Pair ungrown

Sticks and stones may break your bones, but Jennifer Aniston will really hurt you:

Jen appeared on Regis and Kelly [Thursday] morning when Regis asked her about her recent Harper’s Bazaar photo shoot where she channeled Barbra Streisand.

Regis said, “You’re playing dress up.” Jen replied, “Yes, I play dress up. I do it for a living, like a retard.”

Jen’s unfortunate simile drew a strong reaction from actual retards:

Members of The Arc, a nonprofit advocate for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities, are very angry by the comment. CEO Peter Berns released the following statement:

“She is using language that is offensive to a large segment of the population in this country. We estimate that there are probably in excess of 5 million people in the country with intellectual disabilities, and when you think about all of them, their family members and friends, you’re talking about tens of millions of people who find the use of that term to be really offensive. Every time folks hear that word, it kind of reminds them of all the discrimination and oppression they’ve experienced in their lives. Even if it wasn’t intended to insult them, that is the effect of it.”

As apparently the only person in America who has never experienced discrimination and/or oppression — or perhaps I was too retarded to notice it — I find myself without any highly-paid advocates at all, and therefore have to muddle through by myself.

Of course, before there was “retard,” there were, in decreasing order of IQ, “moron,” “imbecile” and “idiot.” These terms, however, are now generally restricted to politicians, television pundits, “nonprofit advocates,” and other folks who for whatever reason cannot, or dare not, escape the prison of their middle-school memories.

There exists no right to go through life without being offended. If there were, we’d have exterminated ourselves centuries ago, trying to defend it. If I learned anything in the Home for the Bewildered — yes, children, I spent time in a mental hospital, please note the utter lack of trauma inherent in that disclosure — it’s that outside influences damage our self-images only when we let them. And if I’d made up my mind to be hurt about something, I’d hope to God it was something more important than a throwaway remark on Regis and Kelly.

(Also: see Troglopundit on “the R word.”)

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The newest sort-of-singing sensation

What do the following records have in common?

  • Bee Gees, “Saw a New Morning”
  • Elton John, “Border Song”
  • Parliament, “Chocolate City”
  • The Supremes, “Let Me Go the Right Way”
  • Traffic, “Paper Sun”

Answer after the jump.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Time for an egg cream

The lands controlled by Otto I the Great (936-973), once his power was acknowledged by Pope John XII in 962, were known generally as the Holy Roman Empire, despite the following facts:

  • It wasn’t an empire: at best, it was a loose confederation of tribal duchies.
  • It wasn’t Roman: Otto, after all, had been Duke of Saxony and King of Germany.
  • It wasn’t holy: after a year as Emperor, Otto, seeing a threat from John, convened a synod of bishops and deposed him, replacing him with Leo VIII, who apparently wasn’t even a bishop.

Voltaire, perhaps anticipating Linda Richman, pointed out this minor nomenclatural inconsistency (in Essai sur l’histoire générale et sur les mœurs et l’esprit des nations, if you’re keeping score), but Otto was long gone by the time Voltaire’s essay appeared, as would be the Empire itself half a century later.

This sort of thing recurs constantly. Claudio “Drake Floyd” Fragasso’s 1990 horror film Troll 2 features exactly 0 trolls. And FX is readying a series called Terriers which, you guessed it, is pretty much devoid of terriers:

I was excited for about five minutes until I found out there is nary a terrier in the series. In fact there is a bulldog in the pilot episode. And occasionally the dreaded Jack Russell shows up in the teaser for the series.

So it turns out the series really has nothing to do with terriers. It’s about two down-on-their-luck schmucks turned private eyes. I’m going to give it a chance because it features the always amusing Donal Logue and that sexy guy who played the Cajun serial killer in the first season of True Blood. But really.

My baseline example for such things has lately been Kid Rock, who is not a kid and who does not rock.

(Aside: You want to know why I get so many bizarre search queries? Because I do posts like this that wander all over the freaking map.)

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Deadly Viper content unknown

Those of you lucky enough to have your lunches, take them with you, preferably in this:

Kill Bill lunchbox

It is not clear whether this contains relief or regret.

(As the phrase goes, Found in Mom’s Basement.)

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You like this too much

An item from Playboy’s “Raw Data,” September:

According to law firms specializing in divorce, about twenty percent of divorce petitions make some reference to evidence of spousal misbehavior on Facebook.

Dear God, I hope it isn’t on FarmVille.

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Quote of the week

It dates back four score and seven years, yet it has dated not a whit:

The modern mind is merely a blank about the philosophy of toleration, and the average agnostic of modern times has really had no notion of what he meant by religious liberty and equality. He took his own ethics as self-evident, and enforced them. Then he was horribly shocked if he heard of anybody else, Moslem or Christian, taking his ethics as self-evident and enforcing them.

From “The Mirror of Christ,” the eighth chapter in G. K. Chesterton’s St. Francis of Assisi, 1923.

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The great credit crunch

As explained by Tim Cavanaugh:

Credit froze because all over the country defaults on mortgages, car loans, student loans and credit cards were reaching historical highs. Letting Lehman die was Henry Paulson’s single act of courage, and he followed it up by doing what he does best: soiling his Depends and scaring the children with wild tales about the bank failures, derivative defaults and lover’s lane murderers that would be unleashed if the taxpayers didn’t give a trillion dollars to the largest banks on the planet. The entire ethical structure of the free market was destroyed so that Sheila Bair could be spared the inconvenience of euthanizing crippled, syphilitic ghouls like Citigroup and Bank of America.

Funny thing: when the mood strikes them, even crippled, syphilitic ghouls can rouse themselves enough to become actively malevolent scum.

Perhaps we could take a lead from the Canadians:

Canadian banks, it turns out, weathered the financial storm much more effectively than American banks did. The reason: Canadian mortgages, unlike American ones, legally required robust guarantees, usually a 20 percent down payment. That helped keep homeowners from running away from their mortgage payments when things turned south, as happened in the United States. Canada and the U.S., it’s worth noting, still have the same percentage of homeowners — roughly 67 percent — meaning that the American incentives that favored risky bank behavior failed to increase ownership levels.

I got into the palatial estate at Surlywood with decidedly less than 20 percent down. But while I’m hardly an example of excellent cash flow, I’ve never come close to defaulting on the mortgage. Nor is the bank — a moderately-sized regional bank, neither crippled nor syphilitic — likely to be worried, since the property, the taxman assures them, is worth half again what is owed on the note. (We never had much of a bubble, so we didn’t have much of a bust at the end of it.)

Afterthought: Rewind to that phrase “when things turned south.” Would they ever say something like that in Canada?

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It’s the Reverse Shrink Ray!

Apple informed me of a QuickTime update last night, and I went ahead and installed it, on the basis that they’re going to keep telling me about it until I get it done. No particular issues, and I did check to make sure my Pro registration was intact; then I cut it off the desktop and shipped it off to a folder called Installs. Apparently there was a previous file there named QuickTimeInstaller.exe; do I want to overwrite it? I did, but not before noticing that the old version was, literally, old: we’re talking 2002, maybe. Five hundred kilobytes or so. The installer for 7.6.7 was 33.5 megabytes.

And of course, this reminded me of the early 1990s, when 33.5 mb would have been half my disk space. My first non-Commodore box was an XT clone with an NEC processor (10 MHz!), 40- and 20-mb Seagate drives, and a whopping 1.6 mb of RAM. (This latter resided partly on Intel’s Above Board, a full-length card crammed to the max with 256k RAM chips. Lots of them.) Now it takes 30 mb on a Debian Linux server on the Left Coast for me to type this.

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Booze R Us

Perhaps not coming soon from Marko Kloos Productions, which is a shame, because I would so watch this:

Title: “Distillation Station”

Genre: Children’s Television (Pre-K)

Logline: The zany adventures of Mister Hooch and his friends, as they hang out at Distillation Station and have run-ins with the grumpy old Temperance who lives across the street.

You must read the cast list.

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A faint whiff of rodent

The city of Tulsa is suing the state of Oklahoma over this year’s House Bill 2359, which gives the Oklahoma Tax Commission the exclusive right to collect sales and use tax in the state.

We’ll jump right to the punchline:

State lawmakers passed HB 2359 on the final day of this year’s session, but before the governor signed it into law, the city of Tulsa had signed a contract with an Alabama firm to handle the collections.

To quote a NewsOK commenter on this story: “Wonder which politician is related to the owner(s) of that private firm…”

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Old school, new wheels

The message — um, “The Message” — is clear.

(Seen at Autoblog.)

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You’d think “warm” would be sufficient

But no, these days you’re expected to be hot. Hawt, even. Sometimes, though, the timing seems to be off:

I have an interesting history with hotness. It began by not being hot for a very, very long time. I was not a sexy teenager and I was not a sexy co-ed. As such, I never learned to depend on looks to get me ahead. Although I wasn’t an ugly duckling, I blossomed late. So, in the early 1990s when a coworker suggested to me that part of the reason I received a promotion and someone else didn’t was because I was better looking, I didn’t know whether laugh or be offended. And, to think I thought I’d been promoted because I knew the AP style guide frontwards and backwards and my competition couldn’t conjugate verbs. [Sigh]

Ultimately, ascending the ladder of relative hotness as others were descending it was a strange and uncomfortable experience. I embraced it for a time and had some fun with it, although I also learned that being sexy (it’s relative) has a colossal downside.

Which explains why I’m going nowhere on whatever ladder happens to be around, since I’ve never been so much as tepid, let alone hot, and besides, I get all my writing tips from the Fake AP Stylebook.

It does seem to be true, though, that people reach their peaks — and not just in terms of appearance — on wildly different schedules. As for my own, I’m currently wavering between “yet to come” and “it’s been downhill since I was twelve.”

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Do not look directly at the sign

The San Francisco Chronicle’s Paolo Lucchesi posed a question to the readership: “What’s the most unfortunate restaurant name in town?” Accompanying the article on SFGate was a shot of a drive-in called “Gott’s Roadside Tray Gourmet,” which sounds pretty dire, though perhaps preferable to Squat & Gobble. And Gott’s gets points from me for their call-in telephone number: 866-EAT-FOOD. (Hey, that’s an idea!)

Of course, once this went up on SFGate, the scope widened to worldwide. One perhaps expects strange eatery names where Engrish is spoken, but that’s not much of an excuse in north Texas, where you’ll find this august establishment:

Pho King Way logo

The Sofa King was not available for comment.

(Via Nancy Friedman.)

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Inclement by increments

When someone threatens to leave town (okay, it’s not my town, but still) because of the weather, you know things have gotten at least somewhat out of hand.

And the spirit of McMahon alighted upon me, and I spoke: “How hot is it?” I duly looked up the local climatology records, and noted that we were on pace for the third-warmest August on record, a Fahrenheit degree and a fraction below the worst of the Dust Bowl years. In fact, of the ten hottest Augusts — actually 11, due to ties — I’ve personally sweated through three.

This set off my “Oh, Christ, now we’re going to hear from the global-warming people” alarm. Then it hit me: records here go back 119 years. I’ve been around here 37 years. Which means that during the most recent 31 percent of climatological history, we’ve had 27 percent of the hottest Augusts, which in turn means — well, not a damned thing, actually.

I just wish I’d gotten to experience more than two of the coldest Augusts.

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Just so clothes-minded

Were I trying to persuade someone to accompany me to one of those clothing-optional vacation spots, I doubt that “Think what you’ll save on baggage charges!” would be much of a selling point:

“If more air travelers take a stand and a nakation in 2010, it could send a message to the airlines using checked and unchecked baggage fees as a way to charge the vacationing masses more money in this tight economy,” Erich Schuttauf, executive director of the American Association of Nude Recreation, told USA Today. “All you’ll need for the week (sunscreen, cap, sunglasses, shoes and toiletries) can fit in a small carry-on that will fit under the seat, avoiding even carry-on bag fees.”

But then you’d have to explain to them why you have a 10-day round-trip ticket and only one bag. And explaining things to airlines — or worse, explaining things to the Transportation Security Administration — will put you in a bad mood before you even take off, so to speak.

Oh, well. Carry on, my wayward sunworshippers.

(Via Fark.)

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I did see her, sort of

One of the problems with this whole Rule 5 scheme is that it’s so easy to fall back on the same names week after week. [Says the guy with the seemingly-inexhaustible supply of Zooey Deschanel pictures—ed.] I’ve had instances where not only the same person, but the same picture, had been through this particular mill.

Which is one reason for the following still of Hindi actress Vipasha Agarwal, who has, per the IMDb, exactly one screen credit: the 2006 Bollywood feature I See You. As it happens, I’ve seen I See YouI reviewed it here — and I remember her quite well.

Vipasha Agarwal

But then, I would.

(Photo courtesy of

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