The advantage of transparency

The Shoe Girl, a favorite around these parts, informed her vast audience that “Clearly, these are sexy shoes.” I, of course, took a look:

Clear Manolos from Saks

Doing due diligence, I asked her about them; said she, they were Manolo Blahniks from Saks.

I didn’t see them among the current Manolos (166 styles!) on the Saks Web site, but she never said they were new; for all I know, they’d been sitting in her closet for ages and were recently unearthed. They appear to be part of his long-running Chaos range, which typically sells for $725.

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Dysbranding

So far as I can tell, this is serious:

People are going to shart when they see that.

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You can barely get there from here

I remain a believer in the Great American Road Trip, mostly because I need a couple more of them to finish off the Roll of the States. (Actually, I can do five of the six remaining on one trip, though it will take a hell of a lot of global cooling to make it possible to drive to Hawaii.) But yes, I’m a fan of stuffing the bags and easing on down the road.

Bill Quick, based on recent experience, thinks otherwise:

Many people chose to drive rather than fly, because it was so much cheaper to do so. That’s no longer true, of course. My SUV gets twenty average on the highway. That’s a hundred gallons of gas each way, 200 total, and at four bucks a gallon, gas alone costs me 800 dollars for a roundtrip to visit my sister. Not to mention the two nights (or even three, depending on how tired I get) spent in motels, almost none of which cost less than a hundred dollars. Toss in thirty bucks a day for travel food, and I’m looking at travel costs for the trip of nearly $1500. Not to mention worrying about the police state drug gestapo lying in wait along my route like brigands of old.

The numbers are certainly consistent with my experience. (Gwendolyn, over the past eight years, has gotten somewhat better mileage than that, but she drinks premium, so it’s essentially a wash.)

So he took to the sky:

$460 for a round trip ticket to Chicago from San Francisco. Forty bucks for the Supershuttle to and from SFO. Another forty bucks for the bus from O’Hare to Michigan City, where my sister met me. No meal or lodging costs. My savings are nearly a thousand bucks.

Of course I have to negotiate the petty tyranny of TSA, which will never go away because it has become yet another quasi-unionized make-work occupation reserved for favored ethnic minorities who aren’t really workers, but de facto welfare recipients at a level far more lucrative than what is available to them via direct transfer payments.

The operative phrase here, unfortunately, is “yet another.”

Then again, Bill was going to see someone. I generally go to see something, which is a somewhat different dynamic.

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Artists gone bad

What might Marion Zimmer Bradley, Ike Turner, and Rolf Harris have in common? Answer: They have grievously sinned, and it has cost them some of their fans.

Repeat: some of their fans.

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Standing exhibit

The first thing you need to know about the Proust Questionnaire is that the questions were not actually written by Proust: it was, rather, the set of answers posted by Proust in a friend’s confession album, circa 1890. The book turned up in 1924, and sold at auction in 2003 for €102,000. Vanity Fair puts out a version, answered by a celebrity, on the back page of each issue. (For the August 2014 issue, it’s Maureen O’Hara, who turns 94 that month.)

Lynn took a stab at the current question list, and while she characterized it as “the makings of a really lame blog post,” well, if you’re good at it, you can make a really lame blog post out of almost anything, as I have done here. Fillyjonk is okay with that idea as well.

Moi? I did a slightly different set of questions, derived from this article, in Vent #303, back in 2002. I read it over last night, and decided I wouldn’t change a thing.

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The wrong parts were ordered, or something

I spent several June evenings reading The Life of the Automobile: The Complete History of the Motor Car (New York: Thomas Dunne Books, 2014), a British-y tome by Steven Parissien that tries its best to walk the narrow path between the scholarly and the conversational. As you might expect, this is a good way to stumble, and while a few things struck me as a little off, Joe Sherlock found a whole warehouse full of howlers:

Sadly, the book told many interesting stories but was so riddled with errors that I didn’t know what to believe, especially Parissien’s tales about the European auto industry, about which I have little expertise. So, I don’t know if the British Citroën factory was really used to make Milky Way and Twix candy bars after Citroën closed it. But I found a plethora of errors and misinformation about subjects I know.

The enormous Slough Trading Estate, founded in Berkshire in 1920, was home to both a Citroën plant and a Mars confectionery; what I’d figured was that when Michelin took over a dead-broke Citroën in 1935, they let go of their piece of the Estate, into which Mars expanded. (Twix did not appear until 1967, at which point the statute of limitations, or something, should have kicked in.)

But Sherlock’s list of anomalies is substantial. A few examples:

Ray Kroc did not force the McDonald brothers out of business; he bought out the fast food pioneers.

The book claims that in “1968, the Toyota Corolla became the first Japanese car to be manufactured in the U.S.” The first Japanese car to be made in America was a Honda, made in Ohio beginning in 1979. Toyota did not begin U.S. assembly until 1984.

The author has a lot of trouble with Lincoln nomenclature, mixing up the iconic ’56-57 Continental Mark II with the 1960 Lincoln Continental Mark V and often refers to the iconic slabside Lincolns of ’61-’65 as “Continental IIIs.”

Although in this latter case, Lincoln almost asked for it; after the ’60 Mark V, the series started again with the Mark III in ’69. Still, there were no Roman numerals associated with the ’61 through ’68 Continentals. (And the current-day MK-whatever practice at Lincoln is a fitting heir to this insanity.)

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Your weekly dose of Hinky

Hinky Dinky Time with Uncle Michael

And this is why you ought to know about it this week, in my semi-humble opinion:

At 9:00 AM (Eastern time) on Friday, July 18th, 2014, please join Uncle Michael in a six-hour odyssey celebrating the history of the Warner Brothers “Loss Leaders.”

Beginning in 1969, Warner Brothers began selling samplers of music by artists on Warner Brothers, Reprise and other, associated labels. These samplers were comprised of a diverse array of artists and styles and were generally presented as double albums which sold for $2. They advertised on the inner sleeves of normal catalog product, in magazine ads, in promotional flyers and at point of sale displays. If you’re of a certain age, these come-ons were ubiquitous.

Listing and classifying these albums has been a side project of this site since the late 20th century. Uncle Michael and I had a longish discussion on what is, and what may not be, a Loss Leader in this context; be it known that I fully support his selections for the playlist, because the guy knows as least as much as I do on the subject, and maybe more.

If you’re not within broadcast distance of the Oranges — WFMU is licensed to East Orange, New Jersey, and its transmitter is located in West Orange — the stream is pretty much always available at wfmu.org.

Update: A darn good show, it was. This was the playlist.

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Swiftly moving

Literally tens of pictures of Taylor Swift cross my desk every month. More, even, now that the @SwiftOnSecurity Twitter account is up to teach us civilians about encryption and post observations like this:

But I wanted to run this one, reportedly snapped after she left the gym Monday, because (1) I can’t help wondering what she’s listening to and (2) she’s a trifle banged up, which supports my ongoing notion that anything perfect is fake.

Taylor Swift doing the long stride

First person to ask “You noticed she’s wearing earbuds?” is forthwith banished.

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Days of yore.dat

Prodigy iconI was there, and by “there” I mean “here, at this desk, logged in,” when Prodigy Classic was put out of its misery just after 11:59 pm on the first of November, 1999. Of course, I’d warned about that several months earlier:

The real disappointment, at least to me, comes not with the announcement of the termination of the service — it had been expected for some time — but with the management’s willingness to blame everything on Y2k. It is no doubt true that Prodigy’s proprietary technologies are not fixable for Y2k; however, Y2k is just the tip of the iceberg. The core of the Prodigy software is ten years old. By the standards of the Net, it’s Fred Flintstone stuff.

We have now discovered that Y2k was, at best, a convenient excuse:

After that shutdown, loyal Prodigy customers, who had hung on to the bitter end, were suspicious about the stated reasons for the closing. And they were mad. Fifteen years later, we can now confirm that their suspicions were correct: “As far as I know, Prodigy Classic being shut down was not influenced by Y2K issues,” recalls [Michael] Doino, the Prodigy employee who actually pulled the plug on the service in 1999.

Where is that enormous amount of data, anyway? Much of it has probably evaporated; the way P* assembled pages, using cached bits from here and there, makes it darn near impossible to trace. And yet:

Fifteen years later, a Prodigy enthusiast named Jim Carpenter has found an ingenious way to bring some of that data back from the dead. With a little bit of Python code and some old Prodigy software at hand, Carpenter, working alone, recently managed to partially reverse-engineer the Prodigy client and eke out some Prodigy content that was formerly thought to have been lost forever.

The ultimate goal of all this? “Some day,” Carpenter says, “I’d like to create something to emulate the Prodigy backend and serve up requested objects to the client.”

I was in my usual chat room when the last goodbye came; I’ve kept about 16k of that room’s final chatter. (Hey, it’s only 15 years old; I have email older than that.)

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Not one of the Pointer Sisters

We start with a question that is essentially unanswerable to begin with:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: Why is my index finger longer then my ring finger?

Actually, there is one sensible response: “Who the hell cares?” But then we get to the heart of the matter:

I am a male but I am not feminine?

This has got to be a metalaw somewhere: “All old wives’ tales end up being circulated by boys.”

I was tempted to tell him “Doesn’t matter, since either one is longer than your peen,” but that seems (slightly) unkinder than necessary. Still, this morbid fear that someone of equal immaturity will call him out will not serve him well in the future, assuming he has one.

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Also, I don’t use jelly

My mother would have objected to this, but then she’s seen me eating peanut butter out of the jar:

Shelf full of Kellogg's Jif cereal

On the upside, there’s no debate on how it’s pronounced.

(Via Cameron Miquelon.)

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The second best that you can do

Nobody knows protectionism like the French, and they’re not afraid of wielding it:

This past October, French lawmakers decided it was time to show Amazon who’s boss. Frustrated by Amazon’s fast and cheap book-selling model, which poses a threat to France’s healthy ecosystem of indie bookstores, politicians banded together to approve a bill that prohibited Jeff Bezos’ company and other online retailers from shipping discounted books for free. The measure is designed to protect traditional booksellers who have complained that Amazon is hurting their businesses.

The new minimum shipping charge from Amazon.fr: €0.01.

“We are unfortunately not allowed to offer you free shipping for ordering books,” Amazon writes in the FAQ section of its website. “We have therefore set delivery fees at one euro-cent for each order that contains books and that is sent by Amazon in order to systematically guarantee you the lowest price for your book orders.”

The other part of the protectionist scheme will not so easily be eluded: France has rewritten its law allowing 5 percent off list price to include brick-and-mortar retailers only. Still, one does not bet against Amazon — not for long, anyway.

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They never outgrow the cheerleaders

I am aware that the ability to lure women half your age into the sack is highly prized these days, at least among men my age. And while I’d be lying if I said I never thought about it, I’d be damned embarrassed if I came off like this:

We met on a dating site. Dave was interesting, gentlemanly and bright. He held my hand and toured with me on long bicycle rides. He drove many miles to come to my door. He made meals for us both and ruffled my dog’s happy head. I was enticed and longed for the full knowing of this man. And so, we planned a weekend together. That’s when things got confusing, unspoken and just-not-quite there. We went to bed in a couple’s way — unclothed and touching — all parts near. Kisses were shared and sleep came in hugs. I attempted more intimacy throughout the weekend and was deterred each time.

On Monday evening over the phone, I asked this man who had shared my bed for three nights running why we had not made love. “Your body is too wrinkly,” he said without a pause. “I have spoiled myself over the years with young woman. I just can’t get excited with you. I love your energy and your laughter. I like your head and your heart. But, I just can’t deal with your body.”

Dave is 55. Apparently he figures he’s still entitled to centerfold material. And this is what upset his applecart so:

I am a 59-year-old woman in great health and in good physical shape. I stand five-feet, nine-inches tall and weigh 135 pounds. I wear a size six in both jeans and panties, and my breasts are nowhere near my navel. In fact, they still struggle to make it full-up in a B-cup bra. My thighs are no longer velvet and my buttocks have dimples. My upper arms wobble a bit and my skin shows the marks of the sun. There is a softness around my waist that is no longer perfectly taut, and the pout of my abdomen attests to a c-section that took its bikini flatness — but gave me a son.

I should be in such shape, qualitatively speaking, at my age, which, you’ll remember, is only slightly beyond hers.

The manosphere would explain to me that Dave’s just exercising his Game, and maybe I’ll give him that. But the time to back off, I contend, is a long time before the third trip to the bedroom. And I have enough douchitude of my own to regret, thank you very much; you’re not helping.

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Ferrous anorthosite, you’re my hero

I had no reason to think this would catch anyone’s eye:

Marisa answered in TLO’s Monday Morning Tweets:

More specifically, lunar ferrous anorthosite.

If you’re not familiar with anorthosite, it’s a phaneritic, intrusive igneous rock characterized by a predominance of plagioclase feldspar (90 to 100 percent) and a minimal mafic component (0 to 10 percent). If you’re looking at the moon, the lighter-colored areas are largely composed of this very rock.

How much of this did I know before sitting down to write this? Around 15 to 25 percent, on a good day.

Maud Pie, alas, was not available for comment.

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Paywall for one and one for paywall

NewsOK has started reproaching me for using AdBlock Plus, and has requested an explanation from among the following choices:

  • To stop automatic video ads from playing.
  • I have privacy concerns.
  • Blocking, speeds up page load times for me.
  • I didn’t realize I was blocking ads on NewsOK.com.
  • I don’t want to see any online advertising.
  • My company blocks online advertising.
  • Other:

For “Other,” try this: “I pay you guys a couple hundred dollars a year and should not be subjected to any further indignities of this sort.”

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Every man an artisan

Just another fad for hipsters? It’s much, much more:

The idea is that all the mindless manual labor which our ancestors spent all of history trying to escape is actually beneficial for you, whereas letting modern machinery do your drudgework, like, cheapens your basic essential humanity somehow. So forget modern, impersonal, factory-made mass-produced clothing; you’re not really “dressed” unless you’re wearing clothes you made yourself, using your own spinning wheel to spin your own thread out of fibers from your own pet sheep or gardenful of flax or cotton plants, then weaving those threads into cloth with your own loom.

This is, after all, The Way It Should Be:

Do what our ancestors did: be independent and self-sufficient, live a healthy, natural back-to-the-Earth lifestyle, spend years of repetitive labor producing a single piece of fabric, then drop dead by 35.

Think of your carbon footprint, man!

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