29 August 2002
Targeted marketing, too

What is this, Nazi Nostalgia Month? British sportswear manufacturer Umbro had the temerity to name a new shoe Zyklon Beige, which presumably was not any kind of nod to the Reich's gas chambers, but geez, are memories this short these days?

Umbro, of course, will be dropping the line, or at least its designation.

Now who's going to be the first to boycott Volkswagen?

Permalink to this item (posted at 10:23 AM)
3 October 2002
Harshing your melanin

This looks promising: The African and African Descendants World Conference Against Racism, billed as "A Conference for Concerned Black People from Around the Globe".

They're serious about it, too. Delegates to the conference have voted to bar all nonblack participation. Conference chair Jewel Crawford explains:

"There are a number of black people who have been traumatized by white people and they suffered psychologically and emotionally and, as a result of that trauma, some of them did not care to discuss their issues in front of them."

Someone send this woman two tickets to Barbershop.

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:58 AM)
3 February 2003
Well, no wonder

CNN screen shot

If I were going that fast, I bet I'd break up too.

Note to CNN: NASA has yet to demonstrate anything close to warp 1, let alone 2.6.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:26 AM)
12 March 2003
From the How Dare You files

Huntington, West Virginia. The city council is discussing the ongoing practice of cannibalizing old vehicles for parts. Council chair Cal Kent comes up with the following quip:

Somebody said to me that the Mexicans now send their mechanics up here to find out how to salvage the parts. They’re so good at keeping the vehicles running.

A reference to Mexican ingenuity? A tribute to the Huntington motor pool? Tom McCallister, another member of the council, decided it was an ethnic slur, and called for Kent's ouster; Kent subsequently apologized.

(Via Tongue Tied)

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:26 AM)
16 November 2003
And in other news, ice is cold

NewsOK.com reports with a straight face:

Working longer can help retirees' income

(Sound of "Duh" heard offscreen)

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:06 AM)
16 December 2003
It's only words on a screen

A brief review of the statistics for this blog reveals that the single most popular post ever was the one with the dubious message on a CNN screenshot.

Ever since then, I've wondered if that flub was simply a fluke. Following this research by James Ridgeway's Mondo Washington column in The Village Voice (sidebar by Jennifer Snow), I am inclined to believe that it is not.

To wit:
Who's been screwing with this thing?

Sheesh. (Found at Fark)

(3:30 pm: Tweaked the credits slightly.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 12:20 PM)
23 January 2004
What's wrong with this picture?

America Online would like me (and probably you) to try its car-shopping service. After looking at this promotional piece, I think I'll pass.

3 easy steps

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:27 AM)
31 January 2004
Paging Greg Focker

The lovely and talented Weetabix addresses this open letter to a guy with a Green Bay vanity plate on his truck:

I realize that "PACKER" was probably already taken when you went to the DMV and maybe you panicked, standing there at the counter with the million mouth breathers waiting in line behind you, but did you realize that by putting "PCKER" on your license plate, everyone is calling you Pecker?

I'm surprised the pckerheads in Wisconsin actually issued a plate with this particular combination of letters; a lot of states would bar anything that even vaguely suggested something phallic. (My own plate, which is three letters, three digits, no big deal, provoked Big Laffs in the sanitary state of New Jersey; evidently they've learned to read between the lines even when nothing is there.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:07 PM)
8 May 2004
Job security

Normally, Page Three of The Oklahoma Observer is where Frosty Troy gets snippy.

And once in a great while, he goes way beyond that, as he did in the 10 May issue:

The new NRA online talk show will feature Cam Edwards, formerly of OKC's KTOK. When he's not on the microphone, he will be changing Charlton Heston's bedpan.


Permalink to this item (posted at 8:55 PM)
14 May 2004
Utter Zeuslessness

The hook for Bob Mondello's review of Troy on NPR's All Things Considered today was reasonable enough: while Hollywood has often dredged up stories from the Roman Empire, tales from the glory that was Greece are few and far between.

Okay, fine. I'd just as soon not remember most of Clash of the Titans just now. Mondello was his usual glib self, and then came the obligatory bumper music: the last few bars of the fourth movement of Gustav Holst's The Planets, the movement titled "Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity." A Roman god. In fact, the Roman god.

I don't think this was the sort of jollity they intended to bring.

Permalink to this item (posted at 5:59 PM)
3 February 2005
I'll have the king crab

This isn't on Automobile Magazine's Web site yet, and if they have any sense, they won't put it there.

Ezra Dyer and his pal Murph are doing the London-to-Rome circuit in a Lotus Elise. Budgetary limitations being what they are, their route runs from London, Texas to Rome, Georgia.

Somewhere west of Houston, the troopers appear, and Ezra muses:

The cop hands me my first speeding ticket in nine years. I console myself with the thought that my streak was broken with a worthy car, something like getting an STD from a supermodel.

I believe I speak for many of you when I say "Ewwwww...."

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:34 PM)
21 August 2005
This glass is excruciating

This east Nichols Hills home could be yours, if you can put up with a minor issue. From the ad in the Gazette:

Completely remodeled 3br, 2ba, hd wd flrs, ceramic tile, fp. New thermo pain windows, 2car garage, fenced yd. $144,900.

I assume the "pain" comes alongside the electric bill.

Permalink to this item (posted at 12:01 AM)
29 August 2005

Whatever the heck that means, it's in Buckinghamshire, and it's the 68th rudest place name in all of England. (The reverse Wendy-cum-Shingay is apparently in Cambridgeshire, and presumably less rude, since it didn't make the list.)

I will add only that John Lennon used to live at #34, and #5 is nowhere near a clothing-optional beach.

(Via Fark)

Permalink to this item (posted at 4:04 PM)
1 September 2005
Sounds like a plan

It is a truism in Republican circles that Democrats simply don't understand how markets operate. Turnabout being fair play, it's great fun to point out a GOP partisan who, to be charitable as possible about it, was blinded by his rage.

The Gazette's "Chicken Fried News" took a potshot at state Republican chairman Gary Jones a few issues back, which prompted this fume from a fellow on a Republican message board:

"Attacking Gary is wrong and it is time to put this sad Chicken Fried Puppy to sleep. Boycott the OKGAZ, or better yet, whenever you see them on display, remove all copies and put them in the trash without reading them. If just 20 dedicated Republicans would do this it would kill the OKGAZ circulation. I imagine it would be a long time before they attacked Gary again."

What's wrong with this scenario? It's obvious:

[T]he Gazette is a free publication and bases its circulation on the number of copies picked up from stands. The more copies [he] and his GOP cohorts swipe, the more Gazette's circulation numbers go up.

Eventually, the poor schmuck figured this out, but by then his fellow Republicans were berating him for his cluelessness.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:03 AM)
3 September 2005
Right up there with Y2k

We saw this before, when the prices first surged over one dollar:

Some gasoline stations are having a particularly difficult time keeping up with soaring prices because their antiquated pumps are incapable of charging more than $2.99 a gallon.

To get around the problem, the stations Friday received permission from the Oklahoma Corporation Commission to use "half pricing," meaning the pump would read half the sales price, and the cost would be doubled inside the store. For example, $3.10 gasoline would be charged at $1.55 at the pump, but consumers would pay the cashier full price.

Anyone who lived through the previous gas crunches could have anticipated this sort of thing, which presumably includes this guy:

"Who would have ever thought prices would get so high we would have to worry about this?" said Vance McSpadden, executive director of the Oklahoma Petroleum Marketers Association.

McSpadden, in fact, owned four gas stations in 1973. He, of all people, should know better.

Permalink to this item (posted at 10:09 AM)
12 September 2005
If I should call you up, invest a dime

Microsoft offers open-source advocate/theorist Eric S. Raymond a job.

Mr Raymond graciously declines:

I've ... been something pretty close to your company's worst nightmare since about 1997. You've maybe heard about this "open source" thing? You get one guess who wrote most of the theory and propaganda for it and talked IBM and Wall Street and the Fortune 500 into buying in. But don’t think I'm trying to destroy your company. Oh, no; I'd be just as determined to do in any other proprietary-software monopoly, and the community I helped found is well on its way to accomplishing that goal.

On the day I go to work for Microsoft, faint oinking sounds will be heard from far overhead, the moon will not merely turn blue but develop polkadots, and hell will freeze over so solid the brimstone will go superconductive.

But I must thank you for dropping a good joke on my afternoon. On that hopefully not too far distant day that I piss on Microsoft's grave, I sincerely hope none of it will splash on you.

I think we can take that as a No.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:15 AM)
14 September 2005
What, are you nuts?

Yes, Tom DeLay, I'm talking to you:

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay said yesterday that Republicans have done so well in cutting spending that he declared an "ongoing victory," and said there is simply no fat left to cut in the federal budget.

Mr. DeLay was defending Republicans' choice to borrow money and add to this year's expected $331 billion deficit to pay for Hurricane Katrina relief. Some Republicans have said Congress should make cuts in other areas, but Mr. DeLay said that doesn't seem possible.

Mr. DeLay is evidently suffering from Deficit Inattention Disorder.

Says Jeff Taylor:

It is official. The GOP is now exactly in the same position Democrats were in circa 1993 the disconnected, unapologetic party of bloated federal government. Only demographic trends and the Democrats' steadfast refusal to evince a lick of sense will keep 2006 from being 1994 in reverse.

Of course, "unapologetic" is DeLay to the very core: if he backed over your cat, you had it coming.

Addendum, 7 pm: Bruce notes:

Maybe Tom DeLay is right? Maybe we've reached a Republican utopia wherein all government spending goes towards helping the politicians and their well connected friends and people no longer see their government as useful?

I wouldn't call it "utopia," exactly, but DeLay has always believed in taking care of his friends first.

Also second, third and fourth, should it get to that point.

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:28 PM)
16 September 2005
One of these things might be like the other

Bruce Reed in Slate:

No biographical profile of [John] Roberts is complete without a few references to his famous modesty. According to Google, the word "modesty" has already appeared alongside "John Roberts" more than 18,000 times. By contrast, the search engine records a grand total of 424 mentions lifetime for "modesty" and "Karen Hughes."

Maybe Bush should have put Roberts in charge of winning America some friends in the world. His message is coming through loud and clear: "Trust me I'm modest."

Patterico gives this blather the credence it deserves:

I thought I’d put the term "Bruce Reed" into a few searches. The search "Bruce Reed" and modesty: 123 hits. "Bruce Reed" and arrogance: 428 hits. Obviously, Bruce Reed is far more often described as arrogant than as modest. Who can deny the logic?

And just to prove how asinine this is as a survey tool, the search "dustbury" and "brilliant" produces 52,800 hits.

Permalink to this item (posted at 11:05 AM)
3 October 2005
Gimme back my bullets

Remember these?

  •   <  This is a bullet.
  •   <  So is this.
  •   <  This, too.

That is, unless you're teaching in the City of New York:

Today in our weekly PD it was mentioned that the region doesn't want us to use the term "bullet points" anymore because it has a negative connotation.

If I had a dollar for every idiotic complaint about "negative connotations," I could retire and have plenty left over for ammo.

(Via Ravenwood's Universe.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 4:07 PM)
6 October 2005
Not the usual political bologna

I do not believe this phrase means what he thinks it means:

"...I think with a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court, you can't play, you know, hide the salami, or whatever it's called. He's got to go out there and say something about this woman [Harriet Miers] who's going to a 20 or 30-year appointment, a 20 or 30-year appointment to influence America. We deserve to know something about her."

So speaks Howard Dean, Democratic Party chair, on Hardball with Chris Matthews.

One word of advice, Dr. Dean: Don't buy the liverwurst.

(Seen by Baldilocks while perusing Wizbang.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 3:20 PM)
21 October 2005
Speaking out of the box

Jon Gabriel has a list of Words That Must Die. It's very unique, not even slightly tentative, and utilizes 110-percent authenticity.

(Leveraged from Matt Galloway.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:41 PM)
27 October 2005
A Lott to defend

Senator Trent Lott (R-MS) doing the post-Miers blither:

I want the President to go out and select a man, woman or minority [for the Supreme Court].

And just to make sure we noticed:

There are a lot of good men, women and minorities who can be on the Supreme Court.

Which, I guess, proves he isn't as dumb as that Strom Thurmond business suggested: someone neither man nor woman would certainly be in the minority.

Permalink to this item (posted at 3:27 PM)
12 November 2005
Always mind the bollocks

h2g2 (like Wikipedia, except that it has DON'T PANIC in large friendly letters on the start screen) has compiled some information on the Origins and Common Usages of British Swear-words, and a couple of them struck me at an odd angle. On the ever-popular F-word:

In 1999, Conservative Future the youth wing of the Conservative Party started using the logo 'CFUK'. Sadly, this got them into trouble with the clothing company French Connection UK, who had recently rebranded themselves 'fcuk'. It is strange to think that there may be an entire generation who, like Norman Mailer, cannot spell the word.

For the grammarians in the audience:

Curiously, the past participle of 'shit' was once 'shitten', as shown in Chaucer's General Prologue to the Canterbury Tales where he refers to the 'shitten shepherd and clene sheep'. Though we might expect this to have evolved into 'shitted', the more common form of the word in the past tense is in fact 'shat'.

Not to be confused with "Shat" or "The Shat", once known for his portrayal of Iowa-born explorer James T. Kirk.

(Suggested by this Tinkerty Tonk compilation; please don't blame Rachel.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:16 AM)
18 November 2005
With just a hint of freon

Normally, I pay no attention to vodka. (Well, there was that time I blended it with milk of magnesia, thereby producing a Phillips screwdriver, but you don't want to hear about that.)

Vodka used to be something you thought of as Russian. Nowadays, you buy a bottle labeled "Old Russia" and it comes from Oklahoma. So I'm not surprised that the Kiwis would get into the act, but this ad for New Zealand's 42Below vodka [link includes Flash video] is completely wack. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

(Title poached from Lileks, who once characterized one of those superpremium vodkas as "a lovely marriage of velvet and freon.")

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:16 AM)
Pass the Tang

"More Kool-Aid, Reverend Jim!"

And ever since that horrible day in Guyana in 1978, "drinking the Kool-Aid" has been shorthand for buying into an ideology, for taking a position for no reason that anyone can determine.

Kraft Foods, owner of the Kool-Aid trademark, can't possibly be happy about this, especially since that wasn't the product served at Jonestown.

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:51 PM)
2 December 2005
Such a deal, I tell you

I usually send the junk mail to the nearest trash bag if it's a credit-card solicitation or something similar I do some physical damage to it first but this one, with "Second Request" in its own envelope window, looked like a promising prospect for mockery.

First paragraph:

Your current mortgage of [fairly accurate estimate of amount owing] on your property located at [address redacted] may be at risk of prime rate increases that could be devastating to your bottom line.

Third paragraph:

Example: With a first mortgage of [fairly accurate estimate of amount owing] and revolving debt up to [fairly accurate estimate of amount owing], you could have one new low monthly payment of [utterly implausible figure]. This is an adjustable rate mortgage, but you don't have to worry.

Emphasis added.

That turnip truck that just rounded the corner? Someone may have fallen off of it, but not I.

Permalink to this item (posted at 5:19 PM)
7 December 2005
Maybe someone set him up

Tulsa Mayor Bill LaFortune, explaining his city's less-than-wonderful crime rate:

More police officers mean more arrests mean a higher crime rate.

This guy is turning into the Marion Barry of the Midwest. (Well, I suppose we'll have to catch him buying crack first.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:05 AM)
21 December 2005
Every form is sacred

Neil Bryant served in the Oregon state senate for eight years, then joined the state's university system as a lobbyist. Earlier this year, Governor Ted Kulongoski nominated Bryant for a seat on the board of Oregon Health & Science University, and Bryant was duly sent the state's three pages of paperwork.

One question on the form was "Do you have a disability?" Possibly with twinkle in eye, definitely with tongue in cheek, Bryant filled in the nature of his disability: "white/male".

Hilarity did not ensue. Kulongoski got Bryant on the phone and asked him "What were you thinking?" Bryant has since requested that his nomination be withdrawn.

Having once completed a "Race" blank with "Mile Relay," I feel for the guy.

(Snagged from NRO's The Corner.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 2:04 PM)
24 December 2005
Who's your Dada?

Lawrence, Kansas Mayor Boog Highberger has proclaimed International Dada Month, and what's more, he's not adhering to that hopelessly-square business about having it one continuous month: it will begin 4 February 2006, end on 26 October, and occupy randomly-selected days in between.

The proclamation includes a classic line from German Dadaist poet Hugo Ball: "zimzim urallala zimzim urallala zimzim zanzibar zimzalla zam."

Which, you know, is about what you'd want to hear from a guy named "Boog."

Donna, should she be wandering around Lawrence, is prepared:

When I think of [Salvador] Dali, I think of a man who had a sense of humor. This was not in evidence in the audio tour or any of the written pieces within the exhibition. It was simply surreal how seriously they handled his surrealism. "In this piece, the young poet is depicted with a lobster on his head, which offers us Freudian insight into Dali's own juxtapositioning of ...." C'mon guys, there's a freakin' lobster on this kid's head... now that is FUNNY! It's okay to laugh.

At the time, I mentioned that Dali had done some advertising work for feminine unmentionables, which is kinda goofy in itself.

And maybe His Boogness is attuned to this level of surreality:

Highberger said his motivation isn't quite as complicated. "It might just be a prank," [he] said.

Punk'd by the Mayor! (Memo to Mick Cornett: Feel free to wear a lobster on your head at the next Council meeting.)

And anyway, it's not like this ululation about "urallala" is utterly foreign to us: as Richard Penniman was wont to say, "Awopbopaloobopalopbamboom."

(Suggested by Fark.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 1:26 PM)
9 January 2006
Now this is gutsy

Who knew Ted Kennedy had a dog named Splash?

Okay, it's a Portuguese Water Dog, so it's not like he was striving for maximum irony here, but something still seems awry: imagine Bernhard Goetz operating a Subway® franchise.

(Via Michelle Malkin.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 11:11 AM)
17 January 2006
Lost Verizon

Now here's a quirky query: "the phone number of the devil".

I doubt that it's in area code 666, which is as yet unassigned, or in 616, which is in Michigan. (Let's not hear from someone at 616-666-xxxx.) Acting on the premise "Lead us not into temptation, because we can find it ourselves just fine," I suspect that the Prince of Darkness has one of those annoying toll-free numbers that spells something, like 800-FOR-HELL. (He doesn't have that particular one, because this guy does.)

Anyone got a better version of the 411?

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:19 AM)
Maintaining uniform bellicosity

Vinton-Shellsburg School in Benton County, Iowa is the home of the Vikings and the Vikettes.

Students and townsfolk are divided over this name for the girls' teams: some want to preserve three decades of tradition, others see the "-ette" suffix as an insulting diminutive.

Normally I tend to side with the traditionalists, but "Vikette" grates on me; it sounds like an anonymous backup singer.

How about "Valkyries"?

(Via Tongue Tied.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:34 AM)
18 January 2006
Wounds from the salt mine

"Um, they had this data two days ago."

"That's a different department. The department we send stuff to doesn't have it. We'll need to shoot it up over the line, and follow with hard copy by mail."

Size of hard copy: 683 pages. (Size of file sent: 1042 KB.)

Incidentally, this incident testifies to the value of capitalism. Were we dealing with a real company that has to make real money, instead of a nonprofit that answers to no one but its amen corner, we'd see a lot less of this sort of foolishness.

Permalink to this item (posted at 2:29 PM)
21 January 2006
Shorter bin Laden

(No, that's not a relative.)

Deciphering Al-Qaeda statements is not Chase McInerney's specialty, but I think he flat-out nailed this one:

1) Just 'cause you haven't heard from us doesn't mean we're not still scary; and 2) Let's talk.

If that doesn't sound like a terrorist organization on the ropes, I don't know what does.

I told someone at work this week that "Geez, Tupac Shakur puts out a new CD every year and he's been dead since '96. Why should anyone be surprised when there's a new bin Laden tape?"

Maybe they (or al-Jazeera) should call it a "remix." It might get slightly less disrespect over here in Skirt Heaven.

Permalink to this item (posted at 3:44 PM)
30 January 2006
Don't leave Rome without it

Milan's Il Giornale reports that Premier Silvio Berlusconi has vowed complete sexual abstinence until Italian elections in early April.

The backstory:

A popular TV preacher on the island [of Sardinia], Rev. Massimiliano Pusceddu, had hailed the twice-married premier for opposing gay marriage and defense of so-called family values, and promised that his followers would support the conservative leader because "if the left wins it will be the moral end for this country."

Berlusconi, 69, replied: "Dear Father Massimiliano. I thank you a lot. I will try to meet your expectations, and I promise from now on, 2½ months of absolute sexual abstinence, until April 9."

[insert Bill Clinton joke here]

(Via white pebble.)

Addendum: Rachel notes that Berlusconi apparently didn't consult his wife before taking the pledge, and wonders: "Maybe it was her idea?"

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:00 AM)
2 February 2006
I do declare

The late Charles H. Goren, reflecting on the days when he was still bidding two no trump with only 17 points, recalled asking one of the experts of the day to reveal the Secret of His Success. Said the expert, "All you have to do is sit South. Look at any bridge column or book. South always has the best hand at the table." Since then, said Goren, he has always tried to sit South.

Meanwhile, Laurence Simon, no dummy, asks:

If you play Bridge with the table on top of the North Pole, is everybody South?

(Disclosure: I have played in exactly one ACBL-sanctioned tournament, with an unrepentant Spades player as partner. We took third place.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:01 PM)
24 February 2006
Phat chance

Damon Wayans wants to sell you (well, maybe you; definitely not me) some urban wear with his own streetwise style and his own trademarked logo.

Except that the US Patent and Trademark Office has declined to issue Wayans a trademark for the brand-name [redacted, but it rhymes with "Trigga"].

In an unrelated story, Nabisco doesn't seem to have any problem selling Premium® Saltines as "crackers"; Senator Robert C. Byrd (D-WV) was unavailable for comment either way.

(Via Defamer.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 1:46 PM)
28 February 2006
Curb your enthusiasm already

There's something vaguely actually, not so vaguely creepy about this search-engine search:

six years dakota fanning eighteen

And I thought I had inexplicable fixations.

(Yes, it's true: on 23 February 2012, Dakota Fanning will be eighteen years old.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:07 AM)
10 March 2006
They're sphincterrific!

Seen at Tongue Tied:

I work in Information Technology for a large health care system. Recently we had a power outage on one of our campuses. In a meeting the next week our team performance was summarized and it was made clear to us that from that point on our process will no longer be referred to as "Disaster Recovery" but will now be called "IT Service Continuity Management".

Being the sensitive soul I am, I feel as though I should come up with a term for people whose job it is to invent euphemisms, a term that is itself something of a euphemism, a term which ever-so-slightly conceals instead of being straightforwardly informative, and, well, "rectal milliner" has been used.

Suggestions are welcomed, though I'm currently leaning to "cranial copulator," a full seven syllables instead of two.

Permalink to this item (posted at 12:20 PM)
14 March 2006
From the Sticks and Stones Department

Besides, it's funny.

How Moses got the 10 Commandments....

God went to the Arabs and said, "I have Commandments for you that will make your lives better.

The Arabs asked, "What are Commandments?" And the Lord said, "They are rules for living."

"Can you give us an example?"

"Thou shall not kill."

"Not kill? We're not interested."

He went to the Blacks and said, "I have Commandments."

The Blacks wanted an example, and the Lord said, "Honor thy Father and Mother."

"Father? We don't know who our fathers are."

Then He went to the Mexicans and said, "I have Commandments."

The Mexicans also wanted an example, and the Lord said "Thou shall not steal."

"Not steal? We're not interested."

Then He went to the French and said, "I have Commandments."

The French too wanted an example and the Lord said, "Thou shall not commit adultery."

"Not commit adultery? We're not interested."

Finally, He went to the Jews and said, "I have Commandments."

"Commandments?" they said. "How much are they?"

"They're free."

"Free? We'll take 10."

Eventually, of course, it will be illegal to tell jokes of this sort, which is all the more reason to make sure they get entered on the Permanent Record while we still can.

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:39 AM)
17 March 2006
NY: keeping MA and PA apart

Why things should never be done by committees, Part 6.02 x 10^23: a task force of thirty-two worked eighteen months on a new tourism slogan for Washington state, and came up with "SayWA".

I await Maine's pitch to lure travelers to its seafood restaurants, which logically should read "EatME", right? *

(Via The Consumerist; this link may be considered NSFW for textual reasons.)

* Disclosure: I could swear I actually saw that on a billboard in Massachusetts back in the middle Seventies. Of course, I drank more then.

Permalink to this item (posted at 11:00 AM)
25 March 2006
If I ever make this list, worry

While there still exists an entire industry devoted to concocting corporate names, often to (1) maximize trademark possibilities or (2) forestall negative reaction from [fill in name of ethnic/religious/whatever group], most corporate entities have names which have some actual connection to what they do or to what they'd like you to think they do, and Wikipedia is compiling a list of the origins of those names, though as always with Wikipedia, at least some of the entries will be disputed.

(Via Samantha Burns.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:00 AM)
30 March 2006
Keeping our ologies taut

Akaky Bashmachkin reports from upstate New York:

The headline of today's dead tree edition of the Middletown (N.Y.) Times Herald Record reads, "Should Illegal Immigration Be A Crime," a statement that causes no end of cognitive dissonance among those of us with access to a dictionary, since it makes us all wonder if the word illegal has some shade of meaning that we've missed somehow.

It's not the post-newspaper age yet, but we would be better served were the papers to confine themselves to topics they actually understand, such as the extraction of ferret snot.

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:21 AM)
1 April 2006
Render unto seizure

So what's an "ideas shower"?

"Ideas shower" is in fact the new term for what was previously known as a "brainstorm". Brainstorm was ditched because it upset people with epilepsy. Or at least, it upset people who spend their time worrying about what might or might not upset epileptics.

Speaking as an epileptic myself, I never really thought of the term as offensive. That's because I've always interpreted it as a reference to an open-ended ideas meeting, not a derogatory reference to my unfortunate neurological condition.

Of course, the modern method is to co-opt the word for yourself or your group:

In fact, now I come to think of it, I quite like the idea that my seizures might be referred to as brainstorms. It makes them sound cooler and more dramatic. Like the sort of thing a Marvel comic character might practise in order to summon up his superhuman powers. I can imagine myself alerting onlookers to the onset of an epileptic episode by bellowing: "Behold the might of my magnificent Brainstorm!" then passing out on the floor and twitching about for five minutes.

Certainly, brainstorm is a more agreeable way of referring to such incidents than, say, "'mongs", "moodies" or "spaz outs".

Which latter is what I did when, while driving through southeast Pennsylvania, I passed by the facilities of Spaz Beverage Company.

Permalink to this item (posted at 4:04 PM)
7 April 2006
Rhymes with "politician"

Somebody (I'm almost sure it was Lynn, but I haven't found the original post yet) once pointed out that the random-letter captcha used on Blogger and some other services occasionally generates something that ought to be an actual word. (Under what those of us who never took anything beyond Statistics 202 think of as the Law of Averages, this occurrence would seem to be almost inevitable.)


I have yet to get anything I can play on a Scrabble board, but what I have here is awfully close if you think of Taiwan as close.

Addendum: It was Lynn, and here's her original post.

Permalink to this item (posted at 4:15 PM)
20 April 2006
Picas pique

Sometimes headlines are funny because someone cares to make them so, and sometimes it just works out that way.

This AP item is one of the latter:

Supreme Court Considers Insanity Standard

To borrow a phrase from the person who sent this in, "And all this time, we thought it was optional."

Permalink to this item (posted at 10:32 AM)
What's nex

Dr Weevil finds some dubious Latin at kausfiles:

Mickey Kaus writes (April 19th, 5:20 pm):

. . . why should the L.A. Times probe into Burkle's various nexes with prominent Democratic politicos?

"Nexes"? Eeeew! The plural of Latin nexus is nexus. No, the two forms are not identical: the singular has a short U and rhymes with "wuss" and "puss", while the plural has a long U and rhymes with "goose" and "moose". Of course, "various nexus" would look and sound terrible in English, and "nexuses" would be even worse. As with mongooses and octopuses (or octopodes), it's probably best to avoid the plural entirely.

Fourth declension, I guess.

Then there was the (probably apocryphal) zoo employee who sent the following request: "Dear Sir: Please send me a mongoose. While you're at it, please send me another one."

As for the plural of Lexus, heck, I can't afford even a single Lexus. (I drive Mazdae.)

And in defense of Kaus, at least he didn't say "nexi".

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:56 PM)
23 April 2006
Maybe seedy

Steven Wright once asked this typically Steven Wright-eous question:

"Why is the alphabet in that order? Is it because of that song?"

He should have asked MetaFilter.

Meanwhile, Curly ("violent" is the word for him) and friends contend:

Which, you know, is hard to argue with.

(Referenced at Swirlspice.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 3:25 AM)
The Force has been notified

Fan fiction is tolerated, barely, by the copyright owners. And God (or George Lucas) forbid that it should get out into the open, where the lawyers will have a field day.

Exhibit A: this self-published, unlicensed Star Wars book.

John Scalzi provides a pertinent excerpt from the "Author's Interview":

Q. I find myself wondering if there was any concern on your part regarding copyrights?

A. No, because I wrote this book for myself. This is a self-published story and is not a commercial book. Yes, it is for sale on Amazon, but only my family, friends and acquaintances know it's there.

And, well, a couple of hundred of you and however many thousands read Scalzi's Whatever column or link to it.

Besides, notes Scalzi, it's offered at bn.com and Powells.

The author, I fear, is about to meet Darth Maul. In a three-piece suit.

(Via skippy the bush kangaroo.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 11:14 AM)
28 April 2006
Five times the filth

Perhaps George Carlin's most famous observation is that there are seven words you can never say on television.

In the 34 years since Carlin did this bit, television has changed somewhat; you might be able to get away with some of them on basic cable, maybe even on broadcast channels.

But not on your cell phone. Cingular, for instance, says that there are thirty-five words you can never use in a ringtone.

(Neither of these links should be considered safe for work.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:04 AM)
1 May 2006
Final proof the NYT is out of touch

Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr., speaking to the annual shareholders meeting of the New York Times Company:

Before I begin, let me ask if anyone in this audience needs the aid of a sign language interpreter. If you do, please raise your hand.

In Pinch's defense, he didn't trot out that old joke about the time Helen Keller fell down a well and broke three fingers calling for help.

Permalink to this item (posted at 1:11 PM)
17 May 2006
Don't turn around

Is Der Kommissar in town? Nope. Just this fellow:

Ban Nguyen is cooking up something new.

After more than 20 years of serving up bacon and omelets, the chief executive officer of Jimmy's Egg has entered the market of upscale dining.

Nguyen recently opened Casablanca American Bistro, 13801 Quail Point Drive in Oklahoma City.

"This is about a 360-degree turn over from Jimmy's Egg," Nguyen said.

Over easy, I assume. In fact, he could have turned 720 degrees and not moved a silly millimeter.

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:22 PM)
13 June 2006
Can you hear me now?

A kid's dream come true: a cell-phone ringtone that grownups can't hear, so you can take that important call in English class without tipping off the teacher.

The argument is persuasive:

While most human communication takes place in a frequency range between 200 and 8,000 hertz (a hertz being the scientific unit of frequency equal to one cycle per second), most adults' ability to hear frequencies higher than that begins to deteriorate in early middle age.

Indeed. Just ask Pete Townshend.

Since the Times was kind enough to provide a sample of the 17-kHz tone (scroll down on the left side of the article, or use this link to the MP3 file), I figured the least I could do, as an old man who has spent most of his life with the headphones cranked up to near-Spinal Tap levels, was to make sure that I wouldn't be hearing this thing next time I hit the mall. With the expectation of finding some small amount of residual hearing in these old ears, I spun the volume knob over to the right ...

... and just as quickly spun it back, my ears ringing.

This demanded an investigation, so I loaded the proffered file into Audacity and got this:

frequency spread

How to explain this? For one thing, my listening post is rather a lot quieter than your average classroom; for another, while the center frequency is indeed around 17 kHz, there is substantial acoustical energy well below 17 kHz, and that's probably what I'm hearing, even though it's 40, even 50 dB below the peak level. (That peak near 25.5 kHz is likely some sort of distortion product.) And at "normal" sound levels, for this purpose defined as "where I normally run my sound card and speakers," it's pretty close to inaudible; running the air conditioner is more than enough to drown it out.

Still: don't they use vibrate anymore?

(Via Tinkerty Tonk.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 12:42 PM)
"Spane" and "Frantz" were okay, though

There's a World Cup going on, and if you're watching anywhere, you can't help but see the Adidas logo: this is their turf, and has been for years.

Nike wants a piece of that action, and I can't say as I blame them, but this isn't going to help them:

Generally if you're going to make, market, and sell gear for a country it's important that words on the gear are spelled correctly. Especially if the misspelled word is the NAME OF THE COUNTRY. My friend (who speaks Russian) noticed this at the Nike Town in NYC this weekend. Russia, though spelled correctly in the tag, is spelled Ruusia on the clothes.

Expect a corporate decree from Nike to the effect that all sweatshops will in future be equipped with dictionaries.

(Found at Deadspin.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 1:21 PM)
1 July 2006
Applying yourself

I am not a lawyer I don't even play one on TV but I suspect that some aspects of this law-firm application are not entirely fictional.

(Via All Things Jennifer.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:22 AM)
7 July 2006
Fat farging chance

Integris Health ran an ad on the op-ed page of The Oklahoman this morning, and it contains this whopper:

A person is considered obese with a weight that is 20% or more of their ideal body weight. At that point, the extra weight becomes a health risk.

So if the charts say you should weigh, oh, 130 or so, you're considered a porker at wait for it twenty-six pounds. This is below Nicole Richie territory; this is right down there with Tim Burton's Corpse Bride.

I hope they read their instruments better than they read their proof copy.

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:33 PM)
8 July 2006
Shootout at Gender Gap

The title of this New York Times piece is "At Colleges, Women Are Leaving Men in the Dust," and while I have no particular reason to question this assertion generally, writer Tamar Lewin backs it up rather peculiarly:

At Harvard, 55 percent of the women graduated with honors this spring, compared with barely half the men.

Spoons notes:

The author doesn't explain exactly what "barely half" means, but gosh, this must mean a disparity of at least 3 or 4 percent!

Whether there's also some grade inflation at work here is left as an exercise for the (non-Harvard) student.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:46 PM)
8 August 2006
A linguistic Venturi effect, as it were

Sister Mary Discipline gave me the Evil Eye once for saying that something or other sucks. Forty years after the fact, Seth Stevenson jumps to my defense:

Sucks is the most concise, emphatic way we have to say something is no good. As a one-syllable intransitive verb, it offers superb economy. Granted, some things require more involved assessments (like, say, James Joyce: I find his early work unparalleled in its style and its evocation of emotion, while his later writing became willfully opaque in a manner that leaves me cold). But other things don't require this sort of elaboration (like, say, John Grisham: He sucks).

Besides, "sucks" fits in well with a vernacular that also allows for things that "blow" and "bite," though Bart Simpson, a reliable cultural observer over the past couple of decades, would be amazed were you to come up with something that simultaneously sucks and blows.

(Via In Theory.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:12 AM)
23 August 2006

When I said earlier today that the industry in which I work "blows goats," I in no way intended to limit the activity to domesticated animals.

If you were there to hear it, I apologize for the confusion.

Permalink to this item (posted at 5:56 PM)
26 August 2006
Not so firm as all that

Spam blog, semantic dementia, or something else entirely?

You make the call.

Permalink to this item (posted at 10:10 AM)
29 August 2006
Scrubbing bubbles

David Lereah is Senior Vice President and Chief Economist for the National Association of Realtors®, so it's probably not too surprising to see a book by this title with his name on it:

Are you missing the real estate boom?

Of course, that was the 2005 title. Today it's:

Why the real estate boom will not bust

Anyone want to come up with a suitable title for the inevitable 2007 edition?

(Courtesy of Burbed.com.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:14 AM)
1 September 2006
It's all ova now

As usual, Python was here first:

LORETTA: It's every man's right to have babies if he wants them.

REG: But ... you can't have babies.

LORETTA: Don't you oppress me.

REG: I'm not oppressing you, Stan. You haven't got a womb! Where's the fetus going to gestate?! You going to keep it in a box?!

LORETTA: [crying]

JUDITH: Here! I I've got an idea. Suppose you agree that he can't actually have babies, not having a womb, which is nobody's fault, not even the Romans', but that he can have the right to have babies.

FRANCIS: Good idea, Judith. We shall fight the oppressors for your right to have babies, brother. Sister. Sorry.

REG: What's the point?


REG: What's the point of fighting for his right to have babies when he can't have babies?!

FRANCIS: It is symbolic of our struggle against oppression.

REG: Symbolic of his struggle against reality.

(Thanks to Miriam and Gagdad Bob.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 11:20 AM)
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The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

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