Archive for Dyssynergy

When we come to it

On second thought, maybe we don’t want to cross this bridge at all:

I’ve had a couple scares in my day, but nothing at this, um, level.

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Set in her ways

Unfortunately, her ways aren’t all that compatible with the ways of the bipeds in the house:

The cat has carried over all of her bad/annoying behavior from our previous house — mostly, that means throwing up almost daily, and occasionally choosing not to poop in her litter box. For both of these issues, we’ve tried everything we’ve read online to try. We feed her smaller portions than we used to, and buy food designed for cats with upset stomachs. As for the “other end,” we have tried different litter, keep the box clean, and completely change it out weekly. Sometimes she uses it, and sometimes she goes and finds a spot under the bed or underneath a desk to do her business.

She also continues to chew cables. Laptop cables, phone charging cables, headphone cables, you name it — the more expensive, the better.

One way we used to deal with the litter box issue and the chewing issue was to keep doors closed. If one of us saw her sniffing around for a place to go, we would put her in the laundry room with her litter box and close the door. To keep her from chewing cables in my computer room and the kids’ bedrooms, we keep our doors closed.

You know what’s coming next:

We don’t have door knobs in this house. Every door has door “levers.” Somehow, the cat has learned that if she jumps up and hangs on to the lever, the door will open. The first time this happened, I was home alone in my office and when the latch on my door rattled, it scared the living crap out of me. Now, placing her in the laundry room does no good because she just lets herself out; same for closing off the bedrooms.

Which is not to say that she’s the Cat from Hell:

[She] is very loving and friendly most of the time. She likes to be wherever we’re at, and is genuinely affectionate. That being said, something has to give, quick.

Regrettably, this is out of my area of expertise.

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The tree did it

Sandbox treeIf Wile E. Coyote, Super Genius, were somehow to decide that the only way to capture his prey would be to plant a tree, this is the tree he would plant:

A member of the spurge family, the sandbox tree (Hura crepitans) grows 90 to 130 feet tall in its native environment. You can easily recognize the tree by its gray bark covered with cone-shaped spikes. The tree has distinctly different male and female flowers. Once fertilized, the female flowers produce the pods containing the sandbox tree’s exploding seeds. Sandbox tree fruit looks like little pumpkins, but once they dry into seed capsules, they become ticking time bombs. When fully mature, they explode with a loud bang and fling their hard, flattened seeds at speeds of up to 150 miles per hour and distances of over 60 feet. The shrapnel can seriously injure any person or animal in its path. As bad as this is, the exploding seed pods are only one of the ways that a sandbox tree can inflict harm.

“Only one”?

The fruit of the sandbox tree is poisonous, causing vomiting, diarrhea and cramps if ingested. The tree sap is said to cause an angry red rash, and it can blind you if it gets in your eyes. It has been used to make poison darts.


You should never plant a sandbox tree. It is too dangerous to have around people or animals, and when planted in isolated areas it is likely to spread.

Not sure they’d grow there, but this idea of Kim du Toit’s is worth passing on:

In the interests of Saving Mother Gaia, we should plant a ten-mile deep line of these bad boys along our southern border; I mean, who can be against reforestation?

Yeah. Who needs that damn wall anyway?

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Around 454 grams

Dripping Springs, Texas is apparently tired of those tired old jokes:

It sounds dirty, but we swear it’s not. A GoFundMe campaign seeking to change the name of Dripping Springs, TX, a tiny Hays County hamlet west of Austin, to Pound Town. Yes, we’re aware that’s what your uncle calls his bedroom, but the goal here isn’t to make Mom blush, but rather to honor town founders Dr. Joseph and Sarah Pound.

According to the GoFundMe, Dr. Pound was one of Hays County’s earliest doctors, and he and his wife’s home served as a “medical office and hospital, church, schoolhouse, post office and social gathering place for the fledgling community of Dripping Springs.” They also call out the respect with which Dr. Pound treated Native Americans. The campaign surpassed its financial goal of $1,854 on Friday—mainly thanks to a donation made by TV host (and serial philanderer) Jesse James, who has a history with the town—but you can still donate or scoop up some merchandise. All donations will go to Friends Of The Pound House, while merch sales will contribute to the ballot initiative to change the name.

And Pound Town serves as nice balance for Round Rock, over in Williamson County.


Worst. Childhood. Ever.

I wouldn’t know where to begin to excerpt this, except to say that if it’s true, she would have lasted longer than I would have.

So start here.


Down toward the bottom line

This item from the Quora queue is more disheartening than usual:

In terms of messaging, how do you persuade a consumer to select a very highly priced family-sized vehicle at a period in their lives when, arguably, they have the least disposable income?

Now you know why it’s called the Almighty Dollar: it has its own set of worshippers.

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Gratuitous gratuity

More than just a mere tip:

The family got together for lunch on Saturday at The Imperial restaurant in downtown Portland. With a name like that, and the fact that they take reservations, I was a afraid it might be expensive, but it wasn’t too awful. $150 for six, with coffee, no alcohol. Because there were six of us, the bill included the tip. It also contained a 3% wellness charge. I have no idea where that came from.

I was curious enough to try to track that down, and:

From the DOC restaurant menu: A 3% health and wellness charge will be added to each check to provide health insurance and living wages for all our staff. Thank you!

Which, I suppose, might be preferable to just jacking up the price and not explaining why. Judging by the comments on that second link, though, a lot of people would prefer the jackage.

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Oh, goodness, Aunt Becky

I’d been hoping for a nemo paradise take on this particular contretemps:

I read this morning that the government has set bail for an actress named Lori Loughlin at a cool one million bucks. She paid a guy to bribe somebody at a huge California diploma mill called USC into accepting her daughters for admission, and she has been charged, not with statutory stupidity, but with mail fraud.

Yet it seems pretty clear to me that tragedy is averted by the sheer quality of comedy that obtains:

First of all, there’s the USC angle. In A Man For All Seasons, Thomas More asks his corrupted protege Richard Rich, whose false testimony has been bought by making him Chancellor of the Welsh:

“Richard, it profits not a man, should he lose his soul, to gain the whole world! But — for Wales?”

Bribing people to get your kid into Harvard, Stanford — even Brown — is understandable. But USC? Tailback U?

And the best comedy, of course, is the comedy that’s the most universal:

What Loughlin did is dishonest, but hardly worth the level of outrage it has ginned up among both red and blue TV virtue-signalers. Frankly, anybody who ever handed a headwaiter a tip to get a table is guilty of social misconduct, and being a friend of the doorman at last night’s hottest club shouldn’t get you inside ahead of all those eager folks waiting patiently in line, now, should it?

It’s not the bribe; it’s the acknowledgement of a bribe. There are places on this earth where nothing gets done unless palms are greased.

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Neither silent nor deadly

But a distraction just the same:

At a snooker match in the UK, Judd Trump lines up for a shot as he attempts to mount a comeback against Ronnie O’Sullivan. But right before he pulls the trigger on the attempt, someone in the audience pulls the trigger on a thunderous fart. It takes over a minute for the audience to settle down, but even Trump and O’Sullivan get in a chuckle.

A big ripper, indeed.

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Every shot counts

A Toronto trauma surgeon who advocates for more stringent gun control in the Great White North will be spared the indignity of being challenged on her views:

Ontario’s regulatory college for doctors has dismissed complaints lodged by members of a firearm advocacy group against a Toronto trauma surgeon advocating for tighter gun control.

Najma Ahmed, the physician at the centre of about 70 complaints lodged by gun advocates, said Wednesday the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario informed her it will not investigate the complaints.

The response from the college says a committee has determined the complaints are “frivolous” and “vexatious” and don’t warrant further investigation, she said.

Wait a minute. There’s a firearm advocacy group in Canada?

The Canadian Coalition for Firearm Rights (CCFR) started a campaign last month encouraging members to file complaints about Dr. Ahmed with the CPSO, using the “stay in your lane” mantra in online posts — the same line the U.S. National Rifle Association has directed at doctors advocating for stricter gun control.

Dr. Ahmed has been singled out by the group since she helped found Canadian Doctors for Protection from Guns, an advocacy group formed last month highlighting the public health implications of gun-related injuries and deaths. The group is calling for a handgun and assault-weapon ban, as well as other measures to reduce gun-related deaths and injuries.

“Last month”? CCFR speaks up:

On a warm summer evening in Toronto on the Danforth, people were enjoying the pleasantries of a July night out. Sipping lattes at cafes, doing some shopping, meeting with friends and family. The kind of sultry summer nights we thrive on in Ontario in contrast to the bitter cold of winter.

At around 10:00pm the quiet, subdued atmosphere was interrupted by the alarming sounds of gunfire. Complete chaos ensued with terrified citizens scrambling for safety, nobody fully aware of what was happening. The shooter wandered along the busy street, shooting randomly at strangers, wreaking havoc in the worst imaginable way. Something that usually resides only in the nightmares of Canadians.

At the end of the violence, more than a dozen people lay injured, two beautiful young girls dead, a whole country gripped in terror and grief.

At the same time, doctors and trauma staff at St. Michael’s Hospital and Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre were pushed into a full code red, with victims being rushed into operating and emergency rooms. Dr. Najma Ahmed was one of these doctors, tasked with the daunting job of trying to save lives, an experience that is sure to have lasting impact on everyone involved.

This event, while tragic and awful, was a pivotal point in Dr. Ahmed’s personal advocacy pursuits. Keep in mind the perpetrator, Faisal Hussain was an unlicensed criminal in possession of illegal firearms, traced to a brother with gang ties and an alleged terrorist link. This violence was not the result of a licensed Canadian firearms owner, a sport shooter or hunter. However, born out of this traumatic experience Dr. Ahmed has embarked on a crusade to engage and lobby the federal government to table legislation to ban and confiscate the legally acquired firearms from sport shooters, the very people not responsible for the trauma experienced by her and other Torontonians that night.

It’s a shame that Canadians are beset by unlicensed criminals; down here in the States, our government is working on obtaining licenses for our criminals.

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And also, the earth is flat

A Quoran who’s evidently failed to take his meds: Why does the American government claim that the capital city is not located in any state, when they just took the city of Washington, Maryland and refer to it as a “district”?

Someone this delusional could only be … hmmm, for some reason this question was filed under “Hillary Clinton.” No, I don’t know why.

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Enough of that crap

I tend to raise an eyebrow to near-Spockian levels whenever recycling is mentioned, there being so little market for our garbage these days, but trust me, it’s not because we like wallowing in this stuff:

Personally, I hate creating so much garbage. For example, packaging (as compared to during my youth) — especially plastic packaging such as those impossible-to-open hard see-through thingees that seem to surround nearly every small gadget one buys these days — has gotten way out of hand. I receive an amazing amount of unsolicited junk mail and it doesn’t seem to be stoppable; that stuff just goes directly into recycling and isn’t even opened. What a waste, and I don’t remember anything even remotely like it even as recently as ten years ago.

Probably the only way we’re ever going to get rid of clamshell packaging is to encourage actual clams to revolt.

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Over a barrel

It’s been several years since I last stepped into a gun store, so I figured it might be a good time to look at the current background-check rules, courtesy of

When you visit a gun store and attempt to purchase a firearm, you must complete a Firearm Transaction Record, or ATF Form 4473 — which requires the intended purchaser’s name, address, and birthdate. The form also requires a government-issued photo ID and asks questions regarding the individual’s appearance, including height and weight.

Once the form’s completed, the gun seller can either call the 1-800 number for NICS or use the online system to run the background check. In over 90 percent of the cases, the results are almost immediate, with the system either approving, delaying, or denying the purchase within minutes.

With an approval, the sale can immediately proceed as planned with you purchasing the firearm. If there is a delay, the NICS and FBI investigate the inquiry over the next three days. If the FFL does not hear anything within that time period or if a determination cannot be made, then the retailer can, but does not have to, continue with the firearm transfer. When this occurs, it’s often referred to as a “default proceed” sale.

When a denial is made, which occurs in only about 2 percent of background checks, the retailer is unable to sell or transfer the firearm to the individual in question. You must submit a request to the NICS to receive the reason for your denial, the most common of which is a history of a felony conviction.

The current rules date from 1998, or just after “The Cartridge Family” episode of The Simpsons aired:


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Disguise the limit

Carlos Ghosn has bailed out of Japanese jail:

Former Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn has left a Tokyo prison after posting bail to the tune of $8.9 million. His 108-day detention ended with the industry titan being escorted out out the building while wearing a disguise that entailed a cap, surgical mask, glasses, and workman’s clothes.

Ghosn left the Tokyo Detention House around 4:30 on Wednesday afternoon, already beset by camera crews. According to reports, the former auto executive was steered away from a black van and pushed into a small Suzuki befitting his disguise — despite its failure to fool the media. He’s now in a secret, court-appointed residence where he’ll be under constant surveillance as he attempts to prepare his next move.

“I am also grateful to the NGOs and human rights activists in Japan and around the world who fight for the cause of presumption of innocence and a fair trial,” Ghosn said prior to his release in a statement. “I am innocent and totally committed to vigorously defending myself in a fair trial against these meritless and unsubstantiated accusations.”

Nice to know that global plutocrats have human-rights agencies at their beck and call.

According to Bloomberg, the Japanese government has expressly forbid the former automotive executive from leaving the country while also stipulating that he have limited Internet access and be placed under video surveillance.

“There will be very intense surveillance,” Francois Zimeray, the French lawyer representing Ghosn’s wife and four children, told Europe 1 radio on Wednesday. “It’s not total liberty. But compared to the nightmare of his incarceration, with minimal rights in the Kosuge jail, for him it’s an improvement.”

If convicted, Ghosn faces ten years in probably similar circumstances.


Make mine decaf

Carol, honey, you know I adore you, but … nope. Or maybe NOPE, in those big stone letters they used to use to promote Hollywood blockbusters like Ben-Hur.

On second thought, this might be a great idea — for Starbucks founder Howard Schultz.

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No Trump may have been involved

Meanwhile, this guy probably feels like he’s been clubbed in the heart:

The World Bridge Federation says the world’s No. 1 bridge player has been suspended after failing a drug test.

The federation said on its website Friday that Geir Helgemo, who is Norwegian but represents Monaco in bridge events, tested positive for synthetic testosterone and female fertility drug clomifene at a World Bridge Series event in Orlando, Florida last September.

After accepting he had breached anti-doping rules, Helgemo was suspended by the WBF until Nov. 20. He also had all titles, medals and points from the 2018 World Bridge Series revoked.

A bridge player, doping? How can this be?

Kari-Anne Opsal, president of the Norwegian Bridge Federation, said the drugs were “not performance enhancing.”

Oh. Well, that’s a relief.

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The gentleman’s cipher

So you turn in absolutely nothing for the assignment. What grade have you earned? No, guess again:

Diane Tirado has been a teacher for years. Most recently, she was an eighth-grade history teacher at Westgate K-8 School in Port St. Lucie, Florida.

Diane recently gave her students two weeks to complete an Explorer notebook project, but several students simply didn’t hand it in. Since there was zero work done, Diane gave them zeros.

She got fired for it.

Apparently school policy requires a minimum grade of 50, whether any work was done or not. Says Mrs T:

“I’m so upset because we have a nation of kids that are expecting to get paid and live their life just for showing up and it’s not real.”

And Bill Quick notes:

I expect the next step will be to require that no student be given any more than a 50. Can’t have anybody’s self esteem damaged by those who aren’t actually moronic ignoramuses.

No, indeed.

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At least he tried

But we are not always successful, are we?

(Via Miss Cellania.)

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It’s gotta go somewhere

Yesterday the office got a small check from a local paper recycler. We don’t know what they’re doing with all that shredded-tree extract, but we hope it isn’t this:

The conscientious citizens of Philadelphia continue to put their pizza boxes, plastic bottles, yogurt containers and other items into recycling bins.

But in the past three months, half of these recyclables have been loaded on to trucks, taken to a hulking incineration facility and burned, according to the city’s government.

It’s a situation being replicated across the US as cities struggle to adapt to a recent ban by China on the import of items intended for reuse.

The loss of this overseas dumping ground means that plastics, paper and glass set aside for recycling by Americans is being stuffed into domestic landfills or is simply burned in vast volumes. This new reality risks an increase of plumes of toxic pollution that threaten the largely black and Latino communities who live near heavy industry and dumping sites in the US.

Greeniacs around this town insist that you not throw pizza boxes in the green bin, presumably for grease-related reasons.

Wait a minute. Grease is flammable, is it not?

(With thanks to regular reader Holly H.)

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With neither cheese nor cream

This is one of those times when you wish Harry Chapin could be here:

About 40,000 pounds of broccoli on the side of a metro Atlanta freeway Monday morning won’t ever make it to a dinner plate.

That’s good news for picky youngsters, but it caused trouble for drivers through Clayton County overnight. A tractor-trailer overturned on the ramp from I-285 to I-75, spilling the frozen vegetables all over the interstate.

In the absence of Mr Chapin, we bring you Russ Giguere and the Association:

(Via Fark.)

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The American tax

In that little piece about a Japanese luxury train, I suggested that such a conveyance would “never catch on here.” One reason it wouldn’t is simply that an American operation would have to charge several times as much, and it’s not hard to see why:

American infrastructure is this costly because of immense, endemic, universal public-private corruption — systems of both direct and financialized graft at every stage of infrastructure development, from the planning to the ribbon-cutting to the use of deferred maintenance to ransack public transportation budgets for cash, year after year, after which the responsible authorities claim that fixing the century-old signals is just too damn pricey. This system of legal fraud begins with the bevies of project consultants, continues through ludicrous private contractor and labor costs, and continues when, years later, high-paid administrative fixers and new armies of consultants and contractors arrive to fix what broke because it was never maintained. It is a system of tolerated kleptocracy that may be the only thing that America still does better than anyone else in the world. It is baked into every assumption about building for the public benefit.

To which Dave Schuler adds:

That isn’t true only of high-speed rail. It’s true of education, health care, the military, and every other action of government at any level in the United States. It will be true of a “Green New Deal” if such a thing were to be embarked upon. It is why we pay more for just about anything than anyone else in the world. Can we fix these things? Yes, we can. Will we? The smart money says “No.”

“Greed is good,” said Gordon Gekko, and legions enlisted under his banner; the fact that he was a fictional character made absolutely no difference.

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Friends are clamoring to know

One of the innocents on Quora asks:

When people use the phrase “asking for a friend” on social media, about what percentage of the time is this untrue and they are really asking for themselves?

“Percentage” meaning literally “out of a hundred,” what you do is start at 100 and count backwards.

You will never reach 99.

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On the far side of the Rio Grande

You’ve seen some of these names before:

As our road trip wound through some of the industrial centers of he country I saw corporate brands you would deem exclusively “American,” each taking advantage of the cheaper labor and costs in order to remain competitive domestically.

Much angst was generated locally and nationally when United Technologies planned to close its unionized Carrier factory in Indianapolis. The Trumpster even got involved. Lots of folks vowed to never buy a Carrier again. Of course they will forget this notion in fifteen or twenty years when they finally need a new furnace or air conditioner. More to the point, I read nothing about boycotts of Lennox, who, by the way, has a factory in … Mexico.

I know nobody who would likely ask the HVAC tech “Where is this product made?” But this could just be a manifestation of fear that the answer might be “China.”


A very high pitch

Brian J. is not impressed by this gadget:

When we bought Nogglestead, one of the outlets in the corner of the lower level had a Bell Howard Ultrasonic Pest Repeller plugged into it. It was out of the way, so we just left it there. For a very long time. Seven or eight years.

However, we have professional pest control services for bugs and quadrupeds for mice, lizards, and snakes. So about a year ago, when I was plugging or unplugging something from behind the chairs or perhaps doing one of our decennial vacuumings behind the reading chairs, I unplugged it and set it on the bar behind the coffee pot and electric tea kettle.

My own thinking: (1) this device comes from Bell and Howell, an old-line optics operation, and (2) you’d think an old-line optics operation would balk at having its name appear on questionable technology like this.

I doubted that it served its claimed purpose; the only mouse intrusion we’ve had was when one got in from the garage when we stored the cat food underneath the bar sink — right next to the repeller. The mouse didn’t have to cross any cat-patrolled ground for a snack, and I’ve not seen any other evidence of mice in the house since we’ve moved the cat food to a different cabinet. Nor did it keep out the various snakes, frogs, and lizards that the cats used to find (but they haven’t found in a while, which must mean the new cats are lazier than their predecessors, or the reptiles and amphibians are more cagey).

I own a similar device, and have similar questions about its efficacy. On the other hand, its placement makes it a good night-light.

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You’re on Rancid Camera

If you aren’t being watched already, muses the Z Man, you will be:

Every internet drama seems to involve one party publishing chats, video or audio of another party. Super villain Jeff Bezos is an obvious example. He broke the cardinal rule of super villains: Never write when you can speak. Never speak when you can nod. Most important, never send pics of your wiener to people. He was cavalier about being recorded and now is the world’s silliest super villain.

The result of all this is two things. One is the total lack of privacy. The only place that will be safe for anyone to imagine bad things is in their own head. When the internet of things is quietly spying in every home, car and public place, there will no longer be the concept of privacy. Imagine a land where there are no walls and no clothes. Everyone walks around naked and in full view of everyone else. It sounds crazy, but people adapt. The citizens of the future custodial state will get used to a word without privacy.

The other thing is no one will take anyone’s word for anything. This will include people in authority. If you can’t trust your own senses, you’re unlikely to trust the senses of some guy on television claiming to be your leader. Civic duty will have to be replaced with some form of coercion. Perhaps nudge technology will reach a point where the nudged will think they are acting of their own free will. Maybe the people in charge will fit everyone with a WiFi enabled technology collar that ties them into the internet of things.

In this technological dystopia, my utterly-dumb kitchen appliances will be, for a few minutes before the powers that be take notice, worth more than their turn-of-the-century prices.

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You’re bugging me

The Hemsley Conservation Centre in Fairsea, Kent perhaps understands this day too well:

For those that don’t quite require revenge, there’s another way to make you feel better about getting back at your ex this Valentine’s Day.

​The HCC is offering the chance to name a cockroach in honor of your friend’s worthless ex-“someone” on this special holiday of love.

​We are highlighting these creatures through our “name a cockroach programme” (we think adopt is a little too strong, after all — you probably don’t want to adopt your friend’s ex) to raise money for our projects at the zoo.

The price is a mere £1.50. Think of it as 25p per leg.

(Via Bayou Renaissance Man.)


It’s madness all the way down

And maybe a few meters beyond that:

Remarkably, none of this occurred in Florida.

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Big dreams, little chance

Insomnia, it appears, can cause madness: Is there any way that I can hire someone to force the San Antonio International Airport to permanently shut down?


I need to stop having my ears, heart, and mind blown out by the extremely loud, low-flying planes that practically hit my roof every minute (including in the middle of the night when I’m trying to sleep)!

Then why did you move there, you nitwit? The runway has been there for only seventy-six years.


Vestigial colonialism

Things you should know about the Kenyan national anthem “Ee Mungu Nguvu Yetu”:

It is notable for being one of the first national anthems to be specifically commissioned as such. It was written by the Kenyan Anthem Commission in 1963 to serve as the state anthem after independence from the United Kingdom. It was expected that the lyrics would express the deepest convictions and the highest aspirations of the people as a whole.

The YouTube channel 2nacheki posted the Top 10 National Anthems of Africa:

The Kenyan anthem was deemed Number One.

And then:

[T]he channel soon received notification from YouTube that their video had infringed upon the rights of UK-based music company De Wolfe Music, a claim that was made via content monetization company AdRev Publishing.

Needless to say, the channel was pretty shocked to see this claim on their account. Not only does the Kenyan government consider the piece to be its property, but it was written by the Kenyan Anthem Commission in 1963 to serve as the state anthem after independence from Great Britain, where De Wolfe is based.

Only adding to the complications is that since the anthem is more than 50 years old, it has officially fallen into the public domain. This has caused the Office of the Attorney General and Department of Justice to issue a joint press release denouncing the action against a piece of its heritage.


(Via Fark.)

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Standing instructions

The pizza guy gets these instructions from me when I order: “Customer uses a walker and may be slow coming to the door.”

Some pizza guy somewhere gets this from someone:

Customer requests

How else are we going to know these things?

(With thanks to Amy Poindexter.)

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