Is this the right room for an argument?

Roger on the dodgy subject of avoiding conflict:

Then there’s the uncertainty thing, sign of a good humanities student. I certainly don’t pretend that I know all the answers — others may think so, but it’s not true — and I put forth the possibility, in SOME topics, that I could be at least partially mistaken. I don’t have the need to badger others about those things.

I was not a particularly good humanities student. (Short version: “voracious reader” did not necessarily equal “scintillating writer.”) However, I wound up with the following conviction: even in the subjects I know best, there is likely to be someone who knows something I don’t.

This doesn’t mean I won’t defend my position if I’m correct. But I’d darned well better make sure I am correct before going too far out on that limb.

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Now there’s a defense

Terry Simonson, on the local crime rate, in Urban Tulsa Weekly:

[A]t the end of the day, when you take out the drug killings, gang killings, alcohol-related killings and home invasion killings, for a city of almost 400,000 people, our homicide rate is one of the lowest in the nation.

Marion Barry called, and he wants his assessment back:

Outside of the killings, DC has one of the lowest crime rates in the country.

(Via Michael Bates’ Facebook page.)

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A fire waiting to happen

How about “no”? Does “no” work for you?

Can I use a 150w car inverter to power a 700w microwave?

Someone has already called this person a “brain dead wack job,” which was awfully generous of him.

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Death Star flubs again

I got a friendly (well, it wasn’t in any way surly) little notice from the landline provider last night, advising me of the amount of my current bill and the due date, the latter being next Tuesday.

This is generally the same notice I usually get from them on the 16th or 17th; why it showed up last night, I had no idea. And anyway, it was paid on the 18th. Their online account-management system even says so: balance $0.00.

So I went back through the last three weeks’ worth of email, and no, they hadn’t sent it this month: in its place, they sent something they called a “newsletter,” which as you might expect was mostly offers to sell me more stuff. (As if the knucklehead from Texas who calls here every evening trying to sell me more stuff wasn’t annoying enough.) I delete those things on sight. The only other possible explanation is that this thing was sitting in the mail server for a week or so before being disgorged — but how often does that happen? The mail headers don’t indicate any such thing.

Incidentally, my arrival on their Web site was interrupted by a banner, 800 pixels wide, wanting me to sign up for paperless billing — on the very day when they gave me the best possible reason not to.

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Some dazzling albedo there

Last time out, I had occasion to mention a late-Eighties advertising campaign by Hanes — the ever-popular magpie functionality, you’ll be pleased to note, is running flat out — and after looking at a few of the articles in question, this one, I decided, was the silliest:

Hanes Silk Reflections advertisement circa 1987

I’m not entirely certain that this beachlike setting is the ideal place to show off one’s hosiery, but then, she’s been up the Nile and down the Mississippi and around the world and across the nation and up your street, so Claire, who seems vaguely manic-pixie-dream-girl-ish here, can pretty much do as she darn well pleases.

Oh, and the bird with the short attention span reported, as I was typing that last paragraph, that “Claire” is Zooey Deschanel’s middle name.

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Quote of the week

Over the years, the maker of the number-two erectile-dysfunction product has changed its approach to television advertising somewhat, but, says Pejman Yousefzadeh, the new version is no improvement over the old one.

That was then:

You would expect them to walk upstairs, steal a few smoldering glances at one another, and then tastefully but suggestively close the door in order to pay homage to Aphrodite.

This never happened. Instead, the man and the woman would leave the house, fully dressed, and retrace the voyage of Vasco da Gama whilst entirely on foot. And then some. They would traverse large rocks, hills, valleys, deserts, snowy tundras, and climb K2 just for kicks. Needless to say, none of these activities are euphemisms for “they had sex.” Then, to top things off, they would lug two single bathtubs into the realm of Rivendell, place them next to each other, climb into each of them, and gaze at the horizon together while holding hands, apparently waiting for Frodo Baggins to return from Mordor and report that the One Ring had at last been destroyed.

This is now:

The new ones are a somewhat different kind of awful. Various couples are still shown engaging in quasi-let’s-find-the-Ark-of-the-Covenant-and-put-it-in-the-hands-of-top-men activities, but the Choose Your Own Adventure theme is not as pronounced as it used to be back when couples were supposed to pretend that they were the Justice League on galactic patrol duty. What’s bad is the writing for the voiceover.

The conceit for the new … commercials is that the man sees the lady doing something that only she does. Something that is unique to her personality and habits. Something incredibly cute and adorable. Something that would make any heterosexual male reach for a particular pharmaceutical product.

And then, the voiceover annihilates the kinda-sorta romantic moment with words very much like the following:

“You’ve always loved her for her childlike delight when in the presence of a truly terrific Jackson Pollock painting. But your erectile dysfunction could be the result of a loss of blood flow …”

On the other, um, hand, if you’re bleeding all over the place, you could probably produce your own mock-Pollock in, oh, four hours or so.

Truth be told, this reminds me a bit of a series of Hanes Silk Reflections print ads which invariably included three factoids about the wearer, the last being the superior appearance of her legs. I shall have to dig one of those out of the archives.

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A few more words at the top

Apparently it takes about two weeks for the next person to think of writing a post about how to write post titles — or in this case, how not to write crappy ones:

Once I know the general construct of the post I start thinking about a title that reflects what I’m actually writing about. I probably type up 3 or 4 variations of the title before I decide on a “final” option. I play with the word orientation, the adjectives, the type of post (list, tips, how-to, etc.). Then I have to figure out if I want to be funny, bold, informative or succinct. This “tone” of the title plays a big factor in how I’m going to write the post.

This is, as regular readers know, almost the exact inverse of what I do here. Then again, I’m not trying to monetize the Eschaton; and besides, after 20,000 posts, I could probably just start numbering them and be done with it and never have to read another article on how to come up with titles.

Now if someone could just explain to me how my feed subscribers have quadrupled in a month with two posts about how to create post titles, we’d have something worth passing off as research.

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They saw your Dyson ball

You know, there’s a lot to be said for hardwood floors:

Vacuum company Electrolux has just released the results of its survey on vacuuming habits.

Among the run-of-the-mill findings including that women vacuum more frequently than men are a few more interesting revelations.

According to the company, 4% of those surveyed admitted to vacuuming in their underwear, with 2% going completely nude.

You might guess this to be a regional sort of phenomenon:

Vacuuming in the buff appears to be a North American/Nordic habit, Electrolux says, with around 3% of those in Sweden, Norway and the U.S. admitting to it.

What I want to know is whether they empty the dust bag (or chamber) in the buff.

Among other findings: three percent of vacuumers are listening to classical music — except in Thailand, where it’s seven percent.

The full report [pdf] runs 17 pages.

(Via this nudiarist tweet.)

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RD TXT

A chap named Rarimi conjured this up during the summer, and I’ve been chortling at it ever since:

Rainbow Dash sends a text message to Twilight Sparkle

(Complete thread, with lots of this, here.)

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New and actually improved

Every third year or so, I pick up a little foam cup to fit over the faucet on the north side of the house so it won’t freeze. (The faucet on the south side is one of those rural-looking handle-operated jobs that won’t freeze unless — well, it didn’t come close to freezing the day it got down to 5 below [-21°C], so I assume there was still some measure of heat retained by the ground.)

These cups are handy, sort of, but they’re a pain in the neck: you have to hook one end around the actual faucet and then tighten the little plastic nut for about forty-five minutes until you actually lock it down.

Or at least, you did have to do that. I didn’t even look at the new one I bought this spring, and it doesn’t screw down: push the button and you get almost-instant friction fit. Actual time to install: thirty seconds, twenty of which were spent wondering where the hell the screw threads were.

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They couldn’t get Juan Tsuris?

I missed this episode, and in retrospect, I think it was an exercise of good hindsight-based judgment:

[O]n Wednesday’s Law & Order: SVU, a politician, who “wants to be mayor of New York,” is accused of sending lewd pictures to a young woman online. The man’s pseudonym isn’t Carlos Danger, but it’s pretty close: He goes by Enrique Trouble.

Enrique Trouble? RUFKMe? This is as improbable as that story about Johnny Depp booking hotel rooms as “Mr. Donkey Penis.” (Depp says he hasn’t, but that he has been “Emma Roid.”)

And Emily Zanotti notes that enough liberties were taken with Anthony Weiner’s story to suggest that “he probably won’t be asking for royalties.” On the other hand, wouldn’t it be hilarious if he did?

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It’s not about the candy

A revisionist backstory for Halloween, courtesy of Morgan Freeberg:

One of the tragedies of our modern society is, the people with thin skins get to tell the people with thick skins how they’re supposed to live, work, learn and recreate. We’re not all getting an equal say here, and because of the dissipation of natural threats against our species, society has turned into an Idiocracy. It’s the shrikes who are calling the shots now. The bossies. The knuckle-whackers. See, the eerie-prophecy movie didn’t quite call that one: We’ve started to crave taboos, invent new taboos, meaningless taboos that have no history and serve no purpose, just so we can shush each other. Like the article said: “Any complaint is enough to destroy even the least objectionable fun.”

In fact, I’ll bet a pillowcase of Milk Duds that if we could go back in time and review the true history of Halloween — not what’s been preserved for us, but the real thing, right down to the most arcane details — we’d find out it had something to do with fixing exactly that sort of problem: The thin-skinned people running everything. Perhaps not at the earliest origins, but somewhere along the way. Something to do with throwing off questionable taboos, celebrating the completion of a whole lot of work, or cutting loose with one last festivity before hunkering down for a suffocating and tough winter. Perhaps, making a point of knocking back a few with friends, relatives and neighbors, being unsure of whether they’d make it to the spring thaw? Kind of a “see you on the flip-side”? Makes sense to me…

I can believe that: this is, so far as I can tell, the first century in recorded history in which incessant noodgery by self-appointed superiors wasn’t immediately replied to with “Blow it out thine bunghole, knave.”

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ReQuit

“I won’t tweet,” says Christopher Johnson. “Don’t ask me.”

I’m a Twitter quitter. Twice. I started an account, killed it, started another one, killed that and I’m not likely to start a third. Why? The software’s not that tough to use and it’s an interesting way to interact with people that you would never otherwise meet. I never had that many followers but I’ve had Twitter encounters with people that you’ve actually heard of and I even made Twitchy a few times.

It’s just that Twitter tends to turn me into a douchebag.

Since I don’t recall Mr Johnson’s username, I can’t go back and point to specific incidents of douchery, but truth be told, I really can’t imagine him going full Massengill on someone — even though this seems true enough:

There are LOTS of blithering idiots on Twitter. Interact with one of them and it’s far too easy to respond to the idiocy and the obscenities that they throw at you by saying things that civilized people just shouldn’t say.

I’m not claiming to be particularly civilized, so I’m guessing I’m far enough under the radar to avoid the Truly Blithering.

(I vaguely recall having had something mentioned on Twitchy once.)

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Way south of Wacker Drive

In Kansas, they know — they love — basketball, and they got to see a pretty decent game tonight in Wichita: I don’t know if it’s too early to pick Thunder/Bulls as a preview of the Finals, but things were decidedly interesting, even if OKC fell back rather markedly after Kevin Durant rolled up three fouls in nine minutes. And there was some grumbling about Chicago boss Tom Thibodeau bringing back the starters in the fourth quarter — in the preseason, fercrissake — though analyst Grant Long suggested it might have been Derrick Rose’s idea, what with the Bulls having won however many straight. Scott Brooks, Boy Scout that he is, wasn’t about to recall KD and friends from the bench, and the Bulls ran back from a six-point deficit to take control, though the Thunder youngsters fought back gamely: the final was 104-95.

And Rose, who got three treys in that last quarter, finished with a game-high 26; frontcourt stalwarts Luol Deng and Carlos Boozer had 20 each and double-digit rebounds. More notable, perhaps, was that Rose played 35 minutes, which is almost Iron Man-level time given his absence for the entirety of last season. And anyway, the Bulls have one more preseason game, against the Nuggets.

KD had 22; but so did Jeremy Lamb, on 9-16 shooting. (Durant was 6-12, though he made up the difference at the foul line.) Neither Serge Ibaka nor Thabo Sefolosha, both of whom were roughed up a bit last time out, played this evening, and while their defense was missed, Steven Adams continues to impress in the middle, and if the Bulls led on the boards (46-32), assists were even at 23. If the Thunder could hit a few more treys — but never mind, we’ve already been there.

Next game is For Real, in Utah. (Home opener is game 3, against the Suns.) It will be nice not to have to qualify anything with the term “preseason” for the rest of the way.

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Shut up and eat your cranberry sauce

If the current trend continues, Black Friday will be starting on Wednesday, which is why we have buttons like this:

No shopping on Thanksgiving

Shannon is not impressed:

[W]hat, only people in retail deserve a holiday, to spend time with their families?

What about that guy at 7-11, who makes sure you have coffee and gasoline to get to your big ol’ family gathering?

What about the pilot and flight attendants who make sure your family gets there on their flight? Or the people at the rent-a-car place when your family gets off the plane at 7am on Thanksgiving morning?

I was in the hotel business for many years, and guess what? Without us working on holidays, away from OUR families, YOUR family wouldn’t have anyplace to stay when they come to gather ’round the turkey at your house. They wouldn’t have wakeup calls or complimentary coffee in the lobby before they get to your house. Or anyplace to get a toothbrush because Aunt Gertrude forgot to pack hers.

I’m not going shopping until Saturday, not so much out of guilt, but because I have no desire to endure what will likely be indistinguishable from a dress rehearsal for the Zombie Apocalypse. But maybe that’s just me.

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Brand X to soar

Good enough, says Bill Quick, is, well, good enough:

The computer industry (and I include in this makers of smartphones, tablets, and traditional computers in whatever form factor) is currently agonizing over the commodification of the personal computer. By this I mean that while geeks and fanbois drool over esoteric pixel counts and multi-core processors, normal buyers (which means 95%-plus of them) just want something that works for them at the lowest price they can find consistent with a reasonable level of quality.

How many of those normal buyers, I wonder, swore by [brand name] right up until the moment when their [brand name] machine turned into a paperweight?

Disclosure: The last time I owned a computer with a brand name on it was 1991, when I retired my Commodore 128. My current machine, slightly ahead of the curve when I bought it in 2006 — dual-core! — is now slightly behind.

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Points of failure

You think you’re having problems with that damned government health-care site? You should see what I have to put up with.

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Everything’s jake on the lake

Welcome to Carlton Landing, Oklahoma, population 56:

[Monday] the Board of County Commissioners of Pittsburg County presented Grant Humphreys, Town Founder of Carlton Landing, with an Order of Incorporation to officially create the Town of Carlton Landing. This follows the October 8th public vote where the residents of Carlton Landing voted to become a new municipality.

The new lakefront community was designed by Andres Duany of Duany Plater-Zyberk, the Miami based urban design firm responsible for destination communities such as Seaside and Rosemary Beach, Florida. The property includes 1,650 acres of rolling wooded landscape surrounded by miles of undeveloped natural shoreline on Lake Eufaula, the largest lake in Oklahoma and the 10th largest manmade lake in the country. With direct highway access, Carlton Landing is located in convenient proximity to the Oklahoma City, Tulsa and Dallas/Ft. Worth metro areas.

This is some definition of “proximity” I must have missed, since it’s 90 miles from Tulsa and even farther from OKC and DFW.

Still, the place has its by-the-book charms:

In many ways, Carlton Landing is unlike any other community in this part of the country. As a master planned community, Carlton Landing offers a walkable mixed-use urban environment on Lake Eufaula. Designed according to the tenets of “New Urbanism”, Carlton Landing is a walkable community designed at a human scale with a mixture of home types, sizes and price points all located within a short walk from the Town Center, where residents and guests can enjoy goods, services, dining and entertainment. “For the past 70 years, we’ve seen an urban development model that isolates people and fails to respect the environment,” says Humphreys. Carlton Landing sets a new standard for sustainable community development which shows how a new town can bring people back together while conserving our environment and proving to be financially sustainable.”

I have learned, however, not to argue with Grant Humphreys; if anyone can make this work, he can.

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Slow scorch

By the time they got to Phoenix, they were bricking: Scott Brooks had ordered a rest for Kevin Durant, Derek Fisher and Nick Collison, and you don’t want to see the box score. The Suns weren’t exactly dominant, though they did lead for the entire game, but the Thunder were somewhere between inert and terrible, falling behind by 21 in the fourth quarter before mounting something that during the regular season wouldn’t be considered a comeback. There were a few bright spots — with Kendrick Perkins actually starting, Steven Adams had fewer minutes but still looked pretty efficient, and Jeremy Lamb didn’t seem tired after 40 minutes — but still, losing 88-76 to the Goran Dragić-less Suns is pretty dire.

Oh, and if you’re looking to tell Phoenix’ Morris twins apart, Marcus is the one who didn’t earn a flagrant two by bouncing off Serge Ibaka’s face. (Markieff did.) The return of Channing Frye was successful (12 points, nine rebounds), and while the Suns shot an indifferent 38 percent, scarcely poorer than the Thunder, they did own the boards (50-41) and weren’t entirely embarrassing from beyond the arc (6 of 26 versus, um, 2 of 19).

Still: hey, it’s preseason. (To quote Darnell Mayberry: “Preseason Suns 66, Preseason Thunder 57 after three.”) Now Reggie Jackson did have a game-high 18 points, though his three-point shot is still mostly theoretical. And what’s this? 14-24 from the free-throw line? How is this a thing?

No time to worry, though. It’s off to, um, Wichita, for a Wednesday-night game against the Chicago Bulls, who haven’t been on the wrong side of a box score yet this, um, preseason.

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Yet another one of these

Who is this dillhole who dares to give me advice?

Hello Web Admin, I noticed that your On-Page SEO is is missing a few factors, for one you do not use all three H tags in your post, also I notice that you are not using bold or italics properly in your SEO optimization. On-Page SEO means more now than ever since the new Google update: Panda. No longer are backlinks and simply pinging or sending out a RSS feed the key to getting Google PageRank or Alexa Rankings, You now NEED On-Page SEO. So what is good On-Page SEO? First your keyword must appear in the title.Then it must appear in the URL.You have to optimize your keyword and make sure that it has a nice keyword density of 3-5% in your article with relevant LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing). Then you should spread all H1,H2,H3 tags in your article.Your Keyword should appear in your first paragraph and in the last sentence of the page. You should have relevant usage of Bold and italics of your keyword.There should be one internal link to a page on your blog and you should have one image with an alt tag that has your keyword … wait there’s even more Now what if i told you there was a simple WordPress plugin that does all the On-Page SEO, and automatically for you? That’s right AUTOMATICALLY, just watch this 4minute video for more information at [link redacted for obvious reasons].

Go pester whoever’s pretending to fix healthcare.gov, you sorry sack of SEO. In the meantime, rest assured that I have achieved far higher status on the Web by delivering something resembling content than you’ll ever get by any means.

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