Archive for August 2017

Working up a Szwed

It being 8/8, I figured I’d look for someone born on this date, and I wound up with Polish singer/actress Aleksandra Szwed, who turns twenty-seven today. She was born in Warsaw, but a significant branch of her family tree runs through Nigeria, a combination I’ve literally never seen before, and that closed the deal right there.

Aleksandra Szwed on the cover of Shape

Aleksandra Szwed rocks a tank

Aleksandra Szwed on the red carpet

I think I like the close-cropped ‘do.

Szwed appeared on the TV series Rodzina zastępcza (“Foster Family”) for the entirety of its eleven-year run. She’s also made a few records, none quite as insane as this one: “Powiedz, że nie kochasz” (“Say you do not love”):

Though you may already know this one in its original language: German.

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Out of its misery

2014 Mitsubishi i-MiEV

This may be your last chance ever to see a Mitsubishi i-MiEV:

It was arguably the first mass-produced modern electric car put on sale, well before the Nissan Leaf arrived in December 2010.

Pre-production i-MiEVs were operating in test fleets in Japan as early as 2007, and it was on sale in that country even as Tesla struggled to get its Roadster into production in late 2009.

The little Mitsu arrived Stateside for the 2012 model year, and won few fans:

While the company had high hopes, the car’s tiny size — it remains the only kei car adapted for the U.S. market in recent decades — and its low power and 62-mile range rating made it just too limited for U.S. use.

Over seven years (and five model years, with 2013 and 2015 skipped altogether), Mitsubishi sold only 2,108 of the little electric cars in the U.S. through last month. Half of those were sold in 2013, and another quarter in 2012.

I have to believe that Mitsu’s absorption into the Renault-Nissan Alliance was contingent on the death of the i-MiEV. There are, we are told, better things to come. But there are no more copies of this little electric cockroach:

Mitsubishi Motors North America spokeswoman Erica Rasch confirmed that “2017 was the last model year for the i-MiEV, and all available retail units have been sold.”

It must have been a pretty short run, considering Mitsubishi only sold 6 cars so far this year in the United States.

Six cars! Not the lowest-selling automobile ever, but surely close enough to justify its demise.

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Always gentle on your mind

“Love in the real world is a mixture of the magical and the mundane, and the two never intersected more beautifully than in this Jim Webb classic.” — Me, after proposing a Valentine’s Day mixtape.

As Webb himself will tell you, it’s as much the singer as the song. And for “Wichita Lineman,” he got exactly the singer he needed:

Of course, Glen Campbell was so singular a singer that we tended to forget his virtuosity on the guitar: they’d didn’t let just anyone into the Wrecking Crew. And if you happened to flip over his 1977 cover of Allen Toussaint’s “Southern Nights,” you got to hear him try his hand at Gioacchino Rossini:

And then there was that time he sounded nothing like himself and still demanded your attention:

Now I ask you: who else from Arkansas ever did Italian overtures and musique concrète in the same lifetime?

It was, alas, a lifetime that ended in confusion and bewilderment. Two weeks ago, this heartbreakingly apt video appeared:

“Adiós” was recorded in 2015, a couple of years before the final curtain. Take a bow, sir.

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Runway, indeed

Actually, they’re not running at all; but Chinese fashion models move at high speed just the same:

In television and movies, modeling photo shoots are often portrayed at a leisurely pace. The subject might strike many poses over the course of a minute, but there’s no real sense of urgency to them. That’s not the case for fashion models in China, where such time would be seen as a luxury. In reality, they’ve got to make over a hundred outfit changes in a single day, so posing fast is a necessity. And as behind-the-scenes videos demonstrate, these female model poses are done at an effortless-yet-lightning speed.

Taobao is to China what Amazon is to you or me. And they’re in a hurry:

Modeling for Taobao is no easy feat. According to Chinadaily, some of these models make more than 700 poses over the course of 150 outfits, all within the span of a work day. They have one minute to change their clothes and a 10-minute lunch break. The intensity, however, is worth it — top models can earn up to 元10,000 (or around $1,500) per day.

I am duly impressed.

(Via @ShoeTease.)

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It’s more than just a keyboard

You know Lorna: fashion blogger from the UK, about half my age and possessed of a singular sense of style. Nothing at all like me. Yet there are some things we have in common beyond a dislike for summer heat.

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A bookmark for retainer

This is billed as “The World’s First Robot Lawyer”:

And here’s the guy who came up with the idea:

How this came about, by Glenn “Instapundit” Reynolds:

A lawyerbot called Do Not Pay helps people contest parking tickets. In London and New York, it helped people overturn 160,000 tickets in its first 21 months. Its creator, 19-year-old London-born Stanford student Joshua Browder observed: “I think the people getting parking tickets are the most vulnerable in society. These people aren’t looking to break the law. I think they’re being exploited as a revenue source by the local government.”

There’s not much doubt about that. Local governments pretend it’s about safety, but use traffic fines for revenue. Those fines fall hardest on poor people, for whom a $150 fine is a financial disaster and for whom an appearance in court is frightening and awkward. Often, a few citations, with interest and penalties accruing, can be the beginning of a downward spiral leading to bankruptcy or jail.

This, of course, validates the observation by Derek Bok:

“There is far too much law for those who can afford it and far too little for those who cannot.”

Amen to that.

(Via Bayou Renaissance Man.)

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Join the rotor-y club

Jack Baruth, speaking to all the people out there who desire to own a far more expensive car than their finances can possibly justify:

[H]igh-capacity brakes are also expensive to service. I just had dinner with a fellow who works as a Maserati tech. He told me that it can cost $4k to perform a full brake service on a Ghibli. Given that the majority of Ghiblis have been sent out the door on heavily-subsidized leases that cost their owners under a grand a month, the idea of a $4,000 brake service doesn’t sit well with the lessors. Particularly not when they realize their Ghibli might need that service every year. “Isn’t there a cheaper way?” they ask.

“Absolutely. Stop using the brakes.” It befuddles these poor folks that a Ghibli needs Ferrari-level brake service but, if they were really smart, they’d ask why the Ghibli doesn’t cost more to service than, say, a 488GTB. After all, it’s heavier.

Damned laws of physics. They’ll get you every time.

Meanwhile, here’s a doucherocket from Yahoo! Answers:

Is the Maserati Granturismo 2018 a daily driver? Is it reliable. I just ordered mine and I wanna know.

This fartwad deserves to pay $4000 for a brake job.

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Or the dusky dusk

Entirely too many people out there have taken leave of their Census:

“Why so many blacks in ads?” is one of those burning issues that I was totally oblivious to until Frank S. Robinson, no relation to the Hall of Fame outfielder, as far as I know, laid it out recently.

He wrote that “I’ve made a point of tallying blacks in ads and commercials. And in fact they are way overrepresented, relative to their 13+% population share.” Oh, dear! And I thought we were supposed to be post-racial!

I’m not entirely sure why anyone would bother to count up these things. In the first place, it’s a waste of DVR space. (I’m pretty sure that no way has Frank actually watched them all, or even a significant portion of them, live.) Oklahoma City is around 15 percent black, I’ve lived here for 40-odd years, and I don’t recall ever being struck by the demographics of TV commercials, possibly because I have a long-standing tendency to run to the bathroom when the ads start — or possibly because Oklahoma City has been around 15 percent black for 40-odd years. (1970 Census: 13.7 percent.) This town is definitely less white than it used to be — 84 percent then, 62 percent now — and definitely less white than its reputation suggests, but the biggest in-migrations have come from Mexico and the Pacific Rim.

Meanwhile, Frank complains:

“That yuppie demographic is where the consumer-spending money is. And for them, blackness is actually attractive; connoting coolness, hipness, with-it-ness, knowing what’s going on. Not inferior but superior. And to this demographic, an America fully integrating blacks is a better America. Putting them in ads hence creates a positive buzz.”

Well, if that’s where the spending is, the most sensible thing to do is to cater to them, is it not?

The logical thing for Frank to do, presumably, would be to work on some serious reproducing, so as to help offset the general diminution of whiteness in the American population. But I guess that would get in the way of his TV watching.

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Nothing the least bit special

The big thing about cable television, back in the good old days (or maybe the old good days), was that you were presumably paying for higher-quality programming. Not anymore:

[T]hey start out with high quality and unique programming, but eventually every channel has its own variant on:

  1.   a show about a pawnshop or “antique pickers”
  2.   some kind of food competition show
  3.   a show about “tiny houses” with impossibly cute couples talking about how “great” it is to trade their big house for what’s essentially a stationary RV
  4.   some kind of freakshow thing about medical conditions
  5.   a fighting-family show, where either the family’s weirdness is the hook, or the fact that they all work in the same industry
  6.   some kind of show that maybe claims some kind of “anthropology” cred but is really voyeurism like all those shows about the Amish a couple years ago.

You could have seen this coming thirty years ago:

By the early 1980s, cable television had reached millions of American households and was starting to draw significant audiences away from the “Big Three” broadcast television networks. All three networks saw opportunities to expand into cable television in order to protect and grow their audiences, and they all experimented with niche programming. In fact, all three traditional networks introduced arts-related channels within one year of each other. CBS launched CBS Cable in 1981, which focused on “art house” and critical acclaimed programs; NBC, meanwhile, launched the similarly formatted The Entertainment Channel.

ABC partnered with the Hearst Corporation to create its own arts-oriented service, the Alpha Repertory Television Service. ARTS launched on April 12, 1981, focusing on highbrow cultural fare such as opera, ballet, classical symphonic performances, dramatic theater productions and select foreign films (besides CBS Cable and The Entertainment Channel, ARTS also competed with Bravo and the Public Broadcasting Service). Many cable providers had limited channel bandwidth at that time over their headends; as a result, CBS Cable struggled to find channel carriage and an audience, eventually folding in late 1982. However, while ARTS fared no better in finding viewers, it shared channel space with Nickelodeon, signing on at 9:00 p.m. Eastern Time after the children’s television network ended its broadcast day. That shared channel arrangement was a perfect symbiotic scheduling match for the two networks given their respective audience demographics (the target viewership of ARTS either did not have young children or had sent them to bed by the time the channel began its programming).

What was ARTS is now, um, A&E, and it draws its programming largely from those half-dozen “ideas” above.

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Yeah, we’ll enhance your Fujita

There’s always a story from Tornado Alley:

There is an old joke: How can you tell if a person is from Oklahoma?

Answer: He is the one who stands outside in the thunderstorm looking at the sky.

C’est moi.

This CBS story asks why Tulsa’s warning sirens didn’t go off when a small tornado hit.

The officials said it was because by the time they got the radar warning, the tornado had moved on to Broken Arrow.

That sounds about right. Our sirens used to go off after the tornado had passed too, but in rural areas, you couldn’t always rely on weather radios or the local media … we got our news from radio stations 30 miles to the east, 40 miles to the west, or 50 miles to the south. The best way to track what was going on was to check the local TV station for the map where the “warnings” were … a big problem if they hit at night.

Fortunately, she doesn’t have to worry about that anymore:

So I’m so glad I now live in the Philippines, where we only have to worry about typhoons, floods, earthquakes, and dengue fever.

We’re not exactly slouches at this earthquake business nowadays.

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Forget your frickin’ network

News Item: Still no deal between Integris and Blue Cross and Blue Shield. Without it more than 150,000 Blue Cross Blue Shield members may have to find a new doctor October 24th and Integris will be out of network August 31st.

Newspaper ad, August 9th:

Bill Shock ad by BCBSOK

The war of words escalates, as it seemingly always does.

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Verifying the conspiracy

Only just started last night:

Twitter blocks a tweet critical of Google

Twitter, like Google, evidently has no use for that “Don’t be evil” crap.

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Option declined

“Oh, how I want to go home,” sang Bobby Bare. (Mel Tillis and Danny Dill wrote “Detroit City,” but Bobby Bare made it famous.)

“I don’t wanna go home,” says this dog:

This trick also works (to a certain extent) for avoiding That Trip to the Vet:

Pretty shrewd, these dogs.

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In the 60s this would have been a dance

Today, it’s a workout for your abs:

Rebecca Black does the side plank

What’s going on here? This:

My girl @msrebeccablack killing it today with her side plank variations. The SIDE PLANK primarily works muscles in your CORE. It strengthens abdominal and back muscles, particularly the transversus abdominis, rectus abdominis, obliques and quadratus lumborum. It also hits the gluteus medius and gluteus minimus in the hips, as well as the adductor muscles located in the inner thigh.

If you’d heard of this before, you’re a step or three ahead of me.

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With friends like these

Who needs enemas?

A Japanese pharmaceutical firm hopes you do:

Say hello to Kan-chan, a Japanese company’s new mascot. Yes, that is a furry pink enema, although its producers are arguing that it is, in fact, a penguin. The bulbous figure is apparently a “gentle penguin girl,” with the protruding, darker pink tip representing a hair accessory. As if it wasn’t enough to present the public with a walking enema character, we also had to assign it a gender.

But no, this is really an enema mascot, because Kan-chan now represents Ichijiku Pharmaceutical Co. — which sells all kinds of enemas as part of its mission to help people kick constipation in the butt. Adding a yellow beak and webbed feet to a pump and making it tote a bag does not erase the fact that this is an oversized, living version of a tool you stick up your bottom. Also, Kan-chan is a play on the Japanese word kanchō, which means “enema.”

(Via American Digest.)

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Have you got yourself an occupation?

Hey, at least you’re working, right?

Sometimes, you’re surprised.

(Via Dawn Summers.)

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Ask your doctor if this crap is right for you

And you probably want to get a move on already:

Fake ad for drug that needs to be real

Do not take if you are allergic to Sarcasma, as they say in every farking drug ad on TV, like you’d know if you were allergic to it before you ever took it.

(Via Bayou Renaissance Man.)

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Hydroplane into fame

You can never protect yourself too much:

Some time ago I was sued by a large corporation over a negative review I posted on this site. The case was eventually settled, and I am not allowed to talk about the terms or mention the company’s name any more. But I will say the review is still up and unchanged and sits on the first page of results on Google for that company’s name, so draw what conclusions you may.

But the case generated over $50,000 in legal expenses for me. I probably would have paid that out of pocket just because I am curmudgeonly and was not going to back down, but in fact the legal costs were 100% covered by my personal liability and umbrella insurance. Basically an umbrella means that if anything goes over the coverage limits of your policies, or slips through the cracks of your policies’ various coverages, the umbrella kicks in. The cost for the umbrella is close to a rounding error on my other insurance costs.

I wish sometimes I could afford to be curmudgeonly.

Still: fifty large in legal expenses? That’s more than four billable hours.

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At least it’s not circus peanuts

Because I never would have ordered 7 pounds of circus peanuts:

May Lewis Black forgive me.

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Now that we’ve seen Paris

Originally, the plan was for Paris Berelc to be a gymnast. And she was a darn good one, too:

But after a stint at Ford Models, showbiz beckoned, and she wound up in the Disney Channel stable of terminally cute teenagers, playing the same character in 44 episodes of Mighty Med and then 16 in Lab Rats: Elite Force. In between, she was mostly not seen in Disney’s Invisible Sister. Next year she’ll be in a Netflix original series, Alexa & Katie.

Paris Berelc takes a walk

Paris Berelc takes a sip

Paris Berelc for Variety

The text on that black top: DON’T TEXT HIM BACK. Probably not a bad idea at that.

Between Christmas and New Year’s, she’ll turn 19.

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Which one is the centaur?

And would you please give her my number?

Three women with eight legs among them

(Via Bored Panda.)

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It’s always the user’s fault

From “Strange search-engine queries #601,” 7 August:

used realdoll™ $200..$400: I definitely don’t want to know how it was used.

And if there had been any doubts in my mind before, there aren’t any now:

A former professional sex doll repairman has lifted the lid on what happens to over-used sex dolls — and it’s not pretty.

Slade Fiero estimates he patched up well over 100 of the pricey sex aids during his decade-long career but he claims that it wasn’t overuse that left the $2,500 lust vessels in tatters — it was bad storage.

In other news, there are, or have been, professional sex doll repairmen. And no, it’s isn’t always bad storage:

Some of the dolls sent to Fiero were so badly damaged that he was left feeling incredibly uncomfortable to the point that he refused to ever repair the customer’s doll again.

One hopes that the guy doesn’t go out with actual women.

Speaking of actual women, there aren’t many of them looking for a plastic partner of this sort:

[Fiero] explained: “Women don’t buy dolls very often. They’re completely different sexual beings. If you’re a woman, would you ever buy a 132 pound dummy to try and wrestle into the sack when the job only requires two D-cell batteries?”

So there.

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Whatever you Choos

Jimmy Choo left the company that bears his name in 2001; last month, that company was bought by Michael Kors Holdings for £896 million. A few of those pounds came from Lorna Burford, in exchange for this pair of shoes:

Jimmy Choo Romy 100 Glitter shoes

She says:

These are the Jimmy Choo Romy 100 in Peacock Glitter and they’re literally one of the most sexiest and prettiest pair of shoes I have seen. I’m hoping the photos do them justice, but they don’t capture their beauty in real life as well unfortunately, but I’m sure you can see just how sparkly they are! They are part of the AW17 collection and feature the classic pointed toe and stiletto heel that the Romy is known for. This pair is in the blue ombre glitter, called Peacock, with a metallic blue heel and leather piping details. They’re of course made in Italy and are a one of a kind shoe, which I simply cannot fault, so here they are!

In this instance, “100” denotes the heel height in centimeters, a smidgen short of four inches; some versions are also available in a slightly less lofty 85 cm. On the acquisition, Lorna says:

This particular pair of shoes I purchased on Farfetch last month when I had a discount code (they usually have them). They are quite pricey and have a retail amount of £475, but that is pretty good for Jimmy Choo and on the ever so slightly cheaper side for a glitter shoe from a high end designer label. As an example, a pair similar to this from Christian Louboutin would cost about £485 (and are nowhere near as pretty), so it’s an average price.

For certain values of “average,” I guess. Still, at $618 that’s a whole heck of a lot of sparkly, even though, as Lorna says, “they are not extremely versatile.”

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This needs a name

But for now, I’m calling it “Miriam’s Law of Mystery Stories”:

In any room, no matter how little furnished, there is something that can be fashioned into a weapon in less than 10 minutes.

The wise murderer should modify his behavior accordingly.

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Looking for some common ground

“I really don’t like abortion,” I told the pleasant young woman from a group called Trust Women, “but I will not support the bans, or half-bans, that the state legislature keeps coming up with.”

Biggest text on their door hanger:

The ban on using private insurance for abortion care should be repealed. And politicians should leave medical decisions to women and their doctors.

Which, technically, is two separate issues, though I wasn’t very clear in making that declaration.

Not sure how she wrote that down in her book, but she didn’t scowl even once. And I have more than usual reason to be grateful for that: when the knock came, I pushed the door open only a little and tried to shoo her off the porch, warning her that I was at Wardrobe Zero. She said she didn’t mind, and so that’s how the discussion was conducted.

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Plane and unfancy

I really wasn’t all that rattled when I got off that Fokker F27 in Istanbul in 1975; I’d heard enough horror stories about Turkish Airlines, most of which would turn out not to be true, that I was perhaps unduly pleased with not being dead.

Still, that was a hell of a long time ago. Have short-range aircraft improved since then? Maybe not so much, at least in terms of passenger comfort:

We’re flying on an Embraer “regional jet.” 1500 miles and it’s “regional.” Pretty damn big region. It’s small-ish. Only four seats across, but the aisle is wide enough to walk down, not like those skinny ass aisles they have on those damn “Dreamliners.” Who game them that name? And whose dream is it anyhoo? And how could you arrange it any better? With seven seats across and two aisles, what are you going to do? Make it six seats and one really wide aisle? Or six seats and two decent size aisles? I suppose you could do seven seats across and one decent aisle, but it would mean four seats together on one side of the aisle, which means that when the guy in the window seat has to use the john, three other people are going to have to move out of his way. The social pressure of having to make three people move so you can get out could lead to someone staying in their seat much longer than they should, which could lead to “accidents” or possibly even long term health problems. (Look at that dude, he’s so full of s*** that his eyeballs are turning brown. He musta got stuck in a window seat in one of those reconfigured Dreamliners.) The fuselage on those Dreamliners is just the wrong diameter. Or all seats need to be first class size.

That Fokker had eleven rows of four seats, but the aisle wasn’t exactly wide.

Turning back to the Dreamliner, the question of “Who gave them that name?” is herewith answered:

For a guy who rarely enters a contest or buys a lottery ticket, Ross Coogan hit the jackpot last month. He was chosen as the lucky winner of the grand prize in the 7E7 “Name Your Plane” employee sweepstakes — a 737 simulator flight.

“I didn’t think I would ever win,” said Coogan, a 14-year Boeing employee and manager in the Commercial Airplanes Fabrication Division in Auburn, Wash.

Coogan entered twice and voted for “Dreamliner,” which won the popular vote as the new name for the 7E7. His votes were among 500,000 worldwide, and they helped push “Dreamliner” past the initial frontrunner, “Global Cruiser,” by a margin of only 2,500 votes.

“Last month” means June 2003.

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Strange search-engine queries (602)

If you haven’t seen this feature before, where have you been? It’s been here every Monday for the last 11 years. As always with long-lived Web projects, it thrives on simplicity: we look at the search strings which lead people to this site, and we try to make fun of them. Sometimes it even works.

decisive moments youtube moment bite this:  Probably aren’t more than 150,000 videos on which this is bitten.

Is Mazda 626 an injector or caperator:  Um, it’s a car. The system of fuel delivery varies with the year.

red lipstick meaning:  If you have to ask, you’ve never been kissed.

where was invisible sister filmed:  New Orleans, which is a surprise, since it was set in, um, New Orleans.

refuse fascism:  You’d at least hope fascists could haul away the refuse.

woot box of crap:  Well, it was actually called a bag o’ crap, though the crap was indeed shipped in a box.

change your default browser39s search:  I tell you, Yahoo! has more trouble with mere apostrophes.

goodbye google alternative search engines:  Lots of ’em out there, though Yahoo! has trouble with mere apostrophes.

bilingual heroines vol.2:  Damn, and I missed Volume One.

tumblr sensitive content:  A euphemism for “wank material.”

“rocketship” design or “web design” or “website design” or “website development” or marketing:  However, only one of those is likely to be rocket science, and it ain’t marketing.

invisibility fetish:  Have you considered simply closing your eyes?

in january 2005 burger king sponsored the opener of the third season of the apprentice:  And we’ve been hearing Whoppers ever since.

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New frontiers in legal advertising

Is anyone actually surprised by this anymore?

Ms Olenko is divorced, though for what reason I don’t know.

Side note: This must be a New York law: the pages of Olenko’s Web site bear the disclaimer “ATTORNEY ADVERTISING. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.” We need that sort of thing here.

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Hey, buddy, can you break a mil?

From the What Was He Thinking files:

Authorities say a man who tried to deposit what he presented as a $1 million bill has been charged with drug possession in Iowa.

A criminal complaint says Sioux City police officers were called to a Northwest Bank branch Thursday to talk to a man who tried to deposit the bill into his account. The officers asked 33-year-old Dennis Strickland whether he had any more of the bills and that a baggie fell out when he emptied a pocket. The complaint says the baggie contained methamphetamine.

Quelle surprise.

Anyway, they can’t bust him for counterfeiting: there has never been an official $1 million bill from the Treasury, and therefore the bill he tried to deposit does not meet the legal standard for counterfeiting.

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Unspeakable cruelty

Which ends much the way you’d expect it to:

News clipping: man put Icy Hot on wife's vibrator

(From Bad Newspaper via Miss Cellania.)

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Forced into darkness

This young lady is facing a dilemma of sorts:

So when i was like 12 i made a youtube channel and posted videos, but every time i made a video i would get pedophilic remarks and comments asking for my age and calling me pretty and just creepy things like that (and they were from old men i looked at their channels). so i shut down my channel cause i got really scared that my videos were only being watched by perverts and pedophiles and i was getting weird comments. I really wanna start one, but I’m scared the same thing is gonna happen again (I’m 15 now).

To all you old guys with this problem: It doesn’t matter how good you think they look. They don’t want to know about that, and you’re doing them no favors by hitting on them. If the only way you can show your so-called appreciation is the online equivalent of groping them, your Adult Card should be summarily revoked, because your emotional maturity is down there with the middle-school kids.

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The very fabric of society

Actually, the lack of fabric may matter in the upcoming German elections:

There can’t be many countries where a major political party’s leader would campaign on a nude beach. But German politician Gregor Gysi, leader of Die Linke, the anti-capitalist party that is the third biggest in the current parliament, has done so this week to bemoan the declining popularity of naturism in his country. In doing so, he’s tapped into a lingering east-west culture divide, and maybe a few extra votes.

Gysi’s political career started in East Germany where he was something of a dissident within the ruling Socialist Unity Party (SED). In the 1980s, when Gysi was pushing for reform, the “free body culture,” or FKK as it is known in Germany, was widespread in Communist East Germany, a politically repressed people’s way of telling the world that they actually enjoyed freedom of a sort. In 1982, there were 40 official nude beaches in the Communist nation and lots of others that weren’t mentioned in the state-published guidebook.

This wasn’t, of course, due to any particular penchant for nudity among the Communists:

FKK became popular in Weimar Germany, where it was linked to both nationalism and to social-democratic pacifism. The Nazis banned naturism in 1933 but relaxed the rules soon afterwards under pressure from influential party members and SS officers who argued there was nothing wrong with the natural beauty of the German body. The Communists banned it again in the 1950s: They hated both the old social-democratic and Nazi associations, and they followed the prudish Soviet line on anything even remotely sex-related.” The ‘nudist unions’ were a by-product of the disintegration of imperialism in the area of body culture and sports,” the state sports organization declared in 1951. “As an expression of imperialist decadence, ‘nudist unions’ cannot be tolerated.” By 1954, nude bathing was largely banned from Baltic beaches even if it didn’t involve membership in any group.

The ban lasted two years before being lifted, mostly because nobody had bothered to follow it:

[I]n 1956, nude beaches were officially allowed, and though ad-hoc attempts to clear them out persisted for some years, it was clear that the naked people had won. FKK became an acceptable form of expressing individual freedom. By the time it collapsed, the East German regime had co-opted it. Official propaganda even pushed the nudist norm to the outside world as evidence of the country’s progressiveness.

Still, nudism is in decline all over the reunited Germany:

The drop in FKK’s popularity is probably due more to a growing Muslim population and the proliferation of high-resolution mobile phone cameras than to capitalist prudery and lasciviousness. In a changing world, it has been reduced to a niche that will never be as large as it was in a largely closed, homogeneous Communist country.

And probably never as small as it is in the US.

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That doesn’t love a wall

Donald Trump’s wall is apparently going to start in a highly questionable location:

For at least six months, private contractors and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials have been quietly preparing to build the first piece of President Trump’s border wall through the Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge in South Texas. The federally owned 2,088-acre refuge, often called the “crown jewel of the national wildlife refuge system,” could see construction begin as early as January 2018, according to a federal official who has been involved in the planning but asked to remain anonymous.

Why there, you ask?

The official said that the Department of Homeland Security picked the Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge as the first site for a border wall segment because it’s owned by the federal government, avoiding legal entanglements with private landowners. At least 95 percent of the Texas border is privately owned.

If the owners of that 95 percent decline to yield a right of way, there’s not going to be much of a wall, is there?

And the very existence of the refuge is threatened:

If the levee wall is constructed, it will essentially destroy the refuge, the official said. The proposed plans call for building a road south of the wall and clearing refuge land on either side of the wall for surveillance, cameras and light towers.

I have a bad feeling about this.

(With thanks to Holly H.)

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Spending in the purple rain

In retrospect, I’m kind of surprised it took this long:

Prince’s legacy and love for purple will live on thanks to Pantone. The global color authority announced that they’ve teamed up with the late singer’s estate to pay tribute to his life and legacy with a custom hue called “Love Symbol #2.”

As many know, the color purple held a lot of meaning for Prince and his fans ever since his song “Purple Rain” rocked the charts in 1984, and now the iconic shade will live on in a tangible way. “The color purple was synonymous with who Prince was and will always be. This is an incredible way for his legacy to live on forever,” said Troy Carter, Entertainment Advisor to Prince’s Estate in a press release.

Love Symbol Number Two by Pantone

If you saw “the color purple” and thought of Alice Adams, well, that’s all right too.

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Eventually she spoke

Hull, Yorkshire, 1914. Dorothy Mackaill was eleven years old, and her parents were going their separate ways. After living with her dad, she took off for London and the stage, but somehow ended up in the Ziegfield Follies.

By 1920, she was seventeen and ready for “real” roles. It wasn’t long before she because a capital-S Star, and made a relatively smooth transition to talkies before giving it all up in 1937 to take care of her aged mother.

Dorothy Mackaill parties hearty

Dorothy Mackaill in Safe in Hell

Dorothy Mackaill in Safe in Hell

Dorothy Mackaill checks herself out

The two middle shots come from 1931’s Safe in Hell, a perhaps-raunchy pre-Code thriller in which Mackaill stars as a New Orleans hooker who is smuggled to a Caribbean island. A clip therefrom:

Let’s just say it doesn’t end well for the young lady.

In the Fifties, she moved to Hawaii, and remained there for the rest of her life, surfacing occasionally in the Hawaii Five-O television series.

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House of no blue lights

Number of K mart SuperCenters remaining in 2017: one.

That would be this one, #4939 in Warren, Ohio:

About 600 non-Super K mart stores remain, in 49 states, Puerto Rico, and Guam. That store in Guam is the largest K mart of them all.

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“Bite me” to the one you love

Troll Cake: I Wish Judge Judy Would Curbstomp YouThis subtle little confection is a Troll Cake, and in this case “troll” is a verb. (Yes, it’s that kind of troll.) The bakers thereof will be more than happy to explain it to you:

1. We take an internet comment.

2. Make it into a cake.

3. And then box it up and mail it to the troll who said it. The box includes a copy of their original comment.

If you have the troll’s street address, it’s $35 for what is actually more of a frosted and sparkled chocolate-chip brownie. If you don’t, they’ll track ’em down for an extra $25. (Five bucks off if you’re sending to Donald Trump, and yes, they know where he lives.)

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Sweet time duly taken

As reported here on the second of June:

We are being forced to a newer (and uglier) [license] plate design; I have decided to keep my previous number, which was also my previous number the last time we were forced to a newer (but prettier) design. The state will have to make this plate out of sequence, which might be an annoyance, which justifies my fifteen Spite Bucks. Very few drivers opted for this the last time, and I’ve seen only one in the current cycle.

As it turns out, they didn’t make this plate out of sequence: despite my end-of-June expiration date, it didn’t actually arrive until yesterday. Apparently they knew that’s just how it is: they sent me the little “2018” sticker in the mail in mid-June, which I duly plastered onto the old plate. (The new ones have 2018 printed on the You Call This Metal? surface.)

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Wendy, we miss you

Well, no, she’s not gone or anything. Still, I wonder if she’s been forgotten:

From the mountains of Walla Walla, Washington to the sandy beaches of Florida, fast-food burgers are adored across the country. But while burger love is universal, different states have different ideas on what — and who — makes a great burger.

In a recent poll, Ranker asked more than 10,000 burger fans nationwide to name their favorite burger from a major fast-food establishment or restaurant chain. You can see the favorite fast-food burgers for every state below.

The United States of Burgers

No surprise here: Texas and Oklahoma (and, yes, Louisiana) respondents preferred Whataburger. Missouri opted for its homegrown Steak & Shake. (As did North Dakota. Go figure.)

But those guys in Illinois and Hawaii and Colorado don’t even have any In-N-Out Burger locations. What’s the deal?

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Why, they aren’t even real drugs

Occasionally you hear of some product or other being recalled because of an FDA order. It’s been a while, though, since I heard of the entire line of a manufacturer being ordered off the shelves:

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is advising consumers and health care professionals not to use any liquid drug or dietary supplement products manufactured by PharmaTech LLC of Davie, Florida, and labeled by Rugby Laboratories, Major Pharmaceuticals and Leader Brands, due to potential contamination with the bacteria Burkholderia cepacia and the risk for severe patient infection.

The drug and dietary supplement products made by PharmaTech include liquid docusate sodium drugs (stool softeners), as well as various dietary supplements including liquid vitamin D drops and liquid multivitamins marketed for infants and children.

B. cepacia poses a serious threat to vulnerable patients, including infants and young children who still have developing immune systems,” said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D. “These products were distributed nationwide to retailers, health care facilities, pharmacies and sold online — making it important that parents, patients and health care providers be made aware of the potential risk and immediately stop using these products.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), B. cepacia poses the greatest threat to hospitalized patients, critically ill patients and people with health problems such as weakened immune systems and chronic lung diseases. The symptoms of B. cepacia infections vary widely from none at all to serious respiratory infections. It can spread from person-to-person by direct contact and is often resistant to common antibiotics.

Geez. What kind of stuff is this?

Burkholderia cepacia is an opportunistic human pathogen that most often causes pneumonia in immunocompromised individuals with underlying lung disease (such as cystic fibrosis or chronic granulomatous disease). Patients with sickle-cell haemoglobinopathies are also at risk. The species also attacks young onion and tobacco plants, as well as displaying a remarkable ability to digest oil.

The FDA announcement contains brand names and descriptions of the recalled drugs.

(Via Glenn Reynolds.)

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