Archive for March 2012

Behold the power of cheesiness

“Did you know there was Velveeta fan fic?” asks Nancy Friedman.

As Johnny Carson was wont to say, “I did not know that.” And I must pass it on: yes, there is Velveeta fanfiction.

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In which we will not use a certain S word

Darn those college girls, they just keep having sex (which isn’t the S word in question) all the time:

A New York woman has filed a lawsuit against her former Roman Catholic college in Boston, claiming administrators didn’t do enough to help her when she complained that her roommate was having too much sex in their dorm room.

Lindsay Blankmeyer said in a federal lawsuit that she suffered from depression and attention deficit disorder before she enrolled at Stonehill College, but was driven into a suicidal depression after school officials wouldn’t give her reasonable housing alternatives to get her away from her roommate at the school in Easton, Mass.

Blankmeyer said her roommate had sex with her boyfriend while she was trying to sleep just feet away and also participated in “sexually inappropriate video chatting” while Blankmeyer was in the dorm room.

The college, however, tells it differently:

Stonehill spokeswoman Kristen Magda said the college responded “swiftly and professionally” to Blankmeyer’s complaints about her roommate, first trying to resolve the dispute through mediation with a residence director, then by giving Blankmeyer “multiple options” for campus housing, including a private room.

“At no time did the student notify college staff that her concerns involved her roommate’s sexual activity,” Magda said [March 2].

I had a private room back in the day, but I was newly arrived from the Island of Misfit Toys and had a fresh coat of Girl Repellent, or something.

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It being March and all

It’s once again time for Ogle Madness, and the matchups this year are, um, interesting. I mean, in the Midwest alone you have Blake Shelton (5) versus the Pioneer Woman (12), and Olivia Munn (2) versus Steve Lackmeyer (15).

(Historical note: I got bumped off in the very first round of the very first Ogle Madness, thus forever establishing my Lack of Game. Or something.)

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Going the extra kilometer

Tom Pease is talking specifically here about auto dealers in California, but these particular principles seem extensible, to me anyway, to almost any vendor of anything anywhere:

Much in the same way some manufacturers have realized that cutting corners, cheapening out and doing “just okay” isn’t going to cut it anymore, you have to drill into your retailers that the customers have to walk out feeling good about their purchase. All the wenge and granite interiors, Billy Haines furniture and hot and cold running frappuccino isn’t going to go you any good if the glad-handing meat-puppet representing your brand made a customer (even a potential one) feel like a trip to the free clinic might be in order.

The industry probably won’t have to replace more than, oh, 70 percent of its plaid-clad glad-handers.

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A story you’ve heard before

Pretty much every fembot tale ever written has a passage like this. On the other hand, very few of them have ever been written to run on the PS3.

This is quite heartrending in its own way, but it still takes a back seat to Janelle Monáe’s Metropolis saga, which opens with the following cheery announcement:

I am happy to announce we have a star-crossed winner in today’s heartbreak sweepstakes. Android Number 57821, otherwise known as Cindi Mayweather, has fallen desperately in love with a human named Anthony Greendow. And you know the rules: she is now scheduled for immediate disassembly!

Bounty hunters, you can find her in the Neon Valley Street District on the 4th floor at the Leopard Plaza apartment complex.

Not to mention Helen O’Loy. (Which I did, once upon a time.)

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Cop shocks

A couple of years ago, I opined that while the upcoming Carbon Motors police car had its defenders, I’d just as soon the lawmen of America were driving Chevys — even Australian Chevys.

Now Carbon’s plans have gone pear-shaped, or perhaps Solyndrical:

[Wednesday] Carbon Motors said it was denied a $310 million DOE loan. Carbon Motors CEO William Santana Li says in a statement on the company’s website:

“We are outraged by the actions of the DOE and it is clear that this was a political decision in a highly-charged, election year environment. Since Solyndra became politicized last fall, the DOE has failed to make any other loans under the ATVM program, has pulled back one loan that it previously committed and, as of this month, the DOE has pushed aside the three remaining viable loans under active consideration.

“Each of these applicants has been caught for several years in a costly and extensive DOE due diligence process. Carbon Motors simply appears to be the last victim of this political gamesmanship.”

The thing about political gamesmanship, though, is that there’s never a “last” victim, so long as there’s someone wanting to game the system — and there’s always someone wanting to game the system.

And were there overwhelming public demand for the Carbon cop car, investors would be pouring in, wouldn’t they?

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Muffin going on

This may be the only time in history I get to combine a Rebecca Black update with My Little Pony shtick, and I’m not about to pass up that opportunity:

Especially, you know, since it’s Derpy.

(Via Equestria Daily.)

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False wetness

Yes, it did rain all day yesterday; yes, we’re still in a drought. You live here long enough, you get used to that sort of thing.

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Who ordered the grinder?

It does not pay to misunderestimate 14-23 teams, especially on your own home court. Byron Scott has spent lots of time here — he was the coach of the Hornets during their two-year sojourn in the Big Breezy — and he arguably has a better feel for the place than most Eastern coaches, which may explain why the Thunder never could quite put this one out of reach. Then again, neither could the Cavs until the last couple of minutes, when Cleveland went on a 14-5 run to close out the Thunder 96-90, only the second OKC loss at the Downtown Roundhouse this season.

Or you might look at the night before last, when these same Cavaliers sneaked out of Denver with a 100-99 win over the Bumpy Lumps, and you might reasonably conclude that their prayers are being answered, and the answer is Kyrie — rookie guard Kyrie Irving, who got that dunk with four seconds left in Denver, and who made his mark in an arena he hadn’t seen before by rolling up nine points, 12 dimes, three steals, and only one turnover. With Irving doing the ball movement, Antawn Jamison was left to do the heavy lifting, which he did: 21 points and eight boards, though it must be said that A. J. put up rather a lot of bricks.

The Thunder, in fact, actually outshot the Cavs by seven percentage points, but Cleveland got 15 extra chances at the net, thanks to utter dominance on the boards: 51-40, 21-8 offensive. And the three guys who got 91 points against the Suns Wednesday — well, obviously, the whole team didn’t get 91 tonight. For the record: Kevin Durant 23, Russell Westbrook 19, James Harden 15. It was another case of too many tries from too far away: 24 treys attempted, six made, none in the second half. Everyone in Scott Brooks’ 10-man rotation showed up on the minus side, though the range was only -1 to -5. And not even another mighty Serge Ibaka performance — 13 points, seven boards, six blocks — was going to save the Thunder tonight.

The intangibles for tomorrow: it’s the second half of a back-to-back, where the Thunder have been doing well most of the season, and it’s against the Bobcats. Then again, look what happens when you take the likes of Cleveland, um, cavalierly.

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For instance,

From the “Why didn’t I think of this?” files:

Equestria NIC (EqNIC for short) is a domain name registry which will soon permit Pony fans everywhere to host a domain of their choice in the magic land of Equestria, under the .eq country-code Top-Level Domain. Through a generous grant by Princess Celestia herself, domain names in .eq will be free of charge.

Regretfully, Equestria was denied acceptance into the ISO, which allocates country codes (we understand that the laughter at our letter was raucous and relentless); therefore, .eq is unable to be a part of the ICANN DNS root most users access already. Fortunately, we are applying to the OpenNIC alternate root, who are substantially more likely to accept our proposal. In order to access .eq sites, users will need to change the DNS resolvers their network devices use, which will allow them to access both ICANN domains — meaning that every site which worked before the change will work afterwards — and OpenNIC domains, of which .eq will be one. This will only need to be done once per device, and new programs are being developed to make this as easy as a point and a click.

The ISO 3166-1 list, if you ask me, already contains countries of arguable existence, and as Jon Postel noted in RFC 1591: “The IANA is not in the business of deciding what is and what is not a country.”

I’d bet several bits that the first actual domain will be DerpyHooves.eq.

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Quote of the week

Andrea Harris emerges from hiatus to remind us that America, no matter what you heard, is not any kind of patriarchy worthy of the name:

Oh no, it is not. A patriarchy would at least imply adulthood, and as usual there are no grownups to be seen, only sports fan clutching the various souvenirs of their favorite teams. The United States of America is not a patriarchy — it’s a Boy’s Own Clubhouse, full of overgrown adolescents vying among one another for the title of Most Obnoxious.

This describes just about every administration since Eisenhower’s; the Obama regime, despite being ostensibly liberally salted with humanoids identified as “women” — alternatively, “womyn” — and therefore theoretically an exception, nonetheless conforms in every way to the middle-school tantrum model.

One thing the Democrats do well, though, and that’s bring out the worst in the GOP:

So far they’ve played the right like a violin — they know that the right wing in this country is dominated by white male titty babies. It’s easy to start a tantrum among such: just try to take one, just one, of their toys away. Today’s toy is “women need to know their place.” I did at first think that Sandra Fluke should have responded to Limbaugh’s sub-Beavis-and-Butthead “hurr hurr she takes the Pill she must sleep with a lot of guys” prostitute allusions with “and your point is?”, but now I think she knew exactly what she was doing: getting the right wing to reveal itself once again as a gang of preteen boys who still think that their mom doesn’t know they stash copies of Playboy under their mattresses.

The wingnuts missed a good bet, I think, by not immediately agreeing with Fluke: “It’s worth some insignificant percentage of the Federal budget — or would be if we actually had a Federal budget — to help these folks with their goal of non-reproduction.” Demography being about 90 percent of destiny — well, the numbers speak for themselves. The Libertarians of course would be outraged; but that is, after all, their function in life, and surely they deserve a reason to live.

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Antelope Freeway, 1/262144th mile

Peter Bergman, founding member of the Firesign Theatre and one-time purchaser of a fabulous new car from Ralph Spoilsport Motors, has now reached infinity: he died Friday at a Santa Monica hospital following a battle with leukemia.

He might have smiled at the working title for this piece: “Why, he’s no fun, he fell right over.” I suspected, though, that nobody else would.

Nick Danger, uncharacteristically, was not available for comment.

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Deep dark desire

Or in Hindi, “Bipasha.” Last name is Basu. She’s been doing Bollywood for a decade, and will make her English-language film debut in Roland Joffé’s Singularity, set for release this year.

Bipasha Basu

Bipasha has Jism on her résumé, and not everyone can say that. Retitled Body: The Dark Side of Desire for English-language consumption, Jism seems to be homage to Double Indemnity with a side order of Body Heat.

This wasn’t at all what she’d planned to do with her life:

I actually wanted to be a doctor. But doing all those horrid rat dissections made me faint. I studied science till the 12th standard and later took up commerce. I was planning to do chartered accountancy, but fate had something else in store for me.

For “fate,” read “Ford,” the model agency, which declared her “Supermodel of the World” in 1996, when she was seventeen.

And Singularity looks, um, perplexing. The official synopsis:

After a dangerous dive to save his wife Laura trapped while exploring an colonial British merchant ship wreckage, Jay Fennel, a rugged and attractive marine archeologist lies brain dead in a Boston hospital. Fennel’s dream-like coma takes us back in time to Pune, India in 1778. The British East India Company is invading the palaces and a young captain named James Stewart, who bears a striking resemblance to Fennel, is about to embark on a dangerous mission. Along the way he encounters murder, deceit, betrayal and revenge. He falls deeply in love with an Indian She-warrior named Tulaja, an impossible love which he must fight for. Only the power of a ring can transcend time and save a life.

For “rugged and attractive,” read “Josh Hartnett.”

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LOL, cats

After the debacle last night, you had to figure the Thunder would take out their frustrations on Charlotte, and the Bobcats somehow stayed in contention for thirteen, fourteen minutes, before the hammer came down and the blowout began. OKC, up by a mere three after the first quarter, cranked up the tempo enough to take a 58-40 lead at the half — and then had the audacity to speed it up. Defense? How much do you need when you’re shooting 63 (!) percent? So the ‘Cats got a respectable 55 points in that second half and still lost ground, and all 13 active Thundermen got minutes. Yes, even Ryan Reid. It was 122-95, and even radio guy Matt Pinto seemed relieved when the shot clock was finally shut off.

Workhorse Corey Maggette, who never seems to age, was good for 21 points, and the two ex-Thunder players on the Charlotte roster acquitted themselves well: Byron Mullens had 12 points on 6-8 shooting, and D. J. White 10 on 4-7. In fact, when you add D. J. Augustin’s team-leading 22, you discover that more than a third of Charlotte’s offense was generated by guys named D. J. And when you realize this means nothing, you forget about it and go on to the one area where the Bobcats shone: offensive rebounds, of which they had 15. The Thunder had only six, but then how many offensive rebounds can you get when you shoot 63 percent?

James Harden, who’d gone one whole game without a new career high, made up for that tonight with a sparkling 33-point performance, hitting 11 of 16 from the floor and 4 of 9 for distance. And this on nights where Kevin Durant (26 on 8-12) and Russell Westbrook (23 on 10-14) were hitting on all cylinders, no less. In fact, everyone scored except Reid, who played only five minutes. Former Bobcat Nazr Mohammed — turnabout is fair play, y’know — manned the middle for 13 minutes and scored four, rebounded thrice, pulled off two steals and blocked two shots. The Thunder still put up a heck of a lot of three-balls, but they actually made ten of them (out of 23), so no one’s complaining.

The last game of the home stand is Tuesday, against the Rockets, after which it’s off to Denver. Already I miss the East.

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Move along, dammit

Yes, it’s called the Garden State Parkway, but no, that doesn’t mean you get to park there. A New Jersey legislator has sponsored a bill to jack up the penalties for left-lane banditry:

State Senator Donald Norcross (D-Camden) has sponsored a bill that would toughen the penalties for clogging the left lane.

“Being trapped behind a slower vehicle is one of the biggest triggers for road rage,” he told the Philadelphia Inquirer last week. “Some people have told me the fines we’re proposing are not high enough. They said, ‘It should be execution.'”

Norcross won’t go quite that far, but the fines will be boosted from the $50-100 range to $100-300. Last year, New Jersey police busted members of the Anti-Destination League 5,127 times, so this has the potential of dropping a quarter-million dollars or more into Trenton’s depleted coffers.

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Unlike a boss

Almost all of us, I suspect, have a very specific idea of what should happen, and to whom, once The Revolution™ comes. Me, I would definitely support Bill Peschel’s proposal:

When the time comes that my genius is recognized and I’m installed as supreme dictator, one of the first laws I plan to make will be that CEOs will be required to use the products they make. Airline CEOs would have to fly on their planes instead of using private jets. Senators who pass health-care regulations would have to be covered by them. Dog food manufacturers would have to eat their product — although by dictatorial fiat — they won’t have to use the plastic bowls that skid across the floor as you’re trying to get the last nugget.

This is something we’ve needed for a long time, and by “a long time” I mean at least eighteen years, since Michael Moore’s TV Nation introduced something called the CEO Corporate Challenge, in which various CEOs were asked to make proper use of the products made by their companies on camera. The wheels at Philip Morris, IBM, and Colgate-Palmolive declined, thank you. But then:

One of the CEOs targeted was Ford boss Alexander Trotman: Moore met him in Dearborn and challenged him to change the oil in a Ford truck. Trotman, to Moore’s surprise, was a pretty fair shadetree mechanic, and finished up the task in less time than your local Spee-D-Loob; Moore, to his credit, left the segment in, and announced that Trotman had indeed passed the CEO Corporate Challenge.

The reason for this sort of thing should be obvious. Says Peschel:

See, as companies get bigger, the top levels of management become distanced from what the company sells. To gauge how well the company is doing, they have to rely on reports from mid-level weasels who will eagerly pass along the good news such as “profits are up!” and not the bad news such as “our customer service ranks a little higher than being devoured by feral cats.”

So a CEO who has to use the product his or her company makes will get a similar experience to what the customers get.

Incidentally, current Ford boss Alan Mulally can actually sell cars.

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Why, we knew Ned Ludd personally

Despite the fact that on the date this Web site first appeared Rebecca Black hadn’t even been conceived yet, it is an article of faith among some of the Younger Folk that those of us who remember things like UHF antennas and “electronically rechanneled for stereo” can’t possibly know anything about any current tech stuff.

Lynn, however, totally groks the Net:

When I was a kid there was no Internet, no video games, no DVDs or VCR, and, until the time I was 13, we got only one TV channel. I’m sure the kids would just roll their eyes at this. What value can there possibly be in such deprivation? Why would anyone actually be proud of that? Stupid old people. Okay fine. I can’t explain it to them in a way they would understand. Don’t get me wrong; I love the Internet. I love my cell phone and I love texting. I think it would have been great to have had all that when I was a kid, but I think having experienced a time when those things didn’t exist enables me to appreciate them more and also put them in their proper place. They’re tools. To live online is like living in a shopping mall. It’s a great place to hang out and you can probably get everything you need there to sustain life but if you don’t ever leave it you miss a lot.

Not to mention the fact that there are going to be times when you can’t even get across the parking lot.

I wrote this while eating a peach — the return of so-called “summer” fruits does wonders for my sense of well-being — and on an impulse I dialed over to Amazon to see what they offered in the way of peaches. They had canned peaches, dried peaches, peach-flavored tea, but nothing you’d have to wash the fuzz off of, nothing containing so much as a stone. They do, however, stock coffee spoons, should you be inclined to measure out your life.

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Quit looking at my bishops

Just what tournament chess needed: a dress code. No, really:

The European Women’s Championship is the first where the new ECU Dress Code regulations apply. They are quite specific: regarding décolletés (in the US “cleavage”): “the second from the top button may be opened.” And skirts may be no shorter than 5-10 cm above the knees.

Has this actually been a problem? Sava Stoisavljevic, General Secretary of the European Chess Union, says there has:

We came up with that idea because we noticed that during the games many of the players were not wearing proper clothes. There is dress code in many different sports, and we decided to establish our rules as well. This is the first European tournament where we are applying those regulations. I was here during three rounds and I’ve got an impression that we have to work much more on those regulations.

So the rules are subject to change, though I suspect the ban on B.O. will be maintained.

(Via Fark.)

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The semiannual DST rant

You’ve probably seen several of those from me over the years. Here’s one from Doug Mataconis, titled “Bad For Your Health, Not Good For Much Else”:

The only benefits that can conceivably attached to Daylight Saving Time would seem to be ones that cannot be quantified, such as the psychic benefit of having daylight last longer into the late afternoon/early evening, meaning that people have more time after normal work hours for outdoor activities. Today’s sunset here in Virginia, for example, is at 6:15pm rather than 5:15pm. By mid-April, we’ll have daylight until well after 7pm. Is that a good thing? I suppose it is. Of course, if we just stayed on Standard Time, or for that matter made DST itself Standard Time it really doesn’t matter, we’d get longer days anyway since the days will become longer as we get closer to June 21st. Is there really all that much benefit from manipulating the clock every six months like this? I don’t really see it.

So there you have it. Moving the clocks ahead an hour, and then back again seven months later, is bad for your health, it increases the risk of road accidents, it increases energy use, and it has little if any real benefits to the economy or the environment. So, tell me again why we still have it?

Because the government can never, ever admit that it was wrong about anything: the whole freaking house of cards would collapse. Not that it’s standing particularly tall these days anyway.

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Strange search-engine queries (319)

Time again for the weekly roundup of search-string weirdness, although it might be an hour late. Or an hour early. Who the hell knows at this time of the morning?

firm girl in bra:  If she’s that firm, does she really need a bra?

girls locker room vent:  Well, they have to vent somewhere, right?

victoria secret trading cards:  Karen Mulder’s rookie card is now worth over $10.

gray shoes with neon laces:  As seen in absolutely no Victoria’s Secret catalogs.

i don’t know where to get a hello kitty bikini:  You may have to go direct to Sanrio; I’m pretty sure they don’t sell them at Victoria’s Secret.

what does it mean when the transmission whines:  It’s complaining that you have too much money, and it’s going to do something about it very soon.

there are mountains and hillsides enough to climb:  Assuming, of course, we don’t rip the tops off of them in search of coal.

you’re too pretty to work here:  I mean, considering this is a coal mine and all.

by night I make the bars:  Do too much of that, and by morning you’ll be behind bars.

guess who come to me softly:  I’m guessing it’s not William “Refrigerator” Perry.

i rember everything:  Except how to spell.

word with the letters f a r t c o i n:  I’m sure I haven’t so much as a fraction of a clue.

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Don’t wake the colorless green ideas

For many years, people who fancied themselves hipper than thou — or at least hipper than I, which is less of a challenge — insisted on owning only “authentic” cultural artifacts; Frank Zappa, who took a dim view of this sort of thing, satirized it by asking: “Is that a real poncho … I mean, is that a Mexican poncho or is that a Sears poncho?” Eventually the idea showed up in TV commercials — what the hell kind of picante sauce is made in New York City? — at which point the meme would have been deemed to have jumped the shark, had any sharks been jumped at that point.

Still, some people cling to the notion, though I have yet to see anyone demand, say, a burger with artisanal mayo; as Cheryl Lynn says, it’s got to be real. Eric Scheie reports that his text apparently lacks authenticity:

Could all four bloggers here be writing inauthentic text? I tried entering randomly selected news articles, and even an editorial piece by Glenn Reynolds. (All were called inauthentic!)

Is it possible that the “Inauthentic Paper Detector” (which I found linked at the Wiki entry on the subject) is itself less than authentic?

The stated purpose of the Detector:

This web site is intended for detecting whether a technical document is human written and authentic or not. Predictions may work for documents intended for entertainment (novels, news articles etc.). The main purpose of this software is to detect whether a technical document conforms to the statistical standards of an expository text. You can easily take a human written technical document and add some nonsense text somewhere in the middle, or paste a document generated by an automatic paper generator. We are trying to detect new, machine written texts that are simply generated not to have any meaning, yet appear to have meaning on the surface.

As a test, I fed the Detector my write-up of the Thunder/Bobcats game Saturday night; it was deemed to have a 14-percent chance of being “authentic” by the Detector’s criteria, worse than any of Scheie’s test documents. I suppose I should consider myself fortunate I’m not asked to do any scholarly research.

(Title adapted from Noam Chomsky.)

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What is this Sith?

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Ever so slightly misplaced

You’d think, with the bazillions of terabytes of reference material available to us at the click of a mouse, we wouldn’t have to rely on all-too-fallible memory to get us through our stories.

And yet:

I flipped the page and a rogue FBI agent, off to shoot porn movies in Mexico with Jack Ruby (yes, the book is just that cat-litter gritty) snaps an (innocent, for once) picture with a Polaroid and the snapshot whirrs out —

No it didn’t! BLAST YOU, ELLROY! You just stuck an SX-70 from 1972 into a guy’s hands in 1959 — and 13 years might look small from where you’re sitting, but it’s a huge leap from “set the iris, snap the shutter, pull the tab, wave the film around a little, pull out the fixing-compound sponge and coat the shot, then stick it to a pasteboard backing so it won’t curl” to “just push a button and, hey-presto! out pops the snapshot,” and that’s the difference between a 1959 Polaroid Land Camera and an SX-70.

That dull thud? That was my disbelief, padded cuffs broken, dropping right onto the unpadded floor.

Then again, James Ellroy’s American Tabloid came out in 1995, so it’s not likely the author did a whole lot of Googling.

The producers of Downton Abbey, of course, have no such excuse.

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Perhaps not a progression in the strict sense

A couple of years ago, I noted that rather a lot of popular songs used the same four chords, and posted a video which illustrated this fact rather dramatically.

In fact, I was to discover, almost the entirety of Taylor Swift’s oeuvre relies on those four chords, as demonstrated below:

And there’s a Facebook page called All Taylor Swift Songs Sound the Same!

Tim McGraw was not available for comment. (You knew this was coming, right?)

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Just off Rapture’s roadway

In the Mughal gardens Florida town of Shalimar, not everyone is keen on the new arrival:

A proposal to open a Dollar General store on Eglin Parkway has angered some residents, who say it will attract an unsafe element to the small town.

At a Town Commission meeting Feb. 28, more than a dozen people voiced concerns that ranged from increased traffic to air conditioner noise and trash odors. Some questioned whether the store would hurt Shalimar’s “upscale” image.

For instance, from the minutes of the meeting:

Jeff Dorr … feels that the Dollar General Store will be inviting a different class of people into Shalimar. He is afraid, in the present economy; these people will be driving down Plew Avenue and Shalimar Drive looking for opportunities to steal things. He would like to see the entrance on Plew Avenue closed off. He thinks that plans should be made for a worst-case scenario.

Other upscale amenities at this intersection: Great Wall Chinese restaurant; R&R Furniture. There used to be a Starbucks there, but it closed.

The commission will hold another public meeting this week.

(Via Fark. Title from Amy Woodforde-Finden’s “Kashmiri Song.”)

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For the sake of diversion

Robert Stacy McCain, in case you hadn’t noticed, is “a highly-skilled news industry professional,” which explains this particular item:

I must suppress my narcissistic impulse to share my personal opinions on these topics, in order to give readers what they really want: Meghan McCain talking about her breasts.

Having never been a news-industry professional at any skill level, and seldom having been inclined to give readers what they really want, here’s a non-bewb shot of Meghan McCain:

Meghan McCain on a talk show showing no cleavage but a whole lot of leg

Accordingly, you should hit his freaking tip jar before thinking about mine.

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Not guaranteed Styx-proof

The road to hell, we are assured, is paved with Good Intentions, which inexplicably is the name of this Seychelles wedge:

Good Intentions by Seychelles

The Seychelles brand, says their manifesto somewhere, is “designed for a girl with a different point of view. Her soul is romantic and her spirit is independent. She has a keen eye for style and she mixes classic and modern style with effortlessness.” Fortunately for me, I know a few such.

“Good Intentions” is three inches tall plus one inch of platform, and it’s here because it’s orange, or so they say. Lindsay of Broke & Beautiful likes the silver version, and she thinks this color is really more of a fire-engine red; she may have the better of the argument. There are blue, black and tan variants as well, all with this stacked heel, and they run $110ish, though Zappos will let them go for $87.99 for, as the phrase goes, a limited time.

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Don’t get in line for this

It’s not actually “coming soon.” Just the same, I would so watch this:

Bogus poster for a Walt Disney biopic starring Ryan Gosling

And if anyone does it, it will pretty much have to be Disney, because they wouldn’t have to jump through Major Clearance Hoops to use any of Walt’s personal archives.

(Poster by Pascal Witaszek, via The Daily What.)

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Something of a shortening effect

Someone identified as “I’m in your area” left the following bit of spam in handy pingback form:

[…]always a big fan of linking to bloggers that I love but don’t get a lot of link love from[…]

With it was a URL shortened by Rashly, I gave it a looksee, and it turned out to be a page on something called “xProfiles,” featuring a young lady identified as being from, yes, this area, and while something in the back of my head (or perhaps somewhere a bit lower) appreciates the idea of a female gamer wearing damn near nothing, I don’t think it’s such a good idea to throw her any linky love lust. Especially, you know, if she’s just down the road a piece.

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Operating on backup

The Rockets have been short on personnel of late: Kevin Martin, Kyle Lowry and Jordan Hill were all sidelined with various ailments, and Houston was doing what seemed to be a fast fade. Then they showed up in OKC, and no one noticed their absence: it was tied at the half, Houston was up four after the third quarter, and when the Thunder managed to run up an eleven-point lead with two minutes and odd left, the Rockets erased it and then some, snatching a 104-103 win with a Courtney Lee trey with fifteen seconds left; Kevin Durant got one last shot, which didn’t go, and a Serge Ibaka stickback wouldn’t stick.

Kevin McHale managed to make a rotation out of eight players, and six of them scored in double figures: Lee and rookie forward Chandler Parsons had 21 each to pace the team, and perennial threat Luis Scola added 18. The Rockets did a good job of spreading the work around; everyone but Jonny Flynn had a rebound, and everyone but Samuel Dalembert had an assist.

Durant had a Durantesque night — 28 points, 12 rebounds — and mostly the Thunder hewed pretty close to spec, though Daequan Cook’s shooting slump doesn’t seem to have let up. A 47-37 advantage on the boards was effectively offset by forced turnovers: the Rockets snagged seven steals and six blocks, OKC getting only four of each. More worrisome was the way the Thunder suddenly became unhinged after that eleven-point lead (which would have been 13, but an Ibaka jumper was ruled to have missed the shot clock), with Russell Westbrook ending up with a technical and various Unkind Noises being made from both benches. (Lee, it seemed, was the the primary peacemaker; Westbrook may yet pass Kendrick Perkins for most Ts on the team, Perk having had a couple rescinded by the league.)

There’s only one thing to say here: you don’t want to lose before playing the Nuggets. Scott Brooks probably will have a few other things to say on the plane to Denver. And if that weren’t disquieting enough, that Thursday game is immediately followed by a Friday game with the Spurs. At least it’s not in San Antonio.

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Grave matters indeed

The Nanny State worries so about the death rate, which last I looked was hovering right around 100 percent, that I’m surprised they haven’t made it illegal to die — as it is in one town in Italy, though not for, um, health reasons:

Since the start of the month it has been illegal to die in Falciano del Massico, a village of 3,700 people some 50 kilometers (30 miles) from Naples in southern Italy.

Mayor Giulio Cesare Fava issued the tongue-in-cheek decree because the village has no cemetery and it is feuding with a nearby town that has one — creating a logistical problem about what to do with the deceased.

This is not to say that the village has had universal compliance with this law:

“The ordinance has brought happiness,” [Mayor Fava] was quoted Tuesday as saying. “Unfortunately, two elderly citizens disobeyed.”

Penalties against the lawbreakers have not yet been announced.

(Via this Annemarie Dooling tweet.)

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Having not quite dezombified the place

Tangential Diversion, Volume CXVII:

Monday afternoon I left the office, got home, wheeled out the spreader, and distributed 5 kg of industrial-strength weed killer to various points in the front yard. After the inevitable brain fog cleared up, it occurred to me that while this treatment might actually remove some of the non-green stuff, it’s not likely to have any effect on zombies.

Which, of course, got me thinking about Plants vs. Zombies, the videogame, with an insanely catchy tune by Laura Shigihara. “What’s she been up to?” I wondered.

Apparently it’s Minecraft:

Lyrics (and a buy link) are here. (I bought.)

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Wings sold separately

As for the attitude, you’re pretty much on your own:

Horse getting the Rainbow Dash treatment

Before you ask: nontoxic paint. Pinkie promise. Though I have to wonder if it’s maybe 20 percent sweatier.

(Original by *rydeer-photo on deviantArt; other views have been posted. First spotted — or striped, or whatever — here.)

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He’ll always be true

It’s been nearly fifty years (sigh) since the Beatles cut their first single for EMI’s Parlophone label. Being a new and untried band — their years of hard work in Hamburg clubs notwithstanding — they had to prove themselves to EMI producer George Martin. They recorded the song in June 1962, with Pete Best on the drums. Martin, not present at the session, reviewed the tapes and thought Best was the weakest link; he decided he would sign the band, but relegate Best to live performances, and use a studio drummer on the records. Word of this got back to the Beatles, and eventually manager Brian Epstein was prevailed upon by John, Paul and George to fire Pete. (In 1965, he released an album called Best of the Beatles, which proved he could be as cheeky as the others; he swears there are no hard feelings.)

So a second session was scheduled for September, with new drummer Ringo Starr, the name Richard Starkey was using as a member of the Raving Texans/Rory Storm and the Hurricanes. Martin didn’t like this one much either, and the next week a third version was cut, with Ringo playing tambourine and studio pro Andy White behind the drum kit. This was Martin’s choice for the single; the band felt otherwise, and Martin yielded. So Parlophone R4949 had Ringo on drums; however, the version on the Please Please Me album — and on the American single, first issued in 1964 by Vee-Jay’s Tollie label — was the Andy White version. (Capitol, EMI’s US outpost, hadn’t been interested, though their Canadian division did put out the Ringo version.)

White also played on the B-side of the single, “P. S. I Love You,” and thereby hangs a tale:

The Carteret-based rock band [the Smithereens] was recording a second Beatles cover album, a collection of B-sides.

Dennis Diken, the Smithereens drummer, asked White to play on “P.S. I Love You.” “It just occurred to me: How cool would it be to have the guy who played on the original track?” Diken said last month.

White, then seventy-seven, was happy to oblige; in fact, he’s played live with the Smithereens since then.

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I knew her when

CNN, like some other news organizations, is coming around to the idea of crowdsourcing: they’ve come up with the tag iReport, which simultaneously explains the premise and sneers at Apple’s lawyers, in this day and age something of a coup.

Each week, iReport designates a Pundit of the Week, and this week’s is Mary Beth Cox:

I think what I have to say is important. That may sound conceited, but the truth is, what everybody has to say is important, especially if they’re passionate about it. More people should make iReports. I work. I have kids. I can’t go to the Capitol or make phone calls to my legislator all the time. But I can take 20 minutes to make an iReport and say something that connects with somebody or starts a discussion.

I can personally vouch for her ability to do this sort of thing: she was an officer in our Neighborhood Association before her family relocated to Virginia, and once in a while she’d show up in a health-related segment on a local TV station, so being in front of a camera doesn’t scare her.

This is her profile page at CNN. I am reasonably certain that the occasional traffic I get from isn’t due to any intervention on her part — I don’t think she’s looked at this site more than once or twice — but I’m always in the mood to promote friends and neighbors, even if they’ve long since moved away.

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Somewhere east of San Diego

Dave Landman, owner of the clothing-optional DeAnza Springs Resort near Jacumba, California, would like you to know that his acquisition of the entire community of Jacumba, population 550 or thereabouts, does not mean that the whole town is expected to undress accordingly: “Everybody out there wants this to become the first naked town in the United States,” he says, “and it’s not going to happen.”

Landman says his first priority is to reopen the Jacumba Hot Springs Hotel, which is about a mile from DeAnza; this way he’ll be catering to both nudists and “textiles.”

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Other than that, Mrs Lincoln, how was the gift shop?

Evidently somebody at one time thought this was a good idea:

Bobblehead dolls of the man who assassinated President Abraham Lincoln have been pulled from sale at the Gettysburg National Military Park visitors’ center bookstore.

The dolls of John Wilkes Booth with a handgun were removed from shelves on Saturday, a day after a reporter for Hanover’s The Evening Sun newspaper asked about them, officials said.

In case you missed out:

The Booth dolls, which are about 7 inches tall and come in boxes that look like the inside of the theater where Lincoln was killed, sell online for about $20 each. They have proved to be popular, as more than 150 of the original run of 250 have been sold, and more are being made, Kansas City, Mo.-based manufacturer BobbleHead LLC said.

In other news, there is a manufacturer called BobbleHead LLC.

So far, no one has spotted any Jeffrey Dahmer Happy Meals.

(Via Fark.)

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All by herself

The young lady below is actress Eva Amurri, last seen in isolation. No, wait: she was last seen in Isolation, a very creepy-looking 2011 film by Stephen Fry, in which she plays a patient quarantined for reasons no one will disclose.

Hence the trying-on-shoes photo, which is of course the very antithesis of being locked away in a hospital:

Eva Amurri

Eva, born on this date in 1985, is the daughter of Italian director Franco Amurri and American icon Susan Sarandon. I note purely for the sake of completeness that she was born before Susan took up with Tim Robbins — and that Franco and Tim are about a month apart, agewise.

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Water logged

Last September, a report with the dryly scientific name “Hydrogeology and Simulation of Groundwater Flow in the Arbuckle-Simpson Aquifer, South-Central Oklahoma” [pdf] was published, and the abstract thereof began this way:

The Arbuckle-Simpson aquifer in south-central Oklahoma provides water for public supply, farms, mining, wildlife conservation, recreation, and the scenic beauty of springs, streams, and waterfalls. Proposed development of water supplies from the aquifer led to concerns that large-scale withdrawals of water would cause decreased flow in rivers and springs, which in turn could result in the loss of water supplies, recreational opportunities, and aquatic habitat. The Oklahoma Water Resources Board, in collaboration with the Bureau of Reclamation, the U.S. Geological Survey, Oklahoma State University, and the University of Oklahoma, studied the aquifer to provide the Oklahoma Water Resources Board the scientific information needed to determine the volume of water that could be withdrawn while protecting springs and streams.

The Board has now rendered its decision, and while public hearings are still in the offing, it’s clear that the Board thinks the aquifer is being too rapidly depleted:

The board approved recommendations from its staff that would lower the amount of water that can be withdrawn from the aquifer in a single year from two acre feet per acre to two-tenths of an acre foot per acre.

(Emphasis added.)

This 90-percent reduction would be phased in over five years.

On one side of the issue: municipal water supplies, who see stabilization of the aquifer as a major priority, even if it costs them some money in the short run. On the other: agriculture, which needs, or at least says it needs, pretty much all the water it can get.

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Lowish fizz

Normally, one does not simply walk into the Pepsi Center. The Thunder were up four after the first quarter, and then went on a 10-0 run — and then totally fell to pieces, as Denver dominated the rest of the half and went into the locker room up one. (“To pieces”? How often does Scott Brooks get T’d up?) Whatever Brooks said at halftime, though, it worked: OKC took the third quarter, 28-14, and held the Nuggets at bay for the last twelve minutes to walk away with a 103-90 win.

This game marked the return, albeit limited, of Thabo Sefolosha, who put in twelve minutes and sank a trey. (Interestingly, Daequan Cook, rotated back to the bench, had a pretty decent night: 11 points in 16 minutes, including three trademark treys.) The scoring stalwarts were up to snuff: Kevin Durant 24, Russell Westbrook 23, James Harden 18. And, significantly, no one played over 35 minutes, an important consideration with the Spurs due in tomorrow night.

Denver didn’t do a whole lot wrong, but they didn’t throw up a whole lot of defense either: they blocked only two shots all night. Come to think of it, they didn’t throw up a whole lot of offense either: they made four 3-pointers in the first half, and only one in the second, while seventeen fell harmlessly away from the cylinder. Andre Miller was the Nuggets’ top scorer, with 17 off the bench, and while rookie forward Kenneth Faried acquitted himself well (8 points, 9 rebounds), he’s a long way from being Nenê.

For the season, the Thunder are now 2-0 against Denver, with the rubber game to come at the literal end of the season (25 April, at the ‘Peake.) This weekend, though, there’s San Antonio to deal with, and the question of whether the Trail Blazers get a fired-coach bounce when they come to town Sunday.

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