Crowd unfunded

In fact, the crowd gave it the back of its collective hand, and deservedly so:

The Indiegogo page for a hypnosis-based smartwatch designed to help you “pick up girls” closed today after a month of crowdfunding — and it has not raised one solitary dollar.

The “Dating skills smartwatch” (or “Pick up girls smartwatch” — they can’t seem to decide on its actual name) is aimed squarely at straight dudes — specifically the type that have a signed copy of The Game — and promises to “program your brain” using subliminal messages that teach you how to “get girl’s attention and melts their hearts” [sic sic sic — there are so many errors on the page that we might just do one giant SIC for the whole thing. In both senses].

The watch supposedly plays “subliminal messages that your ear cannot hear but your brain does (below 20Hz)” while you listen to music. These somehow teach you to be more confident with women, deliver terrible chat-up lines and “take her home.” Creepery and pseudoscience. Sexy.

At no point does it rise above pitiful self-parody:

“We have included a camera in the face of the watch so you can easily take her picture. And then you say: ‘Do you want me to send you your picture, give me your cell number’.”

The only good line of this sort I’ve ever heard was in Tristan Prettyman’s “The Rebound”: “I lost my number / Can I have yours?”

You might think there would be enough involuntary celibates out there to finance this contraption in a walk, but apparently not so.

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Not a stiff-ass Brit

The October Automobile reports on an uncommon auction: a 1996 BMW Z3 James Bond Edition, originally sold as a Christmas Wish List item by Neiman-Marcus. At least part of the $35,000 selling price was due to the presence of a Z3, however briefly, in Goldeneye. I probably shouldn’t have read the specifics:

Bond blue-gray over taupe leather interior with tan cloth top. 114-hp, DOHC, 1.8 liter inline-four —

And there I stopped and stared. I was, somewhere about this time, taking delivery on a ’93 Mazda 626 with a 118-hp, DOHC, inline-four, albeit with two whole liters. I know one person who drives a Z3 — actually saw her whipping it down the Interstate one day — and she’d never have put up with a mouse motor at this level.

BMW apparently heard the writing on the wall, because a 2.8-liter inline-six with something like 189 hp was introduced pretty quickly, though not quickly enough to get it into Neiman’s wish book. And this little Bimmer, with a mere 6,000 miles on the clock, brought $24,200 at the sale, like it was some sort of used car or something.

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No sugar tonight

If this be blasphemy, I plan to make the most of it. Start here:

I’m also trying to clean up my diet. Oh, I eat pretty healthfully to begin with but I panic over these things and I actually wrote NO SUGAR! NO SUGAR AT ALL for the next week on the kitchen calendar. I worry, probably needlessly, about type II diabetes (and yes, I know: it’s how you eat all the time, not just in the week before bloodwork, but I want things to look their best). I think the tv ads I see for the million medications they have, some you have to inject, some with scary sounding side effects, that has the paranoid part of my brain convinced that probably everyone is actually diabetic and just doesn’t know it yet.

Fifty percent are there or close to it, say some of the alarmists.

But here’s the kicker: WHO issues a definition of Type 2 and it’s based entirely on readings. Oh, it says “with symptoms,” but everybody and his kid sister has symptoms of some sort. One arbitrary number applies to all seven billion humanoids, regardless of age, creed, color, national origin, metabolism, or astrological sign. This is convenient for those who compile statistics, and for nobody else.

It really does feel like everything is a moving target: you do, but you could do MORE. And it just wears me out. More exercise, more vegetables, less food that actually tastes pleasurable, less time spent just relaxing. (And I’ve seen several sites lately that remind us how awful sitting is for us, and we should, I guess, stand all the time, like horses or cattle…)

And I get that I’ll eventually not be able to outrun the Grim Reaper, it’s not that … it’s the whole fact that medicine in some sectors seems to be coming back to an idea not unlike the “you sinned, so you got sick” idea of the medieval era — “You sat too much on the job, now you have diabetes.” or “You relaxed when you could have exercised, now you have heart disease” and it feels to me like unless I keep pushing, pushing, more, more, more, eventually something terrible is going to happen and someone in the health-insurance office is gonna shrug and go, “You were insufficiently pure so you are on the hook for this financially, even if you can find a doctor willing to treat you.”

“Some sectors” eventually will be all sectors, because government.

I am resigned to not living forever. However, I reserve the right to sneer at the Reaper, that scythe-wielding son of a bitch, any time I please. And should some Deputy Associate Death Panel member object to this cavalier treatment of their true god — well, chuck you, Farley, this is why you get no respect from the population, while I’m having a bowl of ice cream in any flavor other than Pumpkin Spice.

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3D with an option for four

Gadgette has started an interview series called “Kickass ladies of VR,” and the first subject turns out to be someone whose name I recognized: Emily Eifler of Oculus. A couple of paragraphs:

What inspired you to join the VR industry?

My friend Vi [Hart]. We had both been making online video and she wanted to figure out how to do it without the limitation of tiny rectangles. She asked if I could help, and I said “Yes, of course!” I had never done it before but I figured it out. I guess that’s my special skill. I can figure out almost anything with enough work.

A skill I’d consider invaluable, especially if I had it.

And this was probably inevitable:

Have you had any difficulties along the way with being a woman in VR?

You mean besides the death threats and doxxing and gender-based trolling online and getting groped at 99% male conferences and guys trying to turn meet-ups into meat-ups and the constant underlying grind of not being taken seriously because of the way I look? Nah, it’s been unicorns belching rainbows the whole way.

There are times when I think 90 percent of us are giving the other 10 percent a bad name.


Wrong sensors or something

I know exactly two things about gaydar: it does not seem unreasonable for such a phenomenon to exist — as I learned in low-level war games in the Army, being able to distinguish your partisans from potential enemies is a useful skill to possess — and I have essentially no capacity for making these judgment calls on the fly.

Bill Quick would agree on at least one of those points:

Gaydar doesn’t exist for straight people. But it is a fact of life for gay people. I’m not going to be 100% right, but over 55 years of experience, I’ve found I’m right about 95%+ of the time about guessing somebody’s sexuality. With other guys.

Not with the women, though. But they have their own version — galdar? — and I’ve been told it’s pretty damned accurate as well.

But straight people? They’re clueless. They might as well flip coins.

This is certainly consistent with my long-standing inability to read incoming signals, irrespective of sender and of sender’s motives if any.

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The wurst that could happen

Excuse me while I wince in pain for a moment, or several:

A woman was arrested after she allegedly tried to bite off her husband’s penis.

Chickasha Police made contact with husband and wife, Jesse and Merci Keene.

“[Merci] took Jesse to the ground and said she tried to bite his penis off,” the incident report said.

From Merci’s account of the incident, Jesse never hit her and only tried to defend himself, the report said.

What brought this on, anyway?

During the course of the investigation, it was discovered that Jesse was holding the couple’s minor daughter when Merci attacked him. According to the report, Merci confronted Jesse after she heard Jesse was allegedly leaving with their daughter.

Something must be missing here, because if Jesse was in a position to lose his sausage, he probably didn’t have his car keys handy, and how does the youngster fit into this scenario?

Result: two charges for unmerciful Merci, booked for domestic assault and battery in the presence of a minor.



Over the weekend there was a competition called Mixathon48, and these were the rules:

We will provide 5 sound files or stems. Once the event begins, contestants will have the ability to download the sound files and begin working on music production projects. Tracks must include AT LEAST one of the stems.

Contestants will only have 48 hours to complete a fully-mastered and completed track. All tracks must be submitted before the deadline in order to be considered for prizes. You are allowed to edit the stems as much as you like.

All genres are encouraged. We are looking for creative, innovative, and different music. We will also take into consideration the popularity reached on the web by your remix. The more you promote it, the more it will catch the attention of the judges.

One of the entrants was someone whom I knew under a different pseudonym, and this is how she described her effort:

Made the deadline by 2 minutes! I seem to work better than expected under pressure and sleep deprivation…

I was going for a scene similar to Paradise Falls from Up, with some South American jungle flare thrown into the percussion.

Hold on, isn’t Paradise Falls supposedly in South America anyway?

Well, that works out nicely!

And actually, the version she posted on YouTube was the result of four hours of cleaning up and tweaking her original, which you can find on SoundCloud.

I, of course, marvel at people who can create under pressure, like those folks who write a 50,000-word novel in 30 days.

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No girls allowed

You can see this, maybe, when you’re seven or eight. When you’re all grown up, maybe not so much:

It’s perfectly legal to advertise your establishment as a place where “gentlemen” might like to go, but one Pennsylvania barber shop found itself in hot shaving water when a woman claimed she was turned away for a haircut.

The business, which is described as a “high end Gentleman’s Barber Shop” on its website, will have to pay a $750 fine after a woman said she was turned away upon arriving for an appointment she’d booked online in March for herself and her boyfriend, reports the Washington Observer-Reporter. She reportedly wanted to get a fade, a short style often sported by men.

But a female barber who works at the shop said she explained to the woman that the staff sticks exclusively to men’s haircuts.

Must be a Pennsylvania thing; anything advertised for “gentlemen” out here on the prairie is likely to be a strip club. Anyway, this is one version of the fade for women, and it doesn’t look half bad.

Personal note: The shop that does what’s left of my hair — too infrequently, if you believe some people — will happily work on men, women, or any humans answering to “None of the above,” so long as there’s hair to be cut.

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Curses, FOIAed again

Freedom, as the saying goes, isn’t free. This does not mean, however, that requests for information under the Freedom of Information Act and similar measures should cost an arm and a leg and a kidney to be named later:

Kind of makes you wonder if this is a back-door scheme to bail Jefferson County out of its bankruptcy.

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Person cave

Once in a while the typo is better than the correct version:

I did manage to wring a chuckle out of myself this morning. Someone had posted a ginormous replica of Elsa’s ice-castle from Frozen that was for sale at Costco or somewhere. And I remarked that I needed one in life size, and on the side of a remote mountain (and with a sewing room and a library — it already has a grand piano in it). And it would be my Fortress of Solitude.

Which I typed first as Fortress of Solidude.

I imagine a Fortress of Solidude would have more sports-themed decor and probably a beer fridge. (Sadly, I can’t think of a “lady” equivalent of “Solidude.” But yeah, sometimes I really want somewhere extremely remote from everyone and everything else where I can go and that has everything I need…)

I suppose I could try to argue that “fortress” is actually the feminine version of “fort,” but I don’t think I could get away with that one.

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Open up that waste gate

As turbochargers show up at the lower end of the Porsche line, Jack Baruth laments the demise of what used to be a pretty big chunk of mystique:

Strictly speaking, it’s been a very long time since a 911 Turbo was the coolest car money could buy — I have to think that the arrival of the Ferrari F355 put a nail in that particular coffin twenty-one years ago, assuming the Corvette ZR1 didn’t do it in 1989 — but the lower-case italic turbo logo stayed ice cold long after the cars to which it was attached lost alpha status. For nearly forty years, ownership of a Porsche Turbo was an unmistakable statement of success, taste, and masculinity, although the various tuners and the 996 Turbo S Tip Cab did a fair amount of damage to the automatic validity of those last two qualities. I’d personally love to own a 911 Turbo and I wish I’d bought a 1996 Turbo instead of a 1995 Carrera back in 2001 when the difference in the money wasn’t a hundred grand like it is today.

Of course, this was predictable. Turbocharging allows automakers to pay lip service to fuel economy while still allowing big(gish) performance numbers, and the fact that driving those cars like they had V8s produces V8-like fuel economy doesn’t seem to disturb the buyers.

Still, Porsche has bread, and it’s aware of the source of butter. The Macan crossover-SUV-thing comes with four different engines worldwide (we don’t get the bottom one here yet): a 2.0-liter four, a 3.0-liter V6, a 3.0-liter diesel V6, and, in the top of the line Macan Turbo, a 3.6-liter V6. Only one car bears the Turbo badge. How many of them actually have turbos? All of them.


Your call is very important to us

So for the extended period of time in which we’re not actually going to answer it, we’re going to play you this little tune:

Cisco explains:

The song is called “Opus No. 1,” by Tim Carleton and Darrick Deel. It’s never been on a Top 40 list or gotten radio play, and yet it’s heard around the world by the millions of people who are placed on hold each day.

Darrick and Tim’s story actually begins back in 1989, when as teenagers and friends they recorded a song in their garage. Unfortunately, they didn’t go on to rockstar fame and fortune, but years later Darrick would go on to take a job with Cisco. In his role building Cisco’s first version of IP phones, he was aware of Cisco’s need for a piece of music to use as the default hold music for the new system. Cut to several years later, and their high school composition has become the hold music for the world’s most popular phone systems with over 65 million IP phones sold. With that, Opus No. 1 has left the safety of Darrick and Tim’s childhood recording studio and entered earworm status.

“Opus No. 1” (not to be confused with a Tommy Dorsey number with a similar title) was recorded on four tracks in Carleton’s garage, way back in 1989.

(Via mental_floss.)

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Being past Labor Day and all

Cristina’s is quickly turning into a favorite in these parts: she calls ’em the way she sees ’em, and if it’s worth wearing, she’ll put it on for you so you can see how it looks. (At best, I can do one of the above.) And she has a touch of the iconoclast to her as well, given her current post on what shoes to wear with a white dress. There are styles to consider, shades that work, and, yes, three colors that just don’t work: white (“it may make your outfit look rather bridal”), yellow (not enough contrast), and very pale pastels (unless they match your skin tone).

I first started paying attention to Cristina about the time she decided that some pictures of your shoes for social-media consumption were “shoefies,” and others were not. (These fine judgment calls, after all, are what blogging is all about.) Briefly, a shoefie (1) is taken by you (2) of the shoes you are wearing at that moment: if someone else takes the picture, or you’re not actually wearing the shoes, it’s not a shoefie no matter how many hashtags you slap onto it.

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The numbers are against us

I have long suspected that when we set forth to calculate cost/benefit ratios, we tend to underestimate the costs and overestimate the benefits. Which is not to say that I am particularly good at playing the odds or anything.

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This would certainly put me off

Against the Current lead singer Chrissy Costanza reports in from Taipei:

One does not, after all, see this sort of apparatus in Poughkeepsie rest rooms.

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The most unromantic person you’ll meet

Besides me, I mean. This is something Bollywood actress Amyra Dastur actually said about herself late in a 23-minute Web interview, though she’s played a love interest in all three of her films.

Amyra Dastur on a rail

She also seems to suffer from anxiety:

After Issaq, I feel anxious about every film I do now. I remember I saw Issaq on the opening night and I was shattered. It was not that it was a good film and that it did not do well, it was not a good film. Within the first five minutes of seeing it, I knew it was not going to be nice. I had my whole family there luckily, but it is hard when at the end people start that slow clap, you know that it is a pity applause. It was heartbreaking.

Perhaps the world wasn’t ready for a version of Romeo and Juliet set in Benares. Her second film, Anegan, in which she plays multiple roles, was well-received, and most recently she appeared in Mr. X.

Amyra Dastur in pre-production for Mr. X

The reviews so far have not been good. One example:

A desi attempt to Bollywoodize the 2000 Kevin Bacon film Hollow Man, Mr X is a shoddy gimmick at trying to put together a sorry excuse of a plot to make a 3D film. Emraan Hashmi and Amyra Dastur play two anti-terrorist department agents whose love story takes an unexpected turn when their chief played by Arunoday Singh decides to go rogue on them.

Next stop: Ticket to Bollywood, not the 2014 reality-TV series, but a sendup of such things, concocted by Faraz Haider. If it’s a flat-out comedy, as Haider’s War Chhod Na Yaar was, I think she’ll be happier.