Snooze of the world

It’s been a month since the latest Postmodern Jukebox release — a smoldering Stevie Wonder-esque take on Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You” — and for a moment, some of us were just a bit alarmed.

Which is not to say that Scott Bradlee has disappeared. He’s hawking a book, Outside the Jukebox, and he’s showed up with some solo piano work, such as this:

Whether or not PMJ returns in its old familiar form, we can be sure Scott Bradlee will never be without ivories to pound.


Strongly agree


Frank commerce

Mr. Faulkner’s Old Fashioned Hot Dogs pops up on the streets of northern Minneapolis, and by all accounts is doing fine business.

Mr. Jaequan Faulkner is all of thirteen years old, and thereby hangs a tale:

He operates Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., serving about 20 customers a day. He likes the sense of accomplishment and enjoys projecting a positive image of black youth in his community, something he’s aware isn’t always shown.

The business started in 2016 when Faulkner saw an old hot dog grill at his uncle’s house. After two years of starts and stops, Faulkner stuck with it this summer.

Then he hit a snag: The Minneapolis Health Department called. Someone had complained to the city about the hot dog stand.

But instead of shutting Faulkner down, the Health Department decided to help him meet its standards.

Health Department staff made sure he had the necessary equipment — thermometers, food containers, hand sanitizer and utensil-cleaning stations — as well as knowledge about proper food handling. Once he passed his health inspection, inspectors paid the $87 for the special event food permit, and the city-sanctioned stand opened for business.

Eventually, Mr. Faulkner would like to own his own food truck. And props to Minneapolis city government for not doing what every other city would almost certainly have done.


Aw, shuddup and do yer job

Friday a friend of mine received a notification from his Smart Thermostat:

Alert! Loss of Cooling

Your cooling equipment is not adequately cooling your home, and the temperature inside your house is at least 5 degrees higher than your thermostat temperature setting. This problem can be caused by the following:

  • A door or window may be open
  • Power to your cooling equipment may be lost
  • Your cooling equipment may not be working properly

Evidently beyond the gizmo’s ken was the actual cause of the situation: it was 109 degrees Fahrenheit outside, tying a record for the date, and only four degrees short of the all-time — well, since 1891 anyway — record for this town.

In my own house, with classic/antiquated (choose one) equipment, the gap was 9 degrees.

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The last straw

Thought that campaign against plastic soda straws was strange and quixotic? Think again:

[T]his effort does seem to be occupying environmentalists and satisfying millennial needs for social media virtue signalling, all people who have many MUCH worse ideas for “improving” the world. In other words, every day spent by these folks pushing for and preening over this lame plastic straw effort is one less day they can spend pushing for things that would be much more destructive. It’s like getting the termites around your yard to focus on easting the dead log in the back rather than eating the rafters in your house.

Not to mention way cheaper than actually treating the premises for termites.

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Hall monitoring

So I’m pondering, “If you had to spend the rest of your life handcuffed to a News Babe, which one would you choose?” I would just be grateful to be offered the choice, but I think I’d keep my fingers crossed for Tamron Hall, who, so far as I can tell, knows she’s a News Babe and doesn’t let it interfere with her work.

A Texas girl with a degree from Temple, Tamron worked at a couple of Texas stations before landing a spot at WFLD-TV, the Fox affiliate in Chicago, where she spent a decade doing all manner of news-related stuff before NBC picked her up and stuck her opposite Keith Olbermann on MSNBC, eventually promoting her to the Today Show. She stayed with the Peacock for ten years, departing in 2017, perhaps because the network had developed some bizarre obsession with Fox’s Megyn Kelly, who proved to be much less of a fit at NBC than Hall had been.

Tamron Hall in the Orange Room

Tamron Hall works the color-block technique

Tamron Hall is all packed and ready to go

Tamron Hall with Harvey Weinstein

The chap with Tamron in that last shot is Harvey weinstein; last summer, it was announced that they’d team up on a new talk show, which she would host. But that was before the Weinstain began to spread and Harvey became showbiz persona non grata.

Truth be told, I think she could have dealt with Harvey. In this Today Show clip, Tamron foils a prank by the ever-smarmy Matt Lauer:

Well played, if I say so myself.

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Quote of the week

From The Manual by The KLF (1989), some thoughts on money:

Money is a very strange concept. There will be points in the forthcoming months when you might not have the change in your pockets to get the bus into town at the same time as you are talking to people on the telephone in terms of tens of thousands of pounds. Some of the following might seem contradictory but in matters of money they often are. We spoke earlier of how being on the dole gives you a clearer vision of how society works. What it doesn’t do is give you a clear idea of how money works.

After you spend any time on the dole you either resign yourself to the economic level your life is at and cope — or things start to slide. The rent gets into the arrears. The electricity goes unpaid. The gas board threatens to cut you off. When this starts happening a paranoia begins creeping in telling you modern society is geared to working against the individual and YOU in particular. The late eighties reaction to this is invariably to realise that the only way out is for you to become suddenly very rich and none of this will matter any more. You will start to fantasise about becoming very wealthy and how very shortly it will happen to you. You only have to make the smart move, find the right key, make the right contact, be discovered for what you are. Your fantasy will be fuelled by everything.

Nobody wins the pools. There is no such thing as a fast buck. Nobody gets rich quick. El Dorado will never be found. Wealth is a slow build, an attitude to life. I’m afraid the old adage that if you look after the pennies the pounds will look after themselves is always true. That said, you must be willing to risk everything — that’s everything you haven’t got as well as you have got — or nothing will happen.

Nothing much has changed in three decades, has it?

Then again, as we were told, time is eternal:


We’re so board

Of course they didn’t actually let her stand on the roof. But hey, it almost looks like fun:

And yes, you should always call around for estimates first.


While crossing Shabby Road

I suppose you’d wear this shoe with your Distressed Jeans:

Superstar Taped Sneakers by Golden Goose

This is worse than anything your kid sister ever wore:

Crumply, hold-it-all-together tape details a distressed leather sneaker in a retro low profile with a signature sidewall star and a grungy rubber cupsole.

And your kid sister was probably not insane enough to pay $530 for this shoddy-looking shoe. Although, to be fair, shipping from Nordstrom is free.

(Via Kathleen DeLaney Thomas.)

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Another dose of karma

And the co-pay will make your hair stand on end:

Vyera Pharmaceuticals, formerly called Turing Pharmaceuticals, lost more than $1 million in the first quarter of 2018, according to financial documents obtained by STAT. Sales, driven by the $750-a-pill Daraprim, have been on the wane over the past two years, falling more than 14 percent in 2017 and on pace to drop another 7 percent in 2018.

The company gained notoriety in 2015 after [Martin] Shkreli, then CEO, acquired Daraprim, which treats a rare infection called toxoplasmosis, and raised the price more than 5,000 percent. Despite a public outcry, Shkreli claimed the move would bring in hundreds of millions of dollars a year in profits for the company’s shareholders and fund the development of new, better treatments for toxoplasmosis and other rare diseases.

But audited financial statements obtained by STAT show Vyera is nowhere near meeting either goal. The documents suggest Shkreli’s move was a short-term success: The Daraprim price hike helped Vyera achieve stellar gross margins, but the company’s expenses cut deeply into its net income. After turning small profits in 2016 and 2017, Vyera is now losing money. Daraprim sales are falling, and Vyera has laid off at least a handful of salespeople; expenses remain high.

Sales are falling? After a 5000-percent price hike? Who could have imagined such a thing?

U.S. prescriptions for Daraprim have consistently fallen over the past two years, from 427 in the first quarter of 2017 to just 107 in the first quarter of 2018, according to IQVIA, a pharma consultancy that tracks drug sales.

But it’s apparently not just the price:

A former employee said the company’s problems in part reflect a shrinking patient population.

Toxoplasmosis is a rare infection that largely affects patients with HIV. As HIV therapies gain wider use across the country, there are fewer and fewer patients who need Daraprim. That, coupled with the drug’s famously high price, has put a damper on sales, the former employee said.

“It’s a dying disease — which is a good thing — but it’s bad for the company,” said the former employee, who spoke on condition of anonymity so as not to violate an agreement with Vyera.

So not only does PharmaBro’s company languish in the market while he himself languishes in jail, but fewer people are getting sick. Karma scores the trifecta.

(Via Fark.)


Much more than a hunch

The Zillow page for 11222 Dilling Street, North Hollywood, California 91602:

The beloved television home of The Brady Bunch has come to market after almost 50 years. This iconic residence is reportedly the 2nd most photographed home in the United States after the White House. Featuring perfectly preserved 1970’s decor, it boasts one of the largest lots in the neighborhood — over 12,500 sq ft. Enormous, lush backyard gardens & lawn, completely private & serene. Located on a quiet residential block, property also borders the Los Angeles River, which is a unique street-to-river orientation. Living space quote may not include Garage conversion/expansion of downstairs Family Rm added after original construction. 2 Master Suites, one up/one down plus generous entertaining spaces that flow uniformly from one to the next and to the outdoors. Gated motorcourt plus large separate garage provide parking convenience.Whether inspired by the TV family or the real life surrounding neighborhood, this residence is a perfect postcard of American 70’s style and its special culture.

Assuming, of course, that’s what you want.

While that’s an actual bedroom from the house, interior shots for the TV series were done, not on Dilling Street, but in the studio.

What I want to know, of course, is how the “enormous, lush backyard gardens & lawn” fit onto a 12,500-square foot lot. The palatial estate at Surlywood sits on a bit over 11,000 square feet, and the lot only seems enormous when you’re the one maintaining it.

Oh, the price? $1,885,000. Caution: a lot of sales in this area resulted in teardowns and subsequent McMansion construction.


Not a single oil change

Tesloop, a firm which operates a shuttle service using Tesla automobiles in and around southern California, now has 400,000 miles on one of their Model S sedans, and they’ve released some maintenance figures for the edification of those who wonder how well the big electrobox holds up for the long term:

Teslas are not cheap to maintain, but no vehicle being driven 400,000 miles (643,737 km) in just a few short years is going to be cheap to maintain. Tesloop’s Model S racked up $19,000 in maintenance costs over 400,000 miles, which, in comparison to what a comparable executive sedan like a Lincoln Town Car or Mercedes GLS class vehicle would cost, is actually cheap.

It sounds like a lot, until you run the comparisons:

Tesloop estimates maintenance costs on a Lincoln Town Car to be closer to $88,500 and for a Mercedes GLS class, $98,900 over the same 400,000 miles. That nets out to a savings of $0.17 or $0.20 per mile in maintenance by driving a Tesla instead of the much more traditional Lincoln and Mercedes offerings.

On cost alone, these numbers make Teslas no-brainers as luxury transportation, undercutting the competition on maintenance and fuel cost by a significant margin.

“But the batteries!” I hear you cry.

Along the way to 400,000 miles, the Model S has also had its high-voltage battery replaced twice under warranty, at 194,000 miles (312,212 km) and 324,000 miles (521,427 km).

“Under warranty”? Dayum.

So I decided to do some extrapolation from this stack of service orders, and by the time Gwendolyn, my aged Infiniti sled, reaches 400k — she’s not quite halfway there — she’ll have rung up about $53,000 in maintenance. Not that I expect to live long enough to see that.


Amateur blackmailer wants help

No other way to explain it: How can I make a time bomb that will delete system32?

Get a load of this:

Hello. I have been grinding for two months at this company where I’m summer working to earn a slight amount of money before university year starts again.

Problem is, I haven’t even been offered a contract. Whenever I ask to be offered one, I’m told to wait for the manager to come, but she doesn’t come.

I’m familar with programming. If someone can give the code to a batch file, that will delete C:\Windows\system32, in 7 hours, if a password isn’t typed in before the deadline. This way I can propose one last time for a contract, if none given I will launch the .bat and make it affect the network (all of the wired desktops).

What I have typed so far is:

@echo off
del C:\Windows\system32

If someone can add to this program to make it irreversible upon launch and affect all IPs within the network, that would be much appreciated, because companies who have people working without payment, they should pay heavily.

P.S: The reason why I can’t do it myself, is because I’m only an engineering student, so I am familiar with programming (in C only), but don’t have the knowledge to do it myself.

Thank you.

This is the very definition of a cybercrime, and he’s probably not going to have much time to study engineering in the Big House.

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Count the time in quarter-tones

Brian J. has seen singer Erin Bode twice in a lifetime:

Once at a little club in Clayton [Missouri] called Finale where I dragged my beautiful wife on a date night sans our only son at the time. The other was at the Old Trees annual musical festival, where I walked up without the family to catch a bit of her set. I got her 2006 album Over and Over and listened to it, well, over and over in the office where I worked five flights above Washington Avenue.

He sounded laudatory enough that I dialed over to hear something more recent from her, and happened upon this Jackson Browne cover from 2016:

And then, perhaps hoping for some bit of biographical trivia, I hit up Wikipedia, which promptly hit back:

The topic of this article may not meet Wikipedia’s notability guideline for music. Please help to establish notability by citing reliable secondary sources that are independent of the topic and provide significant coverage of it beyond its mere trivial mention. If notability cannot be established, the article is likely to be merged, redirected, or deleted.

By Wikipedia’s definition, I am a reliable secondary source, and have been quoted therein as such, which is why you’re reading this here.


Meanwhile in the food desert

Lindsay Jill Eirikson sends this along:

Seedless watermelon from store in Nunavut

To anyone in Canada who still doesn’t believe there is a food crisis in the North, this is in Nunavut, when was the last time you paid $70 for a watermelon??

Hmmm. “Produce of Mexico,” distributor in California’s Inland Empire.

Shipping costs?

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Aggieland eats

Grocery shopping just isn’t what it used to be:

“We sell more sushi in some of our stores than bananas.”

H-E-B President Scott McClelland was making a point Wednesday during his visit to Bryan when he said prepacked, ready-to-eat meals are a booming business, and the future of his 400+ stores will focus more on customer expectations, especially for millennials.

“Stores in the past that failed didn’t keep up with what customers wanted,” said McClelland. “How we sell groceries to millennials is a big part of our strategy. There are more of them than any other age group in Texas.”

That helps explain some of the new features that customers will have when the new H-E-B store on Wellborn Road in College Station opens on September 12th. Bryan-College Station’s 5th H-E-B store will feature an “Easy Pay” kiosk that will allow customers with 5 items or less to zip through a line that accepts credit cards only.

Customers will also be able to use a mobile app that will let customers scan items in the store, and pay with the app. The app will give shoppers the opportunity to by-pass check-out lines altogether.

Considering that H-E-B even outsells Walmart in the Texas grocery market — and nowhere else, the chain having no stores outside the Lone Star State — just about anything they do should probably should be considered newsworthy. And this admission was kind of startling:

“Walmart and Kroger are also doing curbside service. We do this and we also do home delivery. Customers in Bryan-College Station are big fans of the curbside service, but it hurts us financially,” he said. “So why do we still do it? Because that’s what our customers expect, and if we’re not offering it, then they’ll go to Amazon.”

The second-biggest grocery chain out of Texas is Whole Foods Market, which is owned by, um, Amazon.

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