Driveover zone

Lynn’s been reading the Extinction Point series by Paul Antony Jones, and she has a question. maybe two, to ask:

A mysterious red rain falls, destroying almost all life on Earth. Emily Baxter, a journalist for a NYC newspaper heads off on a cross-country trip to find other survivors. (And I have another small quibble. Emily is from Iowa. Is it just me or does it seem like young women who move to New York are always from Iowa? More bothersome is the fact that she does not know how to drive. If she was from Iowa and moved to New York City as an adult she would at least know how to drive. She might not own a car and might not have got a license in NY but she would know how to drive.)

There is the theory that the moment you take up residence in the Big Apple, your ability to drive instantly atrophies, since theoretically you don’t have to anymore.

And if you live in Iowa and want something seemingly better for yourself, you’re probably not going to go to [redacted to avoid nasty letters].

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Allergen detection kit (home version)

If you ask me, this can’t happen soon enough:

“It would be really nice if a person with food allergies could get test strips that they could dip into a food they were concerned about, and it would turn color if the allergen was present.”

I was thinking about the glucose test strips we use in one of the labs I do — they are a product sold for diabetics, so they can test their urine. There are also color-changing tests for lead in paint, and I am sure other things I am not thinking of.

But what nice peace of mind that would be — “I don’t know for sure if this broth might have miso in it, so let me check.” or “Could there be peanut proteins in this smoothie?” (I can see how it would only work for liquid things.)

I doubt you could get every possible allergen detected by a single strip. (Then again, I am not a biochemist, nor do I play one on television.) But even if you have to special-order strips for your one-in-a-million sensitivity, it’s still better than hives.

Disclosure: I don’t have any food allergies, or at least I’m not aware of any. I still think it’s a swell idea.

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50 shapes of something

There are many brave souls willing to risk themselves for truth, or a reasonable facsimile thereof:

There is a tradition of human guinea pig pieces in the world of journalism. Morgan Spurlock, of course, in Super Size Me. Chuck Klosterman, who ate only McNuggets for seven straight days. Gawker’s Caity Weaver did an amazing job chronicling her 14-hour attempt at conquering TGI Fridays’ endless mozzarella sticks. Our willingness to torture ourselves for the sake of entertaining and informing readers is well documented. But they all had a point to make, or a hypothesis to see through.

I have none of this.

What he did have, though, was fifty Chicken McNuggets. It’s not as easy as it looks — and it doesn’t look easy at all.

I’m estimating my maximum McNugget capacity at twenty-seven, and no, I’m not going out to test this. I did once polish off nineteen at a sitting, and I was woozy for the next half hour, and not the good kind of wooz either.

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A neck for a neck

It’s gonna be hard to top this headline. Indiana Senate panel passes bill for harsher beheading penalties:

Decapitation soon could be punishable by death in Indiana. The state Senate criminal law committee unanimously passed a bill Tuesday that would allow prosecutors to seek the death penalty for beheadings.

Said penalty presumably will be lethal injection; I doubt these dead-serious Hoosiers are inclined to build a guillotine in Michigan City, although the idea has some marginal charm in terms of sheer symmetry.

Supporters of the bill cite an increase in beheadings including one last year in Oklahoma as a reason for the change.

So: one, then? Because what the Daesh-heads do doesn’t really count, except maybe as encouragement from afar.

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We don’t care who’s your daddy

The Z Man suggests that the very idea of a Jeb Bush candidacy would have been anathema in the early days of the nation:

The Founders certainly had a dim view of political dynasties. They had that in mind when designing the national government. They wanted the best and brightest to be attracted to state and local government, not the national government. This was, in part, to make political dynasties difficult to establish. A look through the biographies of the Founders say they knew a thing or two about the children of powerful men turning out to be nitwits.

There is an expression that goes, “shirt sleeves to shirt sleeves in three generations.” The first generation builds the family fortune, starting from the working class. The next generation does its best to maintain it, but mostly lives off the fruits of their fathers. The third generation blows through what’s left and ends up back in the same level as the founding generation. The Kennedy family is a good example.

No matter how it looks, this is not an argument for the estate tax. Then again, if we argue that there must be upward mobility for those at the bottom, we can’t really complain about downward mobility for those at the top.

I think the children of the king probably do, on average, possess more of the magic stuff that makes for a good king than most children. I also think they have precisely the wrong environment to cultivate that magic stuff. Poppy Bush served in WW2 and almost died in the Pacific. In other words, as a young man he had to cultivate his leadership assets under duress. His kids cultivated their assets getting drunk and chasing tail at elite preparatory schools. Seeds amongst the stones.

This does not sound hopeful for George P. Bush, son of Jeb. Let’s hope George P. has no political aspirations beyond Texas Land Commissioner.

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Just say no to drugs

Wait a minute. Not these drugs:

Is this some quirk in New York law, or does someone simply not know how to set prices?

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C plus

I remember, from way down the timeline, a bumper sticker to this effect: “186,000 miles per second. It’s more than just a good idea. IT’S THE LAW.”

But apparently it’s not as ironclad as I’d heard:

Turns out you can, in fact, move faster than light, and when you cross that threshold you create a “photonic boom” the way a jet does when it crosses the speed of sound. The only problem is that in order to do so you must have zero mass, and that state is probably not going to be reached by switching from ranch to vinaigrette on your lunch salad.

Still, it’s worth the shot, if only because you’re no longer eating ranch. And keep in mind: Hidden Valley Ranch brand, which started it all, is owned by Clorox.

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And now for someone completely different

Carol Cleveland, seventy-three today, is best known as the one biological female in the Monty Python troupe. (Not that the others wouldn’t wear dresses from time to time, except maybe Gilliam.)

She was born in London in 1942, and began studying at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in 1960, though you may not have known that she spent some of her formative years in Lubbock, Texas:

Carol Cleveland as a brunette in 1966

By 1969 she’d rolled up a fair number of film credits:

Carol Cleveland in 1969

But by then Python beckoned. From the second episode, here she is as Deirdre Pewtey, with her husband Arthur (Michael Palin) cowering at the door:

Carol Cleveland in a Python sketch in 1969

The Marriage Guidance Counsellor (Eric Idle), coming out from behind his desk, will shortly make recommendations perhaps inconsistent with his job description.

Just for the heck of it, here she is with the winning entry in a TV program’s contest to find the best derogatory name for residents of Belgium:

Carol Cleveland in a Python sketch in 1973

And for the sake of completeness, here she is at the Python 40th anniversary reunion:

Carol Cleveland at the Python reunion in 2009

Do you think that might be her real hair color? (And does it really matter?)

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Waiting for .gresham

The .click top-level domain is perfectly legitimate and open to all:

The reason .CLICK is such an attractive choice for a TLD is because it encompasses a highly used Internet buzzword, increasing memorability and functionality. But, because “click” also has a multitude of positive meanings, from getting along, to fitting together, is [sic] also works to create positive associations. This TLD is an open registry, meaning any individual, group, or business may register a .CLICK domain, making this extension choice flexible, memorable, unique, and marketable.

I have yet to see an actual .click site, though links to several of them have already shown up in my spam trap, substantially diminishing my “positive associations.”


Those cads

If you’re in the States, nothing is happening to your Cadbury Creme Eggs:

There is much lid-flipping and out-freaking online today as UK news sites report a change to the recipe for Cadbury Creme Eggs, a change that everyone blames on the brand’s U.S.-based ownership. That very well may be true, but for Creme Egg fans stateside, it’s a non-issue as the treats you gobble down each spring are made by a different company.

See, while Kraft’s Mondelēz International controls overseas distribution of Cadbury Creme Eggs, and did indeed recently institute a recipe change, U.S. distribution of Cadbury products is handled by a different U.S. company: Hershey’s.

A rep for Mondelēz confirmed to Consumerist that the two products — the Creme Eggs it distributes and the ones distributed in the U.S. by Hershey’s — are now completely separate and a change to one does not mean a change to the other.

And while we’re clearing up matters, Mondelēz International was spun off from Kraft after the name change.

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Defensive posture: supine

This will sell in huge quantities to the sort of doofus who puts up fake video cameras for “security” purposes:

Not really handguns

Erin Palette calls this a “dumb, useless thing,” which tells me that she was trying to be generous.

The manufacturer assures you that these gefälschte Gewehren “require no background check or permit.” Just like your rabbit ears don’t require cable.

Erin asks, reasonably enough:

What are you going to do when a criminal sees the fake pistol and decides that either you get shot first, or that he will take your weapon from you? (And believe me, if you aren’t mentally prepared to shoot someone for realsies, carrying a plastic totem is not going to give you confidence and an anti-crime aura. The most you will look like is an easy victim with a high-value item.)

And if there’s one thing the criminal element loves, it’s an easy victim with a high-value item. If you buy this thing, you might want to work on your Daffy Duck voice: “I demand that you shoot me now!”

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At least somewhat duh-worthy

Then again, that’s why they’re lawyers:

And there will be someone trying to sign a contract with one of these contraptions. Depend on it.

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But where are the holes?

Seldom do I ask myself “Wouldn’t you really rather have a Buick?” Once in a while, though, the Tri-Shield tempts me:

Buick Avenir concept

This is Avenir, a concept created by GM Holden in Australia, and this is what it’s like:

Designed to be a proper Buick of the traditional fashion, the large coupe-like four-door sedan has the same 5.2-metre-long dimensions as the current Holden Caprice, and utilises rear-wheel drive (note: the original press release stated all-wheel drive, which GM withdrew), a nine-speed automatic, adjustable dampers and a next-generation (unspecified size) direct-injected V6 engine with cylinder deactivation technology.

It’s not the next-generation Riviera or anything like that, and the rounded-off boat-tail rear may be a bit much, but it’s a compelling pitch.

(If you must have holes Cruiserline Ventiports in your Buick, well, there’s that vent in front of the door; it’s actually subdivided into three sections.)


Fark blurb of the week

Van Halen will let Van Halen use the name Van Halen, says Van Halen.


A three-year legal battle over the name “Van Halen” has finally been settled. Kelly Van Halen, who was once married to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band’s drummer, Alex Van Halen, until they divorced almost 20 years ago, has been fighting to use her famous last name on a variety of businesses like a construction and interior design company.

When Kelly Van Halen attempted to trademark products donning her name, ELVH Inc., the entity that protects the copyright of the band’s moniker, argued in various courts that Kelly Van Halen’s use of her name diluted their brand, the Hollywood Reporter writes, ultimately filing a lawsuit in October 2013 to prevent her from infringing on “Van Halen.” However, on January 5th, both parties alerted the judge presiding over the case that they want the lawsuit to be dismissed after settling the matter out of court.

Similarly: Katy Perry v. Katie Perry, no litigation ensued: J. Geils v. J. Geils Band, still up in the air.


Just don’t cross your legs

This is just vaguely disturbing, or maybe a little more than that:

Witness Elite advertisement from EAA

Mr Noggle has posted the full-size three-megabyte scan, and observes:

This being the Internet, undoubtedly there’s someone out there who’s into that thing. The ad designer was undoubtedly a fan of the film Grindhouse and the character Cherry Darling.

Me, I’m going to sleep with the night light on.

And Cherry Darling was pretty creepy. On the upside, at least someone’s ripping off Robert Rodriguez instead of Quentin Tarantino.


Quote of the week

Pergelator on the major difficulty with waging war these days:

The big problem with military action is that it is done by governments, and given our recent experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan, I wouldn’t trust our government to go to the store for a jug of milk. Okay, they might be able to get the jug of milk, but they would have to borrow a billion dollars to equip their security forces to ensure that no one tampered with the jug on the way back.

Almost an argument for mercenaries, really. What’s Blackwater Xe Academi up to nowadays?