No intent to needle

So I’m reading HelloGiggles, because — well, just because, okay? — and this startling revelation comes across the screen:

You are never too old to own Hello Kitty products. I have a Hello Kitty credit card, Zooey has a Hello Kitty sewing machine and Molly has Hello Kitty earphones.

Now how hard is it to find a Hello Kitty sewing machine? For the below-average Googler, it takes all of 500 milliseconds:

Hello Kitty sewing machine by Janome

This obviously isn’t a Bernina-class machine — I used to own something like this, in a mundane Nineties PC beige — but what the heck. (I actually did some minor stitchery on a Bernina, back when I was married; she got custody of the machine, which cost nearly as much as the children.) I will not ask when Zooey has time to sew.

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Now you’re trucked

The self-styled City Beautiful thinks you and your Silverado are marring the scenery:

Starting this month, the city of Coral Gables will issue warning notices to owners of pickup trucks who do not park their trucks inside their garages at night.

This has actually been the law since the 1960s, though enforcement has been mostly nonexistent over the years. Forget that, though:

After Aug. 8, Coral Gables will start issuing tickets to people who violate the parking ban. The first violation will cost $100. Afterward, code enforcement officers can issue tickets up to $500 for each subsequent offense.

Do I really have to explain why?

City spokeswoman Maria Rosa Higgins Fallon said, “Historically, Coral Gables has gone through great lengths to preserve its character through the enforcement of its zoning code, a reason why in a downward economy property values in Coral Gables have fared better than in other neighboring communities.”

Florida property values are in the toilet, but here it’s a designer toilet. Maybe even a bidet.

(Via Autoblog.)

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It’s, um, sensational

Surely I’m not the only person who heard about Nintendo’s new Wii U and thought of this:

This was originally released in late 1961, so they were just about fifty years ahead of their time.

(With a nod toward the skies: my brother Paul was fond of making fun of this song.)

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Negative feedback for Shylock

Normally I just put up a link to unusually-stupid Yahoo! Answers questions, but I suspect this one will be deleted real fast, so you get a screenshot too:

When I use eBay how can I make sure the person I'm buying from isn't a Jew?

The first thing I thought of was actually printable, but it didn’t stand a chance in hell against the Y! terms of service.

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Almost a yogurt post

I’ve had this “Almost Yogurt” category for almost a decade — it’s for cultural phenomena, tee-hee — but I never seem to write about actual, you know, yogurt.

Until now:

Homa Dashtaki was eager to demonstrate that her yogurt was safe and healthful, but complying with California regulations turned out to be not so easy. In fact, authorities told her that she would face possible prosecution unless she established a “Grade A dairy facility” employing processes more commonly found in factories. A highlight: she’d have to install a pasteurizer even though she made her yogurt from milk that was already pasteurized. What’s more, California law makes it illegal to pasteurize milk twice, so there went any hope of continuing her straightforward way of obtaining milk, namely bringing it home from a fancy grocery store.

Your Grade A dairy facilities, in California or otherwise, don’t have a problem with this, of course; this way they can keep out the riff-raff and maintain their market share for their “bland, corporate wares.”

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Ride and override

Gwendolyn has one of those set-and-forget automatic climate-control schemes: I tend to park it somewhere in the middle 70s and then not think about it.

Yesterday I thought about it. For the second day in a row, it was pushing 100 outside, and the little computerized gizmo did what it always does under such circumstances: crank the fan up to four out of four and hope for the best. It occurred to me, somewhere near the point where I turn off Treadmill and hop onto the Interstate, that this might be suboptimal in a psychological sense: if I think that the system is really laboring, I might imagine that it’s not working as well as it could be.

So I hit the fan-speed button on the minus side, going for three out of four. The dreaded word MANUAL appeared on screen: this child of HAL wasn’t going to give up without a fight, or at least an argument. But it seemed a heck of a lot cooler with 3 dB of fan noise taken out of the environment, which suggests that while I may not know squat about automotive technology, I know how to push my own buttons.

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It’s like Pick Your Poison, only more so

I hate to go all ¿Quién es más macho? on you here, but Robert Stacy McCain has a list of preferred, um, mishaps to befall New York Times columnist David Brooks, and I’m trying to decide which of them is the worst:

  1. “wrapped in bacon and dumped into a tank full of hungry sharks”;
  2. “loaded aboard an Air Force C-130 and air-dropped over Afghanistan without a parachute”;
  3. “lashed to a tree in the Alaskan wilderness as wolf-bait”;
  4. “dumped naked into an alligator-infested swamp in the backwoods of Louisiana”.

Of this quartet, only #2 presents the possibility of not being eaten, unless Alaska is breeding vegan wolves these days.

Males beyond a certain age — based on my experience, I’d say six and a half years — are often given to such horrific musings. Jamie Kitman, in the July Automobile, describes one such scheme, as concocted by the magazine’s founder, the late David E. Davis Jr.:

After David’s death, a Facebook acquaintance wrote about Davis’s recent unkind comments about his one-time protégé, made on a weekly automotive webcast, in which he fantasized about a FedEx plane whose cargo doors accidentally open to drop a grand piano on a farm in central Michigan, leaving only a grease spot where our own — hell, his own — Jean Jennings once stood.

TTAC has a link to the original, though the video seems to have turned into a grease spot all by itself.

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The road to surfdom

So I did this piece on Joe Meek and “Telstar,” prompting TFG to come back with a twin-spin featuring Man or Astroman? and Satans Pilgrims.

A few years back, Britain’s Cordelia Records put together a compilation of non-surf tunes given the surf treatment. It was quite delightful, and I snapped it up from iTunes once I heard a track or two.

One of the acts on that compilation is the leading Slovenian surf band, the Bitch Boys (previously mentioned here). In this clip, they’re doing, um, “Telstar.” The visuals, sadly, are Not Great.

They also do a pretty mean “Take On Me,” which you can hear here if you fiddle with the user interface for several seconds.

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Nor can you play Obstacle Golf

“You’re not allowed to drive like that! What do you think this is, a ring full of bumper cars?”

“Well, yes, actually, it is.”

I blame Mustapha Mond.

(Seen at friar’s fires.)

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Toward a unified theory of WTF

Things don’t make a hell of a lot of sense once you get far enough away from Earth: the “standard models” don’t explain everything — yet. In time, perhaps they will. Or maybe, suggests McGehee, we’re looking at it all from the wrong angle:

There’s talk of dark matter — again like it’s something exotic, but the universe is enormous and very poorly lit. I think if there’s such a thing as “dark matter” it closely resembles the stuff you empty out of your vacuum cleaner. Personally though, I don’t think dark matter, or dark energy either, is necessary to explain what’s going on.

I just emptied out the vacuum cleaner, and if the universe is filled with that kind of stuff, truly we are all doomed.

Here’s what I think is afoot here: a scale of physical law that we haven’t detected yet. Just as quantum behavior doesn’t scale up to our level, there’s another level of behavior that doesn’t scale down.

Which actually seems fairly plausible: if something is big enough, the laws of physics as we know them may not apply. Certainly Goldman Sachs would approve.

But I’m telling you right now: the first time I see quantum phenomena in the dust receptacle, I am out of here, Jack.

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The question of the age, answered!

And that age, incidentally, is thirteen.

NHTSA distraction data

The government concludes that kickin’ in the front seat is not quite as safe as sittin’ in the back seat, so if you were wondering which seat you should take, there’s your answer.

(No, this couldn’t wait until Friday. NHTSA graphic siphoned from The Truth About Cars.)

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O happy (or bored) Belgians

Last time we checked in with Belgium, four months ago, they didn’t have a government. Today, they still don’t have a government:

Belgian Prime Minister Yves Leterme resigned in April last year, but he is still turning up for work.

In fact, by mid-August he will have been a caretaker prime minister for longer than he was an elected leader with a mandate to govern.

This may sound odd — Belgium is after all the home of surrealism — but the oddest thing is that, after one year, there is no solution on the horizon.

How long can this go on? Belgian law says nothing about Leterme limits:

“Technically this can last until the next federal election has to be called in 2014,” says political scientist David Sinardet.

Assuming, of course, someone can form a government then. Sinardet, a professor at Antwerp University and the Free University of Brussels, doesn’t seem worried:

“We have a new form of government, a new form of democracy, proving to the world that this crazy idea that you need full government with full powers may be just not true.”

Articles of Confederation, anyone?

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Drawing a quarter

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So that’s what they mean by “public” radio

Melanie is driving around town, listening to classical music on the radio, and one of those ubiquitous fund-raising breaks finally gets her attention:

“We need your donation. Yours. I’m talking to you.”

I pulled into the center divide lane, to make a left turn, and thought, “Yeah, sure. You mean me. Of all the people in the Portland Metro area, you mean me. Right. Uh huh.”

“Pick up the phone and call us. Yes, you in the Subaru.”

There are, I have to assume, lots of Subarus in the Rose City. Even so:

[T]hey were obviously watching me, pointing at me, demanding I call. They knew I hadn’t done so yet.

Now if they give away an oil change as a membership benefit, I’m going to be awfully suspicious.

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Neither surf nor turf

There was some minor grumbling last month after word got out that some guy in Wisconsin had bought $140 worth of lobster, steaks and Mountain Dew with food stamps, and the usual noises were being made about how this was absolutely inevitable or how this was utterly unacceptable. (Best example of the latter, in fact a contender for QOTW here, was by a commenter at American Digest who said that there were only two things you should be able to purchase with food stamps: gruel and diet gruel.)

Well, it turns out that the buyer wasn’t partying at taxpayer expense at all, but trying to turn a few bucks:

Louis Wayne Cuff, a 33-year-old Menominee man, was arraigned in 95th District Court in Menominee last week for food stamp trafficking, a felony. Cuff’s arrest resulted from a monthlong joint investigation by the state Department of Human Services’ Office of Inspector General and the Menominee County Sheriff’s Department.

Cuff, who allegedly used a Bridge Card to buy the stuff and then sold it for 50 cents on the dollar, faces up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. He is free on a $5,000 bond. His preliminary hearing is scheduled for June 15.

They probably don’t have diet gruel in Wisconsin prisons, either.

(Via Interested-Participant.)

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Buncha butterheads

Behold the Anti-Lady Gaga:

Gao Yuanyuan for PETA

This is Chinese actress Gao Yuanyuan, thirty-one, doing a promotional piece for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals: the dress is made of, yes, lettuce, and the necklace of chili peppers.

If you’d rather see the young lady in something less edible:

Gao Yuanyuan not for PETA

(Latter photo from, in case you thought you saw a tattoo.)

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