Who is this Ghanif?

Junk fax is more than annoying: it’s actually illegal in most cases.

Which didn’t keep me from getting this little abomination:

Junk fax

I suspect Samuel’s dad, the late John Atta Mills (1944-2012), would never have countenanced this sort of thing — or, for that matter, the (probably feigned) use of a Kazakhstani domain.

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Jacked-up silhouette

After a hiatus of several years, The Truth About Cars has reinstated the Ten Worst Automobiles Today awards, as selected by its user base, and as always, the conversation is spicy.

I single out this comment for being both wonderfully terse and highly specific. The target is Acura’s swoopy SUV-ish ZDX, which is:

A car designed by and for short women who love open-toed Jimmy Choo boots with 7″ heels.

Okay, 5″ heels. Be that way. Fortunately, these are rare, and so is the car: Acura struggles to sell 100 in a month nationwide.

And that wasn’t the only contributor working this angle, either:

If [the ZDX] actually was a rebadged Crosstour it would handle better and you wouldn’t need to be a five-foot, 90lb woman with a 34″ inseam to get into it.

Excuse me while I sigh.

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Having been Schulzed

In Chapter 4 of The Sparkle Chronicles, the unicorn Twilight Sparkle, realizing that she’s starting to fall for an actual human character, asks him: “Oh, why couldn’t you have been a pony?”

It did not occur to me at the time that Charlie Brown, albeit for an entirely different reason, had once asked almost the same question of Snoopy:

Recolored Peanuts panel from 1965

Then again, that was way back in 1965. The color version you see here appeared 23 August 2012 — after the completion of The Sparkle Chronicles.

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She was looking for a watering can

Neither you nor I will likely ever be this lucky:

A woman who reportedly paid less than $60 for a box of assorted art items at a flea market may have cashed in big, for one of the pieces in her purchase is a canvas by famous French painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir.

The painting, a river Seine scene titled Paysage Bords de Seine [Landscape: Banks of the Seine] is scheduled to be auctioned at 10 a.m. on Sept. 29 by the Potomack Company, a fine arts and antiques auction gallery in Alexandria, Va. The painting is expected to sell for between $75,000 and $100,000.

Framed 'Paysage Bords de Seine' by Renoir

This is the part that hurts, though:

The unnamed woman told the auction house that she was “more interested in the frame than the landscape, and started taking it apart.”

The painting dates to 1870, after Renoir had relocated to Paris, but before the Communards tried to throw him into the Seine.

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Tablet computing

I take an absolutely astonishing amount of medication: around two hundred pills, capsules and whatnot, of varying shapes and sizes, each and every month. It is nothing sort of miraculous that I don’t screw up my dosages.

So I can see a reason for this:

I’ve got a pill dispenser, a box with seven compartments, one for every day of the week. Once a week I set down and load the seven slots in my magazine with my daily dose of pills. It doesn’t take long, five or ten minutes, but it is tedious, and I believe I need to be careful so I get the right number of magic potions in the right slots. So I was thinking, wouldn’t it be nice if the pharmacy could load up a month’s worth at one time so I wouldn’t have to perform this little chore every week?

The operative word here is “magazine,” since if I had an appropriate dispenser of this sort it would be the size of a Glock.

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A trivial pointer

I read the article twice, and I’m still not sure what I think of the fellow’s conclusions, probably because I know as much about “hookup behavior” as I do about string theory (unless it’s Silly String), but I commend it to you on the basis of its title: “The Return of the Ugly, Racist Pseudoscientist with a Small Penis.”

I mention in passing that Firefox insists “pseudoscientist” should be two words.

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Remembering this day

It’s a date that shall live in infamy, says Roberta X:

[N]ot only was it a sneak attack that ranks with Pearl Harbor, it’s the day “just give them what they want and things will work out” was completely disproved and the efficacy of vigorous resistance in limiting damage done was demonstrated.

And the day a lot of innocent people were murdered by criminals; except in his own mind, a criminal is all a “terrorist” is.

It gets better after that.

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The audacity of swipe

This part-time Target clerk apparently has persuaded himself that shoplifters are an important sector of the economy:

I see them all the time from my perch at the customer-service desk at Target. There are the return stringers — people on the front end of loose-knit shoplifting gangs — hired to return purloined merchandise for store credit using a driver’s license. Recently, a pimple-faced, tattooed and gap-toothed young man returned more than $60 of Oil of Olay age-defying cosmetics.

I did not ask what would have been obvious questions. Do you have a receipt? Did you pay with a debit or credit card? Have these improved your skin?

I gave him a gift card.

Because, you know, it’s better to indulge a little thievery than to hurt the feelings of someone who might be a paying customer some day.

As if. I’ve seen no evidence of this among the deadbeats constantly trying to wheedle 42nd and Treadmill to accept their order today, for which they will gladly pay us at some unspecified future time. Once in a great while one of them does. (Plus fees, because we aren’t entirely dim.) But the idea of making an example of one of them as a signal to the others has never occurred, not to us, not to Target, not to anybody.

(Via Lileks.)

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Oh, that’s totally different

Scan from the Tribune Chronicle

Criggo.com, which has loads of these, saw no reason to comment further, and neither do I.

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Another happy user

You can quote Miriam on it:

I consider Facebook one of the most useless and time-sucking activities available to man, right up there with cleaning the grout in your bathroom tiles. When everyone started “friending” me I enjoyed hearing from people I hadn’t seen in years. Since most of them are doing exactly what I predicted 20 years ago, I was pleased to have my judgment vindicated.

Then, of course, things got predictable:

This is background stuff, preliminary to inform you about an e-mail I received from a close relative from the Commie side of the family. She upbraided me because someone she knew told her I “liked” Mitt Romney, and she was aghast. As it happens, I didn’t, and don’t, and I told her so. She seemed quite relieved. I suffer from l’esprit d’escalier otherwise known as staircase wit, meaning that I think of a witty retort on the way home from the party, when it’s too late. So here’s what I would have told her, after re-covering my wits:

“What’s it to you? And if I did ‘like’ Romney, so what? It’s not like ‘liking’ Goebbels. I don’t ‘like’ Romney but I’m voting for him just the same.

Of course, if you want to ‘like” Goebbels in the Facebook sense, here you go.

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On paper

Mark Alger looks around his workplace, and finds traces of mine:

In small job-shops, nobody is a pure specialist. As Heinlein said, specialization is for insects. You learn to shift a ton of paper without a follow-on visit to an orthopedist. You learn how to — and develop the muscles for — jogging paper in “lifts” of 500 or 1000 sheets. And you learn why they designate paper in the weights they do. If a machine operator has a particularly tough one and needs someone to catch, you get over there and do your best Johnny Bench at the delivery and catch. If the plate-maker is sick, or there’s a rush job of a hundred thousand of anything to have picky and boring hand-work done to it, you turn to with your rubber fingertips and your glycerin and you do the boring and repetitive shit.

In a one-person shop, the hats just keep on coming, and I have to wear them all, usually the same day. Occasionally there is printed output, and sometimes I indeed to have to jog, though I try to keep the sheet count down to 200 or so. And while some of it is indeed picky and boring, it pays for my opportunity to be boring in a different way over the weekend, so I don’t complain. Much.

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Strange search-engine queries (345)

In this weekly feature, we examine the search strings found in URLs referring to this site, and hope we find some worthy of snark, because otherwise I’ve just read four thousand log entries without finding anything usable as content. The only other phenomenon that comes close to this degree of disgruntlement is watching political coverage on television.

adverb litter:  Now pick up those adverbs, and I mean immediately.

surrealist meme dimension dada you offer a hot dog:  The raccoons have already eaten the corn. Where were you?

she-had-polio, floppy:  Making fun of her won’t help.

effects of krispy kreme:  A broadening of your experiences, particularly those in the general vicinity of your waistline.

pry me a river:  Pried the whole night through, did you?

gary lord hydrogen:  His second cousin, once removed, is the Duke of Boron.

what’s going in at 150th and Penn in Oklahoma City?  Hint: it’s not an improved traffic-control system.

sell 2007 ford mercy hail damage:  Body shops are legendarily merciless. No wonder you’re selling.

how is climate change detected:  In hindsight, when someone says “Jebus, it’s hot,” and then inexplicably continues to breathe.

did barack obama say if people break their hips they can just die:  He did not say that. Though he might make an exception for Paul Ryan.

dixie whatley husker du:  Dü-dah, dü-dah; Dixie Whatley Hüsker Dü, all the dü-dah day.

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Cutting one’s losses

When does it become cheaper to buy a new car than to fix an old one? Right about the time Satan starts banging on the pipes to demand more heat.

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Meanwhile, far from Cremona

What makes a Strad a Strad? The short answer: it takes Antonio Stradivari to make a true Stradivarius instrument, and, well, he died in 1737. But it’s now speculated that he may have had a little help from a couple of fungi and the Maunder Minimum:

Low density, high speed of sound and a high modulus of elasticity — these qualities are essential for ideal violin tone wood. In the late 17th and early 18th century the famous violin maker Antonio Stradivari used a special wood that had grown in the cold period between 1645 and 1715. In the long winters and the cool summers, the wood grew especially slowly and evenly, creating low density and a high modulus of elasticity. Until now, modern violin makers could only dream of wood with such tonal qualities.

Professor [Francis W. M. R.] Schwarze’s developments could soon make similarly good wood available for violin making. He discovered two species of fungi (Physisporinus vitreus and Xylaria longipes), which decay Norway spruce and sycamore — the two important kinds of wood used for violin making — to such an extent that their tonal quality is improved. “Normally fungi reduce the density of the wood, but at the same time they unfortunately reduce the speed with which the sound waves travel through the wood,” the researcher explained. “The unique feature of these fungi is that they gradually degrade the cell walls, thus inducing a thinning of the walls. But even in the late stages of the wood decomposition, a stiff scaffold structure remains via which the sound waves can still travel directly.” Even the modulus of elasticity is not compromised; the wood remains just as resistant to strain as before the fungal treatment — an important criterion for violin making.

Dr Schwarze, in fact, has put this theory to the test:

At the 27th [2009] “Osnabrücker Baumpflegetagen,” one of Germany’s most important annual conferences on all aspects of forest husbandry, Empa researcher Francis Schwarze’s “biotech violin” dared to go head to head in a blind test against a Stradivarius — and won. A brilliant outcome for the Empa violin, which is made of wood treated with fungus, against the instrument made by the great master himself in 1711.

Assuming that the government allows it to survive, Gibson should have some pretty amazing Les Paul guitars in a few decades.

(Via Finestkind Clinic and fish market.)

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The very model of a modern minor miracle

Herewith, Daniel Radcliffe does his best Tom Lehrer:

And there’s a pretty girl in an orange dress, whom I didn’t notice at all. (Looks sort of like Rihanna.)

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Well, yeah, I can understand this:

The Big East is taking steps to “tweak” its name now that it includes schools from California, Idaho, Texas, Tennessee and Florida, according to Joe Bailey, the conference’s former interim commissioner.

The Big East has commissioned a study to consider alternative names, Bailey said [Thursday] at the Bloomberg Sports Business Summit hosted by Bloomberg Link in New York. He wouldn’t say when the names would be presented to conference presidents for their consideration.

And who better to make such an announcement than the former interim commissioner?

I offer a cautionary tale from the world of lodging:

In 1964, Best Western launched an expansion effort of its own operations east of the Mississippi using the moniker “Best Eastern” for those properties with the same typestyle and Gold Crown logo as “Best Western.” By 1967, the “Best Eastern” name was dropped and all motels from coast-to-coast got the “Best Western” name and Gold Crown.

Representatives from neither the Big Ten (12 schools) nor the Big 12 (ten schools) were available for comment.

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