Strange search-engine queries (231)

Time once more to descend upon the shore, scrape away the tar balls, and see if anything that merits any mirth has washed up from the server logs. (Hey, it could happen, right?)

miraculous bikini:  It certainly always seemed so to me.

woman pestered by yobs:  Well, yeah, that’s what yobs do. It’s in the job description, I’m sure.

does the transmission have an electronic brain:  Sometimes I wonder if the driver has any kind of brain at all.

flirkin halle berry:  Most of us have not been favored with the opportunity to see her flirk.

how to fix a hole in a cake:  Just eat around it.

what does a screaming meme sound like?  Millions of people all pointing at you and chortling “FAIL.”

“dan rather” quote “those sons of bitches” mp3:  Keep in mind that Dan Rather grew up in Texas, where sons of bitches are only slightly less common than hot July days.

proof of one’s wherabouts:  These are called “alibis,” which are only slightly less common than hot July days.

hardassery:  The state or condition of being hardassed. See also dumbassery.

Dakota Fanning/Hand amputee:  For that, you get the finger. Guess which one.

good things about fallible memory:  That’s funny, I don’t remember any.

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Let slip the clogs of war

In response to that nonsense about small feet (on women, anyway) being allegedly more attractive, Glenn Reynolds offers a quick one-line squelch: “Okay, fine — but what about us men who wear 14EEEs?”

There’s already enough nonsense about us 14-and-up types, really.

(And who knew the Instapundit was one of the wore-the-box-instead-of-the-shoe crowd? Certainly I didn’t, and Dr Helen isn’t talking.)

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Perhaps I spoke too soon

Just to make a point about how tricky it is to get a site design to work, I left a comment here to the following effect:

Layouts do funny things in lots of unpredictable ways. My comment box displays wrong in Safari for some reason.

On the off-chance that someone might ask what my definition of “wrong” might be, I then duly pulled up Safari and invoked the comment section here — which displayed correctly, although the comment-preview function doesn’t actually work unless the site cookie is set.

This is the new Safari 5, so maybe they fixed something. Certainly I didn’t fix anything.

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An entirely benevolent despot

A reminder from John Scalzi, newly-installed President of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America:

U.S. Military allows each SFWA President one and only one use of the High Energy Space Laser, so before you annoy me, ask yourself if any of my other enemies have been recently and mysteriously reduced to ash, and if the answer is “no,” reconsider.

Not everyone who has held this position — Norman Spinrad for some reason comes to mind — would give you such a warning.

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Live by the sword, die by the plasmavore

Andrea Harris, not surprisingly, notices something no one else will:

I think Doctor Who takes place in a parallel world where there are no Muslims. I’ve never seen one portrayed in any single episode of the old or new series — though the film crew did manage to miss editing out a shot of a rubbish bin (as they call them over there) with a bilingual English and Arabic sign on it. If you want to know it’s in the episode “Smith and Jones.” You’re welcome.

Speaking of rubbish, here are the Timelords (later the KLF) with the ridiculous “Doctorin’ the Tardis.” You are hereby warned of the possibility of earworm infection.

“Pure, unadulterated agony,” said Melody Maker.

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Not your father’s golf cart

Nobody questions whether the Tesla Roadster acts like a real car on the road: they assume that since it costs $120,000 or so, these matters have been adequately addressed by the manufacturer.

Nissan’s asking about a quarter of that for the new Leaf, which may explain their current print ad, apparently intended to assure potential buyers that yes, their little electric car can get out of its own way:

max torque — it’s that fleeting moment when a gasoline engine is strongest. unfortunately it takes a while to get there. wait no more: the Nissan LEAF electric motor gets 100% torque right off the line. so the moment you step on the pedal, wahooooo!

My own gas-engine car, powered by Nissan, reaches its torque peak at a relatively-lofty 4000 rpm, and it does take a few seconds to get there — though in the interest of fuel economy, unless you’re really pushing on the loud pedal, you’ll get an upshift long before you get there. An electric motor reaches its torque peak at zero rpm: it’s pretty much instantaneous.

I suppose the best thing about this is that Nissan is not going to try to sell the Leaf as an automotive hair shirt, to be worn in penance for all those years you wheeled around town in a bitchin’ Camaro, but as a car that can actually be enjoyed, provided you don’t have to drive all the way to, say, Wahoo, Nebraska in a single day. (Eventually, I suppose, there will be fast-charge stations along the highway.)

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The pur∫uit of happine∫s

(There’s a skip in the record about 4:38, during the song. Don’t let it bother you.)

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Low-level snipers

The anonymous auto-show product specialist known as The Booth Babe, before leaving for a few vacation days, put out this advice to her detractors:

If you are so upset and worked up over what I wrote, I can guarantee you that you are the person I’m writing about. You’re pissed because I just called you out on your idiocy. Frankly, everyone else — the normal, polite, engaging, non-sexist, non-racist, hygienic, intelligent people — everyone else thinks it’s funny. And they think it’s funny because they know it’s true.

The things I write about don’t just happen to me, and they don’t just happen at the auto show. Anyone who has worked with the public for any amount of time can tell the same stories. The only difference is I’m standing in a convention center when these things happen, and they are waiting tables or ringing up your purchases or writing your traffic tickets or trying to help you at the bank.

Commenter John then contributed this fascinating detail regarding subspecies Homo sphincteris:

I’ll let you in on a little secret. 99% of them don’t know their ass from a left-handed knibblin’ pin. They talk a good game but that’s because Google is open right next to the screen they are trolling on so they can seem smarter and more capable than they really are. In reality they are sitting there sucking down Mountain Dew with a bag of BBQ Fritos getting flavoring powder and grease all over their keyboard and mouse while a doobie full of skunky weed smolders away in an ashtray on the corner of the desk. Probably have orange finger prints on their worn-out tighty whities from scratching their junk every 5 minutes. They bag on you so they can feel better about themselves. It sounds so cliche but there is a truth behind every stereotype. I know this because I have had a few of them work for me and they were frustrating personalities at best.

Most of you by now have seen some form of blog trolling, almost always conducted by someone meeting the above criteria, probably living under his mother’s bridge. What’s more, approximately 30-40 percent of the individuals I encounter on Yahoo! Answers seem to fit this type. I conclude that the Internet serves as a vast social network for people who have no business being social.

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What’s the deal with the shoes?

I’ve been asked this several times, and I actually answered it once in the OAQ:

Think of it as a broadening of scope. I grew up surrounded by lots of gorgeous legs, by dint of attending a Catholic high school during a period when skirt lengths were becoming, um, less conservative, and shoes are a logical extension of that interest. (So are underpants, I suppose, but those aren’t on display. Usually.) Besides, they always invite comment, even if it’s only “Yech, I wouldn’t wear that.”

But you perhaps weren’t asking me specifically; you might have been posting a grandly-general rhetorical question. Fortunately, there’s an answer for that, too:

When it comes to status, shoes win approval in ways shirts cannot — [a] Daily Express study stated that four out of every 10 women judge other women based on their shoes. It Bags had only a moment, and it’s not like there’s a Tumblr devoted to pants. What makes shoes so special?

Not that I have any real statistics to base this off of, but perhaps part of it is that shoes are so object-y (Colorful Adjective Usage: “It’s Summer and I’m Tired” Edition). Whether you want to invest in something special or are simply yearning for a quick fashion fix, a good, chunky thing is more satisfying than fabric. They stand on their own, they’re more 3D, and while other accessories have these qualities, none of them are quite as trophy or collectible-like. Advertising genius and fashion obsessee Cindy Gallop has hers showcased alongside an entire wall of her apartment, framed by twinkling lights. Jane Aldridge, of the popular fashion blog Sea of Shoes, owns around 85 pairs, and has said the fun in collecting comes from their art-like, sculptural quality. I have to agree — my pair of Miu Mius sit on a shelf in my room, next to a foot-tall Stephen Jones hat and a rare early Warhol book.

Another possible explanation is that shoes are easy. As Browns founder and owner Joan Burstein once said, “Feet don’t have fat days or bad hair days, which is part of the reason women are so obsessed with them.” True! Plus, a good pair of shoes can improve a lazy or boring outfit in ways other accessories can’t.

If you’d like to see her Miu Mius not sitting on a shelf, this is the link for you.

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Your turn

By the power invested in me by, well, me — and a questionable investment it is, I dare say — I hereby proclaim this the Independence Day Weekend Open Thread. Do unto it what you will, within reasonable limitations. (In other words, easy on the vuvuzelas.) This will remain near the top of the page for a day or two.

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Meet the new thrift, same as the old thrift

Dave D’Alessandro of the Star-Ledger is wondering about all these NBA owners crying poverty:

We were talking to a general manager presently sitting out the market (so far) about the absurd numbers being thrown around on Day 1 — notably, at Rudy Gay ($82M), Darko Miličić ($20M), Drew Gooden ($32M, thanks to bloody genius Dan Fegan) — and he made a point that his owner and commissioner probably should heed pretty carefully.

“One of the most interesting dances we’re going to see after this orgy of spending,” the GM said, “is that when you give these run-of-the-mill free agents substantial contracts, how is David (Stern) going to go in front of the union when this CBA expires [in 2011] and say, ‘Uh, we’re broke.’

“Broke, my butt — you just gave Darko $20 million? You just gave Rudy Gay, a third-tier player — talented, but not really driven to succeed — more than $80 million? And now you’re telling the players we need a new business model, when owners are giving money away like candy on Halloween? Lots of luck with that.”

Well, it doesn’t sound like Sam Presti, anyway.

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OMG, flats!

You’re looking at Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano, Princess of Asturias, spouse to the heir apparent to the Spanish throne, here resplendent in white and blue.

Letizia, Princess of Asturias

The HuffPo fashion maven, whoever he is, got all huffy about this ensemble, especially the flats: “Seems like someone has a case of the summer style blues!” Last I looked, the poll was running in Letizia’s favor, something like seven to one, so my response to the maven is simply this: “No dice, son.”

(Via Smitty, who was working late or something.)

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Trench mouthy

Yours truly, in an aside from a couple of summers ago:

[T]he new I-40 alignment is supposed to be several feet below grade level — except for the minor detail that there’s not enough support for the actual roadway that far down.

I left it at that, but Nick Roberts has the gory details:

Basically, this whole I-40 project has turned into a disaster. Not only is it experiencing un-Godly cost overruns, but it was supposed to be an entirely depressed freeway like the Connector through Downtown-Midtown Atlanta. Well, surprise, there’s a water table. So now it will only be 8 feet depressed, which means that I could stand up against the edge and easily touch the grass up on the ground. There are trucks that are at least 12 feet tall, and my suv is about 8 feet tall — to put into perspective how “depressed” this highway will be. The result is that we basically have an at-grade freeway and not a depressed freeway, which may cause this Core to Shore thing to need some complete rethinking. So much for removing a “barrier.”

I’m depressed just thinking of the cost overruns. We’re not at Big Dig levels yet, but we’re working on it.

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Old search box

Back in December 2008, I replaced the search box in the sidebar (Google, natch) with a box that invoked Scroogle, which was a sort of Google proxy: Scroogle submitted the search, but it intercepted Google’s attempts at data mining.

Until this week, anyway:

Scroogle users saw a Scroogle page that said, “Google returned no results for this search,” when in fact Google returned results but our scraper was unable to deal with them. Over the next few days we will attempt to contact Google and determine whether the old interface is gone as a matter of policy at Google, or if they simply have it hidden somewhere and will tell us where it is so that we can continue to use it.

And no, it’s not a question of just adapting to a new Google API:

It is not possible to continue Scroogle unless we have a simple interface that is stable. Google’s main consumer-oriented interface that they want everyone to use is too complex, too bloated, and changes too frequently, to make our scraping operation possible.

I suspect this is now Google policy, and have reinstated the old search box, mostly because I need it to cross-reference things now and then, and there are over 8,000 pages on this site that are not now and likely never will be in the WordPress database.

I did, briefly, experiment with a Bing box, but I don’t much like their defaults.

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Point missed by this much

Duplication of services you already have? “Don’t need ‘em, thank you very much.” Sometimes this works. As LeeAnn can tell you, though, sometimes it doesn’t:

Every week, they call. Every week, when I bother to answer, I tell them I’m not interested, back off, leave me alone, take me off the list … over and over and over. Since the calls show up on ID as “unknown caller” (yes, sometimes I’m stupid enough to answer such things … WHY DO WE DRILL?)… well, you never know, right?

So yesterday I got good and pissed. Way way pissed. And I wrote a pissy email to the corporate offices of Bigstate, promising to cancel our policies, badmouth them to all our friends, all the usual threats to the real thing that matters to them … money … if they ever ever call me again.

This got the desired response, sort of:

“We have completed our investigation regarding your concern and would like to provide you a summary. Please allow me to sincerely apologize for any inconvenience you may have experienced. Per your request I have responded to your request and put your name and the address you’ve provided us on the Bigstate Do Not Call List. Please note that Bigstate’s Do Not Call List is limited to marketing and sales solicitations. This may take up to 30 days for processing.”

And now the punchline:

“In an effort to continue to improve our processes you may receive a survey call asking you about how well I handled your concern.”

Okay, what’s the over-under on the number of days before the “survey call” comes in? Because you know the earliest the Do Not Call entry can be made is late on Day 29.

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Quote of the week

Julie writes to her Congressional delegation:

Thank you for your excellent work on passing the healthcare reform. Thanks to the new laws, my health insurance has been restructured and now costs $40 more per month. This means I can’t afford it and will now, for the first time in a decade of paying for my own health insurance, have to drop health insurance and be uninsured. I understand there’s even the possibility of being penalized for not having insurance. Thank you for covering all the bases! This is a fabulous Catch 22 you’ve provided for your constituents.

It’s really great, this fine work you’re doing for our state and country. I hope the fact that our hospitals will get better Medicare reimbursements than before will make this all worth it. Whatever the case, it’ll make for a great blog post. Have a nice day.

I expect my own safety net to be cut out from under me no later than the second of January.

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