For those who think Jung

Girls' Generation

This was SNSD, circa 2012. SNSD — So Nyeo Shi Dae, “Girls’ Generation” — is a K-pop group assembled over the last eight years. The first member, sixth in line, in the dress the color of dried ketchup, is Jessica Jung, who had signed her first contract with S. M. Entertainment in 2000 when she was eleven; S. M. named her as the first member of SNSD in 2007. And seven years later, Jung was the first member of SNSD to be sacked, apparently for having too many outside interests conflicting with group activities, starting with her appearance in a Korean production of the musical Legally Blonde. (How blonde is she? Not very, I suspect.)

Jessica Jung not brushing her hair

I have no idea what that black box is for, unless it’s to obscure a brand name that didn’t pony up for promotional money.

Jessica Jung looking vaguely domestic

There were also a number of non-SNSD singles, including this song from the TV series Dating Agency: Cyrano, which ran for 16 episodes in 2013:

Incidentally, Jessica Jung was born in San Francisco, and didn’t actually relocate to South Korea until 2000, when she and younger sister Krystal, then on a family vacation, were offered tryouts by the S. M. conglomerate. Krystal, now 20, is a member of singing group f(x), which was the first K-pop act to appear at SXSW.

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A photographic addendum

Trini, my perennial companion for the Architecture Tours, sent me a folder full of pictures she’d taken on her phone during the 2015 Tour. A lot of the subjects we snapped were the same, but for no good reason I can imagine, I got no shot of the courtyard at the Buddha Mind Monastery. She did, and with her permission I bring it to you here:

Courtyard at Buddha Mind Monastery

This will embiggen with a click, but it’s about 2.5 megabytes: 4320 pixels wide.


The most annoying name in sports

Boston is competing for the 2024 Olympics, and a Son of the Bay State explains why this is such a miserable idea:

I am of the opinion that all Olympics should be held in otherwise authoritarian countries. (Or, to be open-minded about the whole thing, in Barcelona.) A good, established dictatorship is usually the way to go. This is because agreeing to host the Olympics is agreeing to turn your city into an authoritarian state anyway, and we might as well just hand the work of organizing one over to the people who do it full time. The Olympics control your traffic. The Olympics control where you can walk or ride your bicycle. The Olympics overwhelm your infrastructure for their own purposes; a plague of be-blazered buffet grazers descend on your finest restaurants. For two weeks and change, every host city transforms itself into an armed camp with corporate sponsors. In 2004, the Democratic Party held its national convention in Boston. (You may recall that a jug-eared rookie from Illinois gave a helluva speech.) People howled. The city was rendered logistically inaccessible, and that was for less than a week. The Olympics are four times as long, vastly more sprawling, and infinitely more inconvenient. The local committee proposes, for example, to hold the canoeing and kayaking events way out in flannel-shirt country in the Berkshire foothills. People are going to be stranded so long on the state roads out there that they’re going to have to buy houses.

But this sort of thing would happen even in semi-sleepy burgs in Utah. In Beantown, things are infinitely more complicated:

And then there’s Boston itself, which was laid out in the 17th century and hasn’t changed a lot, except that it’s harder to get around than it used to be. There are parts of downtown that have survived relatively unchanged since the days when Samuel Adams himself was a brewer. The expressway situation has improved dramatically since they finished the mother of all money pits, the Big Dig — and, it must be said, since the Big Dig has stopped killing people. But the city itself remains an unwieldy beast to traverse. Let’s say, for example, that you want to watch a little badminton at Agganis Arena at Boston University, and then figure you’ll catch a little modern pentathlon at Franklin Park. You’d best leave your dental records with your loved ones back in Amsterdam so they can identify your desiccated corpse when it’s found in an abandoned cab halfway between the two venues.

Then again, Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter was laid out sometime around the 4th century.


Saturday gets a little smaller

You can hear el Chacal de la Trompeta fading in the distance:

After more than 53 years, the popular Univision program Sábado Gigante will end on September 19, the Spanish-language broadcaster announced Friday.

The variety show, which stars Mario Kreutzberger (known on the show as Don Francisco), first launched in 1962 on Chile’s Channel 13 and has routinely been one of the most-watched show among Hispanics.

Which is not to say that Don Francisco, now 74, is retiring or anything:

Kreutzberger will continue contributing to the Univision Network with new projects and by hosting entertainment specials and campaigns such as TeletónUSA, which is held every year on behalf of disabled children. He will also take part in Univision’s ongoing efforts to look for and develop new on-air talent and professionals.

Actually, Kreutzburger’s first variety show of this sort was Gran Show Dominical, on Sundays; after a year or so it moved to Saturday.


Big enough for two lodges

Will Truman, discussing the One Pharmacy problem — what if you have to go way out of town to get your prescription filled because the local pharmacist refuses on moral grounds? — makes a side reference that triggered something in the back of my head:

The population of Twin Peaks was originally only supposed to be 5,120. However, there was a backlash against rural-themed shows at the time, as networks were fearful that the burgeoning urban and suburban population of America would not be able to sympathize with shows set in small farming or industrial towns, so ABC requested that the sign read 51,201. In a Visitor’s Guide to Twin Peaks tie-in book authorized by creators David Lynch and Mark Frost, a note tells readers that the population was indeed 5,120, but that the sign had a “typo.”

Certainly Twin Peaks seemed a whole lot smaller than Eerie, Indiana (population 16,661).

And then something else hit me: Haven’t I brought up something like this before? Of course I have. Twice, even.

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At the mercy of the F connector

“I’m calling you on Sunday and the earliest that someone can come fix this is Thursday?”

Last year, it was reported that cable-TV prices were rising at the official rate of inflation times four, and perhaps one reason for this is sheer ineptitude:

“Well, yes, that’s the earliest one is available.” After telling the technician that he has done a good job trying to help me but his company is pathetic and a four-day delay in a service call is the kind of thing that makes customers of other companies, I say go ahead and schedule it, my choices being limited.

This means that I will not receive the service for which I pay CableOne, but I know better than to ask if they will discount my bill. It’s not because I believe they are unconcerned with the reality that I will pay for something I don’t receive. They are, but that’s not the reason.

It’s because I believe that no one working at CableOne could handle the necessary math. Not that they couldn’t handle the math of trying to pro-rate everyone’s bill who has an interruption of service. I mean I don’t believe anyone there could handle the actual pencil-and-paper math of figuring out what fraction of channels I pay for were working, how long they weren’t working and apply that discount to the amount I pay for their service.

I wonder if they read their reviews.

(If “F connector” means nothing to you, have a look at this.)

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Dots rite

Even practitioners of Minnesota Nice can be sorely vexed when you misrepresent them:

For decades, the cheerful twin dots had hovered over the “o” in Lindström on the green highway signs that welcomed visitors to the small hamlet — population, 4,442 — that had been settled by Swedish immigrants in the 1850s.

After a highway project in 2012, the signs came down and were replaced with new ones. According to a city official, the Minnesota Department of Transportation denied the town’s request that the umlauts remain, citing a rule that road signs have only letters in a standard alphabet. So in a change that irritated some Sweden-adoring people here, Lindström became Lindstrom.

But in an announcement that was indignant, a little quirky and very Minnesotan, the governor intervened on Wednesday, releasing a statement that promised that the umlauts on the signs would be restored, and fast. “Nonsensical rules like this are exactly why people get frustrated with government,” Gov. Mark Dayton, a Democrat, said in the statement. “Even if I have to drive to Lindström and paint the umlauts on the city limit signs myself, I’ll do it.”

In other news, The New York Times apparently thinks a town of more than four thousand people is a “small hamlet.” (Are there large hamlets?) Still, props to Governor Dayton for getting the message.

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Quote of the week

If “Why do all the candidates suck?” has crossed your mind of late, you might want to take a look in the nearest mirror:

Just as people like the semblance of getting a “real” glimpse into the Real Housewives of Wherever’s lives, we like the semblance of a genuinely approachable, relatable, human, real-keeping presidential candidate. But when the candidate says something a little too raw or real or sarcastic or even eccentric (as real people might) about abortion, or entitlements, or cronyism, or civil liberties, or foreign policy, we freak out.

When we have a choice between the more open, straight-talking candidate or the one that does everything through self-managed media so that they can control the message to the maximum conceivable degree, we go for the latter.

When we have a choice between uncomfortable substance and truth on the one hand, and reality or feel-good talking points and make-believe on the other, we reject the former.

When we have a choice between airbrushed images in magazines or seeing the way people actually look, we want the Photoshop.

When we have a choice between meeting people in real life, with all the potential awkwardness that might entail, or just sitting around texting and Facebook messaging, more and more, we seem to go for the “virtual.” We don’t want the sacrifices or pain entailed to really achieve; we prefer the comfort of telling ourselves that we are excelling, even when any objective analysis would show that is at best a half-truth. We don’t actually want reality, whether in our entertainment, our jobs, our education, our lives, or our politics. We just want something that kind of looks like it.

What’s that? You say we’re not like that at all? Too bad you missed President Santorum. Or Sanders. Or any of those folks we were told are “unelectable” for whatever reason.

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420 on your dial

Well, actually, they’re at 1580, but you know what I mean:

Listeners of KREL in Colorado Springs might have wondered if someone had spread cannabutter on their morning toast Monday when they tuned in and got marijuana programming instead of the radio station’s usual sports news and talk shows.

Unlike some towns I could name, Colorado Springs is not groaning under the weight of all that sports talk.

Southern Colorado Radio — SoCo Radio for short — has launched the nation’s first radio station dedicated to talk and news coverage of the legal marijuana industry, and it’s attracted dispensaries as advertisers and hundreds of followers on social media.

SoCo Radio leased the former KREL-AM 1580 from Vero Beach, Fla.-based Pilgrim Communications on April 1 and began broadcasting Monday under the call letters KHIG.

K-HIGH, get it?

(Via Fark.)

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Less than nothing left

Picher, Oklahoma, to borrow a Pythonism, is an ex-town:

Picher is a ghost town and former city in Ottawa County, Oklahoma, United States. Formerly a major national center of lead and zinc mining at the heart of the Tri-State Mining District, over a century of unrestricted subsurface excavation dangerously undermined most of Picher’s town buildings and left giant piles of toxic metal-contaminated mine tailings (known as chat) heaped throughout the area. The discovery of the cave-in risks, groundwater contamination and health effects associated with the chat piles and subsurface shafts — particularly an alarming 1996 study which showed lead poisoning in 34% of the children in Picher — eventually prompted a mandatory evacuation and buyout of the entire township by the State of Oklahoma and the incorporation of the town (along with the similarly contaminated satellite towns of Treece and Cardin) into the Tar Creek Superfund site.

Incorporated in 1918, Picher once had a population near 10,000; it is now somewhere around 6. From the Insult-to-Injury Department:

One of the few last remnants of an abandoned mining community in Ottawa County was destroyed by fire, said Sean Harrison, a Quapaw Tribe spokesman on Wednesday.

The Picher Mining Field Museum caught fire late Monday night or early Tuesday morning, he said.

The museum was on the National Register of Historic Places and was not demolished in a federally funded Tar Creek buyout.

“The roof had already caved in and there had been no attempt to preserve the building,” Harrison said.

The contents of the museum had long since been moved away, so nothing was lost except a piece of skyline that hardly anyone will ever see.

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Inauthenticity is everything

Victor Davis Hanson seems puzzled that Hillary Clinton is even running for President:

Mrs. Clinton has neither a past record that she is proud to run on nor support for an Obama administration tenure that she will promise to continue. She is not a good speaker and has a disturbing habit of switching accents in amateurish attempts to mimic regional or racial authenticity. She accentuates her points by screaming in shrill outbursts, and dismisses serious questions by chortling for far too long. She is deaf to human cordiality, has a bad temper, and treats subordinates with haughty disdain.

So she’s an utterly disagreeable individual. Since when is that a disqualifier in Washington? The electorate claims to want Nice People, but there’s little evidence to support the idea that they’ll actually vote for any.

(Via Fishersville Mike.)

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The map has a mind of its own

You never had this problem with Rand McNally:

I ran into this problem this morning. There was [a] plane crash in Hiroshima, so I wanted to take a look at the airport. I pull up Google Maps, zoom way out, pan across to Japan and zoom in until Hiroshima appears. Now I ask for “airport”. It shows me several, but not the Hiroshima airport. Make a more specific request and it takes me back to Oregon. Fuss with it and eventually I get the Hiroshima airport. Okay, what about all those other airports in this region? What happened to them? Cannot get Google to show them to me for love or money. Stupid Google.

The Bloomberg report of the crash, as relayed by the Vancouver Sun:

An Asiana Airlines plane crash landed short of the runway amid rains at Hiroshima Airport in Japan, injuring 27 passengers in its first accident since a crash landing in San Francisco almost two years ago.

The plane flew so low that the tail section of the Airbus Group NV A320 hit landing system devices placed 330 metres from the end of the runway, Noritoshi Goda, an official at the transport ministry’s aviation bureau, said by phone. The plane then veered off the runway, causing the landing gear to collapse and leaving both wings and the left engine damaged, the transport ministry said.

The plane was carrying 73 passengers plus a crew of eight.

A Bing search of this sort defaults to “Airports near Hiroshima”; Microsoft apparently gets its Japanese maps from Japanese map publisher Zenrin, and actual English map legends are not the highest priority.

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Whatever you font

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Sticking point

Manual transmissions used to be promoted as ways to save gas. In these days of smarter and stingier automatics, perhaps they should be promoted as ways to save your ass:

A South Carolina kidnapper — wanted in Horry County on child cruelty charges — grabbed a woman at gunpoint, put her in the trunk of her car, but then could not drive because he didn’t know how to shift a manual transmission, officials say.

The 53-year-old woman managed to escape from the trunk early Tuesday after using a latch inside and then flagged down authorities.

The Sumter County Sheriff’s Office has arrested 27-year-old Demetric Jerod Nelson, a Sumter man accused of kidnapping and robbing the woman at gunpoint early Tuesday morning, officials with the sheriff’s office said.

This sounds like a pretty good argument for the Ford Focus RS, a variation on the staid compact that sports well over 300 hp — and which, when it arrives next year, will come only with a stick.

Addendum, 23 April: Joe Sherlock reports:

Up until 1988, my plastics manufacturing company had only one forklift truck, a 1955 Hyster, which had a three-on-the-tree manual transmission. Several of our younger employees could not drive it because they didn’t know how to work the clutch and shift levers. We referred to them as Automatic Babies.

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As the marbles roll away

It was, perhaps, a foregone conclusion. The Timberwolves were disposed of handily, as they have been three times previously this season; the starters began disappearing early, and halfway through the fourth, OKC had a 125-102 lead, on the way to a 138-113 win. (A titanic defensive struggle, this was not; the Thunder rolled up 47 points in the first quarter, something that hasn’t happened since Seattle.) However, the mighty Spurs were humbled by the Pelicans in New Orleans, 108-103 — once trailing by 22, San Antonio could pull no closer than three — and so the 45-37 Beaked Wonders, not the 45-37 Thunder, will grab that last playoff spot on the last day of the season.

There is, of course, a Participation Ribbon: Russell Westbrook, 38-8-7, 34 of those points in the first half (!), finishes ahead of James Harden for the scoring title with a stirring 28.1, and what’s more, Dion Waiters (!!) tied his career high with 33. Enes Kanter had a 25-15 game, and Nick Collison (!!!) led the bench with 12.

The stripped-down Wolves, missing about half the roster, still came up with big offense, quite apart from the Thunder’s general lack of defense. Kevin Martin headed the effort with 29 points; super rookie Andrew Wiggins added 23; Zack LaVine, who played longer than anyone else (almost 41 minutes), finished with 19.

So the West looks like this: Golden State (1) vs New Orleans (8); Houston (2) vs Dallas (7); Los Angeles Clippers (3) vs Memphis (6); Portland (4) vs San Antonio (5). You may have noticed that all five Southwest Division teams are in the playoffs; only two from Pacific and one from Northwest (the Trail Blazers, who actually had the seventh-best record). What this means for the future is anyone’s guess, except mine. I’m just going to set the microphone down and turn on the Dodgers game.

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Gleaner than you ever thought possible

Two versions of The Gleaners by Millet

To the left, “The Gleaners” by Jean-François Millet (1857). To the right, a revision approved for inclusion in the Gluten Free Museum, dedicated to erasing all images of this deadly poison in the documentation of everyday life.

(Via Jeff Faria.)

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