Sing along with ditch

The Z Man on “realism” as we know and hate it:

When artists, writers, singers, poets and so on were looking up, everyone looked up with them. When they started looking down, everyone’s eyes followed to the point where we search the gutter for the right metaphor to describe our existence.

On the other hand, art is a reflection of the culture that produces it so the decline of the West preceded the decline in the arts. 150 years ago there was no audience for talking about your bowel movements whilst smearing yourself with pudding. People had more dignity. They also had a reason to look up, at least they thought they did. Now all they see is nothing so I suppose it makes sense to look down. At least there’s something to look at, even if [it’s] just their reflection.

You can’t go around looking up these days. People will think you’re weird — or worse, praying, and we can’t have that sort of thing going on in public.

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Not much to overextend

I can’t say I’m too awfully surprised by this:

Americans are living right on the edge — at least when it comes to financial planning.

Approximately 62% of Americans have less than $1,000 in their savings accounts and 21% don’t even have a savings account, according to a new survey of more than 5,000 adults conducted this month by Google Consumer Survey for personal finance website “It’s worrisome that such a large percentage of Americans have so little set aside in a savings account,” says Cameron Huddleston, a personal finance analyst for the site. “They likely don’t have cash reserves to cover an emergency and will have to rely on credit, friends and family, or even their retirement accounts to cover unexpected expenses.”

Me, I’d like to know what kind of emergency manages to cost only $1000.

That said, I’m not one of the 62 percent — but I’m not so far away that I can justify bragging about it. I am, however, over 59½, which means that if something Dreadfully Terrible comes up, I can tap the 401(k) without the early-withdrawal penalty, though this is not something I particularly want to do, and besides it takes a couple of weeks for Girls Just Want To Have Funds (not its real name) to cut a check.

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It’ll never catch on

I am indebted to Rob O’Hara for this traffic-law update:

Just a reminder that as of last Friday, a new Oklahoma City ordinance says you must signal 100 feet before changing lanes or turning. The old law stated that you had to signal prior to changing lanes but did not officially state the distance.

We have major scofflaws in this town: just about every other day you can spot someone who’s come to a complete stop in the left lane and only then turned on the blinker. Must be trying to save fluid or something. I figure, if they ignored the old rule, they’ll go on ignoring the new one, despite the $172 fine.

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How much is that in bits?

There’s plenty of disagreement among fanfic writers in the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic universe as to how much a bit “really” is. Better we should ask the basis for those bits, inasmuch as our own humanoid currency is sort of questionable these days:

[W]hen you hold cash, it’s supposed to lead back into something tangible. Whatever someone has assigned value to and can’t readily be carried, portable money substitutes for. Precious metals, for whatever reason someone decided they were worth something. Jewels, perhaps. (Humans have a certain weakness for shiny objects. Ravens with slightly improved grasping digits and lower impulse control.) You can’t ask the government for that backing material any more, at least locally. There are still silver certificate bills in circulation — they were supposed to be pulled, but collectors and dusty rainy-day stashes occasionally release a bill or two — but unless they’re crisp enough to resell as that collectible, they can only be used for their face value. The value we’re all basically lying to each other about because as long as we all lie, the system remains more or less intact.

Once upon a time, the United States ran on silver. Then gold. (Today, possibly debt.) The currency must lead back to something, even if that thing doesn’t exist.

And what might that thing be in Equestria? Think power. Herewith, a possible basis:

If the name “bits” hadn’t been assigned to us, I would count Equestrian currency in sols (or lunes). Because there are times when currency leads back to labor. You clear my fields for eight hours and I’ll give you four chickens. However, I really don’t feel like keeping those clucking menaces around, so here’s a piece of paper which you can present to a man in town, and he’ll give you the chickens for me … on such small things do economies grow.

And the ultimate labor is that which makes Sun and Moon keep working.

What’s Equestria’s ultimate promise to the world? We will keep the cycle going. And that’s about as strong a backing for a monetary system as you can ask for.

So if I was working on this, I would have the money powered by pony labor, with the sisters at the top of that scale. Ultimately, money is traded out to the other nations with the understanding that the palace will maintain the orbits. Oh, there are other forms of ponyhours being traded out: send us these goods and we’ll dispatch pegasi to adjust your weather system. Access to magic — especially that which the other species don’t have — gives a nation some powerful leverage in the world economy, although some of that is countered by what said other species can bring to the table. But at the far end of the chain … there is a simple promise. What backs Equestria’s economy is the most fundamental labor to exist in that world, performed four times per cycle — or there is no cycle at all.

If this doesn’t make sense, imagine trying to explain currencies in this world, most of which have value only because large institutions with stores of arms say they do.

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Sit on it and swipe

This doesn’t even sound good:

What’s an emergency management department to do when 9-1-1 calls are spiking, but there aren’t enough workers to cover all those calls? San Francisco turned to researchers in an effort to understand a recent surge in emergency calls, which has been putting a strain on its emergency resources, and found that butts are to blame. Specifically, when someone’s backside accidentally makes a 9-1-1 call.

While it’s good for personal safety that mobile phones can call 9-1-1 without being unlocked, it’s creating a headache for call centers: San Francisco’s Department of Emergency Management turned to Google to help identify what’s been going on, after call volumes increased 28% between 2011 and 2014, reports the BBC.

That said, I’m not sure this is exactly the headline one wants to see on a story of this sort:

That must have been some, um, report.

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Strike the first

While it’s only a preseason game and therefore doesn’t mean anything, the first Thunder outing under Billy Donovan seemed a lot less lackadaisical than similarly meaningless productions presided over by Scott Brooks; there was a bit of backsliding in the second quarter — when you score 42 in the first, you almost expect that — but the 122-99 thrashing administered to the Timberwolves this evening almost exudes promise, what with seven Thunder players in double figures and Russell Westbrook almost hitting a triple-double. About the only downside, perhaps, was Kevin Durant actually missing a free throw. (Then again, he did get two of three out of that sequence.)

Second preseason game, which of course doesn’t mean anything, is at home against Turkish powerhouse Fenerbahçe, which beat the Nets 101-96 in Brooklyn this past Monday.


In tune with the universe

Yesterday, yours truly offered this post-commute grumble:

Not quite half an hour later:

The Oklahoma Department of Transportation will present a public meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 6, to provide information and solicit public input on a future project to replace the I-35 bridges over N.E. 63rd St. and to make improvements to the I-35 ramps to westbound I-44 in Oklahoma City.

ODOT will present alternative designs to the public and is requesting input as part of the environmental clearance process before construction can begin. The meeting will include presentation of detailed information and opportunities for the public to ask questions and give input. The public comment period closes Oct. 20.

Reconstruction of the bridges at N.E. 63rd St. and I-35 is scheduled in ODOT’s Eight-Year Construction Work Plan for Federal Fiscal Year 2020. The placement of the bridges is dependent on the preferred alignment of I-35 selected from the study.

Among other things, one of the schemes is to make the westbound onramp to I-44 two lanes, which presumably will reduce the number of doofi who can’t figure out what lane they’re supposed to be in when they start up that new, higher bridge.

Today’s problem, at least, was easily visible: rubberneckers just north of US 62, and some actual rubber in the roadway a few yards beyond.

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Rhymes with “bombast”

Turns out, even people who have never used Comcast hate Comcast:

My late mother-in-law had Comcast for years in Chattanooga before moving in with the wife and me. Comcast kept her old email address open and forwarding to her new Gmail address.

Now though, we want to either stop the forwarding, or close the email account. Neither is possible.

Literally. There are no forwarding controls on Comcast’s webmail interface — the link purportedly pointing to forwarding controls doesn’t go to forwarding controls. And if you try calling customer service…?

Let’s just say it’s probably not worth the effort to try. It might, however, be worth five bucks to outsource the task:

AirPaper will handle all the nastiness of nixing your Comcast plan for a mere $5. $5 for peace of mind and a bit of sanity feels like a steal.

The geniuses (or masochists) behind this are Earl St Sauver and Eli Pollak, two Bay Area tech gurus who, from the sound of it, have paid their own iron price in dealing with phone trees and unhelpful customer service operators. Now they just want to help other people avoid the hassle of canceling their cable plans.

Two of their next three schemes have to do with doing business in San Francisco, which should tell you something about doing business in San Francisco.

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A real McCoy

It’s a beer, not a bourbon, says the brewer:

Dammit Jim Beer from New Republic Brewing

The particulars:

This beer started out as a lark and a whim and turned out way too tasty. Composed of 70% Vienna malt and a combination of Munich and different crystal malts, it tastes of sweet malt and toasted bread. Centennial, Amarillo, Cascade and Fuggles hops give it plenty of American citrus and English earthy bitterness.

If you want to sample this brew, you’d best be somewhere between Houston and College Station, Texas, Alpha Quadrant: they don’t do transporters.

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Now they’ve gone too far

Or … have they?

Pumpkin spiced salmon

Says Miss Cellania:

This picture of pumpkin spice salmon was posted as an example of the trend taken too far. Then in the discussion at reddit, salmon lovers said this sounds pretty good, if you don’t put any sugar in the spices. Then there are those who say a sugar rub on salmon is actually delicious. I’m not much of a fish eater, especially at $12.99 a pound, so what do I know?

On this matter, I’m with Sergeant Schultz: I know nothing.

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This is not a manifesto

Robert Stacy McCain has already indicated that he intends to advise his six kids that they should never, ever write a manifesto.

And nobody’s manifesto ever needs to be longer than this:

My parents didn’t raise me to believe I was helpless, and certainly I would never want my children to believe their lives are a random accident. Our lives have meaning and purpose. The choices we make — our actions as individuals — have consequences for our own lives and for the lives of others. Having lived quite carelessly in my youth, I consider my rather miraculous survival must have served a purpose, if only to equip me to warn young people against careless living.

And this, essentially, is the bottom line:

Winners find a way to win, whatever the challenges may be.

Enduring hardship, overcoming obstacles, the survivor survives, and every day of survival is a victory unto itself. Today I have survived 56 years, and have already lived to see two grandsons born. My children are miracles, not accidents, and today when my daughter Reagan was leaving for school I told her, “Be excellent all day long.”

Don’t just be good. Be excellent. Excellence is expected.

Today is a very happy birthday. Hit the freaking tip jar.

With 62 coming up (next month!) and six grandchildren already out and about, I nod in agreement.


Swiftly across the land

So far as I can see, Taylor Swift doesn’t fuss too much about unauthorized pictures from her 1989 tour, so long as they’re not hi-res or anything: the fansite TSwiftDaily has lots of them, all just about wide enough to fit into their Tumblr theme and reasonably compatible with what I’m doing over here on WordPress. With that in mind, here’s what your ticket price has allowed you to see in Toronto and St. Louis over the past few days:

Taylor Swift in Toronto 2015

Taylor Swift in Toronto 2015

Taylor Swift in St Louis 2015

There is talk that 1989, the best-selling album of 2014, might also be the best-selling album of 2015 as well. It is not, however, close to catching up with Pink Floyd’s chart perennial The Dark Side of the Moon. Yet.

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Don’t just do something, sit there

Persuading the general public to accept self-driving cars will require an awful lot of demonstration along these lines:

Then again: Volvo, right? They’re not going to let you plunge into the abyss.

Now if someone can give me the tester’s phone number, that would be really great.

(Via The Truth About Cars.)


Drop ’em at the door

I can go along with most of this:

I love being naked. If I’m home and no one is over, chances are I’m naked or wearing one of my fabulous robes (I have five!). I sleep naked every night and practice yoga naked every morning. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not practicing Rockette high kicks naked in the living room or sitting my bare butt on all the surfaces in the house or anything. I really just feel 100 percent more free when I am naked or in a sassy robe.

When I get home I like to drop my clothes immediately. Sometimes I wonder if my neighbors know that five seconds after I close my door I transform into a naked wood nymph. (Don’t Google that in a coffee shop, trust me on this one.) When I get home and undress it feels like I am shedding the entire day. I get to let go of the highs and the lows and just breathe in the moment. I’m able to cast off all the pressure to be someone I’m not to please others. I’m just left with my thoughts, my feelings, my body and my breath.

I’d bet she has towels scattered about the house to park said bare butt upon. It’s a lot easier to wash a load of towels than to spot-clean the upholstery on a regular basis.

I have, alas, only two robes, one of which is destined for ragdom and neither of which are exactly fabulous. I held onto the former long past its expiration date, simply because once upon a time my ex said something moderately risqué about it, the sort of thing I’d never heard her say before, and haven’t since. The other is what I will have on when I greet you at the door, unless, um, other arrangements have been made.

I sent “naked wood nymph” through Bing, on which I have the security set at “Westboro Baptist,” and got some highly amusing pixellated pictures, some of which link to things I’d just as soon not link to. Then again, I never was particularly into wood nymphs no matter what their, um, bark.

Tangential: While trying to find an alternative to “bark” in the preceding sentence, I struck this bit of gold on Wikipedia: “Although the bark functions as a protective barrier, it is itself attacked by boring insects such as beetles.” I imagined a semi-anthropomorphized beetle, standing on its hind legs, wagging one of the front ones at me: “I am not boring!” Perhaps I don’t drink enough.

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Flow gauge?

One of the more exasperating aspects of the Internet of Things is that nobody is seriously asking “Why this Thing?” And maybe you can justify this, but I can’t, and neither can Gadgette:

Don’t get us wrong, we’ve nothing against menstrual cups — lots of women find them useful and planet-friendly — but why on earth would you want to link that to the internet?

Are you hoping for stats like “so far this year, you’ve bled enough to recreate the Huey Lewis scene in American Psycho“? Or perhaps you’d like to gamify your menses: “Kate shed 10ml more than you this month! Up your game, girlfriend.”

We’re kidding, of course, but that’s actually not far off what the Looncup is offering.

Perhaps I’m not the one to pass judgment on this contraption. So I’ll continue to quote the woman who wrote that piece:

Does this mean we’re going to get a notification in the middle of a meeting saying “Your cup runneth over”? Is the colour represented on a Pantone chart of vermilion hues? “Last month you were Pepperoni but this month you’re a bit more Lobster”? What happens if the app gets hacked and someone puts our periods on PasteBin?!?

I’m guessing this is intended as a marker, so something like the fridge that emails you to tell you you’re out of eggs will seem normal by comparison. (Now beer, that I can understand.)

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When we was glib

While poking around in the archives, I found this paragraph from December ’04 that technically doesn’t require an update, but perhaps deserves to be spread further:

The Mandatory Serenity Amendment — “The right of the peoples of the United States to be free from any ideas or materials or products, which they may find offensive, shall not be infringed” — has so far been ratified by 0 states.

We owe it to ourselves to keep it that way.

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