Fark blurb of the week

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In a desperate attempt to sell some books

Adèle Geras detects a disconnect between actual book content and jacket art:

I can’t count the number of times I’ve read a book and found the cover completely at odds with the content. The inappropriateness of covers is something every writer knows about. Sometimes you can object but most often you can’t.

As an example, Geras cites this edition of Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout. Olive, the heroine, is “a tall, rather ungainly and getting-on-for-elderly retired Mathematics teacher in a small US town.” Somehow that translated into this:

Cover of Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

“Olive wouldn’t be seen dead” in that dress, says Geras.

And if you think that’s bad, you should see what was done to one of her own books.

This sort of thing apparently has been going on for decades. I have spoken here often of Dodie Smith’s I Capture the Castle, a book which has meant a lot to me over the years. Most recent covers, if they’re not recreating the original postwar art, have been at least vaguely pastoral, which makes sense in the context of the book; however, the late-Sixties paperback which was my first copy was apparently aimed at the horny-teenager market, what with its barely-readable font and its image of a nymphet evidently too poor to own a blouse. Admittedly, the Mortmains didn’t have a whole lot of wardrobe items from which to choose, and there were scenes in which none were chosen, but in retrospect (and after dozens of readings) this simply seems silly. And a book you’re going to care about ought never to seem silly.

(Via normblog.)

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Your 28th Amendment, right here

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Dummy up

We’re definitely not going to make a bridge player out of this fellow:

A couple of months ago I was looking for a new card game and I thought of bridge, so I started looking into it. It seems to suffer from the same problem. The game has been analyzed down to the molecular level and everything there is to know has been discovered, so there is a rule for every situation. “Correct” play is similar to differential equations in that involves recognizing the situation and then picking out correct rule to follow. No real critical thinking involved.

Except for one minor detail: apart from the handful of people who write the newspaper columns and the books, nobody knows every last rule, and that goes double (maybe even redouble) for the players in your neighborhood game. And even the ones they know, they forget: statistically, if you have seven trumps, the six remaining are more likely to be split 4-2 than 3-3, but who remembers to play the suit that way?

In the one tournament I entered, I brought a complete novice — well, he could play spades — to be my partner. He wouldn’t try anything fancy, I reasoned, because he didn’t know anything fancy, and therefore he’d throw the opposition for a loop. We took third out of eight, which, all things considered, was deeply satisfying.

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Stable conditions

I’m still a bit bumfuzzled by Dan Boren’s Tuesday announcement that he’d had enough of the every-other-year campaign slog and wasn’t going to run for a fifth term in 2012. Boren being the only Democrat in the entire seven-man Congressional delegation, the GOP is, shall we say, psyched up to fill this seat with one of their own. The Democrats, of course, aren’t going to let it go without a fight.

All the usual suspects are being trotted out: Brad Carson, who had this seat before Boren but gave it up to try for the Senate; third-term District 14 Rep. George Faught; Kenneth Corn, term-limited out of the Legislature, who ran for Lieutenant Governor last year. I’m thinking, though, that there’s a dark horse yet to be seen, and I don’t even know which party he belongs to; OK-2 is largely rural, which suggests to me that the kingmakers in Tulsa and Oklahoma City will have less influence than they think they have, and while Democrats usually win this seat, CPVI rates the district R+14, which calls to mind the old phrase “independent as a hog on ice.” Or a colt struggling to his feet, maybe.

But Mike McCarville is surely right when he says:

[T]he race for the 2nd District seat, just [now 48] hours ago perceived as a ho-hummer with another Boren win, now promises to be the hottest, and most closely-watched, race of the 2012 election year.

Me, I’ll be amused to see all the hotshot national political writers fighting over the last bottle of Dasani in the Holiday Inn Express in Tahlequah.

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Meanwhile in a parallel universe

At their 2011 Palm Beach auction in April, Barrett-Jackson sold a 1974 Ford Bronco for $33,000.

Dave Kinney noted in the July Automobile:

Early Broncos have become very collectible. Their straightforward looks and easy usability combine to make them cool across generations.

“Now you tell me,” snorts McGehee.

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Eno.ugh already

David Friedman proposes a new top-level domain:

How about a TLD for websites that can only be parody, complainy, or snarky? If you want to know about Lady Gaga’s next album, you can go to ladygaga.com, but if you’re really sick of her and want a community of like-minded haters, you can visit ladygaga.ugh and get it out of your system.

And if your first thought is “What’s to stop Gaga from registering it herself?” he’s thought of that too.

Me, I’d settle for a .tax domain to mirror damned near everything dot-gov.

(Via this Nancy Friedman tweet, and no, I don’t know.)

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Das Weingeld

Daily Pundit commenter “martinra,” on the question of what to do with an overexposed Weiner:

If I thought that there was a snowball’s chance in hell of a decent person succeeding the pervert in NY-9, then I’d push for him to resign. Unfortunately, this is the district that also brought us Chuckie “Cheese” Schumer, and Geraldine Ferraro, RIP. No Democrat in that district has won less than 65% of the vote in decades, and no non-Democrat has carried it since 1921. It’s a pure NYC Dem machine district, and like all such, in the event of its vacancy, it will be grabbed by the sleaziest, most ruthless apparatchik looking to claw his or her way up from a colocated state or city position. Only the name on the stationery would change. That being so, I’d rather leave Mr. Show ‘Em The (Damaged) Goods in place, as a figuratively emasculated laughingstock. IMO he’s worth more to the GOP as a pervert punchingbag than he is as a scalp over Breitbart’s mantel.

A note on Ferraro, who never struck me as much of an apparatchik: her major primary opponent in 1978 was Thomas J. Manton, a genuine NYC machine candidate, and when she decided to sign on with Fritz Mondale, the machine decided it was Manton’s turn. After the 1990 Census, Manton eased on over to NY-7 without so much as breaking a sweat.

(Title inspired by this Wagnerian effort by Robert Stacy McCain.)

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You are not expected to know this, either

However, this little site now has a big IPv6 address:


If it doesn’t work for you today on World IPv6 Day, it may not have propagated to your nearest IPv6-enabled DNS server just yet.

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Today’s shopping tip

Retail expert Steve Sailer explains the, or at least a, difference between Target and Costco:

Target might carry 100 different varieties of shampoo, while Costco carries about three. Thus, Target has lots of pretty girls shopping there, people to whom choosing the perfect shampoo is an important gambit in the mating game, worth expending scarce mental energy upon.

Costco, in contrast, has very few pretty girls among its customers. Most shoppers look like they have kids and are shopping for 3 to 5 people, and thus they aren’t willing to finetune their purchases to meet individual idiosyncrasies: just give us something cheap and respectable.

We don’t have a Costco nearby — I suspect the establishment of the very first Sam’s Club, out on SE 29th Street, may have discouraged them — but I get better results scoping out the babes at higher-end grocers than I do at Tar-ZHAY.

On the other hand, Costco and Target aren’t polar opposites either:

The opposite of the Costco shopping experience is car shopping. Dealers work very hard to make to make buying a car a stressful experience that preys upon your class insecurities. Their ultimate goal is to make you want to impress the salesman by overpaying for the car.

And doesn’t everyone want to impress a guy in a plaid jacket? No? Surely the dealership can find some freshly-shampooed young woman at a Target store somewhere and teach her to sell cars.

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Have a Shetty day

Today Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty turns 36, and you don’t know how long I’ve been waiting to use that title.

Shilpa Shetty

You’re looking at a still from her 2006 film Shaadi Karke Phas Gaya Yaar [Trapped in a Marriage]. It was, by all accounts, a fairly non-controversial film for a distinctly controversial actress.

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Panic on the streets of Anytown

As I might have mentioned before, I don’t spend valuable driving time wondering about gas mileage; after gathering five years of data on this car, I know how much I’m supposed to be getting, and I’m pretty much always getting it. (Revised EPA is 17 city/25 highway; original sticker was 20/28; I average 21/28.)

Besides, I don’t want to be this guy:

My gas mileage reader goes down every time I step on brakes. If I am in park for a while it goes all they way down to 0. Does this mean there is something wrong with my car or that my gas is burning too fast???

Do the math, Binky. If you’re not moving, you’re traveling zero miles, and zero miles divided by any amount of fuel is 0 mpg.

If you’re going to obsess over fuel consumption, you have basically two choices:

  • Buy a farging Prius already. It will get better mileage than anything else you’ve ever owned before, including your dad’s ancient moped.
  • Take the bus and STFU.

Disclosure: My dad did once have a moped. It was a sad little two-wheeler, but it went faster than I could pedal, therefore I was envious. I got over it.

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The source of Printer Hatred

Lileks has been there, and perhaps so have you:

Bought a new printer tonight, because I needed ink. I’ve been down this road before, and yes, I know, the printers you buy have just sixteen atoms of ink, and you have to buy expensive cartridges right away. But: the old printer — by which I mean something purchased a year ago — became senile and confused, and did not recognize the Genuine Epson Cartridge I put in to replace an old one. (It goes without saying that the machine refused to print a simple letter because it was out of MAGENTA. The only time anyone who’s not in printing ever thinks of magenta is when the magenta is out, and you can’t print a greyscale document. Then you wonder exactly how you used all the magenta in the first place.) I could either assume that the ink was old — meaning, a code in the cartridge said “he bought this a year ago. Dude obviously doesn’t use enough ink. Screw him” and reported that it was defective, or the chip was defective, or the machine’s ability to detect a new cartridge was defective.

As Meat Loaf (inevitably quoting Jim Steinman) would wail: “IT’S DEFECTIVE!”

I had a lot of fun this spring with this cute little color laser at the office. I expected, given that this is largely a work machine, that the black would give out first; I had not expected that the yellow would be right behind. (Cyan and magenta? Meh.) I did discover, though, that ignoring roughly forty percent of the precautions on the Cartridge Replacement Guide, a four-language sheet large enough to wrap all but a handful of Christmas presents, replete with drawings inspired by the caves at Lascaux, was the wisest, or anyway least painful, course of action.

I saw a line of Kodak printers, which I’ve been eyeing for some time. Why? Cheap ink. That’s why. That’s all.

That’s enough. I have one of those. Combo pack, black and color cartridges — $30. Consumption rate seems rather high, but everyone’s consumption rate seems rather high these days, and I tend to run ink supplies down to the Coughing Up Dust level.

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Tributaries of denial

A Facebook friend in eastern Kansas sent up a snapshot of the gauge panel in his car, which was showing a temperature reading of 111° F. I responded thusly:

My car won’t volunteer a temperature unless you request it; I figured I didn’t want to know.

This is in fact true: the short-of-weapons-grade HVAC system Nissan crammed into the dash has only enough LEDs to display the temperature setting and the fan distribution. You want the outside temp, you have to push the AMB(ient) button on the side.

And it occurred to me later that this is not the first thing I didn’t want to know. Nissan provides the usual six-digit odo (no tenths) and two trip meters, labeled A and B. I am meticulous about logging fillups on the B meter — and then I keep the display set to A, so I don’t spend time wondering if I’m getting lousier gas mileage than usual. (Before you ask: unless I’m on a road trip, A measures the distance since the last oil change.)

While we’re on the subject: OG&E, having bestowed upon me a Smart Meter, sends me a link for an energy-use update once a week. I usually don’t look at any of them until approximately five days before the scheduled meter reading, lest I become despondent.

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Climbing out of the hole

Dave Schuler comes up with his idea of Seven Things That Should Be Done to improve the state of the economy, of which this is the fifth:

Conclude some of the free trade deals we’ve already negotiated.

While we’re at it maybe nudge them in the direction of real, honest free trade rather than the pretend free trade agreements we usually end up with. You can write a free trade agreement on the back of a business card. When the agreement runs to hundreds or thousands of pages you can be pretty sure it isn’t about free trade.

Nope. It’s going to be about people trying to game the system. Now admittedly, so long as you have a system, there will be people trying to game it. But geez, guys, the whole US Constitution is less than five thousand words. You don’t need a thousand pages to regulate bananas, and if you do, you’re either incompetent and/or dishonest. Period.

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The hazards of style

Let me say up front that I do like this three-inch-tall Isaac Mizrahi sandal, given the mundane designation “520,” a number which falls short of its actual list price:

520 by Isaac Mizrahi

But what I really wanted you to see was this description by galligator at ShoeBlog:

While I am generally too terrified to actually wear this particular type of non-ankle-strapped sandal — as it would likely result in my lying on the couch with an icepack over a painfully twisted ankle — I absolutely love seeing them on folks who do not have my own personal (and less-than-graceful) tendency of walking into known-location, fixed-objects such as end tables and desks.

That, I’m sure many of you can appreciate.

More pictures and descriptions at this link.

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