Just zis guy, you know?

Laura Wattenberg at the Baby Names Blog was apparently conflicted over this particular name:

Is a two-headed alien a good enough reason to keep such an unlikely name in our baby name encyclopedia? My first instinct was no, but my husband disagreed. A certain sort of person, he argued, will indeed want to learn about the name Zaphod. He works for Google, so I accept his expertise on that “certain sort of person.” It made me wonder … has anyone actually named a baby in honor of Mr. Beeblebrox?

Sure enough, the U.K. is home to at least three Zaphods and even more boys with that middle name, all born since the Hitchhiker’s series premiered.

In terms of “geek purity,” the name has a great deal to recommend it, she says:

[T]he original Zaphod wasn’t some sleek, all-powerful force of light or darkness. He had a self-confident charm, but was voted “Worst Dressed Sentient Being in the Known Universe” seven times.

Having seen entirely too many Magic: The Gathering sessions in my day, I have to figure that Beeblebrox had to work really hard for that accolade.

And now I wonder if any of those young Zaphods were dubbed Zaphod the Fourth.

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Difference split

The last thing Glenn Reynolds linked to on Saturday night was this piece of mine.

This is only my third Instalanche, and I wasn’t quite sure what the result would be: once I got 53 hits, once I got about thirteen thousand.

If I’d thought it out, I’d have figured it would have fallen Somewhere In Between: weekends are not big-traffic days anyway, and there was some sort of sports event on Sunday. As of last night, I’d picked up around 6,500 total; the Sunday SiteMeter figure was 5,155, and for the moment at least, I have a ten-percent bump in feed subscribers.

And I owe a tip of some fedora-like article of clothing to The Other McCain, who linked to that punchline first, presumably giving the Instant Man an opportunity to see it.

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Rooted out

I spend so much time denouncing really stupid stuff on Yahoo! Answers that I feel a twinge whenever I see something I think is sorta clever.

Like, for instance, this:

To anyone that knows the Tron film (old one, not new one) and unices. Would the MCP have root?

He says at the beginning that he has had trouble “reappropriating” some files. Assuming this means chroot, then he can’t have root because he can’t change permissions for files. And he has to hack into other systems, which suggests he’s more likely to be a virus than an operating system.

Best answer at the time I read it:

I always thought of MCP as a daemon for Root. MCP is not OS and he can’t be a program limited to Heap, thus he’s a “yes man” like Smithers is to Mr. Burns on The Simpsons.

Excellent.

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Face value

CoverGirl is hawking something called “NatureLuxe Silk Foundation”, which boasts, per its magazine ad, “flawless coverage with a light-as-air feel,” and as the Fab Four used to say, you know that can’t be bad.

For some reason, I read farther down in the ad, and found this claim:

Even the $180* makeup can’t beat it for a lightweight feel!

My unlined eyes bugged out a bit at that, so I went down to the asterisk, and the fine print said:

* Avg. price based on US data from the NPD Group.

Does the NPD Group, through a subsidiary, sell $180 makeup? No. They’re a market-research firm. So much for my idea of reading down a list of brand names.

By now I was keen to find this pricey stuff, just on general principle. I finally wound up at SortPrice.com, and asked for face makeup sold at, oh, let’s say Nordstrom, in order of price. Sixty-six dollars was the lowest price available, and at the very top was, um, $180 for La Prairie Skin Caviar Concealer Foundation.

I should point out here that La Prairie claims SPF 15 for their product, CoverGirl only SPF 10 for theirs. On the other hand, CoverGirl has Taylor Swift in their magazine ad, and she looks 15.

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What the fuchsia?

Apparently it has been decided in some circles that pink has some “sinister undertones”:

Abi Moore, the co-founder of the protest organisation Pink Stinks, says: “We started as a reaction to the rampant stereotyping increasingly evident in products and clothing marketed towards children, and the use of the colour pink as a signpost for girls as to what is ‘for them’. We think that this ‘pink’ phase is the beginning of a journey, instilling seemingly innocent ideas of princesses, beauty, fairy tales and sparkles above all else. It limits girls in their early development to conform, be ‘girly’, and look pretty, preparing them for a life of body image anxiety and insecurity ahead … a marketer’s dream.”

So, according to the feminists, pink isn’t just a colour, it represents submission, insidious gender stereotyping and prettification. It is preparing little girls for a life full of kowtowing and compromise.

In other news, there is a protest organization called Pink Stinks.

Seriously: Huh? I live in a freaking pink house — been there for over seven years — and I am as unprincesslike an individual as you’re likely to find outside reruns of Dog the Bounty Hunter. Admittedly, I am not now, nor have I ever been, an impressionable young girl, but if this color is so insidious, surely it would have had some effect on the house’s previous owners, most of whom were female.

And it certainly hasn’t affected this guy.

(Via House of Eratosthenes.)

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MoJo working

Magazines have fallen in love with auto-renewal schemes: they know you’re coming back, and all they have to do is charge your plastic and send you a perfunctory notice. Most implementations of this have sucked greatly, as I informed whoever does the subscription fulfillment for the Atlantic the other day.

So far, the only non-problematic version of this that I’ve seen comes from Mother Jones, the left-wing investigative-journalism mag, and here’s why, from their not-so-perfunctory notice:

The credit card we have on file ends with [number redacted]. Please let us know if that card is no longer valid. And if you would like to use a different credit card, or if you choose not to renew your subscription, please indicate your wishes on the form above and return it to us ASAP. You can also write to subscribe at motherjones.com.

This covers all the conceivable options, except one, without having to negotiate a Web site or, worse, voice mail. However, the one exception is on the return form: “Check enclosed. Please do not charge my credit card.” Which is what I did.

The rest of you guys should pay attention to your Mother.

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No shake, Sherlock

Yes, you can has cheezburger, and it’s your own responsibility when you nomnomnom:

State law would bar people from suing restaurants for causing them to gain weight, under a proposal revived by a Central Minnesota legislator.

The Personal Responsibility in Food Consumption Act is authored by Rep. Dean Urdahl, R-Grove City, who also calls it “the cheeseburger bill.”

Urdahl says his bill would shield restaurants, farmers and others in the food business from frivolous litigation. He points to a 2002 New York case in which people sued McDonald’s Corp. after eating its food for years and becoming overweight.

Trial lawyers, unsurprisingly, oppose this measure:

An association that represents Minnesota trial lawyers opposed previous versions of Urdahl’s bill. That group, now called the Minnesota Association for Justice, still hews to that position, spokesman Mike Bryant said Friday.

Bryant said “there’s no purpose” for Urdahl’s bill, adding that he’s never heard of a Minnesota case of the type the bill is meant to ban. Lawyers and judges are the best deterrents to baseless litigation, Bryant added.

We were unable to determine the color of the sky in Mike Bryant’s world.

(Via Fark.)

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She doesn’t look mad

Over the weekend, a local media type was asking “What shoes would Mad Men gals wear?” Inevitably, this got forwarded to me, and I tossed off a few generalizations about early 1960s fashion, which, I opined, could be divided into Pre-Jackie and Post-Jackie. (I also heard from a writer with a current book about Mrs Kennedy’s days as a book editor, about which I know too little.)

Later, I went looking for representative looks from that era, and stumbled across this:

Cover of Knittax Magazine, July 1960

This is the cover of Knittax magazine, July 1960. (You can see all twelve covers from that year at Retro-Fashion.) This is perhaps a little more dreamy, a little less martini-fueled, than was being sought, but I liked the ensemble, and the shoes fit one description I had proffered: simple pump, relatively unadorned, a heel no higher than three inches.

The inevitable tangent, of course: what is Knittax, anyway? It’s a knitting machine with a couple hundred needles that looks only slightly like a medieval torture device, presumably aimed, not at commercial garment producers, but at the homemaker with a largish bank account. (Purl of great price, doncha know.) Of course, back then we were still waiting around for our flying cars.

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Strange search-engine queries (262)

This weekly feature is based on the premise that some people are looking for really peculiar things on the Web, and that cheap laffs can be elicited by mentioning them here. It’s worked for about five years now.

weird search engine that tells too much about you:  Um, you brought this on yourself by looking for those things, Bunkie.

minneapolis switch on automatic transmission:  Far as I know, they get the same slushboxes in the Twin Cities as do the rest of us, and I’ve actually seen people in Bloomington using turn signals occasionally.

peugeot no handbrake:  I’m guessing you’re not in Minneapolis.

genius mixes marry me:  Somewhere, an iTunes programming-team member is smiling.

“all the sex I’m ever going to have”:  Perhaps you should compile a Genius Mix.

ann coulter nude fake:  The quest for wank material goes ever on.

cast your fate to the wind where does it come from:  Well, let’s see. Wind comes from out of the sky; fate comes from either (1) three women pulling strings or (2) something equally inscrutable.

the comparison of the farmers and miners:  Farmers work long hours above ground; miners work long hours below ground. (Next time do your own damn homework.)

will snorting lady bubbles bath salts make you fail a drug screen?  Perhaps not, but if that’s your idea of fun you need to work some long hours in a mine.

manager desirability curve:  I try my best to avoid desiring curvy managers.

“what’s the climate like today?” asks the teacher. What is wrong with the teacher’s question?”  She asked Al Gore.

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Primary for the Tailgate Party

Parking at Cowboys Stadium is, shall we say, on the pricey side:

The fees for premium parking at Dallas Cowboys games are estimated at $75 per game, based on season ticket holder parking charges. The fees to park at major concerts and other sporting events will be nearly $40 per space at the new stadium.

Today, during the TV Commercials Extravaganza, it’s — what? $100? $300? $1099?

Which gives me an excuse to mention something that’s not supposed to be mentioned on solemn occasions like this:

Anybody who has ever attended a professional or collegiate sporting event in America knows that folks like to throw back a few cold ones during the course of the game. But at the same time, we are effectively inviting people to drive home drunk by not providing adequate transit options. In Green Bay, a state legislator went so far as to suggest that installing roundabouts near Lambeau Field was a bad idea because it would be too difficult for drunk drivers to navigate.

One has to assume that Arlington, Texas is used to dealing with besotted fans by now. You can take a shuttle from Cowboys Stadium to the Texas & Pacific Station in Fort Worth, but DART doesn’t go to Arlington, except today.

New stadiums being built or proposed tend to fall in one of two camps: those in downtown cores, like LA’s Staples Center or San Diego’s Petco Park; or those nestled in exurban sprawl, like the aforementioned Cowboys Stadium. Los Angeles, in its quest to lure an NFL franchise back to the city, is torn between the two models.

Public transit in Oklahoma City is so ludicrously inadequate that facilities pretty much have to be located downtown, where there’s a mathematical probability that you’ll see an actual bus once in a while. (I mention this because there are a few hardcore types around here who believe that we should be trying to land an NFL team.) And while a drunken fan on the bus is not exactly high on my list of urban desiderata, it beats the hell out of having him on your back bumper.

Besides:

[W]hat are the two most-cherished stadia in the United States? Arguably, Boston’s Fenway Park and Chicago’s Wrigley Field … both of which are situated in dense, old urban neighborhoods with good transit connections, and neither of which provides much in the way of parking.

The mathematics of the NFL require more seating capacity than either Fenway or Wrigley, but I retain my preference for in-town facilities. I’m reasonably certain that back in the Seventies, when I was perched in central Massachusetts doing Uncle Sam’s work, I’d have paid a lot less attention to the Sox had they been closer by: it was no trick to take the bus into Boston and then walk a few blocks. (To visit the Garden or the Arena, it was a short hop on the T.) No way would I ever have seen any of this stuff had it been in, say, Framingham. And come to think of it, while I’ve been to Dallas several times, and to Fort Worth several times more, I’ve never once had a reason to go to Arlington.

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Gimme a ticket for an aeroplane

You know the song already. It’s direct and to the point, but the potential for rudeness is on the high side, as Zooey Deschanel is compelled to point out:

To whom are you explaining all of this? The ticket agent? FYI the ticket agent definitely doesn’t care why you’re buying a plane ticket. The ticket agent just wants your money, not your explanations.

On t’other hand, “The Letter” was written by Wayne Carson Thompson, who also wrote this, so sivilizing him, Mark Twain-style, may prove to be a bit more complicated than she anticipated.

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Not that I’d ask or anything

I have long suspected that universal open-carry laws would discourage rather a lot of perp wannabes on sight, which is probably why we don’t have them: the criminals would probably sue you for restraint of trade, or some such foolishness. However, concealed carry is legal in most civilized parts of the country, though I’ve occasionally found myself wondering how women can conceal at all, given the dictates of fashion.

Which, I suppose, demonstrates that I am a bonehead, since “you do not have to dress like a nun to conceal the tools necessary to defend yourself.” Consider me set straight.

(Holsters at the above link by Michael’s Custom Holsters.)

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Radio silence

The BBC World Service quit beaming shortwave radio to the States a decade ago, although you can still pick it up on satellite (channel 141 on Sirius, 131 on XM). There was not a whole lot of mourning, at least partially because the US is awash in radio services, though few with a comparable level of prestige.

Now places without so much in the way of choice are being cut loose: in anticipation of the loss of government grants — in 2014, the BBC is required to finance the World Service from UK licence fees — five foreign-language services will be dropped, and shortwave transmissions to India, Russia and China will be discontinued.

Perhaps more alarming, at least at this moment, is the impending demise of the shortwave service in the Middle East:

Short-wave broadcasts of the BBC Arabic service, which has around 400,000 listeners in Egypt, will be shut down as part of plans to save £46m from the World Service’s budget. The changes follow a 16% cut in its funding by the government and are likely to lead to the loss of 30 million listeners worldwide.

There will also be “significant reductions” in the BBC’s Arabic TV services, according to the plans outlined by the BBC’s global news director, Peter Horrocks, last week.

The Beeb argues that their overall audience in Egypt is about 3.4 million, and they’re served adequately by FM radio and/or local partners, and by BBCArabic.com, at least when Cairo isn’t blocking the Internet.

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Magical fun-time back-breaking pixie dust

Or, Snowpocalypse Now:

I must point out that while AWD helps you go, it isn’t necessarily going to help you stop, which is just as much of an issue. On the other hand, they got those shoppers dead to rights.

(Via The Truth About Cars. Title swiped from KingShamus.)

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Aerial ballet

Sometimes the Thunder start things off seriously inauspiciously, and this was one of those nights: it took the Jazz about twelve tries to miss a shot, and Utah had a fat 37-27 lead after the first quarter. But from that point on, it was all OKC, and how they did it was wholly unexpected: deployment of the long ball. The Thunder, usually around the bottom of the league in beyond-the-arc prowess, hit 13 of 21, and would have done better except that Kevin Durant was having a slightly-below-average (21 points, 12 rebounds) night. In the last three quarters, it was Thunder 94, Jazz 68, and if Jerry Sloan didn’t actually do a facepalm on camera, he surely was wondering what the hell happened: the Jazz shot over 51 percent, were +2 on the boards, moved the ball with alacrity (30 assists), and yet OKC is going home with a 121-105 win and a 2-1 lead in the season series.

Paul Millsap, who outscored everyone — 34 points, 10 boards — was his usual formidable self, despite getting into foul trouble early, and three other Jazzmen rolled up double digits. But Russell Westbrook (33 points/10 assists) won the Battle of the Point Guards over Deron Williams (14 points/11 assists), and the Jazz bench contributed only 16 points to the cause, two fewer than James Harden. (The Thunder reserves finished with 33.) The Uncle Jeff factor: Jeff Green checked in with 20, missing only one shot all night.

So a titanic defensive struggle this wasn’t. And I’m still trying to figure out how it is that the first three games in this season series have all gone to the visitors. (The fourth game, on the 23rd of March, is in OKC, so the Jazz perhaps have some reason to be hopeful.) But for now — which, I know, doesn’t mean squat — the Thunder are 3½ games up on Denver and 4 on Utah. And the Grizzlies, who have won eight of their last ten, arrive Tuesday night during Blizzard ’11 Part Deux; the one saving grace here may be that the night before, they have to take on the Lakers. Or not, given L.A.’s apparent diffidence about turning the screws this early in the season.

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Quote of the week

In an age of rudeness and incivility, it is a tragedy whenever we lose someone who worked diligently to maintain higher standards in her own life. The following incident in the life of Princesse Ghislaine de Polignac (1918-2011) illustrates the point nicely:

She took a dim view of a society figure who became depressed and threw himself out of the window at his host’s chateau, landing in the moat (so that it was a long time before his body was found). Declaring this to be bad manners because lunch had been delayed, she added: “Listen. If you want to die, there are plenty of places in the world where you can go. You go to Dubrovnik, you put on a moustache and you say you’re a Croat. Someone will certainly kill you.”

Everything in its time, in its place.

(Via Fark.)

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