Cycles of scum

Back in March, I sympathized with bloggers on other platforms who were being hit hard with illicit bogus crap in the guise of comments; I had only 19 that month, but what goes around has this irritating tendency to come back around, and I figured my time was coming.

Which it did. We’re barely into August, and already there have been over a hundred fifty intrusions from purveyors of fake Chinese crap and other miscreants. As a practicing ant, I can only hope that the proverbial fate of the grasshoppers will befall them — quickly.

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Ponzi takes one in the rib cage

Francis W. Porretto comes up with a scheme to put Social Security out of its misery once and for all:

  • Mandatory first step: Abolish the Social Security payroll tax, both on employee and employer. This “ends the contract” that makes Americans believe they have a stake in perpetuating the system.
  • Statutorily recompense anyone who has paid the payroll tax but has not yet collected benefits, on a constant-dollar calculation, over a period not to exceed five years. That compensation would free the federal government from any as-yet-uninvoked claims for Social Security benefits.
  • Now offer cash buyouts to current recipients of Social Security payments, based on actuarial figures and “present-value” calculations. Many will accept, believing they can do better with cash-in-hand than with time payments whose amount and regularity cannot be guaranteed.

Which ultimately is far kinder, especially to the erstwhile participants, than the oft-proposed double whammy of raising taxes and cutting benefits, or simply letting the whole operation drown in a sea of red ink.

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Night passages in treacherous waters

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Each and every day of the year

Kevin Walsh of Forgotten New York once said that this was the greatest music video in history, and I duly pass it on to you:

I am, of course, a Neil Sedaka fan from way back, though I admit that one of the first things I noticed was the dire presence of a Friday the 13th during that particular March — which couldn’t have been in 1961, when “Calendar Girl” was a hit, because 13 March 1961 was a Monday. I conclude, therefore, that the calendar on display is purely decorative.

This is probably an original Scopitone film, with subtitled lyrics after the fact.

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Advance warning

In the spring of 2012, Advance Publications announced that its New Orleans newspaper, the Times-Picayune, would cut its publication schedule to three days a week in an effort to cut costs, and staff would be commensurately reduced. That fall, the Advocate, a Baton Rouge paper still running seven days a week, added a New Orleans edition. Smarting at this intrusion into what was once their territory, the TP went back to a full schedule, sort of: the broadsheet version still comes out three times a week, but a newsstand-only tabloid edition appears on three other days. (How you count the Sunday paper, which first appears on Saturday, is up to you.)

Advance has now announced the imposition of a TP-like schedule on their Cleveland paper:

While [the Plain Dealer] will continue to publish a print edition daily, the paper will be home-delivered only on Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Other Advance papers have adopted, or are about to adopt, similar schedules, the major exception for now being the Star-Ledger in New Jersey.

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That doesn’t love a wall

You may remember the 2008 film Role Models, starring Paul Rudd and Seann William Scott as a couple of energy-drink salesmen who end up having to perform community service in lieu of going to jail for a couple of auto-related misdemeanors.

The poster for the Stateside release was relatively mild-mannered, apart from what appears to be a nod to the cover of Who’s next:

Poster for Role Models

In France — though not in French-speaking Québec, where the title was simply translated into Des Gars Modèles — the film was retitled Les Grands Frères — “The Big Brothers” — and the poster focused on neither of them:

Read the rest of this entry »

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You may already be a Weiner

Vox Day, noting that all previous Fed chairmen have been male elite Jews, proposes an appropriate successor to Ben Bernanke:

Carlos Danger would be the perfect Fed Chairman. Set him up with a webcam, and internet connection and a Twitter account called @bigphatmoneymaker and he’ll happily spend his time at the office sending inflationary pictures to starstruck land whales instead of sending trillions of inflationary credit dollars to undercapitalized European banks. The global economy will be saved, the Lizard Queen’s reputation will no longer be sullied by association, and the women’s magazines will devote cover after cover to “The Glamorous Woman Behind the Fed”.

The bi-factional ruling party is happy. The media is happy. Hoi polloi is happy. Everybody wins.

In fact, I’m thinking this could justify using Weiner in any of a hundred different positions.

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The Number One question in the world

“What Would Happen If the Whole World Peed in the Ocean at Once?” Several things, in fact, though nothing really earthshaking.

1.  About the same proportion of water to salt, but more nitrogen:

Where the composition of a person’s urine strays a bit from that of seawater is with the components creatinine and urea. Both compounds are routes the body uses to get rid of nitrogen. Creatinine is a nitrogen-heavy cyclic compound that is a breakdown by-product of energy-laden molecules in muscle. It’s only present in the average person’s urine at about 0.7 g/L. Urea, on the other hand, is more concentrated: It’s present at about 9 g/L. Because it’s high in nitrogen, the molecule is frequently used as a fertilizer, but it’s also applied in topical creams as a moisturizing factor.

2.  Still, we’re talking relatively low volumes here:

There are 7 billion people on the planet. Let’s just say that all of them relieved themselves in the Atlantic Ocean at once (the Atlantic and its adjacent seas have a collective volume of 3.5 x 1020 L), there would be about 6 x 10-11 g/L of urea in that body of water. If you’re a chemist and you think in terms of moles, that’s about 1 picomolar urea, a pretty tiny concentration for a highly unlikely situation in only one of the oceans of the world.

3.  And the creatures who live there load up the joint even more assiduously than we do:

[A] fin whale (slender body, found in the North Atlantic, 16 times the length of a human on average) pees at a rate of 970 L/day and excretes amounts of sodium and chloride 23 times as high as do humans. Please feel free to use these fun facts as a conversation starter at your next cocktail party.

Which means that no matter how much we whiz off the pier, we’re never going to upset the existing equilibrium in the seas: we just don’t produce enough of the stuff. This does not mean, of course, that we can dump just any old thing in the oceans and expect no consequences, especially if there’s a whole lot of said thing.

(Via this Jennifer Ouellette tweet.)

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The centipedes hunt at night

Did I mention that they’re large and carnivorous? Brian J. did, and he had good reason to:

“I was climbing up to Devil’s Tea Table down near Kissee Mills and grabbed a stick to pull myself up,” [Jerry] Maynard recalled about his July 17 hiking trip. “This thing was on the back side of the stick and got me on my right index finger. It felt like someone had stuck a hot soldering iron under my skin.”

After that, of course, things got worse.

The arthropod in question appears to be Scolopendra heros. And I don’t mind telling you, if I’m going to see 21 or 23 pairs of legs, I’d much rather be looking at the Rockettes.

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And they’ll lay you down low and easy

Warner Bros. Records has announced a four-CD deluxe version of Van Morrison’s Moondance, including outtakes and other session material. This release is anxiously awaited by some fans, but not by Van the Man himself, who said:

“I did not endorse this, it is unauthorised and it has happened behind my back. My management company at that time gave this music away 42 years ago and now I feel as though it’s being stolen from me again.”

Personal note: No, I don’t think a 4-CD set from a single album is excessive. I actually own a 4-CD box of Pet Sounds.

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Presumably on the ball

Here we have Marissa Mayer, once Google employee #20, now President and Chief Executive Officer of Yahoo! The shot is from Glamour last year, and I wouldn’t even think about trying to figure out the context:

Marissa Mayer in Glamour 2012

Then again, Mayer’s one moment in the spotlight came this past spring, when she decreed that all telecommuters on the Yahoo! payroll would be expected to return to actual office jobs or else. Maybe a room with a large red ball in it might not have been her idea of an office environment.

I must note, however, that Mayer was five months pregnant when she took the Yahoo! job; subsequently, she took a whole two weeks of maternity leave and then built a nursery for little Macallister next to her office. Workaholic? Maybe.

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Oh, yeah, sure you are

Received in the spam bin around lunchtime:

Admiring the time and effort you put into your site and in depth information you offer. It’s good to come across a blog every once in a while that isn’t the same old rehashed material. Great read! I’ve bookmarked your site and I’m adding your RSS feeds to my Google account.

Is it worth it to mention that Google has killed Reader and doesn’t want my stinky old RSS feeds?

Probably not.

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A dash of irony

My Little PilotLet’s face it, fighting is serious business, and we must forever remain focused on the mission. Funny stuff is right out.

Or is it?

Like all class patches, the Brony patch for Class 14-05, which is training at Vance Air Force Base, Okla., is unofficial and only worn during pilot training, said 1st Lt. Thomas Barger, a spokesman for the 71st Flying Training Wing.

“It was kind of a fluke,” Barger said in an email. “During a slide show presentation while previewing the different patch options, the student presenter threw the ‘My Little Pilot’ patch design into the mix as an ironic joke. That patch made it all the way through the approval process and is even more ironic since the class never really wanted it in the first place. They thought it was so off the wall that it was hilarious. They have embraced the irony and humor of the patch and in so doing have fostered closer ties with each other.”

No matter what the circumstances, you can never have too much pony.

(Sent me by a Texas reader; this also made an EqD Nightly Roundup.)

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Tweaking time

No, not that kind of tweaking. I’ve been hunting down bugs in the presentation here, and so far, the bugs are winning.

For no reason I can fathom — I’ve heard everything from “your theme is suffering from bit rot” to “your host handles PHP/FCGI funny” — the Live Comment Preview is no longer live. Checking the second premise — I installed it on a different site with a much-newer theme, and it didn’t work there either — I have switched to an actual preview button, which will display the results above the comment box. If you have any problems with this, let me know; WP-Super-Cache seems to look at it funny.

There are other issues, likely of no interest to the reader but which drive me up that proverbial wall.

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Meanwhile in the search logs

I seldom find something quite this weird in my own search logs:

More than a dozen people came to this blog in October looking for this phrase:

“like imaginary-geraldo, who lost one leg playing ‘the floor is made of lava’ and who likes to dress up your cats as movie stars when you’re not home.”

Kind of sweet, in a sick and twisted way.

(Sent my way via Jennifer.)

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Would you buy a used car from this woman?

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been tapped to deliver the keynote speech at the North American Dealers Association convention in January 2014, and not all the membership is pleased with the selection:

Automotive News spoke to one dealer that not only cancelled his trip to the NADA conference, but revoked his dealership’s membership outright over the association with Clinton.

The objections may be political, or they might be financial:

Some of the angry messages relate to the former secretary of state’s politics, no doubt, but some might just be upset about the expense of such a big-name speaker — AN cited media reports that Clinton commands about $200,000 per speech.

NADA’s Peter Welch, for now, is not backing down:

“Our job is to provide our members with exposure to all facets of business and government that can affect their dealerships. Like her or not, Senator Clinton is perhaps the most prominent woman of modern times.”

And hey, at least it’s not in January 2016, right?

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Quote of the week

Which really should be the quote of last week, since it was in the issue of Entertainment Weekly that was mailed to subscribers last week, and which I didn’t read until today for reasons you’ve already heard enough about.

The topic is the Royal Baby, and due to magazine lead times, they didn’t have the name just yet. Jessica Shaw proclaimed:

At 4:24 p.m. local time on July 22, the Duchess of Cambridge, 22, gave birth to His Royal Highness Prince Something or Other of Cambridge, weighing in at a regal 8 pounds and 6 ounces. (There was no name as of press time, but it’s got to be better than North West. I’m a let you finish, Kanye, but Kate Middleton just gave birth to one of the best babies of all time.)

Best riff on that quote I’ve seen in some time. (And it’s Prince George, as we already know.)

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Beyond recap

I had pretty much made up my mind not to do a statistics page for the recent road trip, since all the essential stuff had already been discussed. But here we go, just the same: 862.5 miles; 25 mpg (Kansas City is hell on fuel economy); $13.50 handed over to the Kansas Turnpike Authority, up a buck and a half from last December; one dazzling display of Euclidean geometry that I thought might have killed a guy.

Not quite three-thirty, on I-35 south of the Mulhall Road exit in western Payne County. I’m dawdling along, in the right lane of course, at about 72 mph — trip peak was 89, achieved pretty much any time I had to get past an eighteen-wheeler — when an aged but shiny Honda bounces off the cable running down the median, lands on the far shoulder facing approximately 170 degrees away from its original trajectory, and then slides ever-so-slowly off the roadway entirely.

(Brief internal dialogue: “Do I stop?” “Of course you stop, you miserable dillweed!”)

I pulled over, got out of the car, and noticed that the driver was able to walk toward me. “You guys okay?”

“Just me,” said the fellow. “I fell asleep at the wheel.”

Which is almost certainly true, since (1) it’s a boring stretch of road and (2) he asked if he could use my phone. Obviously he wasn’t texting or anything heinous like that.

We surveyed the damage. All the sheetmetal on the port side is wrinkled like yesterday’s foil, and no amount of anything will straighten that left-rear wheel. On the upside, it seemed to be drivable otherwise: he could steer, anyway, without tire rub. He thanked me for dropping by, and retreated to the trunk in search of a spare.

“You do have a spare, don’t you?”

He popped open the lock. “Yes!” Like he wasn’t expecting one.

I left him there. I hope he’s all right; he certainly seemed to be taking it well.

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Friendship letter, maybe

And so ends my first encounter with the My Little Pony fandom. As Mark Twain said of carrying a cat by the tail, it’s an experience you can get no other way.

Last year’s Silly Filly Con, put on by the same folks, was limited to the locals: 120 maximum, said an official. They may have doubled that this year at Midwest Brony Fest, and not just because the name is, um, less silly.

Good news: Enthusiasm was sky-high; I discovered that there is someone in the fandom older than I am. (Which, believe me, is a relief.)

News slightly less good: Attendance at the writing panels was sparse.

Total blown on merch: $23. (I tiptoed past the triple-digit plushies.) Almost half of that was spent on a print of this slightly derivative work by “braeburned”:

Homage to Magritte

Well, it’s kind of Magritte-y, n’est-ce pas? (Eeyup.)

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Strange search-engine queries (391)

And then there are the things that must appear on schedule.

emotional damage to men from involuntary celibacy:  So more than just balls are blue?

fiona xie boyfriend current boyfriend:  Perhaps doesn’t suffer emotional damage.

random pickup slut video:  Okay, now you’re just asking for emotional damage.

85yrs.old granny and still having sex:  Probably not a random pickup slut, either.

should a 61 year old diabetic unemployed for 1 year go for interview at for off distance of 226 miles without getting gas expense or he is better off waiting for:  Waiting for the federal death panel to declare him superfluous, which might save 10 gallons of fuel.

words no longer in use:  But if I told you, they’d be in use again.

just stand me outside:  Why, are you no longer in use?

I’m plotting on 811:  That’s quite a plot.

is dementia from unrepented sins:  Now that question is above my pay grade.

new twinkies poor imitation:  This is why you have a two-year supply in storage, right?

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