Strings added

Said I: “I am not inclined to underestimate a band with songs in the Guitar Hero series that don’t actually have any guitars in them.”

Along those lines, here’s an acknowledged Guitar Hero hero trying his hand, and his axe, at a particularly-tricky Freezepop tune:

This is, you may be certain, loud and boisterous.

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Sprawl together now

An early-2004 item I stumbled across last night while looking for something else:

As of this morning, this Web site was using 57.125 megabytes of disk space, which is awfully close to 60 million bytes. Which means that to reproduce this site on punch cards would require, oh, 750,000 of them.

Most recent disk usage: 1.09 gigabytes. In seven years, this site has grown almost twentyfold.

The Final Jeopardy! Answer: 14.6 megabytes.

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Worst-case scenario

I’m guessing: letting the 16-year-old drive the Mercedes.

This will also cause your health insurance to go up, because you’ll be diagnosed with some unpronounceable mental disorder within twenty minutes of putting the kid on your auto policy.

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Band wagon

Sports guys have their superstitions: former Astros infielder Craig Biggio, for instance, never washed his batting helmet until the season was over.

George Hill of the San Antonio Spurs wears something called a “balance bracelet,” and he swears by it. The rest of the team? Not so much:

“Have you heard of a placebo?” Manu [Ginobili] asked.

Hill didn’t follow.

“It’s a Spanish word,” Richard Jefferson chimed in, jokingly.

This might not matter so much, except that the manufacturer, a firm called Power Balance, is reported to be the high bidder for the naming rights to the (soon to be) former Arco Arena in Sacramento, so we may be hearing more about these little confidence-builders.

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Welcome to Alpha Complex

I was always at least slightly paranoid about the guys who participate in — I almost said “espouse,” but that wouldn’t work, would it? — the putative sport version of dating, and this helps to reinforce that response:

For those of you not familiar with the bizarre internet phenomenon known as “Game”, it is this complicated system wherein 2nd level Nerds with low STR and DEX attempt to level up their CHA so they can go to popular night clubs and score the 9th level Hotties they are owed by nature using the tactic of “negging” or insulting them. You know, or shooting them in the face. Whichever works.

Because, you know, they’re supposed to like that sort of thing from Truly Manly Men.

Far as I’m concerned, they can bring back celibacy any time.

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Not at all bogged down

Amanda Peet turns thirty-nine today, and still looks like this:

Amanda Peet

In addition to her task here — making you not notice the sofa — she’s the, um, celebrity spokesperson for an outfit called Every Child By Two, which advocates for the immunization of infants. Sort of the un-Jenny McCarthy, if you will.

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Durden if I know

The ninth rule of Fight Club: you do not make a musical out of Fight Club.

If you do, however, you must use LeeAnn’s song.

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To be held, privately

Hugh Hefner wants his bunny hutch back, or something:

Playboy Enterprises Inc. agreed to be taken private for $207 million by founder Hugh M. Hefner, who increased his bid to gain full control of the 58-year-old magazine publisher amid slumping circulation and losses.

Hefner, 84, is offering to buy the Class A stock and Class B shares he doesn’t already own for $6.15 per share, representing an 18 percent premium over the Class B closing price of $5.20 a share on Jan. 7, the company said in a statement [Monday].

Hef had previously offered $5.50 per share. A bid last summer from FriendFinder Networks, which owns rival Penthouse, apparently did not appeal to the Playboy board.

Playboy magazine these days is selling about a quarter as many copies as it did thirty years ago; the company apparently makes most of its money from its Web presence (largely behind a paywall) and licensing the Rabbit logo.

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And they’ll buzz if they damn well please

I am not keen on having standard, garden-variety hornets anywhere near my epidermis. I suspect, though, these are worse:

As every middle-school child knows, in the process of photosynthesis, plants take the sun’s energy and convert it to electrical energy. Now a Tel Aviv University team has demonstrated how a member of the animal kingdom, the Oriental hornet [Vespa orientalis], takes the sun’s energy and converts it into electric power — in the brown and yellow parts of its body — as well.

The team determined that the brown shell of the hornet was made from grooves that split light into diverging beams. The yellow stripe on the abdomen is made from pinhole depressions, and contains a pigment called xanthopterin. Together, the light diverging grooves, pinhole depressions and xanthopterin change light into electrical energy. The shell traps the light and the pigment does the conversion.

Don’t think you can keep them away with a flamethrower, either:

Like air conditioners and refrigerators, the hornet has a well-developed heat pump system in its body which keeps it cooler than the outside temperature while it forages in the sun.

Sheesh. The only way this could be worse would be if they had frickin’ lasers on their frickin’ heads.

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Quote of the week

I know, it’s still early in the week, but I’m pretty sure we’re not going to top this. If your BVDs are already uncomfortably arranged for the moment because of that “culture of violence” stuff, Ric Locke has a wedgie for you:

It is you, not I as a responsible gun owner, who demands perpetuation of the “culture of violence” in order to gain your ends. I can get what I want without raising a finger, let alone a firearm, if you and your fellows will just leave me alone. You can’t get what you want without messing with me, with violence, including gun violence actual or threatened, to back it up — and more and more of us are coming to the conclusion that the point of your effort is to make it safer and easier for you and your goons to mess with us. You don’t want to get rid of guns, and you’re a liar for saying you do. What you want is to have all the guns in your own hands and those of the enforcer-goons you hire to do your dirty work.

Mr Locke being a gentleman, he will not finish with the two-word expletive you so richly deserve.

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Is it better to lurk?

In 1998, the National Commission on Civic Renewal issued a paper called A Nation of Spectators: How Civic Disengagement Weakens America, And What We Can Do About It. I’ve singled out this one paragraph:

During the past generation, our families have come under intense pressure, and many have crumbled. Neighborhood and community ties have frayed. Many of our streets and public spaces have become unsafe. Our public schools are mediocre for most students, and catastrophic failures for many. Our character-forming institutions are enfeebled. Much of our popular culture is vulgar, violent, and mindless. Much of our public square is coarse and uncivil. Political participation is at depressed levels last seen in the 1920s. Public trust in our leaders and institutions has plunged.

On the other hand, today we have Social Media. Will that help? Start with a hypothetical:

What the hell would Facebook/Twitter look like on 9/11? I mean look, I’m not insensitive, but I certainly didn’t want to have information overload regarding yesterday’s tragedy. I think one of the greatest downfalls of the notion of expressing oneself is the great ability of having the tools to do so. Expressing oneself mattered more when it was hard. Nowadays a tragedy happens that, while sad, has a bandwagon effect similar to the principle of when a standing ovation happens at a concert you didn’t exactly care for.

If we tweet, if we click a Facebook Like button, are we actually engaged, as distinguished from that generation of spectators? Or are we just getting caught up in a whole lot of sound and fury?

I’m still not sure about all this. I have noticed this, though: when everyone else is all about the immediacy of the moment, I’m working to stay off topic. I haven’t decided whether this particular form of disengagement is a kick in society’s pants, an act of sheerest self-preservation, or somewhere in between.

(More motivation than you can imagine came from this tweet.)

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At least we’re not burning it for fuel

The scientists, following the lead of the natives, dubbed it Chenopodium quinoa. It’s not exactly a cereal, but it has distinct nutritional advantages: quinoa contains ten essential amino acids, lots of protein and dietary fiber, and zero gluten. The people of the Andes who grow this stuff should be eating healthy, right? Not necessarily:

Some local children are showing signs of malnutrition because their parents have substituted rice and noodles for quinoa in the family diet, said Walter Severo, president of a quinoa producer’s group in southwest Bolivia.

“Only 10 percent of it stays in Bolivia. The other 90 percent gets exported,” says Rural Development Minister Nemecia Achacollo.

And where does it get exported? You guessed it:

“I’ve got high-performance athletes that swear by it,” said David Schnorr, president of Quinoa Corp., the largest U.S. importer. It’s also being embraced by the increasing number of Americans with food allergies or celiac disease, an immunological rejection of gluten, a wheat protein. NASA researchers consider it ideal for inclusion in possible future long-term space missions when crops would need to be grown on spacecraft.

Growing quinoa in the States may be problematic: high temperature (over 95°F) stunts its growth. It doesn’t seem to mind high altitudes — it’s grown in the Andes, fercryingoutloud — but so far, the only place we’ve been able to come up with a domestic supply of quinoa is in the San Luis Valley in Colorado, and only about 500 acres are actually planted with the stuff.

Still, the Whole Foods crowd loves it, so expect to see more quinoa around town, if maybe not so much on its home turf.

(Via Finestkind Clinic and fish market.)

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Because, you know, she’s a doll

Zooey Deschanel in doll form:

Zooey Deschanel doll by Madame Alexander

A variation on the Madame Alexander “Happy Birthday, Wendy” theme.

(Via, um, Zooey Deschanel.)

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The gentleman prefers Hanes

KingShamus is happy to dump on Senator Max Baucus (D-MT), who after shedding his first wife in 2009, has already presumably found True Love: his erstwhile nominee for Montana’s US Attorney, Melodee Hanes. It was suggested to Baucus that putting up his girlfriend for a government post might be a tad unseemly, and he subsequently withdrew her nomination.

Melodee HanesNow KingShamus, wielder of the mighty phrase, characterizes Baucus as a “drunken sleazeball pile of fail masquerading as your United States Senator,” which is indeed a distinction with a difference, since not all Senators drink; but to give Baucus some smidgen of credit, it appears he wasn’t interested in the standard-issue half-his-age trophy wife. (“Hillary Clinton Circa 2006 Look-Alike Contest Winner,” sniffs the King.) Hanes, presumably in her middle fifties — she finished her law degree at Drake in 1982 — isn’t that much younger than 69-year-old Max, though clearly she’s another case of “the legs are the last to go,” as one (and by “one,” I mean me) might hope of someone with a name like “Hanes.”

Strangers in the night, exchanging glances? Not a chance. Apparently Hanes had been trying for the US Attorney job for several years, and taking a job in Baucus’ 2002 campaign was just one step. (She and Billings physician Thomas Bennett split in 2008; it’s not known who got custody of the alleged skeletons in their joint closet.)

Still, I have qualms about the propriety of it all. I don’t date anyone where I work; I won’t even accept them as friends on Facebook. (I went several places with Trini, but nothing that could be construed as a date, and anyway she doesn’t work with me anymore.) Perhaps it’s just that not being a politician, I can still afford to have some semblance of standards.

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Strange search-engine queries (258)

By now you know the drill, and also by now you know the futility of a drilling ban, so here’s this week’s collection of weird search strings.

brilliant nude photo sites:  Most nude photos, alas, are not brilliant; if they were, they wouldn’t end up as wank material. (Maybe.)

I always tell myself this when I dont wanna remember anything:  “Dane Cook is still performing.”

grackle distress call:  “If they actually start cleaning up the parking lot at Burger King, we’re all gonna starve!”

sweetgum seed pod safety hazard:  When mowing beneath the trees, it might be a good idea to wear pants. Just saying.

blade ruiner:  For instance, sweetgum seed pods.

“bikini wax” nacogdoches, tx:  Must have been an influx of Brazilians or something.

lackodusa:  A hamlet on the edge of Louisiana’s bayou country. Not your first choice for a bikini wax.

maureen dowd big feet:  You say that as though it were a bad thing.

“sporks illustrated”:  Featuring the annual Beach Utensils issue.

in glorious bustard:  We’ve been trying to get Tarantino to do a nature documentary for years now, with Samuel L. Jackson doing the voiceover for the, um, Mother Bird.

“close date on comments:”  If you make enough comments, you can avoid getting any dates at all.

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A slimmer, trimmer dinosaur

The Oklahoman has ditched its hideous Sunday TV supplement, replacing it with a marginally-shiny syndicated product called TV Weekly, which is actually available by individual subscription even if you don’t take the paper. In fact, if I’m reading the fine print correctly, getting it with the paper will actually cost you a few bucks; we’re talking 68 cents a week for a two-year subscription, and presumably it won’t be bundled in newsstand copies.

The Oregonian adopted this model last fall, and published a related FAQ section a month in advance. The Q we all want to ask:

Q: Why do I have to pay extra for the TV section?

A: The growth of on-screen listings has dramatically reduced the volume of advertising and readership of TV sections. Contracting with TV Weekly to provide our TV book allows us to provide a better TV book for those who want it. Many major newspapers have gone to some form of “opt in and pay” TV sections (rather than dropping the sections) and have found only about 10 percent to 20 percent of subscribers use the sections. By making this move, those readers who want a section can still get a good section for little cost.

And it’s a decent little tabloid for all that, though as Meredith Willson might say, it doesn’t know the territory: state broadcast listings are consolidated into Oklahoma City and Tulsa subgroups, though the Tulsa subgroup inexplicably includes stations in Lawton, Ada, and north Texas.

The bloody dismemberment of TV Guide makes me somewhat less than optimistic about the future of this arrangement. And I’d hate to be the guy who stands near the entrance to Crest Foods on weekends hawking Oklahoman subscriptions.

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