Catch it and you keep it

Good luck with that:

I once worked on an ad campaign for saving Darfur. And they told us that one of the ways they kill people in the civil war over there is by dropping shit from airplanes. They often can’t afford ammo, so what they’ll do is fly up in the air and push heavy shit out of an airplane, hoping it lands on unsuspecting people down below. Fridges. Air conditioners. Old trucks. Anything they can get their hands on. Now imagine that. You’re walking along in Darfur, minding your own business, when BOOM! A goddamn washing machine lands on your head. That’s the worst thing I’ve ever heard. I man, I get how much fun it would be to push a sofa out of an airplane. I’d pay $200 to do that. That would be awesome. But to have that actually be used as a way of conducting genocide is evil and shitty and makes me feel like the postapocalypse is already here.

(Title swiped from National Lampoon. Suggested by Pop Culture Junk Mail. Unlike those two links, that first one will give your work filters fits.)

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Ramen it in

The surfer dudes who run my Web host have come up with a challenge, although to participate you’ll have to (1) be in Los Angeles at the appropriate time and (2) have a gut lined with zinc.

Orochon Ramen, in L.A.’s Little Tokyo neighborhood, has designated seven levels of spiciness in their signature offering, from Non-Spicy to Extreme — except that there are levels 8 and 9, designated Special 1 and 2 respectively, and if you can finish a bowl of Special 2 in half an hour or less you’ll get your picture on the wall.

And if you do it in front of the Web host dudes on Wednesday night around sevenish, you’ll get a year of free hosting.

The disclaimer is worth mentioning here:

DreamHost is not responsible for exploded organs, anal leakage, excess sweating, dry mouth, constricted airways, homicidal impulses, amnesia, decreased sexual interest, kidney failure, muscle weakness, erectile dysfunction, nerve damage, liver damage, male breast growth, or any other physical harm that may arise from consumption of food or drink during this event. Enter this contest at your own risk.

The one really scary aspect of this: they listed “exploded organs” first.

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375

It’s the May Moon Carnival of the Vanities, and sure enough, the moon is full.

Which seems like a good time to bring this up:

L'Allunaggio by Luciano Guarnieri

“L’Allunaggio” — “Moon Landing” — a lithograph by Luciano Guarnieri:

In what must have been an experience of a lifetime Luciano Guarnieri was invited by NASA to meet and work with the astronauts Conrad, Gordon and Bean at the Space Center, Houston. He subsequently attended the launching of Apollo XII at Cape Kennedy and artistically delineated everything surrounding one of the most historic landings on the Moon. “Luna 1969″ was published in Florence in March of 1970.

There are fourteen lithographs in the Luna 1969 series, each signed and numbered, in a limited edition of (you guessed it) 375.

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You hardly need a survey

We know what people think of PayPal: they made it to the Elite Eight in the Consumerist’s “Worst Company in America” competition before losing out to one of those we-buy-gold operations.

Then again, “we” doesn’t mean “all of us,” or nobody would be able to circulate a bogus survey like this:

CONGRATULATIONS !!!

You have been chosen by PayPal Online department to take part in our quick and easy 5 question survey. In return we will credit $100 to your account — Just for your time!

Helping us better understand how our customers feel benefits everyone. With the information collected we can decide to direct a number of changes to improve and expand our online service. The information you provide us is all non-sensitive and anonymous — No part of it is handed down to any third party groups. It will be stored in our secure database for maximum of 3 days while we process the results of this nationwide survey.

We kindly ask you to spare two minutes of your time in taking part with this unique offer!

Hilariously, they didn’t even bother to obfuscate their phishing link: evidently they figured that people have learned to expect marketing surveys from hitherto-unrecognized domains.

Me, I’ve had no particular problems with PayPal, but going to the competition — what little there is — would bother me very little.

And you know, you could make a pretty useful spam filter just by scanning for multiple exclamation points.

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Sadder still

From last summer:

Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these: “This model uses its own special [fan] motor, not used by any other air conditioner in the line, or for that matter in the industry.”

Add to that “And it apparently lasts for only ten and a half months.”

Bottom line: If this thing can’t be fixed, I’ll have to replace the entire unit. Which I can’t do: I have no credit, the result of a Chapter 13 plan that was confirmed — get this — today, and my bank account is in the low four figures. I certainly won’t be able to sell the house.

Is there some reason why I shouldn’t go drive into a bridge abutment and get it over with? I can’t take this emotional rollercoaster any longer.

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Angie gets funky

“I’m expecting,” said Lisa, “all this Zooey stalking to give way to Angie-palooza now that La Harmon is headed back to prime time.”

Last night I happened upon an oddity: Angie rocking a Zooey-esque sort of dress. See what you think:

Angie Harmon at Provenza Schouler Fall 2008

Normally, Angie plays it closer to classic than to funky, but I like this look on her. Not that I would ever try to dissuade her from wearing the standard LBD. (First draft of this read “Not that I would ever try to talk her out of the standard LBD,” but clearly that couldn’t be allowed to stand.)

Credits: © Jemal Countess/WireImage.com. Actress Angie Harmon attends Proenza Schouler Fall 2008 During Mercedes Benz Fashion at The Armory on February 4, 2008 in New York City.

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Be the first on your block

In late 2008, I stumbled across this statistic:

Of the 1.23 million [downloadable music albums] available, only 173,000 were ever bought, meaning 85 per cent did not sell a single copy all year.

Obviously the vendors — Apple, Amazon, whoever — know what’s not selling. I’m thinking this might be an opportunity for some contrarian marketing: each week, put up a list of ten or so and cite their lack of success as a reason for buying. There are people who will nibble for that reason alone.

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Insert Trojan joke here

Do we delete this guy, or simply quarantine him?

University of Reading researcher Mark Gasson has become the first human known to be infected by a computer virus.

The virus, infecting a chip implanted in Gasson’s hand, passed into a laboratory computer. From there, the infection could have spread into other computer chips found in building access cards.

All this was intentional, in an experiment to see how simple radio-frequency identification (RFID) chips like those used for tracking animals can host and spread technological diseases.

We have not been apprised as to whether this infection has reached the root.

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Dripping with grammatical rectitude

The story of a carriage ride with E. M. Forster demonstrates that participles, at least, should not be left dangling.

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In the face of a drilling ban

Alan K. Henderson offers Plan B:

I support windmills over the Gulf of Mexico. There’s plenty of breeze, the turbines of death will cull the seagull population, and sharks will take care of avian cleanup.

Is there a downside to this proposal?

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Why is Facebook like pizza?

Because it gets cold awfully damn fast? Well, there’s that, but this is a bit more germane:

There’s no question Facebook should have acted much sooner than it did. In case anyone who works for Facebook is reading this, let me clarify that by “act” I mean “act to address users’ privacy concerns, not act to spam our privacy all over the universe.” That said, I see merit to saying less now about what they might do now, and coming back with a much better product then. Talk about what you will do never carries much weight. Talk about what you have done, does. Take the Domino’s example. Does anyone seriously think it would have been a wise move for them to have publicly admitted a year ago that their pizza tasted like crap, and that they would be designing a new kind of pizza Real Soon Now, but won’t we please, please, pretty please with a cherry on top keep buying the old crap in the meantime? Or was it better to do what they did, and keep their new design under wraps until they actually had a better product to deliver?

First person who says “Thirty FarmVille updates, or it’s free” will justify that new theoretical “Dislike” button.

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Flat broke

What makes a pair of flip-flops worth $350?

Musa turquoise and crystal sandals

First, you dispose of the very term “flip-flop,” which reeks of cheap. Next, you encrust it with turquoise and crystal. Finally, you add variations on the theme so people won’t think it’s a one-shot attempt to garner attention.

That said, this, um, sandal will run you $350 from Net-A-Porter, though ShoeperWoman says it’s not for her:

Sure, they’re pretty, but for me flip-flops are the kind of summer-holiday shoe that always ends up looking slightly the worse for wear by the end of the vacation, with lots of sand, and scrapes and sun oil all over them, so they’re not exactly what I’d term an “investment” shoe.

Still, if I see these on you, I promise to be properly impressed, once I regain my composure.

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Saving SandRidge Commons

Nick Roberts floats an idea: preserve the buildings marked for demolition, and relocate the “cubist” structure planned for 120 Robert S. Kerr to Broadway, adjacent to the India Temple building.

This is especially useful for the proposed ground-level restaurant, which presumably would draw a lot more foot traffic on Broadway than it ever would on Robert S. Kerr; but more to the point, streetwalls on both Broadway and Robinson are reinforced, and sightlines, ostensibly a major issue for SandRidge, are actually improved.

And there’s this:

An unpopular, controversial $100 million project becomes a well-loved $50 million project, an asset and a jewel for downtown. Sometimes less is more.

Emphasis in the original.

I think I could get behind this proposal without even breathing hard.

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Work drools

New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority reports that fifty-one bus drivers took paid leave last year after passengers spat on them.

Technically, and I suspect legally, this constitutes assault on a driver. And apparently it’s a frightening experience:

“Being spat upon — having a passenger spit in your face, spit in your mouth, spit in your eye — is a physically and psychologically traumatic experience,” said John Samuelsen [president of Transport Workers Union Local 100]. “If transit workers are assaulted, they are going to take off whatever amount of time they are going to take off to recuperate.”

On average, the recovery process seems to take 64 days.

(Via Jacob Sullum.)

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They could always name it “Zooey”

Renault will launch an electric car named Zoe for model year 2012, though not if Zoe Renault has anything to say about it:

Renault is under pressure to drop its Renault Zoe electric car name — from a French woman Zoe Renault.

The Parisian, 23, has hired lawyers to insist that Renault scrap its branding. Renault has previously been the subject of a petition from French women called Zoe to change the name.

“I could not bear to hear: ‘Zoe’s broken down’ or ‘We need to get Zoe overhauled’,” she told Le Parisien newspaper.

Her lawyer David Koubbi has said he will take the case to court unless Renault changes the name.

This is one advantage of BMW: nobody is going to name a child “xDrive48i”.

(Via Autoblog.)

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How equal do you want to be?

Yours truly, five years ago:

Wearing a tie, report legions of guys, is uncomfortable: women should appreciate their pain, they argue, since it’s very much like wearing pantyhose.

This drew considerable scorn, and rightfully so.

But now there’s this:

[H]eight-enhancing footwear has begun to permeate across a broader demographic. For the first time since Glam Rock peaked three decades ago, men of average height are discovering the delights of a few extra inches. Well-heeled shoes of all types, from craftily sized “status” shoes to 21st century platforms, are enjoying a new vogue.

The man-heel — or “meel” as some have termed it — is simultaneously a coming trend in several wildly different milieus.

I have enough trouble with the word “bromance”; I’m happy to pass up a meel, irrespective of milieu.

On t’other hand, or foot, fair’s fair, right? Let’s ask Marc Jacobs:

“If I put heels in a collection I always try them on and walk around the studios in them during the fittings, which take up to 36 hours. It raises a laugh with the team for about five minutes because they’ve seen me do it so many times. But that’s not why I do it. I do it because I want to show that I’m not some misogynist designer designing these torturous shoes for women. The heels are there as a choice and if you want to wear them all the time, some of the time or never, it’s your choice.”

Then again, like many people six feet tall, I’d just as soon stick to flats.

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