Laser less frickin’

Well, this is awkward. That Kickstarter for the laser-powered razor? Kicked to the curb for a rule violation:

A crowdfunding campaign for a razor blade which its US creators claimed could remove facial hair with a laser beam has been suspended by Kickstarter.

The device had attracted more than $4m (£2.6m) in funding — but reportedly did not have a working model.

Backers received an email from Kickstarter saying the Laser Razor was “in violation of our rule requiring working prototypes of physical products that are offered as rewards”.

Apparently undaunted, Skarp Technologies, the manufacturer, moved its campaign over to Indiegogo, where it took in $40,000 in four hours. Backer rewards seem to be about the same.

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You leave our revenue stream alone

Is anyone truly surprised at this?

Fixed, a mobile app that fights parking tickets and other traffic citations on users’ behalf, has had its parking ticket operations blocked in three of its top cities, San Francisco, Oakland and L.A. after the cities increased the measures they were taking to block Fixed from accessing their parking ticket websites.

Quelle surprise. How was this supposed to work, anyway?

Using its app, Fixed customers could snap a photo of their parking ticket using their phone’s camera, and then Fixed would check against a variety of common errors before writing a customized letter to the city on the user’s behalf. The app also cleverly tapped into Google Street View to check to see if the city had the proper signage in place in the area a ticket was received … Founder David Hegarty once noted that over half of tickets have an issue that would make them invalid.

And we can’t have that, can we? You might assume that cooperation from municipalities would be marginal at best, and you would be correct:

[T]he cities haven’t been welcoming to an app that was aimed at helping locals not pay their tickets by automating the process of jumping through legal loopholes. When Fixed began faxing its submissions to [San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency] last year, the agency emailed the startup to stop using their fax machine. When Fixed pointed out that it was legal to do so, the agency simply shut off their fax.

Things escalated after that, but Fixed has finally thrown in the towel — at least in those three cities. Other Fixed functions continue, for now.

(Via @fussfactory.)


Big D X’ed in T-town

This, of course, is a preseason game, and the Dallas Mavericks were not at full strength — Dirk didn’t make the trip, and Chandler Parsons was unwell, just to name a couple — but the Mavs hung tough and took a three-point lead in the fourth quarter. We’ve all seen preseason games where this was considered No Big Deal. Billy Donovan begs to differ. The Thunder, down three, went on a 19-2 run to take it away from the Mavs, prompting Rick Carlisle to bring on the new kids for the last few minutes. The Thunder got their third straight non-counting win, 100-88, in front of a very full BOk Center. Downside: Enes Kanter, after a double-double (17 points/11 rebounds), messed up his ankle and did not return. Next outing: Friday in Memphis.


Zooeypalooza 23!

Yes, it’s been too long since we did a proper Zooeypalooza. (I am actually getting queries about it.) And so, without (much) further ado:

Zooeypalooza 23!

Embiggenment comes with clickage.

Paloozas previously: ZP 1, ZP 2, ZP 3, ZP 4, ZP 5, ZP 6, ZP 7, ZP 8, ZP 9, ZP 10, ZP 11, ZP 12, ZP 13, ZP 14, ZP 15, ZP 16, ZP 17, ZP 18, ZP 19, ZP 20, ZP 21, ZP 22.

Neither Zooey nor husband Jacob Pechenik has yet divulged the name of their daughter, born in late summer.

Update, 20 October: She has a name, and it’s Elsie Otter.


Separation of text and footnote

Actually, Roberta X’s footnotes are better than some people’s articles, and I single out this one for both economy and precision:

The American Revolution can be cast as a kind of dialogue between the Enlightenment/Age of Reason ideas that pushed it and the Great Awakenings that bookended it. From that angle, the Establishment Clause of [the] First Amendment represents a brilliantly common goal: neither party was desirous of a State church. Thus the United States was explicitly made a safe place for believers and nonbelievers of every stripe. This is a delicate balance and has been maintained with varying degrees of elegance and civility though the years. We should fear any politician who feels a mandate to Do Good — especially if he or she believes it was granted by Divine authority.

Not bad for a little over 100 words, if I say so myself, and I do so say.

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Before there were celebrities

The Z Man is back from the rodeo, and it wasn’t his first rodeo, either:

For most of human history, entertainments were relatively cheap. Entertainers lived on the fringes of society and made very modest livings. Maybe the showman who owned the circus or traveling act made a good living, but the performers did not. Running away to join the circus was not a move up, it was giving up. If you could not hack it in normal life you ended up as the bearded lady in the circus.

Contrast that to today where we venerate knuckleheads with the IQ of a goldfish and shower them with millions. In order to do that the cost of entertainment has skyrocketed. I was at the Dallas Cowboys game on Sunday and the prices are staggering. Cheap seats are $500 just to get in the door. The facility, which is incredible, is simply a massive platform from which to sell you stuff.

Well, yeah, those knuckleheads cost serious money:

Everything has a sponsor. “This hot dog concession stand brought to you by AT&T” is the sort of thing that makes me think the Catholics were right about cupidity being a mortal sin. Every square inch of the Cowboy facility has a sponsor attached to it and almost every square inch is for the purpose of moving product of some sort. You keep wondering, “Don’t they have enough?”

The economy has changed. We don’t make things anymore. Now we kill time and try to turn a profit on it.

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Blade aside

Weary of the same old razor? How about a frickin’ laser?

Meet 21st century shaving: no razor burn or accidental cuts — and laser-powered, if the inventors of The Skarp Razor have anything to do with it. The device looks much like a regular handheld razor but uses a laser, instead of a blade, to slice through your hair sans soap or water.

Co-founded by Paul Binun and Morgan Gustavsson MBBS, a veteran of the cosmetic and dermatological laser industry, Skarp works by targeting a chromophore — a molecule that absorbs light — in the hair that breaks when hit with a particular wavelength of light, severing the hair. (And the inventors’ expertise might make the device less likely to crash and burn than other high-tech Kickstarter projects.)

Did I mention Kickstarter? Yes. They’d hoped to raise $160,000. As of this week, the last for the fundraiser, they had nearly $4 million in the kitty.

Unlike some previous attempts, Skarp seems to be unaffected by color variations in hair or in skin.

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The old Palmetto Soak

The US Geological Survey takes some questions about the “1000-year” flood in South Carolina — well, technically, no, it wasn’t any such thing — and even deals with the one most beloved by illiterate news media:

Is this flood due to climate change?

USGS research has shown no linkage between flooding (either increases or decreases) and the increase in greenhouse gases. Essentially, from USGS long-term streamgage data for sites across the country with no regulation or other changes to the watershed that could influence the streamflow, the data shows no systematic increases in flooding through time.

A much bigger impact on flooding, though, is land use change. Without proper mitigation, urbanization of watersheds increases flooding. Moreover, encroachment into the floodplain by homes and businesses leads to greater economic losses and potential loss of life, with more encroachment leading to greater losses.

And as a species, we’re not exactly well known for proper mitigation.

(Via Fark.)

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Because you gotta have heart

This strikes me as almost certainly a Good Thing:

The National Basketball Players Association is working on a program that would fund cardiac screening and supplemental health insurance for its retired players, an initiative expedited by the recent sudden deaths of legends Darryl Dawkins and Moses Malone.

The joint effort between union executive director Michele Roberts and NBA commissioner Adam Silver — at a time when there still may be potentially acrimonious labor negotiations looming for their sides — is intended to ease the health concerns of its retired players.

And there are plenty of concerns:

The good-faith actions of current players were welcome news to retired veterans who have been rattled by the spate of cardiac-related deaths. Although there is no concrete data linking basketball players who are large in stature to early death from cardiac distress, the prevailing opinion among many former NBA stars is there has to be a correlation.

“It’s too close to home,” former star center Bob Lanier said. “It’s the topic nobody wants to address. How many people have we seen in our lifetime who are big and really tall and are 70-something years old? Not many. That’s because people [my size] don’t live that long.

“I know things are evolving. People are taking better care of themselves. They exercise, they watch their nutrition, they try to limit the stress in their lives. I do all of those things. But we’re still losing guys younger than we should.”

Lanier is 67; Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is 68. I’d hate to lose either of these guys any time soon.

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Henpecking order

From bitter experience, Sheri49 explains the operations of her local Homeowners’ Association:

There is one Exalted Ruler. His word is final. His court consists of a Vice-Exalted Ruler, a Secretary who must meet stringent illiteracy requirements, a Treasurer who is actually sort of intelligent but whose job entails deferring to the Exalted Ruler’s stupidity, and lastly, a “Member-At-Large” (MAL). Currently there is no MAL at Hideola Estates. No one wants to be the caboose on the Moron Train. Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “Hey, what if they meet and vote on something and there’s like, 2 of them for it, and two of them against it … two yays and two neighs?” (Yays and neighs are how we write here in Hideola Estates, as you will learn below.) Good point. In that event, the group would defer to the time-honored flipping of the coin method to resolve the tie. There is nothing wrong with leaving owners’ fates and their valuable homes to the whim of a coin toss. If no coin can be found to flip, then someone makes a motion to do whatever will cause Sheri49 the most harm and that is the final word on the matter.

You should not at all be surprised to hear that a fiefdom of this sort would have an individual dedicated to the exaltation of vice. (Yes, I stole this from the Beverly Hillbillies. Sue me.)

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Weird sounds above your head

This is indeed a “strange collection”:

In the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, I worked for Kmart behind the service desk and the store played specific pre-recorded cassettes issued by corporate. This was background music, or perhaps you could call it elevator music. Anyways, I saved these tapes from the trash during this period and this video shows you my extensive, odd collection.

The one tape I listened to, dated October 1989, contained music far too perky for the old “beautiful music” FM-radio format but too soporific for “adult contemporary,” plus plenty of invocations of the holy name of Martha Stewart and the occasional all-purpose public-service announcement.

The sound is definitely lacking in high end, though I couldn’t tell you whether this was intentional or a by-product of being played to death for a month:

[T]hey ran for 14 hours a day, 7 days a week on auto-reverse. If you do the math assuming that each tape is 30 minutes per side, that’s over 800 passes over a tape head each month.

And not all stores, it appears, got the same quality audio equipment.

In 1993, Kmart switched to satellite delivery, creating the possibility for more variety and reducing the possibility of some guy taking the stuff home for archival purposes.

(Via Chart Attack.)

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Strange search-engine queries (506)

Granted: Christopher Columbus was something of an asshole. Still, we have this holiday, not so much to honor said asshole, but because the sort of people who always get lots of holidays couldn’t bear to go from all the way from Labor Day to Thanksgiving without a break. I have to work today, so I remain utterly indifferent to such matters.

what happens if you bite your tongue and hold your breath:  You’re being a good Republican, according to your party’s officials.

Mammoth cafe phone number catalytic converters:  Dial 1-800-AGHAST.

suicide prevention week 6-12 september we all need prayer right now. if i don’t see your name:  You may presume that you’ve been written out of the will.

although she tends not to make her presence felt when she’s in the chamber:  We told you not to vote for The Ghost of Eleanor Roosevelt, but you didn’t listen, did you?

windows 10 spinning circle:  This is for all you people who complained about the hourglass in Windows 95.

woman wanted a 64 inch backside:  Unrequited love for Sir Mix-A-Lot, perhaps.

run up an alley and holler fish:  And chips, or they won’t listen.

god burns down equestria for insurance money:  This has to be one of Prince Bluebood’s schemes.

rectal exam meme:  All your polyps are belong to us.

put your ass on the line:  How else can we conduct this rectal exam?

they all looked so damn happy:  They weren’t scheduled for rectal exams.

pharmville:  Finally, a Facebook game where you get to sell drugs.

if he only wants your breasts legs and thighs send him to kfc lyrics:  Still trying to find a rhyme for “extra crispy.”


Beyond vision

By any reasonable reckoning, Invisible Sister, the Disney Channel original movie that debuted last Friday, should not have worked at all: they licensed the title of a book and didn’t use any of it; the setup is pure adolescent angst; the “science” is hokey at best; and you wouldn’t believe how many dei can be plucked from a single machina.

Still, I had to watch it, the Invisible Girl having occupied a place in the wackier section of my brain ever since I failed to see one at the age of seven. And I wasn’t that hopeful: younger sister Cleo, desperate to come up with a new science project after being told half a dozen classmates were already doing the same thing, is forced into a rush job, on a night when older sister Molly is partying hearty with her friends — while the parental units are away. How contrived is this? Short version: Cleo’s experiment, complete with test tubes full of mysterious substances, fails spectacularly, and quite inadvertently, Molly comes into contact with some quantity of a random mixture.

Molly and Cleo, kinda sorta

The next morning, of course, is Pure Chaos, and Molly, who has classes to attend (her grades are only so-so), social obligations to fulfill, and a lacrosse match in the afternoon, prevails upon Cleo to do something unheard of anywhere outside YA novels: “Be me. Just for today.” It’s Halloween, she’ll be in costume; nobody will ever know. Cleo, your standard-issue Girl Genius, doesn’t believe a word of this, but Molly is nothing if not persuasive.

What sells this, I think, is not so much the plot, which gets thinner and less plausible the farther it goes, or the special effects, which are good enough without being spectacular, but the fact that the sisters’ mutual resentment is utterly believable to anyone who’s ever had a sibling, and stars Paris Berelc and Rowan Blanchard play it for all it’s worth. (Cleo, I think, got the worst of it, simply by having to sit in on her sister’s life.) And by the time they’d had it out with one another once and for all — late at night in a New Orleans cemetery, of all places — they’d won me over. And minor details that would normally have provoked snark — if this is supposed to be New Orleans, it’s the whitest New Orleans that’s ever existed — ceased to matter at that point.

This being a Disney film, everyone lives happily ever after, except for whoever has to clean up the set afterwards. And really, I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. Yes, it’s tweenage material, polished to a high commercial gloss; but I’ve never been too proud to read YA stories, and I’m not going to start now.

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More news for parrots

Apparently the birds don’t trust us anymore, at least in some parts of New York state:

I blame all the ne’er-do-wells who stand there cooing at the cage: “Can you talk? Can you talk?” Just once, I want to hear the bird snap back: “Yes, I can talk. Can you fly?”

“Rotterdam,” incidentally, represents a first-of-November curse: “My sister stole all my Halloween candy, and I hope it’ll Rotterdam teeth out.”

(Via Steve Lackmeyer.)

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Ending the period of mourning

The sad story — okay, it’s not that sad — begins this way:

My mom’s iPad recently cratered. It wasn’t a huge deal, since it was a hand-me-down of my 1st generation model, and I replaced it with another hand-me-down of my 2nd gen tablet.

At least this keeps the supply lines clear. But what to do with the corpse?

I was able to coax it to life just long enough to wipe it clean and destroy the SIM chip, and I planned to drop it off in the dead electronics box at Best Buy for recycling. But then I had a brilliant thought: “what do guys do when their stuff breaks beyond repair?” The answer is pretty obvious. They shoot it!

And so he shot it. Gory details — okay, they’re not that gory — at the link.

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Meanwhile on the Front Range

Fort Collins, the fourth-largest city in Colorado (population 150,000 or so), is contemplating the possibility that the presence of topless women in public will not be the end of the world as we know it:

Following a request from a group of citizens, city officials said they are considering updating the existing public nudity ordinance, which currently does not allow women to be topless in public.

On Oct. 20, the city council will consider two updates to the ordinance: Maintain the current policy that does not allow for women to be topless in public except for breastfeeding mothers, or allow women to be topless in public.

The ordinance still would prohibit any nudity from the waist down by anyone 10 years old and older. Exceptions include medical emergencies, performance venues and changing areas.

Shirtless guys, of course, will continue to go unmonitored by the law no matter what.

(Via Felicity Jones.)

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