No, you can’t see the Big Top

This is the newest campaign by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, starring geek goddess Olivia Munn:

Olivia Munn for PETA

The main grievance of the elephants, I suspect, is that all this time they’ve been working for peanuts.

It appears not to have occurred to PETA that fans of Olivia Munn aren’t likely to show up at the circus in the first place — unless, of course, the high-wire act turns out to be wireless.

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Quote of the week

Labrat finds the weak point in that Of, By, For business:

We can’t trust the government to make better decisions than people because it IS people. We do try to put a better class of people in there than we think of when we think of the people that need to be regulated, but since all of us have radically different ideas of what actually constitutes smart people and better people there’s a pretty big cross-section of people anywhere that, when you peer at them closely, look an awful lot like the people around us but with more law degrees and fewer trade skills.

If that latter = Henry Waxman, then “fewer” = 0.

Still: how many of us “need to be regulated”? The only acceptable answer in a free society is “damned few.” Whether “damned” here is purely an adjective, or a verb form pressed into use as one, is something you’ll have to ascertain for yourself.

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Wide-open twaddle

There exists a sort-of-harsh stereotype about Toyota owners, which Aaron Robinson describes in his column in the June Car and Driver:

[T]hey’re generally the slowest, most nervous drivers and … they were sent here to act as human restrictor plates on the speed of society’s activity. Toyota has raked in billions from this particular constituency — people who, above all, wish to be anonymous and risk-free in a lumpish, soulless transportation device.

The problem with this portrait is, well, me: I’ve spent roughly half of my 35 years on the road in a Toyota, and maybe guys in slammed Hondas think I’m holding up the works, but then they think everyone is holding up the works. This doesn’t even work for drivers of the sainted Prius: for every left-lane bandit in a hybrid, there’s someone else making serious time. Of the few Prius owners I know, most are stand-on-it kind of guys, and that includes the ones that technically aren’t “guys” at all.

Still, if there’s this much anti-Toyota sentiment out there, maybe we have a new explanation for the unintended-acceleration reports, says Robinson:

… I do admit to occasionally hoping that the plodding Camryollavonienna blocking my path will go spontaneously wide open, which could in fact be murderous thinking. After all, no one has yet proven that the amalgamated desire of everybody else on the road to rid the left lane of Toyotas and Lexuses isn’t having some kind of telekinetic effect on their throttles.

I’m not buying this one either. If this sort of thing were possible, every third tree between here and Wichita would have a Buick wrapped around it.

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Time stands still

If you were to ask twelve-year-old me for a preference, I might have said something to the effect that Shindig was better, but Hullabaloo was in color. But then, I might not have: we didn’t even have a color TV when I was twelve.

That said, though, here’s a clip from Hullabaloo with a perfectly wonderful take on a Beatles tune from a wholly-unexpected source.

(Found at Mark Evanier’s News from ME.)

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The 371st Carnival of the Vanities is titled “3rd debate,” a nod by Andrew Ian Dodge to the third and final debate before elections in the United Kingdom, about which the AP’s David Stringer (presumably not an actual stringer) writes:

In opinion polls, little separates Britain’s three main political parties before next week’s poll — and the country appears headed toward a chaotic hung Parliament, in which no group will hold a majority and urgently needed decisions on the economy may be delayed.

Power tends to be transitory. For instance, beginning with their victory over the Spartans at the Battle of Leuctra in 371 BC, the Thebans enjoyed substantial hegemony for nearly a decade, only to be undone by overextension: a rematch against the Spartans at Mantineia weakened both sides, ultimately leaving Philip II of Macedon to clean up the mess.

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Finally, an accurate headline

Headline from

Full story here.

(Via Miss Cellania.)

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Yet somehow I have the nerve to complain

If you use Akismet to block incoming comment spam on a WordPress blog, your Dashboard will contain a statement something like this:

Akismet has protected your site from 266,660 spam comments already, and there are 2,637 comments in your spam queue right now.

This is what Doc Searls has to endure. And it’s worse than it sounds:

[B]etween the tide of spam and the time it takes to sort through the whole mess, a number of legitimate comments haven’t been approved right away. To right that wrong, I just went back through 75 pages of comments and approved about twenty amidst perhaps hundreds of spams.

I’d tear out my hair in despair, had I hair to tear.

Perhaps I should be thankful for my good fortune, that Akismet has had to block only 17,200 spams at this site.

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What a maroon

No, not a Walloon. He’s Dutch. But he still messed up, big time:

A 20-year old Dutchman got an expensive fine Monday evening, for a speed violation of 80 km per hour. He had to surrender his car and his license, according to the Dutch police.

He rode 160 kilometers per hour over the Doenkade in Rotterdam, where the speed limit was 80. The boy had borrowed the car from his parents.

And what car was it that he’d borrowed? A sixteen-cylinder, two-million-dollar Bugatti Veyron.

Which makes you wonder: why stop at 160? This car is semi-reliably reported to do 400 km/hr.

You have to figure that if the parental units have the scratch to own one of these hypermobiles, they almost certainly have the clout to reclaim it from the gendarmes. Still, this kid is going to be grounded until the 24th century, give or take an hour or two.

(Via Autoblog.)

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Are there any more like you at home?

We interrupt the ongoing Zooey Deschanel parade to bring you this shot of sister Emily:

Emily Deschanel

If you’re curious about the backdrop, see this.

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Venti horizon

How your barista expedites identity theft:

[C]ustomers have to give THEIR first names when they order a coffee drink. Which is a violation of our Constitutional right to espresso-ordering privacy, as you know. Lord knows what those SBUX corporate snoops are doing with all those first names scribbled on the sides of grande lattes. Plus, they RECORD (in writing, on the cup) all your PERSONAL INFO about your drink. Like, I usually order the [redacted] [redacted], extra [redacted]. And then I get my drink with all that personal info on the side and sit in the cafe with it. IN THE OPEN.

But what is happening to all that info on the side of my cup? Is it secure? No. A lot of identity theft starts with unsavory types getting ahold of your Starbucks whipped-cream preferences. It’s like pulling on a thread. A clever thief will see “no whip soy decaf” and “MoonBeam” (your name) on the side of a paper cup in the cafe and next thing you know you are embroiled in a nightmare trying to get your good name back.

I dunno. I figure if I ordered something called “soy decaf,” it would constitute prima facie evidence that I was whipped.

But, you know, whatever. There’s still a place in this world for the tall Thermos with a tartan design. Or maybe not so tall.

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And they say people aren’t being vetted

Well, isn’t this just ducky. The President’s nominee for Medicare czar is a former consultant to Britain’s National Health Service, and by all accounts he loved his job:

In 2008, at a 60th anniversary celebration of the creation [of] NHS, he told a UK crowd, “I am romantic about the NHS; I love it. All I need to do to rediscover the romance is to look at health care in my own country.”

[Donald] Berwick complained the American health system runs in the “darkness of private enterprise,” unlike Britain’s “politically accountable system.”

A dialogue you will never hear in real life:

“Tell me, Mrs Jones, why did you choose our clinic?”

“Oh, I heard you were politically accountable.”

I’ll concede Berwick may have familiarity with some sort of private darkness, but I suspect he had to contort himself rather painfully to accomplish that particular feat.

(Seen at And So it Goes in Shreveport.)

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Trunk show

The last verse of “Washing the Elephant,” by Barbara Ras:

It takes more than half a century to figure out who they were,
the few real loves-of-your-life, and how much of the rest—
the mad breaking-heart stickiness—falls away, slowly,
unnoticed, the way you lose your taste for things
like popsicles unthinkingly.
And though dailiness may have no place
for the ones who have etched themselves in the laugh lines
and frown lines on the face that’s harder and harder
to claim as your own, often one love-of-your-life
will appear in a dream, arriving
with the weight and certitude of an elephant,
and it’s always the heart that wants to go out and wash
the huge mysteriousness of what they meant, those memories
that have only memories to feed them, and only you to keep them clean.

(Seen at Pentimento.)

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In the buyer’s seat

The acquisition of Tulsa-based Dollar Thrifty by Hertz means that there are basically three companies left to duke it out in the marketplace: Enterprise (which also owns National and Alamo), Hertz (which owns Advantage), and Avis (which owns Budget).

For the traveler, this isn’t the most unheard-of thing he’s ever heard of: a handful of companies control a couple of dozen hotel brands, at several price points. What I’m wondering, though, is how this merger will affect Chrysler, which used to own Dollar Thrifty (they sold out in 1997) and which until last year supplied the vast majority of Dollar Thrifty’s fleet vehicles. Hertz, at one time a subsidiary of Ford, still seems to prefer the Blue Oval. (And yes, Avis tends to rely on General Motors.)

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“Silverfin,” you may remember, was proposed as an alternate name for the Asian carp, a species deemed both invasive (by scientists) and tasty (by marketers).

Well, even without that particular brand, it’s getting an airing in one tony Chicago eatery:

The Palmer House chef is turning carpe diem into carp dine-in, turning today’s Great Lakes crisis into tomorrow’s plat du jour.

For the last two weeks, [Phillip] Foss has been serving the fish as a no-risk, complimentary appetizer. Starting this week, he’s asking people to pay for it; his appetizer-size “daily preparation” of Asian carp costs $12.

The ever-tasteful E. M. Zanotti expounds:

It turns out, Asian carp are way tastier than their American counterparts, because American carp eat the crap that’s settled at the bottom of their watery home, Asian carp have nearly no PCB contamination since they don’t eat other fish, and they are definitely sustainable because they’re a parasite species — meaning, of course, that they have a zombie-like commitment to infestation, resistant to your best efforts to kill and/or maim them. And people in Canada and Europe eat it, and they’re more sophisticated than us. Plus, it’s pricey. And if there’s anything that will convince douchey West Loop diners that what they’re eating is special, it’s the price tag.

So what are we waiting for? Heck, we eat tons of “Tilapia,” which is a bottom feeder. That means that, in addition to other food, Tilapia eat other fish’s poop. Sure, not all of the Tilapia you buy in restaurants and at the market subsisted on a steady diet of waste matter — and, to be honest, that’s probably nothing compared to what your more highly sentient, industrially-farmed food animals eat — but, the point is, if you can market a poop-eating fish like Tilapia as tasty, healthy and sustainable — all of which it actually is — into being the fifth most heavily consumed sea product in the country, you can work the same magic with the creepy Asian carp.

Chef Foss thinks “Shanghai bass” might be a good alternate name for this fish. I’m thinking “lolcatfish.”

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Served colder than usual

I don’t remember this in the Big Book O’ Basketball Quotes, but if it’s not there, it ought to be: “You can’t compensate for a lack of defense with a lack of offense.” If they need to illustrate this point, they can show the Staples Center scoreboard with 7:33 left in the first quarter: Los Angeles 14, Oklahoma City 1. The Thunder, evidently taking Pau Gasol’s “that’s all they’re going to get” prediction seriously, obligingly missed their first 13 shots; the Lakers shot upwards of 60 percent until the arrival of garbage time. The final was 111-87, which, noted radio guy Matt Pinto, qualified as a rout.

It’s tempting to blame the atmosphere, or the officiating, or whatever, but the fact is, for the most part the Thunder managed to stink up the joint, and the Lakers were quick to take advantage of every single waft. Gasol, who’d made the most noise, did the most damage: 25 points and 11 boards in less than half an hour.

Meanwhile, OKC shot a terrible 36.9 percent, although it was a lot worse than that early on. (The starters were 14 for 48, less than 30 percent.) The Lakers’ plan to put more pressure on Russell Westbrook worked pretty well: he got his 15 points and served up six dimes, but he also turned the ball over eight times.

On the upside, if you call that an upside, it was over with quick. Game 6 is Friday night at the Ford; you get no predictions from this corner.

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On the outskirts of Dullsville

Hoosierboy puts up something he considers uninteresting:

There you have it, a post so boring that it makes drywall seem interesting and exactly why Twitter is not for old people. Twitter should adopt the Logan’s Run philosophy. When you turn thirty your account should be terminated.

If I remember Logan’s Run correctly, they terminate a hell of a lot more than your account when you turn thirty.

Meanwhile, just to prove a point, something interesting about drywall:

Thousands of U.S. homes tainted by Chinese drywall should be gutted, according to new guidelines released [April 2] by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. The guidelines say electrical wiring, outlets, circuit breakers, fire alarm systems, carbon monoxide alarms, fire sprinklers, gas pipes and drywall need to be removed.

About 3,000 homeowners, mostly in Florida, Virginia, Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana, have reported problems with the Chinese-made drywall, which was imported in large quantities during the housing boom and after a string of Gulf Coast hurricanes.

The drywall has been linked to corrosion of wiring, air conditioning units, computers, doorknobs and jewelry, along with possible health effects… [S]ome samples of the Chinese-made product emit 100 times as much hydrogen sulfide as drywall made elsewhere.

Okay, not exciting, but still, I insist, interesting.

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