebies for 14 points — well, there were second-chance points to be had by his teammates. (The Thunder gathered 51 rebounds, 16 off the offensive glass, versus 38 and 4 for Denver.)

George Karl had grumbled something earlier in the week about having to take on a couple of All-Stars with a team full of 7/10 players. It did mean that everyone who played delivered to the extent possible: five Nuggets landed in double figures, but Arron Afflalo was team-high with a mere 15. What’s more, Kendrick Perkins, not usually an offensive powerhouse, outscored Nenê, 11-8, though each had nine rebounds.

Now the bad news: in the second round, we have to play a team that won the season series. The Spurs shut OKC out, 3-0; the Thunder managed to beat Memphis once in four tries. At the moment, Les Griz lead that series, 3-2. If we play them, at least we’ll start at home. (The Spurs, as the #1 seed, would have home-court advantage should they advance.) Still: it’s the second round. Was it only two years ago that this team just managed to avoid losing 60 games?

But as Phil Jackson, or Scarlett O’Hara, might have said, we’ll think about that tomorrow.

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Losing one’s asphalt

The AOL Autos Maintenance Editor comes up with this zinger:

Auto companies have become quite enamored in recent years with equipping passenger cars with low-profile tires — tires with hardly any sidewalls and therefore much less rubber between the rim and the road. They look great, especially with cool wheel covers and they can add a mile or so to your fuel economy. But on neglected roads in Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, etc. — states in cold weather regions — such tires can make for kidney busting rides.

I assure you, down here in Soonerland we can neglect roads just as well as those frozen-out Michiganders and such.

But “add a mile or so to your fuel economy”? Wrong-O, Buffalo Bob. While the rims are usually decorative at best, the tires themselves are being touted for their grip, and grip, being just about the antithesis of low rolling resistance, costs you in MPG, at least compared to the ultra-hard rubber they sell as mileage specials these days.

And even if the tires weren’t grippy, you still have that much-bigger wheel, and for a given volume, metal tends to weigh a bit more than air (or nitrogen, if you swing that way, which I do). Another reason for me to stick with the stock wheels and 55-series tires, I think.

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One of the upsier daisies

I still have this contraption in my office:

Brother electronic typewriter

Yes, it still works — it’s about 14 years old — and yes, it still gets used. (You try addressing an envelope in an early HP DeskJet.) I’m beginning to wonder, though, if maybe I shouldn’t acquire a second device for backup. Doesn’t have to be one of these mediumfalutin’ electronic jobs, either, although new manually-operated machines seem to be an endangered species.

And no, I’m not this fast.

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Sir names, and others

Back in my prep days, I had some reason to make a reference to Alec Douglas-Home, who had disclaimed his peerage — he had been the Earl of Home — because he’d decided to accept an appointment as Prime Minister and deemed it impracticable to serve in that post while also serving in the House of Lords. (This left him, briefly, in the odd position of being Prime Minister without holding a seat in either House of Parliament; he eventually won a by-election and took a seat in the Commons.) Whatever the circumstances, I botched up Douglas-Home’s title, and our happy band of royalist faculty took me aside and explained that he was properly referred to in this context as “Sir Alec.”

The flip side of this rule applies here:

Every time I see it, it’s like fingernails on a chalk board. “da Vinci” is not Leonardo’s last name; it’s an appellation referring to where he was born.

Yes, they hammered away at that one too. Which is how we know Dan Brown didn’t attend this particular school:

That’s what really drove me crazy about The Da Vinci Code, a novel with not only one, but two errors in the title (“da” shouldn’t be capitalized).

But there’s also this:

Some of these same concepts add to the problems of alphabetical ordering. Please file Rogier van der Weyden under W, not V, Vincent van Gogh under G, Leonardo under L, and Domenico Veneziano (Domenico the Venetian) under D.

My own bête noire, in terms of alphabetizing, is the Non-English Article. For some inscrutable reason, I file recordings by Los Bravos, Los Lobos, Los Lonely Boys and Los Straitjackets under L, which is technically correct for only two of the four.

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Several words for Snow

The original Phoebe Snow was a dainty young lady who rode the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad:

Phoebe Snow on the DLW Railroad

The DL&W was absorbed into Conrail in the middle 1970s, by which time singer Phoebe Laub had adopted the surname “Snow.” Her signature song was the folky/jazzy/bluesy “Poetry Man”; reasoning that you’ve already heard that one this week, I’ve chosen to memorialize her with her 1981 cover of the Carolyne Mas song “Baby Please.” No visuals to speak of, but the music is what matters here.

Props to Suzette, for reminding me which railroad Phoebe I traveled, and to Carolyne Mas, for reminding me which of her songs Phoebe II had recorded. (Mas did a song called “Snow” on her first album, but no connection here.)

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A voice in the wilderness

I think rather a lot of us have felt this way soon after putting pixels to screen for the first time:

A few days back, I was talking with a friend about this site. After telling her what the traffic (or lack thereof) was on the site, she logically asked me why I kept putting time into it. It’s a fair question, as the response to my personal contribution to the web has been lackluster, yet here I am, typing away…

He may be one of those folks who can’t not write. Cacoethes scribendi, the condition is called, and Oliver Wendell Holmes described it thusly:

If all the trees in all the woods were men;
And each and every blade of grass a pen;
If every leaf on every shrub and tree
Turned to a sheet of foolscap; every sea
Were changed to ink, and all earth’s living tribes
Had nothing else to do but act as scribes,
And for ten thousand ages, day and night,
The human race should write, and write, and write,
Till all the pens and paper were used up,
And the huge inkstand was an empty cup,
Still would the scribblers clustered round its brink
Call for more pens, more paper, and more ink.

And today, more bandwidth.

Then again, this is his most popular post ever, which suggests that I need to whine a bit more about my own fluctuating fortunes in blogdom.

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Baryon, my wayward son

And not just heavy particles, either: they’re finding heavy antiparticles these days. Then again, “heavy” is relative, even relativistic:

Eighteen examples of the heaviest antiparticle ever found, the nucleus of antihelium-4, have been made in the STAR experiment at RHIC, the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory.

The nucleus, as you’d expect, consists of two antiprotons bound to two antineutrons; it therefore has a baryon number of -4. The next step, presumably, will be some form of antilithium, perhaps -6 or -7 — lithium has two stable isotopes, 6 and 7 — but we probably shouldn’t hold our breath:

“After antihelium the next stable antimatter nucleus would be antilithium, and the production rate for antilithium in an accelerator is expected to be well over two million times less than for antihelium.”

Of which, you’ll remember, we’ve obtained a mere dozen and a half nuclei. Still, I like the Fark blurb: “We’ve created 18 atoms of anti-helium” say giggling scientists with super deep voices.

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That’s it, there’s no Meaux

Dave Marsh described him this way:

Resourceful barely begins to describe Huey Meaux, the self-styled “Crazy Cajun,” who has served time as a barber, promotion man, independent producer, label owner, talent scout, and prison inmate.

And, not incidentally, who is responsible for a few records I hold dear.

Barbara Lynn Ozen, twenty years old in 1962, had already written a fistful of songs; Meaux, after seeing her, minus her last name, playing clubs along the Gulf Coast, took her to a New Orleans studio, where she recorded “You’ll Lose a Good Thing” for his Jet Stream label. (Reportedly, that’s Dr. John on the guitar.) Jamie Records picked it up for national distribution, and it climbed to #8 in Billboard. Barbara still sings this song today.

San Antonio-based Sunny and the Sunliners (occasionally “Sunglows”) cut one nifty track in 1963 for Meaux, a cover of Little Willie John’s “Talk To Me, Talk To Me,” with the title cut back to a single iteration. By now Meaux was a known quantity, and the 45 on Tear Drop (another Meaux label) stopped just short of the Top Ten.

A greater coup came in 1965. The British Invasion had made life distinctly unprofitable, if not particularly uncomfortable, for various segments of American popular music, and Meaux wasn’t above “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.” Thus appeared an album titled Best of Sir Douglas Quintet, with some vague hints in the liner about Merseybeat. Doug Sahm and friends, as it happened, hailed from San Antonio and played a Tejano-norteño hybrid, about as unlike Gerry and the Pacemakers as you could get, but Meaux wanted to sell some records, and he even wangled a distribution deal with the London (!) label. “She’s About a Mover,” a twelve-bar blues woven around Augie Meyers’ organ riff, did the trick; not only did it chart high, it once induced an overly-impressionable youth to play it three times in succession on the Golden Parrot’s outdoor jukebox. (I have reference to me.)

Meaux would go on to work with Freddy Fender, for whom he produced “Before the Next Teardrop Falls”; a remake of Fender’s “Wasted Days and Wasted Nights”; and a cover of Barbara Lynn’s “You’ll Lose a Good Thing.”

In 1996, a search of Meaux’s Houston studio turned up enough evidence — exploitation of minors and drug trafficking, mostly — to send him up the river for fifteen years. He served about eleven years before being released; he died last week at the age of 82. The title of this piece is the inscription he reportedly wanted on his tombstone.

(Via Artie Wayne.)

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First, a disclosure: this here graph is pinned to my corkboard at work.

The customer is always an asshole

That said, I can’t quarrel with these sentiments:

Actually, I’ve gotten my way on so many things, and not only those “important” things, I feel like I’m being too demanding and I don’t want to be that way but there’s that desperate feeling… And getting my way on several less important things does not make up for not getting my way on even one of those really important details. On the other hand, if we were paying someone else to do all the work I wouldn’t feel bad at all about being demanding. I’d feel that paying someone a lot of money to do something gives me the right to demand that it is absolutely perfect. Oh yeah, I’d be that client — the one they’d call “That Bitch” back at the office. But on the third hand, it seriously annoys me that demanding that things be done the way you want them is usually considered “bitchy” if it’s a woman doing the demanding.

Which of course is highly discriminatory, and not in a good way either. (Remember when “discriminating” was an adjective meaning “possessed of relatively-elevated tastes”?) If men of a similarly-demanding bent can’t be written off as “bitchy,” then neither should women. Still, those individuals who demand things that can’t be done, or who ask questions that really shouldn’t be asked — well, there’s a graph for them.

Hugo, as it happens, was available for comment.

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Heavy on the Bud Light

One of the classic Real Men of Genius commercials salutes Mr. Giant Taco Salad Inventor, whose highly-prized concoction incorporates “ground beef, refried beans, guacamole, cheese, sour cream, and if there’s any room left, a few shreds of lettuce.” Is this actually healthy? “Of course it is. It’s a salad, isn’t it?”

And apparently the S-word makes all the difference:

Researchers asked [76 test subjects] to imagine ordering from their favorite lunch menu and seeing a daily special (a color photo was included):

“Diced tomatoes, onions and red peppers tossed with pasta shells, salami, mozzarella cheese and dressed with a savory herb vinaigrette. Served chilled on a bed of fresh romaine lettuce.”

The dish was described as the “daily salad special” to some of the subjects and “daily pasta special” to others. The subjects rated how healthful and how nutritious the dish appeared to be on a scale of 1 to 7. Then, they filled out a questionnaire on dieting habits, such as how often they read nutrition labels or whether they often planned out meals for the day, and the researchers divided the group into dieters and non-dieters.

The dieters, wanting so badly to see the good in this bazillion-calorie plate, may have overrated it just a bit:

The dieters were more likely to be fooled by the labeling. They gave the dish a slightly higher healthy grade — 4.7 compared to 4.0 — if it was labeled as a salad than if it was called pasta. The non-dieters gave both about the same grade.

Well, of course. It’s a salad, isn’t it?

(Via this Nancy Friedman tweet.)

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He was dreaming when he said this

And normally, I’d be inclined to forgive him for going astray with it, but The Artist Currently Known As Prince seems to have a problem with cover versions:

“There’s this thing called compulsory licensing law that allows artists through the record companies to take your music at will without your permission. And that doesn’t exist in any other art form, be it books, movies — There’s only one version of Law & Order. There’s several versions of ‘Kiss’ and ‘Purple Rain’.”

On what planet is there only one version of Law & Order? Dick Wolf has come up with every variation short of L&O: PDQ.

Fact is, though, you or I or even Dick Wolf could do a version of, say, “1999,” and as long as Prince gets paid, it’s legal. I’m guessing Prince’s objections probably don’t extend to the “getting paid” part of it.

Tommy James, meanwhile, was not available for comment.

(Via Fark.)

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Put those brooms away

Okay, it’s not going to be a sweep. Think of it as an opportunity to put away the Nuggets in front of the home crowd. Then again, my own prediction for this series: “Thunder in 6, but the two they’re gonna lose will be seriously ugly.” This one definitely lacked prettiness, especially starting late in the third quarter with OKC up two, followed by an 11-0 Denver run. The Thunder would whittle that nine-point lead down to two — three times — but the Nuggets picked up the win, 104-101, forcing a Game 5 on Wednesday.

And three times in those waning moments Russell Westbrook put up a Hail Mary from beyond the arc. Mary, however, was at the Grizzlies/Spurs game, and heard him not, most especially on that buzzer-beater for the tie. Westbrook still finished with 30, but he went 0-7 on treys. (Which means that the rest of the team was a highly-respectable 7-12.) The Thunder shot a bit better — 44.3 to 38.6 percent — and Kevin Durant, who had more luck from distance, brought down 31 points, but this game was close enough that almost every single miscue, and there were plenty of them, could earn part of the blame.

Meanwhile, Ty Lawson was rolling up 27 points, Danilo Gallinari was coming out of his shell, and J. R. Smith was summoned for spot shooting. (Smith led all bench players with 15.) The Nuggets put up 44 from the foul line; 13 went astray, which is actually a little better than they’d been doing. (Thunder went 24-31, which wasn’t.) But the numbers matter less than the execution, and tonight, Denver did it just a little bit better.

Thunder in six? If they fall apart Wednesday night. Let’s hope not.

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Rehashes R Us

Last spring, I cast an aspersion or two at the idea of socks with sandals, especially high-fashion (and presumably high-dollar) sandals, a notion the readership generally was not inclined to embrace, especially with serious sox.

Kara Scodelario from here downNow this isn’t a sandal. It’s a pump with peep toe — from Christian Louboutin, yet, though it’s hard to detect the red — and those are some presumably non-serious socks, based on the perhaps-arguable notion that the shoes run £385, not an inconsiderable sum, and the socks come from the Marks and Sparks bargain bin, three pair for £2. For some reason (the color scheme, perhaps?), I find this particular combination somehow risible. Then again, I’m inclined to find the entire outfit, such as it is, somehow risible.

(The full photo is here. The young lady on the stool is Kara Scodelario. I thought of tossing this into the Rule 5 bin, but she looked far too bored. The shot comes from the UK version of InStyle, last July.)

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