Battle of the Belge

It was some years ago that a Mr St John of Huntingdon said he couldn’t think of anything more derogatory than “Belgians.” I don’t know about that, but right now, Belgium is in a dead heat with Somalia for “Longest period without a proper government,” the parliamentary elections having been held way back in June, and yet there’s still no coalition.

Senator Lysistrata Marleen Temmerman has proposed the following measure to push things along, as it were:

A Belgian senator and physician wants her fellow legislators to go on a “sex strike” until the country can break the stalemate that has left it without a government for nine months.

Marleen Temmerman’s “legs closed” campaign started as a joke, she told the Star on Wednesday. Now she can only hope it might work where everything else has failed.

“It sounds funny, but the situation is very serious. We have to get a government. There are people crying in the streets for services.”

Belgium is pretty much fragmented for the moment: there are distinct Walloon (Francophone) and Flemish (Dutch-speaking) regions, each with a measure of autonomy and neither with a great deal of fondness for the other. (Brussels, the capital, is officially bilingual.) Temmerman, judging by her Web site, is Flemish; a stance like this would suggest that she’s not among the separatists who would like to see the country split into Whatta Walloonia and Stupid Flanders.

And it’s not like there are no role models:

“We have two cultures, but everywhere in the world people are living with different cultures. Look at Canada. You have a government, why can’t we?”

The Parti Québécois was not available for comment.

This represents a change from earlier in the month, when Temmerman played the perhaps-inevitable “Can’t you guys take a joke?” card, prompting a retort from Jeroen Overmeer, who heads up the New Flemish Alliance, which won a parliamentary plurality but which has yet to form a government:

“Ordinary people may joke about the political situation, but members of parliament have a greater responsibility.”

But Temmerman responded: “I see two different groups of people here. You have people who see the humor who can laugh about it. And you have people who don’t see the humor of it at all.”

(Via Ferdinand Barduma, who made the Aristophanes connection before I did, and Erlend Johan Alvestad, who found the followup.)

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Real fungi

Marko Kloos lays down some well-deserved smack on Chris Lee, formerly representing the 26th District of New York, and on any subsequent dimwits with the same M.O.:

If you’re in a high-profile public job like, say, Member of Congress, and you use your real name while trolling Craigslist for some extra-marital action, you are dumber than a tub of mushrooms, and I wouldn’t trust you to run my checkbook, much less the affairs of the nation.

Extra credit for guessing which phrase can be left out entirely without changing the truth of the matter.

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It’s a T party

The Kings dominated this one early, which should be no surprise to anyone who’s paid any attention to the Thunder lately: they’ve had some seriously weak first-quarter defense of late. Eric Maynor took care of that with a half-court shot to close out the quarter, putting OKC up 27-24; they would not trail again, despite some anxious moments, and they got the win in Sacramento, 99-97.

What was most remarkable about this game was not Maynor’s 50-footer, nifty as it was, but the sheer number of technicals handed out: Maynor got one, Serge Ibaka got another, Russell Westbrook got yet another. (Didn’t seem to be a plot by the officials, since Tyreke Evans also got one.) Evans was making his presence known early on, and he put in more minutes (46) than anyone else. He got two of three free throws with 39 seconds left to pull the Kings within four, and when the Thunder couldn’t come back with a score, Evans delivered another layup. Kevin Durant earned a trip to the foul line with 5.9 left, but sent up a pair of bricks. Evans fired a trey for the win, which didn’t land, Omar Casspi tried to put it back, but that was the end of it.

Six Kings hit double figures, led by Evans with 30; DeMarcus Cousins got the only double-double of the night, with 14 points and 12 rebounds. Sacramento got most of the rebounds (49-36), most of the assists (18-12), and that late 12-2 run; had this game gone to overtime, I suspect the Kings would have won it handily.

Durant, in spite of those chunks of masonry — he missed five of 13 from the line — still managed to accumulate 35 points; Westbrook came up with 22 before disappearing late, Maynor running the point towards the end. (As of this writing, no one has explained why.) If you buy this plus/minus stuff, consider this: all the Thunder starters finished minus, all the bench players finished plus. James Harden had 11 points and five steals; Maynor finished with nine points. The Uncle Jeff factor: Green had eight points and four boards, which might qualify as “meh.”

It’s tomorrow night at Golden State, then back home to play these same Kings on Tuesday. It’s not going to be any easier, I suspect.

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And it’s not even Wednesday

Christina Ricci is thirty years old today, which means that all that Addams Family stuff is more than half a lifetime ago.

Besides, she’s long since developed a look of her own, deployed here at the 2009 premiere of Brüno:

Christina Ricci at the Bruno premiere 2009

Still, some of that wicked ingenuity that served her well in the house of Gomez and Morticia was there from the very beginning:

When her elementary school held auditions for The Twelve Days of Christmas, Ricci was in danger of losing the lead to another kid. So she hatched a plot only slightly more diabolical than the one she would later act out in The Opposite of Sex. Ricci taunted her rival so much that he socked her. When she tattled, he lost the part.

Clearly this is a woman with whom one does not mess.

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Saturday spottings (get a whiff of this)

The city has not issued a formal estimate of how much this double-play Snow Monster has drained its coffers, but I’m going ahead with a Scientific Wild-Assed Guess of $15 million, as follows:

  • Overtime for sand truck and snowplow crews: $1,250,000.
  • Sand: $1,362.
  • Repairing 90 percent of the fresh potholes: $13,748,638.

I figure ten percent of the potholes will be missed entirely, or will have to be repaired yet again after a spring rain.

Speaking of snow, whoever first described something as “pure as the driven snow” had obviously never driven in any. Rather a lot of folks who found the stuff amazingly filthy were lined up at car washes today, which I didn’t find inexplicable, exactly, but it seemed like such a waste: you can’t go 500 yards without running into a puddle of something wet and splattery, and there goes the $2/$5/$40/whatever you paid for a few minutes of the pristine.

And then, having threaded my way through the running water at the supermarket parking lot, I began the day’s Shopping Adventure, which contained something perhaps a little more inexplicable: youngish couple (with smallish child) are positioned in the laundry-products aisle — no, not in the middle of it, thank heaven — and while she watches with what appears to be amused detachment, he opens up jugs of detergent at random and sniffs.

“There are times when I think they’re all pretty rancid,” I offered, to no discernible effect.

I didn’t hang around for an explanation — I grabbed a bottle of Era and moved on — but I’m guessing it’s something like this: family was visiting his mom and dad, they got stuck there when the snow came down, and now that they’re home, he wants that same smell he got when his mom did their wash for them.

This could easily be solved by a phone call (“Yeah, we were wondering what brand of detergent you use”), but guys don’t ask directions either.

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Deckly speaking

Oh, wait, that’s deck.ly, a facility built into the latest TweetDeck which enables you to sneer at the sacred 140-character limit.

Overly (note: not over.ly) long tweets have been possible before now, but I’ve never quite seen the need for them: I have, as the phrase goes, other avenues open to me.

I admit here that I’ve used it once, mostly to see if it worked. (It did.) But there’s a lot to be said for keeping it short and sweet: Motown, by and large, started to get less interesting once Berry Gordy decided it was okay to put out singles longer than three and a half minutes.

Besides, as Sissy Willis says:

We commend the Twitter staff for responding in record time with an option to disable the bug feature for us purists who share Thomas Jefferson’s view that “the most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do.

Hear, hear. Or just: “hear.”

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No leprechauns involved

There is, however, Pot of Gold:

Pot of Gold by Seychelles

Seychelles’ Pot of Gold is a classic T-strap pump, leather and satin, with cutouts at presumed points of interest and a conical, stacked 3½-inch heel. Nordstrom sells it for a modest $89.95. I do know at least one woman who wants this shoe.

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Further out of stock

NASCAR is cutting carbs left and right:

What’s this newfangled techno-wizardry we’re talking about? Fuel injection.

For the first time since the series kicked off in 1947, the so-called stock cars that travel full-throttle around tracks all across America will abandon their carburetors in favor of an Engine Control Unit sourced from McLaren and a computer processor from Freescale. That tandem reportedly beat out eight rival bids.

Note: “an” ECU and “a” computer processor. This is, of course, consistent with recent NASCAR practice:

[O]nly approved software can be run and [NASCAR] will have special electronic tools at its disposal during every event to ensure the legality of all ECUs.

Any bets on when full Robo-Drivers® will be deployed?

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Not a pyramid scheme

I caught this thread on Fark earlier this week:

Ok. I’m an ass. But, I haven’t watched the news in about month. Who can summarize the Egypt thing in one paragraph?

The departure of Hosni Mubarak — not to be confused with “Hose me, Mubarak,” which really should have been a Falco song — would seem to necessitate a second paragraph. But I admit, I’m just as much overtaken by events. I put this up on Facebook Thursday night, and it’s already obsolete:

Hosni Mubarak, demotivationally

Still, three minutes in Microsoft Paint (!) for a brief jape? I’m okay with that.

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Quote of the week

Once in a while, I should probably point out that selection for QOTW doesn’t necessarily mean I endorse whatever it is I’m quoting: occasionally, though admittedly not that often, I’ll put up something with which I have a problem, which thereby gives me the excuse to kvetch about it.

That said, the Friar and I are very much in agreement on this one:

If we’re going to have this many snowstorms of the century during my lifetime, I expect to have at least that many centuries of actual lifetime. To whom do I address this request?

Along those lines, a story once — well, rather a lot more than once, actually — told by a family member:

So I loaded the truck bed with snow and started driving south. The first time someone yelled, “Hey, mister, what’s that white stuff in the back of your truck?” that’s where I settled down, and I’ve been here ever since.

Guess it’s time to move.

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The perils of single source, revisited

You may remember this from a couple months ago:

Since this machine and its support were spun off to Infoprint, the quality of OEM ribbons has dropped dramatically: they’re severely overinked and tend to leak onto the paper. Infoprint alleges that no one else is having a problem with these things, implying that it’s Somebody Else’s Problem. Yeah, right. If I call in a tech to examine the situation, about 15 seconds at most will elapse before he notices the droplets of ink oozing out of the fabric.

Sooner or later, excess ink will do pretty much what you think it will do, and I did indeed call in a tech from Infoprint. He stared at the machine in disbelief, as though I’d asked him to restore some hulking relic from a back-street bazaar in Mozambique. We’re talking filth flarn filth. [Not even slightly safe for work.]

Amazed that this could be caused by OEM ribbons, he dialed up Level 2 support, and they said, probably laconically, “Yeah, all the production run, June, July and September twenty ten, it’s overinked.”

So now I have to hunt down a box of ribbons with the Proper Date. I am, however, vindicated.

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Whir art thou

Brian J. Noggle is positioning himself as the Nigel Tufnel of baking:

The authors use the mandate tense and order me to do a lot of different things to the poor ingredients, but I am a simple man, with a simple Oster hand mixer that goes to six. As such, whatever the verb in the recipe, seriously, they can’t mean anything but “Mix at 6,” can they?

  • Cream the eggs and butter? Set the mixer to six.
  • Fold the nuts into the batter? Set the mixer to six.
  • Combine the flour and spices? Put on a dust mask and set the mixer to six.
  • Chop the walnuts? Set the mixer to six and chase them around the bowl until they’re small.

Alas, I can only aspire to this level of Tufnelity, though my five-speed mixer — unless OFF counts as a speed — has, yes, 11 little descriptive labels along its slide switch, although two of them are “WHIP,” which suggests an imperative of its own.

And contrary to popular belief, I did not select this model, which is almost exactly the same age as my toaster, on the basis of Lickable Beater Surface. Though, you know, I could have.

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What’s up, Doak?

Newly-hatched Commissioner of Insurance John Doak wants you to know that “Valentines Day’s Life-Changing Moments Prompt Several Insurance Questions.” At least, he wants me to know that: one of his underlings sent me an email to that effect, accompanied by a Microsoft Word file, two pages, over 600 kb.

Now few things on earth will get you into my spam filter faster than sending me a Word .doc, especially a copy of something that should be on your Web site at … no, wait, I’m not seeing it on the site at all.

But I am seeing this:

Attention Users: This site is best viewed in Internet Explorer 7 at 1024 by 768 resolution.

If you do not have Internet Explorer 7, you can download it here for free.

As though I wasn’t already irritated by the guy.

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411/412

Snow has a decidedly-unpleasant effect on me, as does winter generally; among other things, it causes me to turn inward, meaning I miss some of the things around me, such as last week’s Carnival of the Vanities, the 411th in the series, which was titled “CoTVing in 2 feet of snow.” Which is a figure you don’t see often in Oklahoma, except over the last ten days.

By the time this is up, #412 will likely be ready to go, so to cover both these numbers, here’s a Volkswagen Type 4, which first appeared in 1968 as the 411, replaced by the 412 in 1972. I assume that, like pretty much all rear-engined VeeDubs, it was good in the snow.

Volkswagen Type 4

(Photo from Wikimedia Commons.)

Update: And now, #412.

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Where is the love?

And how often do I get to do two Black Eyed Peas references in semi-rapid succession?

ESPN SportsNation screen shot

I gotta feeling New Mexico just doesn’t give a damn.

(Via FAIL Blog.)

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Al Sharif don’t like it

Apparently there is a protocol for assigning names to camels:

“Ibil” and “Hijen” are the most common names given to both genders and camels of all sizes. From these, new names branch out according to the size, development stage and characteristics of the camel.

Seems reasonable. More specifically:

“Al Mataya” or “Al Rahila” is a name given to a young camel that people can ride. “Al Shamlal” is for a camel that is light and fast, and “Al Sharif” is for a camel that is old, tired and slow.

Me, I’m just grateful that no one mentioned “My Humps.”

(Via Interested-Participant.)

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