But still dismal

The Z Man has his doubts about economics:

Economics, as I’m fond of saying, is the modern equivalent of astrology. Before a battle, Cyrus II of Persia would bring in his astrologers to advice him on the time and place to attack his enemy. The astrologers would figure out what he wanted to hear, consult their maps and then tell him what he wanted to hear. Cyrus was a badass dude who was rarely wrong, so it was a wise course by the astrologers to tell the boss what he already knew. When he won, they got some credit and they avoided contradicting the boss.

This old story about the eminent astrologer economist Joseph Stiglitz praising the economic polices of Venezuela ten years ago is a good example. Stiglitz was telling his hosts what they wanted to hear because they were paying him to endorse their brand of lunacy. Of course, Venezuela is now headed to total collapse because their economy has ground to a halt. In an age when Mexico’s poor people are obese, Venezuela has managed to have a food shortage. Maybe the rulers should not have listened to Joseph Stiglitz.

Rulers will listen to anyone who will say the things they want to hear. God knows our political class, if possible even worse than Venezuela’s, is desperate to dissemble, and as a result all manner of soothsayers are kept on retainer.

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Reach to exceed grasp

This spiffy little device from Ettore is called “Grip ‘n Grab”:

Grip 'n Grab Amazon photo

The physical-therapy folks hinted that they’d be ordering one for me, but I figured it wasn’t going to happen, until yesterday when one of them (the 32-inch version) showed up on my porch in an Amazon box.

It wasn’t from the therapists, though. It was an anonymous gift, with a brief paragraph from the unknown sender, including this:

This gift symbolizes what I would like to do: give you a hand in this difficult time.

I think I know who sent it, but I’m not going to nose around. And I’ve already paid this forward on behalf of an underemployed Twitter friend.

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Connecting Rodham

Let us, for the moment, entertain the idea that there is no Hillary Clinton:

I mean, we all know about Bill’s sexual proclivities. Why would he marry that? It’s much more likely that “Bill’s wife Hillary” has been played by a succession of B-list actresses. Actors, after all, must master the art of lying for money. Not to mention all the accents “Hillary” has tried to fake …

Of course, those actresses had to be carefully selected. Each one had to be a near-perfect fit to the prescribed pattern. Each one had to appear the right age under the klieg lights. Each one had to possess the ability to feign all the necessary emotions — and, of course, the erudition expected of a lawyer. And it was absolutely vital that none of these actresses become emotionally attached to “her husband.” That would have been disastrous.

It wouldn’t have taken much for the Governor of Arkansas, arguably the most inept, most corrupt government in the United States, to arrange for the required deceptions and concealments.

There is, of course, an alternative theory:

Why hasn’t anyone else deduced the implausibility of a real Hillary Rodham Clinton? Why is all the heavy lifting left to me? She’s an android, Gentle Reader. A certified golem! Body by Fisher, training by Stanislavski, scripts from whatever part of Hollywood produces B-movies and slasher flicks!

I suspect the Clinton machine, so to speak, has had difficulty obtaining replacement parts of late.

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PR fail

Fashion blogger ML at Twenty York Street is dealing with a tone-deaf public-relations pitch:

You said: “Have you heard, we’ve opened! This fabulous property marks the brand’s entrance into Canada and this global chain’s first-ever location in Ottawa! Nestled in the heart of ByWard Market, which puts you right in my hood btw (you would know this if you’ve googled me a bit or just take a look at one of my social media accounts. Your property’s spectacular view of Ottawa’s skyline is the same damn view you can see from our balcony. Neighbours!), this incredible property aims to honour the very best of Canadian culture including the best products made in Canada.

So far, so good.

I kept reading … Helmed by some Executive Chef, the hotel’s signature restaurant will serve up New Canadian cuisine inspired by an ingredient-driven menu of local, organic and sustainable (not to mention delicious) items. To celebrate the arrival of Andaz Ottawa ByWard Market, I thought this signature cocktail recipe with you.

This is lovely, I get to come by and try this signature cocktail!

Made with gold and pearls and all premium ingredients from the finest places in the country, this signature drink embodies everything that makes Canada great.

Oh boy, now I really can’t wait!

Then you said: if you’d like to try this super marvelous signature drink, I would be happy to provide you with a step-by-step recipe.

Wait, what?

If it’s a signature drink, perhaps they don’t want the recipe all over Ontario.

As I sat there puzzled reading and re-reading your message (again) in case, for the 3rd time, I may have missed something. So, I e-mailed you back, attached my media kit because this seems like a simple oversight. You may have been too busy putting the photoshoot together for this drink that you may have not seen my media kit, therefore, it failed to dazzle you.

NO worries, I don’t mind re-sending it and clarifying the part where we should have outlined the section about this being MUTUALLY BENEFICIAL.

And this point cannot be overemphasized:

Everybody else who puts in the hard work gets paid and based on my extensive experience, bloggers are just as skilled, creative and they work bloody hard, if not harder than everybody else. They spend blood, sweat and tears and I mean that both literally and figuratively and sometimes, their life’s calling and savings into their blogging business.

These are not silly side projects or passion blogs, these are legitimate businesses and therefore, should be afforded the compensation and respect they deserve.

And no, payments cannot be in the form of cupcakes, face cream, a bar of chocolate or, as revolutionary as it may sound, step-by-step recipe! Taking advantage of bloggers and influencers are such a no-no. It’s 2016 for goodness sakes.

At the very least, they ought to buy her a drink. And if I ever meet up with her in beautiful downtown Canada, I will. Maybe we can try some of that New Canadian cuisine.

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Death Star etiquette

As always, corporate correspondence is just a hair off kilter:

AT&T Let's Stay In Touch

This would not have been at all objectionable were it not for the subject line: “CHARLES: Action required.”

Um, I pay you guys several hundred dollars a year. You don’t get to require any action from me other than sending the check.

(And by the way, the current email address has been current since, oh, 1999.)

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Deliciously tart

While I wasn’t looking, singer-songwriter Fiona Apple turned thirty-nine; it took me a moment to realize that it’s been twenty years since her debut album, Tidal.

Fiona Apple assuming a position

Fiona Apple hits her stride

I am rather fond of her late-1999 single “Fast As You Can”:

Apple’s erstwhile boyfriend Paul Thomas Anderson directed this video and two others, in support of her album When the Pawn Hits the Conflicts He Thinks like a King What He Knows Throws the Blows When He Goes to the Fight and He’ll Win the Whole Thing ‘fore He Enters the Ring There’s No Body to Batter When Your Mind Is Your Might so When You Go Solo, You Hold Your Own Hand and Remember That Depth Is the Greatest of Heights and If You Know Where You Stand, Then You Know Where to Land and If You Fall It Won’t Matter, Cuz You’ll Know That You’re Right, which, last I looked, was the third-longest album title of all time. (It’s only about half as long as this.)

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Glancing skyward

Things are looking up, says Rosanne Cash:

All the more reason to give it another spin, say I:

The fact that Greenbaum was and is an observant Jew doesn’t at all enter into it, though it does make me wonder. Four years earlier, Greenbaum, as part of Dr. West’s Medicine Show and Junk Band, recorded a silly ditty called “The Eggplant That Ate Chicago”; is Chicago kosher, and would an eggplant care if it was?

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All in one Accord

I’ve mentioned the Republican supermajorities in this state’s legislature before, but we’ve got nothing on Tennessee:

Everything flipped in 1994, the first mid-term election of Bill Clinton’s first term.

Tennessee elected a Republican governor, two Republican U.S. senators, a majority of the U.S. House delegation, and the process began by which Republicans rose to the point in the Tennessee state legislature at which they hold 73 seats in the 99-seat House of Representatives, and 28 seats in the Senate. Senate Democrats could hold a caucus meeting in a mid-sized sedan; there are only five in the 33-member body.

Current numbers in the Oklahoma Senate: 39 Republicans, 9 Democrats. Maybe the Democrats could hire a van.

(Via Instapundit.)

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Beyond compare

One of the advantages of my job is that it borders on uniqueness: I have a singular skill set — too bad it isn’t plural — and the one person I felt could do it as well as I do, if not better, has decamped for quieter (and better-paying, it turns out) climes.

Any evaluation I get, therefore, will be from the upper levels of the corporation, who at least have an idea what I’m doing. So I need not fear this trauma:

I think, based on looking at the raw data and the variance that it was that I had two very disgruntled people in a class of about 30 — there were two people who consistently gave me the lowest score available. So I don’t know. I guess I didn’t reach them, or something.

I dunno. I tell myself not to let this bug me but it does. Part of this is just who I am: for one thing, I only value myself based on my last self-evaluation, whatever that may be, and I forget past things. So having successfully led a church service recedes in my mind, dwarfed by, “You had a couple students who apparently really hated how you taught.”

Of course, I have one other characteristic in my favor: I don’t have quite as good a grounding in statistics, so I’d probably never do the cogitation necessary to reach such a conclusion.

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And it will stay broken

I haven’t yet encountered anything quite this drastic yet, but I suppose it’s just a matter of time:

Paul Rubner thinks what’s happened to his Ford F-150 is criminal — and he should know, he’s a detective with the Calgary Police Service.

The heating system on his 2009 truck suddenly failed, blowing only extremely hot air on the passenger side — so hot, no one could sit in the passenger seat.

But the biggest problem? It can’t be fixed.

“It’s crazy,” says Rubner. “My truck is only seven years old.”

But there are no parts:

The part in question is the Dash Control Unit (9L3Z19980Y), which Ford Parts Canada lists as discontinued and unavailable. It was installed in V8-powered 2009 F-150s of various trim levels, equipped with dual-zone climate control, heated rear window, mirrors and seats, but with a seat cooler delete. That makes it a relatively low-volume item.

TTAC’s Bozi Tatarevic describes Rubner’s problem: “The issue that he is having is that the passenger side blend door actuator is shorting out. This causes the blend door to get stuck open when it should be closing. Since it is stuck open, the passenger side gets air that is flowing over the heater core. The shorting of the blend door actuator is caused by the HVAC module.”

Ford eventually saw a PR problem a-brewing:

The automaker has since agreed to have a supplier build a one-off module specially for Rubner’s truck. With stereotypical Canadian politeness, Rubner thanks the company for making his truck driveable during winter, though he wishes it hadn’t cast him aside the first time he appealed for help.

We have to wonder if this is the only time Ford builds a bespoke replacement part for an F-150 owner, or just the first.

I can’t imagine Nissan knocking out a part for me after 16 years. Regular visits to the dealer parts counter tell me that there are no more OEM wiper blades or rear brake rotors to be had. The aftermarket, in these cases, fills the bill adequately. But if my HVAC module ever craps out, I can probably safely assume I’m screwed — maybe. Then again, apart from those two exceptions, everything I’ve had to have ordered from Nissan USA actually showed up in a day or three.

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It’s a rum go

This story had yet to hit Wikipedia when the Commonwealth of Virginia spilled the high-proof beans:

Bacardi USA announced that it is discontinuing Bacardi 151 rum in all markets. All Virginia ABC stores will stop selling Bacardi 151 rum when current inventories are depleted.

While they have it, it’s $32.49 a liter at the state’s Official Liquor Stores. I probably ought to call Byron’s and ask them if they have any. Given the speed with which inventory turns over at that place, I’d almost bet they’re out already.

Update: I did call Byron’s. They’re selling the one-liter bottle for $20.33, and they’re not out yet. What can we learn from this?

(A tip of le chapeau to @HeavyHokie.)

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Vague holiday gestures

Girls, we all know, mature faster than boys, and it’s worse when the boy is much younger than his alleged peer group: the seventh-grade version of me, barely ten years old, was not at all able to deal with thirteen-year-old classmates in skirts. There’s a line in Bill Forsyth’s Gregory’s Girl in which some lad is extolling the virtues of Gregory’s younger sister Madeline: “She’s only ten,” he declared, “but she has the body of a woman of thirteen.” Fortunately for me, this film didn’t come out until I was nearly thirty.

That said, I once came up with the Dave Barry-esque idea of tacking up a pair of sheer stockings on the mantel, in the hope that Santa might see fit to, um, fill them up. The parental units did not approve, and the scheme was never implemented. And I’m not about to claim that I’m the only person who ever thought along these lines:

Sears Cling-alon hosiery ad

Actual Sears catalog displays were, if anything, even more endearing, which probably explains why I don’t have any of them anymore.

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Also melts the heart

“Decadent Fudge Tracks,” I read, and after satisfying myself that this was in fact a Walmart “Great Value”-branded ice cream and not some weirdly intersectional punk-rock compilation, I added it to my grocery order for the week.

And damn me if it isn’t just incredible:

My favorite ice cream used to be Ben & Jerry’s Brownie Fudge (or whatever … chocolate ice cream with brownies) … now, THIS Decadent Fudge Tracks from Great Value is the BEST chocolate ice cream EVER! If you love chocolate on chocolate on chocolate with peanut butter smidges in it, you will absolutely fall head over heels IN LOVE with this ice cream! I figured it’d be okay, and I was honestly expecting a little grain-ey texture like other cheap chocolate ice creams … NO WAY! This stuff is what dreams are made of! This product is, BY FAR, the BEST chocolate ice cream I’ve ever tasted! Rich, creamy, no chunky ice pieces, with a bulky ribbon of fudge (that I swear is like a brownie) and just brimming with those little peanut butter cups! And those are great, too! This will forever be my favorite chocolate ice cream!

This reviewer, unlike me, is a twenty-ish woman; however, my reaction was almost exactly the same.

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It’s not your book

Saturday night turned to Sunday morning, and sleep would not come, so I decided to read. I’d set the tablet screen for minimum blue light, and after the usual interminable bootup delay, I punched up a Kindle book.

And was met with this:

Invalid Item — This item is protected with DRM and cannot be read on your Fire. Please remove the item from your device and download it again or purchase a copy from the Kindle Store.

About two-thirds of my purchases were thus afflicted. I am currently theorizing that when all these things were moved off main storage and onto my 64 GB microSD card, Amazon’s clumsy DRM temporarily lost track of them. It was no particular trick to redownload the titles, but it was definitely annoying.

And it wasn’t the first time I’d had to fight with Amazon’s copyright cops, either. A friend sent me a novel he’d written in .epub format, and the tablet would not deign to display it unless I sneaked it in through a third-party file manager.

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Strange search-engine queries (554)

A couple of thousand people wander through here every week. Some are regulars, but more are simply passing through in search of various things. (“Everybody’s looking for something” — Eurythmics) The latter provide the material for this weekly feature.

staying sharp 13.1 answers:  If we just give you the answers, you never will be sharp.

paul peddler wants to purchase a bicycle costing $775. if he chooses to make 12 equal payments, then in dollars and cents the average payment will be:  If we just give you the answers, you never will be able to buy your own damn bicycle.

what does 666 really mean yahoo answers:  I’ve always suspected that Beelzebub was trolling the place.

del gato clinic deposits all cash receipts on the day they are received and it makes all cash payments by check:  And then there’s the 98 percent of business that is filtered through insurance companies.

setterade:  The first sports drink for sporting dogs.

anon-v com/videos/93950/was-i-in-your-ass-i-think-so/:  I think we can safely assume that you’re not actually looking for a permanent relationship.

dorothy holds herself responsible for causing hurricane katrina that killed thousands of people in the u.s. identify the type of delusion afflicting dorothy:  It doesn’t matter, unless Dorothy is white.

which of the following best summarizes the main idea of this paragraph? most people steal money if it is left in an open basket. few people steal money from plywood boxes with slots in the top. most people are honest enough not to commit major theft. few people are aware when they commit crimes:   #ThievesLivesMatter

fred flintstone is single and earns $40,000 in taxable income. he uses the following tax rate schedule to calculate the taxes he owes:  Excise tax on automotive brake pads: $0.00.

texas asshole massacre:  Obviously they never finished.

how to age concrete statues with yogurt:  Greek statues, I assume.

romantic soles:  This is what you claim to have when you disclose that you can’t afford Louboutins.

ghostbusters fail:  It is not relevant, however, that these women have no dick.

will blog for food:  Hope you’re not counting on dessert.

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A reprehensible little twerp

Cue Phil Collins intoning “You’re no son of mine”:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: How to temporarily freeze the odometer on a 2000 dodge dakota

Odometer tampering is of course illegal. Is this nimrod trying to sell the truck? Nothing so normal:

I got into a bit of trouble (I’m 17), and my parents are taking my truck away for two weeks. My dad knows the exact mileage on the truck. I drive a 2000 dodge dakota sport, 2.2 liter engine, single cab, 5 speed transmission. The odometer is digital. How can I rig the truck so it shows the same amount of miles on the odometer, rather than just pulling the fuse to the cluster and it not showing anything. It needs to look like I haven’t driven it, if I decide to drive it. All help is appreciated!

And don’t try to talk him out of this scheme, either:

Ps: Please don’t tell me not to drive the truck against my parent’s will. It won’t stop me.

Little shit has a future as a political consultant, if he’s not beaten to death first.

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