Strayed away

And the owner, singer-songwriter SZA, was frantic:

My dog is my BEST friend in the WHOLE world. Please if anyone finds her PLEASE contact the Maplewood police dept.

Anyway, little Piglet was found within two hours:

Last I heard, Piglet was being fitted with a microchip for tracking purposes.

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And oh, what heights we’ll hit

What we have here is “a story about a pair of flats that wanted to be a heel”:

Kind of heartwarming, or at least footwarming. There’s even a video on how it was done.

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As the sand flows

Funny thing about that hourglass: if someone inverted it before the sand ran out, you’d never really know, would you?

I mean, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t.

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Beat the weevils

This AP story keeps a straight face for the most part:

Digging their way to the top, 18 two-man teams of Hungarian gravediggers displayed their skills Friday for a place in a regional championship to be held in Slovakia later this year.

Participants in the contest held in plot 37A of the public cemetery of the eastern Hungarian city of Debrecen were being judged on their speed but also getting points for style [for] the look of the finished grave mounds.

Janos Jonas, 63, who teamed with his son, Csaba, saw the competition run by the Hungarian Association of Cemetery Maintainers and Operators as a sort of last hurrah as he was just a few weeks from retirement.

“We didn’t have to prepare in any special way because we do this every day,” said Jonas, from the nearby village of Hosszupalyi. “This is good earth, quite soft and humid, just right for the event.”

There are, of course, drawbacks to such a competition:

“The hardest part of the job is to deal with the mourners,” said Debrecen gravedigger Laszlo Toth. “But it’s a good job, with good colleagues and a good environment.”

Toth, who won the event with teammate Janos Racz, will compete in a regional race planned to be held in November in Trencin, Slovakia.

This is not the same Laszlo Toth who took a hammer to Michelangelo’s Pietà in 1972 and was subsequently deported to Australia.

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With hair-shirt upholstery

Car and Driver’s comparo panels typically award a maximum of 240 points, though few cars come close to maxing out every single category. There’s a 25-point maximum for “Fun to Drive,” and once or twice a car (not a truck, to your undoubted amazement) has actually hit it. In the July test of compact sedans, won by the Mazda 3 — 203 points total, 23 for Fun to Drive — the hummer-than-humdrum Nissan Sentra, which amassed only 141 points in aggregate, had the embarrassing FtD score of six. A late bus full of catcallers on a rainy day would surely score more than 6; in fact, I think this is the lowest such score I’ve ever seen, and I’ve been reading this crazed mag since the late 1970s. The only thing that comes close is Jonathan Richman’s Dodge Veg-O-Matic, and it has worse acceleration than the Sentra. For that matter, it has worse acceleration than a garden slug.

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And yet it stays

Quoted without comment, because it really doesn’t need one:

Didn’t say a word.

(Via Ute Gerhardt, who did say a few.)

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Not at all dizzy

We might know Lizzy Caplan best from her role as Virginia Johnson on the Showtime series Masters of Sex, which got her an Emmy award nomination in 2014. Given the nature of the series, she does a lot of work in her birthday suit, but her birthday isn’t until the 30th, so we’re not going to go screencapping through Season Two or anything like that.

Then again, she is kind of a quirky dresser:

Lizzy Caplan in absurdly high shoes

Lizzy Caplan sitting not quite in the dark

This week marked the premiere of Now You See Me 2, which somehow seems to be a cross between Ocean’s 11 and Ghostbusters. Or something. Anyway, Lizzy wasn’t in the first NYSM, three years ago.

Lizzy Caplan at the premiere of Now You See Me 2

What sort of role is she playing? I’m not entirely sure:

Explains the collar on the cape, anyway. Sort of.

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Counsel from Troi

“I wish you were running for President,” said the lovelorn loon on Twitter to actress Marina Sirtis. She graciously declined:

Regrets? Perhaps she’s had a few. She told the BBC she was delighted at being put in a proper Starfleet uniform in season 6 of Star Trek: The Next Generation:

“It covered up my cleavage and, consequently, I got all my brains back, because when you have a cleavage you can’t have brains in Hollywood. So I got all my brains back and I was allowed to do things that I hadn’t been allowed to do for five or six years. I went on away teams, I was in charge of staff, I had my pips back, I had phasers, I had all the equipment again, and it was fabulous. I was absolutely thrilled.”

Not offered so far: a definition of “too many.”

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Cadillactivity in the bullpen

There are people who would rather have a body part gnawed off by a rat than set foot (or other part) in a car dealership, which may explain this near-future move by Cadillac:

Under Project Pinnacle — the brainchild of brand president Johan de Nysschen — U.S. dealers will be grouped into five tiers based on expected sales. When the operation kicks off on October 1, car shoppers can expect a higher-end experience at their local Caddy dealership. Get ready to be coddled.

How much coddling may I expect?

Under the plan, top dealers with annual sales of 700 or more will offer customers concierge pickup and drop-off for sales and service customers. Second-tier outfits will add a Cadillac greeter counter, while those on lower rungs will see the addition of a certified Cadillac technology expert, dedicated websites, and tablet use during service inspections.

Most of this stuff, you can get already by buying a Hyundai Equus, soon to be the Genesis G90.

Still, if the Johan is laying down the “We’re a luxury brand, goddammit, we’re going to have to act like one” law, I approve.

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Life along these lines

I know them well, and not just because I did even better on the math portion of the SAT than the verbal portion:

(I did, however, resist the effort to reply “Cosine.”)

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What to do about HB2

North Carolina’s HB2 has gotten to the point where it has its own Wikipedia page:

The Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act, officially called An Act to Provide for Single-sex Multiple Occupancy Bathroom and Changing Facilities in Schools and Public Agencies and to Create Statewide Consistency in Regulation of Employment and Public Accommodations, but commonly known as House Bill 2 or HB2, is an act passed in the U.S. state of North Carolina in 2016. It has been described as the most anti-LGBT legislation in the United States, while proponents call it “common sense” legislation.

One contentious element of the law eliminates anti-discrimination protections for gay, bisexual, transgender, genderqueer, and intersex people, and legislates that in government buildings, individuals may only use restrooms and changing facilities that correspond to the sex on their birth certificates. This has been criticized because it prevents transgender people who do not or cannot alter their birth certificates from using the restroom consistent with their gender identity: in North Carolina, only people who undergo sex reassignment surgery can change the sex on their birth certificates, and outside jurisdictions have different rules, some more restrictive. The legislation changes the definition of sex in the state’s anti-discrimination law to “the physical condition of being male or female, which is stated on a person’s birth certificate.”

The act also prohibits municipalities in North Carolina from enacting anti-discrimination policies, setting a local minimum wage, regulating child labor, or making certain regulations for city workers. The legislation also removes the statutory and common-law private right of action to enforce state anti-discrimination statutes in state courts.

The most immediate result: performers are avoiding North Carolina the way they used to avoid Sun City. There has been backlash against backlash, of course. But there is one man who dares to take the middle path, and that man is “Weird Al” Yankovic:

Like many other entertainers on the road this summer, I wrestled with the decision about whether or not to cancel my North Carolina concert dates in protest of the controversial HB2 bill. It was definitely not an easy choice, but I have decided to honor the dates, as I don’t want to punish my fans (most of whom, I’d like to believe, also have a big problem with unfair, discriminatory legislation). I will be donating my personal fee from the June 18 Greensboro show to the Human Rights Campaign (www.hrc.org), America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality.

When sensible compromises are found, Weird Al will find them.

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Some sort of thingamajig

Regular visitor Georganna Hancock has one of these contraptions, and she’s not quite sure what it is:

It might be a tire gauge, or it might not

She explains:

The well-made, apparently stainless steel object has an opening at one end, pocket clip at the other, and a sliding gizzie with two fixed settings. I’m guessing it’s a fancy tire pressure gauge, though the setting part confuses me. I haven’t tried it out.

What frustrates me is that I remember actually encountering a similar device, and I thought it was a tire gauge, and I was assured that it was not. What it was, though, I can’t recall to save my unworthy soul.

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Some limit that was

By any reasonable standard, Oklahomans could have been considered enthusiastic for term limits; when State Question 632 made it to the ballot in 1990, it passed with more than 67 percent approval. Has incumbent turnover increased? Not so much:

One knock on term limits is that they artificially remove lawmakers with institutional memory, people who’ve been around the block enough times to anticipate problems. That point is not without merit, but Oklahoma’s 12-year term limit for state legislators is hardly draconian. This year provides a reminder. In the House of Representatives, 19 lawmakers are being forced out by term limits. But another 11 are leaving voluntarily, meaning more than one-third of open seats have nothing to do with term limits. For many people, the allure of legislative office is eventually outweighed by the perceived benefits of running for another office or returning to the private sector well before term limits kick in. This is one reason the Oklahoma Policy Institute found the average length of service for House members was greater in 2014 than in 1990. While term limits may slightly increase legislative turnover, their impact appears marginal.

I wonder how much the fat raise given to legislators in 1997 — they now make $38,400 a year plus per diem — might be a factor; some of these guys, you wonder if they could survive in the private sector.

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Child loses race, pitches fit

It’s hard not to laugh at this twerp:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: I got smoked by a BMW m3 on my 2003 maxima

The sob story, as only an SOB can tell it:

thursday afternoon while i was cruising on the freeway at 75 mph, BMW m3 voluntarilly pulled up to my side. while we cruised i honked the horn counting from 1 to 3 and the minute i finished counting, i pulled from 80 mph to 122-125 mph in like 2-3 second but despite that i STILL GOT SMOKED by the m3!!!! my question is there anything else that i can do to make a my maxima faster?

i mean i spent AT LEAST 6K modifiying and customizing my car. is i have put money into parts like a new cold air intake, 20″ rims, better struts, different chip, radiator and much more. could a supercharger help my car go any faster?

Well, dumbass, for one thing, you can lose those stupidly large 20″ rims, which add a whole bunch of weight, and unsprung weight at that: they’re the very antithesis of speed. Five will get you ten your intake isn’t any better than stock, and at 125 mph you’re running into aerodynamic drag: you will not get appreciably faster than 130 or so no matter what sort of crap you shovel into the engine compartment. (I drive one of these little darbs. I know.)

But by all means, drop a supercharger in there. And while you’re at it, pick up a spare engine and transmission.

Fiduciary note: $6000 worth of “upgrades” to a $2500 car leaves its value at, um, decidedly less than $2500. Nobody buys beaters with boyracer detritus all over the place, except for people even dumber than the seller. I suppose such people do exist, but this can’t be good for the human race.

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Checking one’s hindsight (1)

Note: The following originally appeared in Vent #10, from this week in 1996.

Occasional Baptist counterexamples notwithstanding, the true religion of Oklahoma is football, which explains why two of the state’s Representatives (out of six) are former college football players who have little else to recommend them. The First District’s Steve Largent, recently stroked by America’s leading political magazine — People Weekly — is owned and operated by the Pat Robertson crowd, and this always plays well in Tulsa, which is, after all, Oral Roberts’ home base. Largent, therefore, will probably survive this fall. More troublesome for the GOP is Julius Caesar Watts, installed in the Fourth District seat after spending a couple of years on the Corporation Commission shilling for utility companies. In the House, he rails against all government programs except the one that enabled him to buy a distressed Midwest City apartment complex dirt-cheap. And remember all that yammering about how Congress shouldn’t exempt itself from the laws it inflicts on the public sector? Our friend J. C. has managed to exempt a mere 94 percent of his staff from the Fair Labor Standards Act. (Steve Largent, by comparison, has fully a third of his staff covered, which by this state’s standards borders on commendable. The Tulsa World covered all this during the spring, if anyone is curious.) Word is now out that Watts turned a profit on his investment with Hillary-like speed, which automatically arouses suspicion around Dustbury, and this could well cost him his seat come November.

As it happens, neither Largent nor Watts had anything to worry about in the ’96 election, or the next two. Largent gave up his seat in 2002 to run for Governor, but was beaten by Brad Henry. Watts left in 2002 to sort of return to the private sector; he’s now CEO of the no-longer-scandal-ridden charity Feed the Children.

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Dole House cookies

The Swiss voted down a measure to give every legally resident citizen of Switzerland an income of CHF 2500 (about $2555 US) every month. The Z Man considers the issue:

There are some good arguments in favor of the guaranteed basic income. One is it is simple. Like the flat tax, the GBI replaces the myriad of welfare programs and the government vipers that come with them. The other point in its favor is it addresses the growing problem of mass unemployment. In the robot future, most people don’t work so this solves the problem of people not having a way to earn money. There’s also the fact that it is value neutral. People get the money to spend on whatever they wish, without the nanny state harassing them.

There is, of course, a downside, at least from the US point of view:

There are many arguments against it, with the most obvious being that welfare programs never go away. In America, the US Congress has repealed exactly one welfare program in the last century. The WPA was passed in the 1930s and later replaced by Comprehensive Employment and Training Act, which was such a hilarious disaster, it was replaced by a program called the Jobs Training Partnership Act. That was eventually repealed in the 90s. That’s a long time to kill one horrible welfare program.

The most likely result, at least in America, is a basic income on top of existing welfare programs. There are 79 means tested welfare programs in America. Everyone of those programs has a federal agency employing thousands of people who do nothing but administer welfare programs. Congress will get rid of those right after they do something about the unicorn infestation. Until the inevitable fiscal crisis forces a mass retrenchment of industrial era government programs, there will be no reform of welfare in America.

I’m not holding my breath. Still, it would be amusing to have a referendum on the matter, the way the Swiss did:

There was little support among Swiss politicians for the idea and not a single parliamentary party came out in favour, but the proposal gathered more than 100,000 signatures and was therefore put to the vote under the Swiss popular initiative system.

What percentage could such a referendum get in the States? Thirty percent, maybe?

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