From a small room

Last night we checked in with Celine, the Shoe Girl, and she was quite enthusiastic about her new Prada wedges: “Love the shit outta them,” she said.

She apparently wasn’t kidding:

Prada wedge

I won’t even ask who took this shot.

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A life of danger

Dave Schuler has a nice little remembrance of Johnny Rivers, now 70, whom he elevates to the Pantheon:

For my money Rivers is one of the greatest of all rock performers and one of the finest of all rock guitarists, right up there with Chuck Berry, Jimi Hendrix, and Eric Clapton. Few people today seem to know his name. That’s ironic because so many of them are familiar with his music. Frequently, when they think of a Chuck Berry tune, they’re actually thinking of Johnny Rivers’s rendition of it.

Especially if it’s “Maybellene” or “Memphis,” both of which were big hits for Rivers.

I’ve always wondered if it was Rivers or Chuck Day who did that blistering solo on “Secret Agent Man”; I tend to lean toward Day, who apparently conjured up the riff, but either way, it was a fabulous record, and an obvious inspiration for this celebrated TV theme:

Obligatory pony content: Tara Strong, the voice of Raven on Teen Titans, is the speaking (but not singing) voice of Twilight Sparkle on My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.

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Meanwhile in the Oranges

Well, one of them, anyway: West Orange, New Jersey, where Jake Freivald runs the obscure local (but not social) site westorange.info, the presence of which apparently so disturbed township attorney Richard Trenk that he dispatched a nastygram to Freivald demanding that the site be closed and the domain surrendered.

Counsel for Freivald responded in a possibly appropriate manner:

I am pro bono counsel to Jake Freivald and write in response to your “cease and desist letter,” dated May 13, 2013, regarding his domain westorange.info. Obviously it was sent in jest, and the world can certainly use more legal satire. Bravo, Mr. Trenk!

Not that we didn’t get the joke … but since Mr. Freivald had not previously encountered a humorous lawyer, he actually thought your letter may have been a serious effort by the Township to protect its legitimate interests. Rest assured, I’ve at least convinced him that it was certainly not some impulsive, ham-fisted attempt to bully a local resident solely because of his well-known political views. After all, as lawyers you and I both know that would be flagrantly unconstitutional and would also, in the words of my 4-year old, make you a big meanie.

After which, it escalates. Mr. Trenk, we may assume, has now been properly initiated into the Streisand Effect.

(Via Fark.)

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Declaration of dependence

What were once curiosities are now necessities. Five years ago, getting email from your car via OnStar was something odd — bloggable, even. Today:

So when OnStar trial runs out on 2013 Chevy & car stops emailing me, how do I tell when to change the oil?

One is tempted to invoke RTFM, but I fear that somebody like this won’t be aware that TFM even exists.

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Formula for success

A fellow on Reddit named AugusttRush turned this up, and after verifying things with his old high-school chemistry textbook, pronounced it good.

Jessica Lee yearbook picture from Garfield High, wherever the hell that is

The Notorious B.I.G. would certainly have approved.

(Via HuffPo.)

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You call this social?

The social media evidently have it in for Rob O’Hara:

When I post new posts on robohara.com, notifications get posted to Facebook (via the FacePress plugin) and Twitter (via WordTwit). When I need to update both Facebook and Twitter at the same time, I’ve been using TweetDeck.

Over the past week FacePress, WordTwit, and TweetDeck have all stopped working. Cheese and rice, man.

It started with TweetDeck, which forced an upgrade and then informed users that the new version no longer supports Facebook. Essentially that means that TweetDeck now only supports Twitter. That’s stupid. If it only supports Twitter, then why would I use TweetDeck? The entire point of TweetDeck was that I could funnel multiple social streams into one single interface. If TweetDeck only supports Twitter, then I’m not sure what purpose it serves. From now on I’ll just go back to using Twitter’s default interface. TweetDeck has been deleted.

The reason TweetDeck did this, of course, is because Twitter bought it and didn’t want to expend any development time supporting someone else’s API, especially Facebook’s. (Early versions of TweetDeck even supported MySpace, fercryingoutloud.)

While troubleshooting TweetDeck, I noticed that my last couple of blog posts didn’t get posted on either Facebook or Twitter. Apparently, over the past week both sites updated their APIs, causing older plugins (like the ones I was running) to stop working. Facebook said, “update your plugin”. I checked the FacePress website and was informed that the plugin hadn’t been updated in three years. Greeeeeeeat. After an hour on Google I found that Jetpack for Facebook offers the same functionality — I just didn’t know it because I’ve been running an older version of Jetpack. After upgrading it, I was able to link robohara.com with Facebook once again.

Now this is out of my wheelhouse, since I’ve worked diligently to keep this site and Facebook as far apart as possible, but allow me to put in a few kind words for Jetpack, which I use on all my sites except this one: it does a whole lot without making you jump through (too many) hoops.

I had to do the same thing with Twitter. WordTwit had to be upgraded and new security keys had to be generated. After going all of that, I realized that Jetpack handles Twitter connections as well as Facebook connections, so after doing all the work to get WordTwit to work again I uninstalled it and added Twitter to Jetpack as well. Sheesh.

I used WordTwit for a while, but ultimately switched to WP to Twitter, mostly because it was better about serving up error messages. And in fact, most of the errors I encounter are due to slipping time stamps — server time here never exactly matches Twitter’s server time — or a failure to rouse the gnomes at bit.ly, rather than anything related to the plugin itself.

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Vertical shear

You know, if I were plummeting ten thousand feet to Certain Death, I might think of stuff like this too: “Five minutes of hanging in midair wondering if perhaps I’m in the middle of reversing my vasectomy through blunt trauma.”

Of course, down here on the ground, what I’m really thinking is “Does that actually work?

I mean, not that I need this procedure done or anything. (Though I’m sure it’s cheaper to jump out of a plane than it is to have a urologist retie the strands.)

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Unexpected convergence

A rare opportunity here: pony stuff and girly stuff in the same post.

Alessandra Ambrosio is a Victoria’s Secret Angel and, says Forbes, number six in earnings among all models for the 13 months ending May 2012 — and she was pregnant for nine of those months. (Son Noah was born on 7 May 2012.) She turned out Saturday for the modest Hollywood premiere of the My Little Pony movie, Equestria Girls:

Alessandra Ambrosio at EqG

She also has a four-year-old daughter named Anja, who attended the premiere with her.

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Time to gamma up

The alphas of the world, of course, don’t worry about dating: partners come to them. For the rest of us, there’s this:

No one really wants to know how they’re perceived by strangers. Even if you say you do, you don’t. But if you’re a one-and-done online dater, perpetually stuck in the awkward phase, a candid look at how people judge you might actually help.

BetaDater, developed by an engineer and an economist, is an online program that sets you up on short dates, then sends you honest, anonymous feedback afterward.

I question that term “anonymous”: you’re set up with three people, and while you won’t know specifically which one sent what piece of feedback — you’re supposed to get three from each — it’s not likely to be an NSA-grade secret, either.

The BD report ostensibly:

  1. compares your self-perception to that of your dates’,
  2. reveals what areas you may be overestimating or even underestimating the quality of your first impression, and
  3. gives you the data you need to ask “do people see me as I see myself?”

Clearly I am doomed.

(Via this Will Truman tweet.)

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‘Twas Brill

And the toves buying it don’t seem to be slithy, either:

New York’s famed center of songwriting and entertainment is under new ownership. The Brill Building, a landmark historic building located at 1619 Broadway at the corner of West 49th Street, has been purchased by real estate investor Eric Hadar of Allied Partners, along with the private equity firm Brickman, in a deal valued at close to $250 million.

“We have a vision to capitalize on the legendary reputation of the property by transforming it into a modern day creative center for fashion, arts, media and entertainment in New York,” said Hadar. “We are in active negotiations with a number of parties and expect to announce several exciting new retail and office tenants soon. We anticipate a grand reopening of the space in late 2014.”

The Brill dates back to 1931, when it was the Alan E. Lefcourt Building; Brill Brothers, a men’s-wear store whose operators also owned the lot at 1619, was occupying retail space on the ground floor. Lefcourt subsequently defaulted on his obligations, and the building was renamed for Brill. There remains a bust of Lefcourt over the entrance.

The Borogoves, asked for comment, claimed to be mimsy.

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Look, ma, no hands!

Allstate ad as seen on Equestria DailyNow I realize that Allstate is advertising on Equestria Daily, not to reach ponies, but to reach the human fans of ponies, who, unlike ponies themselves, are likely to have actual hands. Still, seeing this at the top of the EqD sidebar ad block made me emit very silly giggles.

And since ponies presumably do things that might require insurance — well, I wouldn’t expect much of a change should Allstate decide to set up shop some day in beautiful downtown Canterlot. From my short-short (2000 words) story Dead Pony Flying, the one and only Rainbow Dash tells of anointing her successor:

At least the Element of Loyalty is in good hooves. I’ll never forget Scootaloo’s face when they told her. “It’s the happiest day of my life,” she said. And then she looked at me and said “Oops.”

And “you’re in good hooves” produces enough Googlage to tell me that this would work as an Equestrian advertising slogan.

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The few, the proud, the followers

Twitter, in an effort to persuade users to buy ad space, is making some of their analytics available. Some of the stats to report about my followers (777 at last count):

  • 68% male, 32% female.
  • 85% from the US, 15% from outside.
  • 34% from Oklahoma. Next states in order: California (7%), Texas (5%), New York (3%).

Since at least some of those followers are institutional in nature, I suspect they count everything that isn’t explicitly female as male. I haven’t lately broken down those I follow similarly, but last time I did, there was a small female majority.

The Top Interests list is not quite what I expected:

  • 57% Business and news
  • 55% Politics and current events
  • 49% Comedy (Movies and television)
  • 34% Business and finance
  • 31% Comedy (Hobbies and interests)
  • 28% Political elections
  • 25% Government
  • 24% Talk radio
  • 23% Romance (Movies and television)
  • 22% Financial news

I don’t seem to draw a lot of sports fans.

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Plead now, avoid the rush

Nothing to hide, you think? Perhaps you should rethink that:

Every April, I try to wade through mounds of paperwork to file my taxes. Like most Americans, I’m trying to follow the law and pay all of the taxes that I owe without getting screwed in the process. I try and make sure that every donation I made is backed by proof, every deduction is backed by logic and documentation that I’ll be able to make sense of three to seven years later. Because, like many Americans, I completely and utterly dread the idea of being audited. Not because I’ve done anything wrong, but the exact opposite. I know that I’m filing my taxes to the best of my ability and yet, I also know that if I became a target of interest from the IRS, they’d inevitably find some checkbox I forgot to check or some subtle miscalculation that I didn’t see. And so what makes an audit intimidating and scary is not because I have something to hide but because proving oneself to be innocent takes time, money, effort, and emotional grit.

IRS, of course, is utterly oblivious to that “innocent until proved guilty” shtick: as far as they’re concerned, you’re Al Capone in yoga pants. It’s like NSA with withholding.

And speaking of NSA, it’s not like they are interested in customer service, except to the extent that the shadowy goons of enforcement can be considered their “customers”: if some grit-eating, scum-sucking, pencil-necked caller-ID spoofer pesters me on an extended basis, I can’t very well call up NSA and ask them “Who the hell is this, and can you arrange for a blast furnace with their name on it?”

This, unfortunately, is the case even if you’re not as grudge-ridden as I:

Sadly, I’m getting to experience this right now as Massachusetts refuses to believe that I moved to New York mid-last-year. It’s mindblowing how hard it is to summon up the paperwork that “proves” to them that I’m telling the truth. When it was discovered that Verizon (and presumably other carriers) was giving metadata to government officials, my first thought was: wouldn’t it be nice if the government would use that metadata to actually confirm that I was in NYC not Massachusetts. But that’s the funny thing about how data is used by our current government. It’s used to create suspicion, not to confirm innocence.

After all, each and every one of us commits, it is said, three felonies a day. “Innocence,” as a concept, is deader than the daguerreotype, or even the daguerreotype’s replacement.

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Planned plan undergoes planning

That’s the plan, anyway:

Northfield planning newspaper clipping

(Via Criggo.com, home of many arcane clippings.)

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Strange search-engine queries (385)

This is the time of the week when we dance our way through the logs and kick up anything weird that anyone was actually looking for. As the number suggests, we’ve done this several times before.

what is the different between the jatco 4 speed and the ford 4 speed transmission:  Enough to keep you from trying to swap one for the other.

i won’t fly anymore:  Pretty soon, the government will have to force you to fly so that the TSA can get its Recommended Daily Allowance of jollies.

can a monophonic recorded song be played back in stereo:  You can even play it back on Dolby 5.1. Still only one track of information.

methylvania:  Just north of Scaryland.

In OKC what is the dividing line between North and South numbered streets:  Sheridan Avenue. Which is maybe three miles long in a city that sprawls twenty by thirty.

sock and jocks:  You should probably wear both, though most people require two socks and at most one jock.

comment on men with wandering eyes:  So, all of them, then?

price of skyy vodka on lawton ok army base:  Um, you are 21, aren’t you?

i am sexually attracted to ponies:  This admission will not get you many dates with bipeds.

Pamela is the owner of a rare manuscript which Delilah would dearly love to have. Delilah writes a letter saying that she will pay Pamela $5000 for the manuscript if Pamela has its authenticity verified and:  Promises never to mention that Delilah had this horrible crush on Thunderlane.

little pony iphone dust cap dangling:  Not so loud. Some people get turned on by that sort of thing.

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Boomer bashing

Mark Alger (born circa 1954) has had enough of that sort of thing, thank you very much:

When we were born is not our fault. That there are assholes who, like the rooster who thought his crowing woke the sun, claim all manner of great and nefarious deeds in every generation is not good reason to tar the entire generation with the same brush. When you use “Boomer” as an insult to denigrate them, you insult me, too. If you are a friend, you’ll stop and consider before you speak.

Addressing one of the more serious complaints:

If you want to tag us with the decrepitude of American media and culture, please remember that was/is the end result of two movements — the Gramscian long march through the institutions, which took over the news media, literature, popular culture, the arts, and education from within, and the explicit instructions post the Russian Revolution from Lenin that international revolutionary Marxists should burrow into and subvert these institutions in the west as a matter of state policy. As the saying goes: not our fault. By the time we came along, it was pretty much fait accompli and all we could do was — as the Bible puts it — kick against the pricks. Which we did aplenty. We also warned the wider world — including the establishment — of the presence of communists in our midsts and operating fronts. But, check it out, the media. Already infiltrated.

Oh, and another thing:

If you’re an individualist of any stripe, what the hell are you doing applying collective standards to groups grievances? Isn’t that what the other side does that we object to all the time? Treat the people you encounter with respect as individuals, as you demand of the rest of the world. You’re right to want it for yourself; you are obligated to do so for those around you.

Fortunately, groups, with the exception of the grandly general “We the People,” have no standing under the Constitution. Not that anyone reads that hundred-year-old artifact these days.

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Sleeper awakes

A look at some of some of the stuff my dreams are made of, and also some ingredients that were left out of the mix.

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Turkey going to pieces

The front page of today’s edition of Taraf, a left-of-center (according to Wikipedia, anyway) newspaper published in Turkey, circulation around 80,000, is full of penguins. Now you should know that Taraf has locked horns with the Turkish military before, and is not exactly beloved of the Erdoğan government either.

But what you want to know is “What’s with the penguins?” This is what’s with the penguins:

Data surveillance? Where have I heard that?

If you haven’t been keeping up, here’s the BBC timeline so far:

31 May: Protests begin in Gezi Park over plans to redevelop one of Istanbul’s few green spaces

3 June: Protesters establish camps with makeshift facilities from libraries to food centres

4-10 June: Protests widen into show of anti-government dissent in towns and cities across Turkey; clashes between police and demonstrators

11/12 June: Night of clashes see riot police disperse anti-government demonstrators in Taksim Square, which adjoins Gezi Park; camps in the park remain

13 June: Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan issues a “final warning” to protesters to leave Gezi Park

14 June: Government agrees to suspend Gezi Park redevelopment plans until a court rules on the issue, PM holds talks with members of a key protest group

15 June: Police move in, clearing protesters from Gezi Park

But that’s not the whole story either. Again, the Beeb reports:

What began as a demonstration by environmentalists has mushroomed into something far bigger: a fight by disparate groups for greater freedom in Turkey and a preservation of the country’s secular order.

They see a government with an authoritarian, neo-Islamist agenda: the highest number of journalists in the world in prison, restrictions on alcohol sales, massive construction projects prioritised over human rights.

“This is not an Arab spring”, one protester, Melis Behlil, told me.

“We have free elections here. But the problem is that the person elected doesn’t listen to us.”

“The person elected doesn’t listen to us”? Where have I heard that?

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Lest the flood subside

Who wants open borders? Why, the rich who want to get richer, says the Crimson Reach, but not for the obvious reasons like cheap labor:

Notice that the places with the highest and (to the rest of the country) nominally-shocking house prices tend to all be places in which wealthy people live but with lots of lower-class people, including immigrants, in close proximity. Manhattan. The SF Bay Area. The Washington DC area. In all those places one finds huge disparity and stratification by class and (yes) race, geographically close but distinctly separate. Accordingly, in all those places one sees bidding wars to pay 2-3x to live in Good Location X (with “good schools”, wink) rather than 5-miles-away Bad Location Y.

Who does this help, most of all? The people who already own the “good locations”. Such people have a direct financial stake in making the “bad location” all the more badder so that the “good location” they own, automatically scarce as it is, gets only more valuable and in demand by people fleeing and scared of the “bad locations”.

This is probably less of a factor in Manhattan — all five boroughs are served by the New York City Department of Education, though there will be variations even then — but the same thing happens on a smaller scale in mid-sized metro areas too: if you duplicated a $250k Deer Creek house at, say, 36th and Post, you’d be hard-pressed to get anyone to pay more than $150k for it.

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Four legs better

If you ask me, the colossal joke about Equestria Girls, the mostly-human theatrical spinoff from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, is that it’s been booked in exactly one moviehouse in the entire state. In Stillwater, for Celestia’s sake.

Not that I’m thinking the film is going to be terrible or anything. Some extraordinarily talented folks brought us MLP:FiM, and by and large they’re the same folks behind EqG. So I’d expect, at the very least, technical proficiency throughout, and several really spiffy scenes.

National media, by and large, have been hostile, as they have been for all three seasons of the television series, mostly because they profess to be horrified that there is an audience for it outside the target market, by which they mean, um, guys. They’ll forgive the adult women in the fandom, maybe, but woe unto you, bearers of the Y chromosome. (I once called out Breitbart contributor Kurt Schlichter on some related point; he was apparently shocked to see such a thing in his tweetstream, but to give him credit, he kept his cool during the subsequent discussion, unlike a few of his putative acolytes.) Apart from the Hub itself, the only television source that’s generally pony-friendly is WTVY, the CBS affiliate in Dothan, Alabama; I am told that this is because there’s an actual brony on the news staff.

But nothing the ponies did in 65 episodes is quite so heinous as what their miniskirted teenage-girl counterparts do in 65 minutes, for several reasons:

  • The aforementioned miniskirts;
  • They’re all kind of on the thin side;
  • [insert "ponies of color" joke here].

Equestria Girls

Role models, doncha know. And it’s not like the, um, girls are being slutty or anything; it’s just that We Don’t Like This.

I’m not enthusiastic about it either, for the same reason I don’t particularly want to see a version of The Tempest with an all-marmoset cast. I realize that Hasbro, knowing that MLP is one of its few reliable gold mines of late, would like to extend the brand; then again, not all brand extensions are successful or even desirable. Be assured, though, that my little ponies — it says “My” right there on the label — are, and always will be, quadrupeds.

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