Archive for Dyssynergy

You knew this was coming

Those of us who still maintain photo libraries at Flickr knew that Oath, the Verizon subsidiary that absorbed Yahoo, had spun off Flickr to the owners of SmugMug for a price estimated at $5.95 plus an old Polaroid SX-70.

SmugMug, as is de rigueur, has now issued the welcome-and-here’s-the-new-EULA message:

As we announced on April 20th, Flickr has agreed to be acquired by SmugMug, the photography platform dedicated to visual storytellers. SmugMug has a long history of empowering people who love photography and who want to improve their craft, making them a perfect fit for Flickr and our creative community.

Nothing will change immediately with regard to your Flickr account. The Flickr product and brand will live on under SmugMug ownership. You will still access the same Flickr you know and love at www.flickr.com and via our mobile apps. SmugMug and Flickr will remain separate brands and you will continue to have options for free and Pro Flickr accounts. Until we notify you otherwise, you will continue to use your current login credentials.

I like that. “Nothing will change immediately.” At least something, though, will change this coming Friday:

As a result of the acquisition, Flickr accounts will be governed by SmugMug’s Terms of Service for Flickr and Privacy Policy for Flickr. The Terms of Service and Privacy Policy of Flickr’s current owner, Oath (formerly Yahoo), will not apply to the use of Flickr after the acquisition. You have until May 25, 2018 to review SmugMug’s Terms and Privacy Policy. If you do nothing in that time, your account will simply transition to SmugMug’s Terms of Service for Flickr and Privacy Policy for Flickr after the acquisition.

If you do not consent to SmugMug’s Terms and Privacy Policy, you will need to delete your Flickr account through your Account Settings. If you want to preserve a copy of your photos, be sure to download them from your Camera Roll first.

I have had a Flickr Pro account for some time; I have no plans to leave. (At least, no plans to leave immediately.)

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Forget you

On the transference of memories between individuals:

The discovery that RNA from trained animals can transfer the engram for long-term sensitization in Aplysia offers dramatic support for the idea that memory can be stored nonsynaptically, and indicates the limitations of the synaptic plasticity model of long-term memory storage. In addition, our results suggest that RNA could eventually be used to modify, either enhance or depress, memories.

The Neuroskeptic at Discover:

[W]hat was transferred here was hardly a memory in the usual sense of the word. It is simply an increase in the sensitivity of a set of neurons, a single reflex pathway. This “memory” is not specific to any particular stimulus. The training consisted of shocking the animals, which makes them more likely to withdraw in response to touch — not to shock, but any touch. It’s just “turning up the dial” on that reflex. It is hard to see how this relates to the far more complex types of memory in humans.

And finally, the Friar:

I was also sort of hoping that the technique might lead to the development of its opposite as well, in which we could have memories completely removed. The aforementioned Kardashians are on that list (I would, in fact, argue for laws that made the treatment mandatory). So is most of what Elizabeth Warren or Sean Hannity has ever said. And the horrible sight of my 2016 presidential ballot, asking me to select the electors for either Donald J. Trump or Hillary R. Clinton. Sure, there was also the choice of selecting electors for Gary Johnson, and that’s the choice I made. But those other two? Brother, that’s one abyss that gazes back at you hard and it’s a memory I’d rather paper over and forget it’s there.

The preceding has been brought to you by Lacuna Inc.

I’m surprised I remembered all this.

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Large, possibly angry, bird

And the cyclists keep losing ground:

Okay, maybe the ostrich just wants to play. If I’m on one of those bicycles, though, I’m getting the hell out of Dodge, or the South African equivalent thereof.

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When backing is lacking

Not every project that seeks funding from the crowd can be expected to materialize as an actual product, and I figure everyone who’s browsed the listings by now will have seen something they can’t imagine anyone actually paying for. This is the motivation behind Flopstarter, billed as “a platform for bad ideas”:

So far we have had hundreds of submissions to the site, all of them useless.

And yet:

All projects will be completed if funded.

So far, no one has offered to back this project:

Natural Death Beef at Flopstarter

This precious foodstuff comes from “cows that have either just died in their sleep or had a little tumble.” Not to be confused with DeaDBeeF, a music player for GNU/Linux systems.

(Via Miss Cellania.)

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112 is French for 911

Actually, 112 is the basic emergency number throughout the European Union, but not everyone seems to comprehend “emergency” as “Emergency!” For instance:

French authorities have opened an enquiry into the death of a young woman just hours after her distress call to emergency services was mocked by the operator, prompting a public outcry.

Naomi Musenga, 22, dialled France’s emergency dispatch number on December 29 last year complaining of strong stomach pains.

In a recording of the three-minute call obtained only recently by her family, Musenga’s voice can barely be heard as says “It hurts all over” and “I’m going to die …”

“You’re going to die, certainly, one day just like everyone else,” the female operator responds. She is also heard mocking Musenga’s complaints with a colleague, before telling the victim to call a doctor for a house visit.

Five hours later Musenga again calls the emergency services, which finally dispatch the ambulance that brings her to a hospital in Strasbourg, eastern France. But she died shortly after arriving from a heart attack.

Perhaps inevitably, this incident set off calls for More Money:

The circumstances surrounding Musenga’s death have reignited calls for increased funding and resources for France’s health system.

“In 1988, eight million people went to hospital emergency rooms each year. Today’s it’s 21 million,” Patrick Pelloux, head of the French association of emergency doctors (AMUF) told French daily Le Parisien.

“At the same time, calls to emergency services have tripled,” which have effectively reduced them to “call centres,” Pelloux said.

I don’t doubt your statistics, M. le Docteur, but tell me this: How much extra does it cost for an emergency operator not to act like an asshole?

(Via Lindsay Beyerstein.)

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Landlords go feudal

At least, this sounds kind of medieval:

A single working mother of three is taking on a Florida housing complex after a property manager refused to renew her lease because she hadn’t given her landlord an ultrasound of the child she was carrying.

As the Miami Herald reports, Tiesha Davis signed a rental agreement with Sorrento Rental Community in Miramar in September 2017. At the time, Davis was four months pregnant, a fact that was clearly visible to Assistant Property Manager Jose Galindo, according to Davis’ lawsuit.

“During such time Ms. Davis was noticeably pregnant, to the extent that Mr. Galindo insisted that she sit in the front seat of the golf cart when he was driving her through the property,” the complaint reads.

But Galindo refused to renew Davis’ 12-month lease in January, when Davis was eight months pregnant, after finding baby goods in her closet during a routine inspection of the apartment.

Did he not notice that she already had three children, presumably not teenaged?

A group called HOPE — Housing Opportunities Project for Excellence — is a co-plaintiff with Davis. They’ve been here before:

HOPE sent two testers posing as pregnant would-be lessees to one of Sorrento’s sister properties, Monterra, in December of last year. One tester was a white Hispanic woman; the other, a black woman.

According to the suit, both pregnant women were told that there were no units available but were given a list of requirements to qualify as renters; these included disclosing how many people would live in the apartment unit, child-support information, proof of income, a driver’s license and a Social Security card.

But the black applicant also was asked about her arrest history. Additionally, an agent outlined for her possible situations in which she could lose her tenancy, including being a current homeowner and having a history of foreclosures, short sales or evictions, according to the suit.

That wasn’t true of the white Hispanic applicant, who wasn’t asked about her criminal record or given such a talk.

And neither of those women were asked for an ultrasound.

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Northward bound

Roberta X contemplates the new president of the National Rifle Association:

On the one hand, he’s plenty smart, and used to being disliked; he’s written books, hosted TV shows and is one of the go-to military experts for Fox News. On the other, he’s Oliver North, a sneak who colluded with Manuel Noriega, got caught, was tried and convicted —- and then the prosecution turned out to have not been sufficiently careful to distinguish between testimony for which he had been granted immunity and non-immune evidence, and who (including the jury) saw what when and hey-la, LtCol North was acquitted on appeal, thanks to the efforts of the ACLU. On the other other hand, his military record as a leader of men, in combat and the classroom, looks very good indeed.

That was about four decades ago. You can’t imagine today’s ACLU doing this sort of thing.

And hey, NRA could have done a lot worse:

I’m not saying the name “Nugent” but when you think of self-igniting dumpster fires…

Which would peg the meter on “a lot worse.”

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Attempted blinding

Cue the late Magnus Pyke shouting “Science!”, and we pick up the story here:

Years ago I served on a jury for a drunk driving trial. In voir dire, the defense asked whether anyone in the jury pool was a scientist. Apparently no one was, and the defense lawyer clearly wasn’t a rocket scientist if he thought the only people who understood how science worked were people who get paid to … science.

So the defense was built on a study that claimed to find that absorption of alcohol into the bloodstream could result in illegal blood-alcohol content (BAC) results even though the arrestee might not actually have been impaired at the time of his arrest. Presumably police are out there just pulling people in at random and giving them breathalyzer tests at the police station, without having seen any actual, you know, evidence of impaired driving. Or maybe this particular defendant ignored my longstanding advice to my fellow drivers, “If you’re sober, drive like it.” Who knows?

Anyway, the defense lawyer blew his own case out of the water when he told a jury that included yours truly that a single unreplicated research study that had never been refuted was by definition scientific fact — a contention that I thought turned his voir dire question about scientists into evidence of bad faith, whereas if the study had been replicated and its results reproduced, he would certainly have told us so, and been more than happy to have scientists on the jury. We convicted his client in time to beat the afternoon rush hour.

Funny thing about “scientific facts”: introduce evidence to the contrary, and all of a sudden those “facts” become mutable.

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Some dissembly required

If you ask me, the single worst thing done by Donald Trump was the popularization of the phrase “fake news,” with the implication that his opponents were, well, telling lies. And indisputably they were, because that’s what politicians, and media yoked to politicians, inevitably do. In current American political discourse, one may safely assume that a grain of truth, no more, is the maximum to be found in any press release, any speech, any 280-character Twitter upchuck. Fake news is ubiquitous, has been for some time, and will remain so for however long it takes for our current political class to be swept away and be replaced by honest folk. Don’t hold your breath waiting.

In the meantime, now that “fake news” is A Thing, “control” of it will be weaponized. An early example from Malaysia:

A foreign visitor became the first person convicted and sentenced to jail under a new law to punish those deemed to have published “fake news” after he criticized the police response to the slaying of a Palestinian engineer in Kuala Lumpur.

Salah Salem Saleh Sulaiman, 46 years old, a Danish national of Yemeni origins, pleaded guilty Monday at a court hearing. He was sentenced to a week in jail but opted to serve a month behind bars in lieu of paying a fine of about $2,600. He wasn’t represented by a lawyer.

The case marked unexpected circumstances for the first use of the law since Parliament passed it April 3 amid criticism by rights groups that it would be wielded to inhibit criticism of the government ahead of elections on May 9. The government has denied that that is its intent, and Mr. Salah is the only person to have been charged under it…

And that very denial, of course, is fake. But you figured that one out, right?

Mr. Salah appeared in a video posted to YouTube — and since removed — from the scene of the assassination of Palestinian Fadi al-Batsh, an electrical engineer and university lecturer who had lived in Malaysia for a decade. He was gunned down by two men on a motorcycle as he walked to dawn prayers at a mosque. No one has been arrested.

Mr. Salah accused medical services and police of being slow to respond to the shooting. Authorities vehemently rejected the allegations and arrested him. On Monday, he apologized and said he had recently arrived in Malaysia to visit friends and didn’t know the law existed.

Meanwhile in Gaza, the slain engineer’s family blamed the Mossad, because of course they did.

Ken Layne once warned the media and their enablers that “we can fact-check your ass.” It’s no surprise that politicians would like to return the favor — or at least appear to.

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Vintage shag carpet

In case you’ve been doing some vintage shagging of late:

The Love Rug

I don’t know which is more perplexing: “As you stroke, it strokes,” or the fact that the Lynx version is the same price but ten inches shorter.

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Seriously non-dairy

In fact, it would be difficult to come up with something more non-dairy than this:

Although most cockroaches don’t actually produce milk, Diploptera punctate, which is the only known cockroach to give birth to live young, has been shown to pump out a type of “milk” containing protein crystals to feed its babies.

The fact that an insect produces milk is pretty fascinating — but what fascinated researchers is the fact that a single one of these protein crystals contains more than three times the amount of energy found in an equivalent amount of buffalo milk (which is also higher in calories than regular cow’s milk).

Clearly milking a cockroach isn’t the most feasible option, so an international team of scientists headed by researchers from the Institute of Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine in India decided to sequence the genes responsible for producing the milk protein crystals to see if they could somehow replicate them in the lab.

Apparently they can, and the crystals have serious food value:

“It’s time-released food,” said Subramanian Ramaswamy, who led the project. “If you need food that is calorifically high, that is time released and food that is complete, this is it.”

I don’t think I need calories that much.

(Via Jeff Faria.)

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No place to throw shade

From the official Web site of the Taj Mahal:

Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder! Probably for Taj Mahal, the axiom is just the other way round. The Taj is the beauty personified! The Taj displays its different moods through its varied shades. The Taj has as many shades as any kind of beauty can ever have! The Taj is pinkish in the morning, milky white in the evening, golden when the moon shines and the intermediary variants during different hours of the day and during different seasons in a year.

Except, of course, when it isn’t, which seems to happen a lot these days:

India’s Supreme Court has instructed the government to seek foreign help to fix what it described as a worrying change in colour at the Taj Mahal.

“Even if you have the expertise, you are not utilising it. Or perhaps you don’t care,” court justices said.

The court said the famous tomb, built in the 17th century from white marble and other materials, had turned yellow and was now turning brown and green.

Pollution, construction and insect dung are said to be among the causes.

In an attempt to address the pollution problem, the government set up a 4000-square-mile zone around the monument where emissions standards would be ultra-strict. (Parking lots are rather distant; there is an electric-powered shuttle bus.)

Construction in the area has been limited. Insects, however, tend to ignore governmental decrees.

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Really effective crap

Tam turned this up, and it was too funny not to swipe:

If you read the NYT and the Post, you would know that the AR family of weapons are underpowered, outdated, malfunctioning piece of lowest-bidder garbage that leave our troops with jammed weapons and outgunned by enemies with .30 caliber weapons … until you put the AR family of weapons into the hands of an untrained civilian, in which case they turn into murderdeathkill bullet hoses that can slay dozens of bodies in seconds while spray-firing from the hip.

Nobody grasps the obvious solution: Have the trained soldiers and untrained civilians swap places. Then the rifles in theater will become invincible death hoses, while the soldiers sent back home would be unable to massacre anybody with the underpowered, jammed rifles.

“Murderdeathkill” apparently originated here:

It’s enough to drive you to Taco Bell.

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And lo, there were chills

This is The Sacred Riana, an Indonesian illusionist who never, ever breaks character:

And that was her audition for Season Two of Asia’s Got Talent. (She won. This was her final round.)

I mentioned at the lunch table that Riana’s work uniform, so to speak, was basically that of a Japanese schoolgirl with a nervous tic. The following exchange ensued:

“How does this differ from, say, a Catholic schoolgirl?”

“Shorter hemline.”

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For 12-year-olds of all ages

You remember this guy, right?

Giant Woody at Walt Disney World

Orlando Weekly reports:

This morning, Disney announced they’ve reached the important milestone of erecting a giant Woody at the entrance of the yet-to-open Toy Story Land at Hollywood Studios.

According to the official Disney Parks Blog, the 20-foot-tall Woody doll has a 7-foot-wide hat and stands next to a 4-foot-tall yo-yo. Disney did not release any measurements on Woody’s girth.

Oh, and this:

Just a tip: Toy Story Land will officially open June 30.

For some reason, this reminded me of an old Simpsons bit:

But then, it would.

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Paging McNally

Or Rand, for that matter. I think we can safely say that they haven’t yet been rendered irrelevant.

5:08 pm: I ordered a pizza, something I’ve done maybe 150 times in the last four years. The pizza joint in question is 1.9 miles away; I’m close enough to the middle of town — this neighborhood was platted and built before 1950 — to be easily findable by anyone who can figure out the city grid, which is in no wise difficult. (Only tricky aspect: numbered street represents the end, not the beginning, of a numbered block. The 10000 block starts at 99th Street. This is not an issue if you actually live on a numbered street.)

5:10 pm: Pizza joint sends confirming email, projects delivery between 5:35 and 5:45.

5:53 pm: Pizza joint calls to advise that the driver has gotten lost: something about turning down a dirt road. I give directions, and am put on hold.

5:55 pm: “It’ll only be a couple of minutes,” I am assured.

6:04 pm: Driver arrives. He looks like Jeremy from Zits. He explains that he set his GPS wrong, which is a very Jeremy kind of explanation.

The turnover in this business, of course, is mind-boggling. There have been eight drivers I have memorized over the 14 years I’ve been in this neck of the woods: two young women, invariably bubbly and always on time; four men of varying ages and personality types who are rarely late; one old Joe Btfsplk type who can’t get here in 40 minutes to save his life. This is the first time anyone’s offered a GPS-based explanation. I suspect I may not have to memorize this chap.

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Extra empty

Now this is just sad:

Thursday the nearest Popeye’s had no Spicy chicken except for thighs, and neither Coca-Cola nor Dr Pepper. Still, a workable meal could be had with judicious substitutions. But being totally out of chicken? That’s truly sad. In terms of sadness, in fact, it’s right down there with this scary story from six decades before:

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Taken for granite

Lynn has a list of Bad Decorating Ideas, and most of them are just about this terrible:

5. Concrete Countertops — Concrete belongs outside as sidewalks and driveways. I don’t care what color you stain it, if you have a concrete countertop it just looks like you have a sidewalk on top of your kitchen cabinets.

Okay, one more:

9. Painted Brick — This is my number one pet peeve. Brick is a beautiful, low maintenance material. One of the best things about it is that you don’t have to paint it. Also, it can last for generations and since paint is hard to remove you are ruining it not just for yourself but for future owners.

So there.

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On the war-torn road to Damascus

Dave Schuler leaves you no doubt where he stands:

The opinion pages of the major news outlets today are filled with op-eds, the gist of which is that the only thing wrong with the illegal, immoral, and counter-productive attacks on Syria of late last week is that they weren’t nearly damaging enough and there should be many more of them. I won’t even both to link to them or name their authors. They are mostly from the same people who have been urging us to war for the last two decades. We have very little to show from taking their advice than dead or permanently wounded Americans and the vast number of dead in a dozen countries in the Middle East, North Africa, and West Asia. This is supposed to cultivate friends, increase our credibility, and make us more secure. It has done none of those things.

I demur to this extent: were they “damaging enough,” there wouldn’t have to be many more of them.

I don’t dispute that Assad deserves a Tomahawk up his backside. But no technology we’re likely to have any time soon can deliver such a surgical strike with scalpel-like precision.

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Not a Charmin idea

But it has its good points:

For that matter, few considered it when Zimbabwe was the punchline.

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Close your eyes and make a wuss

After all, the Ruling Class will someday need replacements:

[R]uling elites of the past were mostly stocked with tough guys who out-competed other tough guys in order to get the top spot. In fact, up until very recent, you had to be a ruthless badass with unlimited amounts of personal courage to get to the top of society. Harald Bluetooth did not get to be king of Denmark and Norway because he was socially awkward and struggled with the ladies. Today, our oligarchs are the sort of men who get woozy from a paper cut. They may be ruthless, but they are not tough guys.

In fact, few of them have ever experienced anything resembling adversity. [Mark] Zuckerberg was born into a nice upper-class life, went to Harvard and then rode the warm thermals of the credit economy to Silicon Valley. The noodle-armed CEO of Twitter, Jack Dorsey, is another guy who basically hit the lottery. Under normal circumstances, he would have ended up as the IT manager at a successful mid-market company. Instead, he is worth $4 billion and is one of the people who capriciously regulates the public square.

This probably explains why the big tech companies are actually run by domineering women, skilled at pushing around beta males. Zuckerberg pretty much does what Sheryl Sandberg tells him to do. It would surprise no one if she made him wear a gimp suit at the office. The Slim Jim salesman is led around by Susan Wojcicki. She forced him to fire James Damore. Jack Dorsey actually created a council of cat ladies to take turns telling him what to do. Our ruling class is bitter feminists and billionaire beta males.

On the upside, at least they’re not dating one another, and I wouldn’t want to contemplate any conceivable offspring if they were.

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They’re all away games

Ladies and gentlemen, your Caribbean Queens:

Major League Baseball appears to have its first team in the Caribbean — that is, from a legal standpoint.

According to Douglas Hanks of the Miami Herald, Miami Marlins co-owners Derek Jeter and Bruce Sherman are claiming the team is a corporate citizen of the British Virgin Islands by virtue of its corporate identity, Marlins Teamco.

The Marlins are claiming British Virgin Islands residency under the Marlins Teamco name in an attempt to avoid a profit-sharing lawsuit that was brought against them and former owner Jeffrey Loria by Miami-Dade County in February.

Loria, some of you may remember, bought the Oklahoma City 89ers in 1989, and sold them after the 1992 season, the year OKC first won the American Association title. There was some noise to the effect that the team was going to Jared; the family of Jared Kushner would purchase the Marlins from Loria. It didn’t happen, but the incorporation in the BVIs just seems like the sort of deal Kushner would have had in place. Meanwhile, the Jeter Marlins have angered fans by trading away most of the team to cut payroll.

(Via the Nightfly.)

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Don’t let the rain come down

A case where it might have been easier simply to sue:

A Louisiana roofer faces misdemeanor charges after repossessing a roof because he hadn’t been paid.

Wait, what?

Authorities arrested 66-year-old Andrew Jackson Higdon III, of West Monroe, Tuesday on charges of simple criminal damage to property and criminal trespass. The News-Star reports Higdon was freed after posting $4,500 bond.

The arrest warrant says Ouachita Parish deputies responded Dec. 29, 2016 to a property damage complaint. The victim says Higdon verbally agreed to replace her roof in June and wait for payment until her insurance issued a check.

The victim says Higdon started asking for payment around mid-December. She said she could partially pay, but he wanted the full amount. She says he told her if she didn’t pay, he would take the roof and her house would be damaged when it rained.

Well, yeah, I can sort of see that — but isn’t taking a roof off damned near as much work as putting one on?

(Via George Foster.)

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Keeping it REAL

Roger goes to get a REAL ID:

I brought all sorts of documents, including my phone bill, my bank statement, a credit card bill, and who knows what else that was lying around, but it took me an hour to gather it all because so much of what I pay is online and automatic.

Terrible stories about the DMV abound, so I had blocked out four hours for the task. I went to the first person, who was the gatekeeper. She sent me to a counter, and the clerk looked at all my documents but decided she needed only three: my current DMV card, my passport (still current), and my most recent W-2 tax form.

She sent me to another counter where that clerk verified the info. I got the picture taken, she wished me “Happy birthday,” and I was out of there in about 20 minutes total. Way too easy, for a change.

I have had no dealings with the New York Department of Motor Vehicles, and my one experience with California’s was not all that bad. In this state, a lot of this stuff is privatized, which might be good; then again, we have legislators like this:

The REAL ID Act was put in place in 2005 to improve the reliability of state issued ID’s, making it harder for terrorists to obtain fake identification.

However, Oklahoma passed a law in 2007 that said our state wouldn’t comply with the REAL ID Act, citing concerns about how residents’ information was stored.

The Feds were not amused, but the state was granted several extensions to bring itself into REAL ID compliance, the most recent of which expires this October. And if we’re going to have to visit the actual Department of Public Safety to get our new cards, we probably need to get in line about noon tomorrow.

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Well enough to be left alone

In the northern part of South Carolina there lies an unincorporated community called Indian Land — the Indians in question were most likely Catawba — which in late March held an election to determine whether the community should become an incorporated town. It’s a fairly large area: 58 square miles, population about 25,000.

The measure to incorporate failed, and failed big time: about 17 percent of residents voted for it. But there was a second item on the ballot: a write-in section where voters could propose a new name for the new town. As with incorporation, most voters preferred the status quo, but some of them, well, didn’t. The complete list of names was published [pdf]. Actual voters did write in the following, possibly with tongue in cheek:

  • Yankeeville
  • Trump (there was also a “Hillary Clintonville”)
  • Fantasy Land
  • Ubenscrewed
  • Tebowville
  • Kissmybuttburg
  • (inevitably) Towny McTownface

(Via WBTV.com [warning: autostart video].)

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How it went down

After dinner, I thought about the shooting at YouTube HQ, and I found myself thinking: “How is YouTube actually handling this?” Normally, the home page YouTube sends me contains 10 rows of five thumbnails each, plus a couple of highlighted items, and that was the case last night. This was the fifth row, labeled “Breaking news”:

Screencap from YouTube 3 April 2018

In order of video source: Fox News, CNN, CBS News, The Oregonian, ABC News. Same order prevailed about half a hour later; a new item showed up a couple hours later. from USA Today.

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Smarter bombs

Or perhaps more discriminating bombs. Snoopy the Goon explains:

A curious situation in the CNN reporting on the Austin TX serial bomber. Here is the passage that confused me mightily:

“The first explosion killed 39-year-old Anthony Stephan House on March 2. The second blast on March 12 killed 17-year-old Draylen Mason. The third blast happened several hours later and critically injured a 75-year-old woman. Those three blasts all happened after someone left explosives-laden packages on the victims’ doorsteps. In the fourth blast, a device was triggered by a tripwire, injuring two white men, police said. The device was left on the side of a road in a predominantly white area.”

So the first three blasts killed or injured three persons without any color attributed and the other blast injured two white persons.

Is there some special new kind of explosive material that could be set to injure a colorless person or a person of specific color, depending on the circumstances or on the bomber will?

I don’t think so; on the other hand, I don’t doubt for a minute that some sicko out there fantasizes about exactly that.

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Sheetmetal haircut

(Two bits.)

You gotta love something that causes so much agony for the willfully stupid:

Right off North Carolina Highway 147 in Durham sits a relic of older railroad overpass regulations. The 78-year old bridge that runs along South Gregson Street has a clearance of only 11 feet 8 inches. It has become known across the internet as “The Can-Opener Bridge” because of the astounding number of overconfident truck drivers who think they can squeeze their vehicle under it. Recently, the bridge claimed its 130th victim: an Army LMTV.

Local truck drivers know to avoid the overpass, so nearly every vehicle that gets clipped is either a rental or from out-of-state. The costs of raising the railroad tracks would be astronomical and the city’s main sewer line runs underneath, meaning lowering the road is impossible.

Amazingly, there exists an underpass fourteen inches lower, in Westwood, Massachusetts:

(Via Bayou Renaissance Man.)

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No, Mr Bond, I expect you to sue

I caught a glimpse of it over on the right side of the Facebook screen: an advertisement, image included, for something I would find at www.BondDVDSettlement.com. I thought for a moment, took a guess as to what this could be all about, and discovered that yes, that’s exactly what it’s all about. Let us take a peek at the complaint in Johnson v. MGM Holdings, Inc., et al:

In order to capitalize on the success of the James Bond franchise, beginning in 2012, Defendants released a series of box sets of James Bond films on DVD and represented on the packaging of those sets that each set contains “[a]ll the Bond films gathered together for the first time in this one-of-a-kind box set — every gorgeous girl, nefarious villain and charismatic star from Sean Connery, the legendary actor who started it all, to Daniel Craig.” However, none of these sets contain “all” of the James Bond films or “every” gorgeous girl, nefarious villain, and charismatic star featured therein. The sets only contain the films produced by Eon Productions, a British-based production company that ultimately sold its rights to the James Bond movies it produced to MGM Inc.

Yep. I saw this one coming several kilometers away.

Two additional James Bond films that were not produced by Eon Productions, Casino Royale (1967) (in which actor David Niven, Ian Fleming’s first choice to play the role of James Bond, plays Bond) and Never Say Never Again (1983) (the last of seven (7) James Bond films in which the actor Sean Connery plays James Bond), are not included in the sets — even though MGM Inc. acquired the rights to these two films in 1997, some twenty (20) years ago.

I mention purely in passing that Thunderball, the fourth (4th) of the Connery Bonds, was tied up in legal red tape not once, but twice. Saith Wikipedia:

Originally meant as the first James Bond film, Thunderball was the centre of legal disputes that began in 1961 and ran until 2006. Former Ian Fleming collaborators Kevin McClory and Jack Whittingham sued Fleming shortly after the 1961 publication of the Thunderball novel, claiming he based it upon the screenplay the trio had earlier written in a failed cinematic translation of James Bond. The lawsuit was settled out of court; McClory retained certain screen rights to the novel’s story, plot, and characters. By then, Bond was a box-office success, and series producers [Albert R.] Broccoli and [Harry] Saltzman feared a rival McClory film beyond their control; they agreed to McClory’s producer’s credit of a cinematic Thunderball, with them as executive producers.

Later, in 1964, Eon producers Broccoli and Saltzman agreed with McClory to cinematically adapt the novel; it was promoted as Ian Fleming’s Thunderball. Yet, along with the official credits to screenwriters Richard Maibaum and John Hopkins, the screenplay is also identified as “based on an original screenplay by Jack Whittingham” and as “based on the original story by Kevin McClory, Jack Whittingham, and Ian Fleming”. To date, the novel has twice been adapted cinematically; the 1983 Jack Schwartzman-produced Never Say Never Again features Sean Connery as James Bond, but is not an Eon production.

That said, Eon did release a Bond film in 1983: Octopussy, which outdid Never at the box office, but not by much: $184 million versus $160 million. And Eon remade Casino Royale in 2006, the first Daniel Craig interpretation of Bond; I find myself wondering why the plaintiffs didn’t complain about the 1954 version of Casino Royale, an episode of the TV anthology series Climax! starring Barry Nelson as James, or sometimes “Jimmy,” Bond. MGM owns that too, though they don’t have anything but a B&W kinescope of the show, which was actually shot in color — and on CBS, yet.

Anyway, the proposed settlement will provide downloads of both the ’67 Casino Royale and Never Say Never Again. Attorneys’ fees are capped at a modest $350,000.

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You can’t handle the tooth

This is not the judgment call I’d make, but nobody asked me anyway.

And anyway, he’s got nothing on Steven Tyler. That dude looks like a lady.

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