Archive for February 2014

Why software sucks

Oh yes it does, believe you me. And if you don’t believe me, believe Jack Baruth:

Once upon a time, software was written by people who knew what they were doing, like Mel and his descendants. They were generally solitary, socially awkward fellows with strong awareness of TSR gaming. They were hugely effective at doing things like getting an Atari 2600 to run Pac-Man or writing operating system kernels that never crashed, but they weren’t terribly manageable and they could be real pricks when you got in their way. I once worked with a fellow who had been at the company in question for twenty-three years and had personally written a nontrivial percentage of the nine million lines of code that, when compiled, became our primary product. He was un-fire-able and everybody knew it. There were things that only he knew.

I am not a developer, but this is what I aspire to. (In fact, apart from not being a developer, this is about where I am.)

This kind of situation might work out well for designing bridges or building guitars (not that Paul Reed Smith appears to miss Joe Knaggs all that much, to use an inside-baseball example) but it’s hell on your average dipshit thirty-five-year-old middle manager, who has effectively zero leverage on the wizard in the basement. Therefore, a movement started in the software business about fifteen years ago to ensure that no more wizards were ever created. It works like this: Instead of hiring five guys who really know their job at seventy bucks an hour each, you hire a team of fifty drooling morons at seven bucks an hour each. You make them program in pairs, with one typing and the other once watching him type (yes! This is a real thing! It’s called “extreme programming”!) or you use a piece of software to give them each a tiny bit of the big project.

Actually, I think the going rate for drooling morons is now $7.25.

This is what you get from a management perspective: fifty reports who are all pathetically grateful for the work instead of five arrogant wizards, the ability to fire anybody you like at any time without consequence, the ability to demand outrageous work hours and/or conditions (I was just told that a major American corporation is introducing “bench seating” for its programmers, to save space), and a product that nominally fulfills the spec. This is what you get from a user perspective: the kind of crapware that requires updates twice a week to fix bugs introduced with the previous updates. Remember the days when you could buy software that simply worked, on a floppy disk or cartridge, with no updates required? Those were the wizards at work. Today, you get diverse teams of interchangeable, agile, open-office, skill-compatible resources that produce steaming piles of garbage.

What can I say? “Arrogant wizard” is surely somewhere in my DNA. The kids have it, for sure.

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What’s the name of the game?

If you remember ABBA from the Seventies and Eighties, you probably also remember that while they weren’t the least bit ugly, their mama, or somebody, dressed them funny. Turns out that this was a matter of cold calculation:

Swedish supergroup Abba have revealed they had good reason to wear such garish stage costumes — because it saved a little money, money, money on their tax bill.

The band, whose spangly flares, catsuits and platform heels were considered naff even in the 1970s, exploited a Swedish law which meant clothes were tax deductible if their owners could prove they were not used for daily wear.

Gotta love those capitalist Swedes.

(Via Fark.)

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Strange search-engine queries (420)

Polished off about one-quarter of a mislabeled “red velvet” Valentine’s Day cake, purchased the day after for 62 percent off, just working on this list. Damn munchies.

“Tropermic Calculus”:  Never heard of it, but it sounds kinda derivative.

how do i find transmission code on 2002 mazda 626:  If you have to ask, it’s already too late.

searching their bras:  Usually not difficult, there being only two places to look.

Is there a connection between teh Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas and the one in Central Florida?  No. The ones in Florida are attended by actual Baptists.

The incidence in the bible in isrealites where somebody contacted with leprosy is tie will bell on the neck and kept at outsketch of the tent:  This twisted syntax can only be a product of Westboro. The Kansas version, I mean.

i couldn’t disagree less:  Sure you could. You’re just not trying.

jerk stocking:  This is very important here at the Jerk Store, where we don’t want to run out of you.

forum winstar casino exhibitionist:  Isn’t everyone at the casino kind of an exhibitionist? I mean, if they win, anyway; losers tend to huddle in the dark corners.

And during the New York leg of her book tour last month, promoting her new erotic novel, she made several messy television appearances in which she did not appear lucid:  Is it really necessary to pick on Nancy Pelosi at this late date?

motorcycle clear plastic temporary universal disposable rain dust garage san antonio:  Take it upstairs. The landlord won’t mind, as long as you don’t have an oil leak.

maaterial safety data sheet cover girl naturluxe silk foundation:  I think we can safely assume that it’s inedible.

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Punched out

My workweek is typically 47 hours or so; this is to give me a chance to look over the system before the crowd comes filing in, and to avoid anguished cries of “How come he got to go home early?”

It’s not at all that I’m bragging:

There is a sense of pride over being able to state that we worked an exorbitant amount of hours this week, last week, or last month. I know because I’ve done it in the past, and probably still do it *sigh*. After all, saying you worked a 60 hour week is indirectly telling the listener how busy your design firm is; how successful your product is; how important you are to your employer. It’s essentially a humblebrag.

We have departments which routinely put in 50-60 hours a week. I don’t think they’re bragging either; I think they’re just trying to keep up with a work volume that hasn’t diminished as rapidly as the available staff. But that’s another issue entirely.

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Bureaucrats in love

I mean, it sure as hell doesn’t sound like a proper space opera:

In William Forstchen’s new science fiction novel, Pillar to the Sky, there are no evil cyborgs, alien invasions or time travel calamities. The threat to humanity is far more pedestrian: tightfisted bureaucrats who have slashed NASA’s budget.

The novel is the first in a new series of “NASA-Inspired Works of Fiction,” which grew out of a collaboration between the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and science fiction publisher Tor. The partnership pairs up novelists with NASA scientists and engineers, who help writers develop scientifically plausible story lines and spot-check manuscripts for technical errors.

I expect this series to contain lots of weather-related stories, because NASA’s been pumping out climate fiction for years now.

This is, of course, the new NASA. The old one — well, remember the old one?

Anyone remember when NASA put people in space or on other worlds? I am too young to actually remember.

They’ve objected to actual space travel ever since some wise-guy astronomer pointed out the existence of binary star systems.

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Supergirl gets a lift

Over the weekend I mentioned that Laura Vandervoort had been featured in the new Maxim, but did not include any pictures. After several hours of guilt and remorse, I decided to atone for this failing with one of Superb Wallpapers’ offerings, in which the actress occasionally known as Kara Zor-El stretches out in the back of an Audi A8L:

Laura Vandervoort takes a ride

Or, I suppose, this could be Lisa in the 2009 reboot of V — or her alleged twin sister.

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Have a nice drip

Maryland, you may remember, is taxing rainwater. Meanwhile, Oklahoma City wants to encourage you to collect it rather than tax you for letting it fall. From this month’s City News (with the utility bill):

Oklahoma City and the Central Oklahoma Storm Water Alliance (COSWA) are partnering to encourage residents to conserve water and reduce pollution through the use of rain barrels. The organizations are offering discounted rain barrels online at starting at $59 plus $2.50 online handling fee. Click on “order forms” on right side of web page and choose “Oklahoma City.” The deadline to order is March 28.

Moore and Norman are also playing. Now what’s the catch?

City Council recently passed an ordinance that allows a maximum of two 85-gallon rain barrels in the front yard. Any number of rain barrels can be placed on the side or back of a property as long as they are not visible from the street. The containers must be securely covered and any openings must be covered with a screen that prevents pest infestation.

Take that, mosquitoes!

Fortunately for me, I get more rain in the back yard than in the front.

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20R Us

Murilee Martin turns up a 1978 Toyota Celica GT in a Denver junkyard, which promptly called up memories of my ’75 GT, which I was still driving in the early ’90s.

It’s all about the engine:

The very sturdy 2.2-liter 20R engine made good torque, as befitted an engine well-suited for hauling Hilux-driving, Soviet-fighting mujahideen over mountain passes. You couldn’t spin the R much, as many LeMons racers have discovered, but it would outlast the rest of a Celica.

Indeed. The tinworm would burrow into this buggy at several points and would never, ever go away.

Still, the 20R was hard to kill, though it expected you to fiddle with the valve clearance every 60,000 miles. In return, it delivered 96 hp at 4800 rpm — redline was a lowish 5500 — and 120 lb-ft of torque at 2800, on the crummiest gas you could find on the wrong side of town. And one night when a throttle spring broke, I discovered that it would run for extended periods at 5200 rpm, though this far beyond the power peak it produced more noise than power. When I gave it up in 1995, it needed new rings, but was otherwise in pretty decent shape for 195,000 miles.

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I never would have guessed

Now here’s a tactic I hadn’t seen: a spam that tells you it’s the last spam for a while. Really:

Dear Loyal Customer,

On behalf of Superfresh, we thank you for your loyalty. We have decided to take a brief break from sending email communications to you in order to improve your email experience.

There is, of course, a warning at the bottom:

We will be back soon … and better than ever.

So this is less of a kindness and more of a “We’re spending some money on a bigger SMTP server” kind of deal.

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This schist is gneiss

Or some sort of rock, because it definitely doesn’t seem to be moo juice:

Might go well with a Cheese Sandwich, though.

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In dire need of feck

And possibly also some gorm:

[T]he level of fecklessness (or perhaps gormlessness, or perhaps both) that I have encountered in certain people recently leaves me shaking my head. How do people who behave like that manage to function, to hold down a job, not eat those little silica packets that say DO NOT EAT on them? Is it just that enough people just do “cleanup on aisle five” and fix things for them? (And I admit, I do that more than I probably should. But sometimes I prefer to put myself out and have things around me generally running smoothly than have someone else’s inability to manage their own life derail everything around them — as much as they probably need to experience the consequences of such.)

This is largely because there are no longer any penalties for stupidity: the species has “advanced” (yeah, right) to the extent that it can afford to indulge its least-productive members. The gormless of today are the Eloi of tomorrow.

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Try it and see

Or if you’d rather not, well, the answer is No:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: Can you drive without a fuel line?

In case you were wondering:

I don’t know much about cars. It is a 91 Honda Accord. The fuel line is bad. Can I drive the car without it or can I just drive with it until I can get a new one?

There’s always the chance that we’re being trolled, but this sounds too cosmically dumb.

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Spammer defends spam

Neo-neocon gets a helpful spambot, sort of:

STOP! Don’t delete this post. Google is actually rewarding you for the traffic you are may not realize this fact but comment and URL posted on your site will help us both improve our Search engine performance. Some people call it spam but Google is looking at all that traffic coming to your site and is actually rewarding you by upping your search engine position. Google is thinking you must be important. Take a look at your stats and you will see what I’m talking about.

Hey, Mister Bot, I’ve already upped my search-engine position. Now up yours.

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What’s in your shredder?

After you read this, probably your Capital One credit card:

Credit card issuer Capital One isn’t shy about getting into customers’ faces. The company recently sent a contract update to cardholders that makes clear it can drop by any time it pleases.

The update specifies that “we may contact you in any manner we choose” and that such contacts can include calls, emails, texts, faxes or a “personal visit.”

It gets worse:

The company’s contract update also includes this little road apple:

“We may modify or suppress caller ID and similar services and identify ourselves on these services in any manner we choose.”

Now that’s just freaky. Cap One is saying it can trick you into picking up the phone by using what looks like a local number or masquerading as something it’s not, such as Save the Puppies or a similarly friendly-seeming bogus organization.

“Why, yes, we are fundamentally dishonest. What are you going to do about it?”

Not a thing, except of course never to do even a dollar’s worth of business with you ever again, and I don’t care if you offer me zero percent APR in perpetuity and Zooey Deschanel’s cell number besides.

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This could take a while

And not just loading; even picking it up will be tedious and painful.

Windows 8.1 on 3711 floppy disks

I remember when you used to be able to fit Windows on six floppies.

(A K. Latham pin from

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I think it is wonderful for two reasons:

  • It’s capable of a sound-pressure level almost entirely unheard of;
  • There’s no way it can be installed in an ’89 Grand Marquis de Sade with dubs.

“It” is the European Space Agency’s Large European Acoustic Facility, and it can start things shaking you never imagined could move:

LEAF is an integral part of ESA’s ESTEC Test Centre in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, a collection of spaceflight simulation facilities under a single roof. One wall of the chamber — which stands 11 m wide by 9 m deep and 16.4 m high — is embedded with a set of enormous sound horns. Nitrogen shot through the horns can produce a range of noise up to more than 154 decibels, like standing close to multiple jets taking off.

The threshold of Actual Pain is generally quoted as 130 dB; if Nigel Tufnel’s amp went to eleven, LEAF does an easy fourteen.

(The Friar heard saw this first.)

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Very expensive dust

With developers coming in like a wrecking ball — literally, perhaps — to dispose of Stage Center, Steve Lackmeyer has seen fit to list nine other downtown landmarks, scraped off the face of the earth because demolition was Part of the Plan.

One of the saddest such removals involved the old Biltmore Hotel. What did we lose?

The Oklahoma Biltmore was without a doubt one of the finest hotels in the post-oil boom days of Oklahoma City. There were 619 rooms, each offering free radio, circulating ice water, ceiling fans with up-and-down draft, and later, air conditioning. In 1936 the Biltmore was headquarters for 104 conventions, served 284,604 meals, and had 114,171 guests! H.P. “Johnnie” Johnson, manager, always said in the advertising, “On your next visit to the Oil Capital be sure to register at the Biltmore.”

On October 16, 1977 the Hotel Biltmore was demolished by a team of demolition specialists. Hundreds of low-yield explosives were planted throughout the building so that it would collapse and fall inward into an acceptable area only slightly larger than the hotel’s foundation. The purpose was both to break the materials into smaller pieces that would be easily transported away, and to contain the blast and debris within the area, in order to minimize damage to surrounding structures. The razing was recorded by hundreds of camera buffs.

[Edwards, Jim, and Hal Ottaway. The Vanished Splendor II: Postcard Views of Oklahoma City. Oklahoma City: Abalache Book Shop Publishing Co., 1983]

And now, of course, we have to pony up zillions for a hotel more or less adjacent to the New Improved Convention Center. Your guess is as good as mine as to which of these elephants is whiter.

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Permanent adolescence

There is just so much wrong with this scenario:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: If I made 80K a year lived at home with my parents, had zero bills could I afford a used Lamborghini Gallardo?

That first $25,000 engine rebuild ought to discourage him, but it won’t.

The temptation is to conclude that this guy believes with all his glands that he’s never going to get laid unless he has an exotic car. Of course, living in the parental units’ basement pretty much assures a state of perpetual virginity anyway, and besides he’s Canadian — says so elsewhere on the page — so I’m putting aside my speculation that he’s hard up for health insurance.

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Improvements from up North

I occasionally have to look up Canadian postal codes, inasmuch as the powers that be won’t pony up for a proper Canadian database, and I have not always been thrilled with Canada Post’s user interface.

The new version, though, rocks, or at least rolls. Instead of filling out the appropriate boxes of the form, you just start typing the address, and, Google-like, it suggests and keeps suggesting until you get to the one you want. (I was two letters into “Powassan” when it finished.) The amount of time gained is not substantial, but it’s something, and I suspect that when I have to deal with rural routes and sites and whatnot the advantage will become more blatantly obvious.

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Grade inflation

The phrase “parking lot” should not delight the heart — we have enough of those to accommodate every car in the world, albeit seldom conveniently — but it should suggest certain attributes, and one of those ought to be “flatness”:

I want to talk about parking lots built with a fairly steep incline to get out of them. Why do people DO this? I hate sitting and waiting on the incline for it to be safe to pull out because I’m afraid that if someone pulls too close behind me, and I take my foot off the brake to pull forward, and I slip back *just a little* (because of the incline, and because I don’t like doing “jackrabbit starts”), I’ll hit the other person. Also, the inclines often make it harder to see clearly up and down the road you’re pulling out on to. The grade needs to be more gradual; people who make parking-lot exits with steep inclines should have their engineer’s licenses, or designer’s licenses, or whatever, taken away. I don’t care if people think it looks cool; I don’t care if it would cost more to make a more gradual grade. I’m less likely to want to park somewhere where it feels hazardous to leave.

When I see one of those, I sometimes wonder if it’s a lake bed that dried up, and then converted at the least possible expense.

And I wonder if the existence of such things played any role in the near-extinction of the stick shift.

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Only the fuse is burned out

Mars, said Bernie Taupin, ain’t the kind of place to raise your kids; what’s more, it’s cold as hell. But if this bothers the Rocket Man, it positively repels official Islam:

A Fatwa has been issued against living on Mars by clerics who say that trying to set up home there would be un-Islamic.

The fatwa — or ruling — was issued by the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowment (GAIAE) in the UAE after the Mars One organisation announced that it would try and establish a permanent human settlement on Mars.

The committee argued that an attempt to dwell on the planet would be so hazardous as to be suicidal and killing oneself is not permitted by Islam.

Unless, presumably, one self-identifies as a heretic.

I suspect, though, that this declaration is a tad less portentous than advertised:

The GAIAE has issued around two million Fatwas through its Official Fatwa Centre since its inception in 2008.

This is a fatwa every 90 seconds. And you thought official Washington had its thumbs in too many places.

(Via Francis W. Porretto.)

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In the King James tradition

One of the advantage of being LeBron James, I imagine, is that he can do some very un-LeBron-like things — tonight, eight turnovers and 2-5 from the foul line, before exiting with a flesh wound to the face — and still look very much like LeBron. At the time, James had contributed 33 points to the cause, and Miami was up 16. Things would not get better for the Thunder in his absence, however; despite the return of Russell Westbrook in sort-of-limited minutes, and despite 28 points from Kevin Durant, the Heat prevailed and then some, 103-81.

And you could make a case that the other two members of the Heat’s Big Three came up bigger than LeBron, with Dwyane Wade close to a triple-double (24 points, 10 assists, seven rebounds) and Chris Bosh knocking down 24, including 11-12 on free throws. The Heat shot a more-than-creditable 54 percent for the night, and — get this — every Miami starter had at least two steals. (James had four.) Against this onslaught, the Thunder might have been lucky to shoot a miserable 37 percent.

What saved the Thunder in the first game of the series, in Miami, was the long ball: 16 treys made. Tonight, OKC put up 20 and made only two. Percentage-wise, the best shooter in home white was Perry Jones III, who went 3-5 including one of those treys. Westbrook showed signs of his old self, with 16 points on an uneconomical 4-12 line, plus a technical for arguing a call. One could argue, I suppose, that Kendrick Perkins played twice as much tonight as in that first clash, but the difference between eight minutes and four minutes is not all that pronounced.

Sunday noon, the Clippers, minus Byron Mullens (traded to Philadelphia for a draft pick) and Antawn Jamison (traded to Atlanta for two balls and a box of Kleenex), will be here to test the Thunder’s mettle. Let’s hope it’s not altogether rusty.

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Entries from nonentities

These were received three hours apart, two copies each, just in case I missed them. (I would not have.)

Wonderful Article, it is nice to find some worthwhile information amongst the dross, I am pleasently grateful to discover a blog that is not full of the ubiquitous garbage, bless you.

Well, okay, but then there’s this:

On so many levels, I am more amazed by the “generic commenter” than I am by the blatant spammer. You might ask why, at least the spammer is more open and honest about their intentions! We know what they are trying to accomplish. The so called generic commenter is a cheat and a charlatan You can probably see that I have very strong towards this group of spammers

Very strong indeed. Incidentally, the links provided (and duly tossed) led to some place that vends, or claims to vend, the sort of insoles bought by short men to create the illusion of greater height. “Not that there’s anything wrong with that,” said the guy with the 28-inch inseam.

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Quote of the week

A short note to twentysomethings, by someone who long ago left that bracket:

We are not ready to be put out to pasture yet. We are not obsolete. We are still taking names and kicking ass. We’re writing the things you read, making the music you listen to, starring in the movies you watch, creating the apps you use, writing the code you never even think about but are dependent on.

We’re not too old to be or do anything. We’re not too old to be beautiful. We’re not too old to be relevant. What we are is old enough to tell you to simmer down, child. You may be 20 but with a little luck and good fortune you’ll make it 40 or 50 and be half as cool as we are. And then it will be your turn to tell some 20 year olds to stop telling you you’re too old.

Hey, we don’t even mind if you occasionally get on our lawn, for certain values of “occasionally” — and, I suppose, of “we.”

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Whatever under the bridge

Most everyone here, I assume, will agree that trolls suck. And now we have scientific evidence to support that premise:

[Y]our run-of-the-mill backseat pokers, hair pullers, and forbidden cat petters don’t generally grow up to spend large portions of their time harassing total strangers on the Internet in search of “lulz.” They don’t, in other words, turn into Internet trolls.

That’s because the true troll has a lot more of the sadist hidden deep inside than you do, gentle reader — at least according to a new study, “Trolls just want to have fun,” which appeared in the academic journal Personal and Individual Differences. The Canadian researchers behind the study conclude that “online trolls are prototypical everyday sadists… For those with sadistic personalities, [their] ideal self may be a villain of chaos and mayhem — the online Trickster we fear, envy, and love to hate: the cyber-troll.”

And unfortunately, the sheer ubiquity of the Internet has caused the miserable bastards to proliferate:

The Internet’s amazing ability to create communities even out of the strangest or most repulsive of niche interests has also been a boon to trolls, who in the past could only make themselves unpleasant in local ways — bringing family members to tears at Christmas dinner, for instance. Thanks to the ‘Net, though, not only do they have a broader (and more anonymous) outlet for their urges, but trolls “have greater opportunities to connect with similar others and to pursue their personal brand of ‘self expression’.”

Let us always remember not to feed them.

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No picks

The Midland Reporter-Telegram, a Hearst-owned newspaper with about 15,000 daily circulation in West Texas, is officially out of the endorsement business:

The Reporter-Telegram Editorial Board will not be making endorsements for the March 4 primary elections. And that will be our policy moving forward.

This is, they say, a sign of the times:

The information out there in this day and age doesn’t necessarily require news organizations to do what we did five, 10, 20 or 50 years ago.

A reader shrugs:

I don’t care one way or the other. Whether it arises from a multi-person board or a single editor, a newspaper or magazine endorsement carries no more weight with me than that of any other reasonably informed individual. In fact, an explicit endorsement is much preferred from the more insidious implicit endorsements that often permeate a publication through biased reporting and slanted coverage of the candidates and campaigns. Figure out a way to end that and I’ll support your Nobel prize nomination.

Nobel Prize? In what? Alchemy?

It could be worse. During the Gaylord years, the Oklahoman was fond of sticking certain of its editorial endorsements on the front page, thinking this sort of thing mattered to the readership. (One of the advantages of their afternoon paper, the Oklahoma City Times, was that its front-page design didn’t lend itself to that sort of thing.)

David Letterman, once upon a time, shied away from embracing candidates: he said he didn’t want people thinking “Well, hell, Letterman likes the son of a bitch, let’s vote for him.” (If I remember correctly, this was in his 1984 Playboy interview.) This is an attitude I can endorse.

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The great and powerful Twix bar

It resists your effort to extract it from the machine, and by “your” I mean this guy’s:

[Robert] McKevitt was working the second shift at Polaris Industries’ warehouse in Milford, Iowa, when he decided to break for a snack last fall.

He says he deposited $1 in a vending machine, selected a 90-cent Twix bar, and then watched as the candy bar crept forward in its slot, began its descent and was abruptly snagged by a spiral hook that held it suspended in midair.

What to do? McKevitt, they say, went hardcore:

McKevitt walked away and commandeered an 8,000-pound forklift, according to state unemployment compensation records.

He reportedly drove up to the vending machine, lifted it 2 feet off the concrete warehouse floor — then let it drop. He allegedly repeated the maneuver at least six times, by which time three candy bars had fallen into the chute for his retrieval.

Which cost him more than 90 cents:

He was fired five days later.

In a ruling that became public last month, a state administrative law judge denied his claim for unemployment benefits, saying McKevitt had demonstrated a willful disregard for his employer’s interests.

Wonder if Mars Inc. has considered this scenario for a commercial.

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For the spot in the middle

Doctor Taco, a former Oregon grinder now living out here on the Plains, has a very long and detailed analysis of the Mayor’s race — at least, of the top two candidates — and he’s come out for the incumbent:

The only additional power that a mayor has above the council is to nominate citizens to serve on various boards and committees, and even then these nominees must be voted in by the full council. Beyond this nominating power, the Mayor is not much more than an ordinary city councilor with additional powers as a figurehead or a cheerleader.

Mick Cornett’s time as Mayor is a case study in how to use the soft powers of the office to build coalitions and be a champion for Oklahoma City.

The suggestion here appears to be that Ed Shadid, more the activist type by nature, is perhaps less well suited to a more-ceremonial job. I’m not so sure.

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Add new post, preferably elsewhere

Now here’s something I hadn’t seen before: “4 Solid Reasons Not To Write and Edit Your Blog Posts Directly in WordPress.” Of course, I had to check that out.

The first sounds reasonable enough:

[W]riting your blog posts in a Word doc gives you an instant back up copy of your original content! Wouldn’t you want that, just in case (God forbid!) something happens to your website and your site back up wasn’t as good as you thought it was?

Downside: Having to use Word. Although there are reasons why you may want to:

If you write for other publications, you often are asked to submit the content in a Word doc so the editor can format, upload and add images.

And what’s more:

Having a copy in a Word doc gives you instant access to repurpose the content you have already created … having it saved as a Word doc saves you from logging in and copying and pasting each time you need it!

If I were writing full-time, those few seconds might mean something to me.

This, however, is the one that’s fun:

[Unfinished drafts] do clog up your database, which could make it run slower and is a performance hit. That all depends on how big your database is; it has to be pretty big, like approaching 1000 posts and pages, to really notice the difference. But, if speed is money, then you’ll notice!

I approached 1000 posts and pages, oh, let’s say 14,000 posts and pages ago. The limiting factor has been, not the size of the database (about 72 MB), but the speed with which the Web server on Machine A talks to the database server on Machine B.

And if that’s not heretical enough, try this: the pony stories (see sidebar) are written in the WordPress editor. There are two reasons for this: I like it better than Fimfiction’s editor, and it enables me to maintain a Work In Progress blog without any effort. There are, incidentally, eleven versions of the most recent chapter.

(With thanks to CASUDI.)

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Insert resistance joke here

This is, you’ll remember, Washington’s birthday. Actually, the calendar read the 12th of February that day; the colonies, like the rest of the British empire, didn’t get around to adopting the Gregorian calendar until 1752, when George was twenty. Of course, this matter presented no issue to Jeri Ryan, born on this date in 1968:

Jeri Ryan at a Golden Globes party 2013

Since wrapping up her role as Seven of Nine, Tertiary Adjunct of Unimatrix Zero-One, Ryan has kept busy; she was in a recent Helix story arc as the chief operating officer of Ilaria Corporation. I missed that, but I suspect some form of assimilation may have been involved.

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Meanwhile in Kiev

Actually, it was this guy.

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Hello? McFly?

So, Marty, how do you like this version of the Future?

Time machine settings from Back to the Future 2

What’s that? No, the Cubs haven’t won a World Series. Some things take more than miracles of technology.

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Original bogus content

Something billing itself as the “Best 100% plagiarism-free papers service” has been spamming me, usually from These are the phrases they’re seeking to plant high on Google:

need someone to type my Dissertation Methodology on Accounting

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I figure, the very least I can do is divert those poor students (in several senses of the term) toward the Path of Righteousness.

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What’s up, docs?

When I moved out of IBM’s Big Iron and into the midrange — System/36, AS400, System i — there was one thing I could always count on: enormous binders full of A-level tech-speak, which maybe, just maybe, included the answer to my current question.

Big Blue now seeks Big Consolidation:

IBM will soon be providing a new “one-stop shop” for all your IBM product information needs, including IBM i. This new “Knowledge Center” contains all of the individual IBM Information Center documentation under one system. It’s designed this way to make it much easier to search and find content from any interest area, and to give you the ability to customize your own knowledge space.

All of the Information Center documentation for IBM i releases 6.1 and 7.1 have been migrated to this new framework, and when 7.2 comes out later this year, all of its information will be accessed using Knowledge Center. Eventually the saved and bookmarked links to your favorite pages and content will be redirected to its new home in Knowledge Center.

I still, however, reserve the right to keep a small binder of pages I look at on a regular basis.

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Clipped yet again

Life was simpler when the Los Angeles Clippers used to suck. But the Clippers don’t suck anymore — haven’t for a long time — and they rolled up 44 points in the second quarter of this afternoon skirmish to take a 72-68 lead into the locker room, radio guy Matt Pinto intoning solemnly that the Clips hadn’t lost a game all year in which they’d made nine treys.

They didn’t lose this one, either; thirteen 3-point attempts succeeded, out of 30 tries, and the Clips, after a 112-112 tie with three minutes left, finished with a 13-5 run to give them a 125-117 win over the Thunder and two out of three in the season series, with one to go.

Doc Rivers, recipient of one of three Clippers technicals, played only nine men, and the four reserves scored only nine. It didn’t matter: the two lowest-scoring starters, DeAndre Jordan and Chris Paul, had 18 points each and double-doubles for their effort. Jamal Crawford led the Clips with a startling 36.

OKC was just about as good from outside the circle — 12-29, including five in a row from Derek Fisher — but too many short-range shots failed to connect. Kevin Durant, who played all but two minutes, led all players with 42, though he missed his last two foul shots, either of which would have tied the game at the time. Serge Ibaka managed 20 points out of 10-16 shooting; Russell Westbrook, still restricted to 25 minutes, went 3-13 for 13 points but did manage six assists. Steven Adams, starting in place of Kendrick Perkins, turned in a Perkazoid line: one point, one block, six rebounds. The problem, as it seemed to me, is that they could block either the long ball or the paint, but not both, and the Clips are adept enough to shift from one possibility to the other without having to hand over the ball.

Next four games at home include two potential creampuffs (Cleveland, Philadelphia), one potential problem (Charlotte), and one genuine difficulty (Memphis).

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A slightly larger dab

Some products become icons for no reason you can imagine, but that doesn’t make them any less iconic. Historically, we can cite the case of Barrington Womble, drummer for the Rutles: the Prefab Four persuaded him to change his name to Barry Wom, to save time, and his hairstyle, to save Brylcreem. Many years later, Stephen Colbert referred to Ted Cruz as a “Texas senator and Brylcreem storage facility.”

If your next question is “Can you even buy Brylcreem these days?” the answer is Yes: they have their very own Facebook page with a purchase link, and they took out a full-page ad in the March Playboy, featuring a model that looked like a younger version of that month’s Interview subject, Gawker’s Nick Denton. Their new slogan is “Brilliantly Classic Hair Cream,” a suitable description for a product that has survived 86 years on the market, and the pitch is to those who want to look retro, but not too retro: not everyone wants or needs to be Don Draper.

And most of you probably remember something like this:

Read the rest of this entry »

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Fark blurb of the week

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I hurt myself today

No, I’m not going all Trent Reznor all of a sudden. But damn, I don’t remember being this fragile.

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Strange search-engine queries (421)

Last week, a couple thousand people visited this site. Some of them were looking for something specific. And if it was (1) specific and (2) weird, it’s listed here.

generic limerick:  There once was an A who did B / In front of a horrified C; / The sight of his D / Made her cry loudly, “E!” / And we’re happy this ends before Z.

does jason scheff use autotune?  To sound like Peter Cetera? Please.

Brian Northcott gratis pornofilme:  Probably doesn’t use Auto-Tune either.

recently did engine overhaul on my mazda 626 y5 but nw my gears won’t shift:  Aw, that’s too bad. Have you tried Auto-Tune?

You Need Your Thumb to Vacuum Clean – Here Comes Honey Boo Boo:  If I may suggest an alternate use for that thumb … but never mind.

automatic transmission o/d solenoid explained:  If the solenoid is working, the shift occurs; if not, it doesn’t. Even Honey Boo Boo can figure that one out.

prayer is the best gift from god. No cost but lots of reward:  You still shouldn’t count on it to fix your transmission solenoids.

should i turn simulated stereo off:  It’s okay with me.

hank you, i appreciate your sympathy. since i don’t have anyone in my life at this moment i got involved in a greenpeace project at the arctic circle i’m:  Surprised that anyone connected with Greenpeace would know anyone named Hank.

Incidentally, someone from dropped by Saturday night, seeking information specifically from this site on four local broadcast stations: KOKH, KKNG, KAUT and KTUZ. I have no idea what for.

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Forever twelve

Well, maybe eleven:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: Do you know anyone who has seen a fully 100% naked women in real life?

Um, yeah, but I’m not quite sure how to respond to this:

Amd if so was it cool or totally hectic!?

The two reactions are not mutually exclusive.

Oh, there’s one more question:

And also how do you get more twitter followers?

Avoiding questions about naked women has worked pretty well for me.

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