It’s all happening at the zoo parking lot

I do believe it, I do believe it’s true:

My car makes a sound like a pig copulating with a grizzly bear at startup? And, it sometimes sounds like somebody is torturing a parakeet when it's idle?

This is about as close as it gets to Sam Smith’s immortal description of the last-generation Bentley Mulsanne: “all the dynamic stability of a giraffe on mescaline.”

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Strange search-engine queries (386)

And here we are on another Monday, with another collection of search strings pulled from site history. It is not known at this time whether the NSA has seen them or not.

why do some mazda 626’s have 15″ tires and some have 16″?  Does all your family wear the same shoe size?

jayne mansfield toes:  I’m pretty sure she had ’em.

angie dickinson tights:  I’m pretty sure she had ’em.

words that no longer offend:  Fat chance. The trend is to more and more offense from the same number of words.

runaway534 yahoo:  Probably a former telecommuter who was ordered back to work by the new CEO.

sexy new mexico babes:  So you’re the guy who made that left turn at Albuquerque.

What do u mean transmission gear incorrect demio automatic:  Prepare yourself to write a largish check.

will changing infiniti qx56 to qx80 cause price drop for the qx56:  They could call it QX4 and you still wouldn’t be able to afford it.

amish spurn:  Technically, Amish shun.

my little pony equestria girls stream free:  Hey, if I’d found one of those I wouldn’t have had time to write this up.

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Nor is it metric, exactly

Our ongoing series of vintage hosiery ads takes a turn to the north:

Sheer Magic hosiery advertisement

Down here below the 49th, sheerness was quoted in denier. What’s the difference? From a newspaper in British Columbia, 1949:

“Denier” — the weight of the nylon thread used in fashioning a pair of stockings — shows how sheer the stocking will be. A fine dress hose of 15-denier thread is very sheer; 20-denier stockings are good for business and everyday wear. For heavier service — shopping, sports, or campus fun — a 30-denier stocking will be the best weight.

Taken together with “denier,” stocking “gauge” indicates how closely knit stockings are. A 54- or 51-gauge stocking is very closely woven, a 45-gauge stocking has slightly less stitches per square inch, etc.

And I wanted to get in some stuff about “denier” before the word is totally lost in Google amidst the Holocaust deniers and the climate-change deniers and all those other people. “Denier” is defined as the mass of 9000 meters of the thread, in grams. (This is based on silk as the standard: a single 9000-meter strand of silk weighs about a gram.) Of course, no one’s actually going to put five miles of thread on a scale.

Sheer Silk Hosiery Mills opened in Sherbrooke in 1936; they were still in business as late as 1960.

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You are so beautiful

All I ask is that you simply accept it and let it go.

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Kinda Sartre

Finally, Anti-Social Media gets its breakthrough app:

American app developer Scott Garner … has crafted a nifty application that allows its users to avoid their annoying social media addicted pals by mining data from their Foursquare check-ins and converting it into a map that shows the locations where users will be as far away from their “friends” as possible.

“Safe zones” and “optimally-distanced locations” are what users of the Hell is Other People app are searching for, and in an age of mass surveillance, constantly nagging communication obligations (friends on Facebook now know exactly how long it’s been since you saw their chat message, taking away the glorious liberty of being able to feign ignorance of their stupid words when blanking the bastards) and Nadine Dorries’ Twitter feed, you can see the potential in an app that promises its users the ability to get away from it all.

Nadine Dorries, fifty-six, is the Conservative MP from Mid-Bedfordshire, a seat she has held for eight years, minus a few months when she was suspended for appearing on a British reality-television show.

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No, that’s good

Seen in the newsgroup

Like the day my fuel-oil company tried to put 350 gallons into my 250-gallon basement oil tank.

The smell didn’t leave the house for over five years, but I had no termite problems after that.

How would you score this incident?

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As not seen on BuzzFeed

What do you do about a tremendous hive of yellow jackets? And we mean “tremendous”:

It was more than six feet tall and eight feet wide.

“With the Southern Yellow Jacket, they develop multiple queens the second, third and fourth year. So this nest did not have one queen, it has thousands of queens in there.”

They don’t say what the guy did to get rid of the yellow jackets — except, curiously, in the headline.

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It’s just not fare

Kicking in the front seat, sitting in the back seat, it doesn’t matter, because they’re all out to get us:

Here’s a facepalm-inducing story about a racist dimbulb idiot living in the next town over from me: a presumably drunk woman named Jennifer Crabbe [resist the temptation to make the obvious puns about crabby people, here] called 911 to report that her cabdriver was “very Muslim.” I don’t agree she should be charged with a hate crime, as the article mentions — being rude and obnoxious shouldn’t be illegal — but charging her at least with misuse of 911 certainly sounds reasonable to me.

But here’s what really depresses me about the story: subtract the woman’s batpoop-insane racism and what’s left is an attitude growing all-too-common in the modern American security-paranoia state: the idea “If I feel frightened or uncomfortable, this alone proves either that my rights are being infringed, or someone else’s ought to be.” After all: this woman didn’t make the papers merely for fearing Muslims, but for being arrogant enough to believe “My fear of Muslims naturally means this Muslim guy should suffer as a result!”

CAIR, of course, jumped in on behalf of the poor cabbie. Maybe that’s part of the issue: nobody’s out there to represent paranoid drunks.

Meanwhile, from the news story, this seems to be Crabbe’s hypothesis:

During the ride, [the driver] said, the woman assumed that he was a Muslim and said that all Muslims come to the U.S. and serve as taxi drivers for a year to save money so they can blow themselves up.

You’d think she’d have found that reassuring: after all, if he’s driving her to wherever, he must not have maxed out his Explosives Fund just yet.

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Fark blurb of the week

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Still so unusual

Today Cyndi Lauper is sixty, which means — well, nothing really, except that she’s toned down the Rainbow Dash-styled hair since the last time you paid attention to her. Oh, and she had a hit blues album in 2010, and the musical Kinky Boots, book by Harvey Fierstein, music and lyrics by Cyndi, opened in Chicago in 2012, opened on Broadway in 2013, won six Tonys, and will hit the road next year.

Which is not to say she’s going to be in Brooks Brothers grey:

Cyndi Lauper 2012

And considering the fact that in 1977 she was told by a phalanx of doctors that she’d blown out her voice and would never sing again — well, you can imagine what she thought about that.

From 1994, here’s Cyndi doing “I’m Gonna Be Strong,” a Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil number, histrionic and then some, which became a fair-sized hit for Gene Pitney in 1964.

This was Cyndi’s second version of this song; the first was in 1980, as a member of the garage-y/rockabilly band Blue Angel.

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Rock out with your cochlea out

Over the years I have tried to explain my seemingly inexplicable musical tastes in terms of everything from childhood exposure to polymorphous perversity. But it never occurred to this all-American bullet-headed non-Saxon mother’s son to blame the shape of his skull:

In addition to the obvious social and cultural influences on musical preference, there are also a myriad of little physical quirks of the body that affect the way we hear and process sound, particularly music.

A new study presented at the 165th Acoustical Society of America Meeting in Montreal last week added another quirk to the list: skull resonance. It turns out that the unique shape and resonance of a person’s skull could have a subtle impact on the way that she hears different keys of music, and how much she likes it.

Okay, I’m with you so far.

The cochlea itself is embedded deep within the temporal bone of the skull. This extremely dense bone sets the tone for the way the skull resonates sound and influences how sounds are amplified, diminished and ultimately heard.

Since no two skulls are exactly alike, no two temporal bones or the resonating structures they create are identical, or will resonate the same way. So, researchers at William Paterson University wanted to see exactly how much skull shape and resonance affects what kind of music a person prefers.

Or, as it happens, doesn’t prefer:

Across the panel of participants, skull frequency varied between 35 and 65 hertz. Incidentally, the female participants had slightly smaller skulls and a higher fundamental skull frequency than the male participants.

The researchers found that the resonance of the skull did not seem to have a strong influence on the keys of music the participants preferred, but it did moderately predict the kind of music that the participants disliked.

Which seems more logical than my previous hypothesis, to the effect that there is a distinct anti-Nickelback gene.

(Via this Jennifer Ouellette tweet.)

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We put the “suc” in “sucrose”

Sugar prices are “historically low” this year, and the USDA simply will not stand for that:

The federal government will intervene in the sugar market for the first time in more than a decade, spending up to $38 million in an effort to forestall a later bailout of sugar producers in Minnesota and elsewhere that could cost more than $300 million.

Minnesota is home to the nation’s largest beet sugar industry, which is protected by import tariffs and supported by loan guarantees.

This intervention smacks (but not Sugar Smacks) of Rube Goldberg:

The USDA market intervention involves buying sugar from domestic producers, then swapping it for import credits allotted to coastal U.S. sugar refineries under a “re-export” program. The coastal refineries get a credit for the imports, but must then export the finished product so as not to compete with domestic sugar suppliers.

This is consistent with other current government programs intended to save everyone’s job but yours.

(Via Amy Alkon.)

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Walk duly being walked

One of the great mysteries of contemporary commerce is why Yahoo! peeled off a billion in small bills for blog site Tumblr.

This much we know: they moved the Yahoo! Answers blog to Tumblr. Now if they move Ball Don’t Lie over there, I’ll believe they’re serious (not to be confused with Yahoo Serious).

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Friday’s child

I note in passing that Rebecca Black is sweet sixteen today, and is, as of the last time I looked, the youngest person listed by Wikipedia as having been born on the 21st of June, which, in 1997, was not at all a Wednesday. (Obligatory fanboy reference: They list her as “singer, dancer, actress.”)

And there’s this:

Other noteworthy summer debuts: Jane Russell (1921), Mariette Hartley (1940), Berke Breathed (1957), and Edward Snowden (1983).

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Quote of the week

A picture, we are told, is worth a thousand words. This one might exceed the quota:

This is the one thing Amazon can’t do. (Or can they?)

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The urge to concierge

Each issue of The Atlantic ends with a Big Question of varying import, posed to several individuals presumably known to subscribers. The answers are usually predictable — the only thing I really need to hear from Bill McKibben, for instance, is the answer to “What’s your thermostat setting?” — but sometimes inscrutable. An example of the latter, from Sandra Tsing Loh, in the current (July/August) issue, in which the question is “How and when will the world end?”

The world — or at least my sense of an outside world — will end next year, when Barbara Walters finally goes off the air. I’m just old and cranky enough to not want to deal with any of it anymore when the great diva is no longer around to soothingly concierge my news, or newslike substances.

Being older and crankier than Loh, I’ll happily concede the utility of “newslike substances,” but “concierge” as a verb? Merriam-Webster, at least, is not on board with this particular weirding of the language — yet. (Note that I did not complain that Loh split an infinitive.)

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