Strange search-engine queries (504)

It seems unreasonable to me that there should be 504 of these over a ten-year period, while there have been only 266 Popes in two thousand years. Then again, we don’t want to be changing Popes every seven days, either.

the reality television show wife swap exchanges the matriarchs from two very different families and films the result:  Kinda makes you wonder how it lasted for more than a season.

what happened to rebecca black:  Last I’d heard, she’d gone to Taco Bell.

mongoose agency:  So far, they have only the one mongoose, though they’d like to have more mongeese. Or is that “mongooses”?

lateral mobile shelving sioux falls south dakota:  You didn’t, um, accidentally build a shelf, did you?

hot girl serving beer:  Let’s hope it’s cold beer.

ariana grande having sex:  Shucks, I’d be happy if she’d just bring me a cold beer.

intravenous wine:  As a matter of fact, I like beer.

food for supper:  Highly recommended. In fact, most people actually prefer food for supper.

ay lav yu:  Wouldn’t “I <3 U” be easier to type?

shimshit lawyers:  That’s not how you spell “shyster,” although it probably ought to be.

a day full of fun dvd:  Preceded by half a day of previews, promotional material, outright commercials, and FBI warnings.

tamara is a content developer at moon loop inc:  Wonder what it takes to make sure our developers are content.

fiorina pantyhose:  You can’t assume someone will serve well in an elective office just because she has long, smooth, shapely, carefully crossed legs.

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Moon over Surlywood

Two conflicting urges here. I did want to get some sort of photographic record of the Big Fricking Bloody Moon Eclipse Thing while it was live; on the other hand, I have enough Sixties hippie left over inside me to insist that astronomical phenomena should be enjoyed in one’s most natural state.

Resolved, of course. Shot just over my roof, this is the Big Fricking Bloody Moon Eclipse Thing, and apparently nobody noticed the unclothed chap standing on his driveway — which is amazing, given my lack of suntan and consequent monstrously high albedo.

Super Blood Moon 2015

A somewhat embiggened version resides on Flickr for the moment.


Sheer balls

Everything you’ve ever heard about “jailhouse lawyers” was leading up to this:

An inmate who escaped from a high-rise federal jail in Chicago has an unusual theory on who’s to blame: He says the government was negligent in enabling the breakout, so he sued for $10 million for damages.

The 7th U.S. Court of Appeals said in a Friday ruling that Jose Banks “gets credit for chutzpah.” But a three-judge panel at the Chicago-based court tossed his 2014 lawsuit.

“No one has a personal right to be better guarded or more securely restrained, so as to be unable to commit a crime,” the ruling said.

I think it’s probably reasonable to assume that Mr Banks was under a lot of stress during his escape:

In a 2012 jailbreak, Banks and a cellmate rappelled 17 stories down on a rope fashioned from bed sheets and dental floss, then hailed a cab. Banks, now 40, was caught within days and his cellmate within weeks.

Banks’ suit says the damages he suffered from the escape included the trauma of dangling on the makeshift rope in fear of his life.

On the upside, the jail now has an explanation for that sudden upsurge in dental floss consumption.

(Via Fark.)


Just what the doctor ordered

Okay, this wasn’t strictly a prescription, but still:

CAABOH, incidentally, stands for “Crazy As A Bag Of Hammers.”

Background on this mysterious medicine:

Pharmacy technician Dee Vivian was having a normal day working at Shoppers Drug Mart in Sooke, British Columbia when a dad came into the store with an adorable request. He was designing a bottle of “monster spray” for his daughter, Mya — who was having a hard time getting to sleep at night for fear of creepy crawlies lurking under her bed — and asked if Dee could print a label to make the product look more official.

Not only did Dee oblige, she totally tricked out the spray bottle, covering it with labels to give the illusion that it was prescribed by a doctor. Someone shared a photo of the amazing monster repellent bottle on Reddit, and it’s amazing. “Spray around bedroom at night and before bedtime and repeat if needed,” the instructions advise. One sticker says, “Shake Well,” while another says, “May cause dizziness or drowsiness.” Drowsiness was definitely the goal, so these selections couldn’t be any more perfect.

Coolest dad ever, right? And you just try that with any of the humorless prescription-pushers on this side of the border: you’ll be lucky to get away with a $75 copay.


Life at subsonic speeds

There was a reference to this event in Jim Theobald’s The Mammoth Book of World Records (London: Constable & Robinson, 2015), and I simply had to go looking for more:

The stars of Norway’s National Knitting Evening did not break a world speed record for stitching together a sweater on Friday night [1 November 2013], but they did set a viewing milestone for the NRK2 phenomenon known as Slow TV. About 1.3 million people tuned in to the broadcaster to watch four hours of knitting discussion, followed by 8.5 hours of “long, quiet sequences of knitting and spinning,” network exec Rune Møklebust tells me. That’s on par with a previous Slow TV show about firewood, and slightly more than the one that followed a 7.5 hour train journey. But market share was up dramatically to 15%. Viewers watched an average of four hours of the program which ultimately went to 13 hours, four more than planned. Møklebust says there is already demand for another — and possibly longer — knitting night.

So far this year, Slow TV has presented one program: a 200-minute lecture by Professor Frank Aarebrot on the subject of World War II. It drew a 21.4% share. The complete list of programs contains, yes, links to actual video (although the National Knitting Evening video is split into two parts).

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Can I get an Amen?

I’ve got to say it’s all right:

The Songwriters Hall of Fame is adding a new honor to its annual Induction & Awards Gala. Beginning in 2016, the Curtis Mayfield Award will be included in the organization’s scholarship program. The first presentation will take place next June in New York City.

As announced by Hall of Fame president/CEO Linda Moran, the Curtis Mayfield Award will recognize a promising singer/songwriter “whose work reflects the inspiration, spirit and soul” of the late R&B/soul pioneer. Mayfield, inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2000, wrote more than 1,700 songs during the course of his career. The singer/songwriter/musician’s catalog includes such iconic songs as “People Get Ready,” “Keep on Pushing” and “Superfly.”

“It’s time to celebrate and re-evaluate Curtis’ legacy,” says his widow Altheida in a statement. “He was a genius who always stood on his own.”

To celebrate, one of the lesser-known Impressions tracks, always a favorite around here:

Sandwiched between “People Get Ready” and “Amen,” “You Must Believe Me” didn’t chart as high as either (#15 in Billboard), but it stood out pretty well from the flood of British Invasion stuff in that happy year of 1964.

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Not on your formulary

In fact, I don’t know how anybody affords this stuff at all:

A U.S. drug company is taking the Canadian government to court for its attempt to lower the price of what has been called the world’s most expensive drug.

Alexion Pharmaceuticals has filed a motion in Federal Court, arguing that Canada’s drug price watchdog has no authority to force the company to lower its price for Soliris.

The medication is approved to treat two rare blood diseases that affect about one in every one million people. A 12-month treatment costs about $700,000 in Canada, while in the U.S. it costs about $669,000.

Wikipedia contributes this little factoid:

Alexion tested the drug for rheumatoid arthritis, which afflicts 1 million Americans. The trials failed. But if it had worked for arthritis, Alexion would likely have had to charge a much a lower price for this use, as [it] would have to compete against drugs that cost a mere $20,000.

In other news, $20,000 a year is now considered “mere.”

I have been known to complain about a drug that costs me $75 a month. I don’t even want to imagine a drug that costs $75 an hour.

(Via Fark.)



The Nissan Maxima, argues Jack Baruth, is an anti-halo car:

  • Customer comes in to see the Altima
  • Customer sees Maxima with giant SALE banner
  • Customer compares price of discounted Maxima with less-discounted Altima
  • Sees that Maxima is a better deal
  • Doesn’t really like the Maxima
  • But he’ll be damned if he’ll pay just as much for an Altima as he would pay for the Maxima he doesn’t want
  • Customer leaves, buys a Camry, which is what his wife wanted him to do anyway

Conclusion: Nissan doesn’t need this car. But somebody does:

The company that most needs a Maxima is Nissan’s own sub-brand, Infiniti.

“But wait,” you say, “Infiniti’s brand values don’t include some big Fail-Wheel-Drive barge.” I assume you’re kidding, dear reader. Infiniti has no brand values whatsoever. It’s always been a grab-bag of whatever Nissan had sitting around the Japanese showrooms. The original Q45 was a Nissan President — although, to be fair, the idea of the Q45 was certainly on Nissan’s mind when the President was being developed. The Q-cars that followed were rebadged Nissan Cimas with virtually no US-market development. The G35 that took over as the “heart of the brand” was a Skyline. Only the FX-thingys were really meant from the jump to be exclusively Infinitis. The current lineup is a dog’s breakfast of awkward-looking SUVs and the Q50, which is lovely inside but doesn’t really exude much sporting intent.

And if they push it over to the Infiniti side of the business — as they did between 1997 and 2003, so there’s precedent — it has a chance of justifying a $40k price point, something it can’t do as a Nissan. Besides, it would kill off all that “four-door sports car” crap once and for all. I drive a 2000 with an Infiniti badge; it does have four doors, and it’s definitely a car, but it’s sporting only in the sense that it’s not the sort of anti-sporting vehicle for which General Motors was so famous for so long. If you can imagine an Oldsmobile Cutlass Semi-Supreme with better dampers, you have the I30/I35. If they bring it back as a Q40 or something, I’d have to seriously consider buying one.

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Lots more bits

Hasbro, having learned that it can easily sell stuff with double-digit price tags to pony fans, is now upping the ante:

The newest line of My Little Pony toys is definitely not for kids.

Hasbro Inc. and Integrity Toys, Inc. are collaborating on a “high end collectible” series called <3 My Little Pony, exclusively designed (and priced) for adult fans of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. These fans are colloquially called Bronies, a mostly adult, male Internet-spawned fandom with an unusual cultural position which is nearly as mainstream as My Little Pony itself.

And I suppose it’s nice to be acknowledged:

“There’s a tremendous adult market,” Integrity Toys spokesperson Carol Roth said in an interview… “The reality is most My Little Pony collectors are in their 20s to 60s and possibly even older than that.”

Well, we do have more disposable income than do the grade-school girls in the putative target audience.

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She didn’t just come here to dance

Former Canadian Idol competitor Carly Rae Jepsen has, for me anyway, taken over the position of Girliest Pop Star At This Moment: she’ll be 30 in a couple of months, but she still sounds nineteen no matter what she’s singing. It probably doesn’t hurt that she doesn’t look much over nineteen:

Carly Rae Jepsen on the Today Show

Carly Rae Jepsen doesn't drop the mic

She definitely rates as an International Star of some stature, judging by this video shot at a Philippines concert:

Most of the entire concert seems to be floating around YouTube.

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It never really went away

InStyle proclaims with a straight face:

The sleeper shoe of the season comes from a quite traditional source: Chanel. Originally designed by Gabrielle Chanel in 1957, it was the only footwear option shown on the house’s mega runway last March. Though it boasts the heritage cap-toe, its modest heel and seductive cutouts were remixed by none other than Karl Lagerfeld. It is precisely the opposite of Instagram click-bait, which makes it all the more covetable.

I’ll bet it didn’t cost $800 a pair back in 1957. Still, it’s worth icon points, as classic Chanel lines always are.

Chanel Slingback shoe rebooted for 2015-6

Chanel has put together a series of short films — none as long as a minute — which feature the Slingback. My favorite was this one:

You do want to take care of your shoes, especially your $800 shoes.


From the Boo Hoo files

Big Girl Pants are apparently unknown in Australian governance:

A woman in Australia who unfriended a colleague on Facebook after a dispute at work was found by a tribunal to have committed workplace bullying.

The Fair Work Commission, a workplace tribunal, said the decision by Lisa Bird, a real estate agent sales administrator, to unfriend her colleague Rachel Roberts showed a “lack of emotional maturity” and was “indicative of unreasonable behaviour.”

The incident occurred after Ms Roberts, a property agent, complained to the agency principal that her properties were not being adequately displayed in the store window.

Mrs Bird, the wife of the principal, then accused Ms Roberts of being a “naughty little school girl running to the teacher.”

Ms Roberts left the office crying and then checked to see if Mrs Bird had commented on the incident on Facebook, only to discover that Mrs Bird had instead unfriended her.

Jesus H. Tapdancing Christ! What the hell kind of world is this when there are legal repercussions for trivial social-media actions?

That said, I have no Facebook friends at work, and will not approve any applications. I know better.

(Via @SwiftOnSecurity.)

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Amateur night at the Extortionists’ Club

I was forwarded a copy of this bit of blither, sent to God knows how many addresses of people who were alleged to be poking around Ashley Madison’s place:

I now have your information. I have also used your user profile to find your Facebook page, using this I can now message all of your friends and family members.

If you would like to prevent me from sharing this dirt info with all of your friends and family members (and perhaps even your employers too?) then you need to send 1 bitcoin to the following BTC address.

Bitcoin Address:

You may be wondering why should you and what will prevent other people from doing the same, in short you now know to change your privacy settings in Facebook so no one can view your friends/family list. So go ahead and update that now (I have a copy if you dont pay) to stop any future emails like this.

You can buy bitcoin using online exchanges easily. If the bitcoin is not paid within 3 days of 23 Sep 2015 then my system will automatically message all of your friends and family members. The bitcoin address is unique to you.

Consider how expensive a divorce lawyer is. If you are no longer in a committed relationship then think about how this will affect your social standing amongst family and friends. What will your friends and family think about you?


Well, at least he’s sincere.

Inasmuch as a copy I found on the Web contains exactly the same Bitcoin address, we know the “unique to you” claim is BS, although it was probably necessary for credibility, since actually reusing addresses is highly discouraged.

Reports one woman who received the same mailing:

For some it is perhaps more of a problem than for others, but for me it is merely an amusement now. Even so, there are people out there, in cyberspace, who have taken the time to sift through the Ashley Madison hack files and find mail addresses, and those who are counting on hitting someone whether they go through the files or not.

And this is very pertinent:

That any real woman signed up is something I find hard to believe, especially since we already know that all the profiles for females were either faked, covered by bots, or paid for. So someone — whether called Paul or whatever — writing me a mail and trying to blackmail me is just amusing.

The least we can do is laugh at him.

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Tach it up

Faced with a kid asking “How do I make this [usually, but not always, “beater”] go fast?” people with speed experience generally reply “How much money you got?” There’s a bit in Car and Driver’s Lightning Lap writeup for this year, in which an Audi S3 produces a lap one second faster than a not-all-that-different Volkswagen Golf R, that seems to back up this premise:

Ask any group of racers if they would pay $3585, the spread between the Golf R and the S3, to clip one second off their lap. Most would ask if $7170 will get them two seconds.

As always, though, you eventually run into the point of diminishing returns: otherwise, a mere $685,811 would buy you actual teleportation.

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Missed the point by this much

Okay, maybe a little more than that:

“I didn’t know it was going to be that slow!”

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Too good a tool

Bad news in the mailbox from the Fortress of Bezosity:

The Amazon MP3 Downloader is no longer available as of today. We’re sorry for any inconvenience!

As an alternative, you can download your music directly through your web browser. To help make this easier, we’ve completely redesigned web browser downloading. It now gives you the option to download albums and multiple tracks at the same time using .ZIP files. ZIP is a file format that compresses content for quicker transfer.

If .ZIP files save any transfer time, it’s because they move several files under a single filename; actual compression of an .mp3 music file, already compressed to begin with, is next to nil. The last musical .ZIP file I acquired, Go Home Productions’ Sleazy Egyptian EP, managed to get 9-percent compression on a couple of tracks, which is amazingly high.

The real bummer, for me anyway, is that the Downloader was smart enough to find one’s iTunes directory and install the files on the fly, even while they were being tossed into the Amazon MP3 folder.

Oh, yes, this trick is still doable — with the Amazon Music app. I suppose I’ll have to see if this works on the desktop, because it definitely won’t work on my Dumbphone.