System of a John

A mashup of “Chop Suey!” and “Crocodile Rock” simply should not work.

And yet:

I watched this three times in succession, and somehow survived.

(Via Baeble.)

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Last few days, I’ve seen a curious sign planted at various places along Classen: “CASH FOR DIABETIC TEST STRIPS,” followed by a phone number. This made little sense to me until I hit the search engines and came up with this story from a few years back:

To people with diabetes the little strips are certainly worth something. They cost only a few cents to make, but sell for $1 or more each.

With a markup of up to 95 percent it’s not difficult to understand why a black market of sorts has sprouted up for the strips. On eBay [there were] hundreds of offers for diabetic test strips starting at a fraction of the retail cost — and on Craigslist as well.

Apparently they’ll even take — and subsequently resell — expired strips.

If there’s one thing you can count on, it’s that a scam that makes money at Point A will be replicated at Points B through Z inclusive.

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If you see these records on the road, buy them

Nancy Friedman has several contemporary examples of “Branding with Buddha,” which, by the current standards of advertising, might conceivably be considered the Middle Way. If we go back half a century or so, though, we find this:

Yummy Yummy Yummy on Buddah 38Buddah Records was born of corporate necessity. Partners Hy Mizrahi, Phil Steinberg and Artie Ripp had expanded their Kama Sutra Productions into a full-fledged record label in 1965 with distribution and financial assistance from MGM Records. By 1966, the fate of Kama Sutra Records was a bone of contention between its founding triumvirate and its major-label benefactor. At this point, Art Kass, MGM’s financial liaison to Kama Sutra, left the former to become the latter’s comptroller and help establish a fully-independent label.

In early 1967, Buddah Records took out a full-page trade ad to announce “its first #1 Record,” “Yes, We Have No Bananas” by The Mulberry Fruit Band.

So saith Bill Pitzonka in the notes to the 1996 CD reissue The Complete Buddah Chart Singles Volume One. And “Bananas” did not chart, but it was, technically, #1: the catalog number was BDA 1. Still unexplained: why this Shiva-like figure was appearing on Buddah’s label. (A more appropriate image was adopted for a 1972 label redesign; in 1988, RCA, custodian of the label, corrected the spelling to Buddha.) Much of Buddah’s Sixties material was purest bubblegum, though they always had a soul-music presence, and by the mid-Seventies their biggest act was Gladys Knight and the Pips.

Buddah/Buddha is inactive presently; the late record producer/archivist Bob Hyde wrote a more-than-you-needed-to-know history of the label that touches on just about every hit they ever had.

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Hemployment compensation

Overdid it on the marijuana-laced baked goods, did you? You’re getting no sympathy here:

“The packages of edibles are labeled that they contain marijuana, but once they’re out of the package, they’re indistinguishable from a brownie or lollipop bought at a grocery store,” he said.

Having been to Amsterdam last year, I’m gonna call bullshit on that. I had never had pot before in my life and I knew good and well that what I might or might not have eaten was not a normal brownie. It stinks. And it doesn’t taste good. So I’ve heard, anyway. I will assume that a lollipop also stinks and tastes nasty. Pot edibles are not eaten because they are yummy. Kids might still pick some up and eat them anyway (kids with no taste) but if an adult is fed these unbeknownst to them they are simply a dunderhead who has no sensory awareness at all. And the state should have zero responsibility to protect dunderheads or people who don’t follow instructions.

The problem with that, of course, is that we keep electing dunderheads, and they have a tendency to protect their own.

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Darth Vader’s swamp cooler

Movincool Classic PlusThis vaguely robotic-looking device is the replacement for the original server farm air conditioner, which was booted by persons unknown before dawn on Tuesday, prompting this burst of umbrage. Other offices in the complex had their old boxen replaced by similar new boxen, but I somehow rated Special Treatment, which, as none of you will be surprised to hear, always pushes my suspicion button.

It turns out that the thing has much to recommend it besides its retro-science-fiction (or perhaps carnival peep-show, if you have humongous anime eyes) appearance: it doesn’t require a 220 (or worse) line, it’s movable to a certain extent, and, says the blurb, it “handles temperatures up to 113°F.” The record high for this town is, um, 113°F, and I’ve lived to see it.

There’s a footnote which says: “Exhaust duct required in most cases.” In this particular case, it’s God’s own dryer vent, one of those accordion-pleated tubes, fully 12 inches across and 10 feet long. A former central-air duct was pressed into service as an exhaust port, and the distance from the ceiling to the top of the unit was maybe six feet. Tentatively, we hit the power button, and watched in horrified fascination as four feet of tube spewed forth. “Danger, Will Robinson!” quipped the sysadmin.

I didn’t hang around for extensive testing, but the temperature dropped a degree and a half in nine minutes flat, which is fine with me. (This room is not heated; even in the dead of winter, the machinery keeps the temperature in the upper 60s.)

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We’re so tired

I must point out that I get a lot less done than I let on:

I suspect the reason some people are so much more productive than others is that they have spouses who don’t work so long outside the house (if they do at all) and those spouses take care of them. Yes, I’m saying I’d like to go back and somehow be a stereotypical 1950s husband. But really: work is a full-time job, taking care of the house, laundry, cooking, and marketing is a full-time job, and during the warm months here, taking care of the yard is a full-time job. That’s three full-time jobs. And that’s terrible. I probably need to break down and hire a lawn service, I don’t know.

I’m toying with the idea of getting someone to mow; I’ve already (as of the beginning of 2013) signed with a weed/feed specialist. In combination, this would run close to $1000 a year. On the other hand, it would free up some time I can obtain no other way, with the possible exception of Not Sleeping, which is not an acceptable option.

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Tighter than Jack Benny’s banker

Page 1 from Thunder Extra in the Oklahoman 5-1-14“That’s what they’re supposed to write,” said Kevin Durant blandly. “I didn’t come through for the team. So they got to write that type of stuff.” Now whether or not this egregious nonsense was intended to motivate KD — the newspaper issued an official apology after, shall we say, largely negative response from the readership — clearly something got into him: Kid Delicious knocked down 36 points and retrieved ten rebounds before the onset of blessed garbage time at 2:46. Nor was this the only Thunder adjustment, either: Scott Brooks, caution apparently thrown to the winds, started Caron Butler in place of Thabo Sefolosha. Forget overtime: OKC 104, Memphis 84, and Game 7, always referred to as “if necessary,” will be necessary.

The Griz had a few problems tonight. For one thing, they couldn’t knock down shots: they shot only 37 percent and missed a third of their free throws. Mike Conley, who’s had moments in this series when he seemingly scored at will, was held to five points (2-10). Marc Gasol had a team-high 17, and often-overlooked reserve forward James Johnson led the reserves with 15. But here’s the Telltale Statistic: the Grizzlies, as physical as any team in the Association, recorded exactly one block, courtesy of Courtney Lee. Serge Ibaka had four all by himself. Steven Adams had five.

And maybe that was the difference tonight: the willingness to mix it up with those brutes from Beale Street. The Thunder owned the boards, to the tune of 47-36. There was that 11-1 block differential. And if OKC was horrible from the three-point circle — it was Durant’s fault for missing six while the rest of the team was 7-15 — the Griz were worse at 3-14. As for Russell Westbrook, he took fewer but marginally better shots, 9-21 for 25 points. Butler, in his unaccustomed role as a starter, played 29 minutes and scored 7; more to the point, he provided defense that was roughly comparable to, but different from, what could be expected from Sefolosha, and that may have befuddled the Griz just a hair.

So we’re back to square one: 48 minutes for all the marbles. Or maybe 53 minutes. Or however long it takes.

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Utter twaddle

Seriously: how much does it matter if someone is wrong on the Internet?

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Poster boy for mansplaining

“How dare a mere girl drive something I want?”

Yahoo Answers screenshot: Why do women buy the most expensive model of cars?

To elaborate:

I just saw a girl in an SRT-8 Jeep, I do a lot of driving for work and notice women never seem to buy base models of cars. Guys tend to get what they can afford. Is it because women have other people making their payments or do they just not mind making a $1,000 a month payment for every option available?

Green’s obviously his color.

For ten points, what is the probability that this guy has ever had a second date?

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Darth Vader melted his brain

That may be the one and only explanation:

Turns out, among the things Alan Grayson is requesting from his estranged wife in his response to Lolita’s (yep, it’s still funny) divorce filing are a six-bedroom home and seven separate vehicles, including a mint condition, 1981 De Lorean.

Yes, a De Lorean.

Because, you know, the only people more underpaid than Congressmen — oh, the hell with it:

If the allegations of bigamy are true, it releases Grayson from paying alimony, and being as poor as he is (he’s only the 11th wealthiest member of Congress, with a net worth of $31 million) he could certainly use the break, though it probably doesn’t release him from paying child support for his small, ragtag band of children apparently named as environmentally-friendly X-Men characters or a second-generation Captain Planet cast: Storm, Sage, Skye, Star and Stone.

I’d ask “Where do they find these people?” but then I’d remember that “they” are in Florida.

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Quote of the week

Dead Pony Club labelBritain’s Portman Group, a trade group of brewers and distillers and such, is assigned the task of, says Wikipedia, “advocacy of responsible drinking and research into UK alcohol consumption.” And they will tell you that they were just doing their job when they ruled that BrewDog’s marketing campaign for its Dead Pony Club ale “encourages both anti-social behaviour and rapid drinking.”

BrewDog, the largest Scottish independent brewery, was suitably apologetic:

“On behalf of BrewDog PLC and its 14,691 individual shareholders, I would like to issue a formal apology to the Portman Group for not giving a s*** about today’s ruling.

“Indeed, we are sorry for never giving a s***about anything the Portman Group has to say, and treating all of its statements with callous indifference and nonchalance.

“Unfortunately, the Portman Group is a gloomy gaggle of killjoy jobsworths, funded by navel-gazing international drinks giants. Their raison d’être is to provide a diversion for the true evils of this industry, perpetrated by the gigantic faceless brands that pay their wages.”

It goes on from there.

(Via Fark. This is not even slightly related to Dead Pony Flying, a short-short story by, um, me.)

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What a neat idea

A friend of mine posted this to a listserv:

A local news broadcast is asking viewers to post comments on the station’s Facebook page about their strangest Google searches.

You know, I should try something like that one of these days.

Oh, you mean searches I myself have conducted? Not on your life.

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Third greatest blog idea ever

It’s called, with disarming simplicity, “My Husband’s Stupid Record Collection,” a phrase with which I am entirely too familiar, and this is what it’s about:

This project was my idea, inspired by maybe one too many glasses of wine last weekend, when I was in charge of changing the music. “I can’t believe there are so many records here that I have never listened to. I should try to listen to all of them. And then write about it.” So here we are.

Since hubby has a volume of vinyl not unlike my own — somewhere on the far side of 1500 records — this could easily take a while. So far, she’s made it up to Black Sabbath.

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Take me to your liter

For the most part, the US has resisted the metric system, perhaps, I suspect, to avoid looking like a seven-stone weakling on the world stage when the conversion inevitably takes place. (Which it will; future politicians will be keen to curry favor with the rest of the world, inasmuch as current politicians have been busily reducing their capacity to exert any meaningful force.) One aspect of metrification I hadn’t considered, however, is its potential effect on prose: once the population is assimilated, dozens of formerly standard idioms would perforce require either footnotes or inline translation.

Francis W. Porretto takes it one step further, because that’s what he does:

Millions of books already in print are lousy with Imperial units. Consider especially the horror that would be “metrified porn”: “Deftly he slid his twenty-five-centimeter joystick into her welcoming love tunnel, buried his face in her velvety hundred-centimeter bosom, and began to newton away.” Unthinkable!

Note: The liter, as seen in the title, is not a proper SI unit: they’d prefer you referred to cubic meters, each of which contains 1000 liters. Also, they’d prefer you spelled those words “litre” and “metre.”

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Also available in HD

Which, often as not, stands for “Horrible Detail.” Did you ever notice that A&E, for instance, has very little E and nothing resembling A? This is how it happens:

Maybe there’s some kind of evolutionary arms-race thing in there: a channel starts out with high intentions, it’s going to show smart programming. But then, to get ad-revenue dollars, they find they have to get eyeballs. And by and large in our culture, the way to get eyeballs is either to have really good programming (which is hard to do and expensive, and often really good programming doesn’t capture audience) or to have something sensationalistic — either the aforementioned freak show, or a show with lots of people shouting at each other and barely-bleeped four-letter-words. And so, the channel goes, “Okay. We’ll put on a show following this particular subculture and see how it does. Maybe we can even claim it’s ‘educational,’ seeing as people mostly don’t know about this subculture…” and so on. And then they decide they need a show about tattoo artists. And one about the Amish. And one involving either a pawn shop or antiques pickers. And a weird medical show. And a cooking competition show. And a show about the supernatural. And slowly, this channel that once planned on being different becomes oh, so much the same as the others.

I thought we got cable to have diversity of programming?

As in most areas of the culture, “diversity” is primarily a numbers racket: if you have 106 channels, hey, it’s got to be diverse, right? In the cable context, “diversity” means that on each “topic” you have four largely indistinguishable channels, usually one owned by NBC Universal, one by Disney, one by Viacom, and one by Fox. Smaller players occasionally bob to the surface, but are quickly slapped back down. And since the bigger players control the largest number of eyeballs, they can enforce their will: if you want Obscure Disney Toons, you have to take at least three flavors of ESPN.

Fortunately, this is the sort of thing that can’t go on forever, and, as Herb Stein assures us, it won’t.

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SLAPPed around

SLAPP is a term we hear entirely too often, simply because the procedure it describes is used entirely too often. Let Michael Bates explain:

In a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation, a plaintiff seeks to punish the defendant for expressing his opinion or stating a fact he doesn’t like aired publicly by subjecting him to a costly legal process. The SLAPP plaintiff can achieve his objective — silencing criticism — even if he ultimately loses his case in court. The cost in time, money, and anxiety of defending the lawsuit will deter the defendant from future criticism and may also deter others from speaking out.

This sort of behavior is intolerable, and we can expect more of it — in some of those other states, maybe. Oklahoma, meanwhile, is discouraging it:

The Oklahoma Citizens Participation Act authorizes a special motion to dismiss to be filed and heard early in the process. The motion must be filed within 60 days after the suit is filed, and discovery is suspended until the court rules on the motion. The hearing on the motion must be held within 60 days of its filing, (The time may be extended to 90 or 120 days under special circumstances, but 120 days is the limit.) After the hearing, the court has 30 days to rule.

The defendant must first establish that the suit is based on, relates to, or is in response to his exercise of his freedom of speech, freedom to petition government, or freedom of association.

In response, the plaintiff must establish “by clear and specific evidence a prima facie case for each essential element of the claim in question.” The defendant can obtain dismissal of the case if he can establish “by a preponderance of the evidence each essential element of a valid defense” to the plaintiff’s claim.

What makes this different from an ordinary motion to dismiss is that the judge can go beyond “the four corners” of the complaint. The court doesn’t have to take the plaintiff’s charges at face value.

If the court dismisses the case, the court is required to award court costs, reasonable attorney fees, and legal expenses as well as sanctions “sufficient to deter the party who brought the legal action from bringing similar actions.”

If the motion to dismiss is “frivolous or solely intended to delay,” the court may award costs to the plaintiff.

The Act was signed into law by Governor Fallin last week, after passing both houses with not a single Nay vote. Typically for Oklahoma legislation, it goes into effect on the first of November.

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