The Russians are spamming

Well, actually we don’t know that they’re Russians, though they cited as a URL a post on happy-giraffe.ru, and they went back and forth among three two-line offerings, all apparently pitching movie rentals.

Actual text:

Новинки кино!
Смотрите фильмы онлайн

Лучшие фильмы!
Смотрите популярные фильмы

Лидеры проката!
Смотрите фильмы лидеры проката

Okay, I’m a little fuzzy on the last one, and by “I” I mean Google Translate.

Note: If this doesn’t look Russian to you, change your character encoding to Unicode.

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It’s not a pig in this particular poke

“You can’t judge a book,” sang Bo Diddley — Willie Dixon wrote it, but it’s now thought of as Bo’s song — “by looking at the cover.” A Santa Cruz bookstore apparently decided to test this premise:

The paper covers do list the genre, but not much else.

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She shoots

The right to defend yourself? India says a tentative Yes:

India has launched a new handgun for women, named after a student who was gang-raped in Delhi in December 2012 and later died of her injuries. Officials say it will help women defend themselves, but critics say it’s an insult to the victim’s memory.

In the wacky U. S. of A., this premise would be utterly inverted: Washington doesn’t think anyone should have guns except government employees, Mexican drug-runners, any of several varieties of Muslims, and Hollywood bodyguards.

About the gun itself:

In his large office on Kanpur’s Kalpi Road, Abdul Hameed, the general manager of the state-run Indian Ordnance Factory, shows me Nirbheek, the factory’s tiniest gun.

“It’s small, it’s lightweight, it weighs only 500g [1.1lb], and it can easily fit into a lady’s purse.”

Hameed speaks enthusiastically about the .32-calibre revolver, praising the “special titanium alloy body, the pleasing-to-the-eye wooden handle”.

“The six-shot gun is easy to handle and it can hit its target accurately up to 15m [50ft],” he explains, pointing out the word “Nirbheek” engraved on the barrel.

And about that name:

Nirbheek is a synonym of Nirbhaya — the nickname given by the Indian press to the Delhi rape victim, who could not be named under Indian laws. Both words mean “fearless” in Hindi.

The price is steep: ₹122,360 ($1990). Said one of the critics:

“In India, the annual income of most people is less than the cost of the gun. So to suggest that this gun will make women safer is bizarre.”

You have to wonder what she’d say if it were only two hundred bucks instead of two thousand.

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Let’s hope they sell it by today

“Spicy” tuna roll? More like “pricey” tuna roll:

Tuna roll at Whole Foods Market

Now back when I went to school, seven ounces at $27.40 a pound worked out to $11.99, though in those days I would have been distracted by the question of how in blazes something in a grocery store could possibly sell for $27.40 a pound. Today I see the beef tenderloins in the butcher’s case marked at $27.99 a pound, and I don’t even flinch.

It appears, though, that this package’s claimed item count is forty-one, and at $11.99 each, this indeed comes to $491.59. Next question: who on God’s green earth buys 41 tuna rolls at a time? Grumpy Cat?

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Almost nothing to it

Shoebunny is back, albeit with a different focus: all shoes, no celebrities. This might be just as well, given the sad state of some of the celebrity feet previously exhibited: high heels can exact a price far beyond the sticker on the box.

I’ve spoken before of my fondness for insubstantial-looking shoes, and this one borders on wispy:

B Brian Atwood Kelston block-heel ankle-wrap sandal

You’re looking at “Kelston” from B Brian Atwood. The extra B stands for — well, no, actually it doesn’t. This is a diffusion line, made by a high-priced brand to be sold at high-priced stores at prices not quite so high. (This particular example: Neiman-Marcus/$275.) The heel, at 2½ inches, is perhaps bearable. Of course, if you’ve been wearing heels since you were 12, you won’t think anything about this one; you probably won’t even consider how, um, revealing this shoe might prove to be, but perhaps you should. (Warning: slideshow; also some possibly upsetting pictures, though these are a lot less horrible than what I’ve seen in some other galleries on the same subject.)

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Bush administration

American Apparel’s new mannequins are about as un-Brazilian as they come:

This week the American Apparel on East Houston Street [NYC] put up a new window display, featuring a more natural looking mannequin. We called the shop up this morning and the employee who answered told us that the mannequins just went up last night, and he had never seen them before … “not in this configuration” (a.k.a. full 1970s porn bush showing through a high-waisted white panty). While leaving nothing to the imagination, at least this mannequin looks like she’s of a more … legal age, than say, the models used to sell the clothes online.

This isn’t going to spread to other stores in the chain, though:

American Apparel’s Ryan Holiday tells us, “The display was created for that store specifically.”

Note: Every possible “merkin” joke has already been used.

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Future sexagenarian

As I may have mentioned somewhere along the way, Christie Brinkley is about to turn 60. (The actual date: 2/2.)

Lots of good red-carpet pictures out there, but I opted for this out-of-the-limo shot from earlier this week:

Christie Brinkley exiting limo at LAX

I have my reservations about the shoes, but it’s not like anyone needs to heed my wardrobe recommendations.

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Beyond triplicate

A good threesome is hard to beat. Think Kukla, Fran and Ollie; Dewey, Cheetham and Howe; Manny, Moe and Jack. It was a shock to the system to discover that there was originally a fourth Pep Boy. But that’s nothing compared to this:

You’re familiar with the elves, Snap! Crackle! and Pop! Their onomatopoetic names match the very cereal they’ve repped since the ’30s — Kellogg’s Rice Krispies. In the years after that, the trio has withstood the influx of cartoon competitors like the Trix Rabbit, Lucky the Leprechaun, the Cookie Crisp thieves, Cap’n Crunch and many more. Lost in the shuffle, however, was a fourth Rice Krispies elf named Pow! His short life is a time-capsule of an era when everyone was dreaming big.

Say, kids, what era was that?

From 1948 through the mid ’50s, the brothers sponsored the popular children’s program The Howdy Doody Show. But in early 1950, Kellogg’s marketers snuck in a fourth friend, Pow. The company said in an email to Smithsonian.com, “[Pow] appeared in two TV commercials. The spaceman character was meant to exude the ‘power of whole grain rice.’ He was never considered an official character.”

And why don’t you hear about that fourth Pep Boy? Perhaps because he cashed out of the company early — or maybe because his name was also Moe.

(Thanks, M. A. Larson!)

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A little bit of history

The one question hovering near the ceiling of the ‘Peake for much of the night: “Who gets the win with the buzzer-beater?” The last two Thunder-Warrior games have been won exactly that way, each team winning at home. But as the fourth quarter went on, the horn was forgotten, and the capacity (of course) crowd concentrated on watching Kevin Durant add to The Legend. With 2:45 left, KD did something he’d never done before in the league: score his 53rd point. He followed with his 54th, and the Thunder methodically dispatched Golden State, 127-121, winning the season series 2-1.

The paint was busy tonight: OKC scored 50 there, the Warriors 40. But Golden State’s strength is the long ball, as demonstrated by the Swish Brothers, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, who knocked down 12 of 19 from across the street. The Warriors in aggregate went 16-27, a hefty 59 percent, and 52 percent overall. Where they fell down was at the foul line, where they went 19-34 (55 percent). Curry finished with a stirring 37 points (and 11 assists), and Thompson dropped in 26.

Almost any other night, the Californians would have ridden those numbers to a victory. But Durant was having none of that. Those 54 points came on 19-28 shooting, 5-9 from outside, 11 of 13 free throws. And his teammates didn’t stand back and watch, either; Serge Ibaka hit a tidy 8-11 for 21 points and collected eight boards; Kendrick Perkins scored six, which is a lot for Perk, and reeled in 12 boards; Reggie Jackson, despite a few minutes in Scott Brooks’ doghouse — gotta pick your shots better, RJ — came up with 14 points and six dimes.

You have to figure that the last couple of nights were unusually gratifying to the Thunder; after forcing the Rockets into the wrong end of the record book last night in Houston, they came home and didn’t exhibit any signs of back-to-back torpidity. They’ll have a day off before the much-improved Kings (5-5 in their last ten, as are the Thunder) show up Sunday.

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Rewind thirty years

And just imagine what life would be like if it hadn’t happened this way:

Today marks the 30th anniversary of the Sony Corp. v. Universal Studios decision, also known as the Betamax case, which paved the way for such innovations as your beloved DVR.

In 1984, the Supreme Court ruled that Sony could continue to sell its Betamax videocassette recorder, overruling the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals judgement that held Sony liable for consumers’ copyright infringement.

The lawsuit, which began in California District Court in 1976, charged that because Sony manufactured a device that could be used for copyright infringement the company was liable for infringement committed by consumers of Betamax.

Justice John Paul Stevens’ majority opinion in the case deemed home videotaping legal in the United States. The ruling also bore an important principle that has been used time and time again in lawsuits — if a product has a substantial, legitimate use it can be sold, even if some consumers use it illegitimately.

Two things happened within five years of this decision:

  • Sony began building VHS VCRs under license from JVC (1988);
  • Sony became a content provider on its own, taking over Columbia Pictures (1989).

And if that court ruling had gone the other way? Sony might have had to sue itself.

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You’re doing it wrong

Will Truman doesn’t remember asking for advice, but:

There was an older couple of ladies behind me in line at the supermarket making goo-goo eyes at the baby. When we were outside, one of them informed — not in those precise words — that I was handling the unloading process wrong.

My process is: Take the cart to the car, unload the groceries, return cart, take baby from cart and carry her with me back to the car.

Her order was: Put the baby in the car, start the car with the air conditioning or heater on, unload cart, and then return the cart.

When I was small enough to ride in the cart, there was no chance the parents would leave me in the car for more than a couple of seconds: I’d lunge for the controls. And there being nothing even close to child restraints in those days, I’d almost certainly reach them.

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And no corned beef, either

Nancy Friedman did a Visual Thesaurus piece about the word “duds,” and, as usual, put up an excerpt on her own blog. Near the bottom, she mentioned a trademark that was abandoned a few years back: “MILF Duds.”

Feigning horror, I attempted to post the following comment:

I truly hate that term “MILF” and the occasional variations thereupon; there’s no reason I should care about someone else’s prurient interests.

TypePad wasn’t having any of this, and popped up this cryptic message: “Not a HASH reference.”

Now TypePad is a relative of Movable Type, which is written in Perl, often disparaged as a “write-only” language: any code that actually works will be unreadable. I guessed that this might be some sort of Perl issue, having seen a few in four years of running MT, and found several TypePad users complaining about it.

This is not to say that I understand PHP, which is at the core of WordPress; but PHP, so far, has never kept me from complaining about acronyms. And there really is no reason why I should care about someone else’s prurient interests; in fact, most of the time, I can scarcely bother with my own.

Update, 3:25 pm: She asked if I’d try to post the comment again. This time it worked.

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Generally unrewarding

The subject line is hard to ignore: “Amazon thanks you — Your 25 Amazon bucks.” But you must ignore it, because it’s blatantly fake:

To Enjoy Your Amazon Rewards, all you need to do:

1) Visit: [redacted]
2) Give us your opinion
3) Redeem your Shopper Bucks before they expire on January 15, 2014

My opinion is twofold, as follows:

  • Changing the name of the program in the very next paragraph is a dead giveaway;
  • As is the obviously non-Amazon link.

In the middle of the message:

Write to SWJ Group to change your message status at:
(10908 RIDGEGATE Lane K n o x v i l l e TN, 3 7 9 3 1 )

I have no idea why it’s spaced like that.

And at the bottom: instructions on how to use an XML file.

I’m thinking these yutzim bought Spamming for Dummies® and didn’t read it all the way through.

Incidentally, this missive was received on the 16th of January, meaning that if these rewards had actually existed, they would have expired.

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With wheels of precious Unobtainium

J. Random Whatever, as a general rule, isn’t going to get to date a supermodel. And he has only a slightly better chance of finding this:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: Looking for a car between 2010-2013?

Specified criteria:

I really only have a few requirements:
Must be a coupe
Must give at least 20mpg in the city
Must be no older than 2010
Must have at least 180hp
Can’t be more than 30k
Should go from 0-60 in under 5.5 seconds

His best shot, arguably, is an out-of-warranty 3-series BMW, but I have to figure that he has no idea what he’s in for when the maintenance comes due.

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What goes up must come down

Anybody who studied rocketry as a kid knows this, and if you were wondering if it still meant anything, consider the Houston Rockets’ scoring through three quarters: 32, 41, then 10, 9. The Thunder, down fourteen at the half, managed to tie it up at 83 after three. Steven Adams fouled out in ten minutes, which probably isn’t a record but definitely qualifies as falling to earth; simultaneously with that foul, Dwight Howard drew his fifth, which introduces the question: “Shouldn’t Kendrick Perkins be guarding the Dwightmare?” (Kevin McHale pulled Howard at that point, and the Thunder went small, so the answer was apparently No.) Halfway through the fourth quarter, the Thunder had scored only seven; then again, the Rockets had scored only six.) It was that kind of game: emotional roller-coaster with the occasional mouthful of something you didn’t like the first time. The Thunder ran off seven straight before Houston returned all their starters. They needn’t have bothered. Oklahoma City 104, Houston 92, and once again solid, even fierce, defense compensates for a world of offensive hurt.

Telltale statistic: the Rockets went 12-20 from beyond the arc in the first half; the Thunder were 0-8. Second half: Rockets 0-14, Thunder 6-17. Whatever it is Scott Brooks is handing out at halftime, I want it.

Houston landed six players in double figures, led by Terrence Jones and James Harden with 16 each — though The Beard did not score squat in the second half. Donatas Motiejunas and Aaron Brooks made big numbers for the Rockets’ bench, which outscored the OKC reserves 29-15. Then again, on a night when Serge Ibaka is getting 21 points and 15 boards and five blocks, and Reggie Jackson is getting 23 points on 11-19 shooting and six steals — well, all you need to do is make sure Kevin Durant isn’t late. He wasn’t, knocking down 36, half of them at the foul line. (Semi-telltale statistic: Durant was 18-20 on free throws; Houston in toto was 14-21. And you can’t blame all that on Howard, who went 1-2 on his only trip to the line.)

And now the West invades: the Warriors tomorrow night, the Kings on Sunday, the Blazers on Tuesday. The trick will be not to come down from these giddy heights.

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Something to sneeze at

You probably already know what I think about homeopathy:

To test [it] yourself, dump a teaspoon of the stuff into Lake Itasca, at the headwaters of the Mississippi River, and then wait for it to show up in New Orleans.

Target is apparently selling a homeopathic asthma remedy for $16; it looks like an emergency inhaler, but of course it isn’t. I haven’t seen this at my local store, but then I tend to stay away from aisles containing weird-looking products: rice cakes, kitchen accessories, Barbie.

It’s not illegal to sell this stuff, and I’m not about to urge that it should be; but I suggest a minor rebranding. Target should continue to sell it, in a variant of its current packaging — as a specific treatment for use when the inside of your nose is on fire. This is admittedly a highly specialized use, but hey, how often are you going to have to spend $16 for that?

(Roberta X posted a link to this on her Facebook wall; Tam expressed the hope that “they don’t charge more for the dehydrated form.”)

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