I do not like this “violence” scam

I do not think it’s worth a damn:

A Toronto citizen challenged the Dr. Seuss children’s classic Hop on Pop for encourag[ing] children to use violence against their fathers, Time reports.

The complainant asserted that Toronto’s public libraries should issue a formal apology to the fathers of Toronto, and then “pay for damages resulting from the book.”

The news came to light in a year-end report by the library system, which paid no damages, issued no apology and, in fact, allowed Hop on Pop to remain on library shelves, where it has been since 1963.

Obviously a “toque-wearing looney,” says the Friar.

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It’s that whole sliding-door thing

A fellow in Missouri who probably drives a Dodge Grand Caravan writes to the editor of Motor Trend about those wicked crossovers:

I love to speak to people who own these CUVs. I love to ask, “What kind of mileage do you get with your minivan?” The question is usually followed by a glare or quick reply of, “It’s not a minivan!”

Clearly, there is an issue here with self-esteem. What are they running from? Is my masculinity in question because I enjoy our minivan?

This was published in the June issue, page 42. On page 61 of the same issue is an ad for Grizzly long-cut snuff which says “Never let a minivan pass you on the highway.”

I believe he has his answer.

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But it’s not causation

Still, the science would seem to be settled:

Actually, it would seem to indicate a need to cut the price of potato chips.

Either way, expect Frito-Lay to present a spirited defense.

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Comparatively uncommon courtesy

“Weird Al” Yankovic’s “Craigslist,” apart from being the best Doors pastiche ever — heck, Ray Manzarek himself actually plays on it — demonstrates for the umpteenth time that Yankovic is way ahead of the cultural curve. From the spoken-word section:

An open letter to the snotty barista at the Coffee Bean on San Vicente Boulevard: I know there were twenty people behind me in line. But I was on a cell phone call with my mother. Didn’t you see me hold up my index finger? That means, “I’ll order my soy decaf hazelnut latte in just a couple minutes.” So what’s with the attitude, lady? No tip for you!

Comes now Matt Walsh, with an exhortation to us all:

My fellow customers, we can all make the world a better place. We can start today. All we have to do is, when interacting with the person taking our order or ringing up our purchases, PUT THE PHONE DOWN.

PUT DOWN YOUR GODFORSAKEN PHONE.

Every fiber of my being wishes that I could just rip it out of someone’s hands and toss it into a blender the next time I see something like that. I believe I would be entirely justified; I’d be doing the Lord’s work. A choir of angels would sing my praises, if only I exacted swift and righteous vengeance upon the next dismissive, pompous, arrogant diva who can’t be bothered to place his phone into his pocket for 90 seconds in order to engage with the human being standing 3 feet from him. But I know that — while God would be on my side — the law would not.

Theft, assault, destruction of property, illegal usage of a blender. They’d throw the book at me, I’m sure.

One of the reasons I didn’t bother getting any wireless service until well into this century was simply that I didn’t like the idea of an ethereal tether: I find no value in being connected while I’m doing something else. (I admit that I once took a call on an onramp to the Pennsylvania Turnpike, which was probably not the best idea I ever had, inasmuch as I had never before even seen the Pennsylvania Turnpike.) Obviously I don’t want to be cut off altogether, but I’m just enough of a control freak to want some say-so over the timing.

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Who’s that lady?

A lament by Samantha Escobar at The Gloss:

Sometimes, I wonder if the people editing these photos even know what the celebrities they are doing Photoshop work on actually look like. If they did, they would probably not remove all their facial texture or turn them into triple-jointed aliens.

She offers the example of Shailene Woodley (Divergent) on the cover of the April Marie Claire, which is category A: “remove all their facial texture.”

Shailene Woodley on the cover of Marie Claire

For reference, a red-carpet shot of Woodley:

Shailene Woodley at the Independent Spirit Awards

Now that’s probably closer to, if perhaps not entirely, “unfiltered.”

Woodley’s on the cover of InStyle for June, and I adored the Dolce & Gabbana dress and the orange Prada shoes, but something seems a bit off here too:

Shailene Woodley on the cover of InStyle

Is it my imagination, or is one arm distinctly thicker than the other?

Addendum: InStyle has released a Behind the Scenes video for this shoot. (Warning: brief commercial plus interstitial survey.)

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They know nothing

Was this truly television’s most tasteless sitcom ever?

Hogan’s Heroes premiered on September 17, 1965, and quickly became the most popular new show of the year. In fact, for several seasons it ranked in TV’s top 20 programs … but it never escaped the controversy it premise engendered: Was it immoral to portray history’s most evil killers as bumbling — even lovable — buffoons week after week, just to make a buck? One critic wrote: “Granted, this show is often funny and well-acted. But there’s simply no excuses for turning the grim reality of Nazi atrocities into fodder for yet another brainless joke.” Another wrote simply: “What’s next? A family sitcom set in Auschwitz?”

Three words: Springtime for Hitler.

And guess who defended the show:

Ironically, the biggest apologists for the show were its Jewish cast members — including all four of the actors who played the regular Nazi characters — Colonel Klink, Sergeant Schultz, General Burkhalter, and Major Hochstetter. Not only were they Jewish, but three were actually refugees from Nazi Germany.

Then there was Robert Clary, who played Corporal LeBeau:

In 1942, because he was Jewish, he was deported to the Nazi concentration camp at Ottmuth. He was later sent to Buchenwald, where he was liberated on April 11, 1945. Twelve other members of his immediate family were sent to Auschwitz. Clary was the only survivor.

Clary is the last surviving member of the Hogan’s Heroes cast.

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It’s a subject on which I get chatty

And I’m obviously not the only one:

Somewhere in the dark recesses of my file server are mountains of old AIM chat logs, sitting next to old BBS logs and some ICQ ones. I was meticulous in my record-keeping. Countless early conversations with Eva, for example, are meticulously recorded. As is the heartbreak that followed. I don’t expect to ever read them, but they’re there for posterity.

I wasn’t quite so meticulous, but there were some things I just wanted to save. (And I hope I remember to delete them at the last possible moment.)

AIM, when you think about it, proved to be yet another example of AOL underachievement:

With 20/20 hindsight, it’s really kind of surprising that AOL didn’t figure out how to make AIM work for them financially. It was a social network waiting to happen. One that, in my view, could have been strong enough to withstand MySpace and later Facebook had it been remotely well done. They had the userbase, which it turns out is worth quite a lot. There was, as the article says, some critical underinvestment because it didn’t turn around and make money right away for one of the few companies at the time that was used to making money.

On the other hand, AOL still has 2.4 million paying customers, most of whom are using a dialup.

(Source of the title.)

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Bot and paid for

Twitter’s got bots. Lots of bots. Can you spot a bot? Perhaps some of them will be caught:

At Indiana University in Bloomington, researchers have developed an app, called “Bot or Not,” designed to identify accounts on Twitter that are controlled by insidious robots or software.

You can’t trust everything you see on Twitter, even when it’s posted by actual people. But the researchers’ tool was developed as part of a larger effort to raise awareness about how much more easily misinformation can be spread when it’s done by bot accounts that feed off each other.

As some of us have already suspected.

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The Battle of Figueroa Street

This one figured to be close, and it was: first quarter, Clippers by four. Halftime, Clippers by two. Third quarter, Clippers by four. This is Blake Griffin’s theater, and he did a pretty fair job of staying center stage, especially with Serge Ibaka rolling up five fouls. But the Thunder, who weren’t hitting any treys, somehow hit four of them in the fourth quarter, three of them by Caron Butler. With 72 seconds to go, OKC was up six, 113-107; a couple of Reggie Jackson free throws fifty seconds later ran the margin to eight; Griffin dunked, as Griffin will, and Jackson managed to miss the next two freebies. J. J. Redick went after the quick bucket; Russell Westbrook took it away and dropped in a free throw; Redick finally made a trey, pulling Los Angeles to within four; Jackson went back to the foul line, and this time he didn’t miss. Oklahoma City 118, Los Angeles 112, and the Thunder go up 2-1. And no, Serge never did foul out.

The Clips might be wondering just what hit them. As usual, they trailed in rebounds, though they executed five steals while the Thunder managed only one, and they had only six turnovers all night. Griffin ended up with a sterling (sorry about that) 34 points on 14-22 shooting; Chris Paul knocked down 21 points and served up 16 assists; DeAndre Jordan also checked in with a double-double, 10 points and 11 rebounds. But their prowess from down the street failed them: only seven of 26 treys made. (You have to figure that when Danny Granger hits a trey, it’s an omen, and not necessarily a good one. And that was Granger’s only make for the night.)

Meanwhile, the MVP was doing some MVPing: KD played all but two minutes, and collected 36 points. Ibaka got only one block, but he scored 20 on 9-10 shooting. Westbrook served up 13 dimes and scored 23. And the Thunder bench, inconsistent of late, was decidedly less so, with Jackson and Butler each scoring 14 and Steven Adams grabbing nine rebounds in 18 minutes. It was not a high-scoring night for anyone named Collison, though: Nick hit one shot, Darren missed all four of his.

The next Battle will be Sunday afternoon. There were five technicals called tonight, and I have to figure that nobody’s going to be on anyone’s idea of best Sunday behavior.

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Goose given the opportunity to stew

Once again, a gander is o’er-ladled with the appropriate sauce:

Lots of people are angry about FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s Internet “fast lane” proposal that would let Internet service providers charge Web services for priority access to consumers. But one Web hosting service called NeoCities isn’t just writing letters to the FCC. Instead, the company found the FCC’s internal IP address range and throttled all connections to 28.8Kbps speeds.

“Since the FCC seems to have no problem with this idea, I’ve (through correspondence) gotten access to the FCC’s internal IP block, and throttled all connections from the FCC to 28.8kbps modem speeds on the Neocities.org front site, and I’m not removing it until the FCC pays us for the bandwidth they’ve been wasting instead of doing their jobs protecting us from the ‘keep America’s internet slow and expensive forever’ lobby,” NeoCities creator Kyle Drake wrote yesterday.

You know what would be hilarious? Wheeler or one of his minions caught using a proxy.

“Greatest thing ever,” says Dave “Iowahawk” Burge.

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A minor slip-up

I’ve been on the receiving end of exactly one automotive recall notice in my life, and I admit that I found it a lot more amusing than the government did. In ALL CAPS, the text thereof:

CERTAIN RESERVOIR TANK CAPS ON THE BRAKE MASTER CYLINDER WERE PRODUCED WITH A WORN OUT DIE AND LACK VENTILATION HOLES. AS A RESULT, THE PRESSURE IN THE RESERVOIR TANK CAN DROP GRADUALLY AS THE BRAKE PAD OR SHOE WEARS AND AMBIENT TEMPERATURE DROPS. ALSO, THE PRESSURE COULD REACH A POINT THAT THE BRAKE CALIPER AND DRUM CYLINDER ARE PULLED BACK BY THE VACUUM IN THE RESERVOIR TANK WHEN THE VEHICLE IS PARKED FOR A LONG TIME.

I duly presented myself to a Mazda dealer, who popped the hood and announced: “You have the good one.”

Mazda has had hard luck with spider-related recalls, but those could be reasonably defined as design defects, albeit tenuously. Sometimes, though, an automaker just flubs up:

The recall madness over at General Motors isn’t letting up anytime soon, as evidenced by this latest call-back of 8,208 Chevrolet Malibu and Buick LaCrosse sedans… GM issued a statement saying these sedans are being recalled due to “possible reduced braking performance,” according to Automotive News. The problem? Rear brake rotors may have accidentally been installed in the front brake assembly. And since both cars use more robust braking systems up front than out back, braking power could be reduced, increasing the risk of a crash.

All those rotors look alike, man. I duly looked up Gwendolyn’s OEM brake specifications, and they’re within 2 mm of the same diameter — but the front discs are nearly three times as thick as the rears. I can’t imagine the General popping for some combination more exotic than that.

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At least it isn’t Axe

Joe, catching a whiff of a chap who reeked of Aqua Velva, was somewhat startled: “I didn’t think they made that any more.”

This, you may be assured, led me to go track the stuff down. Combe Incorporated acquired the J. B. Williams company in 2002. I remembered Williams for this product (and its longtime slogan, “There’s something about an Aqua Velva man”), and for something called Lectric Shave, which conditioned one’s beard before bringing on the Norelco. The Wikipedia article on Aqua Velva contains the unsupported statement that before it was marketed as an aftershave, the blue liquid was sold as a mouthwash. A guy with some vintage bottles is prepared to say otherwise.

Also passing through Combe ownership via J. B. Williams: Cepacol, which actually was a mouthwash, and later throat lozenges. It is now owned by Reckitt Benckiser, whose own convoluted history probably deserves a once-over on these pages.

Combe, incidentally, first came up with Clearasil, but sold it off after ten years. They still have one -sil product: Vagisil.

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Not invented there

Yesterday, we were talking about absurd patents. If you need another example, here you go:

Hundreds of home builders in the Pacific Northwest have been put on notice that if they use a dehumidifier to dry rain-damaged projects, they are infringing on a patent recently issued to a father and son who claim they invented the process.

And, speaking of the Pacific Northwest, Oregon seems to be interested in doing something about that sort of thing:

[Oregon] recently passed a patent reform law that penalizes patent trolls — entities that purchase patents with the intent of issuing demand letters seeking license fees rather than marketing or developing a product — by making their practices a violation of the Unlawful Trade Practices Act.

Inasmuch as he’s not actually in Oregon, this gives Warren “Coyote” Meyer an idea:

I wonder if I can patent “the reduction in grass height using a sharpened, spinning blade” and drive all of my competitors out of business?

I think he should try, just to see what Murray and Toro and Honda would do.

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Just gimme the Book of Numbers

Someone yesterday dropped a link for what is described as “The Penis Enlargement Bible,” which prompted an immediate “testament” joke that didn’t make it to this post.

I didn’t follow up, of course, so I couldn’t tell you if the information contained therein can heal the sick. (Raising the dead would seem to be above its pay grade.)

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The pounding of the heart

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Something less than inventive

“Patently ridiculous” is closer to the mark, but perhaps overly obvious:

Today a photography blog unearthed another strange development in America’s ongoing patent train wreck: Amazon was recently awarded the intellectual rights to taking pictures of people in front of seamless white backgrounds.

Critics of the deal from the tech and photography worlds are split on what they see as the bigger affront: the gullibility of the US Patent and Trade Office, or the genius of Amazon’s patent lawyers.

I see it as yet another example of how our much-adored “intellectual property” really isn’t all that damn intellectual.

The US patent system makes it quite easy for people to lay claim to intuitive, easy processes, which so-called “patent trolls” have used to throw wrenches into the cogs of actual innovation (an issue that some in the US Senate are trying to address). However, as TechDirt writer Tim Cushing points out, it’s unlikely that Amazon is actually going to go this route. Instead, he thinks, they just want the credit for dreaming it up.

So here’s what we do about Ukraine: parachute 500 patent lawyers into Crimea. If Vladimir Putin is half as smart as I think he is — approximately one-sixth as smart as he thinks he is — he’ll have Sevastopol evacuated in a matter of hours.

(Via Mark Cuban.)

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