All about that face (no hijab)

Sıla Şahin, twenty-nine today, is a Turkish-German actress who has spent the last five years on the German soap opera Gute Zeiten, schlechte Zeiten — more or less, Good Times, Bad Times, which could be the subtitle of any of a hundred soaps worldwide. You probably should not assume anything from her Muslim-sounding name.

Sıla Şahin in white

Sıla Şahin at a fashion show

A bit of controversy erupted when Şahin appeared in a pictorial for German Playboy (she was even on the cover [NSFW]) in 2011. News reports ran something like this:

A Turkish Muslim model appears naked on the May issue of Germany’s Playboy magazine, sparking debate in the country over Muslim women and sexuality as well as causing a rift with the model’s conservative family.

The Turkish German model, Sıla Şahin, had been living in Berlin and starring on the German television soap opera Good Times, Bad Times. In many ways, she had been an example of how a “well-integrated Turkish German should behave.”

Playboy’s German editor Florian Boitin pointed out some minor details:

“Sila isn’t Muslim. Her father doesn’t belong to any [religion] and her mother is Christian [sic]. And the Playboy cover with Sila Sahin is not a religious statement,” Boitin told FOX411.

Boitin continued to explain that as Editor in Chief he believed there was every reason to put Sahin on the cover to cater to a specific demographic within Germany.

Three million Muslims, half of whom presumably wanted a peek?

Şahin defended her appearance as one of those “freedom” things, though she probably didn’t help her cause by invoking the name of Ernesto “Che” Guevara.

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It’s the Rio deal

An observation by Annemarie Dooling: “You know you go to Brazil too often when your autocorrect goes Portuguese.”

For instance:

Just took some saudades and ate soup ... Sudafed

I looked at that, and darn near cried:

Saudade is a word in Portuguese and Galician that has no direct translation in English. It describes a deep emotional state of nostalgic or profound melancholic longing for an absent something or someone that one loves. Moreover, it often carries a repressed knowledge that the object of longing may never return. A stronger form of saudade may be felt towards people and things whose whereabouts are unknown, such as a lost lover, or a family member who has gone missing, moved away, separated, or died.

And in those circumstances, no amount of Sudafed can help.

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Sea birds on glass

In fact, you couldn’t keep the Pelicans off the glass tonight: they rebounded seemingly at will, and when they weren’t rebounding, they were passing the ball all over the place, and when they weren’t passing the ball all over the place, they were collecting free throws. Fundamental stuff, but that’s how this game is played. “How was this team 7-8?” I was thinking as the fourth quarter blew by with New Orleans firmly in command, a position they’d been in since overcoming an early six-point Thunder lead in the first and rushing to 40 points in the second — a 12-0 run in two minutes — for a 69-52 halftime lead. As close as OKC would get after that would be five; the Pelicans win it 112-104 in the Big Easy.

The free-throw situation, said radio guy Matt Pinto, was exacerbated by some “horrific” officiating. The Birds took 45 foul shots, making 29; the Thunder were 23-27 from the stripe. But worse, I think, was OKC’s reversion to the two-man game: the starters scored only 56 points, and Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook had 48 of them. One doesn’t expect points from Andre Roberson; one does expect, however, more than six from Serge Ibaka and more than two from Steven Adams. The bench acquitted itself decently, with Reggie Jackson checking in with 17 and Jeremy Lamb with 15; for Lamb, who is usually much better at home than he is on the road, this was definitely a plus.

But at the end, the most Durantean figure on the floor was not Durant, but New Orleans’ Anthony Davis, whose line included 25 points, ten rebounds, and six steals. And Davis wasn’t even the high scorer; that would be Tyreke Evans, who, upon seeing OKC within five in the fourth quarter, scored on the next three possessions. He finished with 30. Double-doubles for Jrue Holiday (16 points/10 assists) and sixth man Ryan Anderson (23 points/11 boards). How is this team only 8-8?

Next game is Friday at Philadelphia. We’re supposed to believe that any middle school in town can beat the Sixers. Doesn’t mean a thing, I assure you.

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Unpleasantly steamy

The exhaust from Toyota’s new fuel-cell car, the Mirai, consists of water vapor and heat. I’m pretty sure nobody was thinking “Hey, water vapor! Let’s condense it and have a drink!” If anyone was, however, Toyota advises otherwise:

Automotive News reports the 2016 Toyota Mirai’s exhaust — consisting of water vapor and heat — may have “much fewer organic impurities” than milk, per the FCV’s fuel stack power generator designer, Seiji Mizuno, but what impurities the byproduct does have depend on what passed through the stack in the first place:

“Depending on the place you are driving, some parts of the world might have certain issues, such as organisms like E. coli, which could be hazardous to your health. You never know what the quality of the air intake is.”

Then again, knowing Toyota’s tendency to keep beavering away at these things, I wouldn’t be too surprised to see a fuel-cell Sienna with an actual water fountain somewhere down the line — and customers griping about having to have the filter changed every 30,000 miles.

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Stuck in the sticks

From the “There must be something someone can do about this” files:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: ISP is charging a ridiculous amount for my internet what can I do?

My dad is paying $45/mo for 1 Mbps… Tier 2 speed is 2 Mbps at $49.99, tier 3 is 3 Mbps at 59.99, tier 5 is 5 Mbps at $135, and tier 6 is 6 Mbps at ******* $190.00!!!! I live in a rural area and this is pretty much the only ISP around. Is there anything I could do other than having to move or switch to satellite? Because this is so unfair, there should be laws against this. This is a monopoly so they have no reason to upgrade their infrastructure.

If there exists anywhere on earth an ISP that is undercharging, we’d certainly like to know about it.

In the meantime, if it’s truly a ridiculous amount, the least we can do is to ridicule it. (Fairness, of course, is not a factor, as it usually isn’t.)

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Is this worth Brownie points?

The Girl Scouts of America will be selling cookies online:

[T]he online sales program has only been rolled out in select areas, according to The New York Times, but the plan is to go national come January. So that’s one awesome way to start the new year.

Along with their practice of selling the cookies door-to-door and to your mom at her workplace, Girl Scouts will now be able to use a “Digital Cookie” to sell boxes online. It sounds like a cool mix between a cookie app, and a cookie website, where Girl Scouts can create their own page to reach friends and family.

“Girls across the country now can use modern tools to expand the size and scope of their cookie business, and learn vital entrepreneurial lessons in online marketing, application use and e-commerce,” Sarah Angel-Johnson, who is in charge of the new digital cookie approach, told the Times. That’s actually kind of awesome when you think about the business lessons these young girls will be learning well before they even reach high school.

I can see giving the girls an app to take orders — that piece of cardstock they’ve been carrying since the French and Indian War is as low-tech as you can possibly get without falling back on cuneiform — but I can’t help but think we’re losing something here.

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Half an anchor

Lett’s reply: “Look! I have no legs.”

This has to be a first: a female television anchor with no legs.

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A definite lack of curves

According to urban — or maybe rural — legend, one mile in every five of the Interstate Highway System is perfectly straight, so it can be used as an emergency runway for aircraft. (The Federal Highway Administration begs to differ.) A one-mile straightaway is no big deal, though: it’s not enough to get hypercars like the various Bugatti Veyrons up to top speed, and, based on my own road-trip experience, it’s not enough to put you to sleep.

At the other end of the spectrum, on the other side of the world, there’s this:

Imagine a drive, a thousand miles long with no turns or bends, across a vast featureless plain with repetitive landscape, and hundreds of kilometers between towns and service stations. That’s Eyre Highway, the road that connects Western Australia to Southern Australia via the Nullarbor Plain, a flat and treeless, giant bed of limestone 200,000 square kilometres in area. With no hills or lakes to obstruct, the highway was laid down as a straight road that runs for 1,675 km from Port Augusta in the east to Norseman in the west, and includes what is said to be the longest straight stretch of road in the world: 145.6 kilometres, between the small roadhouse communities of Balladonia and Caiguna.

The very name “Nullarbor” tells you how many trees you can expect, give or take a few.

While in the East you still find some towns like Kimba, Wudinna and Ceduna, the western three quarters is almost devoid of life. This section lies almost entirely on the Nullarbor Plain. The typical view is that of a straight highway and practically unchanging flat saltbush-covered terrain, although some parts are located on ridges. Spread throughout the length of the highway at approximately 200 km to 300 km apart are roadhouses providing basic services such as fuel, food, refreshments, accommodation and repairs, but not all are open 24 hours.

About this time of year, the Nullarbor seems almost inviting, at least to me, partly because it’s still spring for the next few weeks, but mostly because there’s not much of a crowd.

Oh, and there’s this:

Because of its remoteness, some sections of the Highway serve as emergency airstrips for the Royal Flying Doctor Service. These airstrips are signposted and have runway “piano keys” painted on the road, and turnaround bays for small aircraft.

You definitely won’t see that on the likes of I-35.

(Via The Presurfer.)

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Never need to doubt it

Pitchfork once claimed that the Beach Boys’ “God Only Knows” was the single best song of the 1960s, which would be startling only if it weren’t true. Herewith, some minor factoids concerning the song:

  • Only one of the Beach Boys — Carl Wilson, who also sang lead — actually plays on the track: he’s on twelve-string guitar.
  • Paul McCartney said it was his favorite song, period.
  • There’s a vocal version of it in the videogame Bioshock Infinite.

The BBC “Impossible Orchestra” version, recorded as a charity one-off in October, has detractors, like this guy in the Independent:

With its message, that the BBC “owns” the entire musical waterfront and licence-fee payers would do well to remember that, it is the kind of propaganda film an autocratic regime sensing that its legitimacy is crumbling might produce.

By which I infer that he’d be just fine with it had it come out on Channel 4 or ITV.

But the hell with that noise. It’s a stirring rendition of a seriously beautiful song, and I don’t care how preposterous the presentation might be.

You’re excused if you didn’t recognize Pharrell without a hat.

(Previous “God Only Knows” discussion here.)

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I remember this scheme

I spotted this on the back of Parade yesterday:

If your loved one is currently taking twice-a-day Namenda tablets, ask the doctor about transitioning to once-a-day Namenda XR.

Namenda (memantine) is recommended for, as Wikipedia says, “managing Alzheimer’s disease,” and by “managing” is meant slowing the clinical deterioration associated with the disease, since there is no actual cure.

Still, a once-a-day capsule would seem to have only marginal benefits over a twice-a-day tablet, but … Never mind. I might have known:

Forest Laboratories wants more people to use its once-daily version of Namenda. It is, after all, the formula launched just last year, the one that theoretically stays on patent till at least 2025. So, it’s planning a “forced switch.” Forest will discontinue its original Namenda pill in August, pushing current patients onto Namenda XR — and hoping they won’t bother to switch back when generics appear next April.

A third option, an oral solution, remains available for the moment.

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My back pages

Once I’ve posted something, I never, ever want to see it again — unless I do.

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Strange search-engine queries (461)

As God is my witness, I thought turkey could digest by now. While I wait, the usual dyspeptic responses to the week’s odder search strings.

what is hold in automatic gearbox:  Evidence of inability to read the manual.

bulldog smasher lp:  Doesn’t work very well, unless you have some multi-record set like Chicago at Carnegie Hall. Otherwise, the dog just glares at you.

amanda d stanford playboy:  I don’t stock back issues, and anyway her name isn’t Stanford.

mazda 626 2l carb size:  Oh, it’s about yea big.

what does the song red ragtop mean?  If you have to ask, you shouldn’t be out screwing in somebody’s convertible.

how do you adjust the shift patterns on a 2001 ford escape:  If you wanted it to shift where you wanted it to, you should have bought the stick shift, Bunkie.

zooey deschanel thick ankles:  This again? Because it obviously didn’t stop you from trying to look up her skirt.

sexymobi:  I just wonder how many times this scrub had to swipe before getting here, which is as unsexy a place as exists this side of Hudson Bay.

McChrystal “germans bombed pearl Harbour”:  Nor was it over then, I might add.

waterlog in microsoft word:  Hey, you’re lucky it isn’t a backlog.

A British boy, Ayan Qureshi, is now a Microsoft Certified Professional after passing the:  River Styx.

how dare you Glare me meaning:  Let’s just say you’ve been awarded some shade.

the size of dan blocker penis:  Hint: he wasn’t the one who played Little Joe.

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Shtick shift

It is not sufficient to sell products anymore: we must now sell brands, vague, inchoate floating clouds of image that are supposed to justify the purchase of those products in a way that “It works good” never could. I get sent hints every week on establishing and furthering my personal brand, despite the fact that after six decades it ought to be pretty much obvious.

Melody Lee is Cadillac’s Director of Brand and Reputation Strategy, a title which would have made Henry Ford spit in his whiskey. And this is how she sees the task before her:

[T]o get more millennials like herself to start thinking about buying a Cadillac as opposed to an Audi or a BMW, Lee isn’t focusing on the cars themselves. Instead, she is putting her energy into changing what the cars represent.

“We want to be a global luxury brand that happens to sell cars. We don’t want to be an automotive brand,” Lee said in an interview. “There is nothing that exciting about an ad with a car in it by itself. We need to start injecting more humanity into our brand and into our advertising.”

This could be difficult, since Cadillac’s sole market-dominant product is the overwrought Escalade, a sport-utility vehicle with hardly any sport, damned little utility, and dehumanizing levels of bling. Inasmuch as the ‘Slade is GM’s single most profitable model, you’d think this would be precisely the image they wanted, but apparently they’re embarrassed by it, perhaps because the Wrong Sort of People — people who don’t subscribe to Architectural Digest, let’s say — are buying it.

But Lee is immersed in her mission:

“I don’t buy products, I buy brands,” explained Lee. “I don’t use Apple computers because they are the best computers, I use them because Apple is cool. We need to show drivers what the Cadillac lifestyle is all about.”

Between that and the notion of Lee’s boss, Johan de Nysschen, that Cadillac ought to compete in the six-digit range with Bentley and Rolls-Royce, and suddenly you have to ask yourself: “Wouldn’t you really rather have a Buick?”

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Put-ti-put-ti

Meanwhile in Denmark, this would seem to be concrete evidence for some sort of malfeasance:

National authorities have shut down a company that produced food for nursing homes and hospitals in a cement mixer.

The Danish Food and Veterinary Administration (Fødevarestyrelsen) discovered that the food company Nordic Ingredients violated hygiene rules by producing gelled foods in a cement mixer. The food was delivered to public nursing homes and to hospital patients who have difficulty swallowing whole food.

Thereby confirming your worst fears about hospital food, no doubt. And furthermore:

A Food and Veterinary Administration official said that in addition to producing food in a cement mixer, the hygiene levels at the company’s production facility were abysmal.

“It wasn’t just a bit of mess from the most recent production, and we determined that the cleaning standards were completely inadequate,” Henriette Mynster told DR.

I suspect government procurement rules, and all that lowest-bidder jazz. It will happen here soon enough.

(Via Bayou Renaissance Man. If you don’t get the title, get this.)

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Let this be a Wanning to you

China has banned puns:

Chinese is perfectly suited to puns because it has so many homophones. Popular sayings and even customs, as well as jokes, rely on wordplay.

But the order from the State Administration for Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television says: “Radio and television authorities at all levels must tighten up their regulations and crack down on the irregular and inaccurate use of the Chinese language, especially the misuse of idioms.”

Programmes and adverts should strictly comply with the standard spelling and use of characters, words, phrases and idioms — and avoid changing the characters, phrasing and meanings, the order said.

If you ask me, this is Fuqing ridiculous.

(Via Interested-Participant.)

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Here a nibble

Susan Boyle, asked if she’d consider online dating, came back with this:

“Are you having a laugh? Knowing my luck I’d go out on a date and you’d find my limbs scattered around various Blackburn dustbins! I believe in letting things happen naturally and not shopping for a man on the Internet. If my soulmate is out there then I will find him but it won’t be on a computer.”

That was two years ago. And apparently the old-fashioned way still sort of works:

“I met a nice guy in America, who shall remain nameless. All I’ll say is he’s a doctor from Connecticut… It’s early days but we enjoy each other’s company.

“I met him at the Safety Harbor Resort in Clearwater, Florida, where I had a concert. We just got talking in the hotel and I thought he seemed friendly enough. He wasn’t a fan but he knew who I was. He invited me out for lunch the next day.

“We had a nice chat and spoke about lots of things including our careers. He was the perfect gentleman and even paid the bill. Afterwards we exchanged details.”

Too early to bring out that “soulmate” business, to be sure; but for someone who dates slightly less often than I do, this is the stuff of hope. Hope, incidentally, is the title of her newest album.

For the “Who’d go out with someone who looks like that?” crowd, this is what happened when Harper’s Bazaar got hold of her a few years back:

Susan Boyle following a Harper's Bazaar makeover in 2009

Apparently this isn’t the first time she’s been approached, but this is the first time I can remember that she actually talked about such things.

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