Allow for shrinkage

Last trip to the doctor — this would be the last week of November — I was sufficiently gloomy that he said he would refer me to a psychologist.

Apparently the first appointment available is on the sixth. The sixth of February.

Hey, it’s a blessing of sorts that I’m not very good at suicidal ideation.

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Oh. “Cashew.” Sorry I misunderstood you.

My usual nut supplier advised today that cashew prices would rise at least $1 a pound in 2017. (They currently sell a five-pound sack of raw whole cashews for $51.) Apparently this is why:

Get ready for some cashew sticker shock.

The global popularity of the kidney-shaped nut has been growing faster than any other tree nut — even almonds. Demand jumped 53 percent since 2010 and outpaced production in at least four of the past seven years, industry data show. Now the worst drought in a century for Vietnam, the largest exporter, is raising concern that supplies will be even tighter in a market valued at $5.2 billion.

A lack of rain in the once-fertile Mekong Delta and elsewhere in Vietnam has cut output of its major agricultural exports including rice, black pepper, coffee and seafood. This year’s cashew harvest fell 11 percent, and domestic prices jumped by as much as a third to an all-time high, a growers’ group estimates. That spells trouble for buyers in the U.S., by far the biggest importer.

It’s already trouble in Vietnam:

The domestic price of raw nuts has jumped to 52,000 dong ($2.33) a kilogram, the highest on record, from 38,000 dong at the start of the year, according to the cashew association.

That’s a lot of dong.

Fortunately, I use relatively few cashews.

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A majority in perpetuity

I don’t know if this would actually work, but I’d be interested in seeing it being tried:

I’m confident that if Trump really wants to found his own party, and make sure it never loses another election, he should immediately create his own version of the Bund Deutscher Mädel. Give women social sanction to be feminine again, and the rest takes care of itself — no more Pajamaboys, no more Bronies, no more whatevers calling xyrzelves “xyr.” Suicide rates would crater, birth rates would skyrocket, and two young folks will be able to make googly eyes at each other without needing three cameras and a lawyer present.

“Yeah,” you say, “but … Hitler Youth!”

Trude Mohr, the group’s first Reichsreferentin:

Our volk need a generation of girls which is healthy in body and mind, sure and decisive, proudly and confidently going forward, one which assumes its place in everyday life with poise and discernment, one free of sentimental and rapturous emotions, and which, for precisely this reason, in sharply defined femininity, would be the comrade of a man, because she does not regard him as some sort of idol but rather as a companion!

Your garden-variety feminist would of course hurl at this, but then she has no desire to be the companion, let alone the comrade, of a man.

And bronies, I suspect, will persist regardless.

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The actual Inauguration timeline

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Is this a feature?

It sounds like a bug to me:

On Wednesday, Uber rolled out a handful of its self-driving cars in San Francisco to be used by the public. Also on Wednesday, one of those cars ran a red light.

It’s not totally clear how that happened or who is at fault, since the cars have a safety driver ready to take over as well as an additional engineer. But it is very clear that the robot car — a Volvo XC90 the company developed in collaboration with the automaker — ran a red light.

The view from the dashcam in a cab:

Interestingly, Uber doesn’t have a California permit for self-driving cars; they claim that there is a human operator always at least somewhat in control. California is not impressed with this argument.

Update, 7 pm: The DMV has now shut down the Uber program.

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Sadly out of tune

Second night of a back-to-back? Check. Opponent with a winning record? Check. Game on the road? Check. Shooting under 40 percent? [sigh] Check. The Jazz were all over the Thunder tonight, and the occasional flash of Oklahoma City brilliance was snuffed out every time. In desperation, Russell Westbrook, after missing a four-foot jumper inside the three-minute mark, apparently fouled the nearest Jazzman just to get out of there; a timeout was called, and the benches were emptied. Utah really thrashed the Thunder, 109-89, and moved one game ahead of OKC in the Northwest Division standings. (Portland, to whom the Thunder lost last night, remains in third.)

Exactly one Thunder player showed up more plus than minus: Nick Collison, +9 in 16 minutes. (Weirdly, Collison and Kyle Singler played exactly 16:18 and scored two points each, but Singler was -12. Timing is everything.) Westbrook had a fairly blah night, 27-6-5 on 7-25 shooting; OKC overall was 30-82, 36 percent. As usual, Enes Kanter led the bench with 19; not as usual, he drew a technical, and there was a brief furor when it looked like he might get a second one and an all-expense-paid trip to the locker room. Since the Jazz feel about Kanter about the way the Thunder feels about Reggie Jackson — well, never mind.

Both Alec Burks and George Hill were out for Utah, but the Jazz didn’t need them; Rodney Hood was, if not on fire, certainly close to kindling temperature, scoring 25 points in 31 minutes. Rudy Gobert had the night’s only double-double, with 12 points and 12 rebounds. The Jazz shot 58 percent, high enough that seeing Shelvin Mack lead the reserves with 15 points didn’t seem all that amazing.

After a dispiriting road trip, the Thunder are back home Saturday afternoon with the threat of snow and the arrival of the Phoenix Suns, followed by the Atlanta Hawks on Monday.

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Millions of cats

“Cats here, cats there, Cats and kittens everywhere. Hundreds of cats, thousands of cats, Millions and billions and trillions of cats…”

Wanda Gág’s 1928 picture book, still in print, is the tale of an elderly couple who decide they want a cat, and subsequently find rather more of them than they’d anticipated.

I mention that because of this: “How loud would it be if all of the cats in the world meowed at the same time?”

There is an answer, kinda sorta:

(Via Miss Cellania.)

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What the hay?

Somehow this seems disquieting:

A Dutch restaurant is now serving up some stallion with its scallions.

The offbeat food truck Keuken van het Ongewenst Dier, which translates to “The Unwanted Animal Kitchen,” now supplies its “My Little Pony Burger” year round to Babbe Hengeveld, a chef who runs her own restaurant Food Guerilla, reports Vice Munchies.

Keuken van het Ongewenst Die has been serving the burger periodically for years and the patty itself is made from the meat of butchered, aging horses that have worked at a local amusement park, Slagharen.

Many years ago, there was a small classified ad in the Oklahoman asking for “50 Head of Poor Horses” every week. They didn’t say that said equines were going to end up in sandwiches.

For what it’s worth, the Pony Burger is not a big seller:

“They don’t sell well because people do feel bad about the idea of eating horse,” Hengeveld told Vice. For some, horses will always be seen as pets in the same way dogs are. Cows and chickens, in many Western cultures, aren’t kept as pets so they’re okay for food.

“Will trade,” said the anguished dad in another classified ad, “two young ewes with friends and personality for two anonymous lambs for the freezer.” Or something like that.

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An old hardware friend gives it up

For over a decade, through three different desktops, I have been pumping sound through the PC Works 2.1 speaker system — so old, it was never called “2.1” — made by Cambridge SoundWorks, which also made the Model 88 radio with the sacred name of Henry Kloss on the front. (I have two of those, of similar vintage.)

This weekend, PC Works, which I’d kept going through a series of cleanings — the little potentiometer that served as a remote volume control attracted desk debris — finally turned on me by refusing to turn on: the power button popped out whenever pushed. I have no idea if this was a bad switch or a circuit breaker, though I suspect the former, inasmuch as I was able to keep it running for a couple of days by taping down the switch.

Yesterday I replaced it with this apparatus, without the holiday bow. It does not sound quite as good, but it will do for a spur-of-the-moment sound system, especially at this modest price. Already its little potentiometer that serves as a remote volume control is decidedly wonky.

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Staying here for now

Eddie Holland’s younger brother is Brian Holland, and the guy in the middle of the collective is Lamont Dozier. As Holland-Dozier-Holland, they produced all manner of hits for Motown, and more for themselves after leaving. Everybody knows this. Not everybody, but a decent number of folks, know that Eddie Holland was the primary wordsmith of H-D-H, and that he had had a small-scale singing career, though he chose not to pursue it: stage fright, apparently.

That said, Eddie Holland came up with some dandy 45s, though his biggest hit sounds like Jackie Wilson — I mean, exactly like Jackie Wilson — and was written, not by Holland, but by Barrett Strong and Mickey Stevenson.

“Jamie” made it to #30 in Billboard, Holland’s only trip to the Top 40. What would happen if Eddie Holland had the full H-D-H machinery behind him? This:

Died at #76 in 1963. But “Leaving Here” was never, ever forgotten. Ask Lemmy:

For that matter, ask The Who:

Or head a few miles west of Detroit to Ann Arbor, home of the Rationals:

The Rationals had one chart item, but this wasn’t it; their cover of Otis Redding’s “Respect” slid up to #92 for one week. They’re still playing it, too.

The amazing thing, of course, is that guys never, ever take Eddie’s advice, which is why all these fine girls are moving away.

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For all you debacle fans

Before this game was even half over, a dispirited Judge Radar grumbled:

It didn’t start out that way. Late in the first quarter, OKC was up nine. But things went straight to the hot nether regions after that. The Trail Blazers had a stiff 16-point lead at halftime, and after the third quarter Portland had run it to 21. Part of the problem was the absence of Victor Oladipo, who messed up his wrist last time out; but the real issue was the Thunder’s sudden inability to make shots, coupled with some recurring defensive lapses. The towel was thrown in halfway through the fourth, and both benches did the mopping up, with the Blazers claiming a surprisingly easy 114-95 win. The only redeeming feature of the evening, so far as I was concerned, was getting a half-price pizza from Papa John’s.

How bad was it? Not even a double-double from Russell Westbrook (20-6-6). Only two other Thunder players in double figures. Then again, one of them was Jerami Grant. Meanwhile, six Blazers scored in double figures, led by Mason Plumlee with 18. Portland shot around 60 percent of the night, finishing with a highly decent 54; the Thunder, once they dropped below 40 percent, stayed there, ending up at 38. OKC did collect the bulk of the rebounds, 44-36, but they also turned over the ball twenty times, versus a mere 13 for the Blazers.

Tomorrow night: it’s all that Jazz in Salt Lake City.

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Havana bad day

It’s a trip to Cuba! Wonderfulness — until the details get complicated:

They have been planning this trip for months, looking for airline tickets they can afford that won’t have them spending umpteen hours in Atlanta, arranging for accommodations, travel to Treasure Island, deciding what to take and figuring out how to pack it all into bags that won’t incur an excess weight penalty. We’re looking good with only a week until departure and then dutiful daughter gets red flagged on her passport.

It seems that if you are going to Cuba, you need to have two, full, blank pages in your passport. Daring daughter has used the stuffing out of her passport and if you combined all the blank spots that are left you might get two pages, but that won’t cut it. So she needs a new passport.

Why is this? State doesn’t say, but Cuba isn’t the only country that requires or expects such things.

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Shaving Megan’s privates

And you thought texting was distracting:

As authorities nationwide warn motorists of the dangers of driving while texting, Florida Keys law enforcement officers add a new caution: Don’t try to shave your privates, either.

Florida Highway Patrol troopers say a two-vehicle crash Tuesday at Mile Marker 21 on Cudjoe Key was caused by a 37-year-old woman driver who was shaving her bikini area while her ex-husband took the wheel from the passenger seat.

“She said she was meeting her boyfriend in Key West and wanted to be ready for the visit,” Trooper Gary Dunick said. “If I wasn’t there, I wouldn’t have believed it. About 10 years ago I stopped a guy in the exact same spot … who had three or four syringes sticking out of his arm. It was just surreal and I thought, ‘Nothing will ever beat this.’ Well, this takes it.”

Could this possibly be worse? Yes, it can:

The day before the wreck, [Megan Mariah] Barnes was convicted in an Upper Keys court of DUI with a prior and driving with a suspended license, said Monroe County Assistant State Attorney Colleen Dunne. Barnes was ordered to impound her car, and her driver’s license was revoked for five years, after which time she must have a Breathalyzer ignition interlock device on any vehicle she drives, Dunne said. Barnes also was sentenced to nine months’ probation.

She faces a year in jail for probation violations, presumably without access to razor blades.

(Via Bayou Renaissance Man.)

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Get your green on

Once upon a time, I lived in an apartment complex called The Greenery. It was anything but.

Now, if Pantone calls something “Greenery,” they’re serious:

Pantone 15-0343, Greenery

[I]f you believe the team at the Pantone Color Institute, which calls itself the “global color authority,” green will be everywhere in 2017. Not just any old green, of course: Pantone 15-0343, colloquially known as greenery, which is to say a “yellow-green shade that evokes the first days of spring.”

That is, the Color of the Year for 2017.

Well, okay. I can deal with that. This, I’m not quite so sure about:

“We know what kind of world we are living in: one that is very stressful and very tense,” said Leatrice Eiseman, the executive director of the Pantone Color Institute. “This is the color of hopefulness, and of our connection to nature. It speaks to what we call the ‘re’ words: regenerate, refresh, revitalize, renew. Every spring we enter a new cycle and new shoots come from the ground. It is something life affirming to look forward to.”

Especially after a winter of so much discontent.

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Her Swiftness

On Taylor Swift’s 27th birthday — in case you’d forgotten, she was born in 1989 — it seems logical to present a few of my favorite pix.

Taylor Swift birthday pix

As always with these things, you may click to embiggen.

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Paranoia for journeymen

What are these people thinking?

In case you’re not up on privacy mode:

Privacy mode or “private browsing” or “incognito mode” is a privacy feature in some web browsers to disable browsing history and the web cache. This allows a person to browse the Web without storing local data that could be retrieved at a later date. Privacy mode will also disable the storage of data in cookies and Flash cookies. This privacy protection is only on the local computing device as it is still possible to identify frequented websites by associating the IP address at the web server.

“If you don’t let us track you, you can’t use our site.”

Okay, fine. Maybe I don’t want to use your damn site.

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