It’s never too late to shut up

You’d think Wesley Crusher, of all people, would have realized that:

Recently, Mister [Wil] Wheaton committed the heinous crime of referring to someone as his “spirit animal.” Spirit animals, based on totemic beliefs, come from a number of different cultures throughout the world, but Tumblr seized on this and shredded Wheaton for appropriation of Native American culture. So of course, he did the smart thing by acknowledging people’s concerns privately and moving on with his life.

Nah, I’m kidding. He picked one of the less irate messages and replied to it with (and I hate using these words) copious amounts of White Guilt™, wallowing for forgiveness and cursing his ancestors. And of course, Tumblr saw how remorseful he was, and forgave him.

Nah, I’m kidding. His apology was dissected, and he was vilified even more with his own words. And so he got up and yelled back, and told people not to be a dick again, despite continuing on being a dick himself. This continued until a voice of reason, an actual Native woman herself, spoke up and politely asked all the White Saviours™ of Tumblr to stop telling her how to be offended, apologized to Wheaton for the kerfuffle, and explained that “Native Americans of all tribes pride themselves on being generous with our cultural iconography.”

Nah, he’s kidding. She denounced the living crap out of the White Saviours™ (below the jump for language considerations):

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Strange search-engine queries (438)

This feature has appeared more or less uninterrupted for over seven years, and unlike the case with some ventures I could name, I have the archives to prove it.

cheap pimped 90s 323s forsale hatchbacks:  Fortunately, pimping a vehicle tends to reduce its resale value, so “cheap” might actually be possible.

rebecca black “saturday” “synthpop”:  Well, it certainly isn’t death metal.

hertzlinger doritos:  Available only during certain times of the year.

How much does a engine weigh in the 1988 Mazda 626:  People asking this are really asking “Do I have to have an engine hoist?” Yes, you do.

origin of the term dirt bag:  Well, it certainly can’t be older than dirt.

jury rig 90 geo prizm oil cap:  Of course, ever last one in the junkyard is gone, because everyone else did the same damned thing.

surlier:  A combination of “surly” and “earlier,” this describes my mood after being told I have to go to work two hours before the usual start time.

penislenthoil:  Probably expensive, like all synthetics aimed at the desperation marketplace.

drowned ferraris:  Funny thing: they can’t swim.

yaris sixy gairl rapes xxx you tube:  See how you like it if you’re raped with a Yaris. Or, indeed, any small Toyota.

Intructions making antidote to reverse the action and visible within an hour instead of a day:  Unfortunately, it’s printed in invisible ink. Maybe tomorrow.

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Papa’s got a brand new Baghdad

So what happens next in Iraq? What will the US do?

Based on recent experience, something feckless and incompetent that makes America look stupid and does nothing to stop the killing. Worst case, something so blisteringly stupid that the Muslim fanatics take a temporary break from killing each other to kill Americans.

I know that sounds harsh and mean and unsympathetic, but really there is no action the US government can take to stop the killing in Iraq or any other Muslim nation. For a significant fraction of Muslims, killing is what they do.

And, of course, they should be allowed to do exactly that. Because culture. Beheadings? Female genital mutilation? Forced marriages? Well, at least they don’t say anything about having to pay for contraception.

It’s easy and not unreasonable to call out the feckless incompetence of the Obama administration on foreign policy. But in the case of Iraq, it seems to me that it’s mostly the fault of the Iraqis.

Save a slice of that fault for George W. Bush, who tried to follow something sensible — deposing Saddam Hussein — with something essentially impossible: so-called “nation-building.” That’s done from within, not from without. Always.

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Out of sync

How can you be subjected to peer pressure when you don’t have any peers?

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Walk this way, or else

TSA scanner usage is on the wane, says Jack Baruth:

Use of the scanners is decreasing, slowly but surely, as TSA holds out exemption from them as a piece of candy to be given to the subservient. Are you a child? You don’t have to go into the scanners. After all, no child has ever carried a bomb anywhere. Are you the parent of a child? You also get to skip the scanners, because no parent anywhere has ever sacrificed themselves or their children for a political ideal. Are you old? You can skip them, because old people never do anything rash.

The most recent exemption, which I’ve witnessed twice in the past week, boggles the mind. If you are traveling with an emotional comfort dog, you can skip the scanner. That’s right. Carry a dog, skip the scanner. This is where we are as a country: we value the emotional comfort of an emotional comfort dog over the safety of Americans on a plane. Of course, since the scanners are just there for theater, it doesn’t really matter if you’re carrying a dog or not, they’re useless and the metal detector is to be preferred for all reasons that are grounded in reality — but what does this say about the ridiculousness of the TSA? Do they really think that Al-Qaeda can’t get their hands on a small-breed dog?

Perhaps they’re thinking that the traditional Muslim eww-dogs-have-cooties doctrine would stay the hand of the jihadi — in which case, perhaps you should obtain an emotional comfort piglet and be sure.

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Something about unlimited support

There are actual alpha males, and then there are males who imagine that they’d be alpha if only they had [obviously absent characteristic]. I suspect this guy of being one of the latter:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: Why doesn't Bill Gates have a hotter wife?

To amplify:

I mean he’s a multi billion dollar inventor. Basically all the hottest women would want him. Why doesn’t he have a hotter wife and why have he never had one who is hotter?

Melinda Gates headshotThis assumes two things: that guys with multiple billions are as a matter of course expected to land someone in the Leggy Supermodel class, and that when they don’t do so, it’s a matter of interest to the rest of the world. It would never occur to this guy that Bill Gates might have won the heart of exactly the woman he wanted.

Besides, as anyone who’s ever worked at Microsoft undoubtedly knows by now, you can’t force an upgrade on someone without causing major heartbreak, or at least a major pain in the hindquarters.

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Clutch this, pal

This item dropped into the spam trap late Friday night:

I’ll immediately clutch your rss as I can’t to find your e-mail subscription link or e-newsletter service. Do you have any? Kindly let me understand so that I may subscribe. Thanks.

No, she doesn’t find my ideas intriguing; the link she gave me goes to some place where you can buy Instagram followers.

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Where have all the Hummers gone?

Not every one, but certainly a lot of them, wound up in Ulaanbaatar, capital of Mongolia:

I saw dozens of Hummers every day in UB and no, it was not the same doing the rounds, I checked.

All models are represented, with the H2 being the most frequent. When riding my bike to Terelj National Park, I was even passed by a hugely huge H1 Alpha Wagon and it took both sides of the road to pass my tiny mountain bike! Scary. I also spotted a few pick-ups. One interesting fact in Ulaanbaatar is that a majority of these Hummers are driven by women. With 80% of the highest-ranking jobs in the capital held by women it makes sense that they drive one of the most expensive American vehicles around.

Is this the answer to “What would Genghis Khan drive?”

In 2010 Terbish Bolor-Erdene, a 30 year-old entrepreneur president of the Mongolia Hummer Club, said there are around 300 Hummers in Ulaanbaatar, a quarter of them sold through his dealership. This number could well have jumped to 500 or 600 today. “The Hummer started out as a military vehicle and we Mongols still think of ourselves as warriors. It’s just a perfect fit for our country and our people,” he said.

And if it’s not a Hummer, it’s a hybrid:

If the very high ratio of used right-hand drive Japanese imports in the streets of Ulaanbaatar was a logical continuation of what I had progressively observed as I traveled further East in Russia, the big difference is the extremely high occurrence of hybrid models, namely the first two generations Toyota Prius. It turns out that imported used hybrid cars are exempt from import taxes, but the very harsh weather Ulaanbaatar experiences during winter still makes it a puzzling choice.

Somehow hybrid cars and temperatures going down as low as -40° to -45°C seems to be an odd combination. But speaking with a few drivers in the capital city, they all told me one of the main advantages of owning a hybrid car and particularly a Toyota Prius is that they always start without a fault each morning in winter, no matter how crazy the temperature is. That is definitely not the case for non-hybrid cars, in particular the hordes of used and battered Hyundais I spotted all across the country.

There are, says the roving reporter, “thousands” of Prii in the Mongolian capital, and, to his surprise, rather a lot of these contraptions.

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But enough said about that

Eve Hewson, quoted in the July Vanity Fair: “I dress pretty much like a nine-year-old boy.”

My inner nine-year-old girl was immediately curious, and I hit up the search engines, but found nothing really persuasive. Perhaps this is how she avoids paparazzi, and therefore there are no pictures.

I did, however, find several items like this:

Eve Hewson semi=prone

I certainly don’t remember any of that sort of thing when I was an actual nine-year-old boy.

Eve is her middle name: her first name is Memphis, and her parents are Bono (yes!) and Ali Hewson. Despite serious parental disapproval, she started acting in 2005 at the age of fourteen in Erica Dunton’s short Lost and Found alongside older sister Jordan. (Bono, said to be the uncredited producer, presumably is responsible for Eve’s billing as “Brenda M. Stankard.”) Dunton brought her back for the 2008 feature The 27 Club; she’s also appeared in Enough Said (as the daughter of the James Gandolfini character) and This Must Be the Place. In none of these, so far as I can tell, does she look like a subtween boy.

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Now pay attention, dirndl

Amazingly, Say Yes to the Dress has run for ten seasons on TLC. I haven’t watched much of it, but I suspect there were moments when someone might have said No, though they may not have made it into the final edit.

There are, of course, other things one might say to a dress:

3. “Why don’t you have any pockets?”

10. “That is an unreasonable place to put a zipper.”

13. “It’s freezing. Please stop exposing so much of my skin. I feel like you’re doing this on purpose. It’s at least a little passive-aggressive. Your fabric is so sheer! What are you even made of, whispers?”

“No,” it turns out, is number 15.

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Something, um, happened

Can’t find your tax-return documentation? Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX) to the rescue:

Taxpayers who do not produce documents for the Internal Revenue Service will be able to offer a variety of dubious excuses under legislation introduced by Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX 36) a week after the IRS offered an incredibly dubious excuse for its failure to turn documents over to House investigators.

Under Stockman’s bill, “The Dog Ate My Tax Receipts Act,” taxpayers who do not provide documents requested by the IRS can claim one of the following reasons:

  1. The dog ate my tax receipts
  2. Convenient, unexplained, miscellaneous computer malfunction
  3. Traded documents for five terrorists
  4. Burned for warmth while lost in the Yukon
  5. Left on table in Hillary’s Book Room
  6. Received water damage in the trunk of Ted Kennedy’s car
  7. Forgot in gun case sold to Mexican drug lords
  8. Forced to recycle by municipal Green Czar
  9. Was short on toilet paper while camping
  10. At this point, what difference does it make?

Stockman’s bill likely faces an uphill battle in Congress, whose attention has been distracted of late by the annual Invertebrate Festival (January 2 until gaveled to a close).

(Via this Smitty tweet.)

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Beware of geeks bearing GIFs

Why, they might not actually be GIFs at all:

Twitter started supporting animated GIFs. But there’s a catch! What Twitter ends up showing you isn’t actually a GIF at all. EVERYBODY PAAANIIIIIIC.

Note: don’t actually panic. This isn’t a bad thing. Quite the contrary.

As noticed by the folks over at Embedly, the “GIFs” that end up in your Twitter feed aren’t actually GIFs at all. They’re technically not even really image files in a strict sense — they’re more like video files without sound. They’re MP4s, embedded with the HTML5 video tag. Even if you upload a GIF, it’s converted into an MP4.

And why is this good? Embedly explains:

GIFs are terrible at compression… A GIF is literally a sequence of independent images squeezed into the same file. An mp4 video can take advantage of all kinds of fancy compression techniques like keyframes and forward-predictive frames.

If most of your users are on mobile, this is a huge win. Even desktop users will notice better performance on a page with many GIFs.

(Via this Adam Gurri tweet.)

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Leader of the laundromat

A little bit of turn-of-the-century history:

It was a pretty efficient kick, given the size of the deadbolt; the jamb was nicely splintered. The perp’s efficiency, however, stopped there; not only did he overlook the camera hanging right beside the door, he didn’t get much of anything other than frustration. I calculate my losses at $3.25, from a dish of quarters I was saving up for laundry, and about five minutes’ time to tidy up.

Thirteen quarters out the damaged door. This is precisely why I am not going to mock this startup outfit that will ship you (in a mere two days) a $10 roll of quarters for $15:

Laundry pickup services are expensive and often have long turnaround times. For many folks, the biggest pain point is simply finding enough quarters. Banks have long lines and close early. Grocery and convenience stores aren’t always willing to give out more than a few dollars worth of quarters at a time. We put getting quarters on autopilot so you never have to worry about it again.

I need hardly point out that someone who is routinely visiting the local laundromat (which term used to be a trademark of Westinghouse) probably doesn’t have time to visit all those other places on a regular basis, and also probably doesn’t have three weeks’ worth of clothes on hand. And considering what a roll of quarters weighs — half a pound, unless you have the old silver coins on hand, in which case you’re probably not shoving half a dozen of them at a time into the nearest Speed Queen — a lot of that $5 markup is going just for shipping costs.

A decade ago, I spent $800 on laundry equipment so I wouldn’t have to do that again, plus God knows how much in subsequent years to keep the machines powered up and running. I don’t regret it for a moment. But if I hadn’t, I’d probably be sending off for a roll of quarters every two weeks.

(Who’s that banging on the piano? I don’t know.)

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We don’t read in this town

“This town” being Leawood, Kansas, hard by State Line Road and therefore practically in Missouri. The 30,000 or so residents are generally wealthy and possibly happy, and the authorities are decidedly anal:

Over the last year or so, Little Free Libraries have been sprouting up across the Kansas City metro. The idea is pretty simple: You construct a birdhouse-like box, paint it up, put it in your yard, and fill it with some books. Anybody who passes by is free to take a book, swap a book, or add a new book to the little library. It’s an informal thing that’s meant to promote literacy and community in a cute, friendly way.

Leawood ain’t about that life.

Brian Collins and his son, Spencer, built a Free Little Library as a Mother’s Day gift this year, at their home in north Leawood, near 89th Street and Ensley Lane. They went out of town for a few weeks and arrived home recently to find a letter from the city informing them that the structure ran against city codes. “Your take a book leave a book structure must be attached to the house,” the letter read.

Collins has since taken down the box, to the delight of at least one person:

KCTV 5 found a neighbor who is glad the city is forcing Collins to remove the library because it’s an “eyesore.” That person chose to speak anonymously, probably because he or she did not wish to be outed as the most boring/crotchety/joyless human in the metropolitan area.

If there’s a Homeowners’ Association in the neighborhood, this jerk(ette) is almost certainly on the board.

Note to Oklahoma City: Don’t even think of doing this. We’re doing fine.

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Quote of the week

Roberta X has had enough of our little pissing contests:

Once again, Larry Correia, John Scalzi and some nitwit I never heard of much are spatting. In a better world, I’d be able to say, “Boys! Go to your rooms,” but until I am elected Empress of All For Life, here’s a stopgap for the cheering hundreds, specifically those writing comments along the order of, “Yeah! $BAD _STUFF should happen to $GUY_I_DISAGREE_WITH! He’s bad and he should feel bad about it.”

Yeah, y’know what, Bucko? No. Not. This here is the United States of America and people are allowed to be right out there being WRONG, walking around and talking and spreading wrongness and bad advice everywhere. And dammit, that’s actually how most of us like it. Oh, we don’t want to sit next to ‘em on the bus, those wrong people who disagree with us, but if it’s the last seat left, we will, and most of the time, they’ll even scooch over a bit.

And unfuck you Left, Right or Center if you don’t like that. No, seriously: that attitude is The Real Problem. It’s the very same exact damn thing that led to riots by chariot-team boosters in Byzantium. I don’t expect it will change, really.

You can read some of the spattage for yourself if you’re so inclined. In the meantime, I await the rise of her empire.

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But does it taste like chicken?

The Chinese division of Walmart is taking steps to improve packaged-food quality:

Wal-Mart plans to triple spending on food safety in China, where fox meat was found in packages labelled as “Five Spice” donkey meat in January.

The masquerading meat came from a local supplier. After the discovery, the company said it would increase checks on vendors to ensure they have the necessary permits and do DNA testing of meat sold in China.

I don’t know which possibility is more worrisome: that people can’t tell the difference between fox and donkey, or that they can.

(Via Interested-Participant.)

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