A small, neat sweatbox at that

A discussion of air conditioning, or the lack thereof, in the City of New York spawned this plaintive wail:

Here in Tokyo, where it is obscenely, body-wiltingly hot for three or four months a year (and where, in the past ten years, government anti-carbon mandates have made 28°C the minimum indoors in the summer), through-window air conditioners are the only thing you ever see. Being born in NYC, I have only heard the term “central air” and have never seen it. I would have to Google to see what such a setup would look like.

Jeebus. Eighty-three inside? I wouldn’t wish that on a communist from Berzerkley, let alone a Japanese salaryman.

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A hard road calls

John Mayall is on tour.

Yes, that John Mayall, whose ever-changing Bluesbreakers roster has contained some of the biggest names in British blues and blues-rock. His current band, not sporting the Bluesbreakers name, has been with him for two albums and one previous tour, and they’re doing 53 days across Europe.

Still, Mayall, now 81, sees the road the same way he did when he was 21:

I don’t think it’s changed at all. You know what you want to play, and if you get the right guys it all comes together and clicks. We have a great time and it’s exciting and we communicate that to an audience. If we’re not excited and having fun, then they won’t be.

Find a Way to Care, Mayall’s second album for Forty Below Records, was released last Friday.


Simulated Fifties glam

Filmmaker Jeff Peabody dates this 60-second spot to 1956, which is of course wishful thinking:

Still, he nails the scene and the branding, though in ’56 Van Raalte (which faded in the late 1990s after becoming basically a Sears store brand) had been using “Because you love nice things” as its tagline for many years. And “Harlem Nocturne” in the background is perfect.

And were I ever to say “Aren’t you forgetting something?” in these circumstances — well, there’s no chance of actually being in these circumstances, and I suspect there’s a limit to my deviousness. Maybe.

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Blung forward

The best justification for bling I’m ever likely to see:

On a Facebook thread the other day, Straight Outta Compton (which I loved) was being discussed and a guy showed up and said he didn’t like hip hop, he said he had a “visceral reaction” to “the bling.”

But bling was (and always has been) a symbol of triumph/reveling in success/a signifier.

Nor is it a black thing, particularly:

Carl Perkins’ parents were sharecroppers. He sometimes worked from morning till night. He’d go to school, and would pick cotton before school and pick cotton after school. Poverty. And then — like with so many of these guys, then and now — he went from poverty to having money in a very VERY short period of time.

“Bling” is an upraised middle finger to the poverty in your past, a triumphant statement along the lines of “getta load-a what I just did, all by my damn SELF.” Of course you would want your wealth to be seen by all. What would be the point otherwise?

What, indeed? Just like there is no more fervent believer than the recent convert, there is no more willing spender than the recently poor. And it’s hard as hell to blame them for that, given society’s ongoing tendency to look down its nose at those on the bottom rungs:

All these guys — Carl Perkins, Sam Phillips — and all the blues artists who inspired them — dressed to the NINES the second they got a paycheck and would buy an entire head-to-toe pink suit and a bright red felt fedora, or an entire electric blue suit, or glittery rings and watches. Attention-getting. As Dave Marsh observed in his Elvis book (and it could apply to all these guys): what Elvis wanted, more than anything, was to be an “unignorable man.” This is what unremitting poverty does to a person, the shame it activates, and sometimes the determination. Bling is a message. Bling is a warning… It doesn’t just mean that you have “made it.” It means that you have made it OUT.

It’s not called Straight Outta Compton for nothing.

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Invention needed

There are few contraptions in our culture as counterproductive as the contemporary car alarm, which is loud and annoying to an extent hitherto unknown in society — and for what? By the time the damned thing’s been shut off, the vandals have already taken their leave and your GPS unit.

I call, here, for the rush development of any and all workable alternatives. My current thinking calls for the delivery of a swift but silent poisoned dart into the body of the perp. (“Are you saying that vandals ought to die?” Why the hell not?) This wouldn’t require any more smarts than most current infotainment systems possess, though retrofitting it to older vehicles would presumably be problematic.

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Source of all sources

The Venn diagram that explains every other Venn diagram:

Venn diagram shirt by Tenso on Threadless

A closer look, you ask?

The Ur-Venn!


Strange search-engine queries (501)

If you have Monday off, or even if you don’t, this Monday-morning feature is still around, showing you what lengths people will go to in the search for, um, let’s call it “information.”

daily double dirty worn wet discharged pantie with pantyliner:  Then again, maybe “information” is the wrong word.

f4 anvil:  The lower-priced alternative to Acme.

Buy don’t like the ear uncomfortable than eat shit Want to buy a sennheiser earplugs, please recomm:  When you’re in those coprophagic moods, the only thing that matters about earbuds is whether the cord gets in the way of your lunch.

Rove all over the world children suddenly the rain arena, I wish you have a dream for a hors:  My dream kingdom for a dream horse!

viral video proves the internet loves shade balls:  The Internet loves balls, shade or otherwise.

how many variations are there for the cd4e transmission:  At this point, two: broken, and not broken.

elkhart indiana stolen saab 97x black suv:  Well, it’s certainly not here.

jim develops 5 java applications a year. joe develops 10 java applications a year. jim gets paid $5000.00 per application:  Joe gets paid $1500 per application, quits, and goes off to write games for Android.

if the purpose of this paragraph is to persuade readers to eat tortillas:  It probably should have been written tomorrow, on Taco Tuesday.

whats third base with a guy:  I don’t know. (Third base.)

“wreck the dress” | “destroy the dress” | “drown the gown” | “trash the dress”:  Excuse me, but are you having an issue with this dress?

slammed cars:  Often they are slammed into bridge abutments.

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Added to the itinerary

Now and then I hear about A Place I Need To See before the curtain comes down. For example:

This got my attention with Pinkie-like speed, and before noon I was poking through Flickr looking for photos that made sense in this context. Here’s one:

Solvang California by Vanessa Rose

Were it not for the motor vehicles, you could almost see it. Or at least I can.

(Photo credit: Vanessa Rose. Here’s her Flickr original.)


Lines like that

Said I the other day: “Baseball is basically statistics plus sweat.” And truth be told, sometimes the statistics are more interesting:

Bryce Harper’s bat is one of baseball’s most feared weapons, but on Thursday night at Nationals Park, the slugger’s lumber was just one more observer.

Harper put together a performance unlike any other in Major League history in the Nationals’ 15-1 win over the Braves, reaching base four times and scoring four runs, all without an official at-bat.

His final batting line — zero at-bats, zero hits, four runs, one RBI and four walks — was truly unique. It’s the first time in modern history that a hitter has drawn at least four walks and scored four runs and driven in a run without a hit or an at-bat.

Nice lumber, slugger.

Then again, obviously Atlanta didn’t want to pitch to him:

On Thursday, the Braves didn’t throw him one to hit. Harper saw 20 pitches from three pitchers in his four at-bats, and the bat stayed put on his shoulder for all 20.

The Braves may take solace in the fact that those three pitchers in aggregate managed four actual strikes among those twenty pitches.

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Playing doctor 2.0

A day doesn’t go by that someone doesn’t ask this:

Guys keep pressuring me to send them nudes, I tell them no but they don’t listen. The guys who ask usually send me pictures first. I don’t like giving into peer pressure but I have before. So what do I do or say to the people who ask????

Perhaps there should be an FAQ on such matters, written by an authority on the subject. I nominate Robert Stacy McCain:

So-called “sexting” is such a disastrously bad idea that I shouldn’t even have to explain why it’s a bad idea. Here is the thing: The “sexting” participant provides his or her partner with evidence — a permanent digital record of text messages and images — that the partner can then use as he or she pleases. Any young woman who sends nude selfies to a guy can just presume that he will immediately show the photos to all his friends. They always do. That’s why guys ask for nude photos from girls, in order to display them to their buddies as trophies. Any guy who asks for a nude photo is a creep, and any girl who sends a nude photo is a fool. The fact that we now have laws against so-called “revenge porn” (i.e., the unauthorized distribution of nude photos and/or videos, typically as revenge against an ex-girlfriend) does not change the reality that only a fool would ever send a nude photo of herself to a guy, and it is not “victim-blaming” to say so, no matter what any feminist tries to tell you.

“But Stacy, all the kids are doing it!”

No, they are not, and that kind of peer-pressure excuse is part of the problem. Responsible adults do not endorse foolish behavior simply because it is common behavior, and “sexting” is foolish behavior. Even if you did want to engage in reckless promiscuity, it would be foolish to create a permanent digital record of such behavior.

Of course, the question is almost always asked by someone in her teens, in which case the laws involved get seriously harsh seriously quickly: grownup nudes are one thing, but you can’t spell “jailbait” without, um, jail.

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Quote of the week

If it’s not Apocalypse Now, it’s Real Soon Now:

We haven’t witnessed this level of refugee flight since World War II, or possibly even the Great Flood, leading us to question what may have changed so radically and so powerfully, to produce such movement on so massive a scale.

Well, we don’t have to look far. The fact is, conditions endured in their homeland by most of these folks are so starkly horrific that even the prospect of death by drowning, or suffocation, or from slow-roasting in the packed-to-the-hatches holds of barely-floating derelict steamers, does little to deter them. They reason, quite properly, that whatever hell may await them in their transit, or however miserable the conditions they will encounter as and if they actually find whatever foreign shore they seek, these can be no worse than those they flee.

This cannot, however, inform their new host nations what actions they may take to absorb them. The result has been abysmal: tens of thousands dying en route, hundreds of thousands camped in filthy shantytowns, angry altruists demanding justice for the refugees and angrier citizens demanding an end to the torrent of strange people speaking strange languages and insisting on their right to asylum.

Here, no words of solace issue from our leaders — only a growing perplexity about how to address both the compassionate and the frightened sectors of their electorate. Which leads us to the final indicator that the apocalypse is indeed upon us.

We have pestilence and famine, we have war and certainly we have death. All that is now required is the emergence of the Antichrist — someone who, like P. G. Wodehouse’s Lord Ickenam, “would be up to some kind of hell that would ultimately stagger civilization and turn the moon to blood.”

And who, then, will be our Uncle Fred?

Enter Donald Trump. Has any figure in memory risen so swiftly and so far in the eyes of the enlightened from harmless notoriety to a height of infamy rivaling Lucifer himself? Certainly the progressive element of society loathes him with almost breathless vigor, falling over itself in a concerted attempt to snuff out what started as a brushfire and has now erupted into a full-fledged inferno. Where his actual remarks themselves seem insufficiently outrageous, the righteous are pleased to infer or openly invent interpretations more scurrilous still.

Keep in mind that Frederick Altamont Cornwallis Twistleton’s singular talent was impersonation. What’s to stop him from putting a hedgehog on his head and buying a microphone?

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Excessive archness

I have two pairs of New Balance 925s, classic black walking shoes with hook-and-loop strap fasteners (think Velcro) in place of laces, although a lace-up version was sold under the same number. Both are worn beyond usability, so I threaded my way up to the nearest New Balance store, in deepest Edmond. As I entered, a woman approached, and I’m pretty sure the first thing she did was check to see if I was wearing NBs. (I was: 1122s.) I explained my situation: the shoes I was wearing were 14 double-E and just a hair pinchy, if you will, so I’m thinking I may need a 4E or wider. Sensibly, she brought out the legendary Brannock device, and the measuring began.

She looked perplexed. “Based on toe position, you should be wearing a 12 or 13.” Okay, if you say so. She hurried off to the stacks and returned with a 928 (replacement for 925) in 13 4E. It fit, kinda sorta, but the straps wouldn’t reach more than halfway across. “Ridiculously high arch,” I said, because, well, it is.

So the stage was set: 14 6E. Except that they’re backordered until — “Officially, it says here the fifth of October. I think it will be more like the end of October.” So be it. They are on order. I may try to gank one from Amazon or Zappos in the interim, because I’d just as soon have two pairs. The price on the 928 has risen a bit from what I paid for the 925s, but so what else is new? (There is also a women’s 928, at the same price: $134.99.)

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Everything but existence

Karl Waldmann had it all: the talent, the drive, and the inspiration of purest Dada. What he may not have had was actual human life:

Kunsthaus Dresden, the city’s contemporary art gallery, has removed works by an artist named Karl Waldmann after the police announced it was investigating whether there ever was anyone with that name.

Waldmann, according to his biography [pdf] on the website of the virtual “Waldmann Museum,” was a German-born Dadaist who never exhibited any of his work and “disappeared” in 1958. A French journalist supposedly acquired all of his known oeuvre — more than 1,000 works — in a flea market in Berlin in 1989.

Doubts about Waldmann’s existence have flourished of late:

Late last month, the journalist Thomas Steinfeld wrote in the Süddeutsche Zeitung that Waldmann probably was an invention. No references to the artist can be found during his alleged lifetime, and none of the curators who have selected Waldmann’s works for their exhibitions have had any idea of the collages’ true provenance. Chemical analysis of the paper used in the collages has found chemicals that could only have been used since the 1940s, although the works’ style is firmly fixed in the first 30 years of the 20th century.

Steinfeld went so far as to say that the Waldmann portfolio ought to be locked up until its provenance can be determined. But it’s not like the works are causing any grief to their owners:

Indeed, this could be a victimless crime. Even if Waldmann never existed, the collages are not exactly fakes. They are anonymous creations that people buy because they like them — but more likely, because they are good conversation starters: a mysterious artist, echoes of Russian and German totalitarian pasts, Dadaism, Bauhaus.

And at €10,000 and up, they ought to be.

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Future breakthrough from the distant past

Pioneer, after all, knows something about frickin’ lasers:

The self-driving cars of the future are coming, but to get here a little bit quicker, they may use technology straight out of the 1980s.

Pioneer is launching manufacturing trials of a new LIDAR (light detection and ranging) system that could help autonomous vehicles scan the world around them, and the company is leaning on its decades of experience with laserdiscs to develop it.

You remember the LaserDisc, don’t you? (If you don’t, dial back to this 1998 piece.)

Driverless vehicles like the Google car already use LIDAR tech to “see,” but the units are very expensive. In fact, the roof-mounted sensors can cost as much as the cars themselves, ranging in price from about $25,000 to over $70,000. Pioneer’s contribution, however, is expected to be much cheaper. By basing its products on the optical pickups used to scan laserdiscs, Pioneer hopes it can bring to cost down to around $85 by 2025, reports Nikkei.

My current LaserDisc player has held up nicely for the last, um, 25 years. (It was around $500 new, or about a third less than the first one I bought in 1982.) The format does have one disadvantage, as pointed out by the submitter of this Fark link: “Not mentioned is if passengers will be required to flip the car halfway to their destination.”

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A merman it’s your turn to be

Not exactly a cast of thousands, I surmise:

In the Jimi Hendrix Case only you, Detective Jimi Hendrix can solve the mysterious murder of Jimi Hendrix, with a crazy cast of characters from Officer Jimi Hendrix, to secretary Jimi Hendrix, to fishmonger Jimi Hendrix there to help and hinder you on your way. In case you hadn’t guessed, in The Jimi Hendrix Case, everyone is Jimi Hendrix.

Wait, what?

The Jimi Hendrix Case is a new short point-and-click adventure game made for the latest Monthly Adventure Game jam, the prompt for which, funnily enough, was Hendrix. And one of the rules was that the game must relate to fish in some way. I won’t go into detail but let me just say that I truly admire the way the creators of the game, Benjamin Penney and K. Williams, took these rules to heart.

Screenshots and a download link here.


Bits of you everywhere

I was taken aback by this, not so much from its origins, but from its implications:

My online life has already gone on for 30 years, and if I have any secrets left — but never mind, let’s not go there.