Tech avoidance

If you’re overly sensitive to Andy Rooney-type musings, please engage your filter now. Otherwise, proceed as follows:

Have you ever noticed that the folks who see Bigfoot, or spaceships, or the Loch Ness Monster, are never the folks with cameras in their cell phones? The Sasquatch never wanders anywhere near the research biologist who’s hiking through the woods with the high-rez digital camera with zoom lens. He always wanders into the rural backyard of the self-proclaimed ‘mountain man’.

Could it possibly be that these seemingly-other-worldly critters, stories of which go back many, many years, have evolved a sensitivity to our own species’ technological goodies, and have learned to avoid them?

Well, I don’t know. It just seems a kinder interpretation than “BoJo’s been hittin’ the ‘shine again.”

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The adventure of a lifetime

And why you should have one, no matter what the rest of the world thinks.

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Is your engine purring?

Hello Kitty motor oil

“Agip” is a real Italian oil company. And yes, that’s a six-legged dog on the logo.

(From — where else? — Hello Kitty Hell, via Boinky.)

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Some Bronx cheer

From my one and only trip through the Bronx, summer 2002:

I’m sure there’s a reason why it’s the Bronx, although I admit to spending more time looking at the exit for the Throgs Neck Bridge and wondering just who the hell was Throg. Actually, I got to spend a lot of time looking at signs, what with the usual traffic congestion exacerbated by construction here and there. And I executed a fair number of what I would normally consider to be startling moves in traffic, operating under the assumption that New Yorkers wouldn’t care what kind of crap I pulled so long as I didn’t inconvenience them in so doing. From the absence of horns sounded in anger rather than sorrow (and with WQXR on the radio, I’d have heard them had they been sounded), I must conclude I was right.

Eventually, I found out about Throg, but I really didn’t see all that much of the Bronx that Sunday afternoon. So I rely on someone who has lived there to explain the place to me:

It’s funny about the Bronx. When I moved there after living for so many years in “the city,” I felt as if I already wore the mantle of the exile, in spite of the fact that I had moved only about four miles. But as any New Yorker knows, four miles might as well be a million; venturing even four blocks from your home can catapult you into a parallel universe, one with strange and incomprehensible customs and a populace that may or may not view you as having come in peace. If the four miles separating you from your old home are inaccessible by public transportation except via an elaborate system of transfers, as is often the case in the outer boroughs, you might as well forget about seeing what begins to feel like your distant, native shore. When I moved to the Bronx, my English friend and mentor John Allitt wrote me a letter in which he commented that “Bronx” was an ugly name, and what did it mean anyway? (Well, Archie Bunker said it meant “the land where no trees grow.”)

Archie Bunker, of course, lived in Queens, far more than four miles away.

Nonetheless, the Bronx, that most forsaken of boroughs of the City of New York, really burrows its way into your heart. Anyone who has ever lived there will tell you that, for all of its problems, they have come to love it. When I moved to my old neighborhood, people there used to say that it was the best neighborhood in the world. I looked at them as if they were out of their minds then, but now I agree.

You have to respect a place like that, even as you swear never again to get stuck on the Cross Bronx Expressway.

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Strange search-engine queries (229)

Once a week we feature the goofiest search strings that have brought people to this site, hoping to draw a few extra visitors or the occasional odd apology from a Texas congressman.

lead poisoning from tongue and groove roof:  Theoretically possible, especially if there’s a sniper on said roof.

putting up shelves euphamism:  “Yeah, we spent the evening moving all the knickknacks, if you know what I mean, and I think you do.”

george washington 1976 axe:  The special Bicentennial Edition. The handle was cut from the same colonial-era tree whose wood was used to make Washington’s denture bridge.

jewish woman stops traffic on gw bridge:  Was she wielding an axe, by chance?

Alas, Mr. Zimmerman, you have once again caught my love and my inexplicable, undiscovered, indescribable, unintentional, creative cognition through your beauty and your every titillating:  Lucky you. All I ever get from Zimmerman is “You got a lot of nerve to say you are my friend; when I was down, you just stood there grinning.”

A snake likes to ponder. He is an intellectual, a philosopher, a cerebral person:  Yeah, but he’s still a snake, and you shouldn’t vote for him.

how to reduce the visible signs of cellulite in my thighs affiliate:  I’m not an affiliate, but I can make this recommendation: wear pants.

how can the consumption of music minimize negative consequences:  For one, it helps if you actually pay for it.

vicodin expiration date:  About twenty minutes from the time you swallow half a dozen of them on a Saturday night.

is dustbury safe:  Are you kidding? I’ve been stuck here for fourteen years.

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This must have cost a few bucks

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Don’t come back until you’ve redeemed yourselves

The Vatican now concedes that the Blues Brothers were, in fact, on a mission from God:

To mark this week’s 30th anniversary of the film, which became a cult classic and spawned a fashion of wearing black hats and dark sunglasses to parties, the Vatican newspaper dedicated a full page and no fewer than five articles to it.

It notes that Jake’s release from prison and the commitment by him and Elwood to put their blues revival band back together to raise money to save an orphanage from forced closure has parallels with the Biblical story of the prodigal son.

Jake and Elwood — who say they are on a “mission from God” to raise the money to pay a back tax bill for the orphanage — and the band members, are symbols of “redemption obtained with sacrifice.”

The newspaper also notes that the film is sprinkled with Catholic and moral references such as the nun Sister Mary Stigmata, who they call “The Penguin.”

(Via Troglopundit, who’s having four fried chickens to celebrate.)

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Paging Bob the Builder

Tea parties? This ain’t no party, says Jenn:

[I]f you want my vote have an industrial plan and a plan that moves America away from this stupid service economy idea. (Yes I said an industrial plan, that doesn’t mean centralized control, but I want industry encouraged in this country again).

An awful lot of our regulatory apparatus will have to be dismantled. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

And there are only so many steel mills we can convert to casinos.

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An argument against high heels

Not an argument I’d make, necessarily, but one worthy of consideration just the same:

I mentioned that I frequently scoped out people and put them into categories of “useless in a zombie attack” and “possessing useful skills and good to have around in a zombie attack.”

At that moment, a woman walked by the shop. I pointed out her high-heeled shoes. “That, my friends, is a woman who would be lunch,” I said. “I make a point to never wear shoes that I can’t make a getaway in except for rare occasions when I’m out for an evening of fun. I take a chance even then, sure, but for daily wear … absolutely not.”

Would you want to know, in your final seconds, that if your shoes had only been two inches shorter, you might have lived?

This premise is perhaps extensible beyond the zombie threat; ultimately, you have to make this decision on your own.

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T’ain’t funny, McPhee

Seattle’s legendary Archie McPhee, purveyors of such fine merchandise as Bacon Soap, the Cthulhu Water Bottle, and the Deluxe Librarian Action Figure, is catching flak from a Hindu group regarding their curry-flavored Kali Mints, which were deemed “inappropriate,” among other adjectives, by the group.

McPhee says it has no plans to discontinue the product, but it’s not like they’re taking a huge risk in selling them. Let’s see what happens if they put out, say, Mohammed Brand pork rinds. In the meantime, try one of their First Amendment Shopping Bags.

(Via Fark.)

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The allocation of blame

There’s always enough to go around, I figure, and Lisa seems to agree:

I do have a theory that in any situation or altercation — other than perhaps serial killings and child abuse — there are always two sides and some responsibility on the part of either party for creating it. And extending that theory, I think it doesn’t much matter who starts it. It matters who ends it and how.

In days of yore, even anguished playground cries of “He started it!” would generally still result in the dragging of two individuals, by the ear, to the principal’s office, so there is precedent for this theory.

In Lisa’s specific case, she decided she would end it in this way:

I decided to make the most generous offer I could think of. I emailed all parties and told them they had an open invitation, whenever they were in the Sonoma area, to come by Two Terrier Vineyards. I’d be glad to give them a barrel tasting, take them on hikes, show them around the town. And I offered to put them and their families up in such accommodations as we have — which is an exciting offer depending on which end of the rustic and “extremely close quarters” spectrum happen to be in your comfort zone. I said, I was making the offer because: 1) I just love showing off my beautiful corner of the world 2) it was the only way I could think to thank them for the reading enjoyment they’ve given me and 3) I wanted everything to end on a good note.

Generous indeed. But then came the dreaded Second Thoughts:

[A] very Grinchy feeling started to creep from my toes to my hardening little heart: “I bet that email makes them feel like shit.”

Which brought me to another thought: Is generosity really generosity if you wield it like a broadsword?

I think in this case the original intention is what mattered: she clearly didn’t plan to make her adversaries feel like shit. Still, some of us with distinctly passive-aggressive tendencies would consider that side effect to be a feature rather than a bug. And I suspect that at least some of her ex-friends are going to take a negative view of any gesture she could possibly make.

Bottom line, from my point of view: Lisa did the right thing, which may or may not pay off in the manner desired but remains the right thing nonetheless. And if by chance someone takes her up on her offer, I am confident she’ll spend far more of her time being a gracious hostess than seething inside at the sheer gall of Those People.

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Don’t get mad, get Vlad

Is this the ultimate retelling of the Dracula story?

Well, of course not, but it’s nasty and mean-spirited and crude, and I mean that in the best possible sense. (Not safe for anywhere you can be heard guffawing.)

(Found in deepest TJICistan.)

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You just turn your pretty head and walk away

When you get two of the world’s First Ladies to turn their backs on you, you’ve presumably accomplished something, though I’m not entirely sure just what.

Carla Bruni-Sarkozy and Samantha Cameron

To the left, Samantha Cameron, now resident in 10 Downing Street with husband David; they’re expecting their fourth child in September. Sam’s wearing a simply-tailored frock by Emilia Wickstead, and she manifestly has not given up the high heels just yet.

To the right, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, a favorite on these pages, in Dior, albeit Dior without all the frou-frou. (If you’re the First Lady of France, you can presumably insist on such things.) Paris boasts three Christian Louboutin boutiques, so it was no problem finding these particular pumps.

Here’s the frontal view.

(Suggested by Smitty, the finest HuffPo filter you could ask for.)

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Zeno says to get off his lawn

The problem with August heat is obvious; it’s worse, though, when it shows up in June, simply because we’ll have to go through it again in August.

So here we are with highs in the middle 90s, maybe a touch higher, and lows around 75 at best, and dew points too close to 72 to suit me, and what with Monday’s cloudburst and all — the official rainfall at Will Rogers was 7.62 inches, the highest they’ve ever measured in 24 hours — the damn grass continues to grow, and perforce must be cut down to size. Unfortunately, while I am not yet classifiable as “old and infirm,” this heat definitely saps my strength, so I am having to do the job in stages: knock out about half of it at first, take a break, do maybe half of what’s left, take another break, do maybe half of what’s left, and so on. The trouble with that scheme, of course, is that it seems like you’ll never get finished.

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Hey, look me over

Not being a consultant or a guru or a “life coach” or anything like that, I’ve never felt a great deal of compulsion to promote myself, my alleged ideas, or my reputed lifestyle. And I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this:

I am bad at self-promotion. I always have been. At least, I’m bad at self-promotion in the sense that it’s usually taken these days. I believe (perhaps I was raised to believe) that your work should speak for itself. That is, if you’re work’s really good, people will notice it and pick up on it and good things will come to you. And conversely, I grew up being at least a little suspicious of anything heavily promoted. (That may have come from my parents. First, my mother, snorting over some of the first “infomercials” ever, “If it’s that great, why do they have to buy a half-hour television slot to talk about it?” and my father, when I was much younger, teaching my brother and me to watch ads and figure out, in his words, “how they are trying to get your nickels.”)

“Follow the money” is good advice today. Since most political activities today, it appears, are schemes to rob Peter to pay Paul, the first order of business is to determine whether Paul actually deserves what he’s getting. (I figure it’s a given that Peter doesn’t deserve what he’s getting, which usually is “screwed,” but this is not going to be taken into consideration by the proponents of whatever craptopian scheme is on the table.)

And if I’m leery of promotion, I’m double secret leery of self-promotion. Those who attended the 2006 Okie Blog Awards ceremony got to hear my insufficiently-plaintive request for a recount. I make some perfunctory efforts to hype the readership around here, but truth be told, I’m always amazed when someone sends a pingback. (That said, if someone links to me and doesn’t send one, I’m not above creating an artificial one, just to make sure that said someone gets some sort of recognition for the act of linky love.)


[Y]ou can tell when someone’s writing about something they have a passion for, versus when they’re writing about something because they think it will get them “hits,” and there’s a certain sad sterility to those websites that are written purely to attract traffic.

There are people who routinely produce incredibly-involving stuff and are duly rewarded for it in the Daily Visitors count. And, regrettably, there are people who routinely produce incredibly-involving stuff who go almost completely ignored. I fall in between on both sides of the formula: I produce occasionally-interesting material and have a small but generally loyal audience which is (mostly) willing to put up with my occasional excursions into silliness, bathos, or Deschanellery. Sad, perhaps; sterile, hardly ever.

Besides, if I decided to monetize the hegemony, it would seem an awful lot like work, and I already have a day job which takes up too much of my time (though it pays better than blogging, you may be sure).

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Quote of the week

Tam contemplates a recent picket line:

TSA employees are picketing? That’s like being picketed by your own body lice. If we just refuse their demands will they go on strike forever? Please?

I’ve seen some of these people: There’s nothing but a pair of blue nitrile gloves between them and a lifetime of permanent frycookery and mop jockeying. They should be thankful that the government has dreamed up a bogus makework program for them that pays them far better for probulating their fellow citizens than they’d ever make puzzling out the pictograms on the french fry machine in the service of which they were otherwise destined to spend their days.

There exists a precedent for how to deal with such matters; I expect it to be ignored.

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