I’m calling Muad’Dibs on this one

Not that I think it would actually work or anything:

“Is that Shai-Hulud, the life-giving spice-producing god-worm, in your pocket, or are you just glad to see me?”

This has been just one of more than a dozen SF/Geek Pickup Lines from Miss Cellania.

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Epic faille

I have yet to see Black Swan. However, I would not be particularly astounded to see Natalie Portman dance her way into an Oscar® nomination, possibly even a win, simply because of all the historical precedent:

Portman’s the subject of a lot of Oscar buzz, perhaps because Academy members realized that while it’s OK to nominate an actress for playing a well-adjusted, compassionate and strong woman character like Sandra Bullock’s Leigh Ann Tuohy now and again, the actual Oscar is supposed to go to a woman who’s losing her mind, already lost her mind or is a prostitute or stripper. They need to get back on track, and although Portman doesn’t hit the Theron trifecta, [director Darren] Aronofsky included several scenes with Portman as well as Portman and costar Mila Kunis that offer plenty of titillation for the discerning Oscar voter.

I am told that a few such actually exist.

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Presumably WTF was taken

It’s a file format called WWF:

The WWF format is a PDF that cannot be printed out. It’s a simple way to avoid unnecessary printing. So here’s your chance to save trees and help the environment. Decide for yourself which documents don’t need printing out — then simply save them as WWF.

On my last day at the office, I should probably set that as the default. There would be wailing and gnashing of teeth on a grand scale. (In fact, any day I might do that would be de facto my last day at the office.)

One of Tim Blair’s readers isn’t taking this lying down:

If I ever get a file like this, I am going to screenshot it, print in triplicate, take a few photos of it, print out the photos, put them in a large envelope and airmail the envelope to the person who sent it to me.

Postage due, I assume.

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Meanwhile in the red-light district

Up to now, very few Christmas songs have had much Sting to them.

(With thanks to Deb S.)

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Icahn haz Chesapeake?

Well, not yet he doesn’t, but Carl Icahn has definitely been buying his way in:

The Wall Street Journal notes in an article about Chesapeake that the single biggest buyer of the company’s stock in the first nine months of 2010 is Carl Icahn. He now owns a 2.5% stake in Chesapeake. As the WSJ points out, maybe Icahn is betting that natural gas prices will rise, but that’s not likely.

So what’s he after? The short version:

[T]he parts of Chesapeake are absolutely worth more than the sum. Management’s course through the past few years has been to cut debt and fund additional production by issuing more stock and selling off assets. That’s basically Icahn-ization without Icahn. He undoubtedly thinks he can do it better.

Lots of differing interpretations over at OKCTalk.com.

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Synths and sensibility

Imaginary Friends supposedly is a “serious” album by comparison with Freezepop’s previous work, by which is meant, I guess, that there are no songs with titles like “Duct Tape My Heart.” Still, I am not inclined to underestimate a band with songs in the Guitar Hero series that don’t actually have any guitars in them.

Imaginary Friends by FreezepopAnd despite the marked absence of terminally goofy stuff, I still find plenty to smile about while listening to the twelve tracks of Imaginary Friends. Liz Enthusiasm still can turn a phrase — I admit to giggling a bit during “Magnetic” when she says “You’re my polar opposite” — and she’s long since caught on to the idea that the disembodied robotic voice one tends to expect in synthpop needn’t be either disembodied or robotic; she’s allowing herself to sound less like a string of bits and more like a geek girl with real geek-girl thoughts. (Harmony vocals by new arrival Christmas Disco-Marie Sagan help, but you can hear this even when Sagan is offmike or mixed down.) At no point do things sound arch or artificially ironic.

The songs themselves are as tuneful, as catchy, as ever. I suppose one could point to the “limitations” of the synthpop genre, but struggling against limitations is at the heart of anything artistic, and the band, reconfiguring after the loss of founding member the Duke of Pannekoeken, has pushed itself a notch or two beyond its own little niche. Of course, just about everything is powered by synthesizers of one sort or another these days, though you’re not supposed to notice that. Freezepop, in embracing the synth at its most blatantly artificial, somehow seems to humanize it. (Think Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow: it became a lot more plausible once you caught on to the fact that all the sets were computer-generated.)

Still, I have to believe that not everyone is going to like Imaginary Friends. It helps if you survived the 1980s, and if you played around with the 8-bit noises that defined the first half of that decade. I, of course, maintain a rather large footprint in both camps; after spinning the CD a couple of times — I’d snagged the downloads last week — I actually entertained the idea of tracking down a used Yamaha QY70, a device Freezepop has since outgrown, for myself.

(Reviewed from purchased copies.)

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Hemidemisemicircular reasoning

Instapundit readers Saturday night were treated to the complicated spectacle of Glenn Reynolds quoting me quoting James Lileks.

The subject at hand, so to speak, was the appropriate viewing angle for women’s lingerie. I think all three of us were in agreement that it’s best seen, um, on the floor.

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Strange search-engine queries (254)

It’s time once again for that wacky, weird weekly woundup (sorry, I got carried away there) of search strings found in the logs of this very Web site. All of the strings are as they were originally written by the seekers; all of the snark was written by me, just in case you thought I’d be getting Bill Clinton to come in and finish the job.

“sears pantyhose”:  I should warn you: it doesn’t carry the standard Craftsman lifetime guarantee.

bobby Goldsboro ethnicity:  I think we can safely ignore “Me Japanese Boy, I Love You.”

mottless crew:  Not J. Crew’s formerly-spotted poor relation.

is it a bad idea to have a past lover as a facebook friend:  Depends on the current state of your nonrelationship. I suspect, though, it’s a bad idea to have a current lover as a FB friend, which is a shame, since there are several on there who … um, never mind.

can vengeance stand for justice:  I can think of several vengeful out-of-power politicians who definitely won’t stand for it.

“Arkansas’ biggest loser”:  Um, Blanche Lincoln?

“weird nj” “summit” “robbery” “hidden” “money”:  The only word that doesn’t fit the pattern is “weird.”

origin term “dirtbag”:  It’s like “scumbag,” only the contents have a different response to gravity.

what cleans aluminum dust off of clothes:  Send them to a dry cleaner. They’re used to working with toxic and/or explosive stuff.

was Dan Blocker endowed:  By his creator with certain inalienable rights, sure. Beyond that, I couldn’t tell you.

will ford bring back the probe:  Not a chance. The Probe was a tremendous pain in the ass.

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Cavs crushed

Everything you need to know about this game is in this statistic: Byron Mullens had a career-high 5 points. When the 12th man gets extended minutes, it’s a blowout by definition, and the final — Oklahoma City 106, Cleveland 77 — confirms it.

Not that the Cavaliers didn’t contribute some suction to the process: they hit only 26 of 77 from the field, 33.8 percent. They did good work on getting second-chance points — 16 offensive rebounds, nine by Anderson Varejao alone — but they wouldn’t have needed second-chance points if they’d scored on the first chance. Further, the Cavs left 12 points at the stripe, hitting only 20 of 32. When they had a play, they generally executed well, but too often they really didn’t have a play, and after a 28-point second quarter, they managed only 32 points the rest of the way. Anthony Parker led the Cleveland scorers with twelve.

The Thunder shot perhaps uncharacteristically well, hitting 41 of 77 for 53.2 percent. With a 28-point bulge after three quarters, Scott Brooks saw no need to keep the starters out there any longer. Still, Kevin Durant bagged 25 points, Jeff Green (who played 30:20, longer than anyone else in the game) 19, and Russell Westbrook 14. The bench, given lots of time to work, contributed 43 points, 19 by James Harden. Free throws were a little off — 17 of 24 — but it didn’t seem to matter.

This is the first of four games at the Scrape That Brand Name Off Arena. The Rockets will be here Wednesday, the Kings on Friday, and the Suns on, you guessed it, Sunday. Now’s the time to make up some ground on the — what’s that? We’re tied with the Jazz for first in the Northwest? Well, in that case, now’s the time to shoot past them, if we can.

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Apparently they weren’t kidding

This young lady is indeed f*ing cute:

Model for Nozomi Sasaki, f-ing.com

(With thanks to EngrishFunny.)

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Lens of demarcation

A couple is taking a walk through the mall, and he decides he wants a picture of her in front of the tree-like structure at centre court. Out comes the camera, and down comes Security:

Just as we took the first photo, a security guard shouted at us to stop and came over to explain that we were not allowed to take photos.

But lots of people take photos every day in this mall, sometimes at this exact spot. WTF?

When the security guard was asked to explain this as we have seen hundreds of people taking photos ever since the centre had opened, he notified us that we could not take the photos using a ‘Big’ camera.

‘Big’? No camera you can buy in a mainstream shopping mall qualifies as ‘Big.’ But that’s the issue with their not-all-that-big Canon:

…the concern of people using ‘Big’ cameras was that the photos could be used for commercial purposes.

She has asked for a public clarification of the policy. And this being Britain, there’s one more request:

This incident happened at approx 11pm on the 1st floor. I would also like you to know that it is my intention to ask for the CCTV coverage of my visit to Westfield, so that it can support any further action that I may decide.

Because, of course, they had a camera on her the whole time. But those images could never fall into the “wrong” hands, could they?

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Fark blurb of the week

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Now that’s undead

Few bands were more appropriately named than the Zombies. After a few big hits in the middle 1960s, they broke up: a year after they broke up, their last LP (Odessey and Oracle) yielded up a major hit single which, three dozen years after the fact, sounds something like this:

Now touring again, the Zombies will be releasing a 50th Anniversary album next year. You can’t get much more undead than that.

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Where it all goes (’10)

For the last couple of years or so, I’ve been breaking down the property tax I pay by recipient. This year, no doubt inspired by my initiative, the County Treasurer is doing the math and enclosing the details with the annual tax statements, so here are his numbers for 2010, alongside my numbers [in brackets] for 2009:

  • City of Oklahoma City: $142.27 [$130.71]
  • Oklahoma City Public Schools: $524.90 [$517.11]
  • Metro Tech Center: $138.15 [$136.73]
  • Oklahoma County general: $110.34 [$113.81]
  • Countywide school levy: $37.02 [$36.64]
  • County Health Department: $23.17 [$22.92]
  • Metropolitan Library System: $46.50 [$46.02]
  • Total: $1022.34 [$1003.94]

The individual millages for each of these are listed here.

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In lieu of actual news

The 24-hour news cycle seldom contains anywhere near 24 hours of news. The purveyors of such things, therefore, have calculated that to retain as many eyeballs as possible, they have to resort to things which are technically not news. This includes the early-evening pontificating gasbags, the semi-cute morning shows, and, as Roberta X discovers, just a hint of fanservice:

I returned to full consciousness in time to have my eyeballs tugged out by a push-zoom from a handheld camera moving from the “anchor” (a leaden thing that was preventing motion) to a diminutive meteorologist; this move was followed up by the same handheld staggering across the set to end in a shot of the weatherlady from a vantage at least a foot and a half higher than the top of her head — a shot they held she proceeded to relate the weather with the usual Ritual Gesturing, accompanied by a disconcerting amount of cleavage. I’m not at all sure what the point was — drawing in the male viewership, perhaps? — but as the overture to a headache, it worked all too well.

Now that was worth quoting just for the definition of “anchor.” Still, weird camera angles are part of the Total News Experience these days. I never stay up late enough to see Fox’s Red Eye, for instance, but screenshots inevitably reveal a lowish camera placement — and an attractive female in what is known as the “leg chair.” Tamara Holder occupies that position in this shot:

Tamara Holder on Red Eye

Nor, as Jamie Colby illustrates, is this technique confined to fringe-time shows:

Jamie Colby on Fox News

Or, for that matter, to Fox. See, for instance, CNN’s Brianna Keiler and Jacqui Jeras:

Brianna Keiler and Jacqui Jeras on CNN

We may say that we’d rather get the news from some grizzled Chet Huntley type. In some cases, it might even be true. But cable news apparently can’t afford to take that chance.

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Not so fast

In 2006, Formula One barred all those nasty fuel-guzzling V-10 engines in favor of a 2.4-liter V-8.

Apparently this wasn’t enough, because in 2013 the F1-prescribed engine in 2013 will be a turbocharged 1.6-liter inline-four.

The fours also won’t rev so high: the limiters will kick in at 12,000 rpm. (In days gone by, F1 engines approached 20,000 rpm.) Fuel efficiency will be up by about a third; power outputs are expected to be in the 750-hp range, which ought to be plenty to push around a car that weighs less than 1400 lb.

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