It’s all there in black and white

Or is that “white and black”? Yesterday’s Zebra Race at Remington Park:

If nothing else, this demonstrates the truth of the assertion that if the creatures are sufficiently multicellular and mobile, humans will wager on their speed.

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The craven little toaster

This machine doth vex Roberta X:

My toaster has betrayed me for the last time. It has developed an unnatural hunger for Pop-Tarts; it’s sad enough I can only find the one flavor without frosting, sadder still that it’s not blueberry — alas, Babylon! Alas, vaccinium corymbosum! — and saddest of all that the toaster merrily pops up a pair of ’em with enough force that one leaps out of the bottom support (which is, I swear it, barbed), falls past it and jams in the crumbs at the bottom and the heating element at the side. Being a Pop-Tart, it’s got less structural integrity than wet tissue paper, so every attempt to free it results in more and more hot, sugared filling being smeared into unreachable corners, nooks and crannies. That evil machine has got to go!

Unfrosted blueberry is, of course, the Pop-Tart of choice.

My own semi-reliable machine, now closing in on 35 years, has a quite different issue: it occasionally balks at downward propulsion, meaning you have to push the lever down more than once to get it to budge. (Worst case so far: three iterations.) On the upside, so to speak, its ejection capacity remains undiminished after all these years.

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A name without so much Dale in it

And now, a statement from The Band Formerly Known As Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.:

The flip side is that as things have grown, so has the amount of confusion caused by the name Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr. Some of it is no big deal and easily cleared up. But sometimes we get sad and bizarre requests sent to our social media sites or emailed to people we work with. We’ve had people drive long distances to shows only to be disappointed when they realize it’s a neurotic Jew and wild haired gentile from Detroit they’ve paid to see. A number of times now we’ve received hope filled inquiries from people who have dying relatives that only want to meet Dale Earnhardt Jr (the driver) before they pass. Those sorts of interactions feel a little voyeuristic and eerie, and even attempting to simply clarify the situation means you’ve added a moment of embarrassment to someone’s day when they’re already going through a lot.

We recognize that we created this situation and that the name has been a part of getting to where we are now. It stirred up some attention for us in the modern internet world of over-stimulation, and we aren’t complaining about any of it — good and bad. The name has become its own personality, though. Almost another member of the band.

But as time has passed, we have grown into ourselves, both as artists and individuals. Each of our perspectives have gotten stronger, and we’ve found that there is no longer room for a third, ubiquitous member of the project.

So recently, after a lot of thought and discussion, we made the decision to shorten our band name to the much more brief moniker of …


The band still has an eye for the incomprehensible, though, as witness their video for the 2015 single “Gone”:

I remain a fan.

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Strange search-engine queries (534)

As a general rule, Google and its ilk will not send you more than 1000 results for any given search. Despite this rule, it’s relatively easy for a search to end up here, there being six million words or so to choose from. All of these somehow did:

German lass Milf Patriarch sleeps with teen boyish sub subsequently game:  I can’t help but think we’re not getting the whole story here.

bobby stole money from the local grocery store on the corner to buy beer. he later assaulted a 72-year-old woman and stole her purse. in the alley, he dumped the purse, went to starbucks for a cup of coffee, and proceeded to take the train to the suburbs. on the train, someone stepped on his shoes:  And Bobby shot him, because oppression.

“like”, “um”, and “you know” are all examples of:  Whatever.

what should i do with my life:  While you still have time, spend some of it away from the keyboard.

during a long drive, tony counted the number of pickups and sedans he saw driving in the opposite direction. after a while, he noticed that on average there were 5 sedans for every 2 pickups. at this ratio, how many sedans would he have counted if he had passed 18 pickups?  Evidently Tony was not in Texas, where pickups outnumber sedans about five to one.

microwaveable pork rinds where to buy:  Probably not in Qatar. Yet.

mike bought 200 shares of pdq stock on margin at $15/share. the stock increased to $21/share. what was mike’s profit?  Under Bernie Sanders’ tax plan, 53 cents.

darth vader water pipe:  “I have altered the flow. Pray I do not alter it further.”

mine flex:  Well, at least somebody’s do.

brother jukebox sister wine:  Part of the extended family of Uncle Kracker.

3.39 inches:  Current Tinder value of “seven inches.”

definition of delayed gratification:  I’ll tell you later.

crummier definition:  You can’t get much crummier than that.

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From the We Are Doomed files

A couple of years ago, I posted something about a couple of antihistamines that had a tendency to screw up, so to speak, one’s libido. The title — “Friends with Benadryl” — got no reaction whatsoever, perhaps because we have a tendency to venerate drugs that do us a favor. We also have a tendency to forget that every drug has side effects, and sometimes those side effects can be nasty:

A new study, published Monday, offers the most definite proof yet of what scientists have known for at least a decade: that anticholinergic drugs [pdf] are linked with cognitive impairment and an increased risk of dementia.

Though you may have never heard of this class of drug, you’ve certainly heard of the medications themselves, including Benadryl, Demerol, Dimetapp, Dramamine, Paxil, Unisom and VESIcare. They are sold over the counter and by prescription as sleep aids and for chronic diseases including hypertension, cardiovascular disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

At the link, there’s a scale for various drugs, each of which is assigned an anticholinergic “burden score” of 1 to 3 points, 3 being the worst: “Evidence from literature, expert opinion, or prescribers information that medication may cause delirium.” The brand names mentioned in the article generally score 3.

The new study [pdf] seems to reinforce this judgment:

The study looked at 451 people, with an average age of 73. Sixty of them were taking at least one medication with medium or high anticholinergic activity. To identify physical and physiological changes that could be associated with the reported effects, researchers assessed the results of memory and cognitive tests; PET scans, to measure brain metabolism; and MRI scans, to assess brain structure.

The cognitive tests revealed that people taking anticholinergic drugs performed worse on short-term memory tests, as well as on some tests of executive function, including verbal reasoning, planning and problem-solving.

Anticholinergic drug users also showed lower levels of glucose metabolism — a biomarker for brain activity — both in the brain overall and in the hippocampus, a region of the brain associated with memory and which has been identified as affected early by Alzheimer’s disease. The participants using anticholinergic drugs were also found to have reduced brain volume and larger ventricles, the cavities inside the brain.

The catch here is that those 60 individuals were taking those meds on a regular basis, presumably allowing the deleterious effects to accumulate. The conclusion is actually rather modest: for older patients, at least, it might be wise to seek alternative treatments. Of course, since this came out on CNN, there are going to be shrieks of “We’re All Gonna Die,” exactly as there are for any such health stories that get into the popular press. That said, I have about 500 tabs of Sominex (AC burden score: 3) that I may just chuck into the landfill.

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Unnecessary complexity

I didn’t think so, but then I’m not the guy writing the software:

My income consists of a pension, Social Security, and not much more. It’s generally pretty cut and dried. So I’ve usually done it myself. But this time I had a royalty check for a book I and some others wrote in 2002.

When I entered the figure — about 50 dollars — TurboTax got all high and mighty, refusing to do my taxes for the regular sum of about $40. I had turned out to be a very special taxpayer, one which would strain the algorithm and probably crash the entire system. So complex was my income that TurboTax stopped in its tracks. It shied like a horse who was asked to jump a deep ditch. I was informed that my royalty check made me an unusual taxpayer and I needed an extra $50 for them to continue my return.

OMG, another form! This is apparently how they subsidize e-filing for people who don’t actually earn enough to file.

I would now be paying a hundred dollars in fees for earning an extra $50. For a couple of hundred I could hire a live accountant.

I pondered the problem for a couple of days and then decided to file for a six month extension, thus evading the problem until the leaves turned color and started to fall from the trees.

Under the circumstances, I don’t blame her in the slightest.

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Stench warfare

Used to be, guys were expected to go easy with the whole fragrance thing. (I dabble in Ralph Lauren Polo, which is not the subtlest scent in the store, but I use it sparingly.) No more, it seems:

[N]o one is writing, shouting, or trying to criminalize the most offensive thing in our modern society. Yes, faithful readers, I’m talking about perfume and cologne. There is, until the coming change in weather (warmer/colder/wetter/drier/fires/ice/storms/drought) plenty of soap and water. Try a shower. You don’t need to bathe in man-perfume. You may like it, but most of us think you smell like a Parisian whorehouse, and not in a good way.

Just this morning, I was deep undercover in the hinterlands of eastern Cheeseheadistan, choking down my Hampton Inn powdered eggs and watery oatmeal, when a dude plopped down at a table a few feet away. The wave of odoriferous scent slapped me in the face. It was as if Channel 3, 5, 7, and 9 tagged teamed with a musk ox to roll in the shattered detrious of a flower shop. Man, was it offensive.

I’m not sure whether he meant “detritus” or “deleterious,” but neither of those is exactly good, you know?

Of course, it’s not just the guys:

And how about the women who find the need to surround themselves with a Pepe le Pew-like cloud of fragrance just to buy bananas and hamburger down at the local Kroger?

Le mew.

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A case of inadequate insurance

Or some sort of inadequacy, surely:

Cadillac with a messed-up deck lid: Dumb Broad Light Was Red

I took this on Northwest 36th Street just east of Interstate 44 yesterday.

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How do they work, anyway?

We’ll presume you already understand farking magnetism, or at the very least can recognize it at a glance. Now comes the question: how do you ship a fair-sized (six inches across, weighing 6.5 kg) magnet without causing difficulty for other parcels being delivered in the same vehicle?

The answer, of course, is “Very carefully”:

Biggest magnet I have around the place sits under the subwoofer in the car, and I’m pretty sure it’s nowhere near that big, or it would have planted itself on the headliner by now.

(A @SwiftOnSecurity special.)

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This way to the brink

During the two middle quarters, the Mavericks outscored the Thunder 61-56, which demonstrated that they’re not entirely out of this series; what’s more, the Mavs, who had not shot well early on, brought their shooting percentage over 50 percent in the fourth. But the dreaded Injury Bug paid Dallas a couple of visits: Deron Williams, who did not look at all well, was pulled within a minute and a half, and Salah Mejri, who’d been effectively bothering the Thunder, bruised his hip in the second half and did not return. With J. J. Barea reduced to a nonfactor — Andre Roberson pestered Barea all night, leaving him 0-7 from the floor — it was left to Raymond Felton and Dirk Nowitzki to carry the Mavericks’ banner, and that’s a big flag for just two guys, even two guys with that much court cred. With two and a half minutes left, radio guy Matt Pinto pronounced the Mavs, then down 13, “exhausted,” and maybe they were. But at the 50-second mark, Kevin Durant disappeared in a wholly unexpected manner: a Flagrant Two at the expense of Justin Anderson. With KD thumbed, the Mavs had an opening, and by 0:38 they’d shaved that OKC lead to a mere eight. They would not get further. Oklahoma City 119, Dallas 108, the Thunder are up 3-1, and the series goes back to OKC on Monday.

And really, KD wasn’t missed that much; he was having a fairly mediocre (for Durant) night, with 19 points on 7-20 shooting. And he only hit four free throws, out of eight. But being the third leading scorer for the night didn’t hurt, with another Russell Westbrook double-double (25 points/15 dimes) and a spectacular showing, especially in the fourth quarter, from Enes Kanter, who finished with 28 on 12-13, including four free throws. Out of four. Yeah, Dirk had 27 for the night, but it took him 40 minutes; Kanter, the most expensive sixth man in the NBA and darn well worth it, did it in 26.

Still, the Mavs do not roll over and play dead. If Dirk’s okay Monday, and there’s no reason at the moment to think he won’t be, he’ll be a factor. And Raymond Felton, who’d never seemed like quite the A-list guard anywhere else he’s played, has absolutely blossomed in this series; tonight he had 19 points and 11 assists. The reliable Wesley Matthews continues to be, well, reliable. And the Thunder still have ways of giving it away: they missed ten free throws tonight. Still, it’s do or die for Dallas at the Thunderdome on Monday. Whatever tricks Rick Carlisle may have up his well-tailored sleeve, he’d better have them ready.

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In the early 1960s Lonnie McIntosh, having foreshortened his last name to “Mack,” was getting regular studio work with the smallish Fraternity label in Cincinnati, and one day — specifically, 12 March 1963 — he and the group killed a few leftover minutes of studio time with some guitar vamping on the theme of Chuck Berry’s “Memphis, Tennessee.” He didn’t think any more about it, as he was scheduled to be part of a Troy Seals tour. And while he was out on the road, someone at Fraternity got the idea of issuing Mack’s impromptu recording on an actual 45. It promptly rose to the Top Five on both pop and R&B charts, and Mack had no idea it was even out as a single.

No fool, Mack got home and laid down enough tracks for an album, including a single called “Wham!” with the exclamation point. What no one was expecting was that Mack could also sing, although Fraternity wasn’t at all keen on one of their stars diversifying. “Why,” from that first album, didn’t come out as a single for five years, and as a B-side at that. Then again, it might have been just a hair too fierce for an A-side:

And since we haven’t heard “Wham!” yet, here it is live, with another pretty amazing guitarist: Stevie Ray Vaughan.

I’m guessing you might have heard more about Mack’s death (at 74) had it not happened on the same day as Prince’s.

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Vacant stairs

To some, an architectural specialty; to others, a symbol of opportunity; to me, an adversary of long standing.

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Stam tall

Last time we checked in with Jessica Stam, she was showing us the inside of a Mercedes-Benz concept car, which probably isn’t a bad gig for a model, especially one who was discovered in a Tim Hortons.

That was four and a half years ago. Since then, she’s appeared, as models will, in many different guises, some of which are more plausible than others.

Jessica Stam in a dramatic pose

Jessica Stam in a not-so-dramatic pose

The latter of these comes from a 2015 gala in Saint-Tropez under the auspices of the Leonardo diCaprio Foundation. It’s, um, an interesting style.

From Vogue, a short film starring Stam, on behalf of the fashion house founded by Thierry Mugler:

Watch this video on The Scene.

Although she’s probably best known for taking a spill at the Chloé Fall 2006 show in Paris:

She later blamed the shoes, which she said were “ridiculously high,” but I have to admire her The Show Must Go On look.

Jessica Stam, thirty today, is five foot ten and a half, in case you were wondering about the title.

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Security on the cheap

Too often, it turns out to be no security at all:

Rudimentary security procedures at Bangladesh Bank are being blamed for the massive online banking heist that saw the country’s central bank lose $80 million in unauthorised wire transfers.

In early February hackers tried to transfer around $1 billion from Bangladesh Bank’s account with the NY Fed, successfully stealing more than $80 million.

According to a report from Reuters, police investigating the attack say the central bank was vulnerable to hackers because it did not have a firewall and used second-hand, $10 routers to network computers connected to the Swift payment network.

Swift was apparently appalled, albeit after the fact:

A spokesman for Bangladesh Bank said Swift officials told the bank to upgrade the switches only when their system engineers from Malaysia visited after the heist.

It isn’t ransomware, technically, but the effect is pretty much the same.

(Via @SwiftOnSecurity [no relation].)

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Kneel before Scheherazade

Master the art, and more than a thousand and one wondrous nights shall be yours:

Guys: Are your pick-up lines no longer working? Well, here’s a new approach you may want to try. Go over to that attractive woman, introduce yourself, and tell her in a quiet but authoritative voice: It’s been a quiet week in Lake Wobegon…

That’s right: Spin a yarn. Newly published research finds women view men as more attractive potential long-term mates if they are good storytellers.

“Stories are not just mere conversation,” write Melanie Green of the University of Buffalo and John Donahue of the University of North Carolina. “Storytelling ability appears to increase (a man’s) perceived status, and thus helps men attract long-term partners.”

As a Bard with -6 Charisma, I am not likely to achieve results of this type.

What’s more, this is not supposed to work in the opposite direction. Per the abstract:

Results suggested that only women’s attractiveness assessments of men as a long-term date increased for good storytellers. Storytelling ability did not affect men’s ratings of women nor did it affect ratings of short-term partners.

Color me “outlier.” Then again, I may be remembering Sir Richard Burton’s description of Scheherazade:

[She] had perused the books, annals and legends of preceding Kings, and the stories, examples and instances of bygone men and things; indeed it was said that she had collected a thousand books of histories relating to antique races and departed rulers. She had perused the works of the poets and knew them by heart; she had studied philosophy and the sciences, arts and accomplishments; and she was pleasant and polite, wise and witty, well read and well bred.

Wiser than I, surely. Still, one of us has to be the brains of the operation, and I’m not particularly adept at it.

(Via Fark.)

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I do believe

ThinkProgress has a chap on their roster with “a Master’s in Divinity from Harvard University,” which prompted this amused (I think) riposte from Severian:

Which means he’s never even cracked the cover of the Bible, and wouldn’t recognize Jesus if He turned his venti soy latte into wine right in front of him. Harvard’s Div School has a rep second only to Yale’s as a wretched hive of scum and villany, and I know some folks personally who went to Yale Div. It’s a great school if you want to rationalize being a gay Wiccan transgender Buddhist-Jain-Shaman fusionist who’s “spiritual, not religious.” Bible stuff, not so much.

Well, of course not: if you quote from either Testament in public discourse, the Officially Secular — “We’d call ourselves atheists, but that would require us to actually believe something” — will get their vestments in a wad.

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