More dinty

Or, we can have archaic and eat it too:

“[B]y dint of” — does any American speaker of English actually use that? I only know it as an “English” translation of some French construction — which I have now forgotten. But of course the English phrase sticks in my head, and even though it may be archaic, it still fits some situations, so I use it.

I duly typed “by dint of” into the Google Custom Search box over in the sidebar, restricting it to just this domain. Got 857 results. Admittedly, some of them were for the same page — this happens when you have individual, monthly and category archives — but still, that’s more than a hint of dint.

Then there’s Antarctica’s Dint Island, within a handy 7 km of Vittoria Buttress.

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A pony-powered bandwagon

Every now and then I shake my head and wonder what I’ve gotten myself into. And then a reminder pops up:

Bronies — adult fans of animated children’s show My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (FiM) — are bound to set a record for the highest number of fanworks in the shortest amount of time.

Tons of art, hours — weeks, at least — of music.

But neither medium can hold a candle to the massive world of brony fanfiction.

Brony fanfiction has become one of the fandom’s most lasting traditions, with adoring writers creating their own stories that take the original equine characters of the Friendship is Magic universe and portray them in new situations.

I wonder about that word “lasting,” since the fandom itself is only two years old, but I can’t deny this:

I swore I would not get involved with fanfic, period. I admit that this particular fandom has drawn more of my attention than any other in recent years, and that these characters mean a lot to me in many ways, but still: No Fanfic.

And then I read one, because a friend suggested it. One can’t hurt, right? And then I read another, and it turned out to be My Little Dashie.

I wrote that on the 16th of June. Of this year. That was more than 400 stories ago. (Including three I actually wrote, with a fourth in progress.)

Perhaps I’m paying now for never having been a proper Trekkie/er. Or something. But nothing in Deepest Roddenberria ever affected me as much as MLD.

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Your 2012 State Questions

The sixth biennial roundup on what’s on the ballot next month besides, you know, all those dadgum candidates.

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Never let a trademark go to waste

The Oklahoma Publishing Company shut down the Oklahoma City Times, its afternoon paper, way back in 1984, much to the dismay of those of us who actually preferred an afternoon paper. There evidently weren’t enough of us around. However, they never let the trademark lapse, and now it’s back on the Web, as a brand for the Oklahoman’s downtown OKC coverage at — which gives me an excuse to put up this nifty little song by the late Hamilton Camp.

I still have this on a 45.

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Barest essentials

I’ve mentioned before that wartime mobilization took nylon completely off the consumer market, and as expected, demand soared after the war ended. And by “soared,” we mean that there was actual rioting in the streets when sole source DuPont couldn’t possibly meet that demand.

Things really didn’t settle down until DuPont, faced with the threat of antitrust action, agreed to license nylon to another producer: Chemstrand, a joint venture of American Viscose and Monsanto. (Monsanto bought out its partner in 1961.) Like DuPont, Chemstrand ran only generic advertisements for garments, not wishing to tread on the turf owned by the mills who bought their fiber. This one ran two whole pages in the fashion mags:

Hosiery ad by Chemstrand

As risqué as they would get would be in the “It’s Nylon or Nothing” series circa 1956:

Lingerie ad by Chemstrand

There also exists a swimsuit version. And yes, there are ads for tires made from Chemstrand nylon, but they’re beyond the scope of this series.

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Played twice and then archived

I wouldn’t have believed it myself, but there now exists a marketplace for used MP3s and such. Unsurprisingly, The Industry is not happy about that:

A US court is to consider a case that could determine whether digital media files can be resold.

One-year-old start-up ReDigi is battling music giant EMI over whether digital music can be retraded after it has been legally purchased.

ReDigi says that its software is designed to comply with existing United States copyright laws. But EMI argues a legal principle which allows consumers to resell purchased material goods does not apply.

This only works, presumably, if the individual trading files is required to delete his original at or about the same time he obtains the new track. ReDigi says its software does exactly that: checks the original file for legitimacy, then transfers it to the central server while deleting it from the trader’s computer.

And it gets better: ReDigi, assuming it’s not beaten to death with legal clubs, plans a similar service for ebooks.

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Strange search-engine queries (349)

Monday morning means another trip through the logs, in which we find the freshest and most implausible search records available, wipe them down with Mitt Romney’s handkerchief, and present them to the readers, who will promptly close this tab and go read Fark or something.

physics: mary and daryl are new to the sport of rock climbing. mary says she wants a stiff rope because a stiff rope is a strong rope. daryl insists that a good climbing rope much have some stretch. who is correct and why:  Whichever one is not found crushed to death at the bottom of the pile was correct.

answer plot map for no more victims:  You’re not one of those who watch it just for the plots, are you?

itunes cannot run because:  It’s iTunes. Screw you. That’s why.

enemal  “I am not an enemal! I am a 3x girl!”

is metaphor tablet for insomnia:  Take ½ hour before bedtime, then spend an hour wondering what it was you meant by that.

“fembots” “Khrushchev”:  “We will bury you! And then we will make sweet mechanical love in Kremlin.”

yield frontier seize receipt retrieve diesel caffeine routine magazine suite unique curious antique bikini put in alphabetical order:  You know, there is such a thing as too much OCD.

modifying tennis racket fly swatter toss stun gun:  Ladies and gentlemen, your 2015 Swiss Army knife.

has dolly parton slwaus had nice legs:  Always. And what the hell kind of word is “slwaus”? Is this part of the new auto-incorrect function?

Too young to be a slut:  Yeah, that’s what they said about Honey Boo Boo.

dilithium crystals delorean:  Unfortunately, not compatible with the first-generation flux capacitor.

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Splice of life

Today’s remix culture is dependent on skilled technicians who can splice different bits of recorded sound together with split-second accuracy, a process that did not exist until, oh, the 1940s:

In the days before magnetic tape came into wide use, the process of transferring music to the new discs (soon to be known as LPs) was complex. Long pieces of music, split among multiple 78 r.p.m. records, needed to be stitched together on the new discs without interruption.

To do that, Mr. Scott and his colleagues lined up overlapping segments of music on 78s, and — with Mr. Scott snapping his finger in coordination — switched the audio signal at just the right moment from one turntable to the other. As the industry began to use magnetic tape, beginning in the late 1940s, such work was no longer necessary.

Mr. Scott — Howard Hillison Scott, born in 1920 — may have been ideally suited to this position: he’d graduated from Eastman in 1941 and was going on to graduate piano study at Juilliard when the war effort came calling. He built a reputation as a record producer, and finished his career remastering old Columbia Masterworks recordings for Sony Classical CDs. H. H. Scott died last month at the age of ninety-two; do not confuse him with the other H. H. Scott, manufacturer of fine high-fidelity components in the 1950s and 1960s, who died in 1975 at sixty-six.

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Oh, F

Tucked away on page 16B of the Oklahoman today:

Correction notice

Of course, this is only a problem if there’s an actual customer capable of doing the math.

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Municipal beautification

Costa Mesa mayor Eric Bever, concerned with the appearance of his city, has determined what he believes to be the source of a “huge negative impact” thereupon, and proposes to do something about it. Said Bever:

“My belief is that if we manage to put the soup kitchen out of business that will go a long way to addressing the attractiveness in our city that’s creating a huge negative impact.”

You know, Eric, ol’ pal, if these pesky poor people don’t look so great, perhaps you can talk that billion-dollar South Coast Plaza operation to donate some up-to-date outfits. And it’s not like the city government has to bear a whole lot of expense for either Someone Cares or Share Our Selves, both of which are long-established 501(c)(3) charities.

(Via Amy Alkon.)

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Another four-letter word

Or maybe, in this specific case, two of them in close proximity:

Our country, today, has a crisis with hard work. We don’t seem to have a good understanding of what it is. There is evidently a whole lot of loud, opinionated people running around, many of them nursing resentments, who see it as what could best be expressed as “suffering that pays something.” Dig a hole, dig another hole, take the dirt from the second hole and put it in the first hole, dig the first hole and put the dirt in the second hole … at the end & middle of the month you get a check.

This must be what they mean by “shovel-ready” projects. Or, you know, not:

Um, that’s not what work is supposed to be. It’s supposed to have something to do with objects changing states for some purpose to be served. Also, we have a problem with that check. You cash it and pay some bills, buy food, hopefully there’s enough left over to put in savings. Well that part is right … but there’s a massive neglect of human potential taking place here when so many think of it as THE bills. THE this-credit-card, THE that-credit-card, THE heating bill. It’s easy to fall into this trap. And I guess, as long as something makes it into savings, it doesn’t really matter … but it seems people forget the bills do not represent injury, they represent activity. The trap of “paycheck happy face, bills sad face” reduces human potential because it makes it untenable to seriously consider taking on a new bill.

Then again, some folks have had so much activity that it becomes injury, most easily spotted when THE bills outweigh the paycheck. And a few of us might be tempted to wonder if it’s worth stashing away $100, which in a year at present rates of return will grow to about $100.50, at which time it might be able to buy about $96 worth of stuff if we’re lucky.

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The hawk was watching

And what he saw made him forget all about those lazy circles:

Oh, what a beautiful morning.

(Point of origin.)

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SLAPP shtick

For the record, here’s a workable definition of SLAPP:

A strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP) is a lawsuit that is intended to censor, intimidate, and silence critics by burdening them with the cost of a legal defense until they abandon their criticism or opposition.

Our Exhibit A is a SLAPP that failed:

Here’s the news:

“A Los Angeles judge threw out a lawsuit against TheWrap News on Wednesday, ruling that an article about movie financier Elisabeth Thieriot was both accurate and ‘took pains’ in reporting on a production dispute with her co-producer. Judge Barbara M. Scheper of Los Angeles Superior Court sided with the news organization in granting an anti-SLAPP motion to dismiss Thieriot’s complaint on the grounds that it had no probability of success on its merits.”

Exhibit B, inevitably, is a SLAPP against a blog publishing Exhibit A.

Inasmuch as Judge Scheper’s ruling is rather easily verified by inspection — please note that the phrase “plaintiff has no probability of success on the merits” is right there on page 1 — I suspect that the second suit will be every bit as successful as the first, and that the Streisand effect is already manifesting itself.

Notes Bill Quick, conceivably the subject of an Exhibit C should this lesson continue to go unlearned by counsel for the plaintiff:

This almost never ends well for those who think lawyerly threats are the sovereign cure for blog-caused discomfort.

See also the First Rule of Holes.

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Bimmer bummer

A recall for the BMW M5 and M6 contains typical NHTSA officialese, but somehow it makes even less sense than usual:

“Separation of the [oil] pump’s driveshaft from the rotor could lead to a sudden loss of oil pressure causing the possibility of complete engine failure, resulting in an engine stall-like condition, increasing the risk of a vehicle crash.”

Yep. Apart from the $20,000 worth of damage, it’s exactly like an engine stall.

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Quote of the week

Smitty revisits the Debacle in Denver:

[M]aybe we need to recall that the Obama Administration is nothing if not the ultimate Vagina Monologue.

Viewed through that tunnel, if you will, what you saw was the Longsuffering Black Man endure Yet Another Beating from the Usual Male Suspect of European Extraction… [Y]ou have to assume the lamb-like, sacrificial role, as you fearlessly stand for Progress and Prefixed Justice (racial-, reproductive-, class-, economic-, voting-, sexual-, it doesn’t matter). You have to turn Mitt into a preppy Pontius Pilate, out to crucify the Chicago Savior for being unable to overcome the sins of BeelzeBush the anti-Clinton.

“Give us Barackus”? Gimme a break.

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It had to come sometime

Before hitting the sack, I took one last look at Mesonet, and one of my two Most Dreaded Phrases showed up:

Screen shot from OK Mesonet

Yep. “Wind chill.” (The other Most Dreaded Phrase, of course, is “Heat index.”) The record earliest freeze for Oklahoma City was on the 9th of October, set in 2000; we may actually break that this year. How appropriate that this should happen in a year with the Hottest Damn Day Ever.

What did I say about the weather on 9 October 2000? This:

[W]e wound up with a textbook-perfect late-November day, a mere six weeks early. The sky is some shade of blue that exists only up above, and the occasional clouds look like they were pulled out of God’s own aspirin bottle. (No doubt we land-dwellers cause quite a bit of celestial headache.) There’s a bit too much wind, but there’s always a bit too much wind.

Ain’t that the truth. Today, however, isn’t much like that at all: the wind is there, but the cloud cover is vaguely menacing.

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