They grow even louder

There exists a band called Eels, which has cut some nifty tracks in its day — I remember the Beautiful Freak album, nearly 20 years ago — but I never really warmed to them because of their name, which is reminiscent of a creature I will never really warm to:

Personally, I can’t think of a sea creature more horrific than the eel. It has all the negative qualities of a fish (might touch you while swimming, incapable of feeling love), plus all the negative qualities of a snake (has no limbs at all yet somehow manages to move around) — plus, in some cases, all the negative qualities of a poorly-grounded home appliance. In fact, if I were choosing something to encounter in open water, I’d rank only one fish lower than an eel: an eel that’s been marinating in cocaine. Unfortunately for me, a team of Italian scientists has been exposing European eels to low doses of cocaine to monitor the effect of the drug.

I’m hearing shrieks, and not just from the eels, either:

As it turns out, giving cocaine to eels is a bad idea for reasons beyond my phobias. Aside from the coke-exposed eels appearing “hyperactive compared to the other groups,” cocaine exposure thickened the eels’ skin and intestinal linings, reduced the amount of mucus in their skin, and increased their production of hormones like prolactin and cortisol — chemicals important for eels’ endocrine functioning…

Messing with an eel’s skin is serious stuff. Cocaine’s effects could hamper the eel’s ability to protect itself against disease and injury, recognize sexual partners, or secrete alarm pheromones.

So: not at all novocaine for the soul. Still, where’s a non-self-respecting eel supposed to find cocaine?

A 2014 study, also by Italian researchers, found 13 nanograms of cocaine per liter of water in Italy’s Sarno River, meaning that almost 15 grams of cocaine flow through the river every day.

I think I’d better leave it at that.

(Via Eric Siegmund.)

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One of those Things That Don’t Happen

The Washington Nationals-San Diego Padres game last night was delayed because of rain, an exceedingly uncommon occurrence in America’s Finest, or at least Driest, City. James Wagner, who covers the Nats beat for the Washington Post, put up this possibly incredulous tweet:

Bees? Petco Park was covered in bees? Well, not exactly:

On July 2, 2009, MLB experienced its first game to be delayed/halted by a swarm of bees at Petco Park in a game between the Padres and the Houston Astros. A small swarm of honeybees took up residence around a chair in left field, causing the game to be delayed by fifty-two minutes. A beekeeper was called in and the swarm was exterminated.

Aw, geez. You didn’t have to exterminate them, didja?

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Seven minutes of Wonderment

There was a time when Stevie Wonder was a “12-year-old genius,” and I remember it well: I was ten, more or less, and every Stevie single went onto my Must Buy list once I acquired enough coin of the realm actually to buy singles.

One of the oddest Wonder-related recordings came about thanks to Jaap Eggermont and his Stars on 45 operation, which on their third early-Eighties LP — different titles in the US and Europe, as it happens — cut a Stevie Wonder medley in the manner of their earlier Beatles and Abba medleys, sung by someone identified as Tony Sherman. Whoever Mr. Sherman is, he does a pretty mean Stevie. This particular video attempts to match up the recorded SO45 tracks with actual Stevie footage, which almost makes me wish Stevie himself would mash all these songs together, because, you know, he can:

(Inspired by Roger’s post for Stevie’s 65th.)

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Wear your dog tags

And nothing else, if you’re so inclined:

[A]n outfit in Scranton, Kan., just south of Topeka, seeks to honor troops and veterans in a rather unusual way — it’s a nudist colony that is waiving all admission fees over the three-day holiday weekend to any guest who shows a military ID card or proof of military service.

Yes, the 30-acre Prairie Haven nudist colony and campground, which features tent and RV sites as well as cabins, wants to give troops and vets a free opportunity to soak up more sun than perhaps they’ve ever soaked up in their lives.

“Colony” is considered Oldspeak among nudists, but this does strike me as a heck of a deal, especially if there’s some therapeutic effect:

[A] 2013 report by WFTS, a television station in Tampa, Fla., featured former Army officer Max Sanchez, who said his regular visits to a local nudist colony in that state has helped him cope with behavioral disorders — flashbacks, nightmares, sleep problems — that he said were lingering souvenirs from a yearlong combat tour in Vietnam.

This is the second year Prairie Haven has offered this promotion, having discovered last year that some of their regulars were coming in from nearby Fort Riley.

(Via Breaking Shame.)

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139 or bust

There is this so-called Rule of Social Media which says: “Don’t use all 140 characters. Give people room to retweet with a reply.” This rule was obviously conceived before the current version of the Twitter quote function, but it’s not something I’ve ever worried about, and neither did Lynn:

Ridiculous! Sometimes 140 characters is barely enough and you expect me to limit myself to even fewer?

I have written an amazing number — amazing to me, anyway — of 141- or 142-character tweets, necessitating on-the-fly editing, preferably without lapsing into txtspk. I get perhaps more than my share of interaction, and I have yet to hear anyone complain that my tweets are too long.

While we’re at it, this Facebook “rule” and Lynn’s reply:

Don’t Like your own post. — Do people do that? Actually, I wouldn’t do it but I don’t see how it could hurt or inconvenience anyone. So someone’s post has 4 likes instead of 3, or 1 instead of none. Is this really a problem? Sure it says something about you if [you] Like your own posts but other than that…

If FB ever gets a proper Dislike function, I plan to downthumb as many of my own posts as I can.

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Expectation whirls me round

After exposure to Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida in my youth — we read it in class, because apparently nobody had produced a version of the actual play for what seemed like several decades — I decided that however terrible Cressida’s behavior might have seemed, she had one of the great names, a name which might have been passed on to my daughter had I not mentioned that Toyota made a fancy sedan by that name.

Now comes Cressida Bonas, twenty-six, who has a smallish career going as an actress and model, and who once had a brief period as tabloid fodder until she and Prince Harry broke up last spring. I was largely unaware of her existence until the Fug Girls showed her in this dress:

Cressida Bonas on the Dior Cruise

Of course, when she’s not on a boat, she might be in a car:

Cressida Bonas takes a ride

Post-Harry, she’s landed a gig with UK luxo brand Mulberry, which yielded up this curious advertisement:

Probably just as well we’re not overrun with modern-day versions of Troilus.

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Tell no one

Wednesday’s Question of the Day at TTAC was “What’s your automotive guilty pleasure?” Taking “guilty pleasure” to mean “Yes, I enjoyed it, and yes, I know it sucks,” I figure I can probably reveal mine, which I did rather like, and which by almost any definition sucked out loud.

Nineteen eighty-one. The last thing the world needs is an alternative Chevette, right? But in that year I got some seat time in an Isuzu I-Mark, the Japanese flavor of the global GM T-body, and it was loads more fun than my one Chevette experience a few years later. For one thing, Isuzu’s assembly seemed a tad less slipshod, and nothing felt like it was ready to fall off. Then again, the I-Mark, fitted with Isuzu’s 1.8-liter diesel four with all of 51 ponies, probably couldn’t get up enough speed to shake anything loose, although it did idle like a Keurig stuffed with Legos. As is my wont with underpowered cars, I drove the living whee out of it for the day I had it, and while there were a couple of anxious moments on the Broadway Distention, geez, when aren’t there anxious moments on the Broadway Distention? The shifter snickety-snicked nearly as well as the five-speed in my Toyota Celica, and I spent about twenty seconds in the back seat just to see if it was possible to spend twenty seconds in the back seat, which it wasn’t in the Celica unless you represented the Lollipop Guild.

Buick had been selling these cars for a couple of years as Opels, to make up for the real Opels that the General wasn’t bringing in anymore; I suspected at the time that Isuzu had been instructed to make them a bit more plush, or a bit less unplush, than the Chevys would be. Nothing came of this experience, of course, and I was still driving the Celica a dozen years later, but to this day there are times when I slide into my Large Automobile and remember what it was like behind the wheel of a smaller one.

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In the wake of total outrage

The response to the Jem and the Holograms trailer has been mostly negative:

I mean, no Misfits? I said something on Twitter to the effect that “it’s like they took an ordinary teen movie and grafted the Jem character names onto it.”

Still, Hasbro has come up with some surprising stuff of late, and surprise is the business they’re in. And if Eric Raymond — no, not this Eric Raymond — is going to be Erica Raymond and played by Juliette Lewis, well, maybe I can adjust.

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Stradiviolets

Every day I find out something I didn’t know, and here’s one of those somethings:

Being the most popular colored violin, purple is “in” with the younger generation. For those who are just starting to learn the violin, the colored ones are just perfect. The main reason for this is that sound quality is not a major concern for beginners. The only thing that matters is to learn how to play the violin.

And who knows? Maybe she’ll go on to bigger and better things:

Laney and her purple fiddle

“She,” in this particular instance, is granddaughter Laney, working her way into the middle-school orchestra. (Her mom took the picture.)

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This guy’s shui is fenged

Or something:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: Can I request a new SSN because I object to digits used?

Sorry, Bunkie, all of them use digits. And the Social Security Administration does not take requests: a reissued card will have the same number as the original.

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Read faster, dammit

Okay, maybe not this fast:

Ray Kurzweil, a smart guy who talks a lot about what may (or may not) happen in the future, suggests that human beings will develop computerized personal assistants that will be able to read hundreds of millions of web pages in just a few seconds.

Twilight Sparkle is a few seconds ahead of you, Ray:

Although a computerized personal assistant probably should not be the size of a Costco.

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I has a Supersad

Specifically, Lancelot Supersad Jr., not for his run-in with the law in New Hampshire, but simply for his name alone:

In March, we ran out a field of 64 names and instructed our readers to whittle that field down to one. What followed was a two-month period filled with heartwarming stories, examinations of Southeast Asian cultures, and revelations about highly-paid (and splendidly-named) public employees. Ultimately, 62 of our competitors came up short, and we are left with two accused thieves who will battle it out to see who can swipe our 2015 Name of the Year crown.

The left side of our bracket had no answer for Lancelot Supersad, Jr. Over the first five rounds, Mr. Supersad dropped his opponents with ease and picked up plenty of momentum along the way. He took down LaAdrian Waddle, did away with Dallas Ennema, dispatched Jazznique St. Junious, thundered past Dr. Electron Kebebew, and then, in a Final Four masterstroke, outlasted the plural noun attack of the Bulltron Regional’s one-seed, Cherries Waffles Tennis. With his latest and greatest victory in his rear-view mirror, Lancelot has snowballed his way into the championship match.

And from the right side of that bracket:

His final quest will require another heroic effort, because his opponent has steamrolled through her matchups as well. Amanda Miranda Panda began by thumping Shanda Licking before taking down Tunis van Peenen in round two. She continued her assault through the Chrotchtangle Regional by felling Beethoven Bong in the Sweet Sixteen and Miraculous Powers in the Elite Eight. Her Final Four showdown with Infinite Grover wasn’t particularly close; she ended the Staten Island man’s deep run by collecting nearly two-thirds of all votes.

Last I looked, about eleven hundred votes had been cast, probably not including yours. Get with it.

Update, 19 May: Amanda takes it all.

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All about that bassoon

You remember the Boston Pops, don’t you?

Arthur Fiedler would have approved, I think. (Meghan Trainor definitely does.)

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Ruse the day

Some years back, Italy enacted a mandatory seat-belt law, bringing them into compliance with European Union dicta. However, it was a grudging compliance at best:

What is now racing off the shelves however, is a fake seat belt buckle, no belt, which placates the vehicle’s alarm system. The company selling these gadgets notes on its website, “an alarm is useful because it reminds us to wear an accessory that most likely, in case of collision, will save lives. But if we care little about our lives and don’t mind flying through the windshield, we can purchase a Null Seat Belt. Once inserted, the alarm will stop bothering us and allow us to die in peace’.”

And I suggest that it’s a lot less intrusive than the horrid Automatic Belts inflicted on US customers back in the 1980s. At least modern-day airbags leave you alone when they’re not exploding in your face.

(Via Bayou Renaissance Man.)

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Commence this, pal

Okay, I’ll bite: what’s with the high-dollar commencement speakers these days?

Colleges use big-name speakers to help build brand identity, one theory goes, although it can backfire if the profile of the speaker is something that ticks off donating alums. It can also garner some negative publicity when the precious little snowflakes who make up the graduating class believe their graduation experience will be ruined because the speaker espouses causes in which they do not believe or otherwise fails to measure up to some arcane standard of university perfection. Of course, their employment experience after college will be ruined the first time they expect the world to conform to their standards, as employers frequently insist on things being the way they like them. This is if whatever micro-specialized subset of social theory in which they earned their degree allows them to secure employment, that is.

It would have been perfect, in other words, for someone like Kurt Vonnegut to come out and exhort a bunch of MIT grads to wear sunscreen — which, incidentally, he didn’t, which I know because I read the Mary Schmich essay that actually did contain such an exhortation, which somehow got attributed to Vonnegut. Baz Luhrmann, for his part, heard it as a spoken-word song:

That’s Australian voice actor Lee Perry actually speaking.

And that said, you really should wear sunscreen on certain days. If it ever stops raining for more than 48 hours this month, even I will.

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Among the things I never thought of

“Do you eat smooth or crunchy peanut butter with jellyfish?”

My first thought is simply “No,” but somehow that seems inadequate.

What I should have thought of: the consequences of posting this around breakfast time.

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