To be the King

We don’t have royalty in this country, the best efforts of some people who think themselves throneworthy notwithstanding, but we do have a great deal of internecine warfare, which may be the one thing we have in common with kingdoms of the past:

[P]eers maneuvering to ruin each other was the national sport of every court in the Middle Ages, in their brief breaks between trying to kill each other on the battlefield. Very few kings got shanked, even when it was in everyone’s obvious best interest (e.g. the Hundred Years’ War, which would’ve been about 75 years shorter if someone had just slipped Jean II some tainted snails).

This is a lesson our wannabe-aristocrats in the political elite should ponder. As the Z Man points out re: Hillary Clinton, she’s not in it for the ego-stroke; she’s in it for the money. But the Clintons are arrivistes, the 21st century equivalent of hustling rubes from the sticks who bought their patents of nobility from an addled old monarch who found them almost as useful as they were amusing. While being a titled court jester suits Bill just fine — he’s a poonhound who only cares about droit de seigneur — Hillary’s got a hole in her soul that no amount of money will ever fill. She certainly thinks she’s in it for the money, as she has understandably confused money with security and above all prestige … but she’s wrong, as she will find out to her great dismay should she win the Presidency. Even if the King is a drooling halfwit, he’s still the King, and she’s not, and never will be. We can only hope she doesn’t set the world ablaze trying to avoid that lesson.

Then again, our purposes are not well served by electing a drooling halfwit and expecting him to behave in kingly fashion.

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Though she’s not mad about me

For your consideration: Saffron Burrows, 44 today, briefly a model, then a working actress, currently in Amazon’s series Mozart in the Jungle, season three of which begins airing in December.

Saffron Burrows from about 10 years ago

Saffron Burrows from about 1 year ago

Saffron Burrows strikes a pose

“Incandescently lovely,” said Craig Ferguson, and of course he was correct:

Her most recent feature film, Quitters, was released this past summer after debuting at SXSW in 2015.

Burrows, an American citizen since 2009, is married to Alison Balian, a writer for Ellen DeGeneres’ daily talk show; they have one son.

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Front of the line

It is de rigueur in some circles to complain about early voting, usually with dark, mumbled references to “vote fraud.” I suppose it could be a fraud vector — just one among many — but it’s still a defensible practice:

In principle, early voting is described as a bad thing because it encourages people to vote before having the chance to learn all there is to know about a candidate or ballot question. In practice, it dissipates the impact of “October Surprise” gotcha revelations about a candidate or ballot question — which in my mind isn’t a bad thing. Eliminating the incentive to play endgame gotcha tricks on the electorate changes the tenor and rhythm of campaigns, and really the only ones with reason to complain are those who rely on such tricks.

And in this particular year, where both major campaigns are decidedly, even desperately, gotcha-oriented, there’s a lot to be said for being able to tune that stuff out.

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Geography by fiat

Adobe Photoshop/Premiere Elements v.13 arrived here yesterday, and there’s an FDA-ish Black Box Warning on the package:


Not for distribution anywhere else, including the EEA, Switzerland, Eastern Europe, Africa, the Middle East, the Caribbean, South America, Central America, Japan, or Asia Pacific.

Or, presumably, Mars, once Elon Musk organizes an expedition.

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The opposite of new-car smell

I don’t really blame this guy for taking the Anonymous option:

Can an insurance company sell a salvaged car if someone died in it, and if so, do they have to tell you?

Now houses, that’s a whole ‘nother matter:

In California, sellers must reveal if a death in the home has occurred anytime in the past three years, including death by natural causes (although certain types of deaths, like those from AIDS, cannot be disclosed). And if a buyer comes out and asks about a death that occurred at any time, even longer than three years ago, the seller is required to provide a truthful response.

I submit that there are going to be times when “How the hell do I know?” is the most truthful response available.

In Alaska and South Dakota, only murders or suicides must be disclosed if they happened within the past year. In other states the laws are less black and white; a seller may need to disclose the information only if a buyer asks.

Still, we’re talking houses. Cars? Nobody gives a damn, except this poor, superstitious soul. I can say only that it’s entirely possible for a car to be totaled, rebuilt and resold without anyone having died in it.

Now if it smells like someone died in it within the last couple of days, maybe there’s a reason to inquire.

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And rounds were made

With a Brooklyn appearance scheduled for tonight, Rebecca Black hit up just about every possible source of publicity in New York this week: WhoSay, Teen Vogue, Complex Music, MORE, and, yes, Billboard, and that’s just through Thursday. This is called maximizing one’s opportunities.

Said I two weeks ago:

Awesomeness TV was responsible for the Web series Royal Crush; RB was a cast member in season three. I suspect she’s done more work for them in the interim, and await the unveiling of same.

Consider this unveiled:

It can’t be any sillier than Ouija: Origin of Evil, opening this weekend.

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The product of our influences considers this shoe “trendy”:

Paul Andrew heels

And I have to admit to a certain admiration for this paragraph:

CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund–winning footwear designer Paul Andrew says Scandinavian architecture influenced his PS17 collection, and these beechwood suede slingbacks are a case in point. The graphic straps remind us of the interior of Helsinki’s underground Temppeliaukio Church.

Which is, I concede, a pretty spiffy place of worship. This shoe from Paul Andrew, at $895, may or may not be cheaper than a flight to Finland.

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Propositions put forth

In addition to the stuff I expected in the absentee-ballot package, I found a yellow sheet: bonds. School bonds. Oklahoma City Public Schools wants to borrow some serious cash:

  • $106,340,000: “acquiring or improving school sites, constructing, repairing, remodeling and equipping school buildings, and acquiring school furniture, fixtures and equipment.”
  • $54,460,000: “acquiring or improving school sites, constructing, repairing, remodeling and equipping school buildings, and acquiring school furniture, fixtures and equipment.” My guess is that this one is the fallback position: “if we can’t have a hundred million, can we at least have fifty?”
  • $19,200,000: “acquiring transportation equipment.”

For what it’s worth, OKCPS is growing rather speedily of late: long the second-largest district in the state, they passed first-place Tulsa several years ago. And the district has been frank about its problems:

“In addition to our current $30-million dollar budget shortfall, we have dire basic needs throughout the district,” said OKCPS Superintendent Aurora Lora. “Our air conditioning deficiencies in schools have been well documented the past few weeks; an aging bus fleet continues to be a major financial burden, and most of our students don’t have modern classroom technology.”

In typical Oklahoma practice, these bonds will fill in a space vacated by bonds from many years ago, now retired; this enables the claim that no actual tax increase is involved. Last year, OKCPS received about 52 percent of the tax on the palatial estate at Surlywood.

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Semi-nastygram received from Yahoo! this week:

We’ve noticed that you have not changed your password or adopted Yahoo Account Key since we sent you our first email about this issue. We strongly recommend that you promptly change your Yahoo password and adopt alternate means of account verification, as appropriate. For example, please consider using Yahoo Account Key, a simple authentication tool that eliminates the need to use a password altogether.

I’ve noticed that now and then, but mostly now, it’s impossible to fill in their damned input boxes because some laggard tracking component of theirs isn’t keeping up. But they are scolding me.

This seems like a good time to drop my Flickr Pro account.

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Deck chairs unmoved

This seems to sum up matters entirely too well:

The establishment is like a giant ocean liner charging ahead. It couldn’t make a drastic course change if it wanted to. It has too much mass and too much momentum, so they spend their time and energy arguing about chickenshit, swilling cocktails and snorting coke. They might go on for a long time, but if they hit an iceberg, it’s the people in steerage who are going to drown.

Which is no big deal to them, since they don’t know any of us low-priority passengers.

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It’s all cat videos

And the cats darn well know it, too:

A morning TV show in Turkey’s southwestern Denizli province was interrupted by an uninvited guest on Tuesday when a stray cat, who secretly entered the studio through an open door, popped up on screen.

Presenter of “Good morning Denizli” show Kudret Çelebioğlu on Denizli Radio and Television (DRT) was dumbfounded when he saw the cat climb onto his desk and sit on his laptop during a live broadcast as he was reading the headlines for dailies.

Shortly after he realized the cat was in the studio, he said that he had a ‘surprise visitor’ and continued with his program.

After the cat climbed on the desk, Çelebioğlu reminded viewers that winter is coming and that they should remember to feed stray animals on the streets and keep their doors open as cold weather arrives.

(Via Miss Cellania.)

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Not ready when you are

Priorities, always priorities:

Delta Airlines contracted with clothing designer Zac Posen to create new uniforms for Delta ticket agents, flight attendants and gate attendants. This means that the flight attendant who offers you three peanuts and a glass of water, the gate attendant who has no patience with how long it takes you to produce your boarding pass and the ticket agent who laughs when you ask why your connecting flight is seven hours late will all look really snazzy. The new uniforms won’t actually go into service until 2018, which may prompt you to suspect that I will make a joke about them being delivered on a Delta flight. Consider it done.

It occurs to me that the airlines most revered for stylishness — Braniff, Eastern, Pan Am — are all dead. (Well, okay, the remains of Eastern have apparently signed up for the Lazarus treatment.)

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A little bit downmarket

World Tour ’08 took me to Marfa, Texas, where I snapped this picture of an objet d’art posing as a retail store:

Simulated Prada store in Marfa, Texas

This week, my son Russell is in Alpine, Texas, about 30 miles east of Marfa, and he snagged this shot of an object somewhat less arty:

Simulated Target store in Alpine, Texas

Just for the hell of it, I ran a search, and while there are many 7-Elevens surrounding Beverly Hills, there are none in 90210. Or, for that matter, in 90211 or 90212.

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This much and no farther

This is a swell idea on the face of it:

Starting around 2002, BMW implemented a system called Condition Based Service (CBS), which is a set of algorithms that calculates how often service such as oil changes should be performed. The system uses sensors and mileage to make the calculations, allowing them to increase the time between service intervals without any detrimental effects on the vehicle.

Since most people would rather drink bleach than take a car in for service, this should be considered a boon — until it stops working altogether:

Owners and technicians have discovered that once a post-2002 BMW hits 300,000 kilometers (186,411 miles), the counter no longer functions and owners will no longer be notified of their next service.

Then again, how many recent Bimmers ever acquire mileage like that? Most BMWs these days are leased, which means the typical happy owner is going to give it up in 3 years/36,000 miles — by wacky coincidence, the mileage at which BMW stops providing free maintenance on its new cars.

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Poor, poor, pitiful she

“Why does nobody follow my social media?” she wails:

Well I tell a little lie, I do get a few followers now and then, on Instagram, Twitter and so on, I don’t use Facebook anymore, but I don’t have as many as some people and when I do get followers, they don’t even appreciate what I have to post, otherwise what was the point in them following me in the first place? I don’t what I’m doing wrong. Everyone else just seems to have it easy. They can get away with posting selfies of themselves and gets lots of likes and comments for them, I’ve never gotten anything like that in my life. I think I must come off as fake to people. But nothing about me is fake at all, whatever I post is true to what is happening in my life in the present moment. People seem to be inspired by others’ happiness but my own. Say I post a picture of me smiling, nobody gives a damn. It doesn’t feel fair. I’m a human being too with interests, passions and hobbies like everyone else.

I’ve always assumed that my vast social-media following has been due to my mad grammar skillz.

Still, this is worrisome, because someone who thinks she’s entitled to X amount of attention on screen probably thinks she’s entitled to comparable levels of attention in Real Life. Of such is madness born.

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More microfinance

From earlier this month:

PayPal & microlending pioneer,, are celebrating 10 years of collaboration. Make a loan to an entrepreneur by October 10th, get a $25 Kiva credit to create more impact.

Which I did. I now have a second loan out there:

Muborak is a generous woman. She was born in Tursunzoda, Tajikistan, in 1992. She is married and has a daughter.

She is a challenged woman who has faced hard, difficult times in her life. In order to not burden her husband, she used to work at seasonal jobs. Then she gradually learned from her neighbors how to sew traditional women’s dresses. She has been working more than six years in this sphere and has a lot of experience.

She was seeking $650 to buy fabric, which doesn’t strike me as being a whole lot of fabric, but this is not my area of expertise. So far, ten of us have ponied up $25 each.

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