Tempest in a B-cup

Andrej Pejic for HEMAThe Dutch retail chain HEMA advises that its new Mega Push-Up bra is good for two full cup sizes, not an inconsiderable accomplishment in this era of Cleavage über Alles, and is happy to draw attention to it by showing you the model in the red dress.

I am duly impressed, especially since the model in the red dress is a guy: Andrej Pejić, twenty years old, arguably the prettiest six-foot-two blond(e) working the runway today. I’d argue that he sells the product remarkably well, inasmuch as it brings a figure with no actual bewbage at all up to an almost-solid B.

To add to the It’s Complicated matrix: FHM named Pejić to their list of the 100 Sexiest Women in the World for 2011, ranking him 98th — ahead of Lady Gaga. (They insist it was an accident.)

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More toast science

Last year I spent an inordinate amount of time trying to figure out if there might be an actual reason for specifying a single-slice slot in the standard toaster. (Short version: one slot does work better than the other.) However, I did not attempt to answer a question of arguably greater importance: is the toast more likely to land buttered-side down?

The answer, as it happens, is Yes:

Aston University’s Robert Matthews got a thousand children to conduct 21,000 toast drops. He proved not only that it is possible to use child labor in such a way that it seems whimsical and sweet, but that the toast, spiraling through space as it drops off the edge of a table or a plate, will land butter-side down sixty-two percent of the time. Some experiments show an even higher rate of buttered floor than that.

The launch apparently induces a degree of roll:

If it has rolled more than ninety degrees but less than two hundred seventy degrees, it will land butter-side down. It turns out that the average table height gives it time to turn just enough that it’s between these two angles, but not enough that it can turn past two seventy degrees and land butter-side up again.

Matthews won an Ig Nobel Prize for his research.

(Via Fark.)

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Blue Font of Death

It is pretty much common knowledge that the much-derided Comic Sans MS typeface originated at Microsoft — just look at the name — and while Redmond has dropped it into every Windows since 95, there’s really been no major effort to promote it. Which is perhaps just as well, because then we’d have visual excrescences like this:

Blue Screen of Death rendered in Comic Sans MS

Which is just fine with the folks behind the Comic Sans Project, which seeks to replace all those Other Fonts because “Helvetica is sooo 2011.”

(First seen in this Elysa Rice tweet.)

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Garbage in

Does anyone really know where these retail sales forecasts come from?

I’ve arrived at the opinion that retail sales forecasts are determined by throwing dice. If you read the job number statistics, projected sales reports and other boilerhoused documents used for arriving at these forecasts, you realize the projected numbers are created from data that is as reliable as dice. So, a smart man would throw some dice, or flip a coin to make the determination. I know I would; why waste the time?

Then again, just because a number has passed from the realm of projection into the valley of statistics doesn’t mean all of a sudden you can trust it.

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Marx, Lenin, and herpes

Dr. G. Keith Smith on the subject of, um, a social disease:

For years I have resented the desire of socialists (yes, they are on both sides of the aisle) to use Uncle Sam to confiscate my earnings and the future earnings of my children. Now I am thinking about things differently. You see, while I resent “sharing” property against my will, what I have come to understand is that it is the justification for this confiscation that commands resentment. Basically, others are sharing with me against my will: their problems, not their wealth. It occurs to me that this is the essence of socialism. One person’s problem is everyone’s problem. Your problems are mine, mine are yours. Embracing this concept precedes the theft necessary to “tidy things up,” to make things fair, to treat another’s problems. I wonder now if that should be the focus of property rights advocates, the denial of this concept, or, “your problems are yours, not mine.” After all, private property is secure once this problem sharing paradigm is rejected. Sharing problems with others that want no part of it is like giving someone tuberculosis or a venereal disease. I think this is a perfect analogy and therefore, I will henceforth refer to socialism as “gonorrhea socialism,” as this loaded phrase inevitably leads one to the faulty premise.

Then again, property-rights advocates have their hands full already, what with having to deal with taxation, Kelo, and “occupants.”

And Carnac, having read the title, opens the envelope: “Name three things you can’t seem to get rid of no matter what.”

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Chariots of the – Gawd!

The problem with any sequential list of, say, the 100 Worst Cars of All Time is that while it may be easy to rattle off the ten Worst of the Worst — once again, no love for Pontiac’s misshapen Aztek — positioning from Number 11 on down is of necessity somewhat arbitrary. (Is the Ford Gran Torino Elite really twenty-three rungs up from the Hyundai Excel?)

Still, snark potential abides in such lists. Number 88, the Ford Aspire:

Built by Kia, sold by Ford and ignored by everyone. Basically a 1.3-liter four-cylinder engine and four wheels bolted to a prison cell.

Now that’s descriptive.

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Hear me now

I’ve watched this three times in the last three days, and each time it seems a little more moving. Reason enough, I think, to bring it here.

So far as I can tell, this was from a 2003 appearance on BET’s Def Poetry, a spinoff from Russell Simmons’ original Def Comedy Jam.

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Retention to detail

Melanie Sherman reminds us that what we remember we did is not necessarily what others remember we did:

Something that was so unimportant that you don’t even remember it, can color a person’s entire perception of you for years to come. What brought this to mind was a co-worker’s story not long ago, when I was training a new person. Someone I’d worked with for years said to the new employee, “Oh, Melanie is a good person to have train you. She knows how to make you feel at home.”

I stared at her, puzzled. I couldn’t remember ever making an effort to make someone “feel at home.”

Sounds like me, kinda sorta. But then this happened:

“It was my first day, and Melanie was showing me how to do the invoicing. I was very nervous, and at some point I opened my mouth and my gum fell out.”

You’d think I’d remember that.

Of course, this is a positive reflection. The Inner Magpie promptly brought forth a negative reflection I’d seen about a third of a century ago. No, it wasn’t one of mine: it was an installment of Mule’s Diner, a comic drawn by Stan Mack for the old National Lampoon.

The original strip wasn’t to be found on the Web, but I turned up a “semi-short story” by Jeffrey Sears which turns out to be a retelling of that very tale in prose form. The protagonist had hoped he’d lived down a certain incident which he thought was unimportant in the grand scheme of things.

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Right past me

Oklahoma City government has its own TV channel — channel 20 on Cox Cable, or on okc.gov if you install Microsoft Silverlight, which I’d rather not, thank you very much.

As of yesterday, channel 20 has moved, and yet it hasn’t [pdf]:

Effective December 13, 2011, education and government access channels in Oklahoma will be converted from an analog format to a digital format.

Which means either you get a box for the top of the set or a TV that can tune QAM, or you’re out of luck:

Cox is required to provide capacity for access programming on its TV Starter package. However, there is no obligation that educational or government channels be transmitted in a particular format (analog or digital). Cox’s TV Starter package is composed of both digital and analog channels, and all such channels are transmitted to every subscriber as part of the package.

Eventually, of course, all the analog stuff will be thrown away, so as to make more room for more channels I don’t need. (The Hub, I note, is three tiers up from where my current service ends.) And why didn’t I notice this before?

Cox has made several efforts to notify our customers about this transition including a bill message, web update and a notice in the Oklahoman.

This is where I admit that (1) I get a paperless bill from these guys and (2) I never read anything past the amount due, which is, as it should be, on page 1.

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Part of your complete breakfast

In general, my work hours of late make it difficult to pay attention to any of the TV morning shows, so I managed to go for a rather long period of time without noticing this person:

Chiquinquirá Delgado

Chiquinquirá Delgado, thirty-nine, is currently a host on Univision’s morning show ¡Despierta América! and has done some film work, including this Sergio Briones film that somehow escaped the eye of IMDb. In her younger days, she was first runner-up to Miss Venezuela 1990.

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Where did this come from?

De-Chapeau’d in Deschutes brings back an old favorite:

You would think they’d never seen snow before the way they react when there’s a storm coming in. It’s a weird phenomenon that strikes whenever more than five inches of snow is predicted around here. People start acting as if they had lived in pure sunshine and heat the whole time. OMG! White stuff falling from the sky! We’re all gonna DIE! Please. You all drive Lincoln Navigators and Hummers with twelve-wheel drive. The town will clear the roads within 24 hours and your kids will be pelting the toddler across the street with snowballs within two.

The magical phrase around here is “freezing rain,” and it doesn’t matter how many driven wheels you have when that stuff shows up.

Incidentally, the above paragraph is from:

(a perennial favorite rant of blogs and email forwarders. source unknown, slightly edited.)

Assuming I sourced it correctly when I posted it four years ago, this is the work of ex-blogger Michele Catalano.

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Title of the month

I’ve had a few that I liked, but I haven’t come close to topping this one from Lynn: “Men Are From Lowe’s — Women Are From Macy’s.”

Especially since, unlike some of mine, her title is actually relevant to the post. Useful excerpt:

Men will come right out and tell you what they want — model numbers and everything. Don’t be shy about asking. He would rather get what he wants than to be surprised. Women also will tell you what they want but they’re more subtle about it. In fact, your wife or girlfriend has been telling you all year what she wants; you just weren’t paying attention. If you have to ask you’re probably in trouble.

Read and heed.

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Surely he must be mad!

Well, let’s just say he’s not pleased:

A scientist denied the love of a selfish, gold-digging woman decides to end it all … and take us all with him by plunging the earth into the sun.

Meanwhile, his dowdy assistant … but never mind. Read the whole thing. It’s a twelve-page comic from 1950; it’ll be over with quickly enough. And don’t call him Shirley.

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And who are we this week?

Nancy Friedman reports on The Contractor Formerly Known As The Contractor Formerly Known As Blackwater:

Blackwater, the controversial security contractor that changed its name to Xe (pronounced “zee”) in February 2009, announced [Monday] that it’s changing its name yet again: to Academi. Or, as the company’s press release prefers to call it, ACADEMI.

Three names in less than three years? There’s got to be something else going on here besides being bored with the letterhead, and of course there is:

One of those “extraordinary changes,” unmentioned in the release, was the departure in 2010 of Blackwater founder Erik Prince. Prince moved on to Abu Dhabi, where he created a mercenary army for the crown prince. Other changes at Blackwater/Xe/Academi include the composition of the board, whose members now include Bush Administration Attorney General John Ashcroft. Ashcroft is serving as the company’s “ethics adviser.”

And besides, “Qwikster” was already taken.

Note: Having refined my own thinking on this subject, I think a more descriptive name might be, oh, “Global MFs,” which conceivably might be available by the time Blaxemi, or whoever the hell they are, are ready for the next name change in January 2013.

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Determining the Envy Quotient

I really can’t see any other useful information obtainable by surveys like this:

Gallup has surveyed Americans to ask what they believe the cutoff for being “rich” should be. The median response was that a person would need to make at least $150,000 to be considered rich.

Only 15 percent of respondents specified a threshold of $1 million or more. Still, this is an income figure, not a wealth figure, which may be why the Times didn’t bother to mention Gallup’s question on how much in the way of savings and investments it takes to make one rich, for which the median was indeed $1 million.

The trouble with all such surveys is that they’re all based on money, and money, these days, is based mostly on wishful thinking: It’s not worth anything except to the extent that the Fed says it is. But pollsters will not be able to quantify my own answer, which would go something like this:

“Yesterday I had to write a check to the garage-door repairman to replace a broken spring. Is this check in any danger of bouncing? No. Will this expense throw me out of the current budget? No. Will this expense impair my ability to do other things I’d hoped to do this month? Yes.”

You can see the pattern here: keep escalating the conditions until one of them applies. Stopping on the third question implies something not exactly poverty, but well short of wealth. How much would I have to have backstopping my current income to keep worries at an absolute minimum? (I have just defined “wealth,” at least according to my lights.) It would have to be enough to restore my current, um, lifestyle with no discernible compromises — twice. (Because after the first restoration, I’d be on edge about every little thing.) I am loath to declare a dollar amount, if only because some of what is lost is time, and I can’t buy that for any number of dollars.

(Suggested by Half Sigma.)

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Thorne Smith, line one, please

It was Turnabout, back in 1931, that set the tone for all the subsequent body-switching (or whatever) stories to come. Smith’s original story was made into a movie in 1940, then a short-lived TV series (1979) starring John Schuck as Sharon Gless, or something like that. (For the moment, we won’t mention a certain episode of Star Trek.)

Of course, nothing says you can’t swap individuals of the same gender; in fact, it’s actually an older premise, dating to F. Anstey’s 1882 Vice Versa, which interchanges father and son. (Mother and daughter, you’ll remember, were swapped out in Freaky Friday.) Best buds were transposed this year in The Change-Up.

Which brings us to the case of two women who aren’t exactly friends, in Kevin Bleau’s musical If You Want My Body:

[It] tells the story of Mildred, a rich but overweight lawyer who yearns for her first relationship. Annelies, a slim dancer, is about to be evicted from her studio. The women make a deal with witch Lorana to swap their brains into each other’s bodies. Annelies’s brain will lose 50 pounds from Mildred’s body. Then Lorana will return the brains to the original bodies and Mildred will pay both women. The women question their philosophies on life as they “walk a mile in each other’s bodies.”

Act II is playing tonight in Boston, with David Reiffel directing, which is why I’m bringing it up now.

(Via this Deborah Henson-Conant tweet.)

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