The lure of no limits

I can think of several reasons why I might want more email space, though as a practical matter, since I don’t leave mail on the server very long, the only limitation I’m likely to run into is Maximum Item Size, which varies with mail providers, though 40 MB is typical. The problem with that, though, is my backup routine: the script is supposed to back up the entire 60-MB MySQL database that runs this joint, gzip it, and then email me the .gz file. The gzip process, however, is running out of memory, and the script then tries to email me the full 60 MB, which fails at server level. I’m currently looking for alternatives, but that’s another story. (Nor am I alone in this: a friend this week was amazed that in this day and age, she could not email someone the contents of a music mix, because it exceeded the maximum item size.)

Meanwhile, this bit of pretentious nonsense was dropped into my box, allegedly from an ISP:

Dear Cox Customers,

You are advices to provided the necessary information needed to upgrade your mailbox quota for unlimited storage and spam blocker as well. Fill in the necessary information on the provided link below and make sure all corresponding information are correct.

The link goes to a Google Docs spreadsheet. (“You like Google, don’t you?”)

And, of course, there’s the veiled threat:

Failure to attend to this email will lead to disable of your mailbox and lost of personal information.

Windows Live Mail correctly spotted this as junk, noting that it was sent from a non-Cox address.

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A smuttering of pros

The shortlist for the 2012 Bad Sex Awards has been unveiled, and the Guardian’s critic seems most impressed by the absence of two particular writers:

The two authors heavily tipped to take this year’s most coveted and dreaded literary prize have failed to make the shortlist. Neither J. K. Rowling, for her first adult novel [The Casual Vacancy], nor E. L. James for her Fifty Shades trilogy, will be adding the bad sex trophy to their mantelpieces.

By comparison, the writers who did make the list are given short, indeed miniscule, shrift, even second-time nominee Tom Wolfe, who earned his spot on the list for this passage from Back to Blood:

Now his big generative jockey was inside her pelvic saddle, riding, riding, riding, and she was eagerly swallowing it swallowing it swallowing it with the saddle’s own lips and maw — all this without a word.

If you ask me, Wolfe has a clopfic just waiting in the wings. (Which, if it’s truly in the wings, would have to involve two pegasi.)

(Via languagehat.)

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Four cool cats

On the first day of January 1962, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Pete Best showed up at Decca Records in London and recorded fifteen songs — two written by Paul, one by John, and twelve covers — in the hopes of getting a record contract. Staff producer Tony Meehan presided over the session.

“Guitar groups are on the way out,” read Decca’s official rejection, sent to the Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein. This seemed implausible, inasmuch as Decca eventually signed the Tremeloes, a guitar group, who had auditioned the same day. My own theory, for what it’s worth, is that Meehan, who’d been a professional drummer — with the legendary Shadows, no less — was unimpressed by Best’s kit work, and recommended to the higher-ups that the Beatles be passed by.

Epstein had apparently paid Meehan to produce a ten-track demo which could be theoretically shopped elsewhere. That tape is now about to go up for auction:

[T]he original safety master tape the group recorded at Decca’s London studios on New Year’s Day 1962 has come to public light for the first time.

It is thought the Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein held on to the tape he had paid to make, and later gave it to an executive associated with EMI… He sold it in 2002 to a prolific buyer of music memorabilia, who is now selling it at auction with a pre-sale estimate of £30,000.

Bootlegs of this material have been circulating for years, and five of the tracks were subsequently released on the Beatles’ Anthology 1. The ten tracks on the demo, presumably the ones Epstein deemed strongest, include both McCartney tunes. And the Beatles redid two of the covers — “Money (That’s What I Want)” and “Till There Was You” (yes, from The Music Man) — for With the Beatles, their second album for EMI’s Parlophone label.

The one track that fascinates me the most is “Money,” not so much because John really stretched his voice on the lead, but because it’s a piano-driven song, and no piano was available for the audition. (George Martin himself played the piano part on the With the Beatles version.) The result could almost be passed off as a surf record.

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Consider yourself tagged

A War on Women, you say? Get a whiff of this:

Denied the right to travel without consent from their male guardians and banned from driving, women in Saudi Arabia are now monitored by an electronic system that tracks any cross-border movements.

Since last week, Saudi women’s male guardians began receiving text messages on their phones informing them when women under their custody leave the country, even if they are travelling together… Women are not allowed to leave the kingdom without permission from their male guardian, who must give his consent by signing what is known as the “yellow sheet” at the airport or border.

This strikes me as just a bit more severe than, say, refusing to pay for contraception. But maybe that’s just me.

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Imagine the premiums

This was obviously a two-page spread originally, but we’re looking at page two (click it to see the whole thing):

Angie Dickinson for Vectra

“Looking like a million” refers to a celebrity practice utterly justifiable yet still sounding outlandish, which began in the 1920s with actor Ben Turpin, a cross-eyed fellow who evidently felt as though he’d be swept from the spotlight if those eyes ever uncrossed, so he took out a $25,000 insurance policy to pay off if it ever happened. As it happened, what killed his career was the rise of talkies; he worked only sporadically in the 1930s, living off his investment income.

The nicely crossed legs here belong to Angie Dickinson, who’d bought a million-dollar policy, as Betty Grable had a couple of decades before, and as did Mary Hart a couple of decades later. (Grable, in fact, starred in a film called Million Dollar Legs in 1939.) As for Vectra itself, the fiber began showing up in carpeting and upholstery in the 1960s, then faded from view.

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Diseconomies of scale

What it’s like to be the queen of yo-yo dieting, as told by Her Majesty Herself:

I no longer know if someone I haven’t seen in a while is giving me that look because I have gained a lot of weight since they last saw me or if I have lost a lot of weight since they last saw me. Actually, my default is to assume that I’ve gained a lot of weight, if the look isn’t quickly followed by “you look great.” Evidently, one NEVER looks great after massive weight gain and the politest of company will stare and then quickly change the subject to “what’ve I been up to these days?” Apparently, eating Doritos.

There are, of course, bottom-line (so to speak) considerations:

Frankly, I don’t even really care about my own weight fluctuations, except if it goes way too far in one direction or the other and I am forced to buy large quantities of new clothes. I DO care about my money.

Always remember: priorities.

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Sputtering around

Hanging around in Yahoo! Answers has given me new insights into America’s car smarts, or the lack thereof. I mean, it’s damned near 2013 and people are still whining about a bad tank of gas?

Why, yes, they are:

On the most recent edition of MotorWeek, Pat Goss warned about the dangers of bad fuel. What danger? The last time I encountered a problem with subpar pump gas was almost fifty years ago.

In his best scary, boogeyman’s-gonna-get-ya voice, Goss warned that “problems” can occur when patronizing “low-volume gas stations.” Huh? No such animals exist around here. So many stations have closed over the past 20 years that only the volume guys remain.

But people will cling to this belief, simply because it’s a whole lot easier to swallow than “Some emissions-related thingumabob went out and it’s gonna cost you $300 to fix.” Somewhere in this country, some time this weekend, some poor shlub is going to hear his transmission grenading at 70 mph, and is going to spend the next half hour looking for the fuse box because hey, fuses!

In point of fact, though:

[I]f your car breaks down these days, the only “tools” you need in your vehicle are a charged cell phone, a valid AAA membership and a bottle of wine with a screw top — to consume while you’re waiting for the tow truck to arrive.

And people like this will drive you to drink: “Will a 5 lug spare fit my ford escort 4lug?” I was tempted to tell him that he had to change the lug fuse.

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Take these thumbs and shove ’em

Facebook passed around this note yesterday:

We are also proposing changes to our site governance process for future updates to our Data Use Policy and SRR [Statement of Rights and Responsibilities]. We deeply value the feedback we receive from you during our comment period but have found that the voting mechanism created a system that incentivized quantity of comments over the quality of them. So, we are proposing to end the voting component in order to promote a more meaningful environment for feedback.

Did anyone not see that coming? Besides Facebook, I mean.

Here’s the list of proposed changes. There seems to be a Like button on it.

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No “bullet-nose” reference

Add to the list of Things I Did Not Know the fact that Abraham Lincoln rode around in a Studebaker:

The much-heralded Steven Spielberg film, Lincoln, is generating historic ticket sales along with renewed interest in our 16th US President.

That interest should include the whereabouts of the horse-drawn carriage that transported him to Ford’s Theatre that fateful night in 1865, and later rushed him to medical help nearby after being fatally shot by John Wilkes Boothe.

Lincoln’s presidential carriage was a Studebaker, and it is on display in the Studebaker National Museum in South Bend, Indiana.

So far as I know, he never used it to pursue vampires.

Lincoln, the auto make, didn’t produce any cars until after World War I — they made aircraft engines during the war — and they didn’t supply official Presidential vehicles until 1939, when they delivered a V12-powered convertible to Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

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The baking of Mr Paul

It’s sobering to think what might have happened if Chris Paul had had a good night. As it stands, the Clippers collected second-chance points with great vigor and rolled up foul shots in the fourth quarter — even DeAndre Jordan, who never makes free throws, was making free throws — and Jamal Crawford, a legitimate Sixth Man of the Year contender, was living up to his billing. The Thunder got the lead midway through the first quarter, ran it into double digits several times, only to see the Clips tie it with 36 seconds left. A Russell Westbrook jumper clanged short; CP3 was ready to close it out in his own inimitable fashion, but his last-second shot failed to connect. At the time, he was 1-12. (That’s what we have Thabo Sefolosha for.) He ended up at 2-14 as the Clips, who’d garnered 33 points in the fourth quarter, were held to seven in overtime, and the Thunder, sweaty but happy, killed L.A.’s streak at six with a 117-111 win.

Did we mention second-chance points? Los Angeles took 14 more shots than OKC, though they made only four more. Caron Butler was missing in action, but Matt Barnes subbed with distinction, recording 19 points and nine boards before fouling out. Blake Griffin led the Clips with 23, though he posted a team-low -12. Crawford had 20 from the bench. (CP3 scored nine, five of them from the foul line.) And Jordan pulled off a double-double, 12 points and 10 rebounds. On most nights, this would be enough to beat anybody.

But this wasn’t a night like that. The return of Durant/Westbrook as Batman and Robin was the story in the bonus period, accounting for all 15 points (KD had nine, Westbrook six). KD hit his season high: 35 points. Westbrook had 23; Kevin Martin, steady as always, paced the bench with 20; Serge Ibaka collected a double-double (15 points, 12 boards) before fouling out. And something you’ve seldom seen before: Hasheem Thabeet in double figures. Okay, it was just ten, but still: Hasheem the Dream in double figures. Those of us who wondered what Sam Presti was up to, dealing for this guy, will get an extra serving of crow tomorrow.

Still, these Clippers are no slouches. And they’ve pretty much buried the Other Team in L.A. business. (The Clips are now 8-3; the Lakers were 6-5 going into tonight’s game with the Kings.) On the upside, we only have to play them twice more; unfortunately, both those games are at Staples.

Friday at Boston, Saturday at Philadelphia. Winnable, yes; a walk, not even.

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Quite typewriter-y

Deep disclosure from Morgan Freeberg on Facebook:

Just about gave my soon-to-be-wife a heart attack.

I was looking up the phone number of the woman who’s coordinating all these job interviews on my behalf, so for all practical purposes you could say she’s the hiring manager… I realized something, you can type in all the letters of her last name with your left hand, just like with “Freeberg.” Meaning both our last names can be entered while you’re holding a beer! Hey, maybe if I pointed that out to her, you think I’ll get the job?

Score it under “intangibles.” I’d consider that a plus, but no one is likely to ask me to do any hiring any time in the next several decades.

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Prospective perspective

Mixed reviews for Joe Wright’s take on Anna Karenina prompt this idea:

Since everyone is rewriting famous novels from the bad guys’ point of view (from Grendel to the one about Mr Rochester’s wife) maybe someone should write a novel from nerdy but reliable husband’s point of view, or even Vronsky, whose flirtation with a married woman (very common back then) left him saddled with an erratic “wife” who destroyed his career and life … which is why ironically his mother is one of the few in the book who calls Anna an “evil” woman (most of the good people in the book see her as a good woman who fell into evil ways and they want to rescue her from it)…

Is there any demand for nerdy but reliable husbands?

On a semi-unrelated note, there’s a full-page ad for Fifty Shades of Grey in this month’s Maxim. In Maxim, fercrissake!

Then there’s this:

This is, by a not-inconsiderable margin, the most fun I’ve had with a vaguely-semi-crossover-type tale since I abandoned my dream of hooking up Anna Corralnina with old moneybags Count Vronsteed.

I’d say that’s nerdy without being reliable.

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A triumph of the spoils system

Residents of any of the 57 states will happily testify that they have the worst drivers in the nation, and finding egregious examples thereof is child’s play.

For instance, there’s Sheila Burgess:

[She has] had 32 entries on her driving record since 1984.

Those included seven accidents, four speeding violations, two failure-to-stop-for-an-officer citation and one failure-to-wear-a-seat-belt mark.

She’s been on leave from work lately, recovering from a head injury sustained in a one-car accident this past summer. It appears, though, that she’s about to lose her job as Massachusetts’ Director of Highway Safety.

Oh, you wonder how she got this job? Wonder no more:

Burgess is a former fund-raising consultant to high-profile Democratic candidates for public office, including Congressman James McGovern, whose office said on Friday that McGovern asked the newly elected [Deval] Patrick administration in 2007 to hire Burgess, but without suggesting a specific role for her. She is paid $87,000 annually.

I wonder what percentage of that goes to auto insurance.

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I can go for that (no can do)

One of the things that irks me about Halloween is the so-called “fun size” candy bar; as has been pointed out elsewhere, if it were truly “fun” it would be about the size of a loaf of bread.

That said, Fun Size is the title of a film released the weekend before Halloween this year under the auspices of Nickelodeon, which would be worth mentioning just because it carried an actual PG-13 rating, unheard of for Nick’s theatrical releases, but I bring it up here to show you this picture of star Victoria Justice, in Toronto at MuchMusic HQ to promote the film, circa 17 October.

Victoria Justice at MuchMusic

Of course, VJ is insanely cute, but what demanded the inclusion of this picture was her T-shirt, featuring the jacket art for the Daryl Hall/John Oates album Private Eyes, released a mere eleven and a half years before her birth.

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Negative nutrition

Dave Schuler’s annotated list of the ingredients in Hostess Twinkies begins, as all such lists should, with the most prominent ingredient:

Enriched wheat flour is wheat flour from which most of the nutrients have been removed. We make a lot of it here but some is also imported from Canada, Australia, and elsewhere.

Well, it’s a little more complicated than that. Most of the nutrients indeed have been removed; however, a few of them — certainly not all — have been added back in.

And anyway, it’s all in the description. I saw a box of taco shells the other day that boasted “Whole Grain Corn.”

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Message out of a bottle

My Mushy Side — which I’m beginning to think is my front — got all misty about this:

In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, amid a mess of displaced personal items, a miracle has emerged: 57 vintage love letters were discovered [Thursday] in the debris. Even more surprising is how they found their way to Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey — and that they’re still legible.

The vintage in question: 1942 through 1948.

It was a 14-year-old boy who stumbled upon the soggy notes as he sifted through remnants of belongings along the shore with his mother.

Mom tracked down the original recipient, who’s now 91, and is returning them to her. Apparently she hasn’t seen them in years, and the sender died in 1991.

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