Go with the Cover Flow

The young folks may be wondering why a CD or a phonograph record or a small batch of downloads is termed an “album,” and the answer is simply this: when records were 78 rpm, typically ten inches in diameter, and played for four or five minutes at most, the only way to sell a recording of a symphony or a Broadway show was to create a package of several discs, each in its own envelope, and then bind those envelopes together into, yes, an album.

Still, all these blank sleeves were boring: “Ridiculous,” said Alex Steinweiss. “The covers were brown, tan or green paper. They were not attractive, and lacked sales appeal.”

First cover art by Alex SteinweissDespite cost concerns, Columbia Records put Steinweiss, then a 22-year-old designer from the advertising department, to work on improving the appearance of those covers, and the first thing he came up with was this mock theater marquee for a Rodgers & Hart compilation. (Photo courtesy of Columbia Records/Sony Music; click to embiggen). The year was 1939, and Columbia had itself a hit. After working with the Navy in World War II, Steinweiss returned to Columbia as a freelancer and devised a sleeve for the label’s new plastic microgroove 33⅓-rpm Long Playing record, or as it was dubbed almost immediately, the LP.

Many years later, as we feed old songs into iTunes and wonder what sort of bizarre artwork Apple will find for us, we should remember Alex Steinweiss, who made it all possible. He left the record industry in the 1970s and began creating his own art; he died this week in Florida at 94.

(Via Kevin Walsh’s Facebook page.)

Update: Steinweiss’ status is challenged.

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Doesn’t quite rhyme with “doorhinge”

There was a spirited little discussion on orange shoes, and orange apparel in general, in this space a couple of summers ago, and I think we can safely say that not everyone is willing to wear something all that citrus-y. (Said the lovely Duyen Ky: “Orange should be reserved for road-hazard cones by federal law.”)

Giuseppe Zanotti Giuseppe for Christopher KaneWith that in mind, consider this tweet: “The most fantastic orange shoe evahhhh!” A TinyURL was attached, which I followed. The shoe in question is from Giuseppe Zanotti’s Giuseppe for Christopher Kane line, and, well, it is definitely orange. I haven’t decided whether I like this or not. The customers seem to have spoken, though: all but two sizes are sold out at this writing, and the price has been cut from nosebleed-level $875 to a merely sniffly $401.

Mundane stuff: 4½-inch heel, ½-inch platform, pretty much all leather, and made (of course) in Italy. Let’s see how this goes over with our panel of critics.

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A bit of elasticity

I have never had much faith in dashboard MPG readings, having seen both 60 and 6 mpg during the same trip in a borrowed Infiniti G35. Apparently Nissan hasn’t learned anything, according to Kim Reynolds at Motor Trend (8/11):

[T]he Leaf’s [range] display is virtually an info-slinky. Pull away from the charger with an indicated 106-mile range, and it’ll drop eight miles by the end of the block. I found myself finally ignoring the numbers and counting the remaining battery bar-graph segments, but even this is iffy as, per Mike Duoba of Argonne National Lab, “a battery is like a rubber bucket.”

The EV blog Electric Cars are for Girls attempts to explain this phenomenon:

Most of the confusion in the computer calculated range is that it constantly recalculates available range based on whether you’re going fast or slow or up or down hill. It figures that say you’re presently going up a two mile grade that your range based on that climb until your batteries are depleted. (It doesn’t know it’s only for two miles.) As soon as you reach the top and go down the other side it recalculates based on the down hill and your range goes back up again. You just have to understand how it thinks and you will get that light bulb moment and not worry.

Emphasis added. Okay, fair enough. Obviously Nissan can’t make these things psychic.

Then again, back to Reynolds in MT:

Unless you drive like a maniac, if the Volt’s display says it will go 37 miles in EV mode, it’ll deliver between 36 and 38.

What is Chevy doing right?

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Don’t ask him how it’s hanging

From this very space, five years ago:

Retired District Judge Donald Thompson has been sentenced to four years behind bars and fined $40,000 for various crimes against whatever public decency exists in an Oklahoma courtroom.

Actually, he was released after a mere twenty months, but he doesn’t seem to be able to stay out of trouble:

Bail was set at $76,500 for former Creek County judge Donald Thompson after his arrest early Tuesday morning on a variety of charges, including possession of a controlled dangerous substance.

Thompson was charged with driving under the influence, possession of a controlled substance without a prescription after a former felony conviction and possession of a controlled dangerous substance after a former felony conviction.

In addition to the Lortab, he also had an open container of beer, but that’s a misdemeanor.

None of these charges, of course, can be said to be anywhere near as interesting as the offenses that got him sent to the Big House in the first place.

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Sugar hiccup

Unless you think there’s some other explanation for this:

What were they thinking?

Hell, I’ve known better than that since I was Nehi to a grasshopper.

(Via FAIL Blog. Title pilfered from the Cocteau Twins.)

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I’m sure he’s a typography fan

After all, there’s no other reason to ask this:

What font does Alabama use on the driver license where it ask you how tall you are, sex, eyes and hair?

They do seem to start young these days.

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When two bloggers collide

Jack Baruth of TTAC meets Miss Melisa Mae, and hilarity almost has to ensue:

Look past the dangerous curves and the leopard-skin print outfit, however, and you will find a jaded, satirical mind. Her blog, which has made a big splash in the past year among the Twitterati and dater/hater crowd, chronicles a lifetime spent in the sexual jungle. Read it, and you’ll see that her unvarnished approach to sleeping with, and post-coitally evaluating, a nearly endless stream of contenders has earned her a healthy dose of both fans and foes. Sounds kind of familiar, right? I figured we’d be kindred souls, or at least similarly soulless.

Well, familiar enough to garner a couple of links from me, anyway.

Anyway, perhaps Jack had the idea that maybe — but never mind. You can read how it turned out.

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And the cuttlefish expires

After four years of mostly-faithful service, my Sony MP3 Walkman has developed an insoluble problem: the output is intermittent on one channel due to a bad connection at the jack. I noticed this in the car, and was prepared to blame the cassette adapter, but I checked the player when I got home, and the same thing happens with a proper headset.

I’m not overly upset by this — nor all that surprised, given the adverse conditions that prevail in a car, especially in a car in Oklahoma in one of the hotter summers on record — but I’m not at all looking forward to shopping for a replacement, either. (And it will have to be at least 8 GB, though the more, the merrier.)

Right now, I’m guessing that as iPhones and iPads and iWhatevers proliferate, the old standby iPod will fade from the scene, and I’ll be able to snag one for cheap. The iTunes application presents me with little learning curve these days, and were it otherwise, geez, it’s still got to be better than that atrocity Sony hacked together.

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Divide and canker

If you were thinking that the “diversity” racket was a relatively-new phenomenon, Joanne Jacobs has news for you:

Twenty years ago, I visited a friend who works for a small-town Nebraska school district. The state had sent out a diversity consultant, who was shocked to realize that 100 percent of students and staff were white. (“There were a couple of Native American kids, but they moved,” my friend said.) To “train” teachers to be sensitive to diversity, the consultant divided them into groups by religion. This did not help working relationships, my friend said.

Of course it didn’t. But that’s what these people do: separate while pretending to lift, in the manner of a Playtex bra brought to life, if not exactly sentience.

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First cousin to the troll

It’s the Hate-Mailer, a lower invertebrate Francis W. Porretto describes thusly:

I’m certain their stations in life are low and tawdry because hate-mailing me, a relatively minor player in Blogdom, is the best use they can make of their time. Therefore, they must have nothing constructive to which to turn, and no wholesome pleasures to enjoy in preference. I severely doubt they have any achievements to be proud of. They certainly can’t write.

Beyond that, they’re pusillanimous beyond belief. Not one of them ever leaves a valid email address. Inasmuch as a conservative Catholic such as I would be highly unlikely to “reply in like fashion,” that implies an incredible degree of cowardice. It conjures up images of my hate-mailers jumping onto tables and shrieking at the sight of a mouse.

I must point out here that the most vicious letter I ever received did have a valid return address; I did respond to the fellow, and by about the fourth exchange we were, if not exactly friends, at least decently civil to one another. But this is clearly the exception, not the rule. You should see some of the horrible stuff Michelle Malkin gets. Better yet, you shouldn’t.

So we arrive at a picture of the hate-mailer as a person of no attainments, little intelligence, no courage, and a foul mouth, whose life is empty of challenges and opportunities, and whose pleasures, if he has any, must be so crude and contemptible that he hides them in the basement.

Sort of like Rahm Emanuel without the charisma.

Still, we must assume that such people serve a purpose in the divine plan. Certainly it’s impossible to sustain a respectable inferiority complex in the presence of such feckwits.

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Feel the warmth

When I was younger, it was an article of faith that any good mechanic could patch up an engine just enough to run 100 miles or so before it grenaded on you, preferably about 100 miles from the shop. None of us had any personal experience, of course: it was all brother-of-a-friend-of-a-friend stuff, the sort of thing that barely qualifies as anecdote, let alone data, but no one ever questioned this dubious wisdom.

In fact, no one questions it today:

How do used car dealers make a car’s air conditioner run for six months after the sale and then self destruct?

The thing about A/C systems, and not just automotive A/C systems, is that they tend to fail rather quickly, not over a semi-convenient period of time like six months: they’ll be working fine, and suddenly it’s Welcome to Death Valley. I haven’t the heart to ask this guy whether he tested it when he bought it, back in, um, January.

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It’s not you, it really does suck

I have never had occasion to make use of the WordPress Media Library: I’d been running this site for over a decade before I even thought about WordPress, and hell, FTP has always worked for me.

We will stipulate, for the sake of this excerpt, that the Library is somewhat cumbersome:

[Matt] Mullenweg admitted that it is confusing and gets difficult to manage once you have lots of images in the library. A man in the audience brought up a technical issue he had with the library. Mullenweg explained that you could actually do what the man wanted to in WordPress but stated: The software is wrong, not the people.

You will never hear a quote like that from [name of damn near any software company anywhere].

And as The Director points out:

I’ve seen too many defects called “training issues,” wherein a non-existent trainer was projected to teach users the convoluted workarounds necessary to avoid bug-infested dark corners of the application. But the motto above, the software is wrong, not the people, nails it, too.

The bug-free program, to the extent that it’s more complex than 10 PRINT “Hello world!”, does not exist. However, we poor, benighted end users hate to be told that we’re doing it wrong when it turns out that the program itself is doing it wrong.

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If you’re happy and you know it, keep it quiet

Those sunny, wide-open spaces where seldom is heard a discouraging word? They’re apparently bad for your mental health:

[S]tates including Colorado that rank highly in sense of satisfaction correspondingly tend to have the highest suicide rates. Conversely, states that rank poorly in well-being tend to have some of the nation’s lowest suicide rates.

Colorado ranks third in well-being and had the sixth-highest suicide rate in the country according to “Dark Contrasts: The High Rate of Suicide in Happy Places” published in April in the Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization.

On the flip side, New York rated 45th in satisfaction and had the lowest rate of suicide in the United States. New Jersey embodies the study’s findings by ranking 47th in satisfaction and 47th in suicide rate.

If I may be flip for a moment, you don’t have time to kill yourself in New York.

The problem, apparently, is that if you seem to be the only one down in the dumps, the distance between you and the sunny side of the street seems that much greater:

“Discontented people in a happy place may feel particularly harshly treated by life,” the report stated. “Those dark contrasts may in turn increase the risk of suicide.”

Researchers have established that people’s opinions of themselves in the realms of wealth, obesity, employment and other areas tend to be measured in relation to those around them, and the authors of the study contend that contentment is a similarly relative perception.

Perhaps I shouldn’t help to spread this around: the Nanny State may yet declare that it’s our responsibility to curb people’s desperate urges by being as miserable as possible ourselves. Shared sacrifice, doncha know.

(Found by BPD in OKC.)

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Andrew Ian Dodge admits that the 430th Carnival of the Vanities is “rather tardy,” which as sins go is pretty doggone venial. I mean, it’s not like he’s going to have to work up a prayer similar to the one Augustine did: “Da mihi castitatem et continentiam, sed noli modo” (“Grant me chastity and continence — but not yet.”) The fact that he’s now referred to as Saint Augustine suggests that his prayer was answered, well in advance of his death in, um, 430.

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Where the gropes of wrath are stored

Don’t like the horrendous overreach by the Transportation Security Authority? Just don’t fly, says Jennifer:

“I don’t like the idea of my kids being groped by the TSA, but how else can I get them to Disney World? It’s too far to drive.”

OLD AMERICANS: Give me liberty or give me death!

NEW AMERICANS: I’ll put up with anything, if my kid can shake hands with Mickey Mouse.

Think “Montgomery bus boycott,” times whatever multiplier is needed.

Incidentally, this also works if you don’t mind being groped but do mind being charged arbitrary fees for things that used to be included in the fare.

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Kandora kan do

The Zappos Map now has a tweet function, so you may have seen this last night:

Someone in Acton, Brookings, OR is getting cool shoes from Zappos! #zapposmap

The perplexing aspect of this, to me anyway, is that reference to Acton, which is nowhere near Brookings, Oregon. (Brookings is in far southwest Oregon, so I guessed that maybe they’d conflated it with Acton, California, but no: Acton is way down in the Antelope Valley, just north of L.A.)

Still, I thought the shoes were kinda cool:

Kandora by Madden Girl

This is “Kandora” from Steve Madden’s Madden Girl line, described in-house as “completely on-trend while being affordable for the young fashionista.” There’s also a version with a lot more yellow in it, replacing that little flash of pink with a dark-blue patch of houndstooth. It’s not formal in the least, but it’s also not bone-crushingly tall — 3½ inches, minus ¾ inches of platfom — and the price is an allowance-friendly $50. I’m sure there are places in Oregon, or even in the Antelope Valley, where you can wear this.

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