XP in three-quarter time

There are still defenders of Windows XP out there, and on behalf of those intrepid souls, we are happy to bring you this:

Of course, if you’d rather we went all the way back to Windows 95



You have to wonder how this nitwit got into this predicament in the first place: Is there a way to still comment and use YouTube if you’ve been banned from being able to own an email account permanently by court order?

Let’s call him halfway home: he can go to YouTube and look at any non-restricted video. But he cannot comment, or see restricted items, because he’d have to login with a Google account, and Google doesn’t sign up users without an email address.

And inevitably, I have to wonder what sort of grievous offense is most appropriately punishable by barring all access to email. It’s a swell idea: being an asshat on social media requires first that you apply for an account, which will require an email address. (We assume that the ban applies to all the guy’s existing accounts as well as any new ones he might want to create.) And there is an upside: no one can spam him.

Comments (3)

In which I am no help at all

“Someone has to stay here and watch the house,” she said, “and that someone is you.”

I stared at her empty sleeve, took a brief look at where her head was supposed to be, and decided to say nothing. My sister pretty much always had gone her own way, and after she became invisible last year, her independence seemed to be heightened.

Finally I spoke up. “Did you get that transmission leak fixed?”

“It’ll be all right,” said the voice above the collar.

“I mean, I have time to run to the store and pick up a couple of quarts.”

“No need. Now help me finish loading up the car.”

I still had misgivings about this whole thing; what happens if a ’64 Studebaker driven by an empty dress breaks down? Not that anyone cared what I thought about things. Still, I picked up a suitcase and headed out to the driveway.

And sure enough, once I got there, I found telltale spots of red. Apparently the Stude had gone from merely leaking to actually hemorrhaging. I pointed to the spots; I couldn’t be sure, but I think she scowled at me.

I kept my mouth shut and went back inside, booted up the computer, and vowed to find a garage along the way that could fix the car’s wounds when they became bad enough to bring forward progress to a halt. But that wasn’t happening either: for some reason, none of my passwords were working. I got up, looked out the window. Guy down the street had struck up a conversation with my sister. He’d been by the house before, and obviously he wasn’t daunted by her invisibility. Then again, a kind of tight, rather short dress will draw attention even if you can’t see its occupant.

“The longer she yaks with this guy,” I mused, “the worse it’s going to be when the car dies.” I wasn’t going to tell her that, though.


Low aspirations

I would say that this does indeed qualify as distressing news:

It was this, in Ars Technica. Three times as many American children in a survey would rather be a YouTube content provider than an astronaut. In fact, video blogger was the number one profession chosen by the 3,000 kids in a survey commissioned by LEGO.

A lot of this, I suspect, is based on familiarity, and really, we haven’t done squat in space compared to the glory days of Apollo.

Barely 10 percent of the kids surveyed wanted to be astronauts — and yes, given the regular reports of other surveys that suggest not many more than that can find England on a map, maybe redirecting them from wanting to pilot multi-ton spacecraft over populated areas is a good idea. A third of them want to be video bloggers — and here’s the thing about that. It’s not a job.

Sure, video production is a job and a specialized skill. Writing interesting content to be recorded and broadcast is a specialized skill as well. But production and content creation are the jobs — not video blogging, and three minutes of skimming YouTube will offer dozens of examples of video blogs that have neither. I would be very surprised if a significant portion of the aspiring video bloggers had any idea of what kind of skills were needed to become successful in that field, or had spent any time developing them.

They see half an hour of Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg, aka PewDiePie, and they read that he makes about $10 million a year from YouTube, and suddenly: “I can do that!” They would be most distressed to hear that to maintain his production level, Kjellberg routinely puts in 16-hour days. For our indolent youth who quail at the thought of an Actual Job, this is the sort of revelation that results in suicide on a Guyanese scale.

There are about 75 million people under 18 in the United States. If the Harris Poll commissioned by LEGO is accurate, twenty-five million of them want to be video bloggers. I’m not worried that all of those kids will actually become video bloggers — “what I wanna be when I grow up” is a malleable concept. I’m just stunned into a melancholic stupor that a third of America’s kids want to sit in front of their laptop cameras and say “um” for five minutes, and part of me now wishes I still drank.

And I was just getting ready to buy the next round, too.


Staff enhancement

The usual spam promoting what women scornfully call “boner pills” are usually not this lyrical:

It’s rumored that back in the olden days…

If a man’s member stopped working for him…

He’d more quickly shoot himself in the head than to keep on suffering…

Because what’s a man worth if he can’t even satisfy a woman?

Luckily, these days we don’t have to resort to extreme measures…

In fact, now is a better time than ever to be alive…

Men, if you’re seeking the best in male enhancement…

I’m talking a LARGER THAN LIFE experience that you can both see and feel…

And that you can get naturally without injections, pumps or the little blue pill…

Then click here for the latest breakthrough in natural male enhancement…

A few exotic herbs backed by scientific and clinical studies…

Is all it takes to getting full mast every time, any time…

Just like when you were in your 20s…

This breakthrough works no matter if your 39 or 93…

And when you see the amazing science behind it, you’ll be eager to get your hands on it…

So you can instantly become that raging bull you once were and reclaim your manhood…

So click here to get the best in male enhancement today…

But you’ll have to hurry…

Since word got out on this new breakthrough, thousands of men and even desperate housewives…

Have been flocking to this site to get every bit of this magnificent offer…

And they’ve been experiencing mind-blowing pleasure that keeps them coming back for more…

So I’m not sure how much longer this breakthrough will be available…


George Mitchell
Golden Age Male

There follows a probably-useless unsubscribe link:

If you’d prefer not to receive future emails, Unsubscribe Here.
BEARCUB HEALTH LLC | 1753 East Broadway Road 101-293 | Tempe, AZ 85282

Then there follows 1,476 words of word salad, followed by yet another probably-useless unsubscribe link:

purge my email from your index here
1500 Beville Rd STE 606 Box 10009, Daytona Beach, FL 32114

I did find another reference to Bearcub Health, very much along the lines of this one.

The Florida address belongs to a UPS Store offering private mailboxes; this one is tied to several ads, all on Blogspot, vending things like CVS gift cards, weight-loss concoctions, and CBD oil in addition to boner pills.

Comments (1)

A statement of editorial opinion

The New Twitter Interface has been thrust upon us, and my most immediate reaction was this:

I expect that this statement will stand through the remainder of 2019.


No relation

News Babes, as they were once (or twice, or more) called, make for relatively simple research for Your Humble Narrator: they’ve spent most of their lives as News Babes, and there area always lots of pictures to be had. Such is the case with Erica Ruth Hill, forty-three today, who’s logged 21 years in the business, starting at TechTV — you remember TechTV, don’t you? — later moving to CNN, CBS, NBC, and back to CNN.

Erica Hill on the CBS Early Show

Erica Hill on the NBC Today Show

Erica Hill on a Turner Broadcasting promo

Inevitably with News Babes, there are guys with obsessions, one of whom crammed these bits into a single video:

She is not related to News Babe E. D. Hill, 57 next week, who has also been kicking around the business for years; she was last seen on, um, CNN.



As you might have guessed, they’re half llama and half unicorn:

(Apparently those unicorns get around; I’ve also seen pandacorns and kitticorns and pugcorns). So I decided to get one. Because they were pink and have sparkly hooves.

Not totally set on the name but am leaning towards either Sparkle or Twinkle.

On an unrelated (but sparkly) note, my psychiatrist, an utterly lovely woman who finds me occasionally incomprehensible, was trying to focus me on retirement, and she asked: “So what are you going to do in your twilight years?”

The regular reader knows what happened next. Over the next twenty minutes, she got the functional equivalent of an audiobook version of The Sparkle Chronicles. She praised my storytelling ability, but I suspect that she thinks I crammed all my romantic notions into a single novella so I wouldn’t have to deal with them in real life.

Which is, of course, true.

Oh, you wanted a Twinkle reference? Will do:

Twinkle’s two biggest hits, “Terry” and “Golden Lights,” did next to no business in the States, but were big in England, despite a BBC ban on “Terry,” a teenage-death song along the lines of “Leader of the Pack.” She died in 2015, felled by liver cancer.


Resistance is feudal

Slavery, of course, is indefensible on moral grounds. But you can’t make a good economic case for it, either:

This notion that slavery somehow benefited the entire economy is a surprisingly common one and I want to briefly refute it. This is related to the ridiculously bad academic study (discussed here) that slave-harvested cotton accounted for nearly half of the US’s economic activity, when in fact the number was well under 10%. I assume that activists in support of reparations are using this argument to make the case that all Americans, not just slaveholders, benefited from slavery. But this simply is not the case.

At the end of the day, economies grow and become wealthier as labor and capital are employed more productively. Slavery does exactly the opposite.

Slaves are far less productive that free laborers. They have no incentive to do any more work than the absolute minimum to avoid punishment, and have zero incentive (and a number of disincentives) to use their brain to perform tasks more intelligently. So every slave is a potentially productive worker converted into an unproductive one. Thus, every dollar of capital invested in a slave was a dollar invested in reducing worker productivity.

Europe, whence came a heck of a lot of settlers, was a wholly different place:

As a bit of background, the US in the early 19th century had a resource profile opposite from the old country. In Europe, labor was over-abundant and land and resources like timber were scarce. In the US, land and resources were plentiful but labor was scarce. For landowners, it was really hard to get farm labor because everyone who came over here would quickly quit their job and headed out to the edge of settlement and grabbed some land to cultivate for themselves.

In this environment the market was sending pretty clear pricing signals — that it was simply not a good use of scarce labor resources to grow low margin crops on huge plantations requiring scores or hundreds of laborers. Slave-owners circumvented this pricing signal by finding workers they could force to work for free. Force was used to apply high-value labor to lower-value tasks. This does not create prosperity, it destroys it.

And when it was outlawed, it was replaced by something nearly as bad. Sharecropping earned little money for the workers, and did next to nothing for the Southern economy. Even those clueless Yankees could figure that out.


It frigging hurts

You know, I’d probably do this even if it had no therapeutic effect at all:

Can’t help but shout an expletive every time you stub your toe? Don’t feel too bad, you may actually be doing yourself a favor. A new study finds that swearing when injured has a measurable effect on pain tolerance. In fact, dropping the F-bomb specifically when in pain increases tolerance by up to 33%.

The study, led by a group of language and psychology experts in the United Kingdom, explored how effective established, new, and invented swear words can be in increasing pain tolerance and pain threshold.

The research is based on a 2009 study by Dr Richard Stephens, a senior lecturer in psychology at Keele University, who found that swearing can increase pain tolerance for a short time. The new study investigated whether people could use more appropriate language when injured and get the same effect.

Stephens, along with language expert and author, Dr Emma Byrne, and acclaimed lexicographer Jonathon Green, created two invented swear words, “twizpipe” and “fouch,” for the study.

“Twizpipe”? “Fouch”? Who are these jackholes, anyway?

Says Dr Byrne:

“Twizpipe mirrors the humorous element of swearing and is fun to say, whereas fouch is harsh-sounding and concise, similar to the existing four-letter swear word.”

Narrator: ‘There exist other four-letter swear words.

The real swear words were also consistently rated higher in emotional impact than the invented ones, the researchers say.

Well, quelle farking surprise.

Oh, and this is probably worth mentioning:

The study was funded by the pain reliever Nurofen.

Which is available in many countries around the world, but not this one. If you want one, take an Advil.

(Via Stephen Green.)

Comments (1)

On being noticed


Fame is a vapor, but sometimes it smells nice.


Absolute zero in real life

And deservedly so: How can I get a list of all those ladies, known and unknown, who fantasize about me? I am a 38-year-old attractive, athletic male.

Had there been any in the first place, they’d have bailed on him the moment they read that.

Comments (4)


Thousands of folks can give you a whole bunch of famous electric-guitar riffs. Acoustic guitar? Maybe not so much, but they’re out there just the same:

You get 20 of them here, in 14 minutes flat, plus a couple of Honorable Mentions. I can play exactly none of these.

(Via Daily Pundit.)


It bugs them no end

Maybe you should have gone a little easier with the swatter:

Over 15 years ago, researchers found that insects, and fruit flies in particular, feel something akin to acute pain called “nociception.” When they encounter extreme heat, cold or physically harmful stimuli, they react, much in the same way humans react to pain. Now, scientists have found that the nervous systems of insects can also experience chronic pain. A new study in the journal Science Advances shows pain lingers throughout the insects’ short lives well after an injury has healed.

Acute pain is generally short lived — like the pain from cutting your finger, which may last for days but eventually recedes. Chronic pain, however, lingers long after an injury has healed and may even last the rest of an injured person’s life. According to a press release, it generally comes in two forms, inflammatory pain and neuropathic pain, the type of electric shooting pain caused by overactive nerves.

Ed Cara at Gizmodo reports that to understand whether insects also experience this long-lasting version of pain, researchers damaged one leg in a group of fruit flies, an injury which can cause chronic nerve pain. After the insects were allowed to heal, the researchers then placed them in a hot room to see if the flies were more responsive to stimuli. After the leg injuries, the flies would try to leave the room at lower temperatures, unable to withstand the heat as much.

I know the feeling.

Cite: DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aaw4099.


A matter of time

And maybe not that long, either:

I just tried that new app that shows what you'll look like in 40 years

If by some fluke I do make it to 105, feel free to mock me.

(Via Still Game.)

Comments (2)

George Bailey, won’t you please come home

I wasn’t expecting this, but hey, why not?

Over the course of his career, Sir Paul McCartney has written films, oratorios, poetry collections, children’s books and more than 100 hit singles.

Now, at the age of 77, he has a new challenge: His first stage musical.

The star is working on an adaptation of Frank Capra’s classic It’s A Wonderful Life, the story of a suicidal man saved by his guardian angel.

Sir Paul, who was four when the film was released in 1946, called it “a universal story we can all relate to”.

The musical is set to debut in “late 2020”, according to producer Bill Kenwright, whose previous credits include the West End show Blood Brothers and the touring version of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

I mean, this could work, am I right?

Lee Hall, who wrote Billy Elliot and the recent Elton John biopic Rocketman, is penning the script and collaborating with Sir Paul on the lyrics.

Colour me hopeful, which translates to “Not as good as Band on the Run but better than Red Rose Speedway.”