Buncha damn heightists

Steve Sailer missed a privilege:

As a person of tallness, I’m struck by how little approbation there is at present toward height prejudice in favor of the tall.

Nobody these days gets additional Intersectional Pokemon Points for being short.

He offers an example from history, as is required in all such cases:

In Barbara Tuchman’s The Proud Tower, she notes that Tory prime minister Lord Salisbury’s cabinet of 1895 averaged 6 feet in height.

Lord Salisbury himself was 6’4″, although he slouched. Queen Victoria’s subjects, however, averaged much less.

Then again, we’re talking 1895 here. Things are different today:

In 1895, to be tall suggested that you enjoyed a privileged upbringing, which is a good thing in a mate, because it suggests you also are in better health and have richer relatives.

On the other hand, these days, height is mostly heritable. And it’s not clear that being genetically taller is all that much better. For example, it modestly boosts one’s chances of cancer, presumably because you have more cells than can go wrong. I had cancer in my 30s and it really wasn’t a good thing.

For what it’s worth, at a hair over six feet, I was the shortest of three boys, only one of whom is actually still alive, at least in the medical sense of the word.

It is said that the taller candidate wins the American presidency, which isn’t always true. In 1885, the first year Salisbury served as PM, the President of the United States was Grover Cleveland, no taller (5’11”) than the man he defeated in the 1884 election, James G. Blaine. In 1888, Cleveland was beaten by relative dwarf Benjamin Harrison, a mere 5’6″. Cleveland recaptured the White House in 1892. By the time Salisbury left office for the final time in 1902, William McKinley (5’7″) had defeated William Jennings Bryan (5’11”) twice.

Barack Obama went 1-for-2; at 6’1″ he was four inches taller than John McCain, half an inch shorter than Mitt Romney. And George W. Bush towered under, so to speak, both John Kerry and Al Gore. If you give me my choice of political philosophies from any of these guys, though, I go back to Lord Salisbury, a conservative in the conservative sense: “Whatever happens will be for the worse, and therefore it is in our interest that as little should happen as possible.”

And my deepest (within reason) apologies to the late Verne (“Mini-Me”) Troyer, who passed away the day after Steve Sailer started all this ruckus.


Stormy no more

From his perch in the Vampire State, Akaky figures that Donald Trump’s dalliance with Stormy Daniels is about played out as a news story:

Well, I may think it’s time to move on, but it seems that I am the only one who thinks so. I went forth to battle the new Puritans who seek to oppress us all with their retrograde religious morality and found that they agreed with me, for the most part, and that the sexual revolutionaries were the ones foaming at the mouth about what two consenting adults chose to do with their genitalia. I found this more than a little confusing, to say the least, and so I had to sit down and eat Chinese food (the roast pork with broccoli and wonton soup were very good, thank you for asking) in order to relieve the cognitive dissonance and sort out just what in the blue blazes happened here in this our Great Republic while I was not looking. Someone changed the rule book somewhere along the line and no one bothered to tell me that Comstockery was back in fashion. Well, everything old is new again, as the saying goes, and there is no new thing under the sun, but I cannot help but notice that the new version of Comstockery is remarkably like the old libertinism complete with extra servings of wanton soup, with the singular difference that the new Puritans didn’t mind when a President they liked and supported did this sort of thing while he was actually President and they do mind a great deal when a President they loathe and despise did the exact same thing when he wasn’t President. Nearly a quarter of a century separate the initial inaugurations of these two men and much can change in a quarter of a century: the Internet barely existed in 1993, film photography was photography, I was forty pounds lighter — really, I am not making that up — and so I am sure that this sudden concern for the private morality of public people is the product of a generation’s coming of age and rejecting the immature ideas and commitments of their salad days. Or the new Puritans could be just a bunch of sleazy hypocrites. That’s always a possibility, you know, especially if you are cynically inclined, as I tend to be.

All politicians in the last quarter of a century, it seems to me, are required to take the Hypocritic Oath: “When we do it, it’s okay.” Were it not for double standards, we’d have no standards at all.

I was, I think, forty pounds heavier in 1993. Maybe more.

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Intelligence that’s really out there

An excerpt from Ariel Waldman’s official bio:

Ariel Waldman sits on the council for NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts, a program that nurtures radical, science-fiction-inspired ideas that could transform future space missions. She is the co-author of a congressionally-requested National Academy of Sciences report on the future of human spaceflight and the author of the book What’s It Like in Space? Stories from Astronauts Who’ve Been There. Ariel is the founder of Spacehack.org, a directory of ways for anyone to participate in space exploration, and the global director of Science Hack Day, a grassroots endeavor to prototype things with science that is now in over 25 countries. In 2013, Ariel received an honor from the White House for being a Champion of Change in citizen science.

Her ability to explain tricky astrophysical phenomena to us nonscientific types is darn near nonpareil:

And yet this happens:

As “matching algorithms” go, that one needs to.

Chris Waigl, reading that on Facebook, came up with the proper response:

(Maybe a suitable answer is: “It wasn’t clear from your message, but if you’d like me to work on your algorithms, my consulting rate is X.”)

Headhunters, human and artificial, should listen up.


Since u been gone

Prince never did release a studio version of “Nothing Compares 2 U”; in 1985, The Family cut the song under Prince’s supervision — Prince, in fact, provided most of the instrumentation himself — and Sinead O’Connor got the hit in 1990. Prince occasionally would perform the song live, though, and his estate turned up a 1984 rehearsal tape, live audio synced with various bits of video, and released it this past week.

I miss this man. A lot.

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21st-century scoot

Everything old is new again:

Vespampêre scooter prototype

“Vespampère” is a classic Vespa scooter, revised to accommodate electrical propulsion. Not having to schlep around an engine and fuel tank has made the original smallframe design feasible once more.

This variant by Giulio Iacchetti is apparently not going to match up with Vespa’s own electric, due out Real Soon Now, but I applaud the concept just the same.

(Via American Digest.)


Shot down in Salt Lake

There was a point, not quite halfway through the second quarter, at which the Thunder were up by twelve. After that, the Jazz basically had their way with OKC, jumping to a five-point lead at the half and a fourteen-point lead after the third quarter. After that, it was all over but the shouting; there was the usual grumbling by radio guy Matt Pinto about the quality of the officiating, but the real culprit was the Thunder defense, which was out skiing at Park City or something, because they certainly weren’t slowing down the Jazz. The benches were emptied with a couple of minutes left, except for Donovan Mitchell, who was afforded a few extra seconds to try to pad his stats. Mitchell finished with 22 and was pulled; the Jazz, who weren’t in any danger of losing, didn’t, finishing the Thunder off 115-102 and taking a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.

If nothing else, this game proves that the three-point shot will not save you: OKC made 14 of 28 treys, a solid 50 percent. For that matter, the two-point shot will not save you: most of the time, 47 percent (37-78) would be considered decent. But none of this kept the Jazz from scoring seemingly at will: 53 percent from the floor, 38 from outside, and all five starters handily into double figures. You always wondered if Ricky Rubio had it in him, and tonight he came up with a triple-double, 26-11-10. (Mitchell had 11 rebounds to go with those 22 points.) If this sounds like the Jazz got their share of rebounds, well, how about 48 to 35? (Off the offensive glass, it was just as pronounced: 13 to 6.) It was a blah night for Russell Westbrook, who shot 5-17; he did manage 14 points and 11 boards, but his six assists seemed to pale beside his eight turnovers. (The Jazz had most of the dimes: 24-17.) Paul George led the Thunder with 23, though somehow he managed to make it seem like another day at the office.

Game Four is Monday night, and late Monday Night at that, in Utah. If Billy Donovan has any tricks up his sleeve, he needed to come up with them 48 minutes ago. Maybe 96.


Inside Muriel Goldman

It’s Nicole Sullivan’s forty-eighth birthday, and she has so many credits to her name listing them all might take up more space than the pictures — not a problem in Real Life, but Rule 5 professes to be all about the pictures.

Nicole Sullivan at the ASPCA

Nicole Sullivan at a CBS confab

Nicole Sullivan at her skinniest

A Northwestern graduate with a degree in theatre, she made her name as an original cast member of MADtv; her best-known character might be the obnoxious Vancome Lady:

The V.L., though, if you ask me, was a model of graciousness next to bigoted country singer Darlene McBride:

She’s voiced dozens of characters in animation, including a recurring role as pharmacist Mort Goldman’s wife Muriel in Family Guy. And I did not know this: she was the first choice for the role of Leela in Futurama.


Quote of the week

The phrase “America First” comes with a whole lot of historical baggage, not all of it inspiring:

Gerald L. K. Smith, a former associate of “Kingfish” Huey P. Long and one-time director of Long’s “Share The Wealth” program, decided to use the name for a political party in 1943 — and Mr. Smith was a former Silver Shirt who’d been rejected by the old America First Committee for anti-semitism. The America First Party ran its own slate of candidates and barely made a dent in the national consciousness; in 1947s, perhaps a bit wary of their own past, they changed their name to the Christian Nationalist Party; in 1952, both that party and a remnant or reorganized America First Party tagged General Douglas MacArthur to be their Presidential nominee, though neither bothered to ask his permission. The America First Party name has resurfaced periodically since, generally by candidates on the far-Right to over-the-right-edge side of the spectrum.

So when I get a message on my phone from Mike Pence, telling me he’ll be speaking at an America First rally this weekend, my awareness of history makes me flinch; at best, using the tag is appallingly tone-deaf. At worst? I think we can rely on the Press to find plenty of “at worst.”

Of course, that’s the deal: she has an actual awareness of history, which in political discourse these days seems to be a decided disadvantage.

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Extra empty

Now this is just sad:

Thursday the nearest Popeye’s had no Spicy chicken except for thighs, and neither Coca-Cola nor Dr Pepper. Still, a workable meal could be had with judicious substitutions. But being totally out of chicken? That’s truly sad. In terms of sadness, in fact, it’s right down there with this scary story from six decades before:

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Destined to repel

Fashion bloggers are not meek: they’ll style something and double-dog dare you to object to it. The lovely and talented Wendy Nguyen was sporting these shoes this week:

Fringed sandals from MR by Man Repeller

Of course, what I wanted to know is where the heck did these shoes come from. They’re part of the MR line by, um, Man Repeller.

Now I’ve read Leandra Medine’s Man Repeller blog now and then, and her fashion sense is based on this apparently inarguable premise: “Good fashion is about pleasing women, not men, so as it happens, the trends that we love, men hate.” I mean, she’s not repulsive or anything.

I had not noticed, though, that she’d introduced several garment lines, including those ineffably wacky shoes. (Yes, that fringe moves when you do.) I went back to Wendy’s Lookbook, contemplated them in the context of the rest of her outfit — a polka-dot top worn over barely visible shorts — and decided that this could be lived with, though Net-A-Porter expects you to fork over $485 for those shoes, which might be harder to endure.

As for the Man Repeller herself, she gave birth to twin girls last month. She and her husband of five years are delighted.

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Half a sack

Apparently I don’t understand American football (known as “football” in the US) as much as I used to, if I ever did.

ESPN is carrying an AP wire story about Marcus Williams, a cornerback just signed to a one-year deal by the Arizona Cardinals. The obligatory stats paragraph:

The 5-foot-11, 196-pound defensive back has 10 interceptions, 20 passes defended, 107 tackles (92 solo), 2.5 sacks and two forced fumbles in his career.

They split the credit for sacks these days?

I checked the local newspaper, and there was the same story — except that stat was listed as “2½ sacks.” Stylebook differences, I suppose.

Still, “half a sack” could describe any number of American politicians. As could “forced fumbles,” now that I think about it.

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I swear

Oath is the Verizon subsidiary which is tasked with breathing some life into AOL and Yahoo, previously thought to be moribund at best.

This is what I think of them:

Feel free to look at said splash screen. I don’t think it presents a threat to epileptics, but I could be wrong.

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Bank error in your favor (4)

It wasn’t so long that a giant Korean conglomerate inadvertently paid out billions in “accidental” dividends. The Germans, perhaps miffed, figured they could do the same:

A routine payment went awry at Deutsche Bank AG last month when Germany’s biggest lender inadvertently sent 28 billion euros ($35 billion) to an exchange as part of its daily dealings in derivatives, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The errant transfer occurred about a week before Easter as Deutsche Bank was conducting a daily collateral adjustment, the person said. The sum, which far exceeded the amount it was due to post, landed in an account at Deutsche Boerse AG’s Eurex clearinghouse.

The error, which took place in the final weeks of former Chief Executive Officer John Cryan’s tenure, was quickly spotted and no financial harm suffered. But the episode raises fresh questions about the bank’s risk and control processes, which Cryan had boasted of improving before his ouster.

As they say at Fark, we need one more for the trifecta.

(Via Bayou Renaissance Man.)


Taken for granite

Lynn has a list of Bad Decorating Ideas, and most of them are just about this terrible:

5. Concrete Countertops — Concrete belongs outside as sidewalks and driveways. I don’t care what color you stain it, if you have a concrete countertop it just looks like you have a sidewalk on top of your kitchen cabinets.

Okay, one more:

9. Painted Brick — This is my number one pet peeve. Brick is a beautiful, low maintenance material. One of the best things about it is that you don’t have to paint it. Also, it can last for generations and since paint is hard to remove you are ruining it not just for yourself but for future owners.

So there.

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This could take a while

There was much hilarity based on the fact that the IRS Direct Pay site was down on the annual tax deadline. The real punchline, though, was in the government’s Official Notice:

IRS Direct Pay is down

Now that’s a serious maintenance period.

(Via American Digest.)

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Bomb bursting in air

The Oklahoma City National Memorial is a place like no other; no one who has seen it — around 300,000 visitors a year — has been unchanged by it.