Occupational hazards

Earlier this month, I said something to the effect that Her Majesty’s Government was putting entirely too much effort into “making life easier for the criminal element.”

Just in case you assumed I was engaging in the fine art of hyperbole, here’s a fresh example of what I mean:

A spate of thefts in several towns and villages in Kent and Surrey over the past few months led to many householders taking action to protect their property.

Some have been warned by police that using wire mesh to reinforce shed windows was “dangerous” and could lead to criminals claiming compensation if they “hurt themselves”.

Now in a civilized area, this situation doesn’t come up, as Peter explains:

Anyone trying to break into my shed is likely to encounter a rather more effective deterrent than window mesh. In fact, he might find it so effective that he’ll never burgle a shed again!

And that’s the bonus benefit: a very low recidivism rate.

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Thoroughly crushed

Those of us who have loved neither too wisely nor too well have perhaps an enhanced sensitivity to the Classic American Crush, the heart demanding an object of fixation to fill an otherwise-empty space, and the eyes alighting on just such an object at exactly the wrong time. Recounting the full list of those who have unwittingly filled this role for me would be painful for me and probably embarrassing for them, so for the moment I’ll confine myself to fictional characters.

When I was eleven, Freddy Cannon put out a bizarre little stomper called “Abigail Beecher,” a name positively redolent of Victorian gentility: you half-expected her to be teaching history in some classroom with dark-paneled walls and a blackboard so old it was actually green. Well, that much she did; but according to Freddy, she drove a Jaguar E-type, was conversant with contemporary teenage dance steps, and occasionally even surfed. Not a Van Halenesque object of lust, exactly, but someone you couldn’t possibly ignore, especially if you were an Impressionable Youth.

Officially in those days I didn’t know much about history, mostly because I was getting my romantic advice from Sam Cooke. So I spent some time in contemplation of what Art Fleming on Jeopardy! called “unreal estate,” which inevitably led me to Mrs Darrin Stephens, of whom I would write at the tender age of fifty-one:

For a squirrelly little kid like me who never imagined himself with so much as a temporary girlfriend, a “card-carrying, broom-riding, house-haunting, cauldron-stirring witch” was exactly the ticket to suburban happiness, and that doofus Durwood, or whatever his name was, simply wasn’t worthy of someone like that.

For the moment, I overlooked the likelihood of clashes with the in-laws, but who doesn’t?

Still, both Miss Beecher and Mrs Stephens were older and wiser than I, and eventually my teenage self turned to someone my own age and my own level of bewilderment: Cassandra Mortmain, narrator of Dodie Smith’s novel I Capture the Castle, who explains her situation in the opening pages of the Sixpenny Book:

[U]p to now my stories have been very stiff and self-conscious. The only time father obliged me by reading one of them, he said I combined stateliness with a desperate attempt to be funny. He told me to relax and let the words flow out of me.

Apparently Mr Mortmain had anticipated my own style by several years. And ultimately poor Cassandra is waylaid by a crush of her own, which unwinds in the most torturous of ways — except for the fact that, well, it doesn’t. Of these three women, she’s the one I’ve had the least success getting over.

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He only loves me for my can

Diet Pepsi has introduced a new beverage can. Same volume, but taller than the industry average; the rules of geometry being what they are, it’s also narrower than average, and you can predict what happens next:

The National Eating Disorders Association said it takes offense to the can.

Reinforcing stereotypes, doncha know, especially the one where women are “more attractive if they appear to be five or six inches high, a little thinner than the usual Pepsi can, and made of aluminum.”

Obviously what these poor, overwrought ladies need is to lap their empty calories out of a short, squat bowl, which won’t upset their worldview quite so much as something Disgustingly Skinny.

Me, I’ll go pour another Dr Pepper.

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Strange search-engine queries (263)

If you’re just joining us, this is a weekly routine wherein we acknowledge the fact that rather a lot of traffic comes from inadvertent search hits on the archives, and that some of said searches are downright hilarious, or at least somewhat loopy.

this is not a valentine:  If you have to ask, you’re not getting any. Valentines, I mean.

tim mcgraw penis:  I consider this purely a matter of Faith’s.

is there nude women at the pennsylvania renaissance faire:  That would take all the fun out of making medieval costumes, wouldn’t it?

beautiful woman expensive clothes duing housework sexy vids:  If she can afford expensive clothes, she might be able to afford paying someone else to do (not “du”) the housework.

does chikfilet have wifi at racetrack in Kansas city:  This is the first warning sign of I Won’t Go Anywhere Without My Precious Device Syndrome.

middle aged amature ugly slut women who fart and then shit on the toilet tubes:  That’s a good way to get yourself banned from Chick-Fil-A.

why are democrats called jackasses:  It’s a sexist thing. Many Democrats are actually female.

wood chuck chucking wood osha:  The woodchuck was fined $10,000 and was required to obtain EPA certification for any future such incidents.

hydrochlorothiazide marijauna:  Instead of giving you the munchies, it makes you go to the bathroom every two hours.

96 2500 can i bore the motor:  Sure. Just start reading this page out loud with the hood open.

Oh, and to the wisenheimer in Edmond who asked for site:dustbury.com zooey deschanel:  Well, duh.

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Big shots

Well, maybe not all that big, but the Warriors put up a lot of shots: tonight in Oakland they put up 99 of them, and David Lee’s dunk with 21 seconds left was the 99th, putting Golden State up by four. Monta Ellis added two more free throws in the waning moments, and that was it: OKC turned the ball over on its next possession, and will be sent home with a 100-94 loss.

The Warriors hit 43 of those 99 shots. Of the ones they didn’t, twenty got turned into offensive rebounds. (The Thunder had only two offensive rebounds all night.) Then again, this is what they do; Oklahoma City didn’t have any effective way to shut them off.

Ellis led all scorers with 33; as is his wont, he played almost the entire game (45:46). Lee recorded 23 points and 19 rebounds; Stephen Curry had 23 points and 13 assists. (The Thunder had only 15 assists all night). There wasn’t much more, but the Warriors didn’t need much more.

OKC put up only 59 shots; they hit 31, for 52.5 percent, but they got creamed on the backboards, and the three top scorers — as usual, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Jeff Green — produced 29, 21 and 12. That last turnover was the Thunder’s 20th, and that number is pretty scary in its own right.

So a split of the California trip, and now back home to await the Kings, followed by the All-Star break. At 34-19, the Thunder is still on pace for 52-53 wins, but the schedule isn’t going to get a whole lot easier.

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And worth every scent

Axe display at Walmart

And they say Walmart doesn’t know what they’re doing.

(Via FAIL Blog.)

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Balls for me, but not for thee

Polite little story from Great Falls’ Prairie Star:

According to Anne Key who ranches with her husband, Tom, near Great Falls, Mont., lambing is in full swing and it is going great.

“We had tagged the 200th lamb on Jan. 28,” she said. That was the start of a crazy weekend. By Monday, Jan. 31, they had tagged 40 more lambs and the tiny fluff balls are still coming.

Dynamo Dave wanted to throw in a kind word for those “tiny fluff balls,” but the Prairie Star wasn’t having any of that:

“Your comment cannot be accepted due to the presence of profanity. Please remove any objectionable content from your comment and try again.”

Speaking of comments, the late Harry W. Baals was not available for any.

Be that as it may, our best wishes to the Keys.

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Battle of the Belge

It was some years ago that a Mr St John of Huntingdon said he couldn’t think of anything more derogatory than “Belgians.” I don’t know about that, but right now, Belgium is in a dead heat with Somalia for “Longest period without a proper government,” the parliamentary elections having been held way back in June, and yet there’s still no coalition.

Senator Lysistrata Marleen Temmerman has proposed the following measure to push things along, as it were:

A Belgian senator and physician wants her fellow legislators to go on a “sex strike” until the country can break the stalemate that has left it without a government for nine months.

Marleen Temmerman’s “legs closed” campaign started as a joke, she told the Star on Wednesday. Now she can only hope it might work where everything else has failed.

“It sounds funny, but the situation is very serious. We have to get a government. There are people crying in the streets for services.”

Belgium is pretty much fragmented for the moment: there are distinct Walloon (Francophone) and Flemish (Dutch-speaking) regions, each with a measure of autonomy and neither with a great deal of fondness for the other. (Brussels, the capital, is officially bilingual.) Temmerman, judging by her Web site, is Flemish; a stance like this would suggest that she’s not among the separatists who would like to see the country split into Whatta Walloonia and Stupid Flanders.

And it’s not like there are no role models:

“We have two cultures, but everywhere in the world people are living with different cultures. Look at Canada. You have a government, why can’t we?”

The Parti Québécois was not available for comment.

This represents a change from earlier in the month, when Temmerman played the perhaps-inevitable “Can’t you guys take a joke?” card, prompting a retort from Jeroen Overmeer, who heads up the New Flemish Alliance, which won a parliamentary plurality but which has yet to form a government:

“Ordinary people may joke about the political situation, but members of parliament have a greater responsibility.”

But Temmerman responded: “I see two different groups of people here. You have people who see the humor who can laugh about it. And you have people who don’t see the humor of it at all.”

(Via Ferdinand Barduma, who made the Aristophanes connection before I did, and Erlend Johan Alvestad, who found the followup.)

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Real fungi

Marko Kloos lays down some well-deserved smack on Chris Lee, formerly representing the 26th District of New York, and on any subsequent dimwits with the same M.O.:

If you’re in a high-profile public job like, say, Member of Congress, and you use your real name while trolling Craigslist for some extra-marital action, you are dumber than a tub of mushrooms, and I wouldn’t trust you to run my checkbook, much less the affairs of the nation.

Extra credit for guessing which phrase can be left out entirely without changing the truth of the matter.

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It’s a T party

The Kings dominated this one early, which should be no surprise to anyone who’s paid any attention to the Thunder lately: they’ve had some seriously weak first-quarter defense of late. Eric Maynor took care of that with a half-court shot to close out the quarter, putting OKC up 27-24; they would not trail again, despite some anxious moments, and they got the win in Sacramento, 99-97.

What was most remarkable about this game was not Maynor’s 50-footer, nifty as it was, but the sheer number of technicals handed out: Maynor got one, Serge Ibaka got another, Russell Westbrook got yet another. (Didn’t seem to be a plot by the officials, since Tyreke Evans also got one.) Evans was making his presence known early on, and he put in more minutes (46) than anyone else. He got two of three free throws with 39 seconds left to pull the Kings within four, and when the Thunder couldn’t come back with a score, Evans delivered another layup. Kevin Durant earned a trip to the foul line with 5.9 left, but sent up a pair of bricks. Evans fired a trey for the win, which didn’t land, Omar Casspi tried to put it back, but that was the end of it.

Six Kings hit double figures, led by Evans with 30; DeMarcus Cousins got the only double-double of the night, with 14 points and 12 rebounds. Sacramento got most of the rebounds (49-36), most of the assists (18-12), and that late 12-2 run; had this game gone to overtime, I suspect the Kings would have won it handily.

Durant, in spite of those chunks of masonry — he missed five of 13 from the line — still managed to accumulate 35 points; Westbrook came up with 22 before disappearing late, Maynor running the point towards the end. (As of this writing, no one has explained why.) If you buy this plus/minus stuff, consider this: all the Thunder starters finished minus, all the bench players finished plus. James Harden had 11 points and five steals; Maynor finished with nine points. The Uncle Jeff factor: Green had eight points and four boards, which might qualify as “meh.”

It’s tomorrow night at Golden State, then back home to play these same Kings on Tuesday. It’s not going to be any easier, I suspect.

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And it’s not even Wednesday

Christina Ricci is thirty years old today, which means that all that Addams Family stuff is more than half a lifetime ago.

Besides, she’s long since developed a look of her own, deployed here at the 2009 premiere of Brüno:

Christina Ricci at the Bruno premiere 2009

Still, some of that wicked ingenuity that served her well in the house of Gomez and Morticia was there from the very beginning:

When her elementary school held auditions for The Twelve Days of Christmas, Ricci was in danger of losing the lead to another kid. So she hatched a plot only slightly more diabolical than the one she would later act out in The Opposite of Sex. Ricci taunted her rival so much that he socked her. When she tattled, he lost the part.

Clearly this is a woman with whom one does not mess.

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Saturday spottings (get a whiff of this)

The city has not issued a formal estimate of how much this double-play Snow Monster has drained its coffers, but I’m going ahead with a Scientific Wild-Assed Guess of $15 million, as follows:

  • Overtime for sand truck and snowplow crews: $1,250,000.
  • Sand: $1,362.
  • Repairing 90 percent of the fresh potholes: $13,748,638.

I figure ten percent of the potholes will be missed entirely, or will have to be repaired yet again after a spring rain.

Speaking of snow, whoever first described something as “pure as the driven snow” had obviously never driven in any. Rather a lot of folks who found the stuff amazingly filthy were lined up at car washes today, which I didn’t find inexplicable, exactly, but it seemed like such a waste: you can’t go 500 yards without running into a puddle of something wet and splattery, and there goes the $2/$5/$40/whatever you paid for a few minutes of the pristine.

And then, having threaded my way through the running water at the supermarket parking lot, I began the day’s Shopping Adventure, which contained something perhaps a little more inexplicable: youngish couple (with smallish child) are positioned in the laundry-products aisle — no, not in the middle of it, thank heaven — and while she watches with what appears to be amused detachment, he opens up jugs of detergent at random and sniffs.

“There are times when I think they’re all pretty rancid,” I offered, to no discernible effect.

I didn’t hang around for an explanation — I grabbed a bottle of Era and moved on — but I’m guessing it’s something like this: family was visiting his mom and dad, they got stuck there when the snow came down, and now that they’re home, he wants that same smell he got when his mom did their wash for them.

This could easily be solved by a phone call (“Yeah, we were wondering what brand of detergent you use”), but guys don’t ask directions either.

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Deckly speaking

Oh, wait, that’s deck.ly, a facility built into the latest TweetDeck which enables you to sneer at the sacred 140-character limit.

Overly (note: not over.ly) long tweets have been possible before now, but I’ve never quite seen the need for them: I have, as the phrase goes, other avenues open to me.

I admit here that I’ve used it once, mostly to see if it worked. (It did.) But there’s a lot to be said for keeping it short and sweet: Motown, by and large, started to get less interesting once Berry Gordy decided it was okay to put out singles longer than three and a half minutes.

Besides, as Sissy Willis says:

We commend the Twitter staff for responding in record time with an option to disable the bug feature for us purists who share Thomas Jefferson’s view that “the most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do.

Hear, hear. Or just: “hear.”

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No leprechauns involved

There is, however, Pot of Gold:

Pot of Gold by Seychelles

Seychelles’ Pot of Gold is a classic T-strap pump, leather and satin, with cutouts at presumed points of interest and a conical, stacked 3½-inch heel. Nordstrom sells it for a modest $89.95. I do know at least one woman who wants this shoe.

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Further out of stock

NASCAR is cutting carbs left and right:

What’s this newfangled techno-wizardry we’re talking about? Fuel injection.

For the first time since the series kicked off in 1947, the so-called stock cars that travel full-throttle around tracks all across America will abandon their carburetors in favor of an Engine Control Unit sourced from McLaren and a computer processor from Freescale. That tandem reportedly beat out eight rival bids.

Note: “an” ECU and “a” computer processor. This is, of course, consistent with recent NASCAR practice:

[O]nly approved software can be run and [NASCAR] will have special electronic tools at its disposal during every event to ensure the legality of all ECUs.

Any bets on when full Robo-Drivers® will be deployed?

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Not a pyramid scheme

I caught this thread on Fark earlier this week:

Ok. I’m an ass. But, I haven’t watched the news in about month. Who can summarize the Egypt thing in one paragraph?

The departure of Hosni Mubarak — not to be confused with “Hose me, Mubarak,” which really should have been a Falco song — would seem to necessitate a second paragraph. But I admit, I’m just as much overtaken by events. I put this up on Facebook Thursday night, and it’s already obsolete:

Hosni Mubarak, demotivationally

Still, three minutes in Microsoft Paint (!) for a brief jape? I’m okay with that.

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