One weird trick for winning a lawsuit

I’d like to think this particular motion was granted simply because it’s hilarious:

What this suit is all about:

A Russian-tied tech firm named in a controversial dossier containing uncorroborated allegations about President Donald Trump and the hacking of Democratic National Committee email accounts announced late Friday that it has filed defamation suits against the online news site BuzzFeed, its editor in chief and a former British intelligence agent.

The lawsuits were brought by XBT Holdings, a Cyprus-based company owned by Russian tech magnate Aleksej Gubarev. Lawyers for his firm filed complaints Friday [3 February] in London against the former spy and his company, and against BuzzFeed and its editor in chief, Ben Smith, in Broward County Circuit Court in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where XBT’s subsidiary Webzilla is headquartered.

“The dossier included libelous, unverified and untrue allegations regarding XBT, Webzilla and Gubarev. The lawsuits seek yet undetermined compensation for the damages suffered by XBT, Webzilla and Gubarev as the result of the publication of the dossier,” a statement said.

New York-based BuzzFeed Inc., which published the dossier in full on Jan. 10, wasn’t alone. Former spy Christopher Steele and his company Orbis Business Intelligence in London were named as defendants in the London suit.

In a statement to McClatchy, BuzzFeed spokesman Matt Mittenthal said Friday night, “We have redacted Mr. Gubarev’s name from the published dossier, and apologize for including it.”

Which apology was apparently not sufficient to mollify Mr. Gubarev.

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Somehow this is not intuitive

Presumably it does, however, meet the requirements of the vendor:

You can't do an online reservation online

I’d say something smartassed about Turkish Airlines, but it’s been 42 years (exactly) since I’ve flown them — SZF-IST, if you’re keeping score — and they might have hired new personnel since then.

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Family tricksters

If it’s occurred to me, surely it’s occurred to Billy Donovan that if you don’t fall behind by double digits, you don’t have to crank up the energy in the waning moments. At one point in the third quarter, the Magic had rolled up a 21-point lead over the Thunder; in the waning moments with Russell Westbrook doing the Full Russell Westbrook thing, OKC finally managed to erase most of that lead. With 14 seconds left, Orlando, in possession, led 101-99; Nikola Vučević got one of two free throws, but Westbrook hoisted a trey over two Magic defenders and tied it at 102. Overtime ensued, and Westbrook, clearly in his element, finished the job with the triplest of all triple-doubles in NBA history: 57 points (one short of his career high), 13 rebounds, 11 assists, and assorted chants of “M! V! P!” from the Orlando crowd. If you’re gonna lose to the Thunder, which the Magic did, 114-106, at least you got to see history being made. OKC now clinches a playoff spot, 43-31 with eight games to play.

Most of the Thunder comeback was engineered by playing small, perhaps motivated by the twin double-doubles posted by Orlando’s bigs: Vučević had 11 points and 16 boards, Bismack Biyombo 12 and 11 off the bench. Evan Fournier knocked 24 to lead the Magic, but he was hardly heard from after the third quarter. (Andre Roberson modestly claims the responsibility.) The Magic led in rebounds for most of the game, but fell behind 57-53 after 53 minutes.

And, well, there weren’t going to be too many high scorers on the Thunder side of things, what with Westbrook scoring literally as much as the other 11 guys combined. (For the record: Westbrook hit 21-40, the other guys 22-62.) So let’s congratulate Enes Kanter for leading the reserves once more, with 17, and Victor Oladipo, a Magic man most of his career, for picking up 13 more. For amusement value: Jerami Grant, who did not score, was +30 for the evening, while Westbrook was, um, +8.

Back home now: the Spurs on Friday night, the Hornets on Sunday afternoon, the Bucks on Tuesday, before venturing out again.

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Vote being gotten out

Text message received yesterday:

This is David/Precinct Chair. TY for voting in 2016. Next election Tues. April 4! Text BALLOT to see your ballot. Signup to vote by mail, Text ABSENTEE. Thanks :)

Well, I know what’s on my ballot, since it’s a school-board runoff. I suppose if I were still paying per-text rates I’d be slightly peeved, but in general I approve of GOTV efforts, especially if there’s enough to them to rouse me from my traditional torpor.

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A bouquet of bromhidrosis

My python boot is too tight
I couldn’t get it off last night
A week went by
And now it’s July
I finally got it off and my girlfriend cry

So complained Frank Zappa. Cristina may have just the solution, for your boots anyway:

I’m sure you’re reading this thinking that I’m out of my mind. Or really excited about StinkBOSS because my shoes smell THAT bad. Owning as many shoes as I do, they actually don’t. None of them get enough wear to achieve stinky extremes. However, I know many people who play sports where sweaty, smelly shoes & gear is a problem. Including some of my friends. My mission for this post, aside from reviewing the StinkBOSS, was to find the “right” footwear to test it on.

So I blasted out my quest to seek out the most foul smelling pair via my personal social channels. Among those questioned, were some parents of teenagers at my son’s school (yes, they thought I was crazy!). In the end, the worst offenders were a pair of hiking boots from a close friend’s husband.

How does this contraption work?

Ozone odor removal is the game! Yes, scientifically speaking, StinkBOSS uses Ozone — a gas that reacts with anything it comes into contact with — to kill the bacteria associated with odors. The StinkBOSS box creates the Ozone to break up oxygen molecules and to circulate new ozone molecules throughout your shoes. The shoe horns found inside the StinkBOSS are actually air vents that allow the gas to pass & circulate directly inside your shoes.

The BOSS draws the line, however, at shoes larger than US size, um, fourteen.

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The wrong sort of buzz

It probably seemed like a good idea at the time:

Just recently, Cheerios removed Buzz the Bee from their cereal boxes to promote their Bring Back the Bees Campaign. Cheerios’ campaign is quite straightforward. They plan to send out 100 million wildflower seeds and urge people across the nation to plant them.

You might think “Buzz” an obvious name for a bee, but General Mills has not done well with cereal mascots over the years: the silly rabbit who so vainly pursues a bowl of Trix is supposedly named, um, “Tricks.”

And in this case, the absence of Buzz may not be helping:

[S]ome experts warn that the company’s wildflower initiative might actually do more harm in some areas. According [to] a report from My Central Oregon, some of the wildflower seeds being distributed by Cheerios could grow into a highly invasive plant that is not helpful to native bee species.

“No plant is inherently ‘bad,’ but many species can and has caused a great deal of damage when they are introduced into locations outside of their native range,” ecologist Kathryn Turner told Lifehacker:

“Invasive species can out-compete the natives they encounter, they can take up all the space and use up all the resources, they can spread disease, and cause other physical changes to their new homes, all of which can have detrimental effects on native species, and on humans.”

Further, said Lifehacker’s Beth Skwarecki:

What’s odd is that Cheerios partnered with Xerces, an organization dedicated to supporting pollinators, but didn’t use their locally customized, ecologically friendly seed mixes. If you’d like to plant a wildflower garden, maybe start with those instead.

Xerces has nine different plant lists, each one right for a particular region of the States.

(Suggested by reader Holly H.)

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If only it would work

McG once said something to the effect that the next Constitutional amendment should begin “Congress shall make no law,” and end precisely there. I don’t see this being ratified any time soon, but then the problem has apparently existed for millennia:

It is said the ancient Greeks used a simple method to stop the multiplication of “laws.” Perhaps we should try it on our Congress. Anyone wishing to propose a new law had to do so while standing on a platform with a rope around his neck. If the law was passed, the rope was removed. If the law was voted down, the platform was removed. — “John Galt,” Dreams Come Due: Government and Economics As If Freedom Mattered, First Edition.

We don’t do that today for some reason.

It occurs to me that the presumably pseudonymous Mr. Galt might have been pulling our chains. Given some of the idiocies traceable to contemporary legislators, however, a mere yank on the chain would probably be welcomed as being preferable to forcible contributions by the overtaxed citizenry.

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Knees of the business

This morning’s Daily Mail front page inevitably turned up on Twitter, tagged as #everydaysexism:

Front page of the Daily Mail 28 March 2007

Let the record show that I told you it’s irrelevant in the grand scheme of things whether the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom or the First Minister of Scotland has nicer legs.

And having said that, I whisper my unofficial thoughts on the matter:

  • As I learned a long time ago, the legs are among the last things to go. (Theresa May is sixty; Nicola Sturgeon is forty-eight.)
  • I have done a Rule 5 feature on May, but not on Sturgeon.
  • On the other, um, hand, She Politico, a YouTube channel composed entirely of three-minute musings on the legs of women in politics, has never featured May, but has featured Sturgeon.
  • Sturgeon, in public at least, prefers shoes more conservative than May’s, though the Daily Mail photo does not really reflect that preference.

Speaking of She Politico, their most recent subjects were Kamala Harris (Senator from California) and Elaine Chao (Secretary of Transportation). But none of that matters, right?

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You came here for an argument

Morgan Freeberg on conflict resolution:

In my time on earth I’ve read and heard much advice about this, most of it unsolicited. What I’ve learned in all that time boils down to just three basic things:

1. Pissing people off on purpose doesn’t resolve conflict. Neither does ridiculing them, mocking them, marginalizing them, condescending to them…

2. Putting people on notice that it is exceptionally quick & easy to get you pissed off & bent out of shape, also doesn’t resolve conflict. Neither does that time-honored tactic I have taken to call, “I surely must be the best-informed among the two of us in this exchange, for behold, see how incredibly hard it is to tell me anything.”

3. The above two items, against my reasonable expectations, are somehow privileged knowledge. We have a metric fuck-ton of people walking around among us, who can dress themselves, drive cars, hold jobs, etc … but demonstrate zero knowledge about them.

And if this be true in Real Life, as it most certainly seems to be, imagine how much more so it must be when all the participants are reduced to strings of pixels. A lot of people have bailed on Twitter simply because of the aforementioned metric, um, quantity.

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No matter whose name is on it

“Reforming health care has become an impossibility,” says the Z Man:

As soon as anyone makes any noises about fixing the system, the army of lobbyists, hired by every vested interest, shows up to bury the reformers. If they are not able to kill the idea of reform entirely, they set about corrupting it into another grift that their clients can use to get a free shot at your wallet. The only people not represented in these efforts are the voters. They get no say.

This is the main reason Trump’s efforts to address the problems of ObamaCare failed last week. What Ryan and the other crooks in the GOP were hoping to do is pass a bill that made it easier for their paymasters to skim money from the rate payers, while providing fewer services. Ryan’s bill was just an attempt to help the people feeding at the trough get a little fatter off the middle-class. Its failure suggests we have reached the end phase.

Talk to anyone responsible for paying health insurance premiums and they will tell you that the rates are reaching the point where they cannot be paid. When premiums are going up by multiples of inflation, there can be only one result. Once rates pass a certain level, people stop paying those premiums. You get black markets, non-compliance and a system that can only persist through brute coercion. Soon after you get collapse.

Even Bernie Sanders has figured this out. You’d think someone in the Republican ranks would have caught on by now.

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The Knowledge, and how not to get it

If you’re going to drive a taxi in Greater London, you need The Knowledge:

All London taxi drivers are required to have a detailed knowledge of London within a 6 mile radius of Charing Cross. In order to obtain this candidates have to pass through the world renowned “Knowledge of London”.

The Knowledge requires candidates to learn a total of 320 routes that criss-cross London and are specifically designed to leave no gaps. Taxi drivers have to also remember all places of interest or note en route: embassies, colleges, buildings, municipal offices and all other public buildings, hotels, theatres, stations, hospitals, museums, restaurants — and the list goes on.

There are over 60,000 streets or roads within the 6 mile radius — with all of their one-way and restricted turn intricacies — plus over 100,000 places of note that the potential London cab driver has to learn.

“Big deal,” you say. “We have GPS now. That’s more than enough.”

You are wrong, Beckenham breath. You’re giving up quite a bit with navigation systems:

A new study suggests drivers who follow GPS directions regularly do not engage their hippocampus, highly limiting the development of an internal map and making them more dependent on navigation devices.

The University College London discovered the hippocampus (used for direction and memory) and the prefrontal cortex (used for decision-making) both saw elevated levels of activity whenever drivers turned down unfamiliar streets or had free-choice to follow along their route. However, those making use of navigational systems produced no additional activity in those areas whatsoever. Zero, zilch, nada.

The researchers’ experiment monitored the brains of 24 volunteers during driving simulations of central London, some with fixed routes to a destination and some without. Those without may have made it to their destinations on-time, but the extreme lack of mental energy exerted by those two areas was on par with someone watching an episode of The View.

Then again, there’s no need to watch The View unless you’re a fan of Jedediah Bila, and of course you should be.

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For now, she stays

In the dead of night, she took her place. The Fearless Girl, a statue by Kristen Visbal, now occupies that place, directly opposite the famous Wall Street Charging Bull.

Kristen Visbal's Fearless Girl, photo by Daniel Norton

Originally, ad agency McCann New York and client State Street Global Advisors had obtained a permit from the city to keep the Fearless Girl in place for a week; it was later extended to four weeks, and a petition was started to allow her to remain forever. Not sure how that’s going to work out yet, but Mayor Bill de Blasio says Fearless Girl isn’t going anywhere for at least a year. “A fitting path for a girl who refuses to quit,” says Hizzoner.

Ironically, the sculptor of the Charging Bull, Arturo Di Modica, objects to the Girl, calling her an “advertising trick.” Di Modica, you should know, never applied for a permit at all; he plopped the ungulate down late one night in 1989, and it was subsequently banished to Queens before the city decided it could stay.

(Photo by Daniel Norton. Original here.)

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Under the Texas heat

Actually, it only got up to 74 degrees in Dallas today, and come to think of it, the Mavericks weren’t all that hot. But the cold-shooting Thunder managed only ten points in the second quarter and trailed at halftime 50-35. Perhaps something magic might happen in the locker room? If so, it faded quickly: OKC started the third quarter with an 11-0 run, but never pulled even with Dallas until the literal last minute. Over the last 3:30, a late 14-0 run — 12 of those 14 by Russell Westbrook — utterly stunned the Mavs, 92-91. “Quite MVP-y,” said ESPN’s Royce Young.

You had to ask? Westbrook did post another triple-double, though he’d gotten there long before that final push. (He finished 37-13-10.) And it was needed, inasmuch as the bench was decidedly unproductive: six players, 17 points. (Dallas’ four reserved scored 30.) And you gotta wonder how they got 35 points in that fourth quarter when they managed only 35 in the first two. But no matter: it’s a W, the 42nd of the season. If you asked Westbrook, he’d just grin. You can make a case, though, for Taj Gibson as second in command: four offensive rebounds, three in the fourth quarter, six of 10 shooting, and +27 for the night, a game high. And here’s the weirdest statistic I can think of: four of the Dallas starters made double figures. The one who didn’t? Dirk, who hit only 3-9.

On Wednesday, the Magic will be waiting. Orlando is lottery-bound this year, but they can make life miserable for a visiting team. And then it’s back home to take on the Spurs, the same Spurs who have won five straight and who sit only two games behind the almighty Warriors. (Golden State, as it happens, has won seven straight.) Welcome to the crunch of all crunches.

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Madame President

Roberta Anastase, born on this date in 1976, served as the first female President of Romania’s Chamber of Deputies, from 2008 to 2012. She was a member of the Democratic Liberal Party, which held 115 of the 334 seats in the Chamber. In 2009, the Social Democratic Party, which held 114 seats, withdrew from the governing coalition; the government subsequently fell in a vote of no confidence, though Anastase held on to her seat until 2012.

Roberta Anastase at work

Roberta Anastase waits

Before all this political stuff, Anastase represented Romania in the 1996 Miss Universe competition, though this took some time on the pageant circuit:

Roberta Anastase in the swimsuit competition

Peripheral note: Before you ask: 1996 was the first year that Donald Trump (remember him?) owned the Miss Universe operation; he is no longer connected to Miss Universe.

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Pour it on

I vaguely remember my grandmother having a bottle of this stuff:

Gaby liquid stocking substitute

At the time, I hadn’t a clue as to what it might be for, and I don’t think I was any more enlightened after her slow-English-plus-fast-Spanish-swearing explanation. But I was very young then, and my glands weren’t secreting, or something.

Of course, now I recognize it as a wartime substitute for the silk stockings you could no longer buy. And, typically of wartime substitutes, it wasn’t particularly good:

According to a woman’s magazine at the time, “The best liquid stockings available will deceive no one unless the legs are smooth and free of hair or stubble. Leg makeup will mat or cake on the hairs and make detours round the stubble and give a streaky appearance.”

It occurs to me that perhaps present-day spray-tan products aren’t a whole heck of a lot better.

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The name gives it away

Laundrapp, as you’ve already guessed, is a laundry app for various devices, now building a reputation in the United Kingdom. From the description, it couldn’t be simpler:

You Order
Book a collection online or with our award winning app. We’ll bring a bag.

We Collect
Collection and delivery is free, just let us know where you are, office or home

We Clean
Our facilities are so good we guarantee you’ll be satisfied — we put a quality guarantee on all items

We Deliver
We’ll deliver your pristine garments back to you, anytime and anywhere

They run 16 hours a day — 7 am to 11 pm — and they’re looking to expand:

Laundrapp, an app that lets users have their washing picked up, cleaned and dropped off, will license its logistics technology to major laundry franchises in countries including China and Mexico.

The market for laundrettes differs around the world, with other countries having large franchises as opposed to the independent high street services in the UK. Laundrapp will license its technology to these major companies as part of its bid to expand internationally.

No indication that they’ll be coming to the States any time soon.

(Via Holly Brockwell, who admits: “I’ve got two huge sacks of clothes I don’t wear because they all need ironing.”)

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