Not sophomoric

Cover art Meghan Trainor Thank YouMeghan Trainor’s Title album ran up such amazing numbers — exactly eight albums in the entire world outsold it in 2015 — that I was prepared for a major letdown with her second effort, Thank You. The story goes that Epic Records bossman L. A. Reid was not overly impressed with the album as it was presented to him, dismissing it as “an album of Nice Meghan,” prompting M-Train to go dash off a badass anthem with serious attitude. “No” was a hit, reaching #3, and at least some of the concerns were allayed.

The late-Fifties doo-wop feel of Title has been ruthlessly excised, replaced in most cases by R&B beats: “Watch Me Do” invokes, musically and lyrically, the spirit of James Brown, and “No” out-Britneys Britney. The slow acoustic songs don’t quite fare so well, except for “Kindly Call Me Down,” a visit to Adeleville that tugs at the heartstrings with the strength of a meathook. Sophomore slump? Maybe, to some extent. “Champagne Problems,” to be sure, isn’t a patch on Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Boy Problems.” But when something goofily upbeat like “Dance Like Yo Daddy” comes along, you get moving so quickly that you forget what a nifty lyricist Trainor really is. (“Simon says, go touch your nose / Meghan says, touch your toes / But like, I still can’t touch my toes.”) So long as the next album is not a double-length live set, I’ll keep on paying attention.

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Strange search-engine queries (537)

Every Monday morning we shake the dew off the lily, wash and dry, and then sort through a thousand or so log entries, looking for the inspirations of people out there who are looking for things. Some of the things they look for — well, take a look for yourself:

+meaning of are you in to big titis or a huge ass:  If you have to ask, you’re not going to encounter much of either.

2016 hyundai azera spanish fork:  Optional when you order the Romance Languages Flatware option ($295).

terrell’s science class volunteers at the pet shelter each week and assists with keeping the puppy cages clean. combining academic work with a community project is an example of:  A desperate plea for extra credit.

warren spends all his income on dvds and beer, currently consuming three dvds and ten beers. suppose the price of beer rises. we can infer that:  Warren will switch to Neflix and hopes to be able to chill.

bonds womens pantyhose 70d opaque electric blue average/tall:  Okay, you have my attention. Unless you’re talking about Bobby Bonds.

when bob noticed a pain in his thigh, he was convinced it was a sign of bone cancer. although x-rays revealed no sign of cancer, bob sought the opinions of a dozen other physicians who agreed with the original opinion. what:  Bob did not know is that eleven of those doctors were out of network and he was billed for $63,000.

tg://resolve?domain=stalin_gulag:  For some reason, the Solzhenitsyn function has fallen into desuetude.

bratty sisters converted to sex bots:  You have more faith in contemporary debrattification techniques than I do.

brian is very creative. if he goes a week without seeing another person, he doesn’t even notice. he likes to garden and is currently redesigning the entire landscape around his property. according to holland’s theory, what type of person is brian?  The sort of person who forgets to pay his property taxes for three years and ends up on the street drinking RoundUp.

gigger bites:  “Gigger”? Please.

barely-melted capacitor:  Connect the power supply just one more time. Let’s see if we can melt that sucker for good.

i love her yahoo answers:  Wait until you find out the reason why she was posting as Anonymous.

which one is beavis:  The one who looks more like Ted Cruz.

powered by gossamer links perversity:  Is that the new name for Tumblr?

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Now that’s a destroyer

The very first of the Zumwalt-class destroyers is, duh, the USS Zumwalt (DDG-1000), due to be commissioned in mid-September. It’s an impressive beast, to say the least:

USS Zumwalt stealth destroyer

The Zumwalt has stealth capabilities of a sort:

Although it’s huge, the Navy says this thing is surprisingly stealthy. Much of the ship is built on angles that help make it 50 times harder to spot on radar than an ordinary destroyer. “It has the radar cross-section of a fishing boat,” Chris Johnson, a spokesman for Naval Sea Systems Command, told CNN last year.

Captain James A. Kirk, commander of the USS ZumwaltIt’s not exactly a Romulan cloaking device, but it will do for now. Certainly you’ll get no argument from Captain Kirk.

Wait, what?

Capt. James A. Kirk will be commander of the Navy’s new USS Zumwalt, the first of the DDG-1000 class of destroyers. It is longer, faster and carries state-of-the-art weapons that will allow it to destroy targets at more than 60 miles away, according to the Navy.

You can’t tell me this isn’t nominative determinism, once removed.

Elmo Zumwalt (1920-2000) was Chief of Naval Operations in the early 1970s, appointed by Richard M. Nixon; Admiral Zumwalt had previously served as Commander Naval Forces, Vietnam.

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Stopping after none

I was one of five children, my mother one of seven. A friend has eight, with a ninth on the way. Surely there’s room for someone who doesn’t wish to have any.

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Not that they’d try at this point

The workplace has long since learned that my standard-issue scowl is at least as permanent as the buildings we occupy, and has lasted at least as long. It doesn’t stop them from trying to ward off my baleful influence on new arrivals, not that we have that many new arrivals to begin with. The law, however, is on my side:

More managers than ever are striving to create a happy workplace culture brimming with enthusiasm, rainbows, and increasingly obscure perks. But can a company actually require that employees be positive at work?

The National Labor Relations Board has weighed in on this question, and their answer is that you are free to be as grumpy or disagreeable as you please. Or, in other words, your employer can’t force you to be happy at your job.

And I suggest that this is doubly true when an Emergency Project comes up at 4 PM on a Friday. Maybe even trebly.

State law, at least in this state, holds that you can be sacked for something as trivial as picking your nose with the wrong finger. I don’t anticipate being a test case, but the future, generally, is not something I’m especially good at predicting.

(Via Shayna.)

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Hard luck, your lordship

As Cher Horowitz might have said, “As if”:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: I had to purchase a transmission less than 2 months of getting the car. The vehicle was repossed today. Can i retrive my transmission?

Yeah, like they’re going to just hand it to you.

At the time Sandy, my second Mazda 626, was totaled out after meeting up with a doe on a rural road, she was wearing spiffy new high-performance tires with barely a thousand miles on them. $650 down the chute. C’est la vie.

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On being merchandise

Pretty much everyone is agreed that slavery is a heinous thing, and we’re all better off without it. (I’d just as soon not hear from anyone who thinks we’re not better off without slavery, thank you very much.)

Then again, none of us actually lived in those days, so it’s all kind of theoretical to us — until we stumble upon something like this:

1855 slave sale poster

Typography aside, this could be an auto-dealer ad today, except for the lack of rebates.

Debra Monroe observes:

[P]osters like this were as common as dirt. They should be in history books in school — not college. School. One month of black history.

It doesn’t even have to be in February.

Side note: Lewis County, Kentucky is just south of the Ohio River. It’s 98 percent white; over 40 percent of county income is government benefits of one sort or another.

(Poster from the Facebook page Black Knowledge.)

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We are not delirious

Mexican actress Anahí Giovanna Puente de Velasco — you can just call her Anahí, everyone else does — occupies a rather uncommon spot near the intersection of Pop Culture and Politics: in her thirty-three years she’s been an actress, a member of a musical girl group, and a solo singer/songwriter, and last year she wed Manuel Velasco Coello, governor of the Mexican state of Chiapas.

One might expect from this CV that she’d have a certain visual appeal, and you’ll get no argument from me:

Anahí out in front

Anahí sitting in the back

A thousand kisses from Anahí and Pepsi

In 2009, Anahí came up with this poppy tune called “Mi Delirio,” which I think was her first entry into the Billboard US Latin chart, peaking at #29. Parts of the video are perhaps disturbing:

Then again, you don’t need Google to translate “Mi Delirio.”

Feliz cumpleaños, Anahí.

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McQuestion McAnswered

In the wake of Boaty McBoatface, Katy Waldman — not, you’ll note, Katy McKaterson — traces the origin of this odd bit of name construction:

By the time Adam Sandler introduced a creature called Fatty McGee on his double platinum comedy album They’re All Gonna Laugh at You in 1993, the parodic “Mc” had absorbed some bite from its association with McDonalds. In the ’80s and ’90s, a dismissive Mc often prefaced “something that is of mass appeal, a standardized or bland variety,” says the OED. In 1986, the sociologist Amitai Etzioni coined the word “McJob” to describe what the novelist Douglas Coupland would later immortalize in Generation X as “a low-pay, low-prestige, low-dignity, low benefit, no-future job in the service sector.” Like a McDonald’s hamburger, such positions were cheap, ubiquitous, and un-nourishing. A glib and pandering best-seller was a “McThriller.” A meretricious construction project was a “McMansion.” (Even today, couples in Hong Kong can get McMarried at a fast food outlet for about $1,300.)

But the Internet didn’t take up the “X-y McXerson” construction in earnest until 2001, according to lexicographer Ben Zimmer: “The first [Usenet] appearance of Hottie McHotterson (on rec.games.video.sony),” Zimmer writes, beat out “Fatty McFatterson, Stiffy McStifferson, Drinky McDrinkerson, Jewy McJewerson, etc.” Zimmer also notes a cornucopia of deprecative McNicknames for George W. Bush, including “Chimpy McBunnypants,” “Drinky McCokeSpoon,” and “Smirky McWarHardon.”

Apparently I picked up on this construction for the first time in 2010, in a reference to James Lileks:

Of course, if you do as much scanning as Lileks — but no. No one does as much scanning as Lileks. He’s the original Scanny McScannerton. He could probably justify an industrial-strength scanner that would make Great-gramma throw up her dentures in despair, but they’d make him pay industry-level prices for it, and I suspect he’d like to feed the family once in a while.

I’m surprised nothing along these lines has showed up in the cloud of effluent surrounding the 2016 general election; apparently Donald Trump prefers the name “John” [warning: autostart video], but that’s about it so far.

(Via Heather Froelich.)

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When the right name is still wrong

I mean, yes, it fits, but no, you shouldn’t:

Maybe a hyphen between the two words?

For the curious, area code 858 covers northern sections of San Diego County in California.

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Number deleted

There was some brief outcry earlier this week when Governor Fallin signed House Bill 3167; apparently some people thought this meant that speed limits in this state were canceled. It means, of course, nothing of the sort:

The speed limit set for the turnpikes, interstates and other state highways was erased in a bill, signed by the Governor Monday. That doesn’t eliminate current speed limits, but eliminates the maximum that was once set by law.

House Bill 3167 deletes the section of the law prescribing a maximum speed limit.

It replaces it with the following: “On a highway or part of a highway, unless otherwise established in law, a speed established by the Department of Transportation on the basis of engineering and traffic investigations used to determine the speed that is reasonable and safe under the conditions found to exist on the highway or part of the highway.”

Before that, there was a hard limit: 75 mph and no more.

ODOT, for its part, isn’t suggesting anything:

The Oklahoma Department of Transportation did not request the bill and did not oppose it, said Terri Angier, an agency spokeswoman.

The department has “no intention of raising any of the speed limits across the board on any of the highways, but it allows us to look at specific situations, if requested,” she said.

We’ll see 80 on the Turner Turnpike by this time next year. And the nimrods who currently drive 84 in a 75 zone will — well, actually, I’m not sure what they’ll do. About eight years ago, during a brief blast down a Texas highway posted at 80, I seldom saw anyone going much faster than 82 or 83.

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Meanwhile on Orange Street

Last month, I extolled the manifest virtues of nine-year-old journalist Hilde Lysiak, editor/publisher of Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania’s Orange Street News, and announced that I was going to take out an actual subscription — one year, $14.99 — to help support her effort. An issue, number 18, arrived this week, and it looks serious: eight pages, professionally printed and bearing a proper presorted postage inscription. (The mailing service is in Lewisburg, one county over.) Page 7 contains Community Announcements and about three-quarters of a page of actual advertising.

And there’s an editorial:

The front page story for the May issue of the Orange Street News is about how the vandal who has been terrorizing our community may have been caught. The police did a great job in catching the suspect and hopefully ending his reign of terror, but why did it take police so long to just give the suspect’s name to the media? […] The police in Selinsgrove need to remember that they work for the people. The people don’t work for the police.

Ms Lysiak appears to have been seriously ticked off.

Oh, and now she has a Wikipedia page, which reveals that despite her deep Pennsylvania roots, she was born in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, New York. Her dad used to work for the New York Daily News, and he “talks with Lysiak about her stories and occasionally helps tighten up a lede, but mostly leaves her in the driver’s seat.”

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Even bigger pharma

I was apprehensive when Target sold off its in-store pharmacy business to CVS, partly because the big drugstore chains have never given me any compelling reason to shop there, but mostly because I expected prices to rise. Late last month, the Target store nearest me — a third of a mile from the freestanding CVS store nearest me — underwent The Change, and I decided not to move any prescriptions for at least a month, so I could gauge what was going on. Having now received the first batch, I report.

Upside: CVS.com is less dumb than Target’s pharmacy site was, and way less dumb than the idjits to whom Target briefly tried to outsource the function. Once I learned the flow, which didn’t take long, ordering refills took about half as long. What’s more, CVS, if requested, will send text messages; at best, Target could have a disembodied voice in Minneapolis call you. Prices, at least for the moment, have changed hardly at all.

Downside: The polygonal Target pill bottle was a lot easier on the hands and eyes than is the standard-issue CVS (and everywhere else) cylinder.

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Sweet and simple

In an era of Rampant Overdecoration, I have to appreciate something like “Amanda” here:

Amanda pump from Shoesinitaly

That heel is 4.1 inches. And there are three non-black colors, should you prefer.

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Quote of the week

Robert Stacy McCain, scoffing at what we are being told is some sort of “masculinity crisis,” comes to Casablanca, not for the waters, but for a very specific character:

The weak and helpless need heroes who are strong and brave. Do not let weaklings tell you that your strength makes you a “bully,” and never let cowards make you ashamed of your courage. Do not seek praise from fools. They mock the hero because they resent his greatness, and express their envy by ridiculing his virtue. Do not let yourself become discouraged because you are misunderstood. To be insulted by fools is an honor.

Resist the temptation of self-pity. Never blame others for your own failures. When you find you must suffer for the evil that others have done, do not expect anyone to help you, but be grateful you have the strength to endure suffering. Survival is victory, when you are surrounded by enemies who wish you dead, as heroes so often are.

Laugh in the face of danger. You are a survivor. You have lived through hard times before, and have the scars to prove it. Hold your head high and be happy for each new day. Every new challenge is a chance to show those sons of bitches they can’t beat you. And if you ever find yourself in a moment of doubt, just ask yourself, “What would Rick Blaine do?”

Now I appreciate a interesting antihero as much as the next guy, but it’s the hero, the one who does the right thing because it’s the right thing, who’s going to save the world, or the part of it that’s worth saving anyway.

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Don’t be Evil McEvilface

This is the sort of thing that makes me think I need a Why The Hell Not? category:

At Google, we spend a lot of time thinking about how computer systems can read and understand human language in order to process it in intelligent ways. Today, we are excited to share the fruits of our research with the broader community by releasing SyntaxNet, an open-source neural network framework implemented in TensorFlow that provides a foundation for Natural Language Understanding (NLU) systems. Our release includes all the code needed to train new SyntaxNet models on your own data, as well as Parsey McParseface, an English parser that we have trained for you and that you can use to analyze English text.

Did he say what I thought he said?

Parsey McParseface is built on powerful machine learning algorithms that learn to analyze the linguistic structure of language, and that can explain the functional role of each word in a given sentence. Because Parsey McParseface is the most accurate such model in the world, we hope that it will be useful to developers and researchers interested in automatic extraction of information, translation, and other core applications of NLU.

And why the hell not?

(Via Selena Larson.)

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