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Maintenant, réchapper à MacDo!

Who is the world’s second-biggest consumer of tasty MacDonald’s fast food? The French. I shitteth thee not.

In a move that makes The Narrative cower in the corner, whimpering, a mob of angry Frogs from the town of Saint-Pol-sur-Ternoise has marched to demand somebody finish building our goddamned MacDonald’s toot sweet.

The courts put a halt to construction (seen above) because the site was zoned for industrial or artisanal activities, and a MacDonald’s is a commercial one. The suit was brought to court by a company that runs a dump nearby. I mean an actual dump, a “refuse site.” Mon dieu!

The townspeople are eyeing the 30 or so jobs the restaurant would bring and also, of course, those crazy tasty Big Macs and fries.

Anyhoo, their FaceBook page is oui oui au macdo st pol. MacDo. I really like that. Much better than Mickey D’s. I hated it when some marketing droid foist that off on us, and I hated it even more when I heard myself using it.

From now on, MacDo for me, in solidarity with my French brothers and sisters. Won’t you join me?

Good weekend, all!

May 30, 2014 — 10:01 pm
Comments: 34

The Beast

Behold, the Creature of Chislehurst Pond.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “silly Limies – that there’s a turtle. And not a very impressive specimen.” And you’d be right. But, believe it or not, there are no turtles in Britain.

No, really. They have tortoises — land shellbacks. We recently met a specimen who had been handed down as a family pet for over a generation. But they don’t have any water shellbacks. There are some on the Continent, in the more southerly climes (where they are usually called terrapins), but here they seem wild and exotic.


May 29, 2014 — 11:22 pm
Comments: 12

Yep. Here it is.

Davem123 speculated in the Dead Pool thread that the White House would shortly commemorate the passing of Maya Angelou (1928-2014) with a photo of himself. Yep.

Though it’s at the end of the entry, not the beginning. And it’s not the soulful “Barack Obama has a sad” picture I was expecting.

You know, I’m going to stop right there before I say unkind things about the departed. Flights of angels sing thee, etcetera.

May 28, 2014 — 9:54 pm
Comments: 13

Repeat after me, “correlation…”

This goofy looking sod is Tyler Vigan and he’s studying for his doctorate at Harvard. But that doesn’t matter right now. He also runs a site called Spurious Correlations.

He’s written a little algorithm that compares shit tons of data sets and finds correlations. Really stupid pointless ones, for the most part (if his algorithm has found any likely meaningful ones, he doesn’t say). Like, there’s a 0.992558 correlation between the divorce rate in Maine and the US per capita consumption of margarine.

That’s lots of fun, and I invite you to browse his charts. Could come in handy next time you get into an argument with a green. But his bigger point is that computers are terrific at sifting and finding correlations, but they’re absolutely crap at weeding the meaningful ones from the silly ones. “Meaning” isn’t an easily quantifiable characteristic.

If I asked you to tell me the current population of Uruguay, I assume you don’t know. Thing is, if you don’t know, somehow you knew instantly that you don’t know. Many years ago, I read that this is something they haven’t worked out how to do build into computers: how to recognize instantly when they don’t have data, without sifting through all the data they DO have. I’ve been puzzling ever that ever since. Somehow, I think those problems are related.

p.s. Did you have any idea that seven hundred people died in 2009 by becoming entangled in their bedsheets?

May 27, 2014 — 9:39 pm
Comments: 21

Full moon over Westminster

Not a very good likeness, but this is my first attempted Farage.

Attempted Farage. Huh. Sounds like something you’d get arrested for after a stag party.

Anyway, there’s all sorts of reasons why Thursday’s election was not the beginning of the revolution in Britain. But it was a thing of beauty still, and I’m a great believer in savoring the moment. So here it is:

UKIP: 27.49%
Labour: 25.40%
Conservatives: 23.93%
Greens: 7.87%
LibDems: 6.87%

Savor, damn you!

May 26, 2014 — 10:11 pm
Comments: 13

Now with added unemployment

Hate to give this guy the attention which he so obviously craves. Kind of. Whatever. I doubt he can squeeze fifteen minutes of fame out of this one.

Sainsbury’s employee tucks cynical haikus into packages of cookies. Gets fired. Apparently, being internet famous > being employed.

The only one that was approaching funny — “Been sneezing all day/ Good thing HIV cannot/ Be passed on like that” — nearly cost him the gig (the publicity gig; he’s already lost the bakery gig). Thou Shalt Not Make AIDS Jokes on the left, still.

Twitter feed. Hash tag. Somehow, I don’t think this is going to be the internet sensation he hopes. He may yet look back with longing on the Sainsbury’s gig.

Still, it beats the stuffings out of #LikeABoss. Good weekend, folks!

May 23, 2014 — 10:35 pm
Comments: 11

Look! Adorable bunny!

My computer has been acting flakey again. I’ve been gremlin hunting tonight, so I thought I might fob you off with a three-year-old picture of an adorable bunny.

Consider yourself fobbed.

May 22, 2014 — 10:39 pm
Comments: 25

A hearty bowl of cultural goulash

This might be an “only in Britain” kind of thing. It’s a Channel 4 documentary television program called Gogglebox. They film families watching television. Watching people watch television. For reals.

You can get a flavor of the show here. Bear in mind this is a fan collection of favorite moments, which might give you a sense of what the boring bits are like.

Which puts me in mind of the very interesting book Watching the English. The author points out that while many, many countries have long-running soap operas, they are usually about rich and glamorous people. British soap operas are all about chavs. It’s extraordinary, when you think about it.

In theory, these two people aren’t chavs. On Gogglebox, they are known as “the posh ones.” They have good accents (a thing of which the British are acutely aware) and they’re usually half sloshed on wine. So. Posh.

In real life, they own a 16 bedroom Grade I listed mansion in Kent which they run as a B&B. It’s called Salutation. It’s on the market. Which might explain why they rented it out for a masked orgy.

The article is weirdly indiscreet about it. A private swinger’s club called Killing Kittens (ew) rented it for the modest sum of £1,700 for the night. Then they charged 60 people £500 apiece to turn up for oysters and champagne and sex in all the nooks and crannies. Of the house.

You know what? Yuk. I’m sorry I typed all that. Just forget I said anything.

May 21, 2014 — 10:36 pm
Comments: 20

Here’s a strange one

You won’t be surprised to learn I spend a lot of time browsing art online. There are some astonishing people in concept art today (above, Popeye by Lee Romao). Love that sweet, sweet eye candy.

There are lots of group art sites, duh. Storage is a burden, but building an art site is still an attractive prospect — the kind of proposition where users jostle to provide your content for you.

Over the last few years — as usually happens with anything online — one site pulled ahead and became pretty much the standard for digital artists. Lots of illustrators used it as their main online portfolio showcase. I spent many a happy hour there, catching up with my favorites.

I won’t link, because CG Hub is gone. About six weeks ago, the URL went flakey and people assumed they’d forgotten to renew their domain name or something. Then the developer released a terse and strange message:

No more CGHUB. Sad day. Project CGHUB is officially closed. The reason behind this extremely tough decision is personal and will remain private. It’s absolutely not connected with business or any kind of technical difficulties. On behalf of development team I would like to apologize to CGHUB users and fans for abrupt project closure and delay with its announcement. – The Shakuro Team

Personal and private? The hell? There was even a for-pay mode and they’ve been busily refunded moneys.

The only thing I can glean is that the developers and owner of the name were different entities, and at odds. The development team has launched a Kickstarter to rebuild the site under a new name, but I don’t imagine they’ll prevail. By the time they get anything going, the circus will have moved on.

Art Station looks pretty cool.

May 20, 2014 — 9:46 pm
Comments: 7

Ladies and gentlemen, a lamb attacking a grey heron in a field of buttercups

You know, you guys, I would totally forgive you if you came to the conclusion I just sat around and made shit up. I labor myself under a constant feeling of, “wait, that thing that just happened. Did that just happen?”

I’ve posted about the Hungarian laughing frogs before. They’re not native; they were imported to the area in the Thirties, but they like it here just fine. They’re all over the south of England now, and in the early Summer, during mating season, they chuckle and cackle and make the place sound like a madhouse for a couple of months.

They also attract herons, like this bad boy. Our neighbor came over for tea (ugh, yes) and noticed him in the field next door. You have to stand and look through a gap in the hedge to see this field, so we all did that. And just as we did a lamb, for some unfathomable reason, decided he didn’t care for this snooty bird and went for him.

Uncle B was quick enough to get a few shots of it, this being the best. The outcome was disappointing; it just petered out listlessly. Worst steel cage match ever.

Happy to note, the heron was back today in the same spot, gigging frogs.

May 19, 2014 — 10:14 pm
Comments: 13