Woman’s got Seoul

Sgt. Mom, who spent no small amount of time south of the 38th parallel, speculates as to what’s going on to the north:

The Korean nationals that I worked with, on my various voice and broadcasting jobs were a relatively cosmopolitan lot, and we talked now and again about the North, and the threat intermittently posed, most notably to Seoul, well within artillery range of North Korean big guns. Indeed, about every six months or so, the Norks indulged in what another blogger termed the Korean Motherland Unity Game of Repeated Chicken — a regularly-scheduled theatrical bit of sabre-rattling, to which the old Korea hands (and possibly most ordinary Koreans) eventually became pretty blasé. [More here from The Daily Brief] Is there now a possible end in sight to a situation which has existed slightly longer than I have been alive, through Donald Trump’s surprisingly cordial summit with Little Fat Kim? Speculation on the imminent collapse of the North floats around at about the same frequency as the Korean Motherland Unity Game of Repeated Chicken. But this time, I do wonder if the Reign of Kim really is on very shaky ground — and Little Fat Kim knows it and is nervous about survival — his personal survival and that of his circle. Bits and dribbles of dismaying information keep trickling out of the hermetically-sealed kingdom; that the soldiers forage for food in the cultivated fields, that the Nork soldier who defected across the DMZ was riddled with intestinal parasites, that the underground nuclear test site collapsed the whole side of the mountain where it was located, that whole districts are stripped bare of vegetation … and perhaps at long last, the Chinese are not quite so blindly supportive of their favorite client state. Is North Korea circling the drain of history, and the Kim regime is trying one last desperate throw of the dice while North Korea still has the appearance of a viable state?

Brinksmanship is not rocket science: if you have exactly one card to play, that’s the card you lay on the table. Still, Little Fat Kim is no less adept at four-dimensional checkers — chess, it ain’t — than The Donald, and he got that way in much the same fashion: regular deployment of actualities and balderdash more or less simultaneously. Obviously Trump and Kim are never going to be BFFs, but then neither are Trump and Justin Trudeau, or Trump and Angela Merkel, or Trump and [pick a name at random]. If you ask me, it’s just as well.


Every shot counts

There exists, somewhere in a box on the premises, a two-track mixdown (from a four-track master) of brother Paul trying to duplicate this organ riff on the family instrument. He was only partly successful, but you wouldn’t argue with his enthusiasm, inasmuch as he was only 18 and still weighed what he did as a high-school offensive lineman.

This is the riff in question:

John McElrath, who played this very riff for the Swingin’ Medallions in Greenwood, South Carolina in 1966, and at scores of public appearances thereafter, died last week at 77; he’d retired from touring, but the group is still active today.

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Seal of disapproval

Only you, LeeAnn, only you:

The hostess introduced the Tupperware lady, who would later pimp out the hostess in her own gig. “You know,” said the hostess, “Mary here has been in Tupperware for over 10 years!”

I really did try not to laugh out loud. I faux-coughed, faux-sneezed, and finally snorted so hard I thought I’d ripped a tonsil. Then I started giggling and couldn’t stop. The hostess looked at me and asked if there was something I wanted to say.

“Ten years!” I gasped. “How the hell did she breathe?”

Wasn’t this an episode of Eerie, Indiana?

After the little presentation about the wonderful world of Tupperware, but before I could get my hands on the refreshments, the hostess took me aside and said Mary would be more comfortable if I left, before I could “mock her even further.”

I dunno. I think they’d already reached Peak Mockery.

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A man of another time

You seldom see guys like this at the dealerships anymore:

My father hated smooth. He liked plain talk and despised euphemism and manipulation, especially among salesmen. He’d fire car salesmen working under him if he caught them lying or even shading the truth to make a sale. “A man that will lie to a customer will lie to you,” he’d say. He looked at every deal brought to him for approval that the buyer didn’t have the credit for as a failed sale and wouldn’t approve them. “Bad for the buyer and worse for the business,” he’d say. “If you let a man buy what he can’t afford on credit, you’re going to be taking the car back and making an enemy. We’re here to get cars off the lot, not see them come back after repossession. A man who can’t make his car payments is a man who can’t maintain his car. A salesman who’s so smooth he’s selling people cars bigger than they can afford is a salesman who’s taking a kickback from the repo man.”

This paragraph ought to be on permanent display at Yahoo! Answers, which is just crammed full of subprime buyers in deep doo-doo.



Originally, I figured that by her 30th birthday, Vanessa Hudgens would be a major star. It hasn’t quite happened that way; after High School Musical and various Disney Channel stuff, she seemed destined for greatness, but now I wonder. Certainly she’s worked hard enough all these years.

Vanessa Hudgens, teen starlet

Vanessa Hudgens surely can't drive like that

Vanessa Hudgens reveals the secret of smoother legs

As a singer, she did manage one gold single. “Sneakernight,” which died at #88 in 2008, wasn’t it:

Due out in August is this silly film:

So maybe her best career move is to the stage, where she’s done good work, most recently a Kennedy Center production of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s In the Heights this past spring:

And she’s still 29 for about six more months.


Liberté, égalité, sécurité

The Eiffel Tower is getting a new look:

Of course, the “new look” derives from an old concern:

Temporary barriers were placed around the tower in June 2016, and are now being replaced with more permanent measures.

Set to be completed in mid-July, the fences cost nearly €35 million ($40.1m; £30.1m).

More than 240 people have died in terror attacks in France since 2015.

Bernard Gaudillère, president of the Société d’Exploitation de la Tour Eiffel (SETE), which runs the iconic monument, said the new walls were “rock-solid for absolute security.”

M. Gaudillère has to say that, I suppose. I do hope he’s right.

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Larvae on stage

Eric Scheie passed this along, and, well, YouTube did not exist in 1963, but if it did, this song by Cut Worms would, I think, have been trending:

In terms of guitar noises, this splits the difference between Mickey and Sylvia’s “Love Is Strange” and Sleater-Kinney’s “Modern Girl.” But it kept pulling me back to 1963, and then I found this Carole King/Gerry Goffin cover:

Skeeter Davis, I think, would have been pleased with these Worms.

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Bars unpassed

More than one percent of the state’s population is in the slammer:

Oklahoma’s incarceration rate is 1,079 per 100,000 people, leading the nation after previously sitting at No. 2, according to the Prison Policy Initiative. Louisiana, which previously held the top spot, has an incarceration rate of 1,052 per 100,000 people.

It wouldn’t be difficult to find several chaps who probably should never, ever be let out. But then you have folks like this:

We take these people who were selling some grass or their leftover pain pill prescription and we throw them into a camp for several years that is populated only with felons. You sleep with felons and you shower with felons and the only people you have to talk to all day are felons. Is it really so remarkable that after being thrown into a criminal frat house for a few years, some people might have more criminal tendencies when they leave than when they enter? And then after they leave, they are met at every turn with the brand of being an ex-felon, making it hard to get a job or do things we take for granted. So we put someone away in a training camp for criminals for a few years, and then make it really, really hard for them to find good paying ways to support themselves afterward, and we are surprised they go back to crime?

I have a guy, who I won’t name for privacy reasons, who works for me in Arizona. Over 10 years ago, barely over 18, he was convicted of some non-violent drug crimes and locked away. Had I done the same things in my youth, my rich dad likely would have kept me out of jail but as a poor Hispanic in the world of Sheriff Joe’s Phoenix, he went to jail. Over ten plus years later, he had a stable marriage and had his civil rights restored, but was still mostly doing minimum wage labor. He has been a good, reliable maintenance person at one of our campgrounds, in a job where he could work with his wife. One day a customer got in some sort of dispute with this man’s wife, looked him up online, and found he had a prison record. This customer then started sending me messages that I must fire this person immediately or else this customer would file suit against us for creating a dangerous environment for her. When I refused, she then started posting yard signs around town that we hired felons and telling people on social media that they needed to shun our maintenance guy in any number of ways and accusing him of running a narcotics ring out of the campground.

If we must lock up people for ridiculous lengths of time, let us start with the doxxers — after exposing everything from their Mastercard balance to the color of their shorts.

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No self-esteem issues, anyway

But still not someone you’d rush to save from drowning:

So I have 3 accounts on instagram. My personal account, spam account, and a fan page. I am REALLY embarrassed about my fan page and would die inside if people knew it was me running it. Will my followers from my personal account know that I run a fan page as well?

Not embarrassed enough to take it down, evidently.

Oh, and yes, if they’re paying attention.


As long as it’s Black

Girl gives good glam:

And somehow I missed this from last fall’s tour:

No matter what happens in the next 60 years, she’ll always have “Friday.”


Tube equipment

I remember hearing this on the radio in 1964 and wondering how the hell Pete Drake got those noises out of a steel guitar. It went something like this:

You play the notes on the guitar and it goes through the amplifier. I have a driver system so that you disconnect the speakers and the sound goes through the driver into a plastic tube. You put the tube in the side of your mouth then form the words with your mouth as you play them. You don’t actually say a word: The guitar is your vocal cords, and your mouth is the amplifier. It’s amplified by a microphone.

I admit, it wasn’t as much fun to watch on TV, where the secrets were given away, but the song, written by Buddy Killen and made into a hit by the Anita Kerr Singers under the pseudonym “The Little Dippers” circa 1959, does stay with you, as the title says: forever.

Drake, who died in 1988, had a gold record on his wall from exactly this tune.

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Greece is the way we are feeling

At least, if we fancy ourselves small-d democrats on the Athenian model. Severian would like to remind you that it wasn’t all that democratic:

Whatever Cleisthenes and the gang actually practiced, it wasn’t based on a social contract as we’d understand it. As you probably remember from your high school Social Studies class, the Greeks were world-class chauvinists. Aristotle famously ranked women just below slaves on the rationality scale, and the word “barbarian” simply meant “not-Greek.” You probably couldn’t play a pickup softball game with the total number of Athenian “voters.” But it didn’t matter, because Athens was so small that Demosthenes himself could come over to your house and personally demagogue you. Socrates, too, for that matter (he fought at Potidaea). Athens’s organizing myth, then, was “democracy” in the football hooligan sense — you voluntarily joined up, but mostly just to have a row with the wankers. Needless to say, this doesn’t work in anyplace bigger than a Greek polis. (The early Roman Republic worked the same way, and yes, I’m aware that I just called Romulus and Remus the original soccer yobs).

Do they even teach Social Studies anymore? The last Civics class I remember hearing about was apparently abandoned about the time the Republicans came up with something they teasingly called the Contract with America; however contractual it might have been, it was seriously lacking in enforcement mechanisms.

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We have all been here before

Blogdom’s Curmudgeon Emeritus contributes this complaint about one genre, or maybe one and a half genres, of contemporary fiction:

The covers of too many fantasy and science fiction novels feature a shapely babe, often wielding a weapon. It suggests deeds of daring in a realm of high adventure. Then you open the book and discover that it’s basically one long sex scene. Most such books are written by women. I can’t imagine why.

One thing is for sure: no one wants me to write one long sex scene.

The dearth of originality remains a serious problem. Space wars, galactic empires, time travel, and so forth are old hat. So are vampires, werewolves, zombies, witches, and quests that involve some magical artifact. Surely there are other adventures, other wonders and terrors with which a writer can thrill his readers. Yet you would hardly know it from the books being hawked to me at Amazon.

It’s an old hat, but a familiar one; your standard purveyor of hackwork perhaps calculates that he can save some work on exposition.

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Oy, it’s so humid

Fillyjonk is so done with this humidity:

My dehumidifier runs almost constantly and I’m emptying it generally three times a day. This equates to about 12 gallons of water sucked out of the air. I know some years ago I read a news story about “wow there’s this new innovation that can get water for the desert out of THIN AIR” and I was like “you sillies, that’s called a dehumidifier” though maybe in a desert it has to work harder to suck water out of the air than it does in swampy Southern Oklahoma.

But still, yeah, like every eight-year-old has said to their parent, when said parent tried to shame them into eating some gross vegetable with the old “Children back in China are starving!” line “Well, then, let’s get an envelope and mail it to them!”

There’s always at least one gross vegetable, right?

(Title via 2 Live Jews.)

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Learn from us, very much

Look at us, but do not touch. Come to think of it, don’t even look at us:

Viktoria Popova in a swimsuit

This is Viktoria Popova, twenty-six, former history teacher at school number 7, Omsk, sacked for behavior unbecoming a Russian teacher:

Omsk city hall said that she had caused “irreversible damage to the reputation of the teacher.

“By spreading frivolous images on the internet in order to promote a commercial project she also hurt the image of the school.”

She had broken a code of conduct at Omsk school number 7 which “supports morals and ethics.”

News agency NGS Omsk has now offered her a job, which, they say, pays better than teaching in Russian schools.

(Via BBC News.)

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It’ll take your wig right off

Flyers call it the Low Pass, but seldom is it this low:

Peter Grant fills in the details:

This video, apparently dating from 2014, shows a Ukrainian Sukhoi Su-24 (a Soviet equivalent to the US F-111) making a very low, very fast pass over other Ukrainian aircraft at the Starokostiantyniv air base.

“One slip,” says Grant, “and he’d have been a smear of metal and strawberry jam on the earth.” Yep.