Check his teeth

And for God’s sake. don’t get near his nuts:

Now there’s a phrase to sum up this century so far: “There was no safe way to test the squirrel for meth.”

And inevitably, the squirrel now has a Twitter account.


Damn this railroad

And there are those who claim that God already has:

One of the original leaders of the anti-light rail movement in south Phoenix claims God “judged” Congressman Ed Pastor for “bringing death” to the community by supporting light rail and punished him with a fatal heart attack.

At a City Council meeting last week, Celia Contreras told council members she was “coming in the name of Lord Jesus Christ” with a message: Stop the light rail or the “punishment” will continue.

Um, yeah. If nothing else, says Warren Meyer, this tells you what the Arizona Republic thinks:

[T]he presence of this story in the Republic is a tell as to which side the paper favors. I have been to public meetings on Phoenix light rail and I have personally seen a number of insane claims by light rail supporters (at lot of wrath of Gaia stuff, for example) that never gets featured in the paper.

Pastor died last November of, yes, a heart attack; he was seventy-five.

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Kerry on

The other day, I mentioned somewhere that I could use a few more celebrity wallpapers; a couple of hours later, this link showed up in my inbox, and I decided that mere wallpaper wasn’t enough.

And so we get to talk about Kerry Washington, forty-two this year and looking every bit of twenty-nine. Half a lifetime ago, she graduated from George Washington (no relation) University with a double major in sociology and anthropology, and, oh yes, a Phi Beta Kappa key.

Kerry Washington at the NAACP Image Awards

Kerry Washington goes for a walk

Kerry Washington is glamorous and playful

She is perhaps best known as Scandal’s fixer Olivia Pope, and more recently she appeared in Confirmation, a retelling of the Anita Hill/Clarence Thomas story on HBO. Here, she discusses both with Stephen Colbert:

And she’s married to Nnamdi Asomugha, retired Oakland Raiders cornerback turned actor; they have three children.


U! H! F!

“Five,” he says. As if.

Those sound effects, in fact, were courtesy of the Federal Communications Commission, who decided that a continuous knob for tuning UHF was unsatisfactory; henceforth, said the Commission, UHF knobs will be just as clicky as VHF knobs. And when you have 70 clicks available (14 through 83 inclusive), by gum, you use them.

Today, of course, with hundreds of new local stations — Oklahoma City had three in those days, not counting KOKH-TV, channel 25, which was then owned by the Oklahoma City Public Schools, and watched by no one but school kids, teachers, and occasionally me, and anyway now we have 16 over-the-air signals, almost all of which are multiplexed — the UHF dial runs out at, um, 51, and if the FCC gets its way, it will eventually top out at 32.

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At least it’s only theoretical

Because this just sounds impossible:

I am not a mechanic, or mechanically minded at all, but for a story I’m writing I need to know if it is possible to swap the automatic transmission from an Aston Martin Lagonda (1980s Series 2) for a manual one, and how easy/hard would it be for a character to do? If it is possible, what would be the best donor transmission for the swap. Thanks in advance.

In the absence of James Bond or Q, someone attempted to give it a try:

It’s possible, theoretically at least.

The automatic versions Had a 5.3 litre V8 mated to a Chrysler Torqueflite 3-speed “slush-box”. There was a 5-speed manual option available, but it was very rarely ordered.

Any transmission specialist shop could supply a suitably-rated 5-speed and the correct mechanical modifications to replace the automatic.

But it would be near-impossible on a practical level without extensive additional modifications to the vehicle interior and the instrumentation. Finding original pattern centre consoles and gearshift lever parts will be almost impossible without buying a complete manual Lagonda. Obtaining the correct electronic dashboard displays will be like trying to buy fresh dodo doodoos. Those parts especially were horrifically unreliable even from new and most surviving Lagondas of that type are now undriveable immobile showroom exhibits because of that.

Lose the digital displays and centre console and you destroy the entire point of the car.

Still, 007 has been known to drive a Citroën 2CV when he had to — see For Your Eyes Only — so I don’t really think this would ruin the story: in fact, a half-assed transmission swap makes for a reasonable plot complication all by itself.

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Not the best part of town

If you ask me, that’s far too much shiny stuff to leave behind.

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But it’s easy to mow

And of course all sales are final:

This Florida man thought he bought a villa for $9,100 in an online auction, but in reality he just won the patch of grass between two of them.

And it turns out the 100-foot-by-1-foot strip of land Kerville Holness purchased is valued at only $50.

His new property starts at the curb where two mailboxes sit, goes under a wall separating the garages of two adjoining villas and goes through the back lot — and officials said there’s no way he’s getting a refund.

Holness claims photos linked to the auction site showed the villa as being what he was bidding on, but the appraiser’s site and county’s tax site shows the negligible value of the property, no building value and that the land is only 100 square feet, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported.

North of Miami, $3.9 million per acre really doesn’t seem out of line. And there’s something schadenfreudelicious about the whole story: you can practically hear him say “I know what I’m doing” before the festivities begin.

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There really needs to be a Sarcasm Font for online use. I’d probably overuse it, intemperate as I am sometimes, but once in a great while I run across someone I’d like to run across with a railroad car.

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The sand which is there

It wasn’t so long ago that composer John Luther Adams swept us all off our feet with Become Ocean, and by “us all” I mean everyone from me to Taylor Swift. Become Ocean was symmetrical in its design, and I wouldn’t have thought the framework lent itself to a follow-on composition. I would, of course, be wrong:

When Become Desert was announced, I turned in a pre-order at the iTunes Store. Friday Apple notified me that it was ready to pick up:

iTunes Store Notification

Through Sunday the most I could coax out of the iTunes Store was this:

iTunes Store Notification failure

Eternities do seem to take a long time these days.

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Long before Bluetooth

There was a time when background music at the beach used to be a bit more complicated than it is today:

Portable-ish studio by Stephens

This 40-track (!) beastie dates to about 1974, and if it doesn’t weigh a ton, it’s probably close enough.

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Strange search-engine queries (698)

People often ask “How much privacy do I have on the Internet?” The answer, of course, is “Next to none.”

the invisible woman 1983 download:  By now, I think more people have seen this goofy little feature than ever watched it on NBC that one night.

select all words from this list that have an anglo-saxon origin:  In case you were wondering how reCAPTCHA could possibly be made worse.

god only knows vocals only:  Oh, He knows the chord changes. But some things, you have to do on your own.

the federal communications commission (fcc) found itself in court after issuing a controversial edict known as the open internet order (oio). the oio authorized a new set of regulations:  What the hell else would it do? The government vigorously resists the idea of removing old sets of regulations.

ssl_error_bad_mac_read:  Hey, it wasn’t my fault.

dorothy holds herself responsible for causing hurricane katrina that killed thousands of people in the united states. identify the type of delusion afflicting dorothy:  Thinking she was George W. Bush.

adrianne palicki stockings:  It’s summer now. Everyone you know is sporting bare legs.

part 7b costs the midwest division of frackle corporation $30 to make, of which $21 is variable. midwest division sells part 7b to other companies for $47. the northern division of frackle corporation can use part 7b in one of its products. the midwest division has enough idle capacity to produce all of the units of part 7b that the northern division would require. what is the lowest transfer price at which the midwest division should be willing to sell part 7b to the northern division?  And you thought Tesla’s finances were obscure.

armadillo syphilis:  I’d hate to see you explain that down at the free clinic.

jim holzman at ace ticket has a few premium seats in the front row. he would like to find out how much extra he can charge for those tickets, relative to identical seats right behind in the second row. to do so, he decided to run a survey. which of the following questions is least likely to elicit an honest answer?  “How much would you pay to see Nickelback?”

“everyonedoesit usa”:  Most useless hashtag ever.

gemma hung:  Which surprised a few of her dates.

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I beg your Parton

She dumped him because he’s a frigging moron: My girlfriend sang the song “I Will Always Love You” to me last year. She broke up with me yesterday. Can I sue her for breach of contract?

There are hints in the thread that he’s underage anyway, but that doesn’t affect his moron status in the least.

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Worst parent ever?

You know, if your objective is to avoid public shame, maybe you shouldn’t do shameful things:

Days after 17-year-old Zeenat Rafiq eloped with a man against her family’s wishes, her relatives asked her to return home so they could throw her a proper ceremony.

“Don’t let me go, they will kill me,” her husband Hassan Khan recalled her saying, according to the Associated Press.

She was Punjabi. He was Pashtun. Her family was furious that she ran away and got married without their permission.

An uncle eventually convinced her to return. On Wednesday, Zeenat was burned alive by her mother.

Police say the mother, Parveen, tied Zeenat to a cot and poured kerosene before setting her on fire, according to the Guardian. It’s the latest of several “honor killings,” a practice that kills hundreds of girls each year in Pakistan.

Outrage by American feminists was conspicuous by its absence.

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We want to sit up high

This is the argument for both real and faux sport-utility vehicles these days: everyone wants to be able to look down upon people in quotidian sedans. And really, this could be considered the natural order of things:

Bertha Benz aboard a Patent Motorwagen

This was Karl Benz’s Patent Motorwagen in 1886, with Mrs Benz herself on board and two sons standing by. A lot of serious technology went into this baby: a proper differential out back, rack-and-pinion steering in the front, and a 1-liter single-cylinder engine that delivered almost 1 hp. Mrs Benz herself suggested some improvements, most notably actual pads added to the brake surfaces.

(Via Pergelator.)

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Because we said so

How Big Tech became Big Brother:

In all probability, they will exhaust themselves trying to stamp out dissent, which means things will get much worse. Apple, for example, is now censoring speech within chat programs like Telegram. Microsoft is promising to moderate speech over Skype. The people behind these efforts are driven by hatred and self-loathing, so they lie awake at night thinking about this stuff.

The trouble is, it is expensive. The latest YouTube banning probably cost the company $10 million dollars to organize. It’s pretty clear they invested a lot of manpower in reviewing specific videos. The return on that investment was mostly bad press and greater awareness by regulators that there is a problem. That’s a lesson from the old days too. No matter how right they were to regulate users, the forum moderators were always looked upon unfavorably. They were the prison guards of the system.

That last bit is probably key. A decade ago, Apple was a cool brand run by an equally cool genius who liked wearing black turtlenecks. Now it is seen as a Chinese electronics company run by an angry homosexual. Similarly, YouTube used to be a place where young people could express themselves. Now it’s where old Jewish women yell at young people for using naughty language. With every censorship effort, the reputation of the oligopolies declines. Silicon Valley is now the universal villain.

That’s the thing about hatred and self-loathing: it replicates in several directions at once. The catch, of course, is that they can never loathe themselves as much as the rest of us loathe them.

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Tiananmen 2

Just because it happened thirty years ago doesn’t mean it can’t happen again:

At last report there were a million people marching to protest an extradition law that probably represents the final nail in the coffin of the “One Country, Two Systems” lie. Mayor Lam has betrayed her people, though it looks likely from her body language and facial twitch that this was not without considerable behind the scenes CCP pressure.

These people, many of them college educated, have guts. They know there is little hope of winning when the Mayor has sold them out. They know that every one of them that is in this protest is being filmed and their faces logged. But freedom, to them, is not a irritant but a beautiful and fragile gift to be prized. Free speech to these people is not a canard, but something that they fully grasp the importance of because they have so little of it.They know full well what is happening across the Pearl river and over a million of them have the guts to stand up to censorious authoritarians, who, 30 years and four days ago ground 10,000 of their ethnic brethren into hamburger for the crime of crying out for freedom. They know that, and yet they still are willing to march. Contrast this to those here who are so used to and ensconced our freedoms that they have no appreciation for how precious it is. Like a fish who does not know it’s wet, and will have no appreciation of water until it finds itself suddenly in the Sahara.

Meanwhile. half a world away, Ingsoc Deux is busy enforcing complacency.

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