Gotta be fresh

What do the following records have in common?

  • The theme from National Lampoon’s Animal House, recorded by Stephen Bishop
  • “Lisa, Listen To Me,” a track from the fourth Blood, Sweat & Tears album
  • “I Don’t Like Mondays,” the biggest hit by Bob Geldof’s Boomtown Rats
  • “Roses and Rainbows,” a pre-Three Dog Night single by Danny Hutton
  • “Possession,” a Sarah McLachlan track that drew a lawsuit from a stalker
  • Graham Nash’s solo album track “Military Madness”
  • “Rubber Bullets,” the breakthrough British hit for 10cc

These are all tunes that I have enjoyed for several years, but that’s not the common factor I had in mind, which is this: their Hot 100 chart ascents stopped at Number 73, one rung below Rebecca Black’s much-derided “Friday,” which debuted at Number 72.

Sign of the Apocalypse? Have a bowl of cereal and think it over.

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Stalked cars

Most people have an informal list of Things They Don’t Want To Know. What happened to their old cars, though, might not be on that list:

A new social networking site lets users stalk their old hoopties and get a vehicle-history report on their current ride, much the same way creeps stalk their exes and companies vet prospective employees on Facebook.

Check My Ride, from data collection firm Experian, lets you enter information about your past cars, including pictures and anecdotes. If you’ve got the vehicle identification number, the site will map out where your car was registered before and after you owned it.

Regular readers will remember my last car, which was taken out by a member of the family Cervidae back in 2006. And the car I traded for it?

I found the VIN for Molly, my previous 626, traded away in 2000, and on an impulse, fed it to CARFAX. Last item:

Accident Reported in Cowley County [KS]
Vehicle involved in crash with an animal

I’d just as soon not know if anything else I’ve driven met a similar fate.

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Sound your Z

A reader wrote me to ask why I hadn’t mentioned the due-real-soon-now film Your Highness, in which the lovely Zooey D. appears, albeit fourth-billed. I argued that in the trailer, anyway, she’s nowhere to be found, though I later discovered some major Deschanel presence in the red-band version of the trailer.

And the production company is giving her some wallpaper space:

Image from Your Highness featuring Zooey Deschanel

I hope she can breathe in that getup. (Click to embiggen.)

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It comes and it goes

The Weather Guys are anticipating this sort of thing through the weekend:

Screen shot from National Weather Service

In my best Daffy Duck voice: “Would it be too much to ask if we could make up our minds? Hmmm?”

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Straining the subtlety gauge

Springdale Cleaners wire hanger

(Apparently a chain in southwest Ohio. Via swirlspice.)

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So clickish

Back when they handed out area codes in the late 1940s, it made perfect sense for the city of New York to get 212: dialing required the actual turning of a dial to generate pulses, and the thinking was that the largest city ought to require the least effort to reach. (The next two, Chicago and Los Angeles, were dealt 312 and 213 respectively; faraway Oklahoma was assigned 405, and you’ll remember that 0 was on the far side of 9 back then.)

Nowadays, the Big Apple has half a dozen area codes, but the original’s apparently still the greatest:

An eager eBay seller hopes to capitalize on the cachet of a 212 phone number by hawking his digits for a cool $1 million.

Of course, the draw here is not just the 212, but the fact that it’s an even thousand: 212-5xx[digits redacted]-9000. But still: can he do that?

Verizon said it’s unclear, but points out that New York State Public Service Commission rules say subscribers have “no proprietary right in any number that is assigned by the Telephone Company.”

That said, I can show you people in Tulsa who wouldn’t give a plugged nickel for a 539 number.

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Where is the Love?

Minnesota forward Kevin Love, who accumulates double-doubles as effortlessly as Charlie Sheen accumulates TMZ headlines, didn’t make the trip to Oklahoma City; he’s suffering from a strain to the groin. His absence, however, didn’t daunt the young Wolves, who kept coming back through three quarters, and the Thunder had to crank up the defense in the fourth. The Thunder reserves kept the Wolves at bay for almost six minutes, holding them to three points; the starters finished the job, 111-103, as OKC swept Minnesota for the second year in a row.

In Love’s absence, Anthony Randolph has been getting the start, and he’s definitely been earning his keep: tonight he led all scorers with 24 and all rebounders with 15. His career high is 31, which he got last night against Dallas. Michael Beasley added 20. (All five starting Wolves finished in double figures.) Overall, Minnesota was generally competitive, hitting 47.6 percent from the floor and six of ten treys; rebounds were tied at 40. But in that last frame, they hit only a third of their shots and turned the ball over eight times, undoing a lot of their good work.

All twelve active Thunder players got some playing time, and seven of them landed in double figures. The one double-double belonged to Serge Ibaka, with 12 points and 10 boards. The Durant-Westbrook combine managed 42 (23 + 19). OKC shot 52.4 percent for the night, though their free-throw numbers are off. (Kendrick Perkins, who’s doing well to get 60 percent of his freebies, went 1-6, though he hit all six of his field-goal tries.) And this statistic is startling: sixteen steals, five by Russell Westbrook alone. Add seven blocked shots, four by Thabo Sefolosha, and you start to wonder how the Wolves managed to get 103 points.

But no matter. It’s the last we’ll see of them this year, and it is a measure of something, I’m not quite sure what, that the Big Sideways Wheel will fill up even if you bring in a team that was mathematically eliminated from the playoffs a week ago. And there’s no time to linger over the thought anyway, since the Trail Blazers will be here Sunday.

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417

For some inscrutable reason, Andrew Ian Dodge has hung a Best of Me Symphony title on what appears to be the 417th Carnival of the Vanities: “FEC confirms BoMS.”

So we’ll work with what he gives us. I direct you, therefore, to this picture of FEC 417, a locomotive once in service along the Florida East Coast Railway.

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Gimme several F’s

“You blast anyone,” warned Scytale, the Face Dancer, “and we blast you.”

American defense strategy isn’t quite that cut and dried, but it is on the pricey side. Bruce McQuain of QandO was kind enough to drop me a line about the F-35 series aircraft, billed as 5th-generation fighters, a useful thing to possess while everyone else is still in the fourth generation.

Everyone else won’t stay there, of course, and McQ — alongside Lockheed Martin, the developer of the F-35 — would like to see development continue, despite what appears to be a staggering price tag: $60 million. Each. On the other hand, I’m one of those people who thinks superior firepower is generally worth the price.

This official Navy video, for good and sensible reasons, doesn’t even begin to show you what this jet can do:

McQ, while acknowledging that the Pentagon’s shopping list is going to have to be trimmed a bit, argues that you can’t coax F-35 performance out of 30-year-old fourth-generation aircraft, no matter how you retrofit them. Anyone who’s tried to update a Windows 98 box lately can understand that premise, I think.

Still, paying for these jets is going to cost a bundle. A presumably leaner, meaner Pentagon is going to have to come to grips with budgetary limitations — while keeping one step ahead of the other guys. If nothing else, I suppose, they can argue that it’s cheaper than the now-out-of-production F-22.

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Jumbo mumbo

The scoop on NZT:

NZT is thallanylzirconio-methyl-tetrahydro-triazatriphenylene, a powerful new class of psychotropic medication that merges various features of NDRI’s, NaSSA’s and SSRI’s. NZT works, in part, by maintaining higher levels of 5-HT in the synapse while increasing norepinephrine and serotonin neurotransmission by blocking presynaptic alpha-2 adrenergic receptors while at the same time blocking certain serotonin receptors.

I have to wonder how complex a molecule has to be to offset the known toxicity of thallium. (On the periodic table, it sits right between mercury and lead, two other elements you don’t want cascading around your brain.) Zirconium, on the other hand — perhaps the left one — is used more often for inexpensive jewels on QVC.

Give the guys credit, though, for knowing the meaning of “aza”:

NZT is a nitrogen-based psychotropic that impacts specific brain activity in several ways but most significantly by elevating receptivity and synaptic sharing between the hippocampus, the amygdale and the striatum. In controlled doses, taken over the course of a relatively short period of time, NZT significantly improves both short-term and long-term memory, memory capacity, and the analytical purposing of memory. Because it also impacts the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, NZT can improve higher brain function, hand-eye coordination, muscle memory and even the body’s immune system. In some people, NZT can even induce lucid dreaming and what is sometimes called ‘fugue state’.

I need hardly point out that you can’t get this for $4 at Walmart. In fact, just to see it in action costs more than $4 at the moment, as Nancy Friedman explains:

NZT [is] the fake productivity-enhancing drug taken by Bradley Cooper’s character in the new thriller Limitless.

Just this same, this drew my interest, since I’d really like to enhance my fake productivity.

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Spy vs. Spy

If you can spare a dime, The City Sentinel has a rundown (by staffer Danniel Parker) of the last days of The Spy and The Other Spy. There’s a gaffe or two here and there — if KINB had actually had 930 “kilowatts,” you’d have been able to pick it up in Tulsa instead of being unable to pick it up in Crown Heights — but the recounting of the legal maneuvering is worth a look.

Update: They’ve now posted the story to their Web site.

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When Black Friday comes

Snipped from a newspaper with a sense of the Zeitgeist:

Weather report from newspaper

Clearly Rebecca Black controls the universe.

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A perfectly cremulent procedure

A funeral director in Ohio who has been subjecting bodies to alkaline hydrolysis — dead bodies, I hasten to add — has been ordered to knock it off by state regulators:

For two months now, Jeff Edwards, the funeral director at Edwards Funeral Service in Columbus, has been disposing of bodies using alkaline hydrolysis, or liquid cremation, a process that uses lye and high temperatures to liquefy human remains. But last week, state officials told him that it “is not an authorized form of disposition of a dead human body,” according to The Columbus Dispatch, which first reported the story.

The practice is widely used by veterinarians across the country but isn’t approved for use on human remains in any state.

“Ordinary” cremation seems ghastly enough, but this process strikes me as maybe just a hair creepier:

In resomation the body is placed in a silk bag, itself placed within a metal cage frame. This is then loaded into a Resomator™. The machine is filled with a mixture of water and potassium hydroxide, and heated to a high temperature (around 160 degrees Celsius), but at a high pressure, which prevents boiling. Instead, the body is effectively dissolved into its chemical components and ash, which takes about three hours.

The end result is a small quantity of green-brown tinted liquid (containing amino acids, peptides, sugars and salts) and soft, porous white bone remains (calcium phosphate) easily crushed in the hand (although a cremulator is more commonly used) to form a white-coloured dust. The white ash can then be returned to the next of kin of the deceased. The liquid is recycled back to the ecosystem for example by being applied to a memorial garden or forest.

Me, I’m not even thinking about alkaline hydrolysis until I get the high sign from Al Kaline.

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On behalf of sensible shoes

A substantial portion of the shoes reviewed here are somewhere between “slightly impractical” and “just this side of Lady Gaga.” Once in a while, therefore, it probably wouldn’t be a bad idea for me to reread this:

I suspect a lot of those super-high-heeled, not-easy-to-walk-in shoes are partly what some would call a “clothing semiotic” — kind of like the long fingernails supposedly cultured by the Mandarins (to indicate that they didn’t need to do manual labor), fancy impractical shoes probably say, “I don’t really need to walk very far; my main purpose in these is to be decorative.” For those of us working Janes who are on our feet maybe 6 hours a day some days, we require shoes that will actually hold up to some wear, and won’t become actively painful after a while.

In which case, you might want to avoid these apocalyptic shoes by the late Alexander McQueen, from his spring-2010 collection. Pertinent quote, by ShoeBlog’s Galligator:

In the case of runway shoes, many of them are more conceptual art than realistic footwear. I take them in that vein. Some designers are more interested in seeing how far they can stretch the concept of footwear as an artistic form/media than as a utilitarian item. I appreciate their concepts but rarely find them to be wearable.

And let’s face it, the likelihood of someone strutting down the runway in Bass Weejuns is extremely low.

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Celibate, good times, come on

Conventional wisdom holds that if you’ve never serviced your automatic transmission in all these years, there’s no point in doing it now: the moment those old hard parts and seals meet up with fresh fluid, it’s Carpocalypse Now.

Apparently this holds true with more personal, um, drives:

Bad news today for idle crisp-scoffing lardos who seldom get much attention from the opposite/desired sex: when you finally do achieve some boudoir action, there is a measurable chance that the excitement will kill you.

In my case, there’s a measurable chance that the shock of getting an offer would kill me long before. But we’re not looking at enormously-high risk factors here:

Rather than advocating a state of terrified immobility so as to avoid any potentially fatal exertion or nookie, the docs point out that in general people who suffer heart attacks are older — typically late 50s or more. Furthermore, the deadliness of sex — or indeed any other kind of exertion — mainly results from not having done any for a long time previously. […] Nonetheless one should also bear in mind that risk to individuals is very low even if you do suddenly get lucky after years of belt-busting idleness. Among 10,000 people all suddenly cranking up their activity levels by an hour a week, only two or three would suffer heart attacks.

Please note that yours truly, in his late 50s, survived a pair of snowstorms this past winter, both of which required Heavy Shovel Action.

And just incidentally, that particular “wisdom” regarding automatic transmissions carries no weight with Click. Or, for that matter, with Clack. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a bag of crisps to empty out. Slowly.

(Suggested by Dan B.)

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Transcendental legislation

Governmental fudging of numbers is so widespread, in this country and in pretty much any other you can name on short notice, that this bit of satire by Ian Squires comes off as pretty damned plausible:

Congresswoman Martha Roby (R-Ala.) is sponsoring HR 205, The Geometric Simplification Act, declaring the Euclidean mathematical constant of pi to be precisely 3. The bill comes in response to data and rankings from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, rating the United States’ 15 year-olds 25th in the world in mathematics.

It would, of course, be highly entertaining to see the circular rotunda at the Capitol suddenly turned into a hexagon, but it’s not going to happen. Which is not to say that no one has ever tried:

In 1897 Representative T.I. Record of Posen county introduced House Bill #246 in the Indiana House of Representatives. The bill, based on the work of a physician and amateur mathematician named Edward J. Goodwin (Edwin in some accounts), suggests not one but three numbers for pi, among them 3.2.

Which is dumb. As anyone from Oklahoma can tell you, 3.2 isn’t pi; 3.2 is barely even beer.

The real HR 205 is more prosaic, though it bears a risible acronym for its title: “The ‘Helping Expedite and Advance Responsible Tribal Home ownership Act of 2011′ or the ‘HEARTH Act of 2011′.” Rep. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) is, um, responsible.

And yes, I did look up Martha Roby’s weekly newsletter. The only number she seems to be promoting therein is ten billion, the number of dollars she claims that House Republicans have managed to cut from federal spending. That’s an awfully small piece of the, um, pie.

(Suggested by Lisa Paul.)

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