I beg your Parton

She dumped him because he’s a frigging moron: My girlfriend sang the song “I Will Always Love You” to me last year. She broke up with me yesterday. Can I sue her for breach of contract?

There are hints in the thread that he’s underage anyway, but that doesn’t affect his moron status in the least.

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Worst parent ever?

You know, if your objective is to avoid public shame, maybe you shouldn’t do shameful things:

Days after 17-year-old Zeenat Rafiq eloped with a man against her family’s wishes, her relatives asked her to return home so they could throw her a proper ceremony.

“Don’t let me go, they will kill me,” her husband Hassan Khan recalled her saying, according to the Associated Press.

She was Punjabi. He was Pashtun. Her family was furious that she ran away and got married without their permission.

An uncle eventually convinced her to return. On Wednesday, Zeenat was burned alive by her mother.

Police say the mother, Parveen, tied Zeenat to a cot and poured kerosene before setting her on fire, according to the Guardian. It’s the latest of several “honor killings,” a practice that kills hundreds of girls each year in Pakistan.

Outrage by American feminists was conspicuous by its absence.

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We want to sit up high

This is the argument for both real and faux sport-utility vehicles these days: everyone wants to be able to look down upon people in quotidian sedans. And really, this could be considered the natural order of things:

Bertha Benz aboard a Patent Motorwagen

This was Karl Benz’s Patent Motorwagen in 1886, with Mrs Benz herself on board and two sons standing by. A lot of serious technology went into this baby: a proper differential out back, rack-and-pinion steering in the front, and a 1-liter single-cylinder engine that delivered almost 1 hp. Mrs Benz herself suggested some improvements, most notably actual pads added to the brake surfaces.

(Via Pergelator.)

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Because we said so

How Big Tech became Big Brother:

In all probability, they will exhaust themselves trying to stamp out dissent, which means things will get much worse. Apple, for example, is now censoring speech within chat programs like Telegram. Microsoft is promising to moderate speech over Skype. The people behind these efforts are driven by hatred and self-loathing, so they lie awake at night thinking about this stuff.

The trouble is, it is expensive. The latest YouTube banning probably cost the company $10 million dollars to organize. It’s pretty clear they invested a lot of manpower in reviewing specific videos. The return on that investment was mostly bad press and greater awareness by regulators that there is a problem. That’s a lesson from the old days too. No matter how right they were to regulate users, the forum moderators were always looked upon unfavorably. They were the prison guards of the system.

That last bit is probably key. A decade ago, Apple was a cool brand run by an equally cool genius who liked wearing black turtlenecks. Now it is seen as a Chinese electronics company run by an angry homosexual. Similarly, YouTube used to be a place where young people could express themselves. Now it’s where old Jewish women yell at young people for using naughty language. With every censorship effort, the reputation of the oligopolies declines. Silicon Valley is now the universal villain.

That’s the thing about hatred and self-loathing: it replicates in several directions at once. The catch, of course, is that they can never loathe themselves as much as the rest of us loathe them.

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Tiananmen 2

Just because it happened thirty years ago doesn’t mean it can’t happen again:

At last report there were a million people marching to protest an extradition law that probably represents the final nail in the coffin of the “One Country, Two Systems” lie. Mayor Lam has betrayed her people, though it looks likely from her body language and facial twitch that this was not without considerable behind the scenes CCP pressure.

These people, many of them college educated, have guts. They know there is little hope of winning when the Mayor has sold them out. They know that every one of them that is in this protest is being filmed and their faces logged. But freedom, to them, is not a irritant but a beautiful and fragile gift to be prized. Free speech to these people is not a canard, but something that they fully grasp the importance of because they have so little of it.They know full well what is happening across the Pearl river and over a million of them have the guts to stand up to censorious authoritarians, who, 30 years and four days ago ground 10,000 of their ethnic brethren into hamburger for the crime of crying out for freedom. They know that, and yet they still are willing to march. Contrast this to those here who are so used to and ensconced our freedoms that they have no appreciation for how precious it is. Like a fish who does not know it’s wet, and will have no appreciation of water until it finds itself suddenly in the Sahara.

Meanwhile. half a world away, Ingsoc Deux is busy enforcing complacency.

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Jaws a minute here

I suppose it had to be:

“Baby Shark Live” is set to launch a 100-city tour in North America this fall.

It is inspired by the children’s song whose dance video has generated nearly 3 billion views on YouTube. The song was produced in 2015 by the South Korean firm Pinkfong.

Pinkfong and Round Room Live are partnering to present what they call a fully immersive concert experience.

“Fully immersive”? Does this mean the auditorium will be filled with water?

(Via Fark.)


Sweet Gypsy Rose

The truly wondrous aspect of Gypsy Rose Lee, aside from her, um, visual assets, turns out to be that she was a smartaleck almost before she was a stripper. The Wikipedant tells the story in his own imitable style, or lack thereof:

Eventually, it became apparent that Louise [Hovick, her real name] could make money in burlesque, which earned her legendary status as an elegant and witty striptease artist. Initially, her act was propelled forward when a shoulder strap on one of her gowns gave way, causing her dress to fall to her feet despite her efforts to cover herself; encouraged by the audience’s response, she went on to make the trick the focus of her performance.

The gownless evening strap! The mind boggles.

Gypsy Rose Lee's gown appears to be headed south

Louise had a younger sister, June, who made her way to the silver screen as June Havoc. They weren’t always the best of friends; the musical Gypsy, based on Louise’s memoirs, was apparently unkind to June, whose sympathies were bought off by the producers.

Gypsy Rose Lee's gown appears to be cut down to there

In the late 1930s, Gypsy Rose Lee was one of several prominent American showbiz backers of the Popular Front during the Spanish Civil War; the Front eventually collapsed due to intramural infighting, and Francisco Franco took over as dictator. (Franco died in 1975 and is still dead.)

Gypsy Rose Lee's gown appears to be in another room

The musical Pal Joey contains a song called “Zip,” which purports to be the innermost thoughts of Gypsy Rose Lee during her act. Bebe Neuwirth gives it a spin here:

Then again, it’s not hard to imagine Gypsy herself doing this song. Playing herself in the 1943 film Stage Door Canteen:

She died at fifty-nine in 1970; lung cancer took her away. We shall not see her like again.


With fronds like these

I think we all have stumbled over a word or two now and then:

So the martial arts school where I study has replaced a water wall, which really was more of a water on the floor by the wall in the brief period where it was operational, with a fish tank to which they’re slowly adding fish, and I mentioned that I knew a guy who had a saltwater tank and was raising anemone. Sea anemone, that is, not the terrestrial flower after which it is named.

One of the listeners made mock of my pronunciation of the word, which immediately made me self-conscious of my pronunciation.

Which, as it turns out, was correct all along:

The question was whether I was throwing an extra N in it. In my defense, I might have said “an anemone.”

But the problem wouldn’t have occurred in the first place if I’d said sea anemone, which is what I was talking about. But I know aquaria less than I know exotic words and how to use them.

If it’s any consolation, I’ve bungled some truly spectacular pronunciations in my day, and my mad spelling skillz didn’t help one bit.

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Putting the squeeze on them

His name was Robert R. Taylor, and you may have one of his creations in your house: Taylor, who had numerous successes (and the occasional flop) as an inventor/entrepreneur, gave us SoftSoap, the hand soap with the pump sprayer. And apparently the key to its success was that little pump:

Before launching SoftSoap, Taylor had made a crucial observation — there were only few companies in the United States at the time that actually made the kind of pumps needed. Of these companies, only one produced enough pumps suitable for mass-production on the scale envisioned here. And since there also wasn’t much in the way of a suitable international company that would be able to provide what was needed here quickly and at a competitive price, in effect, this left only a single choice for anyone wanting to sell liquid soap en masse using such a pump system. Thus, Taylor’s idea was quite simple — buy literally every pump the company had available for the foreseeable future. How many would he need to buy? It turns out about 100 million to keep the company (Calmar) busy at full capacity for about a year.

The problem was he didn’t have the required $12 million (about $37 million today) to place such an order. So he had to wait until after the product was launched and hope that it was a massive hit to give him the money he needed before his competitors decided to make their own copy-cat product.

Outrageous as it was, the plan still could have backfired:

[W]hen the time came, he also had no way of knowing whether Calmar would agree to the contract. If Calmar didn’t, there was a very real risk that one of the bigger companies would eventually sign a contract with them that would do to Taylor what he was attempting to do to everyone else — stop them from getting the needed pumps for a little while.

And while you might think agreeing to a massive contract that would see them working at full capacity for the foreseeable future would be a no-brainer for Calmar, consider that this would force them to get rid of all their other business contracts to service one, relatively small, company.

When the time came, however, Calmar agreed. Naturally, this sequence of events has gone down in history as one of the most ballsy “bet-the-company moves” ever.

And, just as Taylor had planned, when the larger companies tried to release their own take on SoftSoap, they quickly realised that they couldn’t at first because some mysterious, freshly smelling, large penis owning individual had called dibs on almost every suitable pump in the United States set to be produced for the next year.

In the States, the financial industry has been known to refer to a person who pulls off a stunt like this as a Big Swinging Dick, so the penis reference is not gratuitous, or not too gratuitous anyway.

And there’s a bottle of Taylor’s soap beside my bathroom sink, and another in the men’s room at the office. I assume there’s also one in the women’s, but I am disinclined to take a look for myself.

(Via Bayou Renaissance Man.)


When we actually had home economics

You couldn’t sell this film to a school today; you’d be violating the standards of individuality that everyone observes whether they ought to or not.

My mom was 18 in 1946, and she had, according to contemporary photos, exactly the same hair as Mrs Stuyvesant.

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Fark blurb of the week


Still iconic after all these years

Eight years after becoming part of the national discourse, “Friday” got the full Captain Cuts — despite the name, three guys — remix treatment, on Emo Nite in Los Angeles, and of course She Who Made It Possible was on hand:

For those who might be interested, “Friday” enters the public domain some time around 2105.


Adhere today

Some research techniques are downright pricey. Others, not so much:

Researchers have managed to grow large numbers of blood-forming stem cells in the lab using a surprisingly simple ingredient found in glue. And when injected into mice, the cells started producing key components of blood.

“The finding is very unexpected and exciting,” says John Dick, a stem-cell biologist at the Prince Margaret Cancer Centre in Toronto, Canada.

If the technique can be applied to humans, it could be used to grow blood stem cells for use in people with blood cancers such as leukemia whose immune systems have been damaged by chemotherapy. The approach could also provide a safer way to treat people with blood disorders, such as sickle-cell disease, who currently have to undergo a risky procedure before receiving a bone-marrow transplant.

This sort of thing has been on researchers’ lists of desiderata for years:

Researchers have been trying for decades to grow in the lab large numbers of “hematopoietic” blood stem cells (HSCs), which regenerate themselves and give rise to other blood components. But until now, none had been able to produce the number needed to reliably engraft — or start producing blood cells — when reintroduced into the body.

Stem-cell biologist Hiromitsu Nakauchi, who leads teams at the University of Tokyo and Stanford University in California, reports in Nature on 29 May how his team managed to successfully engraft HSCs in mice1. The researchers first expanded a cluster of mouse HSCs to almost 900 times its original level in just a month, then transplanted them back into a different set of mice, where they thrived and developed into blood components. “This has been my life goal,” he says.

Okay, what’s the trick?

Researchers looking for ways to grow HSCs in large numbers in the lab had tried using growth factors without much success. But Nakauchi found that the reason the cells weren’t surviving was impurities in the medium in which the cells were being grown, a human blood protein called albumin. These impurities, mostly proteins released by immune cells, were stopping the cells from growing, says Nakauchi. “How much money, time, and effort has been wasted because of those impurities!” he says.

Nakauchi screened a bunch of polymers that he thought could replace albumin, and found that a synthetic compound called polyvinyl alcohol (PVA), often used in glues, did the trick. PVA has also been used to culture embryos and embryonic stem cells. “It’s quite easy. People can go to Safeway and get glue,” Nakauchi says. Laboratory versions of PVA work better than those from the supermarket, he says, and the polymer, which is used in tablet coatings, is deemed non-toxic by regulatory agencies.

Cite: Nature 570, 17-18 (2019)
doi: 10.1038/d41586-019-01690-w

(Via Finestkind Clinic and fish market.)

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We can’t seem to get rid of the Renewable Fuels Standard, so I propose a workaround. Let’s price gasoline with ethanol at the same stratospheric heights as bourbon:

Went to the liquor store a couple of weeks ago and picked up a bottle of Four Roses ($25) and a bottle of Jack Daniels ($20). I used to drink Jim Beam because it was cheaper, but it had a bit of a bite to it. When I thought I could afford it (after the kids were all through with school), I decided I could splurge a little and moved up to Jack Daniels. Much smoother. I drank the bottle of Four Roses first and it was very good. And then I turned to the Jack Daniels and it wasn’t quite as smooth. It has just a hint of a bite to it. So I’m thinking there is a pretty definite relationship between price and smoothness, or lack of bite if you prefer. So generally, you’re going to drink the cheapest whiskey you can tolerate.

Which is consistent with our behavior regarding gasoline: there’s always someone who’d rather not pay more for premium, no matter what the owner’s manual says.

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Welcome to the Hotel Zuckerbergia

Once a Facebook session is done, I sign off.

Except yesterday, when the sadists in charge of the user interface took away the drop-down menu that contains “Sign off” and forced me to “General Account Settings,” which I had no reason to read at that time. Nine times more I clicked where the desired option was supposed to be, and nine times I was sent back to the same damned page.

The current version of Myspace (!) makes it somewhat tricky to sign out of the system. I can only conclude that the Zuckerborgs saw this somehow and decided to assimilate it. The only way I could close it down was to shut the browser completely, load up a different browser (Internet Explorer 11, fercrissake), sign in, and then sign out before they had a chance to trap me again. Bastards.

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The Wawa pedal

The best we can aspire to is QuikTrip:

And we’d have to leave town to do that much.

If I remember correctly, Tim Blair is traveling with the Burgemeister this time through.

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