Synths and sensibility

After Switched-On Bach, the deluge: all manner of music was processed through the magical Moog and its rival devices. Perhaps the biggest hit was a Debussy collection called Snowflakes Are Dancing, on which Isao Tomita spent fourteen months trying to do polyphonics on a machine that did one note at a time. Wendy Carlos faced the same issue on her early Moog work, but she was doing mostly Bach, nicely mathematical and discrete. Debussy, a “tone painter,” would prove tricker, but not at all impossible:

The only off-note is the title of the collection, a slightly warped translation of Debussy’s original La neige danse. I played the very dickens out of this disc, and it still comes out a couple times a year to remind me.

Unfortunately, this came down the stream yesterday:

Tomita was 84. And before he was through, he did some Bach of his own:

The numbers still add up.

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Dollars here, dollars there

The apparently not-dead-yet Ted Cruz — at least, that’s the name in the From field — has issued this blurb on behalf of Rep. Jim Bridenstine of Oklahoma’s 1st District:

There are hundreds of congressional races taking place across the country this year, but this election in Oklahoma is especially important.

Jim Bridenstine is one of the top conservative leaders in the House today and he isn’t afraid to stand up to the powerful interests in Washington.

He has fought to stop Obamacare, to defund President Obama’s executive amnesty, and to stop Planned Parenthood from receiving taxpayer money.

Time after time, Jim has stood with me and other conservatives in Congress to defend the Constitution, and now he needs your help.

The Washington establishment has recruited a candidate to run against Jim in the June 28th Republican primary election. He’s a threat to the Beltway insiders so they are determined to defeat him.

*Please join me in supporting this outstanding conservative leader by making a contribution to his campaign today.*

Some of us down here in Soonerland are, shall we say, suspicious of solicitations for out-of-state money. And we know this is going out of state, because Ted Cruz and/or his fellow travelers in this particular PAC didn’t send this to me; it was sent to good old Roger Green in Albany, New York, who isn’t the least likely person on earth to send a contribution to the Jim Bridenstine campaign, but he’s a long way from the top of the list, if you know what I mean.

There is no Democrat running in the First District, which should give you an idea of how this area skews politically. (There is an Independent in the race.) Tom Atkinson, the “establishment” Republican candidate, actually considered running against Bridenstine two years ago, but eventually thought better of it. With Bridenstine vowing to serve a maximum of three terms — he’s completed two — Atkinson may actually get a chance in 2018.

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Mere “stick” seems inadequate

I mean, this sucker might be a full-fledged rod:

A long silhouette found wriggling on a mountain road in south China has proved to be the world’s longest insect, authorities said Thursday.

Zhao Li, with the Insect Museum of West China (IMWC) in Chengdu, found the 62.4-cm-long stick insect during a field inspection in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region in 2014, breaking the record for length for all 807,625 insects discovered so far, according to the IMWC.

This is over two feet of six-legged bug.

(Okay, it’s technically not a bug.)

Zhao took the insect back to the IMWC, and it laid six eggs. After hatching, Zhao found the smallest of the young insects’ bodies measured at least 26 cm, almost twice the size of those at the Natural History Museum.

The insect has been named Phryganistria chinensis Zhao, and a thesis about it will be published soon.

(Via Fark.)

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In lieu of a business model

Is my face insufficiently spited? Here, let me take a blade to that proboscis there:

Wired magazine's popup box

Here’s the thing with us paying magazine subscribers: we hate being presented with crap like this on the mag’s Web site, and if you really don’t want us around, we can take a hint, and you may never get another dime from us for the rest of your miserable lives.

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But can she dance?

This shot of singing group Fifth Harmony apparently came from a Billboard cover shoot, and there’s something seriously wrong with it:

Fifth Harmony for Billboard maybe

I’m pretty sure Ally Brooke Hernandez, known professionally as Ally Brooke (seated, center), wasn’t born with two right feet.

Billboard said it wasn’t any of their doing:

“The photo circulating on the internet is a manipulated outtake from a Billboard photo shoot. It was never published by Billboard.

But perhaps the best commentary came from Hernandez herself:

Where this would get complicated, I submit, is when you have not only two right feet but a left one as well, as with this character from American Horror Story a couple of seasons back:

Three-legged woman from American Horror Story

I’m sure she can dance, especially the waltz, but I’m not so sure I want to find out for myself.

(Via HelloGiggles.)

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Taking four years off

And fercryingoutloud, get your passport in order:

Whether it’s luck or fate, we’re starting Dispatches Europe at the very time an increasing number of Americans are considering their expat options for the next four years or so. In fact, there’s a new poll out indicating one in four Americans would consider leaving if Trump is elected. Others claim they will leave if Hillary Clinton is elected. In terms of trend lines, more Americans are renouncing their citizenships.

From a recent Forbes post:

“[T]he number of published expatriates for the first three months of 2016 was a record 1,158. In 2015, there were approximately 4,300 expatriations. Comparing present to past suggests that Americans renouncing citizenship have risen 560 percent from their Bush administration high. There are now 18 times as many renouncers as in 2008.”

The discerning reader will already have discerned that 4,300 is a hell of a long way from “one in four.” Still, if you’re on your way out of here, we wish you well, and don’t let the door strike you as you leave.

(Via Cameron Aubernon.)

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Strange search-engine queries (536)

Data-acquisition methods have changed somewhat over the ten years we’ve been doing this feature, but the motivation remains exactly the same: find out what people are searching for, and make fun of it whenever possible.

are the goats in the hsbc ad really up the tree:  You wanna try telling a goat it can’t go up a tree?

mark never stops ranting about the dangers of pornography. he gives endless examples of smut he has seen in movies and on television, and spends a lot of time hanging around porno houses to get even more examples:  And his right palm is covered in coarse, sticky hair.

unmitigatedly cute 18y.o. virgin skinny young teen & compacted breast strip:  That you, Mark?

10000 leagues under my nutsack:  No, maybe that’s Mark.

definition of a nerve:  Whatever it is, Mark’s got a lot of it.

chickens could not be taught to play baseball because they would chase the ball after it was batted, rather than run to first base:  Perhaps if you built a road perpendicular to the base path.

oldest known board game: Um, Great-Uncle Wiggily?

sofia still lives at home, but helps with the rent paying $200 per month. she has a job that pays about $700 per month after taxes. she has to pay for her own personal items such as clothing and toiletries spending about $120 per month. going out with friends is important to her, but she also wants:  To buy a brand-new car, because, by golly, she deserves one.

barista salaries:  I hope they make more than Sofia.

relative silence:  Most people’s relatives are anything but silent.

jose had a small bag of marshmallows. the bag contained 5 pink, 6 blue, 7 orange, 9 yellow, and 3 green marshmallows. he picked one of the marshmallows from the bag:  And somewhere, a leprechaun died.

by publishing information packed articles, you’ll soon enjoy rectum:  Not here, you won’t.

meghan trainor tongue:  Her tongue is No. (You need to let it go.)

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Wrenching torque

You always have to wonder what Gregg Popovich is going to throw at you. Tonight, the Spurs didn’t put up so many treys, and David West was turned loose to wreak havoc. West delivered, Tony Parker turned in another sterling performance, and it was obvious that something was going to have to happen if the Thunder were going to climb back into this thing. That something, like so many times before, was Kevin Durant, with 17 of his 41 points in the fourth quarter, while Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge — and possibly even Pop — wondered what the hell happened. With Durant in the middle of a pair of free throws — he got one — Pop pulled the big men, and it was window-dressing from that point. The Thunder won this one decisively, 111-97, and the series is tied up 2-2. “What was going on here tonight?” asked TV guy Brian Davis. “Basketball,” answered Dion Waiters laconically. And he could afford to be laconic; he’d just played keepaway for 24 seconds to burn up what was left of the clock.

Except for free throws, the Thunder owned the major box-score numbers: 51-47 shooting, 39-17 on treys (the Spurs hoisted twelve, hit only two), 40-30 rebounding, 23-12 on assists. Neither Aldridge nor Leonard got a shot from the floor in the entire fourth quarter. Neither Tim Duncan nor Danny Green got a shot from the floor in the entire game. Still, you want a hero here, you go to Steven Adams, +21 for the night, 16 points and 11 boards, much of this late alongside Enes Kanter, Billy Donovan having concluded that going small late in the fourth wasn’t working. (Kanter checked in with 11, and Waiters was a thumping 7-11 for 17.)

Beforehand, there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth: what if this were the last game ever for Kevin Durant in Thunder home white? And we’ll probably hear that again before Game 6. The important thing for right now, though, is that there will be a Game 6.

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We are all roadkill

The Hour of Indecision presents: “There’s a dead squirrel on the curb!”

For comic relief:

Hope it works.

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No joy of six

After fifteen years, the government of Ontario has decided that this plate is offensive:

Ontario license plate VI6SIX, expires November 2017

In vain did Daniel D’Aloisio try to explain what it meant:

“My relationship with my father was very short. He passed away when I was 19 years old due to cancer,” said D’Aloisio.

The pair shared a passion for the Habs.

D’Aloisio explained there were only so many characters, so VI is short for vie, French for “life”.

“‘6’ is from ’76, I was two years old and Montreal won their cup, and ‘six’ being six Stanley Cups my dad and I celebrated together in his short life with me.”

Their favourite player of all time, Mario Lemieux, wore 66.

A lot of sixes. The provincial government, however, saw exactly three:

If you read VI as the Roman numeral for six, the plate becomes 666.

In the New Testament, that’s the “number of the beast” and some see it as representing Satan.

Sheesh, Toronto. You want fire and brimstone, look westward; Fort McMurray is going through hell right now.

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Taking no chances

I have to admit, I wouldn’t have thought of this as a precautionary measure, but it makes a certain amount of sense:

I wasn’t sure which size to go for with these Valentino Rockstud City Sandals as I’m a 40 in the heels in patent leather, but I know with sandals you always need to size down if there’s an open back and an open toe. I ordered both the 39.5 and the 39 on my credit card and I kept the 39. The 39.5 did fit me, but there was too much gapping at the toe area and the straps weren’t as tight, so they were definitely too big. I recommend you size down if you are buying these as they need to fit securely and will probably stretch a bit from the heat during the hot months.

A 40 on the Continent is about a 9½ in the States, so she ended up with what we would call an 8½. (I’m not about to compare our “hot months” with theirs.)

And I did not know about downsizing for sandals. Maybe it’s something specific to women’s shoes; me, I tend to be grateful for anything that comes close to fitting.

There’s just one potential hangup with this procedure: these shoes were priced at £650 — $940 a pair. Charging two pairs might be beyond some people’s credit lines.

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Right across from the Sofa King

If this doesn’t actually exist, it should:

Radio announcers can practice this along with “She sells sea shells by the seashore.”

(Via Tabitha St. Germain.)

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Which explains the sudden urgency

TechDirt reports, in the classic TechDirt manner:

The FCC recently announced that it plans to craft rules requiring that cable operators deliver their existing content (at the same price and with the same copy protection) to third-party hardware without the need for a clunky CableCARD. The cable industry has been having an incredible, epic hissy fit over the announcement, not only because it would endanger $21 billion in captive annual revenue from set top box rental fees, but it would drive consumers to hardware delivering a wider variety of legacy TV alternatives than ever before.

Part of the cable industry’s ingenious plan to stop the FCC has involved funding an ocean of misleading editorials that try to claim the FCC’s plan will somehow boost piracy, hurt privacy, “steal the future,” and even harm ethnic diversity. Spend a few minutes perusing the news wires and you’ll find hundreds of such editorials, all penned by a wide variety of cable industry-tied consultants, think tankers, and others, suddenly pretending to be objective analysts just really worried about the welfare of consumers. It is too much, as usual, for news outlets to bother highlighting any financial conflicts of interest these authors might have.

Meanwhile, our local cable provider has rushed out a new, or new-ish, box which will have to be installed before the FCC can possibly complete its rulemaking, and which, after 12 months or so, will cost $36 a year. Per TV set. I have two of them sitting here in the living room, and I figure in a day or two I will get a nastygram from them for not having installed them yet. At least they’re providing an HDMI cable with each box.

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Neither Super nor Sonic

I’m wondering just how much I should read into this:

When the Seattle City Council this week blocked a developer’s effort to build a new sports arena and bring professional basketball back to the city, the disappointment among the city’s basketball fans was no surprise.

Many were still pining over the loss of the SuperSonics franchise to Oklahoma City in 2008.

But nobody seemed prepared for the vitriol unleased against the female gender.

The plan was shot down in a 5-4 vote — or more specifically, five women to four men.

I mean, I don’t think this was girls vs. boys, necessarily:

The proposal for a $550-million arena — with $200 million coming from taxpayers — was San Francisco developer Chris Hansen’s attempt to bring a National Basketball Assn. franchise back to Seattle and attract a National Hockey League team.

Disappointed fans couldn’t fathom the council’s refusal to accept a $20-million offer from Hansen to vacate part of a street needed for his arena site near the Seahawks’ and Mariners’ stadiums downtown.

“I think someone should smash Kshama Sawant’s head into a brick wall,” one Twitter user wrote, referring to one of the women who voted no.

“So this is why Ann Coulter has said that women shouldn’t be allowed to vote,” said another online commentor.

Contrary to popular belief, Sawant is the only full-blown socialist on the council.

“Perhaps I risked the promise of new, future jobs,” Councilwoman Lisa Herbold said Thursday, “but my vote was decided in favor of protecting industrial and maritime jobs that we have now so that we can maintain the diversified economy that has kept our region strong in good economic times as well as the downturns.”

Priorities.

And maybe some distaste for Hansen’s ways:

Weeks after his aggressive bid to buy and relocate the Sacramento Kings to Seattle failed, hedge fund manager Chris Hansen bankrolled an effort to undercut a deal the team’s new owners made to build an arena in Sacramento.

Hansen, who donated $100,000 on June 21 to a political action committee attempting to halt the $448 million deal to build the Kings a new downtown arena, says he “made a mistake” by giving a Los Angeles law firm $100,000.

The firm of Loeb & Loeb secretly funneled $80,000 to a group gathering signatures to force a public vote on the arena plan, which includes funding of at least $258 million in public money.

Leaving ten grand for each Loeb, I guess.

(Via Fark.)

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Insufficiently Boaty

Well, it didn’t work out quite the way we hoped:

The UK’s new polar research ship is to be named RRS Sir David Attenborough, despite the title “Boaty McBoatface” previously topping a public vote.

A website inviting name suggestions had attracted huge interest, with Boaty McBoatface the runaway favourite.

But Science Minister Jo Johnson said there were “more suitable” names.

On Friday, days before Sir David turns 90, it was announced that the £200m vessel will be named after the world-renowned naturalist and broadcaster.

Sir David said he was “truly honoured” by the decision.

On the upside:

Score this as “better than nothing.”

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Still pretty

As the phrase goes, you must remember this:

1990 Pretty Woman poster

You could have knocked me over with the proverbial feather when I found out that the actual poster for this big hit film was seriously doctored: that’s Julia Roberts’ head, all right, but everything from here down belongs to actress Shelly Michelle. (Never you mind about Richard Gere’s hair.) I didn’t understand this: it seemed to me, based on the evidence of the actual film, that Roberts had some perfectly nice gams.

A quarter-century and more later, this flashed back to me, with Julia on the cover of the June InStyle, and in a relatively leggy pose at that. As a subscriber, though, I knew I could count on this portrait being ruined by an address label. (The version you see here comes from the British press, probably the Daily Mail.)

Julia Roberts on InStyle June 2016

As counterpoint, two relatively recent red-carpet looks: the 2014 Emmy Awards, followed by the 2015 Screen Actors Guild Awards.

Julia Roberts at the 2014 Emmy Awards

Julia Roberts at the 2015 SAG Awards

Still, my favorite picture of Julia might be this page from a late-1990s fashion spread, complete with inscrutable caption:

Julia Roberts in a director's chair

I wonder what situation she was trying to escape at the time.

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