Call your own privates

My little call-interception device has logged several fresh numbers with the dubious notation “PRIVATE CALL.” This is not new, of course; it just means that a new boiler room full of grit-eating, scum-sucking, pencil neck geeks has sprung up. Most of the ones I’ve been getting, for some reason, have had Los Angeles (213) numbers affixed.

Technically, this is not Caller ID spoofing, unless the actual numbers are faked. And there are, theoretically anyway, reasons why this sort of thing should not be discouraged:

On my phone, the caller id turns up a “Private Call” using this method [*67]. Seems like a smart way to keep your number to yourself when you want to avoid making it known to the world. Of course, this is probably also the pervy stalkers single greatest weapon. Please use only for good.

And if you’re calling me with it, be advised that you’re wasting your time: I reject all such calls out of hand.

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I’ve seen enough hen tie

So apparently what happened was this: Marisa wrote up an article about Oklahomans’ search choices with SafeSearch turned off, and Patrick, for perfectly valid reasons, did the search-and-replace on some of the more questionable words.

Which, of course, made those suddenly less-questionable words look more questionable. For instance:

[W]hile we spend a lot of time in Oklahoma celebrating all the lists we end up on, this one is truly special. We have some of the longest visit durations to corn sites in the United States. That’s way better than being told how fat we are, right?

I’ll never be able to look high-fructose corn syrup in the eye, ever again.

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Flat wonderful?

Ann Althouse just bought a pair of these, and she’s quite pleased with them:

KEEN Sienna Mary Jane

This is Sienna, a sweet little Mary Jane by KEEN, in a color called “Gargoyle.” (Also available in tortoise-shell and black.)

What Althouse had to say about them:

I was able to walk out of the shoe store in the new shoes, walk a mile, ride a bike for 2 miles, and walk another mile — in brand new shoes — and arrive home without my feet hurting…

Then again, she probably wouldn’t have done that had she not broken a shoe — right outside a shoe store.

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Fark blurb of the week

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Code revealed

After about seventeen point something years of writing this screwy HTML junk, I’m almost out of practice on proper word processors. Which is just as well, since proper word processors blow chunks:

Word processors are aggravating as hell. They never get it right. You tell them to do something and they get it wrong. You tell them to do something the same way twice in a row and you get two different results. The rituals required to get ANY results are arcane and inconsistent. Asking for consistency is asking for the blood to go back in the moon. The documentation sucks. For example: In Open Office (version 4) — TRY to find a list of what all the special characters mean. Just TRY.

You already know what I think of OpenOffice 4.

I wonder if I can get this old version (5.1, 6 November 1989) of WordPerfect to load up.

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Persons of greater dedication

Compared to me, that could mean almost anyone, actually, but especially her:

Around 10 PM, I finished another short story. Which meant over Labor Day Weekend, I managed to rack up 32k words of fiction. So, I surpassed my goal of 30k for my unofficial participation in the 3-Day Novel Contest. I’m actually less impressed with the word count and more impressed that I actually finished two stories in three days. I think that has to be a record somewhere.

Over the same three days I came up with 696 words of actual fiction, and threw away about 100 more. I was hoping to have the story in question finished by late July, but now I’m thinking it will drag on into 2014.

Jealous? No, not really. Just measuring one of the vectors in between potential and productivity.

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A succession of Boehners

The Republicans, noise level notwithstanding, aren’t anywhere close to affecting the national agenda:

The ability of the Dems to lead the American media (and the Republicans) by the nose from the swings to the tricky bars to the slides to the sandbox is formidable. Excellence is alive and well in the hollowed out America of Holder (my people; territory = nationhood), Jones (I’m a commie), Jarrett (we love Van), Glover (Chavez and Castro suck up), Bloomberg (eat your veggies), Goldberg (whoopee cushion; DDR suck up), Sharpton (depart white interlopers), the New York Times (Duranty who?), Cone (black liberation theology; kill whitey), Winfrey (sweet, sweet grievance, I thee embrace), Biden (Peter Principle), Roberts (it’s a righteous tax), Zinn (garbage America), Reid (send more Mexicans), Maher (The Finger), and The Man with No Past.

The really distressing aspect of this, if you ask me, is that so many of these nonentities are household words.

One could argue, perhaps, that a thousand years from now, not one of these individuals organisms will be remembered. But then one is forced to hope that there’s something left to remember, a thousand years from now.

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Cascading sales

Buried in this thinly disguised stock tout from AOL Autos is this little factoid:

Washington State is actually the best state per capita for Tesla, with Washingtonians buying one Tesla per every 100 vehicles sold. The Seattle metro area has, of course, quite a concentration of and silicon millionaires being home to Microsoft and a long list of supplier companies to the digital and software giant.

Now one percent doesn’t sound like a whole lot of market share, but nationwide, Tesla is on pace to move 21,000 cars this year in a total nationwide market of somewhere around 14 million, in the general vicinity of 0.15 percent. I’m guessing that cheap kilowatts — bless you, hydroelectric power — make the all-electric Tesla look six times more appealing in the shadow of Mount Rainier, and that the presence of Microsofties is a minor factor at best.

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Perhaps a tad overextended

I mean, he put up something like £76,000 to own this car:

Quoted £400 per tyre for Nissan GT R, does anyone know of cheaper tyres in S.E England?

Wonder if he’s had his 30,000-km service yet.

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My little Bundys

A concoction by *doubleWbrothers called “Married (with Cadence)”:

With Shining Armor as Al Bundy

Pertinent comment left at EqD, not by me:

Instead of scoring 4 touchdowns in one game, Shining can tell the story of how he once tossed his wife against a evil unicorn-cloud-thingy.

I’m sure he has.

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The last ride

And when I die, and when I’m gone, there’ll be no chance that anyone will actually think of this:

It’s not that I don’t like funeral processions, it’s I don’t like the inconvenience to everyone else that’s not part of the procession, the danger of traffic and the fact there are people with crummy attitudes, bad vision and distracted that are driving without paying attention to traffic lights. Even with a cop, it’s still dangerous; especially for the cop.

So, lets have them at 3:00 am. Traffic is light, most of the drunks have gone home and there’s not a great need for a special escort.

The person putatively being honored certainly wouldn’t care one way or another. And I know the sight of a funeral procession has a dispiriting effect on me as a driver: all that there-but-for-the-grace-of-God stuff, plus the fact that I’m suddenly ten minutes late for wherever I was going.

At least it’s better than the usual political motorcade, where you know that you’re being inconvenienced for the sake of pomp and/or circumstance.

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Opening remarks

Truly a grabber:

As the sun dropped below the horizon, the safari guide confirmed the approaching cape buffaloes were herbivores, which calmed everyone in the group, except for Herb, of course.

A wonderful story opening by Ron D. Smith, which inexplicably did not win the 2013 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest.

Then again, Chris Wieloch did himself proud with this one, which did:

She strutted into my office wearing a dress that clung to her like Saran Wrap to a sloppily butchered pork knuckle, bone and sinew jutting and lurching asymmetrically beneath its folds, the tightness exaggerating the granularity of the suet and causing what little palatable meat there was to sweat, its transparency the thief of imagination.

Sounds like the detective has been hitting the sauce, and I mean A.1 Sauce.

This competition always leaves me in something of a funk, since my own story openings are never, ever terrible enough.

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Macon money from motorists

Bankrate has issued a chart of Car-Ownership Costs By State, and at the Most Expensive end, inexplicably, is not some high-priced spread like New York (which placed second), but decidedly middle-American Georgia, with an annual cost figure of $4223, nearly $300 higher than the Vampire State. And the major contributing factor, apparently, is taxation, Georgia asking $1952 a year while New York settles for a mere $1809.

Something’s screwy here, and I think it’s this:

Motor vehicles purchased on or after March 1, 2013 and titled in this state are exempt from sales and use tax and annual ad valorem tax, also known as the “birthday tax”. These taxes are replaced by a one-time tax that is imposed on the fair market value of the vehicle called the title ad valorem tax fee (“TAVT”). The fair market value is the taxable base of the motor vehicle. The manner in which fair market value is determined depends on whether the motor vehicle is new or used.

Now would I be wrong in assuming that the TAVT is going to make up for several years’ worth of no-longer-assessed “birthday tax,” and that this distorts the Georgia figures for the first year? Bankrate is saying they got their numbers from Kelley Blue Book.

At the other extreme: Oregon, at $2204 a year, with notably low taxes. In the middle: Oklahoma, $3221 a year.

Maybe next year’s numbers will tell us something.

(Via Bayou Renaissance Man. Note that his commenters are also suspicious of some of the conclusions.)

Update, 21 October: Steven Lang calls shenanigans.

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To the writer of romance stories

Which means, I suppose, that this is here primarily for my benefit:

Romance requires an obstacle, eroticism requires a trespass. Don’t bother looking that up, I came up with it. A story about two people hooking up at a bar has no romance in it, not because of the trashy aspects, but because there’s nothing for the lovers to overcome.

Which may be why, as Lisa Simpson insists, “romance is dead: it was acquired in a hostile takeover by Hallmark and Disney, homogenized, and sold off piece by piece.”

So what we need would be more obstacles, right?

One time I hit the complete jackpot in that regard when I met a married woman who lived four hundred miles away and who hated my guts so much already she’d created fake accounts on a popular car forum for the sole purpose of slandering me. Oh yeah, plus she was a decade younger than I was and so medically depressed I continually worried she was going to jump out of her condo window. Talk about obstacles stacked on top of obstacles. The stage was definitely set for romance, although the resulting relationship was basically an Amtrak off the side of a mountain. Doesn’t matter. The journey, not the destination, and all that.

There is, I am assured, a thin line between love and hate. I figure I’m far too clumsy to be trusted anywhere in its vicinity.

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Zooeypalooza 19!

This being Labor Day, be assured I have labored long and hard for this moment.

Zooeypalooza 19!

Per possibly permanent Palooza practice, click to embiggen.

Previous Paloozas: ZP 1, ZP 2, ZP 3, ZP 4, ZP 5, ZP 6, ZP 7, ZP 8, ZP 9, ZP 10, ZP 11, ZP 12, ZP 13, ZP 14, ZP 15, ZP 16, ZP 17, ZP 18.

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And the string is broken

I’ve gotten so used to backing successful Kickstarter drives that it almost pains me to mention one that didn’t quite make it:

Laika Believes is a 2D action platformer in the same vein as Cave Story and Iji with some Metroid and Deus Ex influences as well. What makes Laika Believes unique?

  • Massive, nonlinear levels that model the layouts of real locations in a way not yet seen in other platformers
  • Large, choice-rich skill trees that let players approach the game the way they want to
  • A novel defensive mechanic that lets players turn the firepower of Laika’s enemies against them
  • Use combinations of offensive and defensive techniques in unique and exciting ways
  • Smoothly flowing, fast-paced shooting action
  • A story of struggle and hope, full of twists and revelations
  • Rich, evocative art depicting a world dominated by a technologically ascendant Soviet empire
  • Secrets and rewards hidden in every corner for the determined player

I am by no means a gamer, but the narrative was attractive, and I figured all the tech advances would eventually creep into things I need, so I tossed a few bucks into the kitty. And they were tossed right back when the drive stalled out.

To borrow a phrase, you can’t win ’em all.

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