Magazines at checkout

Tam finds a particularly egregious form of artificial dissemination:

So, some goldbug site reports that his sister’s cousin’s mother’s boyfriend went to Wal-Mart and tried to buy some .22, and the computer told the cashier that they were out of ammo and wouldn’t be ordering any more.

Which story, of course, immediately went viral, despite the fact that it couldn’t possibly have been true:

Does nobody think that if the administration had arm-twisted Wal-Mart into discontinuing ammo sales, the first person you’d hear it from wouldn’t be a cashier in the sporting goods department, but rather Barry O. himself, doing some nerdy student government brainiac version of a sack dance behind the podium in the White House Briefing Room?

Bordering on Urkelesque, it is.

If nothing else, this proves that crap is not a zero-sum proposition: the population continues to grow, and crap per capita is definitely not declining.

Comments (3)

No accounting for words

The Instant Man notes:

Different word processors generate different word counts on same document. Slight differences in the algorithm turn out to make a difference.

And he links to this analysis, which may be of interest to legal types mandated to keep it short.

Once again, I’m (slightly) ahead of the curve. From last summer, while I was working on what turned into a novella:

I am becoming persuaded that every editor in existence counts them differently. Google is full of people who have found discrepancies between how many words they think they wrote and how many words Microsoft Word thinks they wrote.

I didn’t pay any attention to this phenomenon, of course, until I landed here. I wrote The Sparkle Chronicles in the WordPress editor, since it’s the one I use most often these days. The three chapters published here so far are listed at 3278 + 2830 + 3886 = 9994 words. WordPress says 3186 + 2727 + 3720 = 9633.

Final word count was 18,589 — more or less. And I must rehash this hash from the winter before, simply as a rebuke to myself:

I seriously doubt I could put together a decent 4000-word short story.

Well, you can’t win ’em all.

Comments (6)


They’re not actually lethal, but they didn’t exactly save my life either.

Comments (7)

But they had so much in common

Kelly Hildebrandt and Kelly Hildebrandt are breaking up:

The couple who met, fell in love and married over a shared name, have now filed for divorce. Kelly Hildebrandt and Kelly Hildebrandt have gone their separate ways.

The pair with matching names made news when they tied the knot in 2009. But the couple came to realize that sharing a name wasn’t enough to keep them together.

(Background here.)

Comments (2)

Floating in the dark

Welcome to the unreality-based community:

The Internet is a sensory deprivation tank. It somehow has the exact specific gravity of a human brain, so that it cancels out the heavy, reminding tug of our bodies. It deceives us that whatever we can imagine is not only possible, but already sufficiently existent without the salutary work and frustration that is matter’s accursed blessing. Our minds are crumbling like the bones of astronauts who have lived too long in weightlessness.

On the other hand, this may not necessarily be a bad thing, at least in terms of the effect it has on certain sectors. Continuing into a comment:

All those people, full of hope, sending out identical tweets about their social media optimization coaching — they are going to end up bagging groceries.

And bagging groceries is a tangible good, mostly. Sometimes it’s an art form. And sometimes they put the M&Ms under the rotisserie chicken.

Comments (1)

Cheerful nonconformists

Mark Alger glances at some of the staff at his local Whole Foods:

[W]hat amused me was the observation that all of the male employees’ beards looked exactly alike as to length and shape. As though they had a beard inspector who went around at morning check-in with a plastic mask he laid over their chins and made them either shave or glue on additional hairs so everybody had the same whole-wheat-and-chambray uniform appearance to match the store’s corporate theme.

That and the fact that everybody acted stoned.

In this town, alt-grocery stores tend to be stocked with (or by) hippie chicks, but Sixties throwback that I am, I believe in being kind to hippie chicks. I blame Dean Friedman.

Comments (2)

Authentic robot gibberish

Somewhere in the vast botnet, there is a machine sending out this weird text sample under the title “PC Error Removal”:

mentiams seemasm crosoduching portle drenation ousnappitters filesspective squero tourness scoper shamps oblelibell shamps. oblindings progichastits ritelenmens waywortsmarks extota bequanized viscent exciand matempendully velyncies peneed romesseld. pealth scrium advelnes shrianest compast forgst simposconcia decluble thsterenth efering acticiouts withendes obscor stickerysly farecienies matemper disgroonesset. jurinap burliner sionce scamation bumbericated benesin franno recroutratess ovissivers atered crifyinger riathelmedly climaxons polimillowerly norment scoffects paratole reascessies reextruch gramazing euchbows rantenvics.

It pains me that there are no definitions for these nonwords, so once, anyway, unto the breach:

Portle, v.i. To make use of a portal. (“We portled our way to Beta Centauri to save time and fuel.”)

Compast, n. A pile of organic material that has decayed beyond usability. (“You’re never going to get your tomatoes to grow if you dump that compast on them.”)

Efer, v.i. To use the F-word (q.v.) profusely. (“The Big Lebowski sets the curve for contemporary efering.”)

Burliner, n. A sock of unusual thickness, intended to protect the ankles from certain weeds. (“Better wear your burliners, there’s a bumper crop of stickers this year.”)

Scoffects, n. pl. The personal property of an individual arrested for a misdemeanor. (“We’re holding Mr Franno’s scoffects as evidence.”)

Norment, v.t. To assail an individual with statistics. (“The doctor normented me for half an hour before she’d give me the prescription.”)

Climaxon, n. The theoretical unit particle of orgasm. (“Two hundred sixty climaxons! I’m telling you, Cindy, this one’s a keeper!”)

Feel free to bumbericate your way to some definitions of your own.

Comments (11)

The wrath of Durant

Radio guy Matt Pinto actually said that when Kevin Durant logged his 40th point tonight. Really, though, Kid Delicious didn’t look all that wrathful: he was utterly methodical as he took apart the Phoenix defense. And when he wasn’t doing it, Russell Westbrook was; with Durant’s 41 and Westbrook’s 36 — well, the Thunder won it 102-90, so there were twenty-five points that they didn’t score. Kevin Martin had just under half of them.

The Suns made a few runs at it, showing a knack for second-chance points — Phoenix grabbed 14 offensive rebounds — and the limited rotation (just eight) put in some serious work. Marcin Gortat played more than 46 minutes in an effort to seal off the cylinder. (He finished with 19 points and 15 rebounds, four off the offensive glass.) Shannon Brown collected a team-high 21 points, though it took him 43 minutes to do it. From the abbreviated bench, Michael Beasley and Sebastian Telfair (14 points each) were busy, Beasley clearing the boards and Telfair sinking the treys. This is what happens when both Channing Frye and Jared Dudley are out of commission.

Speaking of hors de combat, Serge Ibaka still is, but Thabo Sefolosha was back. (Telltale statistic: third-highest scorer of the starters, with four, but at +20 top of the box score.) Nick Collison started at the four, but for much of the night it was Durant and Hasheem Thabeet working the frontcourt. Kendrick Perkins didn’t shoot much, and what he did shoot didn’t go in, but he did collect 13 rebounds.

While all this was going on, Chicago was putting the hurt on Atlanta, holding them to 15 points in the first quarter and five in the second. I mention this here mostly as a “Don’t get cocky, kid” reminder.

The Nuggets come to OKC Wednesday, after which a six-game road trip ensues, starting Friday in Dallas.

Comments (7)

Bend yer own crank

The search for perpetual-motion machines hasn’t entirely ended, but we still have inventors unperturbed by those so-called laws of physics. A recent example:

The cranks of a bicycle are what connect the pedals to the front gears. They’re lever arms that cyclists exert a force onto the end of, through the pedals, in order to turn the front gears. The front gears pull the chain which then spins the rear wheel, sending the bike speeding along.

Just about all the cranks on the market are a straight line from the pedal to turning radius. However a company called Z-Torque claims that their cranks give cyclists more power just by changing the crank arms into a bent shape. The problem is that physics doesn’t work like the company claims it does.

Here’s the pitch:

It is indeed true that increasing the crank length will put more torque at your disposal. However, this doesn’t actually increase the crank length in any meaningful fashion: the pedal is still the same physical distance from the pivot point, no matter what shape your crank is in.

I await the breathless announcement of a conspiracy dedicated to protecting the Bicycle Establishment by keeping this invention off the market.

Comments (1)

Beyond rehab

Entertainment Weekly (#1242, 1/28/13) has a list of “25 Songs To Download Before Grammy Night,” and at #20 is “Cherry Wine,” by Nas, featuring Amy Winehouse. They note that “longtime fan Winehouse recorded her vocal a few years before her death.”

Can you imagine the outcry if she’d recorded it after her death?

Comments (1)

Time life

1970s clock“Sweet smoking Jesus, what was the matter with these people?” asked James Lileks in his epic Interior Desecrations: Hideous Homes from the Horrible ’70s (New York: Crown Publishers, 2004), and you may be certain that this ghastly clock, which I bought in an Eighties garage sale for $1.50 or so, does not actually hang in my crisp mid-century house, but in the garage, where it’s kept indifferent time for the last decade.

Usually it loses about three minutes a week; when it stops doing that, it’s generally time for a new C battery. Since New Year’s, it’s been gaining about three minutes a week; yesterday, it stopped dead. I duly fetched another C-cell from the pile, and it refused to start. Okay, fine, it’s more than earned its eternal rest. I set it back on its mount and started contemplating its replacement. About two hours later, I went out to the garage, and it had started up again. I assume it can’t be due to temperature variations in the garage — it’s been within a couple of degrees of 45 since Saturday morning — so it must be Just One Of Those Things.

Comments (6)

Strange search-engine queries (363)

If you like this regular Monday-morning feature, please feel free to drop a trillion-dollar platinum coin into the tip jar.

what words do we no longer use in the vocabulary vocabulary:  Things like “Pago Pago,” “beriberi” and “Irving R. Levine.”

we don’t talk about such things:  Instead, we hope that they’re on Google.

“my little pony” “exchange rate”:  I’ll trade you a sack of gold, a bar of silver, and two scoops of raisins for a weekend with Twilight Sparkle.

piercing my brosnan:  First, take the Steele out of your Remington.

“students wear boxers”:  Aren’t you a little old to be contemplating students’ underwear?

manly men and gay sex blogs:  Man does not live by twinks alone.

what is the advantage of viagra tablet:  I’m guessing you’ve never, ever gotten any email before.

how to write check for 418:  First, make sure you have 419 or more available.

troll mechanisms:  It was just a matter of time before they were automated.

dolly parton leather pants:  If Dolly wore no pants at all, who’d know?

bra removed on road:  That doesn’t sound like Dolly.

Comments (3)

A classic Rose Garden grind

What do you do if you’re missing two defensive specialists? If you’re Scott Brooks, you replace Serge Ibaka with Nick Collison, and Thabo Sefolosha with DeAndre Liggins. Yes, really. The rook, who has played well in the D-League, got his first real-life NBA start tonight at the Rose Garden, and he turned in a Thaboesque line: 11 points and nine rebounds before turning his ankle with 45 seconds left. (He made it back after a timeout.) The industrial-strength battle, though, was between Kevin Durant and LaMarcus Aldridge, who just kept running up numbers all through the fourth quarter. OKC had a ten-point lead with three and a half left; Portland went on an 9-0 run, finally closed out by a Kendrick Perkins free throw. With 8.5 left, it was Oklahoma City 85, Portland 83; Aldridge, bothered by Perkins, missed a jumper, and Russell Westbrook snagged the ball. The Blazers fouled Westbrook, who sank two from the line, and that was it for Portland’s nine-game home winning streak at home. OKC 87, Portland 83; Durant 33, Aldridge 33. You can’t get a whole lot closer than that.

The Blazers had other problems: indifferent 36.5-percent shooting and six men on the bench contributing a whole six points. Still, Portland is known for tenacity, and Nicolas Batum is known for getting a bunch of points in a hurry, as is rookie point guard Damian Lillard. Batum delivered (21); Lillard, not so much (9, half his average).

This was not the best night for Westbrook — or, for that matter, for Kevin Martin — to have off-nights. Still, Westbrook managed 18 points on 5-21 from the floor, while K-Mart kept coming up empty. (He finished with four.) Reggie Jackson led the bench with six. And while Perk had only one bucket to go with that single free throw (he missed one), he solidified the middle and secured 12 rebounds, more than anyone else except Aldridge.

Tomorrow night, it’s another shot at the Suns. A lot depends on whether Thabo and Serge are back — unless, like tonight, it didn’t.

Comments off

Still on the line

If ever you catch me whining about having nothing to write about, feel free to toss this back at me:

Rhymes With Orange January 11 2013

(From Hilary B. Price’s webcomic Rhymes With Orange.)

Comments (1)

Feel the (freezer) burn

Friday it got up to 70 (call it 21°C) in Oklahoma City, which was followed by a particularly cold weekend incorporating a few minutes’ worth of sleet. (Nastier stuff, and more of it, fell to the east.) Now 70 is not the record for the date: that would be 77, set on 1/11/1911. This immediately got people thinking about 11/11/1911, on which date we got both a new record high (83) and a record low (17), and someone wondered if the whole year was freakish, weatherwise.

I dug through the records, which go back to 1891, and while I’m not prepared to say 1911 was the freakiest year on record, it had more than its share of weirdness: thirteen record highs (I had said twelve, but I missed one) and seven record lows.

Weird pattern #1: high 83 on 1/31, 90 on 2/1. (The 1/31 record holds up for all of January; we’ve since had one warmer day in February.)

Weird pattern #2: four record highs in June, two record lows in July, two record highs in August.

Keep in mind, all this happened in 1911, back when the temperature of the planet was constant; it would remain so until the introduction of the first sport-utility vehicle, the Chevrolet Suburban, for model year 1935, which promptly set off the Dust Bowl.

Comments (6)

Northern Lights

Canadian musician Lights, whom you may remember from this piece from last spring, sent this up as a Twitpic last night:

Lights poster in Inuvik

Inuvik, you should know, is about as northwest as you can go in the Northwest Territories, which may or may have something to do with Lights’ comment thereupon:

In retrospect, I’m pretty sure I didn’t have a red T-shirt under my flannel in that shoot… #photoshopskills

The high temperature in Inuvik on the 11th of January was, um, -31.6°C. (At this temperature, conversion to Fahrenheit is largely irrelevant.)

Comments (2)