Behold the power of cheesecake

There have been a few somewhat-arguable photos on this site from time to time, though I don’t think I’ve ever quite stooped to this:

I’ve come across another internet tendency that really irritates me: blogs that use photos of a woman’s lower torso and legs, or just the legs, with a pair of panties or thongs down around her ankles as illustrations or headers on their blogs when the subject of those blogs is not “how to keep the elastic in my underwear from failing at a crucial moment.”

Although I have to admit this: upon reading that paragraph, I thought about raiding Lileks’ Art Frahm collection and putting up a blog on that very subject, though WordPress.com was not exactly keen on the idea of “howtokeeptheelasticinmyunderwearfromfailing.wordpress.com,” and I’d have to do a custom header, which means I’d spend more time than I wanted to spend reviewing the handful of themes that they permit. (I do keep my backup blog over there, albeit with stock artwork — with one exception, of course.)

Besides, it’s the men you have to worry about, descending-clothing-wise.

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Branded R

“Look! The cool kids have a new logo! What are we going to do about it?”

And the Grand Old Party thought about it for a moment, took another sip of salty water — good for the gums, you know — and brought forth this:

Not the new Republican Party logo

Magoo Rove, you’ve done it again.

(Inspired by Queens of the Stone Age.)

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Quote of the week

From a purely-philosophical standpoint, Tam hates the very idea of voting:

The fact that there are basic human rights that have been left to the the vagaries of snout-counting strikes me as a very basic flaw in our entire system of government. November should consist of a few dull Cincinnati dragged unwillingly to the meanest of public service by a handful of loyal followers, whereupon they will look out their office windows for a term and pine for the day when they can get back to doing something meaningful with their lives.

Of course, what we get are candidates who loudly proclaim the desire to “make a difference”; eleven or twelve dozen times out of a hundred they end up as an object lesson in Townshend’s Theory of the New Boss.

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391

“Still buzzing from StL,” reports Andrew Ian Dodge as he presents the 391st Carnival of the Vanities.

The following isn’t exactly buzzworthy, but I’ll do what I can. In Trask v. Maguire (85 US 391, 1873), the successor to the St. Louis and Iron Mountain Railroad, incorporated under the same name after the original railroad company was declared in default and was temporarily placed under the control of the State of Missouri, claimed the right to the same tax exemptions as had been granted to the original railroad, despite the changes in ownership and a subsequent Missouri statute which made the granting of such exemptions illegal. The court found for Maguire, the St. Louis tax collector; the judgment was affirmed upon appeal.

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Born under a bad URL

My youngest child is pushing 30, which means that these considerations never came up when he was born:

I’m sure people have always had long contested discussions with their partners and friends about naming, but I can’t help but laugh at the role that the Internet is playing in these conversations today. I clearly live in a tech-centric world so it shouldn’t be surprising that SEO and domain name availability are part of the conversation.

Now we’ve always heard that names, to the extent possible, should be “distinctive,” but “distinctive,” I submit, does not necessarily equal “first page of Google”; otherwise, we’d be awash in John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidts and such.

Besides, the kid might not want that kind of attention:

Sure, we all want our kids to be successful, but what if they’re not? And what if they don’t want to stand out? I always thought it was horrific when parents would name their kids ridiculous names that were destined for torturous middle school nicknames, but what does it mean to take it to the next level such that they stick out like sore thumbs online? It’s a lot easier to live down middle school than to live down a persistent digital identity.

If the Lord had meant us all to be in Wikipedia, we’d have all been born with a disambiguation page.

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Not a hollow star

You might remember Alexis Bledel from the Gilmore Girls TV series, which ran seven years on The WB and The CW. (Parenthetical note: What’s with the “The” on these networks? Also, why say “Parenthetical note” when it’s obviously in parentheses?)

Anyway, it’s her 29th birthday today, and I had this photo lying around, so…

Alexis Bledel

Besides, she’s not wearing those damned Traveling Pants.

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All right, get ‘em up

No, I didn’t mean your hands, mister:

The Minnesota Court of Appeals [Tuesday] upheld the conviction of a motorist whose pants fell down after he was ordered to put his hands up. Judge Kevin Ross noted on behalf of the three-judge panel considering the case that previous courts had never considered a search quite like the one conducted on Frank Irving Wiggins as he was ordered out of his car in the parking lot of a St. Paul White Castle in November 2008.

You know, if this happened in a movie, people would be jeering about the lack of realism:

Officer Kara Breci had seen Wiggins in his idling vehicle and assumed he was involved in a drug deal since he was not eating. Breci investigated. After she saw a rear-seat passenger with a bag that looked like it contained marijuana, she ordered Wiggins and two passengers out of the car with hands on their head. The loose-fitting jeans Wiggins had been wearing immediately fell to the ground. As Breci pulled up Wiggins’s pants, she felt an object that turned out to be a .380 pistol in his pocket. Because of his prior convictions, Wiggins was arrested and convicted by a district court for unlawful possession of a firearm.

Stoners at White Castle? Whoever heard of such a thing?

Anyway, it is the finding of the court that contrary to Wiggins’ argument, Officer Breci’s search did not actually begin until after she made the adjustment to Wiggins’ pants.

Mental note: You know, I haven’t bought a new belt in over two years.

(Via The Truth About Cars.)

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Bury interesting

One of those pull-apart mailers which says in big letters WASHINGTON, D.C. and in decidedly-smaller letters “not affiliated with any government agency” showed up yesterday with the subtle heading: SENIOR FINAL EXPENSE INFORMATION.

Gee, thanks.

I didn’t bother to rip the thing open, which would be a violation of all I hold sacred, but I did manage to recall this bit from the joke wall on Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In, from some time in the last century:

“My grandfather’s funeral cost over five thousand dollars so far.”

“So far?”

“Yeah, we buried him in a rented tuxedo.”

“Final expense,” my sweet bippy.

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The Gas Game (redux)

Every fall, ONG offers something called the Voluntary Fixed-Price Plan, and the one time I bothered to keep track of it — well, you’ll get the idea:

Last October, with gas prices in flux, Oklahoma Natural Gas Company offered to sell gas to its customers for a Voluntary Fixed Price of $8.393 per dekatherm, which struck me as a fairly crummy deal, inasmuch as gas was selling in the $6.50 range at the time. So I passed, and gas promptly jumped off the farging scale.

It wasn’t until July that the price dropped below $8.393; it peaked in the winter (of course) at over $12.

Now it’s come around again, and the deal is for $5.754. (Yes, gas prices, if you’re a producer anyway, have gone to hell.) Under state law, they can’t turn a profit on actual gas, so they make it up in fees and such, which is how last month’s gas bill was $35 and change though I used less than $4 worth of gas.

I went back through this year’s bills, and the price has been in the $6-$7.50 range since January. Conventional wisdom would say that it’s only going to go up in the winter, due to that supply-and-demand business you’ve heard so little about in the news. But the fly in this particular ointment has always been the timing of ONG’s purchases: there’s no way to tell when they bought any specific dekatherm. So I studied the price for NG on the NYMEX, and it hasn’t been above $6 all year, meaning current gas is being delivered under old contracts still.

But then I looked at the worst of last winter’s bills, which included the Worst. Snowstorm. Ever. and a three-day period where the temperature never got above 22 and dipped as low as 5, and that $135 bill would have shrunk by $20 easily with $5.75 gas. So I may take the plunge and sign up for the Fixed Rate this year, which is defined as November through October. And if ONG is going to be serving up this year’s $4 gas next summer, well, I’m not using much of it.

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The news report

Early in the summer, my ISP killed its NNTP servers, leaving me with basically two options: give up Usenet entirely, or find a provider that won’t break me. I opted for the latter, and signed up for 90 days of trial service from Agent Premium News, the service vended by the manufacturer of the Agent newsreader, which client I have used for over a decade.

I said at the time that I wasn’t getting close to my 12GB-per-month quota, and I’m not: as of this week, my first as an actual paid customer, I used up a whole 0.2GB in a typical weekend half-hour session. Figure nine such a month, and I’ve got 80 percent of my quota left.

The only rough spot came after I’d marked about 25 articles for download, which they did not do: turned out that the exact moment my trial period ended was within a few seconds of the time I’d started the retrieval job. So out came the first’s month’s payment ($2.95), and sure enough, the articles started rolling into queue.

So far, apart from that little contretemps, things have gone well with APN, and I expect I’ll stick with it for a while.

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A working-class blogger is something to see

John Lennon would have been seventy this fall, and in a piece for Goldmine (not yet on their Web site) that speculates on what might have happened had he lived, Gillian G. Gaar proposes that Dr Winston O’Boogie might well be blogging today:

The rise of the Internet would have been perfect for someone like Lennon, who dabbled in writing, but invariably put his efforts aside when he grew bored. But blog entries don’t have to be long or in-depth.

Fortunately for me, anyway.

Lennon could have commented on the news of the day, posted links to stories that caught his eye, and rallied supporters to whatever cause he was currently involved with.

Seems plausible to me, though I can think of one feature that might scare off some folks: YokoCam.

Or maybe not:

[T]hey’d been documenting their own lives on camera for so long they could easily have set up a channel on YouTube showcasing excerpts from their impressive archives.

And to be fair to Yoko, as I try to be, John once described her as “the world’s most famous unknown artist: everybody knows her name, but nobody knows what she does.” I’m pretty sure that were there a LenOnoBlog (Gaar’s suggested title, and why not?), we’d know what she does.

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Take only as directed for heartache

Take what, you ask? Why, Tylenol®, of course:

According to a study published in Psychological Science, scientists have shown that acetaminophen may indeed relieve emotional hurt … particularly the pain associated with social rejection.

A research team lead by Dr. C.N. DeWall conducted two experiments to demonstrate this amazing effect. In the first, sixty-two adult participants took two 500-mg pills every day for three weeks, one in the morning and one at night. Thirty of the individuals took acetaminophen pills, and thirty-two took a placebo. Each night, the participants rated themselves on the Hurt Feelings Scale, wherein they reported how many times and to what extent they experienced social rejection throughout the day. From days nine to twenty-one of the experiment, the people taking acetaminophen reported significantly fewer instances of hurt feelings compared to the people taking the placebo.

Not incorporated into the experiment: whether getting the hell off Facebook would accomplish the same thing with less risk of liver damage.

(Via Asylum.)

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Whenever love knocks

Songbird Clodagh Rodgers, who hailed from Northern Ireland, never scored a US hit, so her fame in the States is almost entirely due to this bit of silliness:

Pither: (voice over) What a strange turn this cycling tour has taken. Mr Gulliver appears to have lost his memory and far from being interested in safer food is now convinced that he is Clodagh Rogers, the young girl singer. I am taking him for medical attention.

Apparently being namechecked on Monty Python’s Flying Circus didn’t rate a mention on Ms Rodgers’ Wikipedia page. That said, I was always fond of her hit song “Jack in the Box,” which is one of those annoyingly-bouncy pop tunes that always seems to place well in the Eurovision song contest. (It came fourth in 1971.)

This, though, I did not know: “She also won the award for ‘The Best Legs’ in British showbusiness and insured her voice for one million pounds.”

Jack in the Box by Clodagh Rodgers on RCA Records

The voice isn’t bad, either.

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One Froggy afternoon

On the Wikipedia page for English author E. Nesbit, you’ll find a photograph of her gravesite, and a fellow crouching, stalker-like, beside the stone.

If F. Gwynplaine MacIntyre is to be believed — and I believed everything he ever told me, which was rather a lot, considering we never actually met — the croucher is MacIntyre himself.

Or, technically, was:

The F also stood for Froggy. That’s what fans in the rabid science-fiction world on the Internet called him: a witty and eloquent man prone to using obscure words and coining new ones, who published numerous books, articles and short stories to great acclaim and spun fantastic tales about his travels.

Both were vaporized June 25. In a dramatic farewell that could have come from Froggy’s pen, Mr. MacIntyre, according to fire officials, methodically set ablaze the contents of the apartment in Bensonhurst where he had lived for a quarter-century. First the flames consumed a lifetime of possessions; then they feasted on his weary flesh, ending his painful 59-year earthly existence. Born in Scotland, raised in Australia — or so he said, in his impeccable British regional accent — he now lies unclaimed in a Brooklyn morgue.

My first encounter with MacIntyre was by way of his 1995 proto-steampunk novel The Woman Between the Worlds, in which a woman identified as Vanessa Steele, though that could not be her real name, shows up at the office of a London tattoo artist. Or, rather, doesn’t show up: she can’t be seen in our, um, dimension, and she has a problem with that. I commented that it was “utterly unfilmable,” an opinion with which MacIntyre was happy to take exception.

We corresponded for a few years after that on various topics: American politics, the Grand Illusion stuff put on by magicians, and, yes, E. Nesbit. “I’d read E. Nesbit’s novels at a young impressionable age,” he said, “and found them enchanting.” But there was occasionally some subtle subtext:

In [The Story of the Amulet, 1906], the children make one time-trip into the future, but — in a high point (or, rather, a low point) of authorial wishful thinking — the future they visit is a Fabian socialist utopia, where HG Wells is the workers’ hero, and men no longer wear trousers.

Nesbit, of course, was a founder of the Fabian Society.

MacIntyre, in some ways, was what I might have aspired to be: he seemed to know everything. I was startled to find his byline on an IMDb article about 1960s cartoon rock duo the Beagles, whose “What More Can I Do?” is an enduring favorite of mine. Eventually we fell out of touch; I had no idea that he’d come to such a horrible end, and wouldn’t find out until Roberta X touched upon the subject a couple of months after his demise.

But he knew this Web site very well:

“I haven’t the faintest notion as to what Dustbury is; and even less notion as to what functional purpose Dustbury serves. The words ‘Dustbury’ and ‘psychopathia’ seem invariably conjoined.”

Now how can you argue with something like that?

Farewell, Froggy.

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Such a card

I’ve seen spam claiming to offer presumably-loaded ATM cards before, but the one that showed up yesterday is different: it had the “actual” card number in the subject line.

The ostensible sender is “Senate House®,” which is marginally amusing in its own right, as is the dubious “atm.com” domain. Instructions:

Accredited ATM Card(231) awarded for contract payment of $6.8MILLION USD.with Card Number; 4278xxxxxxxxxxxx has been allocated in your favor, contact Mrs. Linda Hills (mrslindahill@luckymail.com)with the following
information’s;

And, of course, you’re supposed to supply all manner of biographical detail to the operation, which claims to be in, of all places, Lagos, capital of Nigeria. (Who would have known?) I’ve redacted the last twelve digits, lest someone get a wild hair and try this number on some unsuspecting storefront. I did, however, subject it to the Luhn test, which it passed. Still doesn’t make it a valid number, of course, and you’ll note that they didn’t bother to send the CVV code (which may or may not be required by a merchant) or the expiration date (which definitely will be).

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Fark blurb of the week

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