Idiocracy approacheth

And now, “Ow! My Balls!” sponsored by Ford:

One thing a few German companies have taken note of is the hands-free tailgate, a particularly brilliant feature now available on the new Mercedes-Benz SL550, for instance. Walk up behind the Escape with the key on your person, swipe your foot under the bumper, and voila! It opens. But be warned: After you swipe your foot, take a step backwards or the liftgate will whack you in the crotch. No joke! All joking aside, my wife couldn’t believe that all cars don’t have such a smart feature.

Of course. She’s not the one standing there waiting to get whacked. (Maybe she’s up front, watching your discomfiture on the backup camera.)

I haven’t seen this particular issue highlighted in any other reviews of the ’13 Escape, so maybe the other motor-noters were lucky, or they’re the wrong height, or something.

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I will not turn out

So far as I can tell, there’s nothing for me on the primary ballot tomorrow: there are two races — Corporation Commissioner and County Clerk — to determine Republican candidates for the fall election, and that’s it. Not being a Republican (well, I’m not), there’s no reason for me to show up.

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Irony overload: priceless

Just what the world was waiting for: the Karl Marx MasterCard.

Karl Marx MasterCard issued by Sparkasse Chemnitz

Issued by Sparkasse Chemnitz — Chemnitz is a city in eastern Germany, in the state of Saxony — the Marx card has proven to be popular: ten designs were proposed by the bank, and more than a third of the customers opted for Marx.

Then again, this could be just nostalgia: Chemnitz was turned into a parking lot in WWII and was subsequently rebuilt, its Soviet-sector overlords renaming it “Karl-Marx-Stadt,” a name it retained until the fall of the Berlin Wall and the German Democratic Republic behind it. There remains a bust of Marx in the city’s core, the very one portrayed on the card. The local economy is a mixed bag, faring reasonably well until recent troubles in the Eurozone. And there’s this:

A 2008 survey found 52 percent of eastern Germans believed the free market economy was “unsuitable” and 43 percent said they wanted socialism back.

The devil you know, as it were.

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One hurdle jumped

Saudi Arabia has decided to send a female participant in the 2012 Olympics, mostly due to pressure from without:

“It’s very sensitive,” a senior Saudi official told the BBC. “King Abdullah is trying to initiate reform in a subtle way, by finding the right balance between going too fast or too slow.

“For example, he allowed the participation of women in the Shura council [an advisory body] so the Olympic decision is part of an ongoing process, it’s not isolated.”

The official acknowledged that to refuse to let women take part would have looked bad on the international stage.

And Saudi Arabia was one of three countries — the others were Qatar and Brunei — who in 2010 were threatened with being barred from these Olympics if they did not allow women to compete.

Dalma Rushdi MalhasSaudi women will of course be expected to dress according to religious norms, though this shouldn’t be a problem for the one Saudi competitor who has already qualified: showjumper Dalma Rushdi Malhas. The other two countries, it would appear, aren’t quite so worried about lustful glances from the crowd. Qatar, in fact, is sending a swimmer: Nada Akraji will compete in the women’s 50-meter freestyle. And while she is not expected to win a medal, Brunei’s runner Maziah Mahusin, who finished last in her qualifying heat for the 400-meter dash, will be participating.

Updates in comments.

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Strange search-engine queries (334)

Once again, it’s time to subpoena the logs for the last week and demand that all the funny search strings be located and posted. (No, don’t thank me; it’s my, um, privilege.)

“where the babes are”:  Don’t you think that if I knew that, I’d be there instead of sorting through a week’s worth of server logs?

can ants crawl up a drain:  They can, but they usually wait until you’re actually in the shower before showing themselves.

lizards in texas:  Keep one near the drain, to watch for ants.

to wipe out hair in vagina:  Better hair than ants, if you ask me.

Manic Pixie Dream Girl emotionally immature:  Ha. You should see the boy who pursues her.

new york times manic pixie:  This must be a reference to Maureen Dowd, in which case you shouldn’t see the boy who pursues her.

free cam oklahoma:  You mean, like a single overhead cam?

prom dressing:  It’s like ranch dressing, only sparklier.

Marilyn Monroe fluttershy:  I like it. How about Sissy Spacek for Applejack?

purpose of denunciation:  Hmmm. Someone’s wanting homework help in Blogging 101.

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A splotch, a blotch

Get a load of this:

EMP Museum by Frank Gehry

California Home + Design selects 25 Buildings To Demolish Right Now, and among them is this Frank Gehry eyesore in Seattle, formerly the Experience Music Project, now the EMP Museum. Vanderleun, among others, calls it “The Blob,” hence our title.

Yes, there is a John Johansen structure on the hit list, but it’s not the one you thought. It’s the Morris A. Mechanic Theatre in Baltimore, which since the last time I brought it up now actually faces a visit from the Happy Fun Wrecking Ball.

So I don’t want to hear any more goddamn complaints about Stage Center. Got that?

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On having it all

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What can Little, Brown do for you?

If nothing else, you’ll be able to avoid a situation like this:

FEDEX GUY: I can’t send this.

MAUREEN stares, waiting for further explanation. When none is forthcoming, she spins the package back around and looks at the label, because apparently she is going to have to figure out what it is that she didn’t put on it. Because it’s not just a delivery service — it’s a TEST OF WITS. Finding no blank spaces, she feels like a bit of a FedEx failure.


FEDEX: (very disapproving look) I can’t send this to a random house.


FEDEX: I can’t send this to a random house. You need an address.

Now MAUREEN gets it. She can barely believe this wonderful thing is happening, but she gets it.

MAUREEN: Oh! No, no. It’s a publisher.

Mr. Abbott? Mr. Costello? Line two, please.

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Pressurizing the cabin

Cheryl Cole’s first album was called 3 Words, and she would like you to know that those three words were not “silent but deadly”:

The singer, 28, claims she is always being accused of breaking wind — as people think she’s too famous to bother holding it in.

The Girls Aloud star says that travellers letting off bad smells on planes is one of her pet hates.

Perhaps someday a solution will be at hand:

“There should be a sort of aerosol that can be sprayed into the air and it would pinpoint the guilty person. You can get a similar thing to go into swimming pools to discourage people from peeing. I think it would be a winner on a long flight.”

Personally, I blame LeBron James.

(Via this Jeffro tweet.)

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Hungry freaks, grandpa

The first twelve Frank Zappa/The Mothers [of Invention] albums will be rereleased next month, and the rest will follow:

Back home where it belongs, the music of Frank Zappa is now back in the hands of the Zappa Family Trust.

To celebrate this, the estate has signed a global license and distribution deal with Universal Music Enterprises to release 60 of the iconic composer’s recordings. The roll-out kicks off July 31 with 12 recordings, with another dozen recordings to be released monthly through the end of 2012.

The initial release covers everything from Freak Out! (1966) through Just Another Band From L.A. (1972), all the Verve stuff plus the early Bizarre material. I’m hoping that they’ve gone back to the original tapes from Cruising with Ruben & The Jets (1968), the legendary fake doo-wop album (“Is this the Mothers of Invention recording under a different name in a last-ditch attempt to get their cruddy music on the radio?” says the jacket); in a previous reissue (on Rykodisc) the tracks were remixed and in some cases overdubbed, with FZ’s blessing.

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As LeBron smiles enigmatically

There is no joy in Cleveland:

What can we say? He’s got a high-energy style.

(Via Fark.)

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Some shower this is

What sort of couple would forgo wedding gifts in favor of a donation to the Obama reelection campaign? This kind, apparently:

Oh, you know the type. “Wedding” is probably not anywhere on the invitation because “marriage” is an outdated, Patriarchal concept that is merely a manifestation of the sexism inherent in the relationship between people who society has instructed belong to separate genders, when we know that gender is just really a cultural construct, so we’re really having a “handfasting” or a “sand-combining” or some other pagan hippie sh*t in a re-purposed garage or a “alternative wedding location.” And there won’t be dancing or booze or anything because although we’re totally celebrating our decision to commit our lives to each other, we want to stress that the end result for all married couples is either death or divorce. And the food will be vegan. And sourced from Dumpsters.

Worst goddam wedding ever.

This, of course, is the best wedding ever, and yes, it involves herbivores.

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Bugs to the spotlight

I’ve been on television (briefly); I found the experience to be, at best, an exercise in discomfiture. Others embrace it with great — perhaps too great — enthusiasm:

So they had a human interest story on the local news this morning about some local guy who had applied as a contestant on The Biggest Loser twice before and been rejected, but had actually received an invite from the producers to this year’s casting call.

Those of you who thought that The Biggest Loser was actually a weekly Congressional wrap-up on C-Span may be forgiven.

Why had they called on him? Well, he spent the last year engaging friends and friends of friends in the video and music industries putting together a musical video plea describing why he should be on the show.

If your next question is “Did he spend any of those twelve months actually trying to lose weight?” — well, you’ve missed the point. The idea is not to get thinner, but to be lionized, however briefly, for getting thinner. None of that hiding one’s light under a bushel stuff: today, you clear all the bushels from a whole acre in an effort to get someone — anyone — to notice a tiny bit of illumination.

Tam says she talked back to the screen. (This is what she said.) I don’t blame her in the least.

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Leave my name out of it

Renault Samsung Motors has a short but checkered history. Samsung, the Korean electronics giant, figured their considerable expertise in circuits might serve them well in the automotive realm, and after a four-year ramp-up, they were ready to build cars. (Hubris to the white courtesy phone, please.)

Unfortunately, it was 1998 when they were ready, and by then the Asian financial crisis, precipitated by the collapse of the Thai baht, was in full wallow. Samsung wanted out; Renault bought 70 percent of the enterprise in 2000 and now holds about 80 percent.

And with Renault calling the shots, Samsung has decided that they might as well call the damn cars Renaults and be done with it:

“We want to take our brand ‘Samsung’ out of Renault Samsung since we don’t have anything to do with the car sales,” a Samsung executive told The Korea Herald.

Nothing doing, replied a Renault spokesman: “Both Renault group and its Korean operation consider the relationship with Samsung successful and positive. We have no immediate plans to make any change.”

Under current agreements, Renault can use the Samsung name on automobiles until 2020.

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A phishy story

You can never, I suspect, say that you’ve seen everything, scamwise, because there always seems to be a new wrinkle. This came in last night:

Janet Ross just sent you a message on Vimeo:

I found your video on Vimeo (video-sharing site), can we publish link to your video in our newspaper?

Thank you,
Janet Ross, journalist
The Washington Post (

Now I am reasonably certain that no self-respecting journalist signs off as “journalist” if there’s a more specific title at hand: City Hall beat reporter, say, or perhaps Assistant Features Editor. And even if they did, I don’t have an account at Vimeo, and the proffered Vimeo links, I need hardly point out, don’t actually go to Vimeo.

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Still the same

Rebecca Black’s comment on her birthday (which was Thursday):

Weeeee I'm 15 I feel the same

Okay, she was a little more effusive in the weekly Q&A session.

On Sunday, she got an early birthday present: tickets to that evening’s One Direction concert, which she later described as “phenomenal.” Actually, she put it in all caps with several exclamation points, but hey, she’s 15.

And this seems heartening:

Finished another song in the studio tonight, had good cake, and now I’m going to sleep.

Not quite a workaholic, perhaps, but reasonably diligent.

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