Sugar-free tablet

From my favorite novel, Dodie Smith’s I Capture the Castle, a bit of dinner conversation:

The Vicar was watching us across the table.

“When this house was built, people used daggers and their fingers,” he said. “And it’ll probably last until the days when men dine on capsules.”

“Fancy asking friends to come over for capsules,” I said.

“Oh, the capsules will be taken in private,” said father. “By then, eating will have become unmentionable. Pictures of food will be considered rare and curious, and only collected by rude old gentlemen.”

Miss Smith apparently was more prescient than she anticipated. From Wired, via Neatorama:

[T]here’s a certain cold comfort in knowing that if worse comes to worst, nanotechnology might give us a food pill that, taken every 10 years or so, would power our bodies if the planet loses the ability to do so.

This is not the direction we should be going, says Lynn:

I want something that will enable me to eat all the cake, pie, ice cream, pizza, tacos and big-a** burgers I want without gaining an ounce. I don’t care if it’s a pill or a nanobot or what as long as it works and is simple, painless and affordable. And I want it now.

I’ll have what she’s having.

Addendum: “Noshville Katz,” a parody of a certain John Sebastian tune recorded by “The Lovin’ Cohens,” contains this couplet:

Well, there’s 1352 different restaurants in Nashville,
And you can eat anything from a hominy grit to a Contac time pill.

Way too many people are thinking along these lines.

(Lyrics swiped from Blog d’Elisson.)

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Poles axed

Well, not yet, but the humble barber pole seems to be an endangered species:

William Marvy Company, the last known manufacturer in North America of the poles, typically sells 500 of them each year, down from 5,100 in the company’s late-1960s heyday.

What caused this decline? The company blames four people: John, Paul, George and Ringo.

No, really:

Bob Marvy, a second-generation owner of the St. Paul, Minn., company, dates the industry’s slowdown back to an unlikely source: The Beatles. The Fab Four and their trendy mop-tops ruined it for barbers, he thinks. Men who previously went to barber shops weekly for their clean-cut looks started waiting two or even three weeks between trims.

I hit the barber shop weekly when I was in the Army, pretty much because I was supposed to, but I’ve been on a four-week cycle ever since the hair started to go south. (By now, it’s made it to Uruguay.) And the unisex shop I patronize lacks a pole.

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Beyond the gates

Some folks prefer to live behind them. I’m not quite sure I want to.

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Zooeypalooza 2!

Just in case you thought I was through with this whole idea:

Zooeypalooza 2!

Same rules as before: we’ve shrunk the photos into this single graphic for the front page, but clicking on any of them will induce rebigulation.

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Not so Hy

“How glad I am,” Nancy Wilson used to sing, though it wasn’t about this:

Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd said on Wednesday it won U.S. approval for its generic versions of Merck & Co’s blockbuster blood-pressure drugs Cozaar and Hyzaar.

Teva, the world’s biggest generic drugmaker, also said it will have 180 days to market the generics exclusively, an award generally given to companies that challenge patents first. Israel-based Teva said it was launching sales immediately.

I can feel my blood pressure dropping slightly just from the potential for lower wallet strain.

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Quote of the week

April Winchell, founder of Regretsy, acknowledges the superiority of a culture in which inferiority can be identified and labeled:

Not only is it unnatural to be so relentlessly positive, it’s dishonest. Some things really are better than others. Forcing a positive reaction to everything has created a huge bubble of pressure and resentment. The fail culture has allowed that to burst, and the release is unbelievably satisfying.

It is no accident that, among all the dozens of sites sprung from, the most popular is FailBlog.

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Just don’t ask him how it’s hanging

Erick Williamson, busted last fall for the heinous crime of being visible in his house while not wearing anything, appealed his conviction, and was acquitted in a mere 20 minutes by a Fairfax County (VA) Circuit Court jury.

The Political Naturist reminds us that it can happen to (some of) us, too:

Whether or not this man considers himself to be a nudist or naturist is irrelevant, but the issue strikes at the heart of every body freedom advocate who enjoys nudity at home. The police witch hunt against this man, which included sending letters to schools looking for witnesses who might have seen the man nude at other times, is an abuse of power which goes beyond protecting the community, and is designed merely to cover their own asses. The police exceeded their authority in the initial reaction to the incident and then tried to turn it into some sort of danger to women and children in the community merely to justify their heavy-handed actions.

Imagine, asses requiring cover.

I think, though, the most salient point may be this:

Defense lawyer Dickson Young presented another photo taken from the path, and the carport door seemed very distant. Young ridiculed the notion that [complainant Yvette] Dean made eye contact with the naked man.

If a woman is “walking along and sees someone naked,” Young told the jury in his closing argument, “the last thing they’re going to be looking at is his eyes.”

Excuse me while I stifle a giggle.

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Eclipse of the Suns

“The defense is back,” said Scott Brooks after the Denver game. Some of us might have been wondering what he meant, especially since high-velocity Phoenix rolled up 31 points in the first quarter. But Brooks never kids about such things, and in fact, the Suns managed only 34 points in the entire second half, as the Thunder, despite shooting less than 40 percent for the night, rang up a 96-91 win, taking the season series 2-1.

Things did not look so promising early on. Nenad Krstić sat out — bruised knee — and Nick Collison, getting the start, rolled up three fouls in four minutes. The call went out to Air Congo, and Serge Ibaka got to play 24 minutes, in which he scored 15 and swept the backboard nine times. Thabo Sefolosha had 15 points, and Jeff Green had, um, 15 points. Russell Westbrook played ball handler more than sharpshooter — eight points, eight rebounds, 10 assists — and appearing in the role of Kevin Durant was Kevin Durant, who knocked down an almost-usual 35.

The Suns won the battle of the boards, 46-39, and shot 45 percent. What they didn’t do was cash in the freebies (they missed seven of 23 free throws) and hang on to the leather (they turned the ball over 20 times). Still, Amar’e Stoudemire was at least somewhat unstoppable, scoring 17 in the first half but only seven in the second, and pulling down 15 boards; Steve Nash dished up 12 dimes to go with his 11 points.

Oklahoma City now finds itself 49-30. Three games remain: at Golden State Sunday, at Portland Monday, and the finale at the Ford against Memphis on Wednesday. The Grizzlies were kind enough to beat the Spurs tonight, dropping San Antonio into 8th place; where the Blazers end up depends on how they do against the Mavericks at the Rose Garden tonight. For the next hour or two, I’m rooting for Dallas.

Update: Mavs 83, Blazers 77. Nowitzki went up for 40. Bless you, Dirk. So we’re in sixth, one game above Portland.

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Never say diuretic

Ryanair, the Irish no-frills airline that makes more money from fees than from fares, will be installing pay toilets in its aircraft, and not many of them at that:

[T]he airline is also looking at reducing the number of toilets on board, leaving just one available cubicle for up to 189 passengers.

To use the remaining toilet on board, passengers would be forced to part with either £1 or €1 for each visit.

Stephen McNamara, spokesperson for the airline, told TravelMail: “By charging for the toilets we are hoping to change passenger behaviour so that they use the bathroom before or after the flight. That will enable us to remove two out of three of the toilets and make way for at least six extra seats on board.”

(Via Jenn, who suggests passengers should, um, void where prohibited.)

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Giseling points

Gisele BundchenLeggy supermodel Gisele Bündchen — David Letterman, you may recall, used to argue that there was a qualitative difference between mere supermodels and leggy supermodels — is lending her name to a line of flip-flops under the “Ipanema” label, a branding which makes sense if you remember Antonio Carlos Jobim’s gentle bossa nova about a girl therefrom, Ipanema being a district of Rio de Janeiro with a glorious beach, and Gisele is not only Brazilian but probably has a few brazillion dollars tucked away for her old age.

(The name “Ipanema” itself derives from the old Tupi tongue, and means “bad water,” which apparently is a reference to the quality of fishing from said beach. It has nothing to do with “Ipana,” which resides alongside Pepsodent and Gleem in the Hall of Faded Brands, Toothpaste Aisle.)

Anyway, Smitty, who reads the HuffPo so I don’t have to, sent me to this slideshow from Gisele’s presentation in Paris yesterday, anticipating (correctly, of course) that I’d have something to say about it. While visual appeal is present in the expected abundance, I singled out this shot to ask a single question: “Do you think anyone noticed that she’s carrying a shoe or two?”

I didn’t think so.

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UPS-y daisy

Oh, this is rich. From “Postal Manager Leopoldo Meza” comes an advisory of “UPS Delivery Problem NR.9259507.” What to do? Why, this, of course:

Unfortunately we failed to deliver the package sent on the 14th of December in time because the addressee’s address is erroneous.

Please print out the invoice copy attached and collect the package at our department.

“Invoice copy” is a 70k Zip file.

I hadn’t seen this particular scheme in a couple of years, and it wasn’t exactly a joy to see it again, but schemesters don’t have to be smarter than everyone: they just have to be smarter than the folks who don’t know any better, who, like the poor, are always with us.

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Can you hear him now?

After all, he apparently wants to be loud:

Him: Yeah, my goal is to be able to say I’m a vociferous reader.
Her: Great. Wait. Is it vociferous?
Him: Yeah, reads a lot.
Her: I think that’s voracious, right?
Him: Um … yeah … they’re like the same thing, right?
Her: I dunno. Let’s look it up on my smartphone.

God forbid I should ever own a phone smarter than I am. I couldn’t take it.

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I’m just mad about 14

It isn’t exactly saffron, but it’ll do in a pinch.

Which is by way of saying that today marks the fourteenth anniversary of this here site, which began in 1996, during the days of Internet Explorer 2, and which for some reason won’t go away. (Come to think of it, neither will IE.)

Things have grown a bit from the original seven pages; there are now upwards of fifteen thousand. At the time, I was allowed 1.0 MB of space; I now clutter up about 1.3 GB. I had about 1800 visitors in my first year; today, that’s an exceptionally-slow week.

But this startled me when I looked it up:

By Christmas 1990, [Tim] Berners-Lee had built all the tools necessary for a working Web: the first web browser (which was a web editor as well), the first web server, and the first web pages which described the project itself. On August 6, 1991, he posted a short summary of the World Wide Web project on the alt.hypertext newsgroup. This date also marked the debut of the Web as a publicly available service on the Internet.

Which means that I’ve been on the Web for 75 percent of its entire existence — not to mention 25 percent of my own.

Geez. Maybe I should put a sock in it already.

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Susan Boyle moves up

She’s leaving the old council house for something of her own:

New home of Susan Boyle

She didn’t move out of town or anything: she’s still living in Blackburn, West Lothian, Scotland, though the new spread, with five bedrooms and three baths, is presumably a step up from a council house. Reported price is a seemingly-modest $447,000.

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Cautiously explosive

Boy (or girl), do I remember this:

Many years later, I’m 22 and I’m in the U.S. Army at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri in basic training. We were at the armory and had just finished watching a film on the care of our weapon, the M-16, and were being issued the weapon we would have all through training. Now remember, a lot of the girls there were barely 18, had never touched a gun in their lives, and all of them had just watched a film about “Joe” mishandling his weapon and then it blowing up in his face when he went to fire it. Now imagine some of them being handed their M-16 and majorly freaking.

I was 18 when I hit Fort Lost-in-the-Woods, but I can assure you, we had some guys freaking out at their first contact with Uncle Sam’s Plastic-ish Rifle.

And this is somehow reassuring:

Weeks later, Sergeant Walters placed a bet with the three other drill sergeants in the company that I could out shoot their guys. I won that bet for Sergeant Walters and he gave me an extra turn firing the LAW.

We didn’t get a whole lot of time to play with the LAW, and I wasn’t among the best shooters in the company — I was among the better wielders of the Unholy Hand Grenade — but we got to the point where we really enjoyed taking out whatever targets were presented to us. Which, you have to admit, is a useful characteristic for a soldier.

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In the title to the current Carnival of the Vanities, the 368th overall, Andrew Ian Dodge gives a shout-out to the natural phenomenon known as the Spring T-Storm.

We know from such things out here: storms are as much a part of the spring as weeds, and even more unavoidable. I’ve already lost a couple of fence panels to high winds; a few years back, I lost an entire tree. Still, it could have been a lot worse. The city of İznik, in northwestern Turkey, was hit by three earthquakes in a single decade, the last coming in the year 368, motivating Emperor Flavius Julius Valens to order the reconstruction of the place. (You may remember it under its Greek name: Nicaea.)

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