Derpmobile!

And you know, it’s not banged up or anything at all:

Mitsubishi Starion with Derpy Hooves imaging

The Starion was a major contributor to what used to be Mitsubishi’s performance image, and we may never know for sure if Mitsu had intended to call it “Stallion.” Then again, Derpy’s a mare and may not care.

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The Turn the Other Cheek Act

Attending to your own defense — “taking the law into your own hands!” shriek the fearful — is a process some people are simply not prepared to comprehend. Jennifer offers an explanation:

When did we become a society that regards morally justifiable violence as something repugnant? Something from which we should shield our children? We can celebrate athletes with rap sheets a mile long just as long as they put the ball in the right place again and again. We buy the shoes they tell us to buy. Why does the media vilify a neighborhood watch volunteer while venerating the thugs in jerseys?

I think I know part of the answer. As a society, we’ve separated ourselves from personal responsibility and community. Our reality comes from TV and not from interpersonal relationships. We’ve insulated ourselves from the consequences of our actions. It’s no longer our own fault if we get fat. It’s the fast food, here take a pill. Unplanned pregnancy? Just terminate it. Fail at business? Someone else is there to bail you out. And so on. It’s gotten to the point that it causes cognitive dissonance when someone takes matters into their own hands. The police are supposed to protect us, right? Sure. And our meat comes from the grocer too.

It doesn’t help that the highest form of existence acknowledged these days is victimhood: it’s much more socially acceptable to claim that everything and everybody is against you, even — maybe especially — if it’s your own damn fault.

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Decades after the fact

Every now and then, Jack Baruth throws me a curve. In a piece with the seriously on-point title “Do You Have A Wound That Won’t Heal?” he cites a meme I might have missed:

You are now thinking of her. What is her name?

If there’s any difference between me eighteen years ago (almost) when I started this site and me now, it’s my ability to deal with that question without actually answering it. In fact, I got the core of a pony story out of it. Middle-aged stallion looking dejected on a bench, crisp social-worker mare investigating, and we pick it up here:

“If you’re looking for ponies who need a place to stay, there’s one who sleeps in the old Wheelwright warehouse.”

“Used to, anyway,” she said. “About a week ago he was found dead.”

He cringed. “Something got him?”

“Just exposure to the elements. He’d been hiding out there since before Hearth’s Warming Eve, and it eventually got too cold for him. Old earth ponies just don’t have the same resistance to the cold that the younger ones do. And sometimes they don’t realize that.”

“So your job,” he said, “involves telling me to beware of the cold?”

“If necessary, yes,” she replied. “That poor pony had no money, no family, and maybe if we’d found him earlier, we might have been able to save him.” She sighed. “And now he’s gone. I wouldn’t want that to happen to you. I wouldn’t want that to happen to anypony.”

He looked at her. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I didn’t mean to impugn your profession. I’m just not used to being worried about.”

“And your family?”

“Long gone. Both parents died; never had a brother or a sister. It’s just me out here.”

She persisted. “Do you at least have a Very Special Somepony?”

For a moment, he looked beyond her, away from the coast, toward a place he barely remembered.

Finally, he spoke. “For forty years,” he said, “I have loved only one mare. Well, she was a filly back then, but … but she was always the one.” He shook his head. “If only she knew…”

The rest of the story, of course, is about healing a wound.

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Press Escape to continue

A lone Republican, noticing the absence of the horse, calls for more security measures affecting the stable door:

Rep. Kerry Bentivolio (R-Mich.) on Tuesday proposed legislation that would prevent the federal government from deploying new websites that don’t adequately protect personal data.

His Safe and Secure Federal Websites Act, H.R. 3635 [pdf], would also require existing websites to show they [are] safe and secure. If a website fails to meet that standard, the government would have to take it offline until it is repaired.

This is, of course, a shot across the bow of healthcare.gov, which was introduced with no discernible security and the functionality of GeoCities.

“In its haste to implement ObamaCare, the White House has acted with reckless disregard when it comes to protecting the public from hackers,” Bentivolio said Tuesday. “With this website, they have jeopardized not only the personal information of users attempting to obtain health insurance, but also potentially compromised dozens of other federal agencies and their systems.”

What “haste”? They had three whole years to develop this thing. And you have to figure that by now anyone’s private information, yours, mine or the government’s — which latter is therefore yours and mine — has already been picked up by NSA, awaiting bids from the likes of Mark Zuckerberg.

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I’ll be hornswoggled

Guy in N’Hampsha says he wants to sell two unicorns:

We are selling 2 purebred unicorns. Male is 3 years old named Pagasus. Female is 5 years old and named Daisy. Price of $930,000 USD is per unicorn.

“Pagasus”?

Oh, and he’s not above blowing his own horn, so to speak:

We are the only fully licensed unicorn breeder in North America, and are NUBAA certified.

A quick Googlage of “NUBAA” turns up the Northwestern University Black Alumni Association, which is obviously even more diverse than we thought.

This, however, makes me ever-so-slightly suspicious:

We also offer unicorn eggs for purchase.

Eggs? Is there something Twilight Sparkle isn’t telling me?

(Via the Daily Dot.)

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What was never promised

I admit to having been something less than hopeful tonight, what with the Thunder barely squeaking by Sacramento last night and the Blazers having the night off, having dispatched their previous opponent the night before — and that previous opponent being the mighty Indiana Pacers, who’d lost only one game all season before that ill-fated trip to the Rose Garden Moda Center. And then I looked at the halftime score, OKC 59, PDX 48, and I exhaled a bit. Unfortunately, so did the Thunder: the Blazers ran all over them, up, down and through them, turning that 11-point deficit into a 3-point lead in twelve minutes. Things slipped further in the fourth, the Blazers going up seven; but the Thunder stayed close, even occasionally claiming a one-point lead. Nicolas Batum put it out of sight with a trey, the Blazers’ eighth, with 30 seconds left; LaMarcus Aldridge finished the job with two free throws. (A technical followed, which we will never speak of again.) The final: Portland 111, Oklahoma City 104, and the Blazers go two up in the Northwest.

Seldom have the Thunder ever had much of an answer for Aldridge, who had a spectacular line: 38 points (a season high) on 17-28 shooting, 13 rebounds, and five assists in 37 minutes. All five Portland starters finished in double figures, and all but Batum were +10 or better for the night. The Blazers led in rebounds, 47-43, and perhaps more tellingly in assists: 22-11.

So a 33-point Kevin Durant explosion went for naught, as did a Serge Ibaka double-double and 21 points from Russell Westbrook. As is always the case these days, Reggie Jackson and Jeremy Lamb led the second unit; Jackson had 12 points in 29 minutes, Lamb 10 in 26. Radio guy Matt Pinto did some grousing about the officiating, but bad calls, of course, remain calls.

If the West Coast has been a bruiser this season — well, the Big Easy beckons: the Thunder take on the Pelicans Friday night, before returning home to deal with, um, those mighty Indiana Pacers.

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Get a new copay on your Chevrolet

In vain you will explain to those “low-information” voters that auto insurance and health insurance are wholly different kinds of products.

And this guy apparently has the lowest information of all:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: My car is sick. Is there any Auto Mechanic repair service that will take something like Medicare or Medicaid?

On the other hand, if this is trolling, it’s pretty good trolling:

If not, are there any insurance that will cover the repair without having to pay out of my pocket?

I mean, this requires a level of dumbness on a cosmic scale.

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A piece of astronomy

At the point where erotica turns into erratica, there’s the Literary Review’s Bad Sex prize, awarded for the most cringe-inducing love scene of the year. Manil Suri wins for this bit from The City of Devi:

Surely supernovas explode that instant, somewhere, in some galaxy. The hut vanishes, and with it the sea and the sands — only Karun’s body, locked with mine, remains. We streak like superheroes past suns and solar systems, we dive through shoals of quarks and atomic nuclei. In celebration of our breakthrough fourth star, statisticians the world over rejoice.

Unexpected contender: the late Woody Guthrie, whose 1947 novel House of Earth was finally published in 2013. This machine kills passion:

Back and forth, side to side, they moved on their bed on the hay. Back and forth, side to side, they moved their hips, their feet, their legs, their whole bodies. Their arms tied into knots like vines climbing trees, and the trees moved and swayed, and there was a time and a rhythm to the blend of the movement.

Of course, if there’s no rhythm … but let’s not go there. In fact, let’s not even acknowledge that “there” exists.

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I suppose it’s better than “Jughead”

Nancy Silberkleit, co-CEO of Archie Comics, apparently doesn’t think too much of guys, especially white guys:

In papers filed in Westchester Supreme Court, Nancy Silberkleit’s lawyer says a gender discrimination lawsuit filed against her earlier this year by a group of Archie Comics employees should be tossed in part because white guys aren’t members of “a protected class.”

The embattled co-CEO’s filing also mocked the five employees’ claim that she’d used her “gender as a weapon” by yelling “Penis! Penis! Penis!” during a business meeting.

So far as I can tell, it is not true that Mr. Weatherbee will have sexual-reassignment surgery in a future story arc.

(Via this Kathleen McKinley tweet.)

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You owe us stormage

The National Center for Public Policy Research, a conservative think tank, has called for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to give up the hurricane-forecasting business, on the basis that, well, NOAA’s not been very good at it of late:

In May, the agency predicted an “active or extremely active” hurricane season, forecasting that there would be 7-11 hurricanes, 3-6 major hurricanes, and 13-20 named storms.

The year’s final tally: 2 hurricanes, no major hurricanes, and 13 named storms… not even “close enough for government work.”

This marked the 7th time in the past ten years that NOAA’s hurricane forecast has been wrong and its epic failure this year rivals even its disastrous forecast in 2005, when it predicted there would be 7-9 hurricanes and there ended up being 15.

There is, of course, a “climate change” angle:

NOAA isn’t alone in undermining [its] credibility by suggesting a greater level of certainty than it possesses.

For years now, we’ve been told that there is a scientific consensus that our burning of fossil fuels is creating dangerous warming of the planet.

Now the public has learned that we’re in the midst of a 17-year “pause” in global warming that not one of the 73 climate models used by the U.N. Intergovernmental Climate on Climate Change in its Fifth Assessment Report predicted.

Now I see this as more of a hierarchical problem: the higher up you go, the more likely your results are going to be somewhat politicized. The National Weather Service, down a level from NOAA, works hard not to become emotionally involved with its models.

Still, if the National Center is so upset with dubious government-approved numbers, they should be going after the major Washington dissemblers like the Bureau of Labor Statistics, whose books have been cooked for so long they’re downright mushy.

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No snoozing on the Sleep Train

For about twelve minutes, the Thunder looked utterly stunned: the Kings, despite the absence of both DeMarcus Cousins and Carl Landry, pounded OKC into the wood in the first quarter, 31-19. Jet lag? Who knows? We do know this: the Thunder put together a 31-16 second quarter to go three up at the half, and scored 14 straight at the end of the third to make the lead 13, plus the first four points in the fourth. The Kings, clearly not done, ran off the next 13. Scott Brooks, hoping to rest the starters for Portland tomorrow, found himself having to reinsert them, and OKC escaped with a 97-95 win.

Chuck Hayes, perhaps the shortest center in the league (6’6″), was happy to pick up nine rebounds, though he was the only King starter to miss double figures. Then again, none of the King starters were quite as fearsome as reserve point guard Isaiah Thomas, who got 21 of his 24 points in that fourth quarter. Jason Thompson posted the only Sacramento double-double: 10 points, 10 boards. And you have to figure that Brooks, on the plane if not before, is going to want to know how the Kings got off to a 14-2 lead before the first five minutes were up.

Kevin Durant, as usual, led the OKC attack, though it took him 39 minutes to roll up 27 points and 11 boards. Russell Westbrook was the playmaker rather than the scorer tonight: 17 points, seven assists, and, um, seven turnovers. (The Kings, all ten of them, coughed it up only eight times.) Royce Young over at Daily Thunder has been making a little game out of “Reggie Lamb,” as though Jackson and Jeremy were joined at the hip, but it actually makes a fair amount of sense, since they’re so often on the floor at the same time. For the record, Reggie Lamb picked up 27 points. (Split ‘em down the middle, give the odd one to Jeremy.)

And there’s still the question of how, if you can let the Kings beat you 14-2 in five minutes, you’re going to deal with the seriously-hot (15-3, tied with the Spurs at the top of the West) Trail Blazers in twenty-one hours or so. I guess we’ll find that out when it happens.

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Till the end of time

Got a twin-spin for you today: the same song in two distinctively different arrangements. Andrew Gelman prompted this:

I love reading the kind of English that English people write. It’s the same language as American but just slightly different. I was thinking about this recently after coming across this footnote from Yeah Yeah Yeah: The Story of Modern Pop, by Bob Stanley: “Mantovani’s atmospheric arrangement on ‘Cara Mia’, I should add, is something else. Genuinely celestial. If anyone with a degree of subtlety was singing, it would be quite a record.’”

Definitely sounds English (and Mark Liberman confirms). Below the jump, the two best recordings of this song: Mantovani’s 1954 version, without David Whitfield’s voice — though it was the Whitfield recording with Mantovani’s accompaniment that was the UK hit — and a 1965 American version by, um, Jay and the Americans.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Datsunny dispositions

In thirty-five states, the Ford F-150 pickup truck is the single best-selling motor vehicle. This of course means that something actually outsells the F-150 in the remaining states, but I have to admit, I wouldn’t have figured this: Oklahomans buy more Nissan Altimas than anything else.

Then again, maybe I should have. If everybody actually shows up to work, the parking lot will be awash in Nissan products: apart from my Infiniti, you’ll find a Frontier pickup, a Maxima, and two — sometimes three — Altimas. (El Jefe has, or at least had for several years, the massive Armada SUV, and I’ve seen him in a Z.) Only Chevy comes close. I’m guessing this is because none of us, El Jefe included, are getting rich.

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And she’s not even a Pisces

Since this is Richard Branson’s scheme, he gets to make the opening statement:

An image can sometimes speak a thousand words, which is the thinking behind Fishlove — a radical photographic project which is spearheading the campaign to end over-fishing in Europe.

Fishlove invites personalities across the globe to raise awareness of how over-fishing is destroying the marine environment. They aim to end over-fishing in Europe by 2015 so that fish stocks can recover to above levels that can produce the maximum sustainable yield by 2020.

(See also this brilliantly titled post.)

The personality across the globe for today is Gillian Anderson:

Gillian Anderson for Fishlove

Somewhere in a corner, Fox Mulder is carping about something.

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The sharp stick of politics

Dave Schuler quotes Megan McArdle:

[I]f you want to make the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act viable for the long term, you’re going to need the support of folks like Hobby Lobby as much as you need low premiums. There are many religious people in America, and if you want to keep stirring up active opposition to the law, one good way is to suggest that this law forces them to pay for something they are convinced is morally wrong. (Hobby Lobby’s objection is not to contraception in general, but specifically to products that could prevent a fertilized egg from implanting.) If you want to still be fighting Obamacare in the trenches 40 years from now, the best way I can think of is appending it to the argument over abortion.

But McArdle, says Schuler, is missing a very pointed point:

… which is that part of the problem with our political system today is that accomplishing something material doesn’t necessarily produce political gain but poking a stick in your opponent’s eye does. And it feels so good.

There is a hierarchy of values at work here. Having an issue is better than solving a problem. Hurting your political opponent is better than reaching a mutually agreeable solution. Holding tough is better than compromise.

With that hierarchy in mind, it’s clear that appending Obamacare to the argument over abortion is a feature rather than a bug.

Of course, with sticks flying in every direction, we should not be surprised to find incidence of blindness.

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Set abrasives to stunned

This actually does seem to work:

How to offend four groups of geeks with a single photo

It’s all over the place, but I picked it up from StarTrek.com.

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