Just back away from the scalpel

Lindsay Lohan is twenty-four, though apparently you wouldn’t know it to look at her:

She had a forehead so taut and shiny it looked like an iPhone 4. Her lips were inflated to the size of a melting Twix, and her cheekbones looked as if they were climbing her jaw in order to dive to their death. Each change to her then 23-year-old face seemed to nod towards youth, but in fact imply age. This isn’t to say she looked old — as she bounced down the catwalk, her hair streaming behind her, she seemed to have transcended age — she looked like lamb dressed as mutton dressed as duck.

Now I would never presume to tell someone that no, you can’t have cosmetic surgery: decrees of that sort are well beyond my pay grade. But if I, with my less-than-perfect vision and perhaps-questionable aesthetic criteria, can see it, I daresay you’ve had too much of it.

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The grid slightly undumbened

A couple of months ago, OG&E advised that the Smart Grid was coming some time in “the next few months.”

My own little node has been established: they swapped out the Stupid Meter some time yesterday and left a note on the door, which I didn’t read until after I’d puzzled over how come the power had glitched and I had to reset clocks again. The new box contains the word “CLOSED,” for now; presumably it’s not reporting to the hive mind yet. And it dutifully informed me that I’d used 1 kwh since it was installed, because, yes, my refrigerator is running.

The note on the door mentions that the new gizmo “contains no personal information about you.” I suppose that depends on one’s definition of “personal”; each of us by now knows someone who’s more than happy to harangue us for our profligate power use, and by “profligate” I mean “running the A/C below 80 in August.”

To address a couple of concerns in the comments to that original post: I’m not hearing any stray noises, and the Surlywood Wi-Fi seems unaffected for now.

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An overdue idea for saving libraries

Ryne Douglas Pearson comes up with an alternative funding mechanism for an institution too often running short of money:

I have an idea. It’s crazy. It takes giants like Amazon and Barnes & Noble and eBook distributors to partner with willing authors, and it goes something like this: bring your Kindle, your Nook, your iPad, your eReader of any kind and purchase your books using the WiFi of your favorite library. You’ll save 10% off the top from the advertised price, and another 10% of your purchase will go directly to THAT library. You get your book, Amazon and its kind get their sale, the author gets a reduced cut, and the library suddenly has a revenue stream.

This would take all kinds of machinations to work. Maybe the biggest would be the author agreeing to take a 20% cut, or the distributor and author splitting that. But what comes from that is a helping hand to help nurture the next generation of voracious readers.

Not being an author, I can’t tell you how well this would go over with people who actually (try to) make a living at it, though I remember a Big Record Company practically giving away prime tracks four decades ago:

We can get away with that low price because these celebrated artists and this benevolent record company have agreed not to make a profit on this venture. We (and they) feel it’s more important that these samples of musical joy be heard.

Said venture, which began in the late 1960s, survived into the early 1980s, though the “low price” wasn’t quite as low towards the end.

Still, the musicians gave up rather a lot more for those records than the authors presumably would be giving up for these libraries.

(Via this @ScrewyDecimal tweet.)

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And here she is

First photos, filched from my ex’s Facebook page because it was faster.

Allison on Day 2

Above, the little lady gets carried about the room; below, big brother Nick marvels at what has happened.

Allison on Day 2

And watch it: he’s big enough to kick your hindquarters if you give his little sister any guff.

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The plain in Jane is mainly on the brain

It is, I suppose, theoretically possible to establish some “objective” criteria for beauty — by now there’s enough research on the matter to fill up a whole year’s worth of British tabloids — but I’m inclined to believe Alte when she says this:

I am strange-looking (I like to say I’m “exotic”, not weird), I’m nobody’s “type”, people squabble over whether I am even attractive or not, but I get hit on regularly by men who think I am drop-dead gorgeous. It is, in short, better for some men to think you’re hideous while others think you are hot, than for nearly everyone to think you are cute. The bigger the disparity, the more you will be hit on.

I have been told more than once that my idea of drop-dead gorgeous is, to be charitable, deeply flawed. Actually, it’s more inconsistent than anything else; while I have, um, distinct preferences in certain areas, none of them really matter all that much in the final evaluation. Then again, since I keep myself at a safe distance from the dating realm, perhaps they don’t matter at all.

(There are well over 100 comments on the linked post, not all of which I have read.)

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And still more battery stuff

Ric Locke contemplates my laptop-battery issue, and points to a complete lack of standardization in the realm:

Every laptop model, even from the same manufacturer, seems to use a different battery — Toshiba are less bad about it than most makers, but you still can’t pop the battery out of one model and have it work in another, at least in most cases. Sometimes the differences are “badgineering”, changing the appearance or feature list to provide the Latest Thing without fundamental changes, and in those cases the batteries might swap. It still isn’t guaranteed.

We had four different models of ThinkPad at the office, and I swear, there were six different battery variations.

And I think about the Tesla Roadster, which runs on the equivalent of 6,831 laptop batteries, minus the individual plastic cases, and I start to wonder how come it costs only $120,000.

I’ve talked up the freezing cycle for a while now, and I must report that not everyone has been successful with this same technique — but when it does work, it beats the hell out of paying for a new battery.

And things eventually will get better, because they have to:

If every part of the car, or the coffeemaker, has exactly the right amount of the right material in exactly the right places to perform its function, there’s no reason for it to break unless you hit it with a hammer — and that means it lasts for a long, long time. The manufacturer might prefer that it break so you have to buy a new one, and people accuse them of that motive all the time, but think: it costs the same to make a defective part as it does to make a good one, and then you have to spend time (=money) sorting the bad ones out. It’s cheaper to let the engineers work as hard as necessary to make all good parts, and that’s what they do.

Then again, this laptop dates to 2001. I’m pretty sure no one expected it to be around after a decade.

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Signs of discontent

Tam and I are years apart, and more important, months apart, but her horoscope sounds a lot like mine:

“You are a surly, disorganized loner with all the finely-honed fiscal acumen of a congressman after a three-martini lunch combined with the driving ambition of a tree sloth.”

Which gives me an excuse to pull this out of the archives:

Once upon a time, for reasons long since forgotten, I engaged an astrologer to do a frighteningly-detailed natal chart for me. Early on, she explained some of the angular momentum, giving special attention to the square, superficially the most negative of all the aspects. “But people with no squares at all,” she noted, “never have to struggle, never have to overcome obstacles, and often as not never amount to anything worthwhile. If you have a square or two, you’re perfectly normal.”

This was before she discovered I had eleven of them, but that’s another matter.

I am not quite sure exactly whose presence in what house confers upon me high degrees of skepticism, but I’m glad he/she/it was there.

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Niche-y and scratchy

A pissing match between Nissan and General Motors? Oh, what fun. Here’s the background:

Back in October, General Motors began airing a series of commercials based around the Chevrolet Volt’s then-new tagline: “More Car Than Electric.” The commercials that later aired for Chevy’s plug-in took a subtle dig at pure electric cars like the Nissan Leaf, while attempting to explain the benefits of range-extended technology.

Nissan did not respond until last week, when one of their execs said this in a speech:

As automakers, we have a duty to communicate with clarity to help customers understand today’s technology. If you’re calling your car electric, and it has one of these, you’re only muddling the message.

“These” were a tailpipe and muffler, which the Volt of course has, since it has an actual engine stuck in there among all the electricals.

Then again, the Leaf has a valve cover but no actual valves, so who’s zooming whom?

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Semi-evenly matched

The Lakers and the Thunder had two things in common: they led their respective divisions, and they’d both suffered embarrassing losses to the not-all-that-lowly Clippers. But when they met at the Staples Center, what you saw were the differences: the wily veterans versus the earnest kids, the perimeter shooters (L. A. went 7-14 from beyond the arc) versus the perimeter non-shooters (OKC made two of 22). And while things never got completely out of reach until the very end, the Thunder never clamped down the way they needed to, and the Lakers held on for the 101-94 win.

Derek Fisher was the secret weapon: a season-high 15 points, including two of three treys, while both Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol picked their usual twenty-plus and Andrew Bynum weighed in with a double-double. The Lakers were weak at the line, but not enough to matter.

The Thunder had double-doubles of their own: Russell Westbrook had 32 points and 12 boards; Serge Ibaka, 11 points and 10 boards. Rebounds were about even (Lakers 41, OKC 40). But L. A. got the long ball to fall half the time; the Thunder were hopeless from downtown, even from Kevin Durant, who shot 8-24 and dropped only one of eight treys. Credit the Laker D for forcing all those outside shots.

Wednesday at Denver. At least I won’t have to stay up so late.

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If I knew what she wants

The aforementioned granddaughter will be wicked cute, of course — all my descendants, for some reason, are substantially better-looking than I am, which I assume is a genetic present from my ex-wife — but it will be at least 18 21 25 [oh, never mind] years before she’s ready for anything Rule 5-ish, and I’d be squeamish about it anyway.

So we bring up someone else with eye appeal born on the 17th of January, and not the obvious (from this vantage point, anyway) someone else, either. You’re looking at a section of the cover of the Bangles’ 1984 album All Over the Place, a year before they started getting major hits; the lady in the flimsy chair is the then-25-year-old Susanna Hoffs.

Susanna Hoffs circa 1984

Which means she’s 52 on this particular manic Monday. Seems impossible, doesn’t it?

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New girl on the block

No pictures just yet, but hey, she’s only been within visual range for the last three and a half hours or so.

We welcome to the world Allison Denise Carson, born at 2:20 pm Central. She’s 20 inches stem to stern and 9 pounds, 11 ounces, which seems like a lot, but then her mom (and said mom’s brother) were both over 9 lb when they were born. (I wasn’t. Go figure.) This alters the Grandchildren Ratio to three boys, two girls.

I assure you, I had nothing whatever to do with her happening to arrive on Zooey Deschanel’s birthday.

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Moderate enhancement

We’ve always (well, since the fall of ’08 anyway) had an RSS feed for the comments on any particular post, but I never got around to implementing email notification for comment replies, support for which is built into the WordPress core but which was never set up in this ancient (and admittedly much-rejiggered) theme.

It’s now in place via a check-box below the Submit button accompanying the comment box. I suspect it works better if you tick the box before you save your comment.

Thanks to Tatyana, who wound up caught up in the testing routine. (Much to my complete lack of surprise, I did not get things to work on the first try.) If you’re keeping score, we’re using Subscribe to Comments by Mark Jaquith, WordPress Director of Whitespace; I bought him a drink, or something.

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You want your own book, don’t you?

Songs and Poems WantedUsed to be, you’d see ads in the back pages of magazines, in which some operation in L. A. or Nashville or some other Major Musical Center would offer to take your words and turn them into songs, which would then be recorded by professional musicians and then issued on actual phonograph records with labels and everything, and by inference — yours, really, because they never really promised you a rose garden — you’d become the Big Star you were destined to be. Did this ever work? What do you think?

Running these ads is like dropping a baited hook into a well-stocked lake. When the song-poet responds by sending her (for most song-poets are female) verse in for “evaluation,” the shark mails back a barrage of promotional literature in which he (for most song sharks are male) lays out a more sophisticated round of deceptions than can be squeezed into the ads. The verse, no matter how hopeless, is invariably given a top rating, thus inflating the song-poet’s ego and expectations. When such puffery is supplemented with anecdotes of just how much money there is to be made in songwriting, and hints of how “anything can happen” and “you never know,” the fish starts to nibble at the bait.

The next twist is perhaps the trickiest of all, for even the dumbest perch in the pond knows that in the music industry, if you’ve got a salable commodity then companies will pay you for access to it. Instead, the song-poem company must convince the song-poet that she should pay them, typically to the tune of $200 to $400.

That’s some expensive tune. And I might have thought that it might have faded into oblivion, what with the massive upheaval in what used to be the music industry. Instead, it migrated over to the book aisle:

So there’s this writing contest advertised by a company called “First One Digital Publishing”. The contest has unusually restrictive rules for entry. In a nutshell, they require a $150 entry fee, you sign over all the rights to your work even if it doesn’t get picked as a winner, they can use your work any way they want without telling you about it, and you can’t sue them for anything, ever.

Other than that, of course, it’s perfectly legit. Where’s John Trubee when you need him?

Addendum: Yes, you can hear the record they made from the “song” Trubee wrote.

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Unclog your life

Michael Kors, interviewed in InStyle (2/11):

Look, if you want to wear a freaky shoe or carry a crazy handbag because you get off on it, fine. But every guy is going to look at it and go, “What was she thinking?” That big heavy clog you think is the height of fashion? He sees a cinder block on your foot.

This seems fairly uncloglike: a KORS Michael Kors (that’s what it says) version of the classic penny loafer, in red patent:

Cabbie by KORS Michael Kors

It’s called “Cabbie”; it lists for $295, though Bluefly will let it go for $177. And these days, you might as well stick a dime in there; a penny’s hardly noticeable anymore.

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Locating the turning point

It might have been December 1955, Montgomery, Alabama:

You know, my friends, there comes a time when people get tired of being trampled over by the iron feet of oppression. There comes a time, my friends, when people get tired of being plunged across the abyss of humiliation, where they’d experienced the bleakness of nagging despair. There comes a time when people get tired of being pushed out of the glittering sunlight of life’s July and left standing amid the piercing chill of an alpine November. There comes a time.

And we are here, we are here this evening because we are tired now. And I want to say that we are not here advocating violence. We have never done that. I want it to be known throughout Montgomery and throughout this nation that we are Christian people. We believe in the Christian religion. We believe in the teachings of Jesus. The only weapon that we have in our hands this evening is the weapon of protest. That’s all.

And certainly, certainly, this is the glory of America, with all of its faults. This is the glory of our democracy. If we were incarcerated behind the iron curtains of a Communistic nation, we couldn’t do this. If we were dropped in the dungeon of a totalitarian regime, we couldn’t do this. But the great glory of American democracy is the right to protest for right.

My friends, don’t let anybody make us feel that we are to be compared in our actions with the Ku Klux Klan or with the White Citizens Council. There will be no crosses burned at any bus stops in Montgomery. There will be no white persons pulled out of their homes and taken out on some distant road and lynched for not cooperating. There will be nobody among us who will stand up and defy the Constitution of this nation. We only assemble here because of our desire to see right exist.

Today we have all the “piercing chill” we can stand. It doesn’t have to be that way, and it never did. Martin Luther King, Jr. would have told you so.

Dr. King was twenty-six when he gave that speech to the Montgomery Improvement Association. The bus boycott was under way. Far more than mere city ordinances would be changed in its wake.

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Strange search-engine queries (259)

It’s another Monday morning, which means another round of poring over the logs in the hope of finding a fistful of mockable search strings. It’s not like they’re all that difficult to find, either, which is either a great relief or a great disturbance in the Force.

part eel part demon:  You’re gonna need a bigger hovercraft.

“encyclopedia brown” toast:  This is about 60 percent of the way between “light” and “dark” on the slide control.

“buy your leave”:  Actually, I was hoping for someone who would buy my leaves, the ones I didn’t rake out of the yard this fall.

should i do my housework nude and why:  I would say yes, provided it doesn’t involve either toxic chemicals or taking a break halfway through to run to Starbucks.

medications to put women in a hypotized state:  Have you tried the simple strawberry daiquiri?

Maniac Attacks Library Nerd Employee at her Work Place:  Probably didn’t even offer to buy her a strawberry daiquiri, either.

do dealerships use rebuilt transmissions:  Did you think you were getting a new one for a mere three grand? Lay off the strawberry daiquiris for a while.

free 8 yo nude kids:  Eight-year-olds are not free; in fact, they tend to be rather expensive.

bogus history generator:  The government is working on one right now, to “correct” all the unpleasant things that have happened since the Articles of Confederation.

vicodin lose effectiveness when it is old:  It never gets all that old. The average lifespan of a 10-tab prescription is about 72 hours, less if you’re also out of meth.

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