Hope I diet before I get old

Why do we have all these twentysomething pundits? Because a bunch of sixtysomethings can’t let go of the past:

The ’60s generation remembers when the pronouncements of “youth leaders” like Tom Hayden, Abbie Hoffman and Mark Rudd were taken very seriously and so, now ensconced in executive positions, they keep looking for the next generation of “youth leaders.”

You want to slap them and say, “Hey, wake up: The Sixties sucked!”

What really sucked, of course, was that the likes of Hayden and Rudd were taken seriously. Hoffman, at least, had a sense of the theatrical; it’s no accident that Sacha Baron Cohen was originally cast as Hoffman in Steven Spielberg’s The Trial of the Chicago 7, currently on an extended holiday in Development Hell.

Eventually, we’re supposed to put away childish things. I can’t claim to be entirely successful in so doing, though I have gotten myself to the point where if someone says “Chicago Seven” I can come back with “That’s the one with ‘Wishing You Were Here,’ isn’t it?”

I have, however, a partial solution to the Baby Boomer nostalgia for its preening teenage leftism. Since the generation which followed the Boomers is universally known as Generation X, we should give the Boomers a properly-alphabetized redesignation: call them Generation W, a reference to one of their own, and see how fast they shut up.

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See you at the 19th

Another find from the Zappos.com heat map, this is “Rachel” by Ara:

Rachel by Ara

Half a dozen colors are available, including something called “lava,” but this is the beige suede/sort-of-crocodile version. For some reason, I read this as the shoe for a woman who wants to look like she plays golf without having to suffer the indignity of actually showing up at the first hole. At an inch and three quarters, it’s not exactly flat, but it’s not going to tilt you forward at an alarming angle either.

Reasons why I looked at this shoe: (1) I wanted to see what it costs, which is $145; (2) I wanted to see if it had anything to do with Ara Parseghian, which it doesn’t.

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Surprisingly, it isn’t French

It’s the Japanese who have come up with this remote-smooch device:

The University of Electro-Communications in Tokyo has unveiled its latest invention: a robotic tongue that lets you kiss people over the Internet.

Well, not everyone. (Not that you’d want to, particularly.) Like Star Trek’s transporters, the first is useless until there’s a second one:

Designed for “communication in the mouth”, the invention consists of a motion-sensing receptacle that records your tongue’s movements. The saucy information is then transmitted across the Internet to a corresponding machine in your partner’s mouth.

Theoretically, I suppose, it could be placed, um, elsewhere; or, as SteveF says: “[D]ifferent strokes for different folks. And, speaking of strokes, I wonder when the obvious next step will be taken.”

The Space Pope was not available for comment.

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Gee, thanks, Tom

GPS manufacturer TomTom seems to have run up against the Law of Unexpected Consequences:

Users of TomTom GPS navigation systems unwittingly helped government officials identify locations where speed cameras would issue the maximum number of citations.

TomTom’s latest units feature a SIM card that enables two-way communication with a central server. The idea is to have millions of users transmit real-time speed and location data to a central server creating an up-to-the-minute picture of traffic conditions. This allows other users to know where jams are occurring and allows the navigation device to route around trouble spots.

TomTom CEO Harold Goddijn was apologetic:

We learned today that police in The Netherlands are using that information to identify road stretches where people in general and on average are driving too fast. They use that also to put up speed cameras and speed traps. And we don’t like that because our customers don’t like it. We will prevent that type of usage of our data in the future.

Viewers of Goddijn’s video have been generally unsympathetic to the company. Said one:

I understand that the collection of data for advancing GPS technology, travel times, and route optimization is VERY valuable, but what is much more valuable is the trust of your customers, which you lost, plain and simply, by being greedy, and playing both sides of the fence. All TomTom devices have already been replaced in my home, and the terrible iphone app has been deleted. Now please, take a hike.

And this was found in TomTom’s 2010 annual report [pdf]:

Concerns about privacy may result in users choosing not to employ all of the features of our product. If these or other public opinion issues arise in connection with our products or across the industry, our business, our brand, results of operations or financial condition could be materially adversely affected.

Can I get a “duh”?

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Putting the bite on you

My own dentist has not quite advanced to this stage just yet:

At my dentist’s office, there’s now a full-time person there whose entire job appears to be discussing your bill and how you “wish” to pay for it. I don’t have dental insurance, but from what I hear, insurance pays only a pittance (if that) for most procedures anyway.

After years of doing without, I broke down, so to speak, and bought a dental policy. It covers two annual cleanings, except for the fluoride treatment I usually get, on the basis that I’m too old for that sort of shenanigans; the dentist himself has quipped that if all you need is routine maintenance, the insurance costs more than the treatments. I really haven’t sat down to figure out exactly how much is paid for each type of service, though as is usually the case with health insurance, there’s a maximum price, of which they will pay some defined fraction. Still, the uninsured, to some extent, subsidize the insured, since that maximum price doesn’t apply to folks without the magic plastic card.

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Heck of a disincentive, Brownie

“In groups, with children, or by themselves,” says Julie, “women are often weird with food,” and she offers this example:

A woman came in to get something to eat, a woman who seems to be successful, confident, attractive, and lacking in the ever-growing typical princess-diva behavior. She was mature and put-together and came up to the counter and looked at what was available and flatly stated that she’d just have a sandwich because, she said as she gestured to the desserts, she didn’t deserve it.

She didn’t deserve it?

What does one have to do to deserve a brownie? Are there brownie prerequisites?

I suppose the most obvious question is “Was she wearing L’Oréal?”

Being neither mature nor put-together, I spotted a brownie at the bakery section of the supermarket, a brownie about the size of an iPad. Five bucks. Took me half a week to finish it off. Did I deserve such a thing? Probably not. Am I going to agonize over that? Just until the end of this sentence.

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Niche marketing

Motor Trend’s Jonny Lieberman, on a vehicle I have yet to see in the flesh sheet metal:

I was in New York when Caddy revealed the CTS-V Sport Wagon last year. I remember popping my head inside the vehicle, spying the six-speed manual, turning to a P.R. flack, and saying, “A manual? Are you nuts? You’re going to sell 17 of these.” His straight-faced reply: “Oh, 17 would be great — we’re projecting four.

This wouldn’t be the lowest-selling version of a production model by any means, but it seems just slightly disheartening — until it dawns on me that if the supply is that limited, more than perfunctory demand will force the transaction price up a bit.

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Make mine a double

Mark Alger proposes a most timely new drink:

The Osama: two shots and a splash.


What, too soon?

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Decidedly off-center

Sister Wolf finds some Tumblr profiles in which people describe themselves as “eccentric,” and that’s just wrong:

My feeling is, you don’t describe yourself as eccentric. That’s a conclusion made about you by someone else. It just seems unseemly. Like calling yourself ‘classy,’ it’s kind of a self-negating word.


Naturally my husband failed to see the problem. I explained that actual eccentrics would not describe themselves as such. They tend to take no notice of how odd they are, but rather to find others baffling. The most eccentric people I’ve ever known would never describe themselves that way. Therefore, almost by definition, these self-described eccentrics are just being pretentious.

Now while I was growing up — perhaps this was a regional variation — people were dubbed “eccentric” if (1) they met the criteria for eccentricity and (2) they were tolerably well-off; “eccentric” plus “impecunious” equaled “weird,” or worse. Describing oneself as eccentric, however, was simply not done; instead, the, um, wackjob would point to his “eclectic interests,” and if he invoked the old square-peg metaphor, his intonation would drip with contempt for those mundane old holes, round as they were. So “pretentious” does seem to fit.

Which leaves me without a word for me, but I figure that if I need one, all I have to do is ask.

Update: Minor insertions here and there, but mostly there.

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Doing that scrapyard thing

So the game plan seemed to be this: confine Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol, and otherwise let the chips fall. Inasmuch as Z-Bo and Marc came up with fifty-odd points on Sunday, this made a whole lot of sense on paper, but the hard part would be actually delivering. Not a problem: with six and a half minutes left, the Thunder were up by 21, and while the Griz weren’t about to let that go unanswered — Memphis went on a 22-7 run to close to within six — Randolph and Gasol were held to 28, mostly from the charity stripe. (Between them, they shot 5-22.) So the Thunder even the series at 1-1 with a 111-102 win, with God knows what kind of street fight looming at the FedEx Forum Saturday night.

Mike Conley, noting that he wasn’t getting much attention, responded with a barrage of treys and long twos, finishing 10-15 with 24 points. And O. J. Mayo, apparently becoming used to his new sixth-man role, led the Griz bench with 16. Memphis did some serious rebounding — 38, 13 offensive, versus 34/7 — and collected 17 points from 16 Thunder turnovers. But they had sixteen of their own, giving up 20 points.

The Thunder somehow shot 52.8 percent, despite taking seven fewer shots than the Griz; even more inexplicable, they hit eight of 14 treys. (Eric Maynor got three of them; the only one he missed was a midcourt last-second shot to end the first half.) Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook showed a little more efficiency tonight, 17 of 38 for their 50 points, but the bench picked up 48 points, about three times what they got on Sunday. James Harden, despite not hitting the long ball, still rolled up 21.

So there will be a Game 5 at the Round Barn. But two games in Memphis come first, and Memphis crowds, now that Memphis has crowds, can be quite intimidating. We shall see.

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Should you hanker for an anchor

María Celeste Arrarás hosts a daily Telemundo program called Al Rojo Vivo, which means, more or less, “Red Hot.” It’s technically a reference to the news being covered, not the person covering it, but you couldn’t prove it by me:

María Celeste Arrarás

At eleven, she won three medals at the seventh Central American and Caribbean Swimming Championship; a case of mononucleosis kept her out of the Olympics. And that’s the 1976 Olympics; she was born in 1960. You can do the math if you like.

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Andrew Ian Dodge, declared candidate for the Senate, knows he can’t just breeze into the seat — which is a shame, since the title of the current Carnival of the Vanities, the 419th, suggests that there’s a gale going on.

Far from Dodge’s perch in Maine is the Roanoke Valley of Virginia, where Lewis Gale Physicians operates a clinic on Route 419.

(Sorry to disappoint those of you who were expecting aspersions to be cast upon Nigerian scammers.)

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Abdication postponed

The Sacramento Kings, next year, will be called — the Sacramento Kings:

The Sacramento Kings will remain in town for at least one more season to give Mayor Kevin Johnson a chance to follow through on his promise of a new arena.

The Kings had been considering a move to Anaheim, Calif., after several failed efforts to build a new arena in Sacramento, but they decided to give Johnson one more shot.

“The mayor of Sacramento has told the NBA relocation committee that he will have a plan for a new arena within a year,” co-owner Joe Maloof said Monday. “If not, the team will be relocated to another city.”

State government has no money, but announced they’d step up to help:

Four California lawmakers, including the leader of the state Senate, sent a letter to NBA Commissioner David Stern last week pledging to work with local leaders over the next year to try to build a sports and performing arts complex to replace the Kings’ outdated arena.

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, a Democrat from Sacramento, said he would use his clout to make sure his district gets its share of state bond money that could go to build the complex.

Personally, I think Lakers owner Jerry Buss ought to kick in a few million: the longer he can keep the Kings from moving to Anaheim, the more his cable-TV contract with Time Warner will be worth.

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Let there be extra napkins

Young Naturists and Nudists of America will be holding a Booze N Schmooze on Saturday night, May 14, “9:30pm-2ish,” in the Financial District.

The dress code:

Enough clothes to get yourself there! Just make sure you don’t go naked on the subway. They don’t like that.

The thought of being nude on any form of mass transit, with the possible exception of a private rail car, tends to push my squick buttons. Still, I have to wish them well, and I hope that wherever they land, the A/C isn’t cranked up to the max.

(From Refinery29 via this TravelingAnna tweet.)

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And don’t call them techettes

When it gets down to zeroes and ones, X and Y don’t matter:

Computer Science is about the flow of information, especially as represented in binary form. There are precisely zero hormones involved. If it happens that fewer daughters are inclined toward the study, Then So Be It. If I ever have a daughter who wants to hack, I’ll cheerfully do a Linux From Scratch project with her.

Having hung out a lot on Slashdot before drifting into blogging, I can say that the gender bias actually favors any interested women. Actual skillz demonstrated will crush the occasional bit of chauvinism.

Having seen such skillz in action, I must concur. When Trini left us for warmer, or anyway more sanitary, climes, she won a promotion over several hardware guys for the simple reason that she was better at it and could prove it. For that matter, she was better at it than I was. And being more interested in getting the job done than in finding ways to prop up my ego, I had no problem deferring to her judgment. I suspect that the men she passed on the ladder have gotten used to it by now — and too bad if they haven’t.

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Toward a post-TSA world

Will the peasants finally be revolting?

I wonder if public support, such as it ever was, for the more intensive security practices at airports and courthouses, will begin to evaporate altogether after this. You and I know bin Laden’s now-documented assumption of room temperature doesn’t eliminate the danger, but the checkpoints and scanners and patdowns are 99% theater anyway and the improvement to safety isn’t anywhere near proportional to the extent to which it annoys people and makes them less likely to subject themselves to it.

The airlines, of course, can go perform various unnatural acts with my blessing, and perhaps yours as well. But government buildings are a different story:

A free country in which people are discouraged from attending public trials or the meetings of legislative bodies, isn’t a free country.

Normally this is where one inserts the “or the terrorists have won” boilerplate, but I’m going to exercise a modicum of restraint. I might even refrain from sending a Maxim gift subscription to Ayman al-Zawahiri.

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