Archive for December 2010

And then there was a bit of logrolling

The New Republic is happy, we assume, to bring us a baker’s dozen examples of really godawful sex scenes written by people associated with politics.

A relatively mild example, from Barbara Boxer’s 2005 novel A Time to Run:

“Her skirt was very short, and Josh found himself mesmerized by her perfectly shaped, silken legs with kneecaps that reminded him of golden apples — he couldn’t remember having been captivated by knees before — and her lustrous thighs. He tore his eyes away from Bianca’s legs with the utmost difficulty.”

At least one standard deviation worse, from William Weld’s Stillwater: A Novel (2002):

“I set the edge of my teeth halfway up her breast, just at the point of tension but not, so far as I could tell, of pain. This was the sweetest flesh I had ever tasted, including fish and fowl.”

The least bad of the bunch are by Glenn Beck (!) and Al Franken (!!), but they’re still pretty bad. And I caution you: do not even think about reading Scooter Libby’s. (Thoughtfully, TNR has put it at the back of the pack.)

I suspect that this reflects a usage issue: to politicians, “screwing” is always a transitive verb.

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Far beyond Shelbyville

Oh, my, another Cobra clone. Except that it’s not really a clone: the Iconic AC Roadster is so-called because the current version of AC Cars, which built the original Cobras way back when, is a partner in this particular venture.

What’s more, that’s a Ford 427 in there, albeit heavily massaged: we’re talking 800 hp and 660 lb-ft of torque. Redline is a majestic 7600 rpm. And no, no blowers.

Still, what caught my eye about this, courtesy of the January issue of Automobile, is the car’s complete and utter lack of a conventional wiring harness. Iconic has something called the Virtual Electrical Electronic Device Interface Management System, which squeezes down into VEEDIMS, and which Iconic’s tech chief Jerry Seward describes as “a production-ready Ethernet wiring solution for multiple industries.” It does not, you may be sure, use Cat5 cabling. (You can get a look at it here.) Anybody who’s ever had to fiddle with a wiring harness will be happy to see VEEDIMS come into general use.

For now, though, it can be had only in Iconic’s not-a-Cobra-clone, which will cost you somewhere in the vicinity of half a million bucks once deliveries start after the first of the year. If this sounds like a lot, well, it’s about a third what you’d pay for one of Carroll Shelby’s original monsters.

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Whippet good

This week, Diary of a Nudist has scans of early-1950s cover art from Sunshine & Health, a magazine published by the American Sunbathing Association, the predecessor to the present-day American Association for Nude Recreation.

Apart from the unattired folks in the photos, a couple of things caught my eye:

    Detail from Sunshine and Health Magazine logo

  • ASA sold S&H for fifty cents in these years. Around that same time, a less-controversial magazine like Life sold for only twenty cents. (The current AANR Bulletin, published in tabloid-newspaper format, is not sold on newsstands at all.)
  • At the top center of the S&H logo, there’s a woman with very long hair with a speedy-looking dog, possibly a whippet — too short to be a greyhound, I think — on a leash.

I puzzled over that for a moment, then decided it was an ASA bid for respectability: what could be more mainstream than a woman taking her dog out for a run? (Despite this, your work filters may go berserk if you follow the link.)

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Stuck in the middle with me

Cousins to the south of me, children to the north, here I am.

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Putting the W in WTF

What the hell was going on at the Target Center? The Timberwolves led after the first quarter, 40-22? Kevin Durant actually fouled out?

What happened, apparently, was that at some point in the second quarter, someone, probably Scott Brooks, said the word “defense,” and the little light bulbs lit up over various Thunder heads. After 40 points in 12 minutes, the Timberwolves were held to 63 points in 36, as Oklahoma City pulled out a 111-103 win that no one had imagined an hour and a half before.

But actually, the answer may have been a different word: “Ibaka.” Captain Congo blocked eight shots, a record for the team since arriving in OKC, and committed only two fouls; Durant took up the hand-in-the-face slack, and exited in the waning moments, 30 points and 11 rebounds in hand. Heck, even Thabo Sefolosha (13 points) got a trey.

And they needed every bit of that defense to curb Michael Beasley (26 points) and Kevin Love (22 points, 21 boards), although the Wolves were Darko-less for the evening. Minnesota was hitting everything in the first quarter; thereafter, they were effectively shut down and wound up with only 41.9 percent shooting, 10 percent behind the Thunder.

The third game on this road trip is Friday night at New Orleans. The Hornets are streaky this year. Then again, so are the Thunder.

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Here at my website trendy

“Is it just me,” asked NoOneOfAnyImport, “or is the spam getting more comical lately?”

It’s not just her. Witness this item, plucked from the database by Akismet:

I give birth to be familiar with a only one of the articles on your website trendy, and I extremely like your tastefulness of blogging. I added it to my favorites net period muster and disposition be checking stand behind soon. Will repress into public notice my orientation as ok and vindicate me be familiar with what you think. Thanks.

Ah, now we see the orientation inherent in the system.

And if this clod really liked the “tastefulness of blogging” around here, it’s prima facie evidence that he didn’t read so much as one damned word.

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A bit short of confessional

But not entirely unheard-of:

I believe that I’m an artist and a genius, and it is intolerable to me that business majors and engineering majors build shopping centers that attracts lots of customers, and merely hire architects and graphic designers to do work for hire — in a better world, we artists and dilettantes would be rewarded by society for our supposed genius. Not those grubby little logic-based business guys.

Oh, wait. That’s not really what she said.

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Domain mastered

You may remember this from last month:

When I registered this domain back around the turn of the century, I went to Network Solutions, because, well, who else was there? At the time, I was delighted to see that they’d cut the annual fee from $100 or so to a mere $35.

Eleven years later, I’m up for renewal, they have scores of competitors, and the fee has been slashed from $35 to … um … $34.99. Yes, they’d give me a third off for a five-year term, but that’s still twice what I’d be paying elsewhere.

It took two tries — the first set of confirming emails got spam-trapped into oblivion — but I’ve now gotten the domain moved. Ten bucks a year.

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Sympathetic vibration

I’m not too surprised that the UAW is picketing the Hyundai-Kia America Technology Center in Superior Township, Michigan — temporary workers at a Hyundai plant in South Korea have been on strike for a couple of months — but this was something of a jolt:

In addition to the gang of UAW members and officials, the Freep reported that two members of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra — who [are] also on strike, by the way — were also on the sidewalk outside the Hyundai Technical Center yesterday, carrying photos that showed injured Koreans and holding signs with messages such as, “Justice for striking Hyundai workers.” WTF? We won’t go into the fact as to why the DSO is on strike — not now and not ever — but suffice to say after living off the cultural largesse of the auto companies for decades, Detroit’s cultural institutions are on the ropes because the free money spigot has basically run dry after the worst economic downturn in seven decades. And they have no clue how to fix it. But DSO members walking the picket line yesterday at Hyundai? Please. And we wonder why the state of Michigan has a corrosive reputation as a union-dominated state?

Here’s the DSO musicians’ site.

This is the fifth DSO strike in the last forty-one years, and these are the terms they wouldn’t accept:

[M]management immediately imposed its offered contract terms: a reduction in the number of guaranteed paid weeks in the season that would lead to a 33 percent cut in guaranteed base salaries in the first year followed by slight rises in the next two years. New players would start at 42 percent less than the current guaranteed base, $104,650. The offer also involves cutbacks in pension and health benefits.

The players had offered a 22 percent reduction in the first year, with raises bringing them in the third year to within 8 percent of where they are now. Many orchestra players’ associations have agreed to salary givebacks in recent years, but none at that level.

This sounds awfully draconian. Then again, two orchestras in my state have actually died within entirely-too-recent memory.

The Hyundai strike involves temporary contract workers who want to become permanent.

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It’s not an unreasonable question, and Andrew Ian Dodge affixes it to the 403rd Carnival of the Vanities: “Are the stars aligned yet?”

If your daily driver is a Peugeot 403, you might be hoping for something as cataclysmic as the alignment of the stars just to keep your ancient Frenchmobile running after all these years. (Not that Columbo ever had any problems with his.)

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Exactly as described

Except for that easy-open tab, if you know what I mean:

Crushed pineapple for realz

(From the shelves of FAILBlog’s WIN!)

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Quote of the week

Sissy Willis’ thoughtful “Sarah Palin and Elizabeth Edwards, sisters under the skin?” drew favorable response hither and yon, but the most quotable item on the page, I think, comes from commenter Don Meaker, who pointed out:

Marriage is like a deck of cards: When you are young you think all you need is two hearts and a diamond. After a few years you need the occasional resort to a club, and perhaps yearn for a spade.

Suits me.

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$2 for the money

An operation called the World Reserve took out a full-page ad in the local paper yesterday to announce:

Valuable uncut sheets of never circulated $2 bills are actually being released to the first 7,127 callers who find their zip code on the distribution list below and beat the 48-hour deadline to get Vault Stacks of real money.

The sheets in question contain four bills, and they’re packed in a display folder which the Reserve dubs “Bankers’ Portfolios.” Each Portfolio will run you $48, but the minimum purchase is one Vault Stack, which consists of three Portfolios. So: $144 for $24 worth of deuces and some mock leatherette. Then again, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing is asking $34.95 for two $2 bills and a better-looking display folder, so it’s not like you’re getting an Unusually Bad Deal here.

What grabbed me, though, is the Zip Code Distribution List, which takes up a third of the page, and which gives the impression that every single ZIP in the state is listed. Not so: new west-Edmond codes like 73025 are absent. (If anyone from that neck of the woods gets an order accepted, I’d like to hear about it.) On the other hand, several established Tulsa ZIPs, such as 74112 and 74114, are also scorned, though every Oklahoma City ZIP with actual street addresses is included.

And I, of course, am no expert on the value of currency, except to the extent that I spend it, which is sometimes far too much of an extent. So I defer to the wisdom of Rob Petrie and Buddy Sorrell:

Rob: We’d better get a numismatist.

Buddy: These are old coins. Get an oldmismatist.

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

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Sugar, sugar

You could call this thinking outside the bottle:

Too often, good research about new medicines — research that shows unusually clear-cut results — goes unpublished, and thus unseen. The reason? Journal editors distrust any study in which the placebo effect is “too small.” The problem has a simple solution: re-run the experiment, but instead of giving standard placebos to the control group, instead give them double-strength placebos (DSPs).

Of course, those placebos will have to be evaluated to verify the “double-strength” claim, which means that another control group will have to be obtained, but nobody said clinical trials were supposed to be easy.

(Previous placebo coverage here.)

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Still sort of nine-ish

Bo Derek was twenty-two when she was frustrating Dudley Moore in 10. (Actually, the number used to describe her character in that film was eleven, which just goes to show you how women turn some of us into veritable Nigel Tufnels.)

But now Bo is fifty-four, and…

Bo Derek November 2010

“A stunning combination of good genes and good surgeons,” says one observer.

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Save the males!

Fred First starts with this premise:

My wife is a pharmacist who finished her RPh in the early 70s. There were 5 females in a class of about 100. Today, the mix is overwhelmingly female, as is the case in many medical schools and other professions. Parity has not been reached on many fronts, but some female gains might be won not because males are marching in place, but actually losing ground in academics and other settings.

He’s working on a longer piece to illustrate this phenomenon, and he’d be most grateful if you could supply him with citations to support (or refute) his premise.

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Swat mode

What we know: the Hornets are still in New Orleans, and they’re still tough. The Bees, in fact, were up 59-52 at the half, though the Thunder once again produced something resembling solid defense after that, holding New Orleans to a meager 12 points in the third quarter and posting a 97-92 road win.

The Hornets helped, though: after hitting a long string of free throws, they missed half a dozen of them in the fourth quarter. Still, David West was good for a double-double — 24 points, 13 rebounds — and Chris Paul came up with 18 points and five steals. No slouches, the Hornets outrebounded the Thunder, 37-24. (West had six off the offensive glass, one less than Oklahoma City in aggregate.)

Still, OKC got some numbers. Russell Westbrook put together a 29-point, 10-assist performance, and Kevin Durant, who played all but 3:16 of the game, scored 25. After some fairly rotten shooting early on, the Thunder finished at 50 percent and missed only three of 26 from the stripe. Serge Ibaka, starting in place of Nenad Krstić, rang up 18 points and grabbed nine boards. Still: twenty turnovers? (Westbrook had seven of them.)

And now, it’s back home to the We Need A Logo Here Arena for four games, starting Sunday against Cleveland.

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He ain’t no delinquent, he’s misunderstood

Evidently the British are haunted by the spectre of Officer Krupke:

People who break the law should no longer be branded offenders, a leading criminal justice campaigner has said.

Frances Crook, head of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said the “insulting” term demeans individuals and hinders their rehabilitation.

No, really:

She said: “Someone who commits an offence is not an offender, they are someone who has done something. The action does not define the whole person. They may also do good things and they will certainly fit into other categories that can offer a different definition like parent or friend. By insisting that the offence overcomes all other parts of the person we are condemning them to a sub-human category for whom there is no hope.”

I’m sure, somewhere in the world, there’s a serial killer who really kept up his lawn.

“Terrorists,” you’ll remember, has long since been supplanted by “those somewhat-touchy persons of indeterminate appearance,” so I can’t say I’m the least bit surprised by this sort of thing.

Still, if she gets her way, we’re going to need another word. In honor of this criminal-justice pioneer, I propose that all of Britain’s legally-challenged individuals be dubbed “Crooks.”

(Via Amy Alkon.)

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Live and let diet

Jeff Brokaw reminds us:

[E]mphatic declarative statement of the day: we do not understand diet and nutrition and motivation well enough to make general policy about it.

And by we, he means all of us: not you, not me, not Dr Hugo Hackenbush, not the Center for Science in the Public Interest. Everyone’s body is different. And to prove it:

Keith Richards lived on a diet of cocaine and heroin for like 30 years.

Then again, Keef has the best genes. Just look at him. Son of a gun will outlive us all.

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Not so fast

In 2006, Formula One barred all those nasty fuel-guzzling V-10 engines in favor of a 2.4-liter V-8.

Apparently this wasn’t enough, because in 2013 the F1-prescribed engine in 2013 will be a turbocharged 1.6-liter inline-four.

The fours also won’t rev so high: the limiters will kick in at 12,000 rpm. (In days gone by, F1 engines approached 20,000 rpm.) Fuel efficiency will be up by about a third; power outputs are expected to be in the 750-hp range, which ought to be plenty to push around a car that weighs less than 1400 lb.

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In lieu of actual news

The 24-hour news cycle seldom contains anywhere near 24 hours of news. The purveyors of such things, therefore, have calculated that to retain as many eyeballs as possible, they have to resort to things which are technically not news. This includes the early-evening pontificating gasbags, the semi-cute morning shows, and, as Roberta X discovers, just a hint of fanservice:

I returned to full consciousness in time to have my eyeballs tugged out by a push-zoom from a handheld camera moving from the “anchor” (a leaden thing that was preventing motion) to a diminutive meteorologist; this move was followed up by the same handheld staggering across the set to end in a shot of the weatherlady from a vantage at least a foot and a half higher than the top of her head — a shot they held she proceeded to relate the weather with the usual Ritual Gesturing, accompanied by a disconcerting amount of cleavage. I’m not at all sure what the point was — drawing in the male viewership, perhaps? — but as the overture to a headache, it worked all too well.

Now that was worth quoting just for the definition of “anchor.” Still, weird camera angles are part of the Total News Experience these days. I never stay up late enough to see Fox’s Red Eye, for instance, but screenshots inevitably reveal a lowish camera placement — and an attractive female in what is known as the “leg chair.” Tamara Holder occupies that position in this shot:

Tamara Holder on Red Eye

Nor, as Jamie Colby illustrates, is this technique confined to fringe-time shows:

Jamie Colby on Fox News

Or, for that matter, to Fox. See, for instance, CNN’s Brianna Keiler and Jacqui Jeras:

Brianna Keiler and Jacqui Jeras on CNN

We may say that we’d rather get the news from some grizzled Chet Huntley type. In some cases, it might even be true. But cable news apparently can’t afford to take that chance.

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Where it all goes (’10)

For the last couple of years or so, I’ve been breaking down the property tax I pay by recipient. This year, no doubt inspired by my initiative, the County Treasurer is doing the math and enclosing the details with the annual tax statements, so here are his numbers for 2010, alongside my numbers [in brackets] for 2009:

  • City of Oklahoma City: $142.27 [$130.71]
  • Oklahoma City Public Schools: $524.90 [$517.11]
  • Metro Tech Center: $138.15 [$136.73]
  • Oklahoma County general: $110.34 [$113.81]
  • Countywide school levy: $37.02 [$36.64]
  • County Health Department: $23.17 [$22.92]
  • Metropolitan Library System: $46.50 [$46.02]
  • Total: $1022.34 [$1003.94]

The individual millages for each of these are listed here.

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Now that’s undead

Few bands were more appropriately named than the Zombies. After a few big hits in the middle 1960s, they broke up: a year after they broke up, their last LP (Odessey and Oracle) yielded up a major hit single which, three dozen years after the fact, sounds something like this:

Now touring again, the Zombies will be releasing a 50th Anniversary album next year. You can’t get much more undead than that.

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Fark blurb of the week

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Lens of demarcation

A couple is taking a walk through the mall, and he decides he wants a picture of her in front of the tree-like structure at centre court. Out comes the camera, and down comes Security:

Just as we took the first photo, a security guard shouted at us to stop and came over to explain that we were not allowed to take photos.

But lots of people take photos every day in this mall, sometimes at this exact spot. WTF?

When the security guard was asked to explain this as we have seen hundreds of people taking photos ever since the centre had opened, he notified us that we could not take the photos using a ‘Big’ camera.

‘Big’? No camera you can buy in a mainstream shopping mall qualifies as ‘Big.’ But that’s the issue with their not-all-that-big Canon:

…the concern of people using ‘Big’ cameras was that the photos could be used for commercial purposes.

She has asked for a public clarification of the policy. And this being Britain, there’s one more request:

This incident happened at approx 11pm on the 1st floor. I would also like you to know that it is my intention to ask for the CCTV coverage of my visit to Westfield, so that it can support any further action that I may decide.

Because, of course, they had a camera on her the whole time. But those images could never fall into the “wrong” hands, could they?

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Apparently they weren’t kidding

This young lady is indeed f*ing cute:

Model for Nozomi Sasaki,

(With thanks to EngrishFunny.)

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Cavs crushed

Everything you need to know about this game is in this statistic: Byron Mullens had a career-high 5 points. When the 12th man gets extended minutes, it’s a blowout by definition, and the final — Oklahoma City 106, Cleveland 77 — confirms it.

Not that the Cavaliers didn’t contribute some suction to the process: they hit only 26 of 77 from the field, 33.8 percent. They did good work on getting second-chance points — 16 offensive rebounds, nine by Anderson Varejao alone — but they wouldn’t have needed second-chance points if they’d scored on the first chance. Further, the Cavs left 12 points at the stripe, hitting only 20 of 32. When they had a play, they generally executed well, but too often they really didn’t have a play, and after a 28-point second quarter, they managed only 32 points the rest of the way. Anthony Parker led the Cleveland scorers with twelve.

The Thunder shot perhaps uncharacteristically well, hitting 41 of 77 for 53.2 percent. With a 28-point bulge after three quarters, Scott Brooks saw no need to keep the starters out there any longer. Still, Kevin Durant bagged 25 points, Jeff Green (who played 30:20, longer than anyone else in the game) 19, and Russell Westbrook 14. The bench, given lots of time to work, contributed 43 points, 19 by James Harden. Free throws were a little off — 17 of 24 — but it didn’t seem to matter.

This is the first of four games at the Scrape That Brand Name Off Arena. The Rockets will be here Wednesday, the Kings on Friday, and the Suns on, you guessed it, Sunday. Now’s the time to make up some ground on the — what’s that? We’re tied with the Jazz for first in the Northwest? Well, in that case, now’s the time to shoot past them, if we can.

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Strange search-engine queries (254)

It’s time once again for that wacky, weird weekly woundup (sorry, I got carried away there) of search strings found in the logs of this very Web site. All of the strings are as they were originally written by the seekers; all of the snark was written by me, just in case you thought I’d be getting Bill Clinton to come in and finish the job.

“sears pantyhose”:  I should warn you: it doesn’t carry the standard Craftsman lifetime guarantee.

bobby Goldsboro ethnicity:  I think we can safely ignore “Me Japanese Boy, I Love You.”

mottless crew:  Not J. Crew’s formerly-spotted poor relation.

is it a bad idea to have a past lover as a facebook friend:  Depends on the current state of your nonrelationship. I suspect, though, it’s a bad idea to have a current lover as a FB friend, which is a shame, since there are several on there who … um, never mind.

can vengeance stand for justice:  I can think of several vengeful out-of-power politicians who definitely won’t stand for it.

“Arkansas’ biggest loser”:  Um, Blanche Lincoln?

“weird nj” “summit” “robbery” “hidden” “money”:  The only word that doesn’t fit the pattern is “weird.”

origin term “dirtbag”:  It’s like “scumbag,” only the contents have a different response to gravity.

what cleans aluminum dust off of clothes:  Send them to a dry cleaner. They’re used to working with toxic and/or explosive stuff.

was Dan Blocker endowed:  By his creator with certain inalienable rights, sure. Beyond that, I couldn’t tell you.

will ford bring back the probe:  Not a chance. The Probe was a tremendous pain in the ass.

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Hemidemisemicircular reasoning

Instapundit readers Saturday night were treated to the complicated spectacle of Glenn Reynolds quoting me quoting James Lileks.

The subject at hand, so to speak, was the appropriate viewing angle for women’s lingerie. I think all three of us were in agreement that it’s best seen, um, on the floor.

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Synths and sensibility

Imaginary Friends supposedly is a “serious” album by comparison with Freezepop’s previous work, by which is meant, I guess, that there are no songs with titles like “Duct Tape My Heart.” Still, I am not inclined to underestimate a band with songs in the Guitar Hero series that don’t actually have any guitars in them.

Imaginary Friends by FreezepopAnd despite the marked absence of terminally goofy stuff, I still find plenty to smile about while listening to the twelve tracks of Imaginary Friends. Liz Enthusiasm still can turn a phrase — I admit to giggling a bit during “Magnetic” when she says “You’re my polar opposite” — and she’s long since caught on to the idea that the disembodied robotic voice one tends to expect in synthpop needn’t be either disembodied or robotic; she’s allowing herself to sound less like a string of bits and more like a geek girl with real geek-girl thoughts. (Harmony vocals by new arrival Christmas Disco-Marie Sagan help, but you can hear this even when Sagan is offmike or mixed down.) At no point do things sound arch or artificially ironic.

The songs themselves are as tuneful, as catchy, as ever. I suppose one could point to the “limitations” of the synthpop genre, but struggling against limitations is at the heart of anything artistic, and the band, reconfiguring after the loss of founding member the Duke of Pannekoeken, has pushed itself a notch or two beyond its own little niche. Of course, just about everything is powered by synthesizers of one sort or another these days, though you’re not supposed to notice that. Freezepop, in embracing the synth at its most blatantly artificial, somehow seems to humanize it. (Think Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow: it became a lot more plausible once you caught on to the fact that all the sets were computer-generated.)

Still, I have to believe that not everyone is going to like Imaginary Friends. It helps if you survived the 1980s, and if you played around with the 8-bit noises that defined the first half of that decade. I, of course, maintain a rather large footprint in both camps; after spinning the CD a couple of times — I’d snagged the downloads last week — I actually entertained the idea of tracking down a used Yamaha QY70, a device Freezepop has since outgrown, for myself.

(Reviewed from purchased copies.)

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Icahn haz Chesapeake?

Well, not yet he doesn’t, but Carl Icahn has definitely been buying his way in:

The Wall Street Journal notes in an article about Chesapeake that the single biggest buyer of the company’s stock in the first nine months of 2010 is Carl Icahn. He now owns a 2.5% stake in Chesapeake. As the WSJ points out, maybe Icahn is betting that natural gas prices will rise, but that’s not likely.

So what’s he after? The short version:

[T]he parts of Chesapeake are absolutely worth more than the sum. Management’s course through the past few years has been to cut debt and fund additional production by issuing more stock and selling off assets. That’s basically Icahn-ization without Icahn. He undoubtedly thinks he can do it better.

Lots of differing interpretations over at

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Meanwhile in the red-light district

Up to now, very few Christmas songs have had much Sting to them.

(With thanks to Deb S.)

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Presumably WTF was taken

It’s a file format called WWF:

The WWF format is a PDF that cannot be printed out. It’s a simple way to avoid unnecessary printing. So here’s your chance to save trees and help the environment. Decide for yourself which documents don’t need printing out — then simply save them as WWF.

On my last day at the office, I should probably set that as the default. There would be wailing and gnashing of teeth on a grand scale. (In fact, any day I might do that would be de facto my last day at the office.)

One of Tim Blair’s readers isn’t taking this lying down:

If I ever get a file like this, I am going to screenshot it, print in triplicate, take a few photos of it, print out the photos, put them in a large envelope and airmail the envelope to the person who sent it to me.

Postage due, I assume.

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Epic faille

I have yet to see Black Swan. However, I would not be particularly astounded to see Natalie Portman dance her way into an Oscar® nomination, possibly even a win, simply because of all the historical precedent:

Portman’s the subject of a lot of Oscar buzz, perhaps because Academy members realized that while it’s OK to nominate an actress for playing a well-adjusted, compassionate and strong woman character like Sandra Bullock’s Leigh Ann Tuohy now and again, the actual Oscar is supposed to go to a woman who’s losing her mind, already lost her mind or is a prostitute or stripper. They need to get back on track, and although Portman doesn’t hit the Theron trifecta, [director Darren] Aronofsky included several scenes with Portman as well as Portman and costar Mila Kunis that offer plenty of titillation for the discerning Oscar voter.

I am told that a few such actually exist.

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I’m calling Muad’Dibs on this one

Not that I think it would actually work or anything:

“Is that Shai-Hulud, the life-giving spice-producing god-worm, in your pocket, or are you just glad to see me?”

This has been just one of more than a dozen SF/Geek Pickup Lines from Miss Cellania.

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Don’t try this with a basilica

“Separated at birth?” asks Marjorie Ingall. Let’s take a look:

This is the Quadracci Pavilion of the Milwaukee Art Museum, completed in 2001:

Quadracci Pavilion - Milwaukee Art Museum

Architecture buffs may recall this as Santiago Calatrava’s first project in the US.

Calatrava doesn’t usually work at this scale, though:

Shoe by Tea Petrovic

The shoe is by Tea Petrovic, and it is indeed inspired by Calatrava. Dezeen has a gallery of Petrovic’s designs for your perusal.

How well this sort of thing holds up, I couldn’t tell you, though the Quadracci has been standing for nine years without incident.

(Dick Stanley sent this along. Thank you, sir.)

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You’re throwing away those genes?

Robert Stacy McCain, in the process of providing coverage, if you will, of the unraveling of The Playmate Formerly Known As Angela Dorian, adds this supplemental commentary:

I’m pretty sure she’s not anybody’s mom. It’s a familiar tragedy of Hollywood, which draws in these stunningly beautiful women who, due to the pressures of the industry or the medical consequences of the hedonistic lifestyle, so often end up childless. Thus whatever hereditary factor there is in such remarkable beauty (and it is substantial) reaches a Darwinian dead-end and the future of humanity becomes slightly uglier.

Let’s face it: The poor and ugly are always going to make their fair share of genetic contributions to the future. If the rich and beautiful don’t keep pace, we’re on an inexorable slow-motion descent to universal ugliness and poverty.

A veritable Socialist Heaven. If nobody is wealthier and nobody is prettier, nobody has anything to complain about, ever again.

Were such a society actually to exist, you’d give it six months, maybe, before good old Human Nature reasserted itself and knocked it to its knees. Which, now that I think about it, is precisely the right location for it.

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O Taonenbaum

Fed up with the whole “holiday” season? It’s a yin-yang conflict:

Taoist philosophy conceptualizes universal balance in terms of yin and yang, complementary forces that govern the universe. Yin characteristics are cool, wet, slow, feminine, and quiet, whereas yang is the opposite: warm, dry, fast, masculine, extroverted. Winter, the yin season, is a time for storing and conserving energy in the way a bear retains fat by hibernating, or a farmer stores food for the cold months ahead.

In agrarian cultures, people spend the shortest, darkest days indoors by the fire, eating warm, slow-cooked, nourishing food and sharing stories with their families. The incongruity between winter’s restful, introspective, yin nature and the frenetic way many Americans spend their holidays can contribute to seasonal affective disorder, depression, exhaustion, and other manifestations of what is known in [traditional Chinese medicine] as shen (or spiritual) disharmony.

I suppose I could argue that I have no trouble retaining fat during the holidays, but I’m actually down about 10 lb from this summer, the intrusion of Thanksgiving notwithstanding.

Still, there’s always been something a trifle disquieting about this whole Get Happy, Dammit exercise, which up to now I’ve been willing to ascribe to good old S.A.D. I’d much rather blame it on mass psychosis.

And I’m apparently not the only one who sees something askew here:

Dark months = rest and recharge … and American holidays SOOOO go against what we’re programmed by NATURE to do. Now that I think about it, I don’t know anyone who feels any better, or more peaceful, or more whole, or recharged, or fulfilled after the Turkey Day-Xmas-New Year’s blitz. Do you?

Not me. We’ll say we do, for the sake of appearances, but I suspect rather a lot of us resent the hell out of having this whole cavalcade of conviviality shoved up our yin-yangs.

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Priced accordingly

Aaron Robinson’s preview (Car and Driver, 1/11) of the Bugatti Veyron Super Sport — as though the original were insufficiently sporty — contains the following factoid:

A set of the Super Sport’s special Michelin tires cost $42,000 and may withstand 10,000 miles if you’re careful, though they last only 15 minutes at the car’s [258-mph] top speed (at that pace, however, the 26.4-gallon tank is sucked dry in just 10 minutes, and there’s no place on Earth to safely go that fast that long anyway, so no worries). At the third tire replacement, Michelin requires that you also swap out the $69,000 wheels — coincidentally, the only wheels that fit these tires — to insure a proper bead seal.

Actually, this doesn’t seem disproportionate; the Veyron costs about 80 times as much as my car did when it was new, and those tires cost about 80 times as much as I paid for my current Dunlop SP Sport Signatures. On the other hand, they’ve lasted about 30,000 miles so far, and they’ve never (well, hardly ever) been run at triple-digit speeds.

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+6 Brazen

As seen on Yahoo! Answers:

I need to make a fake copy of an webpage via source code so I can edit my grade.?

I jus want to go view source and then save it in notepad as a .html file so that I can open it and it can look like a real webpage and so I can print it out and show my parents my improved page. I tried it but the pictures didn’t come up. Someone please help or tell me if theres an easier way. Thanks..

Best answer so far:

It never fails to amuse me how much work someone will do to avoid doing work.

Technically this isn’t plagiarism, I suppose, since he’s presumably not supposed to turn in a Web page as an assignment, but it’s reprehensible enough for me to believe that this guy will have a highly-successful career in American politics.

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