An AM act?

Meet Chantal Claret, lead singer of the band Morningwood:

Chantal Claret on stage

For contrast, an offstage picture:

Chantal Claret offstage

Morningwood (seriously) released two albums. “Nth Degree” is one of the few songs I can recall in which the name of the band is repeatedly spelled out, in case you didn’t know who they were. The video, however, is wretchedly clever: I actually spent $2 to get a permanent-ish copy.

After the second album, the band split up, though they reunited briefly in 2012 for a tour with Mindless Self Indulgence. (As it happens, Chantal had married MSI’s frontman Jimmy Urine in 2008.) Her debut solo recording, “Pop Pop Bang Bang,” also appeared in 2012. Today she turns 33.


Breaking transportation news

TTAC published this Department of Transportation graph yesterday as their Chart of the Day:

Comparative fuel economy of various transit methods

Note that “Buses have relatively low efficiency when ridership is low.”

Gee, ya think?

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Quote of the week

Roberta X, on the debased condition of our politics, and by extension our culture:

[W]e live in a bumper-sticker kind of world, where Twitter’s 140-character limit about matches the typical attention span. Buckley, Vidal and Mencken are all dead and buried deep and the latter’s “boobocracy” is in the driver’s seat, encouraged by as rotten a pack of politicians as we’ve ever had — no worse than the worst, but certainly not a patch on the best.

The Right have become modern-day Know-Nothings (and even the Left has learned to drop final g’s when hectoring the unwashed); the Left encourages a culture of smug superiority, especially among the average (and the Right emulates it with a wink and a chortle), with a resulting downward pressure on the intellect of the body politic: Sure, both sides say, we’re Average Folks, but we’re way smarter than those crooks and fools who support the other party. Next thing you know, we’re all extras in Idiocracy. (I’m not talking about who does or doesn’t have a college degree — you can walk out with a Ph.D. and still be an ignorant lout about anything outside your specialty.)

By under-estimating themselves and way underestimating the other guy, by measuring “smart” and “savvy” in terms of buzzwords and unexamined bullshit, The People generally act dumber than they are — and our “Leaders,” who were supposed to be high-minded public servants, have become rulers, laughing behind closed doors at the milling pack of rubes who comprise the electorate. It ain’t no way to run a railroad, let alone a nation of people who were supposed to be largely left alone, neither run nor railroaded unless they violated the peace.

Then again, The People, or some substantial fraction thereof, voted for those “Leaders”; they can’t foist off all the blame on Washington and the state capitals. As Mencken put it, “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.” Of course, this nation was never intended to be a democracy; but once again, The People dropped the ball.



I still have an AOL address, and Apple sent this to it:

Our records indicate that you have been using your AOL Username to sign in to the iTunes Store, App Store, or iBooks Store.

After March 30, 2015, AOL will no longer support your ability to sign in to the iTunes Store, App Store, or iBooks Store. In order to continue using store features, including the ability to access your previously purchased content, you must transition from signing in with your AOL Username to signing in with an Apple ID.

To make this transition, simply sign in once more with your AOL Username to iTunes on your Mac or PC. You will automatically be taken through a few short steps to complete the process.

Well, yeah, I did do that, a decade or so ago. Bought a couple of dozen tracks before getting a proper Apple ID.

And I have no idea if I transitioned correctly; it took me to the usual Apple account screen, where I filled in everything that wasn’t already filled in but didn’t actually change anything on the account.

To learn more about this transition, visit

Well, not much more.


More wee wheels

This is apparently a glance at the future Infiniti QX30:

Teaser for Infiniti QX30

A cousin to the Mercedes-Benz GLA, this little wagonlet is supposed to slot in under the QX50, which used to be the EX35. I expect a turbo four, and maybe a diesel, instead of the V6s farther up the line. And I figure both this and the QX50 will be uncomfortably close to $40k once I start shopping again.



Lynn offers up some truth about lies:

Most of us know the difference between a truly bad lie and a merely kind or courteous lie. In between these are “lies of convenience” (I was stuck in traffic. The check is in the mail.) that we know are wrong but that somehow don’t seem so bad. There are, of course, people who push the limits, people who tell lies in order to sell us stuff, to sway us to their cause, or to get elected. We must expose and punish liars but this leads to finger pointing, witch hunts, and better, more careful liars. What more can anyone say? We are an imperfect species. Trying to get rid of our imperfections is like killing bacteria. The strongest bacteria survive and multiply but we can’t stop trying or the bacteria will wipe us out.

Yea, verily. The major advantage of telling the truth, of course, is that you don’t have to worry about keeping your story straight. And in this era of (anti)social media, there are always people to remind you what you said the first time.

Additional truth: There exists a game called “Fibbage,” from the makers of “You Don’t Know Jack.”

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You shall not watch us

Yes, folks, it’s Stupid Bill Time again. Oklahoma still has an Open Records Act, for now, though evidently some legislators dislike the very idea of such a thing:

Fees for public records would be significantly expanded and 10 exemptions would be added to the Oklahoma Open Records Act under a bill approved Thursday by the House Public Safety Committee.

Government officials could even refuse records requests that they considered an “excessive disruption of the essential functions of the public body,” under the bill.

Committee Chairman Mike Christian put forth an amended HB 1361 that kept only the original effective date of next Nov. 1.

Christian is an Oklahoma City Republican, but that doesn’t mean this is nothing but a GOP thing:

The original bill [pdf] by Rep. Claudia Griffith, D-Norman, was not much better. It would have undone recent progress in open government by removing access to all law enforcement recordings and removing statutory language confirming that law enforcement records must be made available for copying by the public. The latter nonsense was likely spurred by the city of Norman’s contention that it didn’t have to allow copying of police records prior to the explicit language taking effect Nov. 1.

I assure you, I didn’t vote for either of these jerks, or for the ones who voted it out of committee. But hey, guys, if you didn’t want the public looking over your shoulder, you probably should be doing something with your lives other than pretending to be public servants.

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A bag with a grin

Celine, the Shoe Girl, with new discoveries:

Fendi shoes and bag courtesy of the Shoe Girl

These are from Fendi, and I have some reservations about the shoes — exactly what the heck is going on there at the toe? — but that’s definitely a friendly-looking bag. As she says, “Too much cute.”

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It almost looked easy

In the upper right hand corner of the front page of this morning’s Oklahoman:

The Oklahoman 2-19-15: Does Reggie want out?

Upon hearing that he’s a Detroit Piston now:

I think we can take that as a Yes.

Anyway, we wish him well at the Palace, and we hope Kendrick Perkins, being bought out by the Jazz, and Ish Smith, dealt to the Pelicans, find happiness in new gigs. In the meantime, there were only ten bodies to suit up against the Mavericks tonight, none of the OKC New Guys — ex-Pistons D. J. Augustin and Kyle Singler, ex-Jazz Enes Kanter and Steve Novak — having arrived. (Okay, new Mav Amar’e Stoudemire hasn’t reported yet either, but both of the questionable Dallas guys, Rajon Rondo and Tyson Chandler, were considered well enough to play.) Didn’t matter so much: the Mavs managed only 19 points in the first quarter, 17 in the second, and the Thunder ballooned to a 22-point lead. Dallas recovered with an 8-0 run to start the fourth before OKC stanched the flow; the Mavs would never get within single digits, and the Thunder evened up the season series at 1-1 with a convincing 104-89 spanking of those Dallas fellows.

Much of this, of course, was Russell Westbrook’s doing. The All-est of the All-Stars, after knocking down 41 for the West, might have slowed down after a week off — in some other universe. In this one: 34-5-10. Serge Ibaka put together his first 20-20 game ever, with 21 points and 22 rebounds. Nick Collison, getting an actual start, scored two but retrieved nine boards; Andre Roberson scored four and retrieved 12 boards. You might conclude from this that the Thunder were just rebounding fools tonight, and the box score smiles: 62-39. OKC did turn the ball over a lot — 25 times — what with two of three point guards having been traded away; still, 20 assists on 38 made shots is not too shabby, and besides Westbrook.

As seemingly always, Dallas’ top scorer was Dirk. As hardly ever, Dirk had 14 points on 6-16 shooting and missed all three treys. Monta Ellis, who’d been on a point-scoring roll of late, was held to seven; Chandler, in the middle, did produce a double-double (10 points and 13 rebounds), but the times the Mavs were moving the ball well were few and far between, and the Thunder exhibited some enthusiasm for chasing down loose balls, something they’ve not been consistently good at.

The new guys may show up in Charlotte Saturday, or at the ‘Peake Sunday to greet the Nuggets. Either way, it’s going to be just slightly different from here on out.


Whither empire?

The Romans, history tells us, basically pissed away an entire empire. Warren Meyer suggests the result of a theoretical urinalysis:

I have a theory about the Romans that is probably shared by nobody. The Romans were strong and powerful and vital when they were creating a variety of citizenship types to accommodate multiple peoples who entered the empire in multiple ways. In particular I think of civitas sine suffragio or citizenship without the vote. But this was just one of many variations. By the first century AD (or CE per the modern academic trend), a lot of people of a lot of cultures and races and over a wide geography called themselves Romans.

By the end of the empire, the “reforms” of Diocletian and Constantine purged all flexibility from both governance and the economy (in sum, their laws amounted to the Directive 10-289 of the ancient world). By the time the Empire started falling apart, they had lost all ability to integrate new peoples or innovate with citizenship models. What was eventually called the Barbarian invasions began decades earlier as the attempted barbarian migrations. The barbarians wanted to just settle peacefully. And Rome desperately needed them — their system was falling apart as their farms and countryside was depopulated from a combination of government policy and demographic collapses (e.g. plagues). Rome desperately needed new people to settle their farms and form the new backbone of the army and the barbarians desperately wanted to settle and had a lot of military skill, but they couldn’t make it work.

I’m not so sure Attila, for one, was interested in settling peacefully; then again, in most statistics of the era, he was pretty much an outlier.

For now, I’m waiting to see which of our ostensible leaders abdicates in favor of a barbarian warlord — and whether said leader was pushing for the word “barbarian” to be forcibly struck from the language.

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Contempt for one’s users

It’s hard, I believe, to work up more contempt than this:

Lenovo is selling computers that come preinstalled with adware that hijacks encrypted Web sessions and may make users vulnerable to HTTPS man-in-the-middle attacks that are trivial for attackers to carry out, security researchers said.

The critical threat is present on Lenovo PCs that have adware from a company called Superfish installed. As unsavory as many people find software that injects ads into Web pages, there’s something much more nefarious about the Superfish package. It installs a self-signed root HTTPS certificate that can intercept encrypted traffic for every website a user visits. When a user visits an HTTPS site, the site certificate is signed and controlled by Superfish and falsely represents itself as the official website certificate.

But that’s merely heinous and reprehensible. From there, it gets worse:

Even worse, the private encryption key accompanying the Superfish-signed Transport Layer Security certificate appears to be the same for every Lenovo machine. Attackers may be able to use the key to certify imposter HTTPS websites that masquerade as Bank of America, Google, or any other secure destination on the Internet. Under such a scenario, PCs that have the Superfish root certificate installed will fail to flag the sites as forgeries — a failure that completely undermines the reason HTTPS protections exist in the first place.

So Lenovo bows its head, quietly admits to not having thought this through, and regrets its actions, right? Wrong:

The company this morning issued an oddly tone-deaf statement addressing the controversy with equal parts innocence and chutzpah. The Superfish software, Lenovo says, was “to help customers potentially discover interesting products while shopping” — apparently by throwing up related ads while visiting encrypted retail sites, which would otherwise be invisible to the adware.

This might sound like garden-variety horse manure, but Lenovo doubles down with the claim that this purported consumer benefit was the primary reason for installing Superfish on its laptops. It wasn’t — as cynics might suspect — about the cash at all! Well, not much, anyway.

“The relationship with Superfish is not financially significant,” the statement says. “Our goal was to enhance the experience for users. We recognize that the software did not meet that goal and have acted quickly and decisively.”

“Throwing up related ads.” The users I know would throw up a hell of a lot more than that if you inflict crapware — excuse me, “potentially unwanted programs,” as the antivirus guys say — upon them. The idea that someone might actually want that crap is so utterly improbable that one almost suspects it came from Washington.


A sprint over there with a Dell produces “Untrusted Connection,” exactly as it should.

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In need of a lift

Two weeks after becoming, however briefly, the darling of the nation, James Robertson, the man who walked across Detroit every day for over a decade to get to his job in the next county, has been targeted by scum:

The story of the 56-year-old Detroit factory worker who walks 21 miles to and from work each day warmed the hearts of the nation after his tale of perseverance went viral. Some $350,000 was raised for Robertson — not to mention, a local Ford dealership gave him a brand-new 2015 Ford Taurus.

But shortly after the hype started to die down, Robertson told Vice News that he’d received death threats and that his fears increased when he learned that Arthur Neal, an 86-year-old who claimed he’d hit the lottery for $20,000, was found stabbed to death on Feb. 1 in a house not far from where Robertson was living.

According to Vice News, Robertson’s girlfriend, her adult son and her ex-husband — all of whom live in the boarding house where Robertson was paying $200 for rent — began pressuring Robertson, who hasn’t received any money yet, for a payday.

Detroit’s police have been helping Robertson out:

The Detroit police, who believed that Robertson’s car would be stolen, allowed Robertson to park in their lot and recently escorted Robertson back to the house to gather his belongings so that he could move.

“We had a meeting with him [and] he expressed interest that he did not feel safe,” Police Capt. Aric Tosqui told the Detroit Free Press.

File under “This is why we can’t have nice things.”

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Not necessarily frequency response

Joni Mitchell once sang “You Turn Me On, I’m a Radio.” This might have been one of her better metaphors of the day, though she admitted later on that what motivated her was not so much good old primitive lust as the desire to present her record label with a hit single so they’d quit pestering her. (This makes it the moral equivalent of, say, “Elenore” by the Turtles.)

Jack Baruth retunes that particular phrasing:

I’ve often said that female emotion is not FM, it’s AM. In other words, if you want to sleep with a woman, it doesn’t particularly matter whether she loves or hates you. What’s important is the strength of that emotion. If a woman tells you that you are the worst person on earth and that she prays for your violent death twice a day, you might as well start filing another notch on your guitar. If, on the other hand, she tells her friends that you “seem like a nice guy, I guess,” chances are you’ll be available for your nightly guild meeting in WoW after all.

I would contrast this with my own experience, except that no one listens to shortwave anymore.

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Yours truly, mid-2006:

[B]y now everybody knows the joke about how if Microsoft built cars, they would run only on MS-GAS, and they would crash twice a day for no apparent reason.

(We will not discuss Bill Gates’ desire to reinvent the toilet.)

Now, all of a sudden, everyone is talking Apple as carmaker, presumably as rival to Google, and this is the new joke:

Windows vs. Apple cars

At least you can replace the battery on the Windowsmobile.

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One of the cooler jobs

A tour of duty in Antarctica today isn’t quite the death-defying adventure it was in Sir Ernest Shackleton’s day, but it’s hardly a sinecure either:

It is freezing, smelly, and you may be gone some time. Applicants to run the world’s most southerly post office have been warned about the harsh realities of the life they would endure in the Antarctic.

The successful candidates will spend five months on Goudier, an island “the size of a football pitch” just off the Antarctic peninsula, sorting the mail at Port Lockroy, a former British scientific base.

There is little danger of being savaged by a stray dog while handling the mail, but the post office workers must be able to “dodge” the island’s colony of 2,000 penguins.

For £1,100 a month, they will be expected to dig out snow, keep smiling in temperatures that dip below 5F (-15C), and go for a month without taking a shower, as there is no running water.

One takes a job like this, I suspect, to amaze the grandchildren thirty-odd years later. The image of the Antarctic appears on the television; you shrug and say “Been there.” The kids will be either utterly awed or completely dismissive, and if the latter, the generation in between will be all “No, really, he was.” (Or else, right?)

(Via Bayou Renaissance Man.)

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Occasionally hounded

Weighing in on the Westminster results, Ann Coulter:

This is true. The following periods had no Beagle wins at all:

  • 1907-2006
  • 2008-2014

I mention in passing that there have been 18 Fox Terrier winners: 14 wire, 4 smooth. (The 1992 winner, Ch. Registry’s Lonesome Dove, once growled at me.)

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