Archive for January 2014

Reverse that scoop

“Graphic necklines,” said InStyle (2/14, page 100), and asked “Are you ready to dip?”

This is evidently the inverse of the classic sweetheart neckline:

Dakota Fanning in Valentino

Valentino has worked well for Dakota Fanning over the years, but this may be overdoing — or pretending to be overdoing — that whole “modesty” bit.

God (or Saks) only knows what the dress (from the fall ’13 collection) cost, but the shoes, also from Valentino, can be had for a mere $895. Stylebop says it’s a kitten heel, but if so, that’s a damn big cat.

(With thanks to Because I Am Fabulous.)

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Degrees of guesswork

I’ve looked at dozens of wind chill charts, both the old formula and the new one, and they always leave me scratching my head: “What does this really mean?” The answer, it appears, is “Not a whole hell of a lot”:

The weatherman’s favorite alarmist statistic has been around for more than 60 years. Its ignoble history began with a pair of Antarctic explorers named Paul Siple and Charles Passel. In 1945, the two men left plastic bottles of water outside in the wind and observed the rate at which they froze. The equation they worked out used the wind speed and air temperature to describe the rate at which the bottles gave off heat, expressed in watts per square meter.

In the 1970s, the Canadian weather service started reporting numbers based on Siple and Passel’s work. These three- and four-digit values meant little to the average person, however — the “wind chill factor” might have been 1,200 one day and 1,800 the next. American weathermen took a more pragmatic approach, converting the output from the Siple-Passel equation into the familiar language of temperature — statements like “it’s 5 degrees outside, but it feels like 40 below.” What exactly did these phrases mean? The meteorologists would figure the rate of heat loss in watts per square meter and then try to match it up to an equivalent rate produced in low-wind conditions. For example, the rate of heat loss in 5-degree weather and 30 mph wind matched up with the one for minus-40-degree weather and very little wind. So, 5 degrees “felt like” 40 below.

This might make sense, maybe, if we all felt the same way. But we don’t, and frankly, I am uncomfortable with substituting “To me, it feels like …” in the place of actual data. A corrected version was conjured up. Now just imagine why this might not apply to you:

[T]hey geared their calculations toward people who are 5 feet tall, somewhat portly, and walk at an even clip directly into the wind. They also left out crucial variables that have an important effect on how we experience the weather, like solar radiation. Direct sunlight can make us feel 10 to 15 degrees warmer, even on a frigid winter day. The wind chill equivalent temperature, though, assumes that we’re taking a stroll in the dead of night.

This is the current chart:

Wind chill chart circa 2001

Note the formula, which very nearly defies comprehension.

My own quick-and-dirty routine, which I’ve used for at least a decade, seems, if Wikipedia is to be believed, to have an official name: the McMillan Coefficient. Take the temperature in degrees Fahrenheit, subtract the wind speed in miles per hour. If it’s 25° out and you have a 10-mph wind, it’s gonna feel like fifteen.

Coming this summer, maybe: why the heat index also sucks.

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This color seems familiar

Once upon a time there was a lad named Orchis, son of a satyr and a nymph, and once at a bacchanal he’d indulged a bit too heavily and forced himself upon a maiden, who turned out to be a priestess. Bad move, which resulted in his being torn limb from limb; after watching the replay, the gods decided to reconfigure the young fellow as a flower.

And a darn nice flower he was, it seems, though I have to wonder how much influence he has on 21st-century Pantone:

Pantone 2014 Color of the Year - Radiant Orchid“While the 2013 color of the year, PANTONE 17-5641 Emerald, served as a symbol of growth, renewal and prosperity, Radiant Orchid [PANTONE 18-3224] reaches across the color wheel to intrigue the eye and spark the imagination,” said Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute®. “An invitation to innovation, Radiant Orchid encourages expanded creativity and originality, which is increasingly valued in today’s society.

“An enchanting harmony of fuchsia, purple and pink undertones, Radiant Orchid inspires confidence and emanates great joy, love and health. It is a captivating purple, one that draws you in with its beguiling charm.”

Hmmm. Have I ever been captivated by purple?

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H8ers again

According to various strings hidden hither and yon in the operating system, I’m running Windows 5.1. (You may know it better as XP.) Windows, say the wags, runs the opposite of Star Trek films: the odd-numbered versions are good, the even-numbered versions (like Vista, which was 6) not so good.

Warren Meyer of Coyote Blog complained about Win8 last year:

Like Windows Vista, it is an absolutely awful OS that our company has banned any employee from using on a company machine.

He kept it out of his house, too, until his son needed a new laptop. And now he reports that it’s even worse than he thought:

The system boots up into a tiled mess that looks like some cheesy website covered in moving gifs and viagra ads. To make matters worse, nothing on this tablet-based interface is organized at all logically. The interface is like the room of an ADD child that dropped all of his toys and books in random spots. I am sure these tiles have some sort of navigation paradigm, but it is completely different from any used in past windows versions. I could not, for example, figure out how to easily exit the store except to alt-tab out (there is no exit or quit option and right-click context menus which are one of the great advantages of windows over mac don’t seem to work a lot of the time). Again, I am sure there is some way to do it, but I have no idea what it is and no desire to learn new navigation commands. Perhaps Microsoft intends that one use a gamepad instead of a mouse — I would not be surprised at this point.

There are, I’m sure, third-party tools to avoid this particular pixelgasm, but I’m not sure I’d want to install them on a machine used by a tot.

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On your mark

“They’re always changing corporation names,” sniffed Grace Slick in “We Built This City.” And they’re not always changing them well, it appears. In an effort to ameliorate this situation, from the very city Slick and the Airplane and/or Starship built, expert namer Nancy Friedman presents a new deal:

Need fast feedback about a naming dilemma? On a tight budget? You can now hire my expert naming services by the minute — yes, one-sixtieth of an hour — through, a year-old San Francisco company that connects entrepreneurs with experts, over the phone, for advice on business challenges.

In a 15-, 30-, or 45-minute phone conversation (or longer, if you have the stamina), I can review your naming objectives and criteria, give you a quick professional critique of your top name choices, and point out areas you may have overlooked.

And if it should turn out that you actually need her full-service, not-over-the-phone advice, well, you can set that up too.’s How It Works page explains, well, how it works. To me, this scheme seems downright ingenious, especially since many of the folks who really need to consult some sort of expert may have no idea where or how to find one.

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So by-God stubborn

The Iowa State Fair is going cashless, and some people have a problem with that:

A plan to eliminate cash sales at food vendors and other Iowa State Fair attractions drew strong backlash from Iowans soon after the new system was made public Tuesday, with some threatening to boycott the iconic summer event.

Officials said Tuesday that fairgoers will go “cashless” in 2014. Instead, visitors will buy tickets to use at food concessions and to ride the Giant Slide. The Midway is not included in the new plan.

Many objections were raised, but this was my favorite:

“It’s a tactic to get people to spend more money than they normally would. Similar to theft but with funnel cakes,” Bill Heydenreich wrote on the [Des Moines] Register’s Facebook wall.

The Texas State Fair went cashless years ago; the Colorado State Fair started a refillable-card system last year.

Update: That which can be done can also be undone.

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Fast and frivolous

This may have all the plausibility of the Penthouse Forum, but trust me, this really came from Yahoo (now with no exclamation point!) Answers:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: Where can i buy a powerful clutch for an R34 Skyline in the US?


I was in my R34 last night on a long back road going for a top speed run and see how fast my car can go and see how far i can jump the bridge at the end of the road, so i was a mile from the bridge and i was going 205 MPH and it was in 6th gear and i had the Nitrous activated, after i got the nos blasted i jumped the bridge about 30 yards but when i landed, i heard a loud crash and i immediately started shifting down, i got out and there was smoke everywhere and my heart was pounding, i thought i blew the motor but i looked under the car and saw that i blew the clutch out, its a Fluke racing clutch that can handle the power my car has but since its out, i need a new one, where can i get a clutch for an R34 Skyline in the US?

How many actual R34s are there in the States? Pretty damned few.

An actual Nissan tech responded as politely as he could without going into guffaws.

And if the clutch could handle that much power, wouldn’t it still be there?

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Even a team strongly identified with defense, as the Thunder is, has to score now and then. When they don’t, well, it’s not pretty, and by “not pretty” I mean a thousand million times worse than horrible plug-ugly. In the first 14 minutes of the second half, OKC scored 15 points. Let me repeat that: fifteen points in fourteen minutes. At the time, Denver was up 25, without the services of either Danilo Gallinari or Wilson Chandler. None of the Thunder starters reported for fourth-quarter duty, Scott Brooks having decided that the bench needed the practice. Brian Shaw made no such decision for the Nuggets. In some weird form of Basketball Karma, Denver managed only seven points in the first ten minutes of the fourth quarter, but it was too late to make any difference; the Nuggets eased out of the building with a 101-88 win.

You want a Telltale Statistic? Try this one on for size: Ty Lawson had fourteen assists. Eleven Thunder players combined managed only eleven. Lawson also scored 16 points. Randy Foye hit six of nine treys on the way to 24 points. (The Thunder in aggregate made six of 24.) Evan Fournier headed the Denver bench with 19.

It was another case of Kevin Durant Can’t Do Everything, Guys. He knocked out 30 points in 28 minutes; Reggie Jackson, still trying to be something more than Westbrook Lite, gathered 13, and Derek Fisher tossed up four treys in eight tries for 12. (Which means that Thunder players not named Derek Fisher were 2-16 from beyond the arc.) Serge Ibaka was back, collecting his usual ten rebounds and three blocks, but he went 3-11 from the floor, and he was hardly the worst. (That would be Jeremy Lamb, who went 1-12.)

It’s tempting to say “Oh, well, at least we can beat up on the Bucks Saturday night.” At the moment, I’m thinking Milwaukee is about due for a win.

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This stuff’s made in … Mexico?

It’s a tradition of long standing to mock purveyors of ostensible Mexican food who hail from, um, places where one might not expect to find purveyors of ostensible Mexican food.

I am amused to note, therefore, that Taco Bell’s branded supermarket-package taco shells, produced under license by Kraft Foods, are, according to the box, made in Mexico. In terms of flavor or quality control, it seems to make no difference; but by now, they could be making taco shells in Saskatchewan and nobody except ad agencies and obsessives like me would ever notice.

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Going to eleven

Nothing Tufnel about it: that just happens to be the number of questions being asked. (Blame Roger.)

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Glued to the showroom floor

Autoblog has compiled a list of the Worst-Selling Vehicles of 2013. To get on this list, a car or truck must have been priced under $100,000 — no limited-edition supercars, thank you very much — and must have been on sale for the entire year. The best-seller of the bunch moved fewer than 2,000 copies; it was the only domestic, and the only truck, in the bunch — and, oddly, it was up a couple of percentage points from 2012.

But enough about the Escalade EXT. What you want to know is the identity of the Absolutely Worst, and it’s an Acura, though not the RL sedan so roundly rejected by Canadians. Instead, it’s the ZDX sport-utility, spun off the successful MDX, offering less space at a higher price. In 2012, Acura moved 775 of them, versus more than 50,000 of its brandmate; in 2013, they unloaded a mere 361. Still, this is hardly the worst-selling car ever.

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Now shut your duct

The title here pretty much says it all: “Bus driver contests termination after Hello Kitty duct tape incident.”

Let’s look at that incident:

A bus driver will no longer be transporting students to and from Surry Elementary School after she was accused of putting Hello Kitty duct tape on students’ mouths.

Surry Elementary School principal Cathy Lewis said she became aware of the issue on Nov. 6 when two fourth graders came off the bus complaining that they were silenced with duct tape even though they weren’t the loudest students on the bus.

Lewis said she was shocked and immediately asked the bus company, First Student, that employs the driver, to investigate.

In fact, this duct tape is almost certainly Duck® tape, sold in ten- and twenty-yard rolls.

I wonder if any of these kids will be scarred once they realize that what was put over their mouths was an image of a character who has no mouth.

Warning: Those Bangor Daily News links may ask you some demographic question before letting you read.

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Quote of the week

We used to call them “grammar schools.” Grammar, of course, is no longer au courant as an area of study, inasmuch as it presumes that some people’s language might be superior to the language of others. But that’s not the greatest loss:

The problem is one of fundamentals. American schools — grammar schools — once taught the fundamentals of the American approach to government: individual freedom; constitutionally limited government; the sanctity of free enterprise and private property; the guarantees of the Bill of Rights. Schoolchildren learned about the insights of John Locke and Adam Smith, and why they constituted important advances in human thought. Without those things, comprehending the American way of governance sufficiently well to articulate it is impossible — and a large majority of Americans lacks those things today.

He who lacks appreciation for the moral imperative and the practical case for freedom will fall back to other “values.” He’ll defend whatever crumbs he can beg from the Omnipotent State as his “by right,” even if they must be snatched from the mouths of persons just like him. He might never discover what he’s been denied. He might never learn the principles that built the country he inherited … and which he and so many others lack the wit, and possibly the will, to sustain.

I would add only that those who survive a secondary education these days are likely no wiser than those who learned nothing in the primary.

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Designed to disturb

Amazingly, there have been items at the Consumer Electronics Show that were less plausible than a hair dryer that moisturizes or a Crock-Pot with Wi-Fi. This one definitely disturbs me:

Internet-enabled toothbrush

I figure I’m electrified enough with a Sonicare, which needs to be charged maybe three or four times a year and which doesn’t require an app.

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Fark blurb of the week

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Perhaps not so by-God stubborn after all

Remember that plan to make the Iowa State Fair totally cashless? Totally withdrawn:

The Iowa State Fair board gave the people what they wanted Thursday when it shelved plans for a cashless system for food and one attraction at the 2014 fair.

The backlash against the plan was immediate. People flooded social media with howls of protest, and some threatened to boycott the fair. On Wednesday, Gov. Terry Branstad weighed in by suggesting the fair board listen to people’s concerns.

State Fair CEO Gary Slater says the plan never got a fair (sorry about that) hearing:

Fair officials don’t believe the move would result in long waits for tickets. Despite this, [Slater] said most of this week’s clamor was based on unfounded anger that customers would have to suffer through long lines. “When you don’t get the opportunity to say that in a social media world … it just backs you into a corner,” Slater said. “You don’t have much power, you don’t have much ability to get the real story out there, because everybody thinks you’re trying to get them.”

Is there any reason why they shouldn’t think that?

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Saturday spottings (tales of the unexpected)

Relatively nice Saturdays are not all that common in January — the fact that we’ve had two of them so far, out of a possible two, is pretty remarkable — so I stretched out my errands a bit today. This ranks among the worse ideas I’ve had lately, since traffic almost everywhere was heavy.

How heavy was it, you ask? I figured there was no chance of getting out of the Shell station at 63rd and May alive, so after filling up (a plausible $3.229 for V-Power), I backed up a hair and threaded my way through a curb cut to what used to be French Market Mall. It was a decidedly better approach to May, but it still took about four minutes to crawl the half a block to the intersection — and there were absolutely no parking spaces to be had anywhere near Sprouts, in front of the store, at the bookstore to its north, or at the auto-parts place to its south. “Woe unto ye,” I didn’t exactly say, and headed on.

Westbound on 63rd, I spotted a Lincoln Town Car with the tag LINTON2. “Wonder what LINTON1 looked like?” I mused. About ten seconds later, LINTON1 actually pulled in front of me: one of those Lincoln MK jobs, though I couldn’t tell you which one, since they all look like Fords to me. They continued on parallel paths for a while before #1 turned off.

The last stop on the way, as usual, was Crest Foods. Routinely they print the name of the checker on the register tape; this time, the cashier wrote the name of the sacker across the top. I’m not sure why, but since I never have any issues with the sackers, I’m not going to worry about it either.

Reconstruction of May Avenue from 36th to Britton, as mentioned last fall, is apparently about to begin: both sides of the street from 36th to past 47th were lined with those taller, skinnier traffic cones, about 20 percent of which had been knocked down, perhaps by wind, perhaps by people grown impatient waiting for the bus. I think it’s safe to predict that traffic will not improve any time soon.

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Still not bogged down

Three years ago today, I noted that it was then Amanda Peet’s 39th birthday. Different picture, albeit from the same era, today:

Amanda Peet in InStyle

Besides, I liked the quote:

I feel like I should be in a Shakespeare play in this dress, but a screwy one — like Sid and Nancy do “Ophelia”.

Before that opportunity presents itself, though, she’s doing an 8-episode series for HBO called Togetherness.

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What the Bucks?

First-qusrter score: Oklahoma City 14, Milwaukee 10. We had better quarters than that when I was in high school, and we played 8-minute quarters. It was 38-35 at the half, and Bucks center Larry Sanders was gone, having tried to tear Steven Adams’ face off. Inscrutably, the Thunder scored more points in the third quarter than in the first and second combined — and yet the Bucks, every time they looked utterly vanquished, put together decent-sized runs, usually involving O. J. Mayo and/or Luke Ridnour, to stay in it. (In that third quarter, they even took the lead a couple of times.) Milwaukee couldn’t sustain the pace in the fourth quarter, though, and the Thunder won it 101-85. Not often, I note, do you hit the century mark after a 14-point first quarter.

Serge Ibaka, for some reason, shines against the Deer: he picked up 17 points and 17 rebounds tonight, one of two Thunder double-doubles. (The other? Kevin Durant, with 33 points and ten boards.) The slumping reserves did not slump tonight: Jeremy Lamb knocked down 17 off the bench, and Derek Fisher added ten more. Even Thabo Sefolosha, who’s had trouble stuffing the net of late, came up with 14. Then again, Reggie Jackson went 1-8 for the night. Still, you have to be thrilled on any night when Kendrick Perkins gets more blocks than Ibaka — and Serge had his usual three.

Unsurprisingly, Mayo and Ridnour led Milwaukee in scoring, with 16 each. Only two starters made double figures, also guards: Brandon Knight and Giannis Antetokounmpo, each with 13. (Antetokounmpo, I am told, is the youngest player in the NBA, having just turned 19 last month.) The Buck reserves actually outscored the starters, 43-42. And while radio guy Matt Pinto made a lot of noise about Milwaukee’s unexpected prowess beyond the arc, the Bucks ended up with 12 makes in 31 tries; the Thunder made 10 of 25, a couple of percentage points higher.

Weirdly, there’s no Sunday game this week. The next outing is Tuesday at Memphis, then to Houston on Thursday.

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No one ever steals “YIELD”

An observation from World Tour ’04, along US Highway 2 in Montana:

[T]he last milepost in the state is Mile 667. If there’s a post for Mile 666, I didn’t see it, and believe me, I looked.

Something similar seems to be happening in the Stoned State to the south:

Thieves have been stealing the 420 mile marker sign so often, the state’s transportation department has changed it to “419.99” in an effort to try and stop the problem.

A photo of the 419.99 mile marker sign, which is about 148 miles on Interstate 70 east of Denver, began circulating on twitter through the @JournalistsLike twitter account on Friday.

“So this is our way to test it out. So far it’s working,” said Amy Ford, a spokesperson with the Colorado Department of Transportation. “It’s a traffic safety thing. It’s a helpful thing to have these signs on the road. But people kept ripping them off.”

The last time I was in Memphis, I did see one actual sign for Elvis Presley Boulevard — but it was mounted about two and a half times higher up the pole than usual.

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The relentless spammer

Someone identified as “Cynde Delaina” at dropped a couple of fairly useless comments my way Friday night. After verifying that the URL she claimed didn’t go anywhere, I tossed them; she followed with twenty-one more, from six different IP addresses, and then another couple of dozen overnight before letting up some time Saturday afternoon. If you see her in your spam trap, you may be assured that she’s not worth keeping.

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It was either that or “Vista 3”

Yours truly, just last week:

Windows, say the wags, runs the opposite of Star Trek films: the odd-numbered versions are good, the even-numbered versions (like Vista, which was 6) not so good.

Obviously Microsoft is aware of this phenomenon:

Windows 8 is tanking harder than Microsoft is comfortable discussing in public, and the latest release, Windows 8.1, which is a substantial and free upgrade with major improvements over the original release, is in use on less than 25 million PCs at the moment. That’s a disaster, and Threshold [the next major release] needs to strike a better balance between meeting the needs of over a billion traditional PC users while enticing users to adopt this new Windows on new types of personal computing devices. In short, it needs to be everything that Windows 8 is not…

To distance itself from the Windows 8 debacle, Microsoft is currently planning to drop the Windows 8 name and brand this next release as Windows 9. That could change, but that’s the current thinking.

Will the Start Menu return? It just might.

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Perhaps someone can pass this

Not actually a course, yet. Wasting time on the internet: a syllabus:

What I Did For Love: Taste, Evaluation, and Aesthetics in American Culture

“I don’t know art, but I know what I like,” goes the disclaimer. In this writing-intensive part-workshop, part-seminar, we will seek to unpack the relationship between “art” and “what I like” by examining a variety of cultural objects together with accounts of “taste.” What are the uses of an art that nobody likes? Could “annoyance” be an aesthetic principle? What is the role of money in taste? What are the ethics of aesthetics? Under what circumstances is an aesthetic pleasure “guilty”? When should the appreciation of art works be a matter of disinterested judgment, and when a matter of passionate engagement? Does “love” blind? What is the difference between a “fan” and a “critic”? What are the affordances and limits of the “formulaic” and the “generic”?

Four weeks of this course will be devoted to workshopping students’ critical writing, examining the roles of description, praise, blame, analysis, and enthusiasm in writing about culture. Students will also maintain a course blog. For the final assignment, students are encouraged to pitch their writing to an appropriately chosen publication.

I mention purely in passing that “Arms So Freezy: Rebecca Black’s ‘Friday’ as Radical Text” will be introduced in Week 8.

Said Natalia Cecire, who wrote this syllabus: “Posting it on my blog was actually the wasting time on the internet part.”

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Not quite my idea of fun

But hey, I don’t work for E!, do I?

E! Fun Facts starring Michael J. Fox

This provoked a brief flurry of #EFunFacts tweets of similar hilarity.

(Via this Amanda Lucci tweet.)

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Strange search-engine queries (415)

This weekly feature exploits a little-known fact: when you search for something on the Web, the search engine fabricates a URL as referrer, and often that URL contains exactly the string of characters for which you were searching. This is readable if the recipient of the search knows what he’s doing, and often I do.

does my ford escape have a factory engine cooler or transmission cooler:  Um, yes. It’s called a radiator.

jason lackmeyer the underground detective:  Not likely to be noticed by us above-ground types. Sorry.

hair color of Alessandra Ambrosio Circa 2007:  That I wouldn’t know. Have you considered consulting an underground detective?

what does the quote “that government which governs least governs best” mean?  Nothing anymore, since government has shown no signs of wanting to govern best.

Mazdaspeed 6 speed in a ford Probe:  Either sixth gear is too tall, in which case the engine will lug, or it’s too short, in which case you won’t get the extra few mph at the top end that you were expecting.  So basically, you’re going through Google with the hope that no one will read your browser history?

what is the name of the song by Bobby Goldsboro that has the lyrics in it “1432 Franklin Pike Circle Hero”:  Bobby Russell sounds nothing like Bobby Goldsboro.

girl died 1887 rebecca black’s video:  Were that so, she’d still be dead, would she not?

toyota yaris damage bumper suspect meth addicted:  I doubt it. Most low-end Toyotas are perfectly content with unleaded regular; methamphetamine won’t even boost the octane rating.

“Story Of O” jpegs:  At least they weren’t asking for animated GIFs.

a system is to be made which could be used by every age of person like children adults and may require certain modification which features functional and non:  Sensical drivel.

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Gravity wins again

In a way, this sounds almost peaceful and bucolic:

Multnomah Falls, on the Oregon side of the Columbia Gorge, is listed as the second tallest year-round waterfall in the United States. The falls drops in two major steps; the upper falls of 542 feet, then a gradual 9 foot drop in elevation to the lower part of the falls, which drops 69 feet, listing a total of 620 feet.

I mean, yeah, that’s quite a distance, but hey, it’s only water, right?

Not necessarily:

Unfortunately, water is not the only thing that falls. An occasional boulder may also careen through space, slamming into the pool at the bottom of the upper falls, or into the Benson Bridge which spans the space between the upper and lower falls. [Thursday] a boulder did a lot of damage to the bridge.

Engineers came to inspect, and closed the bridge temporarily:

Stan Hinatsu, a spokesman for the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic area, told KATU [TV in Portland] the good news is there didn’t seem to be damage to the arch structure of the bridge. Still, if they can’t come up with a short-term fix, it may be Memorial Day before repairs are complete.

What kind of “short-term fix” can deal with a hole in the deck big enough for someone to fall through?

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Utterly dude-icrous

But hey, this is how they sell women’s magazines:

Brosmopolitan Magazine

(Surprisingly, via FAIL Blog.)

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High-fructose cornball

The nonprofit (that’s a legal term) Center for Science in the Public Interest is headed by Michael Jacobson, once described by me as “the Perez Hilton of health”; when he’s not haranguing Starbucks into putting out a Broccoli Venti, he’s sending out something called the Nutrition Action Healthletter, a promotion for which landed on my doorstep in an envelope ominously marked “You Wanted This.” Obviously NSA isn’t as efficient as they think they are.

One of the sheets is headed “We Name Names!” It contains specific examples of Things You Dare Not Eat, including Cold Stone Creamery’s Oh Fudge! shake in the “Gotta Have It” size (24 ounces), which contains, they say, “the saturated fat content of two 16-oz ribeye steaks plus a buttered baked potato, all blended into a handy 24-oz cup.” Truth be told, I don’t think I could get both those steaks and a spud into my Seventies-vintage blender, but now I’m keen to try.

I was most amused, though, by the pitch for watermelon: “When they’re in season, watermelons are often locally grown, which means they may have a smaller carbon footprint than some other fruits.” This would almost make sense if they hadn’t also plugged mangoes, which are grown on this continent in laughably small quantities; flying in a bag of mangoes is likely to burn up more precious hydrocarbons than trucking in a couple of dozen watermelons.

Still, there’s nothing here appreciably more alarmist than your average issue of Consumer Reports, and it’s decidedly cheaper: $20 for a year. Then again, Jacobson doesn’t test cars, and if he did, he’d want to know why we’d own such fiendish devices in the first place.

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And it was all yellow

Do you, in fact, have any Pasteurized Recipe Cheese Product at all?

While the current Cheesepocalypse is a difficult time for our great nation, we are incredibly humbled and appreciative of the outpouring of love and support for the Liquid Gold of Velveeta. As you have likely seen or heard by now on social networks and major media outlets, there is currently limited availability of some Velveeta products in many stores nationwide. We want you to hear directly from us that it’s true — we are experiencing a temporary scarcity of our nation’s most precious commodity: Liquid Gold. But please know that we are working tirelessly to get more Velveeta on store shelves as soon as possible and that this was in no way a “publicity stunt.” We always want Velveeta where it belongs — in your hands, in your homes and in your stomachs.

This hysterical rant calls for some historical perspective. And few places have as much cheese history as Orange County, New York: Emil Frey, working for the Monroe Cheese Company, first developed Liederkranz, a variation on Limburger. He was eventually shipped off to Monroe’s second location:

The company opened a second factory in Covington, Pennsylvania, where it made mostly Swiss cheese. But many of the cheese wheels broke or were misshapen… [T]he broken bits were shipped back to Monroe, where Frey spent the next two years tinkering with them on his home stove. In 1918, he had his second big break. He discovered that mixing the broken wheels with other cheese byproducts created a smooth end-product with a velvety consistency. He named it Velveeta.

This brand spun off into the independent Velveeta Cheese Company, incorporated on Feb. 14, 1923.

Velveeta, in fact, was the last cheese-like substance to be manufactured in Monroe; its original parent company had decamped for Ohio in 1926, and the following year, Kraft acquired Velveeta.

Incidentally, Orange County was also the original home of Philadelphia Cream Cheese, created by Lawrence & Durland of Chester, New York.

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Up to the sky

The Daily Mail has become the go-to place for odd commentary about body parts, especially female body parts, and while this sort of thing does nothing (usually) for readers’ body image, it does wonders for selling text ads to Brits vaguely embarrassed by topless Page 3 girls.

Alexandra Robertson, 20, a six-foot-one British model, gets her 15 minutes in the spotlight by dint of having what she says are 47-inch-long legs, the longest in the known world. (Photos perhaps not to scale.)

Alexandra Robertson photos

Robertson’s claim apparently was sparked by a Mail piece on 18-year-old prelaw student Anastasia Strashveskaya, who won a contest in Russia last week with 42-inch gams.

No word from Guinness, which supposedly conferred the World’s Longest title on Svetlana Pankratova after measuring her stems at 52 inches.

As penance, I will go look at pictures of five-foot-one Christina Ricci.

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Worst friends forever

Rule 63 of the Internet holds that for every fictional character, there exists an opposite-gender counterpart. Just about everypony in Equestria has been sixty-three’d at one time or another; arguably the most popular is the colt version of Twilight Sparkle, almost universally named Dusk Shine.

The following spammer, caught in Akismet yesterday, apparently isn’t up to Dusk’s high standards:

Dung Shine

I’m guessing he’s the black — um, brown — sheep of the family.

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Just sheets, Sherlock

Half a dozen arguments are offered here for sleeping in the altogether, and while I’m not in a position to challenge any of them — to put it bluntly, I have no hoo-ha to air out — I can say that they’ve missed the one that’s most important to me: I am a fairly thrashy sleeper, and anything I might be wearing is apt to end up ripped or on the floor or both.

Also left out of the discussion: if you own no pajamas, you are unlikely to run afoul of city ordinances against appearing in public in pajamas.

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He who made kittens put snakes in the grass

Apparently there exists something called Jungle January, in which persons skilled with the needle are invited to come up with something suitably exotic for themselves. Lynn’s participating this year with her own spiffy creation, a burgundy-ish dress with a front panel just jam-packed with giraffes.

Weirdly, this hit my timeline yesterday:

I like it, but I think Lynn has the better of it — especially considering what Lilly is asking for this.

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Speed of execution

As everyone remembers, the Memphis Grizzlies excel at demolishing the Westbrook-less Thunder. And these Grizzlies are better than the last batch of Grizzlies — Courtney Lee is more or less assimilated, and Marc Gasol is back in action — so I didn’t expect a repeat of the 116-100 win from December. The issue, as always with Memphis, is which team enforces its preferred pace; the Grizzlies prevailed in the first and third quarters, the Thunder in the second, and the teams fought on more or less equal terms in the fourth — although Memphis went into the final twelve minutes with a five-point lead, and the Griz were still up four with ten seconds left. Serge Ibaka delivered a trey, but Lee knocked down two free throws in the last second to give Memphis a 90-87 win.

This is one game where the plus/minus numbers are scary. All the Thunder reserves were plus; all the starters were minus. The bench, as usual, did yeoman work, contributing 20 points to the cause; the Memphis bench managed only 10. But Ibaka got into double figures only after that last-minute trey, which gave him 11; Reggie Jackson had 17, and might have had more had he not been bedeviled with personal fouls. Yeah, Kevin Durant had 37, but you have to figure Kevin Durant would have 37 against the Justice League of America.

If they were watching Gasol’s minutes, they apparently weren’t paranoid about it; the big guy put in 24 minutes and scored 12. Lee led the Griz with 24; Zach Randolph was right behind with 23, and the perennially-scary Mike Conley dropped in 19. Memphis is now within one game of .500, and if they’re healthy — which means, basically, if Tony Allen gets better — they may be in this playoff hunt after all.

As will the Thunder, though now they’re 28-10, and the next two will be tricky: at Houston on Thursday, and against Golden State back at the ‘Peake on Friday. Either, or both, are capable of inflicting further damage on the wounded Thunder.

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In precisely that order

I’m assuming this is true for all law students, not just those at ‘Bama.

the stages of law school.

1 — yay, I’m in law school I’m going to get some great job and make millions.

2 — I’m not going to accept any summer job less than like $20 an hour, $10 is insulting.

3 — $10 isn’t as bad as it sounds, I mean it’s something, right?

4 — do you think if I emailed this person they would let me intern? i mean hell I’ll do it for free, i just want the experience.

5 — OMG will I ever find a job?

With modifications, this will fit rather a lot of situations.

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Lossless compression

A few posts ago, I said I would atone for paying attention to some long-legged British Amazon in the Daily Mail by focusing on someone a bit shorter. How much shorter? This much shorter:

We learn two things from this:

  • Christina Ricci will indeed fit in a minifridge;
  • If you want to try this — and I’m pretty sure you don’t — unplug it first.

Why wasn’t I following this woman on Twitter before?

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Burning down the House

One chamber of legislative ne’er-do-wells is apparently enough:

Senate Joint Resolution 43, filed by Sen. Patrick Anderson, R-Enid, would allow voters to create a constitutional amendment creating a unicameral legislature consisting of 48 legislators, effectively dissolving the Oklahoma House of Representatives.

Because, you know, he’s not going to jeopardize his job by asking for the Senate to be killed.

Anderson says he wants to save a few bucks, not the worst idea in the world, though it would have been nice if he’d said something about Reynolds v. Sims, in which the Supreme Court decided that legislative houses in the states had to be divided into equal population districts. (Before this 1964 decision, each county would have at least one House member, regardless of population.) In effect, this makes one chamber in each and every bicameral state legislature — all 49 of them — largely irrelevant. Then again, Reynolds was decided three years before Anderson was born, so it’s probably not uppermost in his mind.

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We are the eye in the sky

You may remember this from a few days back:

Last week, Ford’s Global VP of Marketing and Sales, Jim Farley, told a panel discussion at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas that Ford has access to data on its customers’ driving habits via the GPS system installed in their cars. “We know everyone who breaks the law, we know when you’re doing it. We have GPS in your car, so we know what you’re doing. By the way, we don’t supply that data to anyone,” he said.

It took about 24 hours for Farley to backpedal:

The next day Mr. Farley adjusted his statement to avoid giving the wrong impression saying that the statement was hypothetical and that Ford does not routinely collect information on, or otherwise track, drivers through their GPS systems without those drivers’ consent and approval. That approval comes from turning on and opting into specific services like 911 Assist and something called Sync Services Directions, a system that links the GPS system to users’ cellular phones.

Which you, as a Ford owner, were aware you were consenting to, right?

Then again, most of us give up information something less than grudgingly:

Years ago I read a factoid that said when most Americans have the opportunity to opt out of junk mail, things like advertising brochures and store catalogs, we actually sign up for more. I think that’s as true today as it was back then. We don’t like intrusive forms of advertising like phone calls during the dinner hour and pop-up ads in our browsers, but generally speaking the average American doesn’t mind things like targeted ads that appear off to the side or above a website’s banner. These things are, we know, a necessary evil, the price we pay for free content. After all, someone has to pay the bills in order to keep a website running and targeted ads based on my browsing history are an effective way of getting me to see a product I might actually buy.

Or, in my case, getting me to see one I looked at but didn’t buy, and continuing to get me to see it until I give in.

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Dead aim on the metatarsals

Apparently it is possible to shoot yourself in the foot while said foot is in your mouth:

The part that hurts, of course, is that someone had to buy that prefab decal, so there must be More Of Them out there.

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More diva than devi

Sherlyn Chopra, last seen here, was furious on Twitter the past couple of days, and apparently it’s because she thought she was being snubbed:

Sherlyn Chopra’s absence was conspicuous at the promotional event of the babe’s forthcoming release Kamasutra 3D. While Sherlyn has been going gaga about her erotic drama till recently but she has suddenly chosen to maintain a low profile — so much so that she was not even seen at the promotion of her own movie.

We hear that in spite of getting repeated requests from director Rupesh Paul, the sexy gal refused to turn up at the event. A secret birdie has chirped to us that Sherlyn is not particularly happy about the little screen time she has been given in the promo of the movie.

So I hunted down the English-language trailer — as befits a Bollywood epic, it’s over three minutes long — and considering the ostensible subject matter, Chopra does seem to get short-ish shrift. Take a look:

Then again, Chopra is famously hot-headed. Her Wikipedia page, as of earlier this week, offered a possible explanation:

Screenshot from Wikipedia page on Sherlyn Chopra

Yep. That would do it.

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