Nineteen over

Willow Palin gets written up for 84 in a 65 zone, and Stacy McCain couldn’t be happier for her:

It’s obviously hereditary. Willow’s dad is a championship snow-machine racer, so she gets it honest. And I can totally relate, because my granddaddy ran some ‘shine down in Alabama back in the day. Ask anyone who has ever ridden with me: I was born with that hillbilly NASCAR go-fast gene.

Cue Robert Mitchum on Thunder Road.

On the other hand, 84 isn’t all that fast:

I hit 84 mph between here and the corner store. During the famous NY-23 campaign in 2009, Republican consultant Ali Akbar took a few rides with me. Ask him what that was like.

Long time ago, when I was still willing to get on a plane, I flew into Kansas City (yes, my arms were tired), and my daughter drove out to pick me up. If you’ve ever been to KCI, you know that it’s halfway to Omaha, so at the time, it was a long haul back to civilization. Only once did I see the speedo needle around 84, and that was when she was slowing down for a looming traffic signal.

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It’s easier than recruitment

I have to admit, this is downright ingenious. Robert Weissberg offers a proposal to make affirmative action at the college-admissions level a profit center for universities:

Schools would announce a limited number of sponsored undergraduate fellows that could be “endowed” by super-rich do-gooders. Given the prestige (and favorable publicity) of sponsoring a university fellow, the rush would be on, especially at elite schools. The opening bid would be set equal to the total four-year cost for a minority student, and this would include full tuition, student-activity fees, room and board, some spending money, all necessary remediation, the per-student cost of the cultural center, and everything else imaginable. Moreover, to cover administrative costs, “overhead” would be tacked on (in research contracts, this can be as high as 80 percent of a grant). I’d guess that $100,000 per year per fellow would suffice as the minimum opening bid for direct expenses, plus, say, another $50,000 for overhead. If, for example, Harvard opened the bidding at $150,000 for 30 fellows, the guaranteed yearly haul would be $4.5 million (the actual net would be substantially higher, since this outside contribution cancels the cost of internally funding affirmative action). For a four-year (probably five-year) program, this works out to at least $18 million … in fresh revenue.

Schools a bit lower on the food chain than Harvard probably couldn’t ask quite so much, but the principle is the same. And there’s definitely no shortage of foundation money out there.

(Via John Rosenberg.)

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Sorta clear on the concept

At some point when I wasn’t looking — turns out to be the early 1990s — Marvel Comics issued a handful of Swimsuit Issues. (As Brett White of Topless Robot points out, “The only difference between superhero spandex and a swimsuit is that the colorist gets to use a lot more flesh tone.”

Which still doesn’t explain putting an invisible swimsuit on the Invisible Woman:

Sue Richards in a swimsuit

Frighteningly, there’s precedent for this.

(Via Fark. Cross-posted to

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Genius at work (special Zooey edition)

Over the weekend I relayed a plaint by Zooey Deschanel about how no matter what her starting point, the iTunes Genius would send her several songs by Gary Lewis and the Playboys.

This suggested an experiment. I duly cranked up iTunes and instructed Genius to match ZD’s cover of Nancy Sinatra’s “Sugar Town,” an iTunes bonus track from the soundtrack of (500) Days of Summer. Genius declined for some reason.

Okay, fine. Be that way. I went back to that same soundtrack and ordered up the She & Him cover of the Smiths’ “Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want.” This time Genius actually coughed up some tracks:

The Smiths, “There Is a Light That Never Goes Out”
Feist, “Mushaboom”
Jem, “Yellow”
Vampire Weekend, “Holiday”
Ben Folds featuring Regina Spektor, “You Don’t Know Me”
She & Him, “Sentimental Heart”
Neko Case, “People Got a Lotta Nerve”
Phoenix, “Lasso”
Yeah Yeah Yeahs, “Zero”
The xx, “Heart Skipped a Beat”
Of Montreal, “Wraith Pinned to the Mist and Other Games”
She & Him, “Thieves”
Feist, “I Feel It All”
The Raveonettes, “Dead Sound”
Death Cab for Cutie, “Lovesong”
Belle and Sebastian, “The Boy with the Arab Strap”
Vampire Weekend, “Oxford Comma”
Neutral Milk Hotel, “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea”
Yeah Yeah Yeahs, “Dull Life”
Phoenix, “Lisztomania”
She & Him, “You Really Got a Hold on Me”
The xx, “Basic Space”
Florence + The Machine, “Cosmic Love”
Death Cab for Cutie, “Grapevine Fires”

The first two tracks are indeed from that same soundtrack. The first Death Cab track is a remake of the Cure’s “Lovesong”; Jem’s “Yellow” covers Coldplay’s. (And of course, the head Death Cabbie is Ben Gibbard, who is married to Zooey Deschanel.)

Not a speck of Gary Lewis, though. And who would have thought anything would match up with Neutral Milk Hotel?

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Fair-trade kafir

Apparently the way it works is thusly: we buy petroleum from the Middle East, and in return we send them — um, bad ideas. King Shamus explains:

The Ba’ath party that dominated Iraq and continues to oppress Syria is merely an Arab facelift for a German socialism. Bashar al-Assad is basically Erich Honecker with a much funnier name and a slightly more brutal secret police organization.

Then again, Bashar didn’t have to make out with Leonid Brezhnev. I think.

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“I love it when a plan comes together,” said Andrew Ian Dodge as he compiled the 421st Carnival of the Vanities.

Assuming he’s quoting John “Hannibal” Smith, it would seem reasonable to mention that the producers of The A-Team planned to get Hulk Hogan and William “Refrigerator” Perry to play themselves in one episode, which they did — in episode 4.21.

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Let’s just hope there are ten

Suzette, on the dodgy subject of, um, toes:

I never liked to look at anyone else’s toes because attractive ones are few and far between. Nowadays, it’s quite a tough job to ignore them because the Cult of Pedicure is all around us, even on TV. So I have to look at them like it or not. I do notice that the trend is to leave the nail longer in order to make the toes look longer. This goes against my grain because I am careful to be sure there’s no excessive nail length to snag onto objects as I walk past them, to say nothing of the poked-through-stockings issue.

This might be the trend at Shiba’s Discount House of Nails, but I don’t see it too often around here, perhaps because we know in our heart of hearts it doesn’t really work: you see a nail overlapping the toe by half a centimeter or so, and your first thought is almost certainly not going to be “My goodness, what a long toe that is.” The worst fashion development, if you ask me, is the rise of the French pedicure, which takes that longer-nail look and exaggerates it horribly.

The Cult of Pedicure, however, I see as mostly an economic phenomenon, made possible largely by massive emigration from the Pacific Rim. With a nail salon in every strip mall, prices are, if not nil, certainly nominal. Before that, it was mostly models and celebrities who got the treatment. And I suspect they needed it, given their tendency to step out in impractical, possibly even painful, shoes.

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Utensil strength

“Don’t eat with your hand, son,” said Mr. Tirebiter. “Use your entrenching tool.”

Unification of Cutlery

That “spife” looks like it’s spent several hours dunked in a cup of Ersatz Bros. Coffee.

(Via GraphJam.)

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They do love to vote

Wallace Collins, who used to represent District 45 in the Oklahoma House, was elected chairman of the state Democratic Party, though it wasn’t exactly an overwhelming win: no candidate failed was able to get a majority in the first round, and in the second round, Collins defeated perennial (0 for 3) District 87 candidate Dana Orwig, 326-213.

Party rules require that the chair and the vice chair be of opposite sexes, and Orwig defeated incumbent Christine Byrd, 281-231.

The process was slowed somewhat by the fact that there were only 473 qualified delegates.

Erratum: Should be obvious.

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Strange search-engine queries (276)

This feature contains actual search strings from actual visitors to this actual site. It has been appearing for about five years, actually.

i require nutrients black girl meme:  I always thought everybody, black girls included, required nutrients. Even Tyra, who occasionally looked like she needed someone to make her a sandwich.

“never wears hose”:  Don’t know anyone meeting those criteria. Now if someone shows up who never wears anything but hose, well, you know where to find me.

how do I know if someone knows me well:  Post your deepest, darkest secret on Facebook. Then wait for the first Like.

why is there a clickspeed charge on my credit card:  Congratulations, you’ve just been introduced to the wonderful world of “data monetization services,” otherwise known as “getting people to pay for something they thought was supposed to be free.”

body language she was sitting with her knees closed:  It’s called “decorum.” Look into it.

express delivery gay:  What do you care, as long as they’re on time?

words that you don’t hear or see often in the bahamas:  “Glacier” comes most immediately to mind.

very old granny sluts pics:  Improve your mobility with the Slutwalker™. (Sorry, not covered by Medicare.)

never married bitter:  Followed by married, divorced, and really bitter.

what to do when car blinkers work sporadically:  Wait until they never shut off at all, and then apply for Social Security.

short skirts high winds:  A combination devoutly to be wish’d.

pretend not to look:  This is what you do during a case of high winds and short skirts.

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A candidate for mass transit

Actual Yahoo! questioner:

Is it normal for a 2011 Honda Accord SE to fuel once 1 week ?

It’s 2.4liter engine and when I step on the gas after the red light, if I hit it hard to go fast to avoid traffic behind then it will waste a lot of gas, but if too slow, people are gonna honk at me and think I’m a scary cat or something, right now I fuel like once a week or like 9 days, is it normal ? and I heard from my friend that if I put 89 or above, the car will accel stronger and that help use less gas, is that true ? and is there any tune-ups that can help ?

Jesus H. Chrysler. What is it with these people?

For the record, this was my response:

I recommend you get new friends. Higher octane will cost you an extra $2 (or more) per tank and will do nothing for either performance or mileage.

And who’s to say what’s “normal”? You haven’t given us any idea as to what kind of actual gas mileage you’re getting. (Which, incidentally, is measured in miles per gallon, not days per visit to the gas station.)

This will not get me Best Answer points, but it was far kinder than what I was thinking.

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Big Brother gets a boost

The hallway that leads to Room 101 begins with Barnes v. State of Indiana.

(Much of the heavy lifting on this piece was done by the Old Grouch, whom I thank for his attention to detail.)

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Two down, one to go


You can tell exactly when this one finally tilted: with just over three minutes left, Zack Randolph missed a second foul shot, Kevin Durant picked it off, Russell Westbrook served it to James Harden in the corner, who nailed a trey, and then Harden stripped O. J. Mayo, setting up a spectacular KD dunk. It was 97-78, Memphis called time out, and Lionel Hollins sent up the white flag. The final was 105-90, and everybody except Ish Smith (well, okay, 15 seconds, sheesh) got to play.

But the man who made this all happen, if you ask me, is Nick Collison, who played 33 minutes, more than either Serge Ibaka or Kendrick Perkins, who pulled in a dozen rebounds and blocked three shots. Plus 26, said the stat line. Those of you who were wondering what Sam Presti was thinking when he paid Collison that humongous bonus to go with his contract extension — now you know.

Now add to that a 39-point performance from Durant, a triple-double from Westbrook (14 points, 14 assists, 10 rebounds), and you’re allowed to wonder how even the überscrappy Grizzlies managed to survive those first 45 minutes. It’s not like they were off their game or anything: four of five starters hit double figures, and they turned the ball over only ten times. Z-Bo even logged a double-double. But this just wasn’t going to be their day.

So much for the day of rest. Now to Dallas, where the Mavs have been playing even better without Caron Butler of late. Anyone who thinks this is gonna be a cakewalk is invited to shut his piehole. But for now, I’ll just fall back on the expletive:


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If you think of counting her, count her out

I have reported a couple of times about my experiences with the iTunes Genius function, which takes any given song and then generates a playlist of putatively-similar stuff. (See, for instance, what came up from Tim Curry’s “I Do the Rock.”)

Zooey Deschanel eschews this bit of artificial intelligence, and is happy to explain why:

Aside from the fact that I ENJOY making mixes, here is my practical answer: because “GENIUS” has placed, not one, but TWO gary lewis and the playboys songs on EVERY mix I have ever attempted to make using this feature — I mean gary lewis and the playboys? really? REALLY? These guys made like, one record; I have, literally, thousands of records in my itunes and somehow jerry lewis’ son’s band makes it twice onto every attempted “genius” mix. I am convinced, no matter what, “genius” will find a way to inexplicably include “just my style” and “everybody loves a clown” into all its endeavors; and that is, frankly, unacceptable.

I toyed with the idea of sending her Al Kooper’s version of “This Diamond Ring,” recast as an R&B ballad — which apparently was what Kooper, who co-wrote it, had in mind for the song originally, judging by the Jimmy Radcliffe demo, and the Sammy Ambrose single released about a week before Gary’s version — but it occurred to me that she probably already had it.

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Canada runs on “Duncan”

A Saturday night in Toronto, Paul Simon’s in the middle of his set, and there’s a moment of unscheduled audience interaction. “You learned to play guitar in this song?” Simon says, somewhere between amused and incredulous, and invites her on stage.

This is the result:

Okay, she might have missed a chord at one point. Nobody cared. This was the Rock and Roll Dream in action, and a woman from Newfoundland got to make about five minutes of history.

And I retract anything nasty I’ve said about Paul Simon, who on the evidence of this clip was just about as gracious as could be.

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All sorts of records

In fact, this may be a record in itself: since 1993, when it was purchased by Saul Levine, radio station KMZT (previously KGIL and several other calls), 1260 AM in and around Los Angeles — the city of license, currently, is Beverly Hills — has undergone no fewer than thirteen format changes, including a six-month stint playing all Beatles, all the time.

Today they play classical music. I’m not even going to guess what may happen next year.

(Here’s the complete list.)

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