Meanwhile at 1900 MHz

I’ve never owned a Windows-based phone, but I imagine that when they die, they die in a manner similarly to the way my Nokia did: white power-up screen, then fade to black, then back to white, then back to black, repeat once more, and then assumption of paperweight status.

So I was in the T-Mo store yesterday afternoon, exploring options, of which I had basically one and a half: get a new phone, and do I want a new contract or not?

“It’ll be at least eighteen months,” I said to the clerk, “before the Death Star takes over.”

He nodded sadly. “I am not looking forward to that.”

So I have a shiny new LG flipper, which if anything is a step down from the old one: there’s no place for a MicroSD card, so people will be spared my “Friday” ringtone. (For now.) To the Big T’s credit, they didn’t segregate the Phones For Cheap Bastards: this one was right in the middle of the display. And I apparently had had the foresight to copy most of my contacts to the SIM card, because I lost only a handful. And my contract goes into its eleventh and twelfth years, because these people have yet to shaft me for anything substantial, which is practically unheard of in the wireless business.

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You gotta keep ’em separated

ConocoPhillips, the fusion of Continental Oil and Phillips Petroleum, is about to de-fuse:

ConocoPhillips, the nation’s third-largest oil company, said Thursday that it will split itself into two separate publicly traded companies and its CEO and Chairman Jim Mulva plans to retire once the transaction is complete.

This particular act of mitosis will yield a refining/marketing company and a production/exploration company as its offspring.

No successors have been named for Jim Mulva, but I’m expecting someone named Celeste or Dolores to be on the candidate list.

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Hammer time

Mike Hammer, that is. Murrells Inlet, on the South Carolina coast, is putting up signage on US 17 Business, proclaiming it the Mickey Spillane 17 Waterfront Highway.

This was Spillane’s last home: he’d flown over the Grand Strand as an Army Air Corps pilot in World War II, and vowed that he’d live there some day.

The Mickey, as it’s inevitably going to be called, runs for three miles along the coast, leaving Georgetown County at Garden City, near the projected terminus for an eventual extension (like when hell freezes over) of Interstate 74.

(Via Fishersville Mike.)

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We need an Abhor button

I know there are lots of you who won’t get near Facebook, and this will definitely not talk you into it:

Facebook, with all its users, its clunky user interfaces, questionable privacy settings that are buried and default to “here, take my social security number”, people making pages for things like “I eat Cheerios with vinegar while wearing wool socks on the veranda” and then having 12,000 people “like” it…

The word “like” has never come to mean so little. I’m looking for the word “loathe.”

Inasmuch as I have stuck my name on The Official Petition to Establish “Hella” as the SI Prefix for 1027, I probably shouldn’t say a word here.

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There’s something about Ronald

This goes back at least as far as 2006, maybe earlier, but there’s still something offputting, even coulrophobia-inducing, about it:

(Seen at Pop Culture Junk Mail.)

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Oh, I just remembered

Memory jogMargate is in the northern portion of Broward County, Florida, so we can safely assume that had this been a Fark item (which it may have been; I didn’t go searching the Farkives), it would have had a FLORIDA tag. As to which of the two is actually dumber, I’d have to say that the scale is probably not reliable at the far end, and it’s a pretty safe bet that both of these characters belong at that end, to the extent that they belong anywhere at all — except, of course, that they clearly belong in Florida, which remains the only state to have its own Fark tag.

A perfunctory Google search of “sex with one’s ex” produces, um, “about 69 results.” I think I’m just going to leave it at that.

(A Criggo special served up by Miss Cellania.)

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It’s not like they were condemned to the streets

A little-known provision of the previous collective-bargaining agreement between the NBA and its players will provide some money to the players during the lockout:

The escrow funds — representing eight percent of each NBA player’s salary — are held back each season to ensure that the players’ share of basketball-related income does not exceed the contractually agreed-upon percentage, currently 57 percent. This year, for the first time since the system was introduced in the collective bargaining agreement that came out of the 1998-99 lockout, the cut to players will fall short, sources with the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association confirmed.

When a final audit is completed later this month, the players will have been paid less than 57 percent of BRI and will be due the entire $160 million. It’s the first time the players will have the full escrow returned, a union spokesman said.

The owners, of course, hope to have that percentage adjusted downward in the next CBA. In the meantime, Serge Ibaka, one of the lower-paid Thundermen, will be getting a check for 0.08 x 1204200 = $96,336. Less taxes, of course.

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Blue screen of defecation

News Item: Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft who has morphed into the world’s best-known philanthropist, wants to reinvent the toilet.

Top Ten ways a Bill Gates-designed toilet would be different:

  1. Occasionally crashes for no discernible reason
  2. Every week it seems a little heavier
  3. Changing the flapper requires remote reactivation
  4. On Tuesday night you have to flush at least twice whether you used it or not
  5. You can use a third-party handle, but you have to leave the original one in place
  6. After several years plumbers will refuse to work on it
  7. Steve Jobs will rush out an iJohn for twice the price
  8. Confusion about the term “American Standard”
  9. Can’t remember the most recent seat position
  10. You never know what’s downloading

(Inspired by SteveF at Daily Pundit.)

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You can’t make me

WordPress Head of Bug Creation (says so right here) Matt Mullenweg crows a little bit, and who can blame him?

As noted on TNW and Adweek, yesterday [10 July] we passed over 50,000,000 websites, blogs, portfolios, stores, pet projects, and of course cat websites powered by WordPress.

On the stats page Mullenweg quotes there’s this parenthetical note: “we host about half.”

Now comes this announcement for the other half:

After more than a million downloads of WordPress 3.2, we’re now releasing WordPress 3.2.1 into the wild.

Do the math. This is an admission, albeit oblique, that close to 24 million WordPress users are still using versions prior to 3.2.

No wonder they nag you in the Dashboard. (Unless, of course, you’re using a really old version which lacks the nag feature.)

Disclosure: I installed 3.2.1 last night.

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Thinning the basic repertoire

Bryan Townsend, on the seemingly-irreversible decline of classical music in contemporary culture:

[A] lot of people, through lack of exposure, or from too much exposure to the ear-deadening horrors of most popular music, simply cannot appreciate classical music. This is ok, much like the monasteries in the dark ages of Europe, we few will preserve the essence of civilization during our dark ages. One day there will come a Renaissance. In the meantime, the power and essence of classical music will become purified and concentrated. Do you know why we only have seven plays by Aeschylus and seven by Sophocles? They wrote many more. But the scholars, grammarians and monks of Byzantium and the monasteries copied and preserved only those works chosen as being the best. They did this for more than a thousand years…

Still, that makes 3011 look awfully grim:

I sincerely hope that it won’t be that long before classical music comes back into its own. But who knows? I can just see a blogger of the far future saying “do you know why we only have seven symphonies by Haydn and seven by Mozart and seven by Beethoven?”

I don’t expect things to get quite that bad. For one thing, for us to lose a whole lot of Mozart, for instance, we’d pretty much have to lose Köchel’s catalog too, and I have to believe there’d be enough Persistent Completists out there who’d wonder about all those missing numbers once K. 626 (the Requiem in D minor) turned up somewhere. This phenomenon already exists in pop music: there are the so-called Whitburn collectors, who seek to own every record that ever charted, based on Joel Whitburn’s Record Research series, and a lot of otherwise-unavailable source material is keyed to Whitburn’s index, which has conveniently (for users, if not for Billboard, which licensed Whitburn’s work) been converted to spreadsheet format.

And besides, the correct number of symphonies to have is nine.

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How far we have fallen

Or, more precisely, how far we have refused to raise ourselves in recent times:

We used to have an SST. No more. We revolutionized astronomy with the Hubble. Its replacement, the Webb, has been cancelled. We used to visit the vacuum of perpetual night in a spacecraft straight out of Amazing Stories — and the last one will shortly make its last flight. The International Space Station is scheduled for “deorbiting” in the next ten years. There is no plan to replace it. Humanity, which once crossed oceans in hilariously tiny boats, has turned inward, and instead of reaching for the stars, now stares morosely at the ground, its shoulders bent in a shrug of despair. No more vision, no more courage, no more faith in our own destiny.

Yeah, but look! We have twirly light bulbs!

How this happened, says commenter “drobviousso” at Daily Pundit:

Sometime, something great happens. The moon landing. The atomic bomb. Even the interstate highway system were all great advancements brought to you [by] Uncle Sam (apple pie not included).

But then Uncle Sam gets complacent. We haven’t had an infrastructure improvement worth noting in my entire lifetime. NIMBYism is keeping our cleanest, cheapest source of energy out of reach. And we are retiring a shuttle that came out the same year as the Fleetwood V-8-6-4, with nothing to replace it.

These days, even our apple pie is fake.

Addendum: Andrea Harris notes:

Perhaps science fiction is to blame. As long as outer space shows us a pretty but empty face, we’ll be content with using our imagination to populate the stars while we stay right here on Earth. In space no one can hear your sigh of disappointment.

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Fill in the blanks, I suppose

How is Zappos going to get you to notice that they’re now selling other apparel besides shoes? Apparently by showing you someone not wearing it:

Zappos: More Than Shoes

Three ads of this general nature will be appearing in magazines this summer. All feature female models, though we are assured that there will be men appearing in some of Zappos’ Web ads.

There is precedent of a sort for this: at least a decade ago, Abercrombie & Fitch’s catalog showed a lot of their clothes not being worn by their models.

(Via this nudiarist tweet.)

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In a head-to-head comparo (one of six) in the August ’11 issue, Car and Driver recommends the Chevrolet Volt over the Lexus CT200h hybrid, and scribe Aaron Robinson demonstrates his mastery of the fine art known as Praising With Faint Damns:

Lord knows, it’s not gorgeous. And the cockpit’s tall, square screens and touch-sensitive buttons look like the designers locked themselves up with a Commodore PET, a Betamax, and the original Tron on loop.

But it’s not often that you get to park pioneering propulsion technology in your garage.

Robinson, that rotter, has now given me the urge to see one of these contraptions for myself, even though I’ve seen the pictures. Then again, how was he to know that I’ve owned several Commodore machines and still have a Betamax and a copy (on laserdisc, yet!) of Tron?

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Nor does “dress of color” work

Yet another reason why you can’t trust spearchuckers spellcheckers:

Some multicultural zealot among the editing caste had programmed the computer system’s spell checker to change every use of the word “black” to the more politically-correct “African American.”

Which, naturally enough, immediately resulted in a screwup. The phrase “little black cocktail dress” in a fashion article was changed to “little African-American cocktail dress.”

So as to add some Google juice to this unfortunate turn of phrase, here’s the lovely Kerry Washington in what is not precisely a little African-American cocktail dress:

Kerry Washington in Louis Vuitton

Blazer and feathered skirt by Louis Vuitton. Scene: Essence luncheon in Beverly Hills, February 2009.

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Does your garbage misbehave?

This has been on the bottom of OKC utility bills for several years, and it continues to strike me as funny. The bill always ends with the next couple of dates to set out bulk waste — in my neighborhood, it’s the first Wednesday of the month — and then this warning:

Bulk waste set out more than 3 days early may be fined up to $500.

Trust me on this: bulk waste isn’t listening and doesn’t respond well to threats.

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That’s what she said, only not quite

Sunday, Los Angeles Times columnist Patt Morrison complained about the seeming lack of civic spirit exhibited by Zooey Deschanel at BAFTA’s Brits to Watch event on Saturday:

To my friend and former Times colleague Claudia Puig, now the USA Today critic and film writer, Ms. Deschanel worried aloud that the neighborhood around the fabulously restored Belasco Theatre might look shabby to the regal couple. “I just don’t want them to see the worst of L.A.,” said Deschanel.

Excuse me? Downtown, the worst of L.A.?

What, Ms. Deschanel, you don’t have any homeless people there near your Westside home? Or does that not count, because they’re on the beach, not the sidewalks?

Apart from the fact that ZD doesn’t live on the Westside — well, let her speak for herself:

[T]he quote from USA TODAY that you used as the foundation of your piece was taken completely out of context. I NEVER said that Downtown LA was “the worst of LA”. I did make a reference to a parking lot adjacent to the theater that had a lot of trash in it in an attempt to be humorous. I simply said, “It’s funny they brought royalty here, there is a parking lot with trash around the corner.” It wasn’t an opinion. It was true. There was indeed a parking lot with trash around the corner. I thought that the juxtaposition of British Royalty and trash was amusing in a high-brow + low-brow sort of way, but I never said that I, personally, didn’t like downtown, the Royals, or even trash.

Maybe she thought that one particular location in downtown L.A. was the worst: say, around First and Spring.

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